5 Ways to Keep Your Credit Card from Sabotaging Your Finances

Understand the terms of the card.

You shouldn’t apply for a credit card without reading the terms. Evaluate the card based on the fees, interest rates, and possible rewards. The many cards available each fit different consumers. You have a lot of options and choosing the wrong card could threaten your financial health.

Pay in full.

Making only the minimum payment each month increases the amount of time it will take to pay off your debt. That increase in time allows the interest rate to add on to your debt. Always make sure to pay off as much of your balance as you can each month.

Don’t use your card on everyday purchases.

Using you credit card as a substitute for cash is a bad habit that can easily lead you down a path to debt. When you buy food, clothes, or gas, try to use cash or your debit card so you won’t overspend.

Don’t go over your limit.

If you’re getting close to your limit, clearly you are spending too much. The last thing you can afford to do is go over that limit and incur the additional fees that come with it. These situations are avoidable by responsibly monitoring your spending.

Understand how it effects your credit score.

Ideally you should be paying off your debt every month. If you are unable to do that, you have to make sure that you are paying off at least the minimum (but preferably more than the minimum). This will not damage your credit score, but it will not improve it either. If you miss a payment you can do major damage to your credit score. If you look untrustworthy to creditors it’s not beyond reason that the credit card company would lower your limit. It is a vicious cycle that can be easily avoided by paying in full each month.

First Financial’s Visa Credit Cards come fully loaded with higher credit lines, lower APRs, no annual fees, no balance transfer fees, a 10 day grace period, rewards, and so much more!* Click here to learn about our cards and apply online today.

*APR varies from 11.40% to 18% for the Visa Platinum Card and from 13.40% to 18% for the Visa Signature and Secured Cards when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. These APRs are for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fees. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Credit Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

Article Source: Tyler Atwell for CUInsight.com

 

4 Money Habits You Should Adopt Today

Piggy bank with yellow sticky notes on wooden background

Make wise credit purchases

A credit card can be a valuable tool, but if used incorrectly, it can create debt that becomes tough to tackle. Only use your credit card for purchases you can pay off each month. Using your card this way is a great way to build a good credit score, just make sure you’re being careful when paying with plastic.

Be on the lookout…

…for savings. It doesn’t matter how big or small the purchase, you can probably find it cheaper somewhere else. Have you checked the competitor’s prices? Looked online? Check out Amazon. They can probably save you a few dollars and have it at your door within 48 hours if you’re taking advantage of Amazon Prime.

Auto schedule your bills

Have you mapped out your monthly bills and their due dates? If you haven’t, now would be a good time to start. Look at the due dates, compare them to your pay schedule and design an auto pay schedule that will keep you from missing any payments. Paying your bills on time is a must to keep that credit score up.

Be frugal

No matter how much money you make, you should try to live below your means. This will give you a chance to save more for the future – where your future self will thank you.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

 

3 Strategies for Helping You Change Your Financial Habits

goals-and-accomplishmentsAre you hoping to change your financial habits? There isn’t any one-size-fits-all magic approach, but there are different strategies you can try out until you hit on something that works well for you.

Here are three strategies that can help you change your financial habits. Figure out which is likely to work best for you:

1. Try a Spending Detox

If spending is one of your big problems, you can actually break the habit by going on a spending detox. Try to go a month without spending on anything that isn’t absolutely necessary. You can retrain yourself to dislike spending and prefer keeping your money.

This approach can even work with your long-term and short-term savings goals. Make sure you automatically contribute to retirement savings or to your travel fund during this time, but avoid spending money on unnecessary household goods, gadgets, or other items that do little more than clutter things up.

You might be surprised at how quickly you adjust to the new normal and develop new habits that are less about spending money.

2. Make Small Changes

Taking a drastic step doesn’t work as well for some people. If this describes you, then consider making incremental changes instead of doing something dramatic. This reduces the pain involved, and can help you make forward progress.

It’s a slower approach, but it can help you ease into your new habits. Savings habits are ideal for making small changes. If you want to get to the point where you are setting aside $350 a month toward retirement, you aren’t likely to be able to sustain that change all at once.

Instead, you can start with a smaller amount. Can you set aside $10 a week? This adds up to $40 a month. Look to take that first small step. Once you free up that money and become comfortable, start looking for ways to free up another $10 a week. It takes a little time, but you will eventually reach your goal.

From freeing up money to pay down debt to putting money toward a family vacation, the start-small approach can work well and help you change the way you manage your money.

3. Plan Ahead

One of the best ways to prepare your finances and change your habits is to plan ahead. Get in the habit of checking in with your finances once a week. Set aside time to look ahead to the bills you will need to pay and other financial realities.

When you plan ahead, you will track your spending better, create budgets, and naturally start to change some of your financial habits in a way that can benefit you in the long term. You’ll also end up saving yourself a ton of time and headache in the long run because you won’t need to deal with putting out all the fires either.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for MoneyNing.com

4 Reasons You Should Live Like You’re Broke

Businessman holding empty pockets

So you can pay off debt faster.

Debt isn’t cheap. Anyone who’s ever had to throw an unexpected bill on a credit card knows this to be true. On the occasion this happens, it can sometimes feel like it takes all year to pay it off. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, this can definitely be the case. If you’re spending less, this will give you a chance to pay down that debt a little faster than you’d normally be able to.

So you can save up for awesome experiences.

We all enjoy buying “stuff.” Most the time that stuff isn’t around years later. Sometimes, we’ll remember that stuff we spent our money on years ago, and it seems ridiculous that we thought so highly of it. The things we typically remember most are people and places, and the experiences that come with it. Next time you want to splurge on an object, put that cash into savings and figure out the best way you can spend it on a memory that can last a lifetime.

