The Post-Holiday Budget Recovery Guide

The holidays are over, and if you’ve gone over budget with your spending, it’s time to deal with the aftermath. Instead of living in a financial deficit, take steps to repair your budget as soon as the last guest leaves. 

Here’s how you can get your budget back on track for the new year.

Review your holiday spending

Before you take steps toward financial post-holiday recovery, take stock of your finances. How much credit card debt did you rack up this season? Did you dip into a savings account that now needs to be replenished? Spend some time crunching the numbers so you have a better idea of what kind of recovery steps you need to take now.

Choose your recovery process

Once you’ve got your numbers clear, you’ll need to decide on a path toward recovery. 

If you’ve really blown it this season, and you’ve got multiple credit card balances to pay off, you may want to consolidate your debt. You can accomplish this by taking out a personal/unsecured loan and then using the funds to pay off your credit card debt. You’ll be left with a single, low interest payment to make each month.

Alternatively, you can pay off one credit card bill at a time, maximizing payments on the bill with the highest balance, or the one with the highest interest rate, until it’s completely paid off. Once you’ve crossed one balance off your list, move on to the next until you’re debt-free. Don’t get stuck paying just the minimum balance on each card each month, or you may be paying those credit card bills for years to come. 

Trim your budget

Take a close look at your monthly spending to find places to cut back. Are you paying multiple subscriptions each month for apps you never, or rarely, use? Those small fees can add up quickly. Can you cut back on your grocery bill? Perhaps you’re overdoing it on takeout or dining out. Is there any way you can negotiate with a service provider, such as cable or internet, for a better monthly rate? Maybe it’s time to shop around for a less expensive auto insurance policy. Trim the extra wherever you can to free up more money for paying down debt.

Put your holiday resources to work

Along with a pile of debt, the holiday season may have left you with some extra cash through work bonuses, tax returns and gift money. Put these resources to work by using a portion of this money, or even all of it, toward paying down your holiday debt. It may sting to use “extra” money for something as utilitarian as a credit card bill, but getting rid of the debt faster so you can return to your normal spending patterns can motivate you to make this choice.

Go on a shopping detox

Before the holidays, you shopped until you dropped and then you may have shopped some more. Now, it’s time for a shopping detox. Take a break from the mall this month and close all those open tabs presenting your favorite clothing brands. Resolve to swipe the plastic only for essentials this month, or at least to keep discretionary purchases to a minimum until your budget recovers. Trimming expenses is never fun, but remind yourself that it’s only temporary until you’re financially fit again.

Make a plan for next year’s holiday season

It’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s winter holidays. Instead of using the months before Christmas stressing out over how much you’re spending, and the months after the holidays stressing about paying your bills, pay a little bit toward your holiday expenses each month of the year for a much less stressful holiday season. When you open a holiday club account at 705 Federal Credit Union, you can set up an automatic monthly transfer from your checking account to feed your holiday savings. 

If you blew your budget this holiday season, you’ll need to take steps to help your finances recover. Use the tips outlined here to get started.

Resources: 

https://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/post-holiday-financial-recovery/ 
https://blog.usccreditunion.org/blog/post-holiday-blues-tips-to-recover-from-holiday-spending
https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/money/money-planning/post-holiday-spending-recovery-tips
https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/personal-finance/articles/how-to-recover-from-your-post-holiday-financial-hangover/

How Can I Save on Holiday Shopping?

Q: I’m always worried about money during the holiday season, and with inflation soaring, I’m more stressed than ever. How can I save on holiday shopping this year?

A: If you’re worried about making it through the holiday shopping season in the midst of record inflation, you’re not alone. A recent survey shows that 59% of American shoppers are stressed about buying holiday gifts this season due to higher prices. However, with some careful planning and budgeting, you can enjoy stress-free holiday shopping. Here are seven easy ways you can save during this holiday season.

  1. Shop early

It’s always a good idea to do your shopping early in the season so pressure and crowds don’t cause you to make decisions you’ll come to regret. This year, experts are urging shoppers to hit stores earlier than normally planned so they can take advantage of early season sales. Many big-box stores are struggling with a supply surplus thanks to an inflation-triggered decline in demand. This will likely lead to sales events to make room for more up-to-date inventory. You can take advantage of this surplus by shopping these sales and saving on your holiday purchases.

2. Set a budget

Budgets are for holidays, too. Sit down before doing your shopping to build a reasonable budget for your holiday shopping. Factor in current prices when working out your budget. Of course, this is only half the work – you’ll need to stick to that budget for it to be worth anything. Make this easier by allocating a specific amount for every gift, shopping with cash and/or reviewing your budget frequently as you do your holiday shopping. 

