4 Apps To Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s a new year and a new you!

If you’re like most Americans, your New Year’s resolutions include cleaning up your finances, losing weight or getting into better shape and kicking some bad habits. It’s also likely, though, that your resolutions are almost identical every year.

Make 2019 the year those resolutions actually last by using one or all of these super-helpful apps to keep you on track.

Caoch.me blue and white logo1.) Coach.me
Do you feel like you need ongoing motivation to keep you working toward your goals? Then look no further than Coach.me! This free app is just like having an inspirational speaker, life coach and personal trainer inside your phone. Coach.me lets you set any goal and then share your progress with an entire supportive community. You’ll be encouraged to stick to your resolutions, cheered on as you reach your targets and pushed to pick yourself up when you fall. The app also lets you hire an actual life coach if you want one-on-one motivation.

Try Coach.me. It’s the perfect tool for making those resolutions stick!

Blue My Fitness Pal logo, white silhouette of woman performing plie under white interlock "UA" Under Armor logo2.) MyFitnessPal
Shed those pounds for good this year with MyFitnessPal! The weight-loss app boasts a database of nutritional stats for more than 5 million foods and allows you to scan the barcodes of packaged foods to get the information, thus making calorie-counting a breeze. You can also track your energy output with MyFitnessPal’s step-counting feature or sync it with another exercise app like Fitbit or Jawbone. The massively popular app offers a free option, or you can choose to shell out $9.99 a month to unlock additional features.

Get fit in 2019 with MyFitnessPal!

HabitBull logo consisting of a coral colored rounded square with white silhouette of a longhorn bull's head3.) HabitBull
Do you have a bad habit you need to kick? Let HabitBull help you make it happen! Whether your habit is harmless and annoying, like nail-biting, or dangerous and expensive, like smoking, the app will track your progress and celebrate your successes until you’ve shown that habit the door. If going cold turkey on a bad habit scares you, you can take it in small steps. The app isn’t limited to yes-or-no questions, and it also allows you to track data, like “number of drinks today,” so you can work at your own pace.

Download HabitBull today and get started shaking those habits for good!

Happify logo consisting of a multi-color ring around an orange, lower-case, san-serif h.4.) Happify
Have you resolved to be happier and more positive in 2019? Download this app to make it happen! Happify will help you beat the winter doldrums, and lead a more joyous and optimistic life, by giving you a daily happiness boost. After signing up, you’ll be asked to fill out a short questionnaire about your personal stressors and downers. The app will then give you a daily list of science-based activities and tasks that are guaranteed to help you lose the stress for turning that frown upside down.

Make 2019 a happy year with Happify!

Your Turn:
Are you using any apps to help you stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Share them with us in the comments below.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/pictures/apps-to-help-you-keep-your-new-years-resolutions/

https://www.pcmag.com/feature/330773/apps-to-help-you-keep-your-new-year-s-resolutions

https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/technology/new-years-resolution-app

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8 Reasons To Create A Monthly Budget

Young athletic black man in red shirt sits at his kitchen table planning his monthly budgetNot sure what you’ll gain by budgeting? Here’s a list of the benefits.

  1. You’ll spend less.
  2. You’ll have more freedom by knowing exactly how much you have to spend.
  3. You won’t neglect any fixed expenses because you’ll have money set aside for them.
  4. You’ll skip more impulse purchases.
  5. You’ll have more money to put into savings when this expense is built into your budget.
  6. You’ll have fewer arguments and misunderstandings about spending when it’s all been pre-decided and discussed beforehand.
  7. You’ll never be afraid of running out of money before your next payday.
  8. You’ll feel more confident about your financial situation when you know exactly how much money you have to spend each month.

Your Turn:
What’s your favorite reason for sticking to a monthly budget? Share it with us in the comments!

6 Mistakes People Make In Their 20s And How To Fix Them

Young black woman sitting on floor slumped against wall staring dejectedly at tablet in her right hand and holding credit card in her left hand.Like many people, you may have blown through your 20s making financial decisions that served you well in the moment, but may not have been particularly responsible. Dinner out several times a week, credit card bills you barely looked at and luxury cars way beyond your budget—life was practically a party!

