Featured

New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Please enjoy this FREE E-Book from Mutual Credit Union as a gift to Kick Start your Successful Financial New Year in 2019! This workbook is designed to help you set goals, track them throughout 2019 and make your financial dreams a reality!

Click New Years Resolutions_eBook-interactive for the Downloadable Version. Enjoy!

New Years Resolution Workbook

 

WE Can’t Wait To SAY……………………………..

 

Congratulations on a Job Well Done

Featured

CHERRY STREET BRANCH TO TEMPORARILY CLOSE TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2018

Press Release

October 1, 2018

Mutual Cherry Branch pic

(Vicksburg, MS): The Main Branch of Mutual Credit Union located at 1604 Cherry Street will close to the public on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 to undergo extensive renovations to both the exterior and the interior of the building. Conditions at each entryway and entrances to the branch will at times be hazardous or impassable to members. We encourage all members during this time, to utilize services at the other four branch locations of Mutual Credit Union provided below.

  • 2086 S. Frontage Road                Vicksburg, MS
  • 4210 Clay Street                Vicksburg, MS
  • 460 East Main Street                Raymond, MS
  • 1505 Grand Avenue Yazoo City, MS

The Monroe Street Drive-Thru will remain open to members and hours of operation will continue unchanged Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Fridays 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Account access is also available 24/7 by using the Mutual Credit Union app on your mobile device, by calling our SAM Audio Response System at 1-877-457-3654 Option 1 or by visiting www.mutualcu.org.

The 1604 Cherry Street location was built in 1984. In 1998-1999 it was renovated to add a Drive-Thru and to expand the main branch and support offices. These upgrades will continue to promote growth and support services to members for generations to come. We appreciate both our members’ and our staffs’ patience as we work through the renovation process. We look forward to welcoming our members and the community we serve back to the newly remodeled branch in January of 2019.

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our webpage. Any additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

###

Featured

TEMPORARY CHANGE IN AVAILABILITY OF STAFF & SERVICES AT CHERRY STREET BRANCH STARTING TUESDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2018

Press Release

October 1, 2018

update Mouse Social

(Vicksburg, MS): The Main Branch of Mutual Credit Union located at 1604 Cherry Street will close to the public on Tuesday, October 9, 2018 to undergo extensive renovations to both the exterior and the interior of the building. During this time, some staff members will be re-positioned to better serve our members. Below you will find a list of Mutual Credit Union Staff affected.

  • Warren Pace, Loan Officer                                              Clay Street Branch
  • Karen White, Loan Officer                                              Clay Street Branch
  • Elaine Davis, Financial Services Representative        Clay Street Branch
  • Jessica Lowery, Cherry St. Branch Manager                By Appointment Only
  • Terisa Cochran, Member Services Representative     By Appointment Only

This transition will start on Tuesday, October 9, 2018. We encourage all members during this time to utilize services at either the South Frontage Road Branch or the Clay Street Branch located in Vicksburg. The Monroe Street Drive-Thru will remain open and the hours of operation will continue unchanged Monday – Thursday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and Fridays 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

To further assist members accessing your safe deposit box please call or email to make an appointment. You can reach us at 877-457-3654 option 2 for Dial by Branch and then option #0 for Cherry Street Branch or you can reach us at mainbranch@mutualcu.org.

Please also note that the coin machine currently housed inside the Cherry Street branch will not be available after Friday, October 5th. Access to the coin machine will return upon completion and re-opening of the Cherry Street branch.

We know that change is painful and inconvenient at times, but we thank you for your patience as we continue to grow and improve for the future.

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our webpage. Any additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

###

Cherry Street Branch to Re-Open Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Press Release

February 13, 2019

Cherry Street Branch to Re-Open Tuesday, February 19th

(Vicksburg, MS): The Main Branch of Mutual Credit Union located at 1604 Cherry Street will re-open to the public on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at 9 a.m. after undergoing extensive renovations to both the exterior and the interior of the building.

We are so excited to open Main Office back up on February 19th,” states Mutual Credit Union CFO, Jennifer Lynne McMillin. “Our renovated space will allow us to better serve our members and provide a secure and safe environment for our members and employees.  We have expanded our office space to prepare for future growth and opportunities.  We look forward to having our members back at our Cherry Street branch.”

Also, on Tuesday, February 19th the coin machine located inside the Cherry Street branch will be available for use. Members can access this service during normal business hours starting this Tuesday, February 19th.

The hours of operation for all Mutual branch locations remain Monday – Thursday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Fridays 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; drive through services open at 8:30 a.m. at every branch. Account access is also available 24/7/365 by visiting www.mutualcu.org, using the Mutual Credit Union app on your mobile device, or by calling our SAM Audio Response System at 1-877-457-3654 Option 1.

Cherry Street View (New)

The 1604 Cherry Street location of Mutual Credit Union was constructed in 1984. In 1998-1999 it was renovated to add a Drive-Thru and to expand the main branch and support offices.

