Budget

Does sticking to a budget work?

While many Ohio consumers plan to start 2017 off with a household budget/Personal Spending Plan (I like to use the term Personal Spending Plan (PSP) instead of budget. Budget sounds too restrictive and that is not what a PSP is), sticking to that PSP may pose a problem. Data from a consumer survey conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League reveals 75 percent of respondents plan to start the New Year off with a household PSP, but 45 percent of those respondents said they need a lot of improvement when it comes to sticking to a PSP.
Also revealed in this survey was that 70 percent of Ohioans are looking forward to a milestone event in 2017, such as a wedding, the birth of a baby, or a vacation, all of which require months of planning.

Managing money is often a top New Year’s resolution for Americans. In Fact, 34 percent of Americans make money-related resolutions at the beginning of a new year, according to the 2016 Brain Research Institute. Unfortunately, only 46 percent of people who make a resolution maintain it longer than six months and only 8 percent achieve their goals.

With so many missing the mark on their goals, what can consumers do to get on the right financial path this year? Here are the first steps to getting finances in order before creating your PSP.

• Save receipts. It’s hard to know how to start planning if you don’t have a good understanding of how you spend. Save your receipts for a month to track where you’re spending money. Then, add them up and compare your income. After doing this, ask yourself if you’re saving any money and what purchases maybe weren’t necessary.

• Put the bare minimum in checking. Only put a planned amount of money into a checking account for spending each month and put the rest into a savings account. Making money less accessible can help you spend less.

• Get a special savings account. Open a Holiday or Vacation account at ProMedica Federal Credit Union. These types of accounts keep you from scrabbling before last minute events, which can ruin any PSP. The Holiday account only allows a certain number of withdrawals each year to help keep you on track.

• Get a PSP/budgeting app. Download an app to your smartphone or tablet to help with you plan. Many financial apps include planning platforms, monthly account monitoring, and tips for getting out of debt. According to GotToBeMobile.com the best 2017 mobile PSP/budgeting apps include; Mint, PocketGuard, You Need a Budget, GoodBudget, and Mvelopes.

ProMedica Federal Credit Union in partnership with the ProMedica Ebeid Institute and Toledo Community Foundation will also be offering financial seminars throughout the ProMedica footprint including how to Create a Personal Spending and Personal Savings Plan. Please check the events area on our Facebook page for upcoming seminars.

Categories:
Credit Card Debt

American Household Credit Card Debt a Growing Burden

American households with credit card debt have an average of $16,061 of it, according a study from NerdWallet. NerdWallet adds that consumers who carry credit card debt pay an average of $1,292 per year in interest on it.

Now, maybe you read that top line statistic and say, “great! I’m below the average.” But there are two big points to consider when it comes to credit card debt:

1. It’s all relative. Just about any amount of credit card debt becomes unsustainable when a financial crisis occurs. Keep that in mind before you accumulate it.

2. All credit card debt is very expensive. Credit cards are a bad bet. Meaning, the companies that issue them are betting against you at every step. They are betting that you won’t pay balances off before “0 interest” promo deals expire. Especially companies where purchase rates are in the high double-digits.

In other words, it’s all bad debt. You need to pay off your credit cards each month.

If you can’t, come see ProMedica FCU. We have some ideas to help you to consolidate some of the high-interest debt into a lower-interest solution. We can also discuss how to free up cash flow to pay down your cards quicker.

Again, the best solution is to pay of those cards each month. If you can’t come see ProMedica FCU before you find yourself shelling out hundreds or thousands of dollars on interest.

Categories:
Apps

Consumer Comfort Level with Financial Apps

From Candy Crush Saga to Google Translate, consumers have thousands of mobile apps to choose from. While numerous people are quick to download music or movie-streaming apps, not everyone is as confident with financial apps.

According to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, 52 percent of respondents don’t use a financial app. The 48 percent who said they do, mainly use it for basic banking needs. Thirty-six percent said they use a financial app to deposit or transfer funds, 32 percent track financial accounts, 25 percent track where their money is going, and 17 percent keep a mobile budget. While nearly half of Ohioans use a financial app, 82 percent of users said they aren’t sure how safe their information is when using the app, and figure someone will let them know if any information is compromised.

Although threats to mobile data security have made consumers wary of using financial apps, market research shows that the number of consumers downloading them is increasing. A survey conducted by Market Force Information found that 77 percent of consumers whose financial institution offers a mobile app have downloaded it, an increase of 5 percent over 2015 and 12 percent above 2014. Those who are 18 to 24 years old have the highest adoption rate at 92 percent. Half of those older than 65, also use their financial institution’s app.

With so many apps outside of your primary financial institutions out there, how do you know which ones are safe, effective, and useful? Here are some tips for choosing safe third-party financial apps.

