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Living beyond your means

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog

 

 

Are you certain that you can afford your lifestyle? Living beyond our means is easy to do these days. We’re surrounded by temptations to spend and opportunities to break your budget. If you’re too focused on spending, and you’re suddenly concerned that your financial future may be in danger, you probably are caught up in a lifestyle that you can’t actually afford. If you’re feeling this way, you probably know that your finances need some help. Here are some major warning signs that you need to recognize…

Your credit score is low. Credit cards are everywhere, and our world has adopted plastic as a major way of spending money. If you’ve gotten caught up in the habit of using credit cards too much, you might have noticed some damage to your credit score. Credit bureaus are keeping close track of your spending history, your payment records, and all outstanding loan balances. All of this information makes up your credit score and you could suddenly discover that your score isn’t very strong. If you’re wanting to improve your credit score, focus on paying down your debt, discontinuing the use of cards and stop applying for new ones too. A lot of handwork and dedication will go into improving your credit score, so get ready.

You are highly motivated to spend by your “fear of missing out." None of us want to miss out on the great parts of life due to our financial circumstances. If you catch yourself breaking your budget to take part in excess social activities or to maintain a certain lifestyle that your social circle holds, you’re being motivated by the wrong things. Getting caught up in a few moments of overspending is one thing, but constantly doing so, and constantly making excuses for it too, is a bigger problem. You can find inexpensive ways to hang out with your friends, and maybe you’ll inspire your social circle to start finding ways to spend quality time together without spending too much money. Also, be sure that you don’t feel the need to purchase excess “stuff” just to feel you’re caught up with your friends or your social media following or your coworkers and the people in your life. The feeling that you need to be “on trend” or own the latest gadget isn’t as important as the need to build your own personal wealth.

Your credit card balances continue to rise. It’s normal to use a credit card as a regular form of payment, but maxing them out or carrying your balance over month to month is a problem. It’s also a sign that you’re unable to support your lifestyle. You’re relying on borrowing more money than you actually have, and you’re digging yourself a big hole full of debt, deeper and deeper, with every swipe of the card. Carrying a balance from month to month is a sign that you’re spending more than you can afford to spend. Get a grip on your spending problems – identify what it is that makes you overspend, figure out how to get back on a tighter budget, and set aside more money for your savings instead of unnecessary spending. Ideally, you should only be using a credit card if you can pay the balance off in full each month. If spending with plastic continues to be a problem, you might want to switch over to a cash-only spending system for yourself. Sometimes the act of paying with credit cards doesn’t really feel like spending money. But if you’ve over spent with your cash, you notice when some of it isn’t there.

You’re not saving enough money. Creating a savings system for yourself is so important. And if you haven’t done it before, now is as good a time as ever to start. Paying off your debt should always be a high priority, but paying yourself first is equally important. You may not be able to save the full recommended 10-15% of your income right now, but you could always adjust while you’re working on getting rid of your debt and reorganizing your monthly budget system. If you’re overspending on credit cards and living beyond your means, chances are you are not saving any money for yourself. Build your emergency savings or even your retirement savings now, and you won’t be disappointed. Your savings shouldn’t be dipped into, so if you breaking your budget means that you’re dipping into savings, chances are you’re doing something in your life that you don’t need to be doing. If you can’t save any money at the end of the month, chances are you’re buying more than you need and living a lifestyle you can’t support. Pay yourself first!

You don’t have any money left at the end of each month. This is a huge red flag, and perhaps the most obvious. You’ve overspent. Even if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, chances are there’s a small way or two that you can cut back each month. Even a Hulu account or a magazine subscription  would count as an extra, unnecessary expense if you’ve run out of money each month. A great way to jump start a savings plan is to take a month and have absolutely no extra spending. A spending fast will stop the bleeding so to speak, and you’ll be able to set that money aside for savings instead. Cutting all spending means dining out, entertainment and extra activities, trips to the coffee shop, no clothes shopping, no cable – cutting back will be hard, and if you can make an effort to do it over an extended period of time, you can use the money you would have spent on other things to build your emergency fund, or to tear down your debt.

If you aren’t willing to cut back in the short term, chances are you won’t make it in the long term. Stability won’t build itself, it’s your job to make sure you’re able to create a life that you can afford to keep up and that can withstand the long haul.

 

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

 

 

Convenience can be costly

 

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog

 

Our lives are continually speeding up and becoming busier and busier, making all things that are convenient more and more appealing. These days, we can order just about anything from any room in our home, we can pay for things with the click of a button, and we can have just about any purchase delivered to our front door. Convenience is no longer just an appreciated thing among people, it’s become something we all expect and sometimes demand.

Convenience plays a factor in all things from our health, to our food, to our savings, to our payments, to our travel, to our time. But at what expense is convenience coming to us?

Our health: In some ways, convenience has drastically altered our health. Think about how often we opt for the drive-thru at a fast food place, or pre-packaged foods at the grocery store. These are often times unhealthy options compared to fresh, seasonal food that we must prepare and cook ourselves. Grocery stores seem to have more packaged food products than non-packaged food options and these things are marketed to us and shoved in our faces so that we’ll feel the pull to choose the easy option over anything else.  These foods contain preservatives and unnatural ingredients that over time can have huge impacts on our weight and our overall health. Not only that, they’re often over-priced food options.

Quality: Sometimes, the more expensive and convenient items are higher quality purchases, and “totally worth it”. But how many times have you gone out to eat or grabbed that cup of coffee and thought to yourself, “I could have done this at home for much cheaper, and I probably could have made it better”. We’re often made to think that these fast, easy, mindless, convenient options are the better way to go, but sometimes we’re fooled by the choices available to us. Sometimes the quality is much lower, and we’ve just spent money on that.

Our environment: The cost of convenience has had a huge toll on the environment. Think of all those prepackaged foods, home electronics, single-serve products, (among so many other things) and how many more resources they require. The rise in production of these convenient items requires more energy to produce, more materials to package, and more effort to transport. With all of this extra effort to make things more convenient for humans, we’ve created a lot of waste and a lot of additional changes to our planet. We should always keep this in mind when we’re faced with choosing the convenient option.

Overconsumption: By having so many easy options out there, we’re often picking out more than we need. A lot of goods and foods are becoming easier to produce and manufacture, giving a change in prices, and encouraging us to buy more. But just because these things are cheaper to produce and purchase, doesn’t mean we need more of them. Not only that, but these things are readily available all over the place for us. Online, and on every corner, we’re forced to see and notice these things all the time and it makes us buy more than we need, and more often than we really need it. We know what overconsumption can do to our budgets too. Too many convenient options can make consumption way too convenient also.