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our webpage. Any additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

###

How I Learned About Saving For Retirement (And You Can Too)

coins and time clock retirement

Confession time: Finances have never been my specialty. As a creative professional, sometimes what I dream up and what happens in the real world need to come together for a little tête-à-tête. Now that we’ve gotten that on the table, you may ask, “So why are you writing about saving for retirement?” Fair question. Here’s why: in my quest to crack the “retirement savings code,” I resolved many previous unknowns (to me) and ultimately rethought my personal approach to saving for retirement.

 

I will also conjecture that there are a lot of people who are similarly lost when it comes to saving for retirement. In fact, the numbers support this hypothesis: according to an Economic Policy Institute (EPI) study“nearly half of families have no retirement savings at all.” With that in mind, here are some of the major questions that I had while digging into how I should be saving for retirement.

 

How much do I really need to have set aside to coast through retirement?

AKA, what is the magic number? A seemingly innocuous question, right? Not exactly. Turns out it depends on who you ask. This is where I learned there are many schools of thought on how to best approach your number. Below summarizes the three different methods I found, but you can learn more about each at 3 Ways to Calculate Your Retirement Number by money.usnews.com.

 

Income Method

This involves multiplying your income by a factor to determine how much you need to retire. There’s a little more to it than just that, and exactly how much you should multiply it by is debatable, but the article does a nice job of breaking down the different variables and assumptions you should account for.

 

Expense Method

This method asks you to analyze your monthly budget to arrive at your retirement number. You’ll need to think through what expenses you anticipate having then, what gets added, and what falls off, which brings up the subject of a mortgage… I’ll get into that a little later. There are, of course, a few other considerations which you can see in more detail here, but that’s the main idea.

 

Savings Method

This method involves setting aside a percentage of your annual salary in retirement accounts. This might be the most prevalent approach I encountered in my research; however, the “right percentage” to set aside can vary from source to source. My takeaway: 15% is a good goal on the conservative end and 20% on the aggressive end. Anything beyond that gets you gold-star status.

 

That’s a lot to digest. I get it. Luckily, I stumbled upon this article by CNBC with features a more digestible timeline of savings goals from Fidelity that follows the Income Method. And visuals are always helpful.

 

How much do I need to save for retirement?

10X

Fidelity Investments suggests you should aim to have 10 times your salary in savings.

Here is how much to set aside by age in order to stay on track for retirement at 67.

how-much-save-retirement-380x839

Keep in mind this is a ballpark diagram. Consult a financial advisor for exact numbers.

Epperson, Sharon. “What’s the Magic Number for Your Retirement Savings?” CNBC. 11 Feb. 2016. Accessed 8 Feb. 2018.

Where all will this money come from?

Here are the key players. Getting a general sense of each will help you understand how they all work together. This video from CNBC Money also does a nice job of explaining the differences.

 

401(k) – A 401(k) is an employer-sponsored type of retirement plan. It allows an employee to dedicate a percentage of their salary to a retirement account. Contributions are tax-free and taxes are paid upon withdrawal. Putting money into your 401(k) can be a great place to start, as many companies offer a match program up to a certain percentage. Ideally, you should strive to at least contribute up to the full match since that is free money for you!  Learn more about 401(k)s here.

 

IRA – An IRA is an Individual Retirement Account that can be opened up by anyone, whether they’re associated with an employer or not. There are two types of IRAs — a traditional and a Roth — which have a few differences, but the main one being the time at which you’re taxed. (Roth contributions are taxed the year you deposit them, traditional IRAs are taxed upon withdrawal.)

 

HSA – An HSA or Health Savings Account offers a way to set aside money for your healthcare expenses while receiving some tax advantages. Another nice thing is if you don’t use it all in a year, you can hang on to it and, in some cases, invest it!

 

Investments (other) – Whether it be in real estate, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or any combination of these and more, this is anywhere you’re setting aside money in the eventual hope of reaping a return on top of your initial deposit.

 

Pension –  Employer-provided retirement income (from companies with pension plans) that requires an employee to work for them a certain number of years. The benefit usually increases with the length of time employed at the company. This often applies to government jobs, like military, police, and fire departments. According to The Balance, “Large corporate employers may also offer pension benefits, but it is not as common as it was thirty years ago.”

 

Social Security – It is hotly debated how much longer we should rely upon this as a source of retirement income. Regardless of its endurance, according to CNN Money, “your Social Security benefits will only replace about 40% of your previous income, which won’t cut it even under the most frugal circumstances.” So the best bet is to think beyond Social Security.

 

Do I count my home equity as income?

You’re right to realize that some of the expenses you have today won’t necessarily be around by retirement age. The amount you’re currently setting aside for retirement is one, ideally your student loans are another, and of course, that brings you to a major investment — your home (assuming it’s paid off).

