22 Mar

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Don’t Get Suckered into High APR* Credit Cards with Enticing Rewards

Unless you’ve been living in Siberia, you’ve inevitably heard advertisements for credit cards. Maybe you’ve seen a smiling Jennifer Garner or a smooth talking Samuel L. Jackson chatting about cash back rewards. Regardless of the spokesperson, credit card companies try to entice you with travel reward bonuses or cash back bonuses and they always close with a catchy tagline like “What’s in Your Wallet?”

Our catchy tagline: Keep more of your money with the RMLEFCU Visa. (Maybe it’s not that catchy after all, but it is true.) Keep reading to learn more.

Credit Card Comparison:

It seems like a great deal right? Spend money that you would be spending regardless on your credit card to get rewarded with travel. The cold hard truth is that it takes so much spending to get you to the level of redemption, you would be better off checking Kayak or other travel websites to get a better deal on flights and hotels. Furthermore, miles are not really miles. They’re points that are redeemed at 1 cent per dollar spent.

Let’s use the simplest example: a one-point-to-one-cent ratio, which happens to be Capital One Venture Cards’ ratio. In such cases 100,000 points can buy you $1,000 worth of airline tickets. Do you spend $100,000 a year on your credit card? Yeah, us neither.

There is a tradeoff for those “perks.” Take advantage of them, but if you ever carry a balance, be prepared to pay 19-25% APR for your purchases. Yowza! That would easily and quickly negate any rewards. Thanks but we’ll keep our lower APR and buy our tickets through discount websites.

Here at Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union we offer a Classic Visa®, Platinum Visa® Select, and a Platinum Visa® with uChoose rewards. Read More

04 Nov

A Budget Savvy Holiday Gift Guide for Everyone on Your List

The holiday season is fraught with excess. Overeating, overdrinking and overspending can lead to headaches, regret and a depleted bank account. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Just because you are frugal doesn’t mean you have to forego giving altogether or buy gifts for your friends and family at dollar stores. You can choose meaningful, local gifts for every personality on your list. For this budget  savvy holiday gift guide we selected local experiences and handcrafted items that recipients will appreciate and cherish long after Christmas.

Budget Savvy Holiday Gift Guide for:

The Foodie 
  • Denver Dining Out Passbook – $34.99- This is a good deal since it was $99 when it was first issued. The recipient has until 7/31/16 to use 2 for 1 deals from restaurants like DiFranco’s and our personal favorite Gaetano’s.
  • Cooking Classes from the Kitchen Table in Greenwood Village. Classes are usually $80-$95 with many including 5 course meals and wine. Plus you gain practical knowledge and a memorable experience.
The Philanthropist with Style

Threads Worldwide – A Denver based company that partners with fair trade cooperatives in twelve countries to create beautiful jewelry and accessories. Shop online here.

The Practical Philanthropist

Oxfam – Browse their online catalog and pick out a unique, symbolic gift. The best part is that your selection will benefit an individual in need. Gifts include a goat, a school meal program for one child, mosquito nets, etc.

The Sports Fan

Get them Season tickets to the Mammoth! There are nine home games and prices start as low as $80 for season tickets. It’s fast paced, high scoring, and you’re cheering on a local team.

Outdoors Enthusiast

Buy an Annual State Parks Pass for only $70 per vehicle. The Annual Pass can now be purchased at any time of year and is valid for a full 12 months of use.

Up for Anything Types

Buy them a Class with Dabble. Offerings are in person in the Denver metro area and include classes like: holiday wreath making, glassblowing, screen printing, and even beginning blacksmithing.

Tech Guru

Further their knowledge or help them get a jump on a new career with a class from the Colorado Free University.

The Police Officer

A Swiss Army knife with add-ons like a light, seat belt cutters, and window punches. Here’s one choice that is bound to come in handy. Or a good electric travel mug so that no matter how busy they are their beverage will stay the same temperature.

A Stressed Out Parent

An offer to babysit coupled with a restaurant gift certificate would be very appreciated. Another idea is a certificate for house cleaning from a professional such as 5280 Housecleaning or Maid Complete.

Congratulations! You’ve covered a lot of ground with this budget savvy holiday gift guide.

You can’t drive on an empty tank and you can’t be your best self without a little reward, right? Remember that with our Holiday Loan Slideby you can skip loan payments in December. Complete the coupon in this month’s newsletter (Dispatch) and turn it in to a branch as soon as possible to free up more holiday cash!