Convenience comes with many hidden costs when you look at the whole picture. It’s easy to make the choice when the convenience is too good to pass up. But when we factor in all of these other ways that convenience eats away at us, how can we turn “inconvenient” into smarter habits and more rewarding work? Cooking a quality meal leaves you feeling great, even if it took four times as long and made such a big mess. Trying to switch the way we feel about convenient vs. inconvenient is the key. Convenience can quickly turn into what we’d consider a bad habit too. When I catch myself ordering food for delivery out of convenience, I get into a spiral of more decisions that cost more and leave me doing less work. I get into the habit of it, and then it’s harder to break.

Every spending decision should be a conscious one, not one we make out of habit or laziness or lack of motivation. It can get easy to justify spending more money on convenience, and it’s pretty amazing what we rationalize to ourselves as we do this. Being careful to plan ahead on a regular basis will help us with making a smarter decision when faced with choices to be made out of convenience.

Are you in a place where you need to reevaluate the choices you’re making based on convenience? 

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

 

Create a savings goal

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog

 

 We all have different reasons to save our money, and we all have different amounts of money we need to be saving. If you’re walking through life without a solid savings goal or a savings plan (or without savings at all!), now is as good a time as ever to get yourself ready to build your savings. The best way to start (when you don’t know where to start) is to create your top savings goal. 

Your savings goal is going to be different than your mom’s and different than your best friend’s goals, but the beauty is, you get to build it. You get to set your parameters, and the best part…you get to build your wealth!

Step one: What are you saving for? What is your savings goal?

Sometimes the goal is just building a general savings, sometimes you’re saving for something. Identify your true motivations for your desired savings. People who set a real, attainable savings goal save faster and save more each year than people who don’t! Try to be as specific as you can, if your goal is just to build a savings account, try to set goal numbers that you’d like to hit. Adding specifics like dollar amounts and dates you’d like to accomplish things by will make tracking your progress and reaching your goals much easier. Grab a pen and write down your savings goals.

Step two: Work out how much you’ll need to save month by month.

There are a lot of factors to work into this part. It’s all going to depend on the amount of money you need to save to hit your goal, it depends on just how much spare cash you have at the end of each month, and it depends on your timeline for reaching your goal. It’s a delicate balance between how much you can set aside each month and how long you can save for your goal. If you’re trying to save up for a new $600 computer, depending on your abilities, you could either save $100 each month and reach your goal in 6 months, or you could potentially save $200 each month and reach your goal in half the time. It will require you to sit down with your budget and dig in deep to see what kind of savings you can set aside with all of your other monthly financial commitments.

Step three: Make it automatic.

If you’re able to set up a new sub savings account with your credit union or bank, set things up to move into savings automatically. This way, you will never forget to set the savings aside, and you’ll continue to stay on your savings track to reach your goal in time. Better yet, give your sub savings account an inspiring name like, “My First Home” if you’re saving for a down payment on a house, or “Dream Car”, if you’re hoping for that new car. “Emily’s Rainy Day Fund” sounds way better than “Sub Savings 1” on my online banking accounts list. If I have the inspirational push each day or each week when I check in on my savings, I feel way more likely to stay positive and focused towards my goals. If you don’t already have a savings account open, start one online or head into your bank or credit union. They’ll get you set up! Set up your automatic savings to come out of your spending account on payday. The best time to set money aside for savings is the moment you get paid, that way it doesn’t sit in your account tempting you to continue to make purchases, instead of investing in your future.

Step four: Adjust your budget wherever necessary.

When creating new saving goals and new saving habits, you might need to tweak your budget just a little. If there’s room to wiggle a bit, change some of your categories. Chances are you’ll probably have to cut a few things from your entertainment or your “fun” categories within your budget. Maybe you won’t be able to get that bi-weekly latte you’ve built into your budget originally, or maybe you’ll have to cut your internet TV-streaming accounts.

Step five: Small things add up fast.

Whether it’s small purchases here and there that throw you off track of your savings goals, or small amounts of savings you’re able to add to your savings goals, don’t forget how fast the small things add up. Things like using the wrong ATM and incurring fees, or going out to eat on an impulse decision, these small missteps can add up quickly and can really throw you off track of your desired savings goals and even your monthly budget. If you save regularly, even small amounts here and there, you’ll notice how fast things can add up. Getting into the habit and continuing to see growth will only excite you and keep you wanting to work on growing things even further.

Step six: Stay motivated.

Visualize yourself reaching your financial goals and dreams. Keep that picture very close in your mind. Plan out all of the work you’ll need to do to get to your goals, and accept the fact that there will probably be some missteps. There will probably be a few moments where you fall out of your healthy habits and you mess up. That’s totally ok. It just means you’re human! Focusing on your small steps, and the small ways you can get closer to your goals will be really helpful day to day. Get rid of your negative thoughts and focus on thinking positively while you reach your goals. And be sure to not give up!

Creating savings goals leads to you reaching those goals, and that will lead to a more stable financial life for you! If you don’t create the goal and stick to it, you won’t reach it. Share your savings goals below, and bring your friends on board! There is strength in numbers and having a solid support system only gets you closer to your desired goals.

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

 

 

 

How much rent can you afford?

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog

 

 

 When faced with the task of finding a new place to live, there are a lot of factors to consider. When renting, (or buying) you’re looking into what neighborhood you need, whether you want an apartment or a house, if utilities are included or not, and most importantly, how much you can afford to pay in rent each month.

Other than safety, I would assume the cost of rent is the most important factor to consider when you’re looking for a new place to rent. Here’s how to determine what you can afford each month on your rent.

Decide what you can budget each month for your rent and your bills. Renting a home or an apartment will definitely require more money each month than just the rent itself. Make a solid list of all the required payments and bills you’ll need to budget for your move and your new place. These are things like gas and electricity bills, water bills, service charges and internet or cable install. If you live in a place in the city, you might have to budget money for parking whether it’s through a permit with the city or paying extra each month for a spot in a parking garage. You can ask the landlord or the previous tenant for estimates on what these bills could cost you each month when you go to look at the place for the first time.

Work up a budget of all your costs. In addition to your new rent payment, and the new bills and payments you’ll need to make a brand new budget for your new place. Not only listing the bills and your monthly expenses, try to estimate how much money you’ll be realistically spending each month on other day-to-day expenses and purchases. You’ll want to factor in things like your cell phone bill, your credit card payments, your loan repayments, food, car insurance, clothes, the gym or other hobbies you have, childcare or pet care and other deposits, and even some maintenance expenses. Maybe you’re moving to a new house and now you have the responsibility to tend to a yard. You’ll either need to buy a lawnmower or hire a lawn mowing service. Do whatever you can to make a detailed list of all the things you’ll be spending money on each month. If you’re ever in doubt on some of these payments, you should over-estimate rather than not setting aside enough money in your budget.

Once you sign a lease, you’re agreeing to stay there for a period of time. You’ll want to be sure you’ve factored in all costs so that you don’t end up going into debt trying to maintain your lifestyle in your new place. When you’re creating your new budget, factor in all of the money coming in each month and all of the money going out. Once you’ve figured out the sweet spot, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that you will have enough money to live on once you’ve paid your rent.

