The Better Way to Spend

There are certain times of year when we’re apt to spend more than usual.  Take the fall and early winter for example. With the holidays approaching, you may find yourself spending extra money on yourself or others.  While it is important to be mindful of your spending throughout the year, now is as good a time as any to assess how you commonly make your purchases and follow some best practices to ensure you make the most of your money.  Here are a few tips to get started:

Cash — Cash is a great payment method for anyone working to stay within a budget and keep track of how much they’re spending.  This works well because you can withdraw your spending money before you plan your shopping.  Then, once it’s spent, you know the rest of your money is meant for regular expenses and can be left in your account.  If you enjoy paying cash, you can also be on the look out for cash-only deals.  Some retailers like gas stations will offer discounts to shoppers who pay cash as that helps them avoid paying credit card fees.

Debit — Debit is another good payment method if you are trying to stay on budget.  With your debit card, you need to be mindful of how much money is in your account and what it’s there for.  Knowing how much money you have allocated for spending and how much is for bills will help reduce the chance of overspending and incurring overdraft fees.  It’s easy to check your balance often through online banking or the CUA Mobile Banking App.  Another way to avoid overspending is to set up a second account, one for spending money and one for bills or returned items. Also, if you shop regularly with your debit card, make sure that you have the right account package for your needs.  There is nothing pleasant about unexpected service charges!

Credit — Shopping with a credit card is a common practice for many people.  You can make the most of this payment method by following a couple of best practices:

• Choose a credit card that offers rewards that match your lifestyle.

• Use your credit card to pay for things that you know you have the money for.

• Ensure you can pay your credit card off in full before you start being charged interest.

It is important to use your credit card wisely.  If you find yourself using it to make up for gaps in your budget or you don’t think you could survive without it, it may be time for a chat with a Financial Advisor.  They can help you set up a savings routine that will enable you to stay on the right track.

Digital wallet — Forgot your wallet at home but always have your phone in your pocket? You can set your CUA credit card up with Apple Pay and use your phone just like you would when you tap your credit card.  It can also be used to make purchases in the Apple App Store, and with several online retailers.
Additionally, many loyalty and rewards programs can be set up through the wallet app on your smart phone.  This can help you can free up some real estate in your wallet for pictures of your family or coffee punch cards.  

Fraud protection — Fraud can happen to anybody.  That’s why it’s important to do what you can to keep yourself safe.  Some tips include:

• Try not to carry more cash than necessary.

• Make purchases from retailers you trust, both in-person and online.

• Use tap on debit and credit cards when possible to avoid potential skimming occurrences.

• Check your statements and transaction history regularly.  If you notice anything is amiss, let us know so we can look into it as soon as possible.

• Sign up for fraud alerts to receive text alerts if CUA detects any unusual activity with your debit card.

When it comes to spending, you have so many options.  At the end of the day, you want to make sure your money can go as far as possible, that it is working for you and that you’re safe. If you have any questions about what we discussed here, or anything else, let us know.  We’re here to help!


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