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What Makes Credit Unions Special?1/11/2021

Credit Union Members

Are you wondering what makes credit unions special and why people tend to favor them over banks? Well, what makes credit unions special is YOU! People who are members of credit unions like, Health Advantage, are also owners of the credit union.

This means that you have a vote for our Board Members – and can actually help decide what things will be like at Health Advantage. Our Board Members help control or govern what goes on at the credit union. Members like you have the power to guide our credit unions course of action and if you are not happy with what is done you have the opportunity to make a change.

How is a credit union different from a bank?

Credit unions like HACU exist only to serve you, our members! Banks on the other hand must make profits for their shareholders (those who hold or own a share of the bank). Credit unions have a one member, one vote philosophy for any elections that take place within the credit union. This is unlike for-profit financial institutions, like banks, whose shareholders vote according to the number of shares or stocks they own of the bank.

For example, if someone has $1.00, they get one vote. If someone else has $100.00, they get 100 votes. However, in a credit union all members are equal. Each member gets one vote no matter how much money one members has over another member.

All members have an equal say in what happens at their credit union. Now, that is pretty special! Thank you for being the special part of our credit union!

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DIY Holiday Gifts12/2/2020

The holidays are quickly approaching, and you may find yourself in a rut on what to give your family members this holiday season. Instead of running to the store to get the “hottest gift item” think about making your family members something special by hand. There is truly no better gift than a homemade one.

Take advantage of these crafty DIY holiday gift ideas and spread the joy of giving this holiday season.

Jolly Java Jackets

Java Jackets

Do you have a handful of socks in your drawer that do not have their matching pair? Get them out of your sock drawer and put them to use! Turn your mis-matched socks into reusable sleeves for coffee or hot coco on the go. All you need is a few old socks, pair of scissors, some decorative buttons, felt stickers and hot glue!

Lunch Bag Scrapbook

Scrapbook

Turn your brown paper lunch bags into a hand-crafted scrapbook! All you need is some brown lunch bags, scissors, hole punch, ribbon, glue, and assorted accessories to jazz up your scrapbook. To get your scrapbook started cut off the bottoms of the bags, stack and fold them in half. Punch holes along the folded side and thread ribbon through the hole to bind your new scrapbook. Decorate the cover with wrapping paper, pictures or whatever your heart desires. Go through each page and add in photos, cards, decorations, and more to make your scrapbook come to life!

Ink Blot Prints

Ink Blot

Ink blot prints are simple and fun for anyone to make. All you need is a piece of paper, paint brushes, some paints, and a picture frame to display your artwork. To get started fold your paper in half, open it up and on one side drip/dab paint down the paper. Fold the paper in half again press down. Open your paper to see your unique design and lay it flat to dry. Once dried place your artwork in a picture frame, wrap it up and it is ready to be gifted!

Stamped Napkins

Stamped Napkin

Napkins are used all throughout the holidays from family dinners to a place to set your drink. Why not make them festive with some holiday cheer! To get started grab a stack of napkins, some holiday stamps, and an ink pad. Stamp the napkins, gather them together with a ribbon and they are ready to be put on display!

Whatever you decide to gift this holiday season we hope these ideas help spark your creative side.

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Four Steps for Your First Checkbook11/24/2020

Checkbook

You have your very first checking account! Yay you – your journey to young adulthood is underway. Checks may not be as popular today as they used to be, but they are still important. With access to your funds 24/7 through an ATM or debit card, there is less of a need for checks. However, you may find they come in handy when it comes to paying rent, give a gift, or when you have to send money to a company to pay a bill. It is always a good idea to have a checkbook for when you find yourself needing to write a check, even if you do not write checks daily.

We understand writing a check and keeping track of your finances for your new checking account may be new to you, so we broke it all down into four easy steps for you.

Step One: Writing a Check

Checks typically come in a book where you can tear one check off at a time. Keep in mind, just because you have several checks does not mean you have a lot of money. You can only write a check for equal to or less than your account balance. If you have a balance of $200 in your checking account, you cannot write a check for something that costs $250.

