30 Day Money Saving Challenge

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Want to save more money this summer? The 30 Day $100 Challenge is the perfect way for you to save an extra $100 in 30 days. Easy enough right? I’m excited to start the challenge, and I’ll be in it with you. Saving money doesn’t have to mean restricting our lifestyles, it just means being more conscious of where your money is coming from and where it is going.

 

How does the challenge work? 

  • Commit to the 30 Day $100 Challenge. If you want to change your financial lifestyle, increase your savings and cut back on spending. It’s time to get in control of your finances! The challenge will go from August 1 – August 30. Try this challenge with a friend or family member! It will be easier to have someone holding you accountable for your spending.
  • Check my blog and Instagram over the next  30 days. You will get frequent financial tips and I’ll challenge you with new money saving or moneymaking tasks throughout the month. These challenges will be a way for us to save money, cut spending, and will inspire us all to be financially savvy.
  • Comment on my blog and Instagram. Stay accountable by sharing pictures of your savings struggles, successes, and splurges using the hashtag #30daysofsavings and tag @Community1stcu so we can all connect. Don’t forget to leave your support on other community members’ photos too.

 

How much do I save each week?

  • Week 1: Save $25
  • Week 2: Save $25
  • Week 3: Save $25
  • Week 4: Save $25
  • End: $100

If you think this challenge is too easy for you, try saving more money! You’ll be surprised on what items you can cut back on.

Just a few days before we begin! Are you ready to take the challenge?

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Money Monday: A Millennial’s Guide to Investing

InvestYour 20’s are the best time to begin investing your money

It’s true that millennials have a tendency to want to put their money toward anything instead of socking it away — from clothing to concerts to a night out. In fact, only 28 percent of millennials believe that long-term investing is an important path to success, compared to 52 percent of non-millennials, according to a UBS report. But the truth is, your twenties might be the best time to begin investing money.

“The sooner you start saving and investing, the easier it is on your budget,” says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation. “The sooner you start, the less you have to save because you have time on your side.” That’s because money invested throughout your 20s will continue to gain interest. Think of it this way: Investing a mere dollar at age 25 could be more than five times as valuable as doing so at age 45.

So how can you start investing? It might be easier than you think. Take these first steps and you’ll be on your way to meet your retirement goals:

 

1. Evaluate your current financial situation. It’s important to not jump right into investing if you can’t afford to do so — that won’t help anybody.

“If you don’t have at least three to six months’ [income] in a cash reserve account, I don’t think you should start investing,” says Dominique Broadway, a financial planner, personal finance coach and founder of Finances Demystified and the Social Money Tour. “You don’t want to lose your cash cushion or emergency fund.” So if that’s the case, save up a reserve and then take on investing.

 

2. Put away 10 percent of each paycheck. Or as much as you can. The key here isn’t so much about what amount to put away but rather understanding to do it now, because time is on your side. Even if you’re just setting aside 5 percent of each paycheck, the amount, over time, will blossom into a good-sized amount in retirement.

“Building habits, especially in your 20’s, is so important for long-term success,” says John Deyeso, a certified financial planner.


3. Start a 401(k) or IRA. Many jobs offer a 401(k), and if yours does, you’ll definitely want to take advantage. A 401(k) allows employees to contribute a percentage of their paychecks tax free. Try to invest as much as you can into a 401(k), and take advantage of whatever your company will match. If you don’t have access to a 401(k), you can open an IRA. It’s important to open one of these accounts in your 20’s. In your 30’s, you can contribute twice as much and still not have as much as if you’d started in your 20’s.

“Every $1,000 saved in your mid-20’s grows to over $10,000 at retirement, assuming 6 percent growth every year. But waiting until your mid-30’s means that same $1,000 will only grow to $6,000,” explains Shane Leonard, a chartered financial analyst and the CEO at Stockflare.

 

4. Don’t be afraid of risks. When you’re young, you can risk jumping at every opportunity and not having them work out, because it gives you more leeway for a reward later in life.

“You may need to take risks when you’re younger,” says Erin Baehr, author of “Growing Up and Saving Up.” “You may take one job over another and find it doesn’t work out. But when you’re younger, you have the ability to do that. And then that can parlay into a bigger return down the road.”

