Simplify Your Finances

simplify your finances


What is financial minimalism?

Embracing the principles of financial minimalism is about bringing clarity to your financial matters, making intentional money decisions and aligning your values with your spending. In a culture that values spending and material possessions, trying to adopt a mindset of “less is more" may not be popular, but it can be a critical step toward greater joy and clarity and better finances.

Tips to bring minimalism into your financial life

  • Save before spending. Many people pay their bills and then might save whatever money is left over, if any. But the opposite is what you should strive for—save first and then spend what remains.
  • Bring mindfulness to your spending. Declutter your finances by taking a good look at your spending and seeing how much goes to fixed vs. variable items. Differentiate between needs and wants. As for the wants, ask yourself what brings you joy and which expenses you can do without.
  • Monitor online shopping. Try limiting your use of one-click purchasing. Shop in person, use cash, and buy with need and intention.
  • Assess your relationship with money. When it comes to making personal financial decisions, your psychological makeup and the way you think about money can work for or against you. Be mindful of any money scripts (ingrained attitudes and behaviors) — they have a lot to do with how you manage your finances today.
  • Talk about money. It’s a loaded and complex topic and having conversations about money with family and friends can be challenging. But doing so can help you become more aware of your own money habits. You could become better able to change the behaviors that are holding you back from achieving optimal financial wellness.

Pension Boards-United Church of Christ provides unlimited access to financial planning at no cost to you. Contact EY today. Schedule time to connect with a financial planner for personalized, objective guidance on all your financial needs. Call a financial planner at +1.877.927.1047 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET. Log into pbucc.eynavigate.com.


© 2021 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Check In On Your finances

Check in on your finances


When did you last take a good look at your finances? Financial planning, like life, should be dynamic and change as your needs, preferences and goals shift. Having a conversation with an EY financial planner can help you build a plan if you don’t have one, keep you on track if you do have one, and help you achieve long-lasting financial wellness.

Why it’s important to check in.

Now is the best time to check in on your finances—before the holiday season with its end-of-the-year craziness and spending temptations—plus you can set yourself up for success for 2022 and beyond. Having a conversation with a professional can help you home in on your habits and prevent, detect and adjust things in a timely manner.

What should you consider before speaking with an EY planner?

Your EY planner will work with you on creating an up-to-date financial plan that’s tailored to you, where you are in life today, and where you want to be tomorrow. The plan will be presented as a clear set of action steps for you to take.
Below are a few questions to consider:

  • Have you identified and prioritized your financial goals?
  • Are you taking full advantage of your employee benefits?
  • Have you reviewed your retirement savings plan, and are you confident that you’re saving as much as you can and are invested appropriately and on track for retirement?

The road to financial wellness is a series of steps taken over time, not an "all-or-nothing" endeavor.


Check in on your finances today. Call +1.877.927.1047. Log into pbucc.eynavigate.com. Download the EY Navigate app today


© 2021 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Make the Most of Your Pension Boards Benefits

Make the most of your Pension Boards benefits

Get support and guidance during annual enrollment.

During annual enrollment, you need to review the changes to your plans and decide which options to choose for your coverage in 2022. Your EY financial planner is trained in your Pension Boards-United Church of Christ benefits and can help you understand your options and make decisions about:

  • Medical plan coverage and FSA/HSA options
    We’ll help you make informed decisions based on your needs, preferences
    and affordability.
  • Disability insurance
    Disability is a risk to take seriously. We’ll help you choose group coverage that is appropriate to your needs and budget.
  • Life insurance
    We’ll walk you through deciding what level of group life insurance is best suited to you and your loved ones.
  • A dependent care spending account
    We’ll talk with you about how best to plan for costs of dependent care and help you decide whether to contribute to a dependent care spending account, and if so, how much you should save.
 

Whether you need help making decisions about annual enrollment, planning for retirement, managing debt, or pursuing other financial goals, EY can help.

 

Pension Boards-United Church of Christ provides unlimited access to financial planning at no cost to you. Contact EY today. Schedule time to connect with a financial planner for personalized, objective guidance on all your financial needs. Call a financial planner at +1.877.927.1047 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET. Log into pbucc.eynavigate.com.


© 2021 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Post Retirement Checklist

Post Retirement Checklist


Now that you're retired, you'll need to stay on top of your money matters. Read this EY article for tips on staying financially ahead.

