Archive for the ‘ savings ’ Category

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.

Think of what you spend in a day


Have you ever wondered during your daily routine if there was something you could be doing to save you money?  Every day, you make simple decisions that can cost you a good chunk of cash that could be saved and used for weekend fun.  Often times you make these decisions without even thinking of the quick and easy alternative rather than spending money.  Luckily for you there are plenty of simple and cheap swaps you can make to have more money at the end of the day.

In this quick video, you’ll see multiple ways that you can save money that are easy to change in your daily life.  You will see how simple it really can be for you to save money, which will make you and your wallet much happier!  Not only could these cheap swaps save you money each week, but they could also result in saving you time.  Begin applying these easy changes to your daily routine, and start saving some serious cash.

swaps graphic-blog

Members 1st Federal Credit Union can help you manage your money. Click here to learn more.

 

Written by guest blogger Zach Heckert, Marketing intern

2015 Financial Resolutions – There’s still time


couple with billsWe’re one month down, 11 more to go and 2015 will be a wrap. It’s still early enough in the year to review your finances and set goals. If you haven’t made your financial resolutions yet, here are seven tips that can help you achieve financial success.

  1. REVIEW YOUR BUDGET. List your recurring monthly expenses and compare them to your monthly income. Make adjustments or cuts where necessary to prevent dipping into your savings or using your credit cards. For helpful hints on budgeting basics, download our free brochure on budgeting.
  2. COMMUNICATE. Yes, it may be uncomfortable, but it’s very important to talk with your partner about where you stand financially (debt included). Knowing where you are helps you know where you want to be. Learn how to manage money as a couple or when you find yourself suddenly single by reading our free brochure, “His, Hers, Mine & Ours.”
  3. PAY DOWN DEBT. If you have numerous credit card balances, tackle the one with the highest interest rate first and pay the minimum amount required on all of your other balances. Also consider transferring your higher rate card balances to your Members 1st VISA®, which could save you money.
  4. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND. Most specialists suggest saving three to six month’s salary in case of an unexpected setback or job loss. Start by putting aside a little from each paycheck now.
  5. AUTOMATE YOUR LIFE. Utilize the Bill Payer feature of Members 1st Online. It’s simple to set up recurring payments to ensure that you’re always paying your bills on time, every time.
  6. THINK BEFORE YOU BUY. Do you really need that item or is it something that you simply want?
  7. MEET WITH A FINANCIAL PLANNER. Our team of Investment Services representatives can help you develop a customized financial plan that will help you feel confident in your goals.* You may schedule a free consultation at any of our branch locations.

If you need additional assistance, we offer free access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath, a financial management program. Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years. 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

 

 

 

*Registered Representative of INVEST Financial Corporation (INVEST), member FINRA/SIPC. INVEST and its affi liated insurance agencies offer securities, advisory services and certaininsurance products and are not affi liated with Members 1st Federal Credit Union or Members 1st Investment Services. INVEST does not provide tax or legal advice. Products are: • Not FDIC or NCUA insured • Not Bank or Credit Union Guaranteed • May lose value including loss of principal.

Saving for the Future? Start now!


Piggy_Banks_red_xxlThe earlier you start saving, the more you’ll benefit from compounding interest. This is the interest earned on interest payments already built up in an investment fund. The earlier you start, the larger your nest egg will grow.

Here’s an example for you. Two friends – Tracy and Jason – had different savings strategies. Tracy saved $1,000 a year for 10 years, starting at age 25. Jason saved $1,000 a year for 25 years, starting at age 40. Both earned the same 8 percent return.

Who ended up with more money at age 65? It had to be Jason, right? Wrong…Tracy benefited from her early start and the power of compounding. Here’s the breakdown (totals assume $1,000 savings is made at the beginning of each year):

Tracy: Began saving at 25 and saved for 10 years. She’s now 65 and has saved $10,000. Her savings grew to $157,437

Jason: Began saving at 25 and saved for 10 years. He’s now 65 and has saved $25,000. His savings grew to $78,954.42.

Need to talk to a financial counselor about saving money? As a member of our credit union, you can take advantage of the GreenPath program, a free financial education and counseling program. Call GreenPath at (877) 337-3399 or visit http://www.greenpath.com. GreenPath counselors are available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST).

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