All You Need To Know About Remote Deposit

Young woman using her cellphone to deposit a paper check to ehr checking account from her home office.In a world where you can order almost anything through your mobile phone — from a new pair of shoes to a dining room table to tickets to a Caribbean cruise — it only makes sense that Advantage One Credit Union offers mobile banking services for our members. You can now check your account balance and transfer funds between accounts, all from the comfort of your home or while on the road.

One of the most convenient features we offer through our mobile banking service is Mobile Deposit. There’s no need to squeeze a trip to the credit union into your already busy schedule. All it takes to deposit a check is a few minutes of your time and a phone that has internet access.

Remote deposits first made their appearance in the banking world back in 2003 with the passing of the Check 21 Act. This law afforded scanned images of checks identical legal standing as the original paper documents. While the law was passed with the intention of speeding up the check-clearing process between financial institutions, the concept was quickly adapted by large businesses that were handling loads of checks each month. In 2009, when smartphones were already being used by most consumers, financial institutions began offering remote check capture and mobile deposits to their members.

Advantage One Credit Union is proud to have been one of the very first credit unions in Michigan to have offered this service to our members. We believe this service makes our members’ banking easier and more convenient.

Let’s take a closer look at remote check capture and mobile deposits.

What is remote check capture?
Just like it sounds, remote check capture is a way for you to deposit a check into your Advantage One Credit Union Checking Account from a distant location using your smartphone or another mobile device that has internet access. You can be practically anywhere in the world and make your deposit at any time of day or night.

The process is remarkably simple: You’ll sign into your mobile Advantage One Credit Union account and prepare your check for deposit. Tap the Mobile Deposit icon and your phone will guide you through snapping a picture of both the front and the back of the check. You’ll also be asked to verify the amount on the check. Once you’ve made that confirmation, your check will be submitted to be deposited into your account.

It’s that easy.

The benefits of remote check capture
It’s not just another errand crossed off your list. Here are some of the benefits you’ll enjoy by using Advantage One Credit Union Remote Check Capture:

1. Convenience
You’re no longer bound by regular business hours. As mentioned, you can now make your deposit anywhere, and at any time.

2. Speed
Your check will generally clear more quickly through a mobile deposit than it will through an ATM deposit. You’ll also receive instant confirmation that your check has been submitted.

3. Accuracy
There’s no room for errors when it comes to remote check capture. You’ll be asked to confirm the check amount in case the character-recognition software is not reading it correctly. On the small chance that an error occurs, you’ll still have the physical check, which you can then deposit at Advantage One Credit Union.

But is it safe?
If you’re worried about sending a personal check through the airwaves, you can rest easy. Your safety is always our priority, and we take multiple precautions for ensuring your personal information is protected throughout the remote check capture process.

First, no one can sign into your Advantage One Credit Union mobile account without two-factor authentication. Always make sure to use strong, unique passwords and never allow your phone to “remember” the PINs and passwords to your Advantage One Credit Union account.

Second, our mobile app does not store your check images in your phone. As soon as your check has been submitted, the image is erased from your phone and stored only in our own software. There’s no need to worry about someone picking up your phone and helping themselves to your check.

Finally, as mentioned, if an error occurs with your check deposit, you’ll always have the physical check to deposit if necessary.

If you haven’t already done so, try Advantage One Credit Union Remote Check Capture. It’s quick. It’s easy. And it’s safe. You’ve got nothing to lose but one more errand crossed off your to-do list. Try it today!

Your Turn:
What do you love about Advantage One Credit Union‘s Remote Check Capture? Tell us about it in the comments!

Learn More:
thebalance.com
bankrate.com
digitalcheck.com

5 Apps To Download Before The Holiday Shopping Season

Before you start making your lists and checking them twice, check out our list of free apps that can help you save boatloads of money and stress this holiday season. It just may make holiday shopping fun again!

The Coupons App
Look up deals, coupons and special online promo codes from over 100,000 retailers on this nifty, free app. You can also find thousands of exclusive deals and offers at local chains and restaurants; sign up for alerts so you can be the first to know when your favorite stores and eateries are holding sale events or offers and get calendar reminders when your saved coupons are about to expire. Sign up now to find out why millions of happy users have trusted The Coupons App to help them save more since 2008.


