6 Tips to Save Money While on Vacation

It is safe to say we are all ready for a vacation! You might be dreaming of going to the beach, seeing a new city, or having a staycation. Whatever your dream vacation might be, we have six tips that will help you save money before and during this getaway.

Tip #1: Saving Early

Saving money might seem like a no-brainer, but people tend to forget. Start by opening a savings account. Next decide how much you can save on a regular basis and set up automatic transfers to your savings account. Finally, stay motived/excited by naming the savings account with the name of the vacation you’re going on.

Tip #2: Set a Budget

Creating a budget is based on an educated estimate – research is key. Start by researching flights, transportation, accommodations, food, and activities. The type of questions you should ask are:

  • How many times are you going to eat out?
  • What activities are on the top of your list?
  • Will you be shopping?
  • What area would you like to stay in?

These are basic questions to keep in mind when creating/researching a budget. Within each category, you can break down the expense more to help you create an overall and daily budget. Once a budget is final, you may want to add a little more cushion to the dollar amount to help you with any unforeseen expenses.

Tip #3: Flights

Flights can be expensive, but there are ways to make sure you do not overpay. First, plan your trip early. Depending on where you are going and what time, purchasing tickets in advance will help make them cheaper. Another factor to consider is that prices can be higher on certain days of the week or during tourism season. Be flexible with dates to avoid this. Second, look at different airlines and sites to help find the cheapest flight.

Tip #4: Accommodations

Finding a place to stay can be overwhelming. You do not want to overpay, but you want to be comfortable. An easy way to save money is by getting a hotel with just the basics or try renting an Airbnb.

Hotel 

Before booking a hotel, you will want to search for the best deals. It can be as simple as typing the hotel name into Google or using a site to compare prices. Please note, some sites may not include extra hotel expenses, so make sure you research.

Airbnb

One great thing about Airbnb is that it can be an inexpensive alternative to a hotel. It works well when you are traveling with friends or family because you can split the price. When searching for an Airbnb, make sure you are close to the activities you want to do to save money on transportation.

Another accommodation tip is to find a place that has a kitchen or an area to keep food. This will help cut down your food expense by not eating out so much.

Tip #5: Food

Food can be one of the best parts of traveling, but it can be expensive too. To save some money, limit the number of times you eat out. Go to the local grocery store and pick up snacks or items for breakfast or lunch. You can also eat where the locals eat. Typically, prices are cheaper at local spots compared to tourist locations. Another way to save on food is by not having alcoholic drinks. Drinks can be expensive. If you want to drink, limit the amount to help with cost.

Tip #6: Experiences

The worst part of going on vacation is the cost of tourist attractions. Check the community calendar for free events and find attractions with free days. Look for deals on Groupon, TripAdvisor, and other sites.

Conclusion

These tips will help you have a great and fun vacation without breaking the bank. Remember, saving early and researching is key to having a successful vacation.

*Red Crown Credit Union is not a financial planner or advisor, and this blog gives general ideas on how to save money. Individual results may vary.

COVID-19 Scams

During the pandemic, there have been new opportunities for criminals to commit fraud by attempting to take advantage of people through COVID-19 scams. Knowledge about these scams can help you avoid being victimized. Red Crown has made a list of tips to keep you alert about COVID-19 fraud.

Unemployment Benefits

One major scheme that criminals are doing is taking someone’s personal information and filing unemployment claims. They are targeting employed people. People learn about this scam when they receive a notice from the unemployment benefits office or their employer.

If this happens to you, the quicker you act on the issue, the better! Click HERE to learn more about how to protect your finances/credit from this scam.

Relief Check Scams

The IRS has said they will be distributing the third round of relief checks the same way they did for the first round. The IRS saw scams with the last round and want you to be aware of some red flags. Below is what the IRS will not do:

  • Claim you received an overpayment and ask you to return the money.
  • Send you a password to use online to access or verify your account.
  • Contact you by email or social media to gather personal information.

