What You’re Missing by Not Using Mobile Banking

Taking picture with mobile phone with clipping path for the screAccording to a study from Pew Research and the Federal Reserve, more than four out of five individuals who manage their household’s finances banked online within the past 12 months. However, fewer than one out of five used mobile banking.

When people were asked why they’re not taking advantage of mobile banking, the top two reasons given were:

Their banking needs are being met without mobile (57 percent).

They’re concerned about the security of mobile banking (48 percent).

Let’s address each of these reasons individually. First, it’s great that your banking needs are being met by visiting a branch or using online tools from your desktop or laptop computer. But are your lifestyle needs being met?

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7 Steps to a Financial Spring Cleaning

spring cleaning your financesThe windows. Behind the refrigerator. Under the bed. The garage. The basement. Your finances. Yes, it’s time to clean up the areas of our homes – and our lives – that tend to get ignored for most of the year.

When it comes to cleaning up your finances, instead of multi-surface cleaners, rags and mops, you’ll need a scanner, a shredder and a calculator. The goal of spring cleaning is to organize, downsize and simplify. Otherwise, the mountain of unnecessary paperwork and an unpredictable budget are likely to lead to more stress, more confusion and possibly lost money.

Here are seven steps to spring cleaning that will make your finances much easier to manage.

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Annual Gala to benefit Autism Think Tank NJ

In anticipation of our upcoming Annual Gala on May 5th 2014, we wanted to introduce you to the inspiring organization that will be the beneficiary of the event.

Autism Think Tank LogoAutism Think Tank NJ is a non-profit organization whose mission is to facilitate the medical and psychosocial stabilization of the child and family. Bringing together a team of world renowned medical experts via telemedicine, this innovative outpatient medical center is designed to provide a multidisciplinary team approach to the identification and treatment of the complicated medical comorbidities of autism. The Autism Medical Center is committed to improving the lives of children and families in the home, school and community through comprehensive case management, community outreach, research and education.

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6 Wedding Costs that Could Take You by Surprise

Wedding costs to watch out forGetting married? Congratulations! We hope you brought your checkbook, a few credit cards and a sack of cash – not just for the known costs, but for the hidden costs that sneak up on most couples like their wedding day.

Everyone knows weddings are expensive. Everyone knows that setting a budget is important, although many struggle to stick with or even create a realistic budget. However, certain costs tend to slip through the cracks and quickly add up to thousands of dollars that were unaccounted for. Here are six wedding costs that are often overlooked and take many couples by surprise.

1) Taxes. Taxes may be one of two certainties in life, but it’s easy to forget to account for taxes when you’re adding up costs. For example, a wedding photographer in New Jersey who charges $3,000 may actually cost you $3,210 if they don’t include taxes in their price quote. Read every agreement to find out if tax is included or additional.

2) Tips. It has become customary to tip most wedding vendors, so plan to have enough cash on hand to tip the deejay or band, photographer, florist, hair stylists, limo drivers, bartenders and others. Better yet, give the money to a trusted member of your wedding party so you don’t have to deal with the headache. Also, most wedding venues add 18 percent to your bill to cover server gratuities, so read your contract to see if it’s included.

3) Postage. Those “Forever” stamps may only cost 49 cents, but the shape, size and weight of your invitations will likely inflate the postage cost more than $1 per invitation. Of course, you can use those 49-cent stamps for the RSVP envelopes in each invitation, bringing your total costs for postage to  $2 per invitation.

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Don’t Fear the Taxman Because You’re Getting a Late Start

Tax Time Concept Clock CloseupHave you ever been scolded by your accountant at tax time because you showed up to your appointment unprepared? Instead of having your taxes completed and filed electronically on the spot, you have to go back through your records to track down important documents or information, pass that information along to your accountant, and wait for the accountant to factor this data into your income tax filing.

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re already coming down to the wire for that April 15 deadline, so the consequences and stress caused by being unprepared are only magnified.

Do you really want to file late because you forgot to bring social security numbers for your children? Do you really want to annoy your accountant by trying to figure out work expenses on the fly instead of calculating them in advance?

Gathering paperwork and calculating income and deductions ahead of time will help you meet the filing deadline, minimize the chance of errors and make the entire process less stressful.

