We are pleased to announce that LG&W Federal Credit Union has awarded three $1,500 scholarships to the following high school seniors attending a college in the fall of 2022. The Bobby Blancett Memorial scholarship program was created to help young members with the financial challenges of higher education.
Each of the three nationwide credit reporting bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – will provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. They have established one central website, telephone number, and mailing address to use for ordering your report. The credit bureaus will only be providing the free annual reports through this central location, not through their individual websites, telephone numbers, or addresses.
Mail: Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281
You may get a free report from each of the three bureaus all at once, or stagger your requests throughout the year. If you request the report online, you should be able to view it immediately. Requests via telephone or mail will take approximately 15 days for processing.
The free credit reports do not include a credit score. A credit score is a number used to determine the level of risk you might represent if a financial institution were to lend to you. Many lenders use credit scores to determine whether to extend credit, and at what rate. The credit bureaus provide, for a fee, reports with scores.
Beware of Free Credit Report Scams
Unfortunately, with this opportunity to fight identity theft, there is an opportunity for fraud. The Annual Credit Report Request Service is the only authorized source for your free annual credit report from the three major bureaus. Neither the Annual Credit Report Request Service nor the bureaus will send emails requesting your personal information. If you get an email or see a pop-up ad that claims to be affiliated with the Annual Credit Report Request Service or www.annualcreditreport.com, do not reply or click on any link in the message – it’s probably a scam.
Other Free Reports
You have the right to request a free credit report directly from the credit bureaus under certain circumstances. These additional reports are not available through the Annual Credit Report Request Service. You may be eligible for free reports if:
We are pleased to announce that LG&W Federal Credit Union will again offer four $1,500 scholarships for qualifying high school seniors attending a college, university, or approved vocational school in the Fall of 2022. The Bobby Blancett Memorial scholarship program was created to help young members with the financial challenges of higher education.
While the cost of everything from dairy products to snack foods to toilet paper seems to be on the rise, incomes are not keeping pace. Trying to keep your head above water and your credit out of the dumpster is becoming increasingly difficult.
Perhaps the most important strategy to take is to create a simple spending plan that delineates how much you can spend within a specific time frame, such as one month. Once the limit has been reached, there’s no more spending at all. With a strategy like this one, the consumer needs to list necessary expenses first. These are the ones that must be paid or life will not go on in any semblance of its future self.
Break down your expenses
The first tier of necessary expenses includes items such as the monthly mortgage payment, medical prescriptions, grocery allotment, electricity costs, water bills, gas for home use, fuel for the vehicles, car payments, doctor and dental fees, and taxes. On the secondary tier, consumers will need to list such expenses as current insurance premiums, telephone use, and trash fees. Finally, expenses such as credit card payments, television services, and Internet services should appear.
If the amount of liquid or disposable cash is eaten up before you get to the third tier, then cutting back on some expense in a previous tier becomes absolutely necessary. The first step in deciding where you can possibly cut back is to look at each expense and find at least one strategy for lowering the cost.
Start restructuring the budget with the third tier since that is where the expenses are more or less optional. If you cut back on credit card usage, the very next bill will be smaller than the previous one. Therefore, simply by incorporating a cut back in your charging habits, you can lower your monthly living costs.
Reconsider your costs
Next, find a way to cut back your use of television or Internet services. Call the company and request a downgrade in services or shop around for a cheaper company. For your electric, gas, and water bills, you can look for small ways to cut back on the expense. Perhaps something as simple as using surge protectors that you turn off at night can help to save a lot of money on electrical appliances such as televisions and computers.
In order to lower your car payments or your mortgage, you can check into refinancing the loans. To lower insurance costs, have higher deductibles set in place or shop around for better rates. Downsize your fleet and sell off the spare car. Car pool with someone and save on fuel. If you look long enough and hard enough, you can find small ways to improve on your spending habits. Over the course of a year, you might just save up enough to pay off one of your debts in full.
Holiday 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.
