When you take a look at your finances — what’s coming in, what’s going out — do you approach each bill or expense as a surprise item rather than an item you’ve prepared for?
Let’s look at it this way… you’ve finished school, you’re ready to move out of your parent’s basement and you’ve got money to burn. What’s your plan?
If your first thought is more I want a sweet, high-rise apartment, downtown with a view of the city and less I have XX amount available to me each month…what can I afford on that budget?, you might want to rethink your strategy. Take a look at this spending ratio. Try your own. What can you afford? Does your dream apartment on the upper west side become a reality or did you just have a reality check?
Just like you had to prepare a budget at some point so you’d know how much pizza and ramen noodles your budget could take (oh, and those pesky cellphone, internet and insurance bills you may have been forced to pay while living at home), living on your own has its own category of expenses you may not have even thought of.
If you hear the words “renter’s insurance” and your first thought is yes, I’d like someone to ensure that I will obtain rent, then read on a little further, my friend. While you may have thought as far as what your monthly rent might look like and maybe even where you’d like to live, don’t forget these one-time expenses.
If you’re lucky, you might have a few friends you can pay in pizza and soda that will help you move. You might even have the packing materials and a few staple pieces of furniture to help get you started.
Unfortunately, living expenses won’t stop there.
It’s important to also consider the location you’d like to live and do a little research on monthly rental averages. A suburban apartment or home may dole out a much more affordable scenario than a renter’s monthly expenses in a more city-like environment. On top of that, the average rental expense increases and decreases by the area. Look at your budget… then take a look at this. Is your budget more Manhattan- or Tucson-friendly?
So… are you rethinking your strategy for living on your own? How many household expenses did you budget for? Is there something you’ll have to give up in order to live comfortably? Let us know! Comment and share below.
For more on rent and living on your own, stay tuned. We’ll take a look a rental agreements–what to look for and what to avoid–and dig a little deeper into your budget to make sure you’re maximizing your income while still being able to enjoy and afford life. After all, that’s why MembersFirst is here.
Ready to make the switch to a financial institution interested in seeing you at your financial best? We’re ready when you are.
It seems every time you turn around there’s another item you need—and you needed it, like, yesterday. A replacement water filter for the fridge, new carpet, an extra garage door opener…
So, what do you do? If you can’t visit your favorite retail shop, you’ll probably go to your second best option — online shopping.
Whether on your mobile device or a computer, you may have a few of your favorite online shops bookmarked. Online retail giants like Amazon.com, eBay.com and Zappos.com continually update their safe-purchase policies, but have you checked the security settings of other websites lately? Are you sure your purchases and personal info is still protected?
There’s plenty you can do to protect your info whether you’re online or out and about.
Spam filters are there for a reason. Don’t disable (or forget to activate) the spam filter settings on your browser and in email programs. Though you may not receive notifications each time a suspicious email or a website pop-up is blocked, rest assured the spam filter is doing its job. If you’re worried it may redirect a legitimate email to the wrong location, just check your spam or ‘junk’ email folder every so often.
Don’t ignore update notifications. Keep firewall and anti-virus programs up-to-date. As new malware seems to pop up daily, your computer and mobile device support systems work constantly to keep your content protected by creating new protection policies and pushing them through to you via updates.
Be a skeptic. If an email or link on a website seems too good to be true, it probably is. Fraudsters work hard to reach you in various ways. Don’t assume the email you just received from Aunt Rhonda bragging about the gigantic sum of money she won is legit. Her email could have been hacked. Look for phrases that don’t quite make sense, hover over links in emails to see where they point and be leery of shortened URLs that don’t give you clues as to where the link is taking you.
Keep your cards in sight. Card readers, also known as skimmers, can be present anywhere. Skimmers retain information when someone runs your card through a smaller machine under a counter or concealed in clothing. These card readers can even fit over the top of a legitimate card reader at an ATM. The stolen information can be copied onto another card for use by someone else. Keeping an eye on your cards at all times and being on the lookout for fake readers can reduce the risk of your information being stolen.
Trust your instincts. When in doubt, make a purchase from another location or website. Doing so can save you a lot of time and financial hassle later on.
If you think your personal information has been used by someone other than you or if your cards have been compromised, be sure to alert your financial institution immediately. The sooner you take back control of your finances, the easier it will be to clean up the mess another may have created for you when unjustly using your information.
If your credit and debit card company don’t come equipped with services like fraud prevention and account monitoring, consider switching to a financial institution like MembersFirst–we take every threat very seriously and will work with you to identify where the information leaks might be. Don’t put a bandage on the issue; get to the root of the issue by protecting your info as much as you can.
When more than just you is concerned with your money.
Remember our post about safe mobile browsing and shopping? We hope you had a moment to read it and consider the dangers of using a mobile device without following safe web-browsing practices.
But, what about when you’re not coffee shop bound, sipping a latte and checking out the latest technology steals and deals? Maybe you’re sitting at work or with friends catching the latest Hunger Games installment. Your cell is likely tucked away in your pocket or purse. Think your money and personal info are safe? You may want to think again. There could be others digging for your personal information and you may not even realize it.
