Archive for Source – Page 2

Your Credit Score

…The Other Key To Your New Home

Every potential home-buyer dreams of the day they’ll finally get the symbol of independence, security and prosperity: the key to the front door of their new home. Before you get that one, though, there’s another key you need to craft. Your credit score, a numerical representation of your credit history as an indicator of your ability to pay your bills, will determine a lot about your housing situation, from how much house you can afford to the interest rates you’ll receive.

Your credit score is determined by three different credit monitoring agencies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Each has its own method for determining which events are most important to your score, so your number may vary depending upon the agency. Paying debts off, making payments on time and using only a small percentage of your available credit make your score go up. Missing payments, opening many credit accounts or carrying a significant balance of debt from month-to-month will decrease your score.

Less important than the actual score is your score grouping. Lenders tend to lump borrowers into four categories: sub-prime, near-prime, prime and super-prime. Different lenders break these categories down at different score points, but the terminology and treatment are fairly universal. Super-prime lenders get the lowest rates, because they represent the lowest level of risk for the lender. Sub-prime and near-prime borrowers will have a lower cap for the size of the loan they can take and will generally pay a higher interest rate. If you’re working on raising a low credit score, a good target number is 640. This will generally put you in the prime group and ensure you don’t have to pay extra on your mortgage because of credit. If you’re building good credit, 740 is generally the lowest super-prime score, which will give you access to some of the best rates and terms available.

If you’re going house-hunting in the next year, there are three steps you can take right now to improve the terms of your mortgage. Check your credit score, take steps to raise it and manage your loan in other ways. Taking these three steps will put you on the fast track to affordable homeownership!

Check your credit score

As a CSE Member, you can check your credit report for free through CSE Mobile and CSE Online. SavvyMoney Credit Score is a free service offered to our members to help you better understand your current credit score, give access to your full credit report, provide credit monitoring alerts, show you how you can improve it and see ways you can save money on new and existing loans with CSE.

If your score isn’t at the level you think it should be, there may be errors or inaccuracies that are dragging down your good name. Look for accounts you don’t recognize or balances that are not up-to-date. You may even catch an identity thief red-handed! The report comes with instructions for challenging any item. In most cases, you can leave a note for lenders in the file explaining the item under dispute.

Boost your credit score!

There are no simple tricks to bump your credit score in advance of a mortgage. You need to develop a six- to 12-month plan to boost your credit score before getting your mortgage by making sound financial decisions. Demonstrate to lenders that you can use credit responsibly, and your score will increase.

One of the biggest drags on a credit score is percentage of utilized debt. If you’re carrying a balance on credit cards, this tells lenders that you may be using credit to pay for your day-to-day expenses, and that lending you more money would not be a smart move for them. Getting balances to zero should be goal number one!

Also, take care that you don’t make any major purchases using credit right before you attempt to qualify for a mortgage. Even if you’re expecting a major windfall, such as an overtime check or a tax refund, creditors don’t see that on your report. Hold off until you have the cash in hand before you splurge on a new TV or car!

If it’s a lack of credit history that’s hurting your score, get with a CSE lender. We do our best to help our members in any way we can.

What else?

If your credit score is low, and there’s nothing you can do about it, you may need to take other steps to get a better position on a loan. You might try boosting your down payment or shopping for less expensive houses, so you’re borrowing a smaller sum of money. A co-signer, another responsible party willing to take on the risk of the loan, can also improve your terms. If your debt is a serious problem, perhaps moving into a new house isn’t a good short-term priority. Focus instead on paying off debt and saving up for a down payment. This can keep you from getting stuck with a house payment you can’t afford before you’re ready for it.

Get with a CSE lender today to discuss the keys to obtaining your dream home!

Sources:

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/prime-credit.asp

http://www.gobankingrates.com/personal-finance/7-ways-to-boost-your-credit-score-this-month/

http://hubpages.com/money/Tips-To-Increase-Your-Credit-Score

Can Living Frugally Make You Happier Than Living Lavishly

Do you believe money is the key to happiness?

Somewhere deep inside, we all know that money cannot buy happiness. Many people overspend and rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt to live a lifestyle they believe will make them happy, only to discover they are living beyond their means. This, in turn, adds stress and worry … causing unhappiness. Believe it or not, living frugally can actually make you happier than living lavishly.

Living a frugal lifestyle isn’t necessarily about pinching pennies and denying yourself things you want. It’s about making your life easier and worrying less about money.

