Best Times to Buy 2017

Sales Calendar

When you’re mulling over a major purchase, the right price can often tip the scales. If you’re patient, willing to research and time your buys just right, you can save quite a bit of green. Here are the best things to buy during each month for the rest of the year!

February: Prepare for winter

Now’s a great time to take stock of your existing cold weather gear. If you’ve got a coat that’s seen its final winter, now’s a great time to replace it. Retailers are looking to clear out the last of the season’s merchandise to make room for spring clothes, so you can snag a deal on thermal clothes. You can also find a bargain on heaters and humidifiers to make your house more comfortable.

March: Get in shape

If you’re looking to reboot your New Year’s weight loss resolution, March is a great time to pick up exercise equipment at a discount. Treadmills and ellipticals are past their peak buying time, so retailers are looking to get rid of them. Sports equipment, like golf clubs and athletic wear, are also facing deep discounts.

April: Tech out!

Japanese manufacturers’ fiscal year ends in March, so they’re typically ready to roll out new product lines. If you’re OK with being a year behind the latest and greatest, you can pick up a fully functional digital camera, laptop computer or big-screen TV in April. Tax refund-themed sales may also make it cheaper to upgrade your technological goods.

May: Around the house

Now that the weather’s getting nicer, many home improvement shops will begin running sales on tools and other supplies. It’s also graduation time, which means dorm-stocking essentials will get some discounts. Check out basic pots, pans and cooking appliances in May.

June: Think thrifty

Everyone’s gotten a chance to get their spring cleaning done. That means thrift stores are stuffed with donated second-hand goods. Be on the lookout for bargains of all sorts, but especially for used furniture and clothes.

July: School supplies

The end of July marks back-to-school time, which means this is the month retailers start to gear up for school shopping. Look for promotions, like tax-free days, if you’re in the market for a computer or peripheral. Otherwise, you can stock up on pens, paper and other standard office essentials.

August: Beat the heat

If you’ve managed through the heat of the summer with a busted AC, August may provide some much-needed relief. Major appliance retailers are looking to shift their inventories from cooling to heating. Look for discounts on window AC units, dehumidifiers and other cool appliances.

September: Big-ticket

The new models of most major appliances start to roll out in October and November, making September an excellent time to grab last year’s model. If you need a new dishwasher or refrigerator, try to hold out until September. Also, new Apple accessories, like iPads and iPhones, typically come out in November or December, so September can be a great chance to upgrade your device, too.

October: Cars and cruises

The new model year begins for cars toward the end of summer, so there are a lot of leftovers from the previous year that need to go. Dealers are desperate to move inventory, so you can get a good price on the current year’s models. October is also a quiet season for cruise lines, so many of them run specials and sales during the month.

November: Game on

Christmas season is in high gear, and major retailers are competing for gamer bucks. Expect to see the best bundles with the hottest games for the lowest prices in November. Whether you’re trying to surprise a gamer in your life or just get the newest games for yourself, November is the time to buy.

December: Threads

After-Christmas deals are almost as legendary as Black Friday deals, so why not get out and snap up some of those clothes that are up to 90% off! Check out stores like Nordstrom Rack, and Nike for clothing stores just don’t want any more.

Your Turn: What’s your best deal-nabbing tip? How do you find the lowest prices for the best stuff? Share your bargain hunting wisdom with us in the comments!

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Don’t Panic: Filing Taxes As A College Student

Frustrated Student

Imagine skipping a day of class, then coming into the next session and seeing a test. You open the packet and see what appears to be gibberish staring back at you. Everyone else around you seems to have a perfect grasp of what’s going on, but you’re just stumbling in the dark.

That can be what the process of preparing your taxes can feel like the first time you do them. You’re given a big pile of paper and expected to sort it out yourself. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Before you start to panic, though, take a deep breath. There are a few questions that might make your life much easier. Grab that big stack of paper and ask yourself …

1.) Do I even have to file?

There’s an easy way to short circuit this whole process. If you didn’t make much money last year, you don’t have to file taxes. If your earned income (wages and tips) is less than $6,300 and your unearned income (interest and dividends) is less than $1,050, you probably don’t have to file taxes.

