12 Steps to Financial Wellness-Step 1: How to Track Your Spending

Are you ready to join us on a journey toward financial wellness?

Each month, Advantage One Credit Union will focus on one step of a journey of financial wellness. We’ll tackle the topic in detail and help you learn all you need to know about this step. Follow along, and at the end of the year, you’ll have mastered the tools for a life of financial wellness.

Tracking your spending is the first step toward greater financial awareness and, ultimately, toward financial health. However, mastering this skill is easier said than done. How can you track every dollar you spend when you make multiple purchases each day?

We’ve outlined how to track your spending in 3 easy steps. 

1. Choose your tools

Tracing every dollar’s journey isn’t easy, but with the right tools, you can make it quick and simple. Choose from one of the following money-tracking techniques: 

  • Budgeting apps. If your life happens on your phone, you can download a budgeting app like YNAB or Mint to help you track your spending. Both apps allow you to allocate a specific amount of money for each spending category for each month, and will enable you to track your spending with just a few clicks. It’s important to note that YNAB is not a free app, but that it may be worth the price for users who want to take on a more active role in their money management. 
  • Spreadsheet. If you like to see everything spelled out clearly, a spreadsheet might be a better choice for you. You’ll need to record every transaction, but if you prepare the sheet with all the spending categories you think you’ll need, this step shouldn’t take long at all. 
  • The envelope system. If you’re a big cash spender, consider withdrawing the cash you think you’ll spend in a month (or in a week) and keeping it in an envelope designated for each category. When you need to make a purchase, just use money from the envelope. 
  • Receipts. Hold onto every receipt from the purchases you make this month to help you track your spending. 

Pencil and paper. Recording each purchase the old-fashioned way can help you make more mindful money choices throughout the day. Be sure to keep a steady supply of both writing instruments handy at all times so you never miss a purchase. 

2. Review your checking account and credit card statements carefully

Along with one of the tools listed above, you can track the purchases you make using plastic by reviewing your monthly checking account and credit card statements at the end of the month. You may receive these in the mail, or you can access them online by logging into your account and downloading.

3. Review and categorize your purchases

At the end of the month, use your chosen tool to review all the purchases you’ve made throughout the month. If you’ve used an app or a spreadsheet, adding your purchases to find the total amount of money spent will be simple. The app or spreadsheet may have already helped you divide the money spent into separate categories as well. Similarly, if you’ve used the envelope system, you should know how much you spent on each kind of purchase this month. However, if you’ve chosen another method to track your spending, you’ll need to crunch some numbers to get an accurate picture of your spending habits.

When completing this step, don’t forget to include any automated payments you may rarely think about, such as subscription fees and insurance premiums.

Tracking your spending and identifying your money drains is the first step toward greater financial awareness and responsibility. Use the tips outlined here to successfully master the skill of tracking your spending. 

Your Turn: How do you track your spending? Share your tips with us in the comments.  

Baby Steps Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—and How You Can Too

Title: Baby Steps Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—and How You Can Too

Author: Dave Ramsey

Hardcover: 224 pages

Publisher: Ramsey Press

Publishing date: Jan. 11, 2022

Who is this book for? 

  • Anyone looking for straightforward and practical advice on building wealth. 

What’s inside this book?

  • An inside look at how Dave invests and builds wealth. 
  • True stories of people just like you who’ve dug themselves out of deep debt and built wealth. 
  • An extensive look at Dave’s own Baby Step 4 toward becoming a millionaire.

4 lessons you’ll learn from this book:  

  1. How to take baby steps, immediately, toward becoming a millionaire. 
  2. How to break barriers that are holding you back from building true wealth. 
  3. Basic financial concepts written in simple terms. 
  4. Simple steps for getting out of debt. 

4 questions this book will answer for you:  

  1. How can I become a millionaire?
  2. Is there any easy way to build wealth? 
  3. Are financial concepts reserved for the elite?
  4. What can I do — RIGHT NOW — to start getting rid of debt? 

Your Turn: What did you think of Baby Steps Millionaires? Share your opinion in the comments. 

New Year, New Money Habits: How to Stick With It in 2022

If you’re like most people, you likely start each year with a list of resolutions to help you improve various aspects of your life. The list may include resolutions to help you become more physically fit, further your career growth and improve your personal relationships. Another category of resolutions you may make centers on those that affect your finances. 

