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Bellwether's Blog on life and money

BCCU Community Team Happenings

Posted in Main Blog
May 27, 2014 by BCCU
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Our own BCCU Community Teams participated in two important events this month.

Bedford Rotary Memorial Road Races

Photo of The BCCU Community Team

 

 

 

The BCCU Community Team at the 40th anniversary Bedford Rotary Memorial Road Races, May 17, 2014.

 

 

 

This year marked the 40th anniversary running of the Bedford Rotary Memorial Road Races. Races included the Bedford 12K Championship and the Uncle Sam's Rockin'-Walkin' 5K. The Rotary Club of Bedford NH has been serving the Bedford and West Manchester communities for 45 years—almost as long as the run has been in existence! Proceeds of the races go to local Bedford Rotary Club projects and charities.

The BCCU Community Team participated, with our own runners Don Blanchette and Katie Bisbo, and as a gold sponsor for the event.

Taking first place for the men in the 12K event was Amos Sang from Indian Orchard, MA, and for the women Christine Shaw of Manchester, NH. Our top BCCU Team runners were Don Blanchette and Katie Bisbo (pushing her daughter in a stroller!)

First place in the 5K event for the women was Julianne Quinn of Ithaca, NY, and only seconds ahead of her for the men was Sam Wood of Laconia, NH. Our top BCCU Team runners were Carly Hunt and Andrea Ireland. Nice job ladies!

For all the Bedford Rotary Memorial Road Races results, visit the results page at www.coolrunning.com.

 

Walk Against Hunger

Photo of the The BCCU Community Team

 

 

 

 

 

The BCCU Community Team was proud to help raise $128,000 in the New Horizons Walk Against Hunger on May 20, 2014.

 

 

 

 

On May 20th, members of our BCCU Community Team took part in the 22nd annual New Horizons Walk Against Hunger. This year the walk raised a record-setting $128,000 to ensure food and shelter for the hungry and homeless people of Greater Manchester.

44 teams came out to walk the four mile route on the 20th, but Manchester middle schools' students, staff and administration members were the largest support of this effort. They held their own walk events at each school and raised $30,000.

Charlie Sherman, Executive Director said, “It’s a feel good event, knowing that every dollar will help to provide children and their families. When children and their families come to New Horizons either for food distributed by our food pantry or for hot dinner meals served in our soup kitchen, it helps to keep them [children and their families] in their homes simply by saving enough money per month to pay rent.”

New Horizons for New Hampshire is a soup kitchen, food pantry and emergency shelter and support service. For more information about this important organization, you can call (603) 668-1877 or visit www.NewHorizonsforNH.org.

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Buying a Kayak One Week at a Time

Posted in Main Blog
May 21, 2014 by Jenn R.
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person kayaking on pond

 

 

 

My plan to save up and get back on the water.

I want to buy a kayak. I had a Perception Acadia a while back and used it every summer, but thought I should be using my money elsewhere, so I sold it. For the past 5 years I’ve missed that kayak and 2014 is the year I’m going to remedy that.

Research Your Goal

I’ve done my research and know the length and type I want. I also have a good idea of the price range ($300 and $500). I’ll consider a used kayak, and I know Fall is a better time to find a good deal, but I want my kayak now. REI provides a great guide on how to choose a kayak. Check their site out if you’re in the market and aren’t sure where to start.

There’s more to a kayak than the kayak

With new sports, there’s always a list of supplies you’ll need. They add to the cost, but also to the enjoyment.

  • Kayak
  • Paddle
  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD- you need one, and can even lose your boat if you’re caught without one on board)
  • Kayak rack
  • Tie downs
  • Water pump
  • Kayak cart
  • Paddling gloves (I have delicate hands)
  • Water boots (makes getting out in marshy areas a little less scary)
  • Rope bag (an inexpensive safety item to save someone’s life)
  • Dry Bag (to keep your things dry!)

Thankfully, I retained most of these items, but I still need a few, so budgeting is my next step. With everything included, I’ll probably need about $600. I could use my tax refund, or pay for all of this on a credit card, but those don’t seem like responsible ways to buy a toy. Saving is more sensible… giving up some fun things now for a lot of fun over the next few years. Following is my proposal:

Give up buying fast food lunch every day - $25/week
Give up dinner out once a week - $25/week
Buy generic at the grocery store - $10/week

My vacation is in 8 weeks, so with this I'll have $480! I can then reasonably charge $120 and pay it off before the grace period is up by just continuing my “cutbacks” for two more weeks. In this way, I’m not eating into savings, and I know the loss of these extras isn’t going to kill me. In the end, the kayak will provide me with something I can enjoy for years to come. Well worth a few months of frugality!

Sources:
REI http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/kayak.html

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VISA for Vacation

Posted in Main Blog
May 14, 2014 by BCCU
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back of station wagon with suitcases, girl and dog

 

 

 

See this smile? It'll last 24/7 when unexpected circumstances don't derail the family vacation.

 
 
 
 
 

When you're planning the family vacation, you want to be prepared. And you likely know all the warnings about the dangers of credit cards, but there are some smart reasons to have one.

5 Reasons having a Bellwether VISA in your wallet is a good thing

When Bellwether Community Credit Union decided to offer a credit card, they wanted the benefits to its members to clearly out-weigh other considerations. Here are some of the important things Bellwether focused on for its VISA card:
 
Acceptance—If you run into an emergency of the kind that is double or triple your cash on hand, a VISA card is your best friend. It's accepted almost everywhere, and gives you thirty interest-free days to settle the bill after your vacation.
 
