Archive for Savings Hacks

Tracking Holiday Spending Keeps Seasonal Stress Down

 

Holiday Helper Loan: Oh my garland! Tis the season to save with the 705 Holiday Helper Loan. Learn more!

Holiday Spending Hacks

Nothing is more heartwarming than seeing your loved ones’ faces light up when they open that perfect gift you (err, Santa) gave them.

Tyler’s new bike, Olivia’s new tablet and that gift card to mom and dad’s favorite steak place all add up to wonderful holiday memories… until the credit card statements show up.

The holidays will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why most people will try even harder to make the season brighter for others. But, you don’t have to dip into Tyler and Olivia’s college savings to create a special time for everyone!

The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead: Have a set spending amount for gifts, wrap, entertaining, donations and travel.

Make a list and check it twice

Many are struggling financially this year, so it will be no surprise to those outside your family if your gift-recipient list is shorter this year. Once you trim your list, make a holiday treat or handmade token for those who got the cut. It really IS the thought that counts.

Once you have your list complete, figure out a realistic amount to spend on each person. Jot down a couple of gift ideas in your price range for that person.

Try the 705 budgeting tool to keep your spending in check. Click on “Trends” within Online Banking for regular monthly budgeting, but it also allows you to allocate more funds for holiday purchases. Using graphs and reports, it shows how much you’ve spent and how it will affect your budget in the months to come.

Shopping

Due to the pandemic, holiday shopping is already in full swing. Most people want to avoid crowds, so they are already hitting the malls. Retailers are well aware of this trend, and are offering pre-Black Friday sales and discounts.

Spreading out your holiday shopping over several weeks also makes it easier on your budget. Always shop with a list and keep track of your spending. As you buy your gifts, subtract from your total budget.

In addition to shopping the sales and collecting coupon codes for online purchases, know when to buy. December is the best time to buy cars, appliances, winter clothing and electronics. Also, know how much items cost before a markdown to know if you’re really getting a deal.

It is expected that online shopping will increase by 35% this year because shoppers don’t feel comfortable being in stores. Some states still have restrictions limiting retail establishments’ capacity and store hours.

If you’re shopping online, order early and expect delays in shipping. Increased shopping during the holidays will affect already-strained delivery companies. To avoid shipping delays and higher shipping costs, shop at stores that offer “buy online, ship to store” service. This service is free at most retailers, some of which offer curbside pickup.

Get the best deals on cards, decorations and gift wrap during the days right before and after Christmas. Discounts of up to 75% off can shave a lot off your holiday budget for next year.

Entertaining

Still reeling from the pandemic, most folks will host smaller holiday gatherings this year, which will save tons on food, treats and adult beverages. Many people are still working from home, so work parties and gift exchanges also will be virtual or postponed, keeping cash in your wallet.

If you’re hosting guests, keep costs down by asking everyone to bring their favorite side or dessert and include festive recipe cards with the chef’s name.

For the adults, serve a warm mulled wine or holiday punch or make one festive signature cocktail.

Use DIY decor featuring natural items, like holly and pine cones. Gather the kids and go on a hike to find outdoor holiday decorations. Not only will it save you money, but it will also give you some stress-free outdoor time with your family.

Save more by partying without plastic. Disposable plates and dinnerware are not great for the environment or your budget.

Travel

If you must travel home for the holidays, don’t forget to figure in other incidentals beyond gasoline and the cost of a plane ticket.

If you’re traveling by car, gas prices have luckily seen a steady dip. Still, the GasBuddy app can help you find the best prices for gasoline wherever you are, and you can even pay from the app. Don’t forget to figure in tolls and any emergency costs that may come up.

If you’re flying, consider baggage fees, parking and shuttle costs and the expense of ground transportation once you arrive.

And don’t forget Fluffy! You’ll need to pay someone to take care of your furry friends. The Rover app can help you find pet care options near your home.

Charitable giving

The holidays are a time for goodwill toward all. But if your budget cannot accommodate a monetary donation, volunteer your time. If you are able to make a financial donation, be sure to check that the charity you are supporting is legitimate by consulting Charity Navigator.

Keep your holidays dollars in check, and you may have some holiday spirit left over even after the last elf is packed away and the January bills start rolling in.

We at 705 FCU wish you all a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday.

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/10/26/5-ways-holiday-shopping-will-be-different-in-2020/?sh=2def7bdd1558
https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-stick-to-your-holiday-budget-2385688
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/60171/11-innovative-ways-track-your-holiday-spending
https://www.hgtv.ca/entertaining/photos/holiday-entertaining-on-a-budget-1922279/#currentSlide=1
https://www.moneycrashers.com/create-holiday-budget/

My Savings Has Been Wiped Clean; How Can I Replenish It?