If the latter is true, there’s probably a good chance that your list of resolutions for the new year looks the same, year after year … after year. Yes, it’s easy to come up with ways you can improve at year’s end, but seeing those resolutions through and actually making them happen is another story entirely. 

Spend less, save more, pay down debt — how can you make 2022 the year you actually stick to these and other financial resolutions? 

Below, we’ve compiled a list of tips that can help you keep your financial resolutions throughout the new year. 

Set measurable goals

Don’t just resolve to be better with money this year. Set realistic, measurable goals to help you stay on track and to ensure you’re actually making progress. For example, you can resolve to increase your spending by a certain amount by the time you hit the mid-year point, decide to trim your spending in a specific category by a set percentage or promise to pay all your bills on time for the entire year. 

Bonus tip: To make it easier, keep those goals SMART: 

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time-based

Spend mindfully

Creating a budget can take some time and lots of number crunching, but it’s not the real challenge of financial wellness. The hard part comes when you’ve got to actually stick to that budget and make it part of your life. And one reason many people don’t end up keeping their budget is because they spend money without consciously thinking. 

Resolve to be more mindful about your spending this year, which means actually thinking about what you’re doing when you swipe that card or hand over that cash to the cashier. You can accomplish this by taking a moment to think about what you’re purchasing and how much you’re paying for it. You can also set yourself up for better success by staying off your phone while you complete your in-store transactions.

Bonus tip: To make this easier, use this calculator to determine how much you actually earn in an hour, and to see how much of your work time you’re “spending” when you make a large purchase. Is it really worth the price?

Partner up with a friend

According to MyFitnessPal.com, dieters who share their food diaries with a buddy lose twice as much weight. It’s basic psychology: When we know we have to answer to someone else, we’re more likely to stick to our resolutions — and this works for financial resolutions as well. 

Choose a friend who is in a similar financial bracket as you are and has a comparable relationship with money. Also, it helps if they have similar resolve to set and stick to those financial resolutions together. Set up a weekly time to review progress (or regression) you each have made, and make sure you both come prepared with details and proof to show how you’ve handled your money. 

Bonus tip: To make it even easier, you can use a money management app, like Mint, to help you track your spending, find your weak areas, and stay accountable for your friend. 

Write it down

In an era where some people can go without touching a pen and paper for days, writing down New Year’s resolutions can seem obsolete, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. The act of putting your financial resolutions into writing will help to imprint them on your memory. Plus, you’ll have a list of your resolutions to reference throughout the year to help keep you on track. 

Bonus tip: Writing doesn’t need to be physical in order to count. You can use a resolution-tracking app, like Strides, where you can record, track and reference your New Year’s resolutions at any time with just a few quick clicks. 

Sticking to your financial resolutions isn’t easy. Follow the tips outlined here to make 2022 the year you truly get your finances into shape. 

Your Turn: What are your financial resolutions for 2022? Share them with us in the comments. 

Should I Buy or Lease a Car Now?

Q: It’s no secret that the semiconductor chip shortage is driving up the price of both new and used cars, but I do need a new set of wheels. Am I better off buying or leasing a car now? 

A: The chip shortage and other factors relating to the pandemic and inflation have created a tight auto loan market, the likes of which haven’t been seen in years. 

As a result, finding a new or used car that meets your criteria is challenging in today’s market. Unfortunately, though, leases have also risen in price and there is limited availability among many models. 

If you need a new car right now, what’s your best choice? 

Let’s take a deeper look at buying and leasing a car, paying particular attention to factors that are unique to today’s market, to help you determine which option makes the most sense for you. 

Buying a car in 2021

If you choose to buy a new or used car, you’re looking at inflated prices and a supply shortage that’s been ongoing for months. Expect to pay approximately $40,000 for a new car and $23,000 for a used car, according to Edmunds.com. You’re also unlikely to get the service you may be used to getting at a dealership since salespeople likely have more customers than they can serve at present. This can translate into reluctance to move on the sticker price and in a delayed processing of a car purchase. 

Leasing a car in 2021

The leasing market has not been spared the after-effects of the chip shortage and resultant lag in supply of new vehicles. Many lease companies are struggling to service customers while facing a shortage in available cars. The rising prices have hit this market, too. 

