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Work-Life Education: Understanding your Total Compensation


Work-Life-GraphMost of us know how much we bring home in our paycheck, but how well do we understand our total compensation?

Total compensation is everything your company provides to you in exchange for your work. It includes base salary, bonuses, benefits, perks and on-site amenities. When we add all this up, your total compensation is often two or three times your base salary.

Compensation
Compensation includes your base pay and any other variable pay or commission. Most organizations, including Members 1st, will keep an eye on the market in order to continually offer competitive wages.

Benefits
Take a moment to look at your medical plan’s benefits summary guide to make sure you understand the levels of coverage you are purchasing. Also, are you utilizing a Flexible Spending Account or Health Care Savings Account? Either of these allow you to set aside your pre-taxed income to pay for healthcare-related costs during the plan year. It is a great way to save and it could reduce your taxable income. Most employers offer a 401(k): a retirement savings plan that allows you to invest a piece of your paycheck before taxes are taken out. To encourage employees to save their money, most employers offer a “match.” The employer contributes a certain amount to your 401(k) based on the amount of your own contribution. These funds, once vested, are your gift from your employer toward your retirement. Are you saving enough in your 401(k) to get your full “gift”?

Career Development
Determine if your employer offers additional training to help advance your career. Members 1st University is our learning and career development hub. We also offer full-time associates funds toward completing their educational goals. You may be able to save thousands on career development and might not have realized it was even offered.

Work-Life
Understand your Paid-Time-Off (PTO) program and learn how much you receive at your hire or if you accrue time off each pay period. At Members 1st, we strive to support our community, and give our associates PTO to spend with their families or do the things they love. We find creative ways to provide recognition for Associate of the Quarter/Year, Anniversary Awards, peer recognition and annual company events.

Don’t be afraid to ask your Human Resources team questions about your total compensation. You may be missing out on some excellent benefits.

By Sara J. Kennedy
Senior Vice President of Associate Experience
Members 1st FCU

Sara Kennedy-11.2018-MW


Build Your Future Here

Browse job openings by clicking here and visiting our career page!


 

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Mobile device security: Keep your information safe


Group of People Connection Digital Device Concept

A few years ago, mobile phone security was the last thing on most minds. But today, so much information is transmitted on your phone. Some may say it is even your life-line since traditional phones are being used less and less. Read below for some tips from technology experts that review the most effective ways to keep your mobile phone secure.

Use a passcode lock. Use a stronger password by making it longer (good advice for
any device that has a login or password). Take advantage of the 6-digit option on
your iPhone. Your Android can have up to 16 digits for a numeric password. Set up
an aggressive time-out. This way if you are not using your phone for a short period of
time, your phone will lock and you will be required to type in a passcode, use your
finger, or complete a pattern correctly to regain access. Believe it or not, this basic safeguard is sometimes overlooked, generally for the reason of convenience. Also, don’t set your password to 0000, 1111, or 1234. This will also put you at risk since these are likely the first combinations someone will try when attempting to gain unauthorized access to your device.

Protect your data. Set up remote wipe to allow yourself to delete the contents of your phone if it gets stolen. Your data should be safely backed up in the cloud, so you should
not permanently lose your photos and notes. But since it could be too late by the time you realize the phone is missing, take advantage of the built-in data protection features. Encrypting your phone will store your device’s data in a scrambled form that can only be decoded with your passcode. If it is stolen, the thief cannot access your emails, photos, and personal information without the PIN or password you set while encrypting the phone.

Don’t click on a trick. Be suspicious of free download offers and phishing scams. Often these scams occur when a cyber thief calls, texts, or emails while posing as a business and attempts to collect your login information. A sophisticated scammer can create a site that looks legitimate, so don’t follow links in messages. If you want to login to a site, navigate to it the way you normally do.

Wi-Fi in public is not secure. Even though connections to public Wi-Fi will say they are not secure, not all users notice this alert, and some may not even know what it means. Instead, using a virtual private network (VPN) will significantly boost security for your sensitive data. Disable automatic connections to open Wi-Fi and only connect to trusted networks. Data transmitted over any connection that you do not fully control could potentially be compromised. Shut down Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections when you’re done, and be sure to only use trusted Wi-Fi providers.

Download phone apps from trusted sources only. Use the Apple Store or Google Play. Do not put any unsolicited software on your phone. Read the full detailed description of any app you download. You will be shocked at how many of them request access to things they do not really need such as your camera, flashlight, speaker, contacts, and more. Find an alternative to any that are too intrusive.

