Do NOT ever consider yourself “old.” You are eternally youthful. Full of the vitality of life. It’s what we like most about you! While it’s the stereotype for when one hits the big, intimidating 60 life turns into rocking chairs, walkers, and adult diapers, it’s up to elder individuals, like your wonderfully lively self, to show generations behind you that you are just as assured and open for new experiences as they are.  Now that may not consist of sprinting the Boston Marathon or skydiving over an African forest, but you can still work your mind and body daily to stay positively positive when keeping up with the rapidly accelerating world:

Challenge Yourself

Now that we just rekindled your young, free spirit, we need to continue to replenish it.  We can do this by continuously keeping your brain engaged. If you have a job that is mentally stimulating then you are already in good shape. It is easy to maintain higher brain function when you are intelligently using your brain on a daily basis. Higher levels of education have also been linked to increased brain tissue which is theorized to delay dementia. So what if you didn’t get the opportunity to receive higher education? You’re no less smart than anyone who did. Take up a mentally stimulating hobby! Crossword puzzles, rummy, maybe even a little writing here and there. You can even get to more specific and talented task. Playing an instrument, learning a new language, or how about finally trying to solve the equation of those horribly frustrating Rubik’s Cubes? Accomplish on more thing you have always wanted to do and now have all of the time you need. And have fun with it!

Rock Your Number

It’s time to take pride in your age! When you spend too much time sitting in an audience where the performer is a sad, old clown miming his horrid depression of his age, then the negativity of getting older can age you to what everyone expects. Wrinkled… Withered… Wasteful… PROVE THEM WRONG! A researcher at Yale found in his studies that elders that tend to be more exposed to negative stereotypes about getting old did worse on memory tests than elders that are typically exposed to positive outlooks. Keep your roller-full head high!

Eat Right

Yes, yes, yes. We all know dieting is important. But isn’t that just for “young people?” We’ve done our time. We deserve to indulge in chocolate cake and black raspberry ice cream every day from here on out! Well, not so fast. Your body got you to this point. It would be a great kindness to treat it like royalty at this point. If that still makes you guffaw, then know that science experiments found a diet that include many foods that were high in saturated fats caused elders to do worse on memory tests. For the good of your brain, eat a salad from time to time.

Get In Shape

20 minutes. It’s all you need three times a week. 20 minutes of rigorous exercise. It is reported that those continuously inactive are 82% more likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. 82%! You can fix that by, a total of 1 hour A WEEK of some running, jumping, and sit ups. Such a little change like that could give you a decade or more of a better lifestyle than if you stay on that chair after reading this blog. So eat healthy, do a few jumping jacks, and do a few more crossword puzzles, and you can be just as, if not more, youthful than two or three generation behind you!

For more tips to keep yourself a 20 year old in a 70 year old body, you can read the full US News & World Report here.

~Bobby

If you’re on your computer right now as you are surround by yesterday’s pants on the ground, unwashed dishes in the sink, those must have impulse purchases you made at Walmart a couple of month ago that’s only use is gathering up the dust around its vicinity then you are in need of a little spring cleaning. Don’t worry! You aren’t the only one. When we are in our houses, there are a lot more entertaining things to do than going through every possession to your name. Plus, why would we throw any of our stuff away? We bought it. It HAS to be important. Right? Well, not necessarily. We all have clutter that we can clean up. It’s a matter of fact. On the motivation side, a perfect way to have a fun task for yourself while productively cleaning up your house is put yourself through a challenge. An excellent way to give yourself some friendly competition towards you clutter. So, here are some of the best challenges to test your spring cleaning skills:

100 Thing Challenge

This challenge was created by Dave Bruno, and this task only challenges you to one hundred simple items. What you get rid of? Bruno doesn’t count shared items as ones you can rid yourself of. Plates, toothpaste, tomatoes, CDs, chairs, if it’s used by somebody else in the house then it is not yours to heave. This is the challenge that has the least amount that you will lose from your house. Start with this one and 100 tossed items later see if you are up for the 5-A-Day challenge!