Broken piggy bank with coins everywhere

Q: The last few months have been really tough on my finances, and I’ve been forced to use my savings for getting by. My emergency fund and savings account are basically zero. Now that my financial situation is starting to improve, I’d like to start building these up again, but it’s all so overwhelming. Where do I begin?

A: Watching savings that took you years to build up disappear in just a few months can be disheartening, but it’s important to remember that you’ve made the right choice. Using emergency funds to survive prolonged unemployment, an unexpected large expense or a medical emergency is the best way to make it through a financial hardship. If your savings are depleted, though, you’ll want to start rebuilding as soon as possible to ensure you have the funds to cover a future financial challenge without falling deeply into debt.

Here’s how to start your rebuilding plan:

Set a goal

Before getting started on saving up money, it’s a good idea to establish a tangible goal. What’s your magic number? You can try to recover the value of the savings lost, or start smaller, with a more attainable goal. Bear in mind that experts recommend having funds to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside in an emergency fund or savings account.

Review your budget and trim your spending

A good place to start finding those extra dollars for savings is by carefully reviewing your spending for ways to cut back. Look for expenses that can make a difference in a monthly budget without dramatically affecting your quality of life. Think about subscriptions or services that are rarely used, a dining-out budget that can be scaled back and expensive recreational activities that can be swapped with freebies. There’s no need to live like you’re broke, but stripping your budget of some extras can give you the boost of cash you need each month to build up your savings again.

Find a side hustle

Another great way to land extra funds is through a side job. There are many ways to pad a wallet without a major investment of time. Some options include taking surveys on sites like Survey Junkie and Swagbucks and doing gig work for companies like Uber, DoorDash and Rover.

Sell your old treasures

If you’ve spent part of the COVID-19 lockdown giving your house a deep cleaning, you may have unearthed some forgotten treasures that can turn into easy moneymakers. You can sell old clothing on ThredUp, unwanted jewelry on Worthy.com, make good money off your unwanted furniture through Chairish, sell or trade unused sports equipment on Swap Me Sports and sell kids clothing and toys on Kid to Kid. Use the cash you earn from these sales to jumpstart your new nest egg.

Make a plan

Once you have a goal in place for building your savings, and you’ve maximized the possible monthly contributions toward savings each month, it’s time to create a plan. Map out a timeline of how long it’ll take to reach your goal when putting away as much as possible each month. Remember: the more aggressively you save now, the sooner you’ll reach your goal.

Start saving

It’s time to put the plan into action!

The best way to ensure regular savings happens each month is to make it automatic. You can set up an automatic monthly transfer from your Section 705 Checking Account to your Section 705 Savings Account on a designated day of the month. You may want to have the transfer go through several days after you receive your monthly salary, or it might work out better to put a smaller amount of money into savings each week. Give us a call at 337-232-8450 to discuss your options.

Put unexpected windfalls into savings

To speed up the process of rebuilding depleted savings, you may want to resolve to put unexpected windfalls into an emergency fund or savings account. This can include tax refunds, a work bonus and gift money. If another round of Coronavirus stimulus checks is approved, consider using these funds for your savings as well. Earmarking future windfalls for savings can shorten the amount of time spent cutting corners in a budget and taking on extra jobs to build up a savings account.

Rebuilding an emergency fund and savings account from the bottom up isn’t easy. It takes commitment, hard work and the ability to keep a long-term goal in mind; however, the security that comes from knowing you have a safety cushion to fall back on in case of a financial setback will make this goal worth the effort many times over.

Resources:

https://www.policygenius.com/blog/money-milestones-how-to-rebuild-a-depleted-emergency-savings-fund/
https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/banks/articles/rebuilding-emergency-fund-after-coronavirus/
https://www.moneymanagement.org/credit-counseling/resources/how-to-rebuild-your-personal-savings-account

All You Need to Know about Savings Certificates

Watch your money grow! Share certificates are a great low risk investment option. See how much you could earn on your money. Learn more!

Are Savings Certificates Right for You?

If the lump under your mattress is getting uncomfortably big and you’re looking for a safer, more lucrative place to park your savings, look no further than Section 705. As an institution that’s completely devoted to your financial wellness, we offer several secure options for savings, including: Share Certificates, Traditional IRAs, Lucky Lagniappe Savings, Christmas Club, Vacation Club, Super Green, Youth Savings, and Regular Savings Accounts.

Another excellent option we offer our members to help their savings grow is our savings certificates. They are sometimes also known as share certificates, and referred to by banks as CDs. These unique accounts offer the best of both worlds when it comes to your savings. First, you’ll be giving your money a greater chance at growth than it would have in a typical savings account. Secondly, you are not subjecting your savings to the inherent risks and potential for loss that accompanies investing in the stock market.

Let’s take a closer look at the way this fantastic savings product works and why it might be the perfect choice for you.