Shopular
Another favorite coupon app, Shopular, gives you the latest scoop on deals and coupons as well as location-based notifications. The app prides itself on getting you the best price wherever you are, and will alert you to a retailer’s trending deals as soon as you walk into the store. Redeem coupons and deals on your phone, and join the Shopular community to share savings tips and tricks with thousands of cost-conscious shoppers.

 


Santa’s Bag
Kick off your holiday shopping this Black Friday with Santa’s Bag, a handy Christmas gift list app. This free app allows you to create and store your lists, monitor your holiday budget, track your purchases and count down the days remaining until Christmas. Never forget a gift or go over budget again with this popular ad-free app!

 

 


Price Cruncher
Love saving on gifts but hate the math it takes to figure out which deals are worthwhile? Try Price Cruncher, the app that does the dirty work for you. For a one-time fee of just $1, Price Cruncher compares different sales to let you know which is actually the better deal; helps you calculate the price per product when purchasing items in bulk and tells you what the final price of a for-sale item will be after all discounts and coupons are applied. Use the app’s integrated shopping list for an all-in-one experience that makes shopping easy!


Slice
If you hate elbowing your way through crowded shopping malls and you do most of your holiday shopping online, this is the one for you! Slice will organize all the receipts that land in your inbox and track your packages so you know exactly how much you’ve spent. The app will remind you of Groupons and other deals or coupons you might want to use based on your online spending habits, and will also send you alerts about price adjustments for products you’ve been searching for. Best of all, the app safely stores all of the order numbers, tracking information and descriptions of your purchases so you can easily pull them up when you want to check an order’s status or delivery time. No more digging through dozens of emails to find out when that gift will arrive on your doorstep!


Download these apps and start saving on your holiday shopping today!

Your Turn:
What’s your favorite shopping app? Tell us about it in the comments!

Learn More:
nerdwallet.com
shopular.com
paypath.com
slice.com
thecouponsapp.com

 

The Ultimate Guide To Your First College Laptop

Young man sitting on floor holding laptop in front of him.Your laptop will be your new BFF in college. This is where you’ll store your notes, record important lectures, outline your study schedule and write up your term papers. But, with such a wide variety of laptops on the market, the choice can be overwhelming and confusing.

Check out our comprehensive guide for laptop-shopping before deciding which one is right for you.

1. Choose your platform
You have three primary choices when it comes to choosing an Operating System (OS) for your laptop.

  • Microsoft’s Windows
    Widows offers a flexible OS that is featured in notebooks that cost as little as $150 and in upgraded models that retail for as much as several thousands of dollars. Windows digital assistant, Cortana, is a powerful tool that can help you navigate your computer and search the web for relevant information, and its stylus is super-versatile, too.
  • Apple’s Mac OS High Sierra
    Similar to Windows, Apple’s OS offers what many users consider to be a simpler interface. Mac users have digital assistant Siri, and can use Apple Pay to manage their finances. If you’ve got an Apple Watch, you’ll be able to unlock your laptop with a flick of your wrist.
  • Google’s Chrome OS
    You’ll findGoogle’s Chrome OS on cheaper Chromebooks, like the Samsung Chromebook 3. Chromebooks are extremely portable, but with the Chrome browser serving as the laptop’s primary app, it’s essentially a tablet with slightly more functionality.

2. Choose your specs
Make sure your computer is equipped with the tools you need:

  • RAM
    Look for a laptop with a minimum of 4GB, or even 8GB if you can swing it financially.
  • CPU
    The brains of your computer will determine its processing power. You’ll find a broad range of CPUs in laptops and notebooks. Your best bet for a budget laptop that still performs well is to get one using an Intel Core i5 CPU or its equivalents, like the AMD Ryzen Mobile. More powerful CPUs can really hike up the price, and those that are cheaper usually aren’t worth the money you’ll save.
  • Display
    If you can afford it, choose a laptop with a minimum of 1920×1080 pixels, or full HD. Most cheaper laptops only offer 1366×768, but it’s usually worthwhile to pay extra for a sharper image and a larger capacity for content on the screen.
  • Touch screen
    Touch screens are standard in all two-in-one models, but if you’re purchasing an ordinary laptop, a touch screen will decrease your battery life without offering many benefits.

3. Choose a price range
These days, you can pick up a laptop for as little as $150-but those are usually web-centric Chromebooks that offer very little storage and have weak processors that won’t meet your needs as a college student.