  1. Shop with a list

Instead of hitting the stores blindly, create a list of every gift you plan to buy for friends and family. You can browse online stores for inspiration, but resolve not to start shopping until you have a complete list. You’ll be far more likely to stay within budget when your purchases are pre-planned. 

  1. Leave some last-minute shopping for Green Monday

While it’s best to do the bulk of your shopping early in the season, you can leave some last-minute gift-shopping for Green Monday, which falls on Dec. 14 this year. This is when retailers make their final pre-holiday markdowns. Be prepared for slim pickings, though, so don’t leave any specific gifts for this late in the season. 

  1. Think outside the box when planning your gifts

If ever there was a holiday season to get creative with your gifting, this is it. Retail inventories are full of products that were backed up during the post-pandemic supply-chain disaster. Think furniture, home decor and more. While much of this may not make for typical holiday gifts, there’s no real reason you can’t delight a loved one with a new office chair, exercise bike or coffee organizing station.

  1. Give gift cards

Protect your gift list against inflation by giving gift cards. You can find discounted cards on sites like GiftCardGranny and CardCash, or use cash-back apps to earn them at no cost. Gift cards are easy to shop for, easy to budget for and always appreciated by the receiver.

  1. Use apps to save

In 2022, there are so many apps that can help you spend less on your shopping, and even put money back in your pocket. Here are some money-saving apps you might want to download ahead of this shopping season:

  • DropThis free app allows you to link your credit and/or debit card, and shop directly from the app at 300+ retailers. Earn points back on every purchase. Use your points to purchase gift cards.
  • HoneyWhy pay full price when you can get the same item for less? This coupon-scanning app will automatically find promo codes and coupons for items you’re searching for so you can save on your shopping. You can earn points on purchases made through the app, too.
  • FetchEarn points on grocery purchases by scanning your receipts after you shop. Redeem points for gift cards.
  • IbottaGet cash back for your purchases by scanning your receipts with this app. Use for online purchases, and by linking store loyalty cards for in-store purchases, too. Redeem points for cash or gift cards. 

Holiday shopping may be a race against inflation this year, but with a little pre-planning, you can complete your shopping with your budget intact. Use the money-saving tips outlined here to get started.

Need Extra Dough this Holiday Season? Ask about Our Holiday Helper Loan or Skip-A-Payment Special!

Resources: 
https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/holiday-shopping-2022/ 
https://www.cnbc.com/2022/09/08/inflation-fears-spur-shoppers-to-get-early-jump-on-year-end-holidays.html
https://financebuzz.com/holiday-shopping-hacks
https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-of-the-best-holiday-gift-deals-are-popping-up-before-labor-day-11661212669


4 Ways 705 FCU Can Help Fund Your Vacation!

If you’re like most Americans, as soon as you see ads announcing Memorial Day sale events, you start thinking summer. Summer means flip-flops and sandy beaches, sunscreen and baseball, fireworks and ice cream — and expensive vacations.

Perhaps you’re really needing to get away this summer, so you have the perfect vacation all planned out.

But how are you going to get around the steep price tag on your dream getaway? Do you pull out the plastic, make it happen and worry about paying your credit card bills after you return home? Do you beg a loan off family and friends, putting your most important relationships at risk? Do you live off pasta in the weeks leading up to your vacation and use the money saved on groceries to cover the cost of your trip?

You don’t have to take extreme or irresponsible measures to fund the perfect summer vacation. As a member of 705 Federal Credit Union, you have access to a variety of convenient products that can help cover the costs of your trip with minimal effort on your part.

Here are four ways 705 Federal Credit Union can send you packing for your dream summer getaway.

Vacation Savings Account

It’s easier to save up for a specific goal when you separate the funds you’re earmarking for that goal from all other savings. When you open a savings account at 705 Federal Credit Union with the express purpose of using it to accumulate funds for a summer vacation, you’ll always know exactly how much money you’ve saved up for your getaway. Plus, your money will grow, so you’ll reach your goal sooner.

You may have already started saving up for summer expenses in your regular savings account. Move that money into your summer savings account now so your vacation funds are in one easy location.

To be certain you’re socking away enough money to cover your getaway, create a vacation budget now. Realistically, how much money will you need to cover the costs of your trip? Next, determine when you’d like to go and count the number of weeks or months left until your vacation date. Work out the exact amount you’ll need to save each week or month by dividing your total vacation budget by the number of weeks or months left to go before your trip. You can trim your budget, sell some stuff you don’t use anymore or take on a side hustle to come up with the necessary savings. Finally, link your checking account and your designated vacation savings account — and set up a direct deposit — so that your summer savings can grow almost effortlessly.

