April is Financial Literacy Month!

iStock_000016288401_Large.jpgIn the United States, April has been deemed Financial Literacy Month.  The goal of FLM is to help Americans understand the importance of managing their money and credit.  During the month of April, you will notice articles, blog post, workshops and community challenges focused around how we can improve our own finances.  In a moment, close your eyes and think about all the things you require in life and consider which of these do not require money.  Then think about all the things you want in life and consider what you can get without money.  Money touches every aspect of our lives, yet we put little focus on it in one way or another.

This month, no matter how intimidating it may seem, be bold and make a decision to improve at least one area of your financial life.  Each person’s goal may be different.  Maybe you want to become debt free. Your goal is to build the budget that helps you get there – a road map to financial freedom.  Maybe you want to better understand how to manage your bank account. You can learn how to manage your money by signing up for a workshop, purchasing a book or doing research on the internet. Maybe your goal is to finally open an account for your child so you can start saving for his or her future. Whatever your goal, there are tons of resources out there to help you achieve all of your financial goals. Check out some of the resources below:

You can also stop by any of our branches if you need help or have questions.  The point is taking control of your finances begins and ends with you, but you have to start somewhere.  Just know, we are rooting for you and we are happy to help you in any way we can!

 

4 Ways to Reduce Your Vulnerability to Identity Theft

iStock_000012554417XSmallThe holiday season is upon us, and with the holidays comes a spike in identity theft. Are you taking the necessary precautions to minimize your risk? Here are some questions and tips to make sure you protect yourself.

Q1. Do you check your credit report every four months? If not, there could be fraudulent accounts on your report that you’re unaware of.

T1. Get your free credit report every four months and dispute any suspicious activity! Use the guideline below:

  • October – Equifax
  • February – TransUnion
  • June – Experian

Q2. Do you shred all incoming junk mail and outgoing garbage that includes your name, address and any other identifying information about you? If not, identity thieves could be collecting your mail and gathering information on you.

T2. Consider getting a Cross Cut shredder and a secured mailbox that only opens with a key. You can purchase one at your local home improvement store.

Q3. Do you reconcile your bank and credit accounts monthly? If not, you aren’t going to catch identity theft as quickly as you could!

T3. Reconcile your account statements every month. This will ensure you’re the only one spending your money. Catching fraud early can help you catch the perpetrator and stop the theft before you’re put in a really tight spot. Not sure how to do so? Click here to learn how to reconcile your bank statement.

Q4. Do you carry your Social Security card in your wallet? If so, you’re certainly at risk! Identity thieves only need three or four pieces of information to get going. A social security number with your name and date of birth or address can go a long way for a thief.

T4. Keep your Social Security card somewhere safe and locked rather than in your wallet. This way you’re not handing someone who steals your wallet everything he or she might need to steal your identity.

7 Ways a Credit Union Is Different from a Bank

credit-union-vs-bank1There are many differences between credit unions and banks, and sometimes it can be quite confusing. In fact, many people don’t realize the important differences between the two, which can directly impact their financial health. For instance, an individual who opens an account at a bank becomes a customer of that bank, while an individual who opens an account at a credit union becomes a member of that credit union. In general, credit unions promote the financial well-being of their members and are not-for-profit, while banks promote the organization’s bottom line and are for profit. Here are a few other differences you may not know about:

  1. Ownership
    • CU: Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that are owned directly by the members of the credit union.
    • B: Banks are owned by investors/stockholders.
  1. Focus
    • CU: Credit unions are focused on helping their members.
    • B: Banks are focused on generating a profit.
  1. Profit
    • CU: At a credit union, members reap the profit in the form of higher dividends on deposits, lower interest rates on loans, and fewer fees.
    • B: At banks, any profit made by the bank goes to the owners or investors/stockholders.
  1. Decision Making
    • CU: Credit unions elect their board of directors who represent the members of the credit union. Credit union boards are volunteer boards.
    • B: Banks employ a board of trustees who is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the bank. The customers have no official say in decisions regarding the bank.
  1. Fees/Rates
    • CU: Credit unions charge lower fees and interest rates on loans than traditional financial institutions. Some credit unions even offer accounts with no fees. In addition, many credit unions offer low or no minimum balance requirements on checking and savings account with higher earnings on deposits
    • B: Banks charge multiple monthly fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars annually. These fees include ATM fees and monthly fees on interest bearing accounts.
  1. Insured Savings
    • CU: Credit unions are insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).
    • B: Banks are insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
  1. Taxes
    • CU: In 1937, Congress voted to make credit unions exempt from paying federal income tax because they are not-for-profit organizations. Credit unions pay payroll, property and sales taxes.
    • B: Banks pay federal income taxes.

We hope this helps everyone understand the important differences between credit unions and banks!

5 Tips to Prepare for Hurricane Season

If you’ve lived in Florida for any perhurricaneiod of time, you know what comes with summer: Hurricane Season. Often times, Florida residents become a little relaxed with regards to preparing for storm season. At Insight, we have come up with some easy tips that will help you get prepared and still leave you time to soak in the sun!

  • If you have property, take a weekend or week day evening to trim up the trees and bushes and clear out the clutter in the yard. When a hurricane comes, you don’t want to worry about an overgrown tree meeting you in your bedroom or your bicycle meeting your car windshield.
  • Consider investing in hurricane shutters or purchasing window-sized wood panels with all the necessary hardware to hang them so that you are ahead of the game if a hurricane is approaching.
  • Purchase water now! You know how it is when we hear that a hurricane is coming, don’t you? Everyone waits until the last minute and then boom! Chaos. Go get your water now, and while you’re at it, pick up some flashlights, batteries, candles and matches. Do you have pets? Better get some extra food for them too.
  • Stock up on medications. The last thing you want to be worried about after a hurricane hits is when the pharmacy will be open again. It’s best to stock up on some of your must-have medicines so you have peace of mind!
  • Create your emergency plan now. Have one point of contact outside of the home that you can call and update. This person can then assure your family that everything is okay if phone lines are too busy to handle the load of incoming calls. Make sure this trusted friend or family member has the contact information for those you want informed of your situation. Additionally, plan an emergency route in case you need to evacuate on short notice. Make sure everyone in the family knows it and you have a rendezvous point in case you’re taking multiple cars.

