Tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping

The holiday season is approaching and with that comes the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These high holy days for shoppers follow Thanksgiving each year. To make the most of these days, we offer you the following advice:

1. Make a budget and follow it. Know how much you can afford to spend and stick to that amount. Use cash to avoid overspending.

2. Just like Santa, you gotta have a list. Write down everything you plan to shop for and put them in order of importance. That way, as soon as you enter a store, you can focus on finding those items first.

3. Get out early. The earlier you get to the store, the better your chances of finding popular items in stock.

4. Shop with a friend. Not only is it fun, but you can work together and find your gifts faster. While you hunt for items in one section of the store, your friend can search for items in another section.

5. Sign up to get alerts about various products. There are websites, like bestblackfriday.com, dealnews.com, and theblackfriday.com, that specifically leak Black Friday ads, giving you an early advantage.

6. Use online price comparison tools. Google shopping, PriceGrabber, and Shopzilla allow you to compare prices at various location without having to drive all over town.

7. Use loyalty programs. Many retailers have loyalty programs that offer sales and promotions to their members first and even earn rewards on their purchases.

8. Follow your favorite brands on Social Media. Many retailers will offer special deals on their social media platforms and reward customers who like or follow them with special alerts to discounts.

9. Check timing. Some Cyber Monday deals are for a certain window of time, offering the steepest discounts to early morning shoppers. Check deals before that Monday to know what time to shop for the best deals.

10. Look for deals at Brick-and-Mortar Stores on Cyber Monday. If a store’s Black Friday sales were lower than expected, many will offer deals to lure Cyber Monday shoppers.

After all that shopping, consider participating in Giving Tuesday, which is celebrated the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It’s an international movement that encourages everyone to donate their time, resources, talents, and money to helping others. You can get information and updates about the movement by going to https://www.givingtuesday.org/about or following it on social media sites.

Copyright 2018 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

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How to choose the correct credit card for you

Choosing the best credit card for your lifestyle can have a considerable impact on your overall financial health.

In an Ohio Credit Union League 2018 consumer survey, 73 percent of respondents stated they use at least one or two credit cards every month. Of those who regularly utilized credit cards, 39 percent carried up to $1,000 in credit card debt. Another 30 percent owed between $1,000 and $5,000. According to the Ohio Credit Union League’s Quarterly Performance Summary (2nd Quarter, 2018), the average credit card balance held at Ohio credit unions was $2,142.

Ohioans are right in line with national trends as 71 percent of Americans have at least one credit card, according to The Motley Fool. About 18 percent of Americans have three or four credit cards in their wallet, and those cards tend to carry debt.

With the possibility that their credit cards could carry significant debt, it’s not surprising consumers want to shop around before choosing a card.

The majority of respondents in the Ohio Credit Union League consumer survey, about 44 percent, said they look for the best interest rates and lowest fees in their credit cards. According to Experian, most Americans shop for credit cards with a similar mindset; 54 percent seek out a card with no annual fee, while 40 percent look for a low-interest rate. It’s not all business, though. Another 45 percent of Americans and 32 percent of Ohioans said perks, including points for travel, discounts, and other rewards, could influence them to apply for a card.

Americans might have clear motivations for seeking credit cards, but that doesn’t mean they’re easily finding the cards that suit their needs. Although consumers know they should shop for the best deals, according to the Experian survey, 69 percent of Americans said they feel researching the correct card is too time-consuming. Another 61 percent said they become overwhelmed by the number of options available, and 57 percent said it’s too difficult to tell which card would work best for them.

Still, the majority of respondents in the Experian survey, 64 percent, said they believe their perfect credit card is out there, they just haven’t found it, yet.

Don’t let stress over choosing the best credit card deter you from using plastic to pay. Here are tips for finding the perfect credit card.

  • Check your credit. Higher credit scores are more likely to be approved for credit cards with better perks, while those with lower scores may need to shop around more. It’s best to begin the research process knowing your score, rather than being declined for the credit card you want after searching. Federal law entitles you to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every year. com is a federal- authorized site where you can find your score.
  • Figure out what type of credit card you need. There are three main types of credit cards, according to NerdWallet. Consumers can choose between cards that help improve limited or damaged credit, cards that save money on interest, and cards that earn rewards. Additionally, some consumers choose cards to transfer a balance from an existing credit card. Be sure you’re choosing the card most beneficial to your current situation.
  • Decide how likely you are to carry a balance. If you know your credit card will carry debt you won’t be able to pay off right away, you should search for cards with low annual percentage rates. Otherwise, you could end up with card payments that don’t fit into your budget and that drag out longer than expected. A card with an 18 percent APR, for instance, would accrue $1,138 in interest on a $3,500 balance, according to CreditKarma.com. Making $120 payments on that card each month, it would take more than three years to pay it off. Make sure you know how much you can realistically afford to pay in finance charges each month and shop around accordingly.
  • Read all the fine print. Thoroughly research and understand how your potential credit card will fit into your budget. You may be attracted to a card because of its 0 percent APR introductory offer, but make sure you understand how long that offer lasts and what you’ll be paying in finance charges once that rate changes. Some cards also include annual fees, late fees, and foreign transaction fees you should be aware of before you apply. Be sure you understand everything about your new card so you can use it as wisely as possible.
  • Look to a credit union. The unique business model of credit unions allows them to offer competitive rates on credit cards, along with reward programs.

