Author Archive for Danielle Panchak

5 Financial New Year’s Resolutions and How to Fulfill Them

The new year is almost here and that means it’s time to think about resolutions for the year. After a year like 2020, financial resolutions are probably top of mind.

The beginning of the year is the prime time to focus on what’s going on with your money. With the right plan in place, you can stick to your financial resolutions and end the coming year in a better place than you started it.

To help you get started, here are 5 financial resolutions to set, along with expert tips on how to keep them.

1. Refinance your mortgage and/or your student loans

While the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on many parts of life this past year, it has also provided some opportunities. You can now secure record low mortgage rates, making this a prime time to refinance and lower your monthly payments.

As for student loan refinancing, federal student loans are in forbearance until Jan. 31, meaning interest is suspended and payments are not required. However, this does not apply to private student loans and you may want to consider refinancing these types of loans to lock in lower rates.

2. Pay down credit card debt

Consumer credit card debt dropped in 2020 for the first time in eight years. This data came as a bit of a surprise considering the pandemic-created recession, but it’s a hopeful sign that consumers are getting their debt under control.

If you have credit card debt, consider making it a goal to pay it off. AllCom Credit Union offers debt consolidation loans between $500 and $15,000 with the best rates possible. Learn more here.

3. Can’t stick to a budget? Create a spending plan instead

If you’ve had trouble sticking to your budget in the past, consider ditching the traditional budgeting method and create a spending plan instead.

A spending plan allows you to choose what you spend your money on instead of restricting yourself on what you can’t spend. Start by determining your monthly fixed income and then decide what spending categories are most important to you.

4. Automate your savings

One of the easiest ways to build your savings is automating your contributions.

When you automate your savings, you won’t have to think about how much money you want to set aside each month or be tempted to put less into savings.

5. Start an emergency fund

A Bankrate survey from June found that not having enough emergency savings was Americans’ top financial regret since the coronavirus began. Bottom line: Don’t overlook your emergency fund.

The new year is as good a time as any to start (or grow) your emergency fund. In general, experts recommend saving three to six months of living expenses. Start by opening a separate and dedicated high-yield savings account. After that, consider these four tips:

  • Evaluate your spending and look for areas where you can save.
  • Set a savings goal.
  • Set up automatic contributions.
  • Try to increase your contributions over time.

A New Year’s Message from President/CEO, Debbie Guiney 

Once again we are moving towards another years’ end and the holiday season. For many, the year cannot end soon enough. Yet the holiday season gives us an opportunity to appreciate those things we have sacrificed this year as we look forward to 2021.

I am most grateful for the opportunity you have given AllCom to remain your trusted partner during these unprecedented times. My number one goal will continue to be to keep you and our staff safe while still being able to meet your financial needs as conveniently as possible.

While we are very excited to unveil the long awaited results of our facility renovations, to ensure everyone’s well-being, our branch lobby will remain closed until it is safe to re-open. We are confident that you will love our new look and that the updates will better serve your needs.

We will continue to communicate with you and look forward to guiding you  through life’s many stages. AllCom is committed to the communities we serve and will move the credit union forward by providing the best financial products and services designed to improve your financial lives.

From all of us at AllCom Credit Union, we wish you a healthy, warm and safe holiday season and New Year.

Debbie Guiney, President/CEO, AllCom Credit Union

 

Remain Vigilant to Stop the Spread of COVID-19

The recent rise in COVID-19 cases across the United States is a serious reminder of the strength and longevity of this pandemic. 

Many people may have “covid fatigue” and miss living the lives we once did. We shouldn’t let our guard down or it may be much, much longer before we will be able to live those lives again. While communities have focused on avoiding large gatherings, which is appropriate, the spread of the infection in this second surge has been attributed to smaller, casual gatherings that are deceptively safe.

With the holidays upon us, it has never been more important to double down on our efforts to exercise good judgment with our behaviors. These behaviors may contribute to our ability as a community to limit the continued spread of coronavirus.

