Friday, September 28, 2012

ATM Safety Tips

You're out and need some cash. A quick stop at the ATM and you're on your way.

Not so fast!

Here are some precautions you should take when using an ATM:
  • Try not to use an ATM alone. Either take someone with you or only use an ATM when others are around.
  • Choose an ATM that is well lit and does not have tall bushes or other potential hiding places nearby. (Avoid using an ATM after dark if possible.)
  • Look around when you arrive at an ATM. If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable or anyone who looks suspicious, do not stop. Either use an ATM at a different location or come back later.
  • Have your card ready when you approach an ATM. You are easy prey for a thief if you are fumbling with a wallet or purse.
  • Avoid standing right behind another person who is using the ATM when you arrive. Give them enough space to conduct their transaction in privacy.
  • Stay alert to your surroundings while using the ATM. Look around every few seconds while making your transaction.
  • Protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN). Shield your PIN from onlookers by using your body.
  • Be sure you have your card and your receipt when your transaction is finished, and then leave immediately.
  • Avoid counting or otherwise displaying large amounts of cash.
  • Be alert for anyone who appears suspicious as you leave. If you think you are being followed, go to an area 
Sure...most of these seem like common sense. But when you're in a hurry (The movie starts in 20 minutes!) it's easy to make a mistake and be a little less cautious.

It's your money, though, and you worked hard to earn it. Take a little extra time to protect it.

What About You?

Do you have any other safety tips to share?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Basic Money Mistakes to Avoid

Most people worry about money—but you don’t have to let your worries ruin your life…not now and not when you’re older (and have more money). You can help your financial situation (and lessen your worries) if you avoid some basic money mistakes.

Mistake: Not tracking your spending.
What You Should Do: Pay attention to where your money goes. Remember to track all the incidentals you pay cash for. When you have a credit card, your credit card statement will help you track your spending. If you use a debit card, write the date, amount spent, and the name of the store.
Benefit to You: Tracking your spending will help make it easier to stick to your budget. You’ll see where your money is going—and you can make changes right away if you see that you’re wasting money.

Mistake: Not setting up a budget (and sticking to it). This advice may seem elementary, but many smart people don’t take it seriously.
What You Should Do: Determine how much money you realistically need to pay bills and buy needed supplies for a week or month, and don’t go over it.
Benefit to You: You will be in charge of your money—and with that accomplishment comes a good feeling—not that frantic, sick-to-your-stomach feeling that you get when you realize you don’t have enough money.

Mistake: Not setting up and maintaining an emergency fund.
What You Should Do: Set aside some money for emergencies, and don’t touch it for any other reason. You can get in this habit now by setting aside small amounts of money. Do this and you can start building your emergency fund before you move into your own place.
Benefit to You: Ten or 20 dollars a month can add up, especially if it’s drawing interest.

Mistake: Not shopping around.
What You Should Do: Take the time to look for the best prices, and avoid buying on impulse. Stock up on essentials on sale, and always look for opportunities to negotiate a better deal.
Benefit to You: You’ll get the best deal that’s available, so you’ll spend less money. That’s money you can save. (How about putting the saved money in your emergency fund?)

Why Bother Now?

But, you’re young! Why should you think about any of this now? Well, we’ve said it before (and we’ll probably say it again): the sooner you learn good money skills, the better off you’ll be! Learn these skills now while you’re still living at home. That way, if you make a mistake (think: I spent too much on clothes and now I can’t afford books), your parents can help you fix it—and it likely won’t be as serious as when you’re on your own (think: I don’t have enough money to pay the rent on my apartment).

What about you?

How well are you handling your money? Do you have a budget—and do you stick to it?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pay Yourself First—a Good Habit to Start Now

The savings advice “pay yourself first” is important—but what does it mean? It means that when you get any money (such as your pay or cash gifts), you should put some of it in your savings account before you pay your bills. There are many reasons to do this. You can:

  • Save money toward your goals
  • Learn to manage money better
  • Have money for emergencies
  • Improve your standard of living

Perhaps not all of these reasons matter to you today. Right now you might just be focused on learning to manage your money and saving for some of your goals. As you grow older and change, though, your responsibilities will change and increase. Soon enough you’ll need to save for emergencies and improve your standard of living.

Present and Future Savings Goals

What do you want to save money for? Your answer to that question will identify your savings goals. Right now you might be working part-time after school to save money for college expenses or for a car.

When you’re older, you’ll likely save money for some of these major expenses:
  • Unexpected events, such as job loss, car repair, or unexpected medical bills
  • Housing
  • Vacation 

Time is on Your Side

You’re young, so get in the habit of paying yourself first now. Time and compound interest will work for you and help your savings increase.

Another advantage to start paying yourself first now is that you have access to people who can give you free advice about saving. Your parents can get you started on the right path—and help you if you make a mistake.

What about You?

Do you pay yourself first? Do you have any other savings tips to share?

Welcome to Credit Unions Rock (Where Your Money Matters)!

Being an adult is a mixed bag of more independence and additional responsibility. Adulthood isn’t always easy; you have to deal with things that used to be in your parents' domain...things like salaries, budgets, savings accounts, and credit card debt.® offers you solid information on these issues and helps you plan for a successful future. In addition to the CreditUnionsRock website, the Your Money Matters blog is designed to help you make sense of the decisions that you have to make.

Whether you have college, a career, a home or wedding bells in your future, our goal is to provide financial tips that make sense. We'll cover:
  • Earning money
  • Budgeting (or making a spending plan, as some people like to call it)
  • Saving money
  • Spending money...and being smart about it
  • Borrowing money and paying it back
  • Planning for the future
We'll toss in some tips about preventing identity theft and the importance of reviewing your credit report. It should go without mentioning that we'll write about credit unions, but we'll mention that any way! After all, credit unions are our favorites!

What about You?

If you have a question, comment, or a financial tip to share, please take some time and post your thoughts.