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6 Tips For Giving On a Budget

November 21, 2018

First Source Member managing their holiday finances by getting creative.Manage your holiday finances with a little thought and planning

Start by giving yourself a limit: a fair amount you’re comfortable spending that makes you feel good about giving, but not over-taxed. Remember that simple, heartfelt gifts are much more appreciated than a large quantity of high-priced trinkets. These simple tips can help you make the holiday both rewarding and less of a financial burden. 


1. Make a Plan

Suggest what or how much to exchange, and decide together on a gift limit. You could also exchange something simple, like cookies; or give to charities in each others’ honor. You might even learn that you’re not the only one looking to save.


2. Play Secret Santa

In a larger family or group of friends, everyone can save when you choose names and give to just one person instead of every member of the crew. This method also allows for setting ground rules to save even more, such as limiting the value of the gift. It might even kick off a new tradition for every gift-giving event.


3. Purchase Fewer Items in Larger Quantities

To save both money and time, find a sincere, useful gift, and buy enough for everyone in bulk. You may save on the purchase price, and can sometimes find ways to personalize each one to give them more meaning. Get creative by putting together “gift baskets” for each person full of small, thoughtful items, and personalize each with a note.


4. Enjoy Experiences Together

Suggest a family or friend outing instead of gift exchanges. Everyone can handle their own expenses, and you can keep it simple and fun. Consider an outdoor activity that includes treats, a local play, or a visit to a nearby attraction. Or have a cozy get together at home to save even more. You could also find photos of your experiences from the past year to frame and give.


5. Give the Gift of Your Time

An even better money-saver and a really nice thing to do: volunteer your time in a meaningful way, such as helping on someone’s DIY project, fixing an item they can’t repair themselves, babysitting, or helping out with a big commitment. Make sure it’s something you’re good at, and remember to follow through on the promise to help.


6. Take Advantage of Specials 

Find stores that offer discounts or bonus gifts if you purchase a certain amount, like gift cards (e.g. “Buy a $25 Gift Card and receive a Free $5 Gift Card”). You can apply the bonuses to gifts for others, or put them into your own budget for your needs once the holidays are over. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!


Remember that giving gifts is all about the spirit of generosity, and doing something kind for the receiver of your gift. Pay special attention to their wants and needs, and you’ll always find something special and meaningful to them. Most of all, embrace the joy of giving! 

Have tips you’d like to share? Help others on a budget with your ideas. 
 

Posted in: budget, gifts, giving, holidays, tips

5 Tips To Stay Safe This Halloween

October 11, 2018

For a fun and safe holiday

We all want our children have a fun and safe Halloween. Embrace and teach your kids these 5 basic safety tips, inspired by our friends at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

1. Check Your Route

Plan out your trick-or-treat route in advance. Try to stay in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets. Try adding reflective tape to costumes or candy bags for extra visibility, and make sure your children carry a flashlight or glow stick when traveling during the evening hours.


2. Tell People No

If someone tries to separate them from the group or take them somewhere without your permission, instruct them to tell people “No!” (have them practice!), and do anything in their power to get away. Identify adults who could help in emergency situations.


3. Take a Friend

Instruct your older children to take friends when trick-or-treating.

Be sure they go in groups and stay together while out. Encourage them to stay in familiar neighborhoods and have a charged cellphone in case of an emergency. 

While trick-or-treating with younger children, be sure to walk with them all the way to the door, and do not let children enter a home (even that awesome haunted mansion) unless you are with them. 


4. Make Sure Mom or Dad has Help

Has “Can I bring a friend!?” turned into you on your own with 20 kids? Consider enlisting another trusted adult to help keep an eye on a larger group. 


5. Attend Organized Parties

Consider organizing or attending parties at home, in schools, or in community centers as a good alternative to trick-or-treating.


Live Smarter By Being Vigilant

Find safety in numbers, make sure everyone’s aware of their surroundings, and you’ll all enjoy this Halloween.

Posted in: Halloween, kids, safety, tips, treats

Yes, It’s That Season: Tips for Tax Time

February 19, 2016

TaxTip_LR.jpgAs tax season rolls along, remember that as a First Source Member, you can file with Turbo Tax for free if you go through our website, since we are a Turbo Tax preferred partner. There are two versions of the software—a free version, and a paid version—and as a Member, you can also get $5 off the paid version price. If you choose to have your refund directly deposited into your account, we have a few helpful tips.