 

 

Investing early should pay major dividends in the future. Any questions? Leave a comment below or stop by your local Community 1st Credit Union location to speak with one of our representatives today.

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

7 Ways to Reduce Fuel Costs this Summer

Summer weather calls for a lot of outdoor activities, vacations and road trips with your friends. However, constantly filling up your tank can be quite the pain. Not only is it time consuming but it can put a dent in your wallet. Even though gas prices may be down from last year, there’s still room to cut back this summer so you can be your best financial self.

Follow these best practices to avoid blowing your whole paycheck on fuel expenses.

1. Carpool: Heading to the lake, or even just to a theme park? Carpool with your friends. Everyone can pitch in for gas, and you’re being kinder to the environment.

2. Slow down: I’ve written before about the costs of speeding, but aside from that, speeding also guzzles your gas. Here’s an easy solution: Stop aggressive driving habits! In addition to saving money on fuel, you’ll likely save money on repairs. Bonus: Relaxed driving will also make you feel relaxed and less aggressive. Who can argue with that?

3. Don’t blast the AC: There will be days, inevitably, where you simply aren’t going to cruise around town in 90 degree weather with your windows rolled down. But, if it’s a nice day, go ahead and roll them down and take advantage of that fresh air. If you’re on the highway, though, roll ‘em on up.

4. Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard breaking:  These can increase fuel use by up to 40 percent and significantly increase wear on the car’s engine and brakes. Gradual accelerating and stopping are easy ways to save money in fuel costs when driving in town.

5. Clean out your car: Many of us are guilty of living out of our cars. You move home from school for the summer, and all of a sudden it seems like it’s impossible to keep your car clean. For every 100 extra pounds carried around, your vehicle loses 1%-2% in fuel efficiency. Words of advice: Don’t drive around with too much junk in the trunk!

6. Maintain your vehicle: Rotate your tires, get regular oil changes, change your air filter, and check your tire pressure. If you don’t remember the last time you did any of those tasks, do them now. Not only will it improve your fuel economy, but it will also lengthen the life of your vehicle. Prolonging these tasks won’t save you any money, and skipping them will only cost you thousands.

7. Don’t  Idle: Besides causing pollution, idling wastes gas. Reduce the amount of time the car is stationary and the engine is idle when driving in town. Getting stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the drive-through or running the engine to power the air conditioner are examples of fuel use that can be reduced and/or eliminated.

 

These small strategies can add up and help save you cash all year long. What’s your favorite way to cut costs during the sweltering summer months? Leave a comment below!

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Watch-it-Wednesday: Make the Switch to eStatements

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eStatements. You’ve heard about them. You might have even thought a time or two, “I should sign up,” as the piles of mail and paper fill your desk. eStatements are becoming more and more popular and for good reason. If you are unsure of making the switch to digital, this blog post is for you.

What is an eStatement?
An eStatement is simply an electronic version of your regular account statements. Instead of sending you a paper statement in the mail, your credit union, bank or service provider will send you an email notification alerting you to your statement being available to view online. The statement can be found through your online portal from the provider and provide you the exact same statement, just electronic!

Why make the switch?

  1. It’s convenient! You can view or print your e-statements any time you choose.
  2. It’s simple! You will receive an email when your e-statement is ready to view online.
  3. It’s fast! Your e-statement is available before paper statements get through snail mail.
  4. It’s secure! Your e-statement will not be lost or stolen in the mail.
  5. It’s environmentally friendly! Reduces paper waste.

We know we can all do more. Embrace the change and take your first and simple step towards reducing your paper consumption.

Are you a member at Community 1st Credit Union? Watch our step-by-step guide to help you get enrolled at !

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Celebrating 4th of July on a Budget

July Fourth Grill Out

The 4th of July is a great holiday to spend with your friends and family while staying home, going camping or boating on the lake. If you are looking to be frugal this year, check out these money saving tips so your wallet doesn’t fizzle out like a sparkler!