 

But according to TheBalance, “you’ll also have retirement costs that you don’t carry today, like certain out-of-pocket health and end-of-life care costs. And ideally, you’ll also travel more, enjoy more hobbies, and indulge a bit. As a result, you may want to budget for retirement by assuming you’ll spend roughly the same amount you spend now.” The Huffington Post further supports this outlook in Is Your Home Equity Part of Your Retirement Savings?, saying that “If you don’t plan to sell, then your home equity, while still an important part of your overall net worth, shouldn’t be included in your retirement savings calculation.”

 

Should I focus on paying off debt or saving for retirement?

According to Dave Ramsey, it’s important to start with a firm foundation, and that includes addressing your debt first. In his post on The Truth About Retirement, Mr. Ramsey recommends that:

“You begin investing for retirement after you’ve done two things: you’re debt-free, and you have saved an emergency fund of three to six months of expenses. Three-fourths of the people on Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest people in America say getting and staying debt-free is the most important thing you can do when it comes to handling your money. The full emergency fund ensures you have a cushion in case of an illness or job loss and that your retirement funds stay where they are and keep growing.”

 

When is the best time to start saving for retirement?

The short answer: Now. Or as soon as possible. That’s because there’s also another factor in play that could really work to your advantage — compounding interest — or the interest you can earn on interest. According to Tony Robbins, “by not saving, and by not investing, you are losing out on more money by waiting than you stand to lose by taking a small risk and starting your retirement account.” For a more in-depth breakdown of how compounding interest over time can make a big difference, see Tony Robbins’s article: Create a Money Machine.

 

My final thoughts:

Although I’m no financial guru, I have wised up to a few things over time. First of all: processing your current age never feels any less like an alien/host-type situation; at 7 years old, the coveted teen years felt oh sooo far away, your 20s felt unimaginably grown up (hilarious), and every decade that passes thereafter… more of the same. Second: Seeking the “right time” is futile, because it doesn’t exist.

 

So when you factor in those “constants,” waiting to perfect a master retirement savings plan feels less critical (and daunting) than just getting the ball rolling in the right direction. That’s not to say you should become lax in your research and planning. By all means, get out there and speak to a certified financial advisor (they get paid to do this stuff for a reason). Just try to avoid getting stuck an endless loop of analysis and become your own enemy to progress. That’s not how you’ll make it to that little beach bungalow or another perfect retirement of your dreams.

Source: 

How I Learned About Saving for Retirement (And you can too)

Jaclyn Eickenhorst
Jaclyn Eickenhorst

 

By craft Jaclyn is a copywriter, but she really fashions herself more of an “idea explorateur.” When it comes to working through tasks to arrive at the best solution, she considers herself a purist, aka a compulsive brainstormer. Intervals of staring into space, broken up by a frenetic syncopation of keystrokes — that’s just part of “the process.” No need to call for someone…unless they have cookies. Definitely call then.

3 Questions for Jaclyn:

  1. Favorite hobbies?

    Paying guitar, boxing, finding new ridiculous things to worry about, daydreaming about the next great American novel, and talking to my cat like she’s a human baby (because she is).

  2. What was your very first job?

    A confectionary & culinary artist/customer service liaison within the food and hospitality industry — a.k.a. “counter girl” at Dairy Queen.

  3. Worst financial decision?

    Probably buying a timeshare at the ripe old age of 21. Not only was I gullible enough to attend the spiel, yes, I actually bought into it. Luckily, I read the fine print, found a loophole, and got out within 24 hours! Critical reading skills for the win!

Tax Code Changes 2019

TAXES 2019

The annual tax code changes can be confusing. No worries, though; we’ll walk you through everything you need to know for 2019.  

Though most changes won’t take effect until April 2019, some of them can impact the financial choices you’ll make this year. For that reason, here’s the details on the most important tax changes. 

1.)   Changes to the amounts taxed for each income bracket 

The 7 tax income brackets remain unchanged, but the amounts each bracket is taxed have gotten an overhaul. Here are the new rates for taxpayers filing as individuals. 

Taxable Income Bracket                Tax Due 

10%        $0-$9,700                         10% of taxable income

12%        $9,701 -$39,475               $970 +12% of income $9,700+

22%         $39,476 – $84,200          $4,543+22% of income $39,475+

24%         $84,201 – $160,725        $14,382.50+24% of income $84,200+             

32%         $160,726- $204,100        $32,748.50+32% of income $160,725+

35%         $204,101 – $510,300       $46,628.50+35% of income $204,100+

37%          $510,301+                       $153,798.50+37% of income $510,300+              

You can check out the taxable income rates for couples filing jointly and for individuals filing as heads of households here. 

2.)   Changes in standard deduction amounts

The standard deduction in 2019 will be $12,200 for individuals, $18,350 for heads of household, or $24,400 for married couples filing jointly and surviving spouses. 

3.)   Elimination of personal exemptions 

The personal exemption amount is being eliminated for the 2019 tax year.  

