Tag Archives: Joe Mecca

How to Make the Most Out Of Your Bonus or Raise

Expecting a raise or bonus soon? Learn how to make the most out of any extra money you have coming in!

Optimizing Your Raise or Bonus

Even though I do believe that diversifying your income is a smart money move, let's not ignore the most common one that most people have – your nine to five job.

This is a steady paycheck for work that you hopefully enjoy.

Besides the paycheck, things like benefits can be a huge plus for you. Depending on where you work, you could also receive bonuses and if things are looking good, raises.

Okay. So you may be getting a raise because you switched jobs and companies still.….

Even if neither of those is the case, you two could be getting money this summer in the form of the advance child tax credit payments.

Today, we're going to show you how to make sure that any extra money you receive helps you achieve your family and financial goals faster.

That's why I'm so glad Joe Mecca is here. He's the vice president of communications over at Coastal Credit Union and our go-to savings guy.

In this episode, we'll get into:

  • how these advance payments work with the child tax credit
  • a checklist to help make sure that your financial foundation is solid
  • t ideas on how you can layer and optimize your money.

Are you ready? Let's get started!

Resources to Maximize and Manage Your Money

Want to make sure your dollars go further? Here are resources mentioned in the episode as well as additional handy tools to stay on top of your money!

If you're still sorting out what goals you want to pursue and plans that you want to set up, please join us in our Thriving Families group on Facebook.

We're all about helping one another out with our family and financial goals.

We'd love to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

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How the Advance Child Payments Work

Since the advanced child tax credit payments are coming up next month, I want to cover some of the most common questions I'm hearing from parents.

Mandatory disclaimer, even though I've been a contributing writer at TurboTax, I am not a tax expert.

There are a few key things you need to know about with the child tax credit.

In years past this tax credit has been $2,000 per qualifying child. For this tax year (2021) it has increased.

  • If you have kids five and under, it's going to be $3,600.
  • If your kids are six through 17 at the end of 2021, it's going to be $3,000.

So that's the first difference – an increase.

The second is this – you will be getting half of that credit in advance as monthly payments starting in July.

Are We Eligible for the New Child Tax Credit? 

Before we get into the payment scenarios, I do want to note that there are some income thresholds to get the full tax credit.

  • If you are single filer or you're married and filing a separate return, that threshold is 75,000.
  • If you're filing as a head of household, it's $112,500.
  • If you're married and filing a joint return or filing as a qualifying widow or widower, it's $150,000.

If your adjusted gross income exceeds that then the tax credits begin phasing out. [The IRS has all the details here.]

Let's take a quick moment to go over some scenarios so that you can have a better idea of how that would look.

Let's say that you just had a baby this year. (First of all, congratulations!) If this baby is your only kid with this tax credit, you would qualify for the $3,600.

Half of that $1,800 would be paid to you each month from July to December giving you an extra $300 a month.

Now let's say you have two kids, a four year old and a nine-year-old. You would qualify for 6,600 dollars in tax credits.

Half of that 3,300 would be split into six payments from July to December. Each month, you would have $550 deposited.

I hope that makes sense.

How You Can Use That Child Tax Credit to Improve Your Family Finances

This tax credit money can be used in so many different ways. For some parents, it can offset a bit of the cost of raising kids now.

It can also be used for future expenses. I know some are talking about using that money to start or increase their five 29 contributions.

Or you can put this money towards your family's financial goals, which can benefit everyone. An example is paying off your high interest debts; that frees up cashflow now and in the future that you can use for your kids and other family needs.

How do you know what's the best path for you?

That can be the tricky part, which is why I think you'll enjoy my conversation with Joe Mecca on how to optimize your money!

Getting a Raise? Here's How to Make the Most Out of It

Elle Martinez: A lot of people in our community, once a year they do reviews and in some cases, this is raises.

We have many teachers, as a part of our community. As they start the new school year or any job where you're getting a raise, you want to make those dollars go further.

Especially After the year we had last with COVID and just focusing on getting through that year.

I wanted to talk about any tips on how to approach this high level view with your raise- what things to maybe talk about or consider.

Joe Mecca: Yep and I always like to tell people this works for a raise, this works for even a bonus in a short term.