But now, the party’s over. You’ve woken up in your 30s and realized that all that overspending is going to cost you big—and it’s going to cost for years to come.

Luckily, there’s hope. It’s not too late to fix the financial mistakes we all make when we’re young and blissfully ignorant.

Here are six of the most common mistakes people make in their 20s and how to fix them:

1.) The mistake: Racking up credit card debt
Maybe you were broke while in college, but desperate for a good time, so you swiped your way through vacations and nights out on the town. Or maybe you knew you were falling into the debt trap to cover student-related needs on a shoestring budget. Unfortunately, it didn’t just go away like you’d hoped.

The fix: Stop using your credit cards
It’s time to be an adult and own up to your mistakes. Learn how to say no to impulsive purchases and to live within your means. Create a budget to help monitor and track your discretionary spending instead of mindlessly plowing through your paycheck each month. Stop swiping your credit cards and stick to debit or cash only. Don’t let those credit card bills get any higher!

2.) The mistake: Ignoring your credit score
Aside from being the gateway to endless spending, aggressive credit card balances have probably handicapped your credit score, making it difficult or impossible to obtain a personal loan. A poor score will also burden you with an unfavorable interest rate for the loans you do qualify for. And that means you’ll be paying off the mistakes of your 20s for years to come.

The fix: Know your score and pay down your credit card debt
It’s never too late to fix a credit score. Begin by monitoring your score. You can order a complimentary credit report once a year from each of the three major credit agencies at annualcreditreport.com. If you are enrolled in Online Banking at Advantage One, we offer free credit monitoring through our partner, SavvyMoney. You can also check out your score on sites like CreditKarma.com and Bankrate.com. This will give you an idea of what you’re working with as you work on climbing out of financial hardship.

Next, work on paying off credit card debt instead of only making the minimum payments each month. Look through your credit card bills and crunch some numbers until you know exactly how high your credit card debt really is. Then, choose one bill to pay down first and begin making the maximum payment your budget will allow. Once you’ve paid it off, divert all those funds onto the next bill until it’s gone and repeat until you have no more debt. Paying down your debt and minimizing the utilization rate on your credit cards will greatly improve your score.

3.) The mistake: Skipping student loan bills
When you’re facing a debt in the tens of thousands of dollars while earning an entry-level salary, it’s tempting to just pretend it doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, though, that’s the worst thing you can do for your loan and your credit.

The fix: Work it into your budget
Call your lender to work out a more feasible payment plan. You can also check if you qualify for a student loan forgiveness program. Most importantly, make your student loan payments a part of your debt payment plan so you never miss a payment.

4.) The mistake: Neglecting your retirement
Planning for your decades-away retirement may be one of the last things on your list. However, starting to fund your retirement later in the game means missing out on years of compound interest gains.

The fix: Think of it as a fixed expense
Don’t think of retirement savings as an extra; think of it as a necessary, fixed expense that belongs in your budget like your rent and phone bill. Work with the most you can afford and max out your contributions to an IRA or your company’s 401(k) plan.

5.) The mistake: Not having an emergency fund
Life’s great—who needs to think about emergencies? Unfortunately, you do. Scrambling for funds to pay for a large medical expense or to live off of during an unexpected layoff can be a nightmare. Turning toward credit cards to help you get through a rough time can also be the beginning of a debt cycle whose effects are felt for years to come.

The fix: Start small
Experts recommend socking away 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses, but if that’s just not possible for you, start small. Work with whatever you can to make monthly contributions to an emergency fund. Set up an automatic monthly transfer so you never forget. It’s best to keep your emergency money in an account that offers an attractive earnings rate but allows you to withdraw funds without paying a penalty. An Advantage One Savings Accounts could be a good choice. Call, click or stop by to speak to us about setting yours up today.

6.) The mistake: Not creating financial goals
It’s understandable not to have your entire life planned out yet, but it’s important to set some financial goals.