If you’ve decided it’s time to start living more frugally, ask yourself why you want to do it and establish a goal. Without a reason to change your spending habits and a goal to work toward, it’s easy to fall back into old habits. Maybe you’d like to retire early, or travel the world or buy your dream home. Maybe you’d like to work less and spend more time with your family. Whatever your reason, write it down. Place reminders of your goal where you’ll see them often.

Once you’ve started your new frugal lifestyle, you may be pleasantly surprised at your newfound happiness. Below are some benefits of living the frugal lifestyle that can lead to more happiness and better money management.

  • You’ll learn to appreciate what you have. You’ll become thankful for your resources and learn to make the most of them. Rather than throwing away old items, you learn to re-purpose them and let little go to waste.
  • You’ll tend to choose experiences over objects. Rather than going to the mall and purchasing a new outfit or the newest video games, you’re more apt to go for hike, to the beach or play board games with friends or family. These experiences provide memories and happiness that can last a lifetime. Conversely, that new outfit or video game will provide only temporary happiness.
  • You’ll start to notice your debt diminishing. The burden of debt often ties people to jobs and locations that they hate because they feel they have no other choice. Once your debt disappears, you’ll have the freedom to choose a profession and location that makes you happy.
  • You will have more leisure time. Once you’re able to pay down debt, you won’t need to work as many hours to make ends meet. This will give you more free time to spend on hobbies and other leisurely pursuits.
  • Living frugally may put you on the path to early retirement. Rather than spending your golden years working, you could be gardening, traveling, enjoying your grandchildren or any number of more pleasurable things. Being able to put more funds away for retirement will help you reach a financially comfortable level long before many of your colleagues.
  • You might find joy in helping others. By reducing your own expenses and saving money, you are able to give more to others and support social causes that are important to you.

Now, you may be thinking – the frugal lifestyle doesn’t sound all that bad, but how do I get started? The key is to start small. Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish, how much money you’ll need to achieve it, and formulate a plan. Figure out expenses you can live without. Instead of buying high-priced gourmet coffee at a drive-thru in the morning, brew your coffee at home. Brown bag your lunch rather than eating out. Make a weekly meal plan and cook your meals at home. These items alone can potentially save you hundreds of dollars a month.

If you’re paying down multiple credit cards, look into consolidating them into one loan or to a single, lower-interest credit card. This can give you significant savings on interest charges. Check out CSE Federal Credit Union’s low interest credit card options and online today! Once you’ve consolidated your credit card debt, keep your oldest credit card, but use it infrequently and close all others. Keeping your oldest card open may positively impact your credit score. Leaving the others open, though, may lead to a temptation to use them again, thus defeating the purpose of paying them off.

Learn to stretch your money as far as you can. When purchasing groceries, clip coupons and look for sales. When purchasing clothes or other non-grocery items, check thrift stores, yard sales and clearance racks for the best possible deals.

Look for ways to lower your monthly bills. Are you paying a huge bill for cable TV? Could you live without it? Many people pay a large cable bill and only watch a handful of channels. Check to see if there is a cheaper package available. Is your electric bill higher than it should be? Try hanging your clothes outside to dry rather than using your clothes dryer whenever possible. Also, washing your clothes in cold water instead of hot will save your hot water heater from working as hard – and your clothes will still get cleaned. Another good habit to get into is unplugging electronic devices when you’re not using them.

Give frugal living a try! You have nothing to lose but debt and can gain some unexpected happiness along the way.

SOURCES:

http://www.wisebread.com/how-living-on-a-tight-budget-makes-you-happier
https://www.thebalance.com/frugal-living-4074014
https://toughnickel.com/frugal-living/101-Frugal-Living-Tips-You-Need-to-Know
https://www.thebalance.com/lower-your-electric-bill-1388743

2019 Tax Scams

Each year, the IRS publishes the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of 12 scams that are rampant during that year’s tax season.

This year, the IRS is cautioning taxpayers to be extra vigilant because of a 60% increase in email phishing scams over the past year. This is particularly disheartening, since it comes on the heels of a steady decline in phishing scams over the previous three years.

Typically, an email phishing scam will appear to be from the IRS. Once the victim has opened the email, the scammer will use one of several methods to get at the victim’s personal information, including their financial data, tax details, usernames and passwords. They will then use this information to steal the victim’s identity, empty their accounts or file taxes in the victim’s name and then make off with their refund.

