Simple Steps to Get Started Saving

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Everyone knows how important it is to regularly put money into savings, but research shows that 25% of Americans have no emergency savings at all.

Don’t let this be you! If you’re ready to start saving, but you don’t know where to begin, We Florida Financial can help. Here are seven simple steps that can get you on the fast track to building your nest egg today:

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What you need to know about weight-loss scams and how to avoid them

January is prime time to get into shape.

This year, in particular, many Americans are struggling to shed the “quarantine 15,” or the pounds packed on during all those months when life happened over Zoom and nobody saw what you were wearing below the waist. In fact, the snack company that brings us Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers reports that sales have increased by more than 16% since 2019. And hard as it may be to believe, at some point in the future, it will no longer be socially acceptable to attend a business meeting, a friend’s formal dinner party, or your sister’s wedding while wearing sweatpants.

Unfortunately, scammers know this as well as anyone, and they are out in full force, trying to scam consumers with bogus weight-loss products, miracle drugs, and more. Gyms aren’t far behind, with many of them offering misleading contracts that are impossible to get out of once they’re signed.

Don’t get scammed! Lose the pounds you’re looking to shed this winter — not your money.

Here’s what you need to know about weight-loss scams and how to avoid them.

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Credit Bureaus Offer Free Reports Through April 2021

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Free weekly reports can help you maintain credit health during COVID.

The three major credit bureaus in the U.S. have collectively agreed to offer free weekly credit reports to consumers. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion will all provide weekly reports through annualcreditreport.com at no charge through April 2021. The goal is to make it easier for Americans to manage their credit during the pandemic and resulting recession.

In the past, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandated that people could check their credit for free once per year. You could download a copy of each credit bureau’s report through annualcreditreport.com every twelve months.

The dramatic increase in free credit reports attests to just how unique the situation with the U.S. economy is during this pandemic. There is a range of potential reporting issues that could result in credit damage.

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Should I Do An End-Of-Year Financial Review

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Q: With 2020 drawing to a close, I’d love to give myself an end-of-year financial review before it goes.  Where do I begin?

A: Giving yourself an end-of-year financial review is a wonderful way to check on the progress you’ve made toward your goals, highlight areas needing improvement, and update your accounts, funds, and investments. Here’s all you need to know about this important end-of-year ritual.

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How Should I Fund My Holiday Shopping?

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Q: I’ve made my gift list and I’m checking it twice. But, I’m getting a bit panicky just thinking about how I’m going to pay for all this stuff! What’s the best way to get me through this expensive upcoming season?
 
A: Relax! You can keep your budget and your sanity, too! You can do it without having to dip into your savings or rack up a high-interest credit card bill that you’ll be paying off well into 2021. Instead, learn about your choices so you can spend responsibly and keep your holiday cheer all through the season.
 
Let’s explore your options and take a look at why they may or may not be right for you. 
 

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How To Make Your New Year Resolutions Last

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Q: Every December, you draw up a list of New Year’s resolutions that look depressingly similar to the ones you wrote last year. How can you make things different this year?

A: It’s fairly easy to dream of change, but it’s another thing entirely to actually make it happen. In fact, research shows that only 8 percent of people achieve their annual resolutions. However, with careful planning and the right approach, it is doable.

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Going Green With Gifting

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Wrap up this holiday season by going green with gifting.

No, we don’t mean wrapping your gifts in recycled paper. But before putting away all the holiday gifts you recently received, think of a few people on your list who can use something you already have but don’t need.

It may be an unopened present you got from someone this year that you have no use for – but this person would love. It might be a promotional item you received from work or a business you frequent. It can be an unused gift card that’s just sitting in your wallet. Look around and you’ll be amazed at how much you can find – and how much money you can save in advance of next year’s season!

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Recognizing Smishing Scams

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Did you know: Text messaging has come under attack as one of the most vulnerable media for identity theft and more. Here’s what you need to know about an SMS message-based scam called “smishing.”

How it works

Smishing scams use text messages to establish contact with the intended victim to later access their personal information.

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How To Plan For Holiday Shopping This Year

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It’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Some of you are reading this on your phone while waiting in line at Starbucks, preparing to buy your first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, but it’s time to start thinking of peppermint mochas instead. Even if you’re the “Bah, Humbug” type of person who regularly posts Facebook rants about the neighbors putting up their lights before Thanksgiving, making financial plans for the holiday is still a really good idea. It might be too early to hang a stocking, but it’s never too early to sock money away.
  

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Seven Beneficial Things to Do NOW With Your Spare Time

 

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In the throes of a worldwide pandemic, most of us find ourselves spending more time at home in a new reality that is far from the norm. Like everything else in life, we can choose to react to our circumstances with complaints and annoyance or we can embrace them and make a bad situation positive and beneficial. The latter is of course, the better way to go. Here are 7 suggestions that will help us make the best of our newly -found spare time.

