9 Steps to Buying Your First Car

CC_July_GettyImages-183212513-768x576

Congrats—you’re ready to purchase your first real car! 

The process can be daunting, but our certified financial counselors and loan officers here at Mutual Credit Union will walk you through it. Follow our guidelines for a stress-free ride! 

1. Determine if you really need a car 

OK, you weren’t expecting this, but it’s important to take a step back to review your actual transportation needs. Lots of college towns have a great bus system in place, which can save you loads on car costs. If you have a car-owning good friend you’ll be riding into town with each weekend, it may not pay for you to have your own set of wheels. Also, if your campus has everything you need within walking distance, it can be cheaper to rent a car when you need it instead of buying one now. 

2. Know your budget

If you’ve determined that a car purchase is necessary at this point in your life, don’t start hunting for your dream car until you’ve worked out a realistic budget. Take a hard look at your other monthly expenses to see how much you can spare for a new set of wheels. Don’t forget to include some cash for auto insurance, gas and maintenance. 

3. Create a tentative wish list 

This is your first car, so it doesn’t need to have all the bells and whistles it does in your dreams. Sit down and make a list of all the “must haves” and “wants” you’re looking for in a vehicle. Determine how much each feature would cost you in a car and decide which are really important. 

4. Obtain financing 

If you’ve been saving up cash for your first car all through high school, you’re set! Otherwise, visit any Mutual Branch location or visit our web-page at  mutualcu.org to learn about your auto loan options and to get your pre-approval. 

5. Research your options 

You’re ready to start looking for a vehicle that will satisfy your needs and wants. You can research ratings and user reviews on sites like Cars.com and create another list that contains your top three choices of car makes and models. 

6.    Look up listings 

Start scavenging for listings of your car choices online and in your neighborhood. Once you’ve found several that might work, research their histories on Carfax.com and then contact the seller to set up a test drive. 

7.    Take it for a spin 

If a car checks out and everything looks good, you’re going to want to take it for a test drive. Pay attention to details like legroom, acceleration, brake functionality and more while you drive. 

8. Have it inspected 

If you’re purchasing a used vehicle, it’s best to have it inspected by a mechanic before signing on the deal. 

9. Make it official 

If your car has passed the test drive and inspection, you’re ready to make it official! Be sure to read all documents before signing and obtain insurance before your first joyride. 

Enjoy your new set of wheels and drive safely! 

Your Turn: Have you recently purchased your first set of wheels? Share your tips with us in the comments!

 

SOURCES:

https://www.carbuyingtips.com/first-time-buyer.htm

https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/10-steps-to-buying-a-used-car.html

https://www.carbuyingtips.com/used.htm 

ATTENTION TEACHERS: ENTER OUR APRIL BULLETIN BOARD CONTEST

You Could Win $200 for Your Classroom!

CONTEST BEGINS APRIL 8, 2019 AT 8:00 A.M

Five Educators will be selected as winners of the $200 for their classroom. To be eligible to enter and to win you must teach children in grades Pre-K thru 12th in either Warren, Hinds, Yazoo, Issaquena, Sharkey, Claiborne or Copiah Counties.

To enter, simply submit a photo of your decorated door or bulletin board in your classroom to marketing@mutualcu.org. Please supply us with your name, your grade, and your school. If you would like to say anyBulletin Board Contest 2019thing about your bulletin board you may do so in the email. Once your entry is received, it will be compiled into one album on the Mutual Credit Union Facebook page labeled “2019 Mutual Credit Union Bulletin Board Contest.” Please encourage your friends to vote for your entry by “liking” your submitted picture located in the photo album. Entries are due to marketing@mutualcu.org by April 6th at 8:00 p.m.

The Facebook Contest begins on April 8th at 8:00 a.m.

As a bonus, eligible Voters in the contest will randomly be selected to win a Mutual Credit Union Prize Pack! To be eligible for the Prize Pack, you must follow the Mutual Credit Union Facebook page and “like” a picture in the contest.  Random prize packs will be awarded throughout the contest month (April).

