Financial Checklist Before Getting Married

“Finances have long been a trouble area in marriage,” says Julie Murphy Casserly, author of The Emotion Behind Money, “and the current economic crisis is stretching even more people to the emotional breaking point.”

In fact, in a pioneering survey conducted last year, one in three respondents admitted to lying to their spouses about money, leading to arguments, distrust, separation and even divorce. Experts agree that preventative action can save marriages. Before you walk down the aisle, take the time to understand your partner’s financial upbringing and philosophy, get up to speed on their past and present holdings, and lay the foundation for a transparent, co-managed financial future.

Together with your partner, complete the following financial checklist before you say “I do.”

Discuss childhood influences.

“You have to understand your partner’s money triggers, which goes back to childhood,” says Linda Descano, the chief executive and president of Citi’s Women & Co. In order to understand your partner’s money outlook—and your financial compatibility—you first need to understand how it was formed. Talk about parents’ saving and spending and habits and how they may have shaped your behavior. It is equally important to discuss your emotional connection to money, says Descano. Does it offer you a sense of self worth? Are you crippled by financial fears? Put it all on the table.

Learn your partner’s financial past and present.

“The first time I married we did not talk honestly and consistently, and it was a messy divorce,” says Descano. “This time, when he proposed he had a W2 and a net worth statement.” She learned her lesson. Whatever you or your partner’s skeletons may be, it is better to know. Descano advises reviewing all major debts like education, business or home loans and significant credit card balances. Pull up credit scores from a site like annualcreditreport.com, and ask if they have filed for bankruptcy. Otherwise, you will likely be caught off guard when you attempt to complete a large purchase together.

Decide on joint or separate accounts.

One of the biggest and most practical questions new couples face is whether to separate or combine finances. Decide whether joint or separate accounts or combination or the two will best suit your needs. “Many couples find that if the husband and wife both work, it can make a lot of sense to keep separate budgets so that each has their own ‘buckets’ of discretionary income,” says Robert Stammers, director of Investor Education at CFA Institute. Dual-earners may keep a joint account for household spending or shared savings goals. If all accounts are joined, Stammers says it is especially important that they get and remain on the same financial page.

By Jenna Goudreau, Forbes Staff

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Five Steps to a Lower Cell Phone Bill

With sophisticated smartphones and expensive data plans, it is more important than ever to rein in your family’s cell phone bills.

Over the past 20 years, our mobile phones have grown smaller as our bills have grown larger. These bills are taking up so much of our budget; it is easy for a small family to spend more on wireless services than they do on electricity. Here are five easy steps to cut your costs…

1. Go in as a Family

Signing up for a family plan helps cut your bill in two ways.

First, additional phones cost a fraction of the first one or two, reducing your average cost. For example, T-Mobile offers an individual plan with 500 minutes of talk for $40, while a family plan with two phones costs $60, with up to three additional lines for $10 each.

Second, family members tend to call each other frequently. Since calls among plan members do not typically count against the minutes purchased, a family on the same plan can get away with purchasing fewer total minutes. Remember, family plans are not limited to those related to you or even members of your household – many plans allow you to include family living out of state or even friends.

2. Sell Your Upgrades

Most providers offer their customers a free or highly discounted new phone when they renew their contract. However, a new phone every two years may not be a necessity.

Instead of using the new phone or declining the upgrade, order the latest, greatest new thing and put it straight on eBay.  Discontinued phones can sell for $200 more than what you might have paid with four people on your family plan you could net more than $800.

3. Get a Group or Corporate Discount

When looking for savings, always ask about which companies and groups are offered discounts. You would be surprised how many organizations receive a group discount of 5 or 10 percent. So long as one person on your plan is a member at any time, the whole plan will be eligible. The best part is that once you qualify, you are likely to receive the discount in perpetuity.

4. Go to eBay for Accessories

One of the reasons providers love to offer customers new phones is that they have a good chance of selling you their overpriced accessories. The car chargers, ear pieces, and protective covers often cost $20 or more – and can usually be found for less than $5 on eBay. If you need your accessories any time soon, be sure to select only items sold from the United States, since many foreign sellers can take more than a month to deliver their product.