• Determine your goal: There are apps available for most financial initiatives. Are you looking at understanding where you money goes? How about building and sticking to a budget, or making the most out of your credit cards? There are even apps that will round up your debit/credit card purchases and invest the difference.

• Confirm an app is legitimate: If you decide to download an app to manage money, do the research. Check with the Better Business Bureau’s comprehensive database, and read customer reviews online before downloading a third-party financial app.

• Don’t ignore Terms of Service (TOS): Not only will the TOS outline the app’s privacy and security policies, but it will also summarize any important disclaimers.

• Use advanced security: Take advantage of security features such as fingerprint ID or a numeric passcode on your smartphone and on the app, if it allows it. This offers an added level of protection against fraud or theft. Bottom line, do your due diligence and find the app you are most comfortable with.

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.

Credit Union Day

International Credit Union Day Celebrates The Authentic Difference

On October 20, 2016, credit unions around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, offering the same services as other financial institutions, but with a people-first philosophy. Since 1948, on the third Thursday of every October, credit unions have celebrated the principles that make credit unions the best financial partners of people all over the world. “The authentic difference,” this year’s ICU Day theme, zeroes in on what makes credit unions different from banks, fintech startups and other financial institutions—our principles.

Credit unions all over the world have operated according to the same core principles since the 1850s, when a group of weary German workers, tired of being exploited by loan sharks, formed the world’s first credit union by banding together to provide affordable credit to each other.

These principles are derived from the 7 cooperative principles, shared by all cooperatives. They are:

1. Democratic Control
One member = One vote. Whether you have $5 or $5 million, your voice is equal.

2. Open and Voluntary Membership
Members are connected by a bond of association, fostering a sense of community.

3. Non-Discrimination
Credit unions are open to all without regard for race, orientation, nationality, sex, religion, gender, or politics.

4. Service to Members
Credit unions are ranked No. 1 in service in numerous surveys, because they exist to serve members, not profit.

5. Distribution to Members
Credit unions return all profits to their members through dividends, lower fees, better savings rates, and improved services.

6. Building Financial Stability
Credit unions are historically stable organizations. They’re owned by the people they serve, so they don’t take unnecessary risks.

7. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Credit unions and cooperatives share the same principles. Together, they amplify each other’s good works.

8. Social Responsibility
Credit unions strive for social justice by committing to strengthening their communities and helping people of modest means.

9. Ongoing Education
Credit unions prioritize financial education for their members, employees, and communities as part of their pursuit of social justice.

This is why we celebrate ICU Day at ProMedica Federal Credit Union. We think ideas like people before profit, social responsibility, and financial education improve lives. It’s why cooperative banking is a key component of helping people in developing countries get access to microloans, or a middle-class couple in Northwest Ohio receive an affordable mortgage for their first home.

So when we wish you a Happy ICU Day at ProMedica FCU, know that we’re thanking you for belonging to a movement that’s helping your neighbors—and people around the world—grow and thrive and follow their dreams.

If you have any questions about the credit union philosophy or how ProMedica FCUcan help you, stop by or contact us at 419-479-4040 or at memberservices@promedicafcu.com.

Copyright 2016 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

Annual Meeting

2016 Members Annual Meeting – Recap

2016 ProMedica Federal Credit Union (PFCU) Annual Meeting Draws Hundreds

Hundreds of ProMedica Federal Credit Union Members gathered in the Education Center Auditorium at ProMedica Toledo Hospital on August 16, for the 2016 Annual Meeting. Those in attendance enjoyed a fantastic selection of appetizers to fuel them through the meeting. PFCU Board President Vivien Townsend began by welcoming all Members, Board Members, Committee Members, and Employees and thanked them for everything they do for the Credit Union. Ms. Townsend then began the formal meeting by announcing board term expirations, an overview of the financial condition of the Credit Union and any old and new business that needed to be presented.

Then PFCU President/CEO Rick Haas enlightened the crowd of Members with a recap of 2015 and a lesson in global financial strategies centered on negative interest rates. Mr. Haas spoke extensively about income compression in the financial services industry with low interest rates attributing; adding that lending was a major part of the financial success of PFCU in 2015 with over 4 million dollars added to the loan portfolio. He sincerely thanked his staff for surpassing all lending goals in 2015 and acknowledged the Members in attendance for continuing to look to PFCU for their borrowing needs. Mr. Haas also highlighted PFCU’s very powerful mobile application.

The meeting took on a baseball theme as employees of PFCU began throwing t-shirts into the crowd followed by the raffle prize drawings. Members walked away with gift cards, Costco memberships, movie tickets and one lucky Member took home the grand prize an iPad mini. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Check out our facebook page to see more photos from the event.