Thursday, February 26, 2015

KEEPING FINANCIALLY FIT



Have you ever thought about getting financially fit? I’m not talking about slimming down your checking account or buffing up your savings account. I’m talking about clearing up your credit issues, managing your money, and managing the debt you have occurred whether good or bad.

Money Management

Are you getting ready to start college? Maybe you just started a family or maybe you’re getting ready for retirement. No matter which stage of life you are currently in, it’s important to set up a budget which reflects you. Figure out how much money you have coming in, where you are spending your money and how much you are saving with each paycheck. The budget of a college freshman will differ from the budget of someone looking to retire.

It you start managing your money today, you will be better off tomorrow.

Credit Issues

Whoops! You remember that credit card with the high limit that you can’t pay back? You know how it is holding you back from getting loans? Or how about that fraudulent activity that took place at your financial expense? Keeping up to date with your credit score and credit report is very important so when you want to get a loan, you don’t face challenges.

Look at your credit report today and fix mistakes so that you don’t have a problem getting a loan.

Managing Debt

Are you in financial trouble? Do you have to screen your calls because of debt collectors? You shouldn't have to live your life that way! Clear up your debt, get help negotiating lower payments and work to reduce interest fees.

Working on your debt now, keeps your stress level lower.

There are many financial issues that you shouldn't have to deal with alone! Tropical Financial has provided you as a member with these services for FREE. That’s right another great perk of being a member of TFCU!

Use the resources of Tropical FinancialsBalance program and get your financials financially fit. The Balance program is a free service for you and is great for all stages of life. Not only can it help create that first time budget but the Balance program can also help crate the perfect budget for the retirement life.

Until Time Next Time— Stay fit!


Alysha 

Monday, February 9, 2015

SHOPPING MYTHS



I LOVE to shop. Buying new things, adding to my wardrobe and getting new accessories to match is one of my favorite things. Most of the time, my shopping is want not need which isn’t always the best habit to have. I am a pushover when it comes to sales. If I can save some money, on purchases I’m happy because that means more to spend. I know, it’s not a very good theory but it’s one I’ve grown to love! More bang for your buck! But are my shopping habits costing me more in the long run?


While most of my purchases are not needs but wants, when I see how much I saved on my receipt I become very happy!

1) Buying Too Cheap: Buying too cheap and later regretting it.
I’ve done this many times and I’ve learned the hard way. I use to find myself shopping at cheaper stores. I felt it was the same style what could go wrong? Well, that shirt was a one wash shirt, and that dress I loved is now a shirt and those jeans well, let’s just say they needed to be trashed. While my initial purchase was cheap, I paid more in the long run because now I needed to buy more clothes.

2) Store Credit Card for discount: DO NOT OPEN THAT CARD!
I’ve gotten caught up in the “Save 10% if you open up a credit card”. It sounds great right then and there, but there are better ways to save money, for instance, coupons. Often times you can find coupons that you give the same 10% off. Also be sure to check for text messaging marketing. Many times when you sign up you’ll get an instant discount for your next purchase. And there are tons of coupon apps out there… Retail Me Not, SnipSnap, Coupons and so many more. Use these apps rather than opening a credit card. Another way to save while avoiding a credit card is coupon books. At the outlet malls if you go to the information desk and show them a AAA card, you will get a FREE coupon book. They have discounts such as spend $100 get 20% off or spend $75 get $10 off. The amounts vary based on the store. In some stores, I received free clothes because of the discount.

3) Shopping a Sale Just because: Really, Just because!
Recently, I have found, I’ve become this person. And it’s terrible. I get text alerts with discount codes and I think, “I have to have that!” But, I don’t need it, I want it and that can be the biggest money making mistake, shopping just because. Try shopping when you need something this way you stay focused and you don’t wonder off looking for things that are cute or items that you want.

4) Buying in Bulk too often: Buying in bulk is great… but not for everything!
Wholesale shopping is great for things like paper towels, paper plates and even cups but who needs 10 pounds of potatoes? Avoid buying fruits and vegetables in bulk, they will go bad before you can consume them.

5) The Free Shipping Mistake: Don’t buy because it’s free shipping.
This goes back to shopping just because there is a sale. It’s the same concept. If you get an e-mail about free shipping it doesn’t mean you need to buy $100 worth of useless items. Buy what you need and pay that $2.99 shipping if you have to. Look at the big picture, a textbook cost $10. Shipping is $2.99, that’s $12.99 for your textbook.

6) Worthless Warranties: Paying a high price when it’s cheaper to buy new.
Electronics are always changing, each day new items come onto the market. Really investigate a warranty. Sometimes, it’s cheaper to buy a new TV if something goes wrong than it is to pay for an extended warranty that doesn’t cover much.

7) Driving Extra Miles: Gas and time are money!
While you’re driving around looking for those bargains, you’re using your time and spending your gas money on useless miles. Think about it, if you live in an hour away from an outlet mall, you’ll spend more time and spend more money on gas than if you went to the mall 10 minutes from your house for the same item.