Here’s what you can expect to find in various price ranges:

  • $350 to $600
    You can find a very decent laptop for less than $600, complete with 8GB of RAM and an Intel Core i5 CPU. At this price range though, you’ll likely be missing out on the longer battery life and HD display.
  • $600-$900
    Once you break the $600 mark, you’ll have your choice of upgrades, such as metal finishes and sharper, higher-pixel displays.
  • $900+
    If you’re ready to pay anything near the $1,000 mark for a laptop, expect to see lightweight computers that deliver a faster, more powerful processor and a super-sharp display.

4. Choose a battery life
Here’s where you need to determine exactly how you will be using your laptop. If it’s mainly going to serve as a desktop computer that’s carried around only occasionally, you can afford to choose a cheaper computer with a short-life battery. But, if you’re like most college students who wind up lugging their laptops around everywhere like a third arm, aim for a battery life that offers a minimum of 7 hours of untethered power.

Your laptop might be the most important tool you use in school. Spend some time choosing the one that’s right for you so it serves you well throughout your years in college.

Your Turn:
Did you recently purchase a laptop for college? Tell us all about it in the comments!

Learn More:
laptopmag.com
techradar.com
pcmag.com

Four Super-Scary Scams To Watch For This Halloween

woman in witch contest holding jack-o-lantern in front of her faceDon’t let a Halloween scam spook you! Stay a step ahead of those crooks by looking out for these four scams this season.

1. The shipping scam
The internet is brimming with Halloween-themed stores in the months leading up to Oct. 31. Lots of these retailers offer an impressive selection of costumes, accessories and decorations at great prices.

Unfortunately, though, some of the retailers that own such sites will never deliver the ordered goods. That’s because, though the company may exist, and will appear legit, at the end of the day there was never a real intent to ship the item(s). The delivery date may be postponed until after Halloween, or the order might get canceled without notification. Sometimes, the shopper will receive the promised package on time – only the package is empty!

Before placing an order with a seasonal store, look for the company’s physical address and phone number. Check what the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has to say about it and look for information about return and refund policies in case things go south. Finally, as always, be careful about sharing your credit card information with an unsecure site. Look for the lock icon near the URL and the “s” after the “http” in the web address; both indicate you’re on a secure site.

It’s also a good idea to order your costumes and décor in September. This way, you’ll have time on your side if you need to return a costume or a product that didn’t turn out as expected. You’re also less likely to purchase goods from iffy retailers and vendors you don’t recognize when you aren’t pressed for time. Finally, you won’t be forced to spend a ton of money on last-minute shipping costs when you make your purchase early in the season.

2. The fraudulent offer
In this scam, a bogus company advertises a “Super Special Deal” for “Today Only” offer, or something similar. It will offer amazing Halloween goods for prices that are too good to be true and lure lots of unsuspecting customers into the trap. Unfortunately, the company is bogus and the offer doesn’t actually exist. If you purchase the advertised product, you’ll never see the product – or your money.
As with all potential scams, check out a company’s authenticity and a website’s security before purchasing.

3. The fake ticket scam
Planning to take a trip to an amusement park, attend a concert or take in another event on Halloween? Be wary of the fake ticket scam, in which third-party vendors sell bogus tickets to unsuspecting customers right before an event. They’ll also tack on an exorbitant commission, claiming that they need to charge extra because of the last-minute purchase. Of course, the ticket is bogus and they’ll pocket the ticket money, plus the commission.

Make sure to get your tickets to any event you’d like to attend well in advance. Contact the event organizers directly to make sure you’ve reached the right address. If you find tickets being sold online near Halloween time, do a quick online search to see if the event has already sold out. Check for spelling mistakes and erroneous information about the date and time of the event on the ticket, as well.

4. The bogus purchase scam
In this scenario, scammers try to convince you that you ordered something you have no recollection of purchasing just to get you to share your personal information. Once the scammers have this data, they’ll do anything from emptying your accounts to taking out loans in your name or committing full-blown identity theft.
If you receive any emails, phone calls or text messages asking you about a costume you never ordered or a ticket you never purchased, do not engage with the sender or caller. Delete the emails or flag them as spam. Also, block the contact from calling or texting you again. With any luck, the scammer will get the message that you’re not an easy target and leave you alone.

Here’s wishing you and yours a safe and frightfully fun Halloween from all of us here at Advantage One Credit Union!

