The UCCU Board of Directors is made up of nine members from a variety of industries and areas of expertise. These elected representatives serve voluntarily, providing a wealth of diverse experience and leadership that benefits both UCCU and our members.
Gas-pump skimming is an old crime making a comeback, and your card may be at risk. Since skimmer devices are almost invisible, they can be difficult to spot. And Bluetooth technology lets the scammer remotely obtain the info it collects from as far as 100 yards away.
While EMV-enabled cards are more commonplace, gas stations have until 2020 to update their systems, making them vulnerable. Protect yourself against this hack by learning about card skimmers.
How it works
Hackers usually outfit the pump farthest from the convenience store with their skimmer. This way, they are out of the range of any security cameras at the shop’s entrance. The hacker places a skimming device on top of the pump’s card reader or inside the pump itself, and then leaves the area.
Choose your payment method wisely
You may seek extra protection by using a credit card or cash to pay at the pump. A credit card lets you easily dispute fraudulent charges. And, depending upon your financial institution, a debit card may not have much purchase protection.
The safest payment method might be cash, but remember that it cannot be replaced if lost or stolen.
How to spot a skimmer
If you don’t like the idea of using cash, you can still protect yourself by being on the lookout for skimmers. If something looks suspicious, don’t use that pump!
4 ways to spot a skimmer:
- Use your eyes. Do numbers on the PIN pad look newer or bigger than the rest of the machine? Does anything look like it doesn’t belong? Is the fuel pump’s seal broken?
- Check the tape. Many gas stations place serial-numbered security tape across the dispenser to protect their pumps. If the tape has been broken, or there’s no tape on the dispenser at all, it’s likely been compromised.
- Use your fingers. Feel the card reader before sliding your debit card into the slot. Do the keys feel raised? Is it difficult to insert your card?
- Use your phone. There are several free skimming apps, like Skimmer Scanner, that can scan a card reader for a skimming device and alert you if one is found. You can also check your phone’s Bluetooth for any strange letters or numbers appearing under “other devices.”
General card safety
It’s always a good idea to practice general safety when using a card to pay at the pump. Choose the pump closest to the store and always cover the number pad with your hand when inputting your PIN. It’s also a good idea to periodically check your account statements for suspicious charges.
Your Turn: How do you pay at the pump? Why do you choose this method?
Your Money or Your Life is unlike any personal finance book you’ve ever read. It’s not an investment guide or a collection of savings tips. Instead, this recently updated classic aims to help you figure out exactly how money fits into your life.
Most personal finance books try to help you earn and keep enough money to maintain your current lifestyle. In Your Money or Your Life, authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez break convention by showing you that financial independence is most easily achieved with a minimalist approach. You only need enough money to buy and pay for that which you need – and no more.
Here’s a brief overview of book’s 9 steps toward reshaping your relationship with money:
Step 1: Tally up every dollar you’ve ever earned. Then calculate the total worth of all of your assets, not including money you still owe on these purchases. Now, take a look at these two numbers and their startling discrepancy.
Step 2: Calculate how much you really earn each hour. You’ll need to take your weekly work hours and add the time you spend commuting and attending company events. Then, subtract your weekly income by any money you spend on work-related expenses. Divide your adjusted weekly hours by this number, and you’ll have your true hourly rate.
Step 3: Track all of your income and expenses over several months. Then, calculate how many hours of work each expense costs you.
Step 4: Evaluate your expenses by the number of hours in your life that you use to pay for them.
The book instructs you to ask these questions for every single expense:
- Do I receive fulfillment and value compared to the life energy spent on this?
- Is this use of my life energy in line with my values and goals?
- How would this expenditure change if I didn’t have to work?
This exercise often has sobering results: Much of our time and money only enables us to work more instead of reflecting our true values.
Step 5: Over the next few months, you’re going to fill out a chart comparing your income and expenses. Your goal, here, is to make those numbers as far apart as possible.
Step 6: Train yourself to live a thrifty lifestyle by spending less and maximizing your time.
Step 7: Re-evaluate your job and verify if your work resonates with your values. Use the information you’ve tracked over the last 6 steps to help you answer this question.
