Spruce Up Your Finances With a Spring Cleaning
As piles of snow fade to distant memory, it's time again for an annual spring cleanup. While you get your house in order, don't forget your finances. They'd probably benefit from some tidying up as well.
Clear the clutter
Not being able to find important documents is a guaranteed source of heartburn, and part of the problem is that most of us hang on to much more than is necessary. Aim to go paperless wherever possible, and in the meantime, shred and trash these documents today:
- Tax records over 7 years old
- Pay stubs reconciled with W-2s
- Expired service contracts and warranties
- Insurance policies no longer in effect
Your most important documents -- birth certificates and marriage licenses, Social Security cards, car titles and mortgages -- should be stored in a safe deposit box or fireproof container. Separate the remaining paperwork into active and inactive files. The active file will contain things you refer to regularly, such as income-tax-related papers, account statements from financial institutions, loan documentation and active insurance policies. Keep these in an easily accessible place. Move outdated documents to the inactive file for the recommended time period, and then shred them.
Take control of debt
Get a fresh start this spring by cleaning up debt. When bills from multiple sources become unmanageable, consolidation can reduce your total monthly expense and pave the way to pay off debt faster. Financial institutions such as First Capital Federal Credit Union offer a number of debt consolidation solutions, including home equity financing that combines low interest rates with the possibility of deducting the interest from your taxes. If you're carrying a high-interest mortgage, it may make sense to refinance and take advantage of today's interest rates, which remain near historic lows.
This would also be a great time to tailor savings accounts for life's milestones and surprises. Savings accounts work well for emergency funds, and a club account can help make a special vacation become reality. Share certificates and Coverdell IRAs provide a way to handle education costs, while traditional and Roth IRAs can help ensure a comfortable retirement. If saving consistently is a challenge, an automatic savings plan that puts a portion of your paycheck into savings makes the process easier.
Finally, check your credit, review beneficiaries, evaluate your insurance coverage, and update your budget.
A thorough spring cleaning of your financial house may seem like a lot to do. But the effort will prove its worth with improved financial health and peace of mind for many seasons to come.
By Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet
5 Tips to Help You Fight Identity Theft
Your identity is at risk of being stolen every day, from potential data breaches at retailers and health-care centers to online hacking, ATM skimming schemes and good old-fashioned thievery.
Here are some tips on protecting yourself and keeping your personal information secure, as well as what to do if you fall victim.
Safeguard your information
You need to memorize and keep all of your personal information private, even from family and friends. This includes your personal identification, account and Social Security numbers, credit card data and logon information, and passwords. Never let a website store your information or card numbers.
Create strong passwords for your accounts; your passwords should combine a mix of letters, numbers and special characters. It's also a good idea to change passwords periodically, and don't use the same passwords for all your accounts.
Monitor your accounts
Check your credit and bank account statements frequently to spot any unfamiliar transactions. You should also take advantage of the free credit history checks you can make each year at each of the three major credit-reporting bureaus.
If you find any suspicious activity or errors on your report, notify the corresponding bureau immediately. Some lenders, like First Capital Federal Credit Union, help customers keep up with fraud schemes and hacker threats.
Cautious card use
Only use your debit or credit card at places you know you can trust. Standalone ATMs can be hot spots for skimming scams, so be wary. Hackers sometimes attach electronic card readers to these machines that record your account information to steal it.
At restaurants and other places where your card goes out of sight, it's best to use cash whenever possible and keep track of receipts.
Pay online safely
When making online payments, look for a website security seal that says "TRUSTe." This indicates that the site is in good standing with the Federal Trade Commission's regulations regarding privacy and security. Secure sites also include "https" in the web address.
Report identity theft
If identity theft happens to you, contact the financial services provider associated with the account. You can opt to have your credit report frozen as well.
Then, call the FTC at 877-438-4338 or file a report online. Fill out a police report as well, to ensure the crime has been documented.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but you can make yourself less vulnerable by taking this proactive approach to protecting your personal information.
By Anna Helhoski, NerdWallet
410 Days at FCFCU!
So there I was, December 16, 2013, fifty-nine years old and it was my first day of work at First Capital Federal Credit Union. After thirty-one years of successful employment at a previous employer, I was struggling through the simplest of things, like just finding my office. We have all been there.
Before long with the help of Andrew, Devan and others, I could find my office on a fairly consistent basis. But I also found something else, something I didn't expect. I found a management team that cared more about their staff and members than their own personal goals.
"How could this be?" I thought. How could any business succeed in a very competitive industry when they don't always put dollars and cents first? Yet there it was every month, always positive budget numbers, always near the top compared to our peers. Then it struck me, it was all of us working together for the members that makes us great! I am truly thankful to be part of this team! I guess they are wrong, you can teach an old dog new tricks.
By Chuck Burkhardt, VP of Information Technology
Welcome to our New Blog!
Welcome to First Capital's new blog! We are excited to offer you this opportunity to communicate with us on any topic of your choice. Our first question to you is "DO YOU KASASA?" If you don't, you're missing a great opportunity not offered by other banks and credit unions in Central PA. Check it out! Great rates and deals...Kasasa®
By Dennis Flickinger, President/CEO