Receiving that first paycheck is a marvelous feeling. Then, you do the math and realize there is some money missing. Wait. Who is FICA, and why are they taking all of my money? When I received my first few paychecks, I made the mistake of calculating how much money I gave to the government; I had to call in sick the next day because it made me nauseous.
Taxes are a hot topic in the United States right now. With April right around the corner and a tax reform announced several months ago, there is a lot to discuss. So much to talk about in fact, we decided to commit an entire seminar on the subject! On Saturday, March 24, we will hold our third ēCO Savings Race University at the Hoover Library to discuss “Tax Return Tips”. We have invited a CPA to teach on all things 2017 and 2018 for this class.
Before the class, we wanted to give you a sneak peek on a few tips we will be talking through:
How do I fill out a 1040 form? The Tax Form 1040 is the U.S. Individual Income Tax Return form- reporting an individual’s gross income. The most commonly used form in the process, but how do we know which version to use and how to fill it out? It’s a very important form that can have a lot of negative repercussions if not filled out correctly.
Who can I claim as a dependent? This is one of the most frequently asked tax return questions. Are you the parent/guardian of a college student or the caretaker of an elderly parent? Then, you have probably asked this question before. There are five different qualifying tests to know if your child can be your dependent for tax purposes. One of those tests is called the “qualifying child test”; it says that child either has to be younger than nineteen or a student under the age of twenty-four by the end of the calendar year. Needless to say, there are many details to cover at our March 24 seminar!
How will the 2018 tax reform affect me? There are so many questions! Some of the most popular topics with the next tax reform include: percentages, deduction options, child tax credit, new home owners, and more. We will go over all of the changes, so you will know exactly what to expect this time next year! The more you know, the more you can prepare.
We are excited to host a class on tax return tips in 2018, and we hope you are too! This is an absolutely free class in the Shakespeare Room of the Hoover Public Library. It will begin at 10:30 a.m., and we will provide snacks as well! If you are waiting to file this year’s taxes or you are worried about next year’s, make sure to stop by next Saturday morning! To register, click here.
Written by: Georgia Hux
Georgia is the Marketing Coordinator at ēCO Credit Union. She loves spending time with her husband Aaron, playing with her dog Tuff, and trying to make her house look like Chip & Jo stopped by to help.
For the 2017-18 school year, the ēCO Credit Union Foundation partnered with the Greater Shelby County Chamber of Commerce for a program called Keeping It Real. We were excited to be one of the sponsors this year for such a worthy cause!
Keeping It Real simulates a real-life scenario for ninth graders in Shelby County, Alabama; these scenarios give the students careers, education, money, and a family. Then, they are responsible for visiting twelve booths to either earn money or pay for something. Below, you’ll find pictures of both the Transportation and Financial booths.
Some of my favorite comments from students include:
“Do I have to buy insurance?”
“Why are kids so expensive?”
“I need to go home and thank my parents!”
“Do I have to save money?”
Hearing their epiphanies make me envious that I did not have financial education in high school; my first car insurance bill may have hurt a little less if I had known the costs real-life throws at you!
Being involved in this program leads me to this question: What are you doing to prepare the next generation with financial education? So many kids I have talked to with Keeping It Real have zero knowledge of the costs of life. And, I believe if adults were more transparent about their finances, the next generation would be more equipped with the tools to make better financial decisions than we have! For instance, when we are at the grocery store with our kids, what if we showed our kids the difference between generic and name brands? What if we showed our nieces and nephews how much our car insurance is and explain why we must purchase it? Maybe, we can share why it is important to pay ourselves first (or save) when our paycheck comes into our account.
I am challenging you to be more intentional with the middle and high school-aged students in your life in sharing the reality of how expensive life can be and why it’s important to learn now! And, if you are a teacher or want to refer some material to a teacher, we provide free, no-strings financial education curriculum through the ēCO Credit Union Foundation. Simply, click here to find out more and order for your classroom.
We are excited to equip legacies to come with information to make to better financial decisions!
Buying a home is likely the largest, or one of the largest, purchases you will ever make. No pressure. Having your own four walls and a picket fence is the goal, right? We are here to make sure you are ready for this big venture.
As a first-time home buyer, there are many expenses that you incur not only in the buying process; but, you will also have several extra expenses after the closing date. The goal is not to go into mounds of debt to buy and maintain your home. So, let’s talk about home buying and see if you are ready:
Maintenance and Utilities
Home buying and ownership is a commitment going well past the purchase price. Are you ready to learn more about home ownership? We have free five-minute lessons in the ēCO Educational Center that will teach you more about home ownership here. Or, if you’re curious about saving more, check out our list of lessons available- all online and all free.
I was recently listening to NPR and was surprised that 2017 was the most successful year for hackers to date. They were able to hack into more accounts, steal more information, and funnel more money than ever before. It’s hard to wrap my mind around our ever-evolving technology and security in the digital age, while also seeing identity theft at an all-time high.
According to a recent article by LifeLock, there are six prevalent forms of identity theft, including: employment or tax-related fraud, credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud, loan or lease fraud, and government documents or benefits fraud. When you are working on your personal finances, the last thing you need is to find out someone has been stealing hard-earned money. With so many ways for hackers to grab our personal information, how can we protect ourselves from identity theft?
We have done some research and have compiled some tips below:
1.Debit card vs. credit card
It’s your money versus their money. When money is stolen from your checking account, you will immediately feel the effects as the money diminishes from your account. It could take months to get the money back. And then, if they take more money than you have, the fees will stack up quickly. (Make sure to notify your financial institution as soon as you notice fraud!) Whereas, the money from a credit card is not yours; it is the company’s money that you are borrowing. So, it is their responsibility! Usually, your account (aka your own money) is never affected when a hacker gets ahold of your credit card information.
Although it may be more convenient with the millions of passwords we try to remember each day, using the same or similar passwords for online accounts is highly discouraged! There are many apps and websites that will generate a random password but also save them in a secure place.
Dumpster diving is still a thing. We all are still receiving confidential information on paper. Don’t think a thief is beyond getting their hands dirty. Compared to online hackers, it’s relatively easy to find out when trash day is in a certain area. Before you throw away the credit card applications or utility bills, make sure to tear them up and/or shred them! You will make it nearly impossible for a thief to find personal information in your trash.
Our best advice: Think twice before you pay for anything and everything. Try to be two steps ahead of a hacker, and it will help clarify the best payment method to use in each scenario. Don’t let a hacker take control of your personal finance goals!
LifeLock, How Common is Identity Theft? (Updated 2017) The Latest Stats, https://www.lifelock.com/education/how-common-is-identity-theft/
LifeLock, How to Help Protect Yourself From Identity Theft, https://www.lifelock.com/education/help-protect-yourself-identity-theft/