Scammers have several means for fooling victims into handing over their sensitive information. The most popular tax-related phishing scams include the following:

  1.    Tax transcript scams.In these scams, victims are conned into opening emails appearing to be from the IRS with important information about their taxes. Unfortunately, these emails are bogus and contain malware.
  2.    Threatening emails. Also appearing to be from the IRS, these phony emails will have subject lines like “IRS Important Notice” and will demand immediate payment for unpaid back taxes. When the victim clicks on the embedded link, their device will be infected with malware.
  3.    Refund rebound. In this scam, a crook posing as an IRS agent will email a taxpayer and claim the taxpayer was erroneously awarded too large a tax refund. The scammer will demand the immediate return of some of the money via prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Of course, there was no mistake with the victim’s tax refund and any money the victim forwards will be used to line the scammer’s pockets.
  4.    Phony phone call. In this highly prevalent scam, a caller spoofs the IRS’s toll-free number and calls a victim, claiming they owe thousands of dollars in back taxes. Those taxes, they are told, must be paid immediately under threat of arrest, deportation or driver’s-license suspension. Obviously, this too is a fraud and the victim is completely innocent.

If you’re targeted 

When targeted by any scam, it’s crucial to not engage with the scammer. If your Caller ID announces that the IRS is on the phone, don’t pick up! Even answering the call to tell the scammer to get lost can be enough to mark you as an easy target for future scams. If you accidentally picked up the phone, hang up as quickly as possible.

Similarly, suspicious-looking emails about tax information should not be opened. Mark any bogus tax-related emails that land in your inbox as spam to keep the scammers from trying again.

If you’re targeted by a tax scam, report the incident to help the authorities crack down on these crooks. Forward suspicious tax-related emails to phishing@irs.gov. You can also alert the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov.

Protect yourself from tax scams 

Stay one step ahead of scammers this tax season by being proactive. Protect yourself with these steps:

  • File early in the season so scammers have less time to steal your identity, file on your behalf and collect your refund.
  • Use the strongest security settings for your computer and update them whenever possible.
  • Use unique and strong passwords for your accounts and credit or debit cards.
  • Choose two-step authentication when conducting financial transactions online.

Remember, the IRS will never:

  • Call about taxes owed without having first sent you a bill via snail mail.
  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • Threaten to have you arrested or deported for failing to pay your taxes.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes.
  • Ask you to share sensitive information, like a debit card number or checking account number, over the phone.

Be alert and be careful this tax season and those scammers won’t stand a chance! 

 

SOURCES:

https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/taxes/beware-of-these-common-irs-scams/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/12/04/irs-warns-on-surge-of-new-email-phishing-scams/amp/

https://www.businessinsider.com/irs-phone-scam-what-to-do-if-you-get-scam-call-2018-2

 

 

Member Survey Giveaway January 2019

MEMBER SURVEY GIVEAWAY RULES

SUBMISSION OF A COMPLETED SURVEY IS REQUIRED TO ENTER. NO ADDITIONAL PURCHASE NECESSARY.

1. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of the survey giveaway (“Giveaway”) is CSE Federal Credit Union, 4321 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA 70605.