Once retired, make sure you’re on top of your money matters:

  • Review your plan for covering expenses in retirement. Now that you’re not working, you’ll need to get comfortable with tapping your retirement money, how much to withdraw, and which accounts to access first.
  • Plan for tax payments. Once retired, you need to monitor your tax situation throughout the year to determine whether you need to make quarterly estimated tax payments. If you lose track of where you stand tax-wise, you could end up owing an underpayment penalty.
  • Pay attention to required minimum distributions. Once you turn 72, the IRS generally requires you to start withdrawing at least a certain amount of money — a “required minimum distribution” or “RMD” — from your qualified retirement savings plan at work or traditional IRA each year. If you fail to withdraw enough money in any year to satisfy RMD rules, you’ll owe a penalty equal to 50% of the amount not distributed as required. A Roth IRA is exempt from RMD rules; you can leave money in there as long as you like.
  • Decide when to claim Social Security. Assuming you qualify for Social Security, you can begin collecting “early retirement” payments as early as age 62. But you will receive a larger benefit if you can afford to delay until you reach “full retirement age” (somewhere between 65 and 67, depending on when you were born) or later.
  • Learn about Medicare. Generally, once you turn 65, you’re automatically eligible for Medicare coverage. Medicare provides a base level of health insurance that will take care of a lot of your medical expenses, but probably not all. You will be required to pay a premium for some of your coverage, and you will probably want to purchase a private policy to cover certain costs that Medicare doesn’t cover. Before age 65, if you don’t have retiree health benefits from a former employer but want coverage, you’ll need to purchase an individual plan.
  • Decide whether to work part-time. Many retirees go this route. You might find that a paycheck from part-time employment could be a great boost to your long-term security.
  • Be ready to “ride out” market downturns. During retirement, you’ll want to have enough money in liquid cash investments to meet ongoing spending needs and help you avoid having to sell equities in a slumping market.
  • Stay active. Physical and mental health-related issues can be a concern for retirees who don’t stay active. Make time for friends and family, enjoy your hobbies, find new passions and exercise.
 

Unlimited access to financial planning is provided by the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ at no cost to you. Contact EY today. Call a financial planner at +1.877.927.1047 9:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. ET. Log into pbucc.eynavigate.com.


© 2021 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Student Loans vs. Credit Cards: Which Should You Pay Off First?

Millions of Americans struggle to make payments on both student loans and credit cards. Workers in their early career and lower-income years are especially likely to feel the pinch. In the fourth quarter of 2020, Americans between ages 25 and 34 carried average student loan debt of $33,818, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Meanwhile, 47.6% of Americans under 35 carry credit card debt from month to month, and the average balance for people in this age group is $3,660.

If you're among those juggling student loans and credit cards, should you prioritize paying off one type of debt over the other? And, if so, which type of debt should you focus on erasing first?

How to prioritize

Paying off credit card debt should generally take precedence over paying off student loans. This is especially true now because President Biden extended the CARES Act provision for federal student loan forbearance, which allows borrowers to temporarily stop making loan payments. Under President Biden's executive order, payments on federal student loans can be deferred through September 30, 2021. Interest will not accrue while payments are suspended. To find out whether any of your student loans qualify for this relief and to take advantage if they do, contact your loan provider.

Even in the absence of the federal pause on requiring student loan payments, it generally makes sense to prioritize credit card payoff. Average interest rates on cards are among the highest charged on all forms of debt. Not only are average rates on student loans at the low end of the scale, but also you can generally deduct up to $2,500 of qualified student loan interest each year. (Certain high-income taxpayers are subject to limits on the deductibility of student loan interest.) This is an above-the-line deduction, meaning you don't have to itemize to claim it; however, you can't deduct credit card interest.

Need another reason to focus on paying off credit cards first? Student loans are often considered "good" debt because they represent an investment in your future. Generally, the same can't be said about credit card balances.

Two strategies for paying off multiple credit cards

When you're carrying balances on more than one credit card and want to work on paying off all the cards, you can follow one of two widely used paths. You can either pay off the card with the highest interest rate first or pay off the one with the smallest balance first.

If saving money is your priority, focus first on paying off the card charging the highest interest rate. Pay as much as you can each month toward that card while making minimum payments on all your other cards. Once you've paid off your highest-rate card, take the amount you were paying monthly on that card and put it toward the card with the next higher rate, and so forth, until you've paid off all your cards.

If you want a quick psychological "boost" from paying off a card more quickly, focus first on the card with the smallest balance. Pay as much as you can toward that card while making minimum payments on the other cards. Once you've paid off that first card, you can either move on to the one with the next-smallest balance or pay off your remaining cards in the order of highest-to-lowest interest rate.

Financially, paying off your highest-rate card first makes the most sense because it may save you more money over time. For help with this strategy, use the Snowball Debt Elimination calculator on your EY Navigate™ website or mobile app.