5. Use a Rewards Credit Card to Pay Your Bills

You could receive one percent off all your wireless bills, including new phone purchases, simply by charging everything to your UCCU Visa Rewards Credit Card. Now, one percent may not sound like much, but that is on top of all other discounts, so it adds up quickly over time.

Wireless service is important, but it should not be your most expensive utility bill!

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Turbo Tax Discount for UCCU Members

Tax season is approaching and because you are a member of Utah Community Credit Union you qualify for a 15% discount on Turbo Tax software to file your taxes. Click here to see promotional pricing on various Turbo Tax products. The discount is automatically applied at checkout.

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Life After Death Through Social Media

Many people live long after they are gone through social media. There is no such thing as a digital death.

Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn and many other major social media sites have policies regarding the death of its users. Are you familiar with them?

While losing a family member, friend, colleague, classmate or connection is often painful, imagine the reminder of the dearly departed when they appear on your Facebook Timeline, Twitter Feed, MySpace Stream or LinkedIn profile. This is especially so when the deceased user is received as a “friend recommendation” through mutual friends.

From the digital age of sending a simple email or text message to an age of information overload where we publish our entire lives through timelines, tweets or status updates, many social media users tell all and provide all. From photographs and blog posts to complete personal histories, our entire lives have become an open book.

Will your Facebook friends or Twitter followers know when you die? With MySpace itself dying a slow death, will anyone miss you or notice you gone? As for LinkedIn, a few too many profile views should reveal your dearly departed status.

As a social media guru with over 76,000 contacts spread across six social media networks, one of them – Barry Epstein, of Boca Raton, Fla. – advised that he was closing the accounts of his recently deceased son. Aware of the “memorial” policies of Facebook, I was prompted to investigate the various social media policies of deceased users’ accounts and what can be done to preserve, memorialize or delete them following death.

“I believe social media is really useful for memorializing the deceased,” stated Epstein. “No matter what happens at the memorial service, people are using social media as a way to deal with their grief, but in a way that funerals do not allow.”

With over 1.1 million social media users dying annually, family, friends, social media providers and the Internet are left to deal with a deceased user’s digital bits. When we die, who takes control of our social media networks?

“I believe social media is really useful for memorializing the deceased. No matter what happens at the memorial service, people are using social media as a way to deal with their grief, but in a way that funerals do not allow.”

–Barry Epstein

“The interactions of a person through social media are a facet of a life and supply some tangible evidence about what they valued and who they chose to interact with while alive,” said Daniel Forrester, author of “Consider: Harnessing the Power of Reflective Thinking in Your Organization.” “While the person has died, their digital life already has been imprinted with their permission and thus it should continue on.”

Facebook

Although Facebook was not the first social media provider to establish a policy for its 800 million users worldwide, it was the highest profile because of the way it addressed the issue. Rather than allow a family member to take control of a deceased user’s account, Facebook instead decided to take things a step further and allowed them to be deleted or memorialized.

A memorialized Facebook account preserves the deceased user’s online identity so that only confirmed friends can visit their profile to read about them, view photos and leave posts of remembrance.

When Facebook converts an account into a memorial, the deceased user no longer pops up in Facebook’s friend suggestions, thus we are not constantly reminded of their disappearance. The person’s profile automatically becomes private to everyone but confirmed friends. Personal identifiers and contact information are also removed to prevent hacking and to respect privacy.

To establish a Facebook memorial, a family member or friend completes a special contact form providing proof of death. This can include an obituary, news article or Internet link. Unlike other social media networks, Facebook allows non-family members to perform this task, which is helpful in situations where the deceased user’s friends are more Internet-savvy than family.

Twitter

Just as Facebook allows users to request an account be deleted or memorialized when a family member or friend has passed away, Twitter allows for a permanent backup of the deceased user’s public tweets or a complete account deletion.

Profiles of deceased users will no longer appear in the “Who to Follow” suggestion box and previously scheduled tweets are not published. At present, the profiles of deceased users look exactly the same as those of living users and can be followed and listed.