Keep your operating system software current. When you receive the notification to update your phone, try not to hit “remind me later.” The latest software updates from the manufacturer will likely include security improvements that address vulnerabilities cybercriminals can otherwise exploit. With smartphone ownership reaching 77% of U.S. adults, hackers have taken notice and malware targeting those devices has surged by 54% in 2018.

Use your phone for business purposes with care. Ninety percent of workers in the United States use their personal smartphones for work purposes. Data security is one of the biggest risks. Employees who are using their personal devices for work put corporate content and data at risk —whether it is contacts, messages, a sales report or new product information — whenever it is accessed from outside the corporate network or shared with multiple users.

Prepare your phone when you upgrade. Always factory reset and clear data on your device before you sell or recycle

Delete text messages or emails that may contain sensitive information. If you need to send over a copy of your social security card, passport, or any personal data, it is best not to keep a copy on any of your devices. But if you have no other options, delete the text or email from your device afterwards.

Don’t share your device with others.
Mobile phones only have one user account; therefore, one password accesses all the data in the phone.


Members 1st cares about the safety and security of our members and their financial information.

For more educational resources, view our important documents and our privacy policy.


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Must-have Features You Should Look for in a Credit Card


lady with long hair holding card_16711118_xxlWith so many credit card options out there, how do you know which card is best for you? Don’t get stuck with rewards that you won’t actually use. Be in the know with our quick guide to credit card rewards.

1. Choices

Do you prefer cash back on your purchases or points that you can redeem? Before you apply, consider if the card comes with a rewards program that actually fits your lifestyle. Otherwise, you might get stuck with a bunch of points or miles that you’ll never redeem — something that happens to 1 in 5 consumers, according to NerdWallet’s research on rewards cards.

2. $0 Annual Fee
Why pay for the privilege of having a credit card? If you see this in the fine print, it should definitely raise a red flag.

3. Travel or trip perks
Look for a card that has benefits such as trip cancellation, roadside dispatch, concierge and more.

4. Emergency benefits
Extra benefits such as emergency medical and dental, plus emergency card replacement can really come in handy in a pinch.

5. Flexible redemption options
Be sure that it’s easy to access your cash back or redeem your points. A simple transfer or online points redemption website should allow for ease of use.

Other considerations:

Pick a card that offers rewards you’ll actually use – As mentioned above, decide if earning cold, hard cash or points is best for you.
Budget carefully every month – Be sure you can handle your monthly payment
or pay it off each month. You want the benefit of the rewards, not extra debt to deal with.
Keep your account in good standing – A big mistake is to fall behind on payments. This will affect your credit score.
Be smart about redeeming your rewards – Know when to redeem your points or to cash-in. If you are looking to build up a stash of cash or earn a larger item with points, you may want to wait several months before redemption.


Compare your current credit card today! Click here.


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How to Build Home Equity


decorating our home

Knowing how to build equity in our home begins with making sure you understand exactly what home equity is. Home equity is most simply described as your stake in the house. It is defined as the difference between the outstanding balance of all liens on the property and the fair market value. For example, let’s say your property is currently worth $200,000 and you only have one mortgage secured against it with an outstanding principal balance of $125,000. In this case, you would have $75,000 in equity.

In a nutshell, there are two ways in which we can effectively impact the equity in our homes: 1. We can increase the market value and 2. We can decrease the amount we owe on it.

Increasing Market Value

My own personal favorite is watching the equity in your home grow through the increasing market price of similar homes in our neighborhood. It’s one of the reasons we buy a house to begin with—homes appreciate over time as a historical trend. We have zero control over the economic cycles of real estate in our region, so let’s focus on two things you can do yourself to increase the market value of your home.

  • Routine Maintenance – Keeping your property in good condition can ensure you protect the home equity you already have. Improving the condition of your property will help you gain even more equity as a result. Ignoring water leaks, bugs, or shingles damaged in a storm can lead to significant damage over time. Water intrusion and termites are both common causes of structural damage if ignored and end up robbing you of home equity if let go. If paint starts to peel on your window sills scrape it and paint it. If cracks or deterioration appear in your masonry have it re-pointed. Protect your investment and equity through proper maintenance!
  • Home Renovations – Updating kitchens and bathrooms to current trends and finishes will usually pay off by increasing property value. Replacing old windows and home systems with newer energy efficient models also protect the equity in your home. Adding square footage may also increase value especially if adding bedrooms or bathrooms. It’s important to realize that some improvements cost more than the corresponding value your home will gain as a result of the upgrade. In most cases adding a $30,000 pool to the back yard does not equate to selling your home for $30,000 more, for example. In addition, know that you can actually over-improve the house for the neighborhood which can decrease the return on your renovation investment. If you’re in a neighborhood of $125,000 starter townhomes and you upgrade to custom cabinets, granite countertops, and wide plank reclaimed barn wood floors, you very well may not recoup the cost of those improvements when selling or attempting to tap into home equity. When done thoughtfully, however, home renovations are the best way for you to personally increase the value of your home.