Step 8: Determine if your investment income can cover all your living expenses. If you’ve worked through the steps correctly, and your income now far surpasses your expenses, this incredible goal can actually become a reality.
Step 9: The ultimate goal is to have your investments growing even when they’re paying for your living expenses.
Does it all sound like a dream? Some would say so, although many readers claim this book has changed their lives.
But Your Money or Your Life has lots of critics, too. Many readers complain about a lack of real investment advice in the book. Others find the book’s tone to be intimidating and overly negative. While the authors claim most people work and spend to feed their greed, critics argue that this doesn’t ring true for everyone and lots of people spend their money prudently.
Another point of contention for readers is the subtle encouragement the authors give readers to stop working so they can fulfill their true potential. The book never recognizes the fact that many people find fulfillment through their jobs and are actively working to make the world a better place.
Everyone agrees, though, that Your Money or Your Life is a provocative read that will leave you with lots to think about long after you’ve turned the last page.
What do you think: Do most people work and spend to feed their greed (as the authors claim), or do lots of people work to make the world a better place? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!
You may be satisfied with the returns your equities are providing. However, you can never be certain of the market’s pattern, regardless of how well a specific sector is doing. That’s why a well-diversified portfolio is crucial. As always, a good offense is your best defense: The time to diversify is before it becomes a necessity.
Here are three easy ways to make diversification happen:
1.) Spread the wealth over economic sectors, styles and sizes
You may have discovered the best equity in today’s market. Nonetheless, you should never put all your investment funds in one stock or in one sector. Instead, create your own mutual fund by investing in a variety of companies and sectors.
Be wary of too much concentration in any single stock or sector. If you’ve purchased shares in 20 single industry-related stocks, your eggs are all in one basket, because you’ve only invested in stocks that are similar. Broaden your investments to include other economic sectors, or even foreign stocks and bonds or real estate.
It’s also smart to diversify your holdings among small- and large-cap companies. You may have chosen your preferred style and allocated most of your money there, but you can still broaden your portfolio by investing in other sized companies, styles and sectors.
2.) Consider index and bond funds
Spreading your money over different economic sectors can be expensive. The way to do it inexpensively is to purchase an index fund, which tracks an entire index for you at an affordable price.
Owning bond funds will add even more diversification to your portfolio at no risk. Even within bond investments, remember to diversify. Consider investing in bonds with varying maturities and credit qualities.
Remember, you want to mix up your portfolio as much as possible.
3.) Keep building
Even if you’ve adequately diversified your portfolio, that doesn’t mean you can forget about it. Continue to add to your investments on a regular basis. This will help smooth out the regular peaks and bumps of the market.
It’s important to bear in mind that the goal of diversification is not to boost performance. It won’t guarantee against loss or ensure gains. What it will do, though, is help minimize loss in the event of a sharp market decline and improve your returns for your specific level of risk and investment goals.
How diversified is your portfolio? Which sectors do you invest in? Share your chosen approach with us in the comments.
This is your chance to attend a free Home Buying Basics Seminar close to you. We’re holding these seminars all across the Wasatch Front for the rest of the year.
When you attend you can learn all the tips and tricks you need to save money, find the perfect home, and get it under contract fast. Plus, you’ll make valuable connections with some of our Home Buying Experts who are ready to guide you through the purchase of your new home, from start to finish.
Visit uccu.com/seminars to see the schedule for the upcoming seminars and to RSVP.
Online fraud is up, but UCCU can help you be up to the task.
In today’s digital world, managing your life and finances is often as simple as clicking a few buttons on your laptop or smartphone. Unfortunately, it’s often almost just as easy for fraudsters to steal your identity and abuse your finances.
In fact, a recent study showed that fraud and identity theft are on the rise, up 16% from 2016 and costing consumers $16 billion dollars. Additionally, 2017 also set a new record for data breaches, with 1,339 financial cases on record.
Although no one is fully immune to the realities of fraud and identity theft, there are many things you can do to protect your family and UCCU can help!