If you’re nearing the end of a lease, you may be in luck. Auto dealerships are in desperate need of cars to sell, and they may offer to buy out your lease at an inflated price, leaving you with extra cash to finance your next car. The dealer pays the leasing company what you owe, and gives you a check for the remaining equity. Of course, you’ll also be facing high prices, but it may be worth getting a head-start on your purchase. 

Buying VS. leasing

In every market, there are some drivers who are better suited toward owning a car and others who benefit more from leasing. Here are some important factors to consider when making this decision: 

  • How long do you hold onto your cars? If you like to swap in your cars for a newer model every few years, a lease may be a better fit for your lifestyle. On the flip side, if you tend to hold onto your cars for many years, consider buying a car instead. 
  • Insurance costs. Leases require full insurance coverage, which can be pricey. When you own your vehicle, though, the amount of insurance coverage beyond what is required by law is your decision. If you like having full protection, including GAP insurance, which pays the difference between what you owe on a car and its true value if it’s totaled in an accident or stolen, a lease may be a better choice for you. If, however, you tend to purchase just minimum coverage, you may be better off purchasing your vehicle. 
  • Mileage. If you usually put more than 10,000 miles on your car each year (the standard amount allowed by most leasing companies before charging extra), you may be better off buying a car. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll still need to pay for those miles in depreciation costs of the car. 
  • Maintenance costs. When you lease a car, most maintenance costs are on the leasing company. You’ll need to spring for anything related to wear and tear of the vehicle, but most other repairs will be covered. You’ll also have the option to pay extra for tire protection, and dent and scratch insurance. 

When you own your car, you’ll be footing the bill for all these costs, plus any maintenance needs. To minimize these costs, don’t finalize a car purchase without first ensuring it’s in good working order. You can do this by using its VIN (vehicle identification number) to look up its history and by having it professionally inspected by a mechanic.

While individual circumstances vary, in general, you can expect the cost of purchasing and leasing a vehicle to break even at the three-year mark. While a lease may offer you cheaper monthly payments, you’ll likely earn back two-thirds of the price you paid on a car if you sell it after three years. 

Today’s auto loan market makes every decision challenging. If you’re choosing between buying or leasing a car, be sure to weigh all variables carefully before making your decision. 

Your Turn: Do you buy or lease your cars? Which factors drive that decision? Tell us about it in the comments. 

Your Complete Year-End Financial Checklist

As 2021 draws to a close and we prepare to usher in 2022, take a moment to go through this year-end financial checklist for ensuring your finances are in order before the start of the New Year.

  1. Review your budget

Is your monthly budget still working well for you? Are you stretching some spending categories or finishing each month in the red? Take some time to review your budget and make any necessary changes.

  1. Top off your retirement plan

If you have a 401(k), check to see that you are taking full advantage of your employer’s matching contributions. If you haven’t contributed as much as you can, you have until the end of the year (Dec. 31, 2021) to catch up; to a limit of $19,500. If you turned 50 this year, you are eligible for an additional catch-up contribution of $6,500. If you anticipate getting a holiday bonus, consider putting this money toward your debt. 

Likewise, if you have an IRA, you have until April 15 to scrape together the maximum contribution of  $6,000, with an additional $1,000 if you are age 50 years or older. 

  1. Check your progress on paying down debt

 Give your debt an annual checkup by reviewing your outstanding debts from one year ago and holding up the amounts against what you now owe. Have you shed debt from one year ago, or is your debt growing? If you’ve made no progress, or your debt has grown, consider taking bigger steps toward paying it down in 2022, such as consolidating your debt with a [personal/unsecured] loan from Advantage One Credit Union.  

  1. Get a free copy of your annual credit report

The end of the year is a great time for an annual credit checkup. It’s a good idea to review your statements each month to check for fraudulent charges, but you can also request a free copy of your credit report from all three credit agencies once a year. Get your free annual credit reports here, and take a close look at each report. Look for accurate, updated information and any errors, like charges you don’t remember making, or other signs of possible identity theft. If you find any wrongful charges, be sure to dispute them immediately.  