Our Bulletin Board contest is just one part of  many celebrations planned during the month of April – Youth Savings Month. Look for us out in the community bringing Financial Literacy Tools to our Youth!

At Mutual Credit Union “Our Focus is You!”

Bulletin Board Contest 2019

 

FAQ’s

Does my door/bulletin board have to be a youth savings theme? No, your door or bulletin board can feature any subject area or topic.

What file format is acceptable to email? Please email your image in either a jpg or png file format. Please contact us at marketing@mutualcu.org if you are having issues emailing your image.

Can my students decorate/plan the board or is only teacher created? It can be the Teachers creation, combination of student and teacher lead or completely student driven. Be sure when you submit your entry that you let us know so we can mention in your entry.

How do I know if my entry was received? You will receive a confirmation email back from lsimmons@mutualcu.org once your submission is received. If you do not, please email lsimmons@mutualcu.org with your concern or call 601-636-7523 ext. 1220.

When will the winners be announced and awards presented? The contest concludes on April 30th. Winners will be announced by the end of that week (May 1-May 3) on the Mutual Credit Union Facebook page. Arrangements will be made after that to present to each of the five (5) winners at their school location.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email marketing@mutualcu.org or give us a call at 601-636-7523 ext. 1220.

Best of Luck to All 🍀

DOLLAR STORES: ARE THEY WORTH THE PRICE?

woman shopping

Q: I love browsing my local dollar store, but I often end up spending more than I planned or regretting my purchases. Are dollar stores worth the price?

A: Dollar stores can be tremendous spending traps, but they can also  be a great way to snag a bargain. It’s all in how you plan your visit.

Read on to learn how to get the best deal at the dollar store.

Before you start browsing

Everything is just a buck, you say. How can you possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, with that mindset, you might find yourself going way overboard with your spending. Before you set out for the dollar store, create a physical or mental list of what you need to purchase.

Love to throw just-for-fun products into your cart? The dollar store is a great place to do that, so exercise caution. You don’t want to blow tens of dollars on stuff you don’t really need and might never use. Establish a limit of how many of those items you can pick up on your trip before you set out. If you always find yourself pushing your self-imposed limit, only shop with cash so you’re forced to stick to your budget.

What’s hot at the dollar store …

Here are some products that are great bargains at the dollar store:

  • Cleaning supplies: Get clean for less by stocking up on Ajax, bleach, glass cleaner, scouring pads, spray bottles, off-brand Swiffer refills, sponges, dryer sheets and ammonia.
  • Seasonal: Visit the dollar store before hitting chain stores for your holiday decorations. Halloween décorcheap gift boxes and wrapping paper can all be had at the dollar store.
  • Toys: Load up on bubbles, sidewalk chalk, balls, card games and kites.
  • Groceries: Get your frozen fruit and veggies, string cheese, spices, name-brand condiments, rice, oatmeal and snack foods at the dollar store.
  • Kitchenware: Stock up on bargain-priced storage bins and containers, whimsical kitchen décor and glasses. Paper plates, cups and napkins can also be bought at super low prices.
  • Party gear: Greeting cards, wrapping paper, balloons, ribbons, streamers, birthday candles, party decorations and gift bags can all be bought for, you guessed it, a dollar each.
  • School/office supplies: You won’t be able to find every item on your school supply list that’s actually worth the price, but you can load up on project display boards, tab dividers, binder clips and poster boards at the dollar store.
  • Kids’ activities: The dollar store is a great place to stock up on rainy-day supplies for the kids. You’ll find some great books, puzzles, craft supplies, colored papers, stickers, activity books, coloring books and more.

… And what’s not

Not everything you’ll find in the dollar store is worth as much as a dollar. Plus, there are lots of things you can get elsewhere for a better price.

