Running a business from home?


ManWorkingAtHomeMake sure you’re covered!

Working from a home office, or creating and running a business from your home or apartment, can have a variety of intangible benefits, and be a wonderful way to earn a living. However, it’s important to remember that any business needs to be insured like one!

A home-based business (“HBB”), like all businesses, should be properly insured to protect both the business assets, and its owner. More often than not, HBBs are underinsured or uninsured (it’s estimated that nearly 60% of HBBs are uninsured), a fact the HBB usually discovers ONLY after an incident or loss has occurred. Following are some things to consider:

Q: If I operate my business out of my home or garage, doesn’t my homeowner’s or renter’s policy address my insurance needs?

A: Standard homeowner’s and renter’s policies were designed to cover a home, not a home business, and provide very limited coverage for business exposures.

Q: If I have a HBB, will my homeowner’s/renter’s policy provide coverage if a customer or someone making a business delivery is injured on my property?

A: Most homeowner’s/renter’s policies will not cover any liability related to your business, unless the coverage has been added separately to your policy.

Q: If I use my personal auto for business purposes, am I covered?

A: Personal auto policies only provide coverage under limited circumstances when your personal auto is used for business purposes.

Q: What options are available to help insure HBBs?

A: There are 3 primary options available, depending on the type and nature of your business:

  • Homeowner’s Policy Endorsement: For a minimal cost, you can add an endorsement to your existing policy to increase coverage for your business equipment and perhaps minimal liability coverage;
  • Home Business Policy: Provides a broader, more comprehensive spectrum of coverages than a simple endorsement;
  • Business Owner’s Policy (“BOP”; Created primarily for small to mid-size businesses, a BOP provides the most comprehensive spectrum of coverage for HBBs.

Q: Are there other coverage issues to consider?

A: Depending on the type and nature of your business, including whether or not you have employees, you may also need to consider:

Coverage for loss of income, Errors & Omissions Coverage, Umbrella Coverage, Health & Disability, Worker’s Compensation

As a HBB owner, you face a myriad of exposures including theft, accidental damage to business property, natural disaster, fire, auto accidents, liability if an employee suffers injury on the job (or if the employee causes injury to others and their property while on the job), or if a business guest or supplier is injured while on your property.

Having proper and adequate coverage can protect you from losses that can cripple or devastate your HBB.


Contact us today for a FREE quote on commercial insurance for small to large businesses!

Visit members1st.org and click here or call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5245.

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Insurance Services available to PA and MD residents only. Insurance products are not federally insured and are not obligations of or guaranteed by Members 1st FCU, Members 1st Insurance Services, or any other affiliated entity.

Make Your Tax Refund Work for You!


By Justin Chu, Program Associate, Taxpayer Opportunity Network

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Every year, the middle of April marks the end of the federal tax return filing season. For many Americans, that can mean seemingly endless forms, paystubs, and other paperwork. However, tax time can also be a unique opportunity for saving for your future! You can maximize tax time in three easy ways and have your tax refund work for you.

1. Put your refund into a saving account
For people claiming some of the unique tax credits that benefit hardworking families around the country such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, their tax refund may be the largest sum of money they will see the entire year. By opening a savings account, you can deposit a portion or all of your refund and let the amount grow over time. Luckily, you can do this using the IRS Form 8888, which will divide your refund over multiple accounts.

2. Put your refund into a savings bond
As a part of the Form 8888, you are now able to easily and seamlessly purchase Series 1 US Savings Bonds as you prepare your tax return! These 30-year bonds are backed by the United States government and they will pay you interest yearly. Bonds are a great, low-risk option to grow your savings while receiving a little bit of money each year.

3. Get your taxes prepared for free
If you make less than $53,000 a year, you can your taxes prepared at no-cost by IRS-certified volunteers in your local community! The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has served millions of Americans for more than 45 years. If you qualify, you can find your local VITA program using this tool; at these VITA sites, you can find expert information to help demystify the tax code and to prepare your taxes.

These three steps are only a small sample of how you can leverage this annual process! Tax time can be confusing but you can maximize your tax return to build for a more sustainable future. Don’t delay and be sure to start your own saving story today!

