Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Get These Things Out Of Your Purse Or Wallet Now!

Your wallet can easily become cluttered with loyalty cards, coupons, cash, checks, store credit cards, and a host of identification cards. Not only is an over-stuffed wallet a hassle to carry, it may make identity theft easier.

Give your purse or wallet a good once over. Look for things you don’t regularly need, and take them out! Some things should never be in your purse or wallet. If you see these items as you’re trimming down your daily carry, take them out immediately.

1.) Your Social Security card 
It’s easy enough to stuff the card into your wallet when you need it for identification and then forget about it.

That could be a big mistake. Thieves can use your original Social Security card to apply for all kinds of unsecured debt in your name. Canceling your Social Security number and getting a new one is a complicated, time-consuming process, and you may be liable for fraud as you do so.

Keep yourself safe, and get the card out of your wallet! Put it in a secure location in your home, like a safety lock box.

2.) Receipts 
This is by far the easiest way to accumulate paper in your wallet. You never know which might be needed later and you stick them all into your wallet. Before you know it, you’ve got a novel-sized stack of transactions.

This could be serious trouble if your purse or wallet is ever stolen or lost. Thieves can use the last four digits of your credit card number on a receipt to build a profile of your purchases, and can fish for more information with a merchant who has the card on file, like a cable company or an online retailer.

Think about going paperless. Turn your phone into a digital file box. Information can be encrypted to keep it out of the hands of malicious people, but still accessible to you if you need to check a purchase.

3.) Tons of credit cards 
Every store offers its own card and incentives. Those cards can really add up. Tack on an extra couple of cards for gas purchases, everyday expenses, and work-related stuff and you could easily end up with a wallet or purse full of plastic.

If your wallet or purse is stolen, each one of those cards has to be canceled individually. Forgetting even one can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Thin your collection down to the one or two you use regularly. Look for those that can be widely used, provide the lowest fees and best acceptance rates. Put the rest of them into a safe place at home, using them only when you need them.

Once you’re down to your top cards, make a list of their numbers and the steps you’d need to take to cancel them if necessary.

The Digital Age has made having all but the most necessary of physical items completely obsolete, and has also made it easier than ever to keep your world clean, neat, and organized. Make it a priority to clean out your purse or wallet to keep your personal information secure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Charging Ahead: Five Ways to Build Credit

You've got to give yourself some credit. Literally. Fewer than half of Americans use a credit card, and having a financial clean slate could mess things up when they want to get a house or a loan. Build your credit with the following tips:

1. Check your credit score(s). 
Get a free report at annualcreditreport.com and check for correct addresses and bank accounts.

U.S. law entitles you to a free report every year, but because creditors report to three bureaus, credit counselors recommend you pull a copy from each bureau every four months.

2. Monitor your plastic. 
If you're in college and living off ramen noodles, you might not need a credit card yet. These cards are not for supplementing income. You want to build credit so you can buy a house or buy a car later on. If you sign up for a credit card, put something small on it each month like gas for your car, and get into the habit of paying it off right away.

If you already have a credit card and want another, be discerning. You don’t want to open up more lines of credit than you can handle. 

3. Pay on time. 
Start healthy repayment habits now to entice future lenders. Paying for rent, your cell and utilities won't build credit, but not paying on time can ruin it. Good habits will get you what you want later in life.

Budgeting can also help. Aim to spend no more than 29 percent of your income on housing and 35 to 38 percent on your whole household budget, which includes food, car insurance and health care.

4. Care for the credit you have. 
Most states let you do a security freeze on your credit to prevent identity theft, which prevents people from opening new accounts without your knowledge. Do this. Such freezes typically cost $10 or less for all three agencies that track your credit, so skip the expensive companies.

5. Watch your credit limits. 
You don't want to use more than 30 to 50 percent of your available credit. This means if you have a credit card with a $1,000 limit, you shouldn't use your card for more than $500 each month. If you go over, creditors see you as mismanaging your credit because you over-obligate yourself. That shiny new smart phone will have to wait until next month.

In short, as long as you pay off your credit cards on time and in full you're on the right track -- and your scores will reflect that behavior in a positive way. Need help understanding your credit report? Community Financial is here to help and will provide a free credit review. Simply visit a branch near you or call (877) 937-2328.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Holiday Budgeting Lessons for Parents

The holiday shopping season is in full swing. Offers and promotions from retailers are probably flooding your inbox, and your physical mailbox is getting overloaded with catalogs from shops you haven’t bought anything from in years, if ever.

