Blog - Signal Financial

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Our thoughts on managing finances... and life in general

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How Credit Scores Work

The first step to feeling more in control—and less anxious—about your credit score is understanding how it’s calculated. We’re here to help clear the air and let you in on how a credit score works and what it says about you.

Man on sofa holding credit cardPay down credit card debt strategically

If you’re keeping balances from month to month on several credit cards, you’re likely stuck in a loop of high-interest debt that limits your financial options and eats up valuable income. Maybe you’re trying but getting nowhere—in which case, you may need to assess your current strategy. Find out more about two of the recommended strategies for tackling your credit card balances, and decide which one might work for you.

Thermostat with the word "SAVE" on screen and a small winter hat on top.Tips for staying warm this winter

The frigid cold gripping most of the US recently looks like it will be with us for a little longer, which means staying warm will be tougher than usual. We share some ideas we’ve found for staying well-prepared for the coldest weather this winter—and most of these tips won’t cost you much money or time!

A white gift box with a red bow on it with a tag that reads "to: you, from: a scammer?"Shop Smart this Holiday Season

The holiday season is full of joy. For most people, that joy comes from spending time with loved ones, getting time off work, or volunteering your for a charitable cause. But for scammers, it's a different kind of joy.

Online security image of lock on keyboardProtecting yourself from identity theft and fraud

There are a few different options available to you to protect your personal data from being stolen or from being used for fraud (if already stolen) by hackers. Signal cannot give advice on what members should do, but we suggest members do some research and consider the pros and cons of each available option.

a young man writingBanking is about to get faster

Technological improvements have led to instant service in a lot of areas of our lives in recent years, including banking. All this technological improvement and sped-up timing have obvious upsides. But convenience has a downside as well: sometimes the pace gets to be faster than we are used to keeping track of. For instance, in the past both the mail and check or payment processing took a couple of days, which some people might have found themselves relying on if they weren’t keeping good track of their account balances. That lag is about to go away.

Hand is holding a bunch of shredded paperTen Reasons Shredding is Important

Whether it's your clients' or your own sensitive information, keeping confidential information secure is essential. Holding on to documents you no longer need which aren’t kept in a secure area can pose a threat to your identity and can cause a data breach. Ready to do some spring cleaning?

Mother hugging teenage son as he packs for college and he is embarassedPreparing Your Kids to Manage Money in College

The season is upon us when we're getting graduation announcements and invitations. That also means that a lot of these kids will be preparing to go to college. There are a lot of financial pressures for a kid who's new to the college environment that can amount to a financial burden that many college kids can't bear. As parents, there are things you can do to help your college-bound offspring to manage their money effectively.

a young woman doing her taxes on a laptop5 Common Tax Mistakes You Can Avoid

Some tax mistakes can turn into very costly headaches. Not taking the time to double-check that you signed your tax forms is one mistake. Can you guess the others?

a closeup of an electric vehicle charging dockElectric Car or Hybrid Car?

It’s fairly commonplace to see an electric car or hybrid car humming around the Beltway. In this new era of car-buying and energy efficiency, you might be wondering which one is right for you.

Man calculating his billsImprove Your Budgeting Skills

Setting up a budget is an essential part of financial planning, no matter where you are in life. Good financial discipline can open up opportunities you wouldn’t have had if you’d spent freely. We list the steps to go through in creating your budget, along with a worksheet to help you get started.

girl at computer covering her face with her hands4 Easy Things You’re Not Doing to Protect Yourself Online

It’s hard to believe that with all the steps we’re taking to protect our information, thieves still find ways around, but they do. Here are some easy things you’re probably not doing that can help protect your accounts and valuable information.

Credit card security chipWhat’s so different about EMV Chip Cards?

Card fraud has jumped in recent years, and issuers, including Signal Financial, have begun migrating to EMV chip cards to help improve security for their customers. But what are chip cards?

ATM skimmerCard Skimming: How to spot it and protect yourself

While Signal Financial FCU takes fraud seriously and work daily to prevent it, members must also play an active role in preventing fraud. See the information and tips below to learn how to guard your accounts from skimming, one of the most common types of fraud. This type of card fraud jumped 546% from 2014 to 2015, according to FICO.

napkin with a financial plan written on itThe Three Ingredients of Financial Success

You can find, on nearly every financial website, suggestions on how to develop and maintain good financial organization and discipline.

the words Home improvement with various tools around itHome Repairs: To DIY . . . Or NOT to DIY

People are always looking to save money any way they can, especially on home repairs. But is going the do-it-yourself route instead of paying a professional for home maintenance and repair projects always the best bet?

money falling onto man from skyTax Refund on the Way? Things to Do with Your Refund!

If the numbers lined up in your favor this year, and you’ll be getting a refund, be sure to put it to good use. Extra money in your checking account can magically disappear unless you have a plan!

IRS tax formsSome Last-Minute Tax Time Tips for Easy Filing

No one enjoys filling out their tax returns. Let’s face it – if it’s not the hassle of finding all the W2s from each employer, then it’s gathering up the receipts. Tax season can be very cumbersome. Here are some tips to smooth out the process:

Crook standing on computer "fishing" for passwordsRansomware Scam Alive and Well! Don't Click!

Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents you from using your computer until you pay a certain amount of money. It’s essentially extortion, with all the data on your computer at risk unless you pay.

February is American Heart MonthFebruary Is American Heart Month

DID YOU KNOW THAT HEART DISEASE CLAIMS THE LIVES OF ONE IN FOUR AMERICANS? Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. The good news is that one-fourth of all heart disease deaths are preventable and you can take proactive steps towards a healthy heart.

bounced checkThe DO's and DON'Ts of Checkbook Management

If you have a checking account and a debit card, at SOME point in your life, you will accidentally overdraw your account. Even the best money managers can lose track of a debit transaction (or two) or an automatic payment. And when it hits? It hurts. In the wallet. Not only are you charged a fee by YOUR financial institution, you may be charged a returned check fee by the receiver’s institution. Thus, a snowball effect begins on your account.

salt on icy roadsWays to Prevent Road Salt from Affecting Your Car

Snow-covered roads. Whiteouts. Black ice. All are situations that we are now all dealing with this winter. Winter came ... all at once. And it's not over yet!

home inventoryMake a Home Inventory!

Do you know anyone who has lost their home in a fire? Or how about valuables in a burglary? It’s a frightening thing to think about, but one you really need to prepare for to help ease the burden of recalling details while filing an insurance claim. You’ve probably thought about this before, but it always seems to slip the “To-do” list.

budget money in a jar10 Steps to Making a Financial Budget

2016! Where did 2015 go? And how did 2015's resolutions work out? Setting goals is an important thing to do ... and if you were successful, you should be proud of yourself.