10 Habits to Put You on the Path Towards Financial Independence

Far too often, we fall short or lose sight of our financial plans because we’re inundated with debt, stumble across financial emergencies, spend more than we save and encounter other issues that stop us from reaching our goals. Most recently, all of us have been coping with the unforeseen event of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has nullified many people’s plans and exposed their safety nets…or lack thereof. If the COVID-19 pandemic has shown you why achieving financial independence is so important, you’re not alone. However, as with any goal, challenges present themselves, especially when it comes to your money. Although we will all experience financial burdens or hindrances, the following 10 habits from the financial experts at BHCU will teach you how to become financially independent and get you back on the right financial track!

Set Specific Goals
Setting specific goals is important. If you’re looking to purchase a car, buy a house or retire, you are going to want to create a plan for saving a certain dollar amount for them. If you do not set goals for future purchases or plans, you will not have anything to work towards.

Create a Budget
Making and sticking to a budget is another important financial planning step because it will ensure that your bills are paid and your savings are on track. Plus, creating a budget will also help support your goals because it will provide you with something that you can evaluate weekly or monthly. If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of figuring out your ideal budget, don’t be! An online financial calculator will make this step quick and easy.

Avoid High-Interest Debt
High-interest debt is detrimental to your financial freedom, particularly when it comes to credit cards. To avoid this, be sure to make a point of paying off credit card balances each month to avoid additional fees and racking up balances. If you find yourself strapped, look for fixed consolidation loans with lower interest rates and a more manageable payment, or opt for the iSAVE Credit Card, which will give you low rates, no balance transfer fees and cash back every month!

Create Automatic Savings
Pay yourself first by making automatic deposits into a savings account. Additionally, if your employer offers a retirement plan with a matching contribution benefit, do not pass up free money. Automating savings is a great approach, because if you do not see it, you won’t think about spending it! To get the most out of a savings program, look into the iSAVE Savings program, which is a high-yielding account for everyday money and for different savings goals.

Monitor Your Credit Regularly
Your credit score is critical to your financial health. It impacts loan rates, car insurance, life insurance premiums and even getting a job. Checking your credit score regularly is highly recommended and can even prevent fraudsters from applying for credit in your name. 

Research
Competition is everywhere, so it’s important to stay abreast of changes in tax laws each year to ensure that all your adjustments and deductions are maximized. Also, make it a priority to keep up with current events, financial news and developments in the stock market, and do not hesitate to adjust your investment portfolio appropriately. After all, knowledge is the best defense against those who prey on unsophisticated investors to turn a quick buck!

Proper Maintenance
Taking good care of your property—from cars to lawnmowers, shoes to clothing—makes everything last longer. As the cost of maintenance is a fraction of the cost of replacement, it’s an investment that you won’t want to miss out on. When you want to learn how to become financially independent, it’s important to make taking care of your belongings a priority.

Live Below Your Means
Mastering a frugal lifestyle by having a mindset of living life to the fullest with less is not so hard. In fact, many wealthy individuals developed a habit of living below their means before their rise to affluence. This isn’t a challenge to adopt a minimalist lifestyle or a call to action to head to the dumpster with things you’ve hoarded over the years. Making small adjustments by distinguishing between the things you need and the things you want is a financially helpful habit that you should—and need to—put into practice in order to achieve financial independence.

Take Care of Your Health
The principle of proper maintenance also applies to the body — that is why it’s important to invest in good health with regular visits to doctors and dentists, while also following the advice on any problems you encounter. Many problems can be helped—or even prevented—with lifestyle changes, such as more exercise and a healthier diet. Some companies have limited sick days, making it a notable loss of income once those days are used up. Obesity and ailments make insurance premiums skyrocket, and poor health may force earlier retirement with a lower monthly income.

Protect Your Identity
Protecting your identity is crucial. Not only is having your identity jeopardized a safety issue, but it can also impact your credit score, your ability to get approved for loans or credit cards and your money in general. Fraudsters often try to steal names, social security numbers, birthdates, banking information and credit card numbers. If this information is stolen from you, it can affect your ability to achieve financial independence. To prevent this and protect your identity, sign up for fraud alerts and look into identity and credit monitoring services.

Although these 10 steps won’t solve all of your money problems, they will help you develop healthy financial habits that can start you on your path to financial independence—whatever that means for you! If you would like help achieving financial independence, contact us today. 

A’s Get Praise…and Rewards These Days: Here’s How You Can Get Rewarded for Good Grades at BHCU!

Here at BHCU, we respect a lot of things: SAVER’s, Youth SAVER’s and great students! That’s why we designed our Report Card Rewards program, which doesn’t just acknowledge all of your hard work throughout the school year, but it also pays you for all of those hard earned A’s! Sure, getting an A in school may be enough of a reward to you, but we think an A deserves even more. So forget those gold stars and start getting those dollar signs! Read on to learn what our Report Card Rewards is and how you can get rewarded for your A grades. 