  1. ELIGIBILITY: All CSE Federal Credit Union members, a legal resident of the United States, and a member in good standing are eligible for the drawing. For the purpose of this contest, a member is a primary account owner of a CSE Share Savings account. Any person, who is not an account owner, is not eligible to win. Employees (and their immediate family members and members of the same household) of the Sponsor and its affiliates, agents, advertising or promotion agencies are not eligible to participate in this Giveaway. All winners in this Giveaway must meet these eligibility requirements to receive the prize.
  2. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY: Void where prohibited. CSE Federal Credit Union reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend this promotion and contest at any time. Any and all applicable taxes on each prize won are the responsibility of the winning member.
  3. HOW TO ENTER: The Giveaway is open to members who: 1) Complete the brand survey. The survey may be completed online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CSEFCUMemberBrandSurvey. 2) Provide a valid email address. Entries are allowed from January 30, 2019 at 8:00 a.m. CST until February 13, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. CST. You are limited to one (1) entry.
  4. PRIZE: One randomly selected winner will receive: One (1) $100.00 Visa Gift Card. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received.
  5. SELECTION AND NOTIFICATION OF WINNER: One winner will be selected by a random drawing of all eligible entries. Member need not be present to win. Winning member will be notified by EMAIL and will be required to sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity releases within 15 days of notification. Failure to return documents timely, or if winner is found not to be in compliance with these Official Rules, or otherwise ineligible, disqualification may result with an alternate winner selected.
  6. PRIZE AWARDING: Drawing will be held Thursday, February 14, 2019. Prize will be awarded only upon winner validation and verification by CSE Federal Credit Union. If winner is a minor, parent or guardian must sign a consent form. Prize must be picked up at CSE Federal Credit Union at 4321 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA. No substitution, transfer, or assignment of prize permitted, except that CSE Federal Credit Union reserves the right to substitute prize with a prize of equal or greater value. By accepting the prize, winner agrees that sponsor, CSE Federal Credit Union, their subsidiaries, affiliates, and related companies, advertising and promotion agencies, and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents, are not responsible for and will be held harmless by winner for any liability, loss, injury, or damage to person, including death, or property, due in whole or in part, directly or indirectly to possession, acceptance, use or misuse of any prize, or participation in this promotion.
  7. LIMITATION OF LIABILITY: By participating in this promotion, entrants agree to be bound by the official rules and the decisions of CSE Federal Credit Union, which are final. CSE Federal Credit Union reserves the right to cancel or modify drawing if fraud or technical failures compromise the integrity of drawing as determined by CSE Federal Credit Union’s sole discretion. Neither CSE Federal Credit Union nor its officers, directors, employees, or agents, are responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information relating to the promotion or any of the prizes. Except as otherwise required by applicable statute or regulation, as a condition of participating in this promotion and contest, members agree that all issues and questions regarding the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforcement of these Official Rules, and the rights and obligations of members and CSE Federal Credit Union in connection with the promotion and contest , shall be determined by the Board of Directors of CSE Federal Credit Union, and such determination shall be final and binding.
  8. ONLINE ENTRIES:Sponsor shall not be responsible for incorrect or inaccurate transcription of entry information, technical malfunctions, lost/delayed data transmission, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, line failures of any telephone network, computer equipment, software, inability to access any online service or website, inability to submit the online form, or any other error or malfunction, or any injury or damage to entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from participation or downloading any materials in this Giveaway, or for late, lost, stolen, illegible or misdirected entries.  If this Giveaway or any website associated therewith (or any portion thereof) becomes corrupted or otherwise does not permit entry in the Giveaway, or if infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, actions by entrants, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes, in Sponsor’s sole opinion, corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper operation of this Giveaway, Sponsor reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to disqualify any entrant implicated in such action, and/or to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend this Giveaway or any portion thereof.
  9. LIST OF WINNERS: Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to CSE Federal Credit Union, BRAND SURVEY Contest Winner, 4321 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA 70605. Winner name will be available at the Credit Union after February 14, 2019.

SavvyMoney Credit Score FAQs

SavvyMoney Credit Score is a free service offered to help you understand your current credit score, give access to your full credit report, provide credit monitoring alerts, show you how you can improve it and see ways you can save money on new and existing loans with us. Log-in to your online banking and sign up today! Not yet a CSE Online user? Click HERE to enroll today.



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Q: What is SavvyMoney Credit Score?

A. SavvyMoney is a comprehensive Credit Score program offered by your credit union that helps you stay on top of your credit. You get your latest credit score and report, an understanding of key factors that impact the score, and can see the most up to date offers that can help reduce your interest costs. With this program, you always know where you stand with your credit and how your financial institution can help save you money.

Credit Score also monitors your credit report daily and informs you by email if there are any big changes detected such as: a new account being opened, change in address or employment, a delinquency has been reported or an injury has been made. Monitoring helps users keep an eye out for identity theft.

Q: What is SavvyMoney Credit Report?

A. SavvyMoney Credit Report provides you all the information you would find on your credit file including a list of open loans, accounts and credit inquiries. You will also be able to see details on your payment history, credit utilization and public records that show up on your account. Like Credit Score, when you check your credit report, there will be no impact to your score.

Q: Is there a fee?

A. No. SavvyMoney is entirely free and no credit card information is required to register.

Q: How often is my credit score updated?

A. As long as you are a regular CSE Online user, your credit score will be updated every month and displayed in your CSE Online screen. You can click “refresh score” as frequently as every day by navigating to the detailed SavvyMoney site from within CSE Online.

Q: How does the SavvyMoney Credit Score differ from other credit scoring offerings?

A: SavvyMoney pulls your credit profile from TransUnion, one of the three major credit reporting bureaus, and uses VantageScore 3.0, a credit scoring model developed collaboratively by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. This model seeks to make score information more uniform between the three bureaus to provide consumers a better picture of their credit health.