Stay current on student loans

Even as you prioritize paying down credit card debt, stay current on your student loan payments. If you're taking advantage of the extended federal pause, be sure to resume payments once the pause expires in October 2021. If you fall behind on payments, you risk defaulting on the loans, which could cost you fees, damage your credit and possibly result in lawsuits against you.

If you have multiple student loans, you can pay them off using one of the approaches outlined above for credit cards, keeping in mind that you're generally better off financially paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first. You may also want to explore consolidating multiple student loans into one. This can simplify payoff, lower the average interest rate you're paying and enable you to pay off your student loans more quickly.

Get more guidance

Your EY financial planner can help you explore ways to meet the challenge of paying off both student loans and credit cards. For example, your planner can show how using a budget can help you cut spending and find more money to put toward debts. Contact your EY financial planner today.


This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, legal or other professional advice. Please refer to your advisors for specific advice.

The Link Between Financial Planning and Wellness

Q: What do personal financial planning and a walk in the park have in common?
A: Both can benefit your physical and mental health.

Money was named as a significant source of stress by nearly two in three adults surveyed by the American Psychological Association in 2020. The COVID-19 crisis has compounded money worries for many Americans; in that same survey, more than half the respondents said they'd experienced negative financial consequences from the pandemic.

Maybe you've experienced anxiety over money at some point in your life. Over time, stress can lead to serious health problems. Fortunately, by creating and implementing an action plan to clean up your finances today and achieve goals tomorrow, you can manage money-related stress and improve your body-and-mind wellness.

Health risks tied to stress

Among the health challenges that stress can trigger or intensify are anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. Stress can lead people to adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking, binge eating and excessive drinking. Some may forego preventive health exams or put off treatment for a serious medical condition.

Health rewards of getting your finances under control

Taking charge of your finances can benefit more than your cash flow and net worth. With fewer money worries weighing you down, you might become more inclined to adopt positive, everyday health habits — such as that walk in the park we mentioned. You may also find it easier to focus at work, which could boost your job performance, career satisfaction and overall outlook on life.

The relationship between financial wellness and physical and mental health works in the other direction, too: improving your health can do great things for your financial bottom line. For example, when you neglect your health, you potentially set yourself up for high medical bills in the future. But when you shape up your body and mind, you can also give your finances a boost. Case in point: on average, by choosing to live a healthier lifestyle, an individual can require less medical intervention and save more than $10,000, according to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The EY Navigate™ website and mobile app are great places to chart your course toward better finances. The site and app contain a wealth of resources and easy-to-use tools for your personal financial planning. Also, for one-on-one, personalized guidance, call the EY Navigate™ Planner Line.

This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, legal or other professional advice. Please refer to your advisors for specific advice.

An Update on COVID-19 Financial Relief for Americans

Financial relief for Americans in an economy weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic is the objective behind recent stimulus plans enacted by the federal government. Much of the assistance has been delivered through two pieces of legislation: the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act), signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020, and the American Rescue Plan Act (the ARPA), signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021.

Three rounds of "stimulus payments" for eligible Americans received a lot of attention but were not the only benefits provided to households by the government. Here's a summary of the financial assistance currently in effect.

Increased Child Tax Credit

Under the ARPA, the Child Tax Credit is worth more for many taxpayers and more children qualify. The law made the credit fully refundable, which means that even taxpayers who don't have earned income or don't owe any federal income tax can benefit from the credit.

Starting this summer, parents will receive advance payments on the amount of any 2021 Child Tax Credit they qualify for. This means they won't have to wait until the 2022 tax filing season to benefit from the credit.

All ARPA changes to the Child Tax Credit are in effect only through 2021.How money represents value

Amount of the credit

As a qualified parent, you can claim:

  • Up to $3,600 for each qualified child under age 6
  • Up to $3,000 for each qualified child between ages 6 and 17
  • Up to $500 for each qualified child who is age 18
  • Up to $500 for each qualified child between ages 19 and 24, provided they're attending college full time

Previously, the Child Tax Credit was worth $2,000 for each qualified child under 17. No children over 17 qualified for the credit.

You can get your full credit for 2021 provided your adjusted gross income (also known as your AGI) is $75,000 or less ($150,000 or less if you're married and file jointly). The credit gets scaled down or eliminated for taxpayers above those thresholds. If your high AGI makes you ineligible for the increased 2021 tax credit, you might still qualify to claim the standard $2,000-per-child tax credit. The standard credit gets scaled down or eliminated for individuals with AGI up to $200,000 ($400,000 for married couples filing jointly).

