New Year

5 Steps to a New Financial You in 2017

Holiday shoppers have been careful each season to make their lists and check them twice. Budgets have become more discerning and savers have become better planners for their holiday spending, prioritizing savings along the way. According to a September 2016 report, two out of five millennial shoppers got a head start this year and had started buying gifts for the season before summer had even come to a close.
These successful financial habits don’t have to stop there. With the New Year comes an opportunity to make some improvements to your financial health. Don’t make just another resolution that disappears by Valentine’s Day. Take your financial wellness to a whole new level: a New Year, a new financial you.

These five steps will help you to establish your best financial path for 2017, and you can have all the heavy lifting done before the clock strikes twelve:

1. Take stock of your finances. Take account of all your income, expenses, and existing savings/investment accounts. And no matter how nice you were, don’t forget to include any naughty debts you may have incurred in the spirit of the season.

2. Sketch out a budget “template” for the year to come. Think big picture. Plan your holiday spending for 2016 and find the method for budgeting that you’re going to use in 2017, and rough out what you’d like it to look like from month to month. Be pragmatic about your needs and be honest about where your money is going. Plan to make adjustments and really dig into your spending habits when you check back in on a regular basis.

3. Check your credit report. It is your legal right to get a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus. Add a visit to AnnualCreditReport.com to the calendar as an annual “holiday” or divvy up the bureaus to get a free report from a different bureau every four months. If you are not sure how to read your credit report, please contact ProMedica FCU. We would be happy to assist!

4. Set up bank and credit alerts, and financial reminders. Whether you’re at your computer or on your mobile device, you are in an ideal position to receive notifications about upcoming payments, suspicious activities on an account, transactions over a certain dollar amount, low balances, and more. Find out what online services your financial institution(s) offer, and supplement what they don’t with an app or calendar reminder. It’s all right there at your fingertips. ProMedica FCU has multiple alert functions available on checking and credit card transactions. We can even alert you when your credit card payment is due.

5. Make a Commitment to Yourself to Save. Those who make a commitment to themselves and their family to save usually save more than those who don’t. Think of this as your New Year’s Resolution. ProMedica FCU can show you how easy it is to systematically save. We even have an account that automatically does it for you based on your transaction habits.

A new financial you is an achievable goal for 2017. Please let ProMedica FCU know how we can assist
with your savings endeavors. Let’s make 2017 you best saving year ever!

Categories:
Finances

Don’t let holiday magic make your finances disappear

While the excitement of the holidays and gift-giving season can be a magical time for children, adults face a plethora of additional expenses during the last two months of the year. Whether its gifts, food, decorations, the perfect outfit for that holiday party, or airfare to visit family – there’s no denying the holidays can put a dent in the wallet.
According to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, 22 percent of respondents spend more than $1,000 on holiday expenses, 35 percent between $500 and $1,000, and 28 percent between $300 and $500. During last year’s holiday season, the average American spent $734 on gifts, $120 on food, $78 on decorations, and $85 on flowers and cards, according to AOL Mass Media.
Traveling can be another major expense throughout November and December. AAA reports that due to low gas prices, 41.9 million people took a road trip last Thanksgiving, and another 36.1 million journeyed by plane. In Ohio, 21 percent of survey respondents said they plan to trek more than 100 miles this holiday season.

With so many additional expenses in a month, it’s surprising how few people set money aside throughout the year for year-end holiday expenses. With no additional income during the holidays, cutting costs may be necessary to stay financially afloat during November and December.

Tips to cut costs for the holidays:

• Credit card rewards: Many credit cards including ProMedica FCU’s Platinum VISA® offer reward points for using their card. These points can be used like cash to purchase merchandise such as gift cards or electronics. Try cashing in your points to cover the cost of someone’s
gift. If you don’t have a rewards credit card, contact ProMedica FCU.

• Bargain shop: Check online sites such as slickdeals.net, Woot!, and Brad’sDeals to search for the best bargains. If you haven’t signed up for Amazon Prime yet, it may be worth it just for the free shipping, especially if you do a lot of online shopping for the holidays.

• Shop early: The optimal time for holiday shopping is between Oct. 1 and Dec. 1. Spending a small amount on gifts each week before the holiday rush is a good way to avoid putting a large chunk of debt on a credit card at one time. Shopping early also relieves the feeling of rushed, last-minute shopping, which can result in purchasing gifts regardless of price.

• Holiday Club Account: Although not applicable for this year, consider enrolling in ProMedica FCU’s Holiday Club account to start saving for next year’s holiday expenses. It’s basically a savings account that you stash money in all year, and have limited access to until the holiday season rolls around.

To learn more about how ProMedica FCU can help you save for the holidays, call 419.479.4040.

Categories:
Moving

Moving May Cost More Than You Realize

Ohioans are on the move. According to the Ohio Credit Union League’s Quarterly Performance Summary (2nd Quarter, 2016), first-mortgage originations at Ohio credit unions grew 26.4 percent from June 2015 to June 2016. And, 26 percent of Ohioans plan to move within the next two years, according to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League. But what happens once you’ve found a new home and are beginning the process of moving? Everything seems to be falling into place when the expenses of the move itself begin to surface.

Forty-three percent of Mid-Year Consumer Survey respondents said the biggest moving expense is paying movers, 15 percent said time off work, another 15 percent said renting moving equipment, and 8 percent said connecting new utilities is the biggest moving expense. It’s important for consumers to become educated about the various costs associated with a move in order to know their financial options. Whether a potential mover needs financial advice or a short-term loan to help with moving expenses, ProMedica FCU can help.

According to the American Moving & Storage Association, the average cost of an intrastate move in 2015 was $1,170 and the average cost for between states was $5,630. The cost is based on a load size of 7,100 pounds.

Apart from just having a cushion of extra funds for unexpected expenses, here are a few helpful tips for staying organized and keeping moving costs low.

Tips to cut moving costs:
• Plan ahead: Hiring professional movers is likely one of the largest moving expenses and an accurate estimation of these expenses ahead of time will eliminate any financial surprises. Using sites such as MyMovingReviews.com allow you to approximate your moving costs and compare local moving companies.

• Insure your belongings: Avoid costly damages to your possessions by insuring your belongings and checking licenses and insurance of the moving company you choose.

• Don’t buy boxes: Instead of purchasing boxes and packaging materials, visit local grocery stores, packaging facilities, and warehouses for boxes. You can also use clothes, linens, and old newspapers to wrap fragile items, rather than buying packing materials.

• Purge clutter: Movers often charge clients who are moving out of state based on the weight of the truck. Throw out anything you don’t need or want anymore. Or even better, hold a garage sale and use that money to help pay the movers or to purchase new items for your new home.

• Check with ProMedica FCU: We offer short-term loans to help with circumstances such as a move.

To learn more about how ProMedica FCU can help with Your Financial Health, call 419-479-4040, or stop into one of our four locations.