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Choosing Your Financial Institution

Banks and credit unions offer essentially the same products and services, but there are huge differences in the way they operate. Despite this, many people put more thought into building their Netflix queue than they do choosing their financial institution. It’s a Money Thing is here to help fill in the gaps and show you how the differences can affect your dollars. Whether you’re just starting out or rethinking your current financial setup, here is what you need to know.

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Breakdown Of A Credit Score

You’ve likely heard about credit scores before (thanks to all those commercials with terrible jingles), but what do you actually know about them? How long have they been around? And what’s the deal with checking them?

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Foiling Identity Theft

Identity theft is nothing new, and yet it still manages to cost its victims billions of dollars (yes, that’s billions with a “b”) globally each year—not to mention the time and hassle involved in recovering a stolen identity.
The good news is there are tons of things you can do to deter identity thieves. The bad news is that many of us do little beyond choosing a decent password (and some people don’t even bother doing that!). Here are the top five information jackpots for identity thieves, along with helpful tips on what you can do right now to protect yourself.

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Boost Your Credit Score

Credit scores are an area of personal finance that seem a lot more mysterious than they actually are. Many people believe that improving them is a matter of trial and error and, as a result, there’s a lot of “credit score advice” floating around that can end up doing more harm than good. This video will help debunk four of the common credit score myths that you might come across.

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Budgeting Basics

Whether you’re planning your first budget or re-evaluating your current budget, the ground rules listed below will set you up for success by changing the way you look at budgeting. It doesn’t matter if you manage your budget on your smartphone or if you prefer good ol’ pen and paper—these budgeting basics can be applied to every budgeting system.

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Compound Interest Mind Bending

Even though compound interest is easy to understand—compound interest = more money for you!—those who can potentially benefit most from it (those in their teens and 20s) don’t seem to be taking advantage of it. Savings contributions and retirement savings participation rates are falling among young adults..

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Co-operative Principles

Credit unions put their values into practice by following the 7 co-operative principles. This sets credit unions apart from all other financial institutions, strengthens the community and benefits you too!

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Comparing Cards

It’s a decision that comes into play for every bill you pay, every tank of gas you buy and every coffee you pick up on the way to class or work. Cash, check or card? Debit, credit or prepaid debit?

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Emergency Fund Boot Camp

An emergency fund is an essential part of your personal finances. Its importance is stressed in almost every personal finance book and budgeting blog, and yet 26% of Americans currently have no emergency fund in place. Of those who do have an emergency fund, up to two-thirds do not have the often-recommended six months’ worth of expenses saved up.
If an emergency fund is, in fact, so important, why doesn’t it seem that way? Why is it so easy to procrastinate on emergency-fund saving?

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Leasing vs Buying a New Car

When it comes to buying a new car, you have three options: purchasing it with cash, purchasing it through a loan (also known as financing) or leasing it. For most shoppers, the decision comes down to buying or leasing.
On the surface, the differences between leasing and buying a vehicle seem fairly straightforward. Leasing a car means you’ll usually have access to a new set of wheels every few years; buying it likely means that you plan to drive the same car for a much longer period of time. Leasing usually includes a warranty that covers most of your repairs; buying means accepting larger repair costs, which are inevitable as the car ages. Leasing agreements can limit your mileage and your ability to customize your ride; buying means you can put as many miles as you want on the car and customize it however you’d like.

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Living On Your Own

Living on your own for the first time can be empowering. It means having independence and all the things that come with it. Some of those things—like not having to share a bathroom—are wonderful. Others—like killing spiders yourself—are not so fun. And leading the pack in the not-so-fun category: bills.

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Common Money Beliefs

How did you decide where to open your first bank account? Where did you learn to budget or pay bills? If you have a money question now, what do you do? Who do you turn to? If you’re under the age of 30, your answers to the above questions are likely some combination of “my parents”, “the Internet” and “I don’t know—I just kind of figured it out”. Although you might have been lucky enough to take life skills classes in high school, most young adults don’t receive any kind of formal financial education. So, it’s likely that you’ll need to seek guidance when it comes to money management.

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Loan Basics

Applying for a loan requires a lot of research—not just on loan specifics, but research on you too! Loans make some of our biggest life decisions possible, so it’s crucial to be realistic about your goals, your financial situation and your future.

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Investment Vehicles

Investing can seem like a very risky, complex and fast-moving process. With endless combinations of investment vehicles to choose from, it can be difficult to take your first step as an investor—especially with the knowledge that all investments carry the risk of losing some or all of your money. So why bother?

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Checking Account

Balancing your checkbook gives you power—the power of knowing exactly how much money is available to you. Whether you use a checkbook register, a spreadsheet on your computer or an app on your mobile device, balancing your checkbook is a good habit to form.