5-A-Day Challenge

Let’s begin this challenge for the first day of next month. Every day for the month, find five items that will more likely come to life than be used anytime soon in the next ten years, and chuck them. If the item is unusable by anyone else as well as you then toss it in the trash. If there is still a chance for a second life in fresh hands then keep them on the side. Once you fill this box, you can donate these new used gifts! You’re now organized AND charitable! You’re a total catch!

The 2015 Challenge

Now we are getting to the real toughies. For the year of 2015, we challenge you to get rid of 2,015 items before New Year’s Day 2016. For anyone questioning if you even own 15 items, yes you do. There is over 2,000 items in your house that are begging to be freed from the attic or basement or corner of the bureau that have been trapped there for decades. What are you waiting for?! You have a little over half a year left! Hurry!

40 Days 40 Bags Challenge

Originally conceived by Ann Marie Heasley, this is a daunting but outstandingly rewarding challenge when completed. Choose a 40 day period during the year. Every day during the time span, fill an entire bag up of unneeded household items. At the end you would have rid yourself of 40 bags of items that have been taking up space for so long. We wish you the best of luck if you take this challenge and praise your commitment! We best leave you to go ahead and clean!

For more Spring Cleaning challenges, you can read the full MoneyTalksNews article here.

~Bobby

The housing market has come back from its lows a few years ago. And with interest rates still low, many folks are thinking seriously about buying a home right now. If you want to buy a house in the near future, that means building up some serious savings. Here are 10 simple steps to help you do just that:

Create a monthly budget

You build savings by spending less than you earn. So, any saving goals begin and end with your monthly budget. It’s important to be both honest and realistic about your spending habits out of the gate, and then stick with your plan as much as possible. Electronic bill pay is a great tool here, because then your payments take care of themselves. Another option is to print out a list of your monthly expenses and check them off — both to make sure they get paid, but also to have the satisfaction of knowing you are on track.

Quarantine your savings

Many people have trouble saving money because they simply see a lot of zeros in their bank account and assume that they are comfortably on track when they are not — or that they have wiggle room to spend. The simplest way to avoid this is to create a dedicated bank account just for your housing fund, and then quarantine it from any spending. You’ll still have your regular checking account and debit cards to pay the rent or the cable bill, but that special savings account is off-limits no matter what.

Make savings automatic

Once you have a dedicated savings account, tell your payroll department that you want a fixed amount sent there every payday via direct deposit and the balance sent to your checking account as usual. The savings will happen regularly this way, and you won’t even notice as long as you’ve built a good budget. The idea is to pay yourself first so there’s no excuses.

Save 100% of unexpected cash

Getting a $3,000 tax refund or a nice year-end bonus? While it’s tempting to splurge a little even as you save a little, building up a down payment requires a lot of restraint. That applies both to your day-to-day expenses, as well as one-time influx of cash. After all, if you’ve built a good budget, then you don’t really “need” any of that money … so it’s perfect for saving.

Save in big chunks

Sure, you can save a few bucks each week by eating store-brand peanut butter but you can make the biggest impact by cutting out the biggest expenses. Skipping your annual beach vacation won’t be easy, and that rusty old car with the broken mirror may be a bit embarrassing to drive for another year … but snatching big bills where you can instead of pinching pennies is an effective way to build up savings quickly.

Downsize before you upsize

Moving to a one-bedroom apartment from a two-bedroom apartment can drop your rent by 20% to 30% in most areas. If you don’t have kids, it may be a smart move to live small before you move into your new home and then reallocate the unused rent into your housing fund. Also, an added bonus is that a smaller place will mean fewer boxes to move once you finally do find your dream home.

Work more

Spending less is the obvious way to save, but working more and bringing home more money is also a great way to supercharge your savings. If you are eligible for overtime or additional work, take every opportunity that comes your way. If you’re not, consider taking a second job on the side even if it’s only a few days or a few projects each month.

