Unity One Credit Union

Live Simply, Reap Savings

Thu, Oct 03, 2019 @ 07:50 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in family budget, budgeting, Unity One Credit Union

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Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Monica Steinisch.

There’s been an ongoing movement to simplify and unclutter our lives as a way to ease stress. One piece of advice has the power to both simplify and transform your life: Live beneath your means.

That philosophy is hard for some to adopt. For them, getting a raise doesn’t mean paying off debt or saving it. It means staying on the “make more, spend more” hamster wheel, racking up even more debt. 

Real change only possible with new mindset

In their best-selling book, Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, co-authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez explore the role of money in our lives and its power over us. Among their observations, the authors note that Americans "project onto money the capacity to fulfill our fantasies, allay our fears, soothe our pain, and send us soaring to the heights.... We buy everything from hope to happiness."

Funny thing—spending as a means to achieve greater fulfillment doesn't seem to work. Numerous surveys conclude that consumers on the higher end of the middle-class earning and spending scale are not any happier than those on the lower end.

Spending less than you earn results in less stuff and less stress.

So why do we keep spending beyond our means? Habit may be partly to blame. A daily routine that includes premium coffee, lunch, and snack purchases could have you spending at least $15 a day without a second thought. To avoid mindless spending, Robin and Dominguez encourage consumers to ask of each expenditure whether it brought "fulfillment, satisfaction, and value in proportion to life energy spent"— the hours of work it takes you to pay for a purchase. When you realize that dinner at an expensive restaurant will cost nine hours of your energy, you start to analyze your spending choices more critically.

Change your mindset that views spending as a reward and saving as deprivation. Instead, realize that overspending can deprive you of the freedom to choose how to live and work, and see living beneath your means as the path to peace of mind and financial independence.

Straightforward steps reduce spending, increase saving

The point of living beneath your means is to avoid debt and save for what is most important to you—homeownership, freedom to spend time with your family, early retirement, etc. Keeping your reward in mind will make adopting these techniques for easier:

  • Make saving automatic. According to David Bach's book The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich, the key to accumulating wealth is to pay yourself first, automatically. That's easy to do: Just set up a funds transfer from the account where your paycheck is deposited to a savings or investment account.
     
  • Track your spending.  Writing down your expenses will help you change automatic routines, like going out to dinner every weekend, and make you aware of your choices.
     
  • Challenge every expense. Compile a list of everything you spend money on. Then look at every essential expense, like housing, groceries, transportation, and determine how you might be able to reduce each one. Then make a list of your nonessential spending (for example, entertainment, meals out, and vacations) and determine which expenditures deliver the greatest bang for your buck. Also, think of ways to save money in those areas. For example, if you love eating out, you could substitute a less-expensive brunch for dinner.
     
  • Avoid temptation. The easiest way to do that is to not make shopping a recreational activity.

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Free Up Cash in 30 Days

Fri, Sep 27, 2019 @ 11:36 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in family budget, budgeting, Unity One Credit Union

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Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Laura Varela. 

If you have a tight budget, the thought of finding any extra money can seem unrealistic. But with a few minor tweaks to your spending, it may be easier than you think.

Here are ways to cut down on debt and actually save money in the long run:

  • Consolidate debt — Sometimes the key to paying down debt can be as simple as combining it. One way to consolidate is to get a 0% balance-transfer credit card, transfer your debts to this card, and pay off the balance in full during the promotional period. Another way is to get a fixed-rate debt consolidation loan through your credit union. By consolidating your loans, you could save on interest rates, simplify monthly payments, and start saving money. However, if you’re just going to use it to run up more debt, consolidation isn’t for you.
     
  • Refinance your house and car loans   Refinancing your loans to get a lower interest rate will free up money that can be put toward other bills or put into savings. A credit union loan officer can determine if you qualify for lower rates.
     
  • Revisit home and auto insurance policies —  Check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website and Insurance Information Institute for advice about picking reputable companies and then compare quotes from different companies. Consider raising deductibles. Ask your insurer about good-student discounts for kids in high school and for college students who live away at school but leave their car at home.
     
  • Go green  Be environmentally conscious and save money while doing so. Programmable thermostats, fluorescent and LED bulbs, and window coverings are options that can help you save energy and money. Go green at the credit union as well by signing up for e-statements and automatic bill payments. Using automatic bill pay will help you avoid late fees and make consistent progress toward your financial goals. Signing up for automatic loan payments may also get you a discount on your interest rate. Ask a credit union loan officer for more information.

