4 things that can Knock your Finances Off-track


It’s nice when everything is going great. When it comes to your finances, “nice” may not properly describe just how fantastic it is to be in a great place. But even when you’re on the right track, it can be a lot easier to get derailed than you might think. Here are four things that can get your finances off-track.

Your shopping list: It’s really the lack thereof that can get you off track. Making a list and sticking to it is an easy way to please your wallet. When you’ve budgeted for the things on your shopping list, you’ll get yourself in trouble if you start putting random items in your shopping cart. It can couple with billsbe bad to do at the grocery store and even worse if you’re somewhere like Target or Best Buy.

Your friends: You may see your neighbor with a new car or boat, but it usually ends with you just admiring their new stuff from afar. It’s your friends that can really do you in. They’ll not only show you their new gadget, but they’ll give you five reasons why you just “have to get one.” Don’t let your friends pressure you into joining the new gadget club.

Sales: You’ve always wanted that “thing.” You’ve never wanted to pay retail price for it, but now you see it on sale. It’s so tempting, and yet it’s still overpriced and completely unnecessary. Unless it’s a ridiculous, once-in-a-lifetime deal, don’t even consider it.

Social media: Social media is like all three in one. You see pics of your friends’ new toys. You get customized ads that show exactly what you want (even though you don’t really WANT to see these things), and you see posts about things that are constantly on-sale and for sale. Careful when you click that link, it may take you to Amazon.com and then you’re only a click away from making a huge spending mistake.

Source: CUInsight.com


Let Members 1st help you achieve your financial goals with our Goal Savings accounts. Use these accounts to save for different wants and needs. Choose what you are saving for and name your account. Set the dollar amount and target date for your goal. Save, track and reach your goals!

For more information or assistance with any financial need, please call customer service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

 

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10 Tips to Get a Home Ready for Sale


Preparing to sell your home can be difficult. You have to create enough ambiance so that buyers can envision themselves living there but make sure it’s not so cluttered that all they see is you. Make some changes inside and out to get top dollar for your abode.

  1. Do a drive by. If a person sees trash on the lawn or overgrown weeds, they won’t be enticed to come inside. Boost your home’s curb appeal by planting a few colorful flowers at the entrance and mow the lawn.
  2. Declutter. Most people are familiar with the deceptive clean-up strategy of stuffing all the mess under the bed or in a closet. Count on potential buyers checking closets and cupboards, and make sure they are tidy and organized.
  3. Lighten up.  Open up the blinds to allow as much natural light as possible. Consider adding extra lamps that can be dimmed for ambiance.
  4. Add accents. You don’t have to do a major renovation to make your home more appealing. Little accents such as new sink hardware and cupboard knobs can make a big difference. If you opt for a bigger project, make sure it will add value instead of detracting from it.
  5. Neutralize. While you may love a bright orange living room, it could be too much for a potential buyer. Neutralize the color scheme by painting walls white and covering up any brightly colored furniture.
  6. Put up mirrors. Replace bold artwork with mirrors to make a room look bigger and lighter. As potential buyers walk through the house, they can catch glimpses of themselves, helping them envision themselves in the home.
  7. Aromatherapy. No need to buy fancy candles or incense. On the day of a showing, simply place a couple of tablespoons of vanilla extract or other essential oil in the oven at 300 degrees. Within minutes, the home will be filled with a beautiful aroma.
  8. Feng shui. As potential buyers walk through the home, it should flow nicely. They shouldn’t be bumping into furniture. Ensure each room is spacious and has a clear purpose. If you have a room that’s an office/guest room/crafting trifecta, decide which role works best and then rearrange it for that purpose.
  9. Beautify the bathroom. Transform a bathroom into a spa. Fresh linens, bath mats and candles can make all the difference. Put the toilet seat down, and you can even fold the final sheet of the toilet paper into a fancy triangle.
  10.  Clean. Last, but not least, ensure that your house is clean for showings. Don’t forget to scrub the baseboards, remove the shower scum and dust. Consider getting carpets steam-cleaned as well.

Try walking through your home, pretending to be a potential buyer, to see what needs fixing, and then tackle those details. With a few repairs, the house will be ready for showing in no time.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. For more information about buying a home, visit our Mortgage Services website.

