Save Hard & Spend Smart Blog
Did you know that you could travel for free? If you’re buying groceries, gas, and other day-to-day purchases with a debit card, you’re missing out on hundreds of dollars in cash back or travel rewards that could fund a cruise vacation, a trip to your favorite theme park, or any of your bucket-list destinations.
We understand that using credit cards can be a little daunting, but using a rewards credit card, like your Members First Visa®, can also be the key to traveling for free.
Nearly every airline or major hotel brand has their own rewards credit card, but most come with high annual fees, minimum spend amounts, and high interest rates. And the thing is, you don’t have to search too far for a great credit card option for earning travel rewards.
Members First offers our members an excellent selection of credit cards that come with fixed interest rates that are low and competitive. Plus, for every $1 spent on purchases with your Members First Visa® credit card, you’ll earn 1 Bonus Point, that can be used towards your next vacation.
Earning rewards is not limited to in-store purchases only. You’ll also be rewarded for swiping at the pump, shopping online, or making purchases through our digital wallet services like Apple Pay®, Android Pay®, Samsung Pay®, and Visa Checkout®. What’s even sweeter is you’re getting rewarded for making purchases that you normally would anyway.
Still worried about using credit cards? One way to keep track of your spending is through the SecurLOCK Equip® app. With the app, you’ll be able to review your credit card account details and transactions. You can also decide when and where your card is used by locking or unlocking your credit card. Another thing to remember is not to bite off more than you can chew. Make the most of your rewards and pay off your credit card balance at the end of the month.
Don’t have a credit card with us? Apply today at membersfirstfl.org, call 850-434-2211, or stop by one of our branch locations.
According to a study at the University of Michigan Center for Human Growth and Development, children as young as five have already begun developing emotional reactions to spending and saving money. The study also found children’s emotional reactions translated into real-life spending behavior, and early spending behavior might indicate poor financial decisions later. All of this highlights the importance of early education to get kids on the right financial track.
So where can kids learn about the merits of saving and setting goals and the relationship between work and earning money? In most schools, personal finance isn’t part of the curriculum, which means it’s up to parents and guardians to impart these important lessons.
Fortunately, local credit unions, like Members First Credit Union of Florida, have helpful youth saving programs that can help teach kids as young as pre-school age about money. Many youth programs come with fun perks like a gift for opening an account, prizes for making deposits or reaching saving goals, and the ability to have allowance direct deposited into their account. In addition to these benefits, here’s what else opening a youth saving (or checking) account can do for kids:
Teach about goals. Setting, working toward, and achieving goals is a crucial life skill and one that serves us throughout life. Through goal setting, kids learn about hard work and delayed gratification. Saving money for the goal of being able to afford something like a new toy is a very tangible, concrete way to work on these skills and lessons.
Begin teaching financial basics. Saving for a financial goal also instructs kids about the basics of income, expenses, and value. If a child begins saving for something but quickly sees how much work and time it will take to earn and save enough money to purchase the item, they might rethink their goal, teaching them to think critically about what to spend money on and if it’s worth the price (i.e. a wise purchase). This is an important lesson in an age when many kids more often observe adults using credit cards to obtain goods and services and don’t see an obvious exchange of money for those goods and services.
Teach responsibility. A saving account that directly reflects a child’s contributions and savings as well as withdrawals will help teach responsibility for actions and the correlation between decisions and consequences. If they don’t regularly contribute to their saving account and resist spending, they will never reach their saving goal! This is also a chance for children to feel pride, accomplishment, and empowerment when they reach their saving goal—and associating those positive feelings with saving will help reinforce this habit.
Teach the value of investing. Investing and interest can be difficult concepts to teach—so why not show it at work on a saving account! With a youth saving account and online access to account balances, kids can see how they earn interest by having money in different kinds of saving accounts—the more money they have saved, the more interest they earn. Having a saving account also shows how saving early and regularly grows money and how even small amounts can add up—both when saving and spending.
