By Gregg Early from Geezeo, a Fiserv company
February may be the shortest month of the year, but it has more than its share of ‘surprise’ holidays. What I mean, are holidays like Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, that kind of sneak up on you.
The problem is, they also sneak up on your members as well. A long weekend and a romantic holiday can cost some serious money, just 6 weeks out from Christmas.
And this year, the government shutdown also added to a lot of people’s financial surprises.
The fact is, consumers tend to not to take them into consideration and it’s why many consumers end up using their savings as their emergency fund. Or worse, they drop these surprises on their credit cards and hope to pay them down when they get around to it.
In most people’s case, “emergencies” like these make saving hard.
According to personal finance site Bankrate.com, 29% of consumers have more credit card debt than they do savings. That number has grown nearly 50% since the same question was asked last year.
It has also been reported that 60% of Americans don’t have $1000 cash on hand for an emergency room visit or a major car repair. While wages have been growing, “real” wages (accounting for inflation and cost of living) have declined 1.3% since 2017, according to salary comparison site Payscale.com.
That’s why 7 million vehicle owners in the US are 3 months behind on their car payments. And it’s a testament to the fact that while the economy is doing well, it doesn’t mean everyone in it is sharing those good times.
Credit Unions see this better than anyone. That’s why it’s important for CUs to reach out to their members and encourage them to put some funds aside every paycheck and build an emergency fund.
Ideally, it should be a separate savings account that members can add to for unexpected or unplanned for events. This emergency fund is a buffer between high-interest credit cards and tapping into savings.
During this time of year, this is a powerful message because most people spend their tax refunds on paying off this credit card debt or replenishing their depleted savings. But this year, refunds have been slowed by the government shutdown, and they’re also averaging almost 10% lower than last year.
Plus, many people see their tax refunds more as “fun money” than a way to build a long-term financial strategy, no matter how well-intentioned they were before the refund check arrived.
That’s why this is a great time to remind your members that having an emergency fund isn’t hard and makes a lot of sense. And there’s no better time to start it.
Setting up an emergency fund (i.e., a dedicated savings account that they can easily set up with you) is the first step and tell them how easy that is and how socking a little away every month, means the big and little unexpected things aren’t so daunting. Also, if you have a PFM, having them add it to your PFM can help them keep tabs on their savings and spending goals.
The name of the game is setting a little money aside over time, so it accumulates into something real and substantial. For example, the average spending on Valentine’s Day is $220 per person. Instead of sticking Valentine’s Day on a credit card, if members were socking away $50 a week – slightly more than $7 a day – since January, they would have Valentine’s Day covered without reaching for a credit card or moving over savings.
Setting up budgets and spending goals in their PFM is a great solution to help them do this. And they don’t have to itemize each event – keep it general at first, like Holidays, Car Maintenance, etc. Just putting in a small amount over time makes a big difference.
If they’re moving toward budgeting their money more strategically, they can truly enjoy the good things in life and take a lot of the stress out of the bad ones.
Now that 2019 is here, everyone is making New Years resolutions. Have you made one? If you haven’t, we might have a few suggestions for you. Maybe your resolution could be to go back to school, get a car, buy a house, go on a vacation, or simply work towards paying off your debt. There’s something in common with all of these; we can help you achieve each of them. From student loans and vehicle loans to debt consolidation and savings accounts, we have the tools to help you work towards your New Years resolution.
College isn’t just a time investment, it’s a financial investment as well. We can help you along. We offer private student loans for the costs that aren’t covered by financial aid. These private loans come with a variety of benefits including no prepayment penalties, interest rate reductions for certain loan borrowers, and lower rates when signing as a creditworthy borrower or cosigning with a creditworthy borrower. These loans are a great option for someone looking to further their education in 2019.
Your resolution this year could be to work towards getting a new car. We can help you with a vehicle loan. The Family Credit Union has vehicle loans available for new or used autos, boats, motorcycles, or recreation vehicles. So even if it’s not a car, but a boat or motorcycle, we are here to help. Qualified pre-approvals make it easy for you to get a better arrangement with the dealer knowing you have the cash up front. We’ll help you achieve your goal. Just give us a call today and tell us how we can help you.
