Fall Into Financial Wellness

Autumn is coming fast! The air is cooling, and the leaves are already changing. This fall, we are focusing on financial wellness and what that means for you: our members and our communities.

What is financial wellness?

A formal definition of financial wellness is that it is the outcome of effectively managing your money and economic life. It means spending less than you make, managing some type of a budget, being financially prepared for emergencies, and having a financial plan for your future.

To us, it goes much deeper than a quick dictionary definition. The financial wellness of our members and our communities is a driving purpose for NorthRidge. Your financial wellness effects your mental and physical health as well, which is why is it so important to find harmony with your finances.

Health Trifecta

If you feel uncertain or are struggling with your finances, you are not alone. Recent surveys from the Financial Health Network show that 1 in 5 American adults feel financially vulnerable. Almost half of American adults do not have enough liquid savings to cover 3 months of expenses, more than half are not confident about their long-term financial goals, and 1 in 4 have more debt than they believe is manageable. The stress that financial vulnerability brings onto a family can be devastating to mental and physical health.

It can be a vicious cycle: Stressing about finances can lead to anxiety and depression. Anxiety and depression can lead to further financial struggles by making it more difficult to effectively manage money and spending, and can affect work performance, leading to a threat of losing an income. 86% of those that have mental health issues and debt say that their debt worsens their mental health issues.

NorthRidge wants to create positive financial futures for our communities, and we are here to provide the guidance and tools you need to feel confident in your finances. Most of our staff are Credit Union Certified Financial Counselors and can help you set a budget and plan for your future.

The point is, do not struggle in silence. We are all in this together.

Come in and tell us your story; to us, you are not defined by your credit score, we care about YOU.

 

And finally, in closing, September is observed as National Suicide Awareness Month. Below are some resources if you or someone you know needs help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, immediate support when you’re in a crisis or distress, additional help to finding resources. Available 24/7: Call 800-273-8255

Suicide Prevention Lifeline Online: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Crisis Text Line, the 24/7 emergency service is available if you or someone you know is experiencing a psychiatric or mental health crisis. Text: “MN” to 741741

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota, connect for help, to navigate the mental health system, get support, and find resources: Call 888-626-4435

Minnesota Warmline, talk to a specialist who has firsthand experience living with a mental health condition: Call 651-288-0400 OR Text: “Support” to 85511

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline, offers crisis counseling and support if you or a family member is experiencing emotional distress related to a disaster. Call 800-985-5990

Peer Support Connection Warmlines, peer-to-peer telephone support that’s safe and supportive. Open 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. Call or text: 1-844-739-6369

Iron Range Area Local Therapists/Counselors/Psychologists/Psychiatrists:

Alcohol Detox/Range Treatment (Virginia): 218-741-9120

Calm Waters (Virginia): 218-404-9611

Ely Behavioral Health Network (Ely): 218-235-6104

The Guidance Group (Virginia): 218-576-5757

Heartwood Center (Hibbing): 218-263-1347

Insight Counseling (Virginia and Hibbing): 218-481-7660

Kind Mind Counseling Center (Hibbing): 218-263-5949

Lakeview Behavioral Health (Hibbing): 218-293-4789

MosaicSelf Counseling (Ely): 218-216-8467

Range Mental Health Center (Virginia): 218-749-2881

Range Mental Health Center (Hibbing): 218-263-9237

Speare Psychological Services PA (Virginia): 218-741-3740

Cyber Security

cyber security

 

With the recent announcement from T-Mobile regarding a data breach that compromised personal information of over 40 million customer records, we thought it would be a good time to discuss best practices when it comes to your personal cyber security. The following are some best practice tips to stay pro-active and protect yourself:

  • Change your passwords to logins and PINs for debit cards several times throughout the year.
  • Review your financial statements monthly to look for errors or suspicious activities.
  • Review your credit bureau credit report (this is free to review annually) at AnnualCreditReport.com
  • Set up alerts for your financial accounts and credit bureaus to track your activities and catch any fraud right away.

 

Scammers are becoming more advanced at appearing to be legitimate organizations and companies. Never trust unsolicited calls, texts, or emails that are not typical communication between you and your billers. Find a legitimate website or phone number to contact the agency directly and ask about the inquiry.

