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MyMoola: Dashboard  by Tara

November7

We are beyond excited to introduce the newest addition to our suite (or should we say “SWEET!”) of products and services… MyMoola!!!

Many of our members have asked for a personal financial management system, similar to Mint.com. We heard you loud and clear! Our answer is this colorful, user-friendly site that is completely integrated with the eBranch you know and love. All of your Linn Area accounts will automatically be added in, but then you can add ANY of your financial accounts. When we say ANY, we mean it. So if you have an account at another credit union or, say, a big bank, you can still add it to MyMoola. You can add credit cards of any kind (even store ones!), retirement funds, loans, and even 529s! Using MyMoola will help you save time, achieve your goals, track spending, and, overall, manage all your bling.

In this video, you’ll get a quick tour of the Dashboard (as they say on HGTV, “Where the magic happens!”), teach you how to add accounts, and how to edit your existing accounts:

We want to know: Have you tried out MyMoola yet?!?! What’s your favorite feature?

Delicate Balance  by Tara

September28

Life is all about balance. Some days you might feel like a member of the Fab Five, just trying to keep both feet on that balance beam so that you can achieve your dreams. I’ll tell you, every Olympic gymnast I watched on that balance beam caused me to hold my breath and keep my body perfectly still – hoping that maybe my stillness would somehow help them keep both feet on that beam. A delicate balance, that’s for sure.

It’s not so different with our finances, really. We have to do everything we can to stay grounded because swaying too far one way or another could cost us lots of points (on our credit report, that is).

At Linn Area Credit Union, we want our members to feel as balanced as possible. One perk we have over pretty much anyone else is that our credit card rates are super duper low. We urge you to take a look at the rates you are paying on your cards and then compare them to ours. One suggestion we have is for you to move any balances you have on a higher rate card over to our low rate cards and, ultimately, pay less in interest.

Did you know that it doesn’t just have to be a major credit card you can transfer a balance from? It can be a store card or even a loan.

So how does this work? If you already have one of our credit cards, you just click here to fill out a balance transfer form online or come on in and we’ll hook you up. If you don’t have one of our cards yet – yeesh, it’s about time you get on that! Go here to get started.

The balance transfer form needs the following info regarding the card/loan you are transferring the balance from:

Pay To (the name of the credit card/loan we are paying off)
Address (the addy of the place were you currently send your payment to for the card or loan we’re paying off)
Account Number (you guessed it – the account number of the card or loan we are paying off!)
Amount to be transferred

Interest will accrue (but at a lesser amount than before on your higher interest card), but we won’t charge you any fees for this service. Allow three weeks for the transfer to be made and make any payments required during that time. Keep in mind, the amounts you transfer must stay within the credit limit of your card.

I’m going to take a wild guess and predict that your plan for 2016 probably does NOT include balancing on a beam while donning a red sparkly unitard as the whole world watches, but, if you get with LACU, you might be gearing up for a gold medal in financial freedom!

Now that we’ve all had plenty of time to recover from all the late nights of staying up to watch the Olympics, what was your favorite moment?

Online Banking: Are you getting the most out of it? (Part 2)  by Mallory

January20

Welcome back to Mallory’s Crazy Crash Course in Online Banking! (I just named it that – do you like it?) Last time we talked about the Overview tab and the Account Access tab. Hopefully you had a chance to go play around with both of those. Today we’re going to be finishing up by taking a close look at the Bill Payment tab and the Options tab!

So grab your morning cup of Joe and let’s do this! Woohoo!!! (Too much sass for this early?)

The Bill Payment tab actually connects you directly to our bill payer website. Bill payer is a service that you will need to sign up for either by calling 378-0101 or by stopping into one of our branches, but once you are set up, clicking on this tab takes you right to your information and you are ready to pay bills. You can fill out someone you want to pay and the amount and make one time or reoccurring payments.  It also keeps a history of payments made. It’s pretty slick and, best yet, totally free to you.