Earn Money While You Earn A’s

Thanks to our Report Card Rewards, students can start earning money for all of the A’s that they earn throughout the school year. When students are a part of our Report Card Rewards program, they will earn $5 for every A grade (or equivalent of) they receive, which means that students can potentially earn up to $50 per school year! And because these earnings are deposited into a Youth iSAVE account, our Report Card Rewards program also encourages saving. So if students keep their earnings in this account for a healthy amount of time, they continue to reap the benefits of their hard work long after the days of earning their A’s.

How It Works

Just like taking tests have some easy instructions, so does our Report Card Rewards program. Fortunately, following the criteria for our Report Card Rewards program is way easier than taking a test! Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of who is eligible to earn rewards for A’s:

  • Only BHCU members are eligible for our Report Card Rewards
  • The BHCU member MUST have an active Youth iSAVE account
  • The Youth iSAVE account MUST have a minimum of $50 in it
  • The BHCU member has to be an elementary, middle or high school student
  • A year-end report card or transcript must be submitted by 08/01/2020 in order to verify grades

Once you’ve checked off all of the above criteria, your rewards money will be deposited into the Youth iSAVE account up to 60 days after report card verification — it’s basically as easy as A, B, C; 1, 2, paid!

A Special Gift for the Class of 2020

We know that prom, graduation, and other special moments of Senior year are irreplaceable; the least we could do is offer an extra incentive for the Class of 2020. All qualifying high school seniors will earn an additional $25 Visa Gift Card when they participate in our Report Card Rewards!

If you need help or would like to learn more, contact us today.

Branch Lobbies Reopening: A Message from Our CEO

Dear Fellow Members,

On Monday, June 8th, BHCU will allow members lobby access at our offices to conduct their banking business. It is expected by that time Delaware County will be within the “Yellow Phase” of Governor Wolf’s reopening plan. However, many restrictions will remain in place. Specifically, at this time, members entering the credit union’s offices will be required to wear face masks and maintain appropriate social distancing between themselves, our staff, and other members. Signage will be posted with these requirements along with other reminders at office entrances. Anyone refusing to abide by the written instructions may experience a service disruption until they are able to comply. In addition, the number of members permitted into the lobby will be limited. 

Please also be aware that you may be asked to temporarily remove your mask to complete your transaction if credit union staff is unable to accurately identify you with the mask in place. Further, we ask that if you are not feeling well, have a fever or other symptoms, you refrain from coming into the office. 

As we reopen the offices, you should feel confident that the BHCU staff is doing everything it can to make your in-person experience safe and efficient. All public areas will be frequently sanitized, and all credit union staff are monitored each day for their own symptoms including daily temperature checks. We have eliminated the need for in-person signing for transaction receipts and reduced other obligations that were common “high-touch” activities. 

We strongly encourage you to continue to utilize our online and mobile banking applications to minimize your personal exposure to risk unnecessarily. Hopefully by now you have taken advantage of these great tools that provide complete access to your accounts and the ability to perform any transaction you need securely right from your phone or tablet. The night drop at both locations will continue to be available for members to use allowing them to avoid waiting in the lobby. 

Personally, I would like to thank all our members for their patience, understanding and cooperation as we navigate through these difficult times. BHCU is YOUR Credit Union and the staff and I consider it a privilege to represent the membership and provide these services to all our fellow members. 

We will keep you apprised of any updates as soon as they become available. We look forward to seeing you soon. In the meantime, stay well. 

Gary M. Golden

CEO

BHCU — Delaware County’s Credit Union — Reports They Helped 100% of Small Business Applicants Receive PPP Loans

Left to right: Business Development Officer, Jim Pace; CEO, Gary Golden; Commercial Credit Officer, Jerry Dorn.

BHCU — Your Delaware County Credit Union — is proud to report that 100% of their small business members who submitted all of the appropriate documents for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan received the funding they were looking for. Compared to a report released by the Small Business Administration — which found that 44% of the first round of PPP money went to just 4% of applicants and only 8% of small business applications received money in the first phase — it’s safe to say that BHCU has accomplished a feat for its members.

The BHCU team knew that larger financial institutions were going to seize most of the available PPP money for larger companies, which is why they were fully prepared to service their small business members when they needed them the most. Although small business owners continue to face uncertainty as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, one thing is certain: BHCU’s commitment to helping Delco businesses is stronger than ever. 

“We know that many small business owners are often overlooked or even ignored by major financial institutions. More so now than ever before, it was critical for us to move quickly to ensure our business members were getting the attention they deserve,” said BHCU CEO, Gary Golden.

Thanks to their proactive efforts, the BHCU team has achieved a 100% conversion rate of their PPP applicants with 107 total loans paid to date totaling $7.7 million for their business members. 

