Love is in Full Bloom
Spring has sprung! The flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and love is in the air! For many people, spring represents a new start, but for others, it is a time to reflect on the stories that still bring a smile to their faces. In relationships, each couple’s journey is unique and helps mold them into the dynamic duos they are today. Our employee Lauren and her husband Ryan have met their fair share of challenges over the years, but continue to create many wonderful memories together. Here is their story:
Lauren and Ryan met during her junior year of high school. She describes herself as a shy, quiet individual who took her schooling very serious, while he was outgoing and consumed by his love for music. Yet despite their differences in personality, they instantly clicked. As most idealistic teenagers do, both Ryan and Lauren thought this was the forever kind of love made in the movies, and they weren’t wrong! Ryan and Lauren served as each other’s rocks in challenging times as the years passed. They found parenthood early and learned that through love and determination, they could move mountains. When asked how they overcame life’s curveballs and still found success in their goals, Lauren said, “It wasn’t easy. We’ve gone through a lot. No relationship is perfect, and ours is no exception. However, the good memories have always outweighed the difficult times and we’ve yet to find an obstacle that we can’t overcome”.
Ryan and Lauren describe themselves as anything but a traditional couple. They had their wedding invitations designed like band flyers, decided to include their three children in their ceremony, and more often than not, break out in air guitar concerts at the dinner table. Looking back over the past two decades, Lauren cannot imagine her life without Ryan in it. “I realize how lucky I am that I found someone to share my life with at such a young age, I know that does not happen often. I hope our relationship and what we’ve overcome serves as an inspiration for our children, and I look forward to many more years to come”.
We hope Lauren and Ryan’s story continues to bloom for many more years!
Valentine's Arts & Crafts
Love is in the air—Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and we have a surprise for you! If you are looking for a simple, fun, child-friendly classroom gift, we have you covered. Here at SunWest, we have put together three budget- friendly Valentine’s Day card options for you and provided free downloadable gift tags. You read that right—FREE! Each of these items can be purchased at your local arts and crafts section or dollar store. Now grab your children and have some fun!
You Make My Heart Burst
• Clear gift bags
• Bag ties (if you prefer)
• Hole punch
• Gift tags
Fill your bag with a handful of Starbursts
Cut out and hole punch your gift tags in the corner
Thread and tie your ribbon onto your bags. (If you prefer, you can use your bag tie to hold the bag shut, and then wrap the ribbon around the tie.)
I Got Eyes For You
• Colorful construction paper
• Ribbon (optional)
• Hole punch
• Crayons/markers for kids
• Fun glasses
• Gift tags
Cut out hearts from the paper colors you chose and let your kids color away!
Lay your glasses on the heart to measure where the holes should be punched out
Slip glasses through the holes and fold in the back. Attach your gift tag with ribbon or tap wherever you desire!
You’re My Main Squeeze
• Clear bags
• Hole punch
• Desired item (Depending on the age of your children you can substitute an orange for a squeeze fruit pouch, apple sauce, a sports drink, or even gummy candy!)
• Gift tag
Fill bag with desired item
Hole punch your gift tag and tie around the bag
There you have it! Simple and fun Valentine’s Day treats! If you try any of these, tag us in your pictures so we can check them out online!
SunWest Superstars: Chelsea Hunt
At SunWest Federal Credit Union, we pride ourselves on the amazing and talented people we have working with us each and every day. We’d like to introduce everyone to Chelsea Hunt, a member of our staff who works at our Surprise branch location. Chelsea is well known for being a sweet, caring, and bubbly person who always has a smile on her face.
Who is Chelsea
I am a very enthusiastic person who enjoys new adventures, meeting different people, and helping others find their smile! Many years ago, I originally went to school to become a nurse, but changed my major to communications after discovering my love for public speaking. Through a few trials and tribulation, I found myself as an employee of SunWest at the perfect time in my life.
Something I highly value in my life is my family—they are my everything. Growing up, my parents were very involved in our daily lives. My mom ran PTSO and was president of every club my brothers and I belonged to. My parents placed a large emphasis on family and appreciating one another. As I am now a wife and mother to two fabulous toddlers, I could not appreciate these values more! My two little ones keep me on my toes every day. I truly enjoy seeing life from the eyes of my children and learning from their excitement and innocence. If you ever need a hilarious story, my children supply them in truckloads and are always quoting the best lines!
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside of work, I seem to find a way to keep myself busy no matter the day. I LOVE projects, planning, and creating. If I do not have a creative outlet, I find myself lost. I run a small home bakery, which gives me the opportunity to reach many different people, and help bring their visions to life! When I’m not in the kitchen, I am spending each moment with my family. Whether it be hiking, building forts, enjoying family dinner nights, or dance parties in my living room—each day I try to find something to celebrate.
What do you love most about working at SunWest?
What I love most about SunWest is the people and the outlook of the company. I am blessed to say I LOVE coming to work every day to coworkers who feel like family, and members who feel like good friends. When you are surrounded by such positive and humble people, who push you to be better and support your team, it makes everything better. SunWest has been a blessing as they see the potential in each of their employees and work on growing them into even better leaders. I have worked for companies who want their employees to conform to their way of business, and have appreciated SunWest’s constant gratitude and willingness to grow alongside their staff.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
If I could be anything in life, I would own a creative company that would design home décor, events, birthday parties, baked goods, and more.
What's your dream vacation?
My dream vacation would involve a world tour, stopping at all the Disney theme parks! My family lives, eats, and breathes Disney, so if you place a churro in my hand and mouse ears on my head, I will be the happiest gal alive!
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received would be to be comfortable and confident in who you are, then everything will fall into place.
What are your favorite and least favorite things?
Favorites: Food: Sushi. Colors: Teal. Movies: Top Gun and Father of the Bride. TV Shows: Parks and Rec, The Office, The Flash, The Arrow. Music: Country. Painting: Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Decade: I feel like I should’ve been alive in the 50s.
Least Favorites: Food: Yogurt. Movies: Horror Movies.
Anything else you'd like to add?
I think something people would be surprised to learn about me is that, as much as I am an outgoing people-person, I truly enjoy time to myself. I feel I require quiet time to self-reflect and take in things I have experienced that day. My mind is always on “go” and ideas are flowing like a fountain, so time to be alone in my thoughts helps me to process and prepare myself to have a successful day. I enjoy waking up early with coffee in my hand and writing out my goals for the day and week—like I said, I love planning!
Chelsea is a valued member of the SunWest family, and we couldn’t imagine working without her. Thank you for all the wonderful hard work you do each day, Chelsea!
Brighten your Spring with Fun DIY Projects
Spring is officially here, and that means it’s time to put away those dark winter blankets and boots and embrace the fun, bright cheerfulness of spring! If you’re looking for a great way to bring some more color and fun into your spring without putting a huge dent in your budget, check out these cute and easy DIY projects that will bring a smile to even the most weathered of winter faces.
DIY Outdoor Tic Tac Toe
Need a fun way to get your family outside and enjoying the beautiful weather? Try this super simple DIY Tic Tac Toe game that will have your family outside for hours! All you need are ten smooth rocks, a little paint, a flat surface, and chalk. Paint half the rocks one color or design and half the rocks another, then use the chalk to create the Tic Tac Toe board on a flat surface. The rocks will serve as the Xs and Os, but are a lot more fun. You can check it out at http://chickenscratchny.com/2013/04/spring-time-tic-tac-toe.html
Twister in the Grass
Get outside and stretch those tired winter limbs with this fun outdoor version of the classic game. With some scissors and paper, you can create a circle stencil to use to spray paint the red, yellow, green, and blue spots on your grass. If you already have the Twister game at home, you can use the spinner for this outdoor version too. But if not, don’t worry. There’s a quick and easy way to improvise a spinner. Check it out, along with step by step instructions for everything else at http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/996757/how-to-make-outdoor-twister
Bring Nature a Little Closer to Home
If you have some old sturdy bowls and plates that you just don’t need anymore, but don’t exactly want to get rid of, why not make them into a beautiful DIY birdfeeder and enjoy seeing some delightful little birds outside your window? All you need is a dinner plate, a salad plate, a bowl, some rope, and a few other items to have the cutest DIY birdfeeder on the block. You can get all the details here at http://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/a37881/make-a-bird-feeder-out-of-dinnerware/
Mason Jar Fun
Mason jars are all the rage in DIY projects, and they work perfectly for projects in every season. This spring, why not do some up in bright pastel colors or paint them like Easter eggs and have a little fun. With a little paint, some tape, sandpaper, and patience, this adorable project will make a great addition to any windowsill or tabletop. Add some real or fake flowers for an extra touch of spring when you’re done. It might take a little longer than some other projects because you have to wait for the paint to dry, but it’ll be well worth it in the end. Check out all the steps at http://masonjarcraftslove.com/easter-egg-mason-jars/
Brighten Up Your Closet Too
Have you ever opened your closet and wished it was a little brighter and more cheerful inside? You aren’t alone. To add a little fun to your closet, you should try this super easy Spring DIY Nonslip Hanger trick. All you need are some hold hangers, particularly wire ones, some yarn, tape and scissors. Not only will the fun cheery colors brighten up your closet, but the added grip from the yarn will help keep your clothes from slipping off your hangers. Two awesome things for the price of one. You can get all the details here http://www.brit.co/diy-neon-nonslip-hangers/
Now you’re all set to make the most of this beautiful spring, and keep a little extra money in your pocket.