Q: Why do credit scores differ?

A: There are three major credit-reporting bureaus—Equifax, Experian and Transunion—and two scoring models—FICO or VantageScore—that determine credit scores. Financial institutions use different bureaus, as well as their own scoring models. Over 200 factors of a credit report may be taken into account when calculating a score and each model may weigh credit factors differently, so no scoring model is completely identical. No matter what credit bureau or credit scoring model is used, consumers do fall into specific credit ranges: Excellent 781–850, Good 661-780, Fair 601-660, Unfavorable 501-600, Bad Below 500.

 Q: Will CSE Federal Union use SavvyMoney Credit Score to make loan decisions?
A:
No, CSE Federal Credit Union uses its own lending criteria for making loans.

Q: Will SavvyMoney share my credit score with CSE Federal Credit Union?
A
: No, your SavvyMoney Credit Score is a free service to help you understand your credit health, how you make improvements in your score and ways you can save money on your loans with your credit union.

Q: How does SavvyMoney Credit Score keep my financial information secure?
A:
SavvyMoney uses bank level encryption and security measures to keep your data safe and secure. Your personal information is never shared with or sold to a third party.

Q: If CSE Federal Credit Union doesn’t use SavvyMoney Credit Score to make loan decisions, why do we offer it?
A:
SavvyMoney Credit Score can help you manage your credit so when it comes time to borrow for a big-ticket purchase—like buying a home, car or paying for college—you have a clear picture of your credit health and can qualify for the lowest possible interest rate. You’ll also see offers on how you can save money on your new and existing loans with CSE Federal Credit Union.

Q: What if the information provided by SavvyMoney Credit Score appears to be wrong or inaccurate?
A:
The SavvyMoney Credit Score makes its best effort to show you the most relevant information from your credit report. If you think that some of the information is wrong or inaccurate, we encourage you to take advantage of obtaining free credit reports from www.annualcreditreport.com, and then pursuing with each bureau individually. Each bureau has its own process for correcting inaccurate information but every user can “File a Dispute” by clicking on the “Dispute” link within their SavvyMoney Credit Report. However, The Federal Trade Commission website offers step-by-step instructions on how to contact the bureaus and correct errors.

Q: There is a section on the site that features both CSE Federal Credit Union product offers and financial education articles. Why am I seeing this?
A
: Based on your SavvyMoney Credit Score information, you may receive CSE Federal Credit Union offers on products that may be of interest to you. In most cases, these offers may have lower interest rates than the products you already have. The educational articles, written by Jean Chatzky and the SavvyMoney team, are designed to provide helpful tips on how you can manage credit and debt wisely.

Q: Will accessing SavvyMoney Credit Score ‘ping’ my credit and potentially lower my credit score?
A: No. Checking SavvyMoney Credit Score is a “soft inquiry”, which does not affect your credit score.  Lenders use ‘hard inquiries’ to make decisions about your credit worthiness when you apply for loans.

Q: Does SavvyMoney offer credit report monitoring as well?
A. Yes. SavvyMoney will monitor and send email alerts when there’s been a change to your credit profile.

Q: How do Members change their email address or other personal information?

A: Since you will access the SavvyMoney program through CSE Online, you have to do nothing! Your email address will get updated automatically in SavvyMoney when you update it in CSE Online Banking. However we always encourage you to inform your credit union of any contact information updates.

Q: Can Members use SavvyMoney on mobile devices?
A:
Yes, SavvyMoney Credit Score is available for both mobile and tablet devices and is integrated inside CSE Mobile.

Financial Preparation for 2019

2019 is almost here. Are you ready?

Remember the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared! A brand-new year, always ripe with resolutions, is the perfect time to reassess your financial attitude, improve, and vow to do more.

It’s a time of planning for going forward. Have you taken any steps to prepare for the financial realities of the coming year? Here are some tips to get you started.

 

Tune your budget

It’s a great idea to begin the new year with a plan. A budget is just that-a plan that starts with the income you expect, along with your fixed expenses, such as rent or mortgage costs, homeowners association fees, insurance, utilities and transportation costs. The plan also incorporates your savings goals.

Then, the money remaining is designated for your other expenses. A realistic budget will help you set your financial goals and remind you to stick to them. These last few days in December, as the year draws to a close, is the perfect time to assess last year’s budget or to create a new one if you don’t yet have one in place.

