4. Sales based on a dishonest manufacturer’s price
4. Sales based on a dishonest manufacturer’s price
‘Tis the season to shop until you drop-or until you go broke. But you don’t have to overspend.
There’s no need to rack up a huge credit card bill or go into debt just to cover your holiday expenses. Enjoy a stress-free season by keeping your spending in check with these six tips:
- Create a detailed list of all your expenses
Don’t leap into your holiday shopping armed with nothing but a credit card. Before you hit the mall or start browsing, sit down and draw up a complete list of every holiday expense you can anticipate. Include all gifts, holiday décor, travel expenses, charitable donations and food costs. Try to keep this list as trim as possible by cutting out any non-essentials and using stuff you may already have in storage from previous years. Bonus points for any homemade gifts!
- Determine how much money you can spend
Once you have all of your expenses written out, work on finding a magic number that will cover everything on your list and that you can realistically afford. Ideally, this money should come from funds you’ve set aside just for this purpose.
- Divide and conquer
Next, assign specific amounts of money in your budget for each expense category and for every person on your gift list. For example, you can decide to spend $300 on your preteen daughter’s gifts and to donate $100 to charity this season. Again, make sure your numbers will work from both a financial and practical perspective.
- Track as you shop
You’re ready to hit the mall! As you shop, keep a careful account of exactly how much money you’ve spent for each person and in each expense category. It’s best to use cash or a debit card when shopping, and to review your budget often to make sure you’re staying on track. This way, you’ll know how much you’re spending and you won’t be hit by awful “Santa shock” come January when you need to pay those credit card bills.
To make this job easier, use an app designed for this purpose. A common favorite is one called Santa’s Bag. The app allows you to set a budget for each person on your list and then makes tracking the amount you spend super simple. It will even warn you when you’re nearing your preset spending limit or when you’ve gone over budget.
- Shop smartly and spend less
Keep your spending to a minimum by following these hacks:
- Use shopping apps, like the Coupons Appand Shopular, to get your favorite retailers’ best deals and coupons delivered right to your phone.
- Follow the 24-hour rule.Before purchasing anything on the expensive side, wait 24 hours. Sometimes, after sleeping on it, you’ll find that you don’t need to buy that pricey gift after all. Or, you might find the same item somewhere else at a lower price.
- Shop online on Tuesday morning.Research shows this time of week is when you’ll find the hottest online deals.
- Shop with a friend.Take advantage of BOGO sales by splitting the cost of a single item with a friend and each of you taking one item home.
- Shop late.Everyone likes to get an early start on holiday shopping, but prices actually drop in the weeks leading up to Christmas as retailers seek to clear out their holiday inventory.
- Let Artesia Credit Union help
If you’re having trouble covering your holiday expenses, or you want to get a head start on next year’s costs, let Artesia Credit Union help! Here are three ways we can take the financial stress out of the holiday season:
- Skip-a-Payment.We get it. The holidays are crazy expensive. That’s why we allow qualifying members to skip one payment on a loan [or credit card] this time of year without hurting their credit or defaulting on their loan. It’s extra breathing room, just when you need it most!
- Holiday Loan.If you can’t come up with the funds you need for the holidays, consider taking out a Artesia Credit Union Holiday Loan. Our fantastic terms and affordable rates make it a no-brainer!
Don’t let financial stress ruin your holiday cheer this year. Follow our tips to keep your spending down, and stop by Artesia Credit Union to see how we can help!
In a world where you can order almost anything using your mobile phone, it makes sense that Artesia Credit Union offers mobile banking services for our members. You can now check your account balance and transfer funds between accounts, all from the comfort of your home.
One of the most convenient features we offer through our mobile banking service is Artesia Credit Union Remote Check Capture app. All it takes to deposit a check is a few minutes of your time and a phone with internet access.
Let’s take a closer look at remote check capture and mobile deposits.
What is remote check capture?
Remote check capture is a way for you to deposit a check into your ACU Checking or Savings Account from a distant location using a mobile device with internet access. You can be practically anywhere in the world and make your deposit at any time.
The process is simple: You’ll sign into our mobile check deposit app and prepare your check for deposit. Tap on the Deposit A Check icon and the app will guide you through snapping a picture of both the front and the back of the check. You’ll also be asked to verify the check amount. Once you’ve made the confirmation, your check will be submitted for deposit into your account.
