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Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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Gift cards are extremely popular, to give as well as to get. They’re a convenient way to treat someone to a meal at their favorite restaurant, purchase an item of their own choosing at a favorite store, or simply to give them cash to use anywhere the card is accepted. Unfortunately, scammers also love gift cards and have come up with creative ways to convince you to purchase cards for them.

 

In 2021, consumers reported over $148 million lost to gift card scammers. Many consumers reported being contacted by the IRS, Social Security, and power companies who told them they were liable for penalties. Others say they were contacted by Amazon or Apple to pay to continue service. Some say they were contacted by law enforcement and told to pay a fee to avoid a warrant.

 

In most cases, the scammer attempts to scare or alarm you, claiming something terrible will happen if you don’t pay them immediately. They want you to act quickly so you don’t have time to think it through or to check into the issue further.

 

You are told payment must be made using a gift card instead of a check or online payment. You don’t need to mail the card; just simply tell them the serial and personal identification numbers on the back.

 

Here are a few more scenarios gift card scammers use:

 

Relative in distress – You receive a call from someone claiming to be a loved one, usually a grandchild. They tell you they have had an accident, or they are stuck in a foreign country unable to get home. They ask you to send money immediately using a gift or a prepaid card.

 

Clergy members – They claim they are raising money for a worthy cause. They contact you by phone, text, or email, ask you to purchase gift cards, and give them the numbers.

 

Resale or auction sites – Once you have shown interest in an item, the scammer will offer a discount if you buy it with a gift card. You give them the number and never get the item you purchased.

Be suspicious if a government agency, legitimate company, or loved one asks you to pay them with a gift card. If you’re unsure, contact the agency or company using their official website, not a number provided in the questionable message. If it’s someone who claims to be a relative, contact the immediate family and ask them to verify that a payment is needed.

 

SRP Security Guidance

If you are a member of SRP Federal Credit Union in the Augusta area, be aware that the company will NEVER solicit you for personal information via email, text, or telephone. If you require assistance, please send a secure message by using the Message Center in SRP Online or SRP Mobile.

In addition to gift card scams, we have a multitude of other online security tips at SRP that will help you defend yourself against harmful phishing scams.

  • Make sure you log out of your accounts each time you leave them, especially when using public computers.
  • Delete emails from unknown senders with nonsensical information, subject line typos, or suspicious links.
  • Only send personal and account information through secure messaging, such as on SRP Online. Never share this information using email.

Visit the SRP Security Guidance page on our website to learn more about how SRP can help you keep your accounts safe.

 

Visit SRP Today

Like cash, once a gift card is handed over to someone, it’s very hard to get the money back. You are not protected from fraud like you are with major credit cards.

 

If you are contacted by anyone insisting that a payment must be made with a gift card, it’s very likely a scammer.

 

At SRP, we exist to serve our members and make the communities we serve better. Protecting our members from gift card scams and credit card fraud is extremely important to us. If you have any questions about gift card scams or have an immediate need we can help you with, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us or visit one of our many locations throughout the CSRA.

 

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/gift-card.html

https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/gift-card-scams

 

Article provided by CUNA

This article is for informational purposes only. Membership required.

SRP is federally insured by NCUA.

Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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Most of us assume we'll retire at some point. Some couples plan to retire together, but other times it makes more sense to stagger retirement dates. Having one spouse work longer often can help maximize retirement income or preserve health insurance.

 

Other times retirement has less to do with finances and more to do with personal satisfaction. And sometimes it's not really a choice. One spouse might leave the work force because of illness, injury, or unexpected job loss, but the other can't always follow immediately.

 

Money Matters

 

Retirement timing usually boils down to dollars: Couples plan to retire when they've got enough money to maintain the kind of lifestyle they want for as long as they expect to live. That number will be different for everyone, and how much couples need to save varies widely based on their ages, debts, lifestyles, and where they live.

 

At SRP Federal Credit Union in the CSRA, we can help you save for retirement with savings accounts that earn you monthly dividends with no minimum balance. We also offer share certificates at competitive dividend rates. This account requires a minimum deposit of $500.00, the funds to remain on deposit for seven days or more, and carries a penalty for early withdrawal.