Save less for retirement

If you have a 401(k) match, it’s still a good idea to save enough in order to qualify for that employer-sponsored contribution. However, matches typically stop at 6%, so saving for a house may mean capping your retirement contributions there and instead allocating the additional cash toward your down payment. Remember, a house is also an asset … so you are simply saving for the future in a different way. Another option for first-time home buyers is to actually use retirement savings in your IRA to fund the purchase. In many cases, you can withdraw $10,000 without penalties from your retirement fund to help fund your home purchase.*

Ask for support

Much like going on a diet, staying on a strict savings plan is much easier with the support of the people around you. If your friends are always inviting you to happy hour or sister invites you shopping each weekend, the temptation and stress are going to be an issue. Make sure your friends and family know how your behavior is changing so they can meet you halfway.

Don’t punish yourself

The math of saving for a house may be straightforward, but the emotions of saving are very complex. If saving feels painful or frustrating every single day, you’re much less likely to be successful at it. So, rather than let the frustration build up after you deny yourself every discretionary expense, take comfort in a simple pleasure once in a while. Cut down on eating out, but consider cooking an awesome dinner once a week at home with premium ingredients. Cut down on going to movies, but perhaps subscribe to Netflix instead. The idea is to save money, not to spend zero, and you will find it much easier to save if you’re actually enjoying your life while doing so.

If you have any questions about the road to becoming a homeowner, please contact me at 978-275-2755. I’m happy to work with you to build a plan and guide you on the path to your first home.

~Amy Spindler, Senior Home Financing Consultant

*Please consult your tax advisor.

When conducting car-buying seminars, one of the first questions I typically ask is “Who here is driving a new car?” And when two or three out of ten raise their hands, I ask “When are you getting it?” Point is, whether you buy new or used, once you drive it, it’s used. And often the only difference is how much you pay.

The credit union’s Auto Advisors are big fans of used cars. Why? Because used cars cost less and are most often better values. Plus, for MA residents, the 6.25% sales tax and the excise tax ($25 per thousand dollar value) is less. For NH residents, the town hall fees are less.

When we refer to used cars, we’re not necessarily talking old car with higher mileage. Most times, we are helping our members purchase late-model used cars with low miles in great condition. Examples would be dealer demo’s, commercial or business-owned vehicles (where an exec or salesman gets a new car each year), off-lease vehicles (typically 2-3 years old with low mileage), or vehicles a person bought and their needs or tastes changed. Generally these are all great options for the next owner.

What’s the new/used trade-off?

Some members prefer the brand new option because they want the comfort of knowing they’re the first driver, because of the “new car smell”, because they may have more choices (including features and colors), or because of the new car warranty. All quite understandable.

There’s nothing like that new car smell. If you’re more comfortable knowing nobody else has driven the vehicle, great. However, with the late-model used cars available through our large dealer network, we often have lots of choices. Plus, the Certified Pre-owned “CPO” vehicles often come with a better warranty than when the car was brand new.

Also, with used cars, you’re paying fifty cents on the dollar for options like sunroof, leather, and alloy wheels. For example, if you add a sunroof to a new sedan, the cost could be over $1000. But with all other things being equal, a used sedan with a sunroof will cost the same or just slightly more than one without.

What vehicles are better used-car values?
One of the reasons our Auto Advisors maintain such a large network of dealers is to get access to a wider used car inventory. While we’re often finding those “diamonds in the rough” or vehicles underpriced because they’re aged or at an off-brand dealer, certain types of vehicles tend to be better used-car buys.

For example; domestic cars like Chevy’s, Dodge’s, and Ford’s tend to depreciate faster than Honda’s and Toyota’s, which makes them great buys for the second owner. Likewise, late-model luxury vehicles in general tend to be good buys.

Other vehicles, like domestic trucks, aren’t traded in often, so with the low inventory, the prices stay up closer to new models.

What about Certified Pre-owned “CPO” vehicles?

The Certified used car concept was originally created by the manufacturers as a way to drive used car customers to their dealerships. As a buyer, you need to evaluate if the benefits of CPO are worth what is typically a higher price.

First off; while many dealers advertise their used cars as “certified”, there is a big difference between a manufacturer’s certified vehicle and one that a random dealer claims to be certified. Truth is, you can only purchase a true CPO vehicle from that manufacturer’s dealerships. For example, you can only buy a Honda-certified vehicle from a Honda dealer.