With just a little research and a few emails or phone calls, you should be able to free up more cash to pay off debt or put into your savings account.

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Reconciling a Spender-Saver Marriage

Tue, Aug 13, 2019 @ 07:02 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in family budget, budgeting, saving money, Unity One Credit Union

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Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Monica Steinisch.

Money ranks high on the list of reasons partners fight or split up. In any marriage, even one where both partners manage money similarly, family finances create conflict at least occasionally. But when one spouse is a saver and the other is a spender, financial disagreements can be frequent, emotional, and divisive.

If you and your partner seem to be polar opposites when it comes to money attitudes, don’t give up hope of a truce. Experts say opposite money personalities actually can complement each other: Savers keep spenders out of the poor house while spenders encourage savers to enjoy themselves now and then. Of course, getting to a balanced approach to the family finances requires compromise and communication.

Understanding your partner's money personality

Your money personality—how you feel about money and the way you manage it—is a product of your upbringing and your life experiences. It was formed over many years and is unlikely to change significantly after you become an adult. Couples who understand this also understand that trying to convert one’s spouse is an exercise in futility. Instead, work on a compromise.

Here are some things counselors say couples should do to reduce conflict and to reach their financial goals.

Communicate

It's important that you talk about your finances. Throughout your discussions, remain open-minded rather than insisting that your partner do things your way. As you talk, make agreements to compromise. An agreement gives you the right to get your partner back on track if he or she veers from what was agreed upon.

Set goals together

It's crucial that couples set common goals. First, make separate wish lists and then, together, rank the items you both feel are most important. Some goals should be at or near the top of every couple's list. These include paying off nonmortgage debt and saving for retirement. Revisit your goals at least annually and make adjustments based on changing priorities and finances. 

Maintain individual accounts

One solution that works for many couples is to have a joint account as well as personal accounts for each partner. Use the joint account to pay household expenses, including mortgage or rent, utilities, insurance, and car and home repairs. If there's money left over, split it into personal no-questions-asked accounts. Use the money from these accounts for individual wish-list goals. For a spender, that might mean paying for a dream vacation. For a saver, it could mean beefing up an IRA (individual retirement account).

Check in with each other at least once a month—more if there have been problems—to re-evaluate and, if financial circumstances warrant, change the discretionary spending amounts. For the joint account, let the person who's good at money handle the bills, but sit down together to go over them regularly.

Get professional help

If you and your spouse reach an impasse, find a couple’s counselor or a financial planner to help you move forward.

For financial planning assistance or money management counseling, contact the professionals at your credit union. You also can find a nonprofit, accredited credit counseling agency through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

For couple’s counseling, check with your health plan or employee assistance program (EAP) to see if it covers counseling and to find a qualified, participating professional.

As you narrow the gap between your money management styles, remember that you and your partner are a team. For couples at opposite ends of the spender-saver spectrum, that means each partner has to inch his or her way closer to the center.

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Unity One CU informs: 3 Financial Tips to Jump Start the New Year

Fri, Jan 04, 2019 @ 10:45 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in budgeting, Unity One Credit Union, New Year

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Written by: Spencer Carver. Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center.

Did you overspend during the holiday season? Are you feeling the “blue’s” of the new year? Or the “holiday hangover” effect from not only too much egg nog but from spending beyond your means? Don’t worry—most American’s have likely overspent and there is always opportunity to change. The new year can mean a new start and that is the most important step—to start, wherever you are, to change the behaviors so you can create a more financially sound version of YOU. Here are three tips to help you move along your path:

  1. Start automating your savings: Don’t leave this up to will power. With your first pay check of the year, open a secondary savings and start payroll deducting a small amount. Even $5.00 a week can help jumpstart a savings account. It may not seem like much, but over time, you’ll develop confidence that you can save money. Before you realize it, the $5.00 will increase to $10.00 per week, then $20.00 per week. Automating the process will make saving easier.
     
  2. Learn about financial wellness: When was the last time you took a class or read an article that taught you how to manage your finances? Chances are your employer may already offer a financial wellness program for which you may receive credit or points for participating in it. Additional knowledge is never a bad idea. As you learn how to better manage your own finances, your confidence will increase, and your financial habits will improve.
     
  3. Create a budget: Having a budget is THE most important thing you can do. At work, your employer tracks your efforts (input) and your results (output) to help them predict whether you will succeed in your job. A budget is the same thing; it helps you track your input vs. output. Your success is based on your ability to utilize, adapt, and manage your budget. Also, keep in mind that the amount you spend one month may be different than what you spend another month, so it’s important to make changes to the budget regularly.