Next time you find yourself shopping and spending money, think back to some of these tips and see if you can avoid spending money where it’s not needed. Ladies, I know that purse is stunning and gentleman those tools would be great but are they needed? I know this is hard to do as I LOVE to shop and find myself doing many of the things listed above. But in the long run you were be glad you held back from the unnecessary purchase.

Don’t waste your hard earned money, be sure to shop smart.

Until Next Time— Spend Wisely,

Alysha


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

IT'S A MONEY THING: BOOST YOUR CREDIT




Credit Card formulas are tricky. We hear that if we pay our bills on time, establish new credit, and combine our good credit with our bad credit we get our credit score. Even with a breakdown, it’s hard to understand. While there are things you can do to improve your credit score, there also might be things you’re doing that are hurting your credit score and you don’t even realize it.

Quiz Time!

1) Do you Carry a balance?
            A) Yes B) No
2) Do you Max out cards to get rewards?
            A) Yes B) No
3) Are you closing accounts?       
            A) Yes B) No


If you answered no the questions above then you are on your way to stronger credit, if you answered yes to the questions above then you might be hurting your credit without even knowing.

Carrying a Balance

I've always been told that it’s good to carry a balance and pay it off, it shows that you are making payments and that helps your credit. While that is partially true, if you can pay off your credit card, pay it off. Why keep a balance and always feel like you’re behind? Your credit is determined by your “credit utilization” or how much available credit you’re using. That’s why you should only use about 30% of your credit line.

Maxing out

If you pay your bill on time monthly, then you probably think that 30% doesn't apply to you. WRONG, it does. The balance that is reported to the Credit Bureaus is usually the balance from previous statements. That means if your credit limit is $1000 and you put $1000 on your card but pay it off, that $1000 is being reported. If your limit is $1000 and you put 30% on your card then $300.00 is being reported. If you have lots of bills and need that full $1000 consider paying off your card throughout the month. This will help reduce the balance that is reported.

Closing Accounts
There are all kinds of myths when it comes to closing your credit cards. Is it good? Is it bad? The more credit cards you open, the more line of credit you have. The more credit cards you close, the more you reduce your available credit. But when you open and close credit cards you miss out on establishing your long term repayment history.  This is one of the most important attributes of good credit.  If you take anything away from anything I’ve said, I hope it’s this; DO NOT OPEN UP CREDIT CARDS FOR EVERY STORE YOU SHOP. DO NOT GET A CREDIT CARD BECAUSE OF THE DISCOUNT. GET 1 OR 2 CREDIT CARDS AND KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THEM. Closing credit cards can hurt your credit, but if you don’t have any to close your A-Okay.


You’re Credit
It’s important to know and understand YOUR credit. Don’t lend your card to others, don’t allow family members to be authorized users, don’t keep your pin number with your credit card either. Be aware, be smart and keep your finances safe. No one can improve your credit but anyone can destroy it. Think about it.

Until Next Time— Spend Wisely,


Alysha 

Monday, February 2, 2015

IT'S TIME FOR AN ADVENTURE!



Do you live to work or do you work to live? Think about it, are you consumed by your career goals and taking the next step in your career or are you using your job as the means to enjoy life? If you work 9-5 what about 5-9? How much time do you take for yourself and for your family? Maybe it’s time you start putting “You” first. 

So, go ahead... get a little adventurous...

Take a break! 

Our lives get crazy! Trust me I know. But, are we making the most of each day? Are you living each day to its fullest? Taking a vacation can be costly, getting time off of work can be hard, and if you have a family grocery shopping has to be done, meals have to be made and if your children have extra-curricular activities well those have to be tended to as well. But, what about a Micro Adventure? 

 MicroAdventure!

Try something new! We have an entire world to explore but, sometimes that isn't possible.  So why not explore your own backyard? Step out of your comfort zone, try a new activity or just sit and enjoy the fresh air. We’re fortunate living in South Florida, we have beautiful weather year-round. We don’t have the freezing cold, snow or even ice to worry about so why not take advantage of the outdoors?


A MicroAdventure is a great way to get outdoors, soak up some vitamin D and get some fresh air. It’s a great way to stay active and a wonderful way to spend time with family and friends. 
Make your adventure… Yours!


Create a plan of action, a day when nothing else will matter, a day where you can enjoy South Florida, where you disconnect from technology and enjoy quality time with family and friends. Your MicroAdventures can be as simple as checking out a new park once a month, having a day at the beach, and going to the zoo or just star gazing. Whatever it is, make it your own!


If you need ideas on how to start your MicroAdventures check out the calendar posted below. Each month, there is something that you can do with your friends, family or even enjoy on your own. From sleeping outdoors to watching Meteor Showers.


Make it a day… or a night to remember!


^Alysha 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

ARE YOU THROWING AWAY MONEY?

Are you throwing money away that you could be saving?