What is a Certificate?

A savings certificate is a federally insured savings account with a fixed dividend rate and a fixed date of maturity. The dividend rates of these accounts tend to be higher than those on savings accounts and some money market accounts. Generally, there is no monthly fee to keep the certificate open.

However, unlike a savings account, your money will be tied up in a certificate. A typical certificate will not allow you to add any money to the certificate after you’ve made your initial deposit. You also won’t be able to withdraw your funds before the maturity date without paying a penalty.

Terms and conditions of Certificates

As a member of Section 705, you can open up a certificate today. However, there are some basic requirements that must be met before you can do so, including a minimum opening balance and a commitment to keep your money in the account for a set amount of time.

The minimum amount of funds you’ll need to deposit to open a certificate will vary widely from one financial institution to the next and also depends upon the term you choose. Some institutions will accept an initial deposit as low as $50 for a certificate. Others, such as a “jumbo” certificate, will demand an opening balance of $100,000. In general, the more money you invest in a certificate, the higher rate of interest it will earn. At Section 705, you can open a certificate with as little as $100 at an Annual Percentage Yield (APY) of .25%.

Certificate term lengths also vary greatly among financial institutions, with most offering a choice of certificates that run from three months to five years. Typically, certificates with longer maturity terms will earn a higher rate. Here at Section 705, we offer our members certificates that can be opened for just 3 months or as long as 4 years. Our dividend rates start at .25 for short-term certificates and go up to 2.75 for our long-term options. To hear more about our certificate terms and rates, speak to a Section 705 representative today. Click for the dividends and disclosures on our share certificates.

Is a savings certificate for everyone?

While keeping your savings in a certificate can be an excellent option for your money, it is not for everyone. Before you go this route, ask yourself these important questions:

  • Do I have an emergency fund set aside to help me get through unexpected events or circumstances?
  • Do I anticipate needing to access these funds during the life of the certificate?

Remember: Your money will be tied up in the certificate and you will not be able to access it without paying a penalty. A certificate works best for people who have money set aside for a rainy day and are fairly certain they will not need to access the funds in the certificate until its maturity date.

Why keep your money in a certificate?

Here are some of the most popular reasons people choose to open a certificate:

  1. Low risk. While nearly every investment carries some sort of risk, your money is always safe in a certificate. With each Section 705 certificate insured by the National Credit Union Administration up to $250,000, you can rest easy, knowing your money is completely secure.
  2. Higher dividend rates. Certificates offer all the security of savings accounts with higher yields. It’s more for your money, just for choosing to invest it in a certificate.
  3. Locked-in rates. There’s no stressing over fluctuating national interest rates with a certificate. The APY is set when you open the account and is locked in until its maturity date. Instead of playing guessing games, you can determine exactly how much interest your money will earn over the life of the certificate the day you open it.

If a certificate sounds like the perfect choice for you, stop by Section 705 today to learn more. We’re committed to giving your money its best chance at growth.

Sources:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/cd-certificate-of-deposit/
https://www.thebalance.com/cd-basics-how-cds-work-315245
https://www.businessinsider.com/5-things-no-one-knows-about-cds-2012-10

8 Ways to Beat the Holiday Stress

Ho Ho Holiday Specials Make the holidays jolly and bright with our Holiday Auto and RV Loan Special, Holiday Helper Loan, or Skip-A-Pay! Learn more.

‘Tis the season to be merry-except sometimes, it’s not.

While the entertainment industry would have us think the holidays are always full of good cheer, lots of laughs and warm feelings, the reality can, unfortunately, be otherwise.

Sometimes, all that frenzied consumerism, party-hopping and crazy schedules can bring out the worst in the people we love. Other times, a challenging life situation, such as a recent divorce, death in the family or financial struggles, are painfully magnified when everyone around you seems to be in such wonderfully high spirits.

No one wants to be the Grinch on Christmas. So, if you tend to feel stressed or down when the holidays roll around, here are eight tips to help you turn that frown into a genuine smile.

1. Watch the buck

Nothing kills the holiday cheer like a mountain of debt. Stick to a budget when doing your holiday shopping and only spend what you can actually afford. Be extra careful not to overspend as the holidays draw near, and you’re experiencing pressure to finish your shopping in time. If you find yourself running low on funds, consider arranging a gift exchange, like a Secret Santa, or giving some homemade presents this year.

2. Give back

The holidays can sometimes leave us feeling down because of all that emphasis on the perfect gifts. Opening up a present is always a thrill, but giving to others creates lasting joy. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to give back to your community.
Beat the stress this season by sharing holiday cheer with those who are less fortunate. There are so many ways to spread joy! You can bring some toys to the children’s ward at the local hospital to brighten up a sick child’s holiday. Use your time off from work to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Dress up your family in their ugliest Christmas sweaters and holiday hats before visiting the closest nursing home to put a smile on the residents’ faces.

