An enewsletter to help improve your financial well-being I Fourth Quarter 2012 contents

On the money with Alliant Credit Union Five smart holiday shopping tips

On the money with Alliant Credit Union
Want to help your hard-earned money earn more for you? Rely on Alliant Credit Union for high savings dividends, low loan rates and more. Check out the articles in this enewsletter to see how our products and services can benefit you. If you’re not an Alliant member, it’s easy to join online at As an employee of your company or member of your association, you’re eligible to apply for membership* in Alliant. Note: Applicant must also meet other eligibility requirements for Alliant membership.


Take the “Holiday Shopping Quiz” Helping teens to manage their money Want Cash Back with your credit card?



Free financial counseling available Become more financially savvy with Alliant webcasts

Five smart holiday shopping tips
It’s that time again – time to begin your holiday season shopping. This year, how about giving a gift to yourself by taking it easy on yourself and your wallet? Here are some tips on how to have fun shopping and bring joy to others, while avoiding bah-humbug shopping hassles and overspending. 1. Be smart at the outset and develop a budget. Take a realistic look at your finances and determine your overall spending limit. Then, decide how much you can afford to spend on each individual gift. Next to each person’s name, write the maximum you will spend on him or her. Also, remember to include any essentials, such as entertainment, decorations, cards and tips or small gifts for coworkers, babysitters, dog walkers, teachers, etc. Consider including a few extra generic gifts, such as picture frames, to have on hand if someone unexpectedly gives you a gift and you want to reciprocate. Do the math and, if need be, adjust your plan to stay within your budget. Costs can add up quickly so know your bottom line and stick to it. 2. Develop a gift checklist. Get a pen and paper, and brainstorm ideas for what to buy individuals – within the dollar range you have budgeted for them. Refer to your checklist when you shop so you don’t forget anything. Meanwhile, stick closely to your list. Beware of impulse-buy “specials” and “deals” you encounter that may tempt you to blow your budget. Be sure to ask yourself, “Would I buy this if it weren’t on sale?”

3. Shop at stores during off-peak times. Waiting until the last minute to do your shopping is a recipe for stress and overspending, while shopping early gives you time to comparison shop for the best prices. To avoid crowds and long lines, get started today, if you haven’t already. Good times to shop: in the morning or late at night. Bad times: right after work or on weekends. If you have a specific item in mind to buy, consider calling the store first to make sure it’s available there.
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©2012 Alliant Credit Union. All Rights Reserved. E200-R10/12
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4. Go online to research the best product at the best price – and to buy. Let’s say you want to buy your son a digital camera, but are unsure which one to get. Go online and study reputable user reviews and ratings. When you select the product you want, visit sites, such as,, and to find the best price. Also, check delivery charges and “ship by” dates to ensure your gift will get to the recipient in time. Many online retailers will offer free shipping – at least for standard ground shipping.

5. Save your receipts. Check a store’s refund or exchange policy and keep your receipts. Whenever possible, also get a gift receipt for items. That little piece of paper makes it easier for a person to return a gift if he or she – forbid – doesn’t like it or if it’s defective.
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Take the “H liday Shopping Quiz”
You know the drill. The winter holidays approach and it’s time to buy gifts. But, how well do you know some of the finer points of holiday shopping? Take this quiz to find out.
5) Generally, what shopping day generates the most sales all year? a) Black Friday b) Cyber Monday c) The last Saturday before Christmas 6) True or False: Mother’s Day and Christmas generate the most sales for perfume. a) True b) False 7) What was the first toy to be advertised on TV? a) Etch-A-Sketch b) Mr. Potato Head c) Slinky 8) Last year, what percent of Americans purchased holiday items online? a) 35% b) 50% c) 65% 1) What percentage of U.S. adults say they start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving? a) 15 percent b) 35 percent c) 50 percent 2) On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), whom do the majority shop for? a) Their kids b) Themselves c) Gift recipients 3) How many Americans say they want to get a gift card this season? a) 30% b) 45% c) 60% 4) Last year, what did the average U.S. household spend on gifts and seasonal merchandise for the holidays? a) $704 b) $804 c) $904
How well did you do on the quiz? Let’s see. 1) b; 2) b; 3) c; 4) a, down from $719 in 2010, according to the National Retail Federation; 5) c; 6) false (Christmas and Valentine’s Day generate the most sales); 7) b; 8) b, up from 44% in 2010; 9) c, the “real” St. Nicholas was a bishop in Myra in Asia Minor; 10) b, 31% buy toys/games, 28% buy electronics and 27% buy clothing/shoes.
Sources:, and

9) What continent did the actual living St. Nicholas live on? a) Africa b) Europe c) Asia 10) What is the most popular type of products people buy during their holiday shopping? a) Electronics b) Toys/games c) Clothing/shoes

