Blog Archive

Friday, December 2, 2016

Make The Nice List With Your Credit Card Use

It’s that time of year again. He’s making a list, and he’s checking it twice. Of course, we’re talking about the major credit bureaus! With holiday spending season upon us, it’s time to broach an uncomfortable subject: how to pay for all that joy and goodwill.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Watch For These Product Recall Scams!

When a company has to recall a product, it’s never pretty. Organizing refunds, exchanges, and other considerations for customers takes time. Meanwhile, the customers just want the product they bought to work as advertised!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Credit Cards Or Debit Cards – What’s The Smartest Swipe?


Most people own at least one debit card and at least one credit card. They know they have it, but they may not know about all the differences that exist between using a credit card and a debit card.
Believe it or not, there are many. The most basic difference is the fact that each time you use a credit card, you’re borrowing money. A debit card, on the other hand, simply transfers your own money from your checking account to the vendor you’re paying.
When you use your credit card, your credit union is lending you money, which you’ll need to pay back along with interest. A debit card takes funds directly from your account similar to the way that checks do – only quicker. Some processing terminals will require a PIN and some will require signature.
Both credit and debit cards are convenient, quick, and easy. They’re also safer than cash, because cash cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.
Which one should you use? The answer depends largely upon your lifestyle.
1.) Budgeting
Credit cards allow you to buy now and pay later. Unfortunately, this can turn into a nightmare because of the obvious financial pitfalls in being able to purchase things you don’t have the money for now. If you think you’ll be tempted to overspend, regular credit card use may not be ideal for you.
However, it’s nearly impossible to incur thousands of dollars of debt through debit card usage. Most credit unions will cover purchases that put your account into the red, but only up to a few hundred dollars. If this happens, you’re accountable for your purchases and charged an overdraft fee.
2.) Safety
The convenience of debit cards can make fraud more likely. Unless reported promptly, debit card theft or fraud can quickly drain your account. Credit card companies are held to strict liability laws: consumer liability for credit card fraud is limited to $50. If you report suspicious charges in a written request within 60 days, the company is obligated to investigate and restore the funds to your account if the charges are determined to be fraudulent.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Monday, October 31, 2016

Is My Insurance Enough When Disaster Strikes?

Q: The news coverage surrounding hurricanes Matthew and Nicole has me worried. What can I do to disaster-proof my home?

A: Natural disasters can be frightening. Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts or floods, no area of the country is immune to them. Whether you were personally affected by the most recent round of hurricanes or not, they should serve as a good reminder to take steps to prepare yourself for the worst.

Friday, October 28, 2016

What Happened At Wells Fargo?

The financial services industry is based on trust. When a company like Wells Fargo abuses that trust, the whole industry seems off kilter. While the details about the extent of the recent fake account scandal are still coming to light, we know enough to start painting a picture of what was going on inside the bank. Here are a few common questions about the scandal and what to do if you’ve been impacted by it.

What was going on inside Wells Fargo?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Single At Retirement

Q: Most of the retirement advice I’m reading is for people “growing old together.” What do I need to do to plan for a fabulously single life after work?

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Debt Consolidation: Not A Silver Bullet, But Still A Good Idea

article-image_debt-consolidationIf you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, the one thing you may wish for more than anything else is a blank slate. If you had a chance to wipe your slate clean and start over, things would be different. Of course, barring a winning lottery ticket, nothing is going to make that much of a change overnight.

There is, however, another option you can take for getting your debt under control. You can use a personal loan to refinance your existing debt. That means you’ll have one monthly payment at one interest rate instead of the stress caused by a bunch of smaller bills coming due on different days of the month.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Breached Security, Breached Trust: Yahoo’s Leak And What It Means For You

It seems like the bigger they are, the harder they fall. At least, that’s the lesson some security experts are taking away from the latest revelations about Yahoo’s serious security breach. More than 500 million Yahoo accounts have been compromised, according to the latest reports. As a result, the company is facing a civil suit for gross negligence in allowing an unknown group of assailants to steal login information from a large contingent of its users.

The security breach, which began in 2014, was limited to username and password information for Yahoo’s various sites, including webmail, news and fantasy sports services. Fortunately, no financial information is believed to be included in the stolen data. Still, there’s reason to be concerned if you’re a user of one of Yahoo’s sites.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Bring Back The Brown Bag: Saving Money On Lunch The Old-Fashioned Way

Although it’s been said breakfast is the most important meal of the day, there may be a new contender rising. Recent studies are showing that employees who take a designated lunch break are more likely to be productive in the afternoon and avoid long-term burnout. Breakfast has clearly been shoved out of its once-coveted role of “most important meal,” and the reign of lunch has begun.

Lunch’s sudden rise to popularity hasn’t come without one or two negative side effects. The most worrying of these is how often Americans are dining out for lunch per week and how much they’re spending when they do. If you’re looking for an alternative to eating gourmet sushi five times a week, the best option is one that’s been with us since we were children: the brown bag lunch.

Friday, September 23, 2016


Good Ideas, Bad For Credit: How Your Responsible Choices Can End Up Hurting Your Credit Score

Q: I've had some trouble with credit in the past, but I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. I think I'm doing everything right, but my credit score still isn't rising! What gives?

A: Credit scores can affect you more than you know. Employers look at credit scores. Landlords look at credit scores. Bill providers look at credit scores, and they might decide to charge you if yours gets too low. With all this pressure, you've no doubt started working on some good habits for improving your credit score. You pay your bills on time, are sure to not max out your credit line and work hard not to default on a loan. You might be surprised to find out that some actions you take to improve your credit score are actually hurting it.

If your credit score isn't where you want it to be, it might be due to one of these habits. Read on for four good ideas that might actually be hurting your credit score:

1.) Debt settlement
Settling your old debt can seem like an easy way to get out of a sticky situation. You make an agreement with a third party, pay a part of your debt and the owner writes off the rest of it.

However, unless it's at least 90 days since the debt was due, it's always better for your credit score to pay the debt back in full yourself. Settling a debt for less than you owe can take your credit score down as much as a hundred points. This happens because the debtor only took your settlement on the assumption they'd never see the full amount you owed. Future lenders worry that they'll end up in the same situation, and that makes them hesitant to lend.

2.) Turning down credit
It might seem like a good idea to reject a higher credit limit. If your credit card offers to boost your limit, that might seem to indicate you have more money to spend. If you've struggled with responsible credit management in the past, you might want to turn it down in an effort to keep your spending in check. Keeping your credit limit low can give you a budget and a sense of security regarding when you'll stop yourself from spending.

However, a higher credit limit does come with benefits. To be exact, it can boost your score quite a lot through a something called a credit utilization ratio. That's the ratio of your credit card balance to your credit card limit. The less you spend relative to what your limit is, the higher your score in terms of this one factor. That means, if you have a higher credit limit, you'll be using less of it, and therefore increasing your score.

3.) Avoiding credit cards
With all this rigmarole and paperwork, many people might think it's easier to just not have a credit card at all. While it might make your life simpler at first, it can complicate your relationship with credit in the future. You might not need credit for day-to-day things like buying groceries or gas, but you will need it for a home loan, auto loans and to prove to potential landlords and employers that you can be trusted. So long as you're paying everything on time and not carrying a high balance, a credit card is much more beneficial in the long run.