 

Concerns About Health Insurance

 

Health insurance is another reason some couples stagger retirement. Medicare doesn't kick in until an individual reaches age 65. Very few companies offer health insurance to retirees. That means folks retiring before they qualify for Medicare must pay for their own coverage—and it’s not cheap. According to Health Markets, an individual retiring before age 65 can expect to pay upward of $438 per month ($5,256 a year) for single-only coverage. If both spouses retire, that price tag doubles. Even if a couple can afford the premiums, a significant health issue could motivate one spouse to work longer if it meant better coverage or more continuity in care.

 

At SRP in Augusta, our certified financial counselors can help you solve your money issues and take control of your finances. Our counselors have extensive training and are certified to extend financial counseling services. They can assist you by helping you understand financial principles, create financial goals and strategies to achieve them, and so much more. Through our in-person, individual assistance, they will help you chart a path to achieving financial wellness through financial counseling and education.

 

Become a Member of SRP Today

 

Long before leaving the workforce, spouses should discuss how they wish to live in their retirement. This will determine how much money they will need for retirement and how long they must work to get there.

At SRP Federal Credit Union, our financial counselors are here to help you get well on your way to retirement. In addition to offering individual assistance, our counselors also work with groups virtually and in person, teaching financial literacy to all ages free of charge.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today to get started on your retirement planning.

Article provided by CUNA

This article is for informational purposes only. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA.

 

Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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At SRP Federal Credit Union, we understand the importance of financial literacy for teens. We are dedicated to equipping young individuals with the knowledge and skills needed to make wise financial decisions.

 

We offer programs that cover a range of topics that are essential for building a strong foundation in personal finance.

 

Elements of Money®

If you’re a teen between 13 to 17 years old, you may have financial questions, and SRP offers the Elements of Money® website to our teen members to help answer those questions.

 

Learn how to plan for college expenses. Interested in buying a car? Find out how much driving a car can cost. Can you get a credit card? Find out.

 

There are articles on matters that are important to you, plus podcasts, quizzes, videos, and more. Are you more into social media and contests? Elements of Money® has it all.

 

SRP Financial Counselors

SRP’s Certified Financial Counselors are here to help you solve your money issues and take control of your finances. They can also teach your teens the fundamentals of budgeting, including setting financial goals, tracking income and expenses, and creating a realistic spending plan.

 

By understanding the concept of budgeting, they will be able to manage their money effectively and develop a habit of saving.

 

Our counselors have extensive training and are certified to extend financial counseling services. Through our in-person, individual assistance, they will help you chart a path to achieving financial wellness through financial counseling and education.

 

Our counselors also work with groups virtually and in person, teaching financial literacy to all ages free of charge.

 

Choose the Right Credit Union for Your Teen

Choosing the right financial institution for your teen can be difficult with so many options available to you. Your goal should be to find an institution that serves you and not the other way around.

 

At SRP, we exist to serve our member owners. Since our founding, we have always been dedicated to our members. The members are the heart of our credit union and the sole reason for our existence.

 

Today, we serve as the financial institution for over 195,000 members; we continue to provide sound savings programs, checking accounts, competitive loan options, and a variety of other convenient services tailored to fit our members' needs. Everything your teen will need financially, we can supply.

 

Visit SRP for Your Teens

Financial literacy is important for teenagers to learn to prepare themselves for adulthood. At SRP, we have numerous educational opportunities for young people to learn.

 

We are eager to serve you at one of our many convenient locations. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.

 

Article Credits: CUNA

This article is for informational purposes only. All loans subject to approval and rate may vary depending on individual’s credit history and other factors. Refinancing restrictions apply. All Credit Union loan programs, rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA. NMLS #612441.

 

Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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According to William Van Tassel, Ph.D., manager of driver training programs for the American Automobile Association (AAA), it's essential to consider safety, affordability, and reliability when purchasing a teen's first car.

It is also important to consider a reputable credit union to help you obtain an auto loan. At SRP Federal Credit Union in Augusta, Georgia, we have programs that can help your teen drive off with their first car with peace of mind.

 

Understand the cost

The combined cost of owning and operating a car is an important lesson to share with teens. The 2019 edition of AAA's Your Driving Costs report puts the average annual cost of driving a sedan 15,000 miles a year at 61.88 cents a mile—$9,282 a year. Put that figure into perspective for teens by converting the vehicle's cost into hours worked. To get an approximate figure, take the number of miles the teen will drive each year, multiply it by 62 cents a mile, and divide the result by the teen's hourly wage.