To write a check you simply fill in the blanks with the following information:

  • Date – Fill in the date that you write the check
  • Pay to the Order Of – Write who the check is for (person’s name or company name)
  • Amount – Write the amount numerically in the amount box and as words on the amount line
  • Memo – Make a note of what the check is for (ex. Rent, Consumers, etc.)
  • From – Sign the check here. The check cannot be cashed without the signature of the person who wrote the check

Check out this image of an HACU check all filled out:

Check

Step 2: Record the Amount

Even though you have filled out the check you are not quite finished yet. It is important to keep track of how much money you have in your account by using your check register. While online and mobile banking are a handy tool, it is also a good idea to keep track of your finances with a check register so you always have an up to date record of your account. Sometimes companies take a few days to process your transaction and it does not appear on your online or mobile banking right away.

Use your check register to keep record of all your checking related transactions, including checks written and deposits. After you write a check, record the following information in your check register:

  • Check number
  • Date
  • Who the check was written for
  • What the check was for
  • Amount
  • Account balance

Do not forget to add in money deducted from your checking account from your debit card. When recording debit card transactions in your check register, use the abbreviation “DC” (debit card), where you would normally put the check number.

Step 3: Endorsing a Check

If you get a check made out to you like a paycheck or gift money, you must endorse the back of the check to receive the funds. To endorse the back of the check you simply sign your name on the back of the check and you can deposit the check in to your credit union account or can take the amount of money in cash.

When endorsing your check, you will need to sign your name as it appears on the front of the check. Only sign the check when you are ready to cash or deposit it. If you sign it before and lose your check you could run the risk of someone else picking it up and cashing it.

Step 4: Reconciling Your Account

Every month you will get a free monthly e-statement from Health Advantage. The statement will list the dates and amounts of deposits and withdrawals along with check numbers and amounts for the past month.

You can use your statement to reconcile your account. This is often referred to as balancing your checkbook. You will be able to see how much you deposited into your account, how much you spent, and how much you have left.

Get Started Today

Don’t have a checking account with HACU? One of our Credit Union Experts can help you find the one that is right for you. Take advantage of NO fees, NO monthly service charges and NO minimum balance requirements, and NO per check charges with our Essential Checking Account. Looking for more? Take advantage of credit file monitoring, identity monitoring, cell phone protection, and more with our Premium Checking Account.  

Schedule an appointment today and talk with one of our Credit Union Experts!

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Dos and Don'ts of Creating Strong Passwords10/9/2020

Check out these helpful Do & Dont tips and keep them in mind for the next time you are updating or creating a new password.

 

Cyber Security

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5 Tips for Moving out for the First Time10/2/2020

Moving Out for the First Time

Moving out for the first time is extremely exciting. It can also be a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven’t had a lot of responsibility before in terms of living on your own. But in between the excitement over finally snagging your own place and the apprehension over having to leave your comfort zone, is a list of things that need to get done in order to make moving out for the first time as seamless of a process as possible. Check out these 5 tips that are designed to help alleviate the stress and dissolve the mystery of moving out for the first time.

Get your finances in order

Let’s start with one of the most stressful parts about moving out for the first time: financing your new life. Even if you have a job or student loans to help you out, it can still be incredibly worrisome to suddenly take over the task of not just paying your rent but also paying to stock your fridge, keep your electricity and internet running, and to buy all of the home essentials that somehow magically appeared in front of you before.

Start by tracking your monthly income and find out what your average monthly expenses are. List off non-negotiable payments like car expenses, groceries, phone bill and more. From here look at how much income you will need and how much you can afford and want to spend on rent.

Figure out how much you’ll have left over after rent, and then subtract utility costs. The utilities you are responsible for depend on where you’re living and what’s already included in your rent, but may include water, electric, gas, internet, and phone. Do some research to find out what water, gas, and electric tend to cost each month in your city and pick a phone and internet plan that are comfortably within your budget. As for what’s left, you’ll need that for other essentials, like food, toiletries, and transportation.

Don’t get discouraged by this process. It can be frustrating to see your budget dwindle as you take out more and more responsibilities associated with living on your own, but it’s better to know what you’re working with than to overspend and end up in a sticky financial situation.

Secure a steady job

Now that you are evolving into young adulthood you probably feel like you have a lot to learn, and no place will teach you faster than the workplace. Most young adults start off in entry-level positions in industries that are not known for large paychecks. However, do not let that discourage you, use this job as an opportunity to showcase and build your talent.

Keep in mind: If your entry-level job does not cover rent, maybe it is not the right time to move out. Start your job and create some stability before you move out of your parents’ house.

Find a suitable place to live

Now that you have your finances in order and have secured a steady job, it is time to find a place to live. It may take time to find the right place for you to call home. Do not rush it, there are plenty of places you can search for a new apartment online, consider starting with your social media profiles. Get the word out and let family and friends know you are searching for an apartment with great rental rates. Make sure to let them know the location you are looking to live and your desired price range. In addition to family and friends you can utilize websites like Craigslist and Apartments.com.

Be sure you stick within your rent budget. It can be tempting to choose an apartment slightly out of your price range because it is nice, but you will likely regret it down the road. Search for a location that is close to work or other areas of interest. And lastly, make sure your home is safe. If the rent seems too low, check the crime rate in the area before signing your lease.

Practice good habits before you move out

You may have been living an easy life without having to do too many chores or watch your budget while living at home with your family. It is time to start changing those habits to make the transition easier down the road. This can be an easily forgotten step in how to move out smoothly.

Before moving out pay attention to your cleanliness habits and step them up a notch. Track your spending and start sticking to your budget now so you can have an accurate picture of your spending habits before moving out. If your parents have been buying all your food start buying some for yourself and easy yourself into food preparation.

The most difficult part perhaps could be setting yourself up with a daily routine. Prepare yourself for entering the work world. Set an alarm clock for earlier in the morning to make the adjustment a little easier on your previous sleeping habits.

Do not be afraid to ask your parents for help

They’ve likely done this before, at least a few times, so they’ll be able to help you understand what to expect. Ask them to help you map out anticipated moving expenses, including all the little things. They may also have some input on what you should do before moving out of their home.

They are probably going to miss having your around – give them the opportunity to take care of you while they can and just make them feel good!

So, whether you are moving out to attend college or its time to start your new journey to young adulthood these first few steps can help you get on your way. Remember we are always here for you as you evolve into your next chapter in life. Set up an appointment with one of our credit union experts and discuss our savings options that can set you up for a bright financial future!

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Start Saving for College TODAY9/11/2020

Saving for College

College can be really expensive these days! There are few ways to avoid the big cost of college if you are planning to go. Those that attend college, on average carry about $40,000 in student loan debt! That is just on average, depending on the program and school you choose, it could be far more expensive.

While these numbers may be intimidating, there are plenty of ways you can help prevent yourself from drowning in student loan debt.

Many young people expect their parents to pay for their education. However, this is not an option for most kids, and it should not be. After all, it is your education, why wouldn’t you pitch in?

Below you will find some tips that will help you establish healthy money habits and ways to help you save money for college.

Start Looking for a Job

From working a full-time summer job to a part-time job after school, a job is a great way to earn money for college. A job will not only help you put some money aside for school, but you will also gain valuable work experience that will help you land a more serious job after graduation.

There are plenty of job opportunities for teenagers. If you enjoy the outdoors, consider looking at working as a camp counselor for summer camps. If you really want to make some money for your college fund, try applying to restaurants in your area. Waiters and waitresses can make a good income off tips. One of the best things about the restaurant industry is you can apply for these jobs anywhere! Even when you are at college you may want to look into a part-time restaurant job near your college.

If the restaurant industry does not interest you there is plenty of work for cashiers and stock clerks. These positions can be easy to land even without a ton of work experience and would make a great first job. Also, keep in mind most jobs come with perks like employee discounts. If there is a particular store you like, consider filling out a job application.

Open a Savings Account

Now that you are going to be making all this money with your new job, you are going to need somewhere to put it. To make sure you are actually putting money aside for college rather than spending it, open up a savings account with Health Advantage Credit Union.

A savings account with Health Advantage CU is a designated safe place to hold your hard-earned money. The idea is that you will consistently contribute to your account and watch it grow. Think of your savings account as the grown-up version of a piggy bank. You want to leave the money alone and only access it when the time comes to pay for college. The best way to make sure you are consistently putting money into your savings account is set up a portion of your paycheck to be direct deposited into your account.

Now that you’re ready to start putting some money aside for college and your new savings account is going to help remove the temptation to spend your college money, it’s important to know that you will earn a small amount of interest on the total amount in your account. That’s right, we will pay you a small percentage of your total savings if you keep your money in your account.

Learning how to maintain your savings with your new account will teach you basic financial habits that will help you throughout your life.

Get in the Habit of Saving Money Vs. Spending it

This almost goes hand in hand without saying, but if you want to save up money for college, you are going to have to change your spending habits. When you first start making money there is the temptation to treat yourself, but this is an adjustment you are going to have to make.

Like we said previously, college is expensive. Unless you want to graduate with tens of thousands of student loan debt, you are going to have to start putting a decent portion of your paycheck aside.

To get in the habit of saving money and not spending it, you are going to need to remove temptation. If you come across something you must have, try waiting 24 hours. If you can still justify why you need the purchase after a waiting period, you can make the decision.

Make sure to remember, when it comes to savings, no amount is too little. Even if you receive money as a birthday gift, consider putting a portion into your saving fund. You will not regret it!

Apply for EVERY Scholarship You Can

When the time finally comes to apply for college and after all your hard work saving up for it, make sure you look into scholarship opportunities. Scholarships are essentially free money you can put towards your college tuition that you do not have to pay back.

There are plenty of scholarships out there that the average student is not aware of. Even if you do not have the most impressive grades or athletic ability, it is still worth looking at the scholarships that your chosen college offers.

Many Scholarship receive a low number of applicants because some students do not have to worry about paying for college themselves. Take advantage of the low application rates, you never know what you may qualify for. When looking into scholarships think about how little time it takes to apply to a scholarship and compare it to how many hours you would have to work to earn that same amount of money.

The best thing about scholarships is you can apply for them every year you are enrolled in college!

When the time comes, don't forget to reach out to your Health Advantage Financial Experts for any questions you may have! 

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What is The Difference Between Selecting Debit Vs.Credit at Checkout?9/11/2020

Debit vs Credit

You are standing in the checkout lane and asked to insert or swipe and to select debit or credit. These options play a role in your shopping experiences every day. You may not think about them much, but as times change and technology continues to evolve, it is important to reflect on these decisions and how they can affect your shopping experiences.

Credit Vs. Debit

The major difference between choosing credit or debit is how the money is taken out of your account. A debit card is linked directly to your bank account; therefore, as soon as you make a purchase it is only a matter of hours before the charge is deducted from your account. When you pay with a credit card you decide when you wish you make the actual payment on your card, usually when your bill comes due in a few weeks.

Using your debit card as debit the funds are transferred automatically from  your Health Advantage CU debit account. You must make sure you do not overdraw your account and use more than you have available to spend. Take advantage of Health Advantage CU’s mobile banking app, Touch Banking, to check your balance before you head off shopping.

When you use a credit card, or even a debit card as credit, it is an offline transaction. The difference is that with an offline transaction on your debit card the funds usually take a few days to transfer which gives you time to confirm the balance in your account. In addition to using debit, when you enter your PIN number all your banking information is at a higher risk of being compromised. Credit transactions which are typically signature-based are more secure.

What if I Don't Have a Credit Card?

Generally, when given the option, sign instead of providing your PIN number. If you do not have a credit card and are interesting in getting one HACU offers a VISA Rewards Credit Card. With our VISA Rewards card you not only work on building your credit but have the peace of mind knowing your transactions are more secure all while earning yourself rewards!  

If you have any further questions about Debit vs. Credit or our VISA Rewards Card feel free to reach out to one of our Credit Union Experts!

 

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4 Benefits of Teen Accounts9/10/2020

Youth Accounts

It is time to trade that piggy bank in for a youth debit or savings account with Health Advantage Credit Union.

Getting a grasp on one’s own personal finances from an early age can make all the difference for an individual in the long run. When you have the opportunity to take your finances into your own hands you will gain a deeper appreciation for financial literacy as young adults. A youth debit or savings account can be one of the first steps into securing a strong financial future with benefits that can last a lifetime. Below are four benefits of an HACU youth debit or savings account.

Independence

The number one benefit of our teen debit account Evolution or our youth savings account is independence. When opening a personal debit or savings account, you are being entrusted to keep tabs on your own funds. For those who hold a part-time job, you will not have to go to your parents and ask for money! Having to work and earn the money yourself makes you put a little more thought into how it is spent. 

When one earns their own money, they tend to be more attuned to how it leaves their account. With our Evolution debit account or savings account you have the ability to budget, reference previous spending, and gain insights into where you can curb your overspending. This will start you down a bright path of understanding that your financial future lies directly with the choices you are making now.

Checking Account Advantages

Life without a debit account like Evolution can be a bother. Having access to your accounts online or through our mobile banking app opens a world of ease and opportunity. You can benefit from all the perks of having a checking account like online shopping, paying bills online and make choices for yourself about your own spending habits. 