4.) Closing paid accounts
Paying off a credit card can be a big struggle. Once it's over, your instinct might lead you to throw it away, burn it or otherwise have it completely out of your life once and for all. Credit reporting agencies say something different, though. Since 15% of your credit score is the length of your credit history, you want to keep your cards for as long as possible.

 Additionally, your credit utilization score is worth 30% of your total score. Closing a credit card account also kills available credit, which lowers that balance-to-limit ratio. You can destroy the card itself and delete its record from online shopping sites to be certain you'll never accidentally use it, but don't cancel it. Even after all that, you should keep the account open (provided there's no annual fee attached to it), just to keep your score up.

 Credit scores have never been easy. There's an endless number of twists, turns and troubles to keep in mind. It may seem like there's no one on your side in this struggle. Yes, you have to be in charge and be responsible enough to pay everything on time. CORE can help. Call, click, or stop by today to get help with budgeting, credit management or debt consolidation.

 You don't have to go it alone.

 Your Turn: Any tips or tricks you use for managing debt and/or improving your credit score? What has seemed to work or not worked?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Don’t Sleep On Your Savings: Avoiding Dormant Accounts

One of the best things you can do with a savings account is forget about it. If you don’t think about it, you can’t spend it. It’s there when you need it and it’s earning dividends the whole time.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ATM Fraud On The Rise: Staying Safe While Getting Cash

Scammers seem like they’re in every part of the economy. If you make a purchase online, scammers are trying to get your credit or debit card number. If you check your email, scammers are trying to get you to download spyware. You might think you’re safe conducting all your business in cash, but scammers are waiting in one location you can’t get around: the ATM.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

Personal Loans: The Swiss Army Knife Of Personal Finance

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Beware The Boom: Diversify Your Portfolio To Protect From The Bust

article imageThere’s always a “next big thing” in investing. In the early 2000s, it was Enron. In 2008, it was real estate. Seeing outlandish returns from high-performing sectors can lead investors to chase the herd and pour most of their capital into a narrow segment of the economy. It hasn’t worked out well in the past.

The most important protection you can provide for your portfolio is a diverse range of assets. While this seems straightforward, it can be difficult to put into practice. Let’s look at four ways you can diversify your holdings that may not be so obvious.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Is A Personal Loan The Answer To My Urgent Money Need?

Q: I need to get some money together in a hurry. Help! What can I do?
A: There’ll always be times in your adult life when you find yourself in need of a sizable amount of money without enough savings on hand. Maybe you’re drowning in debt, or you just spent some time in the hospital, or your car started breathing fire. Whatever the case, you need that money pretty quickly. For times like these, consider a personal loan. A personal loan is a loan of any amount of money, typically ranging from $1,000 to more than $50,000, which is not secured with collateral – that is, there’s no property backing the value of the loan. Personal loans may seem attractive, but they do come with some downsides. Is a personal loan right for you? And if so, how do you go about getting one?

Let’s take a look at four critical questions to ask yourself before you get a personal loan.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Ain’t Nothing Like A Real Thing – Tips to Avoid Being Taken By Rental Scams

Friday, August 19, 2016

Whose Fault Is Fraud? The Complicated Reality Of Debit Card Transactions

When you use your debit card, you visibly see an actual interaction between three people.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Job Seekers And Social Media

Q: I’m a recent college grad who’s looking for my first real job. I know companies are looking at my online presence, but I don’t know what they’re looking for. What can I do to make my online presence an asset?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

From Summer Job To Just Plain Job: How To Turn Your Internship Into A Promising Career

You’ve fetched coffee, made copies and done all the typing and filing for an entire department. Congrats! You’ve finally finished your summer internship! In many ways, just going back to school would be a wonderful relief, but you might be looking for more.

Monday, August 8, 2016

It’s All Fun And Games ‘Til Someone Loses A Credit Card: Safety In Online Games

Before the cellphone era, gaming was a pretty secure business. You went to the store, bought a disk, a cartridge or deck of cards, and played it many times over until you grew bored of it. On the surface, today’s gaming seems like an improvement. The majority of gaming apps are free and they’re always available to play regardless to time and place. This convenience, though, does come with costs.
Obviously, the news surrounding the robbery of “Pokemon Go” players in O’Fallon, Missouri is one type of threat that mobile apps can pose. Be aware of apps that others can use to predict your location, and always keep an eye on your surroundings. That will keep you safe from the most obvious threats, but not from all of them.
It is incredibly convenient to have all your games on a single device you can keep in your pocket and have with you at all times. The downside is that everything else — your phone number, your email address, even your financial information — may all be on that device, too. With everything on one device, it’s become easier for online scammers to take what they want. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Be on the lookout for these three ways mobile games take your money, and know what you can do about them.
1.) In-app purchases
In-app purchases are deceptively simple. You “buy” a free game in the app store, thinking you got a bargain. You play the game for a few minutes, enjoying yourself as you assemble an army or destroy your friends at trivia or pop some bubbles. After a little while, though, you hit a snag — you’ve maxed out the number of games you can play in one day, and you’ll have to wait 24 hours to play again. You’re frustrated and upset. You’re willing to do anything you can to keep playing. And, lo and behold, the game offers you a solution. You can pay a small fee of $0.99 to continue playing — and paying.
Unfortunately, there’s no simple solution to this one: Either you cough up the $0.99 or you don’t. In cases like this, sometimes the best move is just not to play that game. The golden rule of the internet works here, too: if you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. Don’t support business models that work on addiction and deception. Find a different game. Sometimes it’s even better to find a game you have to buy once to feel a little more secure in knowing you won’t have to keep buying up to keep playing.
2.) Phishing scams
This scam, too, starts with the purchase of an innocent-looking app. In order to use it, the app claims, you need to set up an account with the app manufacturer’s website. Citing security reasons, it says the account will ensure mysterious strangers cannot come in and mess up your process playing tic-tac-toe and hangman. All it needs is your email account, and then for you to create a username and password. You input your email account, you come up with a username, and then you use the password that you use for everything. Just like that, you’ve given a company you know nothing about access to all the details of your online life. Any other system you use that password for can now be compromised.
Another version of the scam is the fake game login screen. An email looking like it’s from the game company will soon arrive. It will tell you to login through a link in the email to receive a fabulous in-game prize. Of course, there is no prize, and the email was a tool for scammers to collect your login information.
The best way to prevent this is through research. A quick search for the app you’re considering and the word safe is all you need. Look at the top three results. You can then make the smart decision about whether or both to give that app your email address.
3.) “Bonus credit” 
This one begins in the same way an in-app purchases scam does. You buy the app, you play the app for awhile, and it suddenly says you can’t play anymore today. In this case, though, it’s not that you’ve run out of time, it’s that you’ve run out of credits, coins, or some other form of in-app currency that lets you play the game. Once you’ve paid all your coins for the day, there’s nothing for you to do but wait. All you have to do to get more is watch an advertisement or take an IQ quiz. The advertisements are, surprisingly, almost always legit, but the “IQ quiz” will include an agreement to pay $10 a month on a phone bill!
This scam is especially sneaky because crooks don’t need access to a credit card number or a login. All that’s necessary is for one user on a family plan, even a child, to click through a service agreement without reading it carefully. Then, the whole family’s on the hook. If you don’t go through your bill carefully every month, these charges can add up, and fast.
For this one, awareness and common sense are the keys. Once you know that the quiz is a scam, simply avoid taking the quiz – at least the quiz that asks for your phone number. Avoid apps that ask you for purchases to play the game. Research apps before you give them any personal information.
The gaming industry has long passed the simplicity of Pong and Pac-Man, but as long as you keep your personal security your number one priority, they can still be just as fun.

