Holiday Shopping Budgeting Tips

holiday_budget_630x420We’d like to thank everyone who participated in our Holiday Facebook Contest and shared your unique ways on how you budget yourself for holiday shopping. Congratulations to our Facebook Contest winner, Phyllis Ann Taylor, who earned a $75 VISA Gift Card for the holiday season. Here is what she shared:

“Set a firm budget that you can afford. Then list the gifts you need to purchase, remember to calculate wrapping, travel, luncheons, office grab bags, etc. If you start early and take advantage of coupons, etc. you will probably surprise yourself. Stop spending when you reach your limit and get creative! Give of yourself instead of gifting purchased items if necessary. Merry Christmas!”

We received so many great holiday budgeting tips so we thought we’d share them with everyone!

  • Barbara L.: I use the same list each year, adding or deleting as needed. I shop all year at sales for those items I know will be appreciated by the person who receives it. I don’t like to buy gifts just for the sake of giving a gift. I seek things special to their interests. I don’t buy for the youngsters until a few months before Christmas so I can decide upon that year’s “must have” for the children. Money is put in cards for the older children during the year so I don’t get a big hit in December.
  • Lisa B.: We make our list of those we buy gifts for and budget cash spending only, no credit cards, and no more than half of one month’s income.
  • Jennifer M.: I make my list early in the year. Starting in June I buy one gift per pay period. This allows me to stay debt free and not feel the pressure of it all coming out at once. Happy Holidays!
  • Susan R.: Our family makes a list of the most wanted items we would like for the holidays then use our holiday account that we’ve set aside and have continually paid into. We also shop around for sales and those pre-holiday deals like Black Friday or Cyber Monday to further help us save.
  • Francine O.: I shop for sales, use coupons, and to look for the best deals to save me money — that is how I budget myself for holiday shopping.
  • Teri S.: I’m fortunate in that I get “longevity pay” from work and that is my Christmas money!
  • Jamie D.: First Financial has become my newest bank with savings and checking accounts and I can’t wait to apply for the Visa credit card because it has great rates!!!
  • Alice W.: I use my First Financial Christmas Club. If I need any additional money, I use part of my income tax return. If I use my credit card I pay the Christmas expenses in full when the bill comes.
  • Melissa S.: I normally keep a list, and put a little bit away each pay check (pay cash for everything)! We also set limits with each other, so I can be budget conscious with everyone. I think next year I’ll open an FFFCU Christmas Club to help me budget even better!
  • Zanada J.: I give friends and family gift cards to stores that I know they enjoy shopping at AND coupons for that store. The best deals are ALWAYS after Christmas. Happy Holidays!
  • Tom S.: We utilize a Christmas Club account every year. The Christmas Club is our budget and it makes shopping a breeze.
  • Kelly Ann: I start writing my list in September and every pay period I spend a set amount of money on Christmas gifts. I do it little by little, so that I’m not relying on credit cards or putting myself in a bad financial situation, and I stick to the weekly budget that I set so that I don’t go overboard.
  • Susan C.: I use my First Financial Credit Union Christmas Club!
  • Terry D.: Budgeting is easy….you figure out how much money you have left after the bills are paid. Since we are on a “budget” for everything, birthday gifts and Christmas gifts all get factored in with the rest of the household expenses. One way or the other, everyone wins! Happy Holidays to everyone and especially my FFFCU family – my son has been blessed to have become a member through his auto loan, savings account and his Rutgers student loans as well. We will always remain a part of the best Credit Union there is!
  • Erin W.: I always open up a holiday club account in October every year with a certain amount and I only spend that amount. When I get the check in October I start then and just use that money and ONLY that money.
  • Patty B.: I set a certain dollar limit for each person’s gift and stick to it.
  • Margaret P.: I try to buy gifts that are practical and within budget. I allot an amount to spend on each recipient and stick to it because I don’t want to pay for Christmas long after the decorations are down.
  • Aggie R.: I set a reasonable dollar amount per child, all equal. Then I purchase one main item with that. No small cutesy, seasonal items I used to feel pressured to buy — it is all about the reason for the season! Last year I made homemade bath scrubs and that went over well with my daughters! I appreciate home made gifts and the effort it takes to make them.