Fun Facts about St. Patrick’s Day
We all know St. Patrick’s Day is a special day for decking everything and everyone out in green and maybe having a pint or two with friends, but what do you really know about this Irish holiday? We’ve pulled together some interesting facts about this unique holiday that you may not know.
Ireland takes St. Patrick’s Day pretty seriously, but they aren’t the only ones. As you might have guessed, this spring holiday is a pretty big deal in the country where it originated—it’s a national holiday in Ireland and Northern Ireland. But it’s also a big deal here in the States too. New York City has one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the world. For the last two hundred years or so, more than a quarter of a million people will walk in the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade. Chicago also enjoys celebrating this festive holiday in a way all their own. Every year since 1962, they honor St. Patrick by dumping 40 tons of dye into the Chicago River to turn it into a bright green waterway. Does your town go all out like Chicago or New York?
Some towns can’t go quite to the extreme as these big cities for their celebrations. Until 2007, the Irish town of Dripsey held the title for the Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the world. It was just 26 yards, from the front door of one pub to another. Now Hot Springs, Arkansas, holds the record—their parade is just 98 feet long.
Did you know that until 1970, St. Patrick’s Day was a strictly religious holiday? That means there was no drinking going on as all the pubs in Ireland were closed for the day. But in 1970, the day became a national holiday, and now the world racks up quite the bar tab each March 17th. In 2012, it was estimated that people spent about $245 million on beer for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Hopefully everyone had a designated driver that day!
Two of the most iconic images for St. Patrick’s Day are shamrocks and leprechauns. Did you know that there are no female leprechauns in Irish lore? Despite what some decorations may depict, all leprechauns are male. And all that gold they guard? Apparently they earned it themselves by making and mending shoes. It’s difficult and time-consuming work, so you can understand why they may be reluctant to part with their hard-earned gold.
But what about St. Patrick himself? According to legend, St. Patrick is credited bringing Christianity to Ireland, and also for driving all the snakes out of Ireland. Now, modern scientists have discovered that there probably never were any snakes in Ireland, as it was too cold for snakes there, but many believe that the term “snakes” actually refers to the Druids who inhabited the area at the time.
However you decide to spend your St. Patrick’s Day, we hope you have a fantastic and safe holiday. And make sure you wear green to avoid being pinched!
Banking Terminology: A Guide
Have you ever looked at the website for a bank or credit union and been overwhelmed by the information and terminology you found there? You aren’t alone. Many people don’t completely understand the different types of products and services that banks and credit unions offer, and can’t always make the most of their money because they don’t understand their options. We decided to put together a helpful guide of some common terms and products that might help you better understand what you can do with your money at your local credit union.
This tends to sound fancier than it is, but it’s fairly straightforward. A share account at a credit union is almost exactly the same as a savings account at a bank. Why the different name? Well, at credit unions, every member owns a piece—or share—of the credit union when they become a member. Even if you just have a vehicle loan with us, chances are you also have a share account and you are a share-holding member.
A money market account is like a share account (or savings account), but it is designed to help you get the most from your money. These kinds of accounts generally have a minimum balance, but they also offer a much higher interest rate, which means your money is earning money for you while it sits in this account. There is no economic risk with this kind of account, and as the rates change, so will your earnings.
Share certificates are a little like savings bonds. You put a specific amount of money into a share certificate for a predetermined amount of time, and during that time, your money earns even more than it will with a share account or money market. Now, you can’t really touch that money while it’s in the account, but when the account matures, you’ll have earned quite a bit of money. Then you just need to decide if you want to roll your funds into another share certificate, or do something else with it.
An IRA, or individual retirement account, is another type of savings account designed to help you save the most for your retirement. These kinds of accounts often benefit from tax advantages to earn you even more money. There are two kinds of IRAs to choose from: Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs. A traditional IRA generally has some kind of age and income restriction, while a Roth IRA looks mostly at your adjusted gross income. The main difference between these two kinds of retirement accounts is when you pay taxes. For a traditional IRA, you can deduct contributions to your account on your tax returns, but you have to pay taxes on the money when you start withdrawing the funds. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes on this money as you build it, and you don’t have to pay taxes on it when you withdraw it after it matures.
Credit Builder Loans
If you’re just starting out, or need help rebuilding your credit, you should look into a credit builder loan. This kind of loan is unique, and will help you establish or improve your current credit profile. You give us an upfront fee and we’ll open a credit builder loan for you. Instead of the loan money coming directly to you like a traditional loan, we’ll keep the money safe in a certificate with a hold on it until you pay off the loan. You make regular payments until the loan is paid off, and then the funds will be released to you. This way you get into the habit of making regular, on-time payments—which is essential to building your credit—and you’ll still get the funds. Payment history is reported monthly to the credit bureau, so it’ll only be a matter of time before your credit is spectacular.
There are tons of terms in the banking industry, and hopefully these definitions will help make things a little clearer for you, and help you make the most of your money. You can speak with one of our representatives today to discuss which options might be right for you.
Spring Cleaning Tips and Tricks
While the official start of spring might still be a few weeks off, it’s never too early to get a jump on some spring cleaning. Now that the weather is a little nicer, it’s time to clean out the house from the winter and get everything back into shape. Here are some simple tips to help get your home cleaner, faster.
Squeegee you carpet
If you have pets—especially pets that shed—you know how difficult it can be to get fur out of your carpet. Even vacuuming doesn’t always guarantee results. Try using an ordinary shower squeegee on your carpet. It might seem strange, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly and effectively the squeegee will remove your pet’s hair from your carpet. In no time at all, your carpets will be pristine and you’ll have friends asking if you had them replaced.
Brooms can be used on more than the floor
Have you ever looked up near your ceiling and seen spider webs or dust bunnies in the corners of your rooms? It happens all the time, but not everyone has the right tools to clean them. If you’ve got a broom, you’re all set. Just take a rag or towel and wrap it securely around the bristles of your broom, then use your new duster to get at those hard-to-reach areas.
Press 'N Seal your fridge
If you’re like most people, having spills and mysterious food bits in your fridge is just par for the course—especially if you have kids. But there’s a quick and easy way to keep that mess from taking up too much time when you finally get around to cleaning it. Just buy a roll of Press ‘N Seal wrap and use it to line your shelves in your fridge. When things get a little too gross, just peel off the wrap and replace it with some new Press ‘N Seal, and you’re all set!
Use dryer sheets on your blinds
Blinds can be such a pain to clean. They seem to collect dust more than anything else in your house, right? But there’s an easy way to clean them without having to invest in any special products. All you need are some dryer sheets. The chemicals in dryer sheets help repel dust, which means you’ll have to clean them less often. And they’re less expensive than other dusting methods.
These few and easy tips will help your home stay bright and shiny all year round. But if you’re looking for more ways to help clean your home easily and quickly, check out websites like Pinterest and Buzzfeed for unique articles that contain all kinds of tips and tricks that will make your home sparkle.
Get the Job: Interview and Resume Tips
Whether you are looking for a better job, a new job, or your first job, having a strong resume is essential to getting your foot in the door. But once you get in the door, what next? Follow these tips and tricks on how to make your resume and interview stand out from the rest and you’ll be sure to get the dream job you’ve always wanted.
Your resume is your first introduction to a company or organization, so you need to make sure it represents the best and more competent version of yourself. According to Purdue University, your resume should be “clear, concise, and easy-to-read” and include all of “your current contact information, education background, professional certifications, licenses and organizations.” Also be sure to include your relevant work information, specific duties, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Try to keep your resume to 2 pages, max. Avoid personal details that aren’t relevant to the position you are applying. Don’t include pictures, graphics, or unusual fonts. You want your prospective employer to be impressed with the skills on your resume, not the fancy fonts you used.
If the job posting requests or offers the space for a cover letter, make sure you include one. This is a chance for your to expand on some of your work experience and show how it will translate to the job you want. Make sure you write a new cover letter for each job you apply to, and do your research. What does the company do, what is the position you are applying for, what skills are they looking for? Once you know those details, show how your own skills and abilities will work well for the company, especially if you are changing careers, moving from one field to another, or are just starting out. You would be surprised how being a camp counselor can translate into management skills and the ability to handle stressful situations. It’s all about presentation.
Once you have the perfect resume and you’ve got the interview, now it’s your time to shine. Make sure you are on time for your appointment—even better, arrive at least 5 minutes early. You never know how bad traffic is going to be, so make sure you plan plenty of time. Bring extra copies of your resume, a list of references, and any additional items that might be useful (portfolio, samples, examples of previous related work). It’s always better to have too much than not enough.
Even if you know the company is very casual in their attire, always dress to impress. Show just how much you want the job, from the moment you walk into the door. Make sure you are polite to everyone. Even if you know exactly who you are meeting for your interview, you never know who might be in the lobby, or who will come out with your interviewer. A great first impression is everything.
When you are talking with your interviewer, be personable and friendly. While you might not be as qualified for the position as another candidate, personality and fit can mean everything. Every interviewer will ask you if you have any questions for them, so make sure you have some prepared. Do your research on the company and bring your questions to the interview. Write them down ahead of time if you need to. If you can come up with a question that actually makes the interviewer think and consider, then there is a better chance of you sticking in their memory when they go to make their final decision.