Of course, you might still want to do so. If you had a summer job, your employer took taxes out of your paycheck as though you’d been working all year. You might be able to get a little bit of a refund for your effort.

2.) How hard does this have to be?

If your tax situation is relatively simple, you may be eligible to use a form called the 1040-EZ (as in easy). It’s a much more straightforward document. You just enter your wages, your filing status (married or single) and the taxes you’ve already paid. It’s all laid out on your W-2, the form you got in the mail or online from your employer.

The 1040-EZ lives up to its name. It’s one page long. Once you put your name, address and Social Security number on it, you’re about halfway done. You don’t get to claim any tax credits, but there aren’t a lot of tax credits available for college students in any case.

3.) Where can I get help?

You don’t have to go it alone. If you’re feeling antisocial, you can (and should) use an e-filing service. The IRS has a tool to help you pick the best one. It’s available here: https://apps.irs.gov/app/freeFile/jsp/wizard.jsp?ck.

TurboTax is a popular e-filing tax service we suggest using that simplifies and explains the whole process from start to finish. If you are in college, you are most likely able to file through TurboTax completely free. TurboTax offers this free service for those who:

  • Made less than $100,000
  • Don’t own a home or rental property
  • Didn’t sell investments
  • Don’t own a business or have 1099 income (usually for independent contractors)
  • Don’t have major medical expenses

People who don’t fit in the free TurboTax requirements can still use Turbotax for a fee. Fortunately, TurboTax has partnered with Utah Community Credit Union (UCCU) and offers discounts of up to $15 for members of UCCU. Members can access the discounts by following this link:

https://turbotax.intuit.com/microsite/home.htm?priorityCode=3468350029&cid=all_0utahco1_aff_3468350029

There may also be additional tax help available. A program called the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) is available on many college campuses. Business students looking to bolster their resumes will frequently volunteer to help with taxes for free. This is especially important if your tax situation is more complicated, like if you’re paying for college on your own or have self-employment income from a side hustle.

Your Turn: Are you stressed about taxes? Tell us about it in the comments, or pop down and help your fellow students out!

Sources:

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/free-tax-return-preparation-for-you-by-volunteers

http://blog.taxact.com/1040-tax-forms/

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/when-does-your-child-have-file-tax-return.html

https://turbotax.intuit.com/

https://turbotax.intuit.com/microsite/home.htm?priorityCode=3468350029&cid=all_0utahco1_aff_3468350029

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5 Tips for an Affordable Wedding

Man proposes to woman at lakeside

According to a new report by a leading wedding magazine, The Knot, the average American wedding cost has eclipsed $35,000. That’s more than half of the yearly median income! Most of that spending isn’t on lavish luxuries for bride and groom – it comes from the guest list. Couples are inviting more people and doing more for them, trying to create an unforgettable experience for their loved ones.

If you’ve got an event planned for the coming year, read on. Your bill doesn’t need to be that extreme. Here are five ways to save on the cost of your big day!

1.) Schedule smart

Saturday is the most common day of the week for weddings. It’s automatically attractive, since everyone has the day off and most churches aren’t available on Sundays. Because of this popularity, venues are often more expensive on Saturday than on other days.

While the appeal of a weekend might not apply to a random Wednesday, you can pick a date that offers some of those same benefits without paying the Saturday premium. Try setting up your special day before a holiday, like July 3, or on the Sunday of a long weekend, like Labor Day. Your guests will still have time to enjoy themselves, and you can save as much as 15% on the cost of your venue.

2.) Untether yourself

When it comes to picking a venue, the first obligation should be to find a place that speaks to who you are as a couple. Practically, though, there are several important factors that should influence your decision. Most importantly, pick a venue that allows outside vendors for food, music and photography (or negotiate with the venue you already selected). Places that do a lot of business in weddings may have existing relationships with businesses that can charge more because they’re not competing.

If you can get this kind of flexibility, shop around for better prices on some of the more costly parts of the wedding. You also gain the flexibility to get exactly what you want out of these services. If you want a signature cocktail instead of a full bar, for example, contracting with an outside party may be a necessity.