Don’t forget about the initial upfront costs, the annual costs or the one-time fees, etc. Before you sign the lease agreement, don’t forget about those upfront costs that you’ll incur. The rental deposit is usually one month’s rent. This is likely to be hundreds of dollars, if not up over $1,000. Make sure you have this money available before you commit yourself to a lease. As long as things go well in your lease, you’ll probably get the deposit back at the end, so there’s not a huge loss here, but getting the money upfront can sometimes be a challenge. Furniture and furnishings are another thing you might need to factor in unless your place comes furnished, or you’ve already established yourself in a home previously. These things can often go beyond a couch and a bed. You’ll probably need new curtains or blinds if the new place needs them, new trashcans for the kitchen or bathrooms, rugs, bedding etc. Sometimes these soft furnishings aren’t something you’ll need if you already have plenty of things, but the costs of these are often forgotten when factoring what you’ll need to spend to move into your new place.

Consider signing up for renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance covers you when you’re not yet a home owner. You’ll want to read up on what your insurance provider is willing to cover with your rental insurance agreement, but the coverage can save you when you’re hit with a problem three or four months into your lease agreement that your landlord isn’t going to cover.

If you’re moving in with roommates, consider your budget and the expenses you’ll get to split with that roommate. You’ll want to work out a fair system with your roommates on how to handle the payment of your bills and renter’s expenses. You want to make sure that if the bills are in your name, you and your roommate have worked out how you’ll pay. Paying your bills and your rent on time is crucial, so you and your roommate need to both know that things will be taken care of. In a lot of cases, it’s best to sign an agreement that will hold you both responsible for specific costs and responsibilities in the household. Work out these agreements before you move in with your new housemate.

A new house or apartment (even if you’re only renting!) is an exciting thing. Don’t let the excitement rack up your purchases in an unnecessary way, and don’t allow your new expenses to break your budget.

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

Now make online loan payments from other credit unions or bank accounts

 

 

For members with loans who want to make payments from a financial account at another institution quickly and securely, they can now do so with our Web Payment Center using funds from checking, savings, debit card or credit card. Members do not have to call in to make a payment.

When using the site, registration must include the primary member’s information.

Members can pay on any qualifying loan, but cannot pay on bankruptcy, charge offs, repossessions, family first loans, and MACU credit cards.

Payments are applied in nightly processing on the same day. Payments made on Friday after 5pm will post on Monday evening’s file.

There is a $10 convenience fee for using the service.

The link to the Web Payment Center can be found on our Member Services page, or by clicking here: Web Payment Center.

 

 

Easy credit card mistakes

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog

 

Credit cards can be a convenient and safe way to purchase things and build your credit. That is…if you’re using them right. They can also become a nightmare and damage your credit score and perhaps put you into massive amounts of debt. 

But that’s not how you’re using your credit cards is it?

I hope not. It’s not all about the cards we use, it’s about how we use these cards. If we aren’t careful to reexamine our behaviors around our credit card usage, we could be putting ourselves in some trouble without even knowing it.

Strategically use your credit cards. I was always a debit card fan. It helps me keep a more accurate view of my spending, and I think, keeps me from overspending on the regular. The problem with debit cards is the direct link to your bank account, if any fraudulent activity ever occurs. Massive retailers in the past have even dealt with huge security breaches in their systems, leaving tons of debit card purchases out in the open for fraudsters to access. I’ve had my own situation with fraudulent charges on a debit card and it required a lot of work on my end. Getting the cards cancelled, getting the new cards, finding just which charges were fraudulent…and all with an out of town bank. It was hard to navigate. Credit cards can offer us better protection in the case of fraud, and they can also act as the negotiator or middle party if you need to dispute a charge with a retailer or other company. Your credit card can be a safer option for making major purchases, and for online purchases especially.

Missing a payment. This mistake, might be an easier one to keep from making. It’s hard to miss my payments now that I’ve set up automatic payments. But if you’re really looking to see that credit score drop drastically, go ahead and miss a payment on your credit card. A late payment means you’ll have late fees, but a missed payment, by 30 days or more, will show your credit score that you’re not in the best place right now. Even if you didn’t mean to miss it. Even if you’re not that kind of person! Forgetting a payment won’t be fixed with an apology to your credit card company I’m afraid. You could even see your interest rate increase if your payment is missed by a lot.

Only hitting your minimum payments. There were a few months in a row for me where I could only pay off my minimum ($25…yes, you read that right) payment towards my credit card balance. It doesn’t feel like you’re making a dent at all, and really, you barely are. Even your credit card company isn’t impressed by this action. It shows that you’re so close to defaulting on your payments that you can only shell out what’s necessary. Doing this means you’ll likely pay a lot more in interest than you’ve actually even put on the card. Meaning, you’re paying for everything twice!

Maxing out your credit cards. It took one bad purchase for me to get into a bad, bad cycle of credit card bills. ONE silly bag I bought that was out of my budget. And it threw me off track for a long time, making the things I normally use the card for, near impossible since it had already been maxed out. A big part of your credit score comes from the amount of your available line of credit you’re using. Even if you’ll pay it off in full a little bit later, maxing it out shows that you need every penny of that borrowed credit limit to get by, and that can show credit scoring companies that you’re not borrowing their money wisely. Spread your charges around so that you’re only using a small percentage of the available credit on each of your cards. If you’re really working to have a better credit score, try keeping that small percentage of usage of your available credit to 10% or less.

Ignoring your credit card statement. When was the last time you looked through all of the individual charges on your credit card statement? Have you combed through it before? Never? I will be honest, it’s not something I practice each month. (And the statements aren’t even that long on my end!) Mistakes made by merchants you frequent can happen more often than you think. If you aren’t catching them in a timely manner, you might have a harder time getting reimbursed or resettled from these card companies. Promptly reporting fraudulent activity means you’ll have to catch it promptly too. Make it a habit of checking your statements, and if you’re only using 10% of your available credit, then hey, this practice won’t even take that long!

Taking advantage of rewards programs. There are lots of credit card options out there. Finding some cards with special rewards and advantages is a huge bonus! I’ve recently started a card account with my favorite airline, and the points system is really wonderful. Since I’ve been traveling more often for work, this allows me to cash in on some of those points instead of spending extra money. These rewards programs are often a little bit complicated, with all of the rules, regulations and fine print, you might rather opt in for a cash-back rewards program. Whatever you find is your ideal, smartly taking advantage of these perks is a good thing. And ignoring them seems like a mistake to me! The key is to understand yours really well, and only spend what you would normally spend, so that you don’t go into a purchasing frenzy thinking that you’ll get a ton of rewards if you do.

