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/
When was the last time you balanced a checkbook? Most likely, your answer was somewhere around 2 years ago to never. According to a study done by Statistic Brain Research Institute in early 2018, only 21% of people still balance a checkbook, and 69% of people have never balanced a checkbook. The digital age has changed how we do many things, and managing our money is something that has been greatly affected by new technologies!
Google “online money management” and take a look at all of the options and articles written on completely online personal finance tools (most are free or very low-cost). The options we have to manage our own finances are tremendous. Do we still recommend an in-person financial advisor? Absolutely. We believe a family’s financial picture should be holistic- with many moving parts but always working together. But, YOU are the only one that cares the most about the money coming out of YOUR wallet. No one can make the decision that it’s time to buy a house, purchase a new car, or start investing differently. Ultimately, it’s up to you.
At the ēCO Credit Union Foundation, making financial education more accessible to the greater Birmingham area is our goal. So, we decided to create the ēCO Educational Center; this is free access to financial education broken up in to three to five minute modules. Are you considering buying a home? There is a lesson for that. Are you ready to start a budget or curious how to set up an ESA? Guess what? There is a lesson for just about any and every personal finance topic you can imagine. And, it’s all here! Wherever you are reading this, you can access this amazing tool! Here is how it will work:
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.
Valentine’s Day is next week? Cue going online, and then ordering the expensive gift you know they will love. But, if I think back to the best Valentine’s Day I have had, it never involved an expensive gift. It involved a human and an experience.
In this month of love, I have put together three tips to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone while saving your money for the things that really matter for your family in 2018:
1.Wait a few days.
I have friends that choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day a week late. What fun is that, you ask? On February 15, all of the stores want the heart-shaped chocolate OUT; especially this year with Easter being early, they will be in a rush to get the eggs and bunnies out to replace the hearts! That means big savings- think 50-90% off. And, if you choose to eat out, you won’t have to fight the enormous crowds and two hour-long wait times. It’s just another week for everyone else!
2.It’s the thought that counts.
Don’t be afraid to use your creative side! Plan out a unique date night. One of my favorite Valentine’s, my husband brought home a heart-shaped pizza and lots of candy (sweet tooth over here). Does your significant other love books? What about a trip to the library and coffee at the café? If you two like to laugh together, a comedy show could be the perfect date night. Do you both have a healthy competitive spirit? If so, find a local place that has board games, pool tables, or skee-ball. Make it special and memorable by taking some time to think through what experience would top any gift!
3.Make it from scratch.
In this digital age we live in, buying a gift is just one click and two days away. What if you planned at least a few days out and created something that is beyond a simple click? Some ideas may include: create a painting, collect pictures of special memories from the past year, or have close friends write in a journal explaining why they love your significant other. There are so many ways to make Valentine’s Day memorable without spending a whole paycheck or going into debt.
So, what are you planning to change about your Valentine’s Day celebration this year? Maybe I will see all of you on February 15 at the store stocking up on candy or posting about a sweet, homemade gift you gave your person. Either way, try not to stress out over a day that is really about love. Let’s spread the heart eyes emoji next week, whenever and however you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year!
“If there is one budget line you can bring down and keep down consistently: groceries. If you could reduce your grocery spending $100, $200, even $300/month, what would you do with the money? Pay off debt? Put it in savings? Take a vacation? Come learn the basics of couponing and smart shopping, and you'll be amazed at how much extra money you have in your pocket at the end of the month!” says Tabitha Hanner, our couponing speaker. This Saturday, Feb. 3, we will be hosting our second ēCO Savings Race University on meal planning and couponing. If this is a topic you need more information on, come by for a free class! (Click here to register and for more details.)
Now, before the mind goes to the crazy couponing lady that spends eight hours on a Saturday printing coupons and planning how to buy 2,987 bars of soap, remember that we live in the digital age now; saving on groceries has never been easier and more efficient. In this post, we are going to dive into the world of meal planning and couponing, and why taking the time to plan out groceries is much easier than you can imagine. Here are 4 tips on how to plan for the next grocery trip:
There are so many resources to find recipes that work for yourself and your family. There are even subscriptions that will make it easier. While I prefer to pick and choose my own recipes, my favorite services are the ones that offer planned out recipes- the cost is lower and they do all of the work for you.
Just Google “best coupon apps”; the amount of apps out there are incredible. Some will involve taking a picture of receipt; others will ask for information on different brands. If you want to know the recommended apps, come to our class on Saturday!
3.Make a list.
If you don’t have a list with you, how many times have you picked up the birthday cake Oreos and gingerbread ice cream instead of what you really need? Keeping the eyes narrowed on a list helps from picking up the items strategically placed in the aisles! I like to organize my list by aisles or store location which helps me stick to my list.
4.Choose the store(s).
Are you looking for a grocery store that has low prices already or one where you can make a great value from coupons and/or buying in bulk? At our class, we will discuss the grocery stores that we recommend.
Want to hear more? Great! Come join us on Saturday morning with a class full of great information from two speakers. We will have a door prize, snacks, and free information for all! Make sure to come caffeinated and alert because you don’t want to miss anything that our speakers will be sharing in this class. See you there!