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

Learn More:
scam-detector.com
help-center.pissedconsumer.com
legalshred.com

Do My Child’s Activities Really Need To Make Me Go Broke?

man standing with three young kids on a soccer field sidelineIt’s back-to-school season and you’re just about ready to zip that backpack closed before tossing that supply list into the trash. You’ve been shopping for weeks to get the right pencils and pens, binders and the dozens of other must-haves. This, of course, is in addition to the perfect school shoes and autumn wardrobe. But now you’re done, done, done! Your sanity and your budget are ready for a breather – at least until the holiday shopping season starts.

But then your darling daughter comes home breathless from school telling you she’s made it onto the school’s soccer team. She’s thrilled and can’t wait to start attending practices and games! Oh, and did she mention she’ll need some money for her uniform and equipment?

Before you can finish digesting this piece of news, your son barrels through the door and announces he’s decided to take drum lessons. It’ll only be, say, $600 for the drum set, plus the price of lessons. But that’s not a big deal for you, is it?

Extracurricular activities are an important part of a child’s development. They allow students to shine in ways that may not be possible for them in the classroom. Plus, it helps kids step out of their social circles to forge new and lasting friendships. They serve as a creative outlet and can improve your child’s physical and cognitive health. If you have a real prodigy in your family, they may even be your child’s gateway to a college scholarship, and possibly a lucrative career.

But there’s no getting around the truth: Extracurricular activities are expensive. If you’ve got several school-aged children at home and each one wants to participate in two activities, you can be looking at an investment as high as $10,000 or more because of fees, equipment, uniforms, instruments and supplies.

No worries, though; you don’t have to choose between your budget and your children’s happiness. Here are some ways you can save on your kids’ extracurricular activities this year:

1. Limit the number of after-school activities you allow for each child
If you’ve got several over-ambitious young ones at home, consider limiting extracurricular activities to just one per child. You’ll actually be doing your children a favor by forcing them to pick one activity of focus where they’ll be channeling all their energy in one direction.

They’ll also be more dedicated to perfecting their game or hobby when they own their choice. Plus, it’ll be easier for them to keep track of just one practice and performance schedule – and a lot easier on your carpool calendar, too! Finally, you’ll help your children avoid taking on too much so they are less likely to wind up neglecting their schoolwork or not having any time to spare for family and friends.

2. Register early
Lots of children’s’ sports programs offer discounts of up to 30 percent just for signing up early. Speak to your children about after-school programs and sports teams months before the official season launch so you can register early and snag those early-bird specials. You might also be able to net a discount by pre-paying for the entire season instead of paying on a monthly basis.

3. Purchase used equipment
Save big on sports gear by purchasing gently used equipment from sites like PlayItAgainSports and SidelineSwap. Some of these sites also allow you to sell your own used equipment.

4. Swap equipment
If you have friends with kids who are (or were) also into sports and music, see if you can swap equipment and instruments from year to year. Maybe your friend’s son was into guitar last year and baseball this year, while your daughter’s interests ran in the opposite direction. Swapping with friends allows you to save on expensive equipment while putting your own unused gear to good use.

5. Rent musical instruments
If you’ve got budding musicians at home, consider renting the instrument they’ve taken up this year. There’s no way to tell if that burst of passion they’re currently nursing for the oboe is just a passing phase or the beginning of a hobby that will last a lifetime. Why blow hundreds of dollars on an instrument only to see it lying forgotten in the attic in a few months time? Some instruments, like the French horn, can cost as much as $1,000 but can be rented for as little as $50 a month.

If your child is convinced they’ve found their instrument of choice or you’ve already been renting one for a while, you can purchase gently used musical instruments from resale sites like Craigslist and eBay or through Reverb, a site devoted entirely to selling musical instruments.

6. Volunteer your time
If you’ve got the time to coach or manage a team, or even just to walk around selling refreshments during games, you might be able to nab a discount on the program’s fees and equipment.

Don’t let a tight budget stand in the way of your child’s creative and physical development. By making smart, frugal choices, you can turn your children’s dreams into reality without draining your wallet.

Your Turn:
How do you save on your children’s extracurricular activities? Share your own tips and tricks with us in the comments.

Learn More:
goodhousekeeping.com

moneycrashers.com

parents.com

PlayitAgain sports

Sideline

Book Review: The Latte Factor: Why You Don’t Have To Be Rich To Live Rich

The Latte Factor cover - white cup on saucer full of coffee with a dollar sign drawn in the cremeIf personal finance books make your eyes glaze over, but you can never say no to a page-turning novel, this book was written for you.