The total amount you'll qualify for in 2021 will be based on information you provided on your most recent tax return.

Advance payments

The IRS will generally pay you 50% of your 2021 credit in six equal, monthly advance payments by direct deposit from July through December this year. You'll be able to claim the other 50% of your credit when you file your 2021 federal income tax return due in April 2022.

Enhanced child and dependent care tax credit

The ARPA increased the amount and scope of the child and dependent care tax credit for 2021 only. This credit is intended to ease the costs of caring for a child under age 13 or a dependent adult. You must be able to report income, and the expenses for which you claim the credit must allow you to work.

In 2021, you can use the credit for qualified expenses of up to $8,000 for one dependent or up to $16,000 for two or more dependents. Normally, the limits are $3,000 for one dependent and $6,000 for two or more. Before this year, the credit was worth up to 35% of qualified expenses and was scaled down or eliminated for certain taxpayers with higher AGI. For 2021, the ARPA increased the maximum credit to 50% of qualified expenses. This means the highest credit amount available for this year is $4,000 if you have one dependent or $8,000 if you have two or more dependents. The credit is still scaled down or eliminated for certain taxpayers with higher AGI.

Previously, the credit was nonrefundable. The ARPA made it fully refundable for most taxpayers. So, if you qualify for a full refund and your credit exceeds the amount of tax you owe, you will receive a payment for the excess amount.

Extension of easier charitable deductions

The CARES Act made available a new, above-the-line deduction of up to $300 in cash donations to qualified charities. (An above-the-line deduction is one you can qualify to claim even if you don't itemize.) This deduction was originally intended to be available only on 2020 federal tax returns. The $300 limit was per return, meaning that even if you filed jointly with a spouse, the most you could deduct was $300.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (the CAA), signed into law in December 2020 to supplement the CARES Act, extended the new charitable deduction through 2021. The CAA also allows a couple filing jointly to deduct up to $600 in cash donations to qualified charities on their 2021 return.

On your 2021 return, instead of taking the above-the-line charitable deduction, you'll be able to take an itemized deduction of up to 100% of your AGI for cash donations to qualified charities. This is the extension of a CARES Act provision that applied to 2020 returns. Without this extension, your 2021 itemized deduction of cash donations to qualified charities would have been limited to 60% of AGI.

Health plan improvements

Under the CARES Act, plan sponsors can allow an eligible high-deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA) to cover telehealth services before patients meet their deductible. This CARES Act provision is currently set to expire on January 1, 2022.

The CARES Act also allows patients to use funds in an HSA or health care flexible spending account (FSA) to purchase over-the-counter medications. This provision has no expiration date.

Expanded unemployment benefits

The ARPA allows qualified individuals to receive a $300 federal supplement to weekly state unemployment benefits through September 6, 2021. Before the ARPA was signed into law, the supplement was set to expire on March 31, 2021. Other federal assistance may be available once state unemployment benefits have been exhausted.

The first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2021 is excluded from federal income tax. (On a joint return, each spouse can exclude the first $10,200.) The exclusion applies only to households with AGI below $150,000, regardless of filing status.


This material has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as accounting, tax, legal or other professional advice. Please refer to your advisors for specific advice.

How to Tackle Financial Stress

How to tackle financial stress

Money worries are a common source of stress for American adults and everyone has financial “to-dos” that get pushed to the side. While procrastination is part of life, not being aware that you’re doing it or how it impacts you has consequences—both emotional and financial. Here are suggestions for how you can reduce your money stress and get motivated to take steps toward better finances.

  • Identify your top stressor

Maybe you’ve been meaning to start an emergency fund, increase your retirement plan contributions, review your asset allocation strategy or get real about paying down your debt. Decide which financial need you should address before all others. 

  •  Write it down

 Transferring the issue from your head to pen and paper is a big step and serves as a reminder of your commitment to take action.

  •  Share your goal

 Tell someone you trust about your decision to address a source of financial stress. This can help you start a healthy dialogue about money and encourage you to stay focused on making progress.

  • Get professional guidance

An EY financial planner is available to you through your Pension Boards-United Church of Christ financial wellness benefit at no cost to you. Working one-on-one with a planner can help you prioritize your needs, set goals and take action one step at a time.

  • Incorporate financial health into your wellness equation

Think of financial wellness as a daily practice to maintain for the rest of your life. Approach it as a series of small actions that can lead to the achievement of big goals and lasting peace of mind.

The Pension Boards-United Church of Christ provides access to no-cost financial planning services through Ernst & Young (EY). Contact EY today. Call a financial planner at +1 877 927 1047 9:00 a.m.–8:00 p.m. ET. Log on to EY Navigate™ at pbucc.eynavigate.com

© 2021 Ernst & Young LLP. All Rights Reserved.