  1. Review your investments and asset allocation

Take some time at year’s end to rebalance your portfolio and to see if your asset allocation is still serving you well. You may need to make some changes to your mix of stocks, bonds, cash and other investments to better reflect the current state of the market.  

  1. Review your beneficiaries

Has your family situation changed in the past year? If it has, be sure to switch the beneficiaries on your accounts and life insurance policies to accommodate these changes. 

  1. Complete open enrollment and select your employer benefits

The end of the year coincides with open enrollment for health insurance policies. This is your chance to select the employer benefits you want for the coming year. If you miss this window, you will be stuck with the benefits you chose last year or with no benefits at all. 

  1. Review your tax withholdings

It’s a good idea to review your W-4 annually and see if the amount of tax being withheld from each paycheck needs to be adjusted. If you’re not a numbers person, ask your accountant for help. Changing up the numbers just a bit can make a significant difference in your tax bill at the end of the year. Or, if you usually get a large refund, adjusting the amount withheld can mean enjoying a larger paycheck throughout the year instead of giving the government an interest-free loan to be paid back in one lump sum at year’s end.  

The doors are closing on 2021 and it’s time to give your finances a full checkup. Use this checklist to make sure your money matters are in order before the start of 2022.

Your Turn: What’s on your financial checklist for the end of the year? Tell us about it in the comments.

4 Scams to Watch Out for this Black Friday

Black Friday has traditionally been the day that kicks off the holiday shopping season, sending hordes of crowds surging through malls and big-box stores all over the nation. Unfortunately, it’s also been a day that kicks off the season of shopping scams. 

Here are four scams to watch out for this Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season:

  1. The Amazon Prime service fraud scam

In this ruse, a scammer posing as an Amazon representative will call a target to notify them about an alleged problem with their Prime account. The victim will be prompted to download a tool on their computer or mobile device. That “tool” will give the scammer remote access to “help them resolve the problem” that is at hand. If they comply, the victim will then be instructed to log onto their banking account, supposedly so the caller can be compensated for their time. Unfortunately, doing this will give the scammer direct access to the victim’s accounts. 

  1. Phishing emails

Phishing emails are nothing new, but they can be difficult to spot among the barrage of promotional emails flooding inboxes during this time of year. 

Here are two common variations of phishing scams: 

  • Account verification. The victim receives an email appearing to be from a retailer they frequently shop. It informs them that someone has tried to hack into their account. They’re asked to verify their account, or update their account details, through an embedded link. Doing so, however, will give a scammer access to their account. The scammer can now rack up a huge bill and leave the victim to pick up the tab. 
  • Order confirmation. The victim receives an email asking them to confirm an order made through Amazon or another large e-tailer. They’ll be asked to verify the order details through an embedded link. Unfortunately, doing so will give their personal information directly to the scammers. 
  1. Delivery issues

The coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way Americans shop. It’s resulted in the volume of U.S. online purchases increasing steadily, according to the Census Bureau’s quarterly e-commerce reports. Scammers are well aware of this, and they’ve been quick to capitalize on the opportunities to pull off delivery scams, especially this time of year. 

Delivery scams generally take the form of a message appearing to be from UPS, FedEx or another delivery service, informing the victim of a “delivery issue” with an order. They’ll be asked to confirm or update their information with the provided link. Doing so will give the scammer access to their financial information and open the door to identity theft and more. 

In another variation of the delivery scam, a victim will be asked to pay a fee for covering a customs charge or tax. Of course, these fees are invented by the scammer, who will gladly pocket the money. 

  1. Non-delivery scam

Another scam whose prevalence has spiked with the increase in online shopping is the non-delivery scam, which involves a purchased gift that never arrives. The victim, likely lured in by an ad promising a super-low price on a desired item, rushed to complete the purchase without researching the seller. Unfortunately, the seller then disappears and the victim has no way of notifying them about the no-show or requesting a refund. 

How to avoid Black Friday scams

Follow these tips to keep your shopping free of scams:

  • Don’t open links in emails sent from unverified contacts. 
  • Never allow a stranger access to your device and/or accounts. 
  • Don’t share sensitive information on the phone or online with an unknown contact.
  • If contacted by an alleged representative of Amazon or another large company about an issue with your account, hang up and check your account to see if an issue is actually present.  
  • Always keep the privacy and spam settings on your computer and mobile devices at their strongest settings. 
  • If you have an issue with an ordered item, contact the retailer directly through their site and not through a pop-up ad appearing to represent them. Likewise, it’s a good idea to not click through to “support links” that are posted on troubleshooting forums, as they may not be to legitimate service sites. 
  • Only purchase items from reputable sellers. When shopping on a new site, look for a physical address, a customer service number and copy that’s free of spelling errors and typos. 

