According to a study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, there are an estimated 420,000 ATMs in the United States. And the fees that banks and credit unions charge non-customers/members for using them (aka, “Foreign ATM Fees”) have increased 20% from an average $1.75 per transaction in 2007 to $2.10 in 2012.
While some institutions charge as little as 45 cents for non-customer/member use, others have fees as high as $5. In addition to the amounts of the fees going up, more financial institutions are charging them too. Over the past five years, that number has increased from 87% to 96% as banks look to offset increased costs.
However, as the study also notes, consumers have many ways to obtain cash without incurring fees. 3Rivers is no exception. We have a variety of checking options – each designed to meet specific needs of a varied membership base:
- 3Rivers Members have access to tens of thousands of surcharge-free ATMs across the nation (note: depending upon which account you have with us, a $1/transaction foreign ATM fee may be applicable if you use those ATMs).
- Many of our checking accounts don’t charge foreign ATM fees – meaning you have completely free access to ATMs NATIONWIDE – just look for the AllianceOne, CU24 and Co-Op logos on the ATMs (or click here to find a surcharge free ATM near you).
- With Rhythm Checking, we’ll REFUND ATM SURCHARGES (up to $12 per month, $3 per transaction) if you incur any (monthly qualification requirements apply).
Wondering if you have the right checking option (whether at 3Rivers or another financial institution? Try out our simple Checking Solution Finder to help you navigate your choices.
Smaller paychecks, higher prices and growing debts are leading many consumers to examine their money matters more closely. As WANE-TV and CNN Money reported recently, consumers are cutting back as they feel a new pinch on their money matters. As Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president for market insights at MasterCard Advisors, observes:
People still are acting as if we are in a recession.
Some ways people are taking action include:
- Holding off on major purchases
- Decreasing energy expenses by driving less or turning down thermostats
- Cutting out or reducing spending on splurges like coffee-shop lattes
- Hunting for sales and using coupons more often
One way we at 3Rivers are helping our community overcome money challenges is through something we call WalletCare. We’ve been doing it for 75+ years but only recently gave it a label. We take an honest look at your financial lifestyle and seek ways to help you better manage your debts. Then, we suggest options for using your newly freed-up cashflow to pay down debt faster, save for retirement or have a little extra breathing room to budget more confidently.
A real-life WalletCare example
A member we’ll call “Pat” recently visited us. Through a brief conversation, we learned about 11 different debt payments that Pat makes monthly.
They total just a hair under $1,000 and Pat was starting to struggle to come up with enough to cover all the payments each month. To make things worse, Pat’s credit rating was also starting to suffer because those payment obligations were a big chunk of Pat’s income.
Our team member suggested an alternative to consolidate all those debts into one monthly payment totaling $225 each month – a reduction of more than $760!
Our team member then offered Pat a few different options for using those funds more effectively. Pat chose to use half the savings (about $380 a month) as an extra payment on the principal of the new loan and put the other half into a newly opened IRA.
The WalletCare impact?
Pat went from having a high monthly payment commitment, no retirement savings and a slowly deteriorating credit rating to the prospect of being completely debt free in 55 months (instead of 180) and having an IRA with an estimated $45,000 when retirement comes. And, Pat didn’t have to take on any new debt or make any drastic life alterations.
That’s life changing. That’s WalletCare.
We’re already into the 2012 tax filing season, so we’ve been thinking about the ways we could have effectively lowered our taxable income. If you haven’t filed your 2012 return, remember, you can still make an IRA contribution. Connect with us if you’d like to discuss.
In the meantime, you can start your 2013 tax planning by keeping these helpful tips in mind throughout the year:
Donate to your Favorite Charity
Along with helping others, charitable donations are a great way to lower your taxable income. Take the time to sort through old clothes and other belongings you no longer use or need. Clean out your food pantries and find local food drives. Make sure you keep your receipts.
Health Savings Accounts
Individuals under age 65 who are covered by a high deductible health plan may establish an HSA (Health Savings Account), which allows participants to save money for the payment of health care expenses on a tax-preferred basis. HSA distributions are generally tax-free if they are used to pay for qualified medical expenses. Distributions made for any other purposes may be taxable. (Open a Health Savings Account at 3Rivers).
Annual Gift Tax Exclusion
Consider gifting to reduce some tax burdens. In 2012, you could have gifted up to $13,000 to each person, and to as many individuals as you want, without triggering the gift tax. That amount increases to $14,000 in 2013. In addition to the annual exclusion amounts, you can also give charitable gifts, gifts to a spouse, gifts of educational expenses, and gifts of medical expenses without triggering the gift tax.
Who Can Help Me?
With the overall objective of minimizing your taxable income, there are some great tax planning tactics that can help you for 2013. Take this time to speak to a financial professional along with your tax advisor to help minimize your tax burden in the coming years.
You have many choices when searching for help in reaching your goals. In particular, the financial professionals here at ClearFuture™ Financial available through CFS8 at 3Rivers will work closely with you to clarify your retirement goals, help you develop and implement a plan, and provide ongoing advice in pursuit of those goals.
Interested in Learning More?
We specialize in helping people maintain a healthy financial balance and discover smart money strategies. Let’s arrange an appointment to review your investment objectives, and to discuss any questions you might have. We look forward to speaking with you!
*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The credit union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. ClearFuture Financial is a trade name for the investment & insurance products available at 3Rivers Federal Credit Union.
The following info is from 3Rivers and ClearFuture™ Financial available through CFS* to help keep your financial life in balance.
Right now is an ideal time to review your portfolios and make vital decisions about investing strategies. To review your results for 2012 and consider your savings and investing priorities for 2013, ask yourself the following questions:
Have My Investment Priorities Changed?
Your investing strategy is built around long-term goals. But priorities can change with major life events such as births, marriage, divorce, or a new job. If you’ve experienced a major life change in the past 12 months, consider the impact on your financial priorities.
Am I Moving Toward My Investment Goals?
Once you’ve reviewed your goals and priorities, look into whether your portfolio’s returns are keeping you on track to meet those goals.
Do I Need to Make Changes to My Investing Strategy?
Even if your priorities haven’t changed and you’re making good progress toward your goals, it’s still important to review your asset allocation and investment strategy.
For example, if you’re now a year closer to retirement, depending on your age, it may be time for a more conservative approach. Also, market gains or losses may have caused big swings in the value of your holdings, causing your portfolio to fall out of line with your advised allocation. In this situation, you may need to rebalance your portfolio to bring your stocks, bonds, and cash holdings back in line with their target allocations.
This annual review and rebalancing will help you start 2013 off right. If you would like some guidance to help get your investments ready for 2013, let’s talk. We’ll work closely with you to clarify your goals, help you develop and implement a plan, and provide ongoing advice in pursuit of those goals.
* Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The credit union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. ClearFuture Financial is a trade name for the investment & insurance products available at 3Rivers Federal Credit Union.