For more than 50 years, LUSO Federal Credit Union has advocated for the financial health and wellness of our members. To mark April’s designation as “National Financial Literacy Month,” we are highlighting the importance of financial literacy and teaching members of all ages how to establish and maintain healthy financial habits. 

Financial Literacy for Local Youth 

This commitment to helping members reach their financial goals starts with local youth. For over a decade, credit union staff have participated in school banking at the elementary and middle schools in Ludlow, Wilbraham and Hampden, encouraging young people in the communities to establish a strong financial foundation.

Each week of the school year, representatives from LUSO visit area schools to give students a chance to deposit money into their Savings is Fun account while also treating them to weekly prizes and monthly raffle contests. By making banking fun and exciting for students, LUSO helps them build a strong foundation for financial health and wellness as they grow.

Banzai Financial Wellness Center

In addition to its School Banking program, LUSO offers a digital Financial Wellness Center through a partnership with Banzai, to help individuals, regardless of age, to master strategies in investing, saving, credit, and more with interactive articles, coaches, calculators and online games. Visitors to the Financial Wellness Center will find an interactive library of topics to cover most pressing financial concerns, including life changes, budgeting and saving, housing, retirement, taxes, insurance, running a business and investing. The site also offers a “choose your own adventure” game that presents users with dilemmas and puzzles tailored to their age and situation.

“LUSO Federal Credit Union plays an important role in our community by ensuring that our members have access to financial literacy programs and information that provide the knowledge necessary to make responsible decisions about their personal finances,” said Jennifer M.G. Calheno, President and CEO of LUSO. “Our goal is to provide members with the tools they need to build a strong financial foundation for their futures.”

To help members further manage their personal finance, LUSO also offers Credit Sense, a free credit monitoring service that provides instant credit score access and improvement tips, savings opportunities, educational tools, credit report monitoring alerts, and more, all through LUSO’s online and mobile banking platforms. Access LUSO’s library of financial articles and interactive games or learn about our In-School Banking Program. For more information about LUSO Federal Credit Union or to become a member, contact us.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Pay yourself first”? Put simply, it means to set aside a portion of your paycheck each week, before you pay your bills and purchase necessities like groceries or gas for your car. The purpose? To create a savings strategy that could help you weather the storm if a financial emergency arises.

Develop Good Financial Habits

Regular, consistent contributions to a savings account can go a long way toward building a nest egg over time, providing you with financial freedom in the long term.

The easiest way to accomplish that goal is to do so automatically by splitting your direct deposit so that a portion goes directly into your savings account – without you having to think about it.

First, determine how much of your salary you would like to set aside to meet your financial goals. If you know you can only afford to pay yourself a small amount now, look for opportunities to change your spending habits, such as bringing lunch to work instead of ordering out each day. This little bit adds up over time and would allow you to increase payments to yourself.

Once you’ve identified how much you would like to save, set up a direct deposit into your LUSO Federal Credit Union savings account. To do so, you’ll need to fill out a form to submit to your company’s human resources department. This form includes LUSO’s routing number (211883922), your account number, and the amount you wish to deposit. 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Once you have set up a direct deposit into your LUSO savings account, remember that it’s important to treat it as if it’s off-limits.  If you can avoid the temptation to withdraw from that account – except in the case of a true financial emergency – you’ll be amazed at how quickly it grows.

If you’re ready to start saving with direct deposit, and you don’t currently have a savings account, or you’re looking for one at a credit union outside of your primary financial institution, consider opening a Basic Statement Share Account with LUSO. With a $5.00 minimum deposit at account opening, you’ll receive Online Banking and Bill Payer Access, eStatement processing, and ATM Card or Debit Card through SUM Program with REWARDS Scorecard, plus access to all the products and services LUSO offers.

A Local Source for Direct Deposit Savings

LUSO Federal Credit Union is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative dedicated to providing its members with quality financial services and products. We at LUSO pride ourselves on serving the financial needs of those who live, work, worship, do business, or attend school throughout Western Massachusetts, regardless of economic status.