Be vigilant in your actions by doing the following for the foreseeable future:

  • Wear a mask
  • Wash your hands, frequently
  • Keep physical distances
  • Avoid social gatherings of those outside your immediate household
  • Stay home when you are sick

 

Beware of Coronavirus Scams

From cures for coronavirus to phishing emails, phony websites and unemployment fraud, scammers are taking advantage of consumers as the virus continues to impact millions of people.

The potential of misinformation and attempts at fraud during times of high-profile global events and public health threats is high. Consumers should exercise caution when reacting to information and solicitations for donations associated with the coronavirus pandemic.

How to avoid coronavirus scams:

  • Consumers should exercise extreme caution when responding to individual pleas for financial assistance such as those posted on social media, crowd funding websites, or in an email, even if it appears to originate from a trusted source.
  • Be cautious of emails or websites that claim to provide information, pictures, and videos.
  • Do not open unsolicited (spam) emails or click on the links or attachments in those emails – even if they say you may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Never reveal personal or financial information in an email or to an untrusted website.
  • Do not go to an untrusted or unfamiliar website to view the event or information regarding it.
  • Malicious websites often imitate a legitimate website, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (i.e., .com vs .org).

In addition to the potential of false information scammers are using stolen Social Security numbers and other personal information to apply for and receive unemployment benefits in their victims’ names. Victims may not learn they were targeted until they apply for unemployment themselves, are notified by their employer or receive a bill from the IRS for taxes they owe on benefits they never received.

Although this scam can take many forms, a scammer typically files an unemployment claim using a stolen identity and then gets the benefits, typically on debit cards or by using a money mule.

Phishing emails and texts claiming to be from an agency that offers assistance in filing for unemployment are another form. The message might say a claim is incomplete and will demand someone provide their Social Security or credit card number before it can be finalized.

Protect yourself from these scams by avoiding:

  • Scam websites claiming to be able to help people file and collect unemployment benefits quickly.
  • Phone and text scams claiming someone’s unemployment benefits have been suspended until they respond by supplying personal information, such as debit card or bank account numbers.
  • Jobseeker cons in which scammers claim to be employers offering you a job in order to collect your personal information or steal money.

Consumers can report the fraud by filing a report at www.ftc.gov and by notifying the Internal Revenue Service by filing an identity theft affidavit (form 14039) at www.irs.gov.

If you knowingly collect benefits based on false or inaccurate information that you intentionally provided when you filed your claim, you are committing fraud. Unemployment Insurance fraud is punishable by law and violators could face a number of serious penalties and consequences.

Update: Ongoing Branch Construction

The next phase of construction is about to begin! The renovation will impact your access to the Credit Union as follows:

• The lobby will be closed for 4-6 weeks beginning Monday, November 2nd. Please use the drive thru or our electronic services for all teller transactions.

• For loan closings, safe deposit box access and member service needs, please call 508.754.9980 to schedule an appointment.

We deeply apologize for the inconveniences this will cause and thank you for your patience.

Securely Deposit Checks Using Mobile Deposit

Still mailing your deposits to the credit union? Is remote work and COVID making travel to the branch more difficult?

With the AllCom Credit Union mobile banking app, you can quickly and securely deposit a check from anywhere in the world directly to your AllCom account. Using the same credentials as online banking, log into the app and click “Mobile Deposit”. Choose your desired account, enter the individu­al check amount and take a photo of the front and back. Be sure to sign the back and write “For Mobile Deposit at AllCom CU”. Submit the deposit.

Funds are normally received in two business days, faster than the postal mail and more secure because your personal details never leave your side.

Have a large deposit above the typical mobile deposit limits or need assistance with mobile banking or mobile deposit? Simply contact us at 888.754.9980 during regular business hours and one of our Member Service Representatives will gladly assist you.

Learn more about mobile deposit and mobile banking.

AllCom’s 10-Point Commitment to Member Service

Debbie C. Guiney, President & CEO, AllCom Credit Union

“We remain committed to providing a level of service not commonly found today, never losing sight of our roots and the fact that the Credit Union is owned by its members.