In The Latte Factor, best-selling author David Bach and co-writer, John David Mann, present a personal finance book that reads like a novel. It tells the story of Zoey, a young woman in her 20s who is perpetually struggling to make ends meet. Like many of her contemporaries, Zoey is weighed down by staggering student loan and credit card debt.

Though she’s working in New York City at her dream job, she can never seem to get ahead of her expenses. When Zoey’s boss suggests she get acquainted with Henry, the barista at the coffee shop Zoey loves, she has no idea how significantly this connection will change her life.

Henry is an elderly gentleman who is working at a relatively low-level job, but has built himself a comfortable cushion of savings. He shares his three primary principles of financial freedom with Zoey, which she immediately dismisses as nonsense. Soon, though, she comes to appreciate that small but significant changes in her daily routine can make a huge difference in her finances. She learns to adapt Henry’s principles: Pay yourself first, make savings automatic and live the life you want today. Slowly, she makes the changes she needs in her life to achieve financial freedom.

Bach draws on his decades of experience counseling clients through debt and toward a life of responsible money management to build a realistic story that is both engaging and enlightening. You have to believe he’s helped many “Zoeys” along the way.

Some readers are uncomfortable with the fact that Zoey is portrayed as a caricatured female who does not know how to handle her money and that the book is essentially badly disguised “mansplaining” in a way that talks down to women. Others, though, have found The Latte Factor to be a fun book that leaves readers with lots to think about.

Do you have to be rich to live rich? Read The Latte Factor and find out today!

Your Turn:
Have you read The Latte Factor? What did you think about this book? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Learn More:
goodreads.com
policygenius.com
amazon.com

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Step 8 Of 12 Toward A Debt-Free Life: Boost Your Income

Increase your income this month to help you pay down debt.

Young woman checking job posts on a bulleing boardThere are a handful of practical ways to accomplish this. For instance, consider asking for a raise or promotion at your current workplace or seeking employment elsewhere if you feel you’ve reached your maximum earning potential at the company. You can also freelance for hire, take on a side job on weekends or a seasonal job for just a few weeks a year. You might also consider offering consulting services in your particular field.

Remember:
any extra money earned goes straight towards your debt snowball!

Your Turn:
How did you boost your income this month? Share your success story with us in the comments!

Beware Natural Disaster Scams

Insurance salesman signing insurance paperwork with a middle-aged ladyWhen disaster strikes, so do the scams. It’s the season of hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and more. If you live in an area that’s prone to storms and flooding, or you volunteer to help the victims of natural disasters, beware of these four post-disaster scams so you’re not taken for a ride.

1. Bogus charities
As soon as a major natural disaster hits, fake charities spring up like dandelions after a spring rain. You might get solicitations for donations via email, social media posts, text messages or phone calls. These appeals are usually accompanied by a tear-jerking story designed to play on your emotions and get you to loosen your purse strings.

Unfortunately, these scams are often successful at swindling victims out of thousands of dollars.

Never take a request for monetary aid at face value. Check out the charity’s authenticity at Charitynavigator.org and see what the Better Business Bureau has to say about them. If you find the charity does indeed exist and is a reliable organization, double-check that the website address (URL) is correct so you can be sure you’re not handing over money to a copycat site. If you want to be absolutely certain that your donation is going to the right address, you can simply contact the charity or The Red Cross on your own.

2. FEMA imposters
The days following a natural disaster can be chaotic, as victims try to put their lives and their homes back together.

Devious scammers capitalize on this misfortune to impersonate FEMA representatives to collect victims’ personal information and/or their money. They’re counting on victims being too preoccupied to check their legitimacy.

If you applied for FEMA, stay one step ahead of the scammers by remaining alert and cautious. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to represent the federal organization, only share your FEMA claim number over the phone, keeping all other personal details to yourself. If the caller is legitimate, they should already have any other information they need.

If a FEMA representative shows up at your home, ask to see a FEMA-issued photo ID badge. The “representative” may promise to speed up your claim if you pay a deposit, but this is completely false, as FEMA does not offer any such arrangement. Do not give the “FEMA rep” any of your money – or any of your personal information.