If you’re wondering how you’re going to pay for this frenzy of shopping while keeping your checking account in the black, you’re not alone.

According a T. Rowe Price survey, more than half of parents will aim to get everything on their kids’ wish lists this year, spending an average of $422 per child. Many of these parents will be paying for these gifts for months, or even years, afterward. But what’s a busted budget next to holiday cheer, right?

Of course, before approaching any large-cost event, it’s smart to create a budget. Unfortunately, 58% of the parents surveyed admitted that they thought they had created a budget, but didn’t stick to it. Nearly two-thirds admit they spend more than they can afford.

Short-term effects 
Tipping your budget just a bit every once in a while isn’t a disaster. You can plan to spend less the next month or pay off your debt with an expected surplus of funds. But the spending hangover some parents can face from their holiday shopping is too large to be easily forgotten.

Over half the parents surveyed will pay for their holiday gifts with credit cards. Just 61% of them plan to pay off their spending within three months, and 16% say they will pay it off over the course of six months or more. That’s half a year spent catching up on holiday spending!

Think carefully this shopping season before you drop another item into your cart. Is this gift really worth trimming your budget for the next three – or six – months?

Long-lasting effects 
Even more alarming than paying off holiday debt for half a year is the one-quarter of the parents who have taken extreme measures to fund their purchases: 11% have used money from their retirement accounts, 14% have taken funds out of their emergency savings and 11% have taken out a payday loan. While their kids may be delighted with their loot, parents can be paying for it for longer than they think.

Taking $500 out of a 401(k) at age 35 translates into giving up $6,000 that was earmarked for retirement. Parents are forking out additional taxes and penalties to gain access to the money, and are also losing the opportunity for that money to grow.

Life Lessons 
There’s nothing quite as exciting as unwrapping a present. Kids wait all year for the holidays and as their parents, you want to make them happy. This is why 60% of the parents surveyed claimed they try to check off every single item on their child’s wish list.

Aside from the financial drain, purchasing every gift your kids have their hearts set on teaches them a host of lessons they’re better off without. Do you really want your kids thinking they can always have everything they want? Do you want them to feel that everything they own must always be the best and most expensive?

This holiday season, teach your kids that true happiness can’t be bought.

Be proactive 
You can beat the budget-busting this season by saving up for the holiday season throughout the year. While it may be too late for this year, it’s never too early to start thinking about next season! Just a little bit of money put aside each month can take you through the holiday season without any long-lasting scars.

Be an informed shopper this holiday season and your decisions will pay off in more ways than one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Warming Hearts & Homes is Back. You Click and We Donate!

Community Financial Credit Union is excited to kick off the holiday season with the return of our 5th annual Warming Hearts & Homes charitable campaign!

Throughout the month of December, Community Financial will donate up to $40,000 to local nonprofit organizations that provide heat, food, shelter and clothing to low-income families.

The winter months can put an extra strain on some families, forcing them to choose between paying utilities and putting food on the table.

That’s why the Warming Hearts & Home program was created and why Community Financial remains dedicated to supporting the fight against cold and hunger in Michigan this winter. As a member of our community, you’re invited to participate in this year’s campaign by getting social with us!

HERE'S HOW YOU CAN HELP 

  • Like or share our Facebook posts – @Community Financial 
  • Like or retweet our posts on Twitter – @cfcreditunion #CFCUwarms 
  • Like our pictures on Instagram – @communityfinancial 

Giving back to your community has never been easier! Each week in December we will make social media posts about the different organizations below. Each Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram interaction equals a $25 donation to help the following:

Community Relations Manager Natalie McLaughlin said this is one of her favorite annual giving campaigns that Community Financial runs.

“Warming Hearts & Homes is an easy way for people to get involved and help others in their local communities. Each winter, local families are faced with challenges. Through this campaign, Community Financial is honored to help the community face the cold with heat for their homes, coats for their children, safe shelter and food.”

To learn more about the Warming Hearts & Homes Campaign visit www.cfcu.org/warms. Together we can make a difference in our communities this holiday season.

Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
© Community Financial 2013
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Federally insured by NCUA.