5 Old-School Savings And Investing Concepts That Still Work

Today’s guest post was sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services.

The world of investing is rapidly changing. We have seen the global economy rise and fall, with housing and stock market crises taking up headlines.

5 Old School Savings and Investing Concepts That Still Work

Even so, many tried-and-true concepts of saving and investing still provide the most stability for investors. In fact, you should brush up on at least five old-school financial concepts as a first step in securing your financial future. They may not represent a new model of thinking, but they’re all safe ways to protect your hard-earned money.

#1 Credit Unions

Even for people who’ve been in the workforce for more than a decade, the idea of credit unions can still be a little unclear.

Credit unions operate similar to a bank — they lend money and provide interest-bearing savings accounts, but the difference is that every customer in a credit union is also a member. In other words, credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives with decisions made for the benefit of membership, not necessarily the bottom line. The biggest differentiator between banks and credit unions is that credit unions usually offer better rates and lower fees, making them a more profitable long-term partner.

#2 IRA

You’ve probably heard the acronym IRA before, but do you know what it means? An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a tax-efficient savings plan. While 401(k) accounts (more on that below) are often sponsored by a corporation, IRA accounts are driven by the individual. There are several different forms of IRAs, and they can be purely voluntary or specialized for self-employment/small business. IRA accounts offer tax benefits but also come with restrictions, such as contribution caps and early-withdrawal penalties.

#3 Home Loans

Real estate is still one of the most stable investments anyone can make, outside of the practical benefit of having a place to live. To purchase real estate, you’ll need a loan (unless you have a huge source of independent wealth).

It’s easy to fear the idea of a long-term home loan, particularly with the housing crisis of the 2000s. Rest assured, it is still possible to get a high-quality loan, one that doesn’t prey on the vulnerable with sub-prime lending. If you have a steady income, home loans are a great way to invest in yourself – instead of paying rent, you’ll be paying off your loan and increasing your overall net worth.

#4 401(k)

As you start making a decent income, you may be unsure about what to do with your savings. With so many options and acronyms, it can be overwhelming and confusing.

So what is a 401(k) account and what are its benefits?

In general, a 401(k) is a tax-efficient savings plan. The money goes into an investment account managed by a provider (with some customizable options regarding aggressiveness of investing) with a set cap that can change year by year, though it is generally fairly stable. That amount is not taxed for your current year, with the idea that it is taxed when you finally withdraw it post-retirement, when you will presumably be in a lower tax bracket.
In addition to tax savings, many corporations match your investment up to a percentage, essentially giving you free money in your 401(k) account.

#5 Stock Options and Stock Purchasing Plans

At a very basic level, stock options and stock purchasing plans are ways for employees to purchase stock at discounted rates.

The mechanism for purchase is different, as well as the volume. For options, generally they vest (become active) at set milestones based on the employee’s tenure, all at a reduced price that is usually related to the employee’s start date. For purchasing plans, employees are usually given a set quarterly price which is a discount from the market value. Employees can elect to have a percentage of their income deducted for these purchases.

Because stock purchasing rates are calculated based on more near-term data, they are usually not as profitable as options. However, for companies that are stable and upwardly mobile, both methods represent sound investments at discounted rates. Managing them has become easier as well, with modern technology such as eShares used by corporations for online management of portfolios.

Five Trusted Concepts

The idea of long-term investing and saving may be intimidating for anyone new to the workforce. It’s easy to not trust the industry institutions simply because they’ve been around through those difficult years. However, there’s a reason why they’ve stood the test of time. For anyone beginning to plan their financial future, these five concepts represent safety and stability – perfect for dipping your toe into the world of investing.

About Caroline Willard

Caroline Willard is Executive Vice President, Markets and Strategy, for CO-OP Financial Services, a Rancho Cucamonga, California-based provider of financial technology to credit unions.

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14 Comments

  1. I’ve been with my Credit Union for a long time now and it’s been great. Took out a couple loans for our car with the best interest. I refuse to deal with banks now.
    Aaron @IncomeHoncho recently posted…Getting Rich is Really BoringMy Profile

  2. Credit unions are awesome! In addition to having better rates and usually lower fees, they also provide a lot of member benefits that you don’t get from banks. Ours offers free basic tax preparation and discounted estate planning. Also, credit unions are a lot less likely to sell their loans, which makes being a borrower much easier to manage.
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…State of the Blog: June 2016My Profile

  3. I’ve often heard that about credit unions. I want to say I’ve read two or three articles that suggested credit unions over traditional banks. Interesting concept and one I hadn’t really thought about.

  4. Definitely a fan of credit unions! Much easier to work with than the mega-banks and will work with you on loans that others won’t. When we first joined, they were only available to those who worked for our school district. The rules have changed a lot there now (for the better!)

    • That’s very true, Vicki. My mother was a user of the Sears credit union when she worked there when I was a kid. But today, just about everyone can qualify in some way to gain the advantages of using a credit union. Thanks for your comments.

  5. Love my credit union.

    For the longest time you had to be a member of a larger group to join a credit union, e.g. an employer, government agency, etc. Do some decades I was in a credit union, and some I wasn’t.

    Nowadays it seems just about anyone can find a nearby credit union to join. My current credit union accepts anyone who lives in my county.
    Jack recently posted…Unexpected Money Lesson: Banking “South Park” StyleMy Profile

  6. I am self-employed and is taking care of my IRA plan for roughly 3 years now. And, I am still looking for another investment and I think stock option is another good one. But, I gotta study more how it really works to avoid money loss.

  7. Our credit union offers a free service for cashing in coins – much better than paying Coinstar’s fee. You can’t simply join but I believe some community service might qualify us. Great tips!
    Mrs Groovy recently posted…Don’t Get Sucked into the “What-If” GameMy Profile

  8. I love the ESPP option, and an really surprised that more personal finance bloggers don’t talk about it. Like the 401k, a good ESPP is basically free money

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