Learn more about how a credit union can help you make a savvy credit card choice, by visiting asmarterchoice.org to find a credit union near you.

Affording Your First Apartment

Getting your first apartment is one of the big milestones in a young adult’s life. It can also be a little frightening since you don’t know exactly how much money you’ll need to get by. But if you follow these easy tips, getting and thriving in your apartment will be a breeze.

1. Figure out how much rent you can afford. Find an apartment that costs between 25-35% of your gross monthly income (before taxes and deductions). Also, make sure the landlord tells you about any additional costs, like pet fees, parking, etc. Those fees will need to be included in your budget. If you find a place that is a bit more than you can comfortably afford, you’ll need to get a roommate — one you can rely on to pay their portion.

2. Factor in a security deposit. Many buildings require that you put down one month’s rent as a security deposit. The landlord holds that money until you move out. If you leave the place in good shape, you’ll get the money back. But if you don’t…

3. Create a budget. Use the 50/30/20 rule: 50% of your after-tax income should be spent on Needs, like rent, insurance, groceries, utilities; 30% for Wants, like dining out and entertainment; and 20% for savings, including your 401(k) and an emergency fund.

4. Get furniture and household items. But don’t get it all at once! Start with the basics, like a bed, shower curtain, pots and pans, etc. See what you can find at thrift shops before buying new.

After you move in, follow some of these tips to keep your living costs down.
• Eat in as often as possible and pack your lunch for work. A typical lunch can cost you between $8-10 dollars. At 7 meals per week, you’ll pay about $70. Per year, that’s $3,640! Eating in will save you serious money!

• Cancel the cable. The average cable bill is $65 per month or $780 per year. That could buy a lot of groceries instead. You can borrow popular cable shows and movies for free from your local library.

• Reduce energy bill. Adjust your thermostat in the winter so it’s 10-15 degrees cooler at night. Also turn off energy-hogging devices, like gaming consoles, when not in use.

Copyright 2018 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

How to choose the correct credit card for you

Choosing the best credit card for your lifestyle can have a considerable impact on your overall financial health.

In an Ohio Credit Union League 2018 consumer survey, 73 percent of respondents stated they use at least one or two credit cards every month. Of those who regularly utilized credit cards, 39 percent carried up to $1,000 in credit card debt. Another 30 percent owed between $1,000 and $5,000. According to the Ohio Credit Union League’s Quarterly Performance Summary (2nd Quarter, 2018), the average credit card balance held at Ohio credit unions was $2,142.

Ohioans are right in line with national trends as 71 percent of Americans have at least one credit card, according to The Motley Fool. About 18 percent of Americans have three or four credit cards in their wallet, and those cards tend to carry debt.

With the possibility that their credit cards could carry significant debt, it’s not surprising consumers want to shop around before choosing a card.

The majority of respondents in the Ohio Credit Union League consumer survey, about 44 percent, said they look for the best interest rates and lowest fees in their credit cards. According to Experian, most Americans shop for credit cards with a similar mindset; 54 percent seek out a card with no annual fee, while 40 percent look for a low-interest rate. It’s not all business, though. Another 45 percent of Americans and 32 percent of Ohioans said perks, including points for travel, discounts, and other rewards, could influence them to apply for a card.

Americans might have clear motivations for seeking credit cards, but that doesn’t mean they’re easily finding the cards that suit their needs. Although consumers know they should shop for the best deals, according to the Experian survey, 69 percent of Americans said they feel researching the correct card is too time-consuming. Another 61 percent said they become overwhelmed by the number of options available, and 57 percent said it’s too difficult to tell which card would work best for them.

Still, the majority of respondents in the Experian survey, 64 percent, said they believe their perfect credit card is out there, they just haven’t found it, yet.

Don’t let stress over choosing the best credit card deter you from using plastic to pay. Here are tips for finding the perfect credit card.