Have you caught yourself making some of these mistakes? Sometimes the fix is as easy as calling your credit card company to get a few questions cleared up. But sometimes the fix requires a little more work and some habit changing. Being aware of the risks involved with regular credit card usage is a big part of having credit cards.

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

Prepping for a frugal holiday season

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog

 

A lot of us  feel the pressure around the holiday season. It’s an expensive time of year, and just like any other expensive life event, planning and prepping are important so that you and your budget will make it through with little to no financial stress. The less time you give yourself for holiday spending, the more money you’re likely to spend. You’ll be in such a hurry to make it happen fast that you’ll spend whatever it takes just to get it finished. It’s never too early to start planning and getting prepared, so here are some things you can do right this minute to start preparing you and your family for the expenses that come with each holiday season.

Start forming your budget right now. You need to solidify what financial commitments you’re giving yourself this year. There are a lot of holidays that fall in this second half of the year, so be sure you’re accounting for each holiday that you’re celebrating. Will you need to pay for travel? Will you be in charge of cooking meals for multiple people? Will you be purchasing gifts for people? This is just your first rough draft, so don’t focus too hard on the exact amount you’ll have to spend for each item. Just outline all of the events and plans you have and build those things into your budget over the next few months. Once you have a rough list of your financial obligations for the holiday season, you can fine tune it over the next several weeks. Set up a spending maximum for yourself, and try to build everything into this.

Set your mind on not using credit cards this holiday season. If you’re planning things out in advance, you’ll be able to consciously sock away any extra cash you come across. Set up a sub savings account for all of your pre-holiday savings. Try skipping lunches out for a few weeks and set aside that money into your holiday savings instead. Or skip your morning coffee run and transfer that money to savings instead. If you start right now, these seemingly small steps will really add up. You don’t want to create extra debt for yourself for the sake of the holidays. You’ll feel the brunt of paying that off for months and months afterwards.

Spend strategically and not impulsively. If you are relying on your credit cards, do make sure that your credit limit can handle the extra charges. Be diligent about paying down your balances now, so that you don’t max everything out when you add purchases for the holidays. Time your purchases out by making a few of them at a time and starting now. You’ll take advantage of any seasonal deals and you won’t have to spend long days having a marathon mall shopping session. By spacing everything out week by week, you’ll spread your spending out instead of being hit all at once. That means when it comes time to pay down your balances, you won’t be breaking your monthly budget and you won’t miss any payments. Do your research on finding the right credit card for your holiday spending too. By strategically using a credit card that offers travel points, or cash back, you could set yourself up for better bonuses if you know you’ll have to be using credit cards a little bit here and there this season.

Thoughtful gift giving doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can make time for people, you have have an experience together, you can make them a special gift…you don’t always have to spend money on someone to let them know that they are cared for and loved this holiday season. Discuss some alternative gift giving with your family and loved ones. They might be on the exact same page as you this year if your top priority is saving some money this year.

Don’t forget about the little extras. They add up fast! Things like wrapping paper, bows, a Christmas tree, grocery lists for extra batches of baked goods, holiday party host gifts, holiday party contributions, charity donations — the list goes on! These things may not be on your radar as boldly as the list of gifts and travel you have to do this year, but they’re important to think about if they’re things you’ll need to add to your spending this season.

Make and book your travel plans as early as you can. If you wait until the last minute to book flights or plan your travel, you could be paying way more than you would if you plan ahead. If you can, plan your travel outside of the busiest travel times during the holidays. If you’re willing to be flexible on your travel times and plans, it could save you lots and lots of money.

Keep track of all your receipts and all the spending you’ve done for the holidays. If you plan things out really well, you could educate yourself on how to make next year even more frugal. You can save and track what you’ve spent this year, and calculate how to make it better next year. Where did you overspend? What did you forget to calculate? How much travel did you really do? Try to track everything you’re spending on this season, and learn a little more about your holiday shopping patterns.

Try starting your 2017 holiday prep the week after this year’s holiday. That sounds too early right? But maybe you could snag the deeply discounted items that follow a holiday that just passed. Imagine you got all of your wrapping paper and your decorations and even some of the gifts you need for next year right away. You’d be pretty proud of yourself! Future you would thank you!

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

 

Call center employees promote culture of empathy; exceeding members’ expectations

 

 

Our in-house call center, staffed with eight employees, handles service calls from members during normal business hours. Their goal is to provide world class service with first-call resolution. They strive to exceed member expectations on every call.

How do they do this? They treat members in a respectful manner using courteous responses and maintaining a congenial tone on the phone. Mid American’s call center team gives individualized service on every call, an example of the pride they take in their role when serving members.

 

Q: How do you strive to exceed expectations with on-call members each day?

“I strive to provide world class service for each member by being friendly, respectful and courteous. I take pride in making the experience professional for the member and ensuring their request is handled in a professional and efficient manner,” Kathy said.

“I strive to exceed members’ expectations on a daily basis by listening and being empathetic,” Gaby said.

“By listening to their needs and helping them promptly with a positive attitude in order to provide the best service possible,” Cassie said.

 

Q: Describe a time you provided First-Call Resolution to a member. How did you feel after the call ended?

“The best first-call resolution that I get are usually the ones when a member has lost a card and needs to cancel it. We can get the card blocked, have a new one mailed if necessary, and go over the transaction history to make sure there have not been any fraudulent charges. These calls are rewarding because we can put members’ minds at ease right away,” Mathew said.

“A member called in asking to transfer money. After making the transfer, I suggested that she download the mobile app so she could transfer money anytime, she was happy that she would be able to transfer the money without having to call in or get on the computer. It makes me feel good when the member is happier at the end of the call," Craig said.

 

Q: What should members know about our call center and why?

“We are a hard working group that is willing to do anything and everything to help serve the members any way we can. We make sure that Mid American Credit Union is their financial home,” Dakota said.

“I feel like they should know what a great team we have here and that we truly have their best interests in mind,” Tyffany said.

“We are here and ready to take their calls. We are here to perform our utmost best and our job is centered on helping them and making sure they’re taken care of,” Ruth said.

 

If you have questions regarding your Mid American Credit Union account, call 316-722-3921 for assistance.

 

 

 

How to live on less money

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog

 

Living happily with less. Do you think you can do it?

Our society has really encouraged this “have it all, and get it fast” mentality, I think it’s easy for us to feel like we don’t know how to minimize and live with less and still feel happy. We’re told we will feel happy with MORE and RIGHT NOW that it’s easy to get carried away with keeping up. It makes us forget about the things that should take priority in our financial lives.

This idea of drastically cutting back is particularly important if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck and you’re having trouble making ends meet. Or if you’ve lost your job. Or maybe you’re trying to cut spending to meet a certain short term goal – like paying down your debt, or a down payment on a house, or a baby on the way. OR maybe you’re working towards your dreams, like opening a small business or early retirement. Whatever your situation, making a few big cuts can help.

