How to Avoid Falling for Coronavirus Scams

Avoid COVID scams

As the coronavirus continues to spread globally, some people are exploiting fears with fraudulent loans, bank transactions, and phishing scams. To ensure your financial information remains secure during this pandemic, utilize the following tips.

  1. Look Out for Phishing Scams

A phishing scam uses fraudulent texts, phone calls, emails, and websites to obtain personal information. These scams typically ask for your name, Social Security number, address, and bank account information, but may also request your login information for familiar sites.

Keep your personal information secure by blocking or reporting any suspicious emails, texts, or calls you receive. Never give out these details to numbers or email addresses you don’t recognize.

  1. Keep Your Money Safe 

Banks are federally insured, so if a leak does happen, your money will still be secure within a financial institution. Additionally, most banks have high levels of protection, making it difficult for online scammers to breach their security. This protection isn’t readily available if you choose to store funds elsewhere, leaving you susceptible to scams.

  1. Avoid Loans From Untrusted Lenders

With unemployment rates at their highest, many families are turning to loans to help stay afloat. But never provide personal information to an institution or individual you’re not familiar with. And if the loan conditions sound too good to be true, they likely are. Only trust your bank or a verified lender when pursuing loans.

  1. Keep Technology Updated

Cellphones, tablets, and computers all have security measures included in their software. However, to keep these programs running properly, you must keep your system updated. Look for new software updates on all your devices, and install them promptly to address any vulnerabilities in your system.

 

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services online, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

How to Cut Costs During the Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has spurred a financial crisis on an unprecedented scale, and unemployment rates continue to rise. As millions of Americans are dealing with economic uncertainty, now is the time to consider your emergency plan. If your savings are running low or you didn’t have much to begin with, there are a few ways you can cut costs to reserve your funds for the necessities. Here are a few budgeting tips to help sustain you through the pandemic.

1. Cancel Subscriptions & Memberships

When money is tight and you’re tapping into your emergency plan funds, the first cuts you should make are subscriptions and memberships. Many families have streaming service accounts that are frequently forgotten, or monthly box subscriptions with items they don’t always use. Consider canceling one or two services to reduce monthly spending.

2. Shop Around for Better Policies

Now is the best time to see if you can get a better deal from different insurance providers. Shop around, get as many quotes as you can, and read policies closely to understand what you’re paying for. Many auto insurers are also offering discounts on premiums since fewer people are driving, so see if your provider can offer you a cheaper policy.

3. Avoid Stockpiling Groceries

Public uncertainty about the pandemic has resulted in many shoppers panic-buying at the grocery store. Instead of overspending on a month’s worth of food in one trip, buy enough for one or two weeks at a time. This way you can save money in your emergency plan fund and weekly budget for other essentials.

4. Call Utility Companies

If you’re worried about falling behind on any of your bills, utility companies might be understanding. Call your water, electric and gas, telephone, and internet service providers to see if they’ll cut you a break. Some are offering payment extensions and waiving late-payment fees, and others are temporarily agreeing not to disconnect customers.

5. Look for Lower-Priced Foods

While many savvy shoppers normally rely on coupons and sales to budget their groceries, there aren’t many deals going on right now. Health risks have caused many companies to reduce food production, sometimes leading to an increase in prices at the store. If you’re looking for bargains, your choices are currently limited, so instead aim to buy lower-priced foods. For example, you can purchase store-brand items rather than name-brand and chicken instead of beef.

If you’re having trouble budgeting during the coronavirus crisis, you need a dependable credit union to help you design a realistic emergency plan. With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services online, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

Bad Habits That Can Lead to Identity Theft and Good Habits to Protect Yourself

 

Woman using smartphone with icon graphic cyber security network of connected devices and personal data informationIdentity theft is always on the rise, as cybercriminals constantly look for new ways to gain your personal information and commit fraud. Identity theft can cause long-term damage to your credit and take thousands of dollars out of your pocket. Sometimes, having your data stolen is unavoidable, but in some cases, your bad habits can increase your risk of being a victim.  Turn these bad habits into good ones and protect yourself instead!