One important thing to remember is that the IRS will first contact you by mail. For more information, go to the IRS website.

Vaccine and Treatment Scams

Criminals are now selling fake COVID-19 test kits and unapproved treatments through phone calls, social media, and at your door. Two scams you should be aware of are COVID-19 Testing Schemes and COVID-19 Treatment Schemes.

  • COVID-19 Testing Schemes: The scammer will say you are required to take a COVID-19 test. They will try to get your health insurance and other personal information. Once they have your information, they will bill the health insurance plan for tests/procedures that you did not get. The scammer will then receive money off those fake bills.
  • COVID-19 Treatment Schemes: These scammers are selling fake cures, treatments, and vaccines. They will ask for your health insurance information and other personal information. Approved treatment will not be communicated to the public this way. When approved treatments become available, you will not hear about them through a phone call, email, or online advertisement.

Never give your personal/health information to someone you do not know or trust. You should only share your information with a trusted medical professional.

For more information, go to https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-warns-of-emerging-health-care-fraud-schemes-related-to-covid-19-pandemic.

Other COVID-19 Related Scams

Fraudsters have always used emails, phone calls, or in-person methods to scam people. Below is a list of cons being used to get your medical/personal information:

  • Scammers are imitating the IRS through phone calls, emails, social media, and texts.
  • Robocalls making fraud offers to sell respiratory masks and other medical equipment/devices.
  • Fake emails to your personal/business account that appear to come from a trusted source.
  • Creating a non-existent charitable organization that is trying to get your money/or personal information. Make sure you do your research before clicking on links to donate.

Conclusion

Criminals will continue to find new methods to exploit people through COVID-19 scams. Remember, do not give out your personal or bank information – stay alert. For more information, go to fbi.gov/coronavirus and the FTC at FTC.gov/coronavirus.

*Red Crown Credit Union is not a financial advisor. The FBI, Consumer FTC, and IRS websites were used for writing this blog. This blog gives general ideas on ways to stay alert for COVID-19 fraud. Individual results may vary.

 

 

 

Tax Mistakes to Avoid

It’s tax season. Tax season can cause us to feel anxiety, stress, confusion, and/or procrastination. These can lead to mistakes on your tax return, which can lead to late filings and even some penalties. Red Crown wants to help you avoid all of this with some basic tips. When researching common tax mistakes, we found the following:

Incorrect Status

Selecting your status is a big part of determining how your taxes are calculated. Deciding your status can be easy if you are single with no children, but for people who are married, single parents, or even caretakers, it can sometimes be difficult.

If you need help figuring out what your status is, go to https://www.irs.gov/help/ita.

Social Security Number

Who would have thought that one of the most common mistakes in filing your taxes is putting the wrong Social Security Number (SSN)? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses your SSN on your taxes to match what your employer and financial institutions have paid you. Putting in the wrong SSN happens more when you’re writing or typing your spouse’s and dependent’s numbers. Simple Tip: double check- then triple check to ensure that your information is correct.

Math

According to Block Advisors, there are about 2 million math mistakes made on taxes. The mistakes range from simple addition to complex calculations. These math errors can happen when people are doing their taxes by hand. Why go through all of that when you can use a free tax filing software at https://apps.irs.gove/app/freeFile/.

Incorrect Bank Numbers

If you get a refund, you have the option for your money to be refunded by direct deposit – it’s the fastest way to receive your money! By choosing direct deposit, your refund will go right into your bank account. To go this route, you will need the financial institution’s routing number and your account number. Again, to avoid this mistake and possible delays on receiving your money, double-check your numbers.

Unsigned Tax Return

You made it to the end and everything is correct! Make sure you don’t forget to sign your tax return. If you submit an unsigned return, the IRS considers it invalid and your return will not be processed. Also, don’t forget that both spouses must sign a joint return.

Missing the Deadline

Make sure you file on time! The normal deadline to file is April 15th of each year. Start early, get it done and filed to avoid penalties.

