© It's a Money Thing  from Bellwether Community Credit Union

“When I grow up, I want to be a ___________.”
 
Depending on who you are, filling in the blank above can be an exciting, troubling or outright confusing task. If you happen to be a kindergartner, filling in the blank is awesome, because at that age, dinosaur and superhero are both perfectly viable career options. Read More

The Challenges of Choosing a Career

Free Course on choosing a career
What was the very first financial choice you ever made?
 
Think about it: it likely took place before your first job, even as far back as when your annual income consisted of Tooth Fairy money and lucky pennies. The very first financial decision you ever made is also one of the most important choices—it’s where to keep your money. Read More

Choosing your financial institution

Free Course on choosing a financial institution
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?
 
A credit score is a number (usually between 350 and 800) that represents your creditworthiness. 
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Credit score breakdown

Free Course on credit scores
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 that there are tons of things you can do to deter identity thieves. Read More

5 Identity Theft Jackpots (and How You Can Safeguard Against Them)

Free Course on identity theft

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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. Four common credit score myths have been rounded up and debunked below: Read More

Boost Your Credit Score: 4 Myths Debunked

Free Course on how to boost your credit score
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Budgets are like the New Year’s resolutions of personal finance. We all know we should have one and we all know it’s a fairly simple thing to follow—at least in theory. Like resolutions, we often map out personal budgets with the best of intentions, only to abandon them a couple of weeks later. Read More

Budgeting Basics

Free Course on developing a budget
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In case you haven’t heard, compound interest is the best. 
 
You may remember it as an equation you had to memorize for math class, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the concept that powers all sorts of savings and investment products and, over time, allows you to turn your money into, well, more money! 
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It Pays To Start Saving Now

Free Course on how to start a savings
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While bank and banking are universally understood and accepted terms, the term credit union is still largely misunderstood and unknown to many. Credit union is an unusual term, isn’t it? Is it just another name for a bank? Is it a credit card company? Do I have to be in a union to join? Read More

Why Is It Called A Credit Union?

Free Course on what a credit union (co-op) is
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Think fast: what’s the most recent financial decision you made? You likely won’t have to think too far back.
 
It’s not the last account you opened, or the school loans you consolidated—it’s something much simpler that’s part of your daily routine. Think back to the last thing you purchased—your most recent financial decision was likely what form of payment to use for that transaction. Read More

What’s The Best Card To Use?

Free Course on Credit vs. Debit cards
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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. Read More

Be Prepared, Because Life Happens

Free Course on why to have an emergency fund
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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. Read More

Living On Your Own And “Bill Time” 

Free Course on budgeting and paying your bills
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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. Read More

To Lease or To Finance: That is the Question!

Free Course on financing or leasing a car
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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”. Read More

Where You Seek Financial Advice Says a lot About You

Free Course on where to seek financial advice
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Loans help finance some of our biggest goals in life. They can provide access to possibilities that we can’t afford upfront—possibilities like going to school, buying a home or starting a business (to name just a few). 
 
A loan is also one of the biggest financial commitments we make in our lifetime.  Read More

Loan Basics

Free Course on Loan basics
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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?  Read More

The Effect of Time on Investing

Free Course on investing
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Checks hold an odd place in our personal finances. In many ways, checks seem like relics from a previous era. We maybe write one or two checks a month (usually for rent or similar bill-paying situations where electronic payment simply isn’t an option). This is vastly different from only a few decades ago, when checks represented more than 85% of all non-cash retail payments. (Can you imagine whipping out a checkbook in line at the grocery store? Times have certainly changed!)  Read More

Are Checks Obsolete?

Free Course on payment methods
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Like local car dealerships and personal injury law firms, short-term and payday lenders tend to have the most annoying commercials on TV. They’re often tacky and annoying, and tend to air during daytime talk shows or very late at night. Their promises of “fast cash!”, “guaranteed approval!” and no “credit check required!” are enough to make you change the channel—  Read More

 Beware of Fast Cash

Free Course on predatory loan practices
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When most people think of inflation, their response is usually similar to when they see a vintage advertisement: reminiscing about the cheaper prices of the past (15 cents for a burger? Awesome!) while simultaneously feeling some resentment towards today’s ever-rising prices.  Read More

How to Counter the Effects of Inflation

Free Course explaining inflation
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Insurance coverage can be tricky to shop for, because it requires making specific financial decisions about some hazy and unpredictable concepts. Depending on the type of insurance you’re looking into, you might find yourself pondering some downright uncomfortable questions:  Read More

Attitudes Toward Insurance

Free Course on types of insurance to have and why
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Picture this scenario: you’re steering your shopping cart through the sliding doors of the supermarket, shopping list in hand. As you walk the aisles, there’s a strategy you can use to save an average of 33% on your entire purchase. It doesn’t require any coupon cutting or signing up for rewards cards. And the best part? You still get every single item on your list. The secret?  Read More

Breaking Up with Name Brands

Free Course on ways to save money
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Asking the right questions is an important part of every financial decision you make, and home ownership is no exception. If you’ve been thinking about buying a place, preliminary research will turn up a long checklist of questions for you to ask at every part of the process.  Read More

Four Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing a Mortgage

Free Course on preparing to take out a mortgage
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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. Read on to find out what you should be saving, and what’s OK to shred.  Read More

Keep or Toss: How Long Should I Hang Onto My Financial Documents?

Free Course on record keeping of financial documents
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Everyone has some idea of what it means to be money smart—however, whether or not you’ve acted on that idea is a different story! There are a few nuggets of financial wisdom in particular that are echoed so many times in articles, blog posts and TV segments that they become clichés, albeit practical ones.  Read More

Investment Strategies for These Low-Interest Times

Free Course on investment strategies
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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. Read More

Earning Money Online: What’s Your Time Worth?

Free Course on ways to earn extra income
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When you start looking for financial advice (or any kind of advice, for that matter), experts will share their take on what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” In personal finance, there are some classifications that we can all agree on: Debt is bad. Emergency funds are good. Overdrawing your account is bad. Earning interest on your savings is good. Read More

Use Psychology to Build a Budget You’ll Stick With

Free Course on building a custom budget
Aligns with Council for Economic Education National Standards for Financial Literacy