Massive cutbacks in several areas of your life can feel overwhelming, but it can lead to new discoveries about yourself and your life that you may not have found otherwise. Here are some areas to focus on and some ideas of how you can really cut back and live with less.

Cut the convenient, unnecessary spending. This means spending money on clothes, shoes, jewelry, makeup, home decor, convenient taxi rides, music downloads, video streaming services, vacations, electronics, getting your hair cut…the list goes on…it’s a lot!

Learn how to get comfortable without the middle-class comforts you’re used to. If you’ve been laid off, or suddenly finding it crucial that you make some changes, don’t give yourself a grace period to “ease into” a new normal. Start it right this moment. It’s easy to resist abrupt cutbacks when you’re suddenly faced with a big life adjustment. You need to make the necessary changes as soon as you can so that you won’t get yourself into a more serious situation. Even if you’re getting ready to go to an interview, try your best to resist the urge to overspend on a new look, or even a new outfit. Hit up some consignment stores, or borrow a nice outfit from a friend. Try to think about what you already have, and what you can get away with never buying.

If food has been a big part of your budget, cut it down. Maybe your job allowed you to go out for meals on a regular basis before you were laid off. That will need to change. And it should change if you’re trying to save up for something or cut down your debt too. There are a lot of benefits to retraining yourself to cook at home and eat a little bit less. Your older clothes from your “skinnier days” will start to fit you. You can set a daily, automatic withdrawal from your checking account right into your savings account with the the amount you would normally be spending on lunches out with coworkers, or dinners out on the town. It’s easy to feel like your social life changes drastically too when you have to cut back on some of these fun outings. That doesn’t have to happen! Get your friends on board (they could stand to save a little money too, couldn’t they?) and find ways to get together without compromising on fun and friendship. Grab a group of close buddies and coordinate a weekly night where you could all get together and cook a good meal, one where everyone is contributing something so that no one feels the brunt of all that cooking. Even people who aren’t really forced to cut back on their spending will appreciate saving a little bit here and there. You could still allow yourself 1 or 2 nights a month (if you can swing it) where you go out with some friends. Something I try to do is only eat half of my meal when out with friends. And with my leftovers at home, I add my own rice or quinoa to make the leftovers stretch even further, sometimes into two more meals if I’m really strategic.

Cut the costs of housing. An obvious solution to cut back on what you spend on rent or your mortgage is to live with other people. If you can, look for a roommate or someone to split housing with. Whether living with friends or a new acquaintance, work up a rental agreement that you are both comfortable signing. Living with other people can be tough, and getting wrapped up in the wrong living situation can make a financially stressful period of your life even more stressful. Becoming a house sitter for friends, family and acquaintances could lead to a nice trade of services. Whether short term or long term, put it out into your circle in the universe that you’re looking for this type of work and perhaps a longer opportunity could present itself. My friend once housesat for a couple who were traveling overseas for almost a year. They worked out a great deal that allowed my friend to live rent free for nearly 10 months! This is another situation where a written contract could help smooth over any potential hiccups down the road. Perhaps you have doting parents that would just love it if you moved back in with them for 6 months or a year. It’s not the life you dreamed of, but it could really open up your finances for substantial savings, even if just for a shorter period of time.

Find your biggest motivator for a financially comfortable life. Keeping your eyes on the prize is a healthy mentality for accomplishing something big. Maybe you’re already living with 4 roommates and your biggest motivator is getting your own place. Or maybe that business you’ve always dreamed of is getting closer than you imagined. You might be closer to buying that house or killing your debt than you think! Keep the momentum going, stay on track, and don’t allow yourself to get pessimistic about your current situation. This doesn’t have to last forever.

If you felt the need to make a massive cut tomorrow, where would you start?

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

 

 

Falling into some seasonal chores

 

 

By Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer

Fall officially started last month, so don’t waste any more time in completing chores both inside and outside your home to get ready for the winter. It’s worth it – from avoiding costly repairs later to helping with heating bills – to make an investment of time for these fall chores.

Outside chores

• Clean and store outside patio furniture and kids’ summer toys.

• Drain and store garden hoses to prevent damage to water pipes. Have your sprinkler systems blown free of water to prevent damage to the system, as well.

• Inspect windows, entry doors and garage doors. Check and make necessary repairs to caulking and weather stripping to ensure windows and doors close tightly to avoid drafts.

• Inspect and clean, if necessary, chimneys and flues for safety and efficiency.

• Check gutters and downspouts to make sure melting snowfall and ice can drain properly. Ice in a clogged cutter will expand, causing damage.

• Wash windows.

• Get ready for ice and snow by stocking up on ice melt for sidewalks and getting a new snow shovel, if needed. If you have a snowblower, make sure it’s in good working order.

• Do final winterizing treatments for your lawn.

Inside chores

• Give your house a good cleaning now so you’re ready for any holiday entertaining. Vacuum, clean or launder drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and baseboards. Either schedule or do your own carpet cleaning. Give furniture a deep vacuum or have it professionally cleaned. Clean and organize kitchen cabinets so you’re ready for holiday cooking.

• Since you’ve washed the outside surface of windows, do the same with the inside surface.

• Take care of furnace and humidifier needs. Schedule a furnace inspection, stock up on furnace filters and ensure your humidifier works (which is important for preserving hardwood floors).

• Inspect and clean appliances – from vacuuming refrigerator coils to checking washer hoses to cleaning out dryer exhaust tubes.

If you find you need any major repairs or renovations, remember that Mid American offers great rates on home equity loans and lines of credit. Go to www.midamerican.coop and find out more about home equity loans and our mortgage services.

 

 

 

Speaking of taxes


 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

Whenever talk of tax reform looms, lawmakers and special interest groups aligned with for-profit banks will bring up the fact that credit unions have a tax "subsidy" that banks do not.

First it is important to note that credit unions generally and Mid American specifically, pay every single tax levied, with the only exception being income tax. The basis for our income tax exemption results from our democratic, not-for-profit cooperative status. The 1934 legislation that created credit unions justified the exemption because credit unions are "mutual or cooperative organizations operated entirely by and for their members." We do not impose fees and charge for services to help a small, select group of stockholders make a profit. We are here because we operate on cooperative principles to serve and benefit all members equally. We return profits to our members by way of higher dividends, lower fees, better saving rates and – as indicated in several surveys – better member service than found at banks. Without credit unions charging lower fees and offering better dividend and loan rates, banks could charge even higher fees and rates to allow their select stockholders to pocket even more profits. In fact studies have shown that in communities where there is a credit union alternative, consumers at all financial institutions benefit.

