Friday, January 5, 2018

How to Set a Personal Budget for 2018

In a season known for indulging and overspending, the holidays can be the last time you want to think about a budget.

However, the start of a new year is the perfect time to revamp the way you think about your money. It’s a way to set yourself up for 2018 to make your budget work for you, instead of working for your budget.

With that attitude in mind, take these three steps as you begin budgeting for 2018:

1. Start with the Basics

You might feel tempted to go way into detail when you first set out to budget, but that’s not necessary. Divide your budget into simple categories in a program such as Microsoft Excel so you’ll easily be able to make edits and be realistic with the amounts you set for each category. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Think about how much you’re already spending in each area and visualize what you could cut back on. Draw your budget as such.

Be honest about the best way to keep your budget. If you like math, it could be pen and paper. If you’d like to be more hands-off, try a budgeting program such as Mint, which categorizes your purchases as you make them.

2. Save for the Worst

Build an emergency fund into your budget. This type of savings account will give you a financial buffer in the case that illness or injury, hospital bills, or other times of need make money tight. Putting money into the fund can be as easy as the change from your lunch, cutting unnecessary expenses, or saving your tax return.

Build the fund with the requirement that it be used strictly for emergencies, and not as general savings. Don’t use the fund for holidays or planned expenses. This way, when the unexpected happens, your money will be ready.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Make Changes

Your budget shouldn’t be set in stone. As you start spending in 2018, see where your estimates and actual spending don’t match up and take a look at why that is.

If money is tight, it’s tempting to underestimate costs as you set your budget. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Allow room for fun and an occasional splurge. Get too restrictive too soon, and it will be harder to follow the budget as the year goes on.

If things still don’t add up, think about adding to your income instead of cutting from your expenses. An extra part-time job, some freelance work or selling something you’re not using can free up some space in the budget.

No matter your budgeting goal for 2018, Financial One Credit Union is here to help.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

5 Tax Season Tips You Need To Know Before 2018

It’s never too early to start thinking about tax season.

There are many things to consider for a quick and seamless tax return this year. If you keep these 10 tips in mind, you will be less likely to experience a tax refund delay.

1. The First Day to File Taxes

There have been rumors about the first day to file taxes in 2018. According to some websites out there, the first day you can file taxes in 2018 will be January 21st. However, according to the IRS, an official date hasn’t yet been decided. It is likely to be the third week of January, based on past tax seasons. Be sure to always check the IRS website to see when the official date will be.

2. Check If Your ITIN Will Expire

An ITIN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is a tax processing number for the IRS. On December 31st, 2017, any ITINs that haven’t been used for the last three years will expire. On top of those, according to the IRS, they will be expiring ITINs issued before 2013 and have middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80. If your ITIN is due to expire, send an application to renew it before the end of the year. This will help ensure there won’t be a delay in your tax refund. Note: If you use a Social Security Number for filing taxes, this does not apply to you.

3. Start Gathering Your Documents

You’ll want to ensure you have all necessary documents for your tax return. This includes your previous tax return, W-2, 1099, and any other forms required for taxes. These typically come from your employer and banks in January. Once you receive them, double-check that all your information is correct. Use TurboTax’s preparation checklist to help know which documents you need.

4. EITC and ACTC Refunds Will be Held

For those filing with Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit, your refund will be held until late-February. This is required by law. Ensure you aware of this timing when filing these credits and making plans for your return.

5. Choose E-file and use Direct Deposit

Using these options during your tax return will help you get your refund fastest. The IRS states, “Electronically filing a tax return is the most accurate way to prepare and file. Errors delay refunds and the easiest way to avoid them is to e-file.” Along with e-file, direct deposit is the quickest way to receive your refund. It also saves taxpayer money if you choose direct deposit instead of a paper check.

Now that you have the top 5 tips for tax season, start preparing by gathering your documents and applying for a new ITIN before the end of the year. This will make it much easier for you and/or your accountant when it comes time to file your tax return.

For advice on what to do with the extra funds from your return, contact the specialists at Financial One Credit Union. We have partnered with Ameriprise Financial and can help you invest, pay off debts, plan for retirement and manage your money for the future.


Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Best Ways to Give Back This Season

It is the season of giving and there is a multitude of ways you can make the holidays a little happier for those around you. Here are the best ways you can give back and spread cheer!

Volunteer Opportunities

Great places to volunteer this time of year are food shelves and homeless shelters. As the cold weather sets in, these places experience higher volumes. They also have an influx of donations around the season of giving so they need extra volunteers to sort and manage these items.

