This Thursday Only – Schedule a Free Credit Report Review!

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We want to get to know you as a member.

And we want to help you get to know your credit score and what it means to you. It’s not just a number!

Schedule an appointment on Thursday, January 19th to review your credit score with us.

credit-score-explanation-graphicWe’ll help you gain insight by reviewing your credit report to help you understand:

  • Why you have the credit score you do
  • How you can improve your score
  • How you can keep your score high for years to come

Log into annualcreditreport.com, print your credit report, and bring it to your scheduled appointment. Don’t have easy printer access? A staff member will print it for you, or walk you through the website during your appointment.

 

Schedule your appointment now! Email marketingbd@firstffcu.com or call 732.312.1500.

*Your free credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com does not guarantee results and is not a product of First Financial Federal Credit Union. Appointments on 1/19/17 are not credit repair tools. First Financial does not guarantee that taking the actions suggested through the credit report process will produce improved or identical changes to bureau risk scores. The scoring model used to generate scores may not be the same as the model used at First Financial or other financial institutions. 

5 Ways to Stop Spending Money

Stop Me on the Open Hand on a White Background.

Give yourself a waiting period

We all make impulse purchases from time to time. One minute you’re harmlessly surfing the internet, the next minute you’re looking at a $100 pocket-size flashlight and before you know it, it’s on your doorstep two days later. The best solution for this problem is to give yourself a mandatory 24-hour waiting period. Often, the purchase won’t seem like such a great idea the next day. Use this method online and in-store. If shopping on sites like Amazon is a problem, you should definitely read this!

Eat at home

Cooking at home is probably easy for a lot of people, but some days you probably don’t feel like cooking and you may instead decide to venture out. If you feel like you’re in the same boat, just track this for one week. Start on Sunday and keep track of all your restaurant receipts for the week. The following Sunday, go to the grocery store and buy enough for a week’s worth of meals. Guaranteed you’ll see a huge difference in your bank account.

Don’t go off your list

When it comes to meals, planning ahead definitely helps when you’re trying to spend less money. Figure out what you want to eat for the week, make a list of what you need to buy, (remember you can use some ingredients for multiple meals) and don’t buy anything you haven’t planned for.

Leave your credit card at home

You may be thinking it’s not responsible to leave your house without some sort of payment, in case of emergency. You’re right, so take your debit card or cash. If you need to buy something, you can use “present money,” as opposed to using a credit card, which is “future money.” You should have a good idea about the money you have, so hopefully this will keep you from spending more than you should.

Borrow before you buy

You can’t ever go wrong with borrowing items from friends and family. Just don’t go overboard. You probably shouldn’t ask your neighbor to borrow his lawnmower every weekend, all summer long. But if your brother has those Marvel Blu-rays you’ve been wanting, watch his copies and save the money.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

How to Get Ready for Tax Season

Tax Forms

Make a list of major life changes.

Getting married, having a baby, buying a house, or a death in the family this year means that your tax situation is probably going to change. Make sure you fully understand how these events are going to affect you now to offset any tax increases that you may experience.

Make a tax folder.

Shortly after the first of year all of your tax documents are going to start rolling in. When they do, put them all into one place. Even before those W-2s or 1099s show up, gather all of the receipts from your tax-deductible expenses and donations.

Decide if you are going to go it alone.

If you are going to file yourself, the best time to get a deal on the updated tax software is right after the first of the year. The longer you wait, they more expensive it could be, so make sure you aren’t missing out. If you are going to use an accountant, you should be scheduling an appointment now.

First Financial members get discounts on tax software from TurboTax. Get started today!

Know how to file for an extension.

Sometimes it can be difficult to find all the right documents before the deadline (which in 2017 is going to be April 18th). All you need to do to receive an extension is fill out and submit Form 4868, though the IRS will not be ready to process these forms until March at the earliest.

Educate yourself.

Last year a NerdWallet survey found that the average American scores a 51% on personal finance questions related to US federal income tax returns. Most of the questions missed had to do with how retirement accounts, college savings and healthcare can affect your tax return. Take some time to fully understand all these factors so you can be sure to get your largest return in 2017.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com

 

3 Tips for Saving Money During Cold and Flu Season

A young woman lying on her couchEven if we wash our hands and try our hardest to stay healthy, the reality is that winter and cold and flu season are upon us and often can’t be avoided. Even if you’re not feeling well you don’t have to let your wallet feel the pain too. Here are three tips to help save a few bucks when you’re dealing with a cold.

Buy generics

You may lean toward buying the name brand, and more expensive, over-the-counter cold and flu medicines thinking they will work better. Before you do, compare the ingredients with that of the store brand products. More often than not, you will find that they are identical and the generic brand can save you a great deal.

Try home remedies

When your symptoms first show up and before you rush to the pharmacy, be patient and try the remedies you learned from mom. Sometimes a sore throat can be caused by the change in seasons so first try vitamins, hot tea with honey, or gargling with salt water. You may be able to nip it in the bud before it gets worse and you end up at the doctor.

