How to Adjust Your Savings When Your Income Changes

Have you ever heard the phrase “The more you make, the more you spend” If you have and live by this mantra then you are doing it wrong!

An increase in your income does not mean you need to up your shopping list, it means you need to increase your savings.

Basically, if you have been making living on $45,000-a-year and you have been paying rent/or mortgage and paying your bills on time, there is no need to increase your spending. We are not saying you cannot treat yourself once in a while. However, you do have to make smart decisions and be conscious of the fact that a big emergency fund matters and can help you when you need it most.

Keep the following tips in mind if you are getting a raise soon:

  1. Do not spend more

If you earn a raise or bonus, congratulations you deserve it!
Just be careful, most people become trapped in a spending circle with no money saved up for the future. Take a look at the goals you are trying to reach, be ready for unexpected expenses that may come up and be comfortable without exceeding your means.

  1. Grow or Create an emergency fund.

Your emergency fund should cover a minimum of 3-months expenses. A good emergency fund covers 6 months of expenses easily. Make this one of your goals! Do not use these funds for a vacation, a wedding or leisure time. An emergency fund, as the name suggests, it’s only for emergencies. For example, an emergency fund can be used for an unexpected hospital bill, car issues or job loss.

  1. Create a separate savings account and make the funds transfer automatically

If you don’t see it, then you don’t need to spend it. Additionally, if your income shirks, the savings you have should help you carry you thru. A BrightStar Savings Account is completely FREE and it does not require a minimum when it’s coupled with a FREE Checking Account. What better way than to save money in a reliable credit union?

Do not forget the essentials of saving, living in moderate means, and to plan accordingly.


3 Ways to Help Your Teens Build Good Credit

When your teen finally takes the big leap and moves out of the house, they’re going to need a solid credit score for a lot of life steps: renting an apartment, getting a loan or finding a good deal on insurance.

For that reason, it’s important that teens build up their credit scores before they move out. There are a few ways you can prepare them for this in the years leading up to graduation.

  1. Make sure they have a checking account and debit card to go along with it
    Getting your teen started with their own bank account is a significant step in building their credit score without ditching their safety net. A teenager under 18 years old can still sign up for a debit card; they just need a co-signer. Since you are co-signing on the card, your personal account will be linked to your teen’s in case of an overdraft. With this checking account and debit card, you should also teach your teens the importance of managing money well.
  1. Teach them the credit card basics
    Credit cards are a bit more complex than debit cards, so it’s important to sit down your teen and help them understand the basics. Signing them up for their own credit card is a bigger step than signing up for a debit card, but it’s an additional step that will help boost their credit score — assuming they pay the bills on time and in full. U.S. News & World Report contributor Amelia Granger says that the most critical skill a teen can learn is to pay their bills in full, even if that means starting with a smaller credit limit. Make sure you are monitoring your teen’s bills to confirm they’re not damaging their credit score rather than building a good foundation for the years ahead.

 

  1. Help them open a Secured Credit Card
    A Secured Credit Card is the perfect card to teach your teen how to properly manage money. It does this by not allowing them to use the money they don’t have, instead locking in a minimum amount of $500 they must use as if it were borrowed money from the bank. This card will help them improve their credit score and after a year they will be able to apply to a regular credit card.

Responsible money management is tough to practice if you learn it late in life. Your kids will be much better off by teaching them good financial practices.


Have fun on a budget!

4 Ways to Avoid Over Spending During the Weekend

If you are smart with your money, chances are you don’t spend much during the week. However, it all gets turned upside down when the weekend comes. You may feel the urgent need to go out, buy new outfits, and have a few drinks with friends, which leads you to spend all you saved up during the week. This is not terrible unless it becomes a habit. Lucky for you, we have some tips that will allow you to have fun during the weekends without overspending.

  1. Make good use of free recreation.

Living in Florida gives you the advantage of having beautiful outside areas where you can have fun, build memories, and relax. Take the beach for example- if you’re smart all you have to pay for is parking. Bring a cooler with some waters from home, food, and a beach ball and enjoy. If you want some drinks, buy them ahead and add them to the cooler. You will be saving a lot more money buying drinks ahead, than buying them at local hangout spots.

