Posts in Category: financial literacy

How to Create a Holiday Budget and Avoid Post-Holiday Stress 

By Daniel Jacinto

The kids are back to school, temperatures are getting chilly, and store shelves are filled with pumpkin-spiced everything marked down on clearance…these are all symptoms of Autumn falling upon us. Before you know it, the holiday shopping season will be here—and immediately after—the post-holiday season that’ll leave you feeling broke.

Fear not holiday shoppers, you can remedy that holiday hangover and keep from feeling like you only have lumps of coal. Follow these steps to keep your wallet in check after the holiday shopping season.

Create a Gift List

Decide whom you’ll be buying gifts for this season, ask them for gift ideas, and come up with a number of how much you can spend. Create a list and stick to it.

Start Saving ASAP

Once you’ve created a gift list and a budget, open a savings account at a credit union and start depositing small amounts of money. This will keep your spending on track.

Many credit unions require a minimum balance on a savings account of at least $5, which is doable to keep the account active for next year’s holiday shopping. To find a credit union near you to open up your holiday savings account check out our credit union search engine here.

If you need to save more try selling unwanted items online on sites like eBay or on your mobile device on the Let Go app.

Shop Early and Before Black Friday

The best time to shop is right now before the Black Friday mess. The deals offered may run a week prior to Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. Having worked at a retailer before, I’ve seen pre-Black Friday sales that were the same as the Black Friday sales.

The deals you typically find may not actually even be the best ones, at least compared to sales offered throughout the year.  They may even be the same ones from recent years. A study surveying Black Friday deals in 2013 comparison to 2014 at 27 stores found that 93% of the ads contained at least one repeated deal.

O.K., smart holiday shopper. Now that you’ve got the remedy to your post-holiday stress you can start planning that tropical vacation you’ve been dreaming about…or building up your savings for a rainy (or snowy) day.

Push ‘Start’ on Leveling-Up Your Child’s Financial Skills 

By Daniel Jacinto
April 14, 2016 Categories: financial literacy

According to, Americans are over $2 trillion in consumer debt and 30% of consumers report not having extra money; thus making it impossible to avoid living paycheck to paycheck for some Americans. Some of these families living paycheck to paycheck have children that will see their financial struggle and may miss out on crucial financial skills they’ll need for their future.

Too many Americans are also insufficiently educated about personal finance. The National Financial Educators Council issued a 30-question National Financial Literacy Test designed to measure young participants’ ability to earn, save and grow their money. Fifteen- to eighteen-year-olds scored 61.24% out of 100% nationally on this financial literacy test in 2015. These results show the American youth is lacking basic financial skills and education.

As part of National Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Month, celebrated in April, we’re sharing great ways to engage your child in developing their financial skills that are both educational and fun! Be your child’s “player two” in these financial games and help them level-up their financial literacy in a fun way your child can relate to.

Financial Football. Test your financial knowledge in this fast-paced, NFL-themed game developed by Visa. Answer a series of financial questions that will allow your team to move down the field to score touchdowns. This game is for ages 11 and up and parents may even learn a thing or two from it! Visa put together a handful of financial games available on their Practical Money Skills for Life Web site.

Celebrity Calamity. Help celebrities manage their financial life as they hire you to keep their budget on track. The goal is to keep the celebrity happy by making any required purchases on their behalf and maintaining a budget. Players will decide how purchases will be charged (via debit or credit card). Players will learn about credit card balances, interest rates, and minimum payments.

Hit the Road: A Financial Adventure. Choose your own character and career as well as two other friends and go on a journey to Colorado from Washington, D.C. In this game, players will learn to manage a budget by saving and spending their money wisely to complete several challenges along the way to Colorado for a ski trip.

Games and Activities from Choose from several financial games on for ages 5 and up brought to you by the National Credit Union Administration. Match coins to earn money and decide how to spend it in building your own magical world in World of Cents. Fill-up your own piggy bank after answering coin trivia correctly in Break the Bank.

Financial Reality Fairs. Many of New Jersey’s school districts have partnered with local credit unions, the New Jersey Credit Union League, and the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation to bring financial Reality Fairs to students from 8th grade, through high school and into the first year of college. A Financial Reality Fair is a hands-on “game of life” that give students a real perspective of how much life can cost and a taste of how to budget within their means. Over 5,600 students in the state have benefitted from this program in the last 5 years. Has your child’s school district hosted a financial Reality Fair?

Your local credit union may provide financial education seminars teaching budgeting, saving, and other important financial literacy topics for FREE! Find a credit union near you by visiting

Jackson Memorial High School Freshmen Get Hands-On Money Management Lesson Through Reality Fair Program 

January 22, 2014 Categories: financial literacy



Over 200 Jackson Memorial High School students were exposed to the world of “real-life” budgeting at a Financial Reality Fair brought to them by New Jersey credit unions on Wednesday, January 8th. The students that participated are part of the school’s Freshman Seminar program, a full semester course that satisfies the graduation requirements for financial and computer literacy. The students just finished up their budgeting lessons last semester, so the Financial Reality Fair this week gave them the opportunity to apply what they had learned.