CPO vehicles must meet three main criteria: 1) the vehicle has to be eligible (newer than certain age, lower than certain miles, no branded titles, etc.), 2) while used vehicles just have to pass inspection, CPO vehicles have to meet higher standards (for example; tires and brake pads must be above certain spec, and vehicle must come with 2 sets of keys, floor mats, manuals). And 3) once the vehicle meets the above criteria, the manufacturer allows the dealer to purchase an extended warranty on the buyer’s behalf. If everything else (age/miles/condition/price) is equal, it’s safe to assume that a CPO vehicle is a better choice. But there’s usually a cost difference that we evaluate on a case by case basis.

So what do I do?

As I mentioned at the start, our Auto Advisors are big fans of used cars. However, with everyone’s needs, tastes, and budgets being different, we recommend that you speak with our Auto Advisor BEFORE you go shopping. This way we can guide you through the process and ensure that, in addition to saving time and money, your buying experience is a good one and that you leave the dealership confident that you got the best deal on a vehicle that is right for you.

To get in touch with the Auto Advisors, call 800-942-9575 or email autoadvisor@AlignCU.com. And remember, Align offers the same great rates on a used vehicles that are available for new ones.

~David Brown, Align Credit Union Auto Advisor

We have all heard about them… Target, Home Depot and Anthem. With all of this going on, how do we protect our identity?

There truly is no way to keep the ‘bad guys’ from trying to use information but you can do a few things to protect yourself:

Check your credit reports regularly

By visiting www.annualcreditreport.com, you can receive one free credit report each year. Ask for one credit bureau each quarter; this gives you the ability to see your credit report more often for free as well as keeping an eye out for discrepancies all year round.

Get your devices protected

Many internet providers offer free services for this purpose. In addition, there are other basic packages offered by vendors such as Malwarebytes, Panda Free, AVG, Avast and Bitdefender. Run the full scans regularly. It seems there are daily changes to viruses and malware.

Use STRONG passwords

I know, we all have hundreds of passwords to remember but making all your password ‘123456’ is not a viable solution to the problem. They really do need to be complex and not common. An easy way to make a password complex is to spell it out: instead of always – use @1w@y$.

Use prepaid debit cards

In addition to your regular debit card think about using prepaid cards. These cards only carry the balance you put on them which limits the amount available for fraud in the event the card gets compromised.

Use Alerts

Credit Card vendors and financial institutions often offer alert services to provide you with notification of transactions or suspicious activity. These are a great way to keep ahead of activity on your accounts.

Beat them to the punch

If you have received a letter saying you have been involved in one of these compromises, immediately shut off existing card numbers and get new ones. Then, contact the credit bureaus to discuss placing a credit freeze. This will limit access to your credit information.

At Align, your financial security is an upmost priority. Like us, we hope you don’t take identity fraud lightly and do everything to protect yourself from the ‘bad guys’. If you have any questions or see suspicious activity on your account, please contact us at 800-942-9575.

~Sue

Week after week can seem like a struggle between you and the all-powerful grocery store. No matter how much you feed it one week, you can be rest assured sure that you’ll be back same time next week. As fresh as some of the items you buy are, they just spoil too darn quickly. What can you do?! Your feet hurt, your wallet is shrinking, and your gas is emptying with ever inch to and from these necessities you have to purchase because this beast of a grocery store’s hunger will never be satisfied. Our last hope is to find ways to make a produce last a little longer. Luckily, for us band of grocery store survivors, we have here a list of ways to make your groceries last longer than usual:

Poke Holes in Your Bags

If anyone catches you poking holes in your grocery bag, before they can call you a crazy person, you can tell them that you are doing it to protect your produce. Plastic bags can produce moisture, and without holes to escape from, the moisture will be retained in the bag which can then hastily break down your recently purchased produce.

Protect Your Produce from Yourself

We get it. Sometimes the produce looks so good that you can barely throw your groceries into your fridge before you cut it up in preparation of next week’s delicious treat. It happens to us too. The problem with doing this is that once your produce is sliced and diced, it doesn’t take long to start to brown. Cutting up something if too far in advanced causes just another aggravating trip to the grocery store. If your hands are tied, you can always use lemon juice to slow down the process.

