Road Trip Check List

Before you hit the road for your summer road trip, take a look at this checklist to make your trip easy and with no “bumps”. We have included several things to do before your trip to ensure the safety and performance of your vehicle is up to par and some ideas on how to make your time on the road fun for you and your crew.

Before you begin your journey, it’s important to be sure your vehicle is in tip top condition to take on the road for a few days. Consider taking a look at these things to ensure your safety and have a worry-free trip.

Pre-Road Trip Checklist: 

  • – Check all fluids, including power steering and brake, transmission, engine oil, windshield washer fluid, and antifreeze/coolant.
  • – Check the hoses and belts
  • – Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread.
  • – Check wiper blades (These should be changed every spring)
  • – Inspect interior and exterior lights to ensure they are all working correctly.

REMINDER: Be sure to let your financial institution know before you hit the road, so they know to honor every card transaction made while you are away. 

Map out your route, it’s good to have an idea of the places you want to stop and things you want to see. When doing this take a look at our “Find an ATM” tab on our website. WCU is a part of a network of 30,000 surcharge free ATMs all over the country? This means you can be miles away from WCU and have direct access to your money. 

Don’t forget to pack the important things to keep you safe, entertained, & comfortable while driving long hours on the road. Here are some ideas on what to pack in the car to make sure every aspect of the trip is fun for everyone. 

Entertainment – Playlists, pack plenty of toys and activities for the kids, listen to audiobooks, car charger or portable battery pack and headphones. You could also play on the road games (license plate game, alphabet game, or “I’m going on vacation and bringing…”) these are always fun ways to keep people entertained. 

Food/Drinks – Bring a lot of snacks and drinks! To save money (and time) pack snacks for everyone and a cooler full of more substantial items like sandwich stuff, fruits and veggies. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated! 

Personal Hygiene – Keep in mind that you will be in the car for long periods of time, it’s always a good idea to keep a travel kit with deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste, dry shampoo, antibacterial hand wipes, lotion, and anything else that keeps you feeling fresh. 

Comfort/Safety – Get plenty of sleep before hitting the road to stay alert and better focused. Plan some rest stops – it’s recommended to take a break every few hours for you and your car. Pack a car emergency/ first aid kit just in case and always use hand free devices. 

Road trips are a great way to keep your friends and family together. Start the summer off right and start shopping for your next car! Click here to shop the region’s largest inventory.

6 Quick Tips to Save More

Building a savings is something we all want to do but, by making a few changes to our routine and making the commitment to do so. This can be a challenging task to me so we have put together a list of 7 easy things you can do to build your savings and reach your goals.

1. Try tracking your money

Tracking the money coming in and the money going out will give you an idea of what things you may be spending too much on and the things you could go without. Keep a chart or spreadsheet showing how much you spend in categories (groceries, extra, subscriptions) from that, think about the amount in the chart and decide what you could do away with to put a little extra into savings.

2. Save money automatically with Round-Up Savings Program

Along with saving some here and there, join our Round-Up Savings Program and save when you swipe your WCU Debit Card. The Round-Up Savings Program really is the easiest way to save. After registration, every purchase made with your WCU Debit Card will be rounded to the next dollar amount and the “spare change” will be automatically transferred to your Round-Up Saving Account. Visit your WCU Branch today to register to start saving!

3. Sell items you no longer need/ want

We all have it, the “junk” we haven’t touched in years but we’re still holding on to it because “I might wear it one day” then it continues to to sit in your house for anther year. It’s time, set up a yard sale and sell the stuff just taking up space in your home. It’s an easy way to make a little extra money. Remember, even a little bit can go a long way.

4. Eat at home

I feel like eating at home is an obvious way to save money but it can be hard to maintain. Plus eating out is easy and convenient for everything except you budget. If you take your lunch to work and try to cook at home a few nights a week, you will notice a difference in the extra money you will save.

5. Skip the coffee shop

I would venture to guess i’m not the first to say this but those $, $5, $6 drinks can take a hit to the bank account. Find your favorite coffee and make it at home, you will save! Also, if you are like me and just can’t bare the thought of not having the occasional coffee shop visit – save the change that under the couch cushion or in the bottom of your purse and buy your coffee with that!

6. Have fun for less

Find free things to do in your community like events and parks. In the summer, there are so many options to get get discounts for places like museums, water parks, etc. I would recommend looking on social media to find out what’s happening in your area!

Saving money isn’t always easy but staying diligent and cutting unnecessary costs will be worth it when you see your savings grow!

Finances Before, During, and After College

It’s a well known fact that being a college student comes with being “broke” but it doesn’t have to. Finances are often stressful and overwhelming especially in a time where everything in your life is changing like moving out of your parents house and to a new city, making new friends, and all new experiences. It’s too exciting of a time to let money get you down. We have constructed ideas of things to do to set you up for financial success before head off to college, while in college, and after graduation day.

Steps to financially prepare for college:

After the applications, scholarship essays, and all the things leading up to college, consider adding these to your to-do list.

If you haven’t done so already, open a checking account

Opening a checking account makes spending, tracking your expenses, and managing your account so easy. Opening a checking account at WCU you will have access to your account 24/7 through out mobile app and online banking.

Research the college you are attending and the surrounding areas – this well help you gain a better idea of what to save for

  1. – Tuition? The most expensive part of getting your degree for sure, but worth it in the end.
  2. – How much is housing? Most universities require you live on campus your freshman year and it can be quite expensive.
  3. – What about a meal plan? Again, most universities require you to buy a meal plan each semester.
  4. – How much does it cost to get involved? There are often social media forums for you to ask these questions to current students. Ask how much it is to join an organization you are interested in!