Clip coupons

Remember the last time you checked out at the pharmacy and received a long sheet of coupons along with your receipt? It may seem annoying at the time, but hold on to them for the future. Saving even the smallest amount when you’re not feeling well can make your illness seem just a little bit better.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

4 Tips for Bouncing Back from Holiday Shopping

metal spring for a car on a white background

You say you won’t go overboard every year – but once again holiday shopping may have gotten the best of you already. In spite of your best intentions, you overspent, you’re probably full of regret, and you’re getting a headache just thinking about your January credit card statement. Now what?

1. With a sober mind, go through what you bought and return/exchange if it’s not too late.

It’s easy to get so caught up in the moment — the rush of shopping, the allure of good deals and sneaky sales tactics — and you probably made a few impulsive decisions, even if you didn’t overspend.

Shoving the items you felt guilty or embarrassed about to the back of the closet might make you feel better, but the act might also cost you the 30-day return/exchange window — in other words, an opportunity to reverse your losses. If you didn’t give some items as gifts, return them stat.

2. Offset over-budget spending by cutting elsewhere.

If you’re in the red after the holidays, it’s time to offset your spending by cutting a different area of your future budget to accommodate it. Start by totaling what you spent and comparing the total to discretionary spending you’ve budgeted for January 2017. Is there something that matches the exact dollar amount? What about two or three ‘luxuries’ that match one half or one third of what your spent? Cut them. You may only need to cut a service or two for a month before you’re back on track, so it’s really not much of a sacrifice. Consider cutting the following:

  • Extra cable channels
  • Netflix and other streaming media accounts
  • Scheduled hair treatments, massages, or manicures
  • Magazine, book club and other subscriptions

Beware: cutting one of these temporarily might show you how little you’ve missed it… and how much nicer it is to have the cash!

3. Pay it back — fast.

If you charged up your credit card(s), the debt you accumulated and the interest attached to it may have even longer side effects than a light bank account. Resolve to pay your shopping debt off entirely within one to three months. If that’s not feasible, try to pay at least three times the minimum amount. Ultimately, aim to keep your balance below 40% of your credit limit so you won’t hurt your credit report.

4. Redeem those freebies.

Many retailers offer cash back in the form of gift cards on special buys through the holiday season or early into the new year, but reports show that many are never used. Don’t let your freebies go to waste – use them to retroactively pay for over-budget spending. If the gift cards aren’t for stores you shop at, go online and sell or exchange them for something you’ll be able to use. Just don’t let them go to waste.

Article Source: Jessica Sommerfield for Moneyning.com

5 Financial Reviews for the New Year

2017 year on the sea shore. Element of design.

Happy New Year! 

How did you do financially last year? Did you meet all your goals? Now is the perfect time to take a look at what went your way financially last year so you can repeat it for the new year, and what may not have gone the way you wanted it to – so you can adjust in 2017.

1. Your Spending

What did you spend money on? Did it match your priorities? Did you overspend more than you should have? Were most of your purchases planned, or did you make a lot of impulse purchases?

If you want to get your finances under control, it’s essential to know where your money is going. Personal finance software is a great way to keep track. All you have to do is run a report to see which categories got the most attention from your pocketbook.

2. Your Saving

Did you save enough money in 2016? Review your savings habits. Did you put money toward retirement and do you have an investment portfolio? Do you have an emergency fund? Do you save up for large purchases?

Consider your long-term and short-term savings goals. Make sure you are on track with them. In some cases, it can make sense to cut back on the extra spending in order to divert some of that money toward your savings.

This is also a good place to review your debt load. Pay down your debt as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of interest you pay others.

3. Your Giving

One of the best ways to ensure a well-rounded financial life is to give to others. It seems counter intuitive, but it actually works. Look at how you use your resources to help others. Research charities to make sure your money is going where it should.

4. Your Taxes

Let’s not forget about a review of your tax situation. What deductions and credits are you eligible for? Review your spending and see if you can reduce your tax liability with a couple of well-placed contributions.

Don’t forget to review your pay stub as well. Are you withholding too much from your paycheck? A big tax return is an indication that you are withholding too much and giving the government an interest-free loan. Consider adjusting your withholding to improve your monthly cash flow — and put that money to better use.

5. Your Asset Protection

Are you covered in case of an emergency? Asset protection is a big part of your finances so make sure you are covered. You need to check your health care coverage, as well as your auto and home coverage. Tweak your coverage if necessary to balance cash flow with protection. You don’t want to overpay above what’s necessary.

Once you finish the financial review, you will have a better idea of what you did well in for 2016, and how you can improve for the new year.

Have you done a financial review with First Financial recently? If not, a brand new year is the perfect time to start! Stop into your nearest branch or call 732.312.1500 to get started today.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for Moneyning.com