Category Archives: Your Family

Seven Steps to a Successful Budget

Budget

The information in this post is provided by our partner Accel Financial Counseling. Accel’s counseling services and educational programs are available free to all Consumers members. Budgeting can be a simple and straightforward process. It can also be a rewarding experience for all family members. But, it takes interest and commitment. Here are seven steps to help you create a successful budget. 1. Discuss Values Determine what is most important to the people involved in your budget, or spending plan. By understanding these values, you can make decisions that will provide you with the most satisfaction. 2. Set Goals Begin setting goals by discussing with family members what each one may want to do with their money. An example of a goal might be to save for a child’s education. Have each member list the goal and a deadline. Work on the most important goals first. Put money aside in … …continue

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Spend Less and Save More this Holiday Season

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This holiday season, Consumers ConnectU is bringing you our favorite tips for saving time and money. Katie Bryan, Communications Director for America Saves, presents these holiday spending statistics—and savings strategies that help you celebrate without financial stress. Last year, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) found that 12 percent of people said they were planning to spend more during the holidays than in the previous year. That number was up from 2011 where only 8 percent planned on spending more than in the previous year. This year, help reverse this trend and plan on spending less and saving more. Remember, it’s the thought that counts not the amount you spend. CFA and CUNA offer the following five ways to cut back on your holiday spending this year: 1. Make a budget and a list. Decide how much you can afford to spend and … …continue

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Say “Bah Humbug” to Holiday Scams

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Christmas carols, stockings hung by the fire, time to celebrate with friends and family—we love the holidays! Unfortunately, so do fraudsters, and as budgets get tight this time of year, scammers often ramp up their efforts. Don’t get scrooged by holiday fraud attempts, which come in many guises. Beware of situations such as these: Phone, Text, and Email Scams Fraudsters often pose as legitimate service providers asking for your account information. Such attempts are known as “phishing” (by email) or “smishing” (by text). They may route you to a fraudulent website where you are to fill in your personal details. Don’t be fooled! Consumers will NEVER contact you over the phone, by text, or by email asking you to provide personal information such as account numbers and Social Security numbers. If you receive a request over the phone or online from someone asking you to provide such information, do not … …continue

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If It’s Too Good to Be True…

Excited Shopping Woman

As budgets get tight around the holidays, fraudsters often ramp up their scam attempts. Mystery shopper or secret shopper schemes are particularly common this time of year. These schemes may be advertised online or the scammer may target individuals by mail or email. This kind of fraud tends to target victims who are out of work, looking for more work, or otherwise in a tight financial situation—in other words, those who can’t afford to be a victim of fraud. This makes identifying scam attempts all the more important to potential victims. The following red flags indicate that a mystery shopper or secret shopper offer is a scam: You are unfamiliar with the company or individual contacting you to participate in their mystery shopper program. You receive a communication asking you to keep your participation confidential or not reveal the source of funds received for the activities.  You receive a check … …continue

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Know the Signs of Identity Theft

Identity theft

Identity theft occurs when a criminal steals personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card numbers, or ID numbers to access the victim’s accounts or open new accounts, obtain credit, etc. with a false identity. To prevent identity theft, we recommend safeguarding all personal information and securely destroying all sensitive documents when you no longer need them. We provide secure shred bins in all of our offices for your use. We also recommend monitoring your accounts for any suspicious activity. The following can be signs that your identity has been stolen: Receiving unexpected billing statements or having your mail rerouted or stopped. Receiving multiple phone calls for another person. Notices that your address or password has been changed. A sudden unexplained change in your credit score or new accounts on your credit report. Unusual transactions on your bank accounts. Being told by a service provider that … …continue

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3 Tips for Better Money Talks

Couple discussing money

We’ve often shared our view that creating a budget shouldn’t be looked at as a chore, but an opportunity to prioritize where your money goes. Budgeting helps you cut out the spending that doesn’t matter to you so that you have more money for the things you care about it. Of course, that’s why it’s can be difficult to start a conversation about money with someone else. It’s not just about the numbers—it’s about your individual priorities and values. It gets even more complicated when the financial choices of the other person impact your decisions and vice versa. Here are our three favorite tips for talking money with your partner: Ease into it If you’re currently furious at your partner for spending you consider frivolous, it’s not the time to talk. Instead, wait until you’ve cooled off. When you’re ready, don’t start with accusations. Ask your partner why he made … …continue

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Do I Need to Balance My Checking Account: The Second Video in the Consumers ConnectU November Account Series

Consumers ConnectU - Tim

Many members ask, “Now that we have Online Banking, mobile apps, and debit cards, do I really need to balance my checking account?” “It depends on the way you budget and bank,” says Tim Kosak, Consumer Lending Manager at Consumers Credit Union. Watch the video below, the second in the Consumers ConnectU November account series for money management tips that don’t involve a checkbook register (although we’ve got those, too, if you need one!). Want more tips like these? Watch last week’s video, Debit vs. Credit.

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Protect Your Mobile Information

Location Settings

Most of us are inseparable from our smartphones. We share pictures as we go about our day, tweet out the articles we’ve enjoyed, keep track of our bank accounts on the go, and ask Siri or Google for directions. All of that activity helps us get our daily tasks done and stay in touch with friends and family; however, it can also leave a data trail for those who would use our information for more malicious purposes. Internet security experts recommend that you selectively disable geotagging on your phone, so that you’re not giving out your location every time you share a picture or a status update, while still being able to use your maps applications to get directions. To do this on an iPhone: 1. Open Settings. 2. Select Privacy and then Location Services. 3. Turn off Location Services for your camera and any additional apps that you do … …continue

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