Reducing Home Debt

There is no trick to this, it simply means paying down the balances you owe on any loans secured against the home as collateral. The majority of these types of loans are amortized, meaning that a portion of each monthly payment goes toward reducing the principal owed, thus home equity grows naturally as you make each payment.  Let’s look at a few creative ways to speed up the growth and build equity faster than making your normal monthly payments.

  • Larger Down Payment – Consider a larger down payment when initially making the purchase so that you have more equity from the start. Just because the mortgage program has a minimum down payment requirement doesn’t mean you can’t put down more.
  • Consider Shorter Terms – Along with a larger down payment, selecting a loan term shorter than 30 years at the time of purchase helps you gain equity in the home more quickly and it starts with your very first payment. Yes, your monthly payment will be higher, but every penny of that increase goes toward paying down your principal balance. Perhaps you’re nine years into a 30-year term, consider shortening that term to a 15-year term through refinancing. Refinancing is not free, and the rate environment is always a factor as well, but with a proper loan comparison this may be an excellent option to build equity faster than your current loan scenario.
  • Pay Additional to Principal – There are lots of ways to get creative with this one. Use your tax refund, bonus, or portion of an inheritance received to pay down principal in large chunks. You can do it more regularly on a monthly basis if you want to. If you can’t do it every month then do it when you have extra cash, as every little bit helps! As a general rule, if you pay an additional 10% of the required principal & interest (P&I) payment every month you can knock a little more than five years off a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. So let’s say your required monthly P&I payment is $1,000 on $186,500 mortgage fixed at 5% and amortized over 30 years, but you pay $1,100 every month. Not only will you be gaining additional equity with each payment but you’ll save yourself about $65,000 in interest to own that home.

GeoffreyLongwell-web

 

By Geoff Longwell, Mortgage Originator


Watch our informative videos featuring Geoff and other members of the Mortgage Services team on Members1st.tv! »


Questions?  Click here to visit our website.

Or contact our Mortgage Department at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6026 (Mortgages) or our Consumer Lending Department (Home Equity) at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040.

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4 Tips to Keep Your Holiday Budget in Check


Christmas cookies with festive decoration and christmas lights on white wooden background. New Year and Christmas concept.

Temperatures are dropping, the holidays are just around the corner, and those TV commercials are advertising holiday specials. Shopping for most consumers begins early, so we are providing you with some tips and tricks on how to best budget for the season.

1. Do your homework.

Take a look at your spending from last year. Did you overspend in some categories? Decide how much you can afford to spend this year, and know your limit before you begin shopping. Start saving ahead of time by utilizing products like our Holiday Club and Goal Savings.

2. Make a list, and check it twice!

Make a list of all your holiday purchases and upcoming events. Assign each purchase a specific dollar amount and trim down your list as needed to fit your budget. Remember, paying cash makes overspending obvious!

3. Remember those unexpected costs.

They may seem small, but unplanned holiday expenses can really add up over time! Consider greeting card purchases, food purchases, last minute gifts, travel expenses, charitable giving and mailing costs. Adding a miscellaneous line item to your budget may help cover unexpected costs as well.

4. Consider inexpensive holiday activities.

Plan a holiday craft or movie night with friends and family. Add some hot chocolate to your thermos and drive around looking at holiday lights. Bake cookies for neighbors, or go caroling with friends. Homemade gifts are wonderful, too!

The goal is to spend your holiday season with your friends and family, so plan and save ahead for your holiday shopping!

By Rachel Mathias, Financial Education Coordinator


Pay yourself while you shop!

Earn cash back rewards on all online or point-of-sale purchases with our Visa® Credit Card!

Click here for details.


 

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Be Safe While Shopping this Holiday Season


woman shoppingWe want all of our members to be safe – whether they are doing their banking, checking social media or even just traveling to see family. But remember to stay safe and be aware when shopping. Below are tips for keeping yourself, your identity and your gifts safe whether shopping online or at the store.

