It’s Tax Free Weekend!

Back to School Shopping Tips

Shop with the help of the Lifestyle Loan

Where has the summer gone? It’s the beginning of a new school year, and now you are getting ready for your first day. Take advantage with this weekend’s Tax Free Holiday and enjoy the perks of not paying taxes. But, before you go break the bank, here are a few tips to help you save money and be a smart shopper.
Have a plan. All stores are competing for your attention and your money. If you don’t have a plan, list, or budget, you are going to find yourself overwhelmed and over spent. When you are prepared and shopping with a purpose, you are less likely to buy items you may not need or spend more than you really can afford. Check with your child’s school to make sure you have their supply list. Most teachers have a supply list at local stores; or, you can pick up a copy at the school. Don’t waste the opportunity to buy while you can without paying taxes on it now.

Do some research. Know what items are and are not included in the Tax-Free Holiday Weekend. You can find a list at the Florida Department of Revenue’s website Hopefully, you can match the items on your shopping list to the items in their inclusion list of tax free items.

Shop smart. Many retailers post or announce their sales on their websites or Facebook. By looking at these sites ahead of time and knowing items availability, you can cut down on the number of places you actually need to go to. This saves you on gas and time. Once you are at the store, use your smart phone to comparison shop with apps like RedLaser or use your browser to compare store prices with online prices.

The Lifestyle Loan. Sometimes we need a little help getting all those back to school supplies. Don’t worry that’s what Members First’s Lifestyle Loan is here to do. So stop by any branch, or call us at 434-2211, to get more information on how we can help you get your shopping done TODAY!

Free Apps That Will Help You and Your Child with School

Most of us have busy lives and it gets even busier once school starts. Here are 8 Free Apps to help make going back to school a little easier on both parents and kids.

Cozi Family Organizer: Calendar and Lists – This free online organizer and mobile app was especially designed for busy families. It helps you keep track of everything from school schedules to sports activities, grocery lists, meals and chores — all in one place accessible by every member of the family and from any computer or mobile device. All you need to get started is a free account and because it is shared, you only need one account for the whole family.

Life360 – This family networking app provides family locator services such as location-tracking, check-in (e.g. the “mom, I’m okay” button), geo-fenced alerts, messaging (both one-to-one and group chat), and the emergency/panic button alerting functionality. It’s great for families that are always on the go and keeping up with everyone real time (on a map).

MyHomework – This app makes it simple to organize and keep track of class schedules and upcoming assignments, color-coding them automatically according to their due date. It also syncs with a desktop counterpart, keeping your iPhone and computer up to date on what’s due.

CourseSmart – Even if you get your textbooks free through the school system or get used textbooks at a deep discount, you’re still lugging them around on your backs all year. CourseSmart makes its money through the licensing of e-textbooks, which expire after a certain access period, typically about 180 days. If you want them for longer just upgrade it to your CourseStart which lets you buy them for roughly half the price of the print version.

Evernote – This is a great app to help you stay organized. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders–and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Everything’s searchable, which means you can look for text within images (including words on whiteboards), find notes or files from any of your synced devices and share them easily with friends via email, Facebook and Twitter. – This is a great app for not only looking up meanings of over 400,000 words but also great for finding synonyms and antonyms for said words, and famous quotations using said words.

SparkNotes – Get today’s most popular study guides for literature, Shakespeare, poetry, philosophy, drama and short stories. Share what you’re studying and where you are by checking in with a customized post to Facebook or start a study group right from your phone. Great for use online or download to your phone for later use.

gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests – One of the best ways to prepare for tests after tediously taking notes is to study with flashcards. The app gFlash+ Flashcards & Tests is a universal app that will make studying a breeze. Create, download, and make an endless amount of flashcards for any topic or subject that you need to brush up on. Integration with Google Docs allows you to make flashcards in Google Spreadsheet, which you can then download right into gFlash+. Zoom in or out on images, audio, and video clips for even more detailed examination. You can track your improvements, practice with multiple choice question support, download sets of sharable cards from the app’s gWhiz Catalog, and much more. Offline studying is also available if you don’t have Internet access.



Back-to-School is made easier with the Members First Back to School Loan.

It’s back to school time and everyone is ready to go shopping. To ease the pain on your wallet, here are a few tips to help you save:

Take inventory and make a budget. Before you run to any store, take inventory of what you already have at home. This will help you have a clear list of what you need. Once you have compiled a list, it will be easier for you to resist all those shiny objects at the store and separate your wants from your needs. Taking inventory will also help you when you are preparing your budget. Your budget should detail how much you want to spend for every item or groups of items. Being conscious of your budget will lessen the chance of you over spending, stay on track with your finances and have a clear picture of what you will be shopping for.

Shop the sales. Most stores have back-to-school deals. Many retailers post or announce their sales with special circulars on their websites or Facebook. By looking at these items and sites ahead of time and knowing items availability and sales, you can cut down on the number of places you actually need to go. This saves you on gas and time. Once you are at the store, use your smart phone to comparison shop with apps like RedLaser or use your browser to compare store prices with online prices. Keep in mind that some retailers also have special coupons or special promotions to reduce your purchase total.

Take advantage of the Tax Free Holiday. Most states designate an entire week or weekend for you to make back-to-school purchases without paying taxes on your items. In Florida, for an entire weekend you can purchase books, clothing, and footwear without taxes, as long as the item is $75 or less. You can also purchase school supplies without taxes, as long as they are $15 or less. This tax free weekend also includes items such as football cleats and spiked shoes that are needed for sports.

Stop by your credit union. Computers, iPads, and scientific calculators can be costly. As your financial partner, Members First has a way to help you get all the items you need for back to school. With the Back-To-School Loan, you can rest easy knowing that you have a low-interest rate and low payment.

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