How to Fund Your College Social Life While Maintaining Your Finances


Unlike Snoop Dogg, incoming college students might not have their minds on their money and their money on their minds. But if you’re just starting out on campus and can put some of your focus on your finances, you have a great opportunity: Knowing how to manage your cash can save you endless headaches down the road.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your finances in order.

Learn to budget

Tuition, groceries, dining out, textbooks, rent — the expenses never seem to stop piling up. Creating a budget can help you regulate how much you spend and on what. Use a spreadsheet, a notebook, or a good budgeting tool or app to track what your purchases. And always prioritize essentials before indulging on new shoes or concert tickets.

Know the ins and outs of financial aid

Students miss out on billions of dollars in free government aid each year. Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, early and you’ll be more likely to receive the scholarships and grants you qualify for. These should always be your first priority when it comes to financial aid.

Private scholarships can also be valuable, even if they’re small sums. Try to spend two hours a week researching and applying for scholarships.

If you still need funding, try federal loans first and private loans last. Neither is free, though it might feel that way now, so borrow only what you absolutely need.

Practice good credit card habits

Horror stories of spiraling credit card debt might have made you wary of plastic. But the length of your credit history is a key part of your credit score. And having a good score can earn you a lower interest rate on a car loan or a mortgage in the future.

Although you’re a student, you don’t automatically qualify for a student credit card; you’ll need income or a co-signer. If you don’t have either, consider a secured card. These require you to put down a cash deposit as collateral, but if the issuer reports your account activity to the credit bureaus, they can help you start building credit.

Develop good credit card habits now. Think of your card as another debit card and charge only an amount you can pay off with what’s in your bank account. And don’t carry a balance from month to month — paying in full will keep your credit score high.

Save money where you can

The outside world tries to make up for your sky-high tuition costs with a little something called  student discounts. Big retail chains such as Apple, Banana Republic and J. Crew, as well as movie theaters and museums, offer discounted prices for students. If you don’t see one advertised, just ask.

Avoid paying full price for your textbooks by searching for used copies on websites such as Chegg and Abebooks. Amazon offers a 50% student discount for Amazon Prime accounts.

Build your resume

True, college is expensive, but it’s also an investment. College graduates earned about 63% more than those with only high school diplomas in 2013, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

Make sure you get that degree — but improve yourself in other ways, too. Learn a foreign language and volunteer for leadership positions. These skills will set you apart in a competitive job market.

The costs of being in college might keep your wallet thin now, but in the long run, it could turn out to be the best financial decision you ever made.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


For more tips on planning for college and information about Members 1st’s student loan program, visit members1st.studentchoice.org.

Back-to-school Shopping Tips


During the back-to-school shopping season in 2019, The National Retail Federation expects families of children from elementary to high school to spend $696.70 and families with college students to spend $976.78. Total back-to-school spending is expected to reach $80.7 billion. Below are five simple back-to-school shopping tips:

  • Take stock of supplies already in your home. Have you unpacked the kids backpacks from the end of last school year? Reuse last year’s supplies that are in good shape. Only buy what they actually need.
  • Hit the dollar store first for the essentials and save big. Also consider buying for the mid-year restock while prEducation, Back to School, Shoppingices are low during back-to-school sales.
  • Host an end of the summer fashion show and ask the children to create ten outfits from the clothes they have to prepare for the first two weeks of school. Then, if it’s important to you and the children, consider getting one new “first day of school” outfit.
  • After taking stock of the essentials already in your home, supplies and clothes, create a back-to-school budget. Take into consideration school fees, beginning-of-the-school-year fundraisers, and extra-curricular startup costs.
  • Shop without the children. Print the school supply list and hit the store on your way home from work one evening. A kid-free shopping experience is faster and less stressful. Plus, when you arrive home with several bags of supplies for the children – they will be elated!

Back-to-school shopping is a financially overwhelming endeavor.With a little thought and planning, this year could be your smoothest shopping experience yet.

Source: CUInsight.com

 Shop stress-free by using your Members 1st Visa® Debit Card or Credit Card.

Be sure to set up card controls to monitor your spending, and help detect fraud or suspicious activity while you are shopping.