Be Fraud Smart is a free, online resource that can keep your entire family informed about current scams, best practices to avoid fraud, and what you should do if you’ve fallen victim.
It’s all at uccu.com/BeFraudSmart right now.
In the meantime, here are a few steps you can take right now to protect your family and Be Fraud Smart.
HAVE STRONG AND UNIQUE PASSWORDS
The days of using “1234” or “password” as your password are over.
Each and every account you have should be protected by a unique password. An easy way to ensure that your passwords are safe and secure is by using a password manager smartphone app, which will generate unique and complex passwords, on demand, for all of your services and accounts while keeping your passwords safe and organized within the app’s secure vault.
Popular password manager apps include 1Password, Dashlane, mSecure, and LastPass. A popular password manager is also available within the Safari web browser.
APPLY UPDATES & PATCHES TIMELY
Most operating systems and smartphone applications alert you when updates need to be applied but some devices, like network (WiFi) routers, require you to check for updates to firmware without being alerted.
In some cases, older devices should be replaced. For example, older smartphones can easily fall into a “no longer supported” category, which means necessary security patches and updates are no longer being developed. Check with your phone manufacturer for more details.
KEEP YOUR ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE UP-TO-DATE
All of your personal computers should be running Windows 10 (if not, you should upgrade) and firewalls should be turned on. Additionally, Macintosh computers have become more of a target for viruses and malware than in the past.
MONITOR YOUR TRANSACTIONS
Log in to your accounts frequently to monitor account transaction details. If you have transaction accounts at different institutions, you can use UCCU’s 360-View Financial Aggregation which allows you to monitor and manage all your accounts with a single login.
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT
A credit freeze will prevent potential lenders from accessing your credit report (often for a price), stopping a thief from opening an account or getting credit, even if they have your personal information.
PLACE A FRAUD ALERT ON YOUR CREDIT REPORT
If you believe you are an identity theft victim or are at risk of becoming one, you can place a fraud alert on your credit report alerting potential lenders to verify the identity of anyone attempting to open an account in your name.
SIGN UP FOR CREDIT AND IDENTITY MONITORING SERVICES
Monitoring services watch for signs that an identity thief may be using your personal information. For example, identity monitoring services may alert you when your personal information shows up in:
- Change of address requests
- Court or arrest records
- Orders for new utility, cable, or wireless services
- Payday loan applications
- Check cashing requests
- Social media
- Websites that identity thieves use to trade stolen information
BE CAREFUL USING FREE WIFI
Most of us are so happy to find free WiFi when we’re out and about that we click past the Terms and Conditions without giving them much thought. But here’s something that should give us all pause: personal information that is sent or received through open wireless networks are typically susceptible to hacking with little to no effort.
Putting it another way: over 85% of all consumers may be putting their information at risk when using public WiFi. Be very careful when using any Free WiFi and always avoid sending any personal information over an open network.
NEVER WIRE MONEY TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW
It’s one of the oldest scams in the book because it works. Every year, trusting people send money to fraudsters for all kinds of phony reasons. It’s easy to believe it won’t happen to you and yet, millions of dollars are continuously lost to unsuspecting victims, simply because they believed they were doing the right thing by sending money to the wrong people.
So just don’t do it. Never, ever wire money to a stranger, even when that stranger claims to be acting in your best interests and especially when they use scare tactics to get you to pay up right now.
SAFEGUARD ALL OF YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION
“Phishing” is the practice of pretending to be a reputable company or organization in order to convince you to reveal passwords, credit card numbers, social security number, or other compromising information. And fraudsters love to go phishing.
The fact is, no reputable company or organization is going to contact you
and request or demand your personal information (such as credit card or social security numbers). If you receive a call and you’re not sure if it’s legitimate, simply hang up and call the company or organization back directly…after looking up and confirming the correct number on your own.
HYPERLINKS AND ATTACHMENTS
If you don’t know who the email is from, don’t open a hyperlink or attachment.
No reputable organization is going to contact you and ask you for your personal information–even if it looks like it’s from your bank or other financial organization.
