As the spread of COVID-19 grows, so does its impact on our lives. Each area of your life has likely seen some change, and that probably includes your finances and those of your loved ones. To help you through this stressful time, we’ve compiled a list of eight smart money moves you can take right now.
1. Use Safe Ways to Pay
Using safe transaction practices is always important, but it’s especially important right now. For every purchase you make, be sure to use only the safest payment methods. These include loading your credit and debit cards into a digital wallet such as Apple Pay or SamsungPay; using contactless tap-to-pay technology; and setting up automatic payments.
2. Build an Emergency Savings Account
You’ve likely seen the importance of having an emergency fund stressed in the articles on our blog. An emergency account is designed to help you in unexpected circumstances, like those we are all currently facing. If you haven’t established an emergency account yet, now is the perfect time to start. At Community First, we have multiple ways to help you do this: high rate savings accounts, money markets, Save My Change program, youth accounts, and more options, many of which you can apply for online or over the phone, so that you can safely practice social distancing.
3. Use Digital Banking Tools
While we are talking about social distancing, we offer a full suite of digital banking services, which allow you to easily manage your accounts without having to visit a branch. Here are a few online tools we offer to make your life easier during these trying times:
4. Refinance Your Auto Loan
If you find yourself looking to free up money, consider refinancing your auto loan. Doing so can help you lower your monthly payments and even help you pay off your car sooner. You can easily see if you qualify by applying online.
5. Protect Your Money
Unfortunately, scammers often take advantage of stressful situations like the current pandemic. They might even pose as organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claiming to have new information about COVID-19. Beware of these scams and never give your personal information or online banking credentials to anyone.
Check out our blog on how to avoid Coronavirus scams for more helpful tips.
6. Keep Your Money Safe in an Interest-Earning Checking Account
We understand that saving money can sometimes be difficult during a crisis. But there are still ways you can earn and save more. By simply keeping your funds in an interest-earning checking account, you could be earning APY on the money you have. With our Advantage Checking account, you can even earn up to 1.5% APY*. Learn more about our Advantage Checking account and apply online.
7. Automate your Bills
If you’re like most people right now, your schedule probably looks a little different from your normal routine, making it easy to lose track of things, like paying a monthly bill. Don’t risk missing any of your monthly payments and getting charged late fees. You can set up automatic payments so you can stay worry-free about paying your bills on time.
8. Speak With a Financial Advisor
During uncertain times, you might have a lot of financial questions, like how to prepare for the long-term effects. That’s why it’s important to seek advice from an expert who can help you make a plan that’s right for you. As a member of Community First, you have access to a dedicated team of CFS** Financial Advisors with Community First Investment Services, who are standing by to help you make the right moves with the current market conditions in mind. Contact us at 904.371.8076 and select option 9.
*APY= Annual Percentage Yield. Must have an Advantage Checking Account to qualify for 1.50% APY. 1.50% APY on balances up to $500 and 0.05% APY paid on balances above $500. Rates accurate as of 3/1/2020. Must do at least 10 debit card transactions monthly and be enrolled in eStatements to get higher APY on first $500. Restrictions apply and rates can change at any time without notice.
**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.