We also are here to make a difference in the community, from serving as financial literacy advocates and investing in seminars to participating in outreach efforts to help educate individuals understand money matters. A person who is more financially literate and stable will be a better contributor to society by understanding economics, learning to live within their means (to avoid bankruptcy and other financial crises), saving for retirement and more. Credit unions were created to serve consumers of modest means, allowing them to keep more of their money because they are not paying high fees or interest rates to use their money or borrow money.

If we lose our income tax-exempt status, you (our members) will bear that burden. Mid American will need to find increased revenue streams which translates to higher interest rates on loans for cars, education and houses, plus the dividends you earn on your savings would be lower. We would have to dip into limited reserves – a cushion we use to protect our members and the credit union during economic shifts – and that would impact the longstanding tradition of credit unions being safe and secure institutions for your money.

 

 

Saving to buy a home

 

By Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer

Buying a home is likely the single, largest purchase you will make in your lifetime. To make that step, be prepared to save money for a cash down payment and related home-buying expenses. Plus, make sure your credit is in good shape.

Most financial institutions require some sort of down payment, generally ranging from at least 3 percent to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home, to ensure you have an incentive and investment upfront in your home. (Only about a handful of mortgages, such as the VA and other government-related entities, will allow no down payment.) With a 20 percent down payment, you avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance.

Saving for a down payment will mean being more focused on where your money goes. Start with a budget – if you don’t have one, develop one. Whether you use an online tool or old-fashioned pencil and paper, start tracking your income, your expenses and whatever else you spend your money on. In a short amount of time, you should be able to see where you might be able to scale back or make cuts. Put those dollars saved into a separate savings account to build up your down payment.

Be ruthless about cost-saving measures, like giving up a gym membership and using walking trails or parks instead, or brown-bagging lunches and giving up expensive coffees or smoothies to make your own. Do you have credit cards or auto loans? Check the rates and see if you can negotiate lower rates for savings. Take a second, temporary job to reach your goal faster. Another step is to check into homeownership assistance programs at the federal government’s HUD.

With a budget set, check on your credit score. The score is used by lenders to determine your ability to repay the loan and set your mortgage rate. Check your credit report – which can be done for free once annually from each credit reporting agency at annualcreditreport.com – to ensure it’s accurate. (Generally, you will need to pay a fee to receive your score.) Fixing errors can move up your score.

Our website offers several tips for first-time home buyers; check the section “Buying a Home.” You can calculate what you can afford and learn how to get preapproved, plus get information on our low mortgage rates for 15-, 20- and 30-year mortgages.

 

 

Ease the burden

 

 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

We all understand the need for rules. Often, however, rules are made to solve a situation that has already occurred. Their sweep can be so broad that they penalize individuals and businesses that already had in place a set of policies designed to help and not take advantage of those they serve.

That is what has happened to credit unions, whose members – you and me – are paying out of our pockets for expensive regulatory oversights that were put in place because of banks.

The financial crisis of 2008 resulted from money center banks needing to be bailed out. Since that time, the federal government has added a huge number of regulations intended to rein in these banks. Unfortunately, these new regulations are hurting credit unions and their members even though we did not cause or contribute to the crisis in the first place. Regulations cost time and money – more complexity, more paperwork, more fees – that we would rather spend on providing services to benefit you.

Since 2010, regulatory costs for credit unions nationwide have increased by 39 percent, driving up overall costs to a staggering $7.2 billion annually. Credit unions have lost $1.1 billion nationally in revenue due to regulatory costs. In Kansas, the impact of these regulations has been more than $44 million – more than $39 million spent in compliance and $5 million in lost revenue.

Every penny we spend trying to fix a problem we don’t have is money we cannot return to you. Less money spent on excessive, expensive regulations would mean higher interest rates on deposits, more services and products and lower loan rates – all of which would more directly benefit you.

 We need your help to turn this situation around, and as a member-owner, you can make your concern heard. Mid American Credit Union is joining with our national organization, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), to educate and help activate America’s 105 million credit union members about this situation.

To assist you, CUNA has helped establish a website, www.easetheburden.com, with more information and a way to act on this issue. Through the site, all it takes is one email – using a prewritten message or one with your own words – to contact all of your Congressional representatives to ask them to “Ease the Burden.” No personal information about you will be gathered or retained if you visit this site.

Please consider taking action today.

 

 

 

 

We have a lot to offer

 

 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

On April 2, Mid American’s merger with Wesley Medical Credit Union in Wichita is scheduled to be finalized. This will mark our third merger in little more than a year and bring our total number of branches to 11, with six of them being in Wichita.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome the newest members of our financial family and also to inform them and remind our current members about several benefits of Mid American membership.

• A life’s worth of products. From youth accounts that can be started at the birth of a child to health savings account to retirement accounts, Mid American can help you with financial products and services for various life events.

With our spectrum of savings accounts, you can save for a vacation, holidays, college and more. If you are an entrepreneur, take advantage of our business services accounts. If you need a home or mode of transportation, we can help finance those dreams. If you need credit, we offer great rates for home equity loans and credit cards. For teens who want to start on the road to financial independence and for seniors who want to start on the road to independence from a career, we can provide you with accounts and resources to plan for that.

• A national network of branches and ATMs. Mid American was one of the first Wichita credit unions of an early initiative to join credit unions across the U.S. in a shared branching network. Through our involvement with CO-OP, you can visit more than 5,000 Shared Branch facilities to make in-person transactions, just as if you are visiting one of our branches. You also can use any of the nearly 30,000 surcharge-free CO-OP ATMs in the U.S. Just look for the CO-OP signage.

• A sophisticated online presence. Many of our members prefer the 24/7 nature of online and mobile banking. That is why we invested in a state-of-the-art online banking system in 2014 and continue to add features to that and our mobile banking system.

• A little extra help. If you need to learn more about certain financial situations or how to budget, we are here to help. We offer occasional seminars at our branches, such as home-buying or retirement investing (see Page 2), and onsite seminars for employees of our preferred partners employer program. If you need help finding ways to save money or even balance a checkbook, our member services representatives are happy to assist you or help you secure the service of the free Kansas Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Remember that credit unions are about people helping people. That is why our staff and volunteers are always ready to help you with your financial needs.

 

 

 

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Become an advocate

 

 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

As a member/owner of a credit union, you make a difference. You are one of 103 million members who have made the decision to trust a not-for-profit cooperative to be your financial home.

We value that trust and work diligently to provide you with the services and products you need. However, every year, credit unions, their supporting organizations and members find themselves trying to ensure that we can continue to operate in your best interest.

At Mid American Credit Union, we regularly communicate with and educate legislators, policymakers and other leaders about the important role we play and how we differ from banks. (As you may recall, my last Member Insight column focused on the differences between banks and credit unions.) In the past, for example, we have educated legislators and policymakers on such topics as the fact that a federal income tax would just be another cost for our members to bear.

On our own, however, this advocacy often goes unheeded. We are going to need your help to make a difference.