When you give, you always give most to yourself.

3. Stick to a schedule

Part of the holiday experience is enjoying late nights and/or early mornings. Sometimes, though, all that lazing around and lack of quality sleep can make stress levels soar. There’s no need to be a stickler for your regular routine on the holidays, but it’s a good idea to keep some sort of schedule. Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye, and if a physical workout is part of your daily routine, don’t neglect it over the holidays. You’ll always feel better when you’re taking care of your body. And, if you’re mindful about your habits, you may not even have those extra pounds to work off in January!

4. Party smart

Cheers! Can I pour you another glass of … soda?

If you like to party, you can end up getting sick over the holidays. All that heavy drinking and loading up on refined carbs can really do your body in. Do yourself a favor this year and watch what you imbibe. Enjoy a glass or two of your favorite alcoholic beverage, but try to keep the drinking to a minimum. Similarly, it’s OK to break your diet over Christmas, but it’s best not to go overboard. You don’t need to feel bloated and sick to enjoy the holidays. Keep the stress out by treating your body well.

5. Delegate

Are you hosting a crowd this Christmas? Guests can be great fun, but all the extra work can bring your stress levels through the roof. Here’s the good news: You don’t have to do it all! There’s nothing wrong and there’s everything right with asking for help. Don’t feel bad about having your guests and family members pitch in with cooking and cleaning. They’ll feel better, too, when they’re sharing the workload. Plus, everything is easier when there are more hands on deck.

6. Take some “me” time

Whether you’re a closet introvert or you just need some time alone each day, the nonstop partying and a house full of guests can get to you after a while. It’s always a good idea to take care of yourself, and in the chaos of the holidays this need is often neglected. Consider running out to get yourself a manicure, taking a solitary half-hour walk or just locking yourself in your room after a long and loud day to savor the peace and quiet. You’re not being an antisocial snob if you need your “me” time; you’re just being human.

7. Give up the guilt

If you tend to overanalyze every interaction you have with family and friends, you can really beat yourself up over the holidays questioning everything you’ve said. Try to relax and to let go this season. So long as you’re reasonably pleasant and agreeable, you can give yourself a break.

8. Lower your expectations

A common cause for holiday stress is unrealistic expectations. It’s best not to build huge castles in the air by keeping your expectations to a minimum. There will probably be some minor, or even major, stressors this holiday, and not everything will turn out exactly as planned. All of that is OK. If you don’t expect perfection, you won’t be struggling with mountains of disappointment this holiday.

Beat the blues and put the cheer back into the holidays this year!

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas from all of us here at Section 705.

Sources: 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/life-without-anxiety/201212/10-tips-surviving-the-holidays
https://www.symptomfind.com/health/holiday-stress-management/
https://www.huffpost.com/entry/holiday-stress-tips_b_790222
https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/parents-holiday

9 Steps to Buying Your First Car

Your First Car Do’s and Don’ts 

Congrats—you’re ready to purchase your first real car! The process can be daunting, but Section 705 FCU will walk you through it. Follow our guidelines for a stress-free ride.

  1. Determine if you really need a carCouple shaking hands after buying a vehicle

OK, you weren’t expecting this, but it’s important to take a step back to review your actual transportation needs. Lots of college towns have a great bus system in place, which can save you loads on car costs. If you have a car-owning good friend you’ll be riding into town with each weekend, it may not pay for you to have your own set of wheels. Also, if your campus has everything you need within walking distance, it can be cheaper to rent a car when you need it instead of buying one now.

  1. Know your budget

If you’ve determined that a car purchase is necessary at this point in your life, don’t start hunting for your dream car until you’ve worked out a realistic budget. Take a hard look at your other monthly expenses to see how much you can spare for a new set of wheels. Don’t forget to include some cash for auto insurance, gas and maintenance.

  1. Create a tentative wish list

This is your first car, so it doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles it does in your dreams. Sit down and make a list of all the “must haves” and “wants” you’re looking for in a vehicle. Determine how much each feature would cost you in a car and decide which are really important.

  1. Obtain financing

If you’ve been saving up cash for your first car all through high school, you’re set! Otherwise, visit [credit union] to learn about your auto loan options and to get your pre-approval.

  1. Research your options

You’re ready to start looking for a vehicle that will satisfy your needs and wants. You can research ratings and user reviews on sites like Cars.com and create another list that contains your top three choices of car makes and models.

  1. Look up listings

Start scavenging for listings of your car choices online and in your neighborhood. Once you’ve found several that might work, research their histories on Carfax.com and then contact the seller to set up a test drive.

  1. Take it for a spin

If a car checks out and everything looks good, you’re going to want to take it for a test drive. Pay attention to details like legroom, acceleration, brake functionality and more while you drive.