Bad Habit: Using the Same Password

It may not seem like a big deal if hackers get into your Pinterest account, but imagine what could happen if you used the same password for your bank, email, or cloud storage?

Good Habit:  Create unique passwords for each of your online accounts.  Using unique passwords for every website can keep your most sensitive data out of a cybercriminal’s hands and prevent identity theft.

 

Bad Habit: Not Checking Your Accounts

You’re not doing yourself any favors if you don’t check your accounts regularly.  Someone could be committing fraud with your card information and you wouldn’t even know it!

Good Habit:  Utilize your online banking services.  The great thing about online banking is that it’s now easier than ever to access an updated list of your transactions in real time. With online banking, you can monitor your purchase history carefully, and notify your financial institution as soon as you notice a suspicious transaction.

 

Bad Habit: Keeping Your Social Media Accounts Public

The personal questions most websites use to confirm your identity may seem secure, but that information can easily be found online. Your social media accounts are a treasure trove of information scammers, criminals, and thieves can use to determine your high school mascot, your pets’ names, and where you come from.

Good Habit:  To protect your identity and prevent fraud, keep all of your social media accounts private, and be careful who you allow access.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services online, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

3 Ways to Maximize Your Retirement Savings 

boost retirement savingsIf you’re struggling to save enough for retirement—or to determine what your savings goals should be in the first place—turn to Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union. We are a full-service credit union that can assist with all aspects of retirement planning to help you build a more secure future. Here are just some of the ways our knowledgeable team will help you devise a savings strategy.

 

  1. Account for Inflation 

There are a number of formulas that can determine how much money you need for a comfortable retirement, but they don’t always account for inflation. While the precise figure varies from year to year, most financial institutions use a target inflation rate of 2%. Because of this rate, every dollar you save in 2020 will have considerably less purchasing power in 2040. To ensure you put away enough, talk to a financial advisor about your current assets and liabilities, career trajectory, and long-term goals. They’ll weigh this information against the target inflation rate to calculate approximately how much you’ll need.

  1. Open an IRA

Opening an individual retirement account (IRA) is a sound investment that will pay off when you finally leave the workforce. If you opt for a traditional IRA, you can deduct contributions during the tax year that you make them. If you opt for a Roth IRA, on the other hand, you can withdraw funds upon reaching age 59½ without being taxed on your earnings. In 2020, accountholders can contribute up to $6,000 (or $7,000 if they’re over 50) to their IRAs.

  1. Attend a Financial Planning Workshop

At Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union, we are committed to protecting our members’ financial security and helping them grow their retirement savings. Join us on March 11 and March 28 at the INPAC Wealth Solutions headquarters, 1001 Bishop St, Ste 2300, for a free retirement workshop led by INPAC Wealth Solutions’ very own principal wealth advisor, Troy Wada. Troy will explain the various expenses you should account for during retirement, as well as the market cycles and inflation rates that could influence them. He will also share strategies for maximizing your savings by devising ambitious but attainable goals. If you are interested in attending either date, please RSVP with Carey at (808) 784-4006 or e-mail carey@greamplanlive.com.  We hope to see you there!

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services online, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

3 Ways Your Tax Refund Can Build or Improve a Line of Credit

Loving couple paying bills online at homeYou’re expecting a significant tax refund this year. It may be tempting to splurge it all. But if you’ve been thinking about buying a first home or financing a car, those extra funds can help improve your chances of getting a line of credit. Here are several savvy tips for using your refund to make it happen.

 

  1. Pay Down Balance

A line of credit is issued to an individual by a credit union or other lender that allows borrowing up to a designated amount. Because the line of credit must eventually be paid back, you can use your tax refund to pay down the balance. If you’re trying to secure a new line of credit, paying down existing credit card debt and other financial obligations may help boost your credit score. This can improve your chances of being approved for the line of credit.