Forty-two percent of voters are credit union members, according to Credit Union National Association. Legislators and policymakers need and want to hear from people such as our members who are impacted by policies that affect their financial well-being and the credit unions to which they belong. Many credit union members, both nationally and locally, comprise the middle class who are frequently referred to by political candidates during campaign speeches. It is important to become an informed voter and citizen.

In the upcoming months, you can expect to hear from us about different issues that could impact credit unions. We ask that you consider becoming informed and taking action, because, as a member-owner, you have a vested interest in these policies. And there is power in numbers...

 

 

Staying physically and financially healthy

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog.

Gym and health club memberships tend to increase in January as well-intentioned individuals try to make good on resolutions to get in better shape, lose weight or become more physically active.

There are some people who firmly believe a gym membership is the only way they can be held accountable for their health or weight loss goals. For some, it can be a waste of money.

Here are some things to consider, along with tips for cheaper alternatives for staying physically fit.

Make sure you’re fully committed. A gym membership requires more than a mental and physical commitment, it requires a financial commitment. Will you be able to make it worthwhile or will your membership become a monthly “donation” to the gym or health club? Not to be discouraging, but check out the cancellation policy, as well, before making that financial commitment.

Gyms pull crowds. Peak times tend to be in the morning and in the evening, before and after a typical workday. Nothing is more frustrating than being ready to work out and not having the piece of equipment you prefer to exercise on or not being able to get in a full workout because you spent a lot of time waiting for equipment to free up. If you’re thinking about joining a gym in your area, check in on it at those peak times.

There are several free options to achieving fitness goals that have side benefits. For example, take a nice long hike through your neighborhood with friends or family. You'll be spending quality time with people you care about and getting in exercise. Drive to different neighborhoods or parks and explore your community. Walking the dog is also a great way to exercise both your pet and yourself. Find free YouTube exercises online.

If you're committed to making time for workouts, you can consider investing in at-home equipment, a variety of workout DVDs, stability training tools, or even a great pair of walking or running shoes. Or take up bike riding if there are bike-friendly routes and trails in your area. Maybe you can even use your bike to commute to work.

It’s important to weigh your options first and be honest about how you plan to achieve your fitness and well-being goals. If you decide you need a gym membership, squeeze it into your budget where you can.

If you find less-expensive ways to meet your fitness goals, think about investing the money you would have spent on a gym or health club membership in a Mid American savings or vacation account. That way you can achieve some financial well-being along with physical well-being. And if you've saved for a vacation, maybe you'll have some time to recharge your mental well-being, as well.

 

 For more articles on personal finance visit, Money Matters

 

 

Mid American's plans for EMV cards

What are EMV cards?

EMV stands for Europay, VISA and MasterCard.  Currently, traditional card transactions are processed through the information contained on the magnetic stripe of the card.  With EMV cards, a small computer chip is included in the card.  The technology associated with the chip adds a layer of verification when the card is used at an EMV enabled terminal to help ensure that the card has not been duplicated.  You may hear EMV cards referred to as:

  • Smart card
  • Chip card
  • Smart-chip card
  • Chip-enabled smart card
  • Chip-and-choice card (PIN or signature)
  • EMV smart card
  • EMV card

When will I receive an EMV card from Mid American Credit Union?

At this point in time, Mid American Credit Union has not issued EMV cards.  We will continue to monitor terminal deployments, merchant readiness and other card processing factors to help us determine the best time to issue EMV-enabled cards.

Are merchants and financial institutions required to update to EMV?

No, there is no legal or regulatory requirement for either the merchant or the card issuer to update to EMV.  In fact, estimates are that only about 50% of terminals, 29% of credit cards and 17% of debit cards will be EMV-enabled by the end of 2015 with widespread rollout not anticipated for several years.

Will my Mid American card work in an EMV-enabled terminal?

EMV-enabled terminals also support current card-swipe technology, so you can use your existing Mid American card at any EMV-enabled merchant or ATM location.

Am I exposed to potential liability without an EMV card?

Your liability for fraudulent card transactions will not change.  You should continue to follow fraud prevention steps such as not disclosing account, personal or card information, monitoring account transactions and immediately reporting any unusual activity.

What is the significance of the October 1st date?

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In order to encourage EMV, merchants will now bear liability for fraudulent transactions if they continue to use non-EMV terminals. Consumer liability for transactions has not changed.

Will EMV cards eliminate card fraud?

No, EMV will not eliminate card fraud.  For example, since the physical card is not utilized for internet based-transactions, EMV will not protect against fraud in those situations. 

What is the value of EMV?

If fraudsters produce a copy of a traditional magnetic stripe card, they can use the card repeatedly because the data on the magnetic strip doesn’t change with each transaction.  With an EMV card, the computer chip creates a unique transaction code that changes with each use.  If chip information is breached, the typical card duplication would not work because the information would not be usable for other transactions.  EMV technology will not prevent data breaches from occurring, but it will make it much harder for criminals to successfully profit from the data they’ve obtained.

Why the delay in full market acceptance?

With an $11 billion estimated price tag for full deployment, some merchants have delayed installation of EMV terminals.  Furthermore, EMV does not address fraud related to "card-not-present" transactions, such as internet-based transactions.

What are the cost considerations?

EMV cards are about two to three times more expensive to issue. This is a significant consideration for card issuers, such as Mid American, that proactively reissue all cards that may be affected by a merchant data breach.

In summary, we believe it will take some time to fully realize the potential security benefits of EMV cards. We will continue to monitor the progress in order to provide our members with the best security options available.

Sign up online for 24/7 banking

If you haven’t accessed Mid American’s improved Online Banking system, you can easily sign up online if you have an email address on file with us.

In September 2015, Mid American launched a new Online Banking system that offers far more enhancements than our previous system. With the new system, we can now offer online self-enrollment.

Here’s how you can take advantage of that benefit:

1. Click on the Sign up for Online Banking link just below the Member Login button in the upper right-hand corner of www. midamerican.coop.  Accept the disclosure by clicking I Agree.

2. Enter the Social Security number of the primary accountholder (with no dashes), enter your account number and enter the email address that you have on file with us. Click continue

3. Enter the primary accountholder’s personal information.

4. Click Send Email verification. Once the verification email is sent you have one hour to complete the enrollment, or you’ll need to start over the process.

5. Open the verification email and click on the confirmation link.

6. Choose a user name of six to 12 characters (case sensitive). Use the temporary password you selected to log in. You’ll be prompted to change your password after you log in.

We want you involved

 

 

By Jim Holt, President/CEO

As a member-owned financial cooperative, we try to get as much input as possible from our members. Whether that is through members providing us with feedback on an individual basis or getting involved in different volunteer opportunities with us, we value the information.

Our Member Advisory Board, which formed in 2008, is one way through which you can get involved. The board provides a unique opportunity for Mid American leadership and members to work together to identify trends, share information about current and future products and service, discuss issues and find out what we can do to enhance our members’ experiences.