1. Enjoy the Fireworks
What is the 4th of July without fireworks? Put on your red, white and blue attire, grab a blanket and head to your city’s 4th of July celebration to enjoy a night of fireworks in the sky.

2. Host a Potluck
If you like entertaining guests, hosting a 4th of July party is a great idea (especially if you live somewhere with a great view of the local fireworks display). But providing food and drinks for several people can be expensive. Keep costs down by making this year’s party a potluck. Just make sure to assign people different categories of food to bring – you don’t want your potluck to become “that party where 20 people brought potato salad.”

3. DIY Decorations
There are so many cute decorations that are easy and inexpensive to make yourself – plus, this can be a fun activity to do with your friends. If you’re looking for some inspiration, search for “Fourth of July decorations” on Pinterest. If you are in need of some last minute items, head to your local dollar store! They will most likely sell cups, plates, silverware, decorations and more so you can outfit your party in style while on a budget.

4. Camping
The 4th of July is also a wonderful time to consider camping. Many parks offer advance reservations for camping spots. Popular parks can fill up though, so make sure to check online before you load up the car and drive.

5. Wardrobe
Instead of heading to the store to splurge on last-minute 4th of July apparel, go through your closet to see what you already own. Have a pair of old jean shorts? A red, white or blue tank or t-shirt? If you are feeling crafty, check out these super cute DIY 4th of July clothing ideas. Not only will you have a ton of fun making them, but you wallet will thank you as well!

 

What are you doing to stay frugal this 4th of July? Tell us below in a comment!

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas on a Budget

76762632Are you prepared to celebrate Father’s Day with your dad this weekend? Some dads are super easy to shop for: new tie, baseball tickets, fishing equipment…done. And then there are those dads who require many days devoted to thinking of some clever Father’s Day gift idea. Either way, Father’s Day is just a few days away! Check out some fun and meaningful gift ideas for Father’s Day that won’t break your bank account!

1. Golf Accessories
Is your dad someone who loves to spend his free time on the course? If so, you can’t go wrong with a new set of golf balls, tees or even a new hat. What better way to make him feel hip and fresh while he is playing with his closest friends or coworkers. Compare your options when shopping though! You don’t need the expensive items the pros use! You can still purchase quality golf accessories for half the price of the top name brand items.

2. Grilling Utensils
If your dad is a backyard chef and master of the barbecue, celebrate his love of grilling with some great utensils or those must have barbecue essentials. Here is a list of some things you can buy: tongs, spatula, skewers, wire brush for cleaning, mitts, new seasonings to spice things up, basting brush, meat thermometer or even a grill light.

3. Get Crafty!
What is better than a do- it-yourself project? Create a card for your dad on his special day. Write a heart-warming message letting him know how much he means to you. If you want to add a little touch to your card, insert a gift card to his favorite restaurant or retail store. What a great way to show you care while staying on a budget!

4. Movies
If you have ever been to Wal-Mart then you know they always have those $5 dollar movie bins. You may have to do some digging but they usually have some great classics! Spoil your dad with a variety of DVDs that he loved growing up! Bringing back memories will be sure to brighten his day!

5. Clothing and Accessories 
Is it just me, or has your dad also owned the same pair of outdated jeans for 20 some-odd years? Or rocked the same pair of goofy sunglasses since the ’70s? While I love my dad more than anything, sometimes I think he needs a little help in the wardrobe department. With Father’s day being a few days away, now is the perfect time to spice up your dad’s closet. Stores like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s sell name-brand clothes, shoes, accessories and more at low, low prices. There’s nothing better than new cologne, a fresh button down shirt or a pair of new kicks to give your dad the boost he needs to step it up a notch. Whatever you might find, your dad will be thankful you are in his life to keep him hip and young, all for an affordable price! And Dad, if you’re reading this, your jean shorts have got to go!

6. Everyday Tools
As I have mentioned before, my dad likes to think of himself as Tim the Toolman Taylor. He is always trying to fix those items that break over and over again instead of just buying quality new ones! Father’s Day is a chance to give your dad the tools he’ll need to tackle his summer projects. Check his tool shed or garage to see what he’s missing. If you are unsure of what to get, purchase a set of tools or a tool box to help him get organized! You can usually find these items for $40 or less!

