Spring clean your paper clutter

So many bills!It’s that time of year to get organized and make a clean sweep of clutter. We know you have busy lives and here are three ways to help you get-and stay-organized.

  1. eStatements

Do you find yourself buried in a pile of paper statements every month? Then be sure to enroll in eStatements! They are FREE! They are easily searchable through Members 1st Online and they’re good for the environment! Plus, you keep your home clutter free!

  1. Bill Pay

Pay all your bills right on your desktop, tablet or phone! No more visiting multiple websites or trips to the post office for stamps. And this also cuts down on paper statements and the need to write out a check. Bill Pay is now FREE to all members.

Watch our Bill Pay video and learn how easy it is to use by clicking here.

  1. Auto Bill Pay

Want the security of knowing that your bills are automatically paid on-time every month? You can set up an automatic bill payment that will occur at the same time every month. Just set it up once and you’re done!

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Do you and your money care about the same things?


By Heather Marshall, CFPC, MPP; Educator, AAA Fair Credit Foundation/Utah Saves

As the old adage goes “Actions speak louder than words.” On the topic in question, it is fair to say spending is an action that implies values. Which explains why the nature of finances can be so personal, and challenge us to ask the question, what do we value?

Is it:

  • Family?
  • Friends?
  • Health?
  • Happiness?
  • Travel?
  • Spontaneity?

In asking these questions, spending becomes a means of self-examination shedding light on our actions and our values. Sometimes they don’t add up and when they don’t add up life can get off track. Such as if you value health, and yet find on your bank statement a lot of transactions related to unhealthy fast food. Thus, prompting the questions:

Does your money care about the same things you do?
Is your budget going towards things you really care about?

In which case steps can and should be taken to realign spending with what we value. Such as:

  • Review expenditures and categorize them to see where the money is going. Know where you are now so you can make a plan going forward.
  • Recognize there may be some items in your budget that need adjusting, but will take time to achieve. For example, moving closer to work to cut down on travel and provide more family time will require time and planning.
  • Set goals to getting your money on track.
  • Make your goals visible. When you have the impulse to spend on something you really don’t value, you can stop yourself because you have visual reminders around you. Create visuals with pictures of your goals on the wall, on our computer, on your phone. Keep it readily in front of you.

Remember, money can enable a lifestyle of values and goals that reflect us. Now that you are aware of these tendencies and about what you value in life…go make your money care about what you care about.

Running a business from home?

ManWorkingAtHomeMake sure you’re covered!

Working from a home office, or creating and running a business from your home or apartment, can have a variety of intangible benefits, and be a wonderful way to earn a living. However, it’s important to remember that any business needs to be insured like one!

A home-based business (“HBB”), like all businesses, should be properly insured to protect both the business assets, and its owner. More often than not, HBBs are underinsured or uninsured (it’s estimated that nearly 60% of HBBs are uninsured), a fact the HBB usually discovers ONLY after an incident or loss has occurred. Following are some things to consider:

Q: If I operate my business out of my home or garage, doesn’t my homeowner’s or renter’s policy address my insurance needs?

A: Standard homeowner’s and renter’s policies were designed to cover a home, not a home business, and provide very limited coverage for business exposures.

Q: If I have a HBB, will my homeowner’s/renter’s policy provide coverage if a customer or someone making a business delivery is injured on my property?

A: Most homeowner’s/renter’s policies will not cover any liability related to your business, unless the coverage has been added separately to your policy.

Q: If I use my personal auto for business purposes, am I covered?

A: Personal auto policies only provide coverage under limited circumstances when your personal auto is used for business purposes.

Q: What options are available to help insure HBBs?

A: There are 3 primary options available, depending on the type and nature of your business:

  • Homeowner’s Policy Endorsement: For a minimal cost, you can add an endorsement to your existing policy to increase coverage for your business equipment and perhaps minimal liability coverage;
  • Home Business Policy: Provides a broader, more comprehensive spectrum of coverages than a simple endorsement;
  • Business Owner’s Policy (“BOP”; Created primarily for small to mid-size businesses, a BOP provides the most comprehensive spectrum of coverage for HBBs.

Q: Are there other coverage issues to consider?