The fix: Create goals now
Take some time to set some financial goals. Do you want to buy a house within the next decade? Do you dream of opening a business? Are you hoping to retire at 55? Having a concrete goal in mind will help you stick to your budget and manage your money responsibly.

Messed up while in your 20s? It’s not too late to get your finances on track! Follow our tips for a financially sound future.

Your Turn:
How did you fix the financial mistakes of your 20s? Let us know in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2018-10-25/how-to-recover-from-financial-mistakes-made-in-your-20s

https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-fix-money-mistakes-in-your-twenties-2385529

https://www.mybanktracker.com/news/fix-financial-mistakes

Check Out Our Super New Look!

Hello again everyone!

Five children dressed up in colorful homemade superhero outfitsWell, as you can see, we’re kicking off the new year with some fancy new spandex  for the blog! Out with the dark knight inspired theme, and in with a colorful new interface more in line with our corporate brand.

We plan on making a few more changes in the near future, including moving to a new domain, but have no fear, the good folks at WordPress will make sure that you continue to see our content whether you are a brand new follower or someone who’s been with us from the start.

We look forward to bringing you even more super-informative articles in 2019! Thanks for your continued support, and Happy New Year!

-The AOCU Blog Team

6 New Year’s Resolutions For A Financially Improved You

syellow sticky note on computer keyboard next to planner that reads," New years' Resolutions 2019"Here are our top six resolutions you can commit to that will really add up over the course of a year.

  1. Increase your savings. Even if it’s only by 5%, every little bit adds up.
  2. Cut out one impulse purchase a week.
  3. Trim your electricity bills by making sure your appliances are all running efficiently and conserving as much energy as possible.
  4. Increase your marketability by learning new skills or broadening your knowledge in your chosen field.
  5. Pay down your debt by making it a priority.
  6. Spend less on groceries. Do whatever it takes to make it happen: coupon more, cash in on rebates, and shop the sales.

Your Turn:
Have you made any significant financial resolutions over the past year? Share them with us in the comments!

Syncing Your Phone To Your Car Can Put You At Risk

Man syncing his smart phone with his truck.In our uber-connected world, pressing a button on the steering wheel to make a phone call is already second nature for many of us. With just a few taps, we can pull up our favorite playlist, read recent emails and even send a text message. Using our cars like a phone and storing information in data systems is incredibly convenient! And it helps us safely drive while using the phone hands-free, too.

Convenient though it may be, security experts are warning that syncing your phone to your car can put you at severe risk for a data breach. Connecting a rental car or a rideshare vehicle to your phone poses an even greater security risk.

Keep your information safe and avoid getting hacked by educating yourself about this oft-overlooked risk. Here’s what you need to know about the dangers of syncing your phone to your car.

The sensitive information stored in your phone—and your car
When you connect your phone to your car, you’re using your vehicle to store loads of information that’s frighteningly easy to access.

Would you ever leave your wallet on the passenger seat of your car in a crowded neighborhood and then leave the doors unlocked? By storing your personal information in your car, you’re essentially doing just that. A hacker can easily scrape data from your car, even if your phone is nowhere in sight. All they need to do is connect their own phone to your car’s Bluetooth system and they’re in!

This is especially alarming when you consider the excessive amount of sensitive data most people store in their phones without thinking much of it. Here is some of the information a hacker can access via a synced car:

  • Recent call log
  • Recent text messages
  • Garage door opener code
  • Personal calendar
  • List of contacts
  • Recent emails
  • GPS data that includes your home address

Use extra caution when renting a car
If syncing your own vehicle to your phone poses a security risk, that risk increases tenfold when using a rental car.

According to a report from Privacy International, most major rental-car companies have no policies to delete sensitive information that is collected during a rental once a user returns the car. You may have experienced this yourself if you’ve ever picked up a rental and find that the device information of the last 10 renters was still stored in the vehicle. That means, if you were to sync your own phone, the next renter would have your information at their fingertips.

It’s fun to have your own music blasting through your ride, and it’s convenient to sync your stored addresses to the car’s GPS system. But no fun or convenience is worth the risk this move can pose to your privacy and safety.