3.) Keep the ‘W’ word to yourself

From cake decorating to flower arranging, everyone has a “special” wedding price. Many vendors know they can get away with charging more for a service if it’s wedding-related than if it’s for another occasion. You can catch some savings if you keep the reason for the occasion to yourself.

For example, when shopping for a dress, buying a formal gown that’s not specifically labeled as a “wedding dress” can translate to savings. Getting a custom-decorated sheet cake (or buying a big cake and decorating it simply yourself) can save a few hundred dollars. By not mentioning the word “wedding,” you can easily save 30% at various vendors.

4.) Put your guests to work

The biggest costs for most wedding-related items is in labor. When you pay for flower arrangements, you’re paying about 10% for the flowers and 90% for the florist’s time. The same is true for cake decorating and place setting. Instead of hiring professionals, consider putting your guests to work.

It may seem awkward, but many wedding guests would love the opportunity to feel like they contributed to your special day. They get the feeling of participating actively in making your event a success, and you get to save a few bucks on nearly every service. It’s a win-win!

5.) Spread out the cost by using a savings club account

One of the biggest challenges for newlyweds is coming up with that much money all at once. All the wedding bills come due at the same time. For many couples, that means using consumer debt to finance the whole cost of their wedding. Doing so can make your dream wedding all the more unaffordable, as interest and financing charges add up.

Instead, consider setting up a club account to help defray costs. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into a dividend-bearing savings account. When the bills start coming in for the big day, you’ll have money set aside to defray the costs. Remember, a dollar you don’t have to finance is a dollar you don’t pay interest on. Even if you can’t absorb the whole cost of the event out of savings, why not borrow less?

Your Turn: What are your best cost-saving wedding hacks? Share your wisdom in the comments!

SOURCES:

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/5-clever-ways-to-save-on-your-wedding-2.aspx

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/top-10-ways-to-save-money-on-your-wedding-3.aspx

http://www.realsimple.com/weddings/budget/save-money-wedding/venue

https://www.buzzfeed.com/rachelwmiller/insanely-smart-ways-to-save-money-on-your-wedding?utm_term=.nh9zY22pG#.ulOdbrrz8

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Romance On A Budget: How To Woo For Less

Man and woman smiling at each other.

Romance On A Budget: How To Woo On Less

It might feel like spring is far away, but love is still in the air. It’s almost St. Valentine’s Day, and that means it’s time to do something special for that special someone in your life. How can you show someone you care without breaking the bank? Here are five low-cost Valentine’s dates you can use to give your sweetheart (and your wallet) a great time!

1) A home-cooked meal

Food is love. It’s one of the most traditional ways to show you care. Paying restaurant prices for it, though, can add up fast. A typical meal out costs an average of $13 per person, excluding tip and drinks. Worse yet, unless you act quickly, getting a table on the 14th may be a non-starter!
Instead, try making a meal yourself. For added fun, try cooking together! The meal will taste better with the knowledge that you made it yourself, and you’ll save the time and expense of going out to a restaurant.

2) Ice skating

Once a staple of courtship, this date idea may seem a little old-fashioned. There’s a lot to love, though. It’s a chance to be close together, hold hands, and it comes with a wonderful cup of cocoa at the end! Best of all, costs are low, so it’s a bargain-priced way to build memories. You’ll form lasting memories from the bumps and scrapes of falling down, and picking each other back up again will bring you closer than ever.

3) Picnic a meal

Somewhere between dinner at a restaurant and home cooking lies a pre-packed meal you can take with you to a special spot. Scope out some place with a view, then pack up light fare – sandwiches, cheese and crackers, or even just some fresh fruit. Pack up your blanket and your basket and grab your sweetheart. If the weather turns foul, you can even move your impromptu date to a campus common area or other public indoor space.

