Archive for the ‘ Goals ’ Category

Summer Fun on a Budget


To help keep summer boredom at bay, and your budget intact, we have some enjoyable, affordable summer activities to share! Check out our ideas below along with some helpful resources to get your started. Most of these fun activities can be done outside too if the weather is nice!  

Before exploring our outside venue suggestions, we encourage you to check the venue’s website and/or social media channels for COVID-19 safety measures. In addition, we ask that you adhere to all social distancing and pandemic protocols found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health websites. 

Venture into the great outdoors.

Grab your reliable pair of sneakers, and a water bottle and partake in one of our state’s most popular activities, hiking! Don’t let the word “hiking” scare you. Our state has trails featuring various terrains and difficulty levels. So, you will not have to climb up the side of a steep mountain, unless you want to, of course. There are also great trails for biking, jogging and running. While you are at it, pack a picnic and enjoy the scenic views while munching on your favorite food. We recommend visiting Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) website that lets you search for trails by name, county/zip code and/or trail use.  

View arts, entertainment and tours virtually. 

Outdoor movies are having a comeback, and a variety of performing arts are now available online. Tours of museums, exhibits, landmarks and zoos are also available for virtual visits. If you don’t have a drive-in movie location near you, create your own backyard outdoor viewing experience. There are great online tutorials for creating your backyard screen setup, or just grab your laptop and sit outside. If you want to keep it simple, or if the weather is bad, use your TV or laptop indoors. Check out our state’s tourism website, visitPA.com, for 38 virtual experiences you can explore from home and 27 drive in movie theater options across the state.  

Start a book club. 

Across generations, book clubs are becoming increasingly popular. We recommend starting your own book club or coming together with someone to start a club with friends or family. Book clubs help build connections and community with peers, relieve stress, boost your creativity and brain functions and of course, you will read more books. Get tips on starting a book club from Penguin Random House.  

Play a game or challenge friends. 

Board games can be a fun, budget-friendly activity and many board games are also available virtually to play with friends and family. Apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts and WhatsApp can make it easy to connect virtually. Many of your favorite nostalgic games have also gone virtual including BINGO, Trivia, Pictionary, Heads Up and Scattegories. Are you competitive? Try a cooking or baking challenge or build a backyard obstacle course and compete virtually with friends. Parents.com provides a list of 10 online board games, and these games are not just for kids, teens and adults can enjoy them too!  


Our Members 1st team is here to help you reach you financial and budgeting goals to maximize your summer fun with our Goal Savings account. Visit our website to learn how these accounts can help you customize your goals and save for different wants and needs.  

Workplace Well-Being


What does well-being mean to you and how do you practice it at your workplace? June is National Employee Wellness Month which focuses on improving mental, physical and emotional well-being in the workplace. While some people may believe the words wellness and well-being are interchangeable, our Associate Experience team (comprised of Human Resources and Learning & Development) disagree. Join us as we take a closer look at the meaning of these words, how Members 1st promotes well-being and how YOU can implement well-being practices at your workplace. 

Wellness and Well-Being, What’s the Difference?  

Merriam Webster Dictionary defines wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal” and well-being as “the state of being happy, healthy, or prosperous.” Members 1st launched our wellness program in 2013, and this year we expanded the program’s focus from wellness to the holistic nature of well-being. The 6 pillars of our well-being program include physical, mental, social, financial, professional and spiritual. 

Transitioning to Well-Being 

So, why the change? Our SVP of Associate Experience, Sara Kennedy, said our organization believes “this broader focus on total well-being will help to support well rounded health, happiness and prosperity of our associates.” Studies have shown that higher well-being in associates can lead to a boost in satisfaction, teamwork, productivity, and even improve a company’s bottom-line. Keeping tabs on your organizational culture and well-being is important too. We periodically conduct surveys where associates share feedback on our culture and well-being. Soon, we plan to conduct an additional survey on benefits and well-being. These surveys ensure we are focusing on what means the most to our associates and their well-being.  

Ideas for Practicing Workplace Well-Being 

Now that we’ve defined well-being and why it’s important to you and your employer, let’s transition to the fun part– ideas! Busy, unpredictable schedules and different workspaces (remote and in-office) mean well-being initiatives need to be easy, user-friendly and most importantly, fun! Our team provides online programs, events, activities, rewards for program completion and yearly recognition for associate’s well-being efforts. One of our most popular events for associates is our well-being fair, which helps raise awareness about well-being. It features a variety of vendors, exercise sessions and free healthy snacks. If you cannot swing an in-person event, we recommend going virtual. This year we took the virtual route with our well-being fair and included helpful tips, informational videos submitted by associates on our well-being pillars and more!  