When you leave your personal information in a rental car, you run the risk of the next renter using your information to access your financial accounts, rob your home, or even steal your identity. And don’t make the mistake of thinking that your name and navigation history are not enough for a criminal to do much harm. Once they have this bit of information, they can hack into your social media profiles and crack open your passwords and usernames all over the internet. There are loads of creeps just waiting for the opportunity to act—don’t put yourself at risk!

You can delete your device’s information from the car you rent, but that can also be scraped by a low-level hacker. To be completely safe, it’s best not to sync your phone when renting a car at all.

If you frequently use rideshare programs, like Uber and Lyft, your driver might generously allow you to sync your phone to the car’s infotainment system so you can listen to your favorite song while waiting for the traffic to clear. This, too, can put your information at risk. If a driver ever makes this offer, pull out a pair of earbuds and tell the driver no thanks.

How to protect yourself
You don’t need to give up the convenience of a synced phone in order to protect your privacy. Simply follow these precautions and your information should be safe.

  • Never sync your phone with a rental vehicle or a ride-share car.
  • Don’t plug into USB ports in rental cars.
  • Delete any personal information already stored in your vehicle.
  • Adjust your phone’s settings to the strongest security levels.
  • Restrict the amount of information your vehicle can access and don’t allow it to store or access information without re-syncing to your phone.

Don’t let convenience put you at risk! Exercise caution and protect your privacy when syncing your phone to your car.

Your Turn:
How do you keep the information stored in your phone safe from hackers? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.zdnet.com/google-amp/article/does-connecting-your-phone-to-your-car-open-up-new-security-risks/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.whio.com/news/local/connected-cars-how-syncing-your-phone-vehicles-could-put-your-data-risk/jnPmGicuvSVrdh5rs0gvgL/amp.html

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/1080225001

Book Review: Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth–And How You Can Too

Everyday Millionaires How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary WealthMoney conversations can be super-depressing. Everything you read tells you that the “Great American Dream” has faded into oblivion. Everyone you talk to says that only the rich-born can get ahead and make it to the top. We ingest these lies without thinking twice. They become part of our belief systems and kill our ambition, effectively destroying any chance we have of becoming financially successful.

Get ready to read about the truth.
In Chris Hogan’s book, Everyday Millionaires: How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—and How You Can Too, he destroys the most common millionaire myths that prevent ordinary people, like me and you, from achieving and maintaining financial independence.

Hogan is a #1 national best-selling author, the host of The Chris Hogan Show, and a dynamic speaker who lectures nationwide about personal and business money management. He also serves as a beloved financial coach and Ramsey Personality at Dave Ramsey’s Ramsey Solutions company.

Everyday Millionaires is the culmination of comprehensive research on more than 10,000 American millionaires—and the results might shock you.

Here are some of the surprising revelations in Everyday Millionaires:

  • There is no secret sauce for becoming a millionaire.
  • Most millionaires in the U.S. were not born rich.
  • You don’t need to have a high-paying job to achieve millionaire status.

Hogan and the Ramsey Team show the world that building extraordinary wealth is not reserved for those hailing from a privileged background or holding down high-paying jobs. Instead, true wealth is a product of living with responsible principles, like spending within your means, avoiding the debt trap, investing wisely and exercising discipline with your money.

There is no carefully guarded secret behind the nation’s most successful people. It doesn’t take a fantastic stroke of luck, a sizeable inheritance or a 7-digit salary. Anyone and everyone can achieve financial independence—and even millionaire status—by following Hogan’s guidelines while living responsibly.

Learn how to think like the rich and you just might be the next everyday millionaire.

Your Turn:
Do your personal experiences reflect Hogan’s research? Were most of the rich people in your life born wealthy or did they build their own net worth through responsible living and hard work? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.amazon.com/Everyday-Millionaires-Ordinary-Extraordinary-Wealth_and/dp/0977489523/ref=mp_s_a_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1539743871&sr=1-9&refinements=p_n_publication_date%3A1250228011&pi=AC_SX236_SY340_QL65

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41074642-everyday-millionaires

https://www.daveramsey.com/store/product/everyday-millionaires-book-by-chris-hogan