What to Buy and What to Skip in February

Are you looking to snag some bargain buys this month? We’ve got you covered! Here’s what to buy and what to skip this February. 

Buy: TVs

Whether you’re a diehard football fan or love to binge watch, you can pick up fantastic deals on big-screen TVs in February. These sales often continue through President’s Day and may even run until the end of the month. 

Skip: Flowers

Flowers have their big day in mid-February, but that doesn’t mean fresh blooms are discounted this month. In fact, you’re better off skipping flowers in February and finding another way to express your love.

Buy: Winter gear 

Retailers generously mark down winter gear this month as they make room for the spring stock. Prices on sporting equipment, like skis and snowboards, can be slashed by up to 30%. You can find winter clothing discounted by as much as 80%!  

Skip: Electronics

Aside from TVs, you’ll want to skip all major electronic buys this month. You’re better off purchasing them during Black Friday sales in November. If you can’t wait that long, you can also pick up great deals on electronics during “Black Friday in July” events.

Buy: Furniture

Pick up some beautiful new furniture at great prices during Presidents Day sales, which can run for a full week or two. Be sure to check out prices at several stores before splurging on a big-ticket item since prices on furniture can vary between retailers.

Skip: Fitness equipment and gym memberships

Fitness equipment and gym memberships are at their lowest in January to attract the hordes of people seeking to get fit in the New Year. By February, markdowns on workout gear and promotional offers on gym memberships are gone – and you won’t see them again until warmer weather sets in. 

Buy: Jewelry

During the second half of February, prices on jewelry plunge up to 80%. Hold onto your bargain-priced jewel buys until Mother’s Day, your love partner’s birthday or your shared anniversary. 

Find more financial tips by visiting our blog and following our social media pages!

Black History Month and Credit Unions

Black History Month provides an opportunity to celebrate the rich history and culture of the Black American people. As a financial cooperative, we’re using this month to share the history of Black Americans in the world of finance.

Let’s take a look!

The beginning of the credit union movement

In 1849, Friedrich Raiffeisen founded a credit society in southern Germany with the goal of helping members have a higher standard of living by pooling their savings and offering loans to neighbors and colleagues. This historic credit society was the precursor for today’s credit union movement.

Credit unions first reached American shores in 1909, when Alphonse Desjardins organized a credit union in Manchester, New Hampshire to avoid high interest rates being charged by loan sharks. On April 15 of that year, the Massachusetts Credit Union Act was signed into law, defining credit unions as “a cooperative association formed for the purpose of promoting thrift among its members.”

Credit unions serving the Black community

In 1920, the first credit unions servicing the Black American community were established in the U.S., enabling urban groups to move toward financial independence. At that time, the first Black-owned bank in the U.S., the Capital Savings Bank in Washington, D.C., had been open 32 years. However, it wasn’t until the civil rights movement gained momentum in the 1950s that credit unions servicing the Black community became widespread. Then, under the Johnson administration’s Great Society Initiative, hundreds of credit unions were formed to service low-income demographics, often in Black neighborhoods. These credit unions provided low-income groups with the opportunity to grow their money and to get low-interest loans.

Dozens of banks and credit unions owned by Blacks were established at this time, too. These financial institutions played a crucial role in enabling African Americans to buy homes and establish lines of credit despite ongoing racial discrimination.

Today, there are 41 Black-owned financial institutions across the country, including 21 credit unions.

The African American Credit Union Coalition

In 1999, the African American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC), was formed to promote the strength and reach of the global credit union. The non-profit of African-American professionals and volunteers in the credit union industry supports programs that help increase the number of minorities in the credit union community.

Black Americans and finance

Black Americans initially struggled against prejudice and inequality in all financial sectors. It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that Black Americans began establishing themselves in the world of finance. Today, the Black American community plays an important role in corporate America despite ongoing discrimination. From financial influencers like Madam Money (Tarra Jackson) to financial podcast hosts like Chris Browning, Black Americans have a powerful impact on the world of finance.

12 Steps to Financial Wellness – Step 2: Creating a Budget

Now that you’ve tracked your spending and kept a careful record of where your money goes over the course of a month, you’re ready to move onto the next financial wellness step: creating a budget. Budgets play a crucial role in promoting financial awareness, which leads to more responsible money choices. 

Let’s take a look at how to create a budget and review some popular budgeting systems, as well as how they work. 

Create a budget in 5 easy steps

  • Track your spending and income. This includes all your financial documents, like your account statements, bills and pay stubs. If you’ve followed Step 1, you’ve already completed this step–nice work!
  • Tally up your totals. Calculate the totals of your monthly expenses and all streams of income.
  • List your needs. Your needs include anything that is essential for living and basic functions, such as mortgage payments. As you list each need, write down its corresponding cost. Sum the total of all your needs when you’ve finished. 
  • List your wants. This includes anything that is not essential for living, like entertainment costs. Here, too, note the monthly cost of each item on your list and add up the total when you’re done. 
  • Assign dollar amounts to your expenses. Open a new spreadsheet and copy your list of expenses. Assign an appropriate dollar amount for each of these costs.
  • Review and tweak as necessary. You will likely need to adjust the amounts in each expense category at least once a year to keep your budget relevant. 

