Money-saving tips for 2013
If you’re trying to stay on target for healthy spending this year, here are some tips.
• Know your finances. The first step to saving money is knowing how you spend money. Review last year’s finances and pay attention to expenses that might increase this year. If you don’t have a budget, start tracking your finances now for a month and look for ways to save.
• Pay yourself. Most American’s don’t have an emergency reserve of at least three months worth of expenses saved. Don’t be one of them. Give up expensive habits and put the savings toward paying yourself. Set up regular, automatic transfers from your checking to your savings account.
• Plan meals. The average American family of four tosses out more than $2,000 in food a year. Plan weekly meals, buy in bulk, freeze leftovers, avoid impulse buys or marketing gimmicks, like buy 1 get 1 free, to reduce costs and food waste.
• Refinance your home. With mortgage rates at still low rates, it is a good time to think about lowering your payments through refinancing, if you’ll stay in your home for awhile.
• Stay healthy. Buy generic drugs when possible. Set up tax-favored accounts such as a flexible spending account through your employer or a health savings account with Mid American to help pay for health care costs. Don’t miss regular screenings and end up paying more in health care costs when a condition has turned more critical.
• Get ready for the holidays. Did last year’s holidays strain your budget? Start contributing $20 a week to a holiday savings fund and you’ll have several hundred dollars saved by the time the 2013 holidays come around.
Vacation saving tips
Studies show that an ideal work-life balance leads to happier, more productive employees. Yet many Americans end up not using vacation days, in part because of concerns about how vacations often mean spending money.
With careful planning, you can enjoy your vacation days with less money stress.
• Set up a dedicated vacation fund with automatic transfers. One of the perks of Mid American’s vacation savings accounts is that you can make three free withdrawals a month, so you can plan a vacation for any time of the year.
• Make it a family affair. Involve the entire family in other savings strategies. Collect loose change in a vacation savings jar – Mid American has free coin counters at its main and northeast Wichita branches and Ark City branch. Cull your closets and have a garage sale. Eat out less and pack a lunch for work.
• Do your research. You can find various deals through sites like Groupon Getaways or LivingSocial Escapes. But read the fine print to check for blackout dates and then compare with other travel sites. Sometimes you can find special deals directly on hotel sites.
• Consider “staycations.” Vacations don’t have to involve long-distance travel or any travel at all. Explore your surroundings with a day trip. Often it’s just the time away from work and the making of memories
No more paper government checks
The U.S. government is retiring paper checks for those who receive Social Security or other government benefits.
As of March 1, 2013, anyone receiving federal benefits will need to have those funds deposited directly into an account. The retirement of paper government checks has been in the works for the past few years as a way to reduce federal spending. The U.S. Treasury Department says it will save taxpayers $1 billion over the next 10 years to move to direct deposit.
There are still more than 5 million Americans who have not converted their government payments to direct deposit, according to federal officials. Those mailed checks represent an additional $4.6 million in monthly costs since each mailed check costs 92 cents more than a direct deposit transfer, Treasury officials have said.
If you or someone you know hasn’t taken the step to have these payments directly deposited into an account, go to www.GoDirect.org, call the helpline at 800.333.1795, or contact one of Mid American’s financial service representatives at 316.722.3921, ext. 202 for help in setting up a direct deposit into your account.
Merchants in 40 states can pass on credit card swipe fees
Merchants in 40 states now have the option to pass on the swiping surcharge for certain VISA and MasterCard credit card point-of-sale transactions to consumers.
The surcharges won’t be allowed on debit and prepaid card transactions and in 10 states, including Kansas, that prohibit the surcharges. The other states where the surcharge won’t be allowed are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Main, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas.
According to financial experts, any credit card surcharges will be limited to the amount of money the merchant pays to the credit card company. So if a merchant is charged 50 cents per swipe by the credit card company, it can only pass on a 50 cent charge to the consumer. Retailers who add the surcharge must post a fee disclosure to the consumer at the point of entry, point of sale and on the receipt, according to experts.
The option became effective Jan. 27, 2013, and is the result of a lawsuit settlement between merchants and VISA and MasterCard.
IRA contributions, income limits change
In 2013, individuals will be able to save a bit more through an individual retirement account, according to new IRS limits.
Since 2008, the IRS had capped contributions to traditional and Roth IRAs collectively at $5,000, but for 2013, the limit has increased slightly to $5,500.