Reviewing where you spent last year’s money will help you make better choices in 2019. If you did not save money for retirement, for example, this can be a new budget item.

While planning for the coming year, make sure to include a method for tracking your spending. You can do this on a spreadsheet or you can simply tag items in your financial account. Even with a solid strategy in place, there will always be surprises along the way. Losing a job, a leaking roof or an illness can throw off your entire plan. Be sure to build an emergency fund into your budget.

 

Plan ahead to meet your goals

Next, consider how you will accomplish your goals. You’ll have short-term goals, such as purchasing a new car or home, as well as long-term goals, such as saving for retirement. Each set of goals requires a different kind of planning and saving. Financial planner, Rachel Rabinovich, recommends setting up a separate savings account for each goal. This way, you can easily track your progress. Experts suggest working backwards to determine how much you need to save for a specific goal. For instance, if you dream of taking an expensive vacation two years from now, determine the total cost of the vacation and then establish a reasonable time-frame and the amount you’ll need to save each month to reach that goal. Make sure the amount you plan on setting aside each month is doable, or you may just have to move your goal over by six months or more.

 

Spend mindfully

You can also make your financial future more secure by identifying the difference between your needs and wants. Needs are necessary for your survival, and include items like food and shelter. Wants are things that are not necessary but you would like-such as a luxury car or European vacation.

First, tend to your needs. Then, based on what’s left to work with, consider your wants. This might sound obvious, but for many of us, the line between wants and needs is often blurred. This can lead to awfully tight financial situations, even prompting us to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul.” By clearly differentiating between what you want and what you need, you can avoid this outcome in 2019.

 

Maximize retirement contributions

Retirement plan contributions can be a valuable source of savings, especially if you have the option of employer-matched funds. If you do, be sure to take advantage of them! Also, check with your HR contact and your accountant to make sure you are contributing the optimal amount to your 401K and IRA. For the coming year, you can contribute $5,500 to a Roth or traditional IRA, or $6,500 if you are making “catch-up” contributions.

 

Check your flexible savings account (FSA)

If you have unspent money in your FSA, now is the time to use it. These pre-tax dollars often have to be spent before the end of the year. Do you need a new pair of eyeglasses? Are your teeth in desperate need of a cleaning or repair? This might be a good time to spend that money on self-care and other needs you’ve been pushing off. You don’t want to lose this money, so be sure to use it if you can.

 

Put the brakes on holiday spending

Avoid going overboard on your holiday spending. Think three times before you pull out your credit card. Going over budget now can mean spending the first few months of 2019 playing catch-up with your credit card bills. Spend less, and start the year off with a clean slate!

 

SOURCES:
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/20/ceo-sallie-krawcheck-3-ways-to-get-your-finances-in-order-before-2018.html

https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/saving-and-budgeting/articles/2017-12-11/5-steps-to-building-your-2018-budget

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/111813/five-rules-improve-your-financial-health.asp

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markavallone/2017/10/01/10-quick-year-end-financial-planning-tips/#205a7f9b3a59

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/11/20/ceo-sallie-krawcheck-3-ways-to-get-your-finances-in-order-before-2018.html

DO’S AND DON’TS WHEN PREPARING YOUR TAXES

Not everybody can afford to hire a professional to do their taxes. In fact, most people are now doing it themselves for a fraction of the price via tax software programs. However, for all the praise this do-it-yourself tax software has earned, it is not 100% perfect. That’s why you need to be aware of some potential pitfalls that you could easily fall into. Let’s take a closer look at some of the mistakes Americans make when preparing their taxes.

Don’t let the government keep your money
Here’s a statement that is going to surprise you: Getting a refund is a bad thing! Why? Because it means that you allowed the federal government to hold on to a portion of money you overpaid – interest free! Rather than overpaying each year so you can get a refund, it is better to actually underpay by a few hundred dollars. By doing this, you will have enjoyed accruing interest on this money for the year. In addition, paying the balance won’t feel like such a horrible blow to the wallet.

So, when you prepare your taxes this year, don’t apply any of your refund to next year’s taxes. Instead, put that money in a dividend-bearing account at the credit union and focus on not overpaying on your taxes in the coming year.

Don’t file an extension
Filing an extension does not mean you don’t have to pay any owed tax for six months; it only means that you don’t have to finish filing. You still have to pay any owed tax by April 15. This can make it difficult to figure out what you owe, and, if you calculate it incorrectly, you could be looking at penalties from the IRS. You still have time to get your taxes filed on time. Don’t put it off.