Was your holiday season hard on your wallet? For many us, we spend more than we should and end up having to cut back in other ways. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to solve the problem with The Family Credit Union’s Christmas club!
A Christmas club is an account that you set aside money in over the year to use in the holiday season. The funds are deposited to your savings account on November 1st, and you are then free to spend as you please with all the money you’ve saved during the year. Don’t be discouraged thinking that you have to put in large amounts of money to really make a difference. As little as $10 a week for the year can make a massive difference for your finances come holiday time. These accounts can be deposited into with payroll deduction, direct deposit, Voice Response, or Home Banking to make them easy to use and hard to dismiss as being too difficult.
You can definitely set aside money yourself, and it can be a great idea to get you started. However, sometimes it’s hard to stick to a Christmas club if a “once in a lifetime” trip comes up or that couch you wanted goes on sale. The Family Credit Union’s Christmas club accounts help you stick to your resolution and make sure that you are ready for the holidays and financially healthy.
Open a Christmas club savings account at The Family Credit Union. Current members and new members can open accounts online using a secure online site or by logging into Home Banking. You will need the following items when opening your account:
You will be asked to come into a credit union within 30 days of opening an account by this means so that we can get your account funded and verify your identification.
Visit our website for more information or to talk to a representative who can help you through the process. Though the holiday season is over, we encourage you to think about your 2018 holidays before they sneak up on you!
Santa Claus isn’t the only one that gets to spread a little holiday cheer! The Family Credit Union is here to bring a little joy into your homes with some great things just in time for Christmas and Hannukah.
Let the friendly staff at The Family Credit Union help you make the most out of your gift-giving time. We are happy to assist you with all of our holiday products and all the other services we offer any time of the year. We look forward to making your Christmas merry and bright!
*APR=Annual Percentage Rate. All promotions are subject to an approval process. Federally insured by NCUA. *APR=Tasa Porcentual Anual. Todas las promociones están sujetas a un proceso de aprobación. Asegurada federalmente por la NCUA, 1)Rate offer available to qualifying members between 11/1/17 – 12/31/17. Loans subject to approval. Rates, terms, and conditions subject to change without notice and may vary based on creditworthiness, qualifications, and collateral conditions. See credit union for full details. 2) Skip your December 2017 or January 2018 consumer loan payment and use the money for other expenses. ($10 service fee per loan). Signed form must accompany request. Subject to approval. 3) APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Existing TFCU MasterCard® holders will receive 3.9% APR on all purchases made 11/1/16 – 12/31/16. 4) Earn cash back rewards on qualifying purchases with the new LIFE Rewards Credit Card. 5) New and current Rewards Mastercard will earn double cash rewards on purchases made 11/1/17 through the end of 2017. Reward points cash will be credited on the November 2018 statement
The holiday season is quickly approaching! Let The Family Credit Union is here to help make your Christmas go smoother.
Our Holiday Loans are as low as 6.99% APR. You can apply online and get an answer quickly. We can help you take care of your expenses during the holiday with little fuss.
It’s not too late to start a Christmas Club account. You can deposit into your Christmas Club account anytime, even with Direct Deposit, making it easy to build up some money for Christmas and the holidays.
Do you have to shop for a person that has everything? Try one of our Gift Cards, we have the right size for your needs. Stop in and pick up a gift card in a variety of denominations.
Here are a couple of other perks from the TFCU family for the holiday season:
Don’t be a Scrooge, check out all the ways you can save money this holiday season with The Family Credit Union. Contact us or stop by today to learn more!*APR=Annual Percentage Rate. All promotions are subject to an approval process. Federally insured by NCUA.
*APR=Tasa Porcentual Anual. Todas las promociones están sujetas a un proceso de aprobación. Asegurada federalmente por la NCUA.