Preparing financially for retirement for many people is a shot in the dark: just save as much as you can and hope it’s enough. It’s understandable that people take that view. After all, it can feel like there are too many variables to even get a grip on. How do you know how much money you will need? How do you know how much income you will have each month? If you can start to get a better handle on these numbers by completing a retirement budget, you can take a big step toward creating a time that will be truly relaxing and low-stress. It’s best to do a retirement budget at least five years before retiring, but there is never a bad time to take a close look at the figures.
Here are some considerations to keep in mind when you are completing your projected budget:
Think about what your retirement will look like
One of the most important exercises of this entire process is to actually take the time to think about what your retirement will involve. Will there be a lot of lazy days in a hammock? Or do you see yourself on the go a lot, travelling to new destinations? Write down some of the goals you have for your retirement. Visualizing your future lifestyle will help a lot in creating a realistic forecast of which of your expenses will go up and which will go down in retirement.
Examine your current expenses first
Before you can estimate what you will be spending in retirement, you need to have a realistic assessment of what your costs are now. Track your expenses for a month to give yourself a baseline figure. A tip: Putting all your charges for a month on a debit card or credit cards gives you an automatic record of where your money has gone.
Determine your expenses in retirement
This is where that list of current expenses comes in handy. Not only does it give you a jumping off point for determining your future expenses, but it also helps you start to identify some of the expenses you can cut in retirement. A tip: Insurance needs and costs can change dramatically with the onset of retirement, so make a note to contact your agents to discuss your potential for future savings.
Remember to include all sources of income
There are many ways people earn income in retirement, including employer retirement plans, individual retirement plans, pensions, annuities, investments and part-time jobs. Be sure to include all of these in your budget figures. A tip: Call any former employers you believe may have put money in a retirement account or pension on your behalf.
Give the budget a test run
One way to see if your retirement budget will be livable is to try to stick to it for a month or two. Track all your expenses and see if you are able to stick to what you have projected.
Do multiple budgets if necessary
There may be events happening during retirement that will change your financial situation. For example, you may pay off your house. Or you might feel like you want to work part-time for five years and then fully retire after that. Or maybe you will receive a sizeable inheritance. Don’t be afraid to do two budgets, or even more if you think there will be multiple life-changing events.
Take advantage of free calculators
With factors like inflation and compound interest affecting your future numbers, it can feel nearly impossible to calculate what your money will be worth or what things will cost at the time of your retirement. Visit www.balancepro.net for financial calculators to help you get a clearer picture.
Decide when you will retire
One simplified way to determine when you have enough to retire is when the amount you will be able to have in monthly income meets what you project for monthly expenses. If you aren’t there yet, consider ways to amass more money for your retirement. A tip: If you are trying to max out your Social Security benefits, there is a calculator at www.ssa.gov that shows how much you will receive based on what year you retire. You can adjust the numbers to see what timeframe works best for you.
This is a big task to take on by yourself. Contacting a financial counselor, certified financial planner and/or tax professional can help you check your work and get fresh ideas for making the most out of your money.
10 Money Saving Tips for Retirees
Despite the popularity of credit card accounts, it’s easy to for holders to make mistakes that can cost them money. These are the top blunders to avoid:
1. Not having a payback plan -- Because it’s so easy to carry over a balance on a credit card and pay a minimum balance every month, people often pull out their credit cards assuming they’ll just figure out how to pay off the debt as income becomes available.
Instead, remember that credit card transactions are, in essence, loans. So if the loan were much more significant than that $20 shirt or car repair or fast food you just bought, how would you convince a loan officer that you’re not a liability? What do you have in writing to support your story? If you don’t have the details about where the payback will come from and how long you expect it to take, then you should be your own loan officer, deny your request, and put the card away.
2. Treating credit as “extra” money -- Credit is not extra money. In fact, it often costs money if you have to pay interest. Instead, credit is just the money you promise a lender you’ll have later. That means you are limited by your existing budget, regardless of what your credit limit on the card actually might be.
What a credit card should do for the average person going about daily life is assist with cash flow. For example, if most of your bills are due on the first of the month, you would pay them from your checking account and decide to use your credit card for groceries and commit to paying off the card on your next payday.