SHOP SMART ONLINE
When shopping online, it’s best to stick with retailers and websites you know and trust. Before you shop with an unfamiliar site, do your research. Make sure it’s reputable prior to providing personal information.
If you install antivirus, firewall or spyware protection, be sure to turn the Auto-Update feature on so your software is always up to date against the most current threats.
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
As fraudsters continue to create innovative and devious ways to steal our information, it’s up to each of us to keep ourselves safe. Just remember the old adage: knowledge is power.
Visit uccu.com/BeFraudSmart today.
Travis Clegg is a Certified Fraud Examiner who has dedicated over 23 years to protecting UCCU members from fraudters and leads a team of fraud protection experts that help members avoid and recover from fraud.
As a thought leader in fraud protection, Travis provides timely insights about how to protect yourself from current scams, so make it a habit to visit uccu.com/BeFraudSmart often to stay informed and up-to-date on all the latest fraud tactics.
When it comes to being Money Smart, impulse spending is our common enemy.
Every parent knows it doesn’t take long for children to learn that the best part of having money is spending it.
When it comes to being Money Smart, impulse spending is kryptonite: the enemy we all have in common.
If you don’t believe it, consider how much money you make in one year and how challenging it is to achieve your financial goals or make ends meet.
Now consider the fact that 90% of us make occasional impulsive purchases while 40% of all consumer spending is impulse buying. In grocery stores alone, 20% of all items are bought the same way: on impulse. And the younger the shopper, the higher the number.
It’s no wonder that when it comes time to wait in line, grocery stores squeeze us into narrow checkout aisles that are jam-packed with magazine headlines, cheap toys and every type of candy imaginable…right at our children’s eye levels.
Teaching our kids how to avoid the pitfalls of impulsive spending will help them make smart decisions their entire lives. There’s really no age that’s too young to learn about the dangers of impulse spending. With businesses and marketing professionals constantly dreaming up new and inventive ways to make any child with a dollar salivate, the right time to start is now. Here’s how.
Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But regularly talking about money is a great way to not only help your kids learn what money is and how it works, but how to develop a healthy relationship with it.
If you find these conversations difficult to start because your child is very young, try a more hands-on approach.
The next time you’re at the grocery store with your child, ask them if they know why items cost different amounts of money. Help them understand why you, as a parent, need to think about the price of each of the items you’re buying. Show them your shopping list so they can see how much time and effort went into it. You can even make a game out of shopping by involving your child in your grocery decisions.
SET AN EXAMPLE
Most of our lives are filled with moments that demand patience and restraint in the face of making impulse purchases.
But here’s the good news: that’s great parenting. Once you invite your children into your grocery shopping, you’ll find endless educational opportunities.
Show your kids how you avoid impulse spending temptations at the checkout. Use coupons in front of them. Commit to not buying things you don’t need or can’t afford, especially in your child’s presence. If you’re trying to decide on a purchase, include your child. Encourage them to help you weigh the pros and cons.
Here’s an old classic almost every child will find relatable:
“I wish I could buy that but I don’t have enough money.”
ALLOWANCE AS A TEACHING TOOL
Kids crave responsibility. An allowance can be a useful way to empower your child with the opportunity to make their own financial decisions and accept the consequences that come with them.
What’s the right amount of money for your child’s allowance? That’s up to you. Allowances can come with their own challenges so it’s important to establish an allowance system that works for your entire family.
Here’s a simple rule of thumb for teaching a child the value of avoiding impulse spending: aim for providing your child with enough money to get some of what they want, but not enough to escape making tough decisions.
In other words, set the stage for impulse purchase decisions that mirror lessons and emotions grown-ups deal with daily.
INCENTIVIZE AND REWARD
And no, this is not the same thing as a bribe. Incentives and rewards establish frameworks, beforehand, that empower kids to make smart decisions. Bribes merely pay kids off in a given moment, with little to nothing valuable learned. Here’s an example:
“In our house, cleaning the attic earns $5.” vs. “If you’ll clean the attic like I asked you to, I’ll give you $5.”
