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New educators can learn a lot with the Don’t Be Jack™ game

In our article, “Personal finance lessons: 4 insights for new educators,” new teacher Molly Walsh Anderson shared important financial lessons she’s learned in part from playing Member Benefits’ Don’t Be Jack interactive board game. It’s a great way to learn about financial issues that impact Wisconsin public school employees.


Personal finance lessons: 4 insights for new educators

Every teacher knows the many important lessons they learned during their early years of teaching, and new teacher Molly Walsh Anderson likes to pass on her own personal finance lessons to help others. Here are four insights she learned during her first year that have helped her navigate new financial realities and responsibilities.


You don't need to save a lot to get ahead, but start you must

Michelle Blog PhotoA comfortable retirement is an expensive proposition. But you might be surprised to learn that saving with as little as $20 per pay period can make a difference.

It's ok to start with a small amount, as long as you start. And, the sooner the better.

The importance of saving early is illustrated clearly in our story of Jack and Jill.


What's your investment style?

The decision to save for retirement is an easy one when you consider the potential future benefits, but how to invest is often the source of uncertainty and frustration for investors new and old. At its most basic, how you decide to invest should be based on what kind of investor you are—your style—so you can make choices that are right for you.  

So, what kind of investor are you? We have some guidance to help you answer that question.


Update your retirement goals

Brenda EcheverriaSummer is a great time to revisit your personal financial goals. If you have an IRA or 403(b)/TSA account with us, you can log in to yourMONEY to access your account.

On your home page, you will find a “My Retirement Goals” section with three boxes (blue, green, and red). Clicking on the “Update My Goals” gives you the opportunity to add in information that will indicate how much you will need in retirement, where you are at today, and identify any shortfall. An easy sliding calculator allows you to learn what it will take to eliminate the gap.

We also have a number of free calculators for you to use to help you with your retirement planning as well as savings goals, WRS projections, debt management, and more. Visit weabenefits.com/calc.


Time is your teen's best friend when it comes to an IRA

Michelle Blog PhotoYou may not think about a teenager opening a Roth IRA, but doing so can be a savvy money move on their part. Time is on your teen’s side because they can benefit from decades of compounding interest in their account.

Compounding is when earnings on your investments are reinvested in your account. The reinvested earnings may also have earnings, and then those earnings are reinvested and on it goes. It’s said that Albert Einstein called compound interest the “eighth wonder of the world.” The earlier teens start saving the better, even if it’s just a small amount.


Start your savings plan

Jay LukasThis week is America Saves Week, which raises awareness about good savings behavior and encourages people to set a savings goal, create a plan, and save automatically.

According to their Web site, only 54% of Americans say they have a savings plan with specific goals. If you don't have your own plan, now is a good time to start. Here’s a few savings tips to keep in mind:

  • Contribute as much as you can to your savings plans as early as possible so you can to benefit from potential investment growth.
  • Beware of fees when choosing a retirement savings provider. They do not all charge the same. Learn more about fees.


Member Benefits’ investment options quick reference

In our August 3, 2015 article, “What’s your investment style?” we illustrated that how you decide to invest should be based on what kind of investor you are. Once you know your investor style and understand your risk tolerance, you can make more informed choices about your specific investments. Details are in the article, but read on for a quick summary of our investment options.


If you only keep one resolution this year, resolve to save more

It’s never been more important to save for your financial future and it’s never been easier. Start out with a simple resolution, then turn to Member Benefits.


Dream snatchers: Part 1

Procrastination. Fees. Emotion. Let them rule your decision making process and you may find them to be your most destructive retirement planning mistakes. The good news is that you actually have control over these dream demons. Here are some ways to stop them in their tracks. (Part 1 of 3)


It's a great time for saving o' the green

Brenda Echeverria "May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light, and may good luck pursue you each morning and night."—Irish blessing

St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner. What better time to pad your luck by saving a little more green! No four-leaf clover required. Here's a few ideas to help you build up your pot of gold.

Start today. Contribute as much as you can to your savings plans as early as possible. That way, your savings have a longer time to benefit from potential investment growth.

Diversify. Putting your money in different types of investments can help you achieve a more consistent long-term performance than you would likely achieve if you put all your money in a single type of investment.


What kind of investor are you?

Michelle Blog PhotoAre you a conservative or an aggressive investor? Find out with our risk assessment tool.

Before you consider any investment, it is important to understand risk and to determine how much risk you’re willing to take with your investments. Risk can be defined as the possibility of losing all or part of your investment. Investment professionals generally accept the notion that the potential for higher returns goes hand-in-hand with higher risk. Conversely, low-risk investments are associated with lower returns. Naturally, you would like to get the highest possible return on your investments, but the appropriate allocation of your money depends on your risk tolerance.


Four financial goals for fall

How times flies! We’re already well into the new school year. Before the holidays get too close, why not take advantage of the season by taking a peek at your finances. Here are four things you can do to get ahead.


The beauty of budgeting

A budget is a beautiful thing. Really, it is. Having a budget is a key component of any financial plan. It requires an investment of time up front, and it requires you to face the good and the bad of your financial situation. But, the pay off and benefits are long lasting.


Ready to talk finances with your sweetie?

Laura KampsIf the topic of money is the “elephant in the room” in your relationship, you’re not alone. (See our article, “BIG issue, small talk” to learn how starting a financial conversation with your partner can help manage this typically weighty issue.) 

However, open, honest communication is just as important with finances as any other partnership decision. And that’s an essential first step to take before you can move forward to make a financial plan.