 

In addition, there are auto loans to consider. At SRP, we want you to get the best deal possible. Not only do we offer great rates everyday and flexible terms, we provide research materials to help you through the auto-buying process. We also provide advantages that will save your teen money:

 

  • Qualified members select loan terms to fit their needs
  • Little or no down payment required on new vehicles
  • Simple interest financing
  • Convenient payment options by mail, by automatic debit, by payroll deduction, in person, or through SRP Online
  • No application or service fee
  • Same-day loan approval

 

Make an agreement

If parents have a financial stake in the teen's car—a down payment, loan payments, insurance, or other costs—then they can consider creating a written agreement. The agreement should cover:

  • Who pays for specific types of expenses, such as insurance or repairs.
  • How the teen's behavior affects driving privileges.
  • What the consequences will be if the teen fails to live up to the agreement.

 

If you would like more ideas on how to create a written agreement, visit one of SRP’s financial counselors. Our counselors have extensive training and are certified to extend financial counseling services. They can assist you by helping you understand financial principles, create financial goals and strategies to achieve them, and so much more. Through our in-person, individual assistance, they will help you chart a path to achieving financial wellness through financial counseling and education.

 

Avoid the rush

Many credit union lenders have seen teens rush into "deals" only to find they paid too much, agreed to a loan at exorbitant interest rates, lacked a clear title, or bought a car with serious defects. Parents and teens alike can benefit from taking time to share stories, do their research, and consider what owning a car will cost over time. It saves a lot of headaches in the long run.

 

At SRP in Augusta, we make applying for your auto loans super easy. We offer anytime, 24/7 Lending. Call us at 803-278-4851 to apply for a loan over the phone! You can also check your online application status at any time!  If you have an immediate need we can help you with, don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

 

Article Credits: CUNA

This article is for informational purposes only. All loans subject to approval and rate may vary depending on individual’s credit history and other factors. Refinancing restrictions apply. All Credit Union loan programs, rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA. NMLS #612441.

 

Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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In tough times, it's more important than ever to develop and maintain good financial habits. Having a household budget and shedding high-rate credit card debt are two obvious things that could benefit most consumers. But figuring out where to start can be a daunting task—especially if you feel like you're already in trouble. The thing to remember is that it's never too late to ask for help from your credit union.

 

Manage your mortgage

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and are facing a rate adjustment, refinancing your home loan with your credit union might be the break you need. If you qualify, you could:

  • Refinance into a fixed-rate 30-year (or shorter-term) mortgage.
  • Refinance into a new ARM that has terms better suited to your situation.

Even if you have a fixed-rate home loan, refinancing may free up some money you could use to:

  • Pay down more expensive debt—credit card bills, for example.
  • Build your emergency fund for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or a new furnace.

Tap your home's equity

A home equity line of credit can be a useful cushion if you're not already overloaded with debt.

  • You can set it up and never draw on it but have the comfort of knowing it's there if needed.
  • If you're already tapped out, borrowing more is not the answer.

Cut credit card costs

Not all credit cards are created equal. Switch to a credit union credit card—they average more than two percentage points lower than bank credit card interest rates, and often have lower fees as well.

  • Pay on time, no exceptions.
  • Whenever possible, pay the balance each month. When you have to stretch payments, pay in as few months as you can manage.
  • Avoid cash advances—the interest rate on these is higher than on straight purchases.

Pass up payday loans

Payday lenders promise to help when you're short on cash. You'll get the money you need, but with interest rates from 300% to 1,000%.

  • See what it really costs to borrow from a payday lender, and
  • Visit your credit union—Credit unions offer payday loan alternatives with fairer terms and lower interest rates, such as short-term signature loans and low-cost cash advances.

Use direct deposit

Direct deposit will help you to save automatically. You simply need to set it up to place a certain amount or a percentage into your checking account and another amount into your savings. It gives you:

  • One less thing to worry about; it's the safest way to receive your money,
  • An easier and more convenient way to contribute to IRAs (individual retirement accounts) and other savings vehicles, and
  • More control over your money and your time—it's predictable and dependable.

Steer clear of scams

Some scammers use negative economic news to scare investors into high-risk investments. They use investor fears to promote sketchy schemes with promises of high return and no risk that leave investors with nothing but empty wallets.

  • Hang up on aggressive cold callers.
  • Delete unsolicited e-mails promoting investment opportunities.