3 ways to give your savings account a little boost


By Tammy Bruzon, America Saves Communications Coordinator

What does “saving the extra” mean to you? Whether it is putting change in a piggy bank or moving everything not in the budget into savings, those three little words can mean big money down the road. This America Saves Week, try one (or all) of these three ways to save the extra:

  1. Add a savings line to your budget. Rent, utilities, internet. Every important piece of your financial picture gets a designated spot in your budget each month, so why not your savings? We don’t always consider our savings goals a priority in our short term savings and spending plan, but it ought to be. Prioritize your goals by adding a “savings” line with an affordable amount to your budget; pay yourself with each paycheck.
  2. Stow away the windfall. Did you receive notice of a raise for 2018? Maybe you have a bonus coming your way for a job well done. Whatever the bounty may be, allocate any unexpected funds to your savings goals. You won’t miss the percentage raise you receive, so divert it into your savings account. You weren’t expecting that bonus, so tuck it away for a rainy day.
  3. Split and save your refund. It’s a universal truth: saving at tax time can be a big step toward meeting your savings goals. This tax season, opt to split a portion of your tax refund into your savings account. For many of us the tax refund is the largest check we will receive all year, which provides the perfect opportunity to start or grow your savings goal.

Bonus! The SaveYourRefund promotion is sweetening the deal by giving you a chance to win one of 102 prizes up to $10,000 just for saving a portion of your tax refund using IRS Form 8888 and sharing your savings goal*. But you can’t enter to win unless you save, so make a commitment to yourself today.

Saving the extra is an easy and quick way to jumpstart your savings. As America Saves Week comes to an end, identify the ways that you and your household can save the extra and add a little boost to your bank account.

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and DC with a valid taxpayer ID number who are 18 years or older at time of entry and due a 2017 individual tax refund. Begins 12:01 am ET 1/22/18 and ends 11:59 pm ET 4/17/18. For how to enter and Official Rules, including odds, alternate method of entry, and prize descriptions, visit http://www.saveyourrefund.com/rules. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: Build Commonwealth, Inc.

Rebuild Your Credit in 11 Steps


couple with billsPlease understand that there are no quick fixes for improving your score.  You may have seen ads for companies that promise, for a fee, to quickly repair your score.  Credit repair does not work.  Their usual technique is to dispute all negative activity whether negative or not.  This results in your score being falsely inflated for only the time the dispute is under review.

Here are some ways to improve your credit score:

  1. Pay all your bills on time. Delinquent payments, even if only a few days late, and collections can have a major negative impact on your credit score. This applies to all your accounts, including utilities.
  2. If you have missed payments, get current and stay current. The longer you pay your bills on time after being late, the more your score should increase. Older credit problems count for less, so poor credit performance won’t haunt you forever. The impact of past credit problems on your score fades as time passes and as recent good payment patterns show up on your credit report.
  3. If you are having trouble making ends meet, contact your creditors or a reputable non-profit credit counseling agency like GreenPath. If you can begin to manage your credit and pay on time, your score should gradually improve. Seeking assistance from a credit counseling service will not hurt your score. If you decide to enter a Debt Management Plan, your score may initially go down because lines of credit will be closed.
  4. Keep balances low on credit cards and other revolving credit. High outstanding credit card debt can negatively impact your score.
  5. Pay off debt rather than shifting it from one credit card to another via balance transfers. The most effective way to increase your score in this area is by paying down your total revolving (credit card) debt.
  6. If you have had problems in the past, re-establish your credit history by opening new accounts responsibly and paying them on time.
  7. Apply for credit only as needed. Don’t open accounts for the 15% store discount or for the purpose of more spending.
  8. Manage credit cards responsibly by keeping balances well under the credit limit.  Try to use no more than 50% of your available credit lines. In general, having credit cards and installment loans will raise your score if you make payments in full and on time. People with no credit cards, for example, tend to be higher risk than people who have managed credit cards responsibly.
  9. Understand that items such as a bankruptcy or foreclosure will have very negative impact on your score, especially over the first 24-36 months.  However, it is possible to recover as time passes.
  10. Don’t close unused credit cards as a short-term strategy to raise your score. The scoring model looks at length of credit history, so it helps to keep established accounts that have been open and managed well for five or more years.
  11. If you have been using credit for only a short time, don’t open a lot of new accounts too quickly, as rapid account build-up can look risky to a lender.

Repairing your score is no quick fix, but with a little perseverance it can be accomplished!


Need additional help? 