Vacation Loan Special

If you think you can’t possibly save up enough money to fund your vacation in time, consider taking out a Vacation loan instead.

When you take out a Vacation loan at 705 Federal Credit Union, you’ll get the funds you need for your dream getaway. And best of all, with our affordable rates, you won’t go broke paying it back! Speak to us today to find out more about this fantastic special available May 16, 2022 – June 30, 2022.

Skip-a-Payment

If you’re desperate for a vacation in more ways than one, consider taking a break from some of your financial responsibilities this summer. 705 Federal Credit Union allows qualifying members to skip one loan payment during this expensive time of year. By choosing Skip-a-Payment, you’ll get the break you need without hurting your credit or defaulting on the loan. However, your loan or balance payment plan will extend for another month, and the interest on the skipped payment will be integrated into the principal of your loan or bill.

Skipping a payment is not recommended for members who are struggling to get on top of their finances. But, if you’re in a financially comfortable place and just need some extra breathing room this time of year, skipping one monthly payment can be a great way to help you cover the costs of your summer getaway. The credit union’s Skip-A-Payment promotion will be available June, July, or August of 2022. Contact a loan officer by calling 337-232-8450 option 3!

Vacation Club Account

Instead of panicking about summer expenses when the calendar hits June each year, why not pay a little bit toward your summer costs all year long? When you open a Vacation Club account at 705 Federal Credit Union, you’ll be spreading the cost of your summer getaway across the entire year. Each month, you’ll pay just a little bit toward funding your vacation, and when summer rolls around, you’ll have all the money you need for your vacation, without taking a huge bite out of your monthly budget or going into debt. Find out more by speaking to a 705 Federal Credit Union representative about opening a Vacation Club account to help cover the costs of summer.

Get your vacation plans off the ground by stopping by 705 Federal Credit Union today. We have a broad range of products that can turn your dream vacation into a reality!

Resources:

https://www.moneycrashers.com/save-up-fund-summer-vacation
https://www.theworkathomewoman.com/fund-your-summer-vacation/
https://www.ramseysolutions.com/saving/plan-your-vacation
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/skip_payment_mortgage.asp

How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud this Holiday Season

With the holiday shopping season heading into its final frenzied stretch, scammers are out in full force to take advantage of busy shoppers. In particular, credit card fraud is rampant during this time of year. With most purchases paid for with plastic, scammers have their pick of vulnerable prey before the holidays. Stay safe this season and protect yourself and your cards from fraud with these safety measures and preventative tips: 

Choose zero liability 

If you can, choose a credit card with zero liability protection. This way, you won’t be responsible for any unauthorized charges made on your card. 

Monitor your credit

Stay alert and learn about the first signs of fraud to your credit accounts by reviewing your credit card statements carefully. It’s also a good idea to enroll in available alerts so you are notified of unusual and/or large purchases made on your card, and transactions made in remote or obscure places. Most credit card issuers offer instant text or email alerts, which helps cardholders to be alerted to fraudulent activity so they can take action before it happens again. 

Strengthen your passwords

Take some time out during this busy season to review the passwords on your accounts. Does each account have its own unique password? Are your passwords strong, using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols as well as varied capitalization use? If any passwords use your personal information, such as your date of birth, your hometown or your mother’s maiden name, change them. Easily cracked passwords like these can be used to hack into multiple accounts and can even lead to identity theft. Keep your passwords strong, and change them from time to time to prevent fraud. 

Shop with caution

Be an alert shopper this holiday season to avoid falling victim to credit card fraud. Only shop reputable sites and avoid clicking on pop-up ads or links in emails coming from unverified senders. To confirm a site’s security, look for the lock icon before the URL and the “s” after the “http.” Finally, make sure you are using a device that’s using updated security settings and choose a VPN (virtual private network) if you must use public Wi-Fi. 

Be wary of “support staff” calls from your credit card issuer

Some scammers resort to phishing calls for pulling off credit card fraud before the holidays. In these scams, a target will receive a phone call from someone who allegedly represents their credit card company or financial institution. The “support staff member” will tell the target there’s been an issue with their account and that it needs to be updated before the card can be used again. The caller will then ask the cardholder to share sensitive information, such as their card numbers, account details, passwords and more. Unfortunately, if the cardholder complies, they will be playing directly into the hands of a scammer. 

If you receive a phone call like the one described above, hang up and block the number. You can reach out to your card issuer on your own to check if there really is a problem with your account; but chances are, everything will be in proper order. 

Keep your cards close

Don’t forget to take basic precautions with your credit card this season, especially if you’ll be hitting a lot of shops before the holidays. Keep your card tucked into your wallet or purse. If you use a cardholder on your phone case, keep your phone in a safe place and make sure the card numbers are not visible to passersby. Finally, put your card away immediately after completing a purchase. 