It's a great opportunity for you to take Just take a look at your personal financial situation and then make some adjustments to make sure you're working your way toward your goals, especially before it happens.

Maybe take some time before it actually hits your paycheck to plan out what you're going to do next.

Create Your Family's Financial Game Plan

The first thing I would tell people get prepared for the short term. If you haven't reviewed your budget in a while, and if they're listening to you, I hope that it review your budget.

Now is a great time to do that. You take a look at where your money's going, understand what you're spending your money on, understand what you're setting aside money for and where that's going.

Does what you're setting aside for paying your bills, match your current spend because your bill habits change with time, your utilities might go up or you might cancel something. That may shift a little bit.

Yeah. Overall, just you can look at your budget. I always like to tell people to look at the 50/20/30 rule. I know, you shared that with people in the past.

  • Set aside 50% of your income and make sure you're paying your necessities. Paying down debt.
  • 20% to savings and then
  • the rest – 30% – for discretionary spending.

I actually like to be a little bit more aggressive and try to put the 50 towards the savings, but

Elle Martinez: -because you're a hardcore saver.

Why You Need an Emergency Fund

Joe Mecca: Yeah, it takes a while to work up toward that, but in the short term get yourself, toward those percentages. Next, make sure you do it in an emergency fund.

Another thing that I always love to talk about is making sure people, we have have money set aside for emergencies because they do happen.

There've been plenty of studies that show that half of the population doesn't have enough set aside to cover a $400 emergency. So if you don't have that, Use this as an opportunity.

Then look beyond that. I know the experts usually say three to six months living expenses are good emergency fund. Again, I would prefer to see more because as we saw in the last year, sometimes an emergency can last a year.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. Who would have thought of that? Like no one came into 2020 thinking that.

[You] definitely want to have that financial cushion where you're both comfortable with it.

Pay off Your Debts (or at least Refinance)

Joe Mecca: Yep. Then the last piece on the short-term stuff is you take a look at your debts.

Do you have some higher interest or high rate loans that you might be able to refinance?

I know that's not really taken advantage of the pay increase, but while you're looking at that stuff, make note of it.

This might be the ideal time to refinance some of this debt or consolidate some of this debt to something that's going to be a little bit lower cost.

As long as you're laying it all out in front of you at the time and examining your financial situation, then go ahead and do that.

Building Up your Investments

Joe Mecca: Once you're comfortable with the short term stuff, now you need to be thinking about the future.

I'm not a financial advisor, so I'm not going to be give you financial advice.

I'm going to tell you what's worked for me and what I always like to share you know, if you have a retirement plan, a 401k, or especially if we're talking about teachers, it's a 403(b), are you taking advantage of that?

Are you at at least trying to get your match? If your employer offers a match and you're not putting in that much into the plan, then you're missing out. So I would say take a look at that.

Let's say you got a 2% or 3% increase in your salary. Might be an ideal time for you to do a 1% increase in what you're contributing to your retirement fund.

If you do that over time, eventually now you're up to like 15 or more percent and you can really start making some progress toward, toward your retirement by just adding to it at 1% at a time.

If you two or 3% increase, if you can put 1% towards your retirement you're not going to notice. You're not going to miss it when you get your check.

You're not going to have that lifestyle increase of suddenly you've got more on your check. You know, put, put the focus into taking care of yourself first, taking care of your future self.

So I always like to say, great opportunity to examine your 401k or 403b and bump it up another percent.

Shift Up Your Savings and Investment Contributions

Elle Martinez: Yeah. That does make a difference. When we were first married, just out of college for my husband, I had my internship. Even then we're like, let's put in just enough for that free money.

At that time it was not much right? But years passed, we didn't notice that money.

These small changes, you don't feel and much pain, if any, but then you see compound interest you that advantage of time and building up that habit, it does make a huge impact on your finances later on.

Joe Mecca: Even if you're maxing it out, still do that exercise because all you're going to do at that point is you might just hit your max earlier in the year.

That just frees up more to do with later on in the year, you might have a larger check later in the year to do some other saving investing, or spend it on something that you really need or want.

It's worth doing that exercise year over year, over year.

Again, once you do it, it might not seem like much at first, but when you've done that over several years, you can really make a big dent in one year