4.)   Changes to itemized deductions 

Some of the itemized deduction changes for 2019 include: 

  • Medical and dental expenses.  For 2019, you can only deduct those expenses exceeding 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI).
  • State and local taxes (SALT). The new maximum for SALT deductions is a combined total of $10,000 for taxpayers filing jointly.
  • Home mortgage interest. In 2019, home interest payments will be maxed at $750,000 for married couples filing jointly.
  • Job expenses and miscellaneous. In 2019, you can only claim work-related deductions that are less than 2%of your AGI.

5.)   Changes to tax credits 

There have been several adjustments to various tax credits for 2019, including the following: 

  • Child Tax Credit. The child tax credit has increased to $2,000 per child.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The maximum EITC amount for 2019 is $6,557 for married taxpayers filing jointly who have three or more children.
  • Adoption Credit. The maximum adoption credit in 2019 for a child with special needs is $14,080. The ceiling for other adoptions is $13,810.
  • Lifetime Learning Credit. For 2019, the AGI used by joint filers to determine the reduction in the Lifetime Learning Credit is increasing to $116,000.

6.)   Retirement account contributions 

For 2019, you can contribute a total of $6,000 to one or more traditional or Roth IRA(s) if you’re under age 50, and $7,000 if you’re age 50+. For 401(k)s, you can contribute $19,000, and $25,000 if you’re age 50+. 

Your Turn: Which tax credit or deduction helps your finances most? Tell us all about it in the comments.

FREE Tax Prep Resources

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/11/15/irs-announces-2019-tax-rates-standard-deduction-amounts-and-more/amp/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/18A0A5AE-E9DD-11E8-8F27-5C6847258365

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fool.com/amp/retirement/2018/12/23/the-6-best-tax-deductions-for-2019.aspx

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/2207406002

BEWARE! Tax Scams 2019

TAXES 2019

Each year, the IRS publishes the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of 12 scams that are rampant during that year’s tax season. 

This year, the IRS is cautioning taxpayers to be extra vigilant because of a 60% increase in email phishing scams over the past year. This is particularly disheartening, since it comes on the heels of a steady decline in phishing scams over the previous three years. 

Typically, an email phishing scam will appear to be from the IRS. Once the victim has opened the email, the scammer will use one of several methods to get at the victim’s personal information, including their financial data, tax details, usernames and passwords. They will then use this information to steal the victim’s identity, empty their accounts or file taxes in the victim’s name and then make off with their refund. 

Scammers have several means for fooling victims into handing over their sensitive information. The most popular tax-related phishing scams include the following: 

1.    Tax transcript scams. In these scams, victims are conned into opening emails appearing to be from the IRS with important information about their taxes. Unfortunately, these emails are bogus and contain malware. 

2.    Threatening emails. Also appearing to be from the IRS, these phony emails will have subject lines like “IRS Important Notice” and will demand immediate payment for unpaid back taxes. When the victim clicks on the embedded link, their device will be infected with malware. 

3.    Refund rebound. In this scam, a crook posing as an IRS agent will email a taxpayer and claim the taxpayer was erroneously awarded too large a tax refund. The scammer will demand the immediate return of some of the money via prepaid debit card or wire transfer. Of course, there was no mistake with the victim’s tax refund and any money the victim forwards will be used to line the scammer’s pockets. 

4.    Phony phone call. In this highly prevalent scam, a caller spoofs the IRS’s toll-free number and calls a victim, claiming they owe thousands of dollars in back taxes. Those taxes, they are told, must be paid immediately under threat of arrest, deportation or driver’s-license suspension. Obviously, this too is a fraud and the victim is completely innocent. 

If you’re targeted 

When targeted by any scam, it’s crucial to not engage with the scammer. If your Caller ID announces that the IRS is on the phone, don’t pick up! Even answering the call to tell the scammer to get lost can be enough to mark you as an easy target for future scams. If you accidentally picked up the phone, hang up as quickly as possible. 

Similarly, suspicious-looking emails about tax information should not be opened. Mark any bogus tax-related emails that land in your inbox as spam to keep the scammers from trying again. 

If you’re targeted by a tax scam, report the incident to help the authorities crack down on these crooks. Forward suspicious tax-related emails to phishing@irs.gov. You can also alert the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov. 

Protect yourself from tax scams 

Stay one step ahead of scammers this tax season by being proactive. Protect yourself with these steps: 

  • File early in the season so scammers have less time to steal your identity, file on your behalf and collect your refund.
  • Use the strongest security settings for your computer and update them whenever possible.
  • Use unique and strong passwords for your accounts and credit or debit cards.
  • Choose two-step authentication when conducting financial transactions online.

Remember, the IRS will never: 

  • Call about taxes owed without having first sent you a bill via snail mail.
  • Call to demand immediate payment over the phone.
  • Threaten to have you arrested or deported for failing to pay your taxes.
  • Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes.
  • Ask you to share sensitive information, like a debit card number or checking account number, over the phone.