  • Lynette B.: I never buy anything that is full price. I cut coupons, look for early bird specials, and I DO go shopping on Black Friday. I’m usually home by 8:00am with lots of bargains. My children are older so we really don’t go crazy at Christmas – they get everything they need during the year. I usually buy one large gift for each of my children and then a few little things. My husband and I don’t exchange, we save our money for a trip in the springtime to go visit both of our elderly parents who both live in Florida right around the corner from each other. For friends and other family members…I love to bake!!!
  • Joshua E.: I make sure I plan well ahead for all the shopping that I will do by setting a budget for all gifts, then searching for the best deals!
  • Stacy M.: I have a holiday club through First Financial that I set up years ago. It makes saving so much easier for the holidays!
  • Maria S.: It’s really hard to budget myself on shopping for my son so I don’t let myself go to the toy department in any store so I’m not tempted! The temptation is tough to fight!!!!
  • KellieRose W.: I don’t buy anything that is full price and I save gift cards all year to use for holiday shopping!
  • Susan P.: I save a certain amount every month so when December comes, I have what I need to buy the gifts I need.
  • Jennifer M.: Shop gradually don’t save it for last minute!
  • Paula P.: I start buying gifts early.
  • Joanne P.: I love the Direct Deposit to the Holiday Club and I love getting the money deposited right into my checking account in October! Makes shopping a lot easier!
  • Cindy W.: I save by not eating out as much!
  • Ann S.: I always budget myself very well and I never fall short of money because I have First Financial to fall back on. Happy Holidays to all of you.
  • Lois T.: I don’t buy more than I can pay off! First Financial’s easy to navigate web page makes it easy to keep track.
  • Ajane D.: I make sure I purchase all the necessities first and if I have extra money then I buy some new clothes or cosmetics. Last holiday I got an extra cash bonus from work and I gave some money to my mom. I always share because it makes me happy!
  • Laurie D.: My husband and I have 3 children and 1 granddaughter. In order for us to have enough money to purchase holiday gifts we start a savings club at the beginning of each year. Then we take what was saved and divide it amongst them. We try and purchase the things they need most. Although it’s a hard time of the year, we love Christmas and make the best of it.
  • Marcy V.: New this year, I put all my silver change into a big jar all year long. In November I turned it into cash at a machine. This year I netted $316.42. This will allow me to get at least seven or eight decent gifts (on sale of course)!
  • Michelle J.: List, limit, leave! Make a list for who you need to shop for, decide a dollar limit, leave the store once you get what is on your list so you are not tempted to impulse buy!
  • Jess E.: I budget myself by starting to shop before the holiday season so my wallet isn’t hit all at once!
  • Joe V.: I budget myself for holiday shopping by starting to buy some gifts as early as October through November. Then by December I have half of my shopping done, and know how much I’ll have in my budget for the up to the last minute shopping!
  • Joanne O.: I budget my holiday spending by always having a Holiday Club. I save $50-$100 per week and usually have enough left over to treat my husband and I to a little vacation also!
  • Pamela G.: Have been a credit union member since I began my career as an educator with the Toms River schools — loyalty with this credit union has its rewards. I do my Christmas shopping early and pace myself so that I don’t incur a huge debt. I always look for gifts for family and friends and buy when I see what is suitable for each person. This way I don’t feel a financial crunch all at once and it works for me.
  • Karen L.: I put $100 a month in my holiday savings so by October 1st I have $1200! I also buy gifts as I see them through the year – though I tend to spend more that way!
  • Debbie T.: I always have a First Financial Holiday Club and always stay within that budget, deciding ahead of time how much will be spent on each person.
  • Brownie’s Woodcrafts: My best plan involves participating in local craft shows to help shoppers buy great products made in the USA.
  • Saul H.: I budget for holiday shopping with sales, coupons, comparison shopping, rewards points, bargain hunting as a sport and saving on a regular basis to fund what I want to purchase.
  • Judy B.: I shop all year long and try to find the perfect gift for everyone. I splurge as long as I know it will make the recipient happy. Spreading the generosity throughout the year is a lot easier on my budget.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and receive the most recent information about First Financial including monthly trivia, seminars, financial tips, event information, promotions, and so much more! Thank you again for participating and on behalf of everyone at First Financial we wish you all a very happy holiday season!

Affordable Holiday Gift Ideas

holiday-shopping-womenWant to buy for everyone on your holiday list, but don’t want to go broke while doing so? Here are some tips to keep your holidays fun yet affordable!

  • Make a list. Many people spend as they go, buying presents when they see them and end up surprised when the bills arrive in January. You can avoid this problem by creating a list in advance of who you plan to buy gifts for, and you should budget for each. Then, check this total against your holiday savings to decide if you need to adjust your spending.
  • Be creative. As you begin your shopping, remember that thoughtfulness really does count. Instead of searching for one expensive present, you may be able to save money, and give the perfect gift, by putting together a number of small items that relate to a loved one’s special interest. Someone who truly loves chocolate, for example, might appreciate a small basket full of treats you’ve chosen for them. Anyone with an interest in sewing or crafts could probably use a gift bag with a fresh stock of supplies for the new year. By putting together a lot of inexpensive items, you may be able to save money and show how much you care.
  • Hit the kitchen. If you are a good cook, or you simply have a foolproof recipe, gifts of food are inexpensive and very popular. Whether you give a mixture of great holiday cookies or your grandmother’s prize-winning banana bread, your friends and family are sure to welcome the effort. In fact, you might not need to cook at all. If you’re fortunate enough to have some great family recipes that have received compliments over the years, write them out on attractive cards and tie them with a festive ribbon. These great gifts will spread the joy of delicious cooking throughout your circle of friends.
  • Good deeds are gifts, too. Many of the people on your list may value a favor done for them more than any expensive present. Couples with young children would probably be delighted if you offer to babysit so they can have some time together. You can surprise a friend with a very busy schedule by promising to do the weekly shopping for a month. Present each recipient with a beautiful card describing the good deed to be performed. Such efforts cost nothing more than a few hours of your time, but they are greatly appreciated.
  • Check your list twice. First, plan and purchase all you need for the lower-cost presents recommended here. Then, when you move on to higher-priced presents, keep an eye out for sales and comparison shop to get the best prices. You may find you can get the items on your list for less.
  • Consult your financial planner. These ideas will help limit your spending during the busy holiday season. Your local financial planner can offer great advice on how to manage your money throughout the year. Be sure to turn to him or her for answers to all your financial questions. Financial planners promote personal and professional financial security all year round. If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your brokerage, investments, and/or savings goals, contact us at 732.312.1565 or stop in to see us!*

Click here to view the article source.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC , a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Non-deposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members. CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., is a registered broker/dealer in all fifty states of the United States of America.

Protecting Yourself From Holiday Fraudsters

HolidayMailTheftThe holiday season is here and you’re beginning to spend your hard-earned money while shopping online, by phone, or in stores—and fraudsters are on the prowl, ready to steal your cash and personal information. Don’t let these criminals get away with ruining your financial security.

We encourage you to protect yourself against fraud now before it’s too late. Below are some easy strategies you can use to help better detect and avoid falling victim to fraud and identity theft.

