April is Financial Literacy Month!
Our friends at CrossState Credit Union Association have compiled a list of Financial Fitness Tips for getting in the best financial shape. Check back each day to see updated tips!
- Try to limit your use of cash
Because cash passes through so many hands, it is notoriously dirty. If you need to pay a business or person that doesn’t accept cards, you can transfer money easily through services like PayPal and Venmo.
- Tap into Online Banking and Mobile Apps
Whether you’re checking your account balance, transferring funds, or paying bills, you can limit your person-to-person contact by using Online Banking and Mobile Apps. You can even use the Mobile Apps to cash checks with Remote Check Deposit.
- Set up auto payments and transfers
Using Online Banking you can set up automatic bill payments for your utilities, credit card, insurance, and other recurring bills from your Checking Account.
- Mobile Wallet
You don’t need to use your physical credit or debit card at most major retailers. Instead, you simply hold your phone over the card reader to pay for your purchase, limiting your contact with other surfaces.
- Avoid Quick Retail Therapy
You may begin to feel bored and restless, but try to avoid television and online shopping for a quick retail therapy fix. If you really feel the need to move money out of your checking account – move it to your savings!
- Avoid Scams
Stay vigilant when receiving phone calls, emails and text messages. Unfortunately, scammers and fraudsters are using COVID-19 to their advantage, using fear as their tactic to steal personal and private information.
- Contact a Financial Counselor
If you are unable to pay your bills, reach out to your credit union’s financial counselor. Find out what assistance may be available to help you. We all need help at some time in our lives—don’t be embarrassed to ask for the help you need.
- Talk to your Family
Money shortage is tough on the whole family. Your spouse and children may feel helpless. Talk out your problems together and plan together. Explain your situation and include them in planning to deal with it together. It helps to give each member of the family some positive steps they can do. By sharing the burden and pulling together, members of a family grow closer and draw strength from one another.
- Determine Your Eligibility for Unemployment Benefits
People who lose their job through no fault of their own and have worked a certain number of hours may be eligible to receive unemployment. Visit https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx. While unemployment benefits will be significantly less than what your salary was, they still will help.
- Prepare a Complete Household Budget
Get control of your finances to survive a money shortage. Use a budget worksheet to see where you spend your money & where you can save. Many can be found online – try your credit union’s website. Include the whole family in developing your budget.
- Pay Something Regularly
Even if you can’t pay the full amount, pay something regularly. This keeps your overdue balance as low as possible & lets creditors know you are trying. Partial payment may keep your account from being turned over to a collection agency.
- Don’t Ignore Mail
After your first letter to a creditor, keep in regular contact with your creditors. This reassures them, shows a responsible attitude and may keep them from harassing you. Don’t ignore mail that may contain important information about your account.
- Reduce Household Expenses
Only shop when you need to; use a list & coupons; find sources of free or low-cost food; reduce cell, internet & cable bills; reduce utilities by turning off or lowering appliances; ask about hardship assistance; eliminate unnecessary car trips.
- Sell What You Don’t Need
• Consider selling an extra vehicle or boat or trailer you rarely use
• Look at your possessions to see which nonessential items could be sold or traded without significantly changing the way you life.
- Look into Sources of Help
Look into sources of help through government programs & nonprofits. Visit 211.org. Can you borrow against your insurance policy or your 401(k)? If you withdraw before age 59½, you will have a 10% penalty & will owe taxes.
- Keep Your Money with Your Financial Institution
You may be tempted to withdraw more cash than usual, just in case, it’s safer to keep your money with your financial institution. Card companies have protections in place if your money gets lost or stolen. If you lose your cash, it’s lost.