Month: December 2018

inventory

Taking Inventory of Your Finances

At the end of the year, most businesses will take inventories in order to gather data, measure success, and learn from shortcomings. For many of the same reasons, conducting a personal inventory of your finances around this time is also a good idea. Here are some tips on how to do it right.

Gather materials

It’s impossible to make accurate evaluations without having the complete story. Most of the information you need can be found on statements provided by your financial institution. Online statements allow you to quickly and easily find account summaries, loan information and tax documents for this year and past years. If needed, you can also print out these statements to compare and contrast your monetary habits from year to year.

Check for errors

When looking through your statements, keep an eye out for any unusual activity, such as double charges, inaccurate deposits, checks that haven’t cleared yet, transaction errors, or possible fraud. If you notice anything unusual, contact your credit union or bank. You don’t even have to wait for your monthly statement—use online banking to check account activity at any time.

Compare spending & saving

Look at where your account balances were at the beginning of the year and at the end. Do the same with your credit card and loan balances. Did you save more than you spent? Take note of your peak spending months and see if you can prepare for those months in advance so you could borrow less on credit next time. This is also a great way to see where most of your money went during the year. Taking regular inventory of your balances will keep you informed and help you avoid denied card transactions, bounced checks, and costly fees.

Take notice of interest

A wise person once said that those that understand interest earn it, whereas those that don’t, pay it. Examine which of your savings accounts offers the highest interest rate and consider storing more of your funds there. Also take note of which loans cost you the most interest, and find ways to avoid having to pay that much again. This could include simply making the minimum payment each month on your credit card or refinancing your mortgage.

Do something different

Taking inventory won’t make a difference in your finances if you don’t make adjustments based on what you learn. Even if you’re satisfied with how much you’ve saved, for example, you can probably find ways to spend less or earn more. As you make annual improvements, you’ll start to become financially stronger with each passing year.

The benefits of savings accounts for children

Nicole Cypers from America First Credit Union joined us to follow up on their 24th annual ‘Warm the Soles’ program. More than 1,800 pairs of gift-wrapped shoes were delivered to children in need throughout the month of December. The program was funded by America First member donations and their ‘Skip a Payment’ program.

America First Credit Union aims to help children not only through programs like ‘Warm the Soles’ but through promotions that benefit them as well. For only a few more days, when you open a new youth account for minors (17 and under), America First Credit Union will match up to $25 of the initial deposit.

When your children start saving young, you can help them learn and establish sound savings habits that will pay off. Youth savings accounts at America First Credit Union also have no annual fees or minimum-deposit levels, competitive dividends, flexible terms and free online access, making it the perfect starting account for a young individual.

Nicole explained that as an added benefit for all current, new and non-members, they will also be giving away ten $250 dedicated savings accounts for your child. For every $25 you deposit into your account, you will gain one entry for this drawing. They will randomly select the winners and complete the fulfillment by January 31.

Visit americafirst.com for more information and to find a branch near you.

Source

Christmas

Have Yourself a Frugal Little Christmas

After all the shopping and party prepping are done, your holiday budget may feel two sizes too small. If you want to boost your Christmas spirit, but don’t feel like spending large sums of money, here are some inexpensive activities you can do with your family, on a date, or on your own this season.

Decoration expedition

Enjoying elaborate exterior decorations doesn’t have to cost a lot—go on a drive and appreciate your neighbors’ work. There are websites, apps & maps that identify impressive holiday displays, or you can explore and find them yourself. Many cities have lights in public parks with free admission.

Movie marathon

On the other hand, if you’re staying in, throw on pajamas, wrap yourself in a blanket and have a Christmas movie marathon. There are plenty of holiday streaming options available on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and YouTube, or you can turn on the TV and see what specials are playing.

Twinkling story time

Check out classic Christmas books from your local library, such as “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” “The Polar Express,” or “A Christmas Carol.” Turn off all the lights and read stories by the glow of the Christmas tree. You can also play some soft seasonal tunes to fill the room with more cheer.

Magical mall walks

Remember the mall? Even though many purchase presents online these days, shopping centers are full of festive decor, joyful music, aromas of pine & peppermint, and Santa’s workshop. Strolling through the mall without the stress of having to find a gift is a nostalgia-inducing experience.

Christmas karaoke

You already know the songs by heart, so why not throw a holiday-themed karaoke party? After all, as Buddy the elf said, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” And if you’re feeling brave, you can take your show on the road and go caroling.

Celebratory crafts & treats

There are thousands of Christmas craft ideas and recipes on the internet. Find those that work with supplies you already have and get creative. Cut out paper snowflakes, bake cookies, write heartfelt cards, set up a hot chocolate bar, or try your hand at DIY candy canes.