Conclusion

Taxes season is no fun, but if you take the time to understand your tax situation you can get it done and avoid costly, frustrating mistakes. There are many helpful tools on the internet, such as: https://www.irs.gov/. If you are member of Red Crown, you can use TurboTax online at a discounted price. Click here for more information.

*Red Crown Credit Union is not a financial planner or advisor, and this blog gives general ideas on how to save money. Individual results may vary.

 

 

 

Red Crown Helping Small Businesses

Red Crown was able to help local businesses during COVID-19 with the Oklahoma Relief Fund and the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). These programs provided financial support for businesses that were affected by COVID-19.

The Oklahoma Relief Fund was established with the CARES Act. It helps businesses by giving them cash in the form of a grant, which does not have to be paid back. To qualify your business, you must be located in Oklahoma and be affected by COVID-19. Red Crown was the only credit union in eastern Oklahoma to assist businesses with this grant. We were able to facilitate payout totaling $803,838 to 63 businesses. The businesses ranged from independent contractors to a not-for-profit youth theatre program.

The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was originally passed under the CARES Act. It authorizes the Small Business Administration (SBA) to guarantee low-interest loans to eligible small businesses. To qualify for this loan, you need to meet the SBA definition of a small business and be affected by COVID-19. In 2020, Red Crown was able to help 91 new and existing members with PPP loans. The businesses we helped were nail salons, nail techs, independent contractors, truck drivers, and larger employers with less than 100 employees.

The PPP loan is still currently available. You can apply until March 31, 2021. If funds are exhausted sooner than March 31, 2021, the application process will stop. The qualification terms are the same as above.

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding the PPP loan.

Do I need to be an existing member of Red Crown?

No, you do not. If you don’t have an account with us, you will be required to open an account. You can become a member if you live, work, worship, volunteer, or attend school in the Tulsa, Creek, Mayes, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers, and Wagoner counties of Oklahoma.

How do I apply for a PPP loan?

  • Call us at 918.477.3200 and ask for Misty Wooldridge or Aaron Bertoson. They will provide the application.
  • When you first apply for PPP loans we will need your 2019 1040 Schedule C for self-employed individuals or payroll reports for W2 employees.

How can the money be used?

A PPP loan can be used for payroll expenses, utility expenses, rent or mortgage expenses, and certain COVID-19 related expenses. A business or individual must use at least 60% of the loan amount for payroll expenses and the remainder can be used for other qualified expenses.

Can a business apply for PPP more than once? 

Yes, as long as they meet the initial criteria and experienced a 25% gross revenue reduction between 2019 and 2020.

Red Crown is here to help you throughout this process. If you have any questions about the PPP loan, contact us at 918.477.3200 and ask for Misty Wooldridge and Aaron Bertoson.

 

How to Get Your Paycheck Early

 

Who wouldn’t like to get their paycheck before their co-workers? With the Red Crown Early Payday Program, you can receive your money before your actual payday!

There are tons of benefits in participating in the Early Payday Program. A few of them are; you receive your money early, you can reduce stress, and you can pay your bills in advance. The only requirements are to be a Red Crown member and sign up for direct deposit.

What is direct deposit?

Direct deposit is an electronic payment directly from the account of the payer to your account. The funds reach your financial institution through an electronic network. This network is called an automatic clearinghouse (ACH). ACH is a safe and secure network to receive your payment.

What information do I need to set up the direct deposit option?

You will need your account number, the Red Crown routing number (303986148), the type of account (savings or checking), and our address (5001 E. 91st St. Tulsa, OK 74137).

How do I get my paycheck early?

You will need to sign up for direct deposit with the payer (if they offer direct deposit). When we receive the pending credit notification, we immediately post the upcoming deposit to your account. For example, if we receive the file on Wednesday, October 9, and your payday is Friday, October 11, we will credit your account on the 9th! Essentially, this means we are advancing your paycheck for FREE!

Can you guarantee that I receive my paycheck early?