Take immediate action if there are signs of fraud

If you suspect your credit card has been stolen or hacked, alert your credit card issuer and financial institution immediately. Your old card will be canceled to prevent the scammer from making additional charges and you’ll be issued a new one so you can complete your shopping. Consider placing a credit freeze on your accounts as well, which will make it nearly impossible for the fraudster to open new accounts or take out loans in your name. 

Stay aware this holiday season, and keep your money and your information safe!

RESOURCES:
https://www.chase.com/personal/credit-cards/education/basics/how-to-stop-credit-card-fraud-during-the-holidays
https://www.cnbc.com/select/how-to-prevent-credit-card-fraud-this-holiday-season/#:~:text=Holiday%20shopping%20is%20in%20full,credit%20card%20to%20purchase%20gifts.&text=While%20there’s%20the%20potential%20for,be%20charged%20for%20fraudulent%20charges.
https://moneyfit.org/blog/holiday-credit-card-fraud-guide

5 Steps to Take Before Making a Large Purchase

Have you been bitten by the gotta-have-it bug? It could be a Peloton bike that’s caught your eye, or maybe you want to spring for a new entertainment system, no matter the cost. Before you go ahead with the purchase, though, it’s a good idea to take a step back and follow the steps outlined here to be sure you’re making a decision you won’t ultimately regret.

Step 1: Wait it out

Often, a want can seem like a must-have, but that urgency fades when you wait it out. Take a break for a few days before finalizing a large purchase to see if you really want it that badly. For an extra-large purchase, you can wait a full week, or even a month. After some time has passed, you may find that you don’t want the must-have item after all.

Step 2: Consider your emotions

A bit of retail therapy every now and then is fine for most people, but draining your wallet every month to feed negative emotions is not. Before going ahead with your purchase, take a moment to identify the emotions driving the desire. Is this purchase being used as a means to fix a troubled relationship? Or to help gain acceptance among a group of friends, neighbors or workmates? Or maybe you’re going through a hard time and you’re using this purchase to help numb the pain or to fill a void in your life. Be honest with yourself and take note of what’s really driving you to make this purchase. Is it really in your best interest?

Step 3: Review your upcoming expenses

What large expenses are you anticipating in the near future? Even if you have the cash in your account to cover this purchase, you may soon need that money for an upcoming expense. Will you need to make a costly car repair? Do you have a major household appliance that will need to be replaced within the next few months? By taking your future financial needs into account, you’ll avoid spending money today that you’ll need tomorrow.

Step 4: Find the cheapest source

If you’ve decided you do want to go ahead with the purchase, there are still ways to save money. In today’s online world of commerce, comparison shopping is as easy as a few clicks. You can use apps like ShopSavvy and BuyVia to help you find the retailer selling the item at the best price.

Step 5: Choose your payment method carefully

Once you’ve chosen your retailer and the item you’d like to purchase, you’re ready to go ahead and make it yours! Before taking this final step, though, you’ll need to decide on a method of payment.

If you’ve saved up for this item and you have the funds on-hand for it now, you can pay up in cash or by using a debit card. This payment method is generally the easiest, and if it’s pre-planned, it will have little effect on your overall budget.

If you can’t pay for the item in full right now, consider using a credit card with a low interest rate. Most credit card payments have the added benefit of purchase protection, which can be beneficial when buying large items that don’t turn out to be as expected. Before swiping your credit card, though, be sure you can meet your monthly payments or you’ll risk damaging your credit score.

Another option to consider is paying for your purchase through a buy now, pay later program. Apps, like Afterpay, allow you to pay 25% of your purchase today, and the rest in fixed installments over the next few months. This approach, too, should only be chosen if you are certain you can meet the future payments.

Large purchases are a part of life, but they’re not always necessary or in the buyer’s best interest. Follow these steps before you finalize an expensive purchase.

Reach Out to a Loan Officer to Talk about Your Options for a Big Purchase! 

Resources:
https://www.thebalance.com/before-you-make-large-purchases-2385817
https://www.fool.com/retirement/2018/07/23/4-things-you-should-do-before-making-a-big-purchas.aspx
https://www.thesimpledollar.com/save-money/my-strategy-for-making-large-purchases/
https://moneywise.com/insurance/home/how-to-think-through-a-big-purchase

6 Reasons to Switch to E-Statements

Are you constantly dealing with a barrage of junk mail that clogs up your mailbox? Drowning in papers needing sifted through? Are you always afraid to throw out any paper from your financial institution, fearful that you’ll be throwing sensitive material into the trash and making it an easy steal for would-be scammers?