3. Not knowing which card to pay off first -- Some gurus advocate paying off cards with small balances first so you get the psychological boost of knowing the accounts are “finished.” But mathematically, you’ll save money and get out of debt faster if you push as much as you can toward the card with the highest interest rate first. Regardless of your method, remember that each time you eliminate a card, take the money you’d allocated for payment and put it toward the card with the next card.
4. Assuming you’ll remember every payment -- Even if you have just one card, life is busy. That’s normal. And pretty soon, it happens–you miss your credit card payment due date and get hit with a late fee. The more cards you have, the harder it is to remember when to pay, too. At the absolute minimum, set yourself a reminder on your smart phone or calendar to access your account and pay. Better yet, set up auto-pay or use e-billing through your financial institutions online banking system.
5. Handling opening and closing of accounts poorly -- Every time you open a new credit card account, you should ask yourself how it would affect your debt-to-income ratio if you maxed out your credit lines. The purpose of the account also should be much more significant than just a great APR or introductory offer–it should fit your vision and lifestyle, too.
Try not to open a bunch of new accounts in a short time frame, as creditors can wonder why you need so much credit all of a sudden. If you already have accounts, don’t let any sit idle; make occasional purchases to keep them active. If you must close an account, try to keep ones that have the longest history for you and would best show long-term evidence of spending and the ability to pay.
Credit cards can be wonderful financial tools if used correctly. As long as you run your numbers in advance, stay realistic, and understand that the funds aren’t a free license to spend, you’ll be ahead of the game.
What does social media have to do with spending habits? More than you think. Over decades, we have integrated it into our lives: it is how we connect with people and organizations.
Consequently, companies have taken advantage of this and turned what used to be a networking tool into an easy way to advertise. The average American will spend more than $2,100 a year on impulse purchases (this is up 18% from pre-pandemic times). In addition, 40% of Americans admit to purchasing something under the social media influence.
You may follow certain celebrities or influencers on social media. As you’re scrolling through their stories, they often mention products that made their lives easier or “casually” mention clothes that they can’t live without; appropriately, they’ll provide special links or codes. Therefore, it’s incredibly easy to plunk that item in your cart, use Apple Pay, and you can relax while your item is on its way.
This seamless shopping experience has made it convenient to give in to impulse shopping. Moreover, with data mining and data analytics, if you search for a product, there will be no doubt that particular item or similar items will make their way onto your feed as an ad.
So how do you combat social media spending?
Make a Budget and Allow Yourself to Spend. This is crucial. Creating a budget not only makes us prioritize where our money goes, but it pushes us to be more conscious of our spending. In this process, we can allow “fun money” that permits us to make these purchases. Most importantly though, we must stick to it.
Unsubscribe. Unsubscribe from email lists or influencers. When you see “FLASH SALE!” “TODAY ONLY!” the sense of urgency is intentionally there to speak to our FOMO. We must realize that these “sales” may be too tempting for us, so clicking that unsubscribe or unfollow button might be necessary.Bonus: Your inbox will be less cluttered.
Don’t Compare Your Life to Everyone Else’s Highlight Reel. I’m sure you’ve heard this statement before. It’s a tough one, but remember, people tend to put their highlights on social media: the carefully curated, literally filtered snippets of their lives. We are consumers of that content, and we end up telling ourselves stories that we must be better. Be kind to yourself and focus on YOU and your goals.
The Takeaway. Most importantly, if we recognize the triggers that cause impulse spending, we can better control our urges.
Tennessee’s traditional sales tax holiday on clothing, school supplies and computers begins at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, July 30, 2021, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 1, 2021.
During this time clothing, school supplies and computers may be purchased tax-free. Certain restrictions apply. Items sold online are also eligible. Items must be purchase for personal use, not for business or trade.
New this year, food, food ingredients, and prepared foods are exempt from sales tax during this time frame. This includes qualified sales of prepared food by restaurants, food trucks, caterers, and grocery stores. Sales of alcoholic beverages are not included in items exempt during this period.
Through our BALANCE Financial Guide, members have access to nearly 30 calculators that can help you make good financial decisions through every stage of life. Check out these calculators to plan for retirement, savings, mortgages, credit card payoff, college, auto loans, and more!
Our BALANCE Financial Guide is dedicated to helping you balance life’s important decisions.