We were so pleased with the speed, accuracy, clear communication and dedication to helping our business,” commented Laura Sperratore, Chief Operating Officer of Sperr’s Fuel and Heating in Glen Mills, PA. “Commercial Credit Officer, Jerry Dorn, did not just help us through the PPP loan process, but listened and learned about our business, our needs and our goals. The relationship-building piece cannot be overstated. The follow up phone calls with others at BHCU were extremely helpful as well and made us feel like we are in this together.” 

As with many small business owners, COVID-19 obviously presented an extreme financial challenge for Matt and Sabrina Kelley, owners of Prodigy Pest Solutions located in Morton. “We tried, unsuccessfully, to apply for the PPP loan through our accountant and were fearful we would not be able to get help. After speaking with BHCU, we felt like there might be some hope. They walked us through the application process, ensuring that all our necessary documentation was there, and we were quickly approved.” 

Sherry Varone, CEO of The Ultimate Shave in Glen Mills, shared a similar story. “My experience with BHCU in obtaining a PPP Loan has been nothing short of excellent. Business Development Officer, Jim Pace, kept me informed throughout the process. He kept in constant contact and was very diligent with sharing relevant information since the terms of the loan are constantly being updated. As a new BHCU member, I’m impressed with how everything was handled and the outstanding member service they provide.”  

BHCU has been fighting for their members since 1952, and it is clear that they show no signs of stopping. As always, they are committed to helping the members of their community, and they will continue to be proactive throughout this pandemic and long afterwards, so they can help their members on their journey to financial independence. 

About BHCU
Founded in 1952 in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania, BHCU, your Delaware County credit union, is a federally insured credit union that provides comprehensive banking services to its members. BHCU is a community-based credit union, exclusively serving Delaware County, PA. Throughout our history, we have maintained an unwavering commitment to helping members save, offering excellent rates and dividends, fair fees and expert advice.

 

 

COVID-19 Scam Alert: Here are Four Signs That You’re Being Scammed

We know that these times have been challenging for everyone, and the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the financial situation of both small business owners and consumers. Fortunately, stimulus packages have been created to help business owners and consumers get through financial hardships: A Paycheck Protection Program of $350 billion is being offered for small business loans; an Economic Impact Payment from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be paid to consumers. While that’s the good news, here’s the bad news: Even in times of crisis, scammers are still looking for new ways to steal information and money from you. Whether you’re a business owner or consumer, the experts at BHCU, your Delaware County credit union, are here with four signs that you’re being scammed.

Trust Your Gut When It Comes to Suspicious Calls or Email
Right now, scammers are posing as lenders, the Social Security Administration and the World Health Organization, and they are calling, texting and emailing people about deals that seem too good to be true. Messaging from these scammers will claim a variety of things, such as:

  • Your business being approved for a loan
  • An offer for a grant or stimulus payments
  • A COVID-19 kit
  • A coronavirus Medicare package
  • Claiming that your Social Security number has been suspended

These scenarios will always require you to give your information in exchange for what they are offering. If you receive a call, text or email that doesn’t seem right, trust your gut! These scammers are trying to steal your business’s private information — which they can use to apply for a loan under your name (which you’ll be responsible for paying) — or your identity and money. 

Feel Weary When There’s a Fee Involved
If you’re offered a loan or payment that claims you’ll receive it quickly — but with a fee — don’t trust it. Faster doesn’t always mean better, and in this case, it certainly doesn’t mean safer. In fact, the CARES Act states that business owners are not required to pay ANY fees, such as application, package or closing fees, so this is a sure sign that it’s a scam. Plus, if you’re eligible for the IRS’s Economic Impact Payment, the amount you receive will be automatic for most taxpayers (with NO fees), and if it isn’t automatic for you, you will receive a letter from the IRS.

Avoid Unknown Lenders
Although lenders aren’t required to be on SBA’s list of preferred lenders in order to process an SBA loan, they do have to have preferred status. If they don’t — and they aren’t scamming you — they’ll first have to achieve preferred status before granting you your loan, and this can take an unforeseeable amount of time. Avoid this altogether by choosing BHCU! With a variety of business loans, lines of credit and credit cards, we’ll do everything we can to get you approved, so you can keep your business — and your life — running efficiently and successfully. 

Steer Clear of Promises That Seem Too Good to Be True
Similar to scammers promising to get you a loan quickly (but for a fee), they may also try to convince you that they can get you an SBA loan under the new PPP — or a stimulus payment — in only a few hours. If this happens, avoid them at all costs. Additionally, if you’re offered a quick advance that isn’t related to the new PPP or Economic Impact Payment, you should avoid all of these as well, because they may result in fast repayment terms, outrageous interest rates and identify theft. In challenging times where you need help managing your financial expenses, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, your best and safest plan of action is to join BHCU and contact our financial experts.

Now that you know the four signs that you’re being scammed, you can avoid them and keep your business’s and/or personal information safe! If you need help navigating your finances during this time of uncertainty, we want you to know that BHCU in Delaware County, PA is here for you, so contact us today.