Everybody looks forward to summer vacation, but as we all know travel can be expensive. If you’re looking to squeeze a getaway into your budget this summer, here are some tips for traveling on the cheap and getting the best deals.
Go in the Off-Season
During the hottest summer months, business at popular vacation spots like Arizona
and New Mexico tends to slow down dramatically. If you can take the heat, you can
score some great deals at premium resorts, golf courses, and other attractions during the off-season. Just remember that the off-season is also when many of these places perform annual maintenance and major construction projects. If, for example, a pool is important to you, make sure the resort you’re visiting won’t be renovating it while you’re there.
Buy a Package
When considering a last-minute getaway, travel packages that combine flights, hotel, and sometimes meals, can be the best deals out there. The key is to be flexible on where and when to go.
Get the App for That
These days, there’s a travel app or website for pretty much everything – including
tracking down the lowest priced flights, hotels and travel packages. A few to consider include Kayak, Hipmunk, Momondo, Airfare Watchdog, and Skyscanner. Each has a slightly different focus, so try out several to see which ones work best for your needs. Keep in mind that some of these sites do not carry regional airlines, which often have good deals. And, when you do find a great flight deal, take a look at the airline’s website since some deals are only available when you book direct.
Thanks to the generosity of our members, our Credit Union is helping people across our community. This month, LG&W Federal Credit Union made a $500 to MLGW's Plus-1 Program, which provides one-time utility assistance to people facing unforeseeable financial hardships.
Please join us as we celebrate a successful year at LG&W Federal Credit Union on Sunday afternoon, April 7, 2019. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. and the meeting begins at 2:00 p.m and will be held at LG&W Federal Credit Union, 1616 Whitten Road, Memphis, TN 38134.
We appreciate your business and loyalty to YOUR LG&W Federal Credit Union! To show our thanks for another great year, we are giving loyalty dividend bonuses and loan interest rebates to our active savers and borrowers on December 31, 2018.
Our first-time-ever Loyalty Dividend Bonus will reward all savers who had an aggregate average balance in their qualifying share accounts* of at least $1,000 for the period 11-1-17 through 10-31-18. The more you save with us, the higher your reward!
Members will also receive a Loan Interest Rebate of 4% of the interest paid on qualifying loans** for the period 1-1-18 through 12-31-18.
Loyalty Dividend Bonuses and Loan Interest Rebates will be deposited in member share savings accounts on 12-31-18.
Thank you for your membership, and we hope you enjoy your bonus dividends and interest rebates. And remember – LGWFCU is For You. For Life.
*Checking accounts, share certificates and IRA certificates are excluded
**Excludes credit cards
Resolve to make 2019 your year to get on a smart financial plan by following these 8 important steps:
SET CLEAR GOALS. Do you have clear plans for retirement, college, and other major life events? If not, define your life goals and then develop your financial plan to get there.
BUILD YOUR SAVINGS. Set up an automatic deposit into a savings account with as much as you can afford to put in the account. You’ll be surprised how quickly a little money can amass into a healthy savings account.
REVIEW YOUR AUTOMATIC PAYMENTS. Thoroughly review your accounts to make sure that you are not erroneously paying for old subscriptions or bills that have already been paid off.
MANAGE YOUR CREDIT. Paying off your credit cards and getting rid of those high interest rates is one of the best ways to put money back in your pocket.
REVIEW YOUR WITHHOLDINGS. If you’re intentionally withholding too much on your taxes to avoid end of the year taxes or to get a big payback from the IRS, that’s not a good practice. Use a tax calculator to make sure that your withholdings are accurate.
REVIEW INSURANCE POLICIES. Don’t insure your 10-year old car like a Tesla. Make sure that you haven’t overbought on your auto, life, health and other insurance policies. Review carefully and make cuts where possible.
BUMP UP YOUR 401K. Add a little more to your 401K this year, especially if your employer does a matching contribtion.
GUARD AGAINST IDENTITY THEFT. Monitor your credit reports and statements to ensure that your identity and finances are protected.
Shoppers always need to be alert and prepared to protect themselves against credit card fraud, particularly during the holiday shopping season. The good news is that there are some simple things you can do to make you less vulnerable. Here are a few tips on how to avoid becoming the victim of credit card fraud.
The holidays are the time of giving and when many people choose to help those in need by making donations to favorite charities. Did you know that these contributions can
actually reap benefits for you?
You’ve probably heard the phrase “write off” or “deductible expense” but many people don’t fully understand what that means. Simply put, the purpose of tax deductions is to decrease your taxable income, thus decreasing the amount of tax you owe to the federal government.
Any charitable contribution is tax deductible up to 50 percent of your income. And you can
get tax savings with non-cash donations as well. Eligible deductions include the purchase
of a new coat for a coat drive or food for a food drive, or making a donation to Goodwill,
Salvation Army or other charities that accept gently used items.
Follow these tips to make the most of your charitable deductions:
• Get a receipt from the charitable organization, even if it is a cash donation.
• Check the IRS website to see what type of organizations qualify as eligibile charities.
• Be prepared to itemize your gifts on your 1040 form so keep a list of all of your donations.
• Consider donating appreciated assets, like stock, which can result in a double benefit.
• While voluteer time is not eligible, expenses associated with volunteering, like travel
time, supplies, uniforms, etc, may be eligible.
• Talk with your accountant to make sure you are making the most of your charitable
contributions before tax season.
Source: Forbes.com and CNBC.com
Source: Balance Financial Guide
With the holiday season approaching, gift givers will be turning to gift cards as an easy, reliable gift. As you probably know, gift cards are debit cards with a prepaid balance. While they can be an easy way to make someone happy without having to guess taste or need, be aware that you could be paying a premium for the convenience if you don’t shop around first.