Friday, August 5, 2016

College Visits

Q: My kids are gearing up for some college campus visits. I’m excited for their future, but concerned for my family’s financial present. How can we see all the schools we’re considering?
A: College planning is exciting for both students and parents, but when you add up the cost of hotels, meals, airplane tickets and gas money, excitement can easily turn to nausea. It seems like just visiting the colleges can cost more than attending them! It’s even worse if you’ve got more than one promising scholar and they’re wanting to see places spread as far across the country as you can imagine. Let’s take a look at some ways to help make this part of the college search affordable.
1.) Get help from the school
Many schools offer discounted lunches, hotels stays, free shuttle service or even free airfare. keeps a list of every college that offers fly-in programs and it’s updated annually. If your target school isn’t on the list, it’s always worth a phone call to the admissions office. Not only can they connect you with resources to make your trip more affordable, they may also be able to arrange meetings with professors or other students who can make your trip more worthwhile.
2.) Tour from home
You can conduct a tour from the comfort of your own home with the help of the internet. Many college websites have all the information you’d learn from a college tour and more, including a virtual tour visitors can take on their own time. You can even go to to browse over 100 virtual tours, complete with video tours and real students acting as tour guides. As a bonus, many schools consider “informed interest” an important factor in an application decision. This means that the more facts your child learns about a college that they can mention off-hand in an essay, the better their chances are of getting in.
3.) Translate visits into savings
Some colleges offer fee waivers for students who visit. Most fees are only about $50 (unless you’re applying to one of the big name schools – Harvard charges as much as $75 per application). But $50 multiplied by the average of seven schools each student applies to in a given year adds up to $350 you just saved by visiting the college in person.
4.) Schedule for efficiency
Most college tours take less than an hour, and most “college towns” have many colleges within a short driving distance. If you want to speed through, going for quantity over quality, you can hit quite a few in one day. But while the tour might be quick, it might not show as much “demonstrated interest” in a college if you were to dine and dash. To get the most application boost from your visit, you have to take the time to stay for an info session. Be sure to provide complete and accurate information to the school so they can match easily it with your application. If it’s an important college, it might be a good idea to stay for an interview. Using a schedule like this, it’s best to plan to visit one school in the morning and another in the afternoon to make the most out of this “vacation.”
5.) Tour with a group
College group tours are growing in popularity. They save you hundreds of dollars while making sure your child sees as many as 21 colleges in eight days. These tours cover the cost of hotels, transportation and meals. They also take the burden off your shoulders of deciding which schools are the best for your child to see and when. Your child can also meet other high schoolers who are looking at colleges, and be able to take comfort in someone else going through the same thing they are. It’s also a great way to ensure your student can get to visit schools while preserving some of your vacation days! You can check out some of these tour groups at and
College may be the best time of any young person’s life, and your child deserves to find a college that’s a good fit. The touring stage of that process always seems frantic and panicky, and like it’s draining your wallet day by day. It’s definitely the hardest part for you as a parent before you have to say goodbye in the fall. But if you just take the time to look into the resources you have, you can find the school of your child’s dreams without turning your savings into a nightmare.
Your Turn: How did you save–or how do you plan to save–on checking out colleges?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Advice From The Bottom: What Losing A Million Dollars Taught Entrepreneurs About Finance

A million bucks sounds, to most people, like absolute security, because being a millionaire seems like it would put you in a strong financial position for life. If your car were to break down or you lose your job, a million dollars could solve those problems pretty easily.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in personal finance. Even a million dollars can go away quickly through a string of bad luck or poor decisions. Learn the lesson from these ex-millionaires to keep a tight grip on what you have.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

With ‘Pokémon Go,’ If You Gotta Catch ‘em All, Consider The Price

Friday, July 22, 2016

Volunteer Your Child For Success Later In Life

Volunteering is one of the most selfless acts a person can do. It’s all about experiencing things as someone else experiences them, and making life a little better for the both of you. Some parents would rather their children spend that time studying instead of doing something selfless. Volunteering, to them, is nice in theory, but just not worth it. What if, though, volunteering could help you as much as it helps your community? There’s nothing selfish about seeking a win-win.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Different Breed Of Diversification: What Multiple Certificates Can Do For You


Monday, July 18, 2016

Going Green: Save The World While Saving Money

What are my options for digital banking?

In the age where errands can be done from your living room couch, banking is right there along with shopping for clothing or airline tickets.

Digital banking is growing greener with each technical advancement. Mobile banking helps the environment by saving the gas you’d need for the trip and the paper used for statements and receipts. Credit card use saves on paper, metals and energy used to create, track and replace cold cash. With instant-pay sites like Paypal and online bill paying, virtually all paper use in the production of checks, receipts and money is eliminated.

Are there any risks to digital banking?

The benefits are fantastic, but digital banking does come with several minor risks. Some people find budget-keeping more difficult when a glance at a phone screen reveals a generous bank balance while neglecting payments that are still outstanding. The best fix for this is to set up separate accounts for savings and spending so you know exactly what’s in your checking account. Also, there are some things, like setting up new accounts and making certain deposits, that must be done in person.
The biggest threat is the fear of hackers and identity theft. To this end, CORE uses industry-leading security protection technology, which can be strengthened when you choose strong passwords and refrain from banking on public computers. In fact, the advent of online banking has reduced the quantity of paper scraps containing personal information. This in and of itself is reducing incidences of identity theft.

Do any banking initiatives directly support environmental sustainability?

Every ethical financial institution’s goal is to support the sustainability and health of its community. Credit unions lead the charge nationally by supporting local businesses. The shorter the distance that goods travel, the less CO2 that leaks into the atmosphere. CORE has also contributed to green initiatives across the community, such as alternative energy and sustainable agriculture. You can help these efforts by choosing an energy-efficient car or adding green features to your home.

How can this help me?   

Aside from the benefits of going green, sustainable banking offers many advantages: it can be done anytime, anywhere. You save on gas. Emailed receipts and monthly statements keeps everything organized and in one place, which also helps with budgeting.

Instant payment allows you to, well, be paid instantly. No more misplacing checks or waiting for them to clear. With automatic bill payments, you can forget about your bills without forgetting to pay them, keeping your stress levels down and your credit scores high. Green auto loans and mortgages allow you to save money on purchases that might have previously been more expensive. Ultimately, saving the earth can save you time, money and energy.
To be part of the future, take these four easy steps:
  • Download our app for easy access to your accounts from anywhere in the world.
  • Enroll in paperless statements to get your important financial updates via email.
  • Set up direct deposit to split your paycheck between your savings and checking accounts and/or to make loan payments.
  • Use online bill pay to automatically and securely pay your bills each month.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Got Any Plans For Half-Christmas? Want Some?