It’s that easy.
The benefits of remote check capture
1. Convenience. As mentioned, with remote check capture, you can make your deposit anywhere, at any time.
2. Speed. Your check will generally clear more quickly through a mobile deposit than it will through an ATM deposit.
3. Accuracy. You’ll be asked to confirm the check amount for accuracy. On the small chance that an error happens, you’ll still have the physical check, which you can then deposit at Artesia Credit Union.
Some facts you may not know about remote check capture
A. Deposit limits. For your safety, the maximum amount you can remotely deposit in one go is $10,000.00.
B. Bounced checks. Just like a confirmed check deposit can end up bouncing several days later, if we cannot collect the funds, a mobile deposit can also be returned for the same reasons.
C. Holds on checks. Any checks deposited after our evening cutoff of 4 p.m. will be placed on hold until the next business day.
But is it safe?
We take many precautions for ensuring your personal information is protected throughout the remote check capture process.
First, no one can sign into your Artesia Credit Union mobile deposit account without knowing your strong, unique password.
Second, our mobile app does not store your check images in your phone. Once your check has been submitted, the image is erased from your phone and stored only in our own software.
Finally, if an error occurs, you’ll always have the physical check to deposit if necessary.
Artesia Credit Union Remote Check Capture is quick, easy and safe. Try it today!
It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is half over. Take a timeout from barbecues and beaches to give yourself a mid-year financial checkup. Use the seven steps below to guide you.
Step 1: Revisit Your Budget
Take some time to review your monthly budget. Is it working for you or are you falling behind each month? After reviewing, adjust your budget as necessary.
Step 2: Anticipate Large Expenses
List any large expenses you anticipate in the coming six months. This can include household appliances that may need replacing or an anticipated medical expense that is not fully covered by insurance.
Next, determine the spending category you will take the money from to cover these expenses. Deciding on a source for these funds now will help you avoid making the wrong choices when you’re under pressure in the future.
If you do not have enough money set aside for these expenses, build a savings plan into your monthly budget so you have the funds available when you need them.
Step 3: Review Your Tax Withholdings
Review your tax withholdings to see if they need any adjusting. Your goal here is to pay the perfect amount so you’re not hit with a huge tax bill at the end of the year, but you’re also not lending the government your money all year long.
Step 4: Check Your Credit Score
Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for your free credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus. If your score has gone up in the last six months, you’re doing great!
Conversely, if your score has dropped, review your report in detail. Take the necessary steps to fix your score today, whether that means contesting an erroneous charge with the Federal Trade Commission, setting up an automatic payment on some of your bills or lowering your credit utilization rate by paying with plastic less often.
Step 5: Review Your Investments
Review and adjust all of your investments. This includes your retirement funds, any stock investments, bonds, trust funds or share certificates at Artesia Credit Union. Make sure you are maximizing your contributions when possible and that your other investments are performing according to plan. Adjust as necessary.
Step 6: Tackle Your Debt
List every outstanding debt you carry, including credit card debt and all kinds of loans. Designate one debt to tackle first and work on a plan to pay it down. Once you’ve paid off this debt, move to the next one on your list.
Step 7: Review Your Financial Resolutions and Long-term Goals
Review the financial resolutions and goals you dreamed up at the end of 2018 and then determine whether you are taking the steps necessary for making them happen. If you’ve been neglecting them, create a plan for working toward them for the rest of the year.
Now you can kick back and enjoy the season, guilt-free. Happy summer!
Your Turn: What’s on your list for your mid-year financial checkup? Tell us about it in the comments.
Your bags are packed, your itinerary is set and you’re counting down the minutes until you take off for your dream summer getaway. Before you head out to the airport, though, read through this checklist of important things people tend to forget before leaving for vacation.
1.) Let us know
Give us a call at 575-748-9779 before you set off on your vacay. If you’re traveling overseas, ask us about any foreign transaction fees and the best practices of using cash or debit/credit cards. We’ll help you make the best decisions for managing your money while you’re away. Plus, we’d love to hear all about your awesome travel plans!
2.) Check your auto insurance plan for coverage
If you plan on renting a car when you land, check with your auto insurance provider first to find out if rental cars are covered in your plan. If they’re not, you may want to purchase travel insurance, just in case.
