Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Housing Dilemma

The tax credit for existing homeowners is great - you can get up to $6,500 if you are a homeowner who puts a contract in by April 30 on another home, provided you close by July 31. Sounds great! But many homeowners are finding that what they can sell their home for barely covers what they owe on their mortgage. So they can't take advantage of the tax credit. At best, it's a great time to be a landlord - a lot of consumers are turning to renting as an alternative.

Some folks have it worse - they can't even break even. Their home won't sell at a high enough price to cover the mortgage. If you aren't having a problem making the payments, that's not a problem. But in the case of a friend of mine who is facing divorce, they may let their home go into foreclosure. Neither of them can afford to keep the home, and they can't sell it. Such a predicament.

What to do? It depends on your situation. Here's an article from our friends at BALANCE that might give you some insight about preventing foreclosure. And Home and Family Finance offers an article on selling your home in a tough economy, if you do decide to sell.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It’s Tax Time Again!

Last week, right after putting away Christmas decorations, while going through the mail I got my yearly reminder ($10 coupon off Turbo Tax from Costco) that it is tax time again. I can’t believe another year has gone by.

Thankfully, at the beginning of last year I started downloading all of our financial activity into Quicken, so hopefully this year it will be easier to get our stuff organized. At Hawthorne you can download all of your account information from online banking into Quicken. This has really helped me stay organized.

It’s also time to make sure that we make our IRA contributions at Hawthorne. Hawthorne offers a guaranteed rate of return and federal deposit insurance of $250,000 or more per IRA owner. For more information about IRAs at Hawthorne go to our IRA section and check our rates.

To avoid the most common tax mistakes I would recommend reading 11 Common Tax Planning mistakes, on Kiplinger, “Tax planning mistakes can cost you money”. I found a some helpful information in this article. Good luck!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Saving More - My New Year resolution!

How are you doing keeping up with the New Year’s Resolution’s you made for 2010? I know that I have already given up on a few of mine. I read a great blog post on the blog "The Big Picture" called How to Keep Your New Year Resolutions. (I think that I might need to read this article again).

The only resolution I have been able to keep (this is day 12) is our family commitment to try and save a little bit more money every month. My only saving grace has been that I have an automatic savings plan (my 401K), but this year I want to try and cut more corners to try and save more. I found a great article on MSN that gives some great ways to cut back on things to help increase your savings. It is titled 9 sneaky tips for saving more and gives some great ways to help you build that “cash cushion” and keep the money saved.

You will notice that the article talks about Bank of America's “Keep the Change” and Capital One's “SmartCents” programs. They take money out of your checking account and automatically put it in your savings account. This is a great way to help you save money, but Hawthorne Credit Union has a much better program that actually gives you money back. We give you
Cash Back with your Hawthorne Visa Check Card!

There's no catch! Free Checking that pays you Cash Back. It can be better than interest... It's like getting paid for shopping or paying bills. Every time you use your Hawthorne Visa Check Card with your Cash Back Checking account and sign/choose "credit", you'll get 5 cents back at the end of the month. It really adds up!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Your Credit Score Impacts Your Mortgage Payment

Check out this chart that demonstrates an example of how your credit score impacts your monthly mortgage payment.
How can you improve your credit score? Here are some tips, from our friends at BALANCE:
1) Obtain copies of your credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies to check for and correct errors.
2) Pay down your debt. If you can't pay the total balance each month, pay more then the minimum required payment.
3) Pay on time, every time
4) Avoid aggressively transferring balances to new cards.
5) Keep your credit card balances well under the maximum available limit.
6) Only apply for the credit you need and close cards you don't use.
7) Repay collection accounts, judgments, and liens.

Read more about credit scores and how to improve your credit score.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

TIP: I'm saving $864 this year at my Park District

I love my park district. I'm saving bundles of money ($864 this year!) and getting more classes. I've had an expensive Boot Camp habit for the past 2 years. I'm grateful for that class because it elevated my fitness level and I learned a lot about weight training. But at $120 per month for my twice-a-week 60-min class at the local health club, it's pretty pricey. I discovered some classes at my local Park District that will accomplish much of what I'm gaining from Boot Camp for a lot less money.

I'm signed up for 2 45-min Cardio Interval classes AND a 60 min Spinning class. The class started on Monday and runs through the end of March. All for the sweet price of $144.

So let's add it up....Boot Camp costs me $360 for 3 months (2xs/week at $15 per class or $1,440 per year). My Park District classes cost me $144 for 3 months (3xs/week at $4 per class or $576 per year).

Gotta love the Park District! Check out your Park District or YMCA today.