Click here for the full article. 

The Millennial's Guide to Personal Finance 

January 07, 2014 Categories: financial literacy tips

The need for financial literacy is finally catching on at the high school level across the country, but what about for those in the “Millenial” generation who missed out on this new proliferation of required personal finance classes?

For starters, understanding basic financial terms can help this, and any generation, make the most informed choices about their fiscal path.

In a recent article, Mashable, a leading source for news, information, and resources for the “Connected Generation”, which includes Millenials, listed commonly used terms and their definitions that Millenials can use to navigate their personal finance world:

A popular retirement plan offered by many employers, a 401(k) allows you to set aside a certain percentage of your paycheck into a retirement fund, before taxes.

Some companies will match a portion of your yearly 401(k) savings as an incentive for participating in the program. The funds in your 401(k) are then invested into different ventures, such as bonds, money market accounts, and stocks. However, you will not lose your savings if your employer files for bankruptcy.

You will receive the money as an annuity once you retire, but if you choose to withdraw the funds before turning 59.5 years old, you will have to pay taxes on it.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the rate of charge or interest, usually as it applies to credit cards. Different cards have different APRs. It's important to know which rate you're agreeing to, since it will affect the price you have to pay. Credit card companies can apply APRs to late payments, purchases, and cash advances.

"APR financing" refers to the price you pay with the APR rate included, a price added on top of taxes, essentially. For example, if an ad indicates a car costs $30,000 with 0% APR for 60 months, it means your payment (with taxes, dealer's fees, and tags included) will not include APR during those first 60 months, as you pay off the car. If the deal instead comes with an APR rate of 0.8%, you'd add about $2,400 to the lease, which will be integrated into the car payments.

An annuity is a continuing, fixed annual payment for a certain amount of time. You can receive annuities from insurance companies or retirement funds. For example, one may receive an annuity from a deceased family member's life insurance policy.

Assets are anything you own that can be sold or converted into cash. Some assets include real estate or personal property, cars and other vehicles, jewelry, or investments, such as a 401(k). Unless your stamp collection or old action figures are super rare, those don't count as assets, however.

Credit Score
Your credit score indicates to lenders how trustworthy you are, in other words, how likely you are to pay back your loans and debts (and do so on time). Your credit score can affect your ability to make bigger purchases down the road, such as cars or houses.

The easiest way to build credit is to qualify for a credit card and pay off the balances on time. The most common score is the FICO score, which is determined by payment history, credit use, types of credit use, length of credit history and applications for credit. The score ranges from 300-850.

The three major official reporting companies are TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You are allowed, by law, to receive one free credit report a year. If you need to check it more than once, be wary of "free" credit score sites that might ask for a credit card and include hidden charges/fees.

Your Debt-to-Income (DTI) ratio is especially important for mortgages. There are two types of DTI: the front-end ratio and the back-end ratio. The front-end is the percentage of your income that would go to paying housing-related costs, such as mortgage and real estate taxes, while the back-end represents how much of your income is going to other debts, such as credit card bills and car payments. If either of these ratios is too high, it might keep you from getting a mortgage.

An Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is a retirement plan that is not sponsored by an employer. Since you are solely responsible for adding money to an IRA, you have a wider ranger of investment options. Like the 401(k), most IRAs are tax-deductible.

A liability means you owe money or payments to another person or establishment. For example, student loans are a liability—you have to pay back the sum of the loan, plus interest.

Liquidity is the degree to which you can sell or convert your assets into money, when needed. Liquid assets refer to those assets that can be easily bought and sold, making them easy to convert. It's often smarter to invest in liquid assets, like bonds and stocks, than assets that can take longer to sell, called illiquid assets (real estate, huge blocks of stocks, collectibles).

Net Worth
While the concept seems a little abstract, every person is worth a monetary sum. Your net worth is actually your value if you were to sell all your assets and pay off all your debts. It can be useful to know how much you're worth when considering big financial decisions.

Calculate net worth by subtracting your total debt from the sum of your total assets. If you get a negative number, you have more debts than income (don’t worry if this happens; this is typical for many recent grads). A positive number means you're making or have more than your debts, meaning you have more of a budget for paying off loans.

Savings Account
A savings account works a little differently than a checking account. While your money is still accessible, there are often fees and time delays associated with savings withdrawals. The advantage of having a savings account, however, is that you compound interest (and you are less inclined to take money out, and more inclined to let it alone).

Common types of savings accounts include basic, certificate of deposit (CD), and money market. The basic savings account allows your money to grow at a set interest rate, though often a relatively low one. The CD account has a high, usually fixed rate of interest, but it also has to grow for a set amount of time. If you take money out of the account before the appointed time, you will have to pay a penalty. It's best used for saving money for a big expense down the road, like buying a car or returning to school. A money market savings account will have a high rate of interest that will vary with the market, and your withdrawals from this account may be limited.

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