Monday, January 9, 2017

New Year, New You.

Happy New Year! With a fresh new slate called “2017”, it’s time to plan your new year’s FINANCIAL resolutions. Check out these tips sure to help you improve your financial situation in 2017 and beyond. 


 1. BYOB – Build Your Own Budget. 

Do you even budget, bro? You may think you budget, but there is huge difference between keeping a balance in your head and writing things down. Keeping a monthly budget and noting every single transaction may seem like a tedious task, but it is the only way to fully understand your cash flow. If you’re not a paper and pen type of person, try using a spreadsheet and recording your monthly costs, or use a budgeting app to find out where your money is going. Maintaining this habit will allow you to set goals, adjust your spending, and most importantly, save your money.

 2. Check your credit score. 

Start the year off by checking your credit score. Checking your credit score will allow you to check for identity theft, review your credit history, and understand where you are at for future financial decisions, e.g. applying for a loan. Head to AnnualCreditReport.com and get your free annual credit report from all three reporting bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian). It will not hurt your credit score and it is free. Not the number you envisioned? Don’t get too discouraged, this is your year to change that. Easy ways to boost your score include paying over the minimum monthly payment, making payments on time, and maintaining low balances.

3. Build your emergency savings. 

Building an emergency savings isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon, and it is never too late to start. Experts recommend savings up to six months’ worth of expenses. Once you BYOB, you can determine how much you can set aside per month to build your emergency savings. The purpose of an emergency savings fund is to provide back-up in case your car quits, your roof starts leaking, you lose your job, or there’s a health emergency. Don’t wait for something happen; be prepared for when it does happen.

 4. Automatic savings. 

A quick way to save money is to utilize automatic savings. Instead of manually moving money into your 401k or savings account, set up automatic savings. With everything going on in life, sometimes it is easy to forget to move your money from one account to the other. Head to your closest U.S. Eagle branch and set up an automatic withdraw or transfer biweekly, monthly, or quarterly. Watch your savings grow!

 5. Make Extra Income.

If you plan on making a big purchase this year, paying off a large amount of debt, or want to stash some extra cash into savings, making some extra income may be the best option for you. There are so many ways you can make some extra money, it just depends on how much time you have to dedicate and how much you want it. You can go through your closet and sell clothes you no longer wear, pick up a second job as an Uber or Lyft driver, or go outside the box and start blogging. If you live in a large home and have an extra room, consider posting it on AirBnB. Another option is turning a skill set into income. If you’re great at tennis, maybe you can offer lessons on weekends, or if cooking is more your style, offer classes after work! Options are endless.


 2017 is your year for financial success. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need this pair of shoes?” Challenge yourself! For one month, don’t spend any money on eating out; instead, move it into your savings account. Sometimes, we don’t realize how much money we can save by removing something out of our lives, even if it is temporary. Happy New Year!

Friday, December 16, 2016

5 Favorite New Mexican Holiday Traditions

Let's talk tradition! What are our top five favorite New Mexican holiday traditions? We've listed them below.

1.       River of Lights
Wear a heavy jacket and some good walking shoes because you aren’t going to want to miss the River of Lights. With millions of twinkling lights and more than 500 displays, make sure you add this to your list of holiday activities. The River of Lights landed on MSN’s “The 15 Most Spectacular Holiday Lights Displays in the U.S.” and definitely deserves a spot! Grab the family, head to the BioPark and witness this magical display of lights for yourself.

2.       Luminarias
The most infamous of all Christmas decorations: Luminarias. You just need three things: brown bags, candles, and sand. Place them all around your house and yard, and you are set. Luminarias are basically a Christmas staple here in New Mexico! In fact, ABQ Ride has created a Luminaria Tour to highlight just how much we <3 luminarias.

3.       Nob Hill Shop and Stroll
Check some gifts off your list at Nob Hill Shop and Stroll. Central shuts down, and local businesses keep their doors open later. Nob Hill expects to see 8,000-10,000 people at this event. Customers come to shop, browse, and grab a bite!  

4.       Twinkle Light Parade
Congratulations are in order for this bright and twinkly occasion! The Twinkle Light Parade has been named #2 Best Holiday Parade in the country by USA Today.  This infamous New Mexican tradition features over 300,000 lights stretching over a mile, cool cars, firetrucks, and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Klaus! Bundle up and grab a canister of hot cocoa because you won’t want to miss Albuquerque’s biggest holiday parade.