And last, but not least, is the Options tab. I could write a whole blog on this tab alone, but this will just be a quick overview of each box under this tab:

  • Secure mail
    • A direct and secure way for you to email us at Linn Area Credit Union

  • Alerts
    • Set up alerts to be emailed or texted to you (For example: When you hit a certain balance or a certain check number clears you’ll be contacted via email or text.)
    • Set up reminders to be emailed or texted to you (For example: You’ll receive a text or email when a loan payment is automatically coming out on such and such date.)

  • Personal options
    • Update personal information
    • Set up preferences (like which screens comes up when you log on or which accounts pop up on the overview screen)
    • Nickname accounts (Confused by all those numbers and dashes? Just nickname your accounts so you know what they are. Eg. Mallory’s checking or Nick’s savings.)

  • Additional services
    • Click on e-statements to view PDFs of your statements rather than receiving them in the mail (Not only is this good for the environment, but its way faster than snail mail!)
    • Mobile money. Click on this link to sign up to get access to your accounts from your phone.  (Personally, my favorite feature!)

  • Member Requests
    • Apply for a loan, stop payments and much more!

And one more quick thing, you may notice up in the right hand corner something that says “Members CHAT.” That button will connect you live to one of our Member Service Representatives available during our working hours here at the credit union.

Not a member of e-branch yet? Want to sign up? You can sign up on our website by clicking here. Otherwise, feel free to give us a call at 378-0101 or stop in and let us know you want to get signed up! It’s really that easy!

Online Banking: Are you getting the most out of it? (Part 1)  by Mallory

January19

Are you a current user of our online banking (e-branch)? Did you just get signed up? Either way, this blog may be for you. I am here to give you some tips on how to get the most out of e-branch so that you can do what you want with your money when you want to! This particular blog post is going to be a two parter. I know that when I’m learning something new, sometimes it’s nice to get just little bit of info at a time.

Alright! So when you log into online banking there are 4 main tabs to work with – two of which I’ll talk about today and the other two will be explored next time. I am going to go through each tab and the functions within each one. You may be surprised by some of the things you can do!

You ready for Part 1?? Here we go!

Right when you log into e-Branch, the first tab that comes up is the Overview tab (unless you change it in preferences, which we will get to later…). This tab is basically just as it sounds – an overview of up to 5 of your accounts (again customizable) and their balances. You can also do a quick transfer between your accounts and view any scheduled transfers you have set up. Simple and easy, just the way I like it!

The next tab is the Account Access tab. Under this tab you are able to see all of the accounts you are an owner or joint owner of (even other account numbers).  This is the tab that you want to go to if you want to transfer money. You can transfer funds for one time only or set up scheduled transfers. For scheduled transfers, you can set up what day of the month you want it to come out, the frequency and the total number of transfers you want to occur. You can also look at your transfer history.

These next 2 features you may not know about:  account to account transfer and withdrawal by check.

Account to account transfer is transferring money from one financial institution to another. We know that Linn Area may not be the home for all your money *insert sad face here*, so we have this handy feature that allows you to transfer money between two accounts – even if one of these accounts is not a Linn Area one (e.g. transferring money to/from a Big Bank account from/to your Linn Area account). For more details, please call 378-0101 or stop in and an account representative would be happy to walk you through getting it set up.

A withdrawal by check means that you would like a paper check withdrawn from your account, made out to you and mailed to you. People may use this feature as a means to transfer money from one financial to another without having to write a check of their own.

So in a nutshell, the Account Access tab is where you can move your moola around.

On both the Overview tab and the Account Access tab you are able to click on your account and see the current activity and pending transactions. (This does not include credit cards. On credit cards you are able to make payments from e-Branch, but not see activity. To see the credit card activity go to www.mycardinfo.com and get signed up!) Do know that on either of these tabs, you can use transfers to make payments to your loans and your credit card.