Create a budget

After your research, create a budget that will be realistic for you to follow but will help ensure you have your bills covered while having some extra to put into savings. Remember, it’s okay to be flexible because this could change when you get to school!

Managing your money while in college:

Stick to your budget

Staying on top of your budget is the best way to track and save your money and it will help you establish good money habits that will not not only benefit you during college but also for the many years to come.

Get creative with textbooks

There are so many online resources to buy or rent used books that can cut the cost of buying textbooks from the university bookstore almost in half. This is also a great question to ask in online student forums – sometimes you don’t actually need the book for some classes.

Tip: Keep all the receipts from buying anything school related for tax purposes.

Take advantage of the “student perks”

Student discounts are GREAT things. If you research, you will find so may places that offer student discounts online but there are also may places that offer discounts in the community your college is in or even some places in your hometown. You are only a student for 4 years, take advantage of it while you can!

Save some along the way

Ways to save:

  1. – Eliminate any reoccurring expenses that you don’t use often.
  2. – Cook at home – though most colleges require that you buy a meal plan, it’s usually not enough for every meal so instead of getting fast food, make meals at home.
  3. – Be a smart shopper – find the meals wherever you go, when you’re in college, every little bit helps!

Finances after graduation:

Pick up a book about money basics:

There are plenty of options when looking for a book about budgeting and finances. This really is helpful to give you some insight into the so called “real world”.

Create a budget

Adjust the budget you created for college or create a new one to fit the expenses you have currently and continue to update as expenses change. A budget is the first step to financial success and it truly is a great feeling to know exactly where your money goes.

Work to pay off student debt

Prioritize your student loan debt to get it paid off sooner. Think of it this way: living expenses first (food and rent) then student loan payments. It will help you stay on top of the payments and eliminate them quicker.

Set clear financial goals

Being realistic when setting financial goals for your earnings is so important. When setting these goals, remember that saving for major purchases and steering clear of debt will increase the saving you create later. Also, set a goal of having an emergency fund, you never know when you may get a flat tire or need some extra money for to pay a bill.

We hope these managing tips will help guide you from your first day of freshman year to after graduation. They will help instill good money managing habits for the many years ahead.

4 Credit Union Myths BUSTED

Myth #1: I can’t become a member there.

This is a common misconception due to the fact that credit unions were created to serve a specific group of people. However, the truth is most credit unions have expanded their fields of membership to community based. For example, a membership at WCU is open to all who live, work, worship , and attends school in Morgan or Lawrence Counties.

Myth #2: It will be hard to access my money

Credit Unions offer many ways to access your account like online banking and mobile app. In fact, many credit unions (including WCU) are now part of a vast, nation-wide network of fee free ATM’s known as shared branching. This means you can complete transactions on your account at a completely different credit union branch, miles away from home, as long as they are also part of shared branching.

Myth #3: They aren’t big enough to offer financial protection

Credit Unions are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) which is the credit union equivalent to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) which insures banks. Your account will be protected when a member at a credit union.

Myth #4: They don’t offer as many services as a bank

Credit Unions actually offer many of the same services that banks offer like savings, checking,credit, online banking, IRA’s, and ATM’s. They often have lower rates on loans, savings, and charge fewer fees because they are not-profit and owned by the members, this means the money they make is returned to the members through lower rates!

Call us today to find out how we can best serve your financial needs!

Cash, Debit Cards & Credit Cards – The Best Time to Use Each

People often prefer to use a debit cards and cash for purchases as these methods are helpful when trying to control spending. Though debit cards are like like cash and hold the convenience of swiping a card- they are not always the best option. Debit cards can be a relatively easy way for criminals to get a hold of your bank information. With that being said, let’s identify the best times to use each of these means of payment and how to keep your information safe when swiping your card.

It is always a good idea to carry some cash with you, just in case you run into a small business that doesn’t take card or to have if there is ever an emergency. Cash will start and finish a transaction right then and there. Studies show that using cash can help people better control their money and not make impulsive purchases. However, cash is not always convenient

This is where debit cards come in, they’re like cash but hold the convenience of a card. Debit cards allow you to make purchases straight from your account which automatically shows how much you have left in your account. Though are great to use for everyday purchases like buying groceries, you may need to carefully consider what purchases you are making with your debit card.

7 purchases you should think about swiping your debit card for:

  1. – Buying gas at the pump
  2. – Unfamiliar locations
  3. – Making a large purchase
  4. – Hotel reservations and other rental items
  5. – Bills, subscriptions, and automatic purchases
  6. – Cash withdraws at independent locations
  7. – Online purchases

*Be observant of “skimming devices” – these devices are often found in places like the gas pump or ATM’s. Skimmers look very similar to regular card readers but can be spotted if you pay close attention. For example, skimmers could be slightly larger or have a slight color difference from the rest of the card readers. Be cautious – with one swipe of your card, criminals could have your bank information.

The key to using Credit cards is to use it responsibly because they do have the ability to negatively impact your finances, but there are many benefits to using a credit credit card frequently and responsibly. These benefits include better protection against fraud, rewards, and they help build credit. We highly recommenced using your credit card for the following purchases.

  1. – Online purchases
  2. – Paying Bills, subscriptions, etc.
  3. – Travel (airfare, hotel, rental cars)
  4. – Large purchases

TIP: Don’t swipe your credit card if you know you will not have the funds to cover it once the bill is due.

We hope this will be helpful next time you make a purchase and question what the best way to pay is. Keep in mind that cash and debit are great when trying to stay tight on funds but more often than not, credit cards are the way to go for the safety of your account and for helping you build credit for the future!