For more tips and tricks on resumes and interviews, check out the websites below. http://www.purdue.edu/hr/careers/resources/resumetips.html https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140414130946-462480-how-to-write-a-resume-that-gets-you-the-job-interview http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/outside-voices-careers/2015/02/05/5-tips-for-instant-interview-success
Love Your Budget
When you hear the word “budget,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Stingy? Not being able to buy things? Tiny little boxes with too many numbers in them? Same here. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
In fact, when done right, a budget can be more than just a tool, it can be a way to expand your financial potential. Most people neglect their budgets because they didn’t take all their spending habits into consideration.
We’re here to help with that.
Budgets can be a daunting exercise in futility, but it’s what they do in the long run that really matters. There are tons of budget worksheets online that you can use to get started if you’ve never made a budget before. And once you get the hang of budgeting, you’ll be able to anticipate your financial needs down the road and enjoy the money it saves you.
The first thing you need to do when starting a budget is list and categorize your expenditures. Try to be honest with yourself about your spending habits. After you’ve listed all the monthly bills, like your rent, mortgage, loan payments, utilities, and insurance, pull out your last few months’ bank statements and see where you used your debit or credit card. You’ll probably be surprised to see how much you use your debit card without realizing it for smaller purchases, but this will help you get an accurate record for your budget.
Consider things you spend money on throughout the year as well as during special times. Things like pet or car expenses; birthday, wedding, baby, or hostess gifts as well as major holiday gifts; and vacations and trips. If you budget for these expenses as well, and set money aside for them, you’ll help yourself stay on financial track.
If you have education expenses, either for yourself or a family member, don’t forget to budget for those things as well. Behind tuition and student loan payments, you might need to budget for room and board and books as well. If your child goes to a school that requires a uniform, that’s something else you’ll want to set money aside for. And if you or someone in your family is considering getting an advanced degree, make sure you budget for that as well. The more you can put aside for it now, the less it’ll cost you when the acceptance letter finally comes.
If you or someone in your family has health problems, you’ll need to set money aside for doctors’ visits and prescription costs as well. Even if you’re healthy as a horse, setting some money off to the side for a rainy day, or even just for your annual checkup isn’t a bad idea. If you end up not spending that money, you can have it ready for the future.
The most important thing to consider with you budget is honesty. If you’re honest with yourself and your spending habits, your budget will help you make sure that you have enough money to spread around. It’ll also show you were you are spending too much and help you put your spending priorities in order. Budgets don’t have to be scary, you just need to be honest.
Try These Fun DIYs to Save a Little Green
Unless you’re Bill Gates, everyone looks for a way to save a little money here and there. At SunWest Federal Credit Union, we are dedicated to helping make the most of your money, so we’ve pulled together a few easy DIYs that can help you save money, and maybe a little time too!
Get Your Morning Latte at Home
Millions of people start their days by stopping by a coffee shop on their way to work and spending $5 or more for their morning jolt. And while that might not seem like a lot, in the long run that money can start to add up quickly. More than a thousand dollars a year. You could probably think of something more interesting to do with that money, right?
Try making your coffee at home instead. Not only could it save you money each day, but you won’t have to stand in line waiting with everyone else. Try a super simple recipe for a delicious French Toast Latte that you could easily make with ingredients you probably already have at home. You don’t need any special equipment, and the recipe only needs coffee, milk, honey, and cinnamon. With this recipe, you’ll even be saving calories! A win from all sides. Find the recipe at http://shalommama.com/french-toast-latte.
Clean Naturally for a Fraction of the Cost
As most moms know, cleaning can be a double-edged sword. You want a nice, clean, fresh home, but you want to avoid potentially harmful chemicals that could even be dangerous. And unfortunately, many of the natural cleaning products cost more than the chemical kinds. But what if you could make your own all natural cleaning solution in your own kitchen?
It would probably take a load off your mind, knowing your family was safe and your kitchen was clean, right? Visit http://shalommama.com/7-quick-ways-to-green-your-kitchen for a clean, simple all-purpose cleaner that will have your home smelling amazing and shining like a new penny. All you need is some water, white vinegar, and your favorite essential oils for scent and you’re ready to start cleaning. Maybe you could even save a little elbow grease by getting your kids to clean for you, since the solution is all natural. Worth a shot, right?
Take Those Luscious Locks for Less
As most women—and more than a few men—know, conditioner is essential, but not exactly cost effective. And is it just us, or do the conditioner and shampoo bottles never seem to be empty at the same time? It’s pretty annoying, we understand, which is why we’ve found an alternative that not only costs less, but works amazingly well.
Check out this amazing recipe for an all-natural conditioner using apple cider vinegar and some water (http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/02/diy-homemade-conditioner/). Ditch those expensive bottles of designer conditioners for this super easy recipe that you can easily make in your kitchen. The link also has some great information on other alternatives that worked and some that failed, so you can find the version that works best for you.
Make Your Carpet Smell Like New for Basically Nothing
If you have pets, or kids, or a husband with stinky feet, we know you constantly look for the best way to keep your rooms and carpets fresh and clean without spending an arm and a leg for a product that will only work for a little while. Instead of wasting your time scrubbing smells out of your carpet and washing every piece of fabric in your home to rid it of smells, try an all-natural DIY carpet deodorizer that will make all the difference in just a few short minutes.
All you need is some baking soda, your favorite essential oils, and one simple recipe is all you need to make a room and carpet deodorizer that will make a world of difference in your home. Not only is it a simple and inexpensive alternative to deodorizers you can find in the store, but it’s all-natural, and you can customize it however you want with whatever scent is your favorite. Find the instructions at http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/09/diy-homemade-carpet-deodorizer/.
There are a million other DIYs that can save you time and money, and these are just a few we think you might like. Let us know in the comments section if you’ve come across any other DIYs that have made a difference in your life and your bank account.
Having Fun on a Budget
Having a budget doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself every once in a while. It is important to take care of yourself as well as your finances. But finding the right balance between being fiscally responsible and instant gratification can be difficult at times. Working hard and saving money is great, but being able to decide when to purchase something for yourself can be difficult at times. Before you pick up that new gadget you’ve had your eye on, or going out for a night of fun, or treating your family to a nice dinner, ask yourself these questions to determine if you’re spending your money wisely.
When it comes to spending on the extras, ask yourself what your priorities are. Don’t just look at what you’ll need to save money for this week or even this month, but further into the future as well. If you know you’re going have a large expense, like a planned vacation, car repair, or home improvement project somewhere down the pipeline, take a minute to consider if you really want to spend money on something you may not need right now. Balancing your spending priorities is a great way to ensure that the money you need is always there for the things you need it.
Also consider the lasting effects of your purchase. If you spend money new on a new stereo for your car when you know you’re going to be updating your bathroom in a few months, the ripple effect could be hard to handle. Stop and consider what could happen if you purchased that new car stereo now—it might be great to have something new like that now, but will that money be taken out of your bathroom project? Will you still have enough to do everything you want? Consider waiting until after your bathroom update to get that new car stereo so you know you’ll have enough money for your home improvement project and your car stereo.
Sometimes it just takes a few questions to see if a purchase is going to be worth it in the long run. A few smaller purchases here and there probably won’t break your budget, especially if you’ve allowed for some personal items or entertainment every once in a while. But for those bigger items or events, make sure you’re buying it at the right time and that it won’t mess with your future plans.
Buying Your First Home: What You Need to Know
Buying your first home is exciting, but there are plenty of things you need to know before you take the plunge. Owning a home is a huge financial responsibility, so making sure you are ready for the challenge is important. We’ve pulled together some of the most important things you should know about buying your first home to help you navigate the real estate market smoothly.
We say it all the time: a budget is essential to good financial health. If you are serious about owning your own home, you need to make sure that you can afford one, and the best way to do that is to budget. How much of a monthly mortgage payment can you afford? How much can you put down for the down payment? How much do you need to set aside for upgrades and maintenance each year? What about insurance? Factor all of these elements into your budget and come up with a number that you feel comfortable with. Then determine how much of a house you can afford based on that. Would it be better if you bought a small condo or a townhome right now, and then transitioned into a larger home in a few years? These are all things you should consider in your budget.
Check your credit
Knowing your credit score is just about the most important step towards buying a home. To qualify for a good loan at a good rate, you need to have a good credit score. If you’ve never checked your credit score before, stop reading and do it now. Comb through your reports for any mistakes, unpaid accounts, or collection accounts. The more credit you have available when you go to get a home loan, the better. If you have less than stellar or bad credit, you can take steps to improve things. It’ll take time, and might put off your dream of buying a home for a little while, but waiting until you have the credit score to get you a good loan can make all the difference.
Find out what you qualify for
You might think you can handle a $300,000 house, but that doesn’t mean that lenders will agree with you. Depending on your income and current level of debt, you could qualify for less money than you think. So before you start searching for your dream house, find out exactly how much of a mortgage you qualify for. But be careful. Some lenders will offer you a loan for more than you expect. Just because you could have this money available to you doesn’t mean that you should start searching for a more expensive house. Make sure you pick a range that you can afford, and stick to it. And make sure you get pre-approved before you even step inside an open house.
Get your documents in order
When you go to the credit union or bank to apply for a mortgage, show the lender that you are prepared to handle everything that comes your way by having all of your documents in order. Generally, mortgage lenders will want to see at least two recent pay stubs, the last two years’ W-2s, tax returns, and at least the last two months’ bank statements—every single page of them. If you have everything in hand when you walk in, you’ll seem like a pro, even if this is your first home.
Now you’re practically an expert. If you want more tips on preparing to buy your first home, check out http://www.bankrate.com/finance/mortgages/5-tips-for-first-time-home-buyers-1.aspx, or http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/08/first-time-homebuyer-guide.asp?lgl=baseline.