Be alert and be careful this tax season and those scammers won’t stand a chance! 

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a tax scam? Share your experience with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/taxes/beware-of-these-common-irs-scams/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/12/04/irs-warns-on-surge-of-new-email-phishing-scams/amp/

https://www.businessinsider.com/irs-phone-scam-what-to-do-if-you-get-scam-call-2018-2

Impulse Purchases

impulse purchase cartoon

Aisha was walking home from school with her best friend, Katie. They chatted about the upcoming Science Fair and the new Phys. Ed. teacher as they shivered in the cold.  

They passed The Coffee House and watched as a bunch of their classmates walked out holding steaming cups of hot chocolate. 

“Hey Aisha. Hi Katie!” their classmates called. 

Aisha and Katie waved back. Aisha grabbed Katie’s arm. 

“Let’s stop here for a minute—they make the best hot chocolate and it’s freezing outside!” 

Katie shrugged. “I don’t want any.” 

“Oh, come on, Katie, you can get a cup with mini marshmallows and a drizzle of caramel—it’s awesome!” 

Katie shook her head. “I really don’t want any, but I’ll come in with you if you do.” 

Aisha pushed open the door, and a few minutes later, she was holding her own cup of chocolaty deliciousness. 

“I don’t know why you never spend your money,” Aisha told her friend before taking a long sip. “That’s what it’s there for, you know.” 

Katie just smiled and they walked the rest of the way home in silence. 

That evening, Aisha was looking through her wallet. 

“Mom!” she called. “My allowance is gone again—and it’s only Tuesday!” 

“You need to be more responsible, honey,” Aisha’s mom said. “Those seven dollars should be enough to last you all week! Are you ready to go?” 

Aisha snapped her wallet shut and ran to grab her coat. She was going with her mom to pick up a some groceries at Target. 

As they passed the front of the store, Aisha turned toward her mom. 

“Mom—look! They have your favorite coffee store right here inside of Target. Why don’t you pick up a latte or a cappuccino to drink while we shop?” 

Aisha’s mom turned toward her. 

“Because that’s not on my list,” she said, pointing at the paper in her hand. “It’s just an impulse purchase, and if I make too many of those, I won’t have enough money to buy the things we need.” 

“What do you mean?” Aisha asked as mom grabbed a cart and started wheeling it toward the grocery section. 

“There are some things I need to buy, and all sorts of things I want to buy just because they look good—like those,” Mom pointed toward a rack of candy bars near a register. “Impulse purchases taste good now, but I don’t really need them. And they cost a lot, too.” 

Mom patted her wallet. “I’d rather save my money for the stuff I really do need and keep those impulse purchases for special occasions that only happen once in a while. Doesn’t that make more sense?” 

Aisha nodded. It did make sense. And she was finally starting to understand why her allowance never lasted long enough. 

Tomorrow, she was going to be like Katie and skip the stop at The Coffee House on the way home from school. 

She also wanted to save her money for the things she really needed. 

Talking points: 

  • Can you give three examples of impulse purchases?
  • How can you keep yourself from making impulse purchases when you shop?
  • What are some impulse purchases that might be worth buying?

Impulse Purchases Worksheet

Impulse Purchases worksheet

Ultimate Guide to Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Food is one of the biggest expenses after housing, so finding ways to save money at the grocery store can mean the difference between saving and living paycheck-to-paycheck. Here are some of our favorite strategies for saving money at the grocery store.

 

Find the Best Coupons

It used to be that you could only get coupons through your newspaper or mail, and you had to hope that there would be a coupon for something you actually wanted. Thankfully, we don’t live in that world anymore. If you need it, odds are good there is a coupon somewhere online for it. Here are some of our favorite websites to find coupons.

One note about looking for coupons. You might find one and think “What a great deal!” but remember, it’s not a great deal if you didn’t need it in the first place.

 

Shop Items by Unit Price

Looking at item prices isn’t a trick, we all comparison shop, but manufacturers know this and will make packaging that deceives the eye. Heck, we’ve all opened a bag of chips to realize we purchased packaged air.

save money by shopping by unit price at the grocery store

To find the best deals, look at the unit pricing for items. Typically this will be below the price and will show cost-per-ounce. The best deal might be purchasing an item in bulk, so make sure that you know how to properly freeze produce or other goods to make them last.

 

Get Grocery Store Loyalty Cards

Almost every grocery store will offer a loyalty card. These cards will grant you discounts or savings on certain items in order to reward you for being loyal to their brand. The thing is, you aren’t limited to only having one loyalty card. If it is a store that you shop at, get the loyalty card. Keep them all in a drawer somewhere so as to not clutter your wallet and just grab the ones you need before you hit the store.

 

Search for Grocery Store Specials

Grocery stores need to move inventory. If something goes bad or can’t be sold, that hurts their bottom line. In order to help keep merchandise moving, they will run specials. When you are doing we weekly meal planning, check out what specials the store is running and build your menu around them. If you feel like you really can’t use the special this week, ask the cashier for a rain check. This will usually only work when they are out of a given item, but it is always worth a try. You can compound these efforts by finding manufacturer coupons for the item and stack the savings.