What they are
There are two basic varieties of gift cards:
So which type should you buy? If you want to make the most of your money, give a store card, since they tend to have no or very low fees. However, if you want the recipient to have maximum shopping flexibility, go for the general-purpose gift card. While they tend to be fee-heavy (which can erode the value of your giving dollars), the shopper isn’t limited to one specific store.
Of course if you are simply stumped over what to get someone, any gift card may be better than a random selection. They are easier to use than paper gift certificates, safer than cash, and more festive than a check. Just figure out how much you want to spend and choose a store or financial institution. All the recipient has to do is shop. In the case of the general-purpose card, the “giftee” can even take out cash at an ATM.
Another benefit is that they can be used as an effective tool to introduce the concept of credit to children and young adults. Since gift cards look and act much like credit cards, if you give one to a minor they will begin to become accustomed to using plastic. There will be no bill to pay at the end of the month, but there is a limit on how much they will be able to spend, so they can learn to be savvy consumers early.
One last advantage is that thanks to the Credit Card Act of 2009, the balance on a gift card cannot expire for at least five years from the date of purchase or last reload.
Both types of gift cards come with a few downsides but because general-purpose cards have more advantages, they also can come with more extensive fees. Be sure to weigh the costs and compare products before you buy one. The terms will be apparent on the application. Fees can include but are not limited to:
While many of the “General Purpose” cards do allow ATM access, the transaction fees can be steep. And if the card is used at an ATM not owned by the issuing financial institution, even more charges will be deducted. Service fees are another consideration. Want to speak to a customer service agent? There could be a fee for that too!
Gift cards can indeed be a great present. But before you buy, shop around for a card with the least amount of fees and restrictions. That way your dollars will stretch the furthest and your loved one will reap the most from your generosity.
When you talk to Jovan Harris, a Procurement Specialist with MLGW, you immediately know her top priority ... her beautiful family.
Jovan started working at MLGW in 2014 and that's when she learned how much LG&W Federal Credit Union could help her and her family and moved from a larger financial institution to the credit union.
"After evaluating banking opportunities," says Jovan, "LG&W Federal Credit Union proved to be the greatest help to me and my family. We take advantage of holiday loans and other low interest loans that make a difference for us."
Jovan also feels that LG&W Federal Credit Union's customer service could not be matched. "Being able to walk into a financial institution and the staff knows your name makes you feel more valued and respected," she said. "The loan officers and bank representatives are truly working on my behalf."
Since joining, Jovan has received holiday loans, a credit card, and other low interest loans from the credit union. "LG&W Federal Credit Union has shown the greatest help to me and my family."
What makes a new car the best new car for you?
With the incredible amount of data available, what specifically should you research? There are pricing and equipment options to consider, but what else should be of concern? Other important facts to discover include information about safety, quality and five-year cost of ownership. These ratings can help you achieve some needed peace-of-mind. Then, follow up by researching owner opinions and expert reviews.
There are two aspects of safety. One is called "passive safety," which concerns itself primarily with protection of the occupants in the event of a crash. For the most part, passive safety is the job of the car, although the occupants have the responsibility to use the seat belts. Features associated with passive safety include airbags, energy-absorbing crumple zones, seat-belt pretensioners, head-protection devices and the like. The other aspect is called "active safety," which concerns itself primarily with not having the crash in the first place. For the most part, active safety is the job of the driver, but certain important features on the car can help the driver avoid a crash. These features include such things as antilock brakes, traction control and stability control. For driving in bad weather or on slippery surfaces, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive can also be considered as having a positive effect on active safety.
The relative importance of these features may vary based upon your driving style and where you drive. You can also check the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Government 5-Star Safety ratings.These ratings will give you an idea of the relative performance levels of various cars and trucks in crashes, and an indication of how your prospective vehicle's safety features compare to those of others. In 2010, NHTSA will release updated, more rigorous safety standards and in 2011, NHTSA will begin promoting crash avoidance technologies as standard features as part of the new Government 5-Star Safety ratings. You can learn more about crash avoidance technologies on NHTSA's website.
An online analysis of how your favorite vehicles rate in quality can be a true eye-opener. Years ago, quality referred only to the absence of defects in a car. Now, research organizations, such as J.D. Power, have expanded their research analysis to cover positive aspects of new cars.
This valuable information is provided in the form of J.D. Power Circle Ratings. On the absence-of-defects side, sometimes described as "things gone wrong," you can find out how the car rates in mechanical, feature and accessory quality and the quality of the body and interior. For positive aspects of quality, known as "things gone right," you'll find ratings for performance, creature comforts and style. There's also a score for the dealership experience based on the J. D. Power "Customer Service Index."
Another way to gain confidence in your purchase is to spend some time reading what the experts have to say about your new vehicle. Reading the opinion of experts before the test drive serves many purposes: You can discover the strengths of the car's performance, see how the vehicle compares in its class and learn how the vehicle rides and performs on longer trips, or what it's like to drive around town.
The opinion of owners is also a valuable resource. With this tool you can discover how owners rate their new cars. A visit to the consumer review section of each vehicle pricing report on kbb.com will give you access to personal ratings and comments. After you purchase your car, you can submit a review of your own to help others make informed decisions.
Finally, don't forget to run a side-by-side comparison of the vehicles you are considering and you will get another level of insight. Seeing horsepower, mileage, seating capacity, headroom, legroom and other specifications side-by-side helps you quickly identify which vehicles meet your specific needs.
Our BALANCE Financial Guide is dedicated to helping you balance life’s important decisions.