Free Transfers—Whether you're making a purchase or transferring an amount from a second, higher-rate credit card, you pay the same low interest rate. Plus, we don't charge you a fee to transfer that balance. 
 
Rewards—When you use the Bellwether Platinum VISA you'll earn points. How cool is it that your unexpected vacation expense scores you future airfare*?
 
$0 Fraud Liability—It feels as if stories of fraud and identity theft are rampant, but you don't have to worry with a Bellwether VISA. Our card protects you from any fraudulent purchase made on your card.
 
Credit Rating—Using and paying off a credit card strengthens your credit rating, which can help you out down the road when you apply for a mortgage or a home renovation loan.
 
hand removing VISA from wallet
The other bonus with our VISA is our rates. Take a look at them here—they're pretty incredible when you compare them with rates other financial institutions offer
 
Wherever your vacation plans take you this spring and summer, we wish you safe travels and peace of mind.
 
*Our VISA card offers many other rewards, not just travel or airfare perks. You can peruse the choices here: www.curewards.com
 
 
 
 
Bellwether's great VISA Platinum with
CU Rewards is the perfect traveling companion.

 

Did you know... you are part of something bigger?

Posted in Main Blog
April 25, 2014 by BCCU
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Google Map screenshot showing Nashville

 

 

 

There are almost 40,000 ways (ATMs, credit union branches, or self-serve locations) to bank with Bellwether across the U.S.—whether you move there, going to school there, traveling on business, or passing through on a vacation.

 
 
 
 
 
One thing Bellwether members feel good about is banking with an organization that has deep and caring roots in the community. As co-owners, you guide our business practices, help us direct our contributions to the community, and make us a strong financial institution that exists to simplify our members' financial lives. By banking with Bellwether Credit Union, you make a difference.
 
But you're also a part of something bigger than strengthening our local communities.

From sea to shining sea

A question our team gets asked a lot relates to banking beyond our three credit union branches: 

kid's map of the USA

How can I access my account if I'm on vacation (or if I move)?
 
To better serve our members, we're part of a shared branching network called CU Service Centers, and also belong to the Co-Op Financial Services Network. This allows us to partner with other credit union branches and let our members access their accounts through cross-country physical branches, ATMs, and self-serve locations.
 
This gives you access to your account via a network of nearly 30,000 ATMs, close to 5,000 credit union branches and over 2,000 self-serve locations!
Access your bank account from almost anywhere.
Image from Houzz.com, illustration by
Marley Ungaro available on Etsy.

How does banking across the country work?

Using an ATM is easy—just use your debit card. You can also access Bellwether's Mobile24 mobile banking to view balances, transfer funds, pay bills, and find a Shared Branch Location.

If you need to access your accounts at one of our network's shared physical branches, you only need three things:

1) The full name of our credit union (which is Bellwether Community Credit Union)

2) Your member number

3) A valid U.S/State, County, Federal, city Government-issued picture identification with signature

So feel free to journey, adventure and travel to your heart's content—you're part of a bigger network, which means you're never really far from home.

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Do I Really Need to Check My Credit Report?

Posted in Main Blog
April 16, 2014 by Guest
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Credit Report spelled out in yahtzee tilesI handle my finances with an "out of sight, out of mind" mantra – basically the opposite of how we're taught. If I overspend during the weekend, I wait as long as possible to check my balance the following week. If I receive an unexpected bill, it immediately goes into the "I'll do it later" pile. Fortunately, however, I always end up getting it done.

Credit, on the other hand, is the ultimate financial "out of sight out of mind." I can't log in somewhere to view it, and there's no deadline for me to check it by. I know it exists, but I could go months, years even, without reviewing my credit report. And for someone like me, that's a problem.

I pay my bills on time, so what's the big deal about checking my credit report?
There are major problems that can arise from ignoring our credit reports – problems that exist even if we practice perfect financial habits. ID theft, incorrect information, and unknown collections are a few prime examples – things we'd never know existed without our credit report. And, left undetected, these errors can be detrimental.

I don't want to apply for a mortgage and discover my credit score is 510 because Joe Schmo opened four credit cards in my name in 2011. I also don't want to find out that I've had a $40-medical bill in collections for the last three years, causing my credit to plummet. Or maybe there's information on my report that's just inaccurate. In any case, without reviewing my credit report I'd have no idea these errors existed; and the sooner incorrect activity is detected, the easier it is to dispute and remove from my credit history.


Checking my credit report is a great way to catch and fix potential errors, but is that all?
Credit reports are also a great resource to help build and improve our credit. Although the reports don't give our actual three digit credit score (this is an additional charge), they do indicate negative and positive activity that impacts said score – information we can use to make changes to our financial behavior.

My credit report might point out that my credit-to-debt ratio is too high. With this information, I'd know to focus on building down my balances to improve my score. Or my credit report may indicate that I've had too many recent credit inquires, informing me that I need be more careful when applying for loans or other activities that pull my credit. Without reviewing my report, I probably wouldn't know that.


I understand why it's important, but how much of a hassle is it to do?
There are three major credit reporting agencies in the United States – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – and we're allowed a free credit report from each one every year. All we have to do is visit annualcreditreport.com and request it. You can request all three reports at once or, like experts suggest, request one from each agency every four months.

Yes, it's another task to add to our never-ending to-do lists, but it's one that's definitely worth it. I know I won't get anything done unless I have a deadline, so I created credit report deadlines for myself; every four months I have an alarm set to remind me. Whatever works for you, do it. Like most things in the financial world, it's much easier to be proactive than reactive.

Photo by www.LendingMemo.com via cc.

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