Six Steps to Setting Up a Paper Filing System

You may never need to go back to find out how much you paid for your first mortgage 15 years ago, but what if you did? Organizing your credit union statements, receipts, and tax returns can give you peace of mind knowing you’ll be able to find what you need when you need it.

Here are six steps to help you organize your financial records:

Step 1: Gather all your important records, such as insurance policies, real estate records, tax returns, and loan information.
Step 2: Create a filing system that works for you. To file paperwork, you might use:
* Monthly folders (January to December)
* Category names (for example, pay stubs, utility bills, insurance, medical)
* Time frames (immediate attention, short-term storage, long-term storage) to file by action date
* Tax-related headings (deductions, business expenses, interest, medical) to file tax records separately
* Color-coded files to find records quickly
Step 3: Decide what to keep and where. Divide it into:
* At your fingertips
* In your wallet
* At home in a permanent file
* In a safe-deposit box
Step 4: Discard unneeded items but shred papers that contain personal information.
Step 5: File all financial records in the appropriate places, such as in your file folders, short-term storage, long-term storage, safe deposit box, wallet, and so forth.
Step 6: Establish a regular schedule to review, file, toss, or shred your financial papers.

Talk to the professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union about how to organize your financial records. We can help you set up direct deposit and automated savings vehicles, offer personal and secured loans, establish a spending plan, and more.

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The Beauty of Co-ops

The traditional business model provides products and services in hopes of making a profit—but another model is available to consumers: the co-op. “The Great Recession has caused a lot of people in this country to rethink their relationships with big businesses,” says Michael Beall, president and CEO of the National Cooperative Business Association. Washington, D.C. This rethinking is shining a bright light on cooperatives.

Member owners
Cooperatives are organizations where members contribute to the capital of the business and democratically control its operations, explains Brendon Smith, director of communications at Willy Street [Grocery] Co-op in Madison, Wis. Members are more than just consumers—they are owners who shape the organization itself.

The cooperative business model crosses many different types of activities—from agriculture to health care, housing to banking. Hopewell Federal Credit Union is a cooperative. “Throughout the United States, approximately 29,000 cooperatives serve 100 million members,” explains Bill Oemichen, President and CEO of Cooperative Network.

Building community
Co-ops like Hopewell Federal are, by design, formed and run to benefit not only their own members’ bottom lines, but the health of the community in which they operate as well. By taking a long view when it comes to goals and mission, co-ops make a positive impact on neighborhoods and cities.

“People want a couple of things,” sums up Beall. “They want to deal with people locally and know that they are helping to keep jobs in their local community. They want good service. They want to be sure that what they are consuming is organic, in a sense.

Hopewell Federal is proud to be cooperatively run and proud to call you our members. Stop by or call today at 740.522.8311.

New Year, New Account: 4 Reasons to Choose a Credit Union

Whether it’s the sky-high fees for checking accounts or too-tight standards for loans, many people have become disenchanted with their banks. Fortunately, they’re not the only option. If you’re unsatisfied with your bank, you can take your business elsewhere.

That “elsewhere could be a credit union. Over 96 million Americans currently use one for various economic and service-related reasons. Here are a few reasons you might want to do the same.

1.     Great Interest Rates

Credit unions generally outperform banks in terms of interest rates. Here are a few highlights from the National Credit Union Administration’s (NCUA)latest report:

        Credit unions, on average, have nearly (and in some cases more than) double the interest rates of banks on all types of CDs  (Share Certificates).

        Credit unions’ interest rates on checking, money market and savings accounts are more than double those offered by banks

        Credit card interest rates are slightly lower at credit unions (10.99%) vs. banks (11.82%)

        Both new and used car loan rates are significantly lower at credit unions, and credit unions often provide discounts for members

        Home equity loans carry lower rates at credit unions

Rates vary from institution to institution, so contact your local credit union if you’re looking for specifics. But know that, in almost every case, you’ll save money by using a credit union. 

2.     A Commitment to Financial Education

Credit unions operate on a not-for-profit basis. That is, unlike banks, which have an incentive to sell as many services as possible, credit unions typically offer more objective advice. Take advantage of this by finding a credit union that offers financial education services, including valuable credit card tips and seminars on other financial topics.

3.     More Flexible Loans

Due to default risks and other economic realities, banks often shun those who are in a tight financial spot, even temporarily. Thus, if you’re still trying to build credit, or you’ve made a few mistakes, you might be out of luck when applying for bank loans. However, since they’re typically focused on helping others instead of on profits, credit unions often have more flexible loan standards.