  • Review Credit Reports at Least Once a Year. This will help ensure fraudulent accounts have not been opened using your personal information. Additionally, the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles consumers to a free credit report once a year from each of the three nationwide credit reporting agencies. You can receive your report by contacting the credit reporting agencies directly or by visiting www.annualcreditreport.com.
  • Shred Documents with Personal and Financial Information. Financial statements, credit card offers and billing statements are examples of documents you should be shredding. Consider going to a local shred day in your area so you can safely discard your personal and financial records.
  • Monitor Financial Statements and Online Banking Regularly. You should get into the routine of checking your statements and periodically reviewing your account transactions and online activities. This will help identify unauthorized account activities early, preventing potential losses to your personal accounts.
  • Ensure Children Understand What Information to Provide Online. Fraudsters will often use a game or a free offer that will request personal information, or will include spyware to track and steal information from your computer or mobile device. Protect yourself by encouraging your children to limit online contact to friends they actually know, setting privacy controls to restrict access to private information, and enabling parental controls that allow access to only trusted sites. It is also a good idea to talk to your children about not giving out their name, address, date of birth, or any other personal information online without talking to you first.
  • Beware of Downloading Sneaky Apps. Smartphone or social networking applications may provide application developers with access to your personal information, such as messages, contacts, emails and photos. Often, this information isn’t related to the application’s purpose. Instead developers may share the information with marketers or other third parties. Be sure to read the privacy policy of each application before downloading to understand what private information you’re sharing.
  • Look Out for Scams Involving Social Engineering. Fraudsters may impersonate a credit union (or other legitimate organizations) to trick you into giving out personal account information. This social engineering tactic is often utilized as part of an elaborate scheme involving phone calls, emails, text messages and other forms of communication. Keep in mind that you should never reply to unsolicited telephone, email, text or pop-up messages asking for personal account information. It is important to understand legitimate organizations never ask for sensitive information over unsecured communication channels. Click here to view some important articles with tips and advice about how you can protect yourself from fraud. Remember, a fraudster’s greatest advantage is your lack of knowledge and awareness – so get educated!
Check out our ID Theft Protection products – with Fully Managed Identity Recovery services from First Financial, you don’t need to worry. A professional Recovery Advocate will do the work on your behalf, based on a plan that you approve. Should you experience an Identity Theft incident, your Recovery Advocate will stick with you all along the way – and will be there for you until your good name is restored.
Our ID Theft Protection options may include some of the following services, based on the package you choose to enroll in: Lost Document Replacement, Credit Bureau Monitoring, Score Tracker, and Three-Generation Family Benefit. To learn more about our new ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today!*

* Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

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14 Tips to Avoid Cyber Monday Scams

cyber-monday-discountIn the frenzy of limited time offers, last minute sales and one-click shopping, it can be difficult to stay secure while you shop online, particularly on days like Cyber Monday (December 2nd, 2013).

Last year, consumers spent about 1.5 billion dollars on Cyber Monday, up 16% from 2011. Industry experts predict this season will see even more growth. Coupled with the boom in sales is a predicted increase in the amount and severity of online scamming and data theft.

Will Pelgrin, CEO of The Center for Internet Security (CIS), a non-profit organization focused on improving the cyber-security posture of both the private and public sector, shares a few helpful tips about staying secure online this season.

1. Don’t Click on Pop-up Ads

Though it may seem obvious, malicious pop-up ads still pose one of the largest threats to web shoppers. According to Pelgrin, studies have shown that a large amount of consumers will click on the “ad” regardless of its message. Be mindful of what pop-ups say, it could be evidence of a security threat.

2. Keep Software Up-To-Date

Though many systems automatically update your software as new features become available, it’s important to keep your programs as current as possible. To avoid security holes, update apps and software minimally once a week, as newer versions appear.

3. Use Strong Passwords

An essential part of online security in any sense is using strong passwords. This means no birthdays, dog names or variations of “1234″ for any of your accounts. For help making a strong password, check out this guide: How to Create a Secure Password.

4. Install Antivirus and Anti-Spyware software

When shopping, you don’t want others to be able to track what sites you’re visiting and what information you’re entering online. If you need help choosing, check out this guide here: 5 Best Free Antivirus Software Options.

5. Enable ‘Timeouts’ on Mobile

According to Pelgrin, more and more consumers are doing the bulk of their holiday shopping on mobile phones. If you’re one of those consumers, make sure to enable a lock screen password, in case your device is lost or stolen. “If your phone isn’t timed out, you’re leaving the keys to your kingdom to whoever picks it up,” says Pelgrin.

6. Use a Secure Connection

Pelgrin recommends that any and all online financial transactions take place through a secure, private Wi-Fi connection, as opposed to using the more vulnerable free Wi-Fi in a coffee shop or library.