Stay safe!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a Black Friday scam? Tell us about it in the comments.

8 Holiday Shopping Hacks to Help You Save Big This Season

Ready, set… charge! The holiday shopping season is here, and between inflated prices, the rising cost of gas and the urge to splurge this time of year, it can be harder than ever to stick to your budget. Here, we’ve listed eight holiday shopping hacks to help keep your spending under control while still finding the perfect gifts for everyone on your list. 

  1. Make a list and check it twice

It’s not just for groceries—this tried-and-true shopping hack can really help you keep costs down this holiday season. When you shop with a list in hand and you’re careful to stick to it, you can make responsible shopping decisions instead of buying anything and everything that catches your eye. 

  1. Compare prices

In the age of apps and the internet, comparison shopping is a lot easier than trekking across town from store to store. All it takes is a few quick clicks to check if the item you want to purchase is available elsewhere, and for less. You can also use a price-checking app like ShopSavvy and BuyVia to make the search for the hottest deal even easier. 

  1. Don’t shop alone

Grab a friend when you shop to help keep you on track. You can share your intended budget with your friend, or let them know which gifts you’ll be looking for on this particular shopping trip and ask them to gently remind you to stay within budget and on-plan as you browse. A friend can also come in handy when you find a fantastic BOGO (buy one get one free) offer, but only need one item — go splitsies to gain some savings. 

  1. Take advantage of rebates and refunds

Wouldn’t it be awesome to get paid to shop? When you make a purchase through a rebate app like Earny or Rakuten, you get cash back for every purchase you make.

Why not get paid from the retailer, too? Some retailers offer refunds for late deliveries or will give you money back if there’s been a price change on an item since you’ve purchased it. Use a free app like Paribus to scan your receipt and search the web for price drops and to track policies that may help put more money back in your pocket. 

5. Buy discounted gift cards

Gift cards are a great way to save time on gift-shopping — and money, too! You can find discounted gift cards on sites like GiftDeals, Raise and CardCash for big-name brands of all kinds, including Lowe’s, Old Navy, Starbucks, Amazon and dozens more. Best of all, the person receiving the gift card never has to know you snagged it at a discounted price.

  1. Shop with coupons

No need to touch a pair of scissors to take advantage of coupons in 2021! Before completing an online purchase, do a quick search of sites, like RetailMeNot, to check for available coupons that can bring down the price. You can also use a browser extension, like Honey, which will automatically find and apply coupons while you shop.

7. Shop early

It’s always a good idea to get your shopping done well before the holidays to keep from overspending when you’re harried and pressed for time. This year especially, with delivery delays and supply shortages expected to last into 2022, it’s best to tackle your holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. When you shop with a clear head and when the store shelves are still well stocked, you’re more likely to stick to your budget and make responsible spending decisions.

  1. Buy electronics on Black Friday or Cyber Monday

Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are rarely worth the hassle — with the exception of electronics. While most big-ticket items, like furniture and home appliances, are usually cheaper during other sale events, the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals you’ll find on TVs, laptops, audio equipment and other electronics will likely be the best you’ll find all year. If any of these items are on your list, plan your purchase for Black Friday weekend for steep discounts. 

The holidays are coming, but that doesn’t mean you need to kiss your budget goodbye. Follow the tips outlined above to save big on gift-shopping this year. 

Your Turn: What’s your favorite holiday shopping hack? Share it with us in the comments. 

The Beginner’s Guide to Credit Cards

Credit cards! Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. According to the latest report by the Federal Reserve, there’s a whopping $790 billion in credit card debt in the U.S. On the flip side, though, opening credit cards and managing them responsibly is crucial to establishing your credit history, which impacts your eligibility and rates for large, low-interest loans.

Here’s all you need to know about credit cards.