Growing up, my family used to celebrate Christmas in July. Now that I’m paying for it, July is a reminder of the Christmas pinch. What can I do to get ahead of the holidays this year?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

College Jobs: On Or Off Campus?

Face it: You need a job. Maybe it’s just for spending money, or maybe something else is pushing you toward employment. You could need an excuse to leave campus to escape the college bubble for a short time. You could be working on your networking skills to help climb the ladder toward a “real job” in your chosen field. You might also be needing to pass the time until the next adventure comes along. There are even study benefits! A 2009 Boston University study revealed that a work schedule forces students to create a study schedule and stick to it. Without a job, many students struggle with time management. The question for today’s students, then, is: Do you work your job on campus or off?
There are many advantages to working a job on campus. For starters, depending upon the size of your college, you may be able to walk to work. Save the commute and the gas bill for your out-of-school job! The schedule may be more flexible when it comes to working around classes and big projects. After all, your employer works for the school and understands that learning is a priority. These factors can make it much easier to juggle a job with school. You can also meet many of the “behind-the-scenes” people at your school, which can get you the inside scoop on many school policies.
Unfortunately the biggest drawback of an on-campus job is that the money may not always seem “real” to you. The on-campus work-study programs at many schools put your paycheck into your tuition, so you never really see it. Some students prefer this method because they know for certain it’s going toward their future, and not their taco budget. The range of jobs available on campus is also smaller, so you may not be able to find something that fits your career path as easily.
The primary draw of an off-campus job usually comes down to money. With so many more options, it’s pretty much a guarantee you’ll find a better paying job outside the school environment. Plus, what you earn is money where you decide the use. You can contribute it toward your tuition, buy groceries or start a retirement account. Off-campus jobs are also more often seen as “real jobs” on resumes, and employers tend to take them more seriously. You can also network more while outside the college bubble, and get a break from the stress of school.
An off-campus job, though, may also have less flexibility. They’re not going to care as much if your final is the next day while assigning you the graveyard shift. There’s also the problem of transportation, as you’re going to be expected to be punctual with no excuses. Public transportation is usually the best option if you don’t have your own vehicle. It’s inexpensive and usually reliable on college campuses.
Though most of today’s students are sick of hearing this, it all comes down to making the choice that’s best for you. Are you willing to take on the hassle of transportation and scheduling if you get paid better and have more availability to meet new people? Or would you rather contribute to your campus culture? Ultimately, there is no wrong answer. Either option is beneficial, both now and in the future.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Share Certificate Shopping – How To Keep Your Money Spinning

article imageShare Savings Certificates are an excellent savings option. They’re NCUA-insured, they’ve got a better dividend rate than a savings account and they’re generally safer than the stock market.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Brextastrophy Or Brexportunity? What The Brexit Vote Means For Homebuyers And Homeowners

The recent decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has led to serious turmoil in stock markets around the world. Many investors are panicking and selling off stocks in a hurry. Smart investors, though, can be prepared to ride out the storm by making a few savvy moves.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Chores Checkbook

One of the most difficult things to get kids to do with an allowance is save it. If you give your kids their money in cash, it’s really easy for that cash to go in one pocket and out the other in the form of candy, movie tickets and impulse items at any store checkout line. Trying to get them a real-life checking account is another no-go, even though managing a draft account is one of the most fundamental personal finance skills kids need to learn.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Independence Day Celebrations, Yesterday And Today

Do you know exactly what happened on July 4, 1776? What do our Fourth of July celebrations commemorate, and why?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Sky Isn’t Falling: Financial Repercussions Of The Brexit Vote

article image brexitListening to financial pundits, it’s easy to think that the end of the world occurred last Thursday. The United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in a contentious referendum. While the implications of this decision are many and wide-ranging, there’s no need to panic.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rent Vs. Buy: College Edition!

One of the most common arguments in personal finance is in determining whether it’s better to rent a place to live or to buy one. The short answer is, it depends, but what it depends on changes a lot from one person to another. It’s especially tricky for college students.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Trust Your Intuition To Shop Online (And Offline) Safely

In one way, shopping online is very similar to shopping at kiosks, in shops and in malls. Personal and financial safety is always of great importance, but it’s easy to forget about safety when we’re distracted or in a rush. Either way, online or offline, searching for the best item at the best price can be very distracting, and distraction can be a real problem.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Chores Checkbook       

One of the most difficult things to get kids to do with an allowance is save it. If you give your kids their money in cash, it’s really easy for that cash to go in one pocket and out the other in the form of candy, movie tickets and impulse items at any store checkout line. Trying to get them a real-life checking account is another no-go, even though managing a draft account is one of the most fundamental personal finance skills kids need to learn.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Debit Cards – Credit Cards With Training Wheels

When it’s time for teenagers to drive, they’ll need to pay for gas, tolls and vehicle maintenance costs. Plus, whenever they are out on the road, there’s a good chance they may be spending money at restaurants, stores, theaters and parks, too.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Plan For The Payoff When You Plan Your Student Loans

Planning ahead for college is not just a matter of getting good grades and accumulating a list of extracurricular activities and awards. It’s also a process of understanding how to pay for tuition and living expenses during the college years, which often extends beyond the typical four-year period and sometimes also includes graduate school.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Savings Certificates: How To Keep Your Money Spinning

A share savings certificate is much like the familiar certificate of deposit (CD) offered by banks. It acts like a traditional savings account in that you deposit money to collect dividends over time. It differs from a traditional savings account, though, because you cannot withdraw or deposit money at will.
Instead, you agree to place your money on deposit for a preset period of time, called the “term length,” during which you may not make withdrawals without a penalty. Because you trust your money with the credit union for a longer period of time, longer term CDs are likely to have much better rates than a savings account.
You can deposit your money for as few as several months or as long as several years, but the longer you keep it on deposit, the better your rate will be (in most instances). For example, the average rate on a three-year deposit is, at the moment, 0.49%. Also, this rate is usually locked in, meaning it is not subject to change based upon how well the economy is doing at any given moment. In general, share savings certificates offer a much higher return than savings deposits, if you’re willing to wait the time it takes to get your money back.
What are the risks involved?
First, if you decide to withdraw your money earlier than the term you’ve chosen, a penalty typically applies. On average, these will cost you between three and six months of earned dividends. Depending on when you decide to withdraw, this can cost you more than you’ve made in dividends if you deposit in a certificate and then immediately withdraw it.
There’s also the risk of inflation. Should you choose to keep the money in the account for years at a time, you could actually end up losing money when taking inflation into account. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid that is to withdraw your money and take that penalty. Of course, inflation applies to all savings strategies, even the “tin can buried in the yard” approach. Other than inflation and penalties, your money is safe.
What insurance do I have against loss?
At for-profit banks, all certificates of deposits are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The FDIC insures them for up to $250,000. At a credit union, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) or a private insurance corporation (sometimes both) will insure your certificate for the same amount. The insurance works the same way, for the same amount, regardless of who provides it. This insurance for your money happens automatically and requires no action on your part.
If you’re unsure, look for stickers near the teller windows with the letters FDIC or NCUA. If you see these letters, your deposit is secured. If you don’t, be sure to ask the representative assisting you with your account about insurance for your deposit. They’ll be able to tell you the name of the institution that provides it. The FDIC and the NCUA will automatically back you and keep you covered through the worst of economic disasters.
What are some different options of certificates I can have?
Though people tend to stick with the traditional certificate option, there are many more to choose from.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Five Ways To Partner With CORE Credit Union To Build Your Credit Now

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Perhaps you may have had good credit in the past, but are now experiencing a much lower credit score due to choices or life circumstances. Or, you may be building your credit for the first time as a young adult or as a newly single adult. Whatever the reason, you can rely on CORE as your partner in building or reestablishing your credit.