 

Don’t Buy Everything at One Grocery Store

Imagine this week you feel like experimenting. You want to make an authentic Indian curry. You might be able to find the ingredient and spices you need at your usual store, but the prices are likely to be pretty high. These items aren’t as popular, so they occupy shelf space for longer and thus need to be sold for more. You’re better off trying to find a specialty store.

 

Avoid These Grocery Store Tricks

save money at the grocery store by looking at the bottom shelf

  • Grocery stores have refined store layouts in order to make it easier to buy the most expensive items and items you don’t need. For example, the most expensive items will always be at eye level, making them the first thing you see. Look at the bottom shelves for the better prices. Stores also put common essential items, like milk and produce, on opposite ends of the store so that you will wander down the aisles. Focus on going directly to what you came for.
  • Going hungry or indulging in samples is a surefire way to end up purchasing things you don’t need. Always eat before you shop, or, if you can’t grab a meal, then carry around a pack of mints. Sucking on a mint while you shop will help kill some of those cravings.
  • Carry the basket. Carts have two tricks that will help you shop. First, they are huge, giving you plenty of room to chuck random items in. Secondly, they are on wheels, so you don’t have the weight to remind you that you’re getting a lot of items. Using a basket will limit both of those and help you to stay focused on your shopping list.
  • Bring your own music. This one sounds like a conspiracy theory, but grocery stores play music with slower tempos to encourage you to stroll leisurely around. Listening to music with a faster tempo will help you speed through.
  • Never shop when you are tired or stressed. We have a limited amount of willpower and we are more prone to caving into temptations when we are tired, stressed, sad, or angry. Spending money you don’t have will only make those emotions worse.
  • Leave the kids at home if you can. Stores position tempting items at child height specifically to trigger the “Mommy, can we get this?” Aside from this being a horrible experience for everyone involved, it also causes you to run the risk of saying “Yes” to something you didn’t plan on.
  • Know thyself. If you’re an impulse shopper, then don’t go to the store. Seriously. If you have a roommate or partner who can go, then send them. Or, if you must, make a shopping list and order the groceries online and arrange for pickup. Searching for the items online will minimize the opportunities to add things you don’t need.
  • Double check the cashier. I’m not suggesting that they are trying to con you on purpose, only that they are humans that sometimes make mistakes. Always look at your receipt and make sure it reflects what you purchased.

 

Buy Produce That Is In Season

When do you think we have more apples, when they are in season or when they are offseason? Easy, right? Obviously, there is a bigger supply of certain products when they are in season. Economics 101 lets us know that when there is an excess supply, prices drop, and when there is a limited supply, prices increase. Buying produce that is in season also guarantees better quality and freshness. It’s an all-around better way to shop and eat.

 

Use Cash Back Apps

There are several cashback apps that will give you money back just for shopping. Wild, right? These apps make their money by earning a small affiliate commission off of the items you buy, showing you ads, or providing your data (like purchasing habits) to companies. Assuming you’re okay with that, then these apps can be a great way to save money at the grocery store.

 

Never Buy These Items At A Grocery Store

There are some items you should just never buy at a grocery store.

  • Toiletries. Drug stores will usually have better deals.
  • Canned beans. Dried beans are cheaper and better tasting. Just soak them in water the night before you want to cook with them.
  • Prepared foods or pre-cut anything. Yes, these things are convenient, but you are paying extra to save yourself how much time?
  • Herbs. Nothing goes bad more quickly than fresh herbs. Make yourself a garden, it’s incredibly easy, your food will taste better, and it will save you money.
  • Milk. Convenience and drug stores, on average, are 30 to 50 cents cheaper.

 

Meal Plan Like A Chef

Chefs have to be master meal planners. If an ingredient doesn’t get used or goes bad, then that is some of their profits wasted. Here are some tips to meal plan like a pro.

    1. Go meatless one night a week. Vegetarians save, on average, $746.46 a year on their grocery bill.
    2. Cook double batches. Buying ingredients in bulk is typically cheaper and then you can freeze a meal for later.
    3. Plan meals with similar ingredients. A couple pounds of turkey can be made into burgers, meatballs, tacos, spaghetti… you get the idea.
    4. Double check your pantry. Sometimes we buy things we already have but have forgotten about. Americans throw away roughly 25% of their groceries every year. That is literally throwing money away.
    5. Look for the deal, then make the meal. Not the other way around.