  1. Have it inspected

If you’re purchasing a used vehicle, it’s best to have it inspected by a mechanic before signing on the deal.

  1. Make it official

If your car has passed the test drive and inspection, you’re ready to make it official! Be sure to read all documents before signing and obtain insurance before your first joyride.

Enjoy your new set of wheels and drive safely!

Want help with the car buying process? Section 705 FCU has 2 certified financial counselors and a loan department that can help you find the car of your dreams and finance it!

 

SOURCES:

https://www.carbuyingtips.com/first-time-buyer.htm 

https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/10-steps-to-buying-a-used-car.html

https://www.carbuyingtips.com/used.htm

 

10 HACKS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HITTING THE MALL

Holiday Shopping Hacks

family shopping for holiday gifts in a mallQ: When the holiday season rolls around, I practically take up residence at the mall. There’s so much shopping I need to do and the mall is the best place to pick up most of my gifts. And yet, the experience causes so many headaches—and it’s expensive! Is there a way to spend less at the mall and to make the entire experience more pleasant?

A: You’re not the only one who feels like skipping out on their mortgage this month and paying rent at the mall instead. In the weeks leading up to the holidays, the crowds at the mall can be as dense as the foot traffic on a street in Manhattan.

There’s more than just the thick crowds you have to battle at the mall, though. There’s also heavy manipulation by retailers priming you to overspend. Kit Yarrow, PhD and professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University, says the red and green décor that covers the malls this time of year urges us to splurge. Red energizes us and green is perceived as an optimistic, lucky and wealthy color. Both colors will push us into going over budget.

The crowds and the endless spending can take a toll on anyone. No worries, though; we’ve got 10 incredible mall shopping hacks to make your trip a little easier on you and a bit lighter on your budget!

  1. Map out a route

The less time you spend at the mall, the better off your budget will be. Before spending yet another afternoon roaming aimlessly until you find what you’re looking for, jot down a short list of your intended purchases before heading out and then create a route of the stores you’ll hit to look for them. Most malls offer a printable map on their websites to make this task a little easier.

Have your route pre-planned and do your budget a favor. As a bonus, you might even make it home headache-free!

  1. Turn it up

Plug into your favorite playlist while scouring your favorite stores for fantastic finds. You’ll be calmer and less stressed—and a lot less likely to overspend.

  1. Cash only

If you can’t seem to stick to a budget at the mall, leave the plastic at home and only bring along the amount of cash you plan on spending. It’s hard to feel the hole a swipe makes in your pocket, but slipping the cashier a pile of bills actually feels like you’re spending money—and you’ll spend less of it. You’ll also be forced to stick to your budget no matter how tempted you are to overspend.

If you dare, consider only bringing newer, high-denomination bills, like 50s and 100s. You’ll think three times before breaking up those crisp, large bills.

  1. Find the hidden cashier

Skip the endless lines in the bigger stores this holiday season by seeking out the cashiers set up in out-of-the-way spots of the store. You might find these quieter checkout lines near the lingerie department, in a far-off corner or near the fitting rooms. Zip in and out of the store in minutes!

  1. Box it

When a cashier offers to box your purchases for you, say yes! It might mean a bit more time for you at the checkout, but you’ll get a head start on all that gift wrapping and save money on wrapping paper, too. Ask for a box even if your purchase isn’t a gift and then use it to wrap another gift item when you get home.

  1. Shop late in the day

Skip the crazy crowds by shopping right before closing. The malls usually see the fewest shoppers during the late evening hours, so you’ll be able to shop quickly without jostling your way through the crowds.

Also, many stores stay open an extra hour after the mall closes in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Hit the mall first, and then shop the extended hours at the department stores to get a whole lot done in one stress-free trip.

  1. Shop in heels

Leave your comfortable flats at home! A Brigham Young University study found that shoppers spent a lot less money when their minds were focused on staying balanced. If you don’t like teetering through the mall, you can hit the shops after a yoga class or after riding an escalator for a similar effect.

  1. Don’t become fast friends with the checkout clerks

According to Forbes, shoppers tend to overspend when they feel a kinship with the cashier. Be cordial and be polite, but don’t get too chummy with the checkout clerks this season.

  1. Carry a snapshot of your financial goal

What’s your financial dream? An Alaskan cruise? A luxury car? Print out a photo of your dream and stick it into your wallet. Pull it out whenever you’re tempted to bust your budget on a purchase and it will help you keep your mind on your goal.

  1. Suck on a mint

Did you know that stores use scents to manipulate shoppers into spending more? Suck on a mint or chew a piece of mint-flavored gum to help you block out the store’s smells and stick to your budget.

Don’t get stressed or go broke at the mall this season! Follow our hacks for a budget-friendly and stress-free shopping trip.

