5 Financial Tips for Fall

Fall means dreams of pumpkin spice lattes, turkey dinners and a cozy holiday season just around the corner. Here are five ways to make sure you’re financially well-equipped for the last stretch of the year.

1. Tackle back-to-school shopping wisely

Whether you’re shopping for your kids or yourself, approaching back-to-school sales with a clear focus can ensure you’re spending on the right things.

It might be tempting to buy something just because it’s on sale. To guard against impulse buys, make a list of what you need, not what you want. Set a budget and stick to it. If you must make large purchases such as laptops, look for reliable models that should last through several school years.

2. Winterize your home: Save energy, save cash

As temperatures drop, home heating bills rise. But properly sealing and insulating a house can save an average of about 11% a year on energy costs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Keep your expenses to a minimum by sealing gaps and cracks in windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk. Clean and inspect your furnace to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible. Also consider increasing your insulation. Though your wallet will take a hit for the season, you’ll probably get more than your money’s worth in a few years.

3. Start your holiday gift hunt

We all know that the sale to beat all sales — Black Friday — comes on the heels of Thanksgiving. But don’t forget about the little guys: Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day usually mean smaller but still significant discounts. As the year winds toward its close, expect sales on appliances, cookware, clothing and electronics. Beat the winter rush and get started on your holiday shopping.

4. Traveling in December? Book your trip now

If you’re flying for the holidays, now is the time to book if you haven’t already. Follow your favorite airlines on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for their email announcements for deals. This is also a great time to cash in your travel credit card miles, especially if your earned perks are due to expire at the end of the year.

5. Check your flexible spending account balance

If you’ve been putting money aside in a health care flexible spending account, or FSA, make sure you spend it before your money effectively disappears at year’s end. Book yourself a dentist or eye appointment, or get an annual physical.

And check with your company to see whether there’s any wiggle room. Your employer might allow you to roll over up to $500 to the next year or give you a few months’ grace period.

With a little planning in the fall, you can save enough money to get through the long (and often pricey) holiday season that’s just ahead.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Keep It Interactive: Teaching Kids About Money

Children are aware of money at an early age, long before they go to school, according to Philip Heckman, Credit Union National Association’s Director of Youth Programs, Madison, Wis. Interactive discussions–rather than lectures–are most helpful.

Heckman says parents should allow kids to ask questions, express opinions, and have input to decisions.

With young children it’s better to wait until they initiate discussions; even older ones may be more receptive if they ask the question. Sometimes, however, important matters require a sit-down discussion. Says Heckman: “Be reassuring and assess, based on the age of the child, how much they’ll understand and how much detail to offer.”

“If the change will affect the child, such as a cutback in the family budget, that’s something that needs to be explained,” says Heckman. “The child will understand and relate to that.” Indeed, parents often are surprised at how supportive their children are when cutbacks are required. If you discuss how you’ll reduce spending, children may volunteer to cut their own spending.

Talk openly with your children about things you’d like to buy but can’t afford. If you save for an item, let kids see you doing so. If you buy something you haven’t budgeted for, discuss what you’ll give up buying in exchange. “Show that it’s not just kids that have to go without–parents have limits too,” advises Heckman.

Copyright 2008 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

Hopewell Car Show A Success

This past Saturday, August 6th, 2016, Hopewell Federal Credit Union held its sixth annual Car Show in Newark, Ohio.  Proceeds from the event will be presented to the Licking County Humane Society (LCHS).  The event, sponsored by Courtesy Ambulance, Webb Financial Group, LICCO Inc., Grayson Graphics, Weltman, Weinberg, & Reis Co., LPA, and Golden Eagle Insurance, was coordinated by Jim Matheny of Kar Shoz.  The event brought in fifty-one cars featuring a variety of years, makes and models.

Attendees of the event enjoyed free admission, DJ music, food from Moe’s Original BBQ, 50/50 raffle, and door prize drawings.  The Licking County Humane Society was on hand with some of their adoptable pets.