See the difference? Here’s a fun, educational activity that puts an incentive and reward framework into action:
When at a shopping location together, give your child a designated amount of money to buy something, like a piece of candy or small toy. Tell your child that they are going to be in charge of buying what they want with the money you’ve given them. And here’s the fun part…
Inform your child that whatever they don’t spend, they get to keep for the next time you come back or for any other reason. It’s a great way for your child to learn the ups and downs of spending impulsively vs. having money in their pockets. You may even learn a few things about your child along the way.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
Like anything worth doing, helping your kids learn to avoid impulse purchases requires practice. Lots and lots of practice. After all, this isn’t just about making isolated financial decisions. It’s about empowering your child with a lifetime of smart, financial behavior.
Fortunately, you’re not alone. UCCU’s award winning BeMoneySmart program offers a lot of enjoyable ways to incentivize and reward your child’s smart spending and savings habits.
For example, when you open a SmartSaver Rewards account for your child, UCCU will give your child their very own SmartSaver Rewards deposit card. Every time your child makes a deposit (regardless of the amount), UCCU will punch the card, moving your child closer and closer to cash rewards.
The more deposits your child makes, the better the reward, giving your child more reasons than ever to avoid the temptations of needless spending.
For older kids who need a little extra motivation (like your teenager), consider opening a BeMoneySmart checking account that comes with its own VISA debit card. And before you drop this article in terror, consider this: a debit card enables you, as a parent, to monitor every transaction your child makes. You certainly can’t do that with cash. Monitoring and discussing your teenager’s spending can be an essential step in helping them learn to curb impulse spending on their own.
THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING
The more you work with your kids now, the better equipped and more empowered they’ll be to resist pointless spending for years and years to come. And whenever you need a little (or a lot) of help, we’re ready.
UCCU’s BeMoneySmart youth banking program is a fun and free resource that can help every child in your family learn to make smart decisions and master their spending and savings.
And for your kids who are skeptical about education being fun, you can simply watch The Smart Family, a short web series that follows one family’s hilarious adventures to becoming Money Smart. Every video is short, funny, and educational.
But don’t worry. We won’t tell your kids if you don’t.
How I’m going to help my entire family unplug more this summer – starting with me.
As a parent, I’m worried about how much time my kids are spending staring at screens. Of course, I’m not alone. According to a recent study from Common Sense Media, 77% of parents feel their teens get distracted by devices and don’t pay attention when their families are together.
That stat may not surprise you, but here’s one that might: according to that same study, 41% of teens feel their parents get distracted by devices and don’t pay attention when their families are together.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to lecture you about how I think technology is “bad” because I don’t. But my entire family is simply plugged in too much (OK fine, including Mom and Dad). TVs, tablets, smartphones, computers and on and on. And I know that when my kids are treated to long days with no school, the temptation to waste away those long summer days is stronger than ever for every member of our family.
This summer, I’m going to help my entire family unplug and I know just where to start: with me.
STEP 1: PLAN AHEAD
I don’t want to start with me. It would be so much easier to just tell my kids: “Turn off those devices!” But then I realize that in my home, a culture of staring at screens didn’t develop suddenly. These habits and behaviors have been cultivated and nurtured over time.
I know that If I’m going to get serious about helping my kids unplug this summer, I can’t plan for it to be easy and I can’t plan for it to happen overnight, but I can create a plan that’s realistic for all of us. After all, we’re all in this together!
STEP 2: GET MY SPOUSE ON BOARD
That’s right. There’s not going to be any playing-Dad-against-Mom when it comes to our family’s screens this summer. We’re all in this together!
STEP 3: WORK WITH MY KIDS
To my kids, creating a realistic plan to help my family unplug can sound an awful lot like: “I’m going to take away something that you love.” So I’m going to make sure my kids know better. That’s why we started with a family meeting that gave us a chance to make one thing crystal clear: this is not punishment.
Nobody’s done anything wrong. Mom and Dad aren’t trying to take away anything. We all love spending time with technology, even Mom and Dad (especially Mom and Dad!). We simply want to help our entire family get more: out of summer, out of life, out of each other.