Monday, January 4, 2010

TIP: Use surcharge-free ATMs and save big this year

Use Surcharge-Free ATMs. Banks and other ATM owners charge surcharges to use their ATMs. Add to that your bank’s foreign fee and you could be dinged $5.00+ just to make an ATM withdrawal at an ATM outside of your bank’s network. This can add up to hundreds of dollars in fees a year! But you are in luck! We are a member of Allpoint, America’s largest surcharge-free ATM network AND the Co-Op and STARsf networks, too. This means you have surcharge-free access to over 57,000 ATMs worldwide. And finding one is easy - when you're on the go just point your phone's internet browser to or find a surcharge-free ATM here.

Better a Hawthorne Cash Back Checking account. You'll get 6 free PIN transactions each month so you can use almost any ATM plus have access to 57,000 surcharge-free ATMs!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Resolve to Declutter and Simplify in 2010

Does your New Year Resolution include de-cluttering and simplifying your life? Here are some great tools that we offer to help you do just that when it comes to managing your finances.

eStatements - It's the fastest, easiest way to get your monthly statement. You get your statement 3-4 days earlier by skipping the snail mail and you save a tree too.

Billpayer - Really, if you haven't tried paying your bills online you don't know what you're missing. It streamlines your bill paying process and you'll have more time for other things. Really, just try it. I love it.

Email Notices - This is our new gadget we introduced in 2009. It's a great way to keep up with what's happening with your account. You set up the notices you want to receive, such as when your balance drops to a certain level, or a certain check clears, or when you recieve a deposit (my favorite kind!). If you have email on your phone, you get your notices on the go. This one makes me feel more in control of my money.

Resolve to spend 30 minutes setting up these three tools and you'll be on your way to decluttering and destressing your life! Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Score big with post-holiday sales

Are you already thinking about what you are going to do this Saturday, the day after Christmas? I know that I am! My mom and I are going to hit the stores for some after holidays shopping. I always stock up on wrapping paper for next year, but this year there may be some extra opportunities for savings. This is a great way to get a head start on savings for the New Year. These great after holiday shopping tips may help.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Beware of Phishing Scam

One of our members received an email suggesting that their Hawthorne Visa Credit Card may have been compromised. The email is a phishing scam that takes you to a website asking for your personal information. Please remember that we would never ask for your personal information because we already have your information.

One way you can tell if it's a scam is if you hold your mouse over the link you will see where the link goes. If the link looks suspicious, it probably is. We have a company that monitors suspcious activity on our members' Visa accounts. The company's name is Falcon Fraud. If they suspect fraud, the company would warm your account until they could reach you by phone, not email, to verify the transactions.

Please always be on your guard with personal information!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Little Friends Giving Tree 2009

We did it again! Every year for at least ten years, Hawthorne employees have dug deep into their Holiday budgets and made some room for gifts for developmentally disabled adults and children in the Naperville area. We bought and wrapped gifts and gift cards for the folks on gift tags that were hung on our Holiday Giving Tree. Thanks everyone!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Operation Support Our Troops - We collected 570 pounds of stuff

Our story about the record collection of 570 pounds of items we donated to Operation Support Our Troops made the Bolingbrook Sun today!

For our troops :: Bolingbrook Sun :: News

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Collection for the troops exceeds 570 pounds!

Last year we were thrilled that we collected 236 pounds of items for Operation Support Our Troops-IL. We collected beef jerky, cans of Pringles, foot powder, mints, hand sanitizer, gum, crackers, etc. The kinds of things that are nice to have when you're overseas serving your country!

This year we topped our goal of 300 pounds - in fact, we almost doubled our goal at 570 pounds collected by staff and members! Plus, through Jeans Day donations, we were able to raise $170 in cash for miscellaneous expenses and to fill in the gaps in donations.

A big THANK YOU to our staff and our members who were so generous this year!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween at Hawthorne

Happy safe out there trick or treaters! Here are pictures of our staff all decked out. "Velma" won the costume contest! In the first picture (left to right) is our Accounting Dept as Scooby and the Gang. Our Member Service Center and Lending as Alvin and the Chippettes
and our VP of Marketing as the Wicked Witch of the West.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Protect your identity from shredding next Saturday

Our last free shredding event takes place next Saturday, Nov 7 10 am to noon at our Bolingbrook branch. Bring up to 2 boxes of paper for shredding. To the right is a chart showing what to keep and what to shred.
We're collecting food for the local food bank in exchange for free shredding. See you there!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Operation Support Our Troops-Illinois...collection going well!!

We have the most generous members and staff at Hawthorne. Check out the loot we've collected over the past few weeks. These items will be given to the group Operation Support Our Troops-Illinois. They'll be assembling Christmas stockings to send to the troops for the holidays. The items are from the OSOT-IL's "Top Ten" list of desired items in the field. We have lists in our branches, but you can see the list here.