Category Archives: General

Millennials & Money

shutterstock_192796643Achieving financial security before your 30’s

Diverse, tech-savvy and easily distracted are some ways to describe a Millennial, someone born between 1980 and around 2000. This generation experienced 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings. But maybe the thing that has shaped this generation and its spending habits would be the 2009 recession. Many of us saw how our families and friends were hit by this recession. Now Millennials are graduating high school, college, starting families and paying off those student loans we knew would come around about six months after college. Maybe you’ve thought about getting your first place, leasing a car, or investing in a mutual fund. Either way, it’s time to start budgeting for your future.

  1. Pay Yourself First

SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! Put the money away before you have the chance to spend it. Open up a savings account at different credit union and have some of your paycheck directly deposited to that account. You won’t even realize the money is gone until you remember once in a while and check the account.

  1. Good Debt v. Bad Debt

Many of us are taught to avoid debt at any cost. But what about when you need to pay for school or when you start looking for a home only to realize you haven’t built any credit for lenders to determine if you’re a good risk. There are two types of debt: the good and the bad. Good debt includes student loans, mortgages and business loans because they typically have lower interest rates and are considered an investment for the future. Bad debt is anything from credit card debt, car loans and personal loans. This debt has higher interest rates and can be prevented with a little smart planning.

  1. Employer Plans

It’s never too early in your career to think about retirement plans. Start putting money into your 401(k) every year. Many companies will match every dollar an employee puts in their 401(k) with around 50 cents. You might not be able to get this season’s sunglasses but you could be able to retire a few years earlier with proper planning. Retirement > Sunglasses

  1. 50/20/30

It’s all about budgeting. The 50/20/30 rule is great because you don’t need a certain salary to maintain it. It’s just an example to follow. Use these percentages to help you budget your lifestyle

  • 50% goes towards essentials like housing, food, transportation and utilities. It may seem high but it gives you room to adjust and keep your budget in check.
  • 20% goes toward your financial obligation such as savings, from retirement to emergency savings, and credit card debt.
  • 30% towards whatever you want; entertainment, cell phone, cable and gym memberships. Anything that isn’t necessary to have will go in this section

These are just a few steps to maintaining financial security for all the Millennials out there. Good luck! To manage all of your finances with BrightStar Credit Union, go to Online Banking and use Money Desktop for all of your account to see where all of your money is going.

BrightStar CU has two reasons why people in South Florida may want to join. First, we offer a $100 to new members who open our free checking account. Second, BrightStar has some competitive CD & IRA CD rates. Read more http://bit.ly/UKAKfK

5 Holiday Shopping Tips!

Matt Ong is a writer for NerdWallet.com, a consumer finance website dedicated to clarifying financial products and financial decisions.

Did you promise yourself last holiday season that you’d be better about budgeting for the 2012 season? Here’s a hint – skip printing and clipping coupons and go straight for easier ways to save on gifts. In the madness of the holiday season, how much time do you want to waste tracking down coupons only to get rejected at the register? Instead, use the discounts you’re already eligible for. If you’re not using these, you’re probably losing money.

1. Shop through rewards malls.

Rewards malls are online shopping malls that offer you cash back, loyalty program points or miles on your Internet buys. There’s no cost to join and no catch – the mall gets a commission from the retailer from your purchase and the mall in turn gives you a cut of the payout. Every major credit card issuer has a rewards mall, as well as all major airlines and hotel programs. If you’re not looking for credit card rewards points or frequent flyer miles, use a straight cash back website to get your rebate. You can save up to 40% with just a few clicks.

2. Don’t pay for shipping.

Ever thought you needed a holiday from the holidays? You probably haven’t realized that December 17th is actually a celebration of sorts – a day for free shipping. Free Shipping Day is a once a year, 24-hour online shopping event where thousands of retailers offer free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve. Hundreds of major big-box retailers and popular merchants participate, so if you’re a procrastinator, do your online shopping on the 17th and no one will be the wiser. If you liked our tip #1, too, you can leverage rewards malls to save on shipping as well. Shop online through a rewards mall, then choose in-store pickup. More and more retailers are offering in-store pickup on online buys as they try and combat the rise of online shopping, which has been hurting traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Buy your gifts through your favorite rewards mall, get your rewards mall bonus and avoid the shipping charges by picking your products up at the retailer’s physical store.