Funding the Future: How to Pay for College
College is a great tool to help you succeed in life, but it’s by no means cheap. Every year, college tuition rates seem to rise higher and higher, making scholarships, financial aid, and student loans all the more important. Here’s what you need to know about these three types of aid to ensure that you are being money smart with your or your child’s education.
Scholarships are basically free money. They come from a wide variety of sources, including but not limited to colleges and universities. Many companies have scholarships available for employees and their children, and there are thousands of foundations and funds that give away millions of dollars in scholarships to students every year. Fastweb (www.fastweb.coom) is a great website that compiles thousands of scholarship opportunities and helps you find the right ones for you.
Once you or your child is accepted to a college or university, contact the financial aid office there and find out what opportunities are available. Colleges and universities often have their own money to give away, but they are also experts in getting free money from the government, such as grants and awards. You’ll need to fill out the FAFSA, (https://fafsa.ed.gov/) or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which connects you or your student to the best options for you giving certain criteria.
When you fill out the FAFSA, you will also be directed to different kinds of loans as well as potential grant opportunities. Be careful when examining these loans, as there are several different types. Loans do need to be repaid, though often you’ll get a grace period until a few months after you graduate or stop attending school. There are three types of loans you’ll see:
State Loans, which are non-federal government loans that originate at the state level. The interest rates and details vary with each state.
Private loans, which are nongovernment loans determined by credit history, not need. They often require a co-signer for those with little to no credit history and generally have higher interest rates and an origination fee.
Federal Loans, which are government loans that are broken into four categories: 1. Federal Perkins Loans are for students with great financial need and are loaned by the school. They are available to undergrad, graduate, and professional students. 2. Direct Subsidized Loans are loans based on financial need for undergrad students enrolled at least part time. They are loaned by the Department of Education, who pays the interest while the student is enrolled and during the grace period after graduation. 3.Direct Unsubsidized Loans are not based on financial need for undergrad students enrolled at least apart time. Like Direct Subsidized Loans, they are loaned by the Department of Education, but they will not pay the interest. 4.Direct Plus Loans are based on credit scores and offered to parents of dependent undergrad students, graduate students, and professional students. These loans are also loaned by the Department of Education.
There have been many news articles in the last few years about predatory student loans, but not all of them are bad. They often allow students to attend college who may not have been able to do so otherwise. So long as you know the terms of the loans, use only what you need, and make regular payments, you’ll be fine.
Paying for college may seem like a daunting task, but if you know your options, you can do anything.
Financial Resoltuions: How to Stay Money Smart in 2017
At the end of every year, we all make resolutions to be better in the new year. And about two or three weeks later, we’ve completely abandoned those resolutions. We know how hard it can be to keep to a resolution, which is why we’ve come up with a few easy financial resolutions you can do to help you stay money smart in 2017.
Resolution #1: Stick to Your Budget
Trying to live without a budget is like trying to drive a car without a gas gauge, speedometer, or odometer: it’s impossible to tell if you’ll make it to the next gas station at the rate you’re going before you run out. With even a simple budget, you can stop worry about how you’ll make it to the next pay day. Start with the things that you know you need to pay every month: rent or mortgage, insurance, utilities, day care, food, gas, and so on. Then factor in how much you spend on other things like entertainment, shopping, and dining out. Find where you can cut the fat. Make a rainy day fund that you continually add to just in case something happens. Managing these things at the start of every month will help you keep a tight hold on your finances and prepare for the unexpected.
Resolution #2: Save More
Saving for the future is important, but making sure you’re saving enough is critical to your retirement. You don’t want to have to work forever because you didn’t save enough when you were younger. Start saving immediately and try to put as much money aside as you can. If your company offers a 401(k) take full advantage of it. Add as much as you can to it, especially if your employer offers to match. Look into IRAs as a way to make the money you’ve saved work harder and earn more interest. Many financial advisors recommend saving at least 15% of your pretax income each year for your retirement. And while that might seem like a lot now, you’ll thank yourself later.
Resolution #3: Create a Rainy Day Fund
Accidents happen, but sadly, it’s hard to plan for them. Whether it’s a broken bone, a totaled car, a busted pipe, or an unexpected layoff, one of the easiest ways to cover yourself from the unexpected is to set aside money for an emergency or rainy day fund. Add this to your budget to ensure that you save enough money to cover the unexpected. Most advisors recommend saving between three and six months’ worth of expenses to be safe. So once you’ve done your budget, determine what you feel comfortable setting aside should something befall you or your family.
Resolution #4: Pay Down Debt
This is one resolution that millions make every year but not enough follow through. Student loans, credit card balances, loans, and mortgages are just some of the ways that people end up underwater if they aren’t careful with their money. Take a hard look at the debt that you’ve collected—and don’t worry, we all have some debt—and see what can be done about it. You’ll want to pay off the debt with the highest interest rates first—usually your credit cards. The longer you carry those debts around, the more you end up paying in the long run from the interest. Budget what you can into paying off your credit card debt, and try to avoid adding more if you can. The faster you pay it off, the better for your future.
Resolution #5: Spend Less
Everyone enjoys going out to eat, or going to the movies, or shopping, but those luxuries can add up quickly. Taking a look at your bank statements each month will show you just how much you spend on some of these things and will give you an idea of where you can cut costs. One way to spend less is to use cash instead of putting your purchases on a debit or credit card. Studies have shown that it is harder for people to physically part with cash than it is to put something on a credit card, so it may make you think harder about what you are purchasing. Also, look into refinancing your car or mortgage. A new lower rate could make a significant difference in your budget.
If you are serious about making money smart changes to your future, consider implementing these easy resolutions in 2017. For more on these and other financial resolution ideas, visit https://www.fidelity.com/viewpoints/personal-finance/new-year-financial-resolutions.
New Year's Eve in the Desert: Fun things to do in Arizona to ring in 2017!
You don’t have to go all the way to Times Square in New York to have a fun New Years’ experience. There are plenty of fun things you can do right here in Arizona that are just as good as anything they have in the Big Apple. Here are some of our favorite options.
Trade the Ball Drop for a Pinecone Drop
For colder weather and a real New Year’s Eve experience, head up to Flagstaff’s Historic Weatherford Hotel. Here, they have a giant LED lit pinecone that is lowered from the top of the hotel, much like the ball in Times Square. They even have two drops—one at 10pm for families, and one at midnight. So if you can’t keep the little ones awake, or want to celebrate with a different time zone, there are plenty of options. Find out more at http://www.flagstaffarizona.org/great-pinecone-drop/.
Party it up at a Casino
There are plenty of casinos around Arizona, and almost all of them have some kind of event going on. If you have a favorite, visit their website for information on the events they have planned. Many include music performances, buffets, dancing and more for various prices. If you just want to play your favorite slot machine without paying the price for a party ticket, you can always stop by and enjoy the festive atmosphere. See what’s going on this year at http://phoenix.about.com/od/newyears/tp/New-Years-Eve-Parties-Phoenix.htm.
Have a Staycation at a Local Resort
Check Groupon and other deal sites for great rates on rooms at your favorite local hotels, and ring in the New Year in style. For a night or a weekend, you can enjoy a little getaway without really having to leave. Order some champagne and room service and enjoy a cozy night in, or find a hotel with a great restaurant or bar and enjoy the celebration without having to worry about the drive home. Plus, you won’t have to make your bed in the morning.
Head to Mill Avenue
Mill Avenue has long been a party scene for ASU students and Tempe locals. The Mill Avenue New Year’s Eve Block Party has become a fantastic experience for party people of all ages. With music, food trucks, restaurants and bars all open, there are plenty of things to do before the clock hits midnight. And when it does, there’s a giant confetti blast to ring in the New Year. Find out more at http://www.downtowntempe.com/nye2016/entertainment.
Class Things up with a Fancy Party
There are plenty of places around Arizona that hold galas and events on New Year’s Eve for those who want a touch of glamour at the end of the year. Decadence is one such event that offers amazing live music from big name headliners. There are different options depending on how much you want to spend, but each ticket offers an amazing experience. You can find other great parties around town as well. Get all the details here http://decadencearizona.com/.
There are hundreds of ways to spend your New Year’s Eve in Arizona. You can find more ideas of what to do at http://arizonakey.com/arizona-new-years-eve-celebrations-and-parties/.
Funding Baby: Financial tips to make things easier for new parents
So you’re expecting a baby, or maybe you just had your first. Your bundle of joy is a wonderful addition to your family, but you might not realize just how much money new babies can cost. We want to help take some of that financial worry off your mind by offering some easy and useful tips that will make paying for baby significantly easier.
Create a pre- and post-baby budget
There are several new costs that pop up when you find out you or your partner is pregnant, as well as after baby comes, so creating budgets is going to be essential. Things to consider budgeting before the baby comes includes out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the pregnancy, car seat, crib, stroller, clothing, formula, and diapers. While some of these will drift into your new post-baby budget, you’ll want to have some on hand for the first days and weeks after baby arrives and certain normal activities go out the window. After baby arrives, make sure you factor in recurring expenses like diapers, food, child care, and more. You’ll also want to consider how much your budget will need to be adjusted for maternity and paternity leave.
Before your baby arrives, or shortly thereafter, make sure you find a pediatrician in your health insurance network. Baby’s first doctor’s visit will come within a week of the birth, so having one already picked out will be helpful and make that first week a little less stressful. You’ll also want to make sure you add baby to your insurance policy within 30 days of birth to ensure that your little boy or girl is covered.