Identity Theft — You’ve heard the term, but do you really know just how easy it could be for someone to steal your identity? Mistakes like using the same password for multiple logins, not shielding your credit card numbers and pins from Nosy Ninas and oversharing on social media are just a few ways you’re putting yourself at risk for financial woes.
In this second installment of Fun Financial Ed, Jen learns just what she’s doing right (and wrong) to protect her identity. Check it out.
Can’t access the video? No problem. Check out the info below.
Looking to make the switch to a Credit Union that understands the unique needs of its members? Join today and discover what over 24,000 others already have! We’ll make the process simple and convenient.
5 Identity Theft Jackpots (and How You Can Safeguard Against Them)
Identity theft is nothing new, and yet it still manages to cost its victims billions of dollars (yes, that’s billions with a “b”) globally each year—not to mention the time and hassle involved in recovering a stolen identity.
The good news is that there are tons of things you can do to deter identity thieves. The bad news is that many of us do little beyond choosing a decent password—and some people don’t even bother doing that! Here are the top 5 information jackpots for identity thieves, along with helpful tips on what you can do right now to protect yourself.
Your Trash Can
Even if you’re really careful about the information you put online, your trash bags and recycling bin can still be an easy target for identity thieves. Dumpster diving may sound old school, but it’s still an easy way for identity thieves to get access to your personal information.
Get a shredder (a basic model will run you $20 to $30 at a big-box store) and use it!
Get into the habit of shredding things before throwing them out, especially things like bank statements, expired credit cards, utility bills, cellphone bills, paycheck stubs, old boarding passes and travel itineraries, and ATM receipts.
Don’t forget to check your envelopes! Anything with your name and address on it needs to be shredded, too.
Odds are that you’re carrying a lot more in your phone than just your contact list. With smartphone theft on the rise, protect yourself:
Have a password-protected lock on your home screen. This is a standard feature on all smartphones for a reason, so take advantage of it! Bonus points if your smartphone also has location tracking (also known as the “find my phone” feature).
Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure, so avoid checking your bank accounts or doing your online shopping from the local coffee shop or during your layover at the airport.
Do not store sensitive information on your phone—storing passwords or login information in a note-taking app is bad news.
The PIN Pad
It seems like every few months a new point-of-purchase scheme emerges—skimming devices, keystroke loggers, ATM hacking… the list goes on! Here are some good practices for when you’re out and about:
When making a purchase, keep your debit or credit card in sight at all times.
Use your hand to block the buttons when entering your PIN number, even if there’s no one immediately behind you—a camera can always be watching.
Choose a good PIN. Avoid PINs derived from your personal information, like your telephone number, address or birthday. Avoid an easy-to-guess PIN, like the dreaded “1234.”
Change up your PIN, especially if you use the same combination for your debit card and for unlocking your cellphone.
Like the trash-picker approach mentioned above, mail tampering is a low-tech but relatively easy way for identity thieves to compromise your personal information. Here’s what you can do:
Familiarize yourself with your billing cycles. A late credit card statement or a bill that never shows up could be a sign of mail tampering.
Identity thieves will sometimes request a change of address to illegally reroute your mail to a different location. If you suddenly stop receiving mail, check with the post office to make sure this isn’t the case.
Use a mailbox with a locking system to deter thieves.
You would think that this one would be common knowledge by now, but every so often a virus or scam comes along that trips us up. Stay one step ahead of scammers:
Keep your firewall, anti-virus and operating system software up-to-date. No matter how new and fast your laptop is, it still needs protection.
Enable spam filters on your email accounts.
Look out for sketchy links and emails. Ignore any suspicious password reset requests, unexpected tracking numbers or anything that asks for your personal information via email.
Don’t overshare on social media. Do your Facebook friends really need to know what year you were born? Can people tell when no one is home based on your Instagram feed? Keep your accounts private and make sure you’re not accidentally broadcasting sensitive information.
By being aware of the top 5 information jackpots and by implementing these simple strategies, you can keep identity thieves at bay.
With so many options on every corner, how do you know which financial institution is right for you? Furthermore, what’s the big deal with ‘credit union vs. bank‘?
The answer is simple–credit unions are owned by their members (those with an account at the credit union) and banks are typically controlled by stock- or shareholders. Additionally, decisions are made on the local level with credit unions by a board of directors with one purpose in mind–to simplify the financial lives of our members.
The most common misperception of credit unions is that we’re all about credit–credit cards and loans–and, while we do offer those products, we’re less about pushing products and more about pushing the philosophy of “people helping people”. We understand that, while banking is important, it shouldn’t be the most time-consuming, stressful part of your day. Instead, we believe our products and services should, in fact, add value and help you afford life. In a time when just about everything can be done digitally, our aim is to not only keep up with the technological advances of the banking world, but to remain personable and approachable. Our members do have member numbers, but they also have names and stories, hopes and dreams, just like each one of our employees.
Since 1953, MembersFirst Credit Union has existed to serve. By making sound credit decisions and listening to our members, we’ve built a credit union which stands well-capitalized and able to cater to the needs of our Sponsor Groups, their family members and the communities in which we’re located.
If you’re looking to make the switch for a better financial outlook, look to us, MembersFirst Credit Union: Your finances. Your credit union. Your life…simplified.