This ideal, which is the foundation on which we were built almost 100 years ago, guides us every step of the way. We are stronger than ever and prepared for the future.”

Debbie C. Guiney
President & CEO

1.Our Members are Our Most Important Asset
• All Members share ownership in AIICom Credit Union.
• We work to serve you and your needs, not those of stockholders.

2. We Value Your Business
• We realize that membership in a credit union is a choice.
• We promise to show our appreciation when you visit our branch,
contact us by phone, visit our website or email us.

3. Every Dollar of Your Deposits is 100% Insured
• Federal NCUA insurance provides up to $250,000 of coverage.
• Funds in excess of $250,000 are fully insured by MSIC.

4. Confidence in Our Legacy of Safety & Security
• Since 1922, we’ve been a trusted financial resource.
• President & CEO Debbie Guiney has served our members for more than 40 years. Many other employees have been with AllCom for
over 20 years.

5. We are Committed to the Central Massachusetts
Community
• All those who live, work or attend school here* are welcome.
• New members are vital to our institution and we welcome your
referrals.

6. We Offer a Superior Level of Service
• Employees know you by name when you visit the branch.
• Your call is always important. REAL people answer our telephones.

7. Our Deposit & Loan Products are Competitively Priced
• We shop the competition regularly; comparing their rates to ours.
• Special offers give our members the opportunity to save and earn
more money.

8. Your Loan Application is Given Priority
• Decisions on auto loans and other consumer loans can be provided
in as little as 15 minutes – apply in person, online or over the phone.
• Can’t make it to the branch? We can come to you to close your loan.
• Qualified borrowers may be eligible for electronic loan closings.

9. We are Making AllCom More Convenient for Members

• CO-OP Shared Branching gives members access to more than 5,600
credit union branches nationwide.
• SUM & CO-OP ATM networks give members access to thousands of
surcharge-free ATMs with more added each day.
• Online and mobile banking with deposit capture is available to all
members.

10. We Want to be Your First Choice for Mortgage Lending
• A wide choice of rates, terms and products are available to fit your
borrowing needs.
• Programs include home mortgages, home equity loans, FHA/VA
mortgages and more.

We’d love to meet your friends and family!
Your friends and family can earn you money.
Visit allcomcu.org for more information.

Important Notice That Will Impact Branch Access

AllCom Credit Union is currently undergoing a major renovation of the entire building, parking lots and drive-through.

We deeply apologize for the inconveniences this will cause.

The renovation will impact your access to the Credit Union as follows:

• The parking lots, drive-through and ATM will be closed for repaving at noon on Friday, September 25th and will remain closed until the Credit Union opens for business at 8:30 AM on Monday, September 28th (weather permitting).

• To ensure the safety of our members and employees, and to complete the renovation as quickly as possible, the lobby will also be closed for several weeks in the October/November timeframe. During this time, the drive-through will remain open and appointments can be made for loan closings and member service needs. We will communicate the dates and details as we get closer.

Please plan in advance for Teller transactions or use remote services if possible.

We apologize in advance and thank you for your patience.

Protecting Your Data from Third-Party Finance Services

Are you using a personal finance app to help manage your money? If you are, you aren’t alone.

Consumers across the country are increasingly turning to apps like Dave.com, RobinHood.com, CashApp, and countless others to monitor their spending. While these apps may provide a platform for viewing and working with multiple accounts, they also increase the risk of having financial information breached. In fact, a recent breach at Waydev affected 7.5M consumers.

If you are leveraging any of these tools, there are some important steps you can take to protect your personal information.

  1. 1. Examine the terms of service for apps you are using.
    • Review the app’s data retention policies and determine whether the app resells your information.

  2. 2. Find out what security features the app offers to ensure your personal information remains safe.
    • Look for things like two-factor authentication.

  3. 3. Always confirm the validity of the app.
    • Don’t provide your account numbers or any personal or financial information on the phone or online unless you initiate the conversation and you know the organization.