 

Revise Your Strategies

Now that you have some of the basics down, it is time to tweak these strategies to fit your lifestyle. At the end of the month, look through your grocery store receipts and do the following:

      1. Find the most expensive item on your grocery list and research for a cheaper substitute. This might be another brand, another store, or another ingredient altogether. For example, instead of using pine nuts in pesto, try using almonds.
      2. Look at the items you most commonly buy. For me, that is coffee, bread, and peanut butter. Compare prices at different grocery stores to see who offers the lowest price on your most common items. Saving here will really add up.
      3. Write down the cost of ingredients at the top of the recipes. Add them to a binder of recipes and organize by cheap, moderate, and expensive. Now when you need to find a cheap meal, you will know exactly where to look. Or, if you want to impress, you can go to your fancier recipes.

Do you have a favorite trick to saving money at the grocery store? We’d love to hear it. Leave us a comment or feel free to tweet to us @Kasasa. Happy shopping!

2019 Business Meeting of Mutual Credit Union

NOTICE TO THE MEMBERSHIP

January 4, 2019

Mutual Credit Union’s annual BUSINESS meeting will be held February 21, 2019 at 6:30 PM at the Vicksburg Convention Center located at 1600 Mulberry Street Vicksburg, MS. This meeting is a chance to review the state of the credit union and the 2018 annual report.

This is a business meeting of the membership, there will not be door prizes or refreshments available during this event.

Elections for the volunteer board of directors and supervisory committee will be open from January 3 through 31. Voting will be held electronically through a secure portal on the mutualcu.org website, or by accessing the voting site directly at mutualcu.cuballot.com. You may also request a paper ballot by contacting us at 833-282-6595. Voting is fast and easy!

Working with financial information

5 SCAMS TO WATCH FOR AFTER THE HOLIDAYS

The mad holiday rush may be over, but scammers aren’t slowing down. The post-holiday weeks bring an increase in scams that, unfortunately, are quite believable during this time of year. HOLIDAY SCAM ALERT

Don’t be the victim of a post-holiday scam! Read on to learn about five common ways fraudsters seek to dupe consumers after the holidays: 

1.) Gift-picking 

With the holidays behind us, many people are enjoying new, and often expensive, gifts. These can be top-of-the-line electronic devices, luxury entertainment systems or phones with four-digit price tags. If you’re the lucky recipient of such an expensive gift, you may be targeted by old-fashioned thieves who are looking for a good picking. 

Protect yourself by keeping your gift under wraps. Dismantle all packaging that contained your gift. Discard them in a covered trash or recycling bin instead of leaving them at the curb where potential thieves can spot them and peg you as an easy target. For extra precaution, consider hauling your boxes off to a communal dumpster or the local recycling station. 

2.) Charity scams 

The last two days of December see more charity donations nationwide than the rest of the year. While this may speak well of our goodwill, it also offers scammers another opportunity to help themselves to other people’s money. 

Be wary when giving charity this time of year. Don’t donate to any organization without first checking it out on a charity vetting website, like CharityNavigator.com. If you have a favorite cause you like to give to, contact them yourself instead of clicking on an ad or calling a number that appears to represent them. 

3.) Underpriced gifts for sale 

You may think you just found a real steal of a deal on Craigslist from a seller who is eager to get rid of a gift because “My wife didn’t like it.” But, be suspicious of any prices that seem too good to be true; they are likely to be scams. 

If an item for sale appears authentic, proceed, but with caution. Don’t rely on email communication. Instead, get the seller’s phone number and street address. If possible, ask for references and pictures of the item. If everything appears to check out, arrange to meet the seller in a well-lit, populated area, preferably one with ample security-camera coverage. Finally, never wire money online to any seller—let the cash and item change hands at the same time. 

4.) Belated holiday e-cards 

Don’t assume every e-card that lands in your inbox with a heading like “Oops! I’m late!” is legitimate. Too often, e-cards are ridden with malware and will infect your device as soon as you click on an embedded link. The e-cards may even bear the name of your friend, but don’t be fooled; scammers can easily pick these names off the internet. Authentic e-cards will include a confirmation code for you to copy and paste at the issuing website, so only open e-cards that are accompanied by a code. 

5.) Post-holiday ‘sales’ 

The holiday shopping frenzy is over and retailers are eager to drum up more business. This makes the post-holiday sale scam seem especially believable. Your social media platforms may be exploding with ads that are offering exclusive deals and deeply discounted prices at your favorite stores. While some of these ads may be legit, lots of them are scams. 

Here’s how to spot the fake ads and differentiate them from the real ones: 

  • The URL is off by one letter. Carefully check each landing page as you make a purchase.
  • The site is not secure. Always look for the “s” after the “http.”
  • The words “deals” or “discounts” are part of the URL. Authentic retailers sell from their home site and will rarely create a new website just to sell sale items.
  • The store’s logo is missing from the website. Look for a genuine store logo on every landing page.

Post-holiday scams are everywhere, but by knowing how to spot a scam, you’re already one step ahead of the criminals. Stay alert and stay safe! 