No, we do not guarantee that you will receive the payment early, it depends on when we receive notification from the payer. Also, if the notification is submitted on a holiday or the weekend, it does not apply. This program works during our regular business hours which are Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Why wait? Sign up for our Early Payday Program now!

If you have any questions, give us a call at 918.477.3200.

Mastercard Benefits

Red Crown is excited to announce that we have moved our debit cards to Mastercard.  This change gives our members some great benefits; some of which are:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection
  • Financial Account Takeover
  • URL and Domain Monitoring
  • Monthly Risk Alert/Newsletter
  • Identity Monitoring
  • Resolution Services
  • Lost Wallet Assistance
  • Single Bureau Credit Monitoring
  • Mastercard Global Service
  • Extended Warranty
  • Mastercard Airport Concierge
  • Priceless Cities

We will highlight a few of these benefits below:

Identity Theft

Mastercard ID Theft Protection puts your mind at ease when it comes to identity theft. There are at least three ID Theft Protection programs that will help monitor and detect if there is any potential threat occurring.

Financial Account Takeover – This program monitors your account for high-risk transactions.

Identity Monitoring – This program searches the internet to see if your personal information is being compromised. They look at emails, debit cards, credit cards, bank accounts, web logins, medical insurance cards, driver’s licenses, passport number, social security number, and more.

You do have to sign up for Identity Monitoring. Simply go to https://mastercardus.idprotectiononline.com/enrollment/embedded.html. Click the “Activate Now” button and you will be guided.

Resolution Services – An identity theft team is available to you 24/7. You can authorized them to act on your behalf to contact police, credit agencies, and other authorities regarding identity theft issues.

If you want to learn more about identity theft programs, click Master Card Benefits.

Airport Concierge

Mastercard gives you a chance to have a less stressful and seamless trip. On their website, https://mastercard.globalairportconcierge.com/, they will help you search for the best prices for your flight.

Their Airport Concierge arranges a Meet & Greet agent to escort you to your departure, arrival, and connecting flights. This benefit does cost you, but Mastecard gives you a 15% discount on their service.

You can at last say goodbye to long security lines! Using your Mastercard Airport Concierge, you are expedited through security at certain airports.

Mastercard Connecting Flight Services is a transit service. From the moment you land, they will assist you with all your transit services. The Connecting Flight Services are available to you at any time, on any day, at over 700 destinations worldwide.

You have to sign up for airport concierge. Simply go to https://mastercard.globalairportconcierge.com/.

Priceless Cities

Mastercard Priceless Cities gives you a one-of-a-kind experience when you are at home or away. With this program, you receive discounted prices on events or items because you are a Mastercard holder.

There are six different categories for you to choose from; dining, sports, arts, shopping, entertainment and travel around town. These exclusive deals are available in the USA, Europe, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Asia. Some examples of discounts include:

  • Tower above the Windy City with a VIP 360 Chicago Experience
  • Miami Starlight Cruise
  • Cooking Classes
  • Talk to a New York Yankee

All you have to do is sign up for the program at pricless.com. The deal you choose is not free, but you receive an exclusive discount on the experience because you have a Mastercard.

 

*Red Crown Credit Union is not a financial planner or financial advisor. This is general information and is not a guarantee of saving money.

5 Ways to Save Money

Can we all agree that 2020 has kept us on our toes? Some days feel like time is going so slow and other times it is flying by! Before we know it, the holidays will be here.

Red Crown wants to help you find ways to save during these crazy times. Below are a few examples of ways to help you save money:

Spend a Little Less on Yourself 

According to CNBC, online shopping has gone up 31.8% since the pandemic. Along with online shopping, companies have started to re-open and we are getting back to normal, which means even more shopping.

One great way to save money is to cut back on things you want and do not need. Cutting back on small items can add up dramatically. We all know the Starbucks analog; if you spend $4.43 per drink at Starbucks and you indulge every workday, you will have spent $22.15 in one week on coffee. Cut your trips in half and you will save $11.07 each week. That is $44.30 in just a month!