3. Buy handmade.

Ever put off from buying a creative and unique holiday gift because of a higher price? Independent retailers have caught on to this problem and technology has allowed them to now easily offer coupons just like the big-box retailers. Check out online marketplaces like Etsy, Artfire or Big Cartel and use the new resources available to you – Etsy just launched gift cards for the holidays and there are plenty of Etsy coupon codes available as well.  

4. Use social media.

Follow your favorite retailers on Twitter and Facebook to receive updates on exclusive discounts, coupons, Black Friday sales and giveaways. Why? Retailers love social media. It’s a cheap way for them to connect with their customers – and it’s a free way for you to get the savings they offer through their channels. Be careful not to be enticed into buying more, however – you won’t be saving money if you’re buying things you don’t need. If you don’t want to mix merchant updates with your regular social media profile, just create a new account for your favorite retailers. One bonus of using social media during the holiday season? Your kids might be better at using social media than you are – so let them help you find great discounts when you’re busy doing everything else. In turn, teach them about holiday budgeting and responsible credit card use in the process.
5. Use card-linked offers.

Card-linked offers allow you to link coupons right to your debit, credit or store loyalty card. It’s a high tech coupon, granting the same or better savings but with the advantage of allowing you to skip printing coupons and avoid any potential slow down at the register. Simply shop like normal and your rewards will be placed on your card’s account.

 

SECURITY ALERT: Text Message Scam

Recently, some residents in south Florida have received calls and text messages asking for their debit or credit card numbers.  The message usually asks the recipient to call a phone number to “activate” or “verify” their debit or credit card.  Some of these messages have mentioned the names of credit unions, including BrightStar.

 BrightStar did not send these messages. The messages are an attempt at fraud called “phishing,” which means someone tried to trick people into providing their account information. Some of BrightStar’s members received these messages (as well as non-members.)

 No BrightStar data has been compromised. Member account information is safe and secure. The only connection to the Credit Union is that some of the messages mention our name.

 If you receive a message like this, ignore it. Do not call the phone number in the message nor reply to the message in any way. Never provide your account information to someone unless you know who it is. BrightStar will NEVER send you a text message or email asking you to verify your account information.

 If you mistakenly provide your account information to a suspected fraudster, or if you suspect fraudulent activity on your account, please contact the Credit Union at 954-486-2728.

 Protect yourself.  Don’t get caught phishing.

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BrightStar Is Proud to Celebrate Black History Month

February is Black History Month.  This month and throughout the year, we help commemorate the contributions of African-Americans who have worked to positively shape our world and future.  As part of this effort, BrightStar is a proud sponsor of the annual Sistrunk Historic Festival, Parade & Gala.  The Sistrunk organization’s mission is to celebrate the historical and cultural contributions of people of African-American and Caribbean descent and their impact on the global community. The Sistrunk events are among the oldest African-American events in the Broward County area.  The Sistrunk Parade and Street Festival will be held on Saturday, February 26th.  More info is available at http://sistrunkfestival.org.  The Sistrunk Gala will be held in a few months time, and we will announce those details later.

In addition, we are pleased to honor The Westside Gazette on their 40th anniversary.  The Westside Gazette is Broward County’s oldest and largest African American owned and operated newspaper.  Congratulations on 40 years of “Faith, Family & Community!”  We also join The Westside Gazette in honoring Florida’s four historically black colleges and universities.  You can see our ads below.

  

What Are You Doing to Save Money in 2011?

 

Across the globe, millions vow to kick bad habits and improve themselves in an effort to make this year better than the last. According to the web site 43things.com, SAVING MONEY is the fourth most popular New Year’s resolution of 2011. 43things.com is a nifty site that can help you stick to your resolutions. Don’t forget that BrightStar has great savings options–from savings and WISH accounts to money market accounts, CDs and IRA’s. What are you doing to save money in 2011? Let us know.

