Frugal and Easy Ways to Decorate for the Holidays

Everyone knows the holidays can be expensive between the gifts, decorations, food and travel.  But decorating for Christmas doesn’t have to be super expensive. There are lots of ways to save a few bucks while still making your house festive.  

Do-It-Yourself

Making your own decorations is not as hard as you might think.  There are tons of tutorials and decoration ideas on Pinterest and YouTube.  From making your own wreaths and ornaments to more elaborate outside decorations, you can pretty much find instructions for anything you could ever want in a decoration scheme.

Use the Dollar Store

Sometimes dollar stores can be great, and the holiday season is definitely one of those times. Dollar stores tend to carry many decoration items such as fake flowers, items to make wreaths, stockings, bows and other trinkets you can use in your DIY projects.  With a little imagination and some of the online tutorials we mentioned earlier, you can transform your home into a holiday wonderland without breaking the bank.

Go Minimal

Sometimes the best way to save money is just not to go all out for the holidays.  Less can be more in some situations, and if your wallet is hurting this holiday season, just stick to the basics.  Put up a nice tree with your decorations from previous years and stick a wreath on the door. These decorations will still make your home feel festive, but they won’t overwhelm your senses or your wallet.

Realizing the holidays aren’t about the “stuff” is important.  If you are under a budget or simply like being frugal, use this upcoming holiday season to focus on your family, friends and community rather than what all you have to buy to keep up with your neighbors.  Use these simple tips to help you stay in the holiday spirit no matter how much money you have to spend.

 

4 Money Saving Energy Conservation Tips for Winter


As the weather cools off this fall, it’s time to start thinking about getting your home ready for winter.  In a few weeks or so, your electric bill and wallet will start feeling the consequences of the colder temperatures.  To combat the extra expenses, try these energy conservation tips for the cold weather months.

Keep It Open

When it’s cold outside, try to keep your curtains and blinds open to let the natural sunlight in.  The sun will naturally warm your home causing your heating system to run less. The less it runs, the more money stays in your wallet.

Check for Leaks

Go around to each window and door in your home and check to see if you can feel any cold air leaking through.  Another great way to check for air leaks is to see if you can see sunlight peeking around the corners of any windows or doors.  If you do find a leak, make sure you caulk or seal it right away. The more warm air escapes from your home, the harder your heater has to work to keep your house at a comfortable temperature.  

Let Your Fan Help

Believe it or not, your ceiling fan can help keep your home warm by simply reversing the rotation of the blades.  Since hot air rises, set your fan blades to spin clockwise to help push that warm air down to where you can feel it.  It’s a simple tip, but it can be very effective–especially in smaller spaces.

Switch to LED

A great measure to take any time of the year, switching out any of your regular light bulbs to LEDs can help conserve energy and lower your electric bill.  However, as the holidays approach, consider using all LED holiday lights for your decorations this year. You will likely see a reduction in the Christmastime electric bill spike that everyone comes to dread.

So you see, implementing a few of these energy conservation measures can really add up to savings!  Just follow these tips and you can be on your way to saving money during the winter months.

Take Advantage of Shared Branching

Being part of WCU Credit Union definitely has its perks, and being a part of the Shared Branching Network is just one of them.  Now, no matter where you are in the U.S.A., you can take care of your credit union business just like you would at home.

What is Shared Branching?

The Shared Branching Network allows WCU members to do business at another credit union location.  The network has more than 5,600 participating credit union locations all over the United States. Through Shared Branching, participating credit unions can serve members from all over the country if needs arise while they are traveling.  Even if you decide to move to another state, you can still bank with WCU through the network.

What Can I Do at a Participating Location?

Most all of your banking needs can be taken care of at a participating branch location. You can:

  • Make deposits
  • Withdraw funds
  • Transfer funds between accounts
  • Check balances
  • Process loan payments

The only thing required of you to make these transactions is your account number and a valid ID.  Since all credit unions don’t have the same user interfaces on their networks, the tellers at another location can’t search for your account with your social security number like they could at your home location.  Therefore, it is important to have your account number with you when you go to a Shared Branch location.

