Work-Life: Education Reimbursement


Graduation Day!As you think about your career options, have you considered continuing your education? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $464 per week more than workers with only a high school diploma — a higher salary that can add up over the course of your lifetime. While a higher income is a primary benefit of continuing your education, jobs that require bachelor’s and master’s degrees also tend to provide more benefits like health care, retirement, travel and other perks. These benefits may offer stability for you and your family.

Does your employer offer you education reimbursement? You may want to check with your Human Resources department. At Members 1st, we offer our associates educational reimbursement each calendar year. Our associates use this benefit to complete an associate’s, bachelor’s or master’s degree, or take college-credit courses to learn new skills. We currently have over 60 associates taking part in our educational reimbursement program.

Employer programs like this can help make attending or returning to college more affordable, but a recent study put out by The College Board showed average annual in-state college tuition in Pennsylvania was $22,299 for the 2017-2018 academic year. Will tuition ever stop increasing? Since 1978, college tuition and fees have increased by a whopping 1,120%. During that same period, the price of food has increased 244% and medical expenses 601%. In fact, tuition prices have gone up four times faster than the consumer price index, according to a report by Bloomberg.

Even if your employer offers tuition assistance, perhaps Members 1st can help you achieve your goals with one of our loan options. We also offer great refinancing options for those with current student loans.

By Sara J. Kennedy
Senior Vice President of Associate Experience


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Understanding Mobile Payments


What once seemed a fanciful or even silly idea — that instead of cash or a card we’d use our phones to pay for stuff — is becoming the norm. Mobile-based payments in the U.S. are projected to reach $142 billion in 2019.

While that’s a lot of growth, mobile payments still make up a tiny fraction of retail commerce. In 2015 they accounted for only 0.2% of in-store sales in the U.S. And that might be because the technology is still somewhat new and perhaps confusing.

Here’s a quick look at mobile payment: how it works, who the major players are and how secure these transactions are.

How it works

Mobile payments really took off in 2014 with the introduction of Apple Pay®. Since then, a number of competitors have popped up, including Samsung Pay® and Google Pay®.

As their names suggest, these mobile payment services are tied to specific devices. Apple Pay works only on newer iPhones and the Apple Watch, and Samsung Pay requires later Galaxy and Note models. Google Pay requires an Android device.

With mobile payments, your smartphone acts as a proxy for your credit card, debit card, loyalty card or metro card. The card info is read into the phone either by taking its picture or by manually entering the number and expiration date.

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay all make use of near field communication (NFC). NFC enables two electronic devices, one of them typically mobile, to communicate via close proximity – say, by tapping the phone to a credit card/phone reader.

Samsung Pay also uses a technology called magnetic secure transmission, which makes it compatible with existing card readers that are not NFC-enabled.

What about security?

Mobile payment systems use a host of security measures to protect transactions from hackers. Each card registered on your phone is assigned a token, usually a string of numbers that represents your 16-digit credit or debit card number. This means your card number is never transmitted or revealed; the token is used to process the payment. It’s similar to how EMV or “chip” cards work, if you’ve come across those.

To complete a transaction, you will also need to input a PIN, use a fingerprint scan, or sign, depending on the particular payment service and the sophistication of the terminal at the checkout counter.

The risk with mobile payments ultimately lies with your accounts, not the payment devices. For example, some financial institutions don’t always have the best procedures to verify that the person adding a debit or credit card to a mobile payment service is the account holder. That makes it possible for thieves to use stolen account information in their own mobile payment app.

Cases of fraud have also been reported in connection with so-called peer-to-peer payment systems that were developed primarily to allow friends and family to send and receive money. In the case of Venmo, a division of eBay’s PayPal, users have reported unauthorized withdrawals that apparently took place as a result of weak authentication controls that let hackers take over accounts.

Many of us already carry our phones everywhere we go, and as more Americans embrace the technology, it’s likely more retailers will install mobile payment readers. Knowing the ins and outs is important before you jump in as well.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


The Visa® credit and debit cards offered by Members 1st Federal Credit Union are globally accepted and feature built-in chip (EMV) technology to provide you with an enhanced level of security. Our cards are also compatible with Apple Pay®Google Pay and Samsung Pay® on select smartphones, which means you don’t even have to pull out your Visa card when paying for purchases at the checkout terminal.

To learn more about the Members 1st Mobile Wallet, click here.

