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As Americans finalize their New Year’s resolutions, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) is offering these tips to get your finances in gear for 2013.
“The New Year is the perfect time to start fresh and get your finances in order,” said Karen Tyson, NAFCU senior vice president of marketing and communications. “Joining a not-for-profit credit union is one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting lower fees, more competitive rates and excellent service.”
1. Stick to a budget – Track expenses and strive to live within your means. If you’d like to create a budget but don’t know where to start, credit unions frequently offer free financial literacy classes that can provide assistance.
2. Make savings a priority – At most credit unions, you can open a savings account for as little as $5. Consider splitting your direct deposit between checking and savings accounts. You can also start vacation or holiday accounts to save up for special occasions, or an emergency fund. Take advantage of 401K plans through work as well as IRAs and CDs that credit unions offer. Visit www.culookup.com to find a credit union to join.
3. Avoid unnecessary fees – Use automatic bill payment options to prevent late fees. Most credit unions still offer no-fee checking. Many credit union members also enjoy access to tens of thousands of free ATMs nationwide, including at key 7-Eleven locations.
4. Choose the right credit card for you – Many credit cards have rewards programs that allow you to redeem points for anything from travel to gift cards. Also, choose cards with low interest rates. Recent figures show that average rates for credit union classic credit cards are 11.68, as compared with 13.28 at banks.
5. Review your financial statements/credit report regularly – Scrutinize credit card statements to ensure identity thieves are not running up charges in your name. You can also request a free copy of your credit report once a year at www.annualcreditreport.com.
6. Weigh financial decisions carefully – Cautiously consider your financial decisions. At CULookup.com, 30 financial calculators are available to help you determine everything from how much car you can afford to whether you should consolidate your debts.
NAFCU is the only national organization that focuses exclusively on federal issues affecting credit unions, representing its members before the federal government and the public.