Freeze Your Bread

Once the onset of mold begins, your refrigerator’s produce is fair game. A lost cause, maybe. If the bread is frozen, then you eliminate the problem of mold. If you really are against having a couple of frozen loafs, you can meet us halfway. Put half in the freezer, and half in the fridge. We’ll all be winners.

Keep It Out of the Sunlight

Your produce is close to being a vampire. We’re pretty sure that your melons aren’t going to rise up in the middle of the night and suck your blood through your neck, but it does come close to burning up when exposed to the sun. Sunlight speeds up the ripening process.

Middle Shelf Your Milk

Your milk is important. First off, it’s delicious. Secondly, you may need it in your coffee, and third, how are your cookies going to go down as well without it? Even if you are lactose intolerant, you don’t want the glorious milk to be spoiled for your milk loving family, so keep it away from
the refrigerator door. It needs to stay cooler than that spot, so plateau it right on the colder middle shelf where your milk will reign supreme.

Butter That Cheese

Cheese is as, if not more, glorious than milk. That is why it is so devastating when your cheese dries out faster than your poor, little mouth can fit and chew it. To prevent this atrocity from happening, apply a little slab of butter on the exposed cheese. Not too much. That may get kind of gross. Just enough butter to keep the cheese nice and fresh for your next dinner party.

Shrink Wrap Your Banana Crown

Nobody likes a spoiled banana. To keep your bananas nice and yellow and fresh, it is useful to wrap up the crown, or stem all bananas are attached to, in plastic. If unwrapped, the ethylene gas from it will rapidly spoil the bananas and any other produce close to it.

For more tips to make your groceries last longer, you can read the full Money Talks News article here.

~Bobby

Hello car shoppers! With low interest rates and pent-up demand, 2014 was a record year for car sales. And the good news for car companies and the economy in general is that the trend is projected to continue in 2015. With the record snowfall and cold temps behind us, members are now converging on local car dealers in the hunt for their next new or used vehicle.

Today we’ll explore the question more & more members are asking: “Should I buy or lease?” According to Automotive News data, approximately 27% of all new vehicles purchased in 2014 were leased. That’s a huge increase in just a few years.

However, while most people lease to get a lower payment, the long-term cost may in fact be higher. So, we need to weigh the pro’s and con’s with each member. Is this particular member better off leasing or purchasing and financing (at competitive low rates) through the credit union? We help members with this decision every day.

First off, our Auto Advisors explain to members that leasing has two major benefits and two major drawbacks. The benefits are; 1) a nice new car for a lower payment and, 2) a new car every few years. While the drawbacks are; 1) a mileage limitation penalizing higher mileage drivers and 2) there’s no elegant way to get out of a lease. Meaning that, if you lease a vehicle and your circumstances change (e.g. new job with a long commute, a baby on the way making that 2 door coupe less useful, or you simply don’t like it), you are pretty much stuck with that vehicle through the term of the lease.

While there are some programs that enable consumers to “lease” used vehicles, leasing is for the most part limited to new vehicles (where the manufacturers are willing to subsidize the cost or and/or the interest rate, thereby lowering the payment). And the projected residual value (i.e. depreciation) plays a big part. So, lesson 1) certain vehicles are better choices to lease than others. Just because 2 vehicles cost the same, it does not mean that the lease payments will be the same.

What’s not appealing about a lower payment? Just remember our rule of auto advertising: “the big print (like $79 per month!) giveth while the fine print (like payment includes $2,995 cash – taxes and fees extra) taketh away.  If you amortize the cash down, taxes & fees into a 24-month lease, the $79 payment quickly jumps to about $250/month.

Next we help members determine if they’re a good candidate for a lease. Such factors include 1) Do I keep my vehicles a long time? (It’s a fact that manufacturing improvements are extending the life of today’s vehicles) 2) Do I put on a lot of miles? (If so, the penalties can be substantial) 3) What’s the likelihood that my circumstances will change? 4) Am I ok with new car excise tax (MA) and insurance? 5) Am I sure I am going to like driving this car for 3 years?

