Happy Camping: Scout How Your Kids Will Spend Their Summer

After more than nine highly structured months with kids in school, summer can seem long and unwieldy. Camp is the answer for many parents.

Traditional sleep-away camps can give urban children a chance to relax and play in idyllic environments. Specialty camps can hone skills in sports, music, drama, religion, or other activities. Others just offer a variety of experiences day to day to allow kids to follow and cultivate their curiosity and imagination.

Here’s how to find the right camp for your child and ensure that he or she will have the best possible experience:
* Visit campparents.org. The American Camp Association’s parent-focused site offers a find-a-camp search tool, allowing parents to narrow choices by cost, camper age, location, length of stay, activities, and more. All of the camps in the database are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA), Martinsville, Ind., which ensures that they meet minimum standards for health, safety, and program quality.

* Call camp directors. “As a parent, be prepared to articulate what you hope your children will gain from the camp experience,” says Dayna Hardin, owner of Lake of the Woods camp for girls and Greenwoods camp for boys in Decatur, Mich. “When we as camp directors know what parent expectations are, we do a good job of meeting or exceeding them.”

* Don’t offer to rescue. Hardin discourages parents from having some kind of pick-up deal. “Kids are going to feel a little homesick,” she says. “They’re supposed to miss their families, not forget about them. But one of the things about camp is that kids learn coping skills.”

* Visit if you can. Hardin notes that many camps—both overnight and day—welcome parents for visits while camp is in session. It requires planning; parents would have to tour camp the year before they want to enroll their children, but nothing beats that first-hand impression.

* Ask about financial assistance. Many camps offer early enrollment or sibling discounts, and some will arrange payment plans with parents. Every year, 90% of ACA camps offer some kind of financial assistance, often called “camperships,” totaling more than $39 million.

Hopewell Federal can help you save for camp and other family activities by helping create a spending plan. Call us today at 740.522.8311 or stop by for assistance in creating a plan.

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Don’t Ignore That $1 Charge on Your Card

It can be easy to dismiss that $1 charge you don’t remember making on your debit or credit card. But you should be paying attention: Scam artists often make $1 “test” charges to see if you’ll notice and take action. If you don’t, crooks know it’s safe to continue using your card, sometimes spending hundreds of dollars in a short time period. If you think you may be a victim of fraud, contact your card issuer and Hopewell Federal Credit Union, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.

Fraud Prevention Awareness from HFCU

FRAUD DEFINITIONS
Phishing is a way of attempting to acquire information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Vishing also called (Voice Phishing) is the voice counterpart to the phishing scheme. Instead of being directed by an email to a website, the user is asked to make a telephone call.
SMiShing is a spin-off version of Vishing. In this instance the victim receives a text message via their cell phone with the implications that there is a threat to their account and request a callback to a number provided in the message. The social engineering tactics used are the same as the phishing and vishing attacks; the only difference is the delivery method.

PREVENTION
• Remember….Hopewell Federal Credit Union will never call, email or text requesting your account number, social security number or last four digits of either.
• Ignore e-mails or pop-up messages that request personal or financial information
• Don’t use links in messages, even if the message appears to come from your credit union. Enter your credit union’s Web address in the browser yourself. Phishers can make links look like they go one place, but it actually send you to their legitimate-looking fake site.
• Read carefully. Typically, phishing messages are not personalized, whereas official credit union communications are. A typical warning sign is that the communication presents an urgent nature to the request.
• Call Hopewell Federal Credit Union at 740.522.8311 to confirm the message. Always use the phone number printed on official statements or credit cards. Do not use the number that appears in the message.
• Keep your home and work computers safe with current technology solutions, including gateway routers and virus/malware/spyware detection software, which will help prevent virus infections and warn when you are attempting to access a known phishing site.
• Don’t e-mail personal or financial information.
• Review credit card and account statements, as well as online transaction, as soon as they are available to check for unauthorized charges.
• Only open attachments or download files that you have requested or subscribed to.
• Forward phishing e-mails as an attachment to spam@uce.gov and the impersonated organization impersonated.
• If you’ve been scammed, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s Identity Theft Web site at http://www.ftc.gov/idtheft for assistance. Also, file a complaint on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crime Complaint Center Web site, http://www.ic3.gov/.

Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks

We were thrilled to read, NerdWallet selected our Blog as a top pick among Credit Union blogs.  Nerdwallet.com is a great website loaded with information.  Take a moment to review the article featuring Hopewell Federal Credit Union and be sure and sign up for their mailing list.

Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks.

How to keep your New Year’s financial resolutions

ByJill Schlesinger /MoneyWatch/ December 28, 2012, 6:55 AM

(MoneyWatch) When you think about it, New Year’s financial resolutions may be easier to keep than losing weight or quitting that smoking habit. According to a study by Fidelity Investments, 62 percent of consumers say they stuck with their financial resolutions in the past year, compared with only 40 percent who kept their other resolutions.

View the entire cbs.com article.