As member-owned not-for-profit institutions, credit unions look out for their members' best interests. Credit unions rates and fees can save their members hundreds of dollars annually. Don't wait until you're in deep trouble to ask for a financial checkup at your credit union. In fact, the earlier you ask for a review, the better the outcome can be.

 

Article provided by CUNA

This article is for informational purposes only. All loans subject to approval and rate may vary depending on individual’s credit history and other factors. Refinancing restrictions apply. All Credit Union loan programs, rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA. NMLS #612441.

 

Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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Bad Money Habits and How to Fix Them

Learning how to use money wisely is an essential skill that isn’t always taught to us as children. Some of us pick up bad money habits on our journey to adulthood. Often, we’re just not being mindful of where our money goes.

See if you have any of the following bad money habits. Then read on to learn how to break them and replace them with good habits.

  1. Use credit cards to pay for a lifestyle beyond your means – It’s easy to spend wildly with a card; you don’t see the money slip away until you get the monthly bill. If you can’t pay off your credit card balance each month, then at least pay more than the minimum payment. Remember that even if you don’t use the card, the interest charges will compound, increasing your total debt. To break a credit card habit, try using cash or your debit card instead for a few weeks and look at your checking account balance every day. You’ll quickly learn to stop and think twice before making a purchase.
  2. Living paycheck to paycheck – If you’re spending as much as you earn, you’ll always be short of funds by the end of the month for your rent and bills, and you’ll never be able to save. So, first, get a clear picture of your essential expenses: your rent, utilities, gas, insurance, groceries. Add them up, then deduct that total from your monthly take-home pay. Ideally, essential expenses should take up only 50% of your income. If it’s more, then you’ll need to either find ways to reduce those expenses or get another job. Of the remaining 50% of your monthly income, use at least 20% to pay down debt and add to savings and use the last 30% for everything else you want.
  3. Not saving for an emergency fund or retirement – Life is unpredictable; you can’t always tell when your job may be downsized, or your car needs a major repair. That’s why it’s important to build an emergency saving account that has enough to cover at least 3 months of expenses. Relying on a credit card will only send you further into debt. It’s also important to begin saving for retirement. The younger you are when you start, the more you’ll earn through the magic of compounding interest.
  4. Keeping subscriptions you don’t use – If you have an automatic recurring expense, like a gym membership or a streaming service, but you aren’t using them consistently, then why are you paying for them? Review all subscriptions and if you haven’t used them on a regular basis for 3 months, cancel them. Put the money you save into your savings.
  5. Not tracking spending. Just try it one month to get a clear idea of where you are spending your money. Keep a receipt for every purchase, categorize them in a budgeting app or spreadsheet, and add them up. You may discover that buying lunch everyday instead of making your own is costing you about $200 every month, money that could be used to pay down a student loan or credit card bill.

Like any bad habit, it will take some work to change bad money habits to good ones. Just know that the peace of mind a healthy financial status brings is priceless.

 

Article provided by CUNA

This article is for informational purposes only. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA.

Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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Car title loans or “fast auto loans” are popular with people looking for quick access to cash, but they can also put you in a deep well of debt. Car title loan companies squeeze nearly $700 million from consumers each year in fees alone!

 

Here's how car title lenders work. They make short-term loans based on the value of the collateral—in this case, the car. Typically, there's no credit check, nor does the lender ask the borrower about their other monthly expenses or debts. The borrower must pay a monthly finance fee of about 25% of the amount being borrowed. That translates to an Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 300%. If the borrower can't make the payment, they risk losing the car.

 

For example, say you want to borrow $1,000 for 30 days. The finance fee is 25% of $1,000, or $250. You give the title loan company the title of your car and they give you $1,000. Some lenders may even require the installation of a GPS and starter interrupt device that disables your vehicle so the company can find and repossess it.

 

At the end of 30 days, you have three choices:

  1. Pay $1,250 plus any other fees the lender may charge,
  2. Roll the loan over into a new one, or
  3. Lose the car.

 

If you can’t pay the $1,250 and choose to roll the $1,000 loan over for another 30 days, you must pay another 25% finance fee ($250). This brings your total payment to $1,500, ($1,000 + $500 in fees) which is due at the end of 30 days.

 

Many borrowers find themselves unable to pay off the first loan and decide to roll over the loan. If they roll over the loan multiple times, the fees will sink them further into debt.