3.) Pay all your bills
Before heading out on your trip, make sure all of your monthly bills are paid up. You don’t want to be busy paying bills when you’re sunning yourself on the beach or take a chance of getting hit with late fees.
4.) Set up an automatic email response
Your boss might know that you’ll be away this week, but potential and existing clients will not. Set up an automatic response that lets people know you’re out of the office to avoid appearing unprofessional or negligent.
5.) Put your mail on hold
An overflowing mailbox is an open invitation to thieves. If you’ll be gone for more than a few days, ask the USPS to put a hold on your mail. They’ll happily keep your mail at the post office until your return, at no cost to you. Alternatively, ask a neighbor to collect your mail and hold it until you return.
6.) Unplug your electronics
Don’t pay vampire charges for electronics you’re not using while you’re away. Pull the plug on all small appliances and electronics before you leave.
7.) Clean your home
Before your departure, give your house a thorough cleaning so you’ll be greeted by a spotless, clean-smelling house upon your return. Plus, you’ll avoid an invasion by ants and other critters. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
- Scrub countertops and tables.
- Wipe down the refrigerator and toss all perishables.
- Sweep and mop, or vacuum all floors.
- Take out the garbage.
- Scrub your bathrooms.
- Seal any open food packages in airtight containers.
- Pour a cup of baking soda down your drains and toilets to rid any lingering odors.
- Change your bed sheets.
Yes, you’re busy with your packing and travel arrangements now, but your post-vacation self will thank you for any scrubbing you do now.
8.) Let your mobile service provider know about your travel plans
If you’re travelling abroad, you’ll want to check with your cellphone company about possible overseas service plans that allow you to use your smartphone for calls, texts and internet access when on vacation.
9.) Shut off your main water supply
Avoid coming home to a flood by turning off your water supply before leaving on your vacay. A small, unnoticed leak can easily turn into a huge problem when left unattended for days or weeks on end.
10.) Adjust your thermostats
If you have the AC blasting throughout the summer, you’ll want to adjust your thermostat before leaving. Turning it off completely is not a good idea, because you’ll want some air to circulate for keeping the humidity under control and to avoid mold. Instead, turn it a few degrees higher than you usually keep it. You can also program your AC to go on and off while you’re away. Also, set your hot water heater to its vacation setting so it’s heating the same water less often.
11.) Invest in a timer
Keep the prowlers out by setting your lights to go on and off in different rooms and at different times of the day throughout your vacation. It’s a small investment when weighed against the money and aggravation it can save you.
12.) Confirm your reservations
It’s a good idea to confirm your flight, hotel room, car rental and attractions before setting out on your trip. You may have booked some of these reservations months ago, and you don’t want any unpleasant surprises ruining your vacation.
Your Turn: Did we miss anything? Share your own pre-vacation to-do list with us in the comments.
Q: I’m planning a camping trip for the summer, and I’d love to keep the trip as low-cost as possible. How can I cut down on camping costs?
A: It’s great that you’re looking for ways to trim your vacation expenses. We can help! Read on for seven ways to save on camping costs.
1. Save on location
Nightly rates for camping sites can cost a pretty penny during peak camping season. But why pay the fee when you can camp for free? You can find a campground where you can pitch your tent or park your RV at no cost, on Freecampsites.net or Campendium.com.
Another great option is to camp at a national forest. You’ll be charged an entrance fee as well as an amenity fee, but you’re free to stay anywhere on these grounds as long as you follow park guidelines. If you’re a frequent camper, consider purchasing a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands annual pass. For just $80 a year, or $20 for individuals age 62 and older, you’ll have access to more than 2,000 national parks and national wildlife refuges. The pass covers entrance fees, parking fees, amenity fees and more. If you’re currently a member of the U.S. military, you and your dependents are entitled to a free annual pass.
Finally, if your schedule allows, consider mid-week camping. Lots of campgrounds offer lower prices on off-peak days.
2. Consider “workamping”
If you don’t live near a national park and you’d love a free stay, “workamping” can be a terrific option. Lots of campsites and RV parks are now offering this choice: For a bit of hard work, you’ll be granted free access to the campgrounds. You might even walk away with some extra cash in your pocket!
3. Rent or borrow camping gear
High-quality camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves and camping clothes can cost a pretty penny. In fact, according to the American Camper Report from Coleman Company, adult campers spent an average of $546 on camping gear in 2016.