To learn more about the Members 1st Visa Credit Cards, click here


3 Ways to Make your Vacation More Enjoyable and Stress-free


beach chairs on sand smaller1. Set up travel notices
Tell us where you are going and which debit and credit card(s) you plan to take on your trip. This will help minimize the chances of your card being blocked or flagged for unusual activity, preventing any service interruptions during your trip. Simply go to Services » Card Management » Travel Notices on both Members 1st Online and the Members 1st Mobile App.

2. Set up Mobile Card Controls
These are easy to set up, and help you manage all your debit and credit cards. If you think you left your card on the beach in Belize, you can simply turn off your card until you locate it. Or, if you want to know each time you spent money at the grocery store, you can set up an alert for that.

3. Use our Visa Signature® Card*
While you relax, earn cash back** with every purchase you make on vacation, from pizza on the boardwalk to that souvenir T-shirt. Remember, there are no foreign transaction fees and this card offers many enhanced benefits, including no annual fee and your choice of cash back or points rewards.**

For more details on travel notices, card controls or our Visa Signature Card, simply visit members1st.org or speak to an associate at your local branch.


*Visit our website for important disclosure information.

**Your Members 1st Federal Credit Union Visa Signature Card will earn your choice of 1.5% cash rewards for every dollar spent (less credits, returns and adjustments) or 1.5 points for every dollar spent. Balance Transfers, Cash Advances, purchasing of money orders or cash equivalents (including ATM advances) are not eligible for rewards. Should your account become 90 days or more delinquent or fall out of good standing any and all accumulated cash or points rewards will be forfeited. Cash Back Reward redemption options are outlined at www.scorecardrewards.com. Minimum redemption amount is $25.00 for cash rewards. Points rewards can be redeemed at any time. All cash back and points rewards are non-expiring. Ask an associate for details.

We do business in accordance with the Federal Fair Housing Law and Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

College Students: Easily Make a Budget


Wondering how to budget for everything that you will need when you head off to college? Have you calculated your extra expenses for things such as fuel, clothes and eating out?

Use this simple College Student Budget Worksheet to see your expected financial aid/income and expenses at a glance. Simply enter your amounts in the correct categories and adjust as needed. This can also help you determine how much you may need to obtain in outside funds from work, parents or student loans.

Download the above fillable budget worksheet to plan your finances each semester.*

*Download our Student Monthly Budget Tracker with a PDF viewer such as Adobe Acrobat.


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


10 Low-Cost Ideas for Father’s Day


Father’s Day is an important holiday to recognize and thank all the father figures in your life, such as husbands, fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and others.  However, it can be stressful trying to figure out how to give a memorable gift without breaking the bank.  This Father’s Day consider the following 10 low-cost ideas that are just as special as any other gift.

1. Mow the Lawn

Is Dad the one who usually mows the lawn every week?  Give him a break this Father’s Day and know that he will be appreciative.  This simple task will cost you nothing but your time!

2. Make His Favorite Meal

Let the father figure that you’re celebrating kick back and relax.  Surprise him by making his absolute favorite meal.  Not only will it be cheaper than taking him to a fancy restaurant, it’s also more memorable.

3. Wash His Car

Surprise Dad on his special day by getting his car squeaky clean.  Often an automatic car wash doesn’t get a car as clean as handwashing it does.  All you need for this task is soap, a sponge, and access to water.  This gesture is simple, but Dad will thank you for it!

4. Watch His Favorite Movie

Summer weather is great, but storms can be unpredictable.  Plan to watch Dad’s favorite movie with him in the event that rain ruins a sunny day.  Have his favorite snacks ready and enjoy spending some quality time together. 

5. Spend Time Outside

Plan to spend the day outside with Dad doing his favorite activities.  Go fishing, camping, hiking, running or biking together.  There are many free and fun activities to do with Dad in the summer sun. 

6. Play His Favorite Games

Take some time to play Dad’s favorite games with him this Father’s Day.  Whether you’re inside playing Monopoly, or outside playing basketball, Dad will cherish the time that you spend together. 

7. Help with Yard Work

Keeping the yard in shape and maintaining landscaping can be a big job.  Take some weight off Dad’s shoulders and do some yard work for him this Father’s Day.  This is another task that will only cost you your time, but Dad will be extremely grateful!

8. Make a Gift

Channel your inner artist this Father’s Day and get crafty.  Make Dad a handmade card or paint him something special.  Homemade gifts and cards are thoughtful, and sure to bring a smile to Dad’s face. 

9. Fire Up the Grill

Grilling season is finally here!  Show Dad how much you care and help him grill up something delicious for a Father’s Day meal.  This gives both of you a chance to spend time together, and you might learn some new grilling techniques!