If you are looking for the right opportunity to volunteer, you can get matched with local organizations at

Local Love

If you feel like giving back in a more personal way, consider helping locals in your area that are struggling. If you know a family with young kids struggling financially, consider giving them toys to gift their children when they can not afford to buy them. Adopt a family through a charitable or religious organization to give something that specific family needs, usually clothing. Consider small acts of kindness to spread joy like shoveling a neighbor's driveway, making your coworkers cookies unexpectedly, or inviting someone lonely for dinner.

Bank With Financial One

To give back on a larger scale, consider banking with Financial One. We are committed to serving our community's needs, which is why we stick to our Social Promise.

When you choose Financial One for your home loan, we provide 1 night of housing for someone homeless. When you open a checking line-of-credit, a veteran in need receives one coat. Lastly, when you open an auto loan with Financial One, we donate 100 lbs of food to the local food shelf. This program has allowed our credit union and members to give back in a big way!

The best ways to give back during the holidays are easy to find when you know where to look. The best thing about giving back is that you aren’t limited to the holiday season. Commit to giving back to your community all year round.

How will you be celebrating the season of giving this year?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Keeping Your Financial Information Safe After The Equifax Breach

The news of the massive Equifax breach in September was unsettling for many as millions of Americans’ private financial information was hacked. The latest news reveals 2.5 million more consumers were impacted than initially thought, bringing the total to 145.5 million. This news can make people very nervous to apply for a loan, check their credit score, or share their personal financial information with anyone - and rightly so.

We at Financial One Credit Union want to be part of the solution instead of downplaying the problem. Here are some questions you might have about protecting your financial information.

Do Banks Communicate via Text message?

While some banks do communicate via text, be wary of a type of financial scam called “smishing”. explains, “Smishing occurs when you get a dubious text message from a fraudster posing as a bank representative. The message may warn you of security breaches and ask you to call a toll-free number. Then you’re asked for your account number and pin.” Don’t trust text communication as a communication method; call the customer service line at your financial institution instead.

Can Viruses on my Computer Hack my Financial Information?

Yes, malware is rampant and one of the most common ways hackers gain access to your private information. Malware is downloaded onto your computer by clicking an online link or opening an infected email. Be very wary of sites and senders you are unfamiliar with.

How Do I Know if a Website is Secure?

Look closely at the website address (URL). If it starts with http, the site is not secure. If you see https, the site is more secure, but still not fool-proof. The added “s” in the URL means the website is secured using an SSL Certificate. Extra-secure sites will have a lock icon, meaning the company that owns the site has an Extended Validation - the safest and most secure level.

How Do I Know if I Have Been Affected?

Even high-profile companies like Yahoo and LinkedIn have been hacker victims. Check 179 hacked websites at one time by entering your email address into the website If you are curious about the recent Equifax breach, you can visit their website directly to find out if your information was stolen.

To learn more about the Equifax breach specifically, visit The best thing to do moving forward is to keep a close eye on all your finances and accounts. If you spot something unusual, notify your financial institution right away so they can help you stop the unlawful charges.

For our members impacted by the Equifax breach, Financial One will do everything possible to protect you and your financial information. Contact us for more information.

Keeping Your Financial Information Safe After The Equifax Breach

Friday, September 15, 2017

September is the Best Time to Buy These 6 Things

Sometimes saving money is not about clipping coupons or shopping sales, it can be about shopping seasonally. If you can, choose September the buy end of summer items when they are drastically marked down. Do not buy when everyone else does, a little delay of gratification can go a long way toward stretching your dollars. September is the best time to buy these 6 things!

Patio Furniture

As summer comes to a close, patio furniture takes up a lot of space in store's floor plans and they heavily discount sets to get ready for the next season. Take advantage of up to 90% off patio furniture during September.


Not many invest in a new bicycle at the end of summer when they have to wait all through the cold season to ride it often. This means huge savings for you! Upgrade your bike in the fall and reap the savings.

Older iPhones

Each September, Apple releases the new iPhone and flocks of people upgrade their device. If you want to upgrade your iPhone, but do not necessarily care about getting the absolute newest version, previous-generation iPhones are heavily discounted during September. The prices will be lowest during the end of the month after Apple does the new iPhone release.

A New Car

Fall is usually the best time to buy a new car because the next year's models are hitting the lot and dealers are trying to make way by discounting the current year's cars. You can find discounts between $2000 and $5000 pretty easily, plus great car loan options.


Of course, another seasonal item that makes sense to buy at the end of the summer, not the beginning when everyone else does. Lawnmowers can be very expensive, so if it is time for an upgrade, wait for September sales.


You could save hundreds of dollars by booking holiday travel or last minute vacations in September. Deals on hotels and especially on airfare are prevalent during this mid-season between summer and holiday travel.