A: Depending on the type and nature of your business, including whether or not you have employees, you may also need to consider:

Coverage for loss of income, Errors & Omissions Coverage, Umbrella Coverage, Health & Disability, Worker’s Compensation

As a HBB owner, you face a myriad of exposures including theft, accidental damage to business property, natural disaster, fire, auto accidents, liability if an employee suffers injury on the job (or if the employee causes injury to others and their property while on the job), or if a business guest or supplier is injured while on your property.

Having proper and adequate coverage can protect you from losses that can cripple or devastate your HBB.

Contact us today for a FREE quote on commercial insurance for small to large businesses!

Visit members1st.org and click here or call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5245.


Insurance Services available to PA and MD residents only. Insurance products are not federally insured and are not obligations of or guaranteed by Members 1st FCU, Members 1st Insurance Services, or any other affiliated entity.

Make Your Tax Refund Work for You!

By Justin Chu, Program Associate, Taxpayer Opportunity Network


Every year, the middle of April marks the end of the federal tax return filing season. For many Americans, that can mean seemingly endless forms, paystubs, and other paperwork. However, tax time can also be a unique opportunity for saving for your future! You can maximize tax time in three easy ways and have your tax refund work for you.

1. Put your refund into a saving account
For people claiming some of the unique tax credits that benefit hardworking families around the country such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, their tax refund may be the largest sum of money they will see the entire year. By opening a savings account, you can deposit a portion or all of your refund and let the amount grow over time. Luckily, you can do this using the IRS Form 8888, which will divide your refund over multiple accounts.

2. Put your refund into a savings bond
As a part of the Form 8888, you are now able to easily and seamlessly purchase Series 1 US Savings Bonds as you prepare your tax return! These 30-year bonds are backed by the United States government and they will pay you interest yearly. Bonds are a great, low-risk option to grow your savings while receiving a little bit of money each year.

3. Get your taxes prepared for free
If you make less than $53,000 a year, you can your taxes prepared at no-cost by IRS-certified volunteers in your local community! The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has served millions of Americans for more than 45 years. If you qualify, you can find your local VITA program using this tool; at these VITA sites, you can find expert information to help demystify the tax code and to prepare your taxes.

These three steps are only a small sample of how you can leverage this annual process! Tax time can be confusing but you can maximize your tax return to build for a more sustainable future. Don’t delay and be sure to start your own saving story today!

3 ways to give your savings account a little boost

By Tammy Bruzon, America Saves Communications Coordinator

What does “saving the extra” mean to you? Whether it is putting change in a piggy bank or moving everything not in the budget into savings, those three little words can mean big money down the road. This America Saves Week, try one (or all) of these three ways to save the extra:

  1. Add a savings line to your budget. Rent, utilities, internet. Every important piece of your financial picture gets a designated spot in your budget each month, so why not your savings? We don’t always consider our savings goals a priority in our short term savings and spending plan, but it ought to be. Prioritize your goals by adding a “savings” line with an affordable amount to your budget; pay yourself with each paycheck.
  2. Stow away the windfall. Did you receive notice of a raise for 2018? Maybe you have a bonus coming your way for a job well done. Whatever the bounty may be, allocate any unexpected funds to your savings goals. You won’t miss the percentage raise you receive, so divert it into your savings account. You weren’t expecting that bonus, so tuck it away for a rainy day.
  3. Split and save your refund. It’s a universal truth: saving at tax time can be a big step toward meeting your savings goals. This tax season, opt to split a portion of your tax refund into your savings account. For many of us the tax refund is the largest check we will receive all year, which provides the perfect opportunity to start or grow your savings goal.

Bonus! The SaveYourRefund promotion is sweetening the deal by giving you a chance to win one of 102 prizes up to $10,000 just for saving a portion of your tax refund using IRS Form 8888 and sharing your savings goal*. But you can’t enter to win unless you save, so make a commitment to yourself today.

Saving the extra is an easy and quick way to jumpstart your savings. As America Saves Week comes to an end, identify the ways that you and your household can save the extra and add a little boost to your bank account.

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and DC with a valid taxpayer ID number who are 18 years or older at time of entry and due a 2017 individual tax refund. Begins 12:01 am ET 1/22/18 and ends 11:59 pm ET 4/17/18. For how to enter and Official Rules, including odds, alternate method of entry, and prize descriptions, visit http://www.saveyourrefund.com/rules. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Build Commonwealth, Inc.

