Gift Ideas to Inspire Financial Health

What do you gift a person who has everything?  When it comes to some people in your life, a little creative gift giving might be in order for the holidays.  Why not give your loved one the gift of inspired financial health? Here are some non-traditional holiday gift ideas that can help or inspire people to get in financial shape.

Investment Fun

When it comes to teaching kids about investing and the stock market, why not give them a little hands on experience?  You can gift them a small sum of money that they can invest in a “fun” company of their choice–like Disney for example–that will peak their interest.  Then you can show them the basics of investing and watching the stock market. If they are interested in the company and feel they have “ownership,” they will be more likely to take an interest in learning where their money is going.

Start Retirement Young

Another great gift for teens and young adults would be to start a retirement fund for them.  You can give them a sum of money to start their fund or you can match whatever they put in to mimic an employers match.  Whatever way you decide to do it, teach them retirement fund basics along the way, like how much they can contribute per year and what the different types of retirement accounts mean.  You can never start too young!

Help Education

A great gift for your kids or grandkids is to start a 529 Savings Plan for their education.  This gift may seem boring to the kid at first, but when they are older and don’t have to take out student loans, they will thank you.  This not only shows that you support their education, but you can contribute a small amount to the plan each year as additional gifts.

Personal Finance Books

Books about personal finance topics are a great gift for those in college, just starting out on their own or young newlyweds.  Books such as The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey or The New Retirement by Jan  Cullinane and Cathy Fitzgerald are just a couple to get started with.  Check out our previous blog post about great books on financial topics.

Giving those you care about gifts that help them financially is truly the gift that keeps on giving.  So keep that in mind next time you are on the hunt for the perfect holiday gift for a loved one.

Good Money Habits for Young Adults

Some of the most stressful times in a young adult’s life can be when they get their first real job and have to manage all of the adult responsibilities that come with making money.  Up until that point, most people rely on parents or guardians to help them out with their finances, but there does come a time when it’s all up to you to figure it out. To make sure that you get started on the right foot, we have laid out a few habits that are great to learn when you are young so that your financial future will be bright.

Know Where It’s Going

One of the first habits anyone should learn about managing money is to know exactly where your money goes.  If you can master the art of keeping track of all of your finances and making a budget that fits your lifestyle, all of the other money habits will come easy to you.

To get started, just make a simple list of your incoming and outgoing expenses.  Start to think of how much you need to spend, save and give, and make notes each month on what worked and what didn’t.  Keep track of every transaction you make, whether it be by hand, using Excel or even a tracking app like Mint or You Need A Budget (YNAB).  Pretty soon, budgeting and tracking will become second nature to you.

Save for Emergencies

Another great habit to learn while you are young is to start an emergency fund and regularly contribute to it.  Open up a savings account that you vow to only touch in case of a true emergency. Every month when you make your budget, add a line item for your emergency savings.  If you automatically put it into your budget, you will build a habit of contributing something to it regularly. Most experts recommend at least having 3-6 months of expenses in your emergency fund to be on the safe side.  If you put in a little each month, it won’t be long until you reach that goal.

Think About Retirement

You are young, and retirement is a long way off, but it’s still a good idea to start contributing to it now.  Just think, the earlier you start, the more money you will have when you hit retirement age. There are many ways to contribute to a retirement account.  Most of the time your employer probably offers some kind of 401K or pension plan. If they don’t, you can open one up yourself and contribute to it regularly.  Just get with a local financial advisor and they can get you started. When you learn to contribute to retirement early, you are setting yourself up for a more stable financial future.

Learn Self-Control

One of the best ways to ensure you do well with your money is to learn self-control.  Try to control the part of you that wants immediate gratification everytime you see something you want.  If you can learn to control your spending and say no to yourself every once in a while, you will be miles ahead of many people twice your age.  People with good self-control are more likely to stay out of debt and have fully-stocked emergency funds. Having self-control will put you on the right path to personal financial success.

No matter what your age, these four habits can help get you on the right path with your money.

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.