4) Discount theater

Movies have always been a traditional date night trope, but a new release at the theater can cost a pretty penny! If you look, you can almost always find a nearby theater playing slightly older movies for dirt cheap prices. You can get the whole theater experience, down to the shared bucket of popcorn, and see a good movie you’ve both been dying to see!
For local options in Utah County, the Provo Cinemark Movies 8 offers movies for close to a dollar. If you’re up for a drive the Water Gardens theater located in Pleasant Grove has more recent movies for only a couple dollars more. If you end up going to one of these this Valentine’s Day please share a pic with us on Instagram and tag @uccufans!

5) Learn something new

This doesn’t mean following each other to classes for a day, although that might be a great bonding experience. Instead, find a new skill or activity you want to find out about and take a class together. Many colleges offer cooking, dancing and other romantic activities, but learning to play a sport or a fitness class could be a great fit, too. Whatever you choose, be sure it’s something just outside both of your comfort zones! Nothing builds relationships like shared experiences.
Your Turn: What’s your go-to for dates on a budget? Share your best ideas with us in the comments below!
SOURCES:
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Rollover Retirement $50.00 Gift Card

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What do you want your retirement to look like?

Rollover your IRA or 401K account(s) and receive a  $50.00 Gift Card!

UCCU Financial Group available at Utah Community Credit Union can consolidate your 401(k) or IRAs and help you:

  • Help building a plan keeps us with a changing market and can adapt as your needs change;
  • A wide range of investment options;
  • Allocate, diversify, and rebalance in one portfolio;
  • Provide on-going monitoring to ensure you’re on track to meet your financial goals.

For additional information, please contact Steve Lloyd

Phone: 801-223-7502
Fax: 801-431-8188
Email: lloyds@peakfns.com
 
 
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Helpful Tax Withholding Tips

Tax Witholding blog post

Tax Season: a phrase that usually comes with an instant headache and quick anxiety.  Even though taxes can be a complicated and often scary process, you can do more with your taxes than you think.

Benefits with collecting your tax refund on a monthly basis, rather than a yearly basis

So, are you employed?  If so, you probably filled out a W-4 form, which you fill out to show your employer how much to take out from your paycheck for federal taxes.  You may be withholding additional funds from your pay check, making April 15 an exciting time with a large tax return.  But every month, you are swamped with bills that have high interest rates, and that interest keeps building as time goes on.  If you could receive more money back on each paycheck, you could pay off those bills faster, you could cut your interest pay and save hundreds even thousands of dollars.  So instead of receiving a large sum once a year, adjust it so you receive it back on each pay check.

Fill out your W-4 form so your withholding corresponds to your tax liability, so you can take that money and invest it to something better.  Instead of “lending” the Government money, keep the extra cash and use it to pay off credit card debt, invest, or simply put it in a savings account.  Adjusting your withholding results in higher monthly income and allows you the flexibility you need on your finances.

Ways to spend your income tax refund

So, if you prefer your tax return once a year, how should you spend that extra cash?  Over 70 percent of Americans will get money back at the end of the tax year, with an average of $2,000*. Instead of trying your luck in Vegas, or buying a nonessential toy to put in your garage, consider these:

  • Invest!  Let your money do some work for you, and invest in something.  The stock market, for example, has a 12 percent interest rate, which can add up over time.
  • Pay for repairs on your home or car.
  • Make an extra home mortgage payment, which could save you money in interest down the road.
  • Place more into your retirement account.
  • Open a savings plan for a college education.

There are many beneficial ways to spend that extra cash.  Just remember, a tax refund is an interest-free loan to the government, and its simply money you’re missing out on every month.  Again, if you are receiving a large tax return each year, consider making some adjustments.  You may feel your tax return is a gift, but remember, each month your interest is building, and your losing a chance to pay that off every month.

For more help with your taxes, please click here for more information and guidance.  We have teamed up with TurboTax to make your life a little easier!

Sources
*http://balancepro.net/education/publications_taxes.html

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UCCU Financial Group

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Here at UCCU, we value our members more than anything.  We understand and realize how important your financial future is, and we want to assist you along the way.  UCCU Financial Group helps you find the best financial options, and provides a better understanding of the financial opportunities available to you.  So what are your options?