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Love Should Not Be Blind

How to Avoid Romance Scams

In the “good old days,” one would meet a spouse/or significant other, the old fashioned way, face-to face, at a party, church, blind date, et cetera. Today, these in-person rituals have gone the way of the dinosaur, replaced by dating apps and sites. And whereas these types of interactions may provide access to more potential partners, they also present more danger. The current pandemic has worsened the situation because it has caused more isolation and loneliness. With people looking for love, more heartless opportunists have pounced on the vulnerable. General online fraud has increased and so has what is known as romance scams. 

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Think saving money in a checking account is a waste of money? Think again.

 Today, everyone talks about building an emergency fund.  And it is the prudent thing to do in our uncertain times. An emergency fund should consist of money that you set aside to cover three to six months’ worth of household expenses or unexpected occurrences like major car problems, big medical bills and even unemployment.  It is a buffer against the unknown.  Ideally, these funds should be placed in an account that is easily accessible, pays above market yields and is fully insured against loss.  In the good old days, one would put the funds into a Certificate of Deposit (CD) or a money market account to ensure higher yields.

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Electronic banking is not a fad. It can truly simplify your life.

We are all live busy and hectic lives. If many of us could afford it, we would pay for a personal assistant to help with chores, run errands and keep us organized.  The good news is that as credit union members, we already have a right-hand assistant. It’s called electronic banking.  And it’s free.

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How to Protect Your Credit During Difficult Times

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 In the throes of a pandemic, keeping your credit score at a good level might not be top of mind if your job is in jeopardy and you are wondering how to keep the roof over your head and feed your family.

It is important nevertheless to do everything to keep your score intact. Your credit report is important. Blemishes stay on your file for seven years and can affect your ability to get a job, rent an apartment, or secure certain types of insurance. Here are some practical ways to achieve that goal.

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Hurricane Preparation

It’s hurricane season. This year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is forecasting a 70% chance of 13 to 19 named storms with six to 10 becoming hurricanes. Floridians are always being urged to make preparations. Most of us do, to some degree. This year however, things have changed. We are in the midst of a pandemic that shows no signs of abating. Under these circumstances, we need to make changes to our usual hurricane preparation plans. Here are some suggestions on how to proceed:

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Protect Yourself and Avoid Identity Theft

In the age of data breaches, phishing scams and fraudsters using technology to steal identities, we have to be so careful with our personal information.  Criminals take the information they steal and sell it on the Dark Web.  Not just once, but, many times over.  What is the Dark Web?  It’s a whole different side of the internet that is anonymously used by criminals to buy and sell stolen identities for illegal profits. Once your identity has been stolen, it can take up to 6 months or longer to fix and cost thousands.

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Coronavirus: 7 Things You Need to Know

        1. The credit union is still here for funding
          Life goes on even in a pandemic, and most people must drive to provide for their needs and those of their families. We want you to know that the credit union is here to assist with auto loans at low rates and at reasonable terms.  At this time, some homeowners are also looking to refinance with the market’s low rates. For more information on car loans and mortgages, please see page 2.

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Five Ways to Get Out of Credit Card Debt

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Depending upon how much credit card debt you have, being debt-free can seem daunting or even unattainable. Developing a plan is the most important first step to attaining a debt-free life. Without a plan, it can feel like you’re not making any noticeable progress. Here are five important steps to take to get rid of your debt.

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Credit Union Auto Loans Are a Better Deal

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Did you ever wonder why car dealers want to have you finance at their dealership?  It’s customary in the industry for lenders to pay dealers a fee for these loans, and in some cases dealers are allowed to mark up the rate (APR) and keep the difference.  It’s perfectly legal but I bet you didn’t know about it.  

When you come directly to your credit union, you get a great rate and we have rate discounts for many members.  We offer rate discounts for members in our Premium and Select relationship levels.  If you have certain services with us, such as a checking account and a credit card, you may qualify for additional rate discounts.  We also give “loyalty discounts” to reward members who have been with us for certain periods of time.  And if you take advantage of our We Drive onsite dealer partner, we reduce your rate even further.  Plus we give you lower “new car” rates on pre-owned vehicles up to two model years old with less than 36,000 miles.  We’ve got rates that go as low as 1.74% with all discounts as of October 2019.

Please call or stop by We Drive to talk with one of our friendly staff and start taking advantage of what your credit union has to offer.  

Not a member?  Ask about joining.  It’s easy and open to everyone in South Florida.

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Do You Know About We Drive?

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by Lloyd Gill President/CEO We Florida Financial

If you’re a member of We Florida Financial, you probably realize that credit unions are different from banks. We don’t have stockholders, we have members. We don’t try to sell you things you don’t need just to make money. We talk with you about what you need and want, and let you know how our products can improve your financial life.

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