Keep Your Finances Safe While Travelling

 
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, you may be preparing to travel.  We wish you safe travels and offer a few tips for keeping your finances safe while traveling. 
 
When accessing your accounts or paying bills online:
• Use a secure network with up-to-date anti-virus software and a firewall.
• Don’t access your personal information from a public computer.
• Fully log out of your account when finished.

When using an ATM:
• Convert your personal identification numbers (PINs) to four numeric digits (not your birth date)—the standard for ATMs in most foreign countries.
• Be aware of your surroundings when entering your PIN and receiving cash.
• Make effort to use ATMs that are indoors, such as inside a financial institution.
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Tip Your Helpers for the Holiday

The giving season is upon us. For many people that means deciding whom to tip and how much. Plan to include both the service people you tip regularly throughout the year, such as your barber or hairstylist, as well as those you don’t, such as a cleaning person.

How much you tip will depend on how long the person has been doing work for you, how close you are, and the typical amount for someone in that position.

Although we list some suggested amounts, remember that these are just that–suggestions. Give only what you can afford.

During the holidays
* Babysitter: Two to four nights’ pay, more if you use the sitter several times a week
* Barber or hairstylist: Price of one haircut or more if you’re a long-time customer
* Delivery person: $10 to $15 if it’s someone you see repeatedly
* Manicurist: $5 to $15
* U.S. mail carrier: Postal regulations prohibit mail carriers from accepting cash or cash equivalents (gift certificates), although unsolicited gifts of up to $20 in value, such as candy or gloves, are allowed.

Year round
* Babysitter: $3 to $6 for extra service, such as on a night when you return home much later than planned
* Barber or hairstylist: 10-20% of bill
* Pizza delivery person: 10-15% of bill; slightly more in foul weather
* Manicurist: 10-20% of the cost of the service
* Dog groomer: 10-15% of bill
* Hotel bellhop/desk clerk: $5 to $20 for a room upgrade; $1-2 per bag delivered to your hotel room
* Tour guide: 15-20% depending on quality (knowledge, friendliness, etc.)

Smart Spending Puts Holiday Shoppers in Control of Cart

If you aren’t smart about holiday spending, you could find yourself in trouble before the icing dries on the cookies.

You can avoid financial mishaps by using simple spending strategies for this year’s shopping season:

* Create a spending plan—To track expenses you need a budget: Who are you buying for? How much will you spend on each individual? Have specific gifts in mind.

* Shop before leaving home—Comparison shop online to find which stores carry the items you’re looking for and the best price. Flag items in flyers and catalogs and bring with you to the store.

* Limit time at the mall—Shop during lunch hours or during your child’s basketball practice so you don’t have “too” much time.

* If you use a credit card, be committed—Ideally don’t charge more than you can pay off when the bill arrives. If that’s not possible, don’t charge more than you can pay off in the first quarter of next year.

* Beware store cards—These cards generally have higher interest rates than general use credit cards.

* Disregard “buy now, pay later”—It’s easy to bring a big purchase home without much thought when you don’t have to pay for it for six months. Be cautious: If you don’t pay off the item by the due date, you’ll be socked with outrageous interest expenses.

If you need help with a holiday spending plan, talk to the professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union. Call us today at 740.522.8311.

Trim Your Holiday Spending

Save that New Year’s resolution for something besides paying down holiday debt. With a bit of planning and saving, and a little help from the Internet, you can keep your holiday spending in check.

Plan ahead
Create a spending plan using an online budgeting tool or homemade spreadsheet. Make a list of recipients, and establish a budget for each individual. Include gifts for family, friends, and teachers, as well as travel expenses, holiday parties, and items such as wrapping paper, postage, and holiday decorations and clothing.

Suggest a gift exchange
Gift exchange games can be an interactive and creative way to entertain guests—and to shrink the number of presents each person must purchase.

Forgo extended warranties
Most financial experts recommend skipping extended warranties. Consumer Reports surveys confirm that shoppers rarely redeem them and, if they do, the average repair cost isn’t much more than the warranty cost.

Use coupon codes
Find thousands of coupon codes on the Internet, by searching sites like Coupons.com, RetailMeNot.com, FatWallet.com, and many more.

Free Shipping Day
Visit FreeShippingDay.com to find out which eStores are participating, and search coupon codes for additional savings.

Look for Black Friday and Cyber Monday online deals
Many Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are available online for the same price as in stores. Also, Cyber Monday deals often start well in advance of that day, so shop ahead.

Purchase reduced price gift cards
Sites like Cardpool.com or GiftCardGranny.com offer discounted gift cards for many major retailers.

Use daily deal sites
Deal sites Groupon.com or LivingSocial.com offer deeply discounted offers on things like restaurants, jewelry, spas, hotels, golf courses, gym memberships, home supplies, and much more. Purchase a gift item, or gift an activity such as kayaking or a weekend getaway.

Use mobile shopping apps
Find the lowest prices on holiday items with apps like Shopsavvy and RedLaser. Simply scan the bar code or type in a product name, and the app scans for the lowest prices online or at a nearby store. CouponSherpa is a mobile coupon app featuring hundreds of digital coupons.

Stop by Hopewell Federal Credit Union today! Our professionals can help you set up a savings account for future holiday needs.

Shop and Save in Every Season

If you think Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or the day after Christmas are the only times to score great deals, think again.

Climate change
Andrea Woroch, nationally recognized consumer and money-savings expert from Windsor, Colo., says shopping late in any season is the best way to score great deals, especially on apparel. Despite the big deals, don’t let deep discounts lead to poor purchase decisions.

* Stick to the basics: Avoid last season shopping of anything trendy.
* Size matters: Clothing and gear buys are better for those who are done growing.
* Know before you go: It’s easy to be seduced by sales, so take stock of what you have and what you need before making a beeline for the clearance rack.

Discount dates
Whether you go all in on the day after Thanksgiving or avoid it, don’t forget there are other holidays where discounts make their debuts.

* Super Bowl: Get a big screen in time for the big game.
* Valentine’s Day: In the spirit of celebrating couples, look for BOGO (buy-one-get-one) sales.
* Mother’s Day: Mother’s Day and early spring are a great time for greenhouse deals.
* Father’s Day: After dad’s day, look for tools, grills, polo shirts, and ties.
* Fourth of July: Wait until after America’s birthday for better outdoor bargains.
* Back to school: After college students are settled, check stores for leftovers of living essentials.

Another great way to shop smart is to plan for future purchases in your spending plan. The professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union are happy to sit down with you and review your budget. Stop by or call today at 740.522.8311.