5.       Biscochitos
What goes best with all four traditions mentioned above? Biscochitos. Everyone in New Mexico loves biscochitos especially right out of the oven! You can get them anywhere…even at U.S. Eagle. In fact, when you purchase biscochitos at any one of our branches, all proceeds will benefit local organizations. Delicious cookies all for a good cause.
Well, this concludes our top five favorite New Mexican Holiday traditions! We would love to learn about your family tradition around the holidays. Leave a comment and tell us your favorite tradition. Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Casa Esperanza, Meals on Wheels, El Camino Real Academy: OH MY!

It’s time for a community service rewind.

As some of you may know, the credit union philosophy is “People Helping People”. We fulfill this philosophy every day through volunteering, fundraising, and donating.  In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we want to recap some of our major community service efforts throughout 2016. We are so thankful for our community and the opportunities we are provided to help out around New Mexico.

Every other Tuesday, a group of U.S. Eagle employees head down to Casa Esperanza to put their cooking skills to the test. Sometimes lasagna is on the menu, other times it’s tacos, or maybe we’ll just host a BBQ! In honor of Thanksgiving, we will be preparing a delicious Thanksgiving meal this week for those residing at Casa Esperanza. Casa Esperanza provides appropriate housing and emotional support for patients and their families who reside temporarily in Albuquerque while the patient receives treatment.


Every Wednesday, Team Eagle delivers delicious meals to local New Mexicans requiring special dietary needs. Meals on Wheels provides us with the opportunity to serve those in need around Albuquerque. Over 500 clients are served, and over 100,000 meals are delivered every year thanks to Meals on Wheels.


 Annually, we have a bake sale in October at all of our branches to raise money for Making Strides Against BreastCancer. Employees donate baked or purchased goods to display in our lobbies. Thanks to our members and employees, we were able to raise $1,526 through our bake sale and have a huge group of employees walk in support of Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. 


For our second year in a row, we were able to contribute $1,000 to El Camino Real Academy for their annual Thanksgiving meal provided to their students and their families.  This event provides students and their families with a healthy, fresh, and organic meal to celebrate Thanksgiving. It is an all-day event that everyone looks forward to!

Abrazos Family Support Services hosts an annual holiday dinner for families who may not be able to provide a home-cooked holiday meal. We were able to partner with Abrazos this year by providing a $500 donation to support their dinner. Thanks to Abrazos, the dinner will serve over 65 families and 300 people! Abrazos provides a variety of specialized educational, health, developmental, and parent support services that help families to meet the special needs of their infants, children, and adult family members with disabilities.



This year, our Jr. Board of Directors was able to volunteer at Galloping Grace Youth Ranch for their annual Pumpkin Patch. They stocked pumpkins, organized games, broke down corrals, moved bales of hay, childproofed the maze, and assisted with check-in. Galloping Grace Youth Ranch is a place where kids lead kids while learning how to raise livestock, grow crops, explore the outdoors, and enrich the community.




We are honored to assist organizations around New Mexico through donations, sponsorships, and volunteerism. Thank you to all of these wonderful organizations who ensure the sustainability of our community. Happy Thanksgiving!




Friday, October 14, 2016

The Authentic Difference

 
 
Every third Thursday of October since 1948, credit unions across the globe celebrate International Credit Union Day. For those of you who didn't know credit unions exist on a global scale - now you know. In fact, the first credit union was founded in Germany by Friedrich Raiffeisen. Moving on from my history lesson of the day, International Credit Union Day recognizes the history of the credit union movement and its achievements. This momentous day also celebrates the hard work of those who dedicate their lives to the credit union industry.
 
This year, the theme of International Credit Union Day is "The Authentic Difference". Not to toot our own horn, but there truly is an authentic difference in the credit union industry. Our goal is to serve our members and help them financially succeed. We do this as an organization, and each department has an integral role to make our members' experience as authentic as possible. Here is how some of our employees exhibit the authentic difference in their roles at U.S. Eagle:
 
Meet Theo. Theo has worked for U.S. Eagle for nearly 27 years! Theo was the "SEG Champ" back when the ball first started rolling. "SEG" stands for "Select Employee Group". In order to join U.S. Eagle you had to be a part of a select employee group or a family member of an employee. Theo added hundreds of SEGs so that all their employees and family members could truly experience the authentic credit union difference.
 
  
 
Meet Jeremy. Jeremy has worked for the credit union for almost three years and is one of our biggest cheerleaders! His favorite part of his job is helping people with their financial needs. Jeremy is passionate about the credit union movement and exhibits the authentic difference by providing the right services and products that will fit our members' lifestyles. Jeremy leaves work every day knowing he made a difference in someone's life.
 