05 Oct

Use these Apps to Save Money on Eating Out

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer expenditure surveys, the typical household spends $2,625 each year, or around $219 per month on food outside the home.

Do you know how much you’re spending on eating out? One way to find out is to download a month’s worth of spending into an excel format. You can sort the vendor name alphabetically and quickly add up any restaurant names.

Those in higher income groups spend more on restaurants — around $370 per month — and those in the lowest income groups spend less, at around $104 per month.

Here are a few signs that you’re spending TOO much. Also, don’t forget that all beverages consumed outside the home should also be included

  • You spend more at restaurants than you do on groceries.
  • Your restaurant tab rivals your housing costs.

We don’t want to take away all of the fun of going out to eat so we’re listing our two favorite apps to save you money at restaurants. We selected these since they have the largest amount of restaurants to choose from and for ease of use.

Restaurant.com

Their website states, “Save up to 50% at 62,000 restaurants.” so you can be assured they have plenty of matches in most cities and decent sized towns.

How it works: You purchase a $25 gift certificate for $10, but they often run promotions where you can buy the same $25 gift certificate for just $2 or $3. $25 worth of food for $2.

Ease of use: You can search by restaurant name, cuisine type, city, or zip code. Why so cheap? You are accepting their restrictions:

Each restaurant has their own set of restrictions. Some of the most common are:

  • Minimum purchase ($35 or $50)
  • Dine-in only
  • Not valid Friday or Saturday night
  • Alcohol does not count toward minimum purchase
  • Not valid toward tax or tip
  • Limit 1 per table
  • Not valid with any other offers

Based on a search of Denver, CO – there were 68 restaurants within 5 miles, and 88 within 10 miles.

We recommend asking around or looking up the restaurant on Yelp before you buy.

Groupon – Your first step is to click on Categories and select “Food and Drink”, then “Restaurants.” You can filter by category, distance, price, or click on “Map” to see what is close.

As of 10/4/16, there were 147 matches. Groupon also regularly does special “Today Only” or “3 day deals” where the discounts are even deeper. As of 10/4/16 there is a Groupon-a-thon where certain restaurants deals are even cheaper. One example of a deal is a voucher good for $20 at Jack-N-Grill that you can purchase for $13 or a $40 voucher for $25.

So, go ahead. Charge up that phone, download that app, put on a nice shirt and go out to eat. If you use these apps you may be able to eat out for less than a home cooked meal.

03 Oct

The Easy Way to Use Coupons

Admit it. Using coupons seems like a lot of work. You’re busy and question whether the effort is worth it. Should you spend your precious time chasing after deals, visiting multiple stores, and only buying things when you have a coupon for them? We get it. Buying something that you never intended to buy only because you have a coupon is counterproductive. But if you follow our guidelines, using coupons can be convenient and save you both money and time.

First, you need to gather your coupons. There are four main sources:

  • newspaper inserts – can be manufacturer or store coupons
  • store’s website – you must print
  • mobile apps
  • store coupons – emailed or snail mailed

Which ones you use depends on your comfort level with technology and whether you can remember your printed coupons.

Easy Way to Use Coupons at Grocery Stores in Colorado

King Soopers will double manufacturer coupons of $0.50 or less while those worth $0.51 – $1.00 in savings will be redeemed for $1.00, and manufacturer coupons over $1.00 will be redeemed at face value.

At Sprouts, the number of coupons per transaction is unlimited. Sprouts coupons can be combined with a manufacturer’s coupon, unless stated it cannot be used in conjunction with any other coupons or offers. When purchasing a single item, Sprouts accepts one manufacturer coupon. They do not double coupons. Bonus tip: Because their weekly prices run from Wednesday to Wednesday, you can save the most in the middle of the week when the ads overlap.

Safeway is store dependent regarding doubling of coupons, so it’s best to ask at your preferred store. “Double coupon” promotions do not apply to any internet or digital coupons except for applicable internet printed manufacturer coupons.

Trader Joe’s has great deals to begin with and does not offer an app or mobile coupons.

At Walmart, you can’t double coupons, but they will price match.

Easy Way to Use Coupons at Hardware/Home Improvement Stores in Colorado

Most Ace Hardware stores are independently owned. Many will price match but you’ll have to ask the manager. If they do, they most likely follow these guidelines:

If you find a lower price on an identical item, at your local Home Depot or Lowe’s, just bring in their current ad and Ace will match their price.

