Thursday, December 18, 2014

LAST MINUTE HOLIDAY TRAVEL



What do the holidays mean to you? For me, the holidays are about spending time with my family and friends. It’s about laughing and making new memories while reliving the old memories. But, sometimes this means last- minute travel. 

We all try and plan ahead when it comes to travel, but there are so many factors that could result in last- minute travel, like your work schedule, your child’s school schedule and even just living a busy life and forgetting to make plans.


Making last-minute travel plans can be very stressful not to mention sometimes very expensive! But don’t worry, I’m all about finding the best deals so I’ve found some great tricks to use this holiday season should you find yourself booking last-minute travel.


*Be Flexible: I know that everyone ones to pick out the perfect travel plan for themselves and their families. Maybe it’s a mid-morning flight. But, if you click the flexible date option when searching for airfare you are more likely to find a cheaper flight.
 
*Rewards… Use them! If you are lucky enough to have rewards points, USE THEM! The holidays are the best time to use rewards points when flying because they can really cut down on the cost of a ticket.


*Nonstop! I know I know, everyone hates layovers. You never know if your connecting flight will be on time. But, when it comes to last minute travel, adding stops to your flight is really going to cut down the cost.


*Airports: Be sure to compare the various airports around the area that you are flying in to. We are lucky in South Florida to have several airports that are not too far. If you have a family member doing some last minute travel, it might be cheaper for them to fly into Palm Beach International airport. Always check the surrounding airports.


*One way? Believe it or not, sometimes buying two (2) one way tickets is the best way to go. Instead of limiting yourself to one carrier you are opening the doors to better deals for one-way flights.


There you have it, if you’re traveling last-minute there are still ways to get some great deals on airfare! Whatever it is you’re doing this holiday season, be sure to enjoy spending time with friends and family and be sure to make new memories while laughing at the old ones.



^Alysha

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

HOLIDAY CREDIT CARD SAFETY



I LOVE to shop and that’s no secret. But, I like to think of myself as a smart shopper. I try to find the best deals and bargains. This holiday season, I set out to do my holiday shopping early. I wanted to beat the rush, I knew what I was buying so I watched pricing and did a lot of my shopping on-line to avoid the lines and the crowds.

While sitting at work one day, I got a call from Tropical Financial’s Fraud department. My heart sank, it’s the holidays and credit card fraud is always on the rise during the holidays. They went over a list of purchases that appeared on my credit card and wanted to verify if my account had been compromised. Fortunately, my account hadn't been as they were all my purchase. That’s when I realized… exactly how much I LOVE to SHOP! But it also made me thankful that my Credit Union called me to verify since there was so much activity.

Take precaution

The holidays are upon us and that means a lot more account activity.  So it’s time to take precautions.

Online shopping

*Stick to ONE Credit Card: When you plan on doing a lot of online shopping, try sticking to ONE credit card, this way you can track the purchases, and limit the damage should your card be compromised. Also be sure to use a card that has purchase alerts, so you know every time your card is processed. This will help you keep track of your spending and be able to watch first hand for any unauthorized purchases. 

*Third- Party Payment: If you find yourself using the internet for your holiday shopping, link one credit card to a third party payment plan like PayPal or Google Checkout. This way you can enter your username and password and refrain from continuously entering your credit card information.

* Watch your internet access: Often times we are on the go, we see a great deal come through our email and we make the purchase. Be careful when it comes to “Free Wi-Fi” This is an easy way for someone to gather your personal information.

Offline shopping

*Keep your credit card out of sight: When you are in line getting ready to make a purchase, keep our credit card tucked away until you need it. You never know who is around you and who might be looking at your credit card number and memorizing it.

*Keep your credit card secure: When you are out shopping in the stores, take the few extra seconds to place your credit card back in your wallet. Don’t put it in your jeans pocket, or throw it in your purse, this is an easy way for someone to get a hold of your information.

*Check your statement: Whether you are shopping online or off, be sure to check your credit card statement daily. Review your receipts with your purchases and be sure you were not over charged and that everything matches up. Monitoring your account daily during heavy shopping periods is very important and can help if your card is compromised.

Have fun!

Enjoy the holiday season, enjoy shopping for those on your list but be smart about your shopping habits. If you see something on your statement that doesn't look right, be sure to call Tropical Financial right away and research that charge and be sure to never loan your credit card out to others.
Have a wonderful holiday season and have a blast shopping too!