 

Before giving away your vehicle, keep these tips in mind:

  • Focus on the APR. Car-title loan APR rates range from 84% to 300% and higher. If you focus only on the “fast and easy” aspect, you can get trapped into an endless cycle of debt.
  • Shop around. Ask the credit union what other options are available for your situation. We offer many kinds of loans, with much better rates than the “quick cash” variety. We will look for the best option that can address your current financial need with the least financial stress.
  • Steer clear of all predatory loans. That includes payday loans, tax refund anticipation loans, and overdraft loans. These lenders make their money by keeping you in debt. Don’t make it easy for them.
  • Boost your emergency fund account. Having a special savings account just for emergencies will provide the quick cash you need for unexpected expenses. Consider automatic transfers from your checking to the savings account to make it easier. Let us know if you need help opening a savings account or setting up an automatic transfer.

Article provided by CUNA

This article is for informational purposes only. All loans subject to approval and rate may vary depending on individual's credit history and other factors. Refinancing restrictions apply. All Credit Union loan programs, rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA.

Family Finances: The Importance of Keeping Everyone Informed

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Life changes, such as getting married, divorced, having a child, or facing widowhood, require more than the subsequent emotional adjustment. These milestones also signal the need to review your financial situation and make any necessary adjustments.

 

Marriage

  • Discuss your financial goals with each other — Do you want to save for a new house? Have kids? Decide if you're going to pool your assets or maintain separate share draft/checking or savings accounts.
  • Review your credit histories — Order your credit reports and clean up any credit problems.
  • Make name change notifications — If you're changing your name, notify your employer, credit card issuers, the Social Security Administration, the motor vehicle department, the S. Passport Office, as well as insurers and doctors.
  • Create or update your wills and powers of attorney.
  • Check your insurance — Review your auto, health, property, disability, personal liability, and life insurance coverage. Update beneficiaries on your policies, your IRAs (individual retirement accounts), and other investments.

 

Expecting a new baby (birth or adoption)

  • Evaluate your budget — If you're planning on moving, buying a bigger car, or want to quit work to raise the baby, you'll need to create a budget to help you determine how to manage it financially.
  • Insurance coverage — Visit your employee benefits department to find out what your policy covers, and when to add a new baby or adopted child to your policy. Research any other employment policies regarding maternity or family leave, and flex-spending accounts.
  • Create or update your wills — Besides instructions about how the estate should be distributed, wills should include the name of the person chosen to be the child’s guardian. Parents may also wish to appoint a different person to be the guardian of the child's money.

 

Divorce

  • Educate yourself — Review financial accounts and figure out where the money is. Pull credit reports to see if there are any credit cards or loans you don't know about.
  • Collect information — Before your first visit to an attorney, make copies of all financial records, including statements from financial institutions and brokerage companies, tax returns for the past two or three years, mortgage, copies of financial statements on file at any financial institutions, insurance, safe deposit boxes, wills, and trusts.
  • Establish credit — Open an SRP Federal Credit Union draft/checking and savings account in your own name. Get a credit card in your own name.
  • Update wills and beneficiaries
  • Close joint credit accounts — Debt incurred in a joint account will follow both spouses after the divorce. Talk to your lawyer about how to best close joint accounts and limit your liability.
  • Get health insurance — If you have insurance through your spouse’s employment, you'll still be covered during the separation, but once you're divorced, you’ll need to get your own health insurance.

 

Death of a spouse or parent

  • Get 10 death certificates — You'll need copies for your insurance, 401(k) payouts, Social Security, probate, and to change the title on property.
  • Organize finances — Make a list of assets and liabilities; gather statements from financial institutions and brokerage companies, insurance policies, employment records, tax returns, and so forth.
  • Cancel accounts and services — Check for and cancel any automatic or online bill paying services unless you'll continue to use them. Notify and cancel any accounts with health clubs, magazine subscription, online services, etc., you won’t be using.
  • Contact income providers — Notify previous employers, pension fund administrators, and financial institutions holding IRAs or other retirement income accounts. Each may have a different beneficiary. Notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible.
  • Contact life and health insurance providers — Insurance companies will distribute money to the beneficiary listed on the policy. Don't cancel health insurance until all outstanding bills have been paid.

This article is for informational purposes only. Membership required. SRP is federally insured by NCUA.