Category Archives: Happy holidays

Toy Drive! We’re Collecting Toys at Our Branch Locations.

holiday-toy-drivelargerHelp Spread a Little Holiday Cheer! BrightStar Credit Union is holding our Annual Holiday Toy Drive. The toy drive is a great way for members and BrightStar employees to help make a difference. We have partnered with Family Central Inc. on this project.

We’ve placed a Toy Drive drop box in each BrightStar location for you to make toy donations. NEW unwrapped toys are needed for ages infancy to 17 years. Please click here to view a list of suggested items. The deadline to drop off toys at BrightStar is Monday, December 16, 2013. Gift cards and movie passes are also welcome.

Help spread the word about the Toy Drive so we can collect as many toys as possible for needy kids. Even small donations can go a long way. We are still collecting donations for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

Have a wonderful Holiday Season, and thank you for your support.

7 Ways to Trim Your Holiday Spending

Holiday shoppingThe average American intends to spend $421 on gifts this holiday season. That alone is a substantial amount, but that sum doesn’t even include food, travel and other common holiday expenses. If you throw in the price of a few plane tickets for good measure, you could find yourself deep in the hole by the time the holidays are over.

The holiday spirit often overpowers rational thinking, leading some to spend thousands before they know what hit them. However, you, the smart holiday shopper, will have a leg up on them. Consider these seven ways to keep your wallet padded this holiday season without becoming Scrooge!

1 – Create a Budget

Review how much you’ve spent during previous holiday seasons and remind yourself how long it took to pay off those holiday expenses. Decide whether that level of spending is financially acceptable this year. If not, make your budget a little tighter this time around.

Factor in items such as:

  • Cards
  • Decorations
  • Food
  • Entertainment
  • Gifts
  • Travel
  • Wrapping paper

If you typically purchase a Christmas tree, add that to the list too. The idea is to cover not just gifts, but everything related to the holiday you celebrate.

Having a budget on hand will help immensely when deciding whether or not to pay $100 for that cute little robotic dog. After all, if your gift budget is $300 and you have 14 other people on your list, the recipient will get five times her fair share of your gift money.

2 – Prioritize

If you typically purchase gifts for 50 people and want to radically cut your budget to $250 this year, consider dropping Kim from accounting, the mailman, your neighbor’s uncle and maybe even that distant cousin who you haven’t talked to all year. After all, your significant other, children, parents and others you cherish most should be your primary focus.

3 – Make a Shopping List

Retailers lay out their merchandise to maximize profits. Thus, if you walk in without a plan, you could easily be suckered into buying items you had no idea even existed.

Instead, know what you want to buy and stick with it. Get in, find your pre-planned merchandise, pay for it and leave.

4 – Be the Early Bird

To get the holiday worm – if you will – your best bet is to shop as early as possible. Not only will doing so give you the best chance at actually finding the best deal, but prices generally rise as holidays draw near.

Ideally, find bargains on your entire gift list on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

5 – Cash is King

Shoppers spend 12-18% more when using credit cards as opposed to cash. That’s because people feel the “pain” of spending money more with the latter. As such, carry only enough cash with you to purchase your target items and leave your cards at home.

For online purchases, consider using a debit card. It’s still plastic, but it limits you from spending more than you have.

6 – Don’t Sign up for Store Credit Cards

“Would you like to sign up for the XYZ card today? You’ll save 10 percent on your purchase.”

Chances are you’ll hear something like this at some point during your holiday shopping. While the offer may be tempting, it’s likely a bad deal. Such cards encourage you to spend more in the long run and usually have high interest rates.

Again, stick with cash.

7 – Remember what the Holidays are Really About

The holidays are about sharing positive moments with loved ones, not swimming in wrapping paper and pretending you like every trinket that will later wind up in storage. Consider toning the spending down a bit, and perhaps doing it as a family.

For instance, a family of four might urge the kids to skip buying socks for dad and agree that each child kid gets one big gift and two or three smaller ones versus a new bicycle, video game console and 12 new games. They could focus more on spending meaningful time together. An affordable family outing might be an attractive alternative to presents.

Conclusion

By creating a budget, prioritizing and sticking to a shopping list, you’ll clear the path for a financially responsible holiday season. Remember to shop as early as possible and pay with cash. Be sure to let the cashier know you’re not interested in the store credit card!

Finally, remember that the holidays aren’t all about gifts. They’re about spending time with loved ones. Keep that in mind and conserving your holiday spending should be a piece of holiday fruitcake.

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.

 

Thank You for Your Generosity!

  BrightStar’s annual Holiday Toy Drive was a success, thanks to the overwhelming generosity of members & employees. All donations were delivered to Family Central Inc. of Broward County. Together we’ve made a difference, bringing joy to many local children who otherwise might not have received a gift during the Holiday Season.

 We’ve uploaded some photos of the collected toys on our Facebook Page.

 BrightStar Credit Union wishes you and your family a happy & healthy holiday!

Happy Holidays! It’s time for our online Holiday Giveaway. We’re awarding prize packages valued at over $100 to 3 lucky BrightStar members. Just share a brief holiday story or memory on our Facebook page. For details, click the link below. Good luck!  

https://www.bscu.org/holidaygiveaway/

Toy Drive! We’re Collecting Toys at Our Branch Locations

holiday-toy-drive

BrightStar CU is having a toy drive now through December 12, 2011.

Help Spread a Little Holiday Cheer! BrightStar Credit Union is holding our Annual Holiday Toy Drive.  The toy drive is a great way for members and BrightStar employees to help make a difference.  We have partnered with Family Central Inc. on this project.

We’ve placed a Toy Drive drop box in each BrightStar location for you to make toy donations.  NEW unwrapped toys are needed for ages infancy to 17 years.  Please click here to view a list of suggested items.  The deadline to drop off toys at BrightStar is Monday, December 12, 2011.  Gift cards and movie passes are also welcome.

Help spread the word about the Toy Drive so we can collect as many toys as possible for needy kids.  Even small donations can go a long way.  Have a wonderful Holiday Season, and thank you for your support.

BrightStar Credit Union will be closed on Labor Day.

BrightStar Credit Union will be closed on Monday September 5th, 2011 for Labor Day. We are open normal hours Saturday this week. Online Banking and BillPay, Call24, debit card and ATM services will all be available for your convenience.

Our offices will reopen to normal schedule again on Tuesday September 6th. To view BrightStar’s normal hours & locations, click here. Have a nice weekend.