10. Clean the Garage

Help Dad get organized by cleaning the garage or shed for him.  This is likely something that he has been meaning to do, but just hasn’t had the time for.  Surprising him with a clean space is both thoughtful and practical!


Happy Father’s Day from everyone at Members 1st!

Confused About Student Loans?


Financing your education can seem like a challenging task, but it isn’t impossible.

Always begin by pursuing financial aid and scholarships. Do your homework and research, research, research. You may be pleasantly surprised by the different options for which you may qualify.

Next, look for advice and information. We recommend that you visit our Student Planning page at members1st.studentchoice.org. You’ll find webinars, tips on planning for college, student loan information, and best of all — it’s FREE! You can also sign up to speak one-on-one with a free College Access Counselor.graduate smaller

Finally, determine any gaps after your financial aid and scholarship packages are set. Be sure to look for loans that offer competitive interest rates, convenient payment options and terms, and no origination fees.

This is where Members 1st can help! We want you to feel comfortable with your choice of loan provider and as your credit union, we are ready to help you with your lending and other financial needs as you progress through college, graduation, employment, and beyond.

We offer the following through our Credit Union Student Choice program:

Undergraduate Loans
• Borrow up to $40,000 per academic year

Graduate Loans
• Borrow up to $65,000 per academic year

Both Undergraduate and Graduate Loans
• Interest rate based on loan term and credit score
• 0.25% rate reduction for automatic payments
• Choose from three available repayment options
• Choose from three available loan terms
• Other qualifications apply

Refinancing Current Student Loans
• Borrow up to $200,000
• Variable and fixed interest rates available
• 0.25% rate reduction for automatic payments
• Choose from three available loan terms
• Other qualifications apply


Visit members1st.org » products-services » student-services for full details, qualifications, payment options, and more.

Or call our 24-hour call center at (800) 369-4980.

By Jeff Ernst, VP of Consumer Lending


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Moving From a College Dorm to Your First Apartment


What to Remember When Moving From the Dorms to Your First Place

Privacy, lower living costs, graduation — there are a myriad of reasons why you move from the dorms to an apartment. But with greater independence comes greater responsibility, and moving into your first place will certainly bring both, especially when it comes to your finances.

Here are some things to start budgeting for when you make your move.

Rent

Rent should be a top priority when you set up a budget. Follow the rule of thumb and aim for a place that costs 30% or less of your monthly income. Can’t find anything you like in your price range? Grab another roommate, or consider living farther away from campus or your job.

Save enough money to cover your security deposit — money your landlord holds onto in case of damages or failure to pay rent — when you sign your lease.

And your landlord might only take checks, so order a stack from your financial institution to have on hand.

Utilities

Unlike the dorms, where electricity, water, heating, garbage, and internet costs are wrapped up neatly in one housing bill, living in an apartment or home means paying for utilities separately, usually at a monthly interval. Utility bills might cost around one-fifth of your rent. Keeping up with due dates can be a hassle, so set up automatic payments if you can — just make sure you always have enough in your account to cover the cost. If you don’t use auto pay, make a habit of paying your bills as soon as you get them.

Furniture

Your apartment is probably bigger than your dorm, meaning you have more space to fill. Buying furniture can put a dent in your wallet the first time you move, and getting it to your new home may take some muscle.

Keep yourself organized by making a list of what you need. Minimize costs by asking family and friends if they have spare items that you can take off their hands. Before you buy new, check Craigslist; if you’re still around campus, there may be a Facebook or Reddit page dedicated to buying and selling furniture. If you’re pooling resources with roommates, make sure everybody is on the same page about who owns what, or what happens if somebody moves out. When it’s time to move in, recruit your friends or family to help with the heavy lifting, or hire some quick help through a service app like TaskRabbit.

Renter’s Insurance

Protect your belongings from unexpected events like theft or fire by taking out renter’s insurance. It’s relatively cheap, averaging $15 a month, and can save you thousands on replacing furniture, electronics, or jewelry if calamity should strike.

Household Items

It’s easy to forget that small items like dish towels, cleaning supplies, pots, and pans are essential to happy apartment living. As with furniture, make a list of things you need. Look first for freebies, such as extras from family and friends, before heading to the store for new items. Add cooking to your arsenal of skills; eating out every day is not only impractical but expensive.

It’s great to have your own place, or just a new place, but don’t go overboard. Remember some of the frugal habits you developed in the dorms, and you’ll be more likely to enjoy independent living.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.

For additional information and helpful tips, visit the Members 1st Student Choice website.


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