For more savings tips, connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube!

SOURCES:

https://www.seventeen.com/fashion/style-advice/tips/a37264/money-saving-shopping-hacks-that-will-you-money-at-mall-stores/
http://ourfinancialpath.com/spend-less/
https://www.rd.com/advice/saving-money/psychology-tricks-spend-less-shopping/
http://www.coupons.com/thegoodstuff/shop-smart-12-mall-shopping-hacks-you-should-know/

6 Times A Bargain Is Not A Bargain

SaleIn the words of writer Franklin Jones, “A bargain is something you don’t need at a price you can’t resist.” And we couldn’t agree more. 

With the biggest spending season of the year looming ahead, it’s time to brush up on your shopping smarts. Don’t get caught springing for something you can’t afford! This year, give yourself the gift of an intact budget and a credit card balance that doesn’t haunt you for months or years to come. 

Here’s when that steal of a deal you can’t wait to show off to your friends is not such a bargain after all. 

  1. When you don’t need it 

The price might be right. But, if the heavily marked-down item is one you don’t need, you’re not getting a bargain at all. You’re just blowing money you could be using to put into savings or purchase stuff you actually do need. 

Those flashy signs and hyped-up ads are enough to blind the most discerning shopper, so think carefully before plunking down your money on sale items. If an item is marked down 75%, ask yourself: Would I ever buy this item at full price? Would I buy it if the price was slashed just 30%?

  1. When it’s a faulty product

Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be cheap. If an item is retailing at a ridiculously low price, inspect it carefully. Hold it up to this checklist to determine its quality and durability:

  •   Where was it manufactured? If the product bears a designer label, but also has a “Made in China” tag stuck on it, you’re likely looking at a cheap knockoff that isn’t such a bargain after all.
  • Are there any noticeable defects or missing parts? 
  • Does the item appear to be worn out? You don’t want to be buying someone else’s heavily used returns.
  • Is the material cheaply made? Some clothing will start attracting lint and will sport unsightly “pimples” while still in the store. Unless they’re giving it away free, such poorly made clothing is hardly worth the price.
  1. When it’s going to go bad before you can use it 

Costco, we’re looking at you! Sure, that gigantic package of peanuts that looks like it can feed a herd of elephants is insanely cheap, but who are you kidding here? We both know there’s no way your family can eat it before they start going bad. And there’s no money saved when half of an item gets chucked into the trash. 

Before buying in bulk to snag a great deal, be sure the food won’t go rancid or get stale before you can eat it. 

  1. When the “sale price” is the highest the item’s ever been sold for at this location 

Retailers often use underhanded strategies to attract consumers. One of these tactics is featuring an item’s price as a “sale price” when, in reality, the store has never sold it for more than the tagged amount. 

Sometimes, the store operators will be basing their sale price on an inflated Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). But if the MSRP was artificially inflated from the start, you’re not really getting a bargain, are you? 

Other times, the item will come with a pre-marked-down MSRP. The manufacturer’s label might read: “Original price: $49.99. Our price: $39.99.” Of course, the item was never sold at $49.99 and the retailer is just playing games with you. If an item is really marked down, you’ll see a new price tag slapped on top of the manufacturer’s label with the newer, lower price. 

  1. When you need to mail in a rebate to get the discount 

Rebates are a retailer’s best friend. Most of us are just too lazy or forgetful to mail them in. So, we instead end up paying the full price with the retailer getting the last laugh. For instance, in one TiVo subscription promotion that included a mail-in rebate deal, a whopping $5,000,000 was never claimed.

If you’re the super-responsible type who doesn’t know the meaning of procrastination, enjoy those rebate deals. But, for the rest of us mere mortals, it only pays to pick up a rebate item with an instant at-the-register rebate. Otherwise, consider the item as being marked at its regular price.

  1. When it’s part of a liquidation sale 

Avoid liquidation sales like crime-ridden neighborhoods. While shoppers sometimes snag great deals at these sales, liquidation events are ripe with rip-offs. Retailers post signs claiming “Everything Must Go!” – but that’s where the honesty ends. The “Rock Bottom Prices” they advertise are often as high as the original MSRP – or even higher. The store owners are depending on shoppers to assume that all items are bargain-priced just because they’re at a liquidation sale. Don’t let them pull the wool over your eyes! Stay away from liquidation sales or proceed with extreme caution.

Sometimes a bargain is just that. But too often, what we think is an incredible deal is just another item we don’t need with a perfectly ordinary price. 

Want More Financial Tips and Tricks? Connect with Us on Facebook or Instagram!

