Study up on back-to-school Savings

These tips are sure to earn you an A+

Shopping for back-to-school items should be a time to get excited for an upcoming year of new adventures. Yet, many people worry that long lines and hefty price tags will sour the whole experience. The truth is, school shopping can be an enjoyable and efficient activity. Here are some pre-shopping tips:

Buy quality: It does not take long for notebooks to rip and rulers to break after the first few months of school. Instead of buying the cheapest supplies in anticipation of the inevitable, opt for sturdy, high-quality products that will last longer. Notebooks and binders with plastic covers, for example, will hold up better than cardboard varieties. As for gear like backpacks and lunch bags, many companies such as L.L. Bean offer excellent warranties for handling things like broken zippers and torn cloth. If an item wears out or breaks sooner than expected, you will be happy to have an inexpensive solution or maybe even a free replacement.

Organize a school swap: Many kids are required to buy a certain type of item or supply one year – a graphing calculator or a specific textbook, for example – but may not need it the next. Get together with neighbors and friends to see if you can make a fair trade. You might have an excess of highlighters and loose-leaf paper that can be exchanged for a protractor or compass. Even clothes can be swapped, so kids will be happy to have a new outfit just as much as you’ll be happy to save money.

Coupons, coupons, coupons: If you take just 15 minutes and browse the newspaper inserts, you will find hundreds of deals for items that are probably on your back-to-school list. Figure out which promotions are worth your while, and which will have you spending more in the long run. Stock up on buy-one-get-one-free products, so you do not spend time and gas later in the school year. Do not forget to check out online coupons, too. You can go to manufacturer’s websites or browse sources like www.couponmom.com and www.couponcabin.com for a wide range of product and service deals.

Back-to-school shopping can be a fun experience for both kids and adults. Be sure to have a game plan to avoid unnecessary stress and money troubles. You should also ask your friends and family members if they have any tips; chances are, they have found their own tricks to master school shopping trips. For more BeMoneySmart saving tips visit us at bemoneysmart.org.

Share Button

Tips to Help Reduce College Costs

Big and small ways to find money and cut costs

Nowadays, funding higher education isn’t for the faint of heart. Even if you have saved diligently since your child was young, you still might find yourself coming up short of cash. Do not let that get you down. The good news is that it is possible to significantly cut costs by looking at the overall picture, finding grants and trimming the fat on textbooks and more. You can develop a strategy to create the best cost-savings scenario for your family.

Tips to help find extra money for college:

  • Apply for financial aid. Do not assume your family’s earnings are too much to qualify. Negotiate the best financial aid package possible for your student. As a result of the recession, many colleges have greater financial aid budgets, so if you make a good case and are specific as to how much extra money you will require, there is a chance you will get more.
  • Have your child apply for scholarships. There are many types offered, and if your teen qualifies for one, he or she might receive thousands of dollars. Begin by checking Scholarships.com.
  • Private student loans can help supplement federal loans. You can find options at websites such as Simpletuition.com. Be aware that interest rates can be high.
  • The Federal Work-Study Program provides jobs for students, and can be a great way to help mitigate tuition costs while enhancing a college resume.

Tips to help reduce the cost of college:

  • Inquire about meal plan options, such as a once-a-day meal plan, which will be cheaper than three squares a day, if your child does not eat three meals on campus.
  • If the college is local, commuting instead of living on campus can save big bucks. If living away, navigate campus by foot, bike or mass transit instead of by car.
  • Furnish dorm rooms and college apartments in “thrift-store chic” style. Look for useable items at garage sales and resale stores. If shopping for new furnishings, consider less expensive stores such as IKEA and Target. Look for sales online and off.
  • After freshman year, your child can apply to be a resident assistant in his or her dorm. In exchange for their time and commitment, they will get a reduced rate on room and board.
  • Research cell phone plans to get the best value.

Overcoming the textbook drain:

College textbooks are expensive. Money spent on them can seem like money down the drain because they are used so briefly. There are ways to get around this money pit.

