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.
It’s the beginning of a new year, and it’s a great time to start thinking about a health savings account. A health savings account, also known as an “HSA“, goes hand-in-hand with a high deductible health plan (HDHP). This savings account is NOT an insurance plan, and it could lower your health care costs through its ability to pay for day-to-day eligible medical expenses. This tax-advantaged plan works like a normal savings account; withdraw cash and transfer money to a checking account so you can pay for medical expenses.
Create an HSA today to protect your family and yourself from overwhelming health care costs. It gives you more freedom of choice when selecting a health care plan. Flexibility can be useful when looking at plans. It also moves with you, no matter what job you have! This option is also great for anyone who wants to plan ahead for retirement, as well. The HSA can be used even after you retire! The health savings account will continue to grow, tax-free, even if you don’t pay into it regularly. There are a number of benefits to an HSA including:
If you would like to learn more about a health savings account, or if you are interested in opening one with us here at The Family Credit Union, just give us a call. A representative will help answer your questions or begin the process of opening one for you! We hope to hear from you soon.
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.
A Health Savings Account (HSA) is a way to save for medical expenses and reduce your taxable income. Individuals can set an HSA up with them as the sole beneficiary or one can be created for an individual and spouse and/or dependents.
Individuals who are eligible for an HSA have to be enrolled in a High-Deductible Heath Care Plan. These plans may have high deductibles, but typically the monthly premiums are much lower than plans that have lower deductibles. They cover health expenses such as illness or injury and your annual deductibles have to be met before any plan benefits are paid.
The Family Credit Union is here to help our customers learn more about savings. Contact us today and we will be happy to assist you with all of your money management needs! We look forward to serving you as the #1 choice for credit unions in the Quad Cities area.
Whether you are a freelancer, an hourly employee with hours that fluctuate, or work on commission, your income may be different from month to month. However, just because you have an income that fluctuates, doesn’t mean you can’t manage your money. Check out these tips to learn how to effectively manage your money during a fluctuating income.
Knowing approximately how much money you spend each month will help you to get started on creating a budget. Calculate how much you spend on your necessary expenses such as housing, utilities, groceries, etc. Once you know the minimum of what you need to pay each month, you will be able to create a budget that is manageable with a fluctuating income.
Take a look at your income from the past few years. You can calculate what the average is to help prevent yourself from overspending or making purchases that you can’t afford. After you have come up with an average monthly income, determine how much you will have left after you pay your necessary expenses.
In month’s that you have received more income or additional income, make prepayments on your bills. Paying ahead will make a difference during slow months when your income isn’t as high.
An income fluctuate fund fund is a great spot to put any additional income you receive. This fund can be used to cover expenses when your income fluctuates lower than than usual. Keep this account separate from your emergency account.
Planning is very important when it comes to effectively managing a fluctuating income. You must plan for future expenses and predict when your income will be increasing or decreasing. Plan for now, but save for the future.
The Family Credit Union is here to help our customers manage their hard earned money. Contact us today and we will be happy to assist you with all of your money management needs!
Many people have heard of the gig economy, but what exactly is it? The gig economy is an environment where temporary positions are the norm and organizations create contracts with independent workers for short-term work. This provides workers with more flexibility, exposure, and allows them to create a bigger portfolio. However, the gig economy doesn’t provide a predictable paycheck or employer-sponsored savings or health coverage. This means that workers are less likely to be saving. If you are considering joining the gig economy or already part of it, follow these three steps to save.
Saving automatically is an easy and effective way to increase savings while working in the gig economy. Since most paychecks are directly deposited into one’s back account, employees should have some of their money transferred into a checking account and some of it put into a savings account. Workers will be increasing their savings, while less likely to spend it.
An emergency fund is a fund that does not have easy accessibility. It is important for workers who do not have a steady paycheck to have an emergency fund because the fund can help cover any unexpected or unavoidable expenses that may come up. An emergency fund can help you pay these unexpected expenses without going into debt. Learn more about emergency funds by clicking HERE.
