What to Do With a Tax Refund

It’s tempting to blow your tax refund on an impromptu shopping spree or the latest tech gadget, but don’t drop those dollars just yet. Before you spend your refund, think about where that money would really be best used.

Before you even think about splurging, put 50% of your tax refund toward paying off debt. Apply it to your mortgage principal, make a larger-than-usual monthly credit card payment, or pay off part of a student loan.

Another option: Nail down any big-ticket items coming up. A tax return can provide a nice chunk of cash to pay for that expensive dental work you’ve been putting off, overdue car repairs, or a semester’s worth of college textbooks. You even could use your refund as part of a down payment on a new car.

Saving money for the long term is another smart decision. Stash part of your refund in an emergency fund, share certificate, or IRA (individual retirement account) at Hopewell Federal Credit Union.

You also could use your return to add equity to your home. Tackle those repairs you’ve been meaning to get around to, or make over your yard with some landscaping. Using your tax refund as a base, you could even take out a small home equity loan from Hopewell Federal Credit Union to cover projects you need done now.

After you’ve covered your other financial bases, treat yourself. Put some of your refund toward a trip you’ve been dying to take, sign up for a gym membership, or enroll in a class to learn a new skill.

However you choose to use your tax return, think about it first, look at your options, and make the best financial decision you can. If you need help setting priorities, meet with a Hopewell Federal Credit Union financial adviser today.

Streamline Your Finances—Automatically

Putting your money on auto-pilot saves time, money, and the environment. Step one is to find out if your employer offers direct deposit; most do. Signing up is usually as simple as taking a voided check to your human resources department. You’ll see your first paycheck appear automatically in your Hopewell Federal Credit Union account within a few weeks.

Step two is to set up electronic payments. There are a few ways to do this, and you can use them all:

* Authorize a biller to take money directly from your checking account. These ACH payments can take a bit of effort to stop, so use them for regular, uniform payments that will continue for a long time—mortgage payments are a no-brainer.

* Pay bills online using a credit card. Paying with your credit card is ideal for bills that only pop up twice a year—like car insurance. It’s also a good option for bills that change in amount, such as your cellphone bill. Be sure to pay off the card balance each month to minimize interest charges.

* Use Hopewell Federal’s online bill pay service to pay bills by electronic transfer to a vendor or service provider. Or, if the merchant isn’t set up to accept these, the credit union will issue a paper check debiting your account. You can set up payments 24/7, adjust payment dates to jibe with your paydays, and make optional extra payments when you can—say to your credit card.

With these three automated options, you can pay every bill you have.

Don’t overlook automating routine savings, too. Set up automated transfers from checking to your credit union savings account(s), and you’ll always be financially ready for an unexpected car repair and for infrequent but larger bills like insurance premiums.

Streamlining your finances with online tools is about more than just saving time. By helping you to avoid late fees and overdraft fees, automatic services save you money. To make sure you’re never penalized for overdrawing your checking account, for example, set up an overdraft protection savings account or line of credit at Hopewell Federal Credit Union.

Once you’ve automated your finances, use our website to track your accounts and transfer money between them. Check accounts frequently to make sure your automated system is working smoothly, and to monitor for attempted fraud or ID theft.

Hop on Over to Hopewell: Slide Show

Hop on Over to Hopewell: Slide Show.

RECENT CARD BREACH COULD INCREASE PHISHING

On the heels of the recent Global Payments breach, credit unions members are at risk for potential increased phishing attacks. These attacks could also target members who were not impacted by the recent card breach.  Be aware of any suspicious emails, text messages or phone calls requesting any personal or financial information.

The next several days or weeks are critical for credit union members to be on the alert for any suspicious emails, text messages or phone calls requesting personal or financial information, especially card data. The card information that may be requested includes, cardholder billing address, 3 digit CVV2/CVC2 code found on the back of the card, or enrollment criteria/passwords for Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode. This card information was not part of the recent Global Payments breach. Criminals may ask members for this information to add to the other card data they may have obtained from the breach to perform card present (key entered) or card-not-present (mail/telephone/internet) non-magnetic stripe transactions.

REMEMBER: never respond to emails, text messages or phone calls requesting your personal account information. If you receive a suspicious request,  immediately contact the credit union.