SOURCES:

https://www.fnbn.com/3199-2/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2012/03/03/beware-sometimes-bargain-sales-are-no-bargain/amp/
https://www.consumerreports.org/shopping/why-a-sale-isnt-always-a-sale/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/lifehacker.com/5695886/how-to-figure-out-when-a-sale-isnt-really-a-sale/amp
https://www.section705fcu.org/borrow/loan-products/

7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Making A Large Purchase

Considering a Large Purchase? Make a Plan!

You’re convinced: You really want that Coach handbag. Or maybe you just know that gigantic entertainment center will transform your weekends. So you swipe your card and the dream item becomes yours. You’re thrilled! 

That is, until a few weeks later when the credit card bill comes, and buyer’s remorse hits. You can’t help wondering: Was it really worth the price? 

Don’t get sucked in again! Before you say “yes” to a large purchase, ask yourself these 7 questions: 

1. Do I have cash to pay for this item? 

woman coming out of a store after purchase a television

This question will help you determine if you can really afford the purchase. You need to have liquid funds that can cover the cost of your item. Putting it on credit means you’ll be hiking up the price once interest is tacked on, and you’ll be reminded of a possibly regrettable purchase for a long time to come. 

2. Is this the best price? 

 

When making a large purchase, it’s important to comparison-shop by checking several online listings and some brick-and-mortar shops as well. Visit coupon sites like CouponCabin.com for automatic savings. Also find out the best season for buying this particular item and wait for a sale if it makes sense to do so. Finally, consider purchasing a previously owned item for less.  

3. How many hours of work will you need to do in order to pay for this purchase? 

 

Calculate the total number of hours you’ll need to work to pay for this “must-have” item. Is it really worth the price? 

4. How else can I spend this money? 

Think about the money you’re about to spend on this single item. What else can that money buy? A few weeks’ worth of groceries? A year’s worth of monthly dinners out? Take some time to think of other ways you can spend this money before making a final decision. 

5. Have you splurged recently? 

 

If you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional pricey indulgence. But, when luxury purchases become a habit, it can spell disaster for your finances. If you picked up a designer handbag just last week, you may be best off waiting a bit before buying the one that’s caught your eye today. 

6. How often will I use this item? 

Yes, it seems essential today, but looking ahead, how often do you think you’ll really use this item? If you can see yourself only using this purchase a few times a year, you may want to re-think your decision. 

7. How much will this money be worth if I put it into savings? 

You have the funds for this purchase, but how much would that money earn if you saved it? Check out this investment calculator to get that magic number. The results might leave you pleasantly surprised. 

Here at Section 705 FCU, we have several long-term savings accounts that can help your money grow. Give us a call or stop by, and we’ll help you choose one that’s perfect for you! 

SOURCES:

https://www.frugalrules.com/questions-to-ask-before-a-large-purchase/ 
https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2016/08/what-to-do-before-a-large-purchase.html 
https://www.thebalance.com/before-you-make-large-purchases-2385817 
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.businessinsider.com/sc/things-to-consider-before-major-purchase-2016-10 

SAVING ON MOTHER’S DAY

8 Mother’s Day Ideas that Will Save You Big Bucks!

woman reads Mother's Day cardQ: I love showing Mom how much she means to me, but with the money spent on a pricey bouquet, a nice gift and dinner out, I’m looking at an awful lot of spending! Is there any way to give Mom a Mother’s Day to remember without it costing a small fortune?

A: If you find yourself overspending on Mother’s Day, you’re not alone. The average American will spend close to $200 this month, all aimed at making Mom feel special. It’s wonderful to show your love and appreciation, but you don’t need to blow your budget to make that happen.

Read on for some low-cost ways to show Mom how much you care. 

Give Mom a stay-cation

Give your mother a day off – at home! Make arrangements for her to be completely free of all housework on her special day. There’s no laundry, cooking or cleaning for her today! Offer to assume the responsibilities of all her daily chores, being sure to tidy up as per Mom’s standards and to prepare all her meals. You can create a homemade gift card entitling the bearer to one full day of all household chores, and present it to Mom in the morning.

Give your mother a small vacation – she deserves it!

Go out – for free

Search your neighborhood forums for local attractions that don’t have an admission fee. You might get lucky with an interesting museum or a beautiful overlook point that’s just a small drive away. Otherwise, you can prepare a picnic lunch, bring along some balls and Frisbees, and spend the day at a scenic park together with the whole family. Pack a portable grill and some hot dogs to make it a full-day event!

Make some memories

Celebrate Mother’s Day with the most enjoyable trip of all: down memory lane. Spend some time gathering and editing the best home video footage you can find. Include major family milestones and memorable events and/or vacations. Put it all together and present your gift to Mom on her special day. Then, sit back with the rest of the family and reminisce togethelr about the good old times.

On a similar note, you can give Mom the gift of priceless memories by creating a family scrapbook. Use patterned cardstock, your best family photos, ticket stubs and other fun mementos to help Mom remember old times. If Mom’s a grandmother several times over, you can even have each family member – or each grandchild – design their own page for Grandma.