Let’s compare the long-term (say 6 years) cost when leasing vs buying a typical $20,000 car:

Lease N/A Finance $19,500
Cash $1,500*2 leases Cash 0
72 month payments of $275 $19,800 72 month @ 3% = $296 $21,332
Total $22,800 Total $21,332
Equity 0 Equity $6,000

Other factors favoring the purchase & finance include the higher cost of excise tax based on model year (MA), insurance, and the fact you’ll always have a car payment.

And, of course, this assumes you’re buying/leasing a new vehicle rather than used (where somebody else has already paid the higher price, sales tax, excise tax, and depreciation, so you start at a lower entry price, thereby saving even more)! More about benefits of buying used vs new in our next article.

-David Brown, Align Credit Union Auto Advisor

At Align, we are dedicated to giving our Members an easy and flawless experience, especially when it comes to purchasing vehicles. We are proud to offer Auto Advisors as a FREE service; we love it so much that even Align EVP, Tom Hammond, has used the service and has high praises:

“I love using Align’s Auto Advisors program. I have used Auto Advisors to buy cars for my wife, my daughter, and my mother. Recently I’ve used Auto Advisors to buy a new Toyota Highlander from Toyota of Nashua. Each experience was flawless and easy. Over the next three months, Align will be promoting this car buying experience. Any member who uses Auto Advisors and finances the car through Align, the first loan payment is on us. If you are shopping for a car and would like to save time, money and aggravation, I highly recommend this service. My family enjoyed their car buying experience and you can too.”

 Our advisors offer their services from deciding on the most logical car choice based on your needs, to assisting you when it comes time to make the purchase, and any needs in between. You can meet them at the 2 day Member exclusive event April 18th-19th at Toyota of Nashua!! Receive assistance in the best possible deal, enter a raffle, and if you purchase your car using Auto Advisor with us, your first monthly payment is on us! You can contact us at 800-942-9575 to get pre-approved or email the Align Auto Advisors directly at autoadvisor@aligncu.com.

Click here for more information about the 2-Day Car Sale and how Auto Advisors can help you with your next purchase.

Last Minute Spring Break Ideas

March 26th, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

It’s that time of the year again! SPRING BREAK! Wahoo! Time to go nuts! It’s the week of relief when you wake up when the moon rises above the earth and you fall asleep when it tiredly departs from the horizon. Well only sometimes. Sometimes you don’t have the time, money, or…friends…to do the typical foolish partying that is usually associated with this time of year. So instead of just making Sweatpants Sunday every day while eating ice cream and binge watching seven shows for the whole week, you can make spring break your own fun, bizarre, and inexpensive entity. So, whether you are in the beginning of your spring break, the end of your spring break, wishing it was spring break, middle aged and living vicariously through their child on spring break, or shivering in December wrapped up in a blanket next to your heater and just wishing it was spring, you can take these interesting alternatives to the week:

Have an “Alternative” Spring Break

It’s 2015 and the spring break for the new millennium is starting to become less about beachin’ it and more about spending your own free time helping those in need. The Habitat for Humanity organization has terrific options for you like helping to build a house for someone else. It will even give you a new skill to show off to the friends and family. If building a house isn’t your thing, they are plenty of charities around your area that would love for your assistance. There can be SO MANY charities that you may need some more guidelines on how to make your spring break helpful and self-satisfying.  Cross-Cultural Solutions is just the thing to get tips and to participate in great volunteer work.

Find a Last Minute Deal

Let’s say you do have friends. You can still go on a vacation with them and spend very little money. Yes, it is possible. No, we’re not kidding. There are companies such as Priceline and Last Minute that specialize in helping you find that perfect last minute deal. Get the lowest prices of vacant hotels, the cheapest cars to rent, and the most inexpensive airline tickets. If you are in the college demographic, the company Contiki has last minute specials such as an Alaskan trip, a European bus tour, or a week spent traveling some of Europe’s most popular cities. Even if it is a week alone driving around unseen places and sleeping in your car, you can easily make the most of your experience with the right deals, and it’ll be a great story to tell at the next dinner you go to.