  • Cleaning supplies: The following cleaning supplies at the dollar store are either made too cheaply to be worth the price or can be bought for less in other stores: dish-washing soap, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, laundry detergent.
  • Toys: Small toys for young children that aren’t made well can quickly become choking hazards. Also, dollar-store dolls and toy cars are likely to break the day you bring them home.
  • Groceries: These foods can be bought for cheaper in a grocery store: pasta, soda, gum, canned goods, chocolate.
  • Kitchenware: Plastic cutlery from the dollar store is too cheaply made to be worth the few cents you’ll save. Ditto for disposable baking dishes. You’ll also want to stay away from can openers, knives and oven mitts, as these items need to be well made to do their jobs.
  • School/office supplies: The following supplies can be bought for less money and of better quality in stores like Walmart and Target: lined paper, composition notebooks, glue, crayons, markers, Post-its, pens, pencils and highlighters.  
  • Self-care: Cheaply made soap, shampoo and cosmetics can be harmful to your skin. Don’t buy name-brand travel-size toiletries either; you can usually get tiny shampoo and soap bottles for less than a buck at big-box stores.

When it’s not a bargain

When making a purchase at the dollar store, hold it up to this checklist. If your item fits any of these criteria, you’re better off without it:

  1. It’s sold in tiny quantities. Often, what looks like a bargain is just a product in a really small package. Check the size on food items and cleaning products; you can often get more for less money when you buy a product in a bigger size at a larger store.
  2. It’s made with harmful toxins. Check all health and beauty products for toxic and carcinogenic ingredients.
  3. You don’t need it. A dollar spent on something you don’t need is a dollar wasted.
  4. It’s made super-cheaply. If it’s going to break during the first day of use, or even the first hours, leave it in the store.
  5. It isn’t food-safe. Check all products that will come into contact with food, like serving platters or dishes, for a label that proclaims them food-safe.
  6. It’s expired. Be careful to check the “Sell by” date on candy and other foodstuffs so you’re not paying for expired products.

Learn how to shop smart at the dollar store and you’ll go home with true bargains!

Your Turn: What are your favorite dollar store picks? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/dollar-store-dos-and-donts/

https://www.bradsdeals.com/blog/things-you-always-should-buy-at-the-dollar-store

https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/the-real-reason-everything-at-the-dollar-store-is-so-cheap.html/

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

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

January Resolutions Step 1

February Resolutions Step 2

March Resolutions Step 3

April Resolutions Step 4

May Workbook

June Workbook

July Workbook

August Workbook

September Workbook

October Workbook

November Workbook

December Workbook

WE Can’t Wait To SAY……………………………..

 

Congratulations on a Job Well Done

Do Your Kids Have Virtual Shopping Smarts?

Did you know that 73% of millennials questioned in a Bazaar Voice survey do all their Online shopping tips for youthshopping on their smartphones? It’s not surprising. The world of commerce is constantly becoming more digitized as retailers focus on improving their online presence to cater to cyberspace shoppers.

Online shopping has its downsides, though, mainly in the form of surprises when the item arrives, costly shipping expenses and impulse buys that are made too easily. Fortunately, it has its upsides, too.

Comparing prices between stores is a lot simpler when all it takes is clicking through a few sites instead of traipsing all over town. Couponing is now also just a matter of seconds, with no need for tedious clipping and saving.

Teach your kids to make the best of online shopping with this fun, educational activity. All you need is a computer!

Step One

First, sit down with your child to brief them on the ups and downs of online shopping. Talk about comparing prices, checking for discount codes and being wary of overspending or buying items of inferior quality. Teach them about reading reviews and looking for reputable companies. Mention comparison-shopping engines like Google, and others they may have never used, like Nextag, Price Grabber, Shopping.com and Shopzilla.

Step Two

When they have the information down pat, tell them they will now be tasked with buying an item online! The item should be something popular and one they’re interested in.