It might seem a little morbid to think about this after baby comes, so we recommend looking into life insurance policies before the big day. If you already have one, make sure you adjust it accordingly to reflect your new son or daughter. If you don’t have one, get one. You love your child, and can’t ever imagine not being with them, but sometimes the unexpected happens, and you’ll want to make sure that your child is protected and taken care of no matter what happens. Adjusting your will and beneficiaries goes hand-in-hand with this, so make sure you make those changes as well.
There is no way to predict what will happen in the future, so having an emergency fund set aside is always a smart way to go, whether you’re expecting a child or not. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. Whether you are the one who is injured, or your child, or something happens with your car or job, it’s a smart idea to have a rainy day fund set aside with at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses covered.
Plan for the Future
Setting up a college fund for your child is a bit of a given for many people, but many often to forget to plan for their own futures once a child comes into the picture. Don’t forget to keep funding your retirement as well as your child’s future. Their dreams and goals may become more important than yours in your ideas, but that doesn’t mean that your dreams should be neglected. Make sure you keep building your retirement fund so your kids won’t have to take care of you when you’re older—they’ll thank you for it, and you’ll be glad for it in the long run.
Babies are amazing, and we know that you’re excited to welcome this new addition to your household. Just make sure you follow these simple steps to make life with baby a little bit easier and a little more financially secure.
DIYs to Brighten your Holidays
The holidays are a time to be festive and fun with the ones your love, but they can also be stressful with all the decorations and presents and costs. You don’t have to break the bank or skimp on your decorations to save a little green with your decorations this year. With these awesome DIY tricks, your home or office will become the life of the holiday party. So save a little time and money by adding some of these great DIY decorations to your holidays.
Washi Tape Christmas Tree
If you don’t have enough space at home for an actual Christmas tree, or you want to bring some holiday cheer into your office without making too much of a mess, try this super simple DIY Washi Tape Christmas Tree. All you need is some washi tape in your favorite color or pattern, a pair of scissors, some yarn, and some tiny ornaments. A ruler might also come in handy if you’re not the greatest at creating straight lines. Brighten up even the dullest of walls with this quick and easy DIY. Find the full details at http://www.homeyohmy.com/diy-washi-tape-christmas-tree/.
Gold Leaf Pinecone Garland
Add a little sparkle to your holidays with an adorable project to create a golden pinecone garland you can drape everywhere. You can pick up some pinecones at your local craft store—or find some out in nature—yes, we do have pinecones in Arizona, if you know here to look! The supplies are simple and relatively easy to find, so you can have your golden pinecone garland up and sparkling in no time! Get all the steps here at http://www.thesweetestoccasion.com/2012/12/diy-pine-cone-garland/.
Holiday Photo Backdrop
Whether you’re looking for a great way to capture moments at your family holiday gathering, or want to add a new element to your office party, be sure to check out this quick and easy option for a holiday photo backdrop. With some inexpensive decorations, blankets, and winter props, you’re on your way to capturing some great holiday memories for a fraction of the cost of a professional photo shoot. Here are the details: https://lovelyindeed.com/diy-holiday-photo-backdrop/.
Personalized Cut-Out Holiday Cards
Want to send something special to your family and friends this year? Try this quick and easy craft to create adorable and festive holiday cards that you won’t be able to find in store. The instructions are easy to follow and are completely customizable, so you can send whatever greeting you want. And to save a little more time, instead of printing the patterned paper on your computer, consider using a fun wrapping paper or scrapbooking paper to add a punch of color. Just follow this guide for great holiday cards: http://www.allthingspaper.net/2015/11/diy-holiday-printables-simple.html.
Gingerbread Man Piñata
A piñata might not be a traditional holiday decoration, but it’ll become a tradition after your guests see how cute and fun this little guy is! The supplies are pretty easy—cardboard, masking tape, brown crepe paper, felt, craft glue, hot glue, and candy of course—and it’ll only take you a few minutes to get this adorable guy ready to go. You can decorate him however you want, and you’re guests will love this festive new addition to the party.
For more fun, easy, and creative ways to brighten your holidays, check out this list of great ideas from Brit & Co (http://www.brit.co/easy-holiday-diys/). And for even more, check out this Buzzfeed article too (https://www.buzzfeed.com/kollabora/last-minute-holiday-projects?utm_term=.wdaK2QVE41#.ifaYZyJaVw). Happy Holidays!
How to Survive black Friday and Cyber Monday like a Pro
Ahh, the holidays. A great time to spend with family and friends, and also to get some killer deals on stuff after waiting in a tent for six hours in the cold. Black Friday and its digital counterpart Cyber Monday have become a holiday tradition in the United States over the last few years. And while the stories you read online might seem like humanity has collectivley lost its mind, there are some great deals to be had out there, if you know how and when to look. We have compiled some useful tips and tricks to help you survive Black Friday and Cyber Monday like a pro.
Location is Key
For Black Friday shopping, it might seem important to get to your nearest store location as quick as you can to beat the rush, but it actually could save you a little more time and money if you find stores that less populated. Fewer cars in the parking lots usually means fewer people fighting for the same products. Similarly with websites, make sure that you are familiar with where you shop online. A lot of sketchy websites pop up around this time of year, so make sure you stick to the ones you know are reputable to avoid being ripped off. If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. If nothing else, Google it and see what others have said about the website.
Black Friday shopping is like Christmas for thieves. To help protect yourself, your money, and your purchases, try these helpful tips. Wear a cross-body bag containing your cash and credit cards, instead of keeping them in your pocket or purse. These bags are much harder for thieves to take off you. Carry a plain brown paper bag with you to put your purchases in. If thieves can’t see where it came from or what’s inside, they’ll be less like to try and take it off you. Don’t check in online. While it might be tempting to tell everyone on Facebook about your big score, thieves often watch social media to see when people are out of their homes so they can rob them. This is a general rule throughout the year, but you should be even more diligent about it when on vacation and during the holidays.
Bring Ads with You
Things happen, especially when people are rushed like they usually are on Black Friday. To ensure you get the prices that are advertised in the print ads, bring them with you. If an item doesn’t ring up with the sale price, it’ll be handy to show the cashier and generally they’ll be able to adjust it right there. This isn’t always the case, but it’s better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them. We also recommend creating a shopping list before you leave, and bringing only those ads that feature the items you want. This will help you stay on budget and make your shopping experience easier and faster.
Pack a Snack
Especially if you’re planning on hitting several stores for several hours, bringing a snack or three will help you save a little money and give you the energy you need to continue owning those sales. So when starvation hits, grab that protein bar from your purse and keep shopping. Everyone else will have to either deal with the hunger or abandon their search. And no one wants to visit a food court when it’s going to be this busy.
To ensure that you get the best deals, do your research before the big day. Many companies offer sneak peeks at their Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales so you can get a sense as to who is going to have the best deals on what. If you can find information on the kind of sales companies had the year before, that’s another helpful tool. Some companies have different sales at different times of day, so make sure you know exactly when the item you want will go on sale. Set a budget and do your best to stick to it. Researching exactly what item you want and which stores—either in person or online—are going to have the best deals will help you stick to that budget.
Sign up for Email Lists
Many people have an email account they set up just to manage the junk mail they get from various companies and websites, and we think this is a great idea. Sign up for email lists for your favorite companies or stores that you know you’re going to want to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ll get more detailed information about their sales and specials than what they post on their websites or print in their ads. You might even get access to special deals or coupons for being on their list. If nothing else, you can opt out after the holidays, but for now, sign up!
Know What You Want and What to Avoid
Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t for amateurs, so make sure you know exactly what you want and what you should avoid. Unless there are some seriously steep discounts, avoid things like jewelry, furniture, toys, and even some large electronics. Focus on other items, and be decisive. Stick to your list as best as you can. Unless you see an amazing deal on something that you just can’t pass up, get what you came for and get out.
And Most Importantly - Don't Shop Alone!
Find a friend or family member who will match your shopping pace, whether that’s speed demon or casual shopper. Not only will they help body block other shoppers so you can get what you came for, it’s nice to have company. If you have lists prepared ahead of time, you can split the word and get done in half the time. Avoid bringing children, as they can become irritable and unruly when shopping, and in such large crowds there is always the danger that they could get lost or kidnapped. But it’s always good to have someone by your side when going to war.
Cyber Monday and Black Friday are two of the biggest shopping days in the year, and with these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to handle the stress and chaos like a pro. Happy hunting!
You’ll find these helpful tips and more at http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/8-tips-for-surviving-black-friday.html, and http://www.refinery29.com/2015/11/97697/holiday-sales-shopping-tips#slide.
DIYs for Turkey Day
Thanksgiving is a great holiday, full of family, food, and giving thanks for all the great things in our lives every day. Spice up your Turkey Day decorations with these cute and easy DIYs to add something special to your feast.
Floating Fall Leaves Centerpiece
If your table is full of delicious foods and you don’t have enough room to put a centerpiece, but you still want to have some kind of decoration on your table, try this (http://www.hgtv.com/design/make-and-celebrate/handmade/dress-up-your-autumn-table-with-fall-leaves) beautiful and simple alternative to dress up your table. Just grab some natural or silk fall leaves, attach them to some fishing line, and then hang the beautiful decorations from the ceiling, light fixture, or chandelier above your table. You’ll get plenty of compliments on this gorgeous display, and you’ll have extra room to add some more food.