 
Meet Patty. Patty has been working for U.S. Eagle for eleven years! Her favorite part about working for the credit union is the impact she has on families. Many families may be in need of guidance concerning financial situations. Her financial knowledge is continually developing and allows her to confidently give members different options that best fit their specific needs. Patty says the best part of learning is that it never stops - tomorrow is an endless day full of possibilities! Patty demonstrates the authentic difference to our members by helping them feel like a person and not a paycheck. She strives to offer them an experience of belonging and is always eager to share our meaningful mantra - "Where Everyone Belongs".
 

 
 
Meet Ina. Ina has been working for U.S. Eagle for nearly five years. Her favorite part about working for a credit union is how our organization lives out the credit union philosophy of "People Helping People". She recognizes how community-centered U.S. Eagle is and appreciates the many opportunities available to commit time to local non-profits. Ina exhibits the authentic difference through her position in human resources by ensuring our internal members are happy and confident in their position which allows better service for our external members. She is a trusted resource, her door is always open, and she commits daily to go above and beyond in her position.
 


Meet Diana. Diana has been lovin' life at U.S. Eagle for almost a year. Her favorite part of her job is interacting with our members and knowing that U.S. Eagle is helping them financially. Diana exhibits the authentic difference in a few ways. Farmington is such a tight knit community and everybody is familiar with one another. This allows Diana to demonstrate authenticity by acknowledging each member by their name and treating them as individual and not just a number. She welcomes them as soon as they walk through the door and treats them with kindness. Through membership interaction, Diana has become more outspoken and enjoys having important conversations with members to ensure their financial success.

 
Stop by any branch on Thursday, October 20th from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. and celebrate International Credit Union Day with U.S.!
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Beware of Fraudsters

Have you ever received an email from a random individual offering you a job, and even better – advance pay before you have even interviewed? What about receiving a message from someone who claims they are romantically interested in you and within days requests to deposit a check into your account with the promise to designate a portion of the cash to you?  Have you ever heard the saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is”? Well that applies to these scenarios.


Recently, our Fraud Department has noticed an influx of our members falling prey to scams like these. Let me break down these two scenarios a little bit better.
Scenario 1: At some point in the past year or so, you have posted your resume on a job search engine. One day, you receive a job offer sent to your personal email describing a position the “employer” is pretty much giving to you with the promise of a paycheck before you even start. All you have to do is send your account information and you’re set! Should you send any of your information? NO. In fact, you should block the sender and report the email as spam.

Scenario 2: You have recently started online dating. After exchanging some messages with a promising contender for your heart, they ask if they can deposit a check into your account. Even better – since you two are exclusive, they want to provide you with some money for the trouble and have offered to deposit the check on their end using RDC (remote deposit capture). You agree and send them your login information. They download the app on their mobile device, deposit the check, and boom – your balance increases $5,000.  All you have to do is head to the credit union and withdraw the amount they want you to send to them. The things we do for love!

Both of these situations have one thing in common – you never meet the person on the receiving end. You never meet your “employer” nor do you ever meet your new “crush”. In the end, you’re the one with the negative balance in your account, and your information is in the hands of a scammer somewhere in the world.
So, what can you do to avoid these types of situations? Never give out any of your account information or personal information.  Stop all communication with the fraudster – they will be very persistent. These scams are common no matter what age you are. If you find yourself in a similar situation, please call our Fraud Department immediately at 505-342-8871.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Money Management vs. the Pythagorean Theorem


Growing up, kids and teens learn about the Pythagorean Theorem, ionic compounds, and how to diagram compound sentences. But after they finish school, do they actually remember all the information surrounding these topics? Maybe. How about actually applying these skills in the real world? Eh, probably not. Don’t get me wrong, the Pythagorean Theorem is great. I can’t say I have done much with it since I learned it back in middle school, but I am sure there are people out there that really enjoy solving problems using the Pythagorean. And, yes, I had to look up the spelling of that word. I think I am getting a little bit off topic. Back to financial literacy. So, why aren’t we teaching our children and teenagers how to balance their checkbook or how to manage their credit score - both skills that will last a lifetime. Most people apply these skills daily, and at least monthly.  Why don’t we teach our youth basic money management skills?

I know that first paragraph was kind of a downer, but there is good news. Your credit union (us, U.S. Eagle) tries to actively fix this problem to the best of our ability. We do this through financial literacy. We go into schools and organizations and actually talk with our youth about budgeting, understating credit, saving money, and more. We discuss these topics in their classrooms and engage them in conversation to help them learn about these basic financial concepts.