If this sounds familiar, you may benefit from switching to electronic account statements.

Electronic statements (E-Statements) are similar to paper statements, except for the fact that they’re delivered electronically. At the end of each statement period, which is generally monthly for checking accounts and quarterly for basic savings accounts, you’ll receive a notification from 705 Federal Credit Union informing you that your statement is ready to view through the online banking portal, app, or by downloading from a secure site. Once you access the E-Statement, you’ll find it has all the information you’re used to receiving in your paper statements. You can also access your E-Statement by logging into your online banking site or app at any time throughout the month.

Quick, convenient and clutter-free, E-Statements are the way of the future. Here are six reasons to consider switching to E-Statements.

 1. Check your accounts at a glance

With E-Statements, there’s no need to wait for your monthly statement to arrive in the mail. Just a few clicks and you get your account statement at any time, from anywhere, using the mobile device of your choice. Some financial institutions also offer members the option of signing up for financial alerts, such as a warning when your account is running low and in danger of being overdrawn. With E-Statements, managing your accounts is easy.

2. Clear out the clutter

Why bother with piles of paperwork when you can access your accounts online? It’s neater, cleaner, and helps cut down on the correspondence you have flooding your mailbox. You’ll also save time sorting through papers when you can find your last account cycle balance with just a few quick swipes.

3. Keep your information safer

No matter how careful you are with papers containing sensitive data, there’s always a chance you can miss something and it’ll end up in the wrong hands. It can also be a pain to keep track of every incoming piece of mail and to dispose of it properly. With E-Statements, you’ll never have to worry about losing a paper that contains confidential banking information, or mistakenly tossing it into the trash where it can be easily accessed by identity thieves.

Some people are wary about sending sensitive information online and are fearful that an E-Statement can easily be hacked. However, you can access your account balance online with confidence, knowing that 705 Federal Credit Union uses several layers of protection to keep your information absolutely safe.

4. Monitor your accounts frequently for fraud

When you have instant access to your accounts throughout the month, it’s a lot easier to check for signs of fraud. Plus, when you spot the fraud sooner, you can take steps to mitigate the damage earlier and have a better chance of a full recovery.

5. Eco-friendly

When you choose to receive your monthly account statements electronically, you’ll be doing the environment a favor. Less paper statements means less paper waste and fewer trees getting cut down for something that will ultimately be tossed. Go green for the environment with E-Statements!

6. Safe and secure storage

Filing cabinets are so last century. With E-Statements, you’ll never stress about misplacing your account statements again. Your online banking portal or app acts as a convenient and secure filing cabinet, storing your account statements for you to access as needed.

Ready to make the switch to E-Statements? Signing up is easy. Log into Online Banking to sign up, today!

Tracking Holiday Spending Keeps Seasonal Stress Down

 

Holiday Helper Loan: Oh my garland! Tis the season to save with the 705 Holiday Helper Loan. Learn more!

Holiday Spending Hacks

Nothing is more heartwarming than seeing your loved ones’ faces light up when they open that perfect gift you (err, Santa) gave them.

Tyler’s new bike, Olivia’s new tablet and that gift card to mom and dad’s favorite steak place all add up to wonderful holiday memories… until the credit card statements show up.

The holidays will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why most people will try even harder to make the season brighter for others. But, you don’t have to dip into Tyler and Olivia’s college savings to create a special time for everyone!

The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead: Have a set spending amount for gifts, wrap, entertaining, donations and travel.

Make a list and check it twice

Many are struggling financially this year, so it will be no surprise to those outside your family if your gift-recipient list is shorter this year. Once you trim your list, make a holiday treat or handmade token for those who got the cut. It really IS the thought that counts.

Once you have your list complete, figure out a realistic amount to spend on each person. Jot down a couple of gift ideas in your price range for that person.

Try the 705 budgeting tool to keep your spending in check. Click on “Trends” within Online Banking for regular monthly budgeting, but it also allows you to allocate more funds for holiday purchases. Using graphs and reports, it shows how much you’ve spent and how it will affect your budget in the months to come.

Shopping

Due to the pandemic, holiday shopping is already in full swing. Most people want to avoid crowds, so they are already hitting the malls. Retailers are well aware of this trend, and are offering pre-Black Friday sales and discounts.

Spreading out your holiday shopping over several weeks also makes it easier on your budget. Always shop with a list and keep track of your spending. As you buy your gifts, subtract from your total budget.

In addition to shopping the sales and collecting coupon codes for online purchases, know when to buy. December is the best time to buy cars, appliances, winter clothing and electronics. Also, know how much items cost before a markdown to know if you’re really getting a deal.