Investments & Life Planning

Our mission is to put you in control of your finances and your future.  That’s why we have partnered up with Cetera to give you the best options.  Options include: Mutual Funds, Life Insurance, REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) Stocks, Bonds, and Social Security Maximization.

Cetera 2

Senior Insurance 

Senior Insurance can be difficult, confusing, and downright complicated, but with UCCU, we make it easy.  Senior Benefits Insurance Services will cover you for the short and long-term goals you have in mind, and guide you through Medicare, Long-Term Care, Recovery Care insurance, and Senior Dental offerings.

Senior Benefits

Health Insurance

With so many options to choose from for Health Insurance, which is the best road to take?   Miller & Wade, one of Utah’s largest insurance agencies, can offer a full suite of insurance products to both individuals and businesses.  Miller & Wade offers: Individual Health Insurance, Individual Dental Insurance, Individual Supplemental Insurance Plans, Individual Short-Term health Insurance Plans, Individual Vision, Group Dental Insurance, Group Life Insurance, Group Disability, Group Vision, and Group Supplemental Insurance Plans.

Miller Wade

Auto, Home, AD&D Insurance 

The harsh reality is, unexpected accidents may occur at any given time.  Are you prepared for the future?  Luckily, Auto and home insurance protects against damage infliction on your home or car.  AD&D also safeguards your family’s financial security against accidental death or dismemberment.  TruSTAGE can help you find the best options for Auto Insurance, Home Insurance, and Ad&D Insurance.

TruStage

We care about our members, and their future.  Let us assist you in your financial future, and help you find the best options for you, and your family. Whether you are trying to be a shareholder for a corporation, or simply trying to find the best health insurance option, we are here to help!  So please visit our UCCU Financial Group link today for more information!

If you have any question, click HERE for more information, or call us at 801-223-8188, or email us at questions@uccu.com

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Retirement Matters

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Retirement living conjures up various images. Some see retirement living as traveling. Others envision more family time. Still others simply look forward to more free time. No matter what your view, there are a number of questions and concerns that … Continue reading

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How Will Working Affect Social Security Benefits?

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In a recent survey, 70% of current workers stated they plan to work for pay after retiring. And that possibility raises an interesting question: How will working affect Social Security benefits?  To answer that question requires an understanding of three … Continue reading

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What's Your Financial Wellness IQ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s always important to gauge your financial wellness. Financial situations can change very quickly. Understanding how to make adjustments as needed is an important skill to learn. Take this quiz to see where you stand financially and help address any problems shown by the results. The first step toward a financially stable tomorrow is facing the situation today.

Ready to begin? Answer True or False to the following questions, and then tally your score. See scoring beneath the quiz to determine whether or not you are a good candidate for financial counseling.

  1. I normally pay only the minimum amount due on my credit card bills.
  2. My credit card balances increase each month.
  3. There are arguments in my home about money.
  4. I sometimes hide purchases from my spouse.
  5. I frequently charge items that I used to pay for with cash.
  6. I have thought about filing for bankruptcy.
  7. I have begun using cash advances to meet my obligations.
  8. My credit cards are near the limit, so I’ve begun applying for new lines of credit.
  9. I do not know the total amount that I owe.
  10. I skip paying my bills some months, or pay late.
  11. I have depleted my savings.
  12. I am consumed with worries about debt.
  13. My debt interferes with my job and/or home life.
  14. Collectors have begun contacting me.
  15. I have taken money from my retirement account to satisfy debt obligations.
  16. If I lost my job, it would mean an immediate financial crisis in my life.
  17. I use balance transfers.
  18. I have no emergency savings account.
  19. Next month’s bills arrive before I’ve paid this month’s.
  20. I do not open my bills when they arrive, or soon thereafter.
Most people answer “True” to two or three of the above questions. If True was answered more often than three times, you might consider financial counseling. BALANCE offers free and low cost assistance, whether the problem stems from needing more financial education, debt concerns, meeting your mortgage payment, or a host of other personal finance concerns. Discussing it with a certified counselor/3rd party will add insight to help you to resolve the situation.
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