Now, my personal favorite financial literacy tool is “Mad City Money”. Kids love this game, as well as parents and you’ll see why. Mad City Money is a simulation that gives kids a taste of the real world. They have a family, bills, and a steady income. Participants must decide where they are going to live, how they are going to commute, what they are going to eat, and much more. They discover how much internet costs, how expensive groceries and eating out can be, and…how much diapers cost! I find parents who participate in this game sometimes enjoy it more than their kids…

Through these presentations and simulations, our youth are learning more about these important financial topics. They are engaged and they are having fun. This is one way we hold true to the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People”.  We encourage parents to bring in their kids or teens and teach them about the importance of saving their money in a savings account. Even if it just $5.00 per month. Getting into the habit of saving at a young age can really pay off in the long run.
 
If you are interested in facilitating financial literacy at your school or organization, please call Danielle at 505-342-8875.
 
 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

12 Ways to Spend $1,000


Imagine $1,000 falls into your lap. How would you spend it? Or would you save it? Here are some ideas on what you should do with that extra cash.


Kick Debt Out the Door.

Take the responsible option and get rid of that $865 balance remaining on your credit card. This option may not be the most adventurous route, but it will definitely be a weight off your shoulders. It could also add an extra $50 to your monthly disposable income and you can say "Good-bye" to interest.

700/300

Ever heard of the 700/300 ratio? Me either, but this option may work the best for you. Pay off some debt with $700 and have some fun with $300; a conservative approach with a spin.

Upgrade Your Wardrobe.

This may be a great opportunity for you to upgrade your wardrobe. Maybe purchase a new suit or that new purse you’ve been eyeing at your favorite high-end store. A new suit or new purse are style staples and can also come in handy when you need to look professional.

Quick Getaway, Anyone?

Sometimes we just need a break to relax, recharge, and getaway. Use $1,000 for exactly this. Purchase a roundtrip flight, or gas up your car and head towards that destination you’ve always wanted to visit. Spend a couple nights in a hotel, experience the culture, eat some delicious food, and then make your way back home.


Save, Save, SAVE!

Some people may consider this a less exciting option, but for those who want to play it safe – invest your $1,000 in a money market account or share certificate. Make that  money work for you!
 

Electronic Upgrade, Please!

It seems like every day there is a new upgrade available for your laptop or your cell phone. Maybe it’s time to upgrade your computer. If it weighs over five pounds, then it’s time to get rid of that desktop still using dial-up and invest in a new laptop. Upgrading your cell phone to the latest and greatest is always useful and, well, fun! Our society uses and relies on mobile devices more and more every day. You can make purchases by paying with your phone, find your location within seconds, or take a photo - all on your 5in x 3in device. It’s a good idea to invest in something so present and usable in today’s age.

Save It for that Unexpected Expense that WILL Come Up Next Month.

This seems to always happen. You get some extra money, spend it, and then shortly after you conveniently get a flat tire. Well, say “NO” to that unexpected expense by saving your spare $1,000. When you find yourself at the dentist with a $500 bill, okay let’s be real, a $900 bill, guess what? You can cover that no prob. Be prepared for these situations that conveniently hit you at the most inconvenient times.

Redecorating; Hello New Walk-In Closet!

Tired of staring at that old couch? Are your wooden floors starting to look like potential firewood? Time to consider a mini-home remodel! Use your extra $1,000 to do some spring cleaning around your house. Maybe organize your closet, hire someone to shampoo your carpets, replace some old furniture, or hire a landscaper to make your backyard a jungle of beautiful vegetation. Did we hear some say, "Pool Day"?

Continuing Education.

Dust off your thinking cap and enroll in some classes to further your skillset. Maybe learn a new language, improve your graphic design skills, or take some cooking classes. Improve yourself mentally by taking on a new challenge.

Healthy YOU!

Take advantage of your extra cash by hiring a personal trainer or joining a gym. Gyms can be on the expensive side, add a personal trainer and a new diet and watch that total grow. Clean up your diet by purchasing organic or shopping at your local grower’s market. Your body will thank you!

Donate.

Give your extra cash to a charitable organization of your choice. The money will be much appreciated and you’ll feel good knowing you contributed to a worthy cause. Go all out and donate some of your time too!

Invest in a New Hobby.

 

Always wanted to learn pottery? Maybe gardening is more up your alley? Well the moment you’ve been waiting for is here – take on a new hobby with your spare cash. Escape your daily routine by cycling through the mountains or canoeing down the nearest river.


There are a lot of ways to spend $1,000. Just remember to weigh out the pros and cons, and make a decision that is right for you and your financial situation.