Financial Resources – News Articles & Links
How Should I Fund My Holiday Shopping?
Q: Help! I’m fretting over holiday expenses. How am I going to pay for all this stuff?
A: Let’s explore some options:
1. Don't use high-interest store credit cards. If you don't plan to pay the bill quickly - the interest on these cards can really add up. If you plan on shopping with credit cards, a First Service VISA is a better option for your purchases. Click here to learn more about First Service VISA credit cards.
2. Apply for a Holiday Helper Loan for $1,200 for 12 months. This loan offers an affordable payback plan for almost any budget.
3. Open a Holiday Club Account. Pay a little bit toward this season by saving all year long. To increase your holiday savings, withdrawals are not allowed from the Holiday Club Account during the year.
Dollar Stores: Are They Worth the Price?
Q: I love browsing dollar stores, but often end up spending more than planned or regretting purchases. Are dollar stores worth the price?
A: Dollar stores can be spending traps, but they can also be a great way to snag bargains. It’s all in how you plan. Read on to learn how to get the best deal at the dollar store.
Before you head to the dollar store, create a list of what you need. It’s also smart to set a limit of how many just-for-fun items you’ll throw into your cart. If you always find yourself pushing your self-imposed limit, only bring cash so you’re forced to stick to the budget.
Here are some products that are great bargains at the dollar store:
- Cleaning supplies: Scouring powder, bleach, glass cleaner, scouring pads, spray bottles, sponges, dryer sheets and ammonia.
- Seasonal: Holiday decorations, gift boxes and wrapping paper.
- Toys: Bubbles, sidewalk chalk, balls, card games and kites.
- Groceries: Frozen fruit and veggies, string cheese, spices, name-brand condiments, rice, oatmeal and snack foods.
- Kitchenware: Storage bins and containers, whimsical kitchen decor and glasses. Packs of paper plates, cups and napkins can also be bought for just a buck each.
- Party gear: Greeting cards, balloons, streamers, birthday candles, party decorations and gift bags.
- School/office supplies: Project display boards, tab dividers, binder clips and poster boards.
- Kids’ activities: Books, puzzles, craft supplies, activity books, coloring books and more.
Skip these products in the dollar store:
- Some cleaning supplies: These dollar-store cleaning supplies are either made too cheaply to be worth it or can be bought elsewhere for less: dishwashing soap, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, laundry detergent.
- Toys: Small toys for young children that are cheaply made can be choking hazards.
- Groceries: These foods can be bought cheaper in a grocery store: pasta, soda, gum, canned goods, chocolate.
- Kitchenware: Plastic cutlery from the dollar store is too cheaply made to be worth it. Also stay away from can openers, knives and oven mitts, as these items need to be well made to do their jobs.
- School/office supplies: lined paper, composition notebooks, glue, crayons, pens, pencils and highlighters. These items are probably less expensive in other stores.
- Self-care: Cheaply made soap, shampoo and cosmetics can be harmful to your skin.
When it’s not a bargain:
- It’s sold in tiny quantities.
- It’s made with harmful toxins.
- You don’t need it.
- It’s made super-cheaply and won’t last.
- It isn’t food-safe.
Guide To Identity Theft Protection
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming the next victim. Here is your complete guide to identity theft protection.
1. Monitor your credit. One of the best preventative measures you can take against identity theft is monitoring your credit. You can check your credit score for free on sites like CreditKarma.com and order an annual report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditreport.com. Check your score for any sudden hits and look through your reports for suspicious activity. Be sure to review your monthly credit card bills for any charges you don't remember making.
3. Only use Wi-Fi with a VPN. Did you know you are putting your personal information at risk every time you use the free Wi-Fi at your neighborhood coffee shop (or any other public establishment)? When using public Wi-Fi, always choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead of your default Wi-Fi settings to keep the sensitive information on your device secure.
4. Block robocalls. Lots of identity theft occurs via robocalls in which the scammer impersonates a government official or the representative of a well-known company. Lower the number of robocalls reaching your home by adding your home number to the Federal Trade Commission's No Call List at donotcall.gov. It's also a good practice to ignore all calls from unfamiliar numbers, because each engagement encourages the scammers to try again.
5. Upgrade your devices. Whenever possible, upgrade the operating system of your computer, tablet and phone to the latest versions. Upgraded systems will keep you safe from the most recent security breaches and offer you the best protection against viruses and hacks.
7. Keep personal information personal. Never share sensitive data, like your Social Security number and banking PINs, with anyone. It's also a good idea to use the strongest, most private security settings on your social media accounts to keep hackers out.
Identity theft can be an expensive nightmare. Be proactive about protecting your identity to keep your information and your money safe.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Millionaire?
How long does it take?
The amount of time it will take you to become a millionaire depends on the following factors:
1. The amount of money you invest
2. The rate of return on your investment
The table provided here gives you an idea of how much you'd need to save, and how many years it would take you to reach $1 million, at various rates of return.
Important Update about your EMV Chip Debit Card
When you use an EMV chip-enabled debit card to make a payment, most merchants that are equipped with EMV chip card terminals give you the option of paying as either “Debit” or “Credit.” Either option may require you to enter your PIN. Always inform the cashier "you want to choose credit.” You might encounter the two options - US MasterCard or International MasterCard, always choose International MasterCard; and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction. You may also see US MasterCard and MasterCard, choose MasterCard and your transaction will be completed as a credit transaction. Please note, you may still be required to enter a PIN, but as long as you select credit, International MasterCard or MasterCard, the transaction will be processed as a credit transaction and not Point of Sale (POS). If you don't see these options, the merchant you are shopping with has decided for you; and they will only route it through US MasterCard as a POS transaction.
Many members who make purchases with their debit cards at certain retailers, no longer have the option of choosing “Credit” when making their payment. Unfortunately, some stores have made the business decision to require their customers using a debit card to use the “Debit” option and enter their PIN, thus making the “Credit” option unavailable. When your purchase, if over $50, goes through as a pin-based POS debit transaction, it will incur a nominal 50 cent fee.
If a retailer does not permit you to select “credit” at the sale terminal, you have the following options:
- Complete the transaction and pay a 50 cent fee
- Cancel out of transaction; and pay with a First Service VISA Credit Card instead
- Cancel out of the transaction and pay with a check or cash
Let your voice be heard! If a retailer tells you that you no longer have an option on how to pay for your transaction – we encourage you to call or write the store. Let them know that as a consumer, you want them to bring back your choice on how you pay for your purchases.
Additional online resources:
- MyCreditUnion.gov - Financial tools and calculators, including college savings, student loans, mortgages and retirement savings. Users also have access to a personal budgeting worksheet.
- Pocket Cents - A financial literacy tool for all age groups which provides personal finance lessons and tips for groups including youth, tweens, teens, young adults, families, seniors, parents, educators and service members.