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How to Save Time and Avoid Hassles with Secure Mobile Deposits

Taking picture with mobile phone with clipping path for the screYou don’t have to waste your lunch break with a special trip to a branch to make a deposit, and you don’t have to load the kids in the car on a Saturday morning when you have a million other things to do. Financial Resources Federal Credit Union allows you to make mobile deposits from almost anywhere, anytime as long as you have an internet connected iPhone, iPad or Android device.

The first step is to register for WebBranch Internet Banking. Not only does this provide access to free online banking so you can manage your accounts from your home or office, but it also enables you to take advantage of Financial Resources FCU’s free Mobile Banking services, including mobile deposits.

The next step is to download the Mobile  app to your iPhone, iPad or Android device. Log in to the app with the same username and password that you use for WebBranch. You only have to register for online banking and download the mobile app once, not every time you use these services.

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Pros and Cons of Refinancing

Refinancing your homeWhile mortgage rates have gradually risen since hitting all-time lows in December of 2012, rates are still low from a historical perspective. As a result, refinancing is still a viable alternative for thousands of homeowners.

Adding a new wrinkle to the refinancing discussion are new federal regulations that have gone into effect in 2014. These regulations are intended to protect consumers from over-borrowing and reduce the number of foreclosures. The new rules also require lenders to more closely evaluate potential borrowers.

The team of mortgage professionals at Financial Resources can help you navigate the new landscape of refinancing so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Here are the most common pros and cons of refinancing.

Pros of Refinancing

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How to Prepare to Buy Your First Home

How to prepare for your first homeFor decades, the American dream has begun with home ownership. You know how the picture looks – a suburban house with a white picket fence, a loving family and a stable job. As a matter of taste, not everyone will necessarily want the white picket fence anymore, but most young Americans still dream of owning a home.

Anyone who plans to buy a home will obviously need to save money for a down payment, but there are questions you should answer that will prepare you for the process and help you make smarter decisions.

Is buying the best option right now?

For many people, renting makes more sense. For example, if you don’t plan to stay in the same place or at the same job for a very long time, renting provides you with short-term flexibility. If you have a lot of debt and a bad credit score, renting gives you an opportunity to rebuild your credit score and remove debt before you apply for a mortgage.

How much house can you afford?

Once you’ve determined that it makes sense to buy, you can figure out what you can afford to buy and where. Many experts say your mortgage payment, which also includes property taxes and homeowners insurance, should not exceed 30 percent of your income. Property taxes can vary greatly from city to city and change your payment quite a bit. A smaller house in a less pricey town might be necessary to ensure you have enough cash on hand to maintain the lifestyle you enjoy.

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How to Make the Cost of College More Manageable

Saving on College Tuition FeesThe rising cost of higher education slowed dramatically for the 2013-2014 school year, growing 2.9 percent at public four-year colleges and universities – the smallest increase in more than 30 years. That’s a great sign, but don’t start doing the happy dance just yet.

According to the College Board, the average published tuition at four-year, public in-state schools is $8,893. Public out-of-state tuition still rose to $22,203, while tuition at private institutions came in at a cool $30,094.

If you just fell out of your chair, we’ll give you a moment to get up.

While the cost of higher education may no longer be exploding, don’t interpret this data to mean college is suddenly becoming affordable. As we pointed out in a previous post, 71 percent of college graduates in 2012 had student loan debt, with an average debt of $29,400. This type of debt load won’t disappear overnight.

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How Do You Teach Your Teen to Save?

teaching teens to save monthLet’s start by explaining how not to teach your teen to save. Telling your teen that you walked two miles uphill in the snow every day and on the weekend delivering blocks of ice to people’s houses to make 50 cents a week won’t cut it.

They think that’s irrelevant. And they’re right.

Working hard is important, but working smart is just as important. And learning how to save money can start long before your teen is old enough to have a job.

Hopefully, your kids will have some type of savings account before reaching their teen years. Sure, the interest rates are low, but this gives them a place to put the money they receive for birthdays and other milestones. A savings account also gives you the opportunity to teach them the basics about interest and show them how their account will grow.

As a teenager, your child should be setting short-term (less than one year), mid-term (less than five years) and long-term (more than five years) goals. Do they want to save money for a video game? A mobile phone? A tablet? Concert tickets? A television? A car? Do they want to save money for college?

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