7. Avoid Email Advertisements

Your inbox is likely swarming with holiday promotions from all of your favorite (and likely least favorite) brands. To avoid being hacked, the CIS recommends you always enter the shop’s URL in your browser, rather than following the links contained in an email.

8. Shop at Companies You Know

Before you buy from a merchant on Amazon, Etsy or Ebay, check their rating and number of sales. Make sure they have good return policies and clearly posted contact information. If worried, you can always check on a businesses legitimacy through the Better Business Bureau.

9. Use Credit, Not Debit

“There are more security protections on your credit card that may not exist while using your debit card, should your info be taken,” says Pelgrin.

10. Ensure Your Site Is Secure

If you are entering your financial information on a webpage, make sure the URL begins with “https” as opposed to “http” or has a lock in your browser’s search bar.

11. Be Wary of Charity Sites

Though the holidays are frequently the most popular time to make donations to charity, Pelgrin urges consumers to check the legitimacy of your charity’s website.

“Fraudulent sites pop up during disasters and holidays like clockwork. Be alert,” he says.

12. Check Your Location and Privacy Settings

Many apps and websites will automatically share your GPS location by default. Sometimes, apps will change your settings once downloaded. Check what services your downloads have access to in your phone’s privacy settings.

13. Check Your Statements Frequently

According to Pelgrin, some hackers will do very low level theft once obtaining your information, charging small amounts to your credit card to avoid detection. Stay on top of your account statements and keep a record of how much you spend and where.

14. Add Browser Extensions and Security Apps

Pop-up blockers and malware detection extensions will add an extra layer to your security this season. For some free Internet security tools, check out this other article: 8 Best Free Tools for Internet Security.

Are you aware of our latest ID Theft Protection Services? First Financial’s latest ID Theft Protection products can easily be set up, there are options for setting up a credit score tracker, as well as a virtual vault to store your important documents and passwords online, and should an ID Theft incident occur – you’ve got an advocate on your side assisting you every step of the way. Ask us how to get started today!*

Happy Safe Shopping!

Click here to view the article source by Max Knoblauch of Mashable.

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The 
description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and 
does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. 
Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of 
coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

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“Tis the Season”…..Protect Your Family NOW

Santa-caption2Don’t look now, but identity thieves are gearing up for the holidays just like you. They know that transactions are flying around and everyone is looking for great deals. A “perfect storm” for prying on people and catching you off guard because “it’s the holidays”!

There are so many ways for thieves to steal personal information and unfortunately they know that during the holidays people tend to be easy targets. According to the “McAfee Highlights of the Top 12 Scams of Christmas” the schemes used by thieves can be as simple as selling “bogus gift cards” online or as sophisticated as setting up “fake charities”.

The simple fact is that we can’t be “on-guard” all the time and there are far too many ways that you and your loved ones could be subjected to one or more of these scams. Many of these scams lead to identity theft events that can be very harmful. So how does anyone feel completely safe from these crafty identity thieves? Make a small investment and obtain the ultimate safety net…purchase high quality, identity theft recovery and restoration services like we offer here at First Financial. It is much less expensive than monitoring services (which you can actually do quite easily yourself), and provides the greatest form of ultimate protection.

As you’ve just learned, identity thieves go into a frenzy during the holiday season and it can happen to anyone, anywhere – regardless of how careful you are, your age, income, or where you live — so don’t wait until you become a victim and do something to protect yourself! First Financial has arranged with Santa to obtain this kind of service for members from a top quality company that has been in business almost as long as Santa himself…over 77 years. This deal is better than any other you’ll find under the tree this year.

With Fully Managed Identity Recovery services from First Financial, you don’t need to worry. A professional Recovery Advocate will do the work on your behalf, based on a plan that you approve. Should you experience an Identity Theft incident, your Recovery Advocate will stick with you all along the way – and will be there for you until your good name is restored.