BrightStar’s 2010 Year in Review

 

It is the time of year when we say goodbye to 2010 and hello to the NEW YEAR!  In the spirit of the holidays and closing out the year, we thought it would be a great time to recap BrightStar Credit Union’s most popular moments of the year.

  • BrightStar launched a new suite of Business Services, including Business Checking and our Business Visa Debit Card.
  • Our Blog was Born!  BrightStar launched BreakTheBankHabit.com.  Plus you can now follow us on our Facebook page and read our Tweets on Twitter.
  • BrightStar Credit Union was named Broward County’s Outstanding Philanthropic Company for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and was recognized by the Broward County School Board for its contributions to the School District and the community.
  • We continued our successful CU@School financial literacy program, reaching out to thousands of students in Broward Schools—plus we continued our in-school student-run credit unions.  The goal: To provide today’s youth with financial skills that will last them a lifetime.
  • BrightStar sponsored multiple Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips in 40 local schools.  Thousands of students participated and learned about important American History topics, including The Will of the People, The Bill of Rights and more.
  • Dr. Dorothy Orr, Chairperson of BrightStar’s Board of Directors, was honored with several awards, including:
  • BrightStar’s CEO, Ralph Crockett, was presented with the  2010 ‘Man of the Year’ award from the Broward County Chapter of the United Nations Association in recognition of his professional achievements and community involvement.
  • The Credit Union raised $15,000 for the earthquake victims in Haiti, thanks to the generosity of members and employees.  All funds were donated to Partners In Health exclusively for use in Haiti.  We were also a sponsor of the City of Lauderhill’s Hait fundraising concert which raised even more money for earthquake victims.
  • We partnered with Family Central Inc. for their annual Toy Drive. We collected several huge boxes of toys that we delivered to deserving children.
  • BrightStar teamed up with Broward County council of PTA’s Anne Murray Clothing Bank to raise funds for needy kids.
  • We held Free Financial Literacy Seminars at our branch offices to help teach sound money management techniques.
  • This summer the Credit Union hosted several local high school interns. Students learned some great life skills—and got a glimpse of what it takes to operate a credit union.
  • BrightStar surpassed 43,000 members in 2010—a record high number.
  • BrightStar’s Credit Cards were listed with a whopping 5-star rating on www.creditcardconnection.org in 2010. That’s because our credit cards have NO annual fee, NO balance transfer fee, super LOW interest rates, a LOW late fee, and NO penalty rates.
  • Suze Orman really talked up credit unions in 2010 on TV shows such as The VIEW, Larry King Live and Oprah.  Ms. Orman recommends Credit Union credit cards because credit unions are fair, ethical and offer real value to members.
  • There was never a “credit crunch” at BrightStar.  We made more than $100 million in loans to members in 2010. BrightStar has money to lend for cars, homes, home repairs and more.
  • BrightStar awarded more than 50 million Visa Extras points to members in 2010. Members can earn points for great rewards just for using their enrolled Visa Check Card on qualifying purchases.
  • BrightStar awarded over $7,500 to members this year in various contests, including our e-Statements contest, Share the Love member referral contest, Online BillPay sweepstakes and Facebook contests.
  • BrightStar sponsored and participated in various events and programs, including:
    • Broward Schools Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, Principal of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year
    • Broward Schools Broward Teen News, Broward Education Foundation’s End of the Year Celebration
    • Impact II Teacher Grants, BRACE Scholarships, Broward Schools’ Community Involvement Awards
    • Partners In Education’s Clueless on Las Olas event, the Sistrunk Historic Festival and the Renaissance Festival
  • We celebrated International Credit Union Day on October 21st by providing members with free refreshments and giveaway items in our branches.
  • BrightStar employees showed our school spirit at the 2010 High School homecoming football games  at Flanagan and Taravella which we supported through our sponsorships.
  • Despite the not-so-good national news regarding some financial institutions, BrightStar remained safe and strong.  Bauer Financial rated BrightStar with an “Excellent” or 4-STAR Rating for safety and soundness.  Bauer Financial has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks and credit unions since 1983. Member savings are also federally insured to at least $250,000 through the NCUA and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.

 Stay tuned in 2011 for more events, community involvement and exciting contests.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve our community and our members. We would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays.  Let’s make next year even better!