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#UAdulting: Save on your monthly spending with couponing hacks.

Wed, Feb 07, 2018 @ 09:23 AM / by Miriam Carrillo posted in budgeting, coupon, uadulting

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Hello 2018! The new year is here, and it brings resolutions for many. At the very top of many lists is to save more money. But where do you begin? To save money, experts advise consumers to change their spending habits. It’s easier said than done. But what we do know is that baby steps can lead to big steps. One way to reduce spending is to save money on things you’re already planning on buying by using coupons.

Are you new to the coupon game? Lucky for you, Unity One Credit Union has an in-house coupon guru. Blanca Gomez is the branch manager of both the BCTAL and KCAL branches. She has been with Unity One for 11 years and has been a couponer since 2015.

 

Here are Blanca’s tips and tricks on how to become the best couponer without getting overwhelmed.

Where is the best place to start looking for coupons?

  • To begin couponing the traditional way, by clipping coupons, the best place to start is by looking for coupons in the Sunday newspaper. You can subscribe and get the paper delivered to your home for a monthly fee, or you can purchase the Sunday paper at any gas station or grocery store. However, the cheapest place I’ve seen is at Dollar Tree. A Sunday paper is $1.

How do you keep it all organized?  

  • When I first started couponing, I had a big binder with baseball card holders. I would clip coupons and had them organized by categories like cleaning supplies, food, makeup, personal hygiene, etc. That system eventually got very complicated. It was hard to keep up because coupons expired and went unused.
  • I gave up on my outdated ways and downloaded an app, Southern Savers, which is available for both IOS and Android. With the app, I’m able to know exactly when and where specific coupons are located and can be used. The app even has its own coupon database where I can search any product I need. Now, all I do is go into the app and look up any coupon I need.

When is the best time to go couponing?

  • You want to go as soon as a sale starts and early in the morning. Reason being, a lot of the times stores run out of items.

How do you keep from buying things you don’t need?  

  • This was the hardest for me! I would purchase things I didn’t need and food I didn’t eat only because it was cheap! So, what I started doing was writing down my grocery list. Now I only use coupons for items we need like: detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, etc. You can save a lot of time and money by keeping lists of what you are going to purchase. Prepare. 

Are there other resources other than paper? (Example: apps, websites, etc.)

  • Like I mentioned, my favorite app is Southern Savers.  This is one of the apps that informs you where exactly you can find coupons for all types of products.
  • Another great resource is, Instagram! There are pages created by “coupon fairies” where you can buy coupons. There are also pages that inform you about specific store sales and coupons.

What advice would you give a new couponer so he/she doesn’t get overwhelmed and give up.

  • Best advice I can think of is following couponers on social media. Also, take breaks when you feel you need it!  Couponing can be a lot of work.
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Quiz: Are you living paycheck to paycheck?

Thu, Feb 14, 2013 @ 10:59 AM / by Erayne Hill posted in budgeting, paycheck, money management

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According to Dr. Phil's Web site, more than one third of adults admit they spend more than what they can afford, and 70 percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Are you doing the same?paycheck to paycheck
Take this "Financial Trainwreck" quiz from drphil.com. Answer true or false to the following statements:
  • I will neglect bills to make an impulse or luxury purchase.
  • I will make a purchase based on my perceived need or desire, or what I feel I deserve, instead of what I can afford.
  • I buy items out of guilt for my children, whether or not I can afford them.
  • I buy name-brand goods because of the emotional feeling.
  • I sometimes finance toys — boats, RVs, four-wheelers — or vacations.
  • I use borrowed money, such as credit cards, to make payments on items I have already financed. 
  • I charge basic living expenses: mortgage, car note, student loan, tax bill.
  • I buy things based on monthly payments instead of actual cost. 
  • I lack a budget or plan based on my financial reality, and lie to myself or spouse about expenditures. 
  • When I'm stressed out, anxious or celebrating, I spend money I don't have.
Count the number of true answers. If you answered true to any of these, you have an unhealthy spending habit. If you answered true to five or more, you are headed for serious financial troubles.
So, what's the solution? According to Kiplinger.com, here are some ways to remedy the situation:
  • Track spending and watch expenses. Track down to your spending pattern on a daily basis. Be detailed.
  • Start cutting. 1) Cut interest rates by asking for lower rates from your lender or find a card that has low fixed rates. 2) Find deals. For example, use Skype and lower your long-distance bill.
Always feel free to contact your financial institution for other cost-saving techniques to break the cycle.
 

 

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