How to get ready for Tax Season!

Taxes. The one time of year that is equally as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. I know for myself I have always had someone else do my taxes and just accept whatever the outcome is. But there are so many tools you can use to do them on your own. And you can get more money back than you think! Here are some ways to prepare for this tax season and get the most out of it!

  1. Maximize your retirement plan. If your job has a 401 K plan or another type of retirement plan you need to take advantage of it! Most places will put in the same amount as you do towards it. And even if they don’t they are still tax deferred.
  2. Adjust withholding. I bet you did not know you could do this. If you want to get more back this year, you can! So if you are in a little bit of a financial rut right now, you can adjust it to where you will take home more this year and less next year.
  3. EITC Assistant Tool. For those of you who earn less than $53,505 you are eligible to receive EITC (Earned Income Tax Credit) This means that what you owe on your taxes is reduced and you may receive more money back.
  4. Donate. Did you know you can get money back for being a good person? Sometimes doing the right thing does pay off.  Just make sure you know the guidelines on how much you can claim and from which organizations. Turbotax gives some more information on this.
  5. Tuition. Over the course of 4 years you can get $10,000 back from being in college. That’s $2,500 a year, imagine how much that could help you while you’re still in school. Check out Forbes to get more details on this.
  6. The fastest way to get your return. The fastest way to file your return is going to be electronically, that way you can set up your direct deposit so when everything is processed your money will get deposited right into your account.

I hope this post gave you some ideas on how to get the most out of this tax season!

 

Make sure to visit us at www.glcu.com

Last minute Christmas Shopping

Christmas has seemed to creep up on me fast this year! It is 5 days away and I still have not finished my Christmas shopping. I know I am not the only one who has this problem. So where can we find the best deals this close to Christmas? Here’s my list of the best deals going on until that big day!

  1. Amazon. I personally do a lot of my shopping through Amazon. And for 3 more days you can get FREE two-day shipping when you get Amazon Prime. A perk of getting Amazon Prime is you get their lightning deals 30 minutes before anyone else! So on top of already getting great deals, you can get free shipping and deals before everyone else. How could you say no to that?
  2. Target. Who doesn’t love Target?! I could wander around that store for hours. And currently they have a lot of amazing deals going on. Including 30% off coffee makers, and yes this does include keurigs! They even have deals where you can receive a giftcard with certain items you purchase. They also have tons of new movies, video game systems, and apple products on sale right now!
  3. Best Buy. For the techy people in your family Best Buy is definitely the place to go! Their featured deal for this week is save $100 on select models of the Mac, iMac, and MacBook. If you’re looking for some smaller gadgets at a great price they have the Amazon Echo and the Echo Dot on sale. Best Buy also has a price match guarantee, so if you do find something there but know you can get it for a better deal somewhere else they will match the price!
  4. Toys R Us. Obviously, Christmas is really about the kids. And if your kiddos have made it onto the nice list this year then they deserve some awesome gifts.. without burning a hole in your wallet. At Toys R Us right you can get hundreds of toys at amazing deals. They have buy one, get one 40% off on Star Wars play sets, My Little Pony play sets, WWE figures and tons more. They have deals from saving $10 up to $100.

 

If you’re looking for some great online shopping besides Amazon I recommend Zazzle, Overstock, Zappos, and Shein!

I hope this list gives you all some great last minute shopping options!

The Best Checking Rewards Programs

There are so many checking account and debit card rewards programs out right now.
Some give you cash back, some go off a point system, some can even give you discounts on loans. So how do you pick the best and the right one for you? There are a few factors that you need to pay attention to.

  • Annual Fees
  • ATM Fees
  • Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Balance Requirements

If you’re looking for the most cash back the Green Dot Rewards card you get 5% cash back on all purchases up to $100. The annual fee is pretty steep though at $9.95 a month. The Discover Cashback Checking gives you .10 cents cash back on debit transactions, up to 100 transactions a month, and there is also no annual fee with this option!

If you’re looking for the most points the Kroger 1-2-3 Rewards debit card is a great option. It gives you 1 point for every $1 spent out of the Kroger store, 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible Kroger products,  3 points for every $1 spent on Kroger family or brand products. Once you have reached 1,000 points you get $5 worth of groceries. If you are someone who travels a lot this next rewards checking will get your attention. The UFB Airlines Rewards Checking will give you 1 mile per point every $3 debit transaction. They also have a lot of other perks to their account including free purchase rewards, free person to person transfers, free postage-paid envelopes, and many more.