If you aren’t a beach person, you can try the same concept at a pool, or even a park. The outdoors can be really fun and not terribly expensive. Take advantage!

  1. Don’t go shopping out of emotion

We know you probably own a million outfits, so that millionth and one is probably not necessary. Get creative! Change accessories, do something different to your hair, make it work. Unless you absolutely need it, try to avoid it. If you do give in, look for sales and make sure it is something you will wear more than once.

  1. Take your credit cards out of your wallet.

Yes, budget yourself ahead of time by planning out your weekend. The rule of thumb is to spend the money you have in the bank only. Not the imaginary money you can have by buying extra with your cards. That is a big NO.

  1. Have a get together at home

If going out to watch the game is where your money goes, try to invite your friends over and watch the game at home. Everyone can contribute food and drinks and you can have just as much fun.

Remember, you can have fun without breaking the bank.  Use your member discount if you can. Have fun, just do it in a smart way.


Avoid Shopping

8 Amazing Ways to Avoid Binge-Shopping

Avoid Shopping
Avoid binge spending

 

It would great if we all made only rational, well-analyzed spending decisions. But none of us are robots. We’ve all made emotional buys at one point or another. Think back on things you bought because you had a rough day at work. Or maybe it was an argument that got you agitated. No matter the cause, purchases made on feelings instead of frugality can be rough on your bottom line. Here are a few ways to soothe yourself without draining your funds

1. Create “me” time

A In a lot of cases overspending happens because it gives you a sense of control over your surroundings. Instead of trying to grab control with money, take control of your time and your surroundings. Whether that means gifting yourself with a nice hot bath or time to work on that tinkering project in the garage, commit to unwinding on your own terms.

2. Connect with a loved one

Loneliness is another emotion that can turn you into a frenzied consumer. A call to a relative you haven’t spoken to in a while or even a spontaneous get-together with a friend can remind you of the wonderful bonds in your life.

3. Volunteer

It may sound strange, but in many cases the best way to help yourself is to work at making someone else’s life better.

4. Exercise

Scientists believe that for certain people splurge shopping releases the same amount of endorphins in the brain as skydiving. So if you are one of those people who gets a real charge out of filling a shopping cart, consider alternatives like going to the gym, walking or riding a bike to get your endorphin rush (if the plane and parachute are not available).

5. Enjoy nature

One of the best ways to get away from your problems is to, well…get away from them! Leave your connectivity behind and get back in touch with a favorite out-of-the-way spot.

6. Read

A little healthy escapism is always good for taking your mind off your day-to-day worries. Whereas passive media like television usually serves more as just a casual distraction, diving into a good book forces you to actively engage in the story.

7. Play

Be it with children or a pet, having some silly fun can shed a lot of stored up tension you might otherwise look to purge with shopping.

8. De-clutter

Because coming home to a place full of stuff can add to your stress level, give yourself a present and a future of increased serenity by hunting for items that can be donated or sold online or at a garage sale.


pay off your high debt

How Can You Pay Off Your High Debt?

pay off your high debt
A Balance Transfer can help you pay off your high credit card debt

High debt can make you feel stressed, worried, and a little discouraged. Just remember, where there is a will, there is a way to pay. One of our goals as a credit union is to help you become financially stable. Take a deep breath, create a timeline and think how you can reduce your spending.

Then use some of the following tips as a guidance to help you pay off your high debt.

  1. Get rid of high rate credit cards first
    What does this mean?
    Your credit card interest rate vary between financial institutions. Allowing your spending to increase unconsciously. For example let’s pretend you spend $450 in credit card A with a 29.99% interest rate; and you spend $475 with a 12% interest rate in credit card B. In time, the $450 spent in credit card A may become more expensive due to its higher interest rate. You must avoid falling into this trick.
    First, go over all your credit card statements and create a list starting with your highest interest cards and ending with your lowest. By increasing the payment on your highest interest cards you are saving money and avoiding high interest charges.
    TIP: Remember to continue paying the minimum amount due on the rest of your credit cards.