DIY Chalkboard Chargers
Chalkboard paint has become increasingly popular in DIYs, and here is a new way to use this amazing tool to enhance your Thanksgiving table. If you have some chargers that could use an update, consider painting part or all of them in chalkboard paint. Then you can add things to each charger, such as a name in place of a nameplate, or the menu so people will stop asking you what’s for dinner. Plus, they’ll look good all year round. Find the instructions at http://theglitterguide.com/2013/10/31/diy-chalkboard-charger/.
Pumpkin Fondue Pot
If you’re into dipping your food into delicious cheese or chocolate, try a fall-inspired fondue pot holder. All you need is a large pumpkin and someone strong enough to hollow out a whole the size of your fondue pot. Once your delicious dipping sauce is ready, put the bowl in the pumpkin and enjoy all the compliments you receive on how cute and creative you are. Find the instructions at http://www.rachaelraymag.com/Easy-Party-Ideas/Party-Decorating-Ideas/halloween-shortcuts.
Fall Foliage Candle Holders
Could your candles use some more color? During the fall, there are few things more colorful than the leaves on the trees—yes, even here in Arizona—so why not use those leaves to brighten things up? Some clear candle holders, a spray adhesive, your favorite colored leaves, and some candles is all you need to be a true fall decorating champ. Find the full instructions http://www.marthastewart.com/280493/flaming-foliage-candleholders.
Ice Cream Cone Conrucopia
Send your guests home with a full stomach and a fun ice cream cone cornucopia filled with candy! Dip the end of an ice cream cone into some warm water to soften it up, then wrap the point around a pencil to give it the famous cornucopia twist. Once it has cooled and settled into the new shape, fill the opening with candy corn and candy pumpkins, and wrap it with a little plastic wrap to keep everything in.
For more adorable decorating ideas for your DIY Turkey Day, check out this Buzzfeed article, https://www.buzzfeed.com/alannaokun/clever-ways-to-decorate-for-thanksgiving?utm_term=.cerr7azaOY%20-%20.hrx9y1R1rq. Now your Thanksgiving will look spectacular without busting your budge. Happy Turkey Day!
Buying a Car Like a Pro Part 2: At the dealership
Buying a car can be an exciting experience. It can also be daunting and expensive, especially if you’ve never bought a car before or have limited experience with car buying and dealerships. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of tips you should have ready to go when you walk onto the car dealer’s lot. Now that you have everything ready to with your credit score, financing, and budget, you’re ready to buy your car. Follow these easy steps to ensure that your car buying experience goes smoothly.
Create a List
We recommend that you start your car search online. This way you can see and compare models and features in the comfort of your own home without being pressured by a car salesman to pick a car or make up your mind. Look at what comes standard and what will be extra on the cars you like most, and determine whether the prices you see will fit into your budget. Once you’ve done your research, come up with a short list of a few cars that you would seriously consider owning. Have this list ready, along with the research that you’ve complied, with you when you head to the dealership.
New, Used or Leasing
Decide which option—new, lease, certified preowned, or used—works best for you. You’ll find all options in your budget, and you’ll find all quality of cars in each option. Buying used is often the best value, but you’ll pay a high interest rate, have a shorter warranty, and may not know the car’s full history. If you’re looking to lease, you won’t own the car, and there are often certain rules to avoid penalties. Buying new gets you a full warranty and lower interest rates, though there may be fewer features available without spending extra. Certified preowned cars are often a good compromise, as they are less expensive than new cars, but have some warranty and have to meet certain standards and regulations for safety. Pick which option you are most comfortable with and go with it.
Don’t rush your test drive. Once you’ve done your research and picked your car or cars, schedule a test drive with the internet or fleet manager. This will help you build a relationship with someone at the dealership who will be less likely to push you into making a deal. Ask for more time with your test drive. You’ll be driving this car around for a few years at least, so make sure you like how it handles on surface streets and freeways. Take your time with the car in park too—adjust seats and mirrors and play with the different controls. If you often drive with a passenger, bring them along and make sure they’re comfortable too. If you haul things, make sure everything will fit.
When it comes to start signing the paperwork, you’ll already be ahead of the curve by having your credit information and the financing all set up, but there are still other fees and terms you’ll need to negotiate. Have ready any discounts you may have researched. Negotiate the trade-in value of your car separately from the purchase of your new car, and research the value of your current car ahead of time so you know if you’re getting a good price. Look carefully through the list of fees to make sure they are accurate and necessary. And be prepared to say no to the extras you’re offered. You can always get them later, if you end up wanting them, after you’ve done your research.
If you follow these simple and smart steps, you’ll have a great experience buying your next car, and you’ll get an amazing deal on your dream car. Find more information on these tips at http://www.bankrate.com/finance/auto/car-buying-tips/.
Car Buying like a Pro Part 1: Before you go to the dealership
Buying a car can be an exciting experience. It can also be daunting and expensive, especially if you’ve never bought a car before or have limited experience with car buying and dealerships. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of tips and terms you should know before walking onto a car lot. You’ll be able to walk out with a great car at a great price once you understand these terms and ideas.
Before you ever step into a car dealership, make sure you understand what your credit score is. Dealerships often advertise very good interest rates on new cars, but often these rates are only available to those with credit scores of 750 or better, and you will only see that in the fine print. Those with credit scores of 700 or higher can usually get pretty good rates, but anything below that usually comes with much high interest rates. And almost anyone can get a car loan regardless of their credit score or credit history because cars are relatively easy to repossess if you miss payments. So before you go looking for a car, make sure you know what your credit score is and what kind of rate you should be getting. If your credit score isn’t as good as you’d like it to be, Experian.com has some tips to raising your credit score.
Get financing quotes before you shop
Even if you have amazing credit, it doesn’t hurt to look around for the best rates. For those with high credit scores, you can often find great financing rates directly from the dealer. If you have average credit, visit your credit union or bank and apply for a car loan before you shop. You can often find some of the most competitive rates with credit unions and local banks. You can also apply for car loans online if you want more options, but you won’t necessarily get the best rates.
Set a budget
One of the first things you should do when you start searching for a car is determine exactly how much you can afford to spend on loan payments each month. While it might be tempting to get a longer loan term so you can have smaller payments over the course of the loan, in the long run you’ll end up paying a lot more in interest. So while a shorter loan term might have higher payments, you won’t have to pay as much interest. Calculate how much you can afford to spend each month and then find the shortest loan term that will fit in that budget.
Consider extra expenses
In your budget, make sure you account for other common car costs such as car insurance and GAP Insurance. GAP, or guaranteed auto protection, Insurance, is protection to cover the “gap” between than an insurance company believes your car is worth and what you still owe on your loan if you’re in an accident and the car is deemed totaled. So if you still owe $8,000 on your loan, but the car is only worth $6,000, the GAP insurances covers you for that $2,000 that you would owe on the loan. For both GAP insurance and car insurance, make sure you shop around to find the best rates. And shop around for both of these annually, as rates can change from company to company every year.
Now that you know your credit score, have financing ready to go, and know what you can afford for your budget, it’s time to start looking for your new car. Whether you’re buying a brand new car, or one that’s just new to you, these tips will help ensure that you won’t get taken for a ride at the dealership.
Find more informaiton on these tips at http://www.moneyunder30.com/how-finance-car-smart.
Securing Your Online Life
Every day, millions of people go online on their computers, tablets, and smartphones, and send all kinds of information around the world. To make sure that you are being smart and stay protected, you’ll need different and secure passwords for each of your online logins. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to ensure that your passwords are as strong as possible.
Make sure your password is at least 8 characters long. The longer your password, the safer you’ll be. It takes only a few minutes or hours for a hacker to crack a short password, but could take them years to crack a password with more than 8 characters. And would you spend years trying to crack on password? Probably not.
Don’t use just letters. Get creative with your password. Use capital and lower case letters. Use some numbers. Through it a couple of characters. Mix things up. A hacker might be able to guess a password like “sunwest” but it’ll take them a much longer time to guess something like “!$unWe$+.” Even if there’s a word or phrase that you like to use for your password, find new ways to change it up so that your information stays safe.
Avoid personal information or common words. A pet’s name or your birthday are pretty obvious choices for passwords, and can be guessed pretty easily. Go for an inside joke or obscure sentimental date, or just a nonsense phrase or word for your password. Avoid common dictionary words, at least on their own, as they can be guessed fairly easily.
Change your passwords often. To ensure that your passwords aren’t easy to guess, change them up as often as possible. They don’t need to be changed every week, but try to mix them up every three months at the least, though more often is better. And don’t use the same password for each account. Mix things up and use a variety of passwords for your sites and accounts. And don’t write them down. If you have too many accounts that all require different passwords, you should consider using a trusted online and mobile password keepers or managers to hold all your passwords.
Don’t give your passwords away. Your mom might not seem like she has something malicious up her sleeve, but she may forget to log out of your account or use an insecure computer to access your information. It’s better to just keep your passwords to yourself. Even if they don’t intend to cause harm, accidents happen, and that’s how information gets hacked.
These are just a few tips you can use to ensure that your accounts and sites are secure and protected from people who want to steal your money. Try using them in your life and see if you feel a little more secure online.