  1. Apply For a Secured Card

Another way to up your chances of receiving or maintaining a line of credit is through responsible credit card management. A secured card is another way you can use your tax refund. You can use the funds to put a deposit on the card. When you make consistent payments each month, you’re establishing a good debt management record, which can increase your credit score over time. When you apply for a line of credit, lenders will take this into consideration during the approval decision process.

  1. Pay Off Existing Line

If you currently have a line of credit, your tax refund may be enough to pay down the entire balance. Credit unions and other lenders will typically be more inclined to approve you for another line in the future if you’ve demonstrated responsible financial behavior with a prior line of credit. Depending on your situation, you may even qualify for a higher amount should you need the funds for a home renovation or other financial priority.

 

 

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services online, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

Lower Your Home Mortgage Rate With These 3 Tips

lowermortgage.jpgHomeownership is a dream of many people. However, this dream comes with the cold, hard reality of a monthly mortgage payment, including interest. Keeping mortgage rates manageable is a key factor in remaining financially stable after buying a new home. Here is how you can do just that.

  1. Increase Your Down Payment

The standard down payment for a home is usually 20% of the total cost, but in some cases, you may be able to provide much less than that. However, there are very good arguments for providing as large a down payment as you can manage. The bigger down payment, the less interest you’ll need to pay. Monthly payments will also be smaller when down payments are more substantial.

  1. Decrease the Loan Term

Many home loans come with a 30-year term. While this provides ample time for you to pay off your loan, it can also greatly increase costs. If possible, consider a shorter term, such as 10 or 15 years. Not only will you have your home paid off much quicker, you’ll also end up paying a lot less.

  1. Improve Your Credit Score

While there is no quick-fix to a fair or poor credit score, if you’re planning to buy a home sometime in the future you should take steps to improve your rating now. Your score is based on a number of factors, including the balance on your credit cards. Keep this figure to no more than 30% of the total credit limit, while also making sure you pay your bills on time each month.

 

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-3700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

5 Ways to Budget After the Holidays

post-holidayThe holidays are a period of gift-buying, travel expenses, and time off work, so it’s easy to spend more than you earn. The best New Year’s resolution you can make is to straighten out your finances. Here are a few tips to help you stick to your budget and replenish your credit union account.

1. Take Inventory of Where You Are Financially

Once the holidays are over, it’s time to review your credit card statements. Make sure you can at least make the minimum monthly payments. If the totals are quite high, consider putting the cards in a drawer until you pay the balances down.

2. Curb Excess Spending

Restrict spending when it comes to items that you don’t need right away. A good spending formula to use is the 50/30/20 rule, which allocates 50% of your monthly income to essentials, 30% to debt repayment, and 20% to wants. Once the debt is paid, put that money into savings.

3. Record Your Expenses

Record your everyday expenses so you know where to further cut back on spending. After a few months, review your notes for small indulgences, like coffee and dining out, that add up over time. Once you’re aware of them, ask yourself the next time whether you want to treat yourself or stick to your financial goals.

4. Set Up Automated Payments

Automating your payments through online banking ensures you set aside enough money for your credit card balance, plus you’ll never have another late fee. Paying off your balance consistently will also build your credit score. Just make sure you have enough money in the debited account every month.

5. Return & Reap Rewards

If you received a gift you likely won’t use, return it if possible. Also, redeem cashback deals or reward points on the credit cards you used leading up to the holidays, and use any gift cards. Whether you put these small bonuses toward your daily needs, debt balances, or credit union savings account, you’ll have extra cash on hand.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-3700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

 

How to Save for Your Child’s College Education

college education

Just about every parent wants to send their child to college, but higher education is incredibly expensive. In fact, the average cost for one year of school is over $26,000 — up 34% from a decade ago. Luckily, there are many programs provided by local credit unions and state governments that can help you save for your child’s education and avoid taking out a line of credit. Here are three of the top options available.

1. Traditional Savings Account

Savings accounts allow you to steadily grow your money with a guaranteed interest rate. Additionally, the risk of utilizing such a service is low as long as you choose an insured credit union. Since the annual percentage yield (APY) of savings accounts are usually lower than riskier investment options, parents typically create a portfolio consisting of multiple account styles to obtain both security and potential growth.