To establish a permanent backup or to delete a deceased user’s Twitter account, a family member is required to submit the user name or profile page link along with proof of death in the form of a public obituary or news article. Twitter also advises, “Please note that we cannot allow access to the account or disclose other non- public information regarding the account.”

MySpace

As one of the oldest social networks, MySpace has a deceased user policy that is more of a standardized policy of deletion rather than memorializing like Facebook or Twitter. In addition, MySpace does not adequately address privacy concerns and is susceptible to hacking.

To delete a MySpace profile, a family member must contact MySpace via e-mail with proof of death and the user’s unique identification number. A username or profile link is generally not acceptable.

“Unfortunately, we cannot let you access, edit or delete any of the content or settings on the user’s profile yourself, but we will be sure to review and remove any content you find objectionable,” reads MySpace’s policy.

This policy is not particularly helpful for older relatives that are not Internet-savvy and makes it almost impossible to remove a deceased user’s existence from MySpace.

Strangely enough, hackers may attempt to access a deceased user’s account without authorization. Contained on MySpace’s policy page is an admission that anyone with access to the deceased user’s email account can simply “retrieve the password through the ‘forgot password link’ and make necessary changes.”

LinkedIn

Unlike the personal social networks of Facebook, Twitter and MySpace where a family member or friend must make a death notification, anyone can notify LinkedIn about the profile of a deceased member.

LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional business network with over 120 million members. According to LinkedIn, it will delete the profile of a deceased colleague, classmate or connection upon receipt of proof of death. There is no provision to memorialize the profile of a deceased LinkedIn user.

To delete the profile of a LinkedIn user, a “Verification of Death Form” must be submitted online, by fax to (402) 493-3548, or by mail to LinkedIn Corporation, 2029 Stierlin Ct., Mountain View, CA 94043. Proof of death in the form of a death certificate, obituary, news article or Internet link must be included.

LinkedIn is clear to point out that an email address registered to the deceased member’s account must be included. “Without this important piece of information, we will not be able to address your request.”

“You can argue that permanently archiving a digital life will allow some survivors to better reflect on the person and even discover new connections and insights that would have faded too quickly with only human memory,” concluded Forrester.

By William E. Lewis Jr., For the Deseret News

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Holiday Bills Coming?

Take a month off your UCCU payments and let your budget breathe easier.

Please fill out the form below to skip a payment for free. Some restrictions may apply. Visit any UCCU branch, mail UCCU (PO Box 1900 Provo, UT 84603-1900), or call 801.223.UCCU or 800.453.8188.

Click on the image below to print.

Continue reading “Holiday Bills Coming?” »

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President’s Message January 2012

Inspiring Smart Decisions in 2012

As we begin the New Year, we set new goals for ourselves and we work toward creating good things in our lives. We hope that world and national leaders make decisions that will lead us to economic and financial recovery in our nation and around the world. We sometimes wish we had more control over national and world issues. The issues seem complex and so do the solutions.  Sometimes the best impact we can have is to let our voices be heard and our votes be counted. We see continued, though less than robust, signs of recovery in the local and national economies. Economists predict that employment numbers will continue to improve throughout 2012. The housing market is expected to remain weak, but economists do expect a small uptick in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the year. No major changes in policy or legislation are expected until after the elections.

In the meantime, we can have a more immediate impact on our own “personal economy” in our home and family. You have already made many smart life decisions; one of them was choosing the credit union as your financial partner. The credit union is dedicated to providing you and all members with the products, services, and information necessary to allow you to continue making smart decisions that will lead you to financial success – even during a recession. As a not-for-profit organization, your credit union exists solely to help you set and reach your financial goals. We measure the credit union’s success in part on our ability to help make your dollar go further, limit fees and charges, protect your financial future, and inspire as many smart decisions along the way as we can.