Look for bargains online

If you can’t get around spending money on Mom’s gift, search for seasonal discounts online before spending a penny. You’ll find excellent Mother’s Day deals on Amazon, Coach, Kohl’s and other major retailers, sometimes as steep as 84% off retail price.

Best Buy puts a twist in the discount game by rewarding you for money you spend on Mom. Choose something from the site’s “Top Tech for Mom” section and you’ll get a savings coupon that’s valid until late June – just in time to help you save on a gift for Father’s Day.

Have a family movie night

Spend a relaxing day at home binge-watching Mom’s favorite movies together. Prepare lots of fresh popcorn and all of Mom’s best snacks, pour her a glass of her favorite drink, and get comfy on the couch. Remember: Mom is in charge of the remote! It’s her day, after all.

Look for restaurant deals

It’s always cheapest to eat your own home-cooked food, but if you know your mom is looking forward to a dinner out, look for local restaurant deals before deciding on a place to eat. Lots of eateries offer special Mother’s Day deals or even free menu items just for moms.

To keep costs down while still enjoying takeout food, order your dinner in. You’ll save on beverages and service fees without the hassle of preparing your meal. Be sure to set the table with Mom’s best china – and to do the dishes when you’ve finished eating.

Go easy on the flowers 

Flowers are always appreciated, but they can cost a bundle! Save on Mom’s bouquet by shopping around for the best Mother’s Day deals. Save even more by purchasing your flowers in the supermarket and arranging them in a vase or pitcher you already have in the house.

Game night

For a fun family activity that puts the focus on Mom, turn your favorite games into Mother’s Day material. Love trivia? Put together a list of random questions about Mom’s life, hobbies and daily schedule and play a super fun game of Trivial Pursuit. Pass around the most hilarious pictures you can find of Mom and let everyone take a stab at guessing when and where they happened. Get creative and host the family game night that Mom will always remember.

Showing Mom how much she means to you doesn’t have to strain your budget at all. With a bit of research and proper planning, you can give Mom some priceless memories she’ll cherish forever.

Want more ideas like this? Connect with Section 705 FCU on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube!

SOURCES:

http://www.frugalfanatic.com/save-money-on-mothers-day/
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2016/05/08/mothers-day-deals
https://www.grandparents.com/money-and-work/saving-and-investing/monday-money-savers-mothers-day

6 COMMON TAX MISTAKES TO AVOID

Image of Uncle SamIt’s Tax Time!

It’s that time of year again! Get ready to break out the calculator and pencils; dig out the enormous pile of receipts, tax forms, and pay stubs, and get to work. Whether you choose to go it alone, use a tax-prep computer program or hand it all over to an accountant, start with checking out our handy list of common mistakes people make on their tax returns.

1.) Faulty math

One of the most common errors on filed taxes is math mistakes. A small miscalculation can throw off all your numbers and get you into trouble with the IRS. However you choose to prepare your taxes, be sure to triple-check the math before filing.

2.) Name changes and misspellings

When preparing your taxes, you’re thinking about numbers, but don’t forget to pay attention to everything else on your form! If you use a name that’s different than the one the IRS has on file for your Social Security number, or even if you spell it wrong, that can mean trouble for you and your taxes. If you’ve recently changed your legal name, be sure to let the Social Security Administration know.

3.) Omitting extra income

Many people neglect to include secondary sources of income on their tax forms. This may include freelance work and any other side work they may have done throughout the year. If you’ve taken any side jobs in 2017, fill out a 1099-MISC and file it along with your taxes.

4.) Deducting funds donated to charity

Charity laws are complicated! First, only donations given to an organization with a tax-exempt status can be deducted from your taxes. Second, if you’ve donated food items or used clothing, they had to have been in decent shape to be eligible for a write-off. Finally, calculate the value of your non-monetary donations according to what they would be worth if you’d sell them now. Don’t forget to include those charity tax receipts when you file!

5.) Using the most recent tax laws

The current administration has made some major changes to the tax code. While most of these changes won’t take effect until you file your first taxes for 2018, there are some changes that are effective for this year, including the following:
  • The standard deduction increased to $6,350 for single, $9,350 for head of household, and $12,700 for married filing jointly.
  • The maximum earned income tax credit increased to $6,318.
  • The maximum income limit for the EITC increased to $53,930.
  • The foreign earned income deduction increased to $102,100.
  • Annual deductible amounts for Health Savings Accounts increased for individuals only, to $3,400.

6.) Signing your forms

If you’re filing through the USPS, be sure to put your signature wherever necessary, and get a mailing receipt. If filing online, you can use a PIN instead. Most places that require a signature will need to be dated as well.
 
Check your forms for errors before submitting and file with confidence.

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