Teach compassion and perspective. Using a saving (or checking) account to save money, watch it grow, and use it to buy things shows kids how financial resources are tied to what people have and don’t have, what they can afford and what they can’t. Kids can begin to understand that the things they and their family own are the result of planning, choices, and work. Not only can this lead to more thoughtful decisions regarding their own spending choices, but it can also lead to a more compassionate view of others when they understand why someone can’t simply buy what they want or need whenever they want.
Scammers are using voice calls to steal from unsuspecting members. The attackers make it look like calls are coming from a legitimate source or known phone number. During these calls, they ask you to provide a credit card number, PIN, Social Security number, and/or the security codes on the back of the card. Here are a few steps that you can take to protect yourself:
Be aware of scams. Scammers target you in several different ways. A current scam involves a call from “VISA” or “MasterCard.” The caller claims to be calling from the Security & Fraud Department. Much of your information is already available to the caller. At the end of the call the caller asks you to “verify” the 3 digits on the back of your card. These numbers verify that you have the card in your possession and are the authorized owner. Members First will never ask for any part of your card number when we call you. VISA will also never ask for your card number, expiration date, PIN, or 3-digit security code.
Protect your information. Never provide credit card information or other private information to anyone who calls you.
Ask questions. If someone is trying to sell you something or asks for your personal information, ask for identification and a call back number. Verify if they are legitimate. Make sure you call the financial institution or company directly. Look at a statement or go online to obtain a valid phone number.
Register your number with the National Do Not Call Registry. You can do this by going online to donotcall.gov. While this may not stop all unwanted calls, it will cut back on them.
Monitor Your Accounts. It’s always a good idea to log into your accounts daily or at least once a week. View real time information about your Members First credit card, by enrolling at ezcardinfo.com. Also, monitor your credit card with the SecurLOCK Equip app for iPhone and Android users. For more information, visit membersfirstfl.org/digitalwallet.
Pensacola FL, January 16, 2018: The Northwest Florida Chapter of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions held its 13th Annual Panhandle Golf Invitational on Friday, October 27, 2017 at Marcus Point Golf Course in Pensacola. All proceeds generated from the four person golf scramble went to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital – a Children’s Miracle Network Hospital.
The Northwest Florida Chapter of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions donated over $49,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network, and a check was presented to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital on Thursday, January 11, 2018. The Northwest Florida Chapter is made up of the following credit unions: Florida State Employees FCU, Members First CU of Florida, Okaloosa County Teachers FCU and Pen Air FCU.
“The Northwest Florida Chapter Golf Tournament is a fun and important annual event that affects the lives of those in the local area. It is a way for credit unions to fellowship together and raise some money to improve the community that we live in,” Caryl A. Greene, President of the Chapter noted. “We are very grateful for the support of our sponsors, volunteers, family and friends who have made this event possible.”
About Northwest Florida Chapter of the League of Southeastern Credit Unions
The Northwest Florida Chapter is the local chapter of the League of Southeastern Credit Union, a trade association in Florida representing the following local credit unions – Florida State Employees FCU, Members First CU of Florida, Okaloosa County Teachers FCU and Pen Air FCU. For more information, contact Michele Williams at 850-434-2211 ext. 102.
About Credit Unions for Kids
Credit Unions for Kids is a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions, chapters, leagues/associations and business partners from across the country, engaged in fundraising activities to benefit 170 Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.
Credit reporting agency Equifax has announced a cybersecurity incident that involves a data breach of confidential information such as birthdates and social security numbers that could impact 143 million U.S. consumers. Please be cautious of which sites you visit to determine if your personal information is impacted as scammers may see this as an opportunity to obtain your confidential information.
Equifax has established a website, www.equifaxsecurity2017.com, including a simple way to check if your information is part of the breach by entering your name and last six digits of your social security number.
As always, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your accounts and report any unusual account activity to our Member Information Center. And remember Members First will never contact you by phone or email requesting your personal information.
We will post any additional updates as we receive them.
Message from Rick Smith, Chairman and CEO of Equifax.