The IRS has also updated the income limits for being eligible to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA and for being eligible to contribute to a Roth IRA. To find out more, go to www.irs.gov.
The IRS has not changed the catch-up contribution limit of an additional $1,000 for persons older than 50.
Mid American offers both traditional and Roth IRAs, as well as a Simplified Employee Pension IRA. The SEP IRA is a low-cost option, with no start-up or administrative costs, to a traditional pension plan and contributions are tax deductible. Employers and self-employed individuals can set up this type of IRA.
If you are interested in an IRA account, contact a financial services representative, 316-722-3921, ext. 202. For legal and tax information, please consult a legal or professional tax adviser.
By Jim Holt, President/CEO
During the week of Jan. 14, Mid American will open its newest branch at 2993 N. Webb Road in Wichita. We’ve heard from many of our members about how convenient it will be to have a Mid American branch in northeast Wichita, right off K-96 at the Webb intersection.
While we’re excited to open this new location, which will feature a more interactive-style of working with members, this branch is just one of many convenient ways we have to make financial services available to you. We’ve worked to develop infrastructure and relationships so that you can access us 24/7 and even across the country.
Branches, service centers and ATMs
The addition of the northeast Wichita branch gives us five locations in Wichita, in addition to our Arkansas City and Larned locations. In two of the Wichita locations, we’ve partnered with other credit unions to make it cost-effective to provide services.
Mid American has embraced the concept of working with other credit unions for quite some time, as one of the first Wichita credit unions to join the national shared branching network of Credit Union Service Centers. The network allows members to do cash transactions at participating credit unions, including 25 in Wichita and nearly 5,000 nationwide.
Since we are part of the Co-op Network, members can use more than 28,000 ATMs nationwide with no access fees.
With desktop and mobile banking, Mid American makes it even more convenient to access your accounts anytime, anywhere. With desktop banking, available at our website, you can log in to view account history, make loan payments, and transfer money between accounts and even to other institutions. Our mobile banking app, which made its debut this year, also has those same functions. You also can sign up for text services to get account balances, recent transaction history and make transfers.
We now have two ways for you to access telephone services 24/7. In 2012, we started offering around-the-clock member service, in which you can talk to a live service representative, by calling 316-722-3921 and pressing 2. To reach the automated teller, press 3.
To find out more about any of these services, go to our website or contact a financial service representative at 316-722-3921, ext. 202.
Dixon, Jerrell named Wichita Community Heroes
Congratulations to Rick Dixon of P.B. Hoidale and Officer Steven Jerrell of the Wichita Police Department for being recently named Wichita Community Heroes by the American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter.
The two have a close connection with Mid American Credit Union. For years, Dixon has served on the credit union’s board of directors. Jerrell spearheads a community-wide effort in which Mid American partners to help give Wichita-area children a positive activity during the summer break.
Dixon is president of the fourth-generation, family-owned P.B. Hoidale, which sells, services and installed high quality petroleum, lubrication and industrial equipment. Being civic minded comes second nature to Dixon, who regularly donates money to local organizations and his time by serving on various different boards in addition to Mid American. He also is a consistent blood donor for the American Red Cross.
He cares not only about the community where he lives and works, but those outside of it. The morning after the Joplin, Mo., tornado hit, Dixon called in workers to see how they could help with relief efforts. His company provided a generator and work crews also brought in bottled water for relief workers and the community.
Officer Jerrell was recognized for his work to reduce crime rates in the city of Wichita by building partnerships in the community. Ten years ago, Officer Jerrell came up with the idea of providing a positive activity, called Summer Activity Camps, to keep kids off the street. He partnered with the Wichita Parks and Recreation Department to provide a location for the activity and then sought community partners to help sponsor various activities. The venture grew from one single camp to five being held throughout Wichita. Mid American became a sponsoring partner, offering a financial literacy component in 2012.The activity, which has been recognized as the best financial youth literacy program among Kansas credit unions for the past two years, has resulted in a drop in crime rates for the neighborhoods surrounding where the camps are held.
Youth account gets national notice
Nerdwallet.com has ranked Mid American’s Preferred Youth Savings Account as one of the top youth and teen accounts among credit unions in the nation.
In its blog post listing the top credit union youth accounts, it noted, “Mid American Credit Union’s Preferred Youth Savings account offers your teen 0.50% APY, more than 5 times the national average APY for savings accounts.”
Mid American’s youth accounts, which earn dividends and have no fees, are available to anyone age 24 and younger.
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