Here are five ways we can help you get your credit rating going in the right direction if you’re just starting out, or boost your credit rating at any time:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

New Flood Insurance Requirements: What Does It Mean For Your Mortgage Loan?

Q: I had to buy a flood insurance policy to borrow money for my home. Do I have to keep it in force now and do I have to pay the full annual premium again?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Consider a Security Freeze To Protect Your Identity

Is there any downside to building and maintaining a high credit score? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Portfolio Drift – How To Correct Course In The Face Of Market Performance

Temperatures are rising, kids are getting out of school, and the smell of grill smoke is in the air. It’s summer time! With the arrival of June, it’s time for a great many things, but one of them may surprise you: It’s time to check your portfolio distribution.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Overtime Rules Changes

Question: I heard a big change in overtime rules is coming. Can you give me some insight as to what I can expect?

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Memorial Day Celebrations, Yesterday And Today

How Did It All Begin?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Troublesome Ticket: How To Spot And Avoid A Fake

After months of dreaming, wishing and praying; after a five-hour car ride without air conditioning and after waiting in line for what feels like a lifetime, you’ve finally gotten into the concert experience of a lifetime. Beaming, you step forward and hand your ticket to the security guard at the entrance. You begin to stride forward, but he stops you dead in your tracks. He can’t let you into the concert because your ticket won’t scan. I’m afraid to be the one to tell you this, but you’ve been sold a fake ticket.
In a world where almost everything can be accessed online, live performances are a valuable experience. Unfortunately, scam artists across the globe have realized this and are turning that value against people. Users on sites like Craigslist and eBay have been selling fraudulent tickets for performances and sporting events for years. Concert or sporting event tickets can cost hundreds of dollars at face value these days, and much more than that as the date of the event approaches. Scam artists have tapped into that market big-time. All they need to do is ask you to pay online or mail your payment to a private PO box, and they’re almost untraceable.
So, without question, by purchasing tickets online, you’re putting your wallet at tremendous risk. Shelling out hundreds of dollars for a piece of paper anyone can forge is a gamble any way you look at it, but using faulty tickets can pose other dangers as well. For example, if you pay with a personal check, an experienced con artist might attempt to use the information on it  to steal your identity.  Even if nothing else goes wrong with the sale, if you show up to the event with a faulty ticket, you could be arrested for trying to pass it off as real.
Given the spread of online ticket exchanges, it may seem that there’s no alternative to buying tickets online. The era of the box office windows may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean the safety it provided has gone away. So, what can you do to protect yourself? Try these 6 handy tips.
1.) Do your research
For starters, find out as much background information as you can. See if you can find out exactly what a real ticket looks like, so you can spot differences in a forged one. For sporting events, most national sanctioning organizations include holograms and other hard-to-fake pictures on their tickets. When in doubt, contact the venue.
2.) Spot the spec
“Spec” tickets are being sold speculatively. These are not tickets that the seller has in his or her possession. They are tickets the seller expects to have after they come up for sale. If you see tickets for events that haven’t been released by the box office yet, this is likely how they’re being sold. Steer clear, as a “spec” seller is just as likely to take your money and run as they are to give you a ticket.
3.) Make sellers do their homework
There are ways you can strike preemptively against fake ticket scammers. Ask for a copy of the seller’s invoice, proving that the tickets have been paid for in full. This is no different than asking for a receipt to prove the goods you’re buying aren’t stolen. For season ticket holders selling one event, you can also ask them for the ticket account number, which will always be printed at the top of the ticket.
Also, ask the seller why they’re selling. Imagine yourself as a teacher and the seller as a child who’s asking for a homework excuse. Be skeptical of reasons why the seller is missing the event. No one schedules a funeral a month in advance.
4.) Deal with reputable websites
Craigslist should be the last resort for buying tickets to events. Check reputable websites like Seatgeek, StubHub and Ticket Exchange before you dive into Craigslist. Better yet, ask your friends if they know anyone with tickets. It’s always easier to deal with friends or coworkers than with anonymous strangers.
5.) Trust your instincts
Always be wary of people who are selling tickets at face value or less. Unless prohibited by state law, many people who resell tickets will do so at many times face value. Someone with a last-second conflict will still likely attempt to get at least face value for tickets to a popular event. Think like a scalper. If you saw a ticket for sale below face value, wouldn’t you snap it up, knowing you could multiply your money at the event? If a deal feels too good to be true, you know what to do.
6.) Manage the meet
See if you can meet your contact in person. Aim to meet in a well-lit, public place. Many grocery stores and other large retailers offer their parking lots as safe spaces for all sorts of transactions and they would be excellent candidates for this one. As far as payment goes, cashier’s check is the safest way to pay a stranger, since it contains little personally identifiable information and doesn’t require the same level of trust as a personal check. With the rise of mobile payment apps like PayPal and Square, it might be wisest to pay through one of these in order to create a digital paper trail should something go wrong with the ticket. Always inspect the ticket carefully for signs of fraud before handing over any money. If the seller doesn’t agree, walk away.
No matter how high-definition the video gets or how free of ads it is, it’ll never compare to the thrill of being at a live performance. That being said, even a live performance is never worth giving up your account information and funds for the possibility of being arrested at the gates. Go enjoy your concert, but never stop being wary of scam artists in the digital age.
Bonus Tip: Once you have your tickets in hand, you may be want to share your exciting news on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. That’s cool. You’re excited and you should be. But also be careful not to post a picture of your ticket(s) containing all the relevant info that is unique to your purchase (such as seats and ticket serial numbers). Sophisticated scammers can replicate your ticket using that data and leave you facing a lot of questions when you try to attend the event.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Boating On A Budget: Staying Afloat Without Drowning In Debt!

Memorial Day isn’t entirely a somber occasion. It’s a time to reflect on the sacrifices made by fighting men and women, but it’s also a time to enjoy the beauty and grandeur of the country they defend. The sun is shining, the skies are clear and there’s no better way to celebrate America than by enjoying our personal freedoms on beautiful lakes and rivers.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

When A Savings Account Isn’t A Savings Account

article imageFor many credit union members, a savings account is a formality. They know, in theory, that saving is important. Maybe they got a bonus at work and stuck $50 in a savings account. Other savings options  that come with higher rates, such as IRAs or 401(k) accounts, took priority and that initial deposit was quickly forgotten.
Tax-advantaged retirement accounts are fantastic, but it’s unlikely that retirement is your only savings goal. When it comes time to put a down payment on a house, buy your next car or plan an exciting vacation, the money in those retirement accounts will be locked up tight. There’s no way to get to it without taking on massive penalties and paying a lot in taxes.