Budgeting systems

There is a wide range of budgeting systems to fit every kind of money management style.

  • The traditional budget.  After working out a number for every expense category, you’ll track your spending throughout the month to ensure you’re sticking to the plan. 
  • The money-envelope system. Withdraw the amount you plan to spend on all non-fixed expenses in cash at the start of the month. Divide the cash into separate envelopes, designating one for each of these expenses. Then, withdraw cash from the appropriate envelope when making a purchase in that category. 
  • The 50/30/20 budget. Set aside 50 percent of your budget for needs, 30 percent for wants and the remaining 20 percent for savings

A well-designed budget can provide you with a sense of financial security and freedom. Start budgeting today!

How Can I Save on Super Bowl Sunday?

Q: How can I save big on costs when hosting a party for the big game on Super Bowl Sunday?

A: Super Bowl parties are always great fun, but hosting costs can add up just like Jonathan Taylor piling on the rushing yards. So, we’ve put together some hacks to help you pull off the party of a lifetime without breaking your budget

Don’t fumble the decor

Keep the decor simple with free printables of your team’s logo from sites like Pinterest, and by choosing party goods in your team colors instead of branded items. You might also hit the dollar store to score some fun football-themed party supplies. 

Tackle the food together

Ask your guests to help with the food coverage. You can go potluck and have everyone bring one dish, order takeout and split the bill or set up a spreadsheet with all the menu items and have each guest choose one to bring along. 

Skip the Super Bowl platters

Fast-food chains and grocery stores aggressively advertise “game day platters” ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, but these are rarely worth the cost.  Instead, make your own for a fraction of the price and just a few minutes of work.  You can slap together some extra-long hero sandwiches and cut them up for an easy sub platter.  For your health-conscious guests, slice up everyone’s favorite veggies and add a dip for a low-cost veggie platter.

Save on pizza

If you’re going with a pizza party, consider doing it partially homemade by picking up some frozen pies at a great price from your local grocery store. Just pop them in the oven before the party. If you want it hot-from-the-pizza-store fresh, reach out to a few local pizza places ahead of time to see if they’ll be offering any specials, and see who’s offering the best deal. 

Consider your lineup

When setting up your buffet, place more affordable items at the head of the line. These are typically grabbed first, and putting them front and center, with the pricier stuff in the back, will help to ensure you don’t run out of any buffet item too quickly or blow your budget on one pricey food. 

Use the tips outlined above to keep costs down while throwing a Super Bowl party that’s fit for champions. 

Environmentally Friendly Ways to Save on Heating Costs

As outside temperatures fall, indoor temps and heating costs go up! And this winter may come at a higher cost. In fact, while fueling up at the gas station, you’ve seen the impact of our 6.8% inflation rate first-hand. 

U.S. households on natural gas heat are expected to pay 25% more than last year. Homeowners who heat their homes with electricity will see a 6.5% spike, while homeowners using heating oil or propane may see a jump as high as 54%!

With that in mind, let’s look at some easy habit changes that will benefit our budgets and our environment.

  1. Add rugs to your floors to help insulate rooms. Dress in layers, warm sweaters and socks. Use flannel sheets and more blankets at night.
  2. Clean or change air filters. Debris is unclean for breathing and will impede warm air circulation. 
  3. Lower the thermostat by 7-10 degrees when everyone is out for the day. Use a thermostat that automatically adjusts according to your schedule. 
  4. Have a pro inspect and tune up your furnace. The cost can be well worth the savings since old furnaces can work at just 60 to 70% efficiency.
  5. Contact your utility company for a free home check-up. Service or upgrade costs may be offsetable by federal tax credits and/or utility rebates
  6. Check windows for leaks. Detect them by lighting a candle and watching if it blows in a certain direction. If you find any, seal them up with caulking, foam insulation or plastic insulation sheets.
  7. Open the shades during sunlight hours and close at night to retain the heat.
  8. Use heaters to warm up isolated areas instead of turning on entire heating zones if all the space is not in use. Also, close vents in rooms not being used to avoid unnecessary output.
  9. Switch to LED light bulbs. They use about 75 percent less energy and last about 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Though the initial cost is higher, it pays off over time. 
  10. Reduce your water heater temperature to 120 degrees, which is safer for skin and easier on heating costs.

Discover more money-saving tips by visiting our blog here: https://www.highpointfcu.com/blog/

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