Specialty award winners included:

DJ’S Choice Dennis Bennet Newark 1923 Ford T-Bucket
CEO’S Choice Sam Humphrey Newark 1963 Chevy Super Sport
Top 18 Chris Lackey Utica 1970 Chevy Chevelle
Top 18 Chad Deal Newark 1928 Ford Model A
Top 18 Irvin Fry Newark 1967 VW Beatle
Top 18 George Nash Newark 1968 Mercury Cougar
Top 18 Rick Cunningham Heath 1996 Ford F150
Top 18 John Wallace Newark 1999 Chevy Corvette
Top 18 Terry Dugan Newark 1930 Ford Streetrod
Top 18 Steve Clay Hebron 1972 Olds Cutlass
Top 18 Larry & Sue Altman Hanover 1955 Chevy Bel Air
Top 18 Rob Meldahl Newark 1934 Ford Sedan
Top 18 Michael Laymen Newark 1953 Dodge Pick Up
Top 18 Rick Lueckel Zanesville 1973 MGB
Top 18 Mark A. Sheets Newark 1968 Dodge Charger
Top 18 Ricky Wright Newark 1970 Chevy Chevelle
Top 18 Neil Moore Heath 1972 Ford Gran Torino SP
Top 18 Ron Nutter Newark 1962 Chevy Impala SS
Top 18 Charlie Blanchette Newark 1969 Chevelle
Top 18 Rob Messenger Newark 1931 Ford Model A Truck

We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our community.  We look forward to presenting the donation to the Licking County Humane Society in the weeks to come.

Smart Ways to Cut Back-to-School Costs

The end of summer inevitably means a mailbox overflowing with back-to-school sale advertisements. But before you fill your shopping cart, ask yourself these five questions to keep more money in your pockets as you kick off the school year.

Do I have a budget?

The answer, if you want to save money, should be yes. Check your bank account balance and decide how much you can spend on new items, and how much you want to spend. This will be especially important if you need big purchases like a computer. Aim to come in under budget. If you have a couple bucks left over, reward yourself with a latte — or save them for a rainy day.

Do I really need this?

The best way to save is to not spend at all. Restrict your list to items that you’ve run out of or need more of, not those you want. It’s a good philosophy for all shopping, not just back-to-school.

How do I balance discount vs. full price?

Basic school supplies — such as pens and pencils, folders and three-ring binders — are simple and largely the same; it’s not worth paying more for a brand or a pop star’s face on the front. The same goes for clothes (better to wait for when the season changes) and textbooks (there are so many avenues to buy used, rent or go electronic).

But with other items, you’ll be rewarded later for spending more now. Computers and calculators bought new will last longer and likely require less upkeep than used models.

Can I pack lunch more often this year?

The biggest savings don’t come in once-a-year sales — saving is a habit that follows you through every season. Cut back on the everyday expenses that could be costing you hundreds of dollars a year. If you send your kid off with lunch money, consider packing her meals instead. Invest in some Tupperware that you can stuff with sandwiches, fruit or leftovers. You’ll be surprised at how much you can save, even in just a month.

What about next year — and the year after that?

Looking ahead can help save you some extra dollars. Find an unbeatable deal on notebooks? Stash a couple away for next year. For big-ticket items, discounts are your friend — but again, getting the cheapest on the market might mean you’ll have to buy a new computer in two years, or that backpack will snap in six months. Keep your sights focused on the long term to avoid having to shell out more money before you have to.

Back-to-school shopping doesn’t have to be a drag. Keep these questions in mind as you prepare for the new school year and you’ll be in the right mindset to save money.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Pulling Back From the Brink of Bankruptcy

When you are in over your head financially, it’s hard to see clearly. Sometimes a fresh eye on your situation can make all the difference. A Hopewell Federal Credit Union financial counselor can help you size up your bills and your resources and see what might work to clear your debts—short of bankruptcy.

The key is to ask for help before it’s too late.

While some advisers—bankruptcy lawyers, mostly—will tell you that bankruptcy has lost its former stigma, most people feel better about getting a fresh start by paying their bills. It won’t necessarily be easy but it may be much easier in the long run than paying extremely high rates on any loan you make, losing a promising job opportunity, or being turned down for insurance coverage for the next 10 years. That’s how long bankruptcy will stay on your credit record.

In a time of economic upheaval, some people may have to declare bankruptcy who never would have considered it in the past. Bankruptcy is meant to be a safety net for families without any other alternative. The question is—what’s that point? One of our counselors can help you review your circumstances and suggest some options.

There are times when bankruptcy is the only answer to severe financial problems. But don’t be too quick to assume that’s your only option. Call 740.522.8311 today and we can work together on a better answer.