Rebuild Your Credit in 11 Steps

couple with billsPlease understand that there are no quick fixes for improving your score.  You may have seen ads for companies that promise, for a fee, to quickly repair your score.  Credit repair does not work.  Their usual technique is to dispute all negative activity whether negative or not.  This results in your score being falsely inflated for only the time the dispute is under review.

Here are some ways to improve your credit score:

  1. Pay all your bills on time. Delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a major negative impact on your credit score. This applies to all your accounts, including utilities.
  2. If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time after being late, the more your score should increase. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever. The impact of past credit problems on your score fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report.
  3. If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or a reputable non-profit credit counseling agency like GreenPath. If you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score should gradually improve. Seeking assistance from a credit counseling service will not hurt your score. If you decide to enter a Debt Management Plan, your score may initially go down because lines of credit will be closed.
  4. Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit. High outstanding credit card debt can negatively impact your score.
  5. Pay off debt rather than shifting it from one credit card to another via balance transfers. The most effective way to increase your score in this area is by paying down your total revolving (credit card) debt.
  6. If you have had problems in the past, re-establish your credit history by opening new accounts responsibly and paying them on time.
  7. Apply for credit only as needed. Don’t open accounts for the 15% store discount or for the purpose of more spending.
  8. Manage credit cards responsibly by keeping balances well under the credit limit.  Try to use no more than 50% of your available credit lines. In general, having credit cards and installment loans will raise your score if you make payments in full and on time. People with no credit cards, for example, tend to be higher risk than people who have managed credit cards responsibly.
  9. Understand that items such as a bankruptcy or foreclosure will have very negative impact on your score, especially over the first 24-36 months.  However, it is possible to recover as time passes.
  10. Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. The scoring model looks at length of credit history, so it helps to keep established accounts that have been open and managed well for five or more years.
  11. If you have been using credit for only a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too quickly, as rapid account build-up can look risky to a lender.

Repairing your score is no quick fix, but with a little perseverance it can be accomplished!

Need additional help? 

We offer our members access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath Financial Wellness.  As a member, you can receive assistance with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession


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Making Smart College Decisions

high school studentsAre you ready to let your child make a $60,000 decision?  Or a $100,000 decision?

Think back to when you turned 18.  It’s both an exciting and scary time.  There’s a liberating sense of freedom.  “You can’t tell me what to do, Mom and Dad!  I’m an adult, now!”  But were you ready to make important life decisions at that age?

For many parents, the need to please their child is strong because we want to let them spread their wings.  So, if Junior decides to make a bad decision and pick the wrong college, his parents often sit back and let it happen.

A student definitely needs to be involved in the process, but a more collaborative process will lead to a better outcome for the entire family.

How Important Is Cost?

Ask students what factors are important when deciding on a college.  You will typically get some good answers such as major, location, Greek life, social activities and cost.  Cost is usually somewhat down the list.  This makes sense when you think about it.  Most high school students do not have firsthand experience with running a household budget, and they don’t understand how difficult it is to pay for college.

An average 18-year-old has difficulty visualizing their future self.  When they sign off on their loans, how many of them have mapped out how they are going to pay for them?

We don’t need to write about how expensive college has become.  However, there are many choices out there and there is a huge range when it comes to cost.

Your Role As a Parent

So what can you do as a parent to help make this important decision?

  • Start talking about the family’s financial situation early — ideally, by the time your child is 14 or 15.  If you can afford to pay for some or all of their college education, let them know.  But be clear about what your expectations are.
  • If you are not in a position to pay for college, you have no reason to be ashamed.  Set expectations early enough so your child knows that, if they want to go to college, they had better be ready to excel in school, get scholarships, etc.
  • If your child is accepted into their dream school, but you can’t afford it, don’t be an enabler.  Co-signing on a loan you can’t afford (especially a private loan) can have disastrous results.
  • Help your child understand the implications of their decision.  Discuss how they will pay for college and project how much they might be borrowing.  Show them how this will play out in their budget.

Don’t worry about being the bad guy.  Set up your children for success and they’ll thank you later.

Information courtesy of GreenPath Financial Wellness.

Members 1st offers Undergraduate Loans and Graduate Loans.

Plus, we can help with refinancing current student loans.

Visit members 1st.org or contact out 24-hour call center at (800) 369-4980 with questions or to apply!

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