Do pay your taxes
Believe it or not, there are still people who argue that the government has no right to levy taxes. However, this is an argument that was settled years ago. Failure to pay taxes can result in jail time and stiff financial penalties. After all, this was the only way the Feds were able to catch Al Capone, the crime king of Chicago during the Depression! Those individuals who even take the time to argue it before a court will generally find themselves on the losing end – with a hefty fine to pay for wasting the court’s time.

Paying taxes is a fact of life. Procrastinating is never advisable, and by filing on time, you won’t have additional penalties. In the end, it is best to be prepared to file and pay your taxes in a timely and efficient manner.

Holiday Stocking Giveaway

2018 Holiday Stocking Giveaway                                                                                           

OFFICIAL RULES

 

  1. Prize: Jumbo Stocking filled with Christmas toys
  2. Eligibility. All CSE Federal Credit Union members, a legal resident of the United States, and a member in good standing are eligible for the drawing. For the purpose of this contest, a member is a primary account owner of a CSE Share Savings account. Any person, who is not an account owner, is not eligible to win. Employees and Board Members of CSE FCU are not eligible. If the name of an ineligible person is drawn, they will be disqualified and another member will be drawn. This giveaway is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
  3. No purchase is necessary. Void where prohibited. CSE Federal Credit Union reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend this promotion and contest at any time. Any and all applicable taxes on each prize won are the responsibility of the winning member.
  4. How to enter. CSE Federal Credit Union members can register for a chance to win at any CSE location during December 18, 2018. Another form of entry is hand printing the words “Holiday Stocking Giveaway”, your name, address, city, state, zip code, daytime phone number, date of birth, and email address on a 3X5 index card and mail in an envelope to: Holiday Stocking Drawing, 4321 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA 70605. All eligible entries received by CSE Federal Credit Union by 4:00 p.m. central standard time December 20, 2018, will qualify for all the drawing. All entries become the property of CSE FCU and will not be returned. No mechanically reproduced or facsimile entries are allowed. Regardless of the method of entry, you are limited to one (1) entry. By participating in the sweepstakes, you agree to the terms and conditions of these Official Rules, the eligibility requirements, and the acceptance of the judges’ decision as final in all matters relating to the sweepstakes.
    5. Odds of Winning. The odds of winning are determined by the number of eligible entries received. One (1) entry per member.
  5. Selection and Notification of Winner. One winner will be selected by a random drawing of all eligible entries. Member need not be present to win. Winning member will be notified by mail/phone and will be required to sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity releases within 15 days of notification. Failure to return documents timely, or if winner is found not to be in compliance with these Official Rules, or otherwise ineligible, disqualification may result with an alternate winner selected.
  6. Prize Awarding. Drawing will be held Friday, December 20, 2018. Prize will be awarded only upon winner validation and verification by CSE Federal Credit Union. If winner is a minor, parent or guardian must sign a consent form. Prize must be picked up at CSE Federal Credit Union at 4321 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA. No substitution, transfer, or assignment of prize permitted, except that CSE Federal Credit Union reserves the right to substitute prize with a prize of equal or greater value. By accepting the prize, winner agrees that sponsor, CSE Federal Credit Union, their subsidiaries, affiliates, and related companies, advertising and promotion agencies, and all of their respective officers, directors, employees, representatives and agents, are not responsible for and will be held harmless by winner for any liability, loss, injury, or damage to person, including death, or property, due in whole or in part, directly or indirectly to possession, acceptance, use or misuse of any prize, or participation in this promotion.
  7. Limitation of Liability. CSE Federal Credit Union assumes no responsibility for; stolen, lost, late, misdirected, damaged, illegible, incomplete, or postage due mail, incorrect or human error. Other restrictions may apply. By participating in this promotion, entrants agree to be bound by the official rules and the decisions of CSE Federal Credit Union, which are final. CSE Federal Credit Union reserves the right to cancel or modify drawing if fraud or technical failures compromise the integrity of drawing as determined by CSE Federal Credit Union’s sole discretion. Neither CSE Federal Credit Union nor its officers, directors, employees, or agents, are responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information relating to the promotion or any of the prizes. Except as otherwise required by applicable statute or regulation, as a condition of participating in this promotion and contest, members agree that all issues and questions regarding the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforcement of these Official Rules, and the rights and obligations of members and CSE Federal Credit Union in connection with the promotion and contest , shall be determined by the Board of Directors of CSE Federal Credit Union, and such determination shall be final and binding.
  8. List of winners. Send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to CSE Federal Credit Union, Contest Winners, 4321 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA 70605. Winner name will be available at the Credit Union after December 20, 2018.
  9. Sponsor. This drawing is sponsored by CSE Federal Credit Union which is located at 4321 Nelson Road, Lake Charles, LA, 70605, with a local telephone number of 337-477-2000, and toll free phone number of 1-800-625-5747.