If you want your money to be there when you need it, no matter when “it” is, now might be the time to take another look at the humble savings account. Even if it’s not your primary savings vehicle, a savings account can offer tremendous benefits. Let’s look at some ways to get the most out of it!

1.) Dividend rate isn’t the only consideration
Many experts shun savings accounts, citing low interest/dividend rates as their chief concern. If you’re looking to maximize your returns, putting all your money in a savings account isn’t the smartest plan. It’s unlikely that your financial plans call for maximizing returns on all your investments, though. While it’s true that higher return investments do exist, savings accounts offer unique benefits.

First, savings accounts are NCUA insured up to $250,000. If something unthinkable happens, you’re promised to be reimbursed for your losses. That’s quite a lot of security for your hard-earned cash.

Another benefit of savings accounts is their liquidity. If you need the money in your savings account tomorrow, you could get it. You can withdraw cash in person, at a branch or from an ATM. You also have access by using our online banking or mobile banking to transfer funds to another account to make payments on a loan. You can also transfer funds to your checking account to conveniently use your debit card without worries of overdrafting.

2.) Automate, automate, automate!
You know that exhausted feeling you get after you’ve been shopping? It never seems fair. Sure, there was some walking involved in your day, but the total amount of physical activity was fairly limited. All you did was make a ton of decisions.

That feeling has a name. It’s called decision fatigue. Making a commitment to something takes willpower and energy, and you’ve only got so much in your tank. Waiting until the end of the month to decide what to do with your household surplus can encourage splurging. Thinking about sensible decisions takes willpower, and you’ve already used your allotment for the month.

That’s why it’s great to know your savings account can be automated. You can set up automatic transfers between your draft account and your savings account or even make it part of your employer direct deposit. Make that decision once and then never have to think about it again. You can save your willpower for more important decisions, and let your cash reserve grow.

3.) You need an emergency fund
Even if you have a high-paying job, you’ve only got as much security as the economy allows. Your company could succumb to competition.Your job could be eliminated. You or a loved one could get sick, requiring you to leave your job or cut back to fewer hours.

Other emergencies could happen. Your car could break down. You could face a big medical bill or fall victim to a scam. What would you do to cover your costs in these situations?

Situations like these are among the leading causes of bankruptcy. People find themselves forced to rely on credit to get through such circumstances. With no way to repay those charges, people are stuck in a constant cycle of debt repayment that ruins financial plans for years.

The best way to avoid this calamity is with a strong emergency fund. How much should you have saved? Most experts agree that 6 months of living expenses is a good target, though that number may need to be higher if you work in an industry with a tight labor market. What’s a living expense? Count anything that you couldn’t cut if you absolutely had to do so. For example, your housing, utilities, insurance, debt maintenance and food. Don’t include luxuries like dinners out or monthly subscription costs that you could stop paying if money got tight.

It’s important to keep that emergency fund accessible. If it’s in a brokerage account, you risk needing to access that money when the market is down. A savings account provides the security and flexibility that you need for your rainy day fund.

4.) Keep your funds separate
If you already have an emergency fund, you may have some other savings goals. Suppose you plan to start a business, but need start-up funding to do so. You might want to put away money gradually over time to make your dreams a reality.

If you keep that money in your draft account with the rest of your funds, there can be a real temptation to spend it. Resisting that urge depletes some of that willpower, which makes it easier to make impulsive choices in other areas. Instead of relying on your self-control to keep those savings safe, you can build separate accounts for each specific savings goal. This will let you track your progress while also keeping the money safe from an Amazon splurge.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Financial Self Defense

Ransomware: The Modern Equivalent Of Being Tied To Train Tracks

When we think of ransom, we typically think of a black-and-white movie with a kidnapper leaving notes made from a variety of newspaper cuttings. Today, ransom is much less melodramatic, much more common and targets something you might not expect: your computer files.
In late 2013, the ransomware threat was added to the list of things that can kill your computer alongside bugs and crashes. Hackers made a new bug that's capable of taking over a computer, encrypting all its files and displaying a brief message demanding money to decrypt them. Sometimes, affected companies or individuals would pay up, the hacker would decrypt the computer as promised and everyone would be on their merry way. Victims would sometimes refuse to pay the fees in the given time and would then lose their valuable files forever. And sometimes, victims would fork over the cash, only to have the hackers disappear with the files still locked and therefore as lost as before the victims paid up.

One study estimates that in its first 100 days as a scheme, ransomware infected 250,000 computers. It earned the hackers a collected $6 million in bitcoins. If that trend continued, we can expect that they've hacked at least 24 million computers in the past two years. including one major hospital that reportedly forked over $17,000 to get its files back.
The original operator of ransomware, Cryptolocker, was shut down in May of 2014. Still, many ransomware copies arose shortly after and continues to wreak havoc. The program continues to evolve, now locking computers and displaying menacing countdowns to create a heightened sense of urgency to pay up.

The question now, of course, is what you should do to protect yourself. For starters, if the only computer you have to worry about is a private computer, ransomware is a less significant risk. Ransomware scammers tend to target computers of companies that have the capability to hand over large sums of money. If your computer handles the larger functions of a company, there are still some steps you can take to protect yourself.

1.) Don't trust online solutions
For starters, there are many software programs that promise to completely rid your computer of ransomware, but those are best left on the virtual shelf. Ironically, some of those alleged file-saving downloads are actually ransomware in disguise. Your best bet is to backup your files however you can - onto an external hard drive, onto a separate computer or even on paper. Anything you do will ensure that, when the hackers come, you'll already have those encrypted files elsewhere. It's advisable to check at least once a month to ensure everything you need is safely backed up.

2.) Hold onto your money

While it might seem like the only option that gives you a chance to get your files back, the FBI has issued a statement asking people not to pay such ransoms. If hackers are paid, they have more incentive to continue, and payment really doesn't influence whether they decrypt your files or not. "The FBI does not condone payment of ransom, as payment of extortion monies may encourage continued criminal activity, lead to other victimizations, or be used to facilitate serious crimes," as FBI Special Agent Christopher Stangl elaborates in an interview. If you're desperate for your files, paying may seem like the only option, but consider the difference that could be made if no one paid them anymore. Crime syndicates would be stopped without any work from the FBI.

3.) Call the cops, but don't hold your breath

Many are currently asking whether anything significant has been done by the FBI to this point. This includes Sen. Ron Wyden, who wrote to James Comey, the director of the FBI, to ask how the agency intended to clean up the ransomware problem. Comey responded that they were making progress, but pointed out that making arrests wasn't easy as "most of the top cybercriminal actors are located outside of the United States." Still, he went on to assure Wyden that, "The FBI is committed to following the money in investigating all crimes with a financial component; ransomware is no exception."