2. IRA

An individual retirement account (IRA) is a type of investment account with long-term savings in mind. Even though earnings aren’t guaranteed as they are with a traditional savings account, the potential growth is typically higher. Such accounts also allow you to withdraw money completely tax-free for an approved expense.

While traditional IRAs are designed solely for retirement, a Roth IRA can also be utilized for buying your first home and higher education expenses. Alternatively, a Coverdell IRA caters to college expenses specifically, including tuition, books, and fees. There are contribution limitations for both styles, and credit unions require minimum balance requirements to avoid fees.

3. 529 Plan

Just about every state offers their own state-sponsored 529 plan, which allows you to invest post-taxed income in stocks and bonds. With Hawaii’s HI529 program, the minimum initial investment is only $15, and each account is allowed to grow to $305,000 before contributions are capped, which may help your family avoid taking out student loans down the road. Unfortunately, the program doesn’t qualify for any state tax deductions, and you’ll face minimum yearly fees. However, parents have the option to invest in any state’s 529 plan regardless of where they live or the child plans to attend school.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-3700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

3 Situations That Call for a Personal Loan

personal loanPersonal loans can increase your buying power. In the long run, taking out a loan can actually save money and may even help you secure additional credit in the future. Below are a few situations in which taking out a personal loan can be a wise financial move.

1. You’re Consolidating Debt

Credit cards and other consumer lending products typically have extremely high interest rates, especially if your credit rating is on the lower side. Taking out a personal loan to pay off credit cards simplifies your bill-paying process and could save you hundreds of dollars in interest. In some circumstances, using a personal loan to refinance student debt can be a smart financial move, especially if your current interest rates are high.

2. You Have a Financial Emergency

Auto breakdowns and home repairs can cost thousands of dollars, which is more than many families can afford out of pocket. A personal loan can provide the resources to deal with financial emergencies, usually at substantially lower rates than credit cards. If you’re making a major purchase or funding a large event, borrowing from a credit union can be more affordable than financing through the seller as well.

3. You’re Rebuilding Credit

Establishing a reputable credit history means showing lenders you know how to manage debt responsibly. Taking out a small personal loan and making every payment on time will bring up your credit score, making it easier to qualify for lower-interest lending products in the future.

 

 

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-3700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

What to Know Before Applying for a Line of Credit

Regardless of how well you plan and budget, unexpected expenses can arise at any time. Whether you suddenly have car trouble, discover a leaky roof, or require medical care, you may find yourself needing quick financial help. Taking out a line of credit is one option that allows you to access extra funds when necessary. However, before borrowing money, you must understand the terms and your repayment obligations. To determine if this is a good option for you, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about lines of credit.line of credit

How does a line of credit work?

A line of credit is a type of loan that financial institutions offer. Once your application is approved, the amount you qualify for will be placed into an account that you can withdraw from as needed. You’ll pay either the monthly minimum amount due or make larger payments to reduce your principal balance faster. As you make payments, more funds will become available to borrow.

What can it be used for?

While you can withdraw money to meet virtually any financial need, lines of credit are particularly useful for those who might require cash for some time. For instance, it can cover costs for an ongoing home renovation project, or it can help bridge the gap for freelancers who are waiting for their next paycheck.

What’s the difference between a secured and unsecured line of credit?

When you take out a secured line of credit, you must provide the lender with one of your personal assets—such as a car or home—as collateral. They’ll use this to recover what you owe if you default on the loan. In contrast, unsecured lines of credit don’t require collateral, though they often have higher interest rates.

What are the benefits?

Lines of credit allow you to use up to 100% of your preset borrowing limit, whereas you can only access a portion of your limit in cash when using a credit card. This is important if you have a big purchase that can’t be placed on a card. Additionally, you only pay interest on the money you withdraw, and rates can be much lower than credit card interest rates.

 

If your finances need a boost, turn to your trusted local credit union to ask about applying for a line of credit.  With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-3700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.