  • Check your credit. Higher credit scores are more likely to be approved for credit cards with better perks, while those with lower scores may need to shop around more. It’s best to begin the research process knowing your score, rather than being declined for the credit card you want after searching. Federal law entitles you to a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus every year. com is a federal- authorized site where you can find your score.
  • Figure out what type of credit card you need. There are three main types of credit cards, according to NerdWallet. Consumers can choose between cards that help improve limited or damaged credit, cards that save money on interest, and cards that earn rewards. Additionally, some consumers choose cards to transfer a balance from an existing credit card. Be sure you’re choosing the card most beneficial to your current situation.
  • Decide how likely you are to carry a balance. If you know your credit card will carry debt you won’t be able to pay off right away, you should search for cards with low annual percentage rates. Otherwise, you could end up with card payments that don’t fit into your budget and that drag out longer than expected. A card with an 18 percent APR, for instance, would accrue $1,138 in interest on a $3,500 balance, according to CreditKarma.com. Making $120 payments on that card each month, it would take more than three years to pay it off. Make sure you know how much you can realistically afford to pay in finance charges each month and shop around accordingly.
  • Read all the fine print. Thoroughly research and understand how your potential credit card will fit into your budget. You may be attracted to a card because of its 0 percent APR introductory offer, but make sure you understand how long that offer lasts and what you’ll be paying in finance charges once that rate changes. Some cards also include annual fees, late fees, and foreign transaction fees you should be aware of before you apply. Be sure you understand everything about your new card so you can use it as wisely as possible.
  • Look to a credit union. The unique business model of credit unions allows them to offer competitive rates on credit cards, along with reward programs.

Learn more about how a credit union can help you make a savvy credit card choice, by visiting asmarterchoice.org to find a credit union near you.

Black Friday Is Coming. Here’s What Not to Buy Until Then

In a year when online competition is fierce and brick-and-mortar shops are struggling, major retailers are likely to come out swinging this Black Friday.

Ron Kuntze, a professor of marketing at the University of New Haven in Connecticut, thinks Black Friday 2018 will be big for consumers — big, that is, when it comes to savings and customer service.

To maximize your odds of finding low prices, some deals are worth waiting for until Nov. 23. Based on past sales, here’s what to hold off buying until Black Friday — and what to do if you can’t wait that long.

Don’t buy electronics

We can’t know for sure what deals are coming this year, but in general it’s in your best interest to wait until Black Friday to shop for electronics (or Thanksgiving Day, when many sales actually start).

1. TVs

Black Friday has long been one of the best times to buy a TV. Last year, a 39-inch smart TV was $125 at Walmart. Amazon sold a 49-inch 4K TV for $159.99.

Kuntze says low-priced TVs sell out fast on Black Friday, but some stores continue to honor the sale price online or offer a similar deal on a similar TV. Just keep in mind that TVs with the biggest discounts will likely be models that haven’t sold as well as expected.

2. Smartphones

Smartphone promotions abound on Black Friday. Kuntze says retailers know you’re likely to buy a lot of extras when you purchase certain electronics, such as phones. So they’re hoping you’ll pick up accessories like cases and chargers, too.

3. Video game consoles

You can usually find video games and video game consoles on the first few pages of Black Friday ads, especially from stores like Target and Best Buy. Retailers have been known to offer all-in-one bundle deals that contain a console, controller and sometimes a game.

But you don’t have to stop shopping

Black Friday is nearly two months away; plenty of other sales will happen between now and then.

If you can’t wait until late November to buy something, or simply don’t want to shop on Black Friday, don’t feel pressured to do so. In fact, Kevin McIntyre, a professor of economics at McDaniel College in Maryland, thinks you shouldn’t wait until Black Friday to buy anything.

“Black Friday is ferociously competitive still, but I’m not convinced that there are any savings to be enjoyed on Black Friday that are unique to late November,” McIntyre says.

He says there are deals to be had throughout the year, so if you see a good sale in the next couple of months, go for it.

If you want to avoid the pressure of finding the best deal altogether, just look for a deal that’s “good enough,” says George John, a professor of marketing at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

Determine what a product is worth to you, and if you see it reach that price, buy it.

The article Black Friday Is Coming. Here’s What Not to Buy Until Then originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Hopewell Members Get Exclusive Discounts from Love My Credit Union Rewards

Everyone loves to save, especially on products and services you use every day.  That’s what Love My Credit Union Rewards is all about.  Members have saved nearly $2 billion in discounts from valued partners through Love My Credit Union Rewards. You can save too with valuable discounts from these partners:

  • Get a $100 cash reward for each new line you activate, up to 3 lines. Plus, get a $50 cash reward every year for as long as you are a Sprint customer.*
  • Save up to $15 on TurboTax federal products!
  • Get an exclusive smoke communicator and a $100 gift card with a new ADTmonitored home security system. Call 844-703-0123 to activate this special
  • Get trusted protection at true savings with the TruStage Auto & Home Insurance Program.
  • Shop and get cash back at over 1,500 online retailers with Love to Shop.