 

  1. Take advantage of Balance Transfer Promotions.
    If you have high interest rates on another credit cards think about moving your debt to your BrightStar Credit Card—especially during our Balance Transfer Promotion period. Keep in mind you must be strict with your payments in order to take advantage of the promotional rate before it expires.

 

  1. Stop spending so much on your credit cards.
    If you’re trying to pay off your high debt, credit cards are NOT your best friend. Remove all credit cards from your wallet, and start budgeting your expenses with cash. Don’t worry, this change is only temporary, only while you get more financially stable.

 

  1. Put work bonuses, or other incentives toward debt.
    We get it! Taking that work bonus and using it on a nice vacation is tempting. However, sometimes we need to put temptation aside and start thinking of our financial future. If you receive a bonus for a good sale, holiday, or other use it to pay off your debt. Your wallet will thank you later.

 

  1. Sell unwanted items online.
    A good way to make some extra cash is to clean your house from unwanted items. Sell those old presents collecting dust and start fattening up your wallet. After all, one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

 

High debt should not affect your well-being. Go on, change your habits, make some smart choices, and reward yourself in the future.

You can do it!


Credit card shopping can be fun.

How to Shop Wisely During the Holidays?

Credit card shopping can be fun.
Shop wisely, save money, and treat yourself!

No matter your discipline, the holiday season is always the season of spending. You probably have trips scheduled with your family, fancy dinners to prepare for, new outfits to get, and of course, some presents to get.

So, how can you spend more wisely?

  1. Create a list: This might seem a little silly, but a simple list can go a long way. Write the names of everyone you’re planning on getting presents for and how much you will spend on each of them. Collect and take advantage of coupons, sales, and time. Try not to leave your holiday shopping for last minute, the earlier you go, the more sale items you will find.
  2. Keep in mind your Cash Reward Cards: If you’re purchasing gifts with a credit card you have to keep your rates and rewards in mind. Some cards will allow you to have a little extra spending with all the benefits they provide. Some cards will make you go over budget with all their high rates. You must be careful!
  3. Buy gift cards: Some people find gift cards a bit cold and impersonal. However, gift cards are ideal to save money and to give people the choice of buying exactly what they want.
  4. Save for the big gifts: If you’re planning on getting a 65” flat screen for your significant other, save money ahead of time. You can start by putting $20 aside every 2 weeks on a separate account, so by the time you find something you like, you won’t overspend.

Remember, your spending does not have to become a headache. So, enjoy the holidays with your family and feel thankful.


Security Alert

5 Ways to Shop Safely Online

BSCU offers identity theft protection
Protect Yourself From Identity Theft!

The modern way to shop requires computers, tablets, and phones. We no longer make long lines at the store, or wait for a customer service representative to help us. Technology allows us to shop for our favorite items at the comfort of our  home. In addition, we can choose to have an online chat with a representative if we need help. But, it is not all fun and games in the online world. With the expansion of the online world came a different kind of danger. A danger that can seriously affect our financial life, this is called identity theft.

The following tips can help your shop safely online.

  1. Look for a lock padlock: A secure online shop can be difficult to find, you need to pay attention. Secure sites contain a secure sockets layer (SSL), which is an installed encryption that allows you to shop safely online. This appears as a locked padlock placed at the bottom of your web browser, or next to the URL in the address bar. Try to shop on sites with a secure ‘lock’ only.
    TIP: Never give your credit card number through an email address.
  2. Protect your PC: Hackers don’t just sit and wait around. They use phishing emails, impersonate your social media friends, and send viruses to scan your computer. In order to prevent this, you should always keep your computer protected with an antivirus and pop-up blocker. Avoid clicking on anything that may look suspicious, such as emails directly asking for your personal information.
  3. Check your statements: Be careful and check your statements constantly. Do not just wait for your bill at the end of the month to check your expenses. If you see any unusual activity in your  call your financial institution and to help you fix the problem.
  4. Avoid public computers and Wi-Fi: Public computers and Wi-Fi are great if you are reading a book or gossiping on social media. However, shopping online is risky on public outlets. It makes it easier for hackers to steal your private information and go on a shopping spree with your money. Have patience, wait until you’re home or a friend’s house to start shopping.

Take advantage of these tips and shop safely online this holiday season. Good luck!