For more information, or to open a savings account, contact our Ludlow or Wilbraham branch toll free at 1-844-LUSO-FCU.

Want to prepare your child(ren) for a lifetime of financial wellness? Now is the time to help them develop a healthy relationship with money. The most fundamental lessons about money are related to how we use it. In addition to earning money, we tend to save, spend, or share it. Teaching kids how their financial choices affect them (and others) will help them make smart financial choices as they grow.

While younger children won’t be able to fully understand the value of money, they can grasp basic money concepts by age 3. Research shows that by age 7, children can recognize the value of planning/budgeting and delayed gratification and understand that some of the decisions they make in spending money are permanent. Oftentimes, the money habits that kids develop by this age are carried into adulthood.

Teaching your kids how to save and budget their money at an early age helps them reinforce the good money habits that will set them up for long-term financial health and wellness. If you’re unsure where to start, LUSO recommends the Save, Spend, Share plan, which helps kids understand the fundamentals:

How does it work?

The Save, Spend, Share plan is a simplified budgeting strategy that includes three buckets (or piggy banks): one for saving, one for spending, and one for gifts/sharing with others. You can decide what percentage of each dollar earned goes into each bucket, but we recommend a plan that looks like this:

Save – 30 percent

For every $1 kids receive, save $0.30 (or 30 percent) of their funds.

Saving money teaches kids about delayed gratification, planning for future use, and the importance of goal setting. When kids set goals and track their progress with each deposit into their savings piggy bank, they will learn a valuable lesson that some things are worth waiting and saving for.

Spend – 50 percent

For every $1 kids receive, we recommend spending $0.50 (or 50 percent) of their funds.

Does your child enjoy purchasing toys with their own money? Do they have their eye on a new book or video game? Giving kids 50 percent of their money to spend gives them the satisfaction of purchasing what they want, and deciding for themselves if that’s really worth their money.

Share – 20 percent

For every $1 kids receive, share $0.20 (or 20 percent) of their funds.

Most kids are taught the importance of sharing from an early age, so this is a natural extension of those lessons. Setting aside some money to give to others (whether as a gift or as a form of charity) empowers kids to make a difference, which they’ll carry into adulthood.

What makes the Save, Spend, Share plan so effective?

It’s simple. That’s what makes this plan so effective. Many parents will notice that this kid-friendly approach to money closely mirrors the 50/30/20 rule that divides monthly income into three buckets: 50% for needs (housing/food, etc), 30% for wants (recreation), and 20% for savings and debt repayment.

The best part about these spending/savings plans for kids and adults is that they’re flexible. The Save/Spend/Share recommendations provided here can be tailored to suit your specific child while still instilling the same basic financial concepts/goals.

Ready to get started?

LUSO offers children’s savings accounts as well as an in-school banking program that gives them the opportunity to conduct their banking in person, right from school! It’s easy and fun and we’d love to include them! Visit our Student page to see if your school participates or download a banking agreement. If you have any questions, contact our member service department at (413) 589-9966.   

Subscription services for everything from television streaming channels and food to books and pet supplies (and so much more) have gained popularity in recent years. When the pandemic began in 2020, people all over the world were stuck at home and limited in their ability to travel. Without many options for how to occupy their time, many people signed up for digital entertainment services and regular subscription boxes.

According to a 2021 Washington Post article, the typical U.S. consumer has two to three subscriptions, and, with the “subscription economy” expected to grow even more by 2025, those averages are likely to increase exponentially.

Ways to Pay

Unlike traditional bills where the consumer is sent an invoice and expected to pay, a subscription service automatically takes recurring payments from a credit or debit card on file. It’s usually easy to set up online or in-app using your card number.

While deciding which option to use is a matter of personal preference, it should be noted that by using your debit card, you can have regular payments withdrawn directly from your checking account, which allows you to avoid credit card interest.

Benefit of Paying with Digital Wallet

If you’re wary of entering your debit or credit card information online, consider utilizing a digital wallet app like Apple PaySamsung Pay, or Google Pay.