This family meeting was also a great opportunity to involve our kids in the plan. We asked each of our children what types of technology they enjoy the most. That way, our family could customize our plan together and ensure a way for everyone to still do the things they want to do. We’re all in this together!
STEP 4: LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Have I mentioned that staring at screens is as much a temptation for me as it is my kids? It’s up to parents to lead by example and if I tell my daughter to turn off her tablet while I’m staring at my phone, what kind of message am I sending?
By making our plan together, we all agree to support each other in our efforts to unplug, and that includes accountability. We’re all in this together!
STEP 5: DON’T JUST UNPLUG— CONNECT!
Here’s where the fun begins. If I’m going to expect my kids to stay off their screens, they’re going to need other things to do. Fun things to do. And I’ve always loved other, fun things to do, like listening to music, starting new projects and playing games. And I mean real games: the kind where your family looks at each other, talks with each other, and maybe even laughs with each other. You know, like they did in olden times.
It’s all about considering what type of fun your family likes to have and what kind of memories you want to make. And, of course, being ready to provide fun and interactive ways to make it happen, from simple indoor games and outdoor activities to excursions and vacations.
STEP 6: BE MINDFUL AND DON’T GIVE IN
Like anything worth doing, unplugging my family is going to be a challenge.
Can I expect pushback? Absolutely. Tears? Possibly. Will I have to listen to my children complain? I have two ears, don’t I? But I’m not going to give in and I’m not going to give up because I know that just one lapse might be enough to convince my kids that we’re not really serious about this after all.
Of course, stuff happens, and I know I’m going to be faced with many moments of weakness, all summer long. But instead of collapsing under the pressure by plugging back in, I will be mindful in those moments, approaching each one as an opportunity to connect with my children and help them understand what it feels like to plug back into life.
Oh…you say you have nothing to do? Let’s build a fort! Bake some cookies! Play a game! Go for a walk! Dress up in goofy outfits and take pictures! Hey, have you read this book? You know what I loved doing when I was your age? Invite your friend over! Better yet, let’s see if we can swim in your friend’s pool!
STEP 7: ENCOURAGE, INCENTIVIZE, REWARD
Remember, this is supposed to be fun, and that’s easy to forget when everyone is suffering through technology withdrawal. But I’ve seen for myself that my kids are more present, more engaged, and more mindful when the screens are turned off (hey, just like Mom!) and I believe that both the journey and destination will be well worth it.
If my husband and I can help our kids understand for themselves just how great it feels to experience life in good old-fashioned reality (even just for one extra moment), I’ll consider this entire experiment an unqualified success. Besides, I know that if my kids don’t practice unplugging now, they may be even less inclined to try it on their own in the future.
So along with constantly reminding our children of how grateful we are for their efforts (and that we’re all in this together, naturally), my husband and I are establishing realistic ways to incentivize and reward them, including…
STEP 8: TELL MY KIDS TO PLUG BACK IN
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this is not punishment. This is an opportunity for our entire family to practice technology on our own terms, in more balanced, mindful, and healthy ways.
What better way to prove to my kids that we’re on their side than by allowing and even encouraging screen time? Structured, approved, mindful screen time.
Let’s not forget, we live in a digital world and technology is advancing faster than ever. Since we can’t fight the future, my husband and I are going to win the war at home, equipping our kids with the wisdom, experience, and support they’ll need to navigate technology their entire lives.
At least, that’s the plan, and we’re all in this together!
Guest Columnist: Lisa Valentine Clark
Lisa is a UCCU member, Utah Valley mom, and author of Real Moms: Making It Up As We Go. Check out her Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/yourfunnyvalentine/
Are you comfortable with your current financial situation? Do you have a clear plan for your financial future?
For example, women tend to live longer than men on average, which requires their retirement income to last that much longer.
Getting a holistic view of your wealth plan and way of life is critical for your overall financial success and future. Fortunately, we can help.
The UCCU Financial Group is available to review your current plan and provide valuable, practical guidance that can help you overcome the most common financial challenges facing women today.
Let’s talk about strategies to help with both your short- and long-term financial outlook. To schedule a free consultation, contact Steve Lloyd at (801) 223-7502.