^Alysha  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Home buying Partnership


Buying a new home can be challenging and hard to do… if you don’t have the right team by your side. Gary and Karen, were in the search for a new home in Indian River County. They came to Tropical Financial and met with Frank, one of our Mortgage Lending Officers. The process was smooth and in less than a month they were closing on their dream home.

Gary and his wife were so thrilled to work with Tropical Financial and were so pleased by how smooth the process was that they decided to become a partner company of Tropical Financial and offer the services to their employees.

Not only did Gary and Karen, purchase their dream home, but we built a partnership with them that will extend for many years to come!

If you are in the market for a new home, come in and speak with a TFCU Mortgage Loan Officer and watch your home buying dreams come true.
^Alysha

Monday, December 8, 2014

GREEN MONDAY... ANOTHER DAY FOR SHOPPING DEALS!



Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? What are you waiting for? The holidays are quickly approaching!

This shopping season has been full of great deals. November was a fantastic month to shop, not only did we see great deals on electronics but there were great bargains on toys too. Plus, we had the world famous Black Friday shopping. Then we had Cyber Monday, which is my favorite shopping day. I love the idea of shopping from my computer and not having to stand in long times and be surrounded by crowds. But, there is still one more day to shop and get unbelievable deals… Green Monday, which just so happens to be TODAY!

According to MarketWatch, Green Monday, which falls on the second Monday in December, is the third biggest online shopping holiday of the year. Green Monday is a great way to check off those last minute items on your holiday shopping list.

Green Monday Deals! 

So, the question many of you are probably wondering… “What kind of deals can we find for Green Monday?” There are many retail stores participating in Green Monday, such as Amazon, Apple, Best Buy, Sears, Macy’s, Office Max, and even cell phone companies. With Green Monday, you can get deals on electronics, toys, clothing, accessories and you can even get an extra 20% off of many discounted websites like Groupon and LivingSocial too! The deals are endless!

My first suggestion is to reach out to your favorite retailers on-line and see if they are advertising for Green Monday, then shop away! I've also found a great website, FatWallet.com which shows all the retailers involved with Green Monday and the deals you can find.

So, what are you waiting for? Get shopping and be sure to check off all those last minute items on your holiday list.


^Alysha  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What does your credit score say about you?



Have you ever looked at your credit score and wondered, “What does this number say about me?” 

A credit score is a simple three digit number that represents your risk level. Financial institutions and credit card companies use your credit score as a snapshot of how likely you are to repay borrowed money on time. 

Today, the best known way to capture your credit score is to use the Fair Isaac Corporation better known as FICO which was first introduced in 1989. The FICO model pulls from three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Transunion to help create your credit score. 

Originally, credit scores were primarily used for loans. Today, your credit score is everything. Whether you are a looking for an auto loan, personal loan, mortgage, or even looking to rent an apartment, your credit score is pulled and will have an effect on your outcome. Many people don’t realize that employers are also starting to pull credit reports on applicants and your score could influence whether or not you get that offer. 

So what does your credit score say about you? 

Credit scores tend to range between 350 and 800, with 800 being a prime score to have. If your credit score is below 550 then you are on the lower end of the scale and will have a hard time getting approved for loans. Many financial institutions and credit card companies will see you as a risk for paying back your loan amount. 

If your credit score is between 550 to 720, then you are in the middle. So what does this mean? This means that you are likely to get the loan you applied for, however, you will most likely be paying a higher interest rate. 

And if you are in the prime, anywhere from 720 and up, then you are in a great place to apply for loans and be approved at the best rates available. 

Calculations

The number one question when it comes to our credit score is… “How is my credit score calculated?” We are presented this three digit number that holds so much weight but how is it figured out? 

Your credit score breakdown is as followed: 

10% Mix of Credit: Do you have a combination of different types of revolving credit loans like credit cards or installment loans like mortgages and auto loans? Having a variety of revolving and installment loans can help boost your credit score. 

10% New Credit: Do you get caught up in offers for store credit cards? “Open a credit card today and save 20%” KEEP AWAY! The more credit cards you open the more credit cards you open in a short time, the more risky you become. So beware this holiday season. 