 

Revised 12/17/2018

7 Naughty Scams To Watch Out For This Holiday Season

Phishing Scams

Phishing Scams

 

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And unfortunately, ‘tis also the season for scammers to go after your hard-earned dollars. Keep your money safe by reading up on the most common scams taking place this time of year and practicing caution. 

1. Phishing emails 

Always popular, phishing scams get even more prevalent before the holidays. They can take the form of bogus delivery confirmation requests seeking your information or even a personalized letter to your child from “Santa.” 

Be extra careful this holiday season when it comes to sharing personal information online or with an unverified requester. 

2. Fake charities  

Sadly, many scammers will capitalize on the goodwill that flourishes this time of year by asking you to make a donation to a charity that does not actually exist. Verify the authenticity of any charity you’d like to make a contribution to by checking it out on a website like CharityNavigator.org. Also, it’s best to contact a charity on your own instead of following a website or email link. 

3. Package theft 

It’s holiday time, and those UPS and FedEx trucks are everywhere, dropping off boxes of goodies all over the neighborhood. 

Usually, these drop-offs go as planned. Unfortunately, though, some 23 million customers will have their packages stolen from their doorsteps this year. 

Don’t be one of them! If possible, and especially when ordering something expensive, arrange for a delivery that requires your signature upon receipt. Otherwise, track your order and know when to look out for it so you can bring it inside as quickly as possible after it’s dropped off. 

When sending a gift to someone else via Amazon, consider sending it to an Amazon Locker location instead of to the recipient’s household. There’s no fee for using this service, and this way, your gift is safe. 

4. Bogus sites 

You might get lucky and find that perfect gift at a super-low price, but don’t believe any ads or websites that are practically giving away the good stuff for free. These are, quite likely, scams. Once you click an ad link and place an order, you’ll never hear from the site again. Worse yet, they may use the information you shared to empty your accounts. 

Only shop on reputable sites. Remember to check the website address/URL before placing an order. It may look strikingly similar to a popular site, but if one letter is off or missing completely, the site is bogus and you need to get out. Also, always look for that important “s” after the “http” in the web address to verify a site’s security. 

5. Fake freebies 

Did you really just see a Facebook post offering you a new iPhone, completely free of charge? If you have, run the other way and don’t look back! You’re looking at a scam, designed to lure you into sharing your information with criminals or unwittingly installing malware on your device. 

Fake freebies run the gamut from new phones, complementary cruises and various luxury gift items to free holiday-themed downloads, like music, wallpaper and games. 

If you’re offered any outrageous free gifts by text message, email or social media posts, ignore them. Downloads, though, may be safe, but need to be carefully vetted for authenticity before you accept them. 

6. Defunct gift cards 

Many scammers sell expired or empty gift cards this time of year, hoping to make a profit on a card that isn’t worth more than the plastic used to make it. 

Ask to inspect any gift card you purchase before you finalize the sale. Check to see if the activation code is exposed.  If it is, the scammer has probably already used the card or has copied the information and will use it soon. 

7. Temporary holiday jobs 

Lots of businesses are hiring extra hands to get them through the busy holiday season. Don’t get stuck working for criminals!  

Many scammers will pose as employees of recognized businesses and post help-wanted ads on social media platforms and popular websites. When a job seeker follows the links in these ads, they are directed to a bogus site that looks just like the site of the company the scammer claims to represent. They’ll be asked to share personal information to submit an application. The scammer will then make off with this information and the promised job will never materialize. 

If you’re looking for a seasonal job, apply in-person or directly on a business’s website. Do not follow any links. 

As always, be aware and be cautious when enjoying the holiday season. Don’t get grinched! Stay alert and use caution to keep your money – and your information – safe. 

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by these or any other seasonal scams? Tell us all about it in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2017/holiday-season-scams-photo.html

https://www.moneytips.com/9-scams-to-watch-out-for-this-holiday-season

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity#Signs

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