Learning Financial Literacy

Not everyone grows up in a family where money is openly talked about or taught. When you have your own money in your own account, you tend to take your finances more seriously. Beyond the ease of automatic payments for bills you can learn how to make your money work for you.

Building a strong financial base and the financial literacy to go along with it can have a major return on investment in the future that goes beyond monetary figures. By having a solid grasp of banking, you will be enabled to take full control of your financial future and may even pass some of your learning onto family and friends.

Developing a Personal Banking Relationship

There are many other benefits to holding an account at Health Advantage Credit Union where you will develop a relationship with credit union experts. For starters, you will be able to utilize many of the other services we have to offer. Health Advantage is more than just a place to keep your savings and checking accounts.

Getting to know your credit union experts is like having your own financial cheerleader. Our credit union experts are always here to cheer you on when the going is good and help lift your spirits when you slip up. They will get to know your spending habits and will develop ways to assist you beyond just verifying a deposit.

There are benefits that extend well beyond the few mentioned here. As always, Health Advantage Credit Union is always here to help answer any questions you may have along the way. Let us help you get on the right track for financial success and take advantage of life!

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10 Ways to Start Earning Money 9/10/2020

Washing Car

Earning money at a young age can teach anyone valuable lessons about hard work, money management and independence. With the right attitude and drive you can start earning money; to help you start we have created a list of 10 ways you can start making money TODAY!

Become a Dog Walker or Pet Sitter

There are many pet owners out there who struggle to give their pets the attention they deserve. Whether it is their busy schedule or they are gone on vacation pet owners are always looking for a trustworthy person to look after their pet. Dogs tend to require a lot of attention, especially the hyper breeds. They need regular walks and lots of play time! Unfortunately, most adults cannot set aside enough time to keep their dogs happy.

Dog walking and pet sitting can be a great way for you to generate some extra money if you like spending time with dogs and cats. There are even apps that can help connect you with pet owners who are looking for a little extra help.

Tutor Younger Kids

If you have good grades are willing to extend a helping hand to younger kids, you could start your own after school or weekend tutor service. Sometimes parents do not have the time to sit down or even know where to begin helping their kids with homework, but they would be willing to pay someone who can help.  

Wash Windows

Window washing is one of those chores most people tend to avoid doing. If you are willing to put in a little extra hard work, you could have what it takes to get the job done and earn some extra money. All you need is some glass cleaner and cloths!

Run Errands

Between work and everything else adults need to get done they run out of time to do the little things. Let the adults in your neighborhood know that you are happy to run to the corner store for them for a tip.

Clean House

If you have noticed a pattern here, adults seem to have a lot to do and not enough time to get it all done. If you are looking to earn some extra cash offer a house cleaning service to your neighbors. There is always vacuuming and dusting that need to be done. Do not forget about the fridges and stoves that can be a pain to clean! If you are willing to do it you could earn some good money cleaning houses.

Take Paid Surveys

Some paid survey websites may require you to be over the age of 18 but, there are plenty that are open to those younger too. With parental permission you could start earning money and gift cards from the comfort and safety of your own home by filling out online surveys and questionnaires.  

Maintain Lawns

Almost everyone thinks to mow lawns, but not everyone thinks of maintaining them. Weeding can be annoying and time consuming for adults. Offer to remove weeds and maintain lawns to earn some cash.

Have a Garage Sale

Are your parents always complaining about all the junk in the basement and garage? Offer to help clean out those spaces and if there are items they want to get rid of have a garage sale and keep the cash.

Start Washing Cars

Everyone likes to drive around in a nice clean car, but some people struggle to find the time to go to the car wash. Even automatic car washes can be expensive and have long lines. Ask some of your neighbors if they would be willing to pay to have their cars washed by you. This is a great job during the summertime to make some extra money while being outside in the sunshine. All you will need is a hose, soap and a sponge!

Detail Cars

While car washing is more of a traditional job for youth, there is plenty of money that you could earn if you know how to properly clean the inside of a car. Professional cleaners can charge over $100 to detail a car. Not everyone can afford that, but some would be willing to pay you less to do a good job.

Start with your parent’s car. Take some before and after photos and use those to show your neighbors what an awesome job you will do!

We gave you ten different ideas, now it's up to you to put in the work and earn the cash! Good Luck!

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