Whatever you decide to give your dad on Father’s Day, be sure time together is on your list. The time you spend together will be worth more to him than any monetary gift!

Do you have any Father’s Day gift ideas you would like to share? If so, please leave a comment below!

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

How-to-Tuesday: Expecting the Unexpected

Unexpected medical bills, unemployment, home repairs or even car repairs – it can all happen at a blink of an eye. The question is – Are you prepared to handle these unexpected expenses if they happen to you? If not, then it’s time for you to start an emergency fund.

An emergency fund is designed to cover a financial shortfall when an unexpected expense pops up. Your emergency fund can serve as a place to get the money you need when you find yourself short. Because it must be reliable, it needs to hold guaranteed investments. In other words, savings accounts are good for emergency funds, while stocks are bad.

How do I begin?

  1. Decide how much you’d like to save
    $1,000, three to six month’s living expenses, a year’s wages – there are a lot of opinions out there about how much money you should put into an emergency fund, but the only opinion that matters is yours. Ask yourself how much you would need to have put away to feel secure, and make that the amount that you save in your emergency fund.
  2. Chart your monthly income and expenses
    Figure out how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out on average per month.  Add up all bills, loan payments, gas, groceries, etc. and subtract that from your monthly income. This will be helpful when trying to figure out how much you can put away each month without breaking the bank.
  3. Open an account
    The best place for your emergency fund is in a liquid account (accounts where your cash is easily accessible). This might be a savings account at your credit union that provides some return on your deposit in a form which you can withdraw money at any time without paying any fees. You can also put your money into a CD or a Money Market account. Just double-check to see if there are fees to take withdraw early.
  4. Figure out how much you are able to save
    If you’re like most people, building your emergency fund is going to take a lot of time. Don’t worry though, it’s okay! The important thing is that you get started today. Look through your finances, and determine how much you can afford to put towards your emergency fund each month. Even $10 a month will help, so don’t worry if that’s all you can afford to do.
  5. Set up automatic deposits
    Make saving easy by scheduling automatic deposits to your emergency fund. Then, sit back and watch as your balance grows month-after-month.
  6. Stick to your plan
    This can sometimes be the hardest part of saving for an emergency fund or any financial goal in general. Just remember, if your goals are realistic and attainable, sticking to the plan will be much easier.

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Question of the Day: What Crazy Things Have You Done to Save a Few Bucks?

It really doesn’t matter how well off you are, it’s pretty safe to say that all of us could probably be a little better about saving some of our hard-earned cash instead of spending it every chance we get. Now don’t get me wrong,  having nice things, taking vacations, and dining out a few times a week is fun, but having money set aside for emergencies is definitely something we should all work toward.

However, when it comes to just how far some people will go to save a few bucks,  let’s just say some of us are a bit more creative about it than others. While there are plenty of us who are comfortable with the recommended “10 percent of your paycheck goes into savings” rule, that simply isn’t financially realistic for everyone.

So my question to you: What are some crazy things you have done to save a few extra bucks?

Please leave your answer in a comment below!

 

Happy Friday Everyone!

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Thrifty Thursday: Coupon and Money Saving Apps

Mobile-Coupons

Why pay more than you need to when shopping for things you love? Whether you’re checking items off your grocery list, purchasing a new summer wardrobe, or eyeing the next gadget for your collection, there are a ton of apps on your smartphone to help make sure you never pay full price for anything, ever again. So what are the best coupon and savings apps? Keep reading to find out!

1. Ibotta
I recently discovered this app and it’s amazing. This free mobile coupon app turns smartphones into tools for collecting cash-back opportunities. Upload grocery or other receipts after buying select items (offers change weekly) and receive cash in return. When the total reaches a certain amount, Ibotta transfers it into a PayPal or Venmo account. If you don’t have an online payment account, Ibotta also lets you cash out in the form of an iTunes, Starbucks, Redbox, or other gift cards. If you’re willing to do the leg work to earn money on your purchases, Ibotta offers tons of rebates to get you just that.