Okay, guys, I think this is a good stopping point! Are you feeling overwhelmed yet? I hope not. In the next blog, I’ll be giving you the inside scoop on the Billpayer tab and the Options tab.

Questions? Just ask below in the comments!

One touch access to Mobile Money on your iPhone!  by John

November16

OK, so you’ve got an iPhone and have signed up for our smartphone banking product, Mobile Money. It’s a great, easy to use service, but, dang it, you sure have to touch the screen a lot to get there! Here’s how to add a link right on your phone’s home screen:

1. Open the iPhone’s browser and navigate to the page you want. In this case it will be your unique URL for Mobile Money.

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2. Touch the Add icon on the bottom middle of the Safari screen. Depending on your phone’s iOS, it will either be a “+” sign like this   or a rectangle with an arrow coming out of it like this .

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3. Select “Add to Home Screen”.

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4. The “Add to Home” screen will show. You can rename your link from here. I went all creative and named mine Mobile Money. After making the change click the “Add” button.
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5. Voila! There’s a new icon on your home screen that looks like this . Going forward all you have to do is touch it to go directly to Mobile Money.

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That was pretty painless, right? “But John, I don’t have Mobile Money!” Why not? It’s free and super-handy. Go here to learn more!

Any questions about the above – leave a comment or email me at jcollins@linnareacu.org. I’ll be happy to help.

How to get Mobile Money  by Tara

July8

On Wednesday you read Amber’s story of how Mobile Money got her out of a bind while grocery shopping, which hopefully has inspired you to take advantage of this FREE service provided by Linn Area Credit Union. But, if you’re anything like me, you like to have step-by-step instructions on how to get signed up! Well, friends, here you go:

Log on to your account via E-Branch

Click on the “Options” tab

Go to the “Additional Services” tab and select “Mobile Money”

Click “Sign Up”

Check the box that says “Accept terms and conditions” and then click “Continue”

Choose the central time zone in the drop down box

Choose the accounts that you would like to be able to access on Mobile Money from the list

Choose a texting nickname (ex: savings could be “sav” or “save” or “1”  or whatever you want!)

Click “Continue”

Enter your mobile number

Click “Next”

Choose text messaging and mobile browser if you have smart phone; choose just text if your phone only has texting capabilities (go here for more clarification)

You will immediately receive a text with your activation code

Enter activation code into the specified box on your computer and click “Activate”

It will then tell you that activation has been successful and will text you instructions on how to use it

If you have a Smartphone, save the unique URL to your browser’s favorites so you can quickly and easily access your account information (My handy-dandy tip: Instead of the normal bookmark, I actually saved my link to my iPhone’s home screen, which created a handy little icon for me!)

Now, remember, the above step-by-step guide is meant to be a Cliff Notes version! Be sure that you are reading everything on the screens, as there will be additional information throughout the sign up process. If you get stuck, know that you can always call us at 319.378.0101 or connect with us using Live Chat and we’ll help you walk through it!

A big thanks to Stacey Carter, one of our Member Services Representatives, for creating the step-by-step guide to getting Mobile Money!

How Mobile Money Saved Me!  by Amber

July6

I LOVE my phone!  I use it to Tweet a little. I also update my status on Facebook while on-the-go (probably a little too often).  Heck, if I am not careful about what I say, my mom will call me about my Facebook status. But, even more importantly than staying connected socially, I am now able to check my account balance and transaction history all through my phone using Mobile Money! 

I’d like to share with you guys how Mobile Money actually got me out of a bind when I was at the checkout just a couple of weeks ago! 

I am a busy mom of two little ones and was in a hurry one evening at a local “super center.”  While checking out, I used my Linn Area debit card as a credit (then I get my 12 signature based transactions in to qualify for my High Yield checking account!), but the sales associate said it wasn’t going though.  Now, it wasn’t declined, but their system wasn’t reading my card. 