4.) Back up and stay safe

While the FBI has its best men on the task of catching these cyber culprits, it's your responsibility to be as safe as possible until they do. Back your files up. Don't click on any sketchy-looking links. Buy security that a trusted provider assures you is safe. Ransom is no longer a thing of black-and-white movies; but in the digital age, it's still our job to protect ourselves.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Steps You Can Take For Filling Your Pension Gaps 

article image 2After a lifetime of hard work, many people expect to retire in some comfort and enjoy their remaining years. In some lines of work, especially public service professions like police and firefighting, the retirement package is a big part of the recruitment process. Yes, the hours are long and the work is dangerous, but the community values the services these individuals provide and the professionals appreciate the assurances that they will be taken care of after their working years have ended.

Monday, May 9, 2016

How Can I Know If My Too-Good-To-Be-True Deal is Legitimate?

Q: I was shopping for a new handbag online and noticed a huge difference in prices between retailers. One had a bag for $20, while the other had the same for $200! The first option seems too good to be true. Should I be wary of that amazing deal?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Adjustable Or Fixed-Rate Mortgage – Which Is Right For Me?

If you’re mortgage shopping, you may be overwhelmed by the number of options. Dozens of lenders, each with their own rates, terms, conditions and costs, can make the decision feel that way. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult! The choice of which mortgage to go with starts with a simple question: fixed-rate or adjustable? There are many different terms, points and rates associated with each, but narrowing your search to a category can really simplify the process.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Avoiding The ‘Catfish’ And Other Heartless Scams – Financial Safety On Dating Sites

Meeting new people is difficult for many adults. After college and the first few weeks on a new job, the number of people you’ll encounter as a part of your everyday life starts to drop off pretty dramatically. If you’re looking for more than just friendship, it gets even more challenging. Finding other people who are also looking for a relationship involves so much innuendo and hidden meanings, the single life sometimes doesn’t seem like a bad way to live.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Penny Hoarder – A Website For Obsessive Budgeters

Many interests get more interesting when you stick the word “extreme” on them. Tired of biking? Try extreme biking on dangerous mountain roads! Bored with cooking? Venture into the realms of extreme cooking and freeze your next meal using liquid nitrogen! Can the same principle be applied to budgeting?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARM)

Q: I’ve heard a lot about mortgages with adjustable rates. How do they work?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Your Credit Score: The (Other) Key To Your New Home

Each potential home buyer dreams of the day they’ll finally get the symbol of independence, security and prosperity: the key to the front door of their new home. Before you get that one, though, there’s another key you need to craft. Your credit score, a numerical representation of your credit history as an indicator of your ability to pay your bills, will determine a lot about your housing situation, from how much house you can afford to the interest rates you’ll receive.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Keeping A Checkbook Register- A 20th Century Solution To A 21st Century Problem

Thirty years ago, trying to spend more money than you had wasn’t just embarrassing; it was a scandal. Since checks didn’t process instantly, a shopkeeper would have no way of knowing until days after the purchase. Writing one bad check would cost you check-writing privileges at that establishment and possibly land your likeness on a “wall of shame.”

Friday, April 15, 2016

Avoiding Scams In The Workplace: Keeping Yourself And The Rest Of Us Safe

Pop quiz: What do the data breaches at Target, Home Depot and Sony all have in common? Give up? They were all caused by employee errors. These, along with about 500 other breaches, are confirming what many security professionals have worried about for years. In the digital age, the weakest link in our information security is us: humans. The most common cause of data breaches around the world is employee error or negligence.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

3 Things Teens Can Do This Summer to Boost Earning Potential

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Minimizing Financial Strain in Caring For

The older adults in our lives have done so much for us. Whether they’re parents, neighbors or other loved ones, their guidance and experience has no doubt made our lives immeasurably better. That’s part of the reason why dementia is such a tragic and saddening illness to watch. It is painful to witness the people we love and respect as they slowly deteriorate before our eyes.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Your Down Payment On A House

Q: I’m hoping to buy a house in the next few months. How much of a down payment should I have saved up?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What To Do When The Rent Is Due – But You’re Coming Up Short

Q: Yikes! I’ve got a rent payment due in a couple of days. Payday will come too late and I’m a few bucks short! What can I do?

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Are Your Financial Realities Keeping Up With Your Financial Priorities?

Happy New Year! It isn’t three months late, it’s just a different calendar. That’s because filing your taxes effectively closes the book on the financial year gone by while opening up a world of possibilities. Will this be the year you break free from the clutches of debt? Will you set up an emergency fund? Maybe you’ll finally start saving for retirement! New years are typically a time of reflection, and the financial new year is no exception. It’s time to kick back and dream big about what goals you’ll achieve in the financial year to come (provided you’ve finished your taxes first)!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

DeVry’s Lawsuit: How A Victory For Students Became An Opportunity For Scammers

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is taking DeVry University to task for allegedly misleading advertisements. DeVry marketed itself with a bold claim that 90% of its graduates ended up working in their field. It turns out that figure is wildly inaccurate, so much so, the FTC decided to make a federal case out of it.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Smart Beta: Is It Better To Be Lucky Than Smart?

Individual investors have long been cautioned away from trading individual securities. Less than a third of professional stock traders beat benchmarked funds — those whose value follows some large-scale economic indicator. Rather than trying to pick winners and losers, individual investors have chosen to invest while assuming there will be winners. It’s still a good idea. If you don’t have time to research your investments, a whole-market index fund with low fees will provide a safe, predictable return over time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Zika Virus – How To Keep Your Family Safe

Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re involved in recreation league sports, hiking, or barbecues, there’s something for everyone. Usually, flying pests are just a nuisance. The worst they do is provide a minor irritation to an otherwise fine outing.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Don’t Drink The Water! How To Be On Alert For Water Purifier Scams

For millions of Americans, warming weather and longer days mean more than just baseball and allergies. It’s a great time to be rolling up your sleeves, opening up the toolbox and getting started on home improvement projects. With recent crises like the water quality in Flint, Michigan, prominent in headlines across America, many consumers are beginning to pay more attention to their own local water quality.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The ‘Pink Tax': Does Shopping Like A Girl Cost You Money?

Several economic studies have confirmed the existence of a so-called “pink tax,” an inflated price attached to goods and services specifically marketed to women. While theories abound to explain the pricing discrepancy, its existence seems clear. On everything from razors and deodorant to car repair and haircuts, women are expected to pay more for products marketed directly to them. In many cases, marketing is where the differences stop.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Mortgage Pre-qualification

Q: Every ad for mortgage companies I read talks about pre-qualification or pre-approval. Is that something I need to do before I start house shopping?

Friday, March 11, 2016

Family Finance Games For Kids

Usually, paying bills is one of those adult chores that takes time away from family time. It doesn’t have to be that way, though! Getting your kids involved in the family finances can let you take care of your responsibilities and spend time with your children at the same time. It’s easy to say “get your kids involved,” but getting them out of their phones, tablets, and video games for dinner is hard enough. Making financial fitness a game can help it be more of a fun activity and less of a chore. Try these tips to get kids involved in money matters:

1.) The memory game: If you’ve ever played the card game, “Memory,” you know how this works. Put the bills you’re working with face down on the table, then go through each category – ask your child to find the electric bill, then read off the amount to you so you can write the check. This can also be a chance to talk with your child about savings strategies – “What do you think we could do to lower the electric bill?” While they may not have a firm grasp on the solution, getting them thinking about savings early will help build good habits.