Step Three

Give your child a debit or credit card, a fixed budget for the item and the following instructions:

The goal is to purchase the lowest-priced, yet best-made product. This will earn a minimum of 100 points. They will earn points for each part of the process, using the following guidelines:

Guidelines

1. The purchase must be of decent quality. They can earn 25 points for this category.
2. Shipping costs should not constitute more than 10% of the object’s price. The lower the
shipping costs, the more they earn for this category, with free shipping earning the full 15 points.
3. They must search for discount codes and coupons before making the purchase. This
can be done by checking coupon sites like Retailmenot and Couponcabin, or by signing
up for a store’s emails and earning a promotional discount. 5 points will be rewarded for
every discount search/website visited in search of a coupon code. Actually finding and
using a discount can earn them 15 points.
4. If your child is ordering from eBay or another site with multiple sellers, they should be
careful to only make purchases from sellers with excellent ratings. Buying from a badly
rated seller can cost them 5 points and using a high-rated seller can earn them 5 points.
5. Price is of utmost importance. If their object is of decent quality and very well-priced,
they can earn up to 40 points. 5 points will be given for every search for a cheaper
product.
6. Points will be taken off for any random ad-clicks, failure to do substantial price-checks
and comparisons, and for ignoring discount offers.
7. Sit back and watch, being careful not to offer any advice as your child makes a
purchase.
8. Tally up the score and explain the points you gave, congratulating your child on their
online shopping skills.

Your child is now cyberspace-savvy!

Your Turn: Are there any online shopping tips or tools that you have shared with your child or just a tip you yourself follow when shopping online? Share in the comments.

Source: www.cucontent.com

 

7 HALLOWEEN HACKS YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS

Halloween house.jpgHalloween is coming – and so is the fun! Everyone wants to win the prize for creepiest costume and the most frightening yard décor in the neighborhood.

But all that spookiness comes with a scary price tag. The average American will spend $169 on Halloween costs this year. And, if that’s not enough to terrify you, consider this: Most people spend close to $70 just on their Halloween getups. That’s a lot of money for a costume you likely won’t wear again.

Ready to save big? Read on for 7 awesome Halloween hacks that are just too good to miss. From DIY décor that will scare the living daylights out of your guests to effortless costumes that look great without costing a bundle, we’ve got you covered!

1. Is that real ketchup?

No Halloween costume or party is complete without some sickly-looking crime scene splatter. And there’s no need to blow big bucks on whatever concoction the party store’s got in stock. Make your own fake blood with this quickie recipe. All you need are 3 ingredients:

  • 4 cups corn syrup
  • Red food coloring
  • Blue food coloring

Pour the corn syrup into a large bowl and start adding the red food coloring a few drops at a time. Stir your mixture with a whisk until you reach your desired consistency. To darken the “blood,” add a few drops of blue food coloring while continuing to stir.

You’re all set – now go scare someone silly!

2. Whose hand is floating in the punch bowl?

For a super-scary addition to your Halloween party, fill a rubber glove with water and seal it shut. Stick it in the freezer and just a few hours later, you’ll have an iced severed hand to drop into the punch bowl and really freak your guests out.

3. Stick ‘em up!

For a ridiculously easy costume that will make people laugh, go as a stick person!

Dress in black from head to toe. Use white masking tape to add stick lines to your legs, arms and torso. Put some lines in the back, too. For a full-body costume, take a paper plate and paint it black. Use your tape to draw a stick-face on the plate and glue a popsicle stick onto the bottom so you can hold it up.

Don’t forget to do the stiff stick-walk and you’ll really crack people up!

4. Is that a witch sticking out of your snake plant?

Got some spare pool noodles lying around? Dress them up to go as witch legs!

Take two pool noodles and stuff them into a pair of striped leggings. Top it off with black witchy-looking shoes and you have yourself a pair of witch legs! Stick them upside down into the plant on your front porch, or make them look like they’re coming out of your garbage can.

Now sit and watch your visitors’ reactions and you’ll have the last cackle!        

5Would you like some spiders with that?

Have fun with a cheap bag of plastic spiders! Here are some ways to use these creepy crawlies to add the fear factor to your Halloween party:

  • Stick them in your ice cube tray for floating critters that will terrify your guests.
  • Drop them inside your soap dispenser to frighten anyone looking to wash up.
  • Scatter them inside the popcorn bowl for a scary surprise.