Just because you don’t have an employer-sponsored retirement account, doesn’t mean you still can’t save up for retirement. It is possible to still save for retirement with Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). The two types of IRAs are traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. Both types have different rules and offer different tax benefits. It is important to choose the IRA that will best meet your individual needs.
The gig economy provides many opportunities for employees. However, saving while being a part of it is extremely important. If you would like to learn more about ways to save or setting up an IRA, The Family Credit Union is here to help. Visit our website today to learn more about the different services we offer. We look forward to hearing from you.
What is financial independence? Financial independence is the ability to live comfortably off one’s savings and investments with no debt. While this might seem impossible, it can be easier than you think. If you can create a plan, be disciplined, and have some sort of financial guidance, you can reach your goal. The Family Credit Union has come up with a list of tips to help get you started on your way to financial independence.
Making a plan is a very important step when working towards becoming financially independent. Think about what your plan should look like, then take time to actually do some research to make sure your plan is attainable. Each person’s plan is going to be different. Someone who is in their 20s isn’t going to have the same plan as someone who is in their 60s. The longer you have time to save and invest your money, the better. No matter what your age is, be realistic in your plans.
Creating a budget can be an extremely helpful tool in tracking your finances and becoming financially independent. So what does the budget consist of? It is the process of measuring income, subtracting expenses, and helps to figure out where you need to cut costs to reach your goals.
This is a common rule. According to moneyunder30.com, if you are in your 20s or 30s and can earn an average investment return of 5 percent a year, saving 20 percent of your income will give you a shot at achieving financial independence before you’re too old to enjoy it. If you are married, consider saving a large part of one salary. If you can try to limit your spending and live a lower standard of living, you can help put more money into savings and investments sooner.
According to USA Today, the average American household carries $137,063 in debt. Working to get rid of debt is one of the most effective things you can do to free up money and begin saving.
Investing can be a great way to earn money. However, it is important to remember that all markets have ups and downs. Make sure to fully understand what you are investing in and keep your focus on assets that will make you money over the long run. Do your research and read up on investments so you know when to buy low and sell high. Also, make sure to look at the tax ramifications of any investment transaction you make.
Finances can change all the time. You can’t expect to make one plan and for it to always stay the same. Make sure that your financial planning is flexible enough to withstand both positive and negative changes.
You don’t need to always be “Keeping up with the Joneses”. If you can cut your overall living expenses, you can reach your goal much faster. Some people choose to sell their home and move to a smaller one or move to an area where living costs and taxes are lower. Others may choose to sell part of their property and put the money into savings or investments.
Being able to pay for and live a comfortable lifestyle is very rewarding. Use these steps to help being your process of becoming financially independent. The Family Credit Union is here for you with all you financial needs. Check out our education center to learn more about money and the services we offer.
Are you in the market to purchase a new vehicle? When it comes to buying a new car, timing is everything. Knowing when the right time to car shop can help to save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The Family Credit Union has come up with tips to help you save the most money when purchasing a new car.
TrueCar.com and Kelley Blue Book advise new car shoppers to be aware of year-end and end-of-the-month deals. March, June, September or December are the best months to buy. Car shopping during the week, escpecially Monday or Tuesday, can also save you money because less foot traffic means that more salespeople are likely to negotiate. Visiting the dealership in late afternoon rather than the morning can also be beneficial. It is a good time to negotiate for more favorable prices.
MSRP discounts are a great option for car buyers. The best time to get these discounts are between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Dealers tend to be under pressure to meet their year-end sales quotas and very few people choose to shop for cars that week. Another great perk is that manufacturers often will offer large rebates at the end of the year to clear out the lot with that year’s remaining model.
Next year’s models typically arrive in September or October. If you don’t mind purchasing the year’s current model, time your shopping to be in-line with the new model arrival. Manufactures tend to offer special incentives during Thanksgiving weekend as well.
The 4th of July and Labor Day are also good days to purchase a vehicle. In fact, Labor Day is considered the “Black Friday of car shopping”.
Finding out as much information as possible on the vehicle you are considering is very important. Doing your research in advance can really pay off. Take time to shop around for the best auto financing deal with various lenders. Knowing that you’ve left the lot with the best deal will help make your new purchase that much better.