2.) The party budget: The next time you’re hosting a sleepover or planning a family activity, set a budget with dollar amounts and walk through the steps involved in setting priorities, allocating funds, and finding cheaper alternatives to expensive activities. Let your child make the decisions as much as possible. Even if it’s $20 that they have to allocate between pizza, movies, and candy, it’ll help them understand the basics of budgeting. This exercise helps your child understand scarce resources and can make it easier to include them in family budget talks.

3.) Play “What If”: Ask your kids questions like what they would do if they found incrementally larger quantities of money. Start with a small amount – $5, for example. Work your way on up to $1,000 or whatever point your child starts to struggle with thinking of the dollar amount in real terms. This can be a great way to get to know where your kids’ financial priorities are at and to start a conversation about saving a portion of financial windfalls. It can also be a great way to talk about what things really cost.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

52-Week Savings Challenge

Saving money can be difficult.  It’s easy to have self-control at home, when you’re setting up your budget, but it can be much trickier to have that same self-control when you want to grab dinner out after a long day. Or maybe you see a sale on sneakers and your old ones are just getting so ratty and you think you’d definitely exercise more if you had good sneakers. And just look at them, they’re amazing!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Private Mortgage Insurance – What You Need To Know

Whether you’re a long-time home owner or you’ve just started shopping for your dream house, you’ve seen stacks of papers full of acronyms. Buried amid the dense undergrowth of legalese are three letters that could be costing you more than you think. Be on the lookout for PMI: Private Mortgage Insurance.

Monday, March 7, 2016

How To Keep Your Guard Up Against The Newest Scams

It seems like there’s a new data leak or identity theft trick to be worried about every week. If you’re not informed, you risk becoming a victim. Sitting back and waiting for news about scams to come to you may not be enough. In an ever-changing security climate, you need to stay on top of new threats in personal information security.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Power of Encouragement

Encouragement is a powerful motivator. It can boost your children’s self-esteem and help them become more responsible for learning to solve problems by themselves.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Why REFUND Is A Four-Letter Word

Retailers across the country expect big sales for the first quarter of the year. They know this is the time of year when 75% of Americans get a big check in the mail courtesy of Uncle Sam. Nobody likes filing their taxes, but everyone likes getting a refund. It’s free money, right? Whoa … hold that thought for a moment. Before you celebrate your sudden windfall with a new big-screen TV, think about how your refund gets there. It might not really be the free money you think it is.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Hows, Whys, And Whens Of Rate Locks

Q: Everyone I talk with about my house search tells me I need to shop mortgages and lock in a rate. What do they mean?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Financial Lessons Of Kanye West (Who Is $53 Million In debt)

When the biggest rapper on the planet releases his first album in years, it’s an enormous event.  When a rising star in the fashion industry debuts a long-awaited new clothing line, it’s huge.  Kanye West is both of those people, producing critically acclaimed and chart-topping hits with every album he’s released, while his shoes sell for $16,000 on eBay (please note, we do not currently offer 30-year-term sneaker loans).  Anticipation has been enormous, leading to Kanye selling out Madison Square Garden for a simultaneous album-listening party and fashion show.  One person who didn’t have to wait is President Barack Obama, who invited Kanye to the White House to deliver a pair of his newest sneakers.

That’s why it was so surprising to see all of that anticipation overshadowed by the news that Kanye is currently $53 million in debt.  That certainly raises some questions, so it’s time to see what we can learn from “The College Dropout” himself, Kanye West.

1).  There’s good debt and there’s bad debt.
Since you were old enough to understand money, you’ve been taught that having enough money is good, having no money is bad, and being in debt might be considered an embarrassing tragedy.  But that’s not necessarily the case. You can use a loan to pay for an education, buy a home or open a business.  All of those options are good debt, because they can eventually make a profit for you.  Bad debt is what you carry for living past your means, spending money you don’t have on things you don’t need.  Kanye’s debt, according to Vanity Fair, is good debt, because it represents his efforts to enter the fashion industry, which has notoriously outsized entry costs.  With his clothing line finally generating revenue, he’ll soon be out of debt, and he’ll have a very nice asset to show for it.
The mistake Kanye made was using his personal fortune to finance his dreams instead of finding outside investors.  If he had, he could have structured his payments better and had the financial infrastructure to avoid many of his problems.  If you want to achieve your dreams, whether it’s buying a home, starting a business, or going back to school, start by talking to us.  We have amazing (and free!) advice and a ton of options when it comes to loans to make the financial part of your dreams come true.  If you’re stuck with too much bad debt, we can help you there, too.  Follow this link to find out how you can turn all of those high-interest credit card debts into a single low-interest home equity loan:

2).  Find someone who believes in you, then collaborate willingly, honestly and often.
Kanye West began his music career as a producer working with Chicago acts, most notably, producer Just Blaze.  In “Spaceship,” he described the surreal experience of having strangers recognize him from MTV while he was working retail to make ends meet.

Once he met Jay-Z, all that changed.  The two became close associates and collaborators, helping each other develop independent voices that defined popular music for most of the last 15 years.  Kanye helped create the chipmunk soul sound that defined the second half of Jay-Z’s career, while Jay-Z brought Kanye into Rocafella Records as a rapper when other labels insisted he remain as only a producer.

You need someone to believe in you, and it helps if they can offer something you don’t have – a unique perspective, a challenge or the means to help you accomplish your dreams.  We’d like to help with that.  If you’re ready to take the leap on the next stage of your life or career, we’ve got resources to help you get there.  From our educational programs, periodicals, and ebooks to a loan for just about any mission you’re planning to undertake, we’ve got something that can help.  You  see our amazing selection of loan products here:

3).  Money can’t save your soul, but don’t be ashamed to spend it.
When Kanye finally achieved commercial success as a rapper, his lyrics addressed the tension between personal fulfillment and the allure of wealth.  In “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” for example, he tells his listeners “I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven, when I awoke I spent it on a necklace.  I told God ‘I’ll be back in a second, man, it’s so hard not to act reckless,” summarizing how appealing it can be to spend money on things we want, even when we know it won’t make us happy.  On “Watch the Throne,” he explained wealth can be an incredibly powerful force for personal happiness, as long as we use our money to be ourselves.  Kanye’s lyrics celebrated how much freedom he felt by no longer trying to impress strangers.

What are you doing with your money?  Are you spending money to keep up appearances?  Have you ever made a financial decision based upon what your neighbors have?  In “The Millionaire Next Door,” author Thomas Stanley demonstrated that the most direct route from the middle class to being rich is to find a job that pays well, own your home and avoid the trappings of wealth.  So, figure out what you really want out of life and start making plans for financial security that include the things you want and don’t try to impress people that don’t really matter.

We can help you get there.  Drop us a line at give us a call at 912-764-9846, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more great information about how to live your financial life.  We promise that our Twitter feed is more coherent than Mr. West’s, which brings us to the final piece of financial advice we can learn from Kanye West. It’s one he needs to learn, too:

4).  Sometimes you need someone to take your phone away.  Please Kanye, get off Twitter, take a nap and come back when you feel better.