You can never be too cautious!

Money Management

The key to finding financial wellness does not lie with how much money you make. It is all about how you manage your money and use the income you have. To reiterate – more money does not make you more financially well, learning how to manage your money does. If you don’t know how to manage $1,000, how would you effectively manage $10,000?

Money management skills start here:

Step one: Start with a realistic vision for your financial situation. Set immediate, short term goals (such as save $25 this month) that will fit within your budget. Then set longer-term goals (such as save $25 every month this year and don’t touch it). Finally, set an end goal: Financial freedom. Not worrying or thinking about money every day. Taking a family vacation. Retiring. Create your vision – start small and grow.

Step two: Create your budget. This is sometimes the part where people struggle, and that’s okay! A budget doesn’t mean sacrificing, it means learning. Learning about your spending habits and where you can make small changes to accommodate your goals. Remember: Your immediate, short-term goals can fit with any budget.

Step three: Create a fun weekly ritual to regularly check on your finances and your budget and make changes where necessary. The idea here is to make this regular check-in more enjoyable and take the stress out of it. Set one hour aside to make your favorite beverage, a yummy snack, light a candle, play your favorite music, put your feet up, and check in on your budget and financial goals.

 

Benefits of Creating a Budget

 

Measuring financial health has four indicators: Spending habits, saving habits, borrowing, and planning. Your spending habits should include spending less than you make and paying your bills on time. Your saving habits should cover short-term goals (emergencies) and long-term goals (vacations and retirement). Borrowing should be manageable, not borrowing more than you can afford to repay and taking steps to keep your credit score prime (read more about your credit score here!). Planning should include having adequate insurance (house, vehicle, medical) to support you in case of emergency.

For additional help with budgeting, set up an appointment with our educated team to complete a budget sheet! We also have debt consolidation options to help save money on higher interest debts.

 

Budgeting Rules

What’s in a Credit Score?

Credit scores are confusing numbers. Generally, people assume they have this magic number (their credit score) that determines their eligibility for getting loans, acquiring housing, etc. While there is some very marginal truth to that, your credit score is made up of more than one number. And those numbers are made up by multiple data sources and contain many different variables. Your credit score can change month by month, and sometimes those changes can even be drastic.

Credit Bureaus

There are 3 main credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. They collect information about you and how you’ve managed your credit. That information is used to create your credit score reports. Your score is based on those reports.

In order to get this data about you, your creditors, debt collectors, and credit applications report information about you to the bureaus. But creditors are not required to report to all three bureaus (or any at all, for that matter). This is why your scores can be different from each bureau.

Types of Credit Scores

There are several types of credit scores available, but the two most common are VantageScore and FICO. VantageScore was created by the three credit bureaus together as a competitor to the FICO score. Both can offer creditors different information from one another. Creditors can also choose from different FICO and VantageScore scoring models to review your credit score.

Scoring models give different levels of importance to items in your credit reports. Some models give more importance to certain factors such as auto payments, or mortgage payments. Again, this is why your score can look different from one model to the next.

Most Important Factors to Obtain and Maintain a High Score

If you are after a high credit score, there are some big-ticket items you can control. Payment history and credit utilization make up more than half of your score, so it is very important to pay close attention to them.

Payment history is the most important factor across the board when it comes to your credit score. Make your payments on time, all the time. Good practices are to set up automatic payments for as many of your bills as you can or set up payment reminders. Sometimes creditors can move your due dates to better times of the month for you, take advantage of that!

Credit utilization is the second most influential factor in your credit score. This is the amount of your available credit that you use. For example, say you have just one credit card with a $10,000 limit and you never carry a balance. Good right? Actually, it’s better for your credit to USE it! Use your credit card, then pay it off. However, keep your balances below 30% of what you have available (with a $10,000 limit you would want to keep your balance below $3,000).

Other factors include length of credit, your credit mix, how long it’s been since you’ve applied for new credit, and your total balances and debt. Longer credit is healthy for your score, so keep older accounts open unless you really need to close them. Variety of credit is also healthy for your score, a mix of mortgage, auto, and credit card accounts (that you pay on time!) would be a great combination.  Finally, too many inquiries (shopping for credit) can have a negative impact on your credit score.  A good rule of thumb is to only look for credit when you need it and try to limit these inquiries to 2-3 times a year.