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Predatory Lending

Predatory lending can also take the form of car loans, sub-prime loans, home equity loans, tax refund anticipation loans or any type of consumer debt. Common predatory lending practices include a failure to disclose information, disclosing false information, risk-based pricing, and inflated charges and fees. These practices, either individually or when combined, create a cycle of debt that causes severe financial hardship for families and individuals.

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Understanding Inflation

Inflation refers to the rate of change or increase in the average prices of goods and services typically purchased by consumers. When the price level rises, every dollar you have buys a smaller percentage of a good or a service. While prices may seem to rise slowly, the effects of inflation really add up over time!

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Intro To Insurance

Insurance is a contract in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses from an insurance company. The insurance company pools clients’ risks to make payments affordable for the insured.

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How to Save On Groceries

The average American household spends $3,753 a year on groceries. Here are some tips to help you take a bite out of your grocery bill!

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Demystifying Mortgages

Buying a home is likely the biggest purchase of your life, and you’ll usually need a loan to make it happen. Comparing mortgages can be confusing and intimidating—let’s break it all down so you can understand how it works.

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Organize Your Finances

Every year, it’s nice to do a bit of “financial spring cleaning” and declutter your filing cabinet, your desk drawers, and the various hiding places where miscellaneous scraps of paper tend to accumulate and multiply. Find out what you should be saving, and what’s OK to shred.

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Compound Interest Rule of 72

If you want to be realistic about your investment earnings and help plan for your future, the Rule of 72 is a handy tool to quickly estimate how many years it will take to double your investment at a given rate. The Rule of 72 works with investments that have compounding interest. You simply divide 72 by the rate of annual return (that’s your interest rate). What results is an approximation of how many years it will take for you to double your investment. For example, if you park $1,000 in a CD yielding 2% interest, it will take 36 years to double (72/2=36). The Rule of 72 allows you to do some quick, back-of-the-envelope math when comparing different investment options or when planning out your long-term financial goals.

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Earn Money Online

It’s hard to ignore the appeal of making real money online—after all, we live in a world where bloggers land book and movie deals, where top YouTubers are multimillionaires and where celebrities collect thousands of dollars in exchange for a single sponsored tweet. While some of us dream of a wildly successful Internet career, the rest of us are happy to settle for online earnings that are a little more modest. Thousands of money-making opportunities are just a web search away. Whether you’re selling your old stuff, scoping out freelance opportunities or running your own digital storefront, there are tools and resources to help you a long every step of the way.

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Good vs Bad Spending

If you’re waging an inner battle of good vs. bad every time you whip out your credit card or peek at your monthly bank statement, it’s probably time to give your views on budgeting a shake-up. Start by losing the desire to classify everything as “good” and “bad.” There are good and bad ways to spend money, just as there are good and bad ways to save it. Following that logic, there are good and bad ways to budget.

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Income Essentials

How much money will you make? Your income is influenced by four interconnected factors: Career, Education, Skills, and Trends.

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Student Loans

If you’re considering financing your college education with the help of a student loan, the smartest thing you can do for yourself is to only borrow what you truly need. (This advice applies to pretty much all loan products, by the way.) Pursuing post-secondary education should be an exciting time in your life. You’re making decisions and opening up possibilities that will shape your future—a future that is adventurous and fulfilling and that decidedly does not include years and years of crippling debt.

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Trends in the Stock Market

Bulls and bears can be considered the unofficial mascots of the stock market. They represent the upward and downward movements of the stock market over a period of time and have even come to describe investor behavior (optimistic investors are said to be bullish, while investors with a pessimistic outlook are said to be bearish). In a field typically known for its confusing financial terminology and often uninspired language, the bull and bear symbols really stand out!

Trends in the Stock Market explains the differences between bull and bear markets and discusses how both upward and downward trends represent opportunities to make money.

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Buying A Used Car

If you take your time to carry out an inspection plus research a vehicle’s history, buying a used car can be rewarding and cost-effective. Research your options, inspect the car you’re looking to buy, and negotiate a price.

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Saving for Retirement

Saving for retirement poses some unique challenges: How are you supposed to prioritize retirement savings against the long list of more immediate goals? How are you supposed to find the motivation to prepare for something that’s decades away? How can you quantify the amount you will need to save when you have no idea what your future will look like?

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Acing the Job Interview

In preparing for a job interview, it’s easy to focus on how you’re meeting others’ expectations of you, instead of considering what expectations you have for your next job and future employer. Despite its unknowns and stresses, the job interview is ultimately an empowering experience that brings you closer to your career goals, and your life goals.

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