Every year some people’s tax returns end up in others’ accounts, due to errors in submitted account numbers. Should this happen, you’ll have to call the IRS at 800-829-1040, and have them file an IRS form 3911 to trace the check. To minimize problems, follow the easy steps below:

  1. Use caution when setting up the direct deposit of your tax refunds. Refunds are deposited solely based on account number, not by name.
  2. Make sure you use your full 9-digit routing number and 14-digit account number.
  3. Make sure you submit an active checking or savings account.
  4. Do not add or delete any zeros.
  5. Double- and triple-check all information and numbers before submitting your account information.

Of course, the best way to plan for tax season every year is to build your own savings year round! If you have a good-sized buffer in your checking account, consider earning more with a Money Market account or Term Share Certificate. Call or make an appointment online, and we can help you make a plan.

We wish you a stress-free tax experience!

Posted in: Blog, Posts, Taxes, Tips

Be Wary of Tax Return Scams

February 25, 2015

As we all know, unfortunately there are some not-so-nice people out there. Tax season seems to be a time they come out. Looking to steal money or account information, please be wary of scams. Trust your gut if something doesn’t seem right.
Here are some tips to help protect yourself from tax fraud:

During a tax scam, usually an individual calls on the phone or sends an email presenting themselves as an employee of the IRS or your state’s tax authority, under the guise of wanting to “help” with your tax filing. Usually this type of tax scam involves an unsolicited, bogus email regarding your tax refund or bill, or threatens an audit if you do not pay. These tax fraud emails also typically include the tax service’s name and official seal, and often link to a phony website in order to appear to be more official.

Please be wary of ANY emails or phone calls you receive from someone claiming to be an employee of the IRS or State, especially those that demand you pay immediately.

The Internal Revenue Service and your state’s tax authority will NEVER:

  • Initiate contact with you by phone, email, text, or through social media outlets to ask for your personal or financial information.
  • Require that you pay your taxes with a certain payment type, such as a prepaid debit card.
  • Call you and demand immediate payment. (The IRS or State will not call about taxes you owe without first mailing you a bill.)

If you receive an email about your federal or state taxes:

  • Don’t reply to the message.
  • Don’t give out your personal or financial information.
  • Forward the email to phishing@irs.gov and then delete the email.
  • Don’t open any attachments or click on any links, as they may contain a malicious code or virus that will infect your computer.
  • Check the website of your state’s tax return office to see how they recommend you report an attempted scam involving your state tax filing.

If you receive a call about your federal or state taxes:

  • Ask for a contact number and an employee badge number and then call back to verify its legitimacy
  • Call the IRS or the office of your state’s tax authority to inquire further.
  • Contact the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. Use TIGTA’s IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting web page to report the incident.
  • Report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission through the FTC Complaint Assistant on their website (add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments of your report).

For more in depth information on how to detect or report tax scams, visit http://www.irs.gov/uac/Report-Phishing.

Posted in: Tips

Actual Balance versus Available Balance

February 4, 2014

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Ever catch yourself overdrawing your account and you could have sworn that money was in there? Here’s what may have happened. If you made a check deposit after 2:00 p.m. at many financial institutions that money is actually not available until the next business day. If it’s a Friday, you’re not seeing it until Monday! This means if you had $40 in your account and deposited $100 (after 2:00 p.m.), your actual balance is $140, but your available balance is still only $40. If you go grocery shopping that night and spend $75, you’ve just overdrawn your account.

If you’re depositing a check for a large amount, or from an unfamiliar business, there may be a hold placed on the check. On average this can be from 3 – 5 days. While it may seem unfair at first, this is actually done to protect you. You would not want to go spending that money and have the check not clear. Then you would be on the hook to pay overdraft fees on the money you spent that never actually made it into your account. The good news is we will notify you if a check is being held so you should be aware that those funds are not yet available.

With First Source, here are some instances that this will not happen. 1. If you deposit cash versus a check. Cash will always be available immediately, including Saturdays. 2. If you deposit a payroll check. These funds are always available immediately.

What about an ATM deposit? No matter how much you deposit through an ATM, (check or cash) only $200 is available immediately per day. The full amount is available after 2 days. So if you deposit $500 on Wednesday, you’re actual balance is $500. But your available balance is only $200 on Wednesday and Thursday. Your available balance will jump up to $500 on Friday.

Sometimes the actual date a transaction happened can vary from the date when the place you’ve spent the money pulls those funds. You may go to dinner on a Saturday night and spend $50. That $50 may not actually be withdrawn from your account until Tuesday. It’s up to you to know that you’ve already spent it. The best thing you can do is keep your register current and check your balance frequently online.

Posted in: Tips

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