Be Merry and Bright–Shop Wisely Online During the Holidays

Protecting your privacy is essential when shopping online. These signals indicate that you have entered a secure Web page: * A screen notice that says you are visiting a secure site * A closed lock or unbroken key in the bottom corner of your screen * The first letters of the Internet address you are viewing change from “http” to “https”

Improve Security Shopping Online

The next time you use a credit card to pay for something online or by phone, the merchant may ask you for your three-digit code. You can find it on the back of the card, inside the signature box, after the last four digits of your account number. Merchants request the code (often referred to as a card verification code or CVC) to make sure a consumer has his or her card and is not a thief using a stolen credit card account number.

Car Buying Tips That Pay Off

If you’re ready for a new car, make sure you’ll be happy with the deal you drive at the dealership.

Start by deciding, before you even shop, how much you’re prepared to spend. This is great protection against the lure of the showroom—and you’ll still be thrilled with your new car.

One guideline is to shoot for a car payment no more than 20% of your disposable income. So after you deduct all your debts and living expenses, calculate one-fifth of the balance. The best scenario is for this amount to cover your car payments as well as insurance and gas.

Now think about how long you intend to make those payments. No surprise here—the longer you pay it back, the more you’ll pay overall. Stretching the loan out reduces each monthly payment, and that can be appealing. But you will pay more in total interest.

Use the car loan calculator at Hopewell Federal Credit Union to play with various loan terms. Then be honest with yourself about the impact on your bottom line and your other financial goals. A [name credit union] loan officer can help you walk through this step and explain your loan options.

And arrange for a preapproved loan with your [name credit union] loan officer. This means you will go to the dealership and effectively bargain for your new car with cash—the ideal way to gain leverage at the dealership while also sidestepping pressure to finance the car there.

Now, does it matter when you go shopping? Here are a few timing tips:

      * Shop early in the week. Weekends are a busy time on most car lots. So say you show up on Monday—a seller could be motivated to bargain, knowing that business likely will be slack for a few days.
      * Shop at the end of the month. Dealers who sell enough cars earn monthly bonuses. Show up toward the end of the month, when your salesperson is two cars shy of a bonus, and you could walk away with a nice price.
      * Shop for a model at the end of its design cycle. Check websites that feature vehicle news, such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Edmunds.com, for reporting about the “all new” models coming into showrooms soon. The last of the previous inventory is still new—but it may go at a lower price.

Your Hopewell Federal Credit Union loan officer has more insider car-buying insight for you. Stop in or call 740.522.8311 today.

Don’t Fall For These Common Money Myths

Even the most battle-tested budget warrior might be making money decisions based on bad information, according to results of a recent survey.

Charles Schwab interviewed 998 people to discover their biggest financial misconceptions. A large number of them believed common money myths. In fact, those who described themselves as “savvy” actually were more likely to believe the myths.

Because it’s dangerous to not know what you don’t know, here are nine common money myths.

Myth No. 1: A will guarantees your property and money will be distributed the way you wish.
Unfortunately, 91% believed this. However, if you’ve named beneficiaries on financial accounts, such as your IRA (individual retirement account) or insurance policy, those designations override any will. You’ll need to update them to ensure you don’t leave assets to someone you didn’t intend, such as an ex-spouse.

Myth No. 2: You shouldn’t have any debt when you retire.
Differentiate between “bad” and “good” debt. No credit card debt is a good goal, but you shouldn’t pay off a low-interest mortgage or student debt at the expense of saving more for retirement.

Myth No. 3: You can always shore up your income in retirement by getting another job.
This is easier said than done for a number of reasons, including declining health and the erosion of marketable skills. Only 4% of retirees end up getting another job, despite 39% of those surveyed indicating they plan to work after they retire.

Myth No. 4: Everyone should have life insurance.
Life insurance is necessary only if you have disabled or young children or a spouse depending on your income, or if you own a small business.

Myth No. 5: You should take Social Security when you turn 62.
Not unless you really need it. If you wait and take Social Security at age 70, your benefits will be 76% higher.

Myth No. 6: You should buy long-term care insurance in your 40s when premiums are lower.
The premiums will be lower, sure, but you’ll be paying them for a longer time. If you’re healthy, Schwab says the ideal age for purchasing long-term insurance is between 50 and 65.

Myth No. 7: Retirees should keep their money out of the stock market.
If you anticipate a long retirement, keeping a portion of your savings in the stock market can help you keep pace with inflation.

Myth No. 8: You should borrow from your 401(k) if you need a loan.
Borrowing from a 401(K) should be a last resort, otherwise you’re putting your retirement savings at risk. [Name of credit union] offers other low-cost loan options that won’t derail retirement savings.

Myth No. 9: Your 50s are too late to make a difference in your financial future.
If you don’t retire until your late 60s, you could have almost two decades left to save. In 2014 anyone older than 50 can contribute an additional $5,500 in catch-up IRA (individual retirement account) and 401(k) contributions.

If you have questions about money management, the professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union can help. Stop by or call today at 740.522.8311.

Services, Sites Help Veterans Navigate Benefits Maze

With Veteran’s Day just a few days away, it’s the perfect time to discuss ways we can assist our Veterans.  Veterans returning to the U.S. from their tours of duty face a fresh challenge at home: making the switch from soldier to civilian. To make veterans’ transitions easier, the federal and state governments offer a long list of benefits that address health, career, financial and other needs.

The military also offers debriefings before service members are discharged to inform them of the benefits available and how to apply for them. Despite these efforts, many veterans are missing out on their fair share of entitlements.

That’s likely due, in part, to timing: Veterans’ advocates observe that many homebound service members would rather focus on their families and the future than on learning about and applying for benefits. Those who do want to pursue their entitlements can find the amount of information and the application process daunting.

That’s where nonprofit veterans’ organizations and local agencies come in. Even though veterans can contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for assistance, service providers like the National Veterans Foundation and County Veterans Service Office enable veterans to avoid the federal bureaucracy, at least for the moment, by providing individualized benefits information and case management services. And since fellow veterans typically staff these types of organizations, the men and women who use the services can begin the process by talking to someone who can relate to what they’re going through. That kind of connection can be the key to seeing the process through.

According to the VA, approximately one-quarter of the U.S. population are potentially eligible for VA benefits and services as veterans, family members, or survivors. Though veterans’ benefits won’t provide a windfall for individuals, they can be significant and long lasting, and are worth the time and effort it takes to pursue them.

Just a few of the many resources available to returning service members include:
* Seamless Transition (benefits.va.gov/vow/seamlesstransition.htm)
* County Veterans Service Office (nacvso.org/)
* VA online directory of Veterans Service Organizations (www1.va.gov/vso/index.cfm?template=view)
* Fund for Veterans’ Education (VeteransEducationFund.org)
* Helping Heal Heroes (helpinghealheros.org)
* Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund (semperfifund.org)
* Homes for Our Troops (homesforourtroops.org)

Find out more from the Veterans Administration; va.gov.

The professionals at Hopewell Federal Credit Union also are ready to help. We can help get your financial affairs back in order during this big transition. Stop by or call us today at 740.522.8311.