It is expected that online shopping will increase by 35% this year because shoppers don’t feel comfortable being in stores. Some states still have restrictions limiting retail establishments’ capacity and store hours.

If you’re shopping online, order early and expect delays in shipping. Increased shopping during the holidays will affect already-strained delivery companies. To avoid shipping delays and higher shipping costs, shop at stores that offer “buy online, ship to store” service. This service is free at most retailers, some of which offer curbside pickup.

Get the best deals on cards, decorations and gift wrap during the days right before and after Christmas. Discounts of up to 75% off can shave a lot off your holiday budget for next year.

Entertaining

Still reeling from the pandemic, most folks will host smaller holiday gatherings this year, which will save tons on food, treats and adult beverages. Many people are still working from home, so work parties and gift exchanges also will be virtual or postponed, keeping cash in your wallet.

If you’re hosting guests, keep costs down by asking everyone to bring their favorite side or dessert and include festive recipe cards with the chef’s name.

For the adults, serve a warm mulled wine or holiday punch or make one festive signature cocktail.

Use DIY decor featuring natural items, like holly and pine cones. Gather the kids and go on a hike to find outdoor holiday decorations. Not only will it save you money, but it will also give you some stress-free outdoor time with your family.

Save more by partying without plastic. Disposable plates and dinnerware are not great for the environment or your budget.

Travel

If you must travel home for the holidays, don’t forget to figure in other incidentals beyond gasoline and the cost of a plane ticket.

If you’re traveling by car, gas prices have luckily seen a steady dip. Still, the GasBuddy app can help you find the best prices for gasoline wherever you are, and you can even pay from the app. Don’t forget to figure in tolls and any emergency costs that may come up.

If you’re flying, consider baggage fees, parking and shuttle costs and the expense of ground transportation once you arrive.

And don’t forget Fluffy! You’ll need to pay someone to take care of your furry friends. The Rover app can help you find pet care options near your home.

Charitable giving

The holidays are a time for goodwill toward all. But if your budget cannot accommodate a monetary donation, volunteer your time. If you are able to make a financial donation, be sure to check that the charity you are supporting is legitimate by consulting Charity Navigator.

Keep your holidays dollars in check, and you may have some holiday spirit left over even after the last elf is packed away and the January bills start rolling in.

We at 705 FCU wish you all a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday.

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/blakemorgan/2020/10/26/5-ways-holiday-shopping-will-be-different-in-2020/?sh=2def7bdd1558
https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-stick-to-your-holiday-budget-2385688
https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/60171/11-innovative-ways-track-your-holiday-spending
https://www.hgtv.ca/entertaining/photos/holiday-entertaining-on-a-budget-1922279/#currentSlide=1
https://www.moneycrashers.com/create-holiday-budget/

My Savings Has Been Wiped Clean; How Can I Replenish It?

Broken piggy bank with coins everywhere

Q: The last few months have been really tough on my finances, and I’ve been forced to use my savings for getting by. My emergency fund and savings account are basically zero. Now that my financial situation is starting to improve, I’d like to start building these up again, but it’s all so overwhelming. Where do I begin?

A: Watching savings that took you years to build up disappear in just a few months can be disheartening, but it’s important to remember that you’ve made the right choice. Using emergency funds to survive prolonged unemployment, an unexpected large expense or a medical emergency is the best way to make it through a financial hardship. If your savings are depleted, though, you’ll want to start rebuilding as soon as possible to ensure you have the funds to cover a future financial challenge without falling deeply into debt.

Here’s how to start your rebuilding plan:

Set a goal

Before getting started on saving up money, it’s a good idea to establish a tangible goal. What’s your magic number? You can try to recover the value of the savings lost, or start smaller, with a more attainable goal. Bear in mind that experts recommend having funds to cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses set aside in an emergency fund or savings account.

Review your budget and trim your spending

A good place to start finding those extra dollars for savings is by carefully reviewing your spending for ways to cut back. Look for expenses that can make a difference in a monthly budget without dramatically affecting your quality of life. Think about subscriptions or services that are rarely used, a dining-out budget that can be scaled back and expensive recreational activities that can be swapped with freebies. There’s no need to live like you’re broke, but stripping your budget of some extras can give you the boost of cash you need each month to build up your savings again.

Find a side hustle

Another great way to land extra funds is through a side job. There are many ways to pad a wallet without a major investment of time. Some options include taking surveys on sites like Survey Junkie and Swagbucks and doing gig work for companies like Uber, DoorDash and Rover.