After scanning my card twice, I decided to take matters into my own hands and pulled out my little pink Smartphone.  While waiting for a manager to check out the register and investigate the issue, I pulled up my Mobile Money link (a unique URL that was sent to me when I signed up for Mobile Money) and clicked to view my “pending transactions.” It showed that the “supercenter” was pending for the exact amount shown on the register. The sales clerk and the manager were a little surprised, but they allowed me to leave with my purchases as they continued to puzzle over their machine. 

Before I left I said, “I will check my account again later – through Mobile Banking of course – and let you know if the transaction does not come out. I will come back and pay for the items if that happens.”  

They seemed very thankful, although still confused over what was going on with their register. I left feeling fabulous because I have a credit union that has what I call trendy technology that fits my lifestyle.  

You don’t have to have a Smartphone to take advantage of Mobile Money! Any phone with texting capabilities can participate. It’s super easy and FREE! Check back on Friday, when we’ll give you detailed instructions on how to get Mobile Money! (Or if you want to try it on your own, go here!)

We are lucky enough to have Amber join us today as a guest blogger. You might know her from her everyday work in our Member Services Department – although it would be her friendly voice that you would most recognize. She also helps people through our handy Live Chat feature. If you ever need help with Mobile Money, Amber is your go-to girl! Thanks for the blog post, Amber!

Expiration Inspiration!  by Tara

February25

Now that you’re all comfy, cozy and settled into writing “2011” on everything, the time has come to do some financial maintenance.  Do me (and yourself) a HUGE favor and grab your wallet or purse real quick. Pull out any of your debit or credit cards. Now – here’s the doozy – look at WHEN they expire. If it’s in 2011, you need to start racking your brain on which automatic payments are set up to be taken from that card. 

Let’s face it – we do more and more through online services, so it’s extremely important to keep close tabs on what card is associated to which of these online accounts. Our fraud specialist Liz suggests using one specified credit card for ALL online purchase. 

I know what you’re thinking. “Tara, when they send me a new card, it has the SAME numbers on it so I don’t need to worry about anything!” Au contraire, my friend! Yes, most companies do automatically send you a new card with the SAME number on it, however, the expiration date will be different! When you enter in your credit card info into any kind of payment on the internet, entering the expiration date is one of the key components. The bottom line is that if you don’t update the expiration date, your payment will not go through properly. You may even get late charges if you don’t catch it quickly enough! And no one wants that to happen! 

Look at each card and ask yourself: 

  • Do I use this card to pay any bills?
  • Is this card number stored any automatic payment websites? Such as PayPal. Don’t forget about things you may use the card for such as paying your cell phone bill, NetFlix, an online shopping store, etc.

Here’s a real life example for you: I like to use one card in particular to pay for my Red Box movies. The card number is stored within the secure Red Box website. All I have to do is go online, log into my account, select my movie at whatever Red Box location I’m heading to, select my stored card and then BINGO! It’s reserved for me. When my expiration date arrives, I’m going to need to update the card before I buy another Red Box movie online or else my card simply will not go through and – POOF! – my movie will be gone. (If you haven’t used this online reservation method yet, I HIGHLY recommend you give it a try. Nothing is worse than standing in a long line at the store waiting for those before you to choose a movie. Inevitably, you get stuck behind the person who obviously has never used the machine before. And then by the time you finally get to the front of the line, they are out of the movie you had your heart set on. This method saves you time and frustration!) 

Have you given all your cards a good once over? Great! (P.S. Take a peek at your driver’s license expiration date while you’re in there.) 

Tell us in the comments below, what others sorts of financial maintenance are you going to need to do in 2011?

How to NOT let a blizzard cramp your style!  by John

February2

You may have noticed that we got a little snow last night. OK, a LOT of snow!

I shouldn’t be surprised. It is, after all, winter in Iowa. My solemn vow to move south has gone by the wayside yet again.