 

What Affects Your Credit Score

 

Things That DO NOT Affect Your Score:

  • Checking your own score, once per year. You can go to annualcreditreport.com and obtain a credit report free once per year.
  • Rent and utility payments (unless you use a rent-reporting service to boost your score OR if you are LATE on a utility payment).
  • Your income and bank balances.

 

Take a look at your current credit situation. Sometimes debt consolidation is a good start to get your finances back on track. If you’re curious about a debt consolidation loan, start by visiting Loans, or give us a call at 877-672-2848!

 

Happy Independence!

We all know July as our month to celebrate America’s independence from Great Britain. But did you know that most signers did not sign the Declaration of Independence until August 2nd of that year (John Hancock was the only one to sign it on July 4th, 1776!)? The Declaration of Independence was not delivered to Great Britain until November 1776! Enjoy your weekend of celebrations!

Love your home!

Home Sweet Home

June is recognized as National Homeownership Month. As of late, our homes have turned into not only the place we spend the most time relaxing with family, but also places of work, playgrounds, schools, and gyms. It’s not news to anyone that we as a society have spent much more time at home over the last year and a half than ever before. It only makes sense then, to make sure you absolutely LOVE the space that you’re spending so much time in!

Cleaning up clutter.

Clutter can have a negative affect on your overall health! Messy spaces are stressful and can make life more difficult than it needs to be (if you keep losing your keys, keep reading!). Studies show that some people who live in cluttered homes have worsened working memories.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed with clutter at home, start by cleaning one space per day! Pick a room for each day of the week and focus on that room for that day. Open any closet doors, drawers, cupboards, etc. and let them hang wide open while you work. Get rid of (throw away or donate) anything that doesn’t bring you joy! This can be hard to do, but if you haven’t handled the item (used it, wore it, played with it, looked at it) in over a year, it’s safe to say it can go!

Once you’ve cleared out the clutter, you’ll have extra space to reorganize the belongings that you decided to keep. While you’re reorganizing – grab some cleaning wipes or a dishpan with warm water and clean as you go!

The last thing to do as you finish up the room is the floor! Sweep and mop or vacuum, and don’t forget to use the crevice tool to get the hard-to-reach corners!

Clear out the kitchen.

Your kitchen can follow the same pattern as the clutter clearing above, but you might need more than one day. Make sure to go through your pantry, spice rack, freezer, and refrigerator and throw out any expired food (or donate if it is non-perishable). Toss out any broken or un-usable utensils, and plan to donate any kitchen gadgets that you just don’t use (looking at you, potato masher).

Reorganize your pots and pans, your plates and dishes, your cups and mugs, and clean those spaces as you go!

Add some light!

Poor lighting, dark corners, and shadows can make a room just feel gloomy or feel cluttered when it is not. Open up some curtains or invest in curtains that let more natural light in but still provide privacy. If natural light isn’t an option, add some aesthetically pleasing lamps or string lights to your space!

Add some nice smells!

Think about how nice it is to walk into a space that just smells good. Find some wax melts or automatic room sprays that smell great and get them set up! There are several inexpensive options. If you opt for candles, just do so safely and never leave a lit candle unattended.

Rearrange furniture.

Sometimes this one can be tricky, but if you’re able to rearrange your furniture, the change will feel great!  If you have too many pieces, it might be time to sell or donate a chair or end table. Get creative and think of new ways to create a better flow to your living spaces! Think of ways to arrange bedrooms, too!

There is so much that you can do to update the aesthetic of your home without spending anything, or by spending very little! Adding new lights, a couple houseplants, and freshening up paint are great inexpensive ways to update your home without having to break your budget. But if you are ready to do some major upgrades, NorthRidge is offering a great promotion on home equity lines of credit! Find out more by clicking here!

 

Happy Pride Month! Pride

Mental Health Awareness

Mental Health blog header

May is Mental Health Awareness month. The years 2020, and now 2021, have brought unique circumstances into our lives. This has caused major disruption in the way we live, work, and socialize. It comes with no surprise that mental health is declining around our communities. For some people, it is the first time they have experienced anything like it. Where do you turn and how do you get help?