©2012 Alliant Credit Union. All Rights Reserved. E200-R10/12

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Helping teens to manage their money
America’s teens have access to more money than ever and are expected to spend over $209 billion this year, according to a study by The Market Research Group. But, how will these teens spend their dollars? And how well will they manage their money? Not well, according to Jump$tart, an organization that promotes financial literacy. Most teens, it notes, still have a steep learning curve when it comes to budgeting, saving, balancing a checkbook, identifying needs vs. wants and making smart use of their money. The good news: 75% of today’s teens say developing money skills is one of their top priorities, according to a 2011 Charles Schwab report. Nevertheless, only 20% of today’s teens have a checking account, according to the National Consumers League. Those who don’t are missing a golden opportunity. There’s no better way to help teens learn about money management than to teach them how to maintain a checking account, according to financial guru Dave Ramsey. He recommends that parents become the joint owner of their teen’s account, walk the teen through the process and help the teen balance the checkbook every month. After a few months, Ramsey notes, teens will get the hang of it and be able to take care of their checking account the right way. If you have a teenager, consider helping him or her learn fiscal responsibility by opening a Free Teen Checking Account from Alliant. Visit for more information and to apply.
Sources:,,,,, and

Want Cash Back with your credit card?
You got it with the Alliant Platinum Rewards VISA® credit card!
Based on member feedback, Alliant is pleased to introduce Alliant Rewards1, the new reward program for our Platinum Rewards VISA® credit card, featuring a Cash Back2 option as well as many other reward items to choose from. Alliant Rewards provides Alliant Platinum Rewards VISA credit cardholders the opportunity to earn points for every dollar they spend with the card. Points can be redeemed for Cash Back or other items available from a huge selection of brand-name merchandise, travel, event tickets, gift cards and more. If you already have the Alliant Credit Union Platinum Rewards card, there’s nothing special for you to do. Just use your credit card for your qualifying purchases and watch your points add up. Then, each month, your VISA statement will reflect the points you’ve earned that month and the total points you’ve accumulated. In addition to exclusive bonus point promotions throughout the year, Alliant Rewards also offers ongoing opportunities to earn extra points through exclusive online and in-store offers from top retailers nationwide. Visit to browse through a current list of rewards and their point values and redeem points for Cash Back or select from over six million options available with the Alliant Rewards program.

Don’t have an Alliant VISA Platinum Rewards VISA credit card? Apply or upgrade today.3 Learn more at or call us at 800-328-1935 (24/7).
1 Refer to for Alliant Rewards terms and conditions.2 Cash Back option is provided as an account credit to your Platinum Rewards VISA credit card account. 3 Loan approval and APR based on creditworthiness and ability to repay. Rates, terms, and conditions are subject to change. We may not extend credit to you if you do not meet Alliant criteria.

©2012 Alliant Credit Union. All Rights Reserved. E200-R10/12

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Free financial counseling available
Are you concerned about your finances during these challenging economic times? If so, you’re not alone and there’s help. Alliant Credit Union partners with GreenPath Debt Solutions® to provide you with free access to money management and financial education services. Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years. And through GreenPath, you will enjoy unlimited access to financial counselors for free! As an Alliant member, you can receive help with: • Personal and family budgeting and money management • Understanding your personal credit report • Improving your credit (so you can qualify for loans and loans with better rates) • Stretching your dollars if you are transitioning out of a job or beginning retirement • Debt repayment • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure and repossession GreenPath gives personalized answers to your individual needs. Expert advice is only a free phone call away.

Become more financially savvy with Alliant webcasts
Alliant is committed to help people sharpen their ability to make informed judgments and effective decisions regarding the use and management of their money. That’s why we’re offering a series of free online financial wellness webcasts where you can learn about financial topics – and participate by visiting

HERE’S WHAT’S UPCOMING: November December Thriving through the holidays Estate planning

Webcasts are archived on Alliant’s website,
GreenPath counselors are available: Mon–Thu 7am to 9pm CT Friday 7am to 6pm CT Saturday 8am to 5pm CT To use this service, simply call 877-337-3399 or visit GreenPath on the web at

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Join Alliant today
Not yet an Alliant member? Consider joining. Your company or association provides free membership in Alliant Credit Union as an employee or association member benefit.* Note: Applicant must also meet other eligibility requirements for Alliant membership. Joining is fast and easy. Join online at and enjoy higher savings dividends, lower loan rates – and more. Plus, once you join, your family members will become eligible to join.
* Alliant membership is an exclusive benefit available to employees, retirees and members of qualifying organizations and their family members; any member of the Foster Care to Success; and individuals who live or work in qualifying communities and their family members. Applicants must also meet other eligibility requirements for membership. Please visit for details regarding Alliant membership.
©2012 Alliant Credit Union. All Rights Reserved. E200-R10/12