We know that living in Florida has its perks! However, these tips are not all-inclusive and we want to make sure you are safe this hurricane season. We also recommend you do some extra research online to get 100% prepared for storm season.

We wish you a safe and sound storm season!

Money Smart Week Seminars

‘Money Smart Week @ your library’ is a national initiative between the American Library Association and the Federal Reserve Bank (Chicago) to provide financial literacy programming to help members of the community better manage their personal finances. Insight Credit Union has partnered with the Lake County Money Smart WeekLibrary System to provide a series of financial seminars during Money Smart Week that are FREE and open to the public. These seminars cover a variety of financial topics, including wills and trusts, mortgages, debit cards and identity theft. If you’re in the area, check them out! We hope to see you there!

  • Home Buyer Basics: Thurs, April 16 at 2pm at the Leesburg Public Library
    • Learn tips and tricks for buying a home, what you should know about the paperwork, the numbers and how to choose professional support.
  • Identity Theft – What’s Your Liability?: Tues, April 21 at 10am at the W.T. Bland Public Library, Mount Dora
    • Discover when you do and don’t have to give your Social Security number and how to minimize the risk of identity theft online and offline. You’ll also learn tips to protect yourself from phishing attacks and warning signs that you might be a victim of identity theft.
  • Financial ABC’s of Debit Cards: Tues, April 21 at 11am at the W.T. Bland Public Library, Mount Dora
    • This seminar will reveal tips for using a debit card wisely, alternative ways to use a debit card, and the differences between debit cards and credit cards.
  • Money Saving Tips and Tricks from a Travel Agent: Tues, April 21 at 2pm at the Leesburg Public Library
    • Travel agent Sheri Mruz will discuss money wasting blunders, money saving tips and how to get the most out of your vacation.
  • Florida Wills and Trusts, Deeds and Power of Attorney: Tues, April 21 at 6pm at the Tavares Civic Center
    • Attorney Tom Olsen will explain how to prepare wills in Florida, establish trusts and avoid probate.
  • Florida Wills and Trusts: Wed, April 22 at 10am at the Cagan Crossings Community Library, Clermont
    • Attorney Tom Olsen will explain how to prepare wills in Florida, establish trusts and avoid probate.
  • Identity Theft: Wed, April 22 at 11am at the Cagan Crossings Community Library, Clermont
    • Discover how to minimize the risk of identity theft online and offline. You’ll also learn what to do if you are a victim and where to get help. Registration is required. Please call: (352) 243-1840 to register.
  • Identity Theft: Thurs, April 23 at 1:30pm at the Astor County Public Library
    • Discover how to minimize the risk of identity theft online and offline.  You’ll also learn what to do if you are a victim and where to get help. No registration is required.  For more information, please call: (352) 759-9913.

Financially Fit Fridays

Insight is committed to keeping our members and the community as financially fit as possible.  With that in mind, we are excited to introduce Financially Fit Fridays! Whether it’s lowering monthly expenses, rebuilding credit, paying for college or buying your first home, we’re here to help. If there are any specific topics you would like to see tips on, please let us know! Also feel free to share your tips with us, just use #financiallyfitfridays when you do! Be sure to check our blog, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter so you don’t miss any tips!FinanciallyFitFridays_Graphic_BlogTeaser

Daylight Saving Time

Clock Illustration End of Summer Time

We “fall back” this weekend. Be sure to change all your clocks before going to bed on Saturday!

First, let’s transform you into a Daylight Saving expert. The bi-annual tradition of setting the clocks back or ahead an hour is called Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight Savings Time as so popularly referred to.  You are saving daylight; you are not savings daylight!

November 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 am it magically becomes 1:00 am! This will give you the opportunity to sleep in, possibly miss a flight, or catch up on all those little details in your house that make a HUGE difference.

At Insight Credit Union we are here to make sure you have an easy and most productive “fall back”. This is a great opportunity to follow up with bi-annual duties to ensure that your safety and the safety of your family is in check!

  1. The most obvious, change all of your clocks before going to bed. Today’s technology – your cell phone and cable box will change the times automatically, but your home clocks, microwave, oven, and car might not be as smart!
  2. Flip your mattress! Possibly get that new bed feeling back from your mattress!
  3. Do a spot check on the lights and signals on your car, bike, boat, or other recreational vehicles.
    1. Check to make sure both of your high beams work.
    2. Make sure both headlights and break lights work.
    3. Check to make sure all 4 corner blinkers are working
  4. Change your air filter, while you should be doing this once a month for optimal savings, check your air filter and replace as necessary. Also, remember, switching from air conditioning to heating in Florida is a huge change to your system. You probably have a years’ worth of dust sitting on the heating coils in your home. So the first heater use could lead to your home smelling like something is on fire. Pay close attention to this! You don’t want any surprises.
  5. Time to check your fire alarm batteries! Fire Alarms are usually equipped with a battery backup system in case there is a fire and the fire knocks out the electrical system. Thankfully it is rare for these contraptions to sound but when they do, they can save lives.
  6. Medications! How does time change affect your medicine? It doesn’t! But, it’s a good time to do a spot check on your expiration dates for medicines. Might even decide to check the refrigerator or the pantry too!