Joyful service

There’s something magical about serving others during the holiday season. Shovel a driveway or wrap packages for an elderly neighbor. Pay visits with the treats and crafts you’ve made. Volunteer for organizations that help the homeless and poor. Look for ways to brighten other people’s days and your yuletide spirit will shine even brighter.

America First Credit Union Gifts More Than 1,800 Pairs of Shoes to Underprivileged Students Throughout Utah and Nevada

Riverdale, Utah – (Dec. 19, 2018) – As part of its annual Warm the Soles of Kids initiative (Warm the Soles), America First Credit Union distributed more than 1,800 pairs of gift-wrapped shoes to children in need throughout the month of December. This year, 24 schools and agencies spanning across Utah and Southern Nevada took part in the project.

America First employees visited several schools in December including Midvale Elementary, Dixie Sun Elementary, Lakeview Elementary, Hurricane Elementary, Red Rock Elementary, Gibson Middle School and Hill Air Force Base to hand out shoes and host a festive holiday celebration.

Celebrating its 24th year, the Warm the Soles project is funded by America First member donations and the Skip a Payment program. America First works to raise funds and donations from members throughout November and December to purchase shoes for children in need during the holiday season. The project is coordinated through the America First Credit Union Charitable Foundation.

For additional information, visit www.americafirst.com or find America First Credit Union on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Photo attached: America First Credit Union employees and volunteers deliver new, gift-wrapped shoes to underprivileged children during the annual Warm the Soles event.

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ABOUT AMERICA FIRST CREDIT UNION

With a long-standing history and more than 79 years servicing members, America First has become one of the largest, most stable and most progressive credit unions in the country, and has remained a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution. Today, America First has 129 locations, and is the 10th largest credit union in assets in the United States with over $10.2 billion, and the sixth largest credit union in membership in America with more than 988,000 members.  

Card Guard

Card Guard: Powerful Protection for your Transactions

Your financial information can be stolen at any time of the year, but people are particularly vulnerable during the holidays, just because everyone’s spending more. But when you have Card Guard® from America First, you control when, where & how your Visas are used—giving you the best possible protection.

Our revolutionary security app is free and available for Apple and Android devices. Download it, then log in to your account and pick the credit, debit and ATM cards you want to manage.

Customizable Control

If you misplace a credit card, for example, you can flip a switch and it will be disabled. Once you’ve retraced your steps and realize, for some reason, that you put your card in the fridge, you can quickly and easily turn it back on.

Another feature lets you set geographic limits on where cards can be processed. You can also choose to allow transactions only if your smartphone is in the vicinity. If anyone tries to use your card number in a store outside of this pre-determined area, or if the scammer doesn’t have your mobile device with them, the purchase will be declined.

Card Guard also lets you allow some transaction types and decline others. Or you can determine which card you want to be used at certain department stores, gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores. This kind of control can prevent theft or help you manage your budget.

Additionally, your card can deny any transactions above a pre-determined spending threshold, stopping scammers from buying things with huge price tags. However, some criminals start by buying something smaller to test the card, which is why you want to set up real-time alerts.

Instant Notifications

These notifications are one of the coolest things about the Card Guard app. Once real-time notifications are enabled, your phone will deliver instant alerts about specific transactions or when your card number is being used at all. So, if you get an alert in the middle of the night, you can quickly review the transaction and see if you need to turn your card off or if it’s just your recurring charge from Netflix.

Add extra protection to all your purchases with Card Guard today.

snow

(Safely) Dashing Through the Snow

As soon as snow starts to fall, it seems people suddenly forget how to drive in a reasonable manner. So, we have pointers for avoiding costly accidents in the winter.

Proper Preparation

Check the weather and your route before a trip. Give yourself plenty of time so you can drive slowly and arrive safely. Tell others an estimated time of arrival. That way, if you do get stuck, people will know where to look.

Make sure your tires are properly inflated and that they have sufficient tread to handle icy roads. Cold weather can reduce pressure and increase the risk of blowouts. Keep your gas tank at least half full—running out of fuel in the middle of a blizzard is a miserable experience. On a related note, keep your phone’s battery full in case you need to call for help.

Stock your vehicle with winter weather basics such as a snow scraper, jumper cables, mobile charger, and blankets. Clear off your headlights and keep them on so everyone can see you coming. And make sure your windshield wipers are working correctly so you can see others coming.

Acceptable Acceleration

Everything you do in a car—stopping, starting, turning—takes a little longer in the snow. Move at a moderate, steady pace. Don’t rely on cruise control when the streets are slippery, wet and icy. Keep your eyes on the road & your hands on the wheel.