4.     Personalized Service

Credit unions consistently outperform banks in customer service. According to the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), credit unions received an 85 out of 100. The biggest banks scored from 69 to 76, depending on the specific institution, while all other banks scored an 83.

Final Word

With better interest rates, better service and better loan policies, there’s no reason not to join a credit union – especially not eligibility. While credit unions once typically served employees of a specific business, many of their membership requirements are now more inclusive. You can often join because you live and/or work within a city or neighborhood. In addition, once you’ve joined, your family members tend to also be eligible for membership. So if you’ve resolved to save more in 2014, there’s no better way to start than by joining your local credit union.

Alice Holbrook, NerdWallet

7 Ways to Get Fit on a Budget

Contrary to what you might read in fashion magazines, getting fit doesn’t require following a trendy and expensive diet. It doesn’t even require paying $100 a month to pump iron at a gym every night. Believe it or not, you can even get fit without listening to that annoying regular gym-goer that gives you unsolicited advice about your “sloppy” form (as he simultaneously pitches his expensive personal training service).

Want to lose the expensive gimmicks and a few pounds at the same time? Here’s how to get fit on a budget.

Ditch the gym, mostly

According to Statistic Brain, the average cost of a monthly gym membership is $55. That adds up to $660 a year! You can eliminate this expense altogether by jogging or riding a bicycle instead of using gym equipment. The former is free and the latter requires a one-time cost that is typically far less than one year in a gym.

If you’re still not convinced you can get fit without a gym, consider that 67% of members never use their membership. To spare yourself hundreds in unused membership costs, pay on a monthly basis instead of buying an annual membership, if possible.

Cut your gym expenses

However, if you’re a true gym loyal, the next tip has you covered. If you’re a serious weightlifter or otherwise need access to a load of fitness equipment, you can cut your expenses by:

·         Asking your employer or health insurer if it offers gym discounts or reimbursements

·         Negotiating a lower membership fee

·         Negotiating discounted or free access to your apartment’s gym (or finding a community that offers gym membership as a perk to all residents)

·         Trying no-commitment passes to find the most cost-effective gym while getting a few free weeks of exercise

Cut class

If you need a little instruction or motivation but don’t have the money to take a class, workout videos can be very cost-effective to get guidance or be inspired. Videos exist at very affordable prices for just about every exercise and intensity level. For instance, some of Amazon’s popular workout DVDs can be purchased for around $50 or less.

If you’re looking for free videos, your local library might have a few in stock. Meanwhile, YouTube offers millions of fitness videos, so you can easily find one that fits your preferences.

 

Change the channel

If workout videos are beyond your budget, note that television providers often include fitness programs in their packages. For example, Time Warner offers several programs on its Exercise Sportskool on-demand channel. Comcast offers a range of Fitness Workouts™ programs on its XFINITY on Demand service, as well.

Get bargain fitness tools

You don’t need to buy a machine some celebrity promoted to get in shape. As an alternative, a simple elastic workout band can be used for a variety of upper and lower body workouts. Another option is to purchase used machines or weights. Check Craigslist, eBay and even garage sales for great deals.

Pick up a chore or two

If you pick up any chore you currently pay someone else to do, such as walking the dog or cleaning the pool, you’ll improve both your finances and health at once. For example, mowing your own grass will both save money and improve your fitness. After all, you need to use quite a few muscles to push a mower around. Doing your own gardening is another great way to work out and save money at the same time.

Mix up your commute

Driving increases your fuel and auto maintenance expenses, and it isn’t very healthy since it extremely limits your movement. Instead, limit the negative impact of driving by riding your bicycle or walking to work if it is within a few miles of your home. If your office is far away, consider biking or walking to a nearby bus or train station and taking mass transit. Another option is to drive part of the way, but park far enough to get a good walk or jog in on your way to work. Consider using this tip when you travel to other destinations as well.

Final word

Getting fit on a budget can be as easy as doing your own chores or parking a little farther from work than usual. If you’re not the outdoorsy type, you can even get a good workout in front of your TV with a workout video. Even if you need machines or weights, you can purchase used equipment inexpensively and eliminate the need to head to a gym. That is, unless you’re trying to win a weightlifting competition. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of picking the workout that suits your budget and your lifestyle.

Damaris Olaechea, NerdWallet