Our ID Theft Protection options may include some of the following services, based on the package you choose to enroll in: Lost Document Replacement, Credit Bureau Monitoring, Score Tracker, and Three-Generation Family Benefit. To learn more about our new ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today!*

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

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This Incredibly Common Practice Could Tank Your Credit

ccsRevolve a balance on your credit cards? It’s something many of us do, especially as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear. But consider yourself warned: It could also be viewed as a red flag by lenders, especially if you’re paying down a smaller share of your debt each month.

Credit bureau TransUnion came out with a new product it calls CreditVision, which gives lenders a two-and-a-half year look back window at how much of your available credit you use and whether you revolve a balance from month to month.

The conventional wisdom is that as long as you keep your credit utilization — the ratio of your balance to your credit limit — under 30% and make your payments on time, it’s OK to roll over a balance from month to month. But TransUnion says people who don’t pay their balance in full every month, which it calls “revolvers,” are up to three times more likely to fall behind on a new loan within two years than people with otherwise similar risk profiles who pay off their credit cards entirely every month, which it calls “transactors.” Therefore, it might be a good idea to pay your balances in full more often than not if you’re looking to get some kind of loan in the future.

“Without the data available in CreditVision —historical balances and actual payment amount — it is very difficult, and inaccurate, to determine whether consumers are transactors or revolvers,” says Charlie Wise, vice president in the financial services business unit of TransUnion.  ”Our research has shown that consumers who are transactors are significantly lower risk on new loans than consumers who are revolvers and have lower subsequent delinquency rates on new loans.”

Although Wise says this doesn’t mean lenders avoid people who revolve balances, but serial balance-carriers should take note. “A consumer’s payment behavior on their credit cards and loan accounts may in fact impact their credit score,” Wise says, once TransUnion starts offering scoring models that incorporate this historical data later in the quarter.

With the introduction of CreditVision, all of the big three credit bureaus now give lenders the ability to take a deep dive into your past charging and payment history.

Equifax came out with a product called Dimensions in August that gives lenders a two-year look back. Among other uses, the company says lenders can pinpoint customers most receptive to balance-transfer pitches and determine how much more debt they can take on before they can’t keep up with their payments anymore.

Experian has offered something similar for a couple of years now as part of its TrendView product. It lets lenders see if people are paying off their cards in full every month, carrying balances or “rate surfing,” transferring balances from one teaser rate to another.

“It can be good or bad, depending on what they’ve been doing,” says Trevor Carone, Experian’s senior vice president of sciences and analytics. If they’ve been paying down their debt, lenders now have proof of that, which is particularly good for people who are wiping out a substantial debt quickly.

On the other hand, if your balances are growing from month to month or if your payments have dropped to just the minimum, “That’s a sign of risk, and lenders will take that into consideration,” Carone says.

It’s a double-edged sword if you’re trying to get a handle on your debt. While it’s great if you’re making strides towards knocking out a big balance, it also means you’re more likely to be targeted for new offers which could lead to temptation and we don’t need an invitation to rack up more debt.

Just over 38% of Americans revolve holiday credit card debt, according to Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of industry site CardHub.com, and we’re on track to end this year a collective $41.2 billion deeper in credit card debt this year. For the 13% of Americans surveyed by Consumer Reports last November who were still paying off their holiday shopping bills from 2011, this new visibility into their debt could be bad news.

“Short-term changes, if they’re seasonal — lenders expect that,” Carone says. ”If your behavior is persistent for six months or more, it becomes more predictive.”

If you run up a balance around the holidays and then pay it off over the course of a few months, a lender can predict that you’ll continue to behave that way in the future. But if the amount you’re paying on those bills drops as the months go by, or if you pile this year’s Black Friday splurges onto last year’s still-existing debt, it  might not be appealing to see that — even if you never miss a payment.

Don’t forget about our free, online debt management tool, Debt in Focus. In just minutes, you will receive a thorough analysis of your financial situation, including powerful tips by leading financial experts to help you control your debt, build a budget, and start living the life you want to live. We also have our First Score Credit Counseling program; a low cost, interactive session ($30) with a First Financial expert, which simulates your credit score with various “what if” scenarios. You can email us at firstscore@firstffcu.com or call 866.750.0100, Option 2 to get started.

Click here to view the article source by Martha C. White of Time.com.