Mental illness can be scary; but you are not alone, truly. One in four adults will experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. With such a large part of the population facing these struggles, we should not be afraid to talk about it. Never be afraid to talk about your mental health, because you might be the light that gives someone else their own voice to talk about it. Open discussions eliminate stigmas and stereotypes. You wouldn’t hide or brush off a broken bone or other serious physical ailment, so your mental health should be just as much of a priority.

If you want to be an advocate, Community of Hearts has a great advocacy training course online that takes about 1 hour and it is a great way to get started! Click here: Community of Hearts – Home

“A mental health advocate is anyone who is a voice for those suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other disorder – who hopes to disseminate a message of hope and support.” -Theresa Barchard

 

While not an exhaustive list, here are some resources if you or a loved one needs support:

For immediate help:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, immediate support when you’re in a crisis or distress, additional help to finding resources. Available 24/7: Call 800-273-8255

Suicide Prevention Lifeline Online: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Crisis Text Line, the 24/7 emergency service is available if you or someone you know is experiencing a psychiatric or mental health crisis. Text: “MN” to 741741

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Minnesota, connect for help, to navigate the mental health system, get support, and find resources: Call 888-626-4435

Minnesota Warmline, talk to a specialist who has firsthand experience living with a mental health condition: Call 651-288-0400 OR Text: “Support” to 85511

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline, offers crisis counseling and support if you or a family member is experiencing emotional distress related to a disaster. Call 800-985-5990

Peer Support Connection Warmlines, peer-to-peer telephone support that’s safe and supportive. Open 5 p.m. to 9 a.m. Call or text: 1-844-739-6369

 

Iron Range Area Local Therapists/Counselors/Psychologists/Psychiatrists:

Alcohol Detox/Range Treatment (Virginia): 218-741-9120

Calm Waters (Virginia): 218-404-9611

Ely Behavioral Health Network (Ely): 218-235-6104

The Guidance Group (Virginia): 218-576-5757

Heartwood Center (Hibbing): 218-263-1347

Insight Counseling (Virginia and Hibbing): 218-481-7660

Kind Mind Counseling Center (Hibbing): 218-263-5949

Lakeview Behavioral Health (Hibbing): 218-293-4789

MosaicSelf Counseling (Ely): 218-216-8467

Range Mental Health Center (Virginia): 218-749-2881

Range Mental Health Center (Hibbing): 218-263-9237

Speare Psychological Services PA (Virginia): 218-741-3740

National Credit Union Youth Month – Teaching your kids money management.

National Credit Union Youth Month – Teaching your kids money management.

Teaching your kids the importance of money is very important and, starting at a young age can implement great life skills early on. As a parent or guardian, it is your job to teach your kids good money management skills. This can seem like a big and scary task, but we have a few tips and tricks to help you accomplish this parenting task.

A few ideas that both you and your kids could start include:

  1. Use a clear jar to save money in.
    Using a clear jar, rather than a cute pink piggy bank – allows the kids to physically see the money that they are putting away grow.
  2. Show them that things cost money.
    If you are out shopping, and they (the kids) want a toy, have them bring their own money that they have saved to use towards it. Starting small and building up to bigger things helps them understand the value of money. Going forward, this will help kids understand that if they buy “x”, they will have less money to buy “y”. And therefore, having to make decisions about which is more important to them.
  3. Lead by example!
    Leading by example is key to many things throughout life. As an adult, you have more money than kids, but if you limit your impulse buying, it will help your kids do the same. Thinking about “need” rather than “want” can lead to good money management skills as they grow up.
  4. Set them up with their own bank account.
    By the time your kids are teenagers, you should get them set up with their own bank account. This is the next level to money management and will hopefully prepare them for a much larger account as they become an adult and will teach them the responsibility of their finances.
  5. Help them make their own money.
    Getting your first job is usually both exciting and scary for kids. By helping and encouraging them to find and apply for their first job this will lead to a healthy work ethic.
    Seeing their bank account grow as they continue to add in their hard earned paychecks, is a very rewarding feeling!

Stay tuned on our Facebook for more fun and knowledgeable ways to teach your kids of all ages the importances of money!