How credit cards work

When you use a credit card to pay for a purchase, you’re borrowing money from the financial institution that issues the credit card. You’ll repay the loan, in part or in full, at the end of the month when the bill is due. The credit card company charges interest, or a percentage of your balance, which you’ll pay if you don’t pay off your bill by its due date. This number is determined by your annual percentage rate (APR), which refers to the annual cost of borrowing money with your credit card. The longer you carry a balance, the more the amount interest will accrue. 

Now, let’s take a deeper look at each step in responsible credit card management. 

Applying for a credit card

First, you’ll need to apply for a credit card. If this is your first card, you’re probably best off applying for a secured credit card. These starter cards require you to make a deposit before you can open the line of credit that establishes the loan that’s attached to the card. The deposit will serve as a form of collateral in case of a missed payment or default. Usually, secured credit cards will only offer a modest line of credit. If you make your payments on time, you’ll get the deposit back after a predetermined amount of time, usually eight to 12 months, at which point you can close the account and open an unsecured credit card (which does not require the deposit to serve as collateral). 

As you consider your credit card options, look no further than your local credit union. As member-owned cooperatives, credit unions consistently offer credit cards with lower interest rates than credit cards issued by big banks, with the most recent data showing the average credit union credit card offering interest rates at 11.22%APR compared to the average bank’s credit card offering interest rates at 12.41%APR. You can also expect more personalized member service when working with a credit union.

It’s important to note that many credit unions include clauses in their credit card terms allowing them to withdraw funds from the cardholder’s checking or savings account if the cardholder defaults on the credit card payments. When applying for a credit card through a credit union, look for this disclosure in the terms so you are aware of this arrangement if it’s in place. 

Using your card

You can use your card to pay for a purchase at any vendor that accepts your card brand (such as MasterCard or Visa). You can charge up to the available credit line that’s associated with your card. However, to keep your credit score high, it’s best to keep your credit utilization below 30% of the available credit. So, for example, if you have a $1,000 limit, you would want to keep your balance at or below $300. 

Statements

You’ll receive a credit card statement from your credit card issuer each month. The statement will include the following information:

  • Summary of all transactions made on the card since the last billing cycle. This includes all purchases, payments, balance transfers, cash advances, fees, interest payments and more.
  • The balance from the previous billing cycle.
  • The minimum payment due.
  • The payment due date.
  • The number of days in your billing period.
  • Your credit limit and available credit. 
  • Any available or redeemed awards.

It’s important to review your statement for accuracy and to take note of the bill’s due date so you don’t miss a payment. 

Payments

Once you’ve received your statement, you can choose how much to pay. If you pay your entire bill in full by its due date, you’ll avoid paying interest on the charges you made this past month and only pay the cost of the actual purchases. On the other hand, if you only make the minimum payment, interest will continue to accrue on the balance you still carry on the card. If you can’t pay the full balance, you can also choose to pay an amount that falls between the minimum payment and the outstanding balance.

[You might also want to consider automatic payment with us if your card is issued by Advantage One Credit Union to ensure you are never late on your payments.]

Building and maintaining a high credit score

Follow these tips to build your credit score and keep it high:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Pay more than just the minimum payment due. 
  • Keep your credit utilization low; ideally, at less than 30% of your available credit. 
  • Ask for a credit limit increase after nine months of responsible credit card use.
  • Keep your cards active.

Responsible credit card usage is an important part of financial health. Follow the tips outlined above to keep your score high and enjoy the benefits for years to come. 

Your Turn: Have you recently opened your first credit card? Tell us about it in the comments.

We Should All Be Millionaires

We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power

Title: We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power

Author: Rachel Rodgers

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins Leadership

Publishing date: May 4, 2021

Who is this book for? 

  • Women, people of color, and anyone who is part of a systematically marginalized group and wants to learn how to become a millionaire.

What’s inside this book?

  • A fascinating history lesson on how women and people of color have been prevented from building wealth for centuries.
  • Financial lessons that self-made millionaire, Rachel Rodgers, has learned on her journey to wealth. 
  • A step-by-step guide on how to overcome obstacles and build wealth.
  • An explanation why much of the financial advice you may have heard in the past is patriarchal nonsense. 
  • A complete overview of Rodgers’ $10K in 10 Days Challenge.