New car “upsells” can drive your price up. Things such as, glass etching, paint sealants, and fabric protection are just unnecessary add-ons to help the dealership maximize its profits. Avoid them to save money.
Need a vehicle loan? The Family Credit Union has you covered. To apply for a loan, visit our website HERE. We look forward to working with you!
Summertime is finally here which means it’s time for vacation! Traveling can be expensive. Those transportation costs, hotels, and restaurant meals begin to quickly add. According to CreditDonkey, the average vacation costs $1,145 per person. The Family Credit Union has created a list to help you save money on your vacation this summer.
Before going on vacation, take time to do some research on your destination. Often times you can find many free activities to do while you’re there. Whether it be a farmers market or listening to free live music outside, these activities are entertaining and save you money.
While most people don’t want to cook while they are on vacation, eating smaller meals like breakfast and lunch in the room can be a huge money saver. Stop by a grocery store and pick up some essentials like granola bars, lunch meat, and bread. You’ll be able to splurge more on dinner this way.
How often will you be in your room anyway? Choosing a simpler room can save you extra money to spend towards something else on your trip.
Staying in the city can often be much more expensive. You can do the attractions during the day, and then when you are finished come back and sleep.
If you take yearly vacations, consider applying for a rewards credit card and use it with your vacation in mind. Reward points add up quickly. Don’t overspend on your rewards card, but take advantage of the points you earn from regular spending.
The Family Credit Union staff hopes your family enjoys their vacation. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer or how we can make your life easier.
It seems like technology is everywhere. We are constantly asked to download apps or give all of our information to websites. Sometimes it’s nice to disconnect and do some things for ourselves.
Here are some tips adapted from an article from Penny Hoarder, written by Jacquelyn Pica.
Before you can do anything, you’ll need to know what you’re starting with. Using a paper spreadsheet or a program like Excel or Numbers, list out all your debts and bills that you pay regularly. These bills would include credit card payments, utilities, car payments, insurance, and so on. On the spreadsheet, put down the amount of the payment, when the payments are due, and what the balance is for each account.
Once you see what you owe, you can now move to the next step. Most popular spreadsheet programs have budget templates that you can use.
Use your budget to keep an eye on your income and expenses. This will help you be better at setting goals for your money and sticking to those goals
You may have heard of the 52-Week Savings Challenge. During the first week, you save $1. The next week, $2, and so on, until the last week of the challenge, where you put away $52. When all is said and done, you will have saved $1378.00. If your savings account pays interest, then you will have even more in the account at the end of the year.
Click here to download and print your own 52-Week Challenge Chart.
Every time you get a $5 bill, put it into a jar. Don’t spend the money and don’t count the cash until you need it. Paying for items with cash helps you save money and it is easy to blow five bucks here and there. You can find several stories about people that have saved thousands of dollars without much effort or noticing the “missing” money.
This idea is not mind-blowing, but it is effective in its simplicity: put your change in a jar or piggy bank. It’s a painless way to save and, if you combine it with the $5 challenge above, it can quickly add up.
When you’re ready to cash out, take your money to The Family Credit Union or other financial institution, rather than one of those machines you see at the store. TFCU will give you the amount you bring in, whereas the machines take a big percentage of your deposit. It’s best to bring the coins into the branch in something that won’t break if dropped, like a plastic container or bag.
You need something definitive to work towards. This will help provide you the motivation to continue saving. What’s your goal? Paying off a debt, making renovations, taking a trip, whatever the reason, write it down and leave the notes where you can see it regularly. Keeping your motivation top of mind will help you keep on saving.
Sit down with your spreadsheet and other documents on a regular basis, whether it’s weekly or monthly, and determine where you’re at. You can take this time to see if your budget is on track or if there are areas for improvement. Be honest with yourself and make new saving habits
The whole reason The Family Credit Union exists is to make sure our members reach their financial goals and more! We want you to develop good financial habits and pass them on to the rest of your family. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you reach your potential!