Young Adults Use Digital Skills to Find Best Car Deals

According to the research firm J.D. Power and Associates, the average age of new car owners fell in 2015 from 49 to 48, spurred in part by a growing number of Gen Y buyers. The generation of young adults often thought of by analysts as Uber-obsessed and debt-averse, now comprise 28% of sales–up from 17% in 2010.

Bloomberg View argues that people across all age groups are spending less of their income on cars today than they did in the ‘80s and that the record number of sales is driven by a recovering economy and population growth–pointing out that the U.S. population increased 29% between 1989 and 2014–rather than a sustainable trend.

Regardless, it’s clear more young adults are buying cars today than in the recent past. If you’re a young adult shopping for your first car, you have some advantages.

Here are three things to consider:

1.Know what you want–to a point.

J.D. Power found that young adults spend twice as much time doing online research before buying a car than older generations. You should know how much cars are worth, what the ongoing maintenance cost is likely to be, and what features are important to you. For instance, J.D. Power found that Internet connectivity and modern technology drive new cars sales among young adults.

But don’t do so much online research that you think you know what car you want without first going on a few test drives. You may not know what you truly like until you’ve driven a few different options, and a car isn’t a shirt you can easily return if you get it home and decide it’s not a good fit.

2. Use your tech-savvy to your advantage

With apps from Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and Consumer Reports, you can continue your research live at the dealer with your smartphone, enabling you to quickly check to see if the offer the salesperson made you is a good one. Apps like TrueCar and the website MakeMyDeal also can help buyers firm up pricing before even stepping on the lot.

3. Get preapproved for a car loan

Getting preapproved at a financial institution like a credit union–which as a not-for-profit financial cooperative generally has better rates than banks–lets you know exactly how much you can afford, your interest rate, and what your monthly payment will be. This gives you more buying power when negotiating at the dealership.

Getting Hitched Doesn’t Need to Mean Marrying Finances

Marriage generally implies that two homes and lives become one. Should it also involve a complete merging of earnings, assets and expenses? With money arguments being one of the leading causes of failed marriages, combining finances can be scary. For some couples it’s the right approach, but there are several other options.

The traditional approach

Just a few generations ago, one spouse was generally the breadwinner who paid all the bills. Although today most marriages involve two people who work, the traditional approach isn’t entirely obsolete. It can be effective when one partner is a stay at home parent or full-time student, or one spouse earns much more than the other. It’s also appropriate for couples choosing to bank one income to save for shared goals, such as a down payment for a home. Single breadwinner couples may merge assets or maintain separate accounts.

This type of arrangement works best when both partners have similar financial styles so that no one ends up feeling like a child having to ask for spending money or resenting the other for spending too much.

The share-everything approach

With this option, couples completely merge financial assets and responsibilities. All investments and debts are in both names and bills are typically paid from one joint account. Sharing everything works particularly well for couples that enter marriage with similar incomes and limited assets. As with the traditional approach, it’s vital that spouses have compatible styles to avoid feelings of resentment or deprivation.

The four-accounts approach

Sharing is beautiful but sometimes it’s also nice to have a little something of your own. With this arrangement, both partners contribute equally to a joint checking account used to handle household expenses and joint savings to reach shared goals. Their remaining income is deposited to individual accounts to be saved or spent at each partner’s discretion. This approach makes sense for couples with comparable incomes and debts, or when one partner is much more frugal than the other, since it lets both manage money as they see fit without straining the relationship. In cases where one spouse earns substantially more than the other, couples may want to contribute a percentage of their income as opposed to a fixed monthly amount to the joint accounts.

The what’s-mine-is-mine approach

Some couples may simply be more comfortable maintaining totally separate assets and liabilities. With this approach responsibility for household expenses may be split equally, divided according to ability to pay, or each spouse may pick which bills to cover. Keeping finances separate may make sense if one partner has a much larger income, net worth or debt than the other. When entering into marriage with vastly different financial positions, it’s also a good idea to consider a prenuptial agreement, whether or not separate or joint accounts are maintained.

Which way is best?

Whether and how completely to merge finances is ultimately a matter of individual style. With honest communication and trust, any of these vastly different approaches can work, giving those who choose what feels right a good chance at avoiding the bitter money conflicts that plague so many married couples.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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