Advice on Well-Being and Commitment 

In closing, we asked our SVP of Associate Experience, Sara, for her advice on workplace well-being and staying committed to well-being goals. She recommends reflecting on all parts of your life, and not hyper focusing on one aspect, like your weight. Focusing on making small, meaningful improvements can be more effective than taking on all aspects of your well-being that you want to improve on. Think about your overall well-being and pick just one thing that you can add to your day that will make you an even more effective you! 


Thank you to our SVP of Associate Experience, Sara Kennedy and Jennifer Cubbage, our HR Business Partner – Benefits for your collaboration on this blog post. 

How to Plan a Vacation Without Getting Into Debt


Whether you’re planning a trip to a country across the globe or packing the car for a weekend road trip to a local campground, you can have a debt-free vacation with some careful planning.

It’s easy to see how a vacation can blow up even the most carefully planned budget: In NerdWallet’s 2018 Summer Spending Report, parents surveyed by Harris Poll planned to charge an average of $1,019 to credit cards for summer vacations.

To ease the stress of a vacation on your budget, start with a clear idea of your trip’s scope — identifying expenses from the time you leave your home to the moment you return — and create a realistic spending limit. Then get creative to trim costs along the way.

1. Save over time

Play the long game when planning and saving for a vacation. Put a portion of every paycheck aside to build up a reserve of cash for your trip.

Even saving $25 or $50 a month will help make your trip more affordable. Make sure the amount you’re setting aside will provide you with enough vacation cash, too.

Consider opening a separate savings account and automating regular transfers to help you save without thinking about it.

If you’re more of an impulsive traveler, work to contribute to this travel fund regularly so you can have that weekend getaway without having to pull out your credit card.

2. Make a friendly budget

Think of your budget as another companion on your trip.

Just as with any travel buddy, make sure you and your budget set good expectations for each other. Make a spending plan. Account for everything from flights and lodging to entertainment and shopping. Your budget might not take you to every museum or restaurant you want; work to find a compromise that makes both of you happy.

If you run the numbers and find you can’t swing that vacation without overspending, think about shelving the trip for a few months and saving more money in the meantime.

3. Make the most of your credit cards

Have a travel credit card or a cash-back card sitting in your wallet? You can take advantage of it before and during your trip. If you don’t have one yet and your trip is six months or more away, consider looking into cards with a sign-up bonus that could cover flights or lodging.

Card in hand, spend smart. Say you have a card that gives you cash back on groceries; determine what you spend on groceries annually and earmark those rewards points for your vacation budget.

The key is having a plan to pay off your charges every month, advises Joe Cheung, a travel hacker and blogger at As the Joe Flies.

“Everything starts out with a commitment to not having any credit card debt,” says Cheung. “With that principle in place, that opens up the possibility to earn credit card rewards without going into debt or paying interest.”

You can also use a rewards card to cut your travel costs. Your card may get you free rental car insurance, or baggage fees or foreign transaction fees waived.

4. Watch hotels like a hawk

Lodging is one of the most costly parts of a vacation. Shop strategically to lower your hotel costs, including monitoring prices and booking rooms during off-peak periods.

Cheung recommends booking your reservation, but waiting to pay. That way you can continue to monitor hotel prices and change your booking accordingly.

“Sometimes prices will drop by just $10 or $20, but sometimes it’s pretty drastic,” Cheung says. “I once had a hotel for $250 a night, then it dropped to $160 a night.”

You also can check prices at the hotel where you’ve made your initial reservation and price-compare with hotel price aggregator sites to see if you’re getting the best deal.

5. Use apps to find cheap flights

Price-tracking apps and websites can do the work of price hunting for you.

With the smartphone app Hopper, for example, you can enter the general parameters of your itinerary, and it will track prices over time and alert you when the cheapest flight is available. The more flexible your travel dates, the easier it will be for you to find a low price. Google Flights provides a similar service.

One drawback to these services: They don’t include prices for every airline. So monitor a few sources to get the best price.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press. 

The article How to Plan a Vacation Without Getting Into Debt originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Ready to plan the vacation of your dreams? We’re here to help! Check out our Vacation Club or Goal Savings accounts. These accounts allow you to designate savings specifically for the trip of a lifetime!

Want to get more out of your vacation? We also offer multiple credit card options with features you will love!

Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

The Cost of Raising a Child From Cradle to Adulthood


Raising a child takes patience, understanding — and about $245,340, based on the latest estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

That’s the average cost to care for a child from birth to age 18 for a middle-income family, as calculated by the USDA in a recent report on family expenditures. The estimate excludes prenatal health care and college costs.

If you’re getting ready to have your first child, your life and your spending will change drastically. Here’s a closer look at how the cost breaks down.