2. Retail Me Not
Another free mobile coupon app for smartphone users, Retail Me Not lets you save when and where you want, just as its motto says. As you make your way through your favorite stores at the mall, Retail Me Not alerts you to location-based deals. Plus, you’ll have access to a variety of coupons and promo codes for almost anything, from clothing and electronics to food and entertainment.

3. SnipSnap
SnipSnap combines coupons you already have with coupons you may not have found otherwise. Browse through their large selection of coupons and save the ones you think you’ll use. You can also see a percentage rating for how successful it’s been for others. If you clip coupons from the paper, you can take photos of those and save them right to your iPhone. That way you can just show the cashier your iPhone come time for checkout.

4. My Grocery Deals
The pen and paper grocery list is so 1990’s. Get with the 21st century by registering with My Grocery Deals and create a list while simultaneously finding and comparing deals at various big-name grocery stores. This grocery website also lets you browse deals and coupons available at your store of choice and/or relevant to your ZIP code.

5. Groupon
Groupon lets you buy deals now to use later. For instance, find a coupon for half off at your favorite restaurant and purchase the deal now. Then take the Groupon with you to that location to cash it in. The nice thing about Groupon is that you can find deals for everything imaginable, from vacations to gym memberships, find it all on your smartphone today!

6. Cartwheel 
If you are an avid Target shopper like myself, then it’s about time you download the Cartwheel app. Cartwheel is a free savings program that you use at Target where you can save anywhere from 5-50% on the items you purchase.  You choose the offers you want to use and scan the barcode at checkout to save. You can download Cartwheel from the app store on your smartphone or access it from a computer.

 

Do you have any coupon or money saving apps you like to use when shopping? Let us know in a comment below!

 

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Memorial Day Weekend: Money Saving Tips

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend is about honoring the men and women who have served for our country, but it is also the unofficial kick off to summer! No matter what your plans are, check out some helpful money-saving tips this Memorial Day Weekend!

If you’re traveling, here are some ways to save a little extra cash:  

  • Tune up your vehicle to get the best gas mileage:
    • Check your tire pressure to make sure each tire is inflated properly. You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure.
    • Use cruise control while driving! The consistent speed will save you money on gas and might save you from an expensive speeding ticket.
    • Empty your trunk of any unnecessary items and save at the tank! For each additional 100 pounds loaded into your car, you lose 1% to 2% in fuel efficiency. For every 100 lbs. you manage to shed, you’ll save the equivalent of 6 cents per gallon.
    •  Finally, turn off the air conditioner, open the windows, and enjoy a little fresh air (assuming the rain stays away)!
  • Pack a cooler full of snacks and refreshments! While traveling, you might have a tendency to eat at nice restaurants or fast food chains which can all add up quickly! By packing food ahead of time, you can save money to do other fun things on vacation!

Here are some ways to enjoy your weekend if you’re on a budget or want to keep it simple :Memorial Day Food

  • The warm weather is finally here! If the rain decides to stay away this weekend, take time to enjoy the sun, have a bonfire or a picnic with your family. Outdoor activities are generally free, so they fit in perfectly with a thrifty lifestyle.
  • Spend time on the water! Rent a boat, kayak, canoe or fishing boat. Get a group of friends to help split the cost. Bring your own beverages and snacks and enjoy the soothing waves while catching some rays!
  • Go Camping! Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of camping season! With no work or school on Monday, many of us will break for the outdoors to embrace the warm weather. Campsite spots fill up fast so call ahead to see if they have anything available.
  • A barbecue is also a great way to enjoy the outdoors while feeding your friends and family on a budget. Hamburgers and hotdogs are always a great choice and won’t break your bank account. Don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring sides or drinks to a barbecue, saving you a few more dollars. Most likely, they will be glad to help out! Play some music and grab a bags set or some other fun outdoor activities you and your guests can enjoy. It’s sure to be a hit!
  • Instead of traveling, or hosting a party, enjoy your three-day weekend in the comfort of your own living room. Rent some movies and enjoy quality time with your loved ones for little or no cost.

Most importantly have fun, be safe and take a moment to remember why we celebrate this special day!

 

Have a great weekend!

Jessica

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