4 lessons you’ll learn from this book: 

  1. Why earning more money is not selfish or greedy.
  2. How to stop making destructive decisions and start making million-dollar decisions instead. 
  3. How to let go of financial shame.
  4. Strategies to earn more money and fatten your financial accounts. 

4 questions this book will answer for you: 

  1. Why are only 10% of the world’s millionaires women? 
  2. How can I overcome shaky confidence and imposter syndrome to build wealth? 
  3. How can I gain more peace, prosperity and joy? 
  4. How can I set and enforce “Million Dollar Boundaries” in every aspect of my life?

What people are saying about this book: 

  • We Should All be Millionaires” is a must-read, not only to help you become more financially abundant and empowered, but also so that you can become a much-needed agent of change, equality, and equity that our world needs.” –Mastin Kipp
  • “This book is an honest, realistic, and inspiring look at what it really takes to become an extremely high-earning woman. Rachel Rodgers will give you a million dollar attitude with a bank account to match.” –Sophia Amoru
  • “As a Black women, we are accustomed to the story that we are required to struggle in order to find financial stability or success. This book needs to be read by every woman who is ready for a blueprint for being joyful, finding ease, and growing wealth while standing up for causes that need our voices and attention.” –Rachel Cargle

Your Turn: What did you think of We Should All be Millionaires? Share your opinion in the comments. 

5 Steps to Take After a Data Breach

Data breaches show up in the news almost as often as celebrity couple breakups. According to Risk Based Security’s Mid-Year Data BreachReport, there were 1,767 publicly reported breaches in the first half of 2021, exposing 18.8 billion records. One of the most far-reaching of these breaches was the T-Mobile data breach in August, which has impacted more than 50 million people. 

A data breach exposes confidential information of its victims, which can include Social Security numbers, account information, credit card numbers, passwords and more. If your personal information has been compromised by the T-Mobile data breach or another exposure, take these five steps to mitigate the damage. 

Step 1: Read all alerts and notifications from the compromised company

The business whose data has been compromised in the breach will generally reach out to all potential victims to notify them about the exposure. They may instruct all recipients of this missive to check for signs that their information has been exposed and/or direct them toward their next step. If you believe your information may have been compromised in a breach, it’s important to read every message you receive from the exposed company. 

Step 2: Alert your financial institution 

Next, let Advantage One Credit Union know your account may have been compromised. This way, we’ll know to keep an eye out for signs of fraud and place an alert on your account. We’ll be watchful of requests to approve any large transaction or withdrawal, and we’ll contact you if we notice any suspicious activity. 

Step 3: Change any exposed passwords

A data breach generally means passwords of all kinds have been compromised. It’s best to change as many as possible after a breach to keep information and money safe. The quickest way to do this is by using a password manager, which allows you to store unique, complex passwords for each account. Although it’s important to have a different password for each account, it’s best to start by changing passwords you know were a part of the data breach.

Step 4: Consider a credit freeze

A credit freeze alerts lenders and credit companies to the fact that you may have been a victim of fraud. This added layer of protection will make it difficult, or impossible, for hackers to open a new credit line or loan in your name.

You can freeze your credit at no cost with all three of the major credit bureaus, Equifax, Transunion and Experian. You’ll need to provide some basic information and you’ll receive a PIN for the freeze. Use this number to lift the freeze when you believe it is safe to do so. 

Step 5: File an identity theft report

If your accounts have been compromised and you believe your identity has been stolen, file an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) immediately. This will assist the feds in tracking down the scammers responsible for the data breach. It will also help you return your finances to their usual state as quickly as possible.

Take these precautionary measures to protect your information from future data breaches of any kind:

  • Monitor your credit. It’s a good idea to check your credit accounts for suspicious activity on a regular basis. You may also want to sign up for credit monitoring, a service that will cost you $10-40 a month for the promise of notifying you immediately about any suspicious activity on your accounts.
  • Use strong, unique passwords. Use a different password for each account, and choose codes that are at least eight characters long. Use a variety of numbers, letters and symbols–and vary your capitalization use as well. Choose two-factor authentication when possible, and non-password authentication, such as face recognition or fingerprint sign-in, for stronger protection.
  • Browse safely. Never share sensitive information online and always keep your security and spam settings at their strongest levels.

Your Turn: Has your personal information ever been exposed in a data breach? Tell us about it in the comments.