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We want your financial wellness education experience to be unlike any other you've experienced before. That's why we've partnered with Balance Financial Fitness, a not-for-profit dedicated to providing financial education tools and resources free of charge to our members.

Explore the categories below and look for Financial Wellness U throughout our site to gain access to our online toolkits featuring: educational tutorials, videos, and resources that make you a more empowered consumer.

Tip of the Month:

Ten Great Ways to Spend an Income Tax Refund

Expecting a substantial income tax refund this year? If so, you are in the majority; over 80 percent of Americans get money back at the end of the tax year, with the average refund being close to $3,100. Rather than having those precious dollars being absorbed into your normal spending routine, get the most out of your cash.

  1. Pay down high interest loans and lines of credit. With average annual interest rates for credit cards and personal loans hovering around fifteen percent, paying off that credit card before making other investment decisions makes good sense.
     
  2. Fund Your Retirement Account. About 32 percent of all working Americans have no money invested for their retirement. If you are one of them, seriously consider making a contribution to a retirement account right away.
     
  3. Invest it. Instead of just working for money, let money work for you. If you invested one lump sum of $1,500 in the stock market, over thirty years, assuming a 12 percent return, you’d have $ 53,924! (Of course, do your research first before making any investment decisions and talk to licensed investment professionals)
     
  4. Open an emergency account. Most Americans don’t have money set aside for those financial emergencies that always seem to happen when there is no cash in the coffer. A large tax refund is a great start for an emergency account. Experts recommend that it should eventually total between three to six months’ worth of essential living expenses.
     
  5. Pay for repairs. Maintaining expensive possessions now will result in dollars saved tomorrow. Use the money to repair that leaky roof before it develops into a bigger problem; replace those dangerous bald tires with new, safe ones.
     
  6. Start a personal endowment. Investing in your emotional, physical, intellectual, and career growth is a wise use of money. Whether it’s paying for a gym membership or a cooking class, you’ll feel effects of this type of investment fast.
     
  7. Make an extra home mortgage payment (or two). Though you won’t feel the benefit immediately, doubling up on a mortgage payment now can save you months of mortgage payments later.
     
  8. Donate to a charity. Giving back to the community is a wonderful way of supporting a cause that you are passionate about. Even better – in many cases at least a portion of your donation is tax-deductible too.
     
  9. Open a College Savings Plan for your child. A four-year college education can cost upwards of $100,000. Save for your child’s college education with a college saving plan. For the most part, withdrawals are completely tax-free when used for higher education purposes.  Talk to a licensed investment professional about your different options.
     
  10. Plan a vacation. If you are in a fluid financial position, and can truly afford a bit of luxury, do something you’ve been dreaming of. Money is to be enjoyed as well as earned, saved, and invested. Go ahead. Book that cruise!

Although all the preceding ideas are excellent uses for a lump-sum amount of cash, remember that instead of planning for a refund, it could be more beneficial to come out even. A tax refund is an interest-free loan to the government, and money that is not in your pocket every month. If you have been getting a refund back each year, consider changing your withholding exemptions so less tax is withheld from each paycheck. While a tax refund may feel like a gift from Uncle Sam, it’s not—it’s money that you have overpaid on your income taxes. That said, some people use this as a form of saving.

Money Saving Apps and Websites*

CamelCamelCamel - Track prices, set up alerts, and view history charts for products slod by Amazon.

Flipp - Far fewer people get the Sunday papers these days. But all the ads, sales, coupons, and other special offers from the Sunday circulars can be browsed with Flipp. The app covers weekly ads from some 800 retailers, including supermarkets, dollar stores, pharmacies, and big retailers such as Target and Walmart. If you add your loyalty-program numbers, some discounts will automatically be applied when your loyalty card is scanned at checkout, without any physical coupons.

Honey - never search for a coupon code again. Honey automatically applies the best coupon code at checkout. It's basically free money.

RetailMeNotSmart shoppers consider the list price merely a starting point that they’ll inevitably be able to beat with a few clicks of a mouse or swipes of a smartphone. The RetailMeNot app is a must-have for savings, with promotional codes, coupons, and other discounts at 50,000-plus restaurants and major retailers, and deals for physical stores and online purchases alike.

ShopSavvyThe ultimate “showrooming” tool, ShopSavvy allows you to inspect merchandise in the store and scan the bar code to compare prices from dozens of online competitors and local stores (but not Amazon, unfortunately). The app offers special cash-back deals from major retailers, and you can set up notifications to alert you when a desired product goes on sale.

*Despite the presence of links and mobile apps listed above, McGraw-Hill FCU makes no warranty or representation regarding, does not endorse, is not affiliated with, and is not in any way responsible for the linked website or any content that appears on it. If you decide to visit any linked website, you do so at your own risk and it is your responsibility to review the terms of use, privacy policy, and any other relevant legal notices of the relevant linked website. Article Source: Time.com


Consumer Education |

General consumer awareness resources that help you protect your identity, manage your credit report, or recover from a natural disaster or recent unemployment.

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Deposits and Checking |

Managing these accounts is critical to everyday life. If you've been saving for years - gain the insight to maximize your plan. If you're just starting out, get the tools to help launch a lifetime of financial wellness.

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Loans and Real Estate |

Consumers get loans for some of the most important purchases in their lives. Buying a car, purchasing a home, or going to college. Make sure you're ready by exploring these essential tools and resources.

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Retirement Planning |

You've worked hard your entire life - it's time to enjoy a stress-free retirement. No matter your goals, these educational toolkits will empower you with the tools to enhance your financial quality of life.

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