As the new year begins, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) is offering some valuable financial tips to give your finances a boost for 2014.
“The new year is the perfect opportunity to get your finances in line,” said Dan Berger, NAFCU’s president and CEO. “Joining a not-for-profit, member-owned credit union is an excellent way to ensure you receive low fees, competitive rates and top-notch member service.”
1. Create and stick to a budget – Tracking your expenses is crucial to living within your financial means. If you’d like to create a budget but aren’t sure where to start, credit unions frequently offer free financial literacy classes that can provide assistance.
2. Make savings a priority – Many credit unions offer the opportunity to open a savings account for as little as $5. Consider splitting your direct deposit between checking and savings accounts. Now’s a great time to start a vacation or holiday account to save up for special occasions, or an emergency fund. Also, take advantage of 401K plans through work as well as IRAs and CDs that credit unions offer.
3. Avoid unnecessary fees – Most credit unions still offer no-fee checking and participate in a shared branching network that gives members access to credit union locations in all 50 states. Credit unions also offer access to tens of thousands of free ATMs nationwide, including at key 7-Eleven locations.
4. Pick the right credit card for you – Several credit cards have rewards programs that allow you to redeem points for anything from travel to gift cards. Make sure to choose cards with low interest rates. Recent figures show that average rates for credit union classic credit cards are 11.58, as compared with 12.93 at banks. Compare bank rates and credit union rates at http://www.culookup.com/CompareCURates. Personally I prefer the Alaska Airlines Business Card for this reason. I receive one companion ticket a year and all my business purchases accumulate for free air miles. This saves me money on business travel – especially for public speaking engagements and TIGERS training events.
5. Review your financial statements/credit report frequently – With recent data security breaches, reviewing your credit report is more important than ever. You can request a free copy of your credit report once a year at https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action.
6. Weigh financial decisions carefully – Cautiously decide what you can manage to pay for. Visit http://culookup.com, where 30 financial calculators are available to help you decide everything from how much car you can afford to whether you should consolidate your debts.
The National Association of Federal Credit Unions is the only national organization that focuses exclusively on federal issues affecting credit unions, representing its members before the federal government and the public.
Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton