Holiday spending is often a spending plan-buster. The expenses can be numerous: presents, wrapping paper, cards, decorations, food, and travel, to name a few. Yet very few people have an unlimited holiday budget. If you do not have the funds to buy everything you want, there is no need to despair. A little bit of creativity and energy can get you through the holidays without draining your wallet.
Why spend $75 to buy a scarf if you can knit it yourself with $15 yarn? Making your own gifts is a great way to save, since supplies usually cost less than the finished product. Not only are homemade gifts cheaper, but many people appreciate them more than store-bought gifts because of the effort that goes into making them.
Are you not an experienced crafter? No problem. Writing a letter describing what the person means to you or framing a memorable photo are ways to give personalized gifts without having to break out a glue gun. Baking is another option that is easy for most people to do. Standard cookies or brownies can be dressed up with sprinkles and ribbons in holiday colors.
Offering your services is a great cost-saving gift, since it only costs time. Why not offer a free night of babysitting to your sister with three kids or a month of lawn-mowing to your parents? Think about what service you want to offer, and create a coupon that the recipient can redeem at a later date.
Now that you have taken the time to choose economical gifts, you probably do not want to spend $50 wrapping them. Skip the fancy wrapping paper and bows, and look around the house to see what you can use. Do you have a newspaper? (The comic section is an especially suitable choice.) Computer paper? Shopping or supermarket bags? Cheap craft supplies, such as glitter and paint, can be used to decorate plain surfaces.
It is not uncommon for store cards to cost $4 a piece – or more. If you sent cards to 20 people, that would cost you $80, not including postage. Creating your own cards can help you save, but resist the temptation to buy the pricey supplies that pepper the scrapbook aisles of craft stores. If you create and send cards electronically, you avoid spending money completely. You can make your own or use one of the many free services online. If sending electronic cards is not your thing, consider trimming your mailing list. You can probably skip sending cards to your third grade teacher and the second cousin who you never see.
Like with gift-wrapping, you can avoid buying decorations by seeing what is lying around the house. Making a garland out of popcorn is a classic holiday decoration. Pine cones and acorns – available in abundance in many parts of the country – provide a perfect seasonal touch. If you are really craving store-bought decorations, consider waiting until after the holidays to buy. Most stores will be selling them at a deep discount, and you can use them next year.
If you host holiday dinners or parties, you may find yourself spending a significant amount of money on food. Potluck dinners are an easy way to shift the burden of buying all of the food off of you. However, if you do not want to ask your guests to bring food, there are other options. Consider eliminating a full dinner and just providing appetizers and desserts or avoiding expensive items, like meat and wine. Look for where you can buy the cheapest food. Often bulk stores are cheaper than regular supermarkets, but not always.
Airfare is generally more expensive during the holidays, since that is when everyone flies. If you want to celebrate with far away family, why not have a “holiday” dinner during an off-peak time of the year, when airfare is cheaper? Whenever you fly, being flexible can usually help you save – you probably won’t have to spend as much if you fly at night or have a layover.
You do not need to spend a lot of money to have a good time. By being creative with your purchasing and not straining your finances, you cannot only celebrate during the holidays, but afterward as well.
The recent scandal at Wells Fargo has left many consumers uneasy. When over 5,000 employees were fired for stealing from customers, it makes you wonder, “How secure are my finances?” Meanwhile, data breaches at major retail chains like Target and Home Depot aren’t uncommon, making shopping almost seem dangerous. It’s critical, then, that we take extra steps to monitor our money. Here’s how:
Watch your account activity
It sounds obvious, and yet it remains one of the most important ways to protect yourself. Check your bank and credit card accounts regularly and make sure there are no unusual transactions. This rule especially applies if you recently shopped at a store that experienced a data breach.
Check your credit report every four months
Technically, you can only access a free version of your credit report once a year. However, there are three credit-reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). So if you time it right, you can order a free report every four months or so. Watch for any unfamiliar accounts and contact the creditor to dispute inaccurate information.
Set up alerts
If you bank online or through an app, many companies let you set up alerts, which can help you detect fraud as soon as it happens. Messages via text or email can alert you to significant or unusual account activity. Whether it’s a large withdrawal or your credit card balance rises above a certain level, you’ll get an immediate notification. Use LG&W Federal Credit Union's CardValet app as a way to check activity on your debit card.
If you’ve worked for many years, you may be ready to start a new, more relaxed phase of your life: retirement. However, before giving your employer your final notice, understand how Social Security retirement benefits work for you.
What are Social Security Retirement Benefits?
Social Security retirement benefits are monthly payments made to workers who have paid Social Security taxes and earned Social Security credits. Most people earn the maximum of four credits per year. Credits are based on how much you earn.
At the time of this writing, you would receive one credit for each $1,360 you make, up to a maximum of four credits a year. Each year the amount of earnings needed for credits goes up slightly as average earnings levels increase, so be sure to check www.ssa.gov for the most current numbers. Also important: the number of credits you need in order to receive retirement benefits depends on your date of birth.
Benefits Plus Savings
Bear in mind that Social Security benefits are only meant to make up part of your retirement income. When planning, the general rule of thumb is you will need about 70 percent of your pre-retirement earnings to maintain your current standard of living. Social Security retirement benefits generally replace only about 40 percent of that sum.
So where should the remaining 30 percent come from? Savings (such as money you’ve set aside in a 401(k), 403(b), IRA, or other investments), and if your company offers it, a pension plan.
Effect of Retirement Age on Benefits
The age you begin to receive your benefits determines how much you get each month. The longer you wait, the bigger the check:
Full Retirement. Full retirement age for people born before 1938 was age 65. However, due to greater life expectancies, the full retirement age has increased to 67 for those born in 1960 or later. Retiring at this age will ensure the retiree receives full benefits.
Early Retirement. Regardless of your full retirement age, you may start receiving benefits as early as age 62. If you retire early, though, your benefits will be permanently reduced based on the number of months you receive checks before you reach full retirement age. Early retirement gives about the same total Social Security benefits over a lifetime as full retirement, but in smaller monthly amounts, since they take into account the longer period they will be paid out.
Delayed Retirement. Many people continue to work past their full retirement age. If you do, your Social Security benefits can be increased in two ways: (1) Each additional year of work adds another year of earnings to the Social Security record. Higher lifetime earnings may result in higher benefits; (2) Benefits will be increased by a certain percentage (depending on your year of birth) if you delay retirement. The increase ends at age 70.
How Much Can Be Received
Benefit amounts are based on earnings averaged over your working career. Therefore, the higher your lifetime earnings, the higher your benefits will be. There is no need to guess what your benefits will be either. The Social Security Administration is required by law to provide a personalized benefit estimate to each worker once per year.
In most cases you do not have to pay taxes on Social Security benefits. They only would be taxed if you have substantial income in addition to your Social Security benefits.
Who May Receive Benefits
Retirement benefits are for both you (the person who worked and earned credits) and for qualifying members of your family. Visit This includes
Did you know that a prospective home buyer will make a judgment about your house within the first 30 seconds? When a potential buyer initially drives up to a property, the first thing they notice is the home’s ”curb appeal".
According to the National Association of Realtors’ Remodeling Impact report, curb appeal is very important to attract buyers. To ensure your home makes a great first impression, you’ll want to hone in on a few key areas, focusing on details that entice prospective buyers to want to come inside the house.
Spruce up your front door. The front door signals to prospective buyers what to expect before walking inside. Clean, fresh paint or stain, nice hardware, and security features will leave a positive impression. Consider upgrading your front porch light. The front entrance should have all clutter removed and colorful plants in pots to draw attention to the entry.
Give your landscaping an extra boost. Trim bushes and trees to make them have clean lines and look good. Get your lawn and garden in order by edging around sidewalks and driveways, and add fresh mulch to your flower beds. The yard should be well-manicured (more than mowed!) to keep a clean look as prospective buyers drive by.
Freshen up your home’s exterior. Power wash the sidewalk, porch, driveway, and any other areas of the house. Examine the brick, stone, or siding carefully and if there are stains and grime that need to be removed, power wash those areas as well.
Spot check your windows. Wash off any cobwebs and grime, and touch up areas that need a fresh coat of paint. If your budget allows, shutters and trim can add a welcoming layer of beauty to your home’s exterior.
Remove any junk or clutter. It’s easy to collect clutter you don’t even realize you have. Perhaps you’ve been given garden rocks or outdoor sculptures over the years. The gifts might mean a lot to you, but they can create a cluttered look in your landscaping. If you’re planning on listing your home, remove these items and look at your house through the eyes of a first-time visitor.
There are numerous inexpensive ways to enhance your property’s curb appeal. With a little tender loving care, your home will be one of the most attractive houses on the block. When assessing the exterior of your house for upgrades, think about it this way–when people pull up to your home, they should say to themselves, “I can picture myself living in this house.”
Tennessee's Tax-Free Holiday Weekend is the perfect time to stock up on back to school items and more! During this time, clothing, school supplies, and computers and other qualifying electronic devices may be purchased tax-free. Items sold online are also tax-free. Spending caps are applied on specific items.
LG&W Federal Credit Union has many online and digital options to help our members access their money without going to a branch.
Easy, secure, and free online banking allows you to view account activity and transfer funds between accounts, along with these features:
Our Mobile Banking app connects your smartphone or other mobile device to use Online Banking from practically anywhere. Mobile Banking also includes Remote Check Deposit where members can take a photo of a check to directly deposit in an account. Mobile Banking is a free app available for iPhones and Androids.
>> Link to Mobile Banking
Surcharge-free ATMs give members access to more than 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the country through the MoneyPass ATM Network and CO-OP Financial Services Network.
>> Link to more information on ATM Networks
After the past few months, we all could use a vacation! If you find that it takes a couple of vacation days to destress before the real vacation begins, here are some tips on how to slip out of work mode and into a relaxing getaway without missing a beat!
Don't Make Yourself Too Available
You may feel compelled to check in the office every day or to make yourself available to work calls or emails, but don't fall in that trap! If needed, assure that your colleagues that you will check in from time to time. Let your work calls roll into voice mail and check on occasion but don't feel the need to be on stand-by,
Prepare Yourself for Hiccups
Your flight may be delayed, your room may not be ready when you arrive, or it may rain. It's OK! Mishaps and meltdowns happen, but they don't have to ruin a trip. Make those mishaps part of your adventure and pivot to different activities.
Remind Yourself You Earned Your Vacation
You've worked hard throughout the year to enjoy these precious days off, and frankly, you need time to re-charge. If you start feeling guilty about not taking work calls, remember that vacations are a time to heal and re-energize so that you can perform your best throughout the year.
Be Careful of Your Phone
Checking voicemails and emails is too easy with our smart phones. So make sure that you silent your calls and only use your phone to enhance your experience. Take photos, enjoy fun apps, load up your Insta but don't feel compelled to respond to emails.
Plan for Some Adventure
There's no better way to shake off your normal work routine than by doing something unexpected. Plan a special activity to get your adrenaline pumping like swimming with dolphins, parasailing, or renting a boat.
Rest Easy Knowing Everything Will Be Fine
While you're an important part of your work team, just remember that the world will not collapse if you take a vacation! Talk with your colleagues before you leave about the tasks that will get done when you get back, and delegate your priorities that are critical while your gone.
When your family has to stay inside for days, weeks, or even longer periods of time—boredom can set in quickly. It might be tempting to let your kids spend hours in front of a screen, but many experts recommend limiting their screen time. If you’re looking to mix things up, consider these fun and creative activities that the entire family will enjoy.
Have a game night.
Bring out the board games, and let the fun begin! To up the ante, consider a tournament, with small prizes for the winners. Games like Monopoly and Life are great ways to teach kids about the value of money. If you don’t have any board games, then dig out a deck of cards. Can’t remember all the rules, a quick online search will give you everything you need.
Get creative with crafts.
Try a craft project such as knitting, model building or tie-dyeing t-shirts. For inspiration, go online to find age-appropriate craft projects. If you’re short on supplies but can’t make it to the craft store, choose a project that uses common household items. For example, you could cut pictures out of magazines to make a collage.