Although September does not have a “Black Friday,” there are still rock bottom prices to be found on certain items if you are informed. Shop seasonally and save this September!

Monday, August 14, 2017

How to Find the Keys to Financial Happiness

When it comes to financial happiness, many people think of big houses, nice cars, vacation homes, fine dining, and heaps of cash in the bank. The truth is, financial happiness is really a subjective and personal choice. Like many things in life, people will differ in their definition of financial happiness and how to obtain it. To help you start pondering what true financial happiness means to you, check out our tips below. The first two are more abstract and deal with your personal values while the last two address behaviors of so-called financially happy people.

Setting and Reaching Goals

You’ve heard the age-old mantra that money can’t buy happiness, right? Well, it can, to an extent. Money certainly can buy happiness when you are spending it well. It’s not about how much you have, but how you use it! That’s why it’s important to know what you value most so you can create goals. Goals - big and small - help direct where you spend your dough. Writing out your short-term goals (ex. getting a pet) and long-term goals (ex. saving for retirement), along with ballpark figures needed to achieve them, will increase the likelihood that you reach them. People with clear goals are typically more financially happy people because they have focus and direction for their money.

Maintain a Positive Attitude

Your relationship with money has a lot to do with your sense of happiness. What messages did you receive growing up from the adults in your life? Were you taught to view money as a tool, as a means of exchange, or as a scarce resource to chase and hoard? Spending some time reflecting on your attitude toward money will help bring your inner dialogue to light. Rewrite that inner dialogue to help conquer your money fears and build self-esteem.

Stay Organized

Few people want to hear this, but most financially happy people are organized. They have a handle on what’s coming in and what’s going out. While it isn’t always fun, creating a budget is a tried and true method for taking control of your personal finances. Tracking your credit score is another great way to stay in control. Improving your score could mean the difference in interest rates and thousands of dollars in interest saved over the years. It takes discipline, but it feels good to be in control of your money; one of the best ways to do that is to get organized.

Make Wise Investments

This last tip will vary from person to person. Some people are fascinated by stocks and bonds and will jump in head first to start investing. Others will feel comfortable with a less risky option of opening an IRA. Still others would rather trust an advisor or firm to handle investment decisions for them. Whatever the case you’re in – if you have a little to invest or a lot – a common thread in financially happy people involves some sort of investing. Setting aside what you can, as early as you can, might play a large role in your long-term financial happiness.

Have these suggestions sparked your internal dialogue around money? How do you define financial happiness?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Simple Money Saving Summer Tips

It is easy to overspend during the summer. Taking trips and entertaining the kids can make your money feel like it flows through your fingers just like the water you wade through on hot days. There are many easy ways to save money that will actually enhance your summer you might not have thought of. Try some of these tips to put some extra cash in your wallet while the warm weather is here.

Turn Up The Thermostat For The Air Conditioning

Almost every home has some kind of air conditioning to make their home more comfortable during the hot temps, but almost every home also has their thermostat set too low. It is actually more comfortable during the summer if the temperature outside is not drastically different from the temperature inside your home. Your body will adjust to the warmer temps and you will not stress your body with the severe differences in temperature. The best part about adjusting your air conditioning to run less is that every degree you turn up the thermostat saves you 3% on your utility bill. The ideal temperature for most people is around 75 degrees. If your thermostat is set lower than that, turn it up

Cook Outside As Often As You Can

During summer months, it heats up your house to cook on the stove top or bake in the oven. Avoid cooking inside the house as often as possible to reduce the need to run the air conditioning and refrain from using kitchen appliances. Grilling outside is the epitome of summer fun, but also consider cooking in roasting pans, slow cookers, outdoor stoves, or single burners on your patio. This is especially wise when hosting parties because the extra bodies already heat up the house. Move the party outside to cook and converse and save money!

Switch To A Push Reel Mower

You might be surprised how easy and enjoyable it is to mow your lawn with an old-fashioned reel lawn mower. Switching to a push reel mower is especially feasible if your yard is a quarter-acre or smaller. You will no longer need to spend money on gasoline, oil, spark plugs, or filters. Plus, it will decrease air pollution and create a quiet, calm activity out of something that used to be loud, smelly, and a nuisance. The use of push reel mowers has increased in popularity in recent years. Enjoy mowing your lawn again and save money doing it!

These tips can not only save you money this summer but also make your summer the best one you have ever had! By changing the temperature in which you live, the way you prepare your meals, and how you mow your lawn you can save more than you ever thought!

If you’re interested in other money saving options - such as consolidating your debt or taking out a line of credit, contact Financial One Credit Union.