Raising Money-Smart Kids
Every summer, thousands of kids across the country set up stands on their front yards to sell lemonade, or beg their parents for chores to do in exchange for a little more allowance so they can buy that super awesome cool thing they saw in the store that all their friends have now. And while it might be cute that these little entrepreneurs are working hard to earn the things they want, are they really managing their money wisely? How often to do you talk to your kids about good financial habits? Here are a few important tips you can share with your kids to ensure that they know how to manage their money now and into the future.
Teach Key Terms
Making sure you kids know the basic terms of banking and money management is a great first step to making them money smart. Make sure they know terms like Credit, Debit, Checking and Savings. And making sure they understand that money comes from hard work and not from the bank or the magic tree in the backyard is key to their future success with money management. Telling them how ATMs work—and that the money isn’t infinite—will help them grasp these concepts better later in life.
Patience is Important
When kids see their parents shopping, it seems magical. All they have to do is swipe a piece of plastic into a machine and everything they want is theirs. But as grownups, we know this isn’t the case. Teaching children that sometimes you have to wait to buy something is another important concept for them to learn. Waiting until the money is in place, or for the item to go on sale so it is less expensive, are key ideas that children should learn. Try teaching your kids about saving and waiting by having them set a goal, and then save to achieve that goal. Whether it’s a toy or a trip to the movies, encourage your kids to try and save their money until they have enough to buy the item or activity on their own. Don’t make it too expensive so that it takes them months to save the money, but something that they will have to work towards, and they will start to understand how Mom and Dad have to wait to buy what they want until they have the money for it.
Sometimes Choices are Hard
Like the previous example, understanding that tough choices are often involved in money management is also very important. Kids should learn that money doesn’t actually grow on trees and that you may not have enough money to buy everything you want. This is another way to encourage your kids to set and achieve their goals. They might have enough money for a game right now, but if they choose to wait a little while longer and gain a little more money, they could afford the upgraded version. Also, taking your children shopping with you and explaining why you pick one product over another is another way to show your kids how this idea can be applied to life. Ask your kids which is a better deal, the generic item or the name brand, and then ask which one they should buy and why.
The Importance of Savings
As your kids get older, and possibly get their first jobs, encourage them to set up a checking and savings account so they can manage their money and see how their savings can accrue interest over time. As they see their money grow in their savings accounts, they will begin to understand the importance of adding to their savings. It’s like free money, right? Well, it might seem that way to your kids, and who doesn’t like free money?
Make a Budget, and Make it Work
Budgets are even hard for adults to handle, so teaching them to your kids at a young age could be extremely beneficial to their money management abilities in the future. Help them sketch out a basic budget that shows them how much money they make from chores, allowance, or a part time job, and show them where their money goes each month. Breaking things down into categories like Entertainment, Toys, or Gas can help your kids and teens better understand where they spend too much or not enough, and will help them become efficient money managers as they grow older.
It might seem like an awkward topic to discuss with your kids, but once they can start doing simple math, they are old enough to understand some of these important ideas. And trust us, there will be much more awkward topics you’ll need to discuss down the road.
Spooktacular Halloween DIYs
Halloween is one America’s favorite holidays, and what’s not to like? Candy, costumes, and fun decorations that can a spooky touch to every home or office. But some of those big box stores put outrageous prices on some of their Halloween decorations. Don’t pay big prices for decorations that can be even spookier when made at home. Save some dough this Halloween with these fun and freaky DIYs.
Spooky Glowing Eyes
Bring the monster under your bed to life with this super simple craft that will add a creepy feature to every dark corner. Just grab some cardboard toilet paper rolls, a pair of scissors, and some inexpensive glow sticks that you can find at your local party supply store. Just cut some spooky eyes into the toilet paper rolls, insert a glow stick, and stick the creepy eyes around and wait for the screams.
This DIY will create a creepy feature for your windows or mirrors. Just mix some red food coloring with some Elmer’s glue, cover your hand in glue, press it down on some plastic cling wrap, and repeat until you’ve made as many as you can fit on the cling wrap. Fill in the hand shapes with some more glue so the handprints are decently thick. Then add the red glue mixture to the handprints, let it dry, and there you go! Attach the bloody handprints to the nearest window to make it look like there is a crime scene ahead.
Meet Your Mummy Door
This simple DIY will help add a level of spooky to any door. All you need are some white crepe paper streamers and some black and white construction paper. Wrap your door in the crepe paper to give your door the appearance of mummy bandages. Then cut two large white circles and two smaller black circles for the eyes. Use double sided tape to keep the bandages and eyes in place.
If you want your home or office to have a Hogwarts feel, try this cool and easy DIY for some spooky floating candles. With just a few tools—like cardboard paper towel rolls, glue, paint, and some LED tea lights and some fishing line—you’ll have a space that will rival the Great Hall in Harry Potter.
Head in a Jar
To really scare your mom or coworkers, try this awesome head in a jar prank. All you need are a camera, some photo editing software, food coloring, a printer and some paper lamination. Take pictures of your head from different angles, compile them into a single image that you print out, then curl it into a car that you fill with water dyed to look like brine. Place the jar in the breakroom fridge, sit back and wait.
Rock Your Retirement: Tips for ensuring your money is working hard for your future
When should you start planning for your retirement? That’s a question that millions of people ask themselves every day. Should you start in your 50s? Your 40s? Earlier? In reality, you should start saving for your retirement as early as possible, because the earlier you start, the more you’ll have waiting for you when you’re finally ready to start using it. When you close your eyes and picture your retirement, what do you see? Sitting on your porch, enjoying the sunset with your spouse while your grandchildren play in the yard? Sitting on your private yacht, drinking champagne while drifting around the Mediterranean? Whatever you want to do in your golden years, follow these tips and tricks to get the most out of your retirement money before you need it.
Start saving today
The earlier you start saving money for your retirement, the better. Even if you can only afford to save and invest a relatively small amount of money each month, you could see a significant return difference if you start at age 25 versus age 35. If you save $75 a month from age 25 to age 65 and an 8% rate of return earned, you could save upwards of $250,000. If you save $100 a month from age 35 to age 65 with the same rate of return earned, you would only save $150,000. That’s a pretty big difference, and would probably make you feel a little more secure about the future.
Embrace your 401(k)
If your employer offers you a traditional 401(k) plan, it could offer you some real advantages. Make sure that you contribute to your 401(k) to help it grow. And if your employer offers to match your plan, make sure you contribute at least as much to take full advantage of the match plan. It’s basically free money from your company, so don’t leave it on the table.
Find new ways to save
People are living longer and longer, social security is becoming less and less stable, and costs are continuing to grow every year. During your working years, save as much as you can, at least 15% of your annual gross pay. If you can’t quite squeeze that into your budget, save what you can and increase the amount you save with every raise. Readjust your budget so you save more as soon as you get a raise so that you don’t get too used to having that extra money.
Make sure you look into IRAs, which can help you invest more over the long term. While investing aggressively can have some big payouts, it can also be extremely risky, so when investing your retirement money, be sensible and try to stay balanced. If you can, seek the advice of a financial advisor for the best way to make your money work with limited risk.
While these are only a few ways to save money for your future, they are big ones that you can easily implement into your current budget to help ensure that your retirement will be a piece of cake. So now relax, and let your money do the work for you.
The Bridal Budget: How to plan a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank
Weddings can be spectacular events with price tags to match. According to one source, the average cost for a wedding in 2015 was about $31,000. And while it might be tempting to splurge on your big day, it is possible to plan the perfect wedding for a fraction of the cost. So put your piggy bank back on its shelf and put these simple but helpful tips to work before you walk down the aisle.
Set a budget
As bride and groom, sit down together and realistically put a cap on your wedding expenses. Having a maximum number you feel comfortable spending on the whole of your wedding—included dress and tux, food, flowers, decorations, location, music, favors, photographer, etc.—will help you decide what is really important when you actually start spending money. Set your wedding budget, and then start breaking it down into the different categories. There are plenty of wedding budget spreadsheets (try this one here) and checklists (like this one) that will help you stay on top of your spending and keep you from forgetting any important elements.
Flowers are one of the most important and one of the most costly elements of any wedding. If you decide that you have to have flowers at your wedding, consider making them do double duty to help cut down on costs. Your bridesmaids won’t really need their bouquets after the pictures are taken following the ceremony, so why not place them in some pretty vases on the cocktail tables as decorations? Or the aisle flowers—a little reworking would make them perfect for centerpieces on tables. Moving your flowers from your ceremony to your reception is a great way to ensure that everything stays consistent, and it’ll help you save some serious cash.
Embrace the minimalist lifestyle
Okay, maybe not literally, but take a hard look at your Pinterest wedding board and consider whether or not you really need hand painted ornaments with your engagement photo mod podged on it with your wedding date as your wedding favors. While all the little details might seem important and unique when you’re planning, all those little DIY experiments really start adding up. Most people won’t notice the little touches like custom cocktail napkins, calligraphy-covered signs for everything, kooky and sentimental favors, and unnecessary stationary. You can even cut out the program if you’re going for a simple ceremony. Food, drinks, music, and the couple are really the only things that people remember after the wedding, so find ways to cut out the little things to save some big money. (This same approach can be applied to your guest list too, if you’re finding the number of invitees growing a little long.)
Finding the right place for your ceremony and reception is important, but also extremely costly. Especially if you want to have separate places for each element of your wedding. Just like in real estate, location is everything, so it might be worth it to get a little creative with your wedding venue. Do you know anyone with an amazing backyard that would be simply beautiful covered in little fairy lights? Do you know anyone who owns a restaurant that would be willing to give you a great deal? If you’re flexible about time but have your heart set on a certain location, schedule your wedding during the venue’s offseason or on a weekday. You could also talk to the venue’s manager or owner about doing a pop-up ceremony—where a couple comes in and has a quick ceremony with minimal set-up—before a larger event. There are several ways to save money on a venue if you’re flexible.