  • Buy used, rather than new, textbooks. For excellent values, check DealOz.com or CheapestTextbooks.com.
  • Rent textbooks. Many college bookstores and online retailers offer textbook rentals. Try chegg.com or campusbookrentals.com.
  • Purchase electronic versions of textbooks and download to a laptop or a wireless reading device, such as Amazon’s Kindle.
  • Get free textbooks at textbookmedia.com.
  • The college library should have some textbooks available.
  • Resell textbooks that are in tip-top shape. That means no torn or ink-blotched pages and few or no highlighted passages.

These tips can help make your child’s college years more affordable and enjoyable by easing the financial burden sometimes associated with higher education. In most cases, your child can handle the research and action. Sit down with your student and create an action plan so that he or she has the knowledge of where to get started. Remember, your student will have a lot of stresses too, so the more you help them plan, the easier it will be for them to focus on their academics. Get started.

Share Button

President’s Message August 2011

Wasn’t the Recession Supposed to be Over by Now?

Many of us remember that at the beginning of this recession, most economists expected us to begin recovery by the end of 2009 and most expected us to be experiencing normal levels of employment and economic growth by the end of 2010. As we all know, the effects of the recessionary economy are still with us. Indeed, this recession is being referred to as the worst – and now longest- recession of our lifetime. We are aware of the financial and emotional stress this has placed on our community and on individual families. Your credit union has remained strong throughout the recession and continues to operate successfully, offering you as members the services and information to help you through these challenging times.

Double-Dip?

Currently, many economists are expressing concern over the growing likelihood that our economy will experience a “double dip” – or a second recession within the current recession. They point to continued sagging home prices, record levels of foreclosures, continued high unemployment, and even recent weak numbers in manufacturing and retail sales.  Still others warn of the potential impact of global economic woes in Europe involving countries like Greece, Portugal, and Spain, political unrest in the Mid- East, and growing concerns about destructive inflationary forces at work in countries such as China, India, and Brazil. Here at home, the USA struggles with growing levels of government spending and ballooning debt. Add to that two quarters of under-performing GDP growth and you can see why many remain worried about the economy and a second recession or “double dip”.

Utah’s Silver Lining

While the economy does appear to be fragile and while most expect any recovery to be long and slow, we can note several positive signs – especially in our local economy. Utah continues to experience one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation – (6.9%). Consumer debt loads are decreasing as Utahans work to reduce debt. Utah’s savings balances are growing as citizens remain cautious in their spending. More Utahans are attending school and beefing up their job qualifications to improve employment possibilities and earning capacity.

Recent surveys reveal that Utah is rated #1 in the nation in terms of being best positioned to grow and prosper once the recession really does end. Quality of life, educational levels, and the availability of a highly trained workforce combine to make Utah a state that should do very well in the coming recovery.

UCCU – Your Financial Partner

In the meantime, UCCU remains your committed financial partner, offering you and your family a full array of financial services designed to help you navigate the uncertainties of the day. For those needing to borrow – rates and terms have never been better. Many members are taking advantage of low auto loan rates and competitive home equity loan rates as they look to better manage their finances. Others are taking advantage of record low mortgage rates and low home prices. UCCU offers great rates and is recognized in the industry for its quick turn-around time on mortgage loans. For savers, the current market conditions mean low yields on savings accounts. For those depending upon interest income to cover living expenses, things are really tight. Savings rates are not expected to rise dramatically for some time. Meanwhile, UCCU pays the highest possible rates – and of course, offers the security of deposit insurance, which brings some reassurance in these uncertain times. As a result, deposits are growing at UCCU at record rates. You may want to take advantage of a no-obligation visit with one of our Utah Community Investment Services (UCIS) agents who can help you explore additional ways you can create income and plan for your future.

We’re Here For You

Our goal remains to be your “First Choice” financial partner. Our friendly, professional staff is eager to serve you. Your membership at Utah Community Credit Union gives you access to many valuable services and products to help you reach your financial goals. Even in – or especially in- challenging financial times, you can expect to earn more and pay less as a member of UCCU. Thank you for your business and your trust. It is a pleasure to serve you.

Despite current concerns, we remain positive about the future and about our community!

Jeff Sermon

President/CEO

Utah Community Credit Union

Share Button