Put on a skit or play.
This is an activity that could take hours, if not days. Write a script for a skit or a short play, put together costumes, and design a “set” from household furniture and whatever props are at hand. Then, rehearse. When everyone has memorized their lines, it’s show time. The kids could put on a play for the adults, or the entire family could join in, filming the play to share with friends and relatives.
Create a Scavenger Hunt
Hide clues throughout the house and yard. Each one will have a puzzle or riddle that needs to be solved to find the next clue location. It’s a great way to squeeze in a math or critical thinking challenge without the kids noticing. The kids (either alone or in teams) will work their way through the clues to find a special prize at the final, “secret” location. You can vary the degree of clue difficulty based on the age or grade of your children.
Tell a “pass-on” story.
A “pass-on” story is a tale told by several people, with each person taking a turn to add to the narrative. One person begins the story. It could be a mystery, a comedy, a ghost story, or whatever comes to mind. Then, the next person takes up the story where the first person left off, adding a few more sentences of narrative before it’s the third person’s turn. The resulting story can be very wacky and entertaining. Record it and play it later for more laughs.
FaceTime or Skype with Family and Friends.
Check in with family and friends over the phone or with a computer. If you have an unlimited data plan and a good internet connection, create an epic family versus family game or activity. Pictionary, karoake, and charades are just a few examples of activities that would be easy to do online. It’s a good way to practice “social distancing” while having some fun.
Cook a meal or a special dish.
Cooking together, as a family, can be wonderful bonding experience. Or, you could allow each child to choose a special dish to prepare on their own. Kids who aren’t old enough to cook unsupervised could help parents with tasks such as measuring and mixing ingredients. Be sure to talk about the cost of the dish or meal that you are prepping. Make a few quick calculations to determine the cost per serving. Then, the next time you make a meal together, challenge your family to create a delicious meal that costs even less.
In addition to being fun, singing is a great morale-booster. If any of your family members play instruments, they could accompany the singers. Or, go online to find instrumental versions of your favorite songs, and have a family concert night. Who knows, you might be creating the next Youtube sensation.
Re-decorate a room.
If your family is experiencing cabin fever, then it might be time to change your surroundings. Enlist the entire family to help re-decorate a room. Move the furniture, rearrange decorative items on shelves and tables, or paint the walls. Give them a small budget so they know what they can and can’t afford. As a parent, you’ll have the final say on how the room is decorated, but you can get your kids on board with the project by letting them be in charge of certain things, such as how to arrange the figurines on a shelf.
Being house-bound doesn’t have to lead to boredom. These activities will help your family to pass the time, learn a few things and create some long-lasting memories together.
Nothing is more important right now than the well-being of our members, our staff, our families and our community. We are here to serve you and provide access to your accounts and banking needs.
For the health and safety of our members and staff, branch services are now limited to drive-thru only as we seek to comply with the recommendations of health experts for maintaining proper social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our lobby is closed until further notice.
We encourage you to use our nation-wide ATM network, online banking services, and free mobile app, which allow you to safely access your accounts and manage your money 24/7 from the comfort of your home or workplace.
Our entire staff is at work and available to serve you, and you may reach us by telephone at
901-680-7995 or by email at email@example.com.
We appreciate your continued patience as we work to serve you safely.
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We are here to serve you, and we know that this is a challenging time. If the COVID-19 pandemic has created a hardship within your family, we are here to help. We are now offering 60-day extensions with no fee on qualifying loans requested in the months of April and May 2020. If you need to speak to someone concerning your LG&W Federal Credit Union loan, please call us at 901-680-7995.
For You. For Life.
If you make your loan payments through your payroll with payroll deduction, your
payment will be deposited into your Savings Account.
Interest still accrues daily and will result in less funds being applied to the principal
of the loan when the next payment is made.
Mortgage loans, Home Equity line of Credit Loans and Credit Cards are excluded.
Extensions to a loan with GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) could result in your
GAP protection value being significantly less. (Refer to your GAP contract)
Our BALANCE Financial Guide is dedicated to helping you balance life’s important decisions.