Resilience and Finances

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Apply the resilience factor to your finances

Resilience: the human capacity to respond to life’s inevitable difficulties by adapting, becoming wiser, and growing more confident and capable despite what comes our way.

Research indicates that resilience is not a fixed attribute, but can change over time, which means it can be cultivated. When you’re financially resilient, you’re able to withstand and recover from adversity that impacts your income or assets because you understand the value of setting goals, making a financial plan and adapting as life changes.

A financially resilient person is likely to have:

  • Enough cash set aside to cover three to six months of basic living expenses in the event of a financial emergency
  • A high savings rate in relation to their income
  • The ability to borrow and keep debt under control
  • The ability to manage spending

We’re not born with financial resilience, but with awareness and simple, self-initiated steps, you can develop new skills. Whether you’re facing financial headwinds now or want to prepare for unforeseen challenges, the Pension Boards-United Church of Christ provides access to no-cost financial planning services through Ernst & Young (EY).

Connect with your financial planning benefit to learn more:

Announcing the EY Financial Literacy Summer Camp Webinar Series

Teaching Kids About Money

A child is never too young to pick up money management skills. The sooner your child starts developing financial literacy, the more likely they are to achieve lifetime security.
EY is happy to announce seven 30-minute webinars to help young children, teens and young adults learn personal finance basics this summer. Each Financial Literacy Summer Camp webinar will be presented live and include interactive activities designed to inform and engage participants with easy-to-understand lessons.
We invite you to register your child for one or more of the live webinars. The sessions are categorized by age group, but you can have your child take part in any session for any group and as many sessions as you and your child would like. Click any of the webinar dates below to be directed to a registration page.

Elementary School (ages 7-11; grades 1-5)

Fun with Money

Introducing your child to the concept of money is what this webinar is all about. In an interactive, 30-minute session, we’ll cover these and more topics:

  • How money represents value
  • Units of money (dime, quarter, dollar, etc.) and how each got its name
  • How math factors into money (including simple addition and subtraction examples)


Register using the following links:

July 13, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
July 20, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST

Spending, Saving and Sharing money

We’ll help your child learn the basics of good money management. In this interactive and fun half hour, we’ll talk about:

  • Needs vs. wants
  • The importance of saving
  • How charitable giving can reward the charity and the donor


Register using the following links:

July 20, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
July 27, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST

Middle School (ages 12-14; grades 6-8)

Bank on it: A Beginner’s Guide to Banking

Your middle school child may be ready to learn what banking is all about. This 30-minute presentation will include interactive lessons on:

  • What a bank does and benefits of using one
  • Bank products that help you spend, save and borrow
  • The difference between credit cards and debit cards


You can register using the following links:

July 15,2021 at 11:00 AM EST
July 21, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST

Let’s Talk Taxes

Your child will someday benefit from having a good handle on how taxes work. We’ll spend this interactive, 30-minute webinar discussing various taxes, who imposes them, tax rates and more. We’ll cover:

  • Sales tax
  • Income tax
  • FICA (Social Security and Medicare) and other taxes


You can register using the following links:

July 21, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
July 28, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST

High School and College (ages 15-18; grades 9-12 and college)

Personal Finance for Teens and Young Adults

Many high school and college students are either getting a paycheck or soon will be. Learning the basics of good money management will pay off for them as they enter adulthood. In this interactive, 30-minute presentation, we’ll discuss how to:

  • Use a bank to manage spending and save for the future
  • Manage credit scores
  • Choose auto insurance coverage


You can register using the following links:

July 27, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
August 3, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST

Your First Job: How to Make the Most of Your Paycheck

A first job means new responsibilities to manage money wisely. We’ll spend this interactive, 30-minute webinar providing your high school or college student with easy-to-digest lessons on how to:

  • Get maximum advantage out of employee benefits
  • Start saving and investing
  • File taxes


You can register using the following links:

July 29, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
August 5, 2021 at 4:00 PM EST

Class Act: How to Make College More Affordable

Your child who’s attending college or nearing freshman year will benefit from learning how to make college more affordable. You too may gain from having your child take part in this interactive, 30-minute webinar. We’ll talk about:

  • Managing college costs
  • Qualifying for financial aid
  • Student loans: various types and repayment options


You can register using the following links:

August 03, 2021 at 11:00 AM EST
August 10, 2021 at 04:00 PM EST

If your child is unable to attend a live, interactive webinar, replays will be made available for viewing at a later date. For questions, please call EY at 1.877.927.1047.