Pitch a Tent and Stare at the Stars

Nothing is as fun and costs the least amount of money than spending a few days in the great outdoors. While this year has been particularly breezy, that isn’t something a fire and some warm jackets can’t fix. Most sporting goods stores have everything you could possibly need for the trek out. From sleeping bags to tents to lights to stoves, pitching in with a group of your friends for the necessities keeps the costs low and not much planning needed. So, bring on the bug spray and take a hike!

Explore Your Own Town

Next time you are lying in bed, grumpy and on Netflix, complaining about how boring a spring break you’re having because there is nothing to do in your town, how about spending a night in the town. Yes, your town. Even the seemingly dullest of towns has a few hidden pieces of gold in it. Maybe not literal gold, per se, but metaphorical gold. From trivia nights at a local hang out spot, to an unexplored path in a woods near your house, to a well-liked restaurant you never took time out to go to, to a night at your town’s spooky cemetery, to karaoke night at the hopping town bar, to bingo night at the town church or fire station, to a special presentation on an interesting subject at your town’s public library, there are TONS of cheap to free activities to keep you busy.

For more information on last minute spring break ideas, you can read the full Travel Channel article here.

~Bobby

How would you feel if one day you were purchasing a brand new 46” TV, feeling on top of the world, all of your finances believed to be in perfect, wonderful harmony, and the very next day you credit card is being cut at the grocery store in front of your family? Possibly crying on the ride home wondering what went wrong. We recently had a blog about the signs in your life that warned you that you are making a poor financial decision. Those signs included listening to nonprofessionals, stress, and spending for want and not necessity. These were the actions that are very noticeable and can be easily avoided. But let’s say you DID avoid those disasters. What happens if you were spending for necessity, weren’t under stress, and really were listening to the right financial experts, yet still overextended your finances that lead to huge problems you didn’t see coming? These are the signals that even the more financially savvy persons either don’t spend enough time paying attention to, or just ignore that can lead to financial disasters:

Struggling to Pay Bills

Here come all the bills in the mail. Oh boy…. This bill here? That one’s important. We should pay this one right away. This bill? Hey. Let’s put that one off. We don’t have the money every week to pay THAT one. It’s not a big deal and we can even save a little extra money by keeping it off. Leave it to the late fees. We’re already paying a lot anyway, may as well just pay the little extra amount when the time comes to it.

This is NOT the proper way to go about your finances, yet 24% of Americans are consistently late with paying their bills as stated in National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2014 Financial Literacy Survey. Little by little the bills will pile up more and more, the overdraft fee because more worrisome, and the debt will just keep rising. What happens if your car breaks down on a ride to a very important business meeting, and you no longer have the money to get it fixed? You’re going to start regretting relying on your scapegoat of a work check that kept you from sending the money to pay your bills.

Not Putting Money Down On Purchases

Here’s the American Dream. Getting exactly what you want and paying the most desired price for it. $0. Well, not much is really free. Maybe for the time being, at least it feels great to not put any money down, but if 100% financing becomes your routine, your future bills are going to be 100% horrifying. Put some money down on your next purchase, and your debt will be that much lighter.

More Credit Card Spending than Credit Card Paying

Do you sometimes go month to month with unpaid credit card debt? A lot of people do. 1 out of 3 Americans actually, according to the research the previously mentioned National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2014 Financial Literacy Survey. This was conducted by asking over 2,000 adults just last year. It is a nice dream to think that you are making purchases with invisible money, but every purchase has its own consequence. Even a small purchase here and a small purchase there adds up.

Not Monitoring Your Credit

If you have multiple of credit cards or lines of credit, GREAT! Right? It means that you are trusted by your creditors. Well, you won’t be trusted by your creditors for long if don’t properly monitor your credit. That could lead to your credit card being maxed out, problems owning a home, paying a loan which leaves you in potential financial ruin. Always be safe with your finances so you won’t be sorry months to come.

For more information on the signals that you are not in control of your own debt, you can check out the full US News & World Report article here.

~Bobby