Serving on the Member Advisory Board is fairly easy to do and far less time-consuming than serving on our other volunteer boards, such as our board of directors or credit committee, for example.

All we ask is that you to join us for lunch twice a year and engage with my staff and me to provide us with additional voices and perspectives. The interaction provides you with the opportunity to gain a deeper relationship with your trusted financial home and provides us with the information we need to ensure we are doing the best that we can to serve our members.

This past spring, we held our first Member Advisory Board meeting for the year, with 19 members participating. Plans are underway to hold our second meeting in October. There is still room at the table to accommodate more members. If you would like to participate, please contact Sarah Meehan, employer partnerships and advocacy manager, at 316-722-3921, ext. 176 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are unable to join our Member Advisory Board but you want to be an engaged member, we welcome your feedback through a personal call, a visit with a supervisor or through the Contact Us section of our website. To send a secure message, please use the Message Center tab found at the top right-hand corner of our Online Banking page.

 

 

Shedding some light

 


From Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer

We’ve gotten used to reading labels when we buy food, but have you ever read the label on a light bulb package?

Right there on the box, just like on our food packaging, there’s a box of information with Lighting Facts Per Bulb. So what does
it mean?

> Brightness: Light is measured in lumens; the higher the number, the brighter the bulb.

> Estimated Yearly Energy Costs: This tells you on average how much in energy costs you’ll spend using the bulb. Generally the figure is based on three hours a day of use and being charged 11 cents per kilowatt.

> Life: This figure tells you how long the bulb should last, based on three-hour daily usage. The higher the number, the more efficient the bulb.

> Light appearance: Shown as a scale from warm to cool, this indicates the hue and quality of the light on the light spectrum of 2,700 to 6,500 Kelvin, with K being used as the abbreviation. Lower Kelvin numbers mean the light appears more yellow, while higher Kelvin numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer. The standard color of incandescent bulbs tends to be lower and is often termed as giving warm or soft white light. Lights in the 3,500 to 4,100K range, which are good for kitchens and work spaces, tend to be called cool or bright white or neutral light. Lights in the 5,000 to 6,500K range are good for reading and are sometimes called natural or daylight.

> Energy used: This is the wattage.

LED lights are the new trend when it comes to interior and light design. They add style, sophistication and more options. Although you’ll spend more initially in the purchase price compared to other options, you’ll save money on electricity and replacement costs since they have a longer lifespan.

If you’re wanting to cast your home in
some better light with upgraded lighting and other renovations, consider a second mortgage-home equity loan. To find out
more or to apply for a second mortgage-home equity loan, go to the Loan section
of www.midamerican.coop.

 

 

IRS issues new IRA rollover limits

 

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, the IRS will enforce a tax court ruling that allows an IRA owner only one IRA-to-IRA rollover per 12-month period.

An IRA owner will be allowed to make only one rollover from an IRA to another (or the same) IRA in any 12-month period, regardless of how many IRAs that an individual owns.

In the past, the IRS had allowed one rollover per 12-month period from each
IRA an individual owned.

Rolling over multiple distributions may result in additional taxes and penalties, such as excess contribution penalties.

According to the IRS website, the new ruling won’t affect one’s ability to transfer funds from one IRA trustee directly to another because this type of transfer is not a rollover.

For more information from the IRS on the ruling, click here.

Helping our members affected by layoffs

 

Being laid off from your job is a stressful time due to the effects on your personal finances. At Mid American, we encourage our members who are dealing with this issue to contact us if you have concerns. We have options that can help you get through the difficulties your family may be facing.

Talk with one of our Financial Service Representatives to learn how we can help: 316-722-3921, ext. 201.

 

 

Have questions about Online Banking? Some FAQs

 

Q: I am logging in for the first time. What do I enter as the Online Banking ID and my Online Banking password?
A: The first time you log into the new Online Banking tool, you will use your Mid American account number as your Online Banking ID. On the next page you will be asked to enter in your current desktop banking password, which is the password you used in the old system when you say your personal icon image. All letters will need to be entered as lowercase, even if your password contains uppercase letters. You will then need to create a new Online Banking ID and a new Online Banking password.

Q: The icon I see for the first time when I log in isn’t the same one I had in the old system. What should I do?
A: Don’t be alarmed. You will see a random image the first time you log into the new online banking system. You will be asked to select a new personal icon as you go through the various steps of setting up access.

Q: Are there any guidelines on creating my new Online Banking ID?
A: Your new Online Banking ID cannot be your Mid American account number. Your new Online Banking ID must be between 6 to 10 characters long. No special characters are allowed.

Q: Are there any guidelines on creating a new Online Banking password?
A: Your new Online Banking password must be between 6 to 10 characters long. A strong password is a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. The following special characters may be used: ! ” # $ % & ( ) + - / : < = > ? [ ^ _ ‘ { | } * ‘

Q: Will I need to select a new security image and questions?
A: Yes, you will be prompted to select a new personal icon image. You will also be asked to select three different questions and provide the appropriate answers as your new security questions. You will also be asked to provide information that will allow you to reset your password in the future.

Q: Is mobile banking still available?
A: Yes, it is. You will need to activate your mobile settings in the new online banking system, under Settings. And once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to download the new app, available for both Android and iPhones. Your Online Banking Login ID and Password that you’ve just set up will be the same for your mobile app. Find out more details on activating mobile banking by clicking here.

Q: I need to transfer money among my accounts. What’s the easiest way to do that?
A: Go to the new MyMACU page in Online Banking. Check the right hand column for the Transfers section. Use the pulldown menus in the From and To section to select accounts to transfer money to and from.

Q: I use Quicken. Is there anything I need to do to be able to use it in the new system?
A. Yes. You will need to reactivate with Quicken. Download instructions for reactivating here.

Q: What are the benefits of this new system?
A: The new Online Banking system will give you so many more options to review your account and handle transactions than you had under the old Desktop Banking system. And more are on the way.  Here are a few of the benefits:

  • You can customize the way you look at your account information by going to MyMACU.
  • In the Services section, you can change your address, find out loan payoff information and opt in for overdraft protection.
  • You can be notified through Alerts (found in the Settings section) about a whole variety of account activities, such as transfers, account balances going up or down a certain dollar amount, when a certain check clears, an incoming ACH credit, a maturing certificate and more.

Q: I’ve been unsuccessful in logging into the new system. Can I talk to someone?
A: You certainly can. Call us at 316.722.3921. We have an internal call center set up to help you between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Sept. 12. After that you can call 316.722.3921, ext. 202 during normal business hours. You can also visit the nearest Mid American Credit Union branch and someone can help you in person. Click here for branch locations and hours.

Mid American Credit Union8404 West Kellogg DriveWichita, KS 67209316.722.3921Fax 316.722.0920Privacy Policy