We hope next time you are traveling or are out of the neighborhood and need account assistance that you will take advantage of our Shared Branching capabilities.  

Easy Steps to Reaching Your Financial Goals

Everyone has an idea of where they would like to be financially in life.  Whether it be retiring with a certain amount in the bank, or simply saving up enough money for a nice vacation, having goals for your finances can be a motivating way to stay on the right track.  So how do you effectively set goals? Here are a few easy steps to get you started in the right direction:

What Do You Want?

The first step to any goal setting exercise is to find out what you want.  Do you want to increase your savings? Do you want to send your kids to college sans loans?  Whatever your objectives are, you need to define them before you can make a plan of action. Having a “why” behind your goals will help you stick with the plan even when the going gets tough.

Get Your Priorities Straight

After you have decided on all of your financial goals, it’s time to prioritize.  Chances are you are not going to be able to work on all of your goals at the same time.  You need to figure out which goals are the most important right now, and when it has been completed, start on another one.  Taking it one goal at a time will help you stay focused and keep you motivated while you see your progress every month.

Budget Effectively

Of course the “B-word” is going to show up in this list!  Budgeting is arguably the single most effective way to reach your financial goals quickly.  When you have a budget, you are telling your money where you want it to go and not the other way around.  You can work your financial goals into your budget easily, and if you stick to your budget, you will see progress on your goals quickly.

Track It

Once you start working on your goals, it’s important to keep track of your progress.  This helps you see where you are and how far you have to go. It will also keep you motivated to finish what you start.  Likewise, if something isn’t working for you, you can go back to where you have been tracking your goals to see what is wrong and make the necessary adjustments.  Reaching your financial goals is just easier when you keep track.

So there you have it–easy, sensible ways to make financial goals and stick to them.  It’s not hard, it just takes a little work to get it going. If you follow these simple steps, you will be on your way to financial freedom in no time.

How to Have a Budget Friendly Halloween


Halloween is just around the corner, and if you aren’t careful, it can cost you lots of money.  In fact, every year it seems more Americans are spending more and more money to celebrate the holiday.  Between the costumes, parties and candy it can add up quickly. Here are a few ways to keep the Halloween costs at a minimum while still having a fun time.

Plan, Plan, Plan

The secret to managing money in any situation is to plan out your spending ahead of time.  Holidays are no exception. Plan out which costumes you want, and find out if you can make them or if you have to buy them.  How much candy will you need? Are there any decorations you need or parties to attend? Make a Halloween budget and save up your money ahead of time so that you won’t have to scrape up the money when the day comes.  

DIY Costumes

A great costume is always a priority for kids and adults alike.  When you are planning out what you want to dress up as, consider finding creative ways to make your own costume.  You don’t have to be a seamstress to DIY a costume. Search the internet for clever or original costume ideas that won’t break the bank.  If you do decide to purchase a costume, always compare prices before you take the plunge and actually purchase one.

DIY Decorations

seems like more people are decorating their homes for Halloween with every year that passes.  If decorating is something you love to do, consider saving money by making your own decorations. Dollar stores have many of the supplies needed to make spooky decorations for a fraction of the price.  Plus, you get to explore your crafty side and have fun while making them. Just search the internet for tutorials–there are a ton out there.

Buy Candy Strategically

A few weeks before the actual holiday, many of the big box stores start putting their Halloween candy on sale.  If you are strategic with the sales you can pay way less for candy than you would if you were to buy it at regular price.  Also, look for any coupons for candy. Many manufacturers send out coupons in the newspaper for candy in the weeks leading up to Halloween, and some stores have their own coupons as well.  So, scavenge the sales papers and get your coupons ready, and you won’t spend a fortune on candy this year.

So you see, Halloween doesn’t have to break the bank.  With a little planning, you can make the holiday fun and still stick to your budget.