Sell your old treasures

If you’ve spent part of the COVID-19 lockdown giving your house a deep cleaning, you may have unearthed some forgotten treasures that can turn into easy moneymakers. You can sell old clothing on ThredUp, unwanted jewelry on Worthy.com, make good money off your unwanted furniture through Chairish, sell or trade unused sports equipment on Swap Me Sports and sell kids clothing and toys on Kid to Kid. Use the cash you earn from these sales to jumpstart your new nest egg.

Make a plan

Once you have a goal in place for building your savings, and you’ve maximized the possible monthly contributions toward savings each month, it’s time to create a plan. Map out a timeline of how long it’ll take to reach your goal when putting away as much as possible each month. Remember: the more aggressively you save now, the sooner you’ll reach your goal.

Start saving

It’s time to put the plan into action!

The best way to ensure regular savings happens each month is to make it automatic. You can set up an automatic monthly transfer from your Section 705 Checking Account to your Section 705 Savings Account on a designated day of the month. You may want to have the transfer go through several days after you receive your monthly salary, or it might work out better to put a smaller amount of money into savings each week. Give us a call at 337-232-8450 to discuss your options.

Put unexpected windfalls into savings

To speed up the process of rebuilding depleted savings, you may want to resolve to put unexpected windfalls into an emergency fund or savings account. This can include tax refunds, a work bonus and gift money. If another round of Coronavirus stimulus checks is approved, consider using these funds for your savings as well. Earmarking future windfalls for savings can shorten the amount of time spent cutting corners in a budget and taking on extra jobs to build up a savings account.

Rebuilding an emergency fund and savings account from the bottom up isn’t easy. It takes commitment, hard work and the ability to keep a long-term goal in mind; however, the security that comes from knowing you have a safety cushion to fall back on in case of a financial setback will make this goal worth the effort many times over.

Resources:

https://www.policygenius.com/blog/money-milestones-how-to-rebuild-a-depleted-emergency-savings-fund/
https://www.fool.com/the-ascent/banks/articles/rebuilding-emergency-fund-after-coronavirus/
https://www.moneymanagement.org/credit-counseling/resources/how-to-rebuild-your-personal-savings-account

Where is My Stimulus Check?

COVID-19 Financial Relief - Are you being negatively impacted by COVID-19 financially? Reach out to Section 705 to learn about the below specials: COVID-19 Relief Loan and the COVID-19 Skip-A-Payment.

Q: Everyone I talk to seems to have already gotten their stimulus money, but I’m still waiting for mine to arrive. Where is my stimulus check?

A: More than half of eligible Americans have already received their Economic Impact Payment, but tens of millions more are still waiting. We’ll let you in on when you can expect yours, how to help it come quicker and why you may not even be receiving a stimulus payment.

The schedule for issuing payments

The IRS is trying to get the stimulus payments out to Americans as quickly as possible, but with approximately 150 million checks that need to be issued, it will take some time.

First, the IRS is working on getting the funds to Americans via direct deposit. Most of the payments being issued to people whose account details are known by the IRS have already been distributed and the rest is scheduled to be deposited as the information is obtained.

Next, the IRS will send payments for individuals currently receiving federal benefits, such as Social Security checks, retirement or disability benefits, Railroad Retirement benefits, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits. The stimulus payments will be issued the same way these individuals receive their regular federal benefits, whether by direct deposit, Direct Express or paper check. The Treasury has promised that all Social Security and Railroad Retirement beneficiaries will receive their benefits by early May. SSI and VA beneficiaries should get their payments by mid-May.

On April 24, the IRS began issuing paper checks to Americans who have not provided their banking details. Low-income Americans are prioritized, and individuals earning an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $10,000 or less should have already received their checks. The IRS will then send out approximately 5 million paper checks each week, scheduling the mailings according to incomes in increasing $10,000 increments. For example, checks for individuals with an AGI that falls between $20,000 and $30,000 were mailed out on May 1. On May 8, the checks for people with incomes between $30,000 and $40,000 will be mailed out. This schedule will continue through Sept. 4.

How can I make my stimulus money get here quicker?

As mentioned, funds being distributed via direct deposit are issued first. The IRS will use your most recently filed taxes to determine where to send your stimulus money and the amount you are eligible to receive. If your most recently filed returns have not yet been processed, or you’ve received your refund by paper check, the government does not have your checking account information, so your payment may be delayed.

You can update this information on the recently updated track your payment portal on the IRS website. You will need your Social Security number, the gross income of your most recent tax returns, your Section 705’s routing number ([XXXXXXXXX]) and your checking account information. Once you’ve shared your account information, your stimulus payment should be scheduled for deposit within the week.

If the IRS already has your account information and you still have not received the stimulus money, or you would prefer to receive your payment by paper check, you can track your payment on the same link. The site is updated once a day.

What if my information has changed since I filed my last tax return? 