If Home Depot or Lowe’s is offering a percent off discount, Ace will match the final net price the competitor is offering.

Home Depot – If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any retailer, they will match the price and beat it by 10%. Just bring the ad, printout or photo with you to the register.

Lowe’s – If you find a lower everyday price on an identical item at a local retail competitor, just bring in the competitor’s current ad, and they’ll beat their price by 10%. If a competitor is offering a percent off discount, they’ll match the final net price.

In future posts, we’ll discuss other types of online coupons and daily deal sites like Groupon and Living Social.

Save on!

26 Sep

Can You Avoid Impulse Buying and Still Have Fun?

We have to understand the beast before we can slay it, right? Impulse buying occurs anytime you buy something you did not plan for. It is characterized by thoughts, sometimes internal, other times spoken out loud, perhaps to a disapproving spouse, that include phrases like:

  • “But it was on sale!”
  • “Life is short and I’ve always wanted one of these.”
  • “I’ve been really good for so long, it was time to treat myself.”

Why do we buy things we don’t need? An affinity for self-destructive behavior? Hardly. No one wants to be in debt.

While research is split about the psychology of why we do it, it makes sense think about impulse buying as no different than eating something unhealthy. Let’s be realistic, you can’t eat healthy all the time and you can’t stick to a budget 100%. We eat when we’re either happy or sad and the same applies to our spending behavior.

Now that we’ve addressed that it’s emotional, it’s important to remember that both genders are guilty. Three out of four adults in this country make impulse purchases, according to a new survey by CreditCards.com “We found that men and women impulse shop about the same amount, but the way they feel and how much they spend are different,” said CreditCards.com senior analyst Matt Schulz.

  • Men were significantly more likely than women to spend serious money on an unplanned purchase. While just seven percent of the women said they had spent $500 or more, 21 percent of the men did. Men also made more impulse purchases of $1,000 or more.
  • Women tend to keep their impulse purchases small, under $25.
  • Men are more than twice as likely to make an impulse purchase when they’re intoxicated.
  • Women are twice as likely to buy impulsively when they are sad.
  • Women are more likely to regret making an impulse purchase: 52 percent of the women vs. 46 percent of the men said they experienced buyer’s remorse at one time. Stop impulse buying. It can be done.

Now that we’ve identified what impulse buying is, identified that emotions have an effect on whether we do it, and acknowledged both men and women are guilty, time for some tips!

  1. Always use a list! This is not limited to grocery shopping. There is a certain big box store, orange in color, where one purchase miraculously turns into many items you never knew you needed.
  1. Don’t bring your kids with you. If you have to, practice different ways of saying no, or use bribes of things that don’t cost money that you can do as soon as you leave the store.
  1. Find alternative activities for when you’re feeling stressed, sad, or overwhelmed. Recreational sports? New workout routine? Home improvement project?
  1. Put the item down if you are only buying it because it’s on sale or it’s 2 for 1.
  1. With the exception of the grocery store, try to avoid using a cart.
  1. Remove saved credit cards in shopping apps. Apps that come to mind are Amazon and Groupon.
  1. If it’s a big purchase, try to institute a 3 day rule where you spend that time thinking about it, weigh it logically against the rest of your financial needs and goals, and consider if you really need it.

RMLEFCU is here to help you avoid impulse buying and save more of your money. However, we can still acknowledge that all work and no play makes life pretty dull. Try a few of these tips and let us know how you avoid impulse purchases. We can save more and avoid guilt together!

11 Sep

Dollars and Cents for Parents to Be

Financial Advice for New Parents

We won’t bore you with the oft-quoted figures of what it costs to raise a child until their 18th birthday. We feel it’s counterproductive to scare you and we think those estimated figures are wildly inaccurate anyway. It’s expensive. Let’s leave it at that. *Note that we are not factoring in any college related expenses for this post.

Let’s start from the beginning. The moment you discover you are going to be spending many weekends at home, aka, you’re expecting, dig out your health insurance paperwork and find out what maternity expenses are covered and what is not taken care of. Specifically ask questions like:

  • What’s the procedure for adding your new baby to your plan?
  • Will the plan cover your newborn’s nursery stay? Remember that your newborn’s hospital bill will be separate from your own. Typically, a health insurance plan will provide coverage only if you enroll your child for dependent benefits within 30 days of birth.
  • Will the plan cover the costs of a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) stay for your newborn?

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