Take Full Advantage of Membership at UCCU

As a member of UCCU, we hope that you are taking full advantage of your membership by using most or all of the many valuable services available to you. With so much turmoil and uncertainty in the financial industry and with talk about fees and charges we continue to offer members the reliable and innovative services they’ve come to expect from UCCU. No hidden fees, no tricks, no surprises; just valuable financial products and tools for success – most of them at no cost. If you haven’t participated in these services – we invite you to make the move. Bring your checking, VISA, mortgage, or home equity account to the credit union and receive the savings and the peace of mind that go with making a smart decision. Deepening your relationship with UCCU brings many advantages.

Make the Move in 2012

If you aren’t using these UCCU services, consider using them in 2012:

Jeff Sermon
President/CEO
Utah Community Credit Union

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Five Financial Goals for the New Year

Five Financial Goals for the New Year

It is a new year, and a great time to set some resolutions. You should set small realistic goals to help you to achieve your larger goals. You may want to start with a large goal such as buying a house or retiring early and then look at the things you will need to do to reach that larger goal. You should set your smaller goals on those things rather than a broader less specific goal. Set up a support system to make it easier to reach your financial goals. Below is a list of five financial goals that you should consider doing this year:

1. Start to Budget

Budgeting is the most important thing you can do to help you be financially successful. There are a lot of people who make a lot of money but are broke, because they do not manage their money well. The key to successfully managing your money is to plan where you are going to spend your money and stick to it. Setting up a budget for the first time may be intimidating, but you should not let that stop you. If you have a hard time sticking to a budget you may consider using the envelope system. This will help you to stop spending once you have reached the limit each month.

2. Get Out of Debt

Getting out of debt is another key step to taking control of your finances. By really focusing on getting out of debt you can reduce the amount you pay in interest. It is also an incredible feeling to be debt free. You have more freedom to do the things that you want to do. You typically have greater job selection flexibility and you can stop paying interest and start earning interest when you are debt free. It may take some sacrifice to make it happen, but it is worth the effort. You should start by setting up a debt payment plan. Need extra help. UCCU offers free assistance through Balance Financial. Visit uccu.com/memberbenefits for more information.

3. Start Saving Money

Saving is another important key to financial success. Ideally a person should be saving at least ten percent of their income each month. This money will add up quickly. You should consider saving this amount in addition to your retirement contributions if you can afford it. Sacrificing a few dinners out a month can pay off in the long run. By establishing a savings habit now, you are opening the doors for what you can do during your retirement years. If you are struggling to find ways to save you can start by cutting back on some of your expenses. Saving can be more effective if you have something you are saving for as well.

4. Learn About Money and Finances

You should learn more about managing your money as well. You can do this online, or by reading books and magazines. You can set a goal to read at least one in-depth source a month—a book or magazine will give much greater insight into a specific area of financial matters. You may consider starting with “Total Money Makeover” if you have a great deal of debt. If you want some help with budgeting you may want to check out “Rich on Any Income” as well.

5. Begin Investing

You may also want to begin investing the money you are saving. Investing allows you to grow your money at a much quicker rate. However there are more risks involved in investing your money. You need to be sure that you are ready to invest. Many people invest money successfully on their own, but if you are just starting out, you may consider finding a financial planner to help you achieve your goals. A good financial planner will ask you questions about your financial and life goals, and then give suggestions on how to achieve them.

By Miriam Caldwell, About.com Guide

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Pay Yourself First

Make yourself a financial priority and reap the savings rewards later

Does it feel like you are swimming upstream when it comes to saving money? After you finish paying your monthly bills, are you left wondering how you are ever going to scrape together enough cash to save for your child’s college education, your retirement, or a down payment for a house or car? If so, you are not alone.

There is a concept that can help you change the scenario above. It is known as “paying yourself first.” At first this concept may sound counterintuitive, but once you understand it and make it a habit, you will likely discover that saving money for yourself and your children is, in fact, a realistic goal.

Simply put, paying yourself first means thinking of yourself as a payee; treat yourself like you would any other monthly bill. You pay no other bills until you “pay” yourself. The theory here is that you will actually save money when you make yourself a priority. Imagine having a college fund for your child. You will make that account the first to fund each month when you sit down to pay your bills.