The Money-stealing Honeymoon
If you have dreams about traveling the world with your new spouse, making sure you have room in your budget for the trip is important. Depending on where you want to go and when you plan on leaving, the honeymoon could actually cost more than the actual wedding. Not that that’s a bad thing, but there are plenty of ways to save money on the honeymoon so you still something left in your bank account when everything is said and done. If you don’t need much in the way of home goods, consider skipping wedding gifts and set up a Honeymoon Registry instead. This way, your guests can help you pay for that amazing adventure you’ve been dreaming about.
There are a million more ways that you can cut costs and still throw the best wedding bash of the century. Just make sure that once you make your budget, you stick to it. And then you can sit back and enjoy your big day without wondering about the state of your bank account.
How to Stay Safe When Using an ATM
ATMs are convenient ways to withdraw or deposit money, or to just check your balance, but there are some less than scrupulous people out there who have found ways to steal from you without a mask and gun.
Make sure you are aware of your surroundings every time you use an ATM and follow these helpful tips to ensure your money stays right where it belongs—with you.
Use ATMs at inside businesses. If you need to stop and deposit a check or pull out some quick cash, using an ATM inside a busy business like a credit union or a store is safer than using one outside. Especially if it’s after dark. But just because you’re in a busy area doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still take precautions. Choosing an ATM in a well-lit, well-traveled area is great for avoiding thieves who will come up to you, but there are other ways people can steal your information and money. Trust your gut and always be aware.
Be ready. Have your ATM card in your hand when you walk up to the ATM and make sure that everything is put away in your wallet or purse before you leave. If you are still trying to stick some cash in your wallet while you’re walking back to your car, you could become a prime target for thieves.
Be aware of skimmers. Being aware of your surroundings is essential to good ATM safety, but there is new technology available that will allow thieves to steal you money and information without being anywhere nearby. Skimming involves placing a device or hardware over the top of the card slot or keypad to capture card and Pin information. Sometimes this device can be a small camera attached to the ATM, or it can be a duplicate of the card slot reader placed over the original to capture and steal your information. If something doesn’t look right when you approach the ATM, leave right away and contact the operator of the machine with your concerns.
We want you to be safe with everything you do, so make sure you check your surroundings and be aware of anything that might seem off when doing your financial transactions at ATMs.
The Heart of Membership Access
As your trusted credit union, we at SunWest Federal Credit Union know just how important security and stability is for our members. That’s why we take every measure possible to ensure your accounts and personal information are secure both online and in our branches. Of course, this level of security requires a dedicated team of I.T. professionals working around the clock to protect this vital information. One of those professionals is our very own Host Information Systems Coordinator (H.I.S. Coordinator) Oscar Matienzo.
Meet Oscar Matienzo
Having spent the last 17 years as an employee here at SunWest, Oscar has truly become a success story for any employee looking to work their way to top management. Although Oscar started as a Teller back in 1998, he was well aware that he was becoming more and more drawn to the computer field. Fortunately, a position as a Computer Operator opened the same year he started as a Teller and Oscar knew he had to apply. Sure enough, he got the job and was so happy to be given the opportunity to begin his journey in our top-notch I.T. Department. Over time, Oscar learned the ins-and-outs of the department and was able to pinpoint where his interests were within I.T. in the credit union industry. Then, in 2007, he was promoted to Host Information Systems Coordinator where he began managing the daily hosting system. This role has enabled him to resolve issues and maintain updates that are necessary to ensure members have secure access to their accounts online.
Oscar works diligently to ensure our data systems are always secure, he has learned that as an employee here at SunWest, it is important to get involved and participate in activities throughout our company; he believes attitude is everything. Oscar enjoys the family atmosphere we have here at SunWest and that our employees really do care about one another. He has found over the years that people here really do go out of their way to support each other when times are stressful. Oscar lives by his favorite quote: “Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” This means that he constantly strives to appreciate the little things and knows how fortunate he is to work for such a family-oriented company.
In his free time, Oscar loves hanging out with his two sons, hiking, geocaching and being outdoors. In the future, he would like to save money and put aside some time to travel more and enjoy new places.
Oscar has been a great asset and member of the SunWest family and we are so proud to know that our systems and your personal information will always be safe because of his hard work. Thank you for all that you do for SunWest and we look forward to working by your side throughout the future.
Our Money Saving Tips For a Fun Weekend Getaway
Who doesn’t want to relax and get away after a hectic week? Whether you’re looking to take a long weekend or a simple day trip, costs can add up quickly. Trust us, we know!
As your local credit union, we want you to enjoy your time off from the everyday hustle and bustle, while also being conservative about your money spending habits on vacation. Follow the tips below to create an effective budget that helps you make the most out of whatever you decide to do.
Live by or create a budget - First, make sure you’ve created a monthly and or weekly budget for all annual expenses that you’re already obligated to pay (i.e. bills, grocery store, gas etc.). Then, see where you can cut costs or evaluate how much income you have leftover to put towards your getaway. This will help you determine a starting point regarding the sacrifices that need to be made to potentially save more money for this vacation.
Sacrifice now for fun later - Second, start sacrificing some of your everyday fun you’d have now for fun you can have on your trip. For example: Don’t spend your holiday gift cards and go on shopping sprees now, wait and spend the money on adventures or shopping at a new place you may possibly find on your vacation.
Pack lunches & snacks to eat out less & save big - Next, be sure to plan ahead for your arrival and departure to your destination. Whether you’re flying or driving, you’re bound to be hungry, want a snack or become thirsty at some point. Therefore, save trip time and money by packing both food and drinks everyone will love.
Book your stay early; the sooner the more affordable - Lastly,make sure you have researched the quality and prices ahead of time so you can get the best hotel or lodging rates. Remember, the sooner you book your stay the more affordable it’ll be for everyone!
Here at SunWest Federal Credit Union, we want to help you make the best out of your trip so have fun, stay safe and keep warm wherever your adventure takes you this weekend.
It’s Time for an Updated Free Credit Report
Chances are, for one reason or another, you probably need an updated credit report. That being said, credit reports are very common in most adulthood situations you encounter now such as: renting a home or apartment, purchasing a new home/property, applying for a new job or applying for a new credit card. Let’s not forget reviewing your credit report can also help you catch and identify signs of identity theft.
Federal law encourages that you review a copy of your credit report at least every 12 months from each credit reporting company. It is also important to make sure all listed information on your report is accurate and up to date. The following companies that the Fair Credit Reporting Act also known as the (FCRA) require to distribute you a free copy upon your request every 12 months are: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. Your credit report is protected by law and must be accurate and kept private. You should find proper information regarding but not limited to: bill payment methods, your address and other banking information such as bankruptcy fillings or lawsuits held against you.
Free Credit Report
Car Buying Tips
Get insider information on how to get the best deal! Read this article from a former car salesman.
How to be Money Smart in College
College is an exciting time - you’re away from home, making new friends, experiencing new things, and deciding how you want to spend the rest of your life. But with all these new things, being money smart is just as important as being book smart. Especially if you have your first credit card, it might be difficult to see just how much you’re spending if you aren’t careful. Here are some helpful tips and tricks to ensure that you stay money smart in college.
1. Create a budget. This one you might need help with from mom or dad, but creating a budget to track your income and spending is the first step to becoming money smart. Calculate as close as you can the amount of money you have coming in from your job and how much you need to spend each month. Include things like car payments, gas, groceries, rent and utilities if you’re living off campus, and even tuition and books if that falls to you. Having it all written down can be overwhelming, but it’s a great way to ensure you won’t fall into any money problems later on.
2. Pay off your credit card each month. It might be tempting to just put every expense on your credit card and then just pay the minimum each month, but college students are especially vulnerable to credit card debt. If you establish a habit of paying off your credit card each month, not only will it help improve your credit as you get older, but you will become more aware of the amount of money you spend each month and it will help you curb some of your habits.
3. Avoid extraneous spending. While going out every night with your friends and going on adventures every weekend might sound like fun, it’s going to make a huge dent in your spending. Keep your food purchases to what you know you’re going to need—and if you have a meal plan, use it. You’re already paying for it, might as well put it to good use. And be careful about those daily $5 cups of coffee. You might need them to make it through your 8am class, but it might be more economical to buy a coffee pot and make a cup on your own. As for fun activities, do a little research and see if there are any free or discounted days that you and your friends could enjoy. The more you save, the better off you’ll be.
4. Create an emergency fund. No one knows when they’re going to blow a tire or need a new alternator, or when your computer becomes a college casualty, so setting up a small emergency fund is a good idea. Even something as small as setting aside $20 a month could really help out when those big purchases appear out of nowhere.
5. Try to use cash over your card. It can become surprisingly easy to just swipe a card every time you make a purchase, but that’s how credit card debt accrues. When you can, use cash. Studies have shown that when we use cash over a card, we become more aware of how much we’re spending, and it can help us from making unnecessary purchases. Try going a week with using only cash and see if your habits change. It will also help you stick to your budget.
College is an amazing time in your life, and you should make the most of it. We just want you to be smart about your money at the same time and avoid falling into the debt traps that so many college students suffer from today. Be more than just book smart—be money smart too!