Also, just because the posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour doesn’t mean you should go that fast. In fact, you can be ticketed for driving the limit if conditions are deemed unsafe. Drive slowly enough that you can retain control and move with the flow of traffic.

Don’t punch the gas pedal when you start out or begin ascending a hill. Gradually applying pressure is the best way to avoid spinning your wheels or skidding off the road. If you drift, take your foot off the accelerator and let your car slow down until you get back on track.

Beneficial Braking

Stopping is one of the most dangerous parts of driving in the snow. In fact, if you can avoid coming to a complete halt, you’ll maintain your inertia and have less chance of getting stuck. Allow plenty of room when approaching a stoplight or an intersection, then decelerate naturally. If you’re behind another commuter, give yourself eight to 10 seconds instead of the usual three or four.

Become familiar with brake functions in both wet and dry conditions. Most modern vehicles have anti-lock features, but slamming on the brakes will almost certainly cause skidding. And don’t think you’re invulnerable just because of four-wheel or all-wheel drive—this won’t help when you hit a patch of black ice.

During the winter months, drive slow, smart & safe. You’ll save some money and your stress levels will decrease dramatically.

Reflections of the Season

By John B. Lund, President & CEO

As I write this message, I have very mixed and deep emotions. I always look forward to the holidays and the excitement, splendor, beauty, and feelings of good will they bring. At the same time, I realize there are individuals and families under tremendous stress, who are facing hardships, or who have broken hearts and cause to mourn. The holidays can bring significant peace and comfort during these times, yet in some cases, the season may seem to magnify the difficulties they are going through.

I’ve also been thinking about the recent observation of Veterans’ Day and Thanksgiving. There is so much for which we are grateful as citizens of this wonderful country. We enjoy unparalleled opportunity in terms of education, employment, health, religious freedom, recreation, service, and general quality of life.

We’re truly indebted to the men, women and their families who sacrifice tremendously—in many cases with their own lives—to protect and promote peace. Other individuals such as teachers, friends, co-workers, leaders and family members also enrich our spirits. Upon reflection, I’m indeed thankful for my great parents. They have passed on, but the tremendous memories and life lessons they left continue to bless and inspire all who knew them.

I’m certainly appreciative of America First Credit Union. Our mission is to improve our members’ financial well-being and to enhance the communities we call home. Our volunteers and staff are passionate about this purpose. We stand ready to educate, inform and assist you during both joyous and challenging experiences.

I regularly speak with members who share examples of the excellent service they have received. Additionally, I’m genuinely humbled to hear stories of life-changing events where America First has helped provide solutions to complex and trying circumstances.

Please accept our sincere thanks for your membership and loyalty. We look forward to a lifelong relationship. Best wishes for a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season, and a productive and joyful new year.

It Pays to Stay Cautious When You’re Shopping Online

Many of us find online holiday shopping more convenient than slogging through traffic, looking for parking and dealing with crowds.

At the same time, you need to be on guard when you’re getting gifts electronically. Follow the tips below to keep the season financially safe:

  • Put antivirus software on your devices
  • Visit merchants that have secure sites
  • Read sales, return & privacy policies
  • Keep all receipts

You can find additional security updates here.

Volunteer Service Highlights America First Annual Meeting

According to America First Credit Union bylaws, three members will be elected to three-year terms on our Board of Directors at the Annual Meeting. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 16, 2019 at the David S. Eccles Conference Center in Ogden, Utah.

Incumbent volunteers, who serve without compensation, are:

  • Barney B. Chapman
  • Kenlon W. Reeve
  • Michael W. Roden

Those interested in becoming directors must meet the following minimum standards:

  • Membership in good standing
  • Legal age (18 years or older)
  • Bondable
  • Free from any conflicts of interest
  • Available for all Board of Directors, Committee, and other designated meetings unless excused

Please submit letters of application to the America First Nominations Committee, P.O. Box 9199, Ogden, Utah 84409. This should include your statement of qualification (limited to 150 words) and must be received by 5 p.m. on January 7, 2019 at the above address.

Nominations by petition are also accepted and must include qualification statements, documents attested to by 500 fellow America First members, and a signed certificate from the nominee stating he or she is agreeable to the process and will serve if elected. Petitions must be received by 5 p.m., January 7, 2019 at P.O. Box 9199, Ogden, Utah 84409. Nominations are not accepted from the floor at the Annual Meeting.

Please direct any questions regarding the Board of Directors and election procedures to Sheryl Cox by calling 1-800-999-3961.