If the checking account used for your most recently filed taxes has since been closed, the payment will bounce back to the IRS, which will then send a paper check to the home address it has on file from your tax returns.

To update a checking account, use the IRS payment portal to enter your current information.
If you’ve moved since filing taxes, you can choose to share your checking account information with the IRS, or to use another method which may include informing the U.S. Postal Service of a change of address.

What if I don’t file taxes?

If you are not required to file taxes and you are eligible for an Economic Impact Payment, you can still receive your check. Just enter your information here.

Why you may not qualify for a check 

The CARES Act does not promise payments for every American. Dependents older than 16, individuals who do not have a Social Security number and those with an AGI above $99,000, will not be getting a stimulus payment. The threshold is higher for individuals filing as a head of household, at $136,500, and up to $198,000 for joint filers.

Watch out for stimulus scams

While the IRS urges people to update their information on the payment portal, it’s important to note that they are not reaching out to individuals. If you receive a phone call, social media post, email or text message asking for your banking information, it is likely a scam. There is also no application fee or processing fee for the Economic Impact Payments. If you’re asked to pay one, it’s also a scam.

Paycheck Protection Program

COVID-19 Financial Relief: Are you being negatively impacted by COVID-19 financially? Reach out to Section 705 to learn about the below specials: COVID-19 Relief Loan and COVID-19 Skip-A-Payment

How Will the Paycheck Protection Program Affect You?

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is an important part of the historic Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act designed to help small businesses continue meeting payroll and other expenses during these trying times.

Here’s all you need to know about the Paycheck Protection Program.

What does the PPP offer small businesses?

The provision creates a new category of unsecured loans guaranteed by the Small Business Association (SBA). The loans do not require a personal guarantee and are available to many businesses that were previously not eligible for an SBA loan. The loans may be entirely or partially forgiven.

Which kinds of businesses are eligible for a loan? 

Traditional SBA loans are only eligible for business entities designed to turn a profit. The company’s place of business must be located in the United States, and be primarily operated in the United States.

The Paycheck Protection Program has expanded to include all nonprofit organizations, veterans organizations and Tribal business concerns.

Does the business need to be a specific size to be eligible for the PPP? 

To be eligible for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program, a business must have no more than 500 employees, including full-time, part-time and temporary workers. This rule accounts for the business applying for a loan, as well as any affiliated businesses or entities, including for profit and nonprofit, as well as domestic and foreign businesses.

What is the maximum loan amount a business can apply for under the Paycheck Protection Program?

The maximum loan amount available under the PPP is generally the lesser of $10 million, or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll costs incurred during the one-year period before the date of the loan. Payroll costs include all salaries, wages, commissions and cash tips; parental, family, medical or sick leave; severance pay; payments required for the provisions of group health care benefits, including insurance premiums; payment of any retirement benefit; and payment of state or local tax assessed on the compensation of employees.

How may the loans be used? 

The loans from the Paycheck Protection Program can be used from Feb. 15, 2020, to June 30, 2020 for any of the following expenses:

  • Payroll costs
  • Costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical or family leave
  • Insurance premiums
  • Employee salaries, commissions or similar compensations
  • Payments of interest (but not principal) on any mortgage obligation
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Interest on any other debt obligations that were incurred before Feb. 15, 2020

Will all loans that are part of the Paycheck Protection Program be forgiven? 

A PPP loan is eligible for forgiveness in an amount equal to the sum of the following costs incurred during the 8-week period beginning on the date of origination of the loan: payroll costs; any payment of interest on any mortgage obligation that was incurred before Feb. 15, 2020; any payment on any rent obligation under a lease agreement in effect before Feb. 15, 2020; and payment for electricity, gas, water, transportation, telephone or internet service, which began before Feb. 15, 2020.

The loan forgiveness amount will be prorated down if the average monthly number of full-time employees during this 8-week period is less than the average monthly number of full-time equivalent employees. The forgiveness amount will also be reduced if there is a 25% (or greater) reduction in salary for any employee during this 8-week period.

Can a small business take out a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program and still be eligible for other relief under the CARES Act?

Taking a loan under the PPP can make an employer ineligible for some other relief under the CARES Act.  For example, the employer will not be eligible for payroll tax relief if they apply for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program.

Resources:

www.forbes.com/sites/advisor/2020/04/07/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-paycheck-protection-program/amp/
www.sgrlaw.com/client-alerts/forgivable-coronavirus-payroll-loans-for-employers-with-fewer-than-500-employees/

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SPAGHETTI FOOD DRIVE! Drop off spaghetti sauce and dry pasta between now and February 17, 2022. All donations will support Food Net's goal to help underprivileged families in Acadiana. Contact us with any questions!