Imagine Your Financial Future

Imagine Your Financial Future

Imagine if – You paid off that debt that has been weighing on your shoulders, you took that vacation you have been dreaming of, or you transformed your home into the perfect cozy oasis (and bonus, raised the value of your home!).
Those things are possible, and we are here to help you with them with our Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

Your next thought is probably “But how?” Here’s how it works!
First, we’ll explain what HELOC is: A HELOC is a line of credit secured by your home that gives you a revolving credit line to use for large expenses or to consolidate higher-interest rate debt on other loans. A HELOC is a secured loan and that means that the interest rate is often lower than other common types of loans, like personal loans or credit cards, and the interest may be tax deductible.

How it works:

A HELOC loan borrows against the available equity in your home and the house is used as collateral for the line of credit. You can also think of this loan like a credit card – As you repay your outstanding balance, the amount of available credit is replenished. So you can borrow as much or as little as you need to. The benefit of this loan is because this is a secured loan, the interest rates are typically lower than personal loans or even credit cards!

So, whether your “Imagine If” list is checking off home improvement projects, paying off student debt or booking that much needed vacation, then contact one of our representatives today and we will help you achieve your goals and answer all your questions!

Apply Now
February is the month of love!

February is the month of love!

February is the month of love!

Here at NorthRidge we LOVE our members! We know that right now times are hard, and they have been for a while but we want to share just a few of the reasons why we are so thankful we have had you through it all!

To sum it up, we love you because of your stories, your families and your encouragement.

We asked some of our staff to tell us why they love our members, and here are a few of their answers!

Tia: I love seeing our members on a regular basis and getting to know them personally, so the conversations are not generic and so that if a situation comes up they feel comfortable to maybe share, and maybe we have an option of assistance we can offer them that they didn’t know about.

Gabby: I love working with our members because they can come to us if they have any questions or have any concerns and we will do whatever we can to figure things out for them. I love seeing them happy once they better understand something which can include just a basic transaction, a debit card issue, or a member who just lost a husband or wife and now having to explain and help them out with online billpay or any basic transactions that they are not used to doing since their spouse has always done it.

I love explaining something such as an account that would better benefit them and seeing their face life up because they are so grateful, or getting them logged back into Online Banking after they were locked out after 6 attempts. Everyday life is not always easy and I feel like something as little as getting them into a higher interest rate account or logged back into Online banking can change their bad day into good. It leaves me feeling like I made a positive change in someone’s day which is always a great feeling.

It may not be a huge thing every day but I feel like even small changes or small gestures can make a huge difference and I think we do a great job about doing this every day.

Becky: I love working with our members to refinance collateral loans for a better interest rate and make them so happy. I love working with our members who don’t think they can get a loan. I love working with our members to help build their credit. I love working with our members building a relationship for their financial needs for their lifetime. I love working with our members!

Madisen: There is so much I enjoy about working here at NRCCU and the members have a huge part in that. They are what make the stress filled days’ worth it and good days even better. I love being able to connect and laugh with our members and have them leave with a smile on their face.

Taylor: I love that we build relationships with people and are more like a friend or family, than a financial institution. I love helping our member’s save and make investments. In my new position I get to help people reward themselves for working hard or help them breathe from being in a tough spot! It’s such an awesome feeling! ​

Kevin: I love helping our members achieve a dream of theirs, whether it is owning a business, a home or a new car, helping them achieve this is a great joy.

Rebecca W: I have the unique ability to understand our members individual stories, and I love the relationships I get to build with them because of that.

Rachel C : The thing I love about working with our members is their ever changing lives that I get to see glimpses of and as relationships grow stronger, you become apart of in a way. You help make dreams and goals a reality and being along for the ride as life events come and pass you can’t help but share in those feelings with them. Sometimes it’s excitement, sometimes fear or a struggle that brings them through the door but the greatest part is finding a mutual trust and knowing that I helped make that possible makes me love what I do.

Mandy: I love getting to know each member that I get to work with and finding out what I can do to help them reach their goals.

Jade: I love talking with our members and hearing their stories. Working here is more than doing a transaction for someone and then they walk out the door, more than just asking them when they’ll be able to make a payment on their account. It’s about learning people’s stories and where they’ve been compared to where they are now. It’s about building relationships with our members and letting them know we’re here for them financially through the good times and bad. We are here for our members so I find it nice to chat with them for awhile.