We offer our members access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath Financial Wellness.  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

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Making Smart College Decisions


high school studentsAre you ready to let your child make a $60,000 decision?  Or a $100,000 decision?

Think back to when you turned 18.  It’s both an exciting and scary time.  There’s a liberating sense of freedom.  “You can’t tell me what to do, Mom and Dad!  I’m an adult, now!”  But were you ready to make important life decisions at that age?

For many parents, the need to please their child is strong because we want to let them spread their wings.  So, if Junior decides to make a bad decision and pick the wrong college, his parents often sit back and let it happen.

A student definitely needs to be involved in the process, but a more collaborative process will lead to a better outcome for the entire family.

How Important Is Cost?

Ask students what factors are important when deciding on a college.  You will typically get some good answers such as major, location, Greek life, social activities and cost.  Cost is usually somewhat down the list.  This makes sense when you think about it.  Most high school students do not have firsthand experience with running a household budget, and they don’t understand how difficult it is to pay for college.

An average 18-year-old has difficulty visualizing their future self.  When they sign off on their loans, how many of them have mapped out how they are going to pay for them?

We don’t need to write about how expensive college has become.  However, there are many choices out there and there is a huge range when it comes to cost.

Your Role As a Parent

So what can you do as a parent to help make this important decision?

  • Start talking about the family’s financial situation early — ideally, by the time your child is 14 or 15.  If you can afford to pay for some or all of their college education, let them know.  But be clear about what your expectations are.
  • If you are not in a position to pay for college, you have no reason to be ashamed.  Set expectations early enough so your child knows that, if they want to go to college, they had better be ready to excel in school, get scholarships, etc.
  • If your child is accepted into their dream school, but you can’t afford it, don’t be an enabler.  Co-signing on a loan you can’t afford (especially a private loan) can have disastrous results.
  • Help your child understand the implications of their decision.  Discuss how they will pay for college and project how much they might be borrowing.  Show them how this will play out in their budget.

Don’t worry about being the bad guy.  Set up your children for success and they’ll thank you later.

Information courtesy of GreenPath Financial Wellness.

Members 1st offers Undergraduate Loans and Graduate Loans.

Plus, we can help with refinancing current student loans.

Visit members 1st.org or contact out 24-hour call center at (800) 369-4980 with questions or to apply!

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Making sense of tax reform


 

tax reform

You’re probably wondering how the new tax reform legislation is going to affect you. Rest assured, you’re not alone. Starting this month, many of you will begin to see withholding changes in your paychecks.

To help you understand more of what’s going on, click here to access the IRS website. Click here for frequently asked questions. As always, we recommend that you consult with your personal tax advisor or preparer for additional information.


Members 1st members are eligible for a special offer from TurboTax. Click here for details.

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3 Reasons to have an Automatic Savings Plan


Money Transfer Icon“Save money” is a timeless bit of personal finance advice, but actually doing it can be another story. If you need a way to boost your savings and stay consistent with your goals, setting up an automatic funds transfer can help.

There are two ways you might do this. You can set up a transfer from your checking to a savings or investment account at your financial institution. Another method can be having a portion of your paycheck directed into a retirement or other account by your employer, if possible. Here’s a closer look into why saving this way might help you reach your goals.

1. No effort needed after setup

Once you start automatic transfers, which might be made every week or two, you don’t have to give it another thought. This can be helpful if you tend to second-guess your saving decisions, such as whether you actually need to save 5% or 10% of your income this month. This way you can avoid doubting yourself and keep the savings flowing.

2. Building the habit of spending less than you make

Automating the process lets your savings grow unattended. If you schedule the transfer around the time that your earnings arrive, the money for savings never really mixes with your spending funds. Over time, you may get used to living on that smaller amount too, making it easier to let your savings build.

3. Keeping accounts separate

Transferring funds this way can help you limit your spending based on what’s available in your checking account. Plus, if you want to tackle multiple savings goals at once, such as putting away funds for a vacation, retirement and emergencies, these transfers can help you contribute to them consistently. You can stay organized and not have to worry about forgetting a transfer one week or losing track of your goals.

For these reasons, using automatic transfers can empower you to save without investing much time or energy. Think about it: You can achieve a goal simply by sitting back and letting your money grow.


Check out all of the savings options at Members 1st!

Already have savings accounts? Set up your automatic transfers easily through Members 1st Online.


Watch for details about our new Goal Savings accounts! Coming Soon!


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