The Reward program that we offer here at GLCU is called Buzzpoints, this is linked to our checking accounts and debit cards. The more you use your debit card the more points you receive. You may use those points at any of our eligible locations. This is a totally free service that we have and it helps support a lot of local businesses. I use my debit card almost everyday so I have been able to accumulate thousands of points which I can redeem at hundreds of locations.

If you would like more information on buzzpoints visit their website https://www.buzzpoints.com/ and make sure to check out our Rewards checking account at www.glcu.com

 

How dining out could be breaking the bank

After a long day of work, I do not want to come home and have to make dinner and then clean up the mess I have made. Isn’t it just easier to order in or go out to a restaurant where everything is done for you? Of course it is! But then when you’re going over your finances you think, where did all my money go? Well it probably went to eating out. In fact, eating out is the number one thing people spend too much money on! I know it’s easier, but it’s going to burn a hole in your wallet. Not to mention, eating out tends to make people consume more calories than they would from eating at home.

My boyfriend and I used to always eat out or get fast food, because it was just easier. But it made me feel horrible about myself and I had no energy and we were always broke. Of course, every now and then we still eat out, but we have gotten a lot better about it and it’s saving us a lot of money and from gaining a lot of unnecessary body fat. So the way we did this was, we set a budget for food and made a shopping list and we actually started going grocery shopping. Another thing we have started doing is planning our meals. We have a chalkboard with a menu for the week, that way we know exactly what we are going to have every night. I’ve even started a leftover night so we have one night where we don’t even have to make anything.

And if you are set on going out to eat a lot there are a few ways to help you save money. Coupon books! And if you don’t want to spend money on a coupon book there are plenty of websites out there where you can find coupons for your favorite restaurants. Another thing is look for the nights where restaurants have great deals! Most restaurants have something different every night. From drink specials at certain hours to kids eat free one night a week. Make sure to research what kind of deals you can get!

 

Here are some great websites to find coupons!

www.restaurant.com

www.groupon.com

www.retailmenot.com

Stock Market for Beginners

How many of you have absolutely no clue how to invest your money or about the stock market? Well, I am here to help you with that. As a 23 year old, I honestly didn’t think or care too much about investing my money. I think a lot of us have that “live in the moment” mentality and don’t want to plan for the future. The problem with that is once the future becomes the present you’re going to regret that you didn’t plan. Because of this, I decided to start my planning. So as a former 20 something with no knowledge of the stock market, I think I can offer some advice.

The Breakdown: The stock market can be overwhelming and difficult to understand so I am going to do my best to break it down for you. When you invest in a company you own a share of it. This, in exchange, gives the company some capital. With the money you’re putting into that company, you are able to grow or lose your money depending on how well they do. So basically, if they make money, you make money. But that also means if they lose money, you lose money. Prices rise and fall in the stock market constantly, but if you’re able to sell your stock in a company on a day when the price is higher than what you paid for it, then you make money. Over years stock becomes more valuable or less valuable. When you invest in something, you are hoping that eventually it will become more valuable. So where do you start? If you’re just starting out here are a few apps that you may use to get your feet wet.

Acorns: For young investors who aren’t familiar with how to invest this is a great app for you. You sync up your credit card with it and for every purchase you make the app will round up, so then the change you have from that purchase goes into investing. The downside to this app is that there is a fee every month. If you have a balance below $5,000 you get a $1 fee. So $12 a year really isn’t that terrible. And it gives you a few options on what type of portfolio you want to invest in. For more information on this app visit your app store https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/acorns-invest-spare-change/id883324671?mt=8

Yahoo! Finance: This app will be great if you’re able to make up your own portfolio. You’re able to sync your portfolios, track stocks, currencies, commodities, etc. When you get to the website it may seem a little overwhelming, but it has the most popular index for stocks are on there, including Nasdaq and Dow Jones. To check it out go to https://finance.yahoo.com/

If you’re unsure what companies you could invest in, here is a list of companies that have shown a strong business plan. I am not a financial advisor, this is just what I have come up with from my research and personal experience.

General Electric

CVS

Walt Disney Co.

Facebook

American Express