6. Did you really just kill a box of cereal?

Looking for a funny-scary costume you can make yourself? Go as a serial killer! Err … a cereal killer, that is.

Take an old white T-shirt and decorate it to look like your favorite cereal box. Then take a dress-up dagger and carefully cut off its tip. Glue the blunted dagger to the middle of your cereal box so it looks like it’s piercing it right in the heart. Then use your fake blood to add splatters and drippings all over your shirt. Make your face look menacing with some dark costume makeup and add an ominous scar across your cheek, too.

You’re ready to hunt down those no-good cereals!

7. Anyone care for some fresh worms?

Serve up an entrée from the dark side that will have your guests completely grossed out!

Drip a bit of black food coloring into boiling pasta and it will instantly turn your dinner into a dark, horrendous-looking creation. Drain your pasta as usual and then bring it out to the table, asking if anyone would like some delicious hot worms for dinner.

Don’t let Halloween costs scare you. Follow our hacks for a frighteningly fun time that won’t kill your budget and will still terrify the entire neighborhood!

Your Turn: What’s your favorite Halloween hack that’s easy on the budget? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:

http://www.the36thavenue.com/halloween-hacks-and-diy-ideas/

https://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/last-minute-halloween-hacks?utm_term=.oo7EPKBAN#.xn4VMabN8

https://www.littlethings.com/diy-halloween/

CU at the Zoo April 14th, 2018

What is CU at the Zoo?

Mississippi Credit Unions Create Community in a Wild Way

CU at the Zoo logo featuring some of the animals you will see at the Jackson Zoo

Have you seen the posts on social media? Did another parent from your child’s class mention a free day at the Zoo in passing? Maybe you noticed a flyer on the wall about CU at the Zoo posted in your credit union. But what is CU at the Zoo?

Simply put, CU at the Zoo is a way for area credit unions to come together and offer a fun community event while also raising awareness of Youth Savings Month. To say “Thank You” to the community and our credit union members for being a part of the credit union movement.

Beginning in 2013, a group of area credit unions wanted to find a deeper way to connect and give back to their communities by way of physical presence and hands on activity. Through this discovery process some of the best cooperative minds in our community produced the CU at the Zoo Event! By partnering with the Jackson Zoo, area credit unions offer free admission to the first 2,500 visitors and have unique displays and booths set up throughout the Zoo complete with games, crafts, face painting, food trucks, a scavenger hunt, financial education literature and activities, and giveaways galore!

Credit Unions are co-operatives and CU at the Zoo is one more way we embody that philosophy every day. Working together, we can make a difference for even the youngest of members. What better time than April of each year, during Youth Savings Month to focus on healthy saving habits and financial education. CU at the Zoo is an event at which we can all have fun and learn a little more about animals, the zoo, the credit union movement, and of course, saving!

The event is one we look forward to every year. Seeing our members out having fun with their families and soaking up all the Jackson Zoo has to offer is a great treat for us. Don’t forget to join us this year on April 14th from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Get there early, there’s always a great crowd! Remember it’s free for the first 2,500 visitors, and only $5 per person for admission after we reach that number.

#CUZoo2018 #CUDifference #OurFocusIsYou #MutualCU

Let’s get cooking!

It’s time for a contest!

Did you know… June is both National Country Cooking month AND National Soul Food month!

Hey Good Lookin'!
Hey Good Lookin’!

In honor of both these terrific things, we’re going to have a little virtual cook off. (And because I’m always looking for new recipes!) Submit your favorite recipe by using the form below by June 15, 2016, and you could have a chance to win a $100 Kroger gift card!

From the entries submitted, we’ll select 5 finalists. Those recipes will be placed on the Mutual CU blog on June 23rd and readers will be able to vote for their favorite until the end of the month. The recipe with the most votes wins! The winner will be announced on July 1st. Let’s get cooking!

*Employees, Volunteers, and their immediate family members are not eligible for prizes, though they are still encouraged to submit recipes!