Have you ever really sat down and looked at your expenses? Are you paying for services and products that you don’t use or are you simply paying for a service that you forgot you had?
For months, I was throwing away money with a gym membership that I wasn't using, simply because I forgot I was paying for it. My membership was set on automatic withdrawal and each month, I overlooked the charges.

Use it or lose it!

There are many items that we pay for that we simply don’t need. It’s time to evaluate your bills and cut where you can. Check out the following items that you might be paying for but don’t need.

Gym Membership:

Each New Year, we set out to get in shape and get healthy. And the gyms see us coming. Instead of buying a month to month membership or a basic membership, we buy the year-long membership that includes a personal trainer, the juice bar and many services we won’t be using. And how many times do you really go? A handful?

Instead, use your house as your personal gym, there are many free workouts that you can find via the internet and sites that help you build your own personal gym. Of if you have a neighborhood gym, use those facilities. They may not be the fanciest but they will get the job done.

Unused gift cards:
Gift cards are one of the easiest ways to throw money away! I always look at gift cards as a hassle. They sit in my wallet for months and months unused.  So use them! One of my friends actually uses her gift cards to buy gifts for others. It’s a great way to shop for the holidays and to use those unused gift cards too.

Entertainment:
Do you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, the latest magazines or those premium movie channels? Are you using all of those sources of entertainment? Maybe you should think about canceling a few of those subscriptions. I easily get caught up in the $2 magazine offers, but I find that I never read the magazines. While it might only be $2, its $2 more I could have used for something else. Are you really using your entertainment expenses to the max?

Time to Evaluate!

Now it’s time to sit down. Look over your financial statements and work to eliminate those unnecessary fees. Maybe you found a service you pay for and don’t use, maybe you've realized there are services you don’t need. Whatever the case might be, now’s the time to sort through your finances and work at saving yourself money!

^Alysha 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ARE YOU PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM IDENTITY THEFT?




The holiday season may have come to an end but that doesn't mean your risk for identity theft has come to an end. In fact, Identity theft is the fastest-growing non-violent crime in North America. That’s pretty scary if you ask me. The good thing is there are ways to protect yourself from becoming the next victim of identity theft.

Protect yourself!
When it comes to protecting your password, change is key.  Be sure to change it often and don’t use the same password for all your stuff.  For example, your phone password should not be the same as your ATM PIN. It’s smart to use password-protection but be sure that it’s a password you can remember but is hard for others to guess.
Social media has become our lives. But are you posting more than you should be? When you go on family vacations are you posting real time photos? DON’T! Wait until you come home and post the photos. Letting people know you are out of town is like sending an invitation to burglars and identity thieves waiting for the opportunity to tamper with your mail or rob you.

Also, watch what you say… and who is around! Don’t talk about your finances in public. You never know who is listening to your conversations.   And never share you passwords or PIN numbers with anyone!
When it comes to your identity you can never be too careful. Be sure to check your credit card and account statements on a regular basis for any unauthorized purchases or activity. Also, be sure to check your credit once a year to be sure you no one is opening accounts using your identity.  No one likes surprises when it comes to our identity and our finances.

^Alysha


Monday, January 5, 2015

HAPPINESS IN A JAR


Each year when we think about the New Year, we think about resolutions, something that we want to achieve in the coming year. Sometimes they are family driven, sometimes they are career goals and often times they are personal achievements.

For 2014 year, I decided to change up my New Year’s resolutions. Instead of doing the usual get healthy, eat better resolutions, I made my resolution financial. I love to travel and I thought what better resolution than to save up for a trip. So, I found a trip, booked it and then set up a savings plan that had me saving up for my trip throughout the year. To get started on a financial resolution, check out last week’s 53- Week Savings Challenge.  

I think it’s important to create goals with timelines including end dates when setting New Year’s Resolutions. For instance, if you are setting a fitness goal, have the end date be a school reunion, wedding or even a next year’s company holiday party. This way you have a clear date in mind, a clear vision to follow and a timeline to work with.

“Whatever you decide to do, make sure it makes you happy” Paulo Coelho

When it comes to bringing in 2015 and setting resolutions, be sure that whatever resolutions you set for yourself, they bring you lots of happiness. With that being said, our marketing department decided we wanted to fill 2015 with happiness so, we are putting our happiness in a jar.

Our Jar of Happiness

We are starting the year off on a positive note. Literally. For 2015 each of us will keep a happiness jar.
All that is needed is: A jar, fish bowl or any container that can hold paper. You will need paper and a pen or pencil.

Now, in 2015 anytime something happens that makes you smile or happy, write it down, date it, fold it up and place it in the jar. Do this every time something positive happens in your life. Don’t forget to date it.

Then, on New Year’s Eve of 2015, read through all the happiness that you encounter in the year. Open each folded paper and see what joy 2015 has brought you. You might be surprised to think back on some of the happier times in the start of the year.

Not only is this a great way to reflect on the year, but who doesn't want to relive good moments in their lives!

^Alysha