Online Shopping

Keep these things in mind to protect your credit card and keep your credit union account information safe: 

  •  Purchase from secure shopping websites—look for the “lock.” Check the address bar for a padlock symbol indicating it’s a secure website. Also, addresses beginning with “https” (and not just “http”) indicate additional web security.
  • Shop online only with a secure network. Although you might hanging out at a coffee shop, avoid using the public Wi-Fi in order to keep your payment information safe.
  • Protect your personal information. Never click the box to “remember” or save your password or credit card information. It only takes a few seconds to enter this information when you revisit a site.
  • Watch out for imposters. With online shopping, you typically receive a confirmation for the order and another when shipping occurs. However, you may receive an email from an imposter about an incorrect order or a store asking for credit card information. Be sure not to click any links in those emails and delete it immediately.
  • Monitor your purchases.  Be sure to review your credit card and credit union statements throughout the year. During the holidays, it is even more important to be vigilant so you can catch any suspicious activity on your accounts.
  • Ship to a secure location. Package theft is becoming a growing trend. Avoid having your boxes stolen from your front porch by shipping to your work address or a neighbor who is home during the day.

Brick and Mortar Shopping

For those of us who prefer enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the shopping experience, keep in mind that this is prime time for thieves to also be out.

Some tips to keep in mind before heading out to the store:

  • Prepare. The stores can be warm and you may want to leave your coat in the car; that way, you are not trying to keep track of your coat, packages, your purse and/or your wallet. This could provide an easy target for thieves.
  • Distractions. The most common distraction is to be on the phone or texting as you are walking to the next store, or to your car. It’s critical to be aware of your surroundings at these susceptible times. Wait until you are in a place where you can focus and not be a target.
  • Parking. Pay attention to detail when choosing a parking spot. Park in a well-lit area and make note of the location of your car, or tie a holiday bow to your car where you will be able to spot it easily. Prior to leaving the store or mall, gather all your packages and have your keys ready in your hand. Walk with purpose to your car and scan your surroundings for anyone (or anything) that seems suspicious. Many shops or malls have additional security on-site, even in the parking lots.
  • Package Safety. If you plan on a shopping marathon, following the first three tips will have you ready for the race. However, if you need to make multiple trips to your car to drop off purchases, you’ll need to make sure they are secure until you return. Put packages in the trunk where they are out of sight. If packages need to be in the back or front seat, try to place them on the floor of the car and cover them with a blanket so they’re not visible to anyone walking past the car.

Take the extra time to ensure your personal and financial safety during your holiday shopping. We want all of our members to have an enjoyable and safe season!


Use Mobile Card Control if you suspect suspicious activity on your Members 1st Visa® Debit or Credit Cards! 

Simply turn your card on or off at the touch of a button.

Learn more here!


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Purposefully Give Thanks


Did you know Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated regularly until President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday of November a national  holiday? A little-known fact is that Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned to recognize the day for 17 years prior to it being made a federal holiday. Here are some ideas to help us remember that the holiday is about more than a table of delicious food, football and parades;  it’s a day to purposefully give thanks and appreciate everything we have.

How to be purposefully grateful every daywoman by fireplace wrapped in blanket

  1. Appreciate the little things. Some days it’s easier to find things to be thankful for than others. Regardless of how your day is unfolding, take time to appreciate the little things and you may find your day turns out better than you expected.
  2. Look on the bright side. Look for ways to be grateful when faced with challenges. Gratitude changes your mindset and helps you become more optimistic. Optimists see challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  3. Count your blessings. It takes up to eight weeks of practicing gratitude for the brain to start showing changes reflecting greater happiness.* Write down three to five things you’re grateful for daily. If you’re not sure what to write, answer these questions:
    1. What are you grateful for right now?
    2. Who are three people you’re grateful to have in your life?
    3. What is something you tend to take for granted that you’re grateful for?
  4. Volunteer. When you help others, it tends to create feeling of well-being and happiness. Volunteer in your local community or help others you know who may be facing difficult times. Look for opportunities to give.
  5. Show appreciation. In addition to saying “thank you” and letting people know how much you appreciate them, write a note to someone who has had an impact on your life and let them know how much they mean to you.

“Gratitude can turn common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

*Source: Forbes. 2018 Buffini & Company


At Members 1st, we are extremely grateful for all of our members who have helped the credit union grow to be the preferred financial institution that we are today.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Board of Directors, Senior Management and Associates at Members 1st!

 

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