I’m not a big fan of winter. I’m miserable when the first cold snap happens. I eventually get used to it, but I’ll never enjoy it. I tolerate it, at best. If there’s a choice between going outside or staying in, well, it’s not really a choice; I’m happily housebound.

Of course, there are times when I have to leave the house: work, food, beer run, etc.

If I were independently wealthy, I could probably get away with holing up for 4 months and counting on Punxsutawney Phil to let me know when it’s safe to emerge. Everything could be done online or over the phone and delivered. Then again, if I were independently wealthy I would probably have a winter home in Arizona. But, I digress.

Anyone nodding their head in agreement at this point? Anyone still reading?

The good news is that we don’t have to go anywhere to do most of our banking at Linn Area. We have a boat-load of ways to get things done financially without visiting a branch. I’m sure we’ll be missed (especially me since I, you know, work here), but the other CU employee-type folk will understand. They’re cool like that.

So what kind of choices do we have?

  1. e-Branch – It’s our Online Banking product.  Transfer funds, make loan payments, check out your History, etc.  Need it done?  Chances are you can do it online.
  2. Piggy-backed on top of e-Branch is Bill Payer.  It’s pretty self-explanatory – you can pay bills with it.
  3. Use Facebook?  Check out our My Money app.  It’s basically a lite version of e-Branch.
  4. Have a mobile phone?  Mobile Money is where it’s at.  There’s a text version and a web based version so just about everybody can use it.
  5. Then there’s ART or Audio Response Teller.  All you need is a touch tone phone.  (Tin cans and string not supported.)
  6. Want to talk to someone, but really don’t want to talk?  We’ve got a Live Chat feature that’s pretty darned slick.
  7. Old school or need a real voice?  Give us a call and talk to one of our Member Service Reps.

You can also apply for a loan, order checks (they’re these special pieces of paper that people used to use), access calculators for just about any type of financial equation…….. you get the idea.

You can find info about all of these things on our brand spanking new website.  If you’re reading this blog then you’ve already found it, but I’ll repeat it anyway – www.linnareacu.org.

OK, lunchtime.  I’d have something delivered, but I have to let my dogs out – they LOVE it outside for some reason.

So, be good and see you in the Spring!

In the comments below, tell us – what’s your favorite way to stay connected with LACU when you can’t get to a branch?

My Apology to Blackberry Users  by John

December3

I think I owe Blackberry users an apology.

I used to see people squinting at their little devices and think, “Get a life, nerd!”

Especially in public places.  What could be so interesting that you would basically be oblivious to most things going on around them in the “real” world?  I mean, it’s a phone, right?  What else does it really need to do?  Crackberry, indeed.

Well, a few months ago I got a Blackberry and all I can say is, “I’m sorry.”

I absolutely cannot see living without a smart phone now.  I’m constantly on it: making changes to my fantasy football lineup, getting GPS directions, updating Facebook, etc. One of the handier things I use it for is Linn Area’s Mobile Banking.  We’ve only had it a few months, but it’s already indispensable.  It’s basically a Lite version of our online banking product, e-Branch.  You can view History, transfer funds, etc. from ANYWHERE.  Well, anywhere you have service. 

I’ll let you in on a little secret about myself – I don’t balance my checkbook.  Heck, I don’t even know where my checkbook is anymore.  I know I should keep all of my receipts and store them someplace that I’ll actually remember then once a week add ‘em all up, subtract them from blah, blah, blah, ad infinitum.  Well, to me, this task is right up there with rearranging the sock drawer on the fun-o-meter. 

With Mobile Banking I can keep track of my spending and still have time for more important stuff….. like Number Cruncher.  (It’s a free game I found on crackberry.com.)

Sadly, I don’t think I’m done apologizing yet. 

You see, this weeked I’m getting an iPhone. I may just start at the top and send Steve Jobs a virtual white rose.

There’s an app for that, right?