  4. 4. Change your passwords and security settings often and use a highly secure password for your financial accounts.
    • Secure passwords often contain letters, numbers, and special characters.
    • Avoid using the same username and password on multiple sites.
    • Guard your pins and passwords. Don’t store them on your phone or write them down in a location where others might be able to access them.

  5. 5. Change your credit union and other account passwords if you want to remove an app’s access to your accounts.

  6. 6. Contact us at 888-754- 9980 right away if you feel your information has been compromised!

Always use extreme care when using third party apps. The more services you sign up for and the more devices you use provides criminals additional opportunities to steal your information for their personal gain.

9 Tips to Bring New Life to Your Finances

When spring is in the air, it’s time to put away those winter sweaters and pull out your summery shorts. It’s also a great time to clean your financial house, casting aside old habits and starting new ones. As flowers begin to bloom and birds return to their nests, give yourself a fresh financial start, too. 

Here are nine ways to clear the cobwebs from your wallet and get your financial plan neat and tidy for 2020.

  1. Review your spending, create a budget and set up automated savings

If you don’t have emergency savings, you’re not alone: Nearly 60% of Americans don’t have enough money to cover a $500 emergency, according to a Bankrate survey. Increasingly, workplaces are helping people to contribute to an emergency fund alongside retirement plans like 401(k) accounts, and if that option is unavailable, individuals can use direct deposit to set aside emergency funds.

  1. Throw away your debt

Debt is like that clutter in the closet that’s taking up space you need for something else, including reaching goals like buying a new home. Just as you’d go through your closet, start out by assessing the debt you already have. While you may not be able to pay everything off, with some discipline you can make real changes.

  1. Perform your own self-evaluation to keep your career growing

Take stock of where you are at work, including your salary. Check the salary range for your job, know what you’re worth and create a negotiation plan. If 2020 is the year you need to take a career break to take care of your family, think about how to maintain your skills through volunteering or continued learning while you take time off from paid work.

  1. Spruce up retirement plan contributions

If you began the year with a raise, a good bonus or even got a great tax return, you likely have already begun planning a summer vacation, started looking at new cars or making other plans. Consider setting some of that aside for the future by adding to your workplace account or in an individual retirement account.

  1. Review your tax withholding

If you got a big tax refund in 2019, it likely feels like a bonus. But it really means you were paying more than you should have last year, giving Uncle Sam money that you could have put to work for your own needs. Set up withholding so that you get the most out of your paycheck through the year without owning any money at tax time in 2021.

  1. Dust off your estate plans

Doublecheck your list of beneficiaries to see if anything has changed in the last year. A change in any relationship, like getting married, will likely prompt an immediate change. Also consider whether any life changes would impact elements of an estate plan, including any power of attorney documents.

  1. Review insurance needs

Spring is a great time to consider whether any life changes, like having a newborn or getting married, create a need for financial protection. If someone depends on your income for any number of reasons, it’s worth considering whether life insurance will work for you. It’s also a great time to review homeowners or rental insurance policies as well.

  1. Put a new shine on your financial plan (with an adviser)

Whether it’s an accountant for tax planning or a financial adviser for investment and insurance advice, it’s important to find a professional who can help you review your accounts and provide recommendations on how to best reach your financial goals. In current volatile markets, for example, it’s important to know what’s happened in your portfolio and to use any investment losses to reduce capital gains taxes.

  1. Sow the seeds of your financial future

Begin to think about financial goals for the rest of the year and beyond — what seeds can you plant today to reap the rewards you seek? Focus on what you want for yourself and your family, with a near-term budget and some long-term ideas, including saving for retirement. Do you want to go on a big family vacation this summer? In retirement, do you want to live in an urban area and volunteer? Do you want to climb mountains?

As you shake the dust off your financial plan and imagine your future, cleaning house can help you understand how much it will cost and start thinking about ways to keep you finances in order throughout the year ahead. The sky’s your limit.

Source: Kiplinger

 

Due to our ongoing renovations, the branch lobby will continue to be closed. Please use the drive thru or our electronic services for all teller transactions. Learn more