You can have your gear and your budget, too, by double-thinking the purchase of brand-new gear. Are you a frequent camper? If not, does it really pay to spend big bucks on specialized equipment you’ll only use once or twice a year? If you have friends who practically live in a tent or RV, ask about borrowing their equipment for your trip. Otherwise, consider renting the gear you need from companies like REI Co-op. If you’d rather have your own equipment, check out sites like Switchback Gear Exchange for gently used camping paraphernalia at terrific prices.
4. Skip the prepackaged meals
Yes, they might be super-convenient, but they’re also super-expensive. Save a ton on food costs this trip by ditching the prepackaged meals. You can find loads of ideas for easy camping meals you can cook over a fire by doing a quick Google search. Often, all you need is some basic food supplies and a roll of aluminum foil!
5. Share meal prep
If you always camp as a group, take full advantage by sharing the meal prep. Divide the meals completely, having each family be fully responsible for several meals. Alternatively, you can create a master list of supplies and food and then divide and conquer. This way, only one of you needs to bring small packets of ketchup and a jug of maple syrup, while another one brings the coffee and salt. The packing and meal prep are a whole lot easier when they’re shared!
6. Pack like you’re being marooned on an island
Don’t set out on your trip until you’ve checked that you’ve packed everything on your list at least three times. It will take a few extra minutes, but it’s worth the time and effort. You don’t want to be forced to pay inflated small-town convenience store prices for forgotten items like bandages or batteries.
To keep it simpler, create a master list of everything you need to bring on a camping trip. Make a digital and physical copy of the list. When you return from your trip, review the list and edit it according to how it all went down. Do you need to bring more paper cups next time? Did you overdo it on the ice? Adjust as necessary. Before your next trip, use the list when packing so that you don’t forget a single item.
7. Check out free camping activities on your campsite
Many campgrounds feature boat rentals of all kinds, but they can be pricey. Enjoy every minute of your camping trip by exploring walking trails, fishing and bike riding along a forest path. Don’t forget to pack some board games and books for rainy days.
Use these tips when planning your trip and you’ll save big on costs without compromising on the camping experience. Here’s wishing you the camping trip of a lifetime, from all of us here at Artesia Credit Union!
1. You’re carrying a credit card balance from month-to-month
If you have a high credit card balance and you’re paying just the minimum each month, you can end up carrying this balance for years while paying a lot in interest. You might also be tempted to make more purchases on this card since it already has a balance.
The fix: Try to make double payments and stop using the card until the debt is paid off.
2. You stress about bills
Monthly bills should be fixed into your budget. You should be able to pay them easily without any stress.
The fix: Take a look at your monthly budget and find ways to cut back.
3. You can’t save 5% of your monthly income
If you can’t put away at least 5% of your monthly income into savings, you’re living beyond your means.
The fix: Again, trim your expenses and restructure your budget to include at least 5% for savings.
4. You don’t have emergency and rainy-day funds
Ideally, you should have an emergency fund to cover major unexpected expenses, and a rainy-day fund for small expenses you can anticipate.
The fix: Start building your funds now by putting away as much as you possibly can each month.
5. Your mortgage payment eats up more than 30% of your monthly income
Most financial experts agree that your monthly mortgage payment should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay.
The fix: You have two choices here:
- Find ways to boost income. Seek a raise at your current job, freelance for hire or find another side hustle for extra cash.
- Scale back your mortgage payments. Consider a refinance. [Speak to a home loan counselor at (credit union) to see if this is right for you.] If your mortgage is crippling your budget, consider downsizing to a smaller and cheaper place.
6. You lease a car you can’t afford to buy or finance
Can you afford to pay for or finance your car? If the answer is no, you’re in financial trouble.
The fix: Downgrade your vehicle to one you can actually afford.
7. Your financial decisions are influenced by your friends’ spending habits
Thanks to the hyper-sharing culture of social media, the pressure to keep up with the Joneses is stronger than ever. If you find yourself making financial decisions based on your friends’ choices, you’re likely spending more than you can afford.
The fix: Stop looking over your shoulder and keep your eyes on your own life and your own wallet.
If you’re in over your head, we can help! Stop by today and our staff will be happy to guide you out of any financial mess.