Housing

Child-rearing expenses typically cost couples with two children between just over $9,000 and nearly $26,000 a year per child, depending on household income and the age of the children, according to the USDA.

The incremental cost of housing is the largest expenditure, accounting for about 30% of the cost of raising a child to adulthood, the report says. That estimate is based on the expectation that a family with children will need at least one extra bedroom. And the estimate of housing costs is conservative, the USDA says, because it does not take into consideration the desire of many parents to live in areas with better schools, for example, which tend to be more expensive.

To prepare for buying a home, you will want to have around 20% of the purchase price saved up for a down payment, although lenders do make exceptions. Consult your credit union for help with mortgage qualification.

Child care and education

The cost burden of child care and education has ballooned since 1960, when it accounted for only 2% of the typical costs of raising a child, to 18% today, according to the USDA report. That is largely due to women’s increased participation in the workforce.

To offset the cost, look into benefits such as the federal Child and Dependent Care Credit, which can reduce your taxes by up to $1,050 a year for a single child and $2,100 for two or more. Also look into alternatives to day care centers such as sharing a nanny with another family or hiring a live-in “au pair.”

If your child goes the private school route, be prepared. The average cost for private elementary school nationwide in 2014-15 was $7,331, and the average cost for private high school was almost twice that, according to PrivateSchoolReview.

For higher education, considering opening a 529 account for your child, which allows you to save for college costs with tax-free earnings and virtually no contribution limits. A Coverdell account can help you build savings for private school or college, although the benefits are more limited.

Food

As your child gets older, grocery bills will increase. Food accounts for 16% of child-rearing expenses, the USDA report says. This includes grocery shopping, dining out and school meals. To save money on food, eat as many homemade meals as you can; it’s considerably cheaper than dining out.

Health care

Your child inevitably will get sick, and even if you have insurance, it won’t cover all the costs. Out-of-pocket expenses for medical and dental services tend to rise as your children grow. Out-of-pocket health care expenses account for about 8% of the cost of raising a child in a typical household, the USDA figures. To save money, look into a health savings account or flexible spending plan, which allow you to pay for qualified health care expenses with pretax income.

Bringing a new life into the world comes with a spectrum of challenges and expenses, so be prepared with new strategies for saving money and building assets. As exciting as parenthood can be, it helps to be ready for it financially, too.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call customer service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

Organize Your Finances in Five Easy Steps


File-Folder-$$Do you know your net worth? Do you know how much you spend each month…and on what? Do you know how much you can expect from your pension plan or Social Security when you reach retirement?

If you answered “no” to at least one of these questions, you’re not alone. The majority of Americans don’t have an accurate pulse on their finances. Some people may feel they don’t have time to organize their finances. For others, the thought of doing so is too overwhelming. They may not know where to start, so they just never try.

Even so, it’s important to know where you stand financially and where you’d like to be in the future. Then, you can enjoy those short-term gains, while still being on track to meet your long-term goals.

Here’s a five-step action plan to help you take control of your money:

Set up a financial filing system. This can be as simple as making sure that all the bills you receive in the mail get put in the same spot every month. It also includes setting up a budget so you know your monthly income and expenses.

Gather important records. Look through your records to identify missing information. For example, if you need an estimate of your Social Security retirement benefits, contact the Social Security Administration at (800) 772-1213. Also, make sure to gather copies of your health, disability, life, homeowners and vehicle insurance policies. You’ll also want to keep a copy of your credit report with these documents. You can request a free credit report yearly at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you find any discrepancies, correct them immediately. Keep all of these records in one place and update the old copies with the new documents each year

Size up your situation. Add the estimated current value of all assets, including your home, car, personal property, savings, investments and retirement accounts. Next, add all liabilities, including mortgage, credit card balances and any other outstanding debt. Then subtract liabilities from assets to figure out your net worth.

From there, make a list of income and expenses by reviewing paycheck stubs, your checkbook register and credit card statements from the past year. Finally, track spending for a month by saving all of your receipts or recording cash purchases in a notebook. A spending plan form or a money management software program helps organize spending by category.

Chart a course. Once you know your net worth and you’ve developed a baseline for your monthly spending habits, the next step is to set financial goals – both long-term and short-term – and figure how much money you’ll need for each. Create a targeted saving and spending plan that meets your needs using your list of income and expenses. For a month or more, track actual spending to see how you’re doing, making adjustments as necessary.

Brush up on money-management basics. This can include developing a budget, being diligent at balancing your checkbook and even visiting a financial advisor.

By taking these actions to organize your finances, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach your short-term goals. Plus, you’ll feel peace of mind knowing you’re working toward your long-term plans.

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