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a post-holiday scam? Share your experience with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://blog.aarp.org/2017/12/30/protect-yourself-from-post-holiday-scams/

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.fox5atlanta.com/news/i-team/beware-post-holiday-loan-scams

https://dayair.atomicdevbox.com/blog/post-holiday-scams-to-know-about/

6 MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE IN THEIR 20S AND HOW TO FIX THEM

Like many people, you may have blown through your 20s making financial decisions that served you well in the moment, but may not have been particularly responsible. 20s and 30s Dinner out several times a week, credit card bills you barely looked at and luxury cars way beyond your budget—life was practically a party!   

But now, the party’s over. You’ve woken up in your 30s and realized that all that overspending is going to cost you big—and it’s going to cost for years to come. 

Luckily, there’s hope. It’s not too late to fix the financial mistakes we all make when we’re young and blissfully ignorant. 

Here are six of the most common mistakes people make in their 20s and how to fix them: 

1.) The mistake: Racking up credit card debt 

Maybe you were broke while in college, but desperate for a good time, so you swiped your way through vacations and nights out on the town. Or maybe you knew you were falling into the debt trap to cover student-related needs on a shoestring budget. Unfortunately, it didn’t just go away like you’d hoped. 

The fix: Stop using your credit cards 

It’s time to be an adult and own up to your mistakes. Learn how to say no to impulsive purchases and to live within your means. Create a budget to help monitor and track your discretionary spending instead of mindlessly plowing through your paycheck each month. Stop swiping your credit cards and stick to debit or cash only. Don’t let those credit card bills get any higher! 

2.) The mistake: Ignoring your credit score 

Aside from being the gateway to endless spending, aggressive credit card balances have probably handicapped your credit score, making it difficult or impossible to obtain a personal loan. A poor score will also burden you with an unfavorable interest rate for the loans you do qualify for. And that means you’ll be paying off the mistakes of your 20s for years to come. 

The fix: Know your score and pay down your credit card debt 

It’s never too late to fix a credit score. Begin by monitoring your score. You can order a complimentary credit report once a year from each of the three major credit agencies at annualcreditreport.com. You can also check out your score on sites like CreditKarma.com and Bankrate.com. This will give you an idea of what you’re working with as you work on climbing out of financial hardship. 

Next, work on paying off credit card debt instead of only making the minimum payments each month. Look through your credit card bills and crunch some numbers until you know exactly how high your credit card debt really is. Then, choose one bill to pay down first and begin making the maximum payment your budget will allow. Once you’ve paid it off, divert all those funds onto the next bill until it’s gone and repeat until you have no more debt. Paying down your debt and minimizing the utilization rate on your credit cards will greatly improve your score. 

3.) The mistake: Skipping student loan bills

When you’re facing a debt in the tens of thousands of dollars while earning an entry-level salary, it’s tempting to just pretend it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, though, that’s the worst thing you can do for your loan and your credit.

The fix: Work it into your budget

Call your lender to work out a more feasible payment plan. You can also check if you qualify for a student loan forgiveness program. Most importantly, make your student loan payments a part of your debt payment plan so you never miss a payment.

4.) The mistake: Neglecting your retirement

Planning for your decades-away retirement may be one of the last things on your list. However, starting to fund your retirement later in the game means missing out on years of compound interest gains.

The fix: Think of it as a fixed expense

Don’t think of retirement savings as an extra; think of it as a necessary, fixed expense that belongs in your budget like your rent and phone bill. Work with the most you can afford and max out your contributions to an IRA or your company’s 401(k) plan.

5.) The mistake: Not having an emergency fund

Life’s great—who needs to think about emergencies? Unfortunately, you do. Scrambling for funds to pay for a large medical expense or to live off of during an unexpected layoff can be a nightmare. Turning toward credit cards to help you get through a rough time can also be the beginning of a debt cycle whose effects are felt for years to come.

The fix: Start small

Experts recommend socking away 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses, but if that’s just not possible for you, start small. Work with whatever you can to make monthly contributions to an emergency fund. Set up an automatic monthly transfer so you never forget. It’s best to keep your emergency money in an account that offers an attractive earnings rate but allows you to withdraw funds without paying a penalty. [Credit union’s Flex Certificates and Savings Accounts are both good choices. Call, click or stop by to speak to a MSRP about setting yours up today.]

6.) The mistake: Not creating financial goals

It’s understandable not to have your entire life planned out yet, but it’s important to set some financial goals.

The fix: Create goals now

Take some time to set some financial goals. Do you want to buy a house within the next decade? Do you dream of opening a business? Are you hoping to retire at 55? Having a concrete goal in mind will help you stick to your budget and manage your money responsibly.

Messed up while in your 20s? It’s not too late to get your finances on track! Follow our tips for a financially sound future.

Your Turn: How did you fix the financial mistakes of your 20s? Let us know in the comments!

 

SOURCES:

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2018-10-25/how-to-recover-from-financial-mistakes-made-in-your-20s

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-fix-money-mistakes-in-your-twenties-2385529

https://www.mybanktracker.com/news/fix-financial-mistakes