15% length of credit: Starting and maintaining good credit habits over a long period of time will help raise your credit score. 

30% Capacity: Have you heard of less is more? Well that plays a big role when it comes to your credit score. Let’s say a credit card company gives you a $1,000 limit. Don’t use the full amount. By maxing out your credit cards or lines of credit, you are hurting your credit score. Even if you make payments on time you are still affecting your score. 

35% Payment History: Making payments on time is one way to boost your score and practice good credit habits. When the bill comes in pay it, don’t push it aside and wait because then you might forget about it. 

Your report

What does your report say about you? To view your credit report, you can check out Annualcreditreport.com this will give you an idea of where you can make improvements and what changes you need to make. You can also request your credit score for a small fee. Another great website to use is CreditKarma.com but, the credit score might not be as accurate as you’d like as it is only an estimate. Either way, be sure to check out your credit report and credit score once a year or before apply for larger loans such as, auto loans, personal loans and even mortgages. This way there are no surprises and you can be sure to get the best loan option for you! 

Don’t let a lower credit score set you back.   Now you have all the details on how to take control of your credit. 

^Alysha 


Friday, November 28, 2014

TIME TO SHOP SMALL

Shop Small


Now that the Black Friday deals are winding down are you still left with a list of people you weren’t able to check off? Everyone has at least one of those special people on their list who “have everything,” leading you to scramble at the last minute to find SOMETHING that will be appreciated. Instead of spending hours searching online, why not try shopping SMALL – as in Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 to highlight local businesses and give shoppers an alternative to big box retailers (Black Friday) and e-commerce stores (Cyber Monday) during the busiest shopping weekend of the year. It gives shoppers the chance to support the local community by investing in the local businesses which make our communities so special and unique. At the same time you have access to gifts that you may not find anywhere else in the world!  From locally owned restaurant gift certificates to one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. Giving a gift that comes from a local business is not only special to the recipient, but it also supports our community.

If you’re not quite sure where to start to find local businesses check out the locally operated InSouthFlorida.com, which highlights businesses locally operated, including some awesome local deals! Click on the “Local Shops” to find some local businesses with unique and fun gifts you’re not going to find at any of those big box retailers.

So if you’re not too tired after the all night excursion at the mall and you’re looking for gifts to satisfy anyone on your list, then head out tomorrow and Shop Local!

^Amy

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THANKSGIVING PAST



Today and tomorrow social media sites and the Internet will be filled with family stories, pictures, and the annual sharing of warm and fuzzy Thanksgiving messages. This is also a time of year when we remember the great Thanksgivings past, back when we were kids sitting at the “kid table” (really just a card table set up in an adjoining room because there was no room at the main table). I want to use this moment to reflect back on the “good ole days.” See if YOU can relate to any of my classic Thanksgiving moments:
  • Counting the years until I could move up to the adult table – never mind the fact that there was no minimum age it really all depended on who showed up each year.
  • FOOTBALL! I LOVE football and I can attribute that to my uncle taking all the kids to the Detroit Lions game every year while the cooking was being done…see I figured I could get out of cooking every year if I just went to a football game. Turned me into a true fan.  Of course that also meant I never learned to cook!
  • The blood in the mashed potatoes from when my grandma would cut herself, because if there wasn’t a kitchen towel wrapped around her fingers/hands then it just wasn’t Thanksgiving.
  • The exploding glass jar that my grandma used to make the gravy thickener…now I don’t know what it means or how she did it, but it always involved flour and boiling liquid in a glass jar that she would shake up and inevitably it would explode as she removed the top. 
  • The fight for one of the coveted turkey legs (a fight I STILL win to this day!)
  • The four different pies that people brought and you’d feel bad if you didn’t put slices from at least three of them on your plate.
  • The post dinner story telling where we all would sprawl on the couches, chairs, even the floor and laugh at the stories from prior year get-togethers.

Now my family is very different.  My grandma passed away several years ago and with her gone the family traditions changed as we all went our separate ways to build new traditions.  But every year at this time I think back and share these stories with my own children so that even though we’ve built our own traditions, they will always know where it all started.

From all of us here at Tropical Financial Credit Union we wish you all health, happiness, and the creation of your own memorable Thanksgiving with family and friends!
 
Happy Thanksgiving,
^Amy