So your children won’t treasure material possessions.

If you never start your child on a path of not needing to have the same things as the kid down the street, not only will they not feel like their self-worth is based on objects, but they might grow up appreciating the little things in life. They also may be a little more frugal when they’re spending their own money one day.

So you can simplify life.

Things are nice, but life can be amazing even when it’s simple. Teach your children the value of saving money for the future. Show them there’s more to living than a daily trip to Starbucks or the mall. Eat at home more. Avoid using that credit card. Old-fashioned living can be quite satisfying.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

3 Easy Ways to Make Money on the Side

Woman Taking Dog For Walk On City Street

Who doesn’t love some extra cash in their pocket, especially after the expensive holiday season? When you’re focused on your full-time job, it can be hard to find the time to search for additional sources of income.

Here are some easy examples:

Tutor. Do you have expertise in a certain subject matter that you may or may not use in your current line of work? Whether you’re looking to help out younger students or adults continuing their education, you can put your knowledge to good use. Look into working with an established company like Kaplan for SAT preparation, or get certified through the National Tutoring Association or the American Tutoring Association. Obtaining a certification may be an extra step, but in the end if you are able to show you are legitimately trained, you will stand out as a professional and generate more business and more dollars.

Drive. Even if you haven’t used Uber, you have undoubtedly heard of the transportation network company. Offering consumers a safe and convenient way to get around town, Uber is an excellent way to bring in extra money in your spare time. According to the company, depending on your location and how often you work, drivers could net on average about $25.00 an hour. Another advantage of becoming a driver is the ability to set your own schedule. Many drivers have a full-time job and drive at their discretion.

Dog sit. Do you love dogs but don’t want to commit to owning one? Becoming a dog sitter is a great way to spend time with “man’s best friend” without the long-term responsibilities that come with adding a pooch to your family. Check out Rover.com, a resource that connects pet owners with people who provide safe and loving pet care. Like Uber, Rover allows you the freedom to make money on your own schedule. According to Rover.com, depending on how often you take in an animal and for how long, you could make upwards of $1,000 a month.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

6 Ways to Tweak Your Budget This Year

Pencil on the statement of payroll details

Just because February is here doesn’t mean you should already be neglecting to improve your finances. In fact, no matter your resolutions (or if you’ve already abandoned them), it’s always a good idea to work on your finances.

If you’re looking for ways to tweak your budget to better effect this year, then here are some strategies you can follow to spend less and save more:

1. Factor in Infrequent Expenses

One of the biggest pitfalls of budgeting is forgetting about infrequent expenses. Some expenses may only be paid quarterly, or perhaps even once a year. It’s easy to forget to include them in the budget, especially if you create your budget during a month when you’re not making the payment. The fix is easy though.

As you tweak your budget this year, spend the extra bit of time to look ahead for infrequent expenses and include them. Break them down into monthly costs so that they are accounted for. Also ensure that the money is already there when they are withdrawn from your account.

2. Don’t Count on Irregular Income

Many of us like to look ahead and estimate our income. Unfortunately, we often over-estimate what is coming in. We rely on our estimates too heavily whether it’s a bonus at work, a tax refund or some other windfall. Instead of factoring future income into your budget, consider pretending it doesn’t exist. That way, when you do get a windfall, you can bank that instead of spending it. This way, you don’t end up in trouble if the extra money doesn’t appear like you thought it would.

3. Boost Your Savings

You can also use more no matter how much you’re setting aside, so look for ways to boost your savings. Even an extra $15 a week can help in the long run. Consider changing how much is taken from your paycheck and contribute it to your retirement account. You can also put more in your emergency fund. Just make a small tweak to the amount to make a difference down the road.

4. Check into Your Subscriptions

When was the last time you reviewed your subscriptions? Look at where your money is going on a monthly basis. If you aren’t using subscriptions, change things up so you aren’t spending on what you no longer use.

5. Review Your Insurance

Every six months or before renewal, do a quick comparison of your insurance policies. Could you be saving more elsewhere? If it looks like you can get a better quote someplace else, let your insurer know and ask for a match. If you haven’t changed your insurance for a few years, you might be surprised at what’s available and how much a quick search can save you.

6. Sign Up for Cash Back Sites

If you aren’t using a cash back site, now’s a good time to do so. Sign up for Ebates and Swagbucks to get some of your purchase-price back. Between these sites, plus use of a rewards or cash back credit card to pay, you could end up with serious savings overall. Yes, you want to spend less, but you also want to get a little back for the spending you do.

First Financial’s Visa Credit Cards come fully loaded with higher credit lines, lower APRs, no annual fees, no balance transfer fees, a 10 day grace period, rewards, and so much more!* Click here to learn about our cards and apply online today.

*APR varies from 11.40% to 18% for the Visa Platinum Card, 13.40% to 18% for the Visa Signature Card, and 13.74% to 18% for the Visa Secured Card when you open your account based on your credit worthiness. These APRs are for purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances and will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Subject to credit approval. Rates quoted assume excellent borrower credit history. Your actual APR may vary based on your state of residence, approved loan amount, applicable discounts and your credit history. No Annual Fees. Other fees that apply: Cash advance fee of 1% of advance ($5 minimum and $25 maximum), Late Payment Fee of up to $25, Foreign Transaction Fee of 1% plus foreign exchange rate of transaction amount, $5 Card Replacement Fee, and Returned Payment Fee of up to $25. A First Financial membership is required to obtain a VISA Credit Card and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties.

Article Source: Miranda Marquit for MoneyNing.com