If you’re ready to talk it out, we have a few helpful tips for you.


Free financial tools at your fingertips

Brenda Blog PhotoHave you checked out the free financial planning resources on this Web site? They can help you with your financial decision-making and retirement planning.

Financial calculators

These free calculators are organized by category to make them easy to use. Print the report screen results for your review. Categories include:


Know thyself...build a budget [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top 10 Financial Moves—A Series: Learn 10 financial moves that can help you build financial security for you and your family as we share a series of infographics throughout the year. Having a budget is a key component of any financial plan. Learn the basics and use our interactive budget worksheet and free financial calculators to help you get started.


Compounding interest: It’s amazing

It’s said that Albert Einstein called compound interest the “eighth wonder of the world.” Compounding can have a significant impact on your retirement savings. For best results, save early, save regularly, and save more when you can.


The reluctant mentor

When you walk into a mall, what’s the first thing you see?” Rusty asked. I’m thinking McDonald’s, but I know that’s not the answer he is looking for. He helps me out. “A map of the mall with an arrow on it that says ‘You are here.’ The map tells you exactly where you are and makes it easy to get to where you want to go. Without the map, I could be wandering around the mall for hours trying to find what I’m looking for. Unfortunately, we don’t have a map when we start out to help us navigate finances. I’m a slooooow learner. It took me a long time to get to some point of understanding. I went from Point A to Point B by way of Point C.”


Nick’s long drive to retirement

Do you know any 24-year-old who saves for retirement at a rate well above the national average, appears immune to the pressures of a spend-happy society, and still enjoys a fun and fulfilling lifestyle? Meet Nick Havlik.


Gauging retirement readiness

Not everyone can retire early. In fact, most people can’t. ACT 10 and other economic pressures muddied the waters for Wisconsin public school employees—especially for those between age 45-55. Many wonder where they stand and what they can do to salvage their retirement dreams. But, it may not be as bad as you think.


WRS contribution rates down slightly for 2015

The Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) contribution rate decreased from 14% to 13.8% in 2015. Employers and employees split the cost equally, so each will contribute 6.8% (down from 7% in 2014) of payroll toward the pension. Rate changes started January 1, so take note. Generally, the adjustment will not have a significant impact on your take home pay. However, the rate reduction is an opportunity to increase your contributions in other retirement savings accounts, such as an IRA or 403(b).


Calculators

Use our financial calculators to help in your financial decision-making and retirement planning. Our calculators are categorized for easy access. You can print the report screen results for your review.Remember, if you need financial advice, we encourage you to seek personalized, professional assistance.


Facing the top FIVE most frightening financial fears this Halloween

 Brenda EcheverriaLet’s face it, we all have fears when it comes to finances.Maybe your heart skips a beat when bills and bank statements arrive. Perhaps you fear your identity will be stolen or you will lose your job.  Or it’s facing the looming questions: Have I saved enough? How do I create a budget and make it work? Here are several common fears and how to face them this Halloween: 

  1. I fear I may never get out of debt.
    How to face your fear: The scariest part is identifying exactly how much debt you have and why. Once you’ve assessed your debt, devise a plan to pay off the smallest debt first. If you need some help, contact our financial planner. We’ll help you come up with a plan to get you back on track.   

 


It’s National Save for Retirement Week!

Eric SchwartzNational Save for Retirement Week is a national effort to raise public awareness about the importance of saving for retirement. It’s a great time to reflect on your personal retirement goals, get information, and ask for help when you need it.

Here’s some of our best retirement savings advice in a nutshell:


403(b)/IRA Risk Assessment Calculator

../riskCalc.aspx


Wisconsin Retirement System

http://etf.wi.gov/calculator.htm


Social Security

http://www.ssa.gov/planners/calculators.htm


Retirement Shortfall

../apps/calculators/dk/RetireShort.asp


Retirement Income

../apps/calculators/dk/RetirementIncome.asp


Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)

../apps/calculators/dk/RetireDistrib.asp


Pre-tax 403(b) Savings

../apps/calculators/dk/Retire403b.asp


Paycheck Comparison

../apps/calculators/dk/Payroll.asp


Early withdrawals from retirement accounts (72(t))

../apps/calculators/dk/Retire72T.asp


Cost of procrastinating

../apps/calculators/dk/WaitCost.asp


Beneficiary Required Minimum Distribution (RMD)

../apps/calculators/dk/RetireBeneficiary.asp


Ballpark E$timate (choosetosave.org)

http://choosetosave.org/ballpark/index.cfm?fa=interactive


Mortgage Refinance Breakeven

../apps/calculators/dk/MortgageRefinance.asp


Mortgage Qualifier

../apps/calculators/dk/MortgageQualifier.asp


Taxes and Inflations Impact on Savings

../apps/calculators/dk/SavingsVariables.asp


Savings Goal

../apps/calculators/dk/Savings.asp


Long-Term Care Insurance

../apps/calculators/dk/LongtermCare.asp


Life Insurance

../apps/calculators/dk/LifeInsurance.asp


Increase in savings

../apps/calculators/dk/CompoundSavings.asp


Impact of withdrawals

../apps/calculators/dk/DistribSavings.asp


Compound Interest Calculator

http://www.econedlink.org/interactives/index.php?iid=2&type=educator


College Savings

../apps/calculators/dk/CollegeSavings.asp


Loan Comparison

../apps/calculators/dk/CompareLoan.asp


Debt Consolidation

../apps/calculators/dk/Consolidate.asp


Roth vs. Traditional IRA

../apps/calculators/dk/RothvsRegular.asp



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