 

Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

Everyone–regardless of age–can take steps to shape up their finances.

As you decide on your New Year’s resolutions, think SMART–financial goals that are specific, measurable, adjustable, realistic, and time-oriented.

Here are some examples of financial goals for different generations:

Youth
* Collect your change. Each time you buy something, save the change you get back. Deposit the change in a container at the end of every day. Over time it could add up to a significant amount of money.

* Save your allowance. Whether you want to buy something you’ve been eyeing for months or you want to start saving for college, the only way you are going to do it is by putting your allowance away. Deposit at least part of your allowance in a share savings account at the credit union.

Gen Y
* Open a Roth IRA (individual retirement account) and start saving. Make savings a habit and invest at least 10% of every paycheck for retirement. The longer you have to save with a Roth IRA, the more you save on taxes. Although contributions aren’t tax-deductible, your money grows tax-free and comes out tax-free as long as you meet certain requirements.

* Put your credit card away. Use credit cards only when you know you have the funds set aside to pay the bill in full when the bill comes. Don’t leave a balance on your credit card or you’ll be charged interest.

Baby boomers
* Put your debts in priority order. Make a list of all your liabilities and organize them by the annual interest rate. Pay off those with the highest rates first, while still making at least minimum payments on all the others. Set a specific, realistic date for when you plan to achieve your goal of paying off all debts.

* Determine your net worth. Calculate your assets minus liabilities each year–preferably on Dec. 31–so you quickly can see whether you’re gaining ground or falling behind. Your net worth should be increasing each year. If it’s not, make a plan to improve it, such as pay down a specific debt or put more money into a retirement account.

Seniors
* Evaluate your estate plan. Establish or review your will, advance directives, and powers of attorney, and make sure they reflect your preferences and current situation. Make sure all of your intended beneficiaries are on file for all your financial accounts.

* Check all insurance policies. For example, know what is covered in your homeowners policy and verify your liability coverage. Call your insurance agent if you have any questions.

A credit union could be your best source for a mortgage

Great article from HSH.com…

Financial institutions have pulled back on mortgage lending since the housing bubble burst, but credit unions have increased their mortgage lending substantially. According to CreditUnions.com, credit unions originated 60 percent more first mortgages during the first nine months of 2012 compared to the first nine months of 2011.

Click here to read the full article

Guidelines for Paperwork Storage

Many people struggle with knowing what paperwork to hang on to, how long to keep it, and what to shred. Follow these guidelines to help keep your files lean and organized.

Keep for less than one month
• Receipts for small purchases and ATM transactions—Keep until you reconcile against your checking account or credit card statements.

Keep short term (less than one year)
• Credit card, utility, cell phone, and other monthly statements until you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• If you’ll need any of these bills for tax purposes (i.e., you write off part of your cell phone bill for a small business), keep them for tax documentation.
• Loan and mortgage statements—Get rid of monthly or quarterly statements when your end of year statements arrive.
• Copy of your driver’s license
• Comprehensive list of credit union and other financial institution account numbers; credit card account numbers (in case your wallet is stolen or for another emergency)
• Old insurance claims—If the claim has been paid.
• Social security statements—Shred last year’s when you receive a new one and have reviewed for accuracy.
• Pay stubs—Purge individual pay stubs once your annual W-2 form arrives and you’ve reviewed for accuracy.
• Vehicle paperwork—Keep for one year after you sell the vehicle.
• Receipts for major purchases (to use the warranty or prove value in the case of loss or damage or for items you may want to return).

Keep one year
• Hopewell Federal Credit Union checking or savings account statements. If you use Hopewell online, you might choose to not receive paper statements—account information is available 24/7 and statements are available monthly.
• Retirement plan statements: Keep quarterly statements of contributions and withdrawals for one year. Toss after matching figures with annual statement. Keep annual summaries until you retire.

Keep long term
• Tax documents to include proof of charitable contributions and tax-deductible medical expenses.
• Loan and mortgage annual statements
• Receipts and information relating to major home improvement
• If you buy or sell property, keep records of legal fees and your real estate agent’s commission for six years after you sell your house.
• Bills for major purchases

Keep indefinitely
• Birth, death, and marriage certificates
• Divorce, adoption, citizenship, military discharge, and veterans papers
• Social Security cards
• Wills and living wills
• Passports
• Diplomas
• Insurance beneficiaries
• Education records
• Immunization records
• Tax returns (1040)
• Tax forms related to retirement accounts
• Documents related to trusts or giving stock to beneficiaries
• Power of attorney
• Inheritance records
• Updated household inventory
• Proof of major debt repayment
• Legal correspondence
• Bankruptcy paperwork
• Retirement account documentation that shows contributions and withdrawals

Keep electronic data on an encrypted USB flash drive or encrypted external hard drive. You can cut down on a lot of paperwork by signing up for online statements and payments from Hopewell Federal. If you don’t have a safe deposit box, stop at Hopewell Federal Credit Union for details about this safe, affordable way to store your valuable documents.