3. Shady repair contractors
Many so-called contractors will make the rounds of neighborhoods that have seen storm damage to offer their services to homeowners seeking repairs. They may ask for upfront payment for any work you need and then do a sloppy job or never complete their task. You won’t realize you’ve been conned until the worker has left your home with your money in their pocket. To avoid getting caught in this scam, carefully research any contractor you’d like to use before hiring, and never agree to pay for all or most of the repairs before the work is done.

In a different variation of this scam, someone may show up at your door claiming to represent a utility company you use. They’ll threaten to shut off your service if you don’t provide immediate payment for any repairs you might need. Ask to see proof that they indeed represent the company they claim to work for and do not make any upfront payments until you have checked out their authenticity.

4. Damaged cars
It’s not only homes that can be heavily damaged by storms; vehicles can get hit hard, too. Sometimes, a car that’s been in a flood or hurricane can be fixed up so it looks fine on the outside despite a heavily damaged interior. Shady car salespeople might try to sell these vehicles to unsuspecting consumers who have no idea the car has been in such a storm.

If you’re shopping for a car in an area that has recently been hit by a natural disaster, be sure to check out the car’s history on sites like Carfax.com.

Don’t let scammers make a natural disaster more difficult than it already is. If you suspect fraud, let the FTC know at FTC.gov.

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

Learn More:
ridester.com

fema.gov

aarp.org

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How Much Money Should I Keep In My Checking Account?

Young lady pulls money from her wallet for a cash purchase.There’s lots of talk in the world of personal finance about how to best manage a savings account. You might read up on financial experts who recommend keeping three to six months’ worth of living expenses in your savings account, or maybe you’ve seen a tip about socking away enough money to cover larger expenses. Either way, there’s lots of discussion about the ideal amount of money to keep in a savings account.

But what about our checking accounts? Most of us use these accounts on a daily basis. Every swipe of a debit card, every bill we pay and every personal check we write takes money out of our checking account.

How much money should we be keeping in these super-convenient accounts? Let’s find out.

What’s your magic number?
According to a 2019 NerdWallet survey, the average American checking account balance is approximately $2,900 but this number may not be right for you.

Everyone’s financial realities are different, and because of that, we have different answers to the question of how much money we should be keeping in our checking accounts. The general rule of thumb is to try to have one or two months’ of living expenses in it at all times. Some experts recommend adding 30 percent to this number as an extra cushion.

To determine your exact living expenses, track your spending over several months, including all bills and discretionary spending. Be sure to include seasonal and occasional expenses as well.

Why keep that much money in your checking account?
Your checking account is your transactional account. This is where you’ll draw the money for all of your spending throughout the month, so you’ll want to be sure you have enough funds to cover those expenses. But it goes deeper than that. Here are three reasons you want to keep your checking account well-padded at all times:

1. Avoiding overdrafts. Even high-income earners can miscalculate their spending and end up with an overdrawn account. Why risk being charged overdraft fees for every transaction when you can easily avoid this mistake? [Here at Advantage One Credit Union, you can sign up for overdraft protection to ensure you never again pay a fee for an overdrawn account.]

2. Providing a cushion for pre-authorization holds. Some merchants, including those that operate gas stations, hotels, and car rentals, will place a pre-authorization hold on your debit card until you complete a transaction. Pre-authorizations can reduce your available checking account balance by up to $100 per hold. Once your transaction clears, the hold is released and the funds are available to you again. However, until then, the money is tied up. Keeping your checking account well-funded allows you to comfortably agree to pre-authorization holds without fearing an empty or overdrawn account.

3. Keeping liquid funds available. A robust checking account means access to cash is just an ATM transaction away. While most vendors accept various forms of payment, it’s helpful to know you have cash available if and when you need it.

Can I be keeping too much money in my checking account?
While it’s great to keep your checking account well-padded, taking it to the extreme is not recommended. Having an overstuffed checking account means you’re possibly missing out on the higher returns you can earn if you were to keep those same funds in a Advantage One Credit Union Money Market Account or in a Savings Certificate.

Once you’ve determined exactly how much money you should be keeping in your checking account, look into other options for the rest of your funds. You can speak to an FSP at Advantage One Credit Union to learn about our available options and other high-yield options to find the one that’s right for you.

Here at Advantage One Credit Union, we take the stress out of money management. Optimize your Advantage One Credit Union Checking Account by learning the ideal amount of money to keep in your account at all times.