To find out more and learn about other valuable discounts, http://www.hopewellfcu.org  or LoveMyCreditUnion.org. You get all these offers and discounts just for being a member of Hopewell Federal Credit Union.

*Limited time offers. Activ. Fee: Up to $30/line. Credit approval req. Cash Reward Offers: Avail. for eligible credit union members & member employees with qualifying corp. id. (ongoing verification). $100 Cash Reward for new smartphone line activ. up to 3 lines. Req. activ. at point of sale. Excludes CL, MBB devices, tablets, Sprint Phone Connect, upgrs., replacements & ports made between Sprint entities or providers associated with Sprint. Limit one SWP Corp ID per Sprint acct. No add’l. discounts apply. Loyalty Reward: $50/line/yr. Cash Reward up to 3 lines when Sprint acct. remains active and in good standing each yr. Transfer Reward: Members participating in another discount program are eligible for a $50 Cash Reward for up to 3 smartphone lines transferred to Cash Reward program. Deposit: Cash Reward issued by CU Solutions Group. Sprint acct. must remain active and in good standing for 31 days to receive Cash Reward. Allow 6-8 wks. for Cash Reward to be deposited to your Credit Union acct. If the Cash Reward does not appear after 8 wks., visit lovemycreditunion.org/sprintrewards & click on “Cash Rewards Tracker”. Other Terms: Offer/coverage not avail. everywhere or for all phones/networks. May not be combinable with other offers. Offer, terms, restrictions, & options subject to change & may be modified, discontinued, or terminated at any time without notice. Restrictions apply. © 2018 Sprint. All rights reserved. Sprint & the logo are trademarks of Sprint. Other marks are the property of their respective owners.

 

The 5 Biggest Myths About Credit Unions

If a person was to tell you that there were financial institutions out there that provided great customer service, higher rates of returns, lower fees and lower interest charges on loans would that be something that might perk your interest?

These are all characteristics of a credit union. So why doesn’t everyone bank at a credit union? Because a lot of people don’t know what one is.

A credit union is a member-owned financial co-operative. These institutions are created and operated by their members and profits are shared among the consumers who actually use the credit union. With a credit union you are a member, or a stakeholder. With a bank you are simply a customer. Banks are for-profit institutions and their goal is to make money for the stockholders of the company, not you.

Let’s look at the biggest credit union myths.

1. Credit Unions strictly limit membership.

Unlike banks, credit unions serve a specific group or community, which means there are rules about who can join. In some cases, credit union exist to serve a particular profession, college alumni or even a religious institution, but finding an eligible credit union isn’t difficult.

Most of the time you just have to live in a certain coverage area, and you can also join a credit union through a family member who belongs. Once you’re a member, you’re always a member.

2. Credit Unions have fewer locations.

A lot of credit unions partner to offer a shared banking network with thousands of locations and ATMs across the country. That’s part of the cooperative nature of a credit union. Many credit unions will allow members of other credit unions to do their banking at their locations.

3. Lower fees at credit unions are rising.

Many credit unions have some flexibility in how much they charge for accounts, loans and other services, and they aim to keep costs low for their members. In some situations, credit unions may eliminate some products or services to cut costs rather than add fees.

That flexibility adds up to some big savings. The 2015 CUNA Membership Benefits Report estimates that credit union members across the country saved nearly $8.5 billion during the 12 months ending in September 2015 by doing business at a credit union instead of a bank.

4. Credit Unions do not offer reward programs.

Whether they’re offering airline miles, discounted hotels, cash-back rewards or other perks, credit unions make great use of loyalty programs. With banks, some consumers can become so focused on rewards programs that they miss the fact that the gains from those programs are less than the fees they’re paying to their bank. That’s not a problem with credit unions.

5. Credit unions can’t compete with the “big guys.”

The sole purpose for a credit union’s existence is to have your best interests at heart. Banks spend a lot of money on slick advertising campaigns in just about every medium. But when you look at the long list of great services a credit union provides, you will be glad they worry more about you than on advertising. What great services and deals do you get with a credit union?

a. Lower fees on banking products. Shop around for a loan or a checking account and you’ll find that credit unions usually offer lower fees on basic transactions. Most credit unions still offer truly free checking without strings attached.

b. Lower interest rates. Credit unions typically offer lower interest rates on mortgages and even credit cards.

c. Safety and Security. Just like the FDIC, deposits at a credit union are government-insured up to $250,000 through the National Credit Union Administration.

d. Outstanding Customer Service. Members will agree that the service that they receive at their local credit union is second to none. In the American Customer Satisfaction Index 2015 survey from CFI Group, credit unions beat banks, with customers rating their overall satisfaction at a score of 87 out of 100, 8 points greater than the banking average. That is a statistic that speaks volumes.