Look at how much you are spending on random online shopping, going out to eat, Door Dash, and more. You may be shocked. Say no to the some of those “wants” and watch your savings grow.

Stick to Your Shopping List

How many times have you veered off your grocery list or just went from memory? People who do not stick to their grocery list or shop from memory tend to spend more money. Grabbing random items can add up quickly. People who make a list and stick to it end up spending less.

Bring Cash

Go back to when you were a kid and had no debit card or credit card. Do not use any plastic while shopping. Using cash will force you to spend only what you have in your wallet.

Finance Apps

Finance apps can help you make a budget that works for your lifestyle. Within these apps, you can create categories for your paycheck distributions. The program will advise you on what percentage of your check should go into each category. These apps help you to take control on how you budget your money each month.

Using one of these apps can be very useful in knowing how to save, when to save, and how much to save.

Look for Deals

Deals happen all year around. You can find deals when purchasing food, gifts, clothes, and more. Look for sales, coupons, and plan ahead.

Conclusion

These five tips may seem easy, but breaking habits can be a hard thing to do. You do not have to try all of them at once. Using one from this list is a great way to start. When you get comfortable with one, add another. Just start.

 

*Red Crown Credit Union is not a financial planner or advisor, and this blog gives general ideas on how to save money. Individual results may vary.

Best Credit Unions To Work For 2017

Red Crown Credit Union has been named one of the 2017 Best Credit Unions to Work For in the United States. Credit Union Journal has partnered with Best Companies Group to identify companies that have excelled in creating quality workplaces for employees.

This survey and awards program is designed to identify, recognize and honor the best credit unions. The list is made up of 45 credit unions. The full Best Credit Unions to Work For in the United States list is featured in the September issue of Credit Union Journal.

To be considered for participation, credit unions had to fulfill the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have at least 25 employees working in the U.S.
  • Be in business a minimum of one year
  • Be in one of the following categories based upon asset size: Over $1 billion, $500M-$1B, $200M-$500M or Under $200M

Determining the Best Credit Unions to Work For in the United States involved a two-step process. The first step consisted of evaluating each participating credit union’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics. This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation. The second part consisted of employee surveys aimed at assessing the experiences and attitudes of individual employees with respect to their workplace. This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation. The combined scores determined the best credit unions and the final ranking. Best Companies Group managed the overall registration and survey process and also analyzed the data and used their expertise to determine the final ranking.

Red Crown was ranked 30th out of the 45 credit unions chosen for this honor. A few of the reasons employees enjoy working at Red Crown is:

– Every employee’s birthday gift is a paid day off
– Employees are eligible to begin contributing to their 401(k) immediately when hired
– Employees celebrate a themed Spirit Day every quarter
– Employees are supported to give back to their community causes
– Employees are chosen to be a part of the Red Crown Innovation team
– Employees make treats for other employees birthdays, anniversaries and showers

ACH Changes

ACH From Red Crown Credit Union

Effective September 15, 2017, ACH debits and credits will have the ability to post on the same day they are created. This affects all institutions, not just Red Crown Credit Union.

What does this mean to you?

Going forward, ACH items and paper checks will post as they are presented to Red Crown Credit Union. These changes mean that electronic credits and debits (including checks that you issue which are subsequently processed as electronic debits), may be eligible for processing on the same day that they are authorized by you. This results in a faster payment system, which has great benefit when you are receiving a payment, but also means that payments you make may clear your account sooner than they have before.

It is important to make sure that funds are available in your account before you make in-person, online, or telephone payments to avoid incurring NSF or Overdraft fees. Previously, ACH transactions could have taken 1-2 days to process; now, the same transactions may post the same-day on which you authorize them.

Red Crown Credit Union offers our members several easy-to-use tools to help manage your account(s) and check your balances, such as:

• Online Banking
• Mobile Banking
• Account Alerts

If you have any questions, please contact us at 918.477.3200​