Your Turn:
How much money do you keep in your checking account? Tell us what works for you in the comments.

money.com

nerdwallet.com

fool.com

11 Ways To Save On Back-to-School Shopping

Mom and young boy shopping for school clothes at a department storeAh, summer! It’s the season of fireworks and fireflies, road trips and rocky road ice cream, baseball and beach balls, flip-flops and ice pops.

But, just as you’re settling into the laid-back summer routine, retailers start rolling out their back-to-school displays, which may open that pit of dread into your stomach. Supply lists. New clothing. Backpacks, jeans, laptops and school shoes: It’s endless. And it’s so expensive!

In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, the average American parent will spend upward of $700 per child this shopping season.

If that’s enough to put a damper on your summer plans, take a deep breath and relax. You don’t need to spend yourself into debt just because everyone else seems to be doing it. Instead, take a proactive, mindful approach when shopping for the new school year and spend hundreds less than the national average. Let Advantage One Credit Union show you how!

Here are 11 creative ways to save on back-to-school shopping costs.

1. Go crazy for coupons
Why pay full price when you can get it for less? Use coupon sites like RetailMeNot.com, CouponCabin.com and Coupons.com for percentage-off or money-off coupons that will help you save big.

2. Shop the dollar store
Before hitting the big-box stores and their big-box prices, scour your local dollar store for school supply treasures that will only cost a buck.

3. Get backpacks at Hollar.com, eBags.com or 6PM.com
Don’t spend a fortune on your child’s bookbag without checking out these sites. If your child is set on having a character backpack this year, check out Hollar.com for a great selection at crazy-low prices. Does your little one have designer taste? Try eBags.com or 6PM.com for brand-name bags at a fraction of their regular price.

4. Shop tax-free
Many states offer tax-free holidays on clothing, footwear, and/or school supplies during the back-to-school shopping season to ease the financial burden of cash-strapped parents. Take full advantage by shopping during these days.
Here are the tax-free dates for back-to-school season, 2019:

Alabama: July 19-21
Arkansas: August 3-4
Connecticut: August 18-24
Florida: August 2-4
Iowa: August 2-3
Maryland: August 11-17
Mississippi: July 26-27
Missouri: August 2-4
New Mexico: August 2-4
Ohio: August 2-4
Oklahoma: August 2-4
South Carolina: August 2-4
Tennessee: July 26-28
Texas: August 9-11
Virginia: August 2-4

5. Shop on Sunday and Monday
Weekly sales on school supplies will go live at the beginning of the week – and the hottest items will be grabbed up first. Shop early in the week to score the best deals.

6. Utilize in-store price matching
Many stores you may be visiting this season offer in-store price matching or will even match/beat a competitor’s lower price.
Read through this list so you know when to ask for a better price:

  • Staples will match a lower price on an identical item and throw in an additional 10 percent discount.
  • Kohl’s will offer you the same price as a competitor as long as you bring in the competition’s ad.
  • JCPenney will give you back 5 percent of your purchase price if you find an identical item with a lower price elsewhere.

7. Use discounted gift cards
Don’t start your shopping until you check out Raise.com or GiftCardGranny.com for gift cards that give you more monetary value than you paid for them. It’s a super-easy way to save!

8. Coordinate with friends
If you’ve got a bunch of friends who are also slogging through an endless list of school supplies, see if you can work together to save more. You can divide and conquer, letting each friend shop a different store for their best offerings and picking up enough supplies for the entire group, or even offer to swap supplies you already have at home. This way, you’ll be making fewer trips and keeping more money in your wallet.

9. Follow stores on Twitter and Facebook
Your smartphone is going to be your BFF this season. Use it to follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter and you’ll be gifted with notices about sale events, plus coupon links to help you save more.

10. Compare prices
When shopping for big-ticket items, like laptops, don’t buy until you’ve done a thorough comparison-shop. You can use an app or a website like ShopSavvy, Price.com or PriceGrabber to help you compare prices with just a quick barcode scan.

11. Time your shopping
For the best budget mileage, learn the markdown cycle of your favorite stores, especially clothing shops. For example, Target offers discounts on children’s clothing every Monday, TJ Maxx posts new markdowns on Wednesdays, and you’ll want to hit Kohl’s between 3 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday to take advantage of their “Power Hour” super-deals.

Your Turn:
What’s your secret back-to-school shopping hack? Share it with us in the comments.

Learn More:
businessoffashion.com

thekrazycouponlady.com

goodhousekeeping

moneycrashers