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How to Buy a Used Car


Shopping for a used car is a great way to get the most vehicle possible for your money, and there are lots of pre-owned gems out there just waiting to be found. These simple steps can help you choose one you can drive happily for years to come.

Calculate your budget and explore financing

Keeping your total ongoing car costs (including loan payments, insurance, maintenance and gas) within 20% of your net income should leave you enough cash for other expenses and a little fun as well. An online loan calculator can help you figure out what you can truly afford to borrow. Then compare financing options to get your lowest possible rate and, if you can, lock in a pre-approved loan and rate.

Shop only for cars that fit your lifestyle

Your individual style is one of the most important considerations when it comes to choosing a used car. If you often drive in severe winter weather, for example, you’ll likely do better with an all-wheel-drive vehicle rather than a sports car. A long daily commute means that fuel economy matters, and that you’ll want seats with good back support. Those who have to haul lots of gear for kids, hobbies or work should look for something with ample cargo space.

Research the true costs of ownership

When you find a car that appeals to you, check out the reliability record and ownership costs for that model from trustworthy organizations such as J.D. Power, Kelley Blue Book or Consumer Reports. It also pays to contact insurers to make sure you’ll be able to afford the premiums on that vehicle.

Investigate the car’s past

Becoming a used-car detective is easy when you get an official car history report from a reliable organization that’s been vetted by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. The report will reveal any reported accidents involving the vehicle and how many owners it’s had. To rule out the possibility of an unreported accident, flood damage or other issues, look the car over carefully yourself. It should smell clean and have matching carpet throughout, and the paint job should be uniform.

Go for a test drive

Taking a car for a drive can give you a feel for the vehicle. While driving, be sure to try out all the controls, including windows, wipers, moonroof, heat and air conditioning. The car should start easily, run smoothly, and everything should work. If all looks good, have a trusted mechanic give the car a once-over for added peace of mind.

Close the deal

Once a price is negotiated and financing is approved, you’ll be ready for the final exchange. Inspect the title carefully to ensure it’s legitimate, and that it’s a standard rather than a “salvage” document.

Making an informed used-car purchase is well worth the extra time. The reward for the energy invested is driving away in a car that works with your finances, habits and unique personality.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Looking to purchase a car? Members 1st offers Auto & Motorcycle loans, and whether it’s a new or used car, truck or bike, we can finance your wheels. We also allow you to apply for a vehicle loan from us while you’re at the dealership, check our list of participating dealers.

Can You and Your Working Spouse Live on One Income?


Man and Woman Worried For Taxes And Family BudgetIf you and your working spouse are looking to pay off debt, save money, or both, you might consider whether you can allocate one income to your living expenses and the other income toward achieving your personal financial goals. This can be especially effective for couples without children, but is applicable to most working couples. Here are a few things to consider:

  • What are your goals? Are you trying to pay off student loans, a mortgage, or other debts? Or perhaps you’re saving for a down payment on a house or other major purchase, or looking to start a business. Discussing and negotiating these goals with your spouse helps to ensure you’re on the same page and working toward achieving them as a team.
  • What lifestyle decisions need to be made? Even with two healthy incomes, it’s likely that you will have to make sacrifices to live on a single income. Can you reduce your expenses by moving into a smaller home or to a different part of town? Perhaps you can reduce the amount or distance you travel for leisure each year. There are likely numerous ways for you and your spouse to accomplish this.
  • What’s the plan? Once you set your goals, it’s important to make a plan and set milestones. For example, “We will save X dollars per year for Y years, saving a total of Z dollars” gives you a set of concrete targets for what you hope to achieve. This can help energize you as you accomplish the milestones, but it can also provide motivation or encouragement during periods when living on a single income creates challenges.
  • Stick to the plan, but stay flexible! If you’re diligently working toward one goal but other opportunities or conditions arise, you and your spouse may need to rethink your goals. And of course, if an emergency arises, you may need to dip into that second income. Just don’t make a habit of it. Whether you stick to your original plan or need to adapt it to the changing conditions, the initial planning and joint effort should provide you and your spouse with a strong foundation for moving forward.

Source: Financial Feed


No matter your stage or status in life, Members 1st is here to guide you through all of life’s moments.

Contact Customer Service at any time at (877) 237-7288 or visit members1st.org.

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