Follow these simple steps to achieve your savings goals:

  • Open a dedicated savings account or other investment account. Although interest rates on savings accounts are low now, you can choose one with a higher yield such as a UCCU money market. A benefit of picking an account with a better interest rate is that you may be limited as to how often you can withdraw cash. This way, you will be less tempted to take money out of the account.
  • Decide how much and how often you will deposit into the designated account. For example, you might choose to contribute $100 per month to your child’s college fund account. The goal is to make it a manageable figure and to make it a habit each month, or even each week, if that works better for you. If $100 seems like too much, try $75 or $50 per month, or $10 or $15 each week, or whatever works for your budget. It is more important that you contribute regularly, without fail.
  • As your income increases or you reduce other expenses, you should increase the amount you put into the savings account. This will also help you keep up with inflation. If you have direct deposit, have a designated amount automatically deposited into the savings account. If possible, set up automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings or investment account each month.
  • Do not withdraw money from the account. In fact, you should have a separate emergency fund – about six to nine months’ worth of funds – available to cover your monthly expenses. This way, you will not feel compelled to take money out of your savings account for an emergency. This is especially true if the account is earmarked for your child’s higher education.
  • Paying yourself first can really help to alter your savings habits. For many of us, it makes it easier to avoid spending a little money here and there, until there is none left to put away. Paying yourself first is a way to help save for higher education for your children, or for anything else you need or desire.

Feel free to visit us at any of our eighteen convenient branches today to talk about the options you have for automatic deposits, automatic transfers, and college savings accounts.

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Pump up your Mileage

Make the most of your gas money with these fuel saving tips.

In these challenging economic times, it can be more important than ever to get more mileage out of your money. One place you can accomplish that is at the gas pump. And even though gas prices may be out of your control, there are some steps you can take to help reduce the amount you spend to fill your fuel tank.

  • Drive the speed limit. Sure, speeding may get you where you want to go faster, but it will end up costing you more in the long run by burning more fuel. Plus, when you drive the speed limit, you will never have to worry about getting an expensive speeding ticket.
  • Try using cruise control. By using this feature, you will maintain a constant speed, which actually helps you conserve gas.
  • Keep your car tuned up. Cars that do not operate smoothly consume more gas.
  • You should also keep your tires properly inflated. Be sure to keep your tires at their optimal pressure. Consult your owner’s manual to learn what your pressure should be, and be sure to check it frequently if your car does not have a signal to tell you when pressure is low.
  • Remove excess weight. Are you carrying around excess baggage in your trunk? Take out those golf clubs in back when you are not using them.
  • Avoid carrying things on the roof when it is not necessary. That kayak you are still carrying from last weekend’s camping trip is actually increasing your vehicle’s weight and aerodynamic drag, which can cut your mileage by as much as 5%.
  • Lay off the brakes (at least when you do not need them). Riding the brakes is another poor driving habit that can cost you valuable mileage.
  • Do not idle. Idling gets 0 mpg. Cars with larger engines typically waste even more gas while idling than cars with smaller engines.
  • Minimize your use of air conditioning. That cool air puts an extra load on the engine, thereby increasing fuel consumption.
  • Do not fill up on expensive gas. Wait for the price to go down before you fill up your tank. There is also no need to buy the highest priced gasoline. Most cars are built to run on regular unleaded. Check your owner’s manual or consult a mechanic.
  • Avoid traffic. Getting stuck in a traffic jam and stop-and-go driving can be the worst ways to waste gas. If possible, try to avoid traveling during rush hour.
  • Park in the shade. Hot cars evaporate gas. If it is a hot day, park in the shade and use your garage.
  • Roll up windows on highways. Rolling down windows creates a strong drag, particularly if you are driving fast.
  • Purchase a fuel-efficient vehicle. When buying a new vehicle, examine the vehicle’s rated fuel efficiency. Usually choosing a small vehicle with a manual transmission will provide you with great fuel economy.
  • Consider alternative options. Working at home a few days a week can lower your costs. Carpooling is another way to lower the costs of commuting.

Give these tips a spin to get your gas savings in gear. They may go a long way in helping you get your money out of the pump and back in your pocket!

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