Digital Wallets securely store your payment information and passwords and allow you to complete purchases in-store, online, or in-app quickly and easily with just your phone. Because most digital wallets encrypt your account information, the number that is transmitted to a merchant during checkout is not your actual account number. Digital wallets generate encrypted account numbers for a single use, so each transaction will have a unique account number, which safeguards your information.

Regardless of which payment option you choose, it’s always important to check your monthly statement to ensure that the service was billed correctly.

LUSO Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution that strives to provide customers and members with the best financial services and products. Our team proudly meets the financial needs of our members by helping them understand their financial situation, manage their income, pay off their debts, increase their chances of getting loans, and helping them build good habits for saving money. Our services and rates are available in Wilbraham and Ludlow, Massachusetts. To learn more about our products and services, contact our Ludlow or Wilbraham branch at (844) LUSO-FCU.

Emergency funds are extremely important whether you are an individual or own a business. Managing your savings, however, is not always easy, especially when you are trying to pay down debt or have high bills each month. Here are several strategies to starting an emergency fund and budgeting your income so you can make the most out of your money.

Set Your Emergency Saving Goals

An emergency fund can be used to pay for essential expenses and propel you through a tough time. It should cover your take home pay for at least three months, but ideally six. It might be overwhelming to take out a huge chunk of your income to put into savings, so saving a smaller amount regularly will make the task less daunting. By contributing a small percentage from each pay, you can meet your savings goals more easily, especially when you use direct deposit to automate your savings!

Check Your Monthly Expenses

Whether you set a budgeting app on your phone, use Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, or write by hand, it is important to keep track of your monthly expenses. Knowing how much money goes in and out of your account each month, and knowing recurring expenses such as mortgage and utility bills, can help you create a better estimate of how much you are actually able to save. It also keeps you on track if you have the bad habit of spending spontaneously. If you’re wondering how much you should set aside, our Emergency Fund Calculator can help.

Do Your Research

Aside from finding out how much you can save, find out how much you need to. Depending on your goal, you may need to save more than you think. For example, if you plan to take a two-week vacation in Europe, you would need to consider the cost of the flight there and back, a hotel stay, food, and sightseeing. Once you have an estimate of the trip cost, you will know how much you need to save from each paycheck to meet the date of your vacation.

Keep Funds Accessible but Out of Reach

Emergency funds need to be available when you need them, so using a retirement account such as a 401K in which your funds are locked is not a good idea. There are many saving options available to keep your emergency funds accessible in case you need it quickly, yet not too convenient to reach. After all, you don’t want to be tempted to dip into these funds when it’s not an emergency. Whether you’re looking for a savings account, a money market account, or a term share certificate, LUSO’s Member Service staff can help you find the best account to suit your needs. 

Save Your Tax Refund

Tax refunds usually get people excited as they wonder how to use their tax refund money. Instead of immediately spending it on things you didn’t plan for, save it. Putting that money into your emergency savings can give you peace of mind that your money hasn’t been wasted, but it allows you the excitement of knowing it is there for your future expense, whether it be your vacation, wedding, home down payment, or new puppy. 

Don’t Let Debt Bring You Down

If you’re in the process of paying off debt, you might think saving should be postponed until later. Although it makes sense to aggressively pay down balances on credit cards or loans, it is still recommended to have even a small amount to set aside for savings. Find out the best way to pay off debt and set savings aside each month.

Get Emergency Savings Support at LUSO Federal Credit Union

LUSO Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution that strives to provide customers and members with the best financial services and products. Our team proudly meets the financial needs of our members by helping them understand their financial situation, manage their income, pay off their debts, increase their chances of getting loans, and helping them build good habits for saving money. Our services and rates are available in Wilbraham and Ludlow, Massachusetts. To learn more about emergency savings, contact our Ludlow or Wilbraham branch at (844) LUSO-FCU.

Spring represents new growth, freedom, and revival, and with helpful financial spring cleaning tips, you can achieve these joyful perks. As the weather gets brighter and the days get longer, you can get a head start on your organization by going through your financial papers, discarding the old, making way for the new, and reanalyzing your spending and saving habits. Here are some smart ways you can spring clean your finances.

Review Your Accounts and Budget

It may not be an enjoyable financial management task to begin with, but it is important to review past statements from the last quarter to check for any fraudulent charges, outstanding overdraft fees, and charges for services you did not request.

Set Goals

Spring cleaning your finances is often a daunting task, but once you set a goal and a plan you will be able to work on it over the next few weeks. First, clear out two years’ worth of old tax documents, then sort through a few boxes or drawers of old papers. After that, clean out the closet that is stuffed with old papers. Instead of guessing your financial history and habits, have a look at where your money is going and establish good habits as you move forward.

Organize Your Receipts/Files

You can follow the exact rules of thumb on how long you should save financial documents as given by the International Revenue Service. However, if you have any outstanding returns or payments, you should keep those records indefinitely. Student loan payments, car bills, mortgage payments, and other long-term files such as these should be kept for the long-term as well.

Shred Papers If You Have Stored Electronic Copies

Be sure to ask your bank or financial service companies how long they hold electronic copies of your records. If they have a lengthy time for archives, discard your paper receipts, bills, and statements. One of the best spring cleaning tools for your home is a shredder. If you need to discard your financial papers, you should use a shredder to prevent your personal information from being stolen. This also helps you discard the items that are unimportant, so you have more space to store the items that are important. It is valuable to have a shredder as it prevents identity theft, which can occur when you discard personal documents in the trash. 

If you don’t have access to a shredder, consider enrolling in eStatements to conveniently and securely view up to seven years of account statements. 

Get Organization Help from LUSO Federal Credit Union

If you are looking for ways to organize yourself this spring, or if you need money saving tips, there are credit unions that can work with you accomplish your goals. For some people, managing finances is too daunting of a task, and that is why financial institutions like LUSO Federal Credit Union can be a huge help to you.

Our professionals can help you manage your finances, get out of credit card debt, start saving for future goals, and set you up with a mortgage or home equity loan. Contact our Ludlow or Wilbraham branch at 1-(844) 587-6328 to learn more.

It’s no secret that fraud has been steadily increasing over the years. With this rise, many consumers have turned to credit monitoring as a safeguard against identity theft. Credit monitoring allows consumers to identify changes made to their credit reports so they can take swift action against the potential misuse of their personal information.

With this in mind, LUSO Federal Credit Union recently launched Credit Sense, a financial education tool powered by SavvvyMoney, that allows members to take control of their finances.

“We’re always looking for ways that we can help our members pay down their debts and become more financially savvy,” said Jennifer M.G. Calheno, President and CEO of LUSO Federal Credit Union. “This free service that we offer via our online banking and mobile app will help them to not only understand their current credit health but look into ways that they can improve it.” 

Key Features of the new Credit Sense service are:

A 2017 survey by Fiserve, Inc., a leading global provider of financial technology solutions, showed 64 percent of U.S. consumers think it’s important to know their credit scores. While 39 percent said they already know their score, 48 percent said they know only the general range of their score and 13 percent indicated they have no clue what their score is, including 33 percent of millennials age 18 to 24.

“These figures give us insight into the pain points of the populations that we serve and allow us to appropriately plan products and services to help them increase their financial health,” said Calheno. “Additionally, services like Credit Sense give LUSO the opportunity to increase engagement with our members via our online and mobile banking platforms, providing them with both educational resources and actionable steps to take control of their finances.” 

Credit Sense offers instant access to members’ credit scores, credit reports, credit monitoring and money-saving tips, all at no-cost. Each time a member logs into online or mobile banking, they can view and monitor their credit score based on a soft pull of their credit, which will not penalize them for review. 

To learn about LUSO Federal Credit Union’s new credit monitoring tool, visit lusofederal.com/credit-sense. To become a member, contact 844-LUSO-FCU or visit lusofederal.com/membership.

LUSO is a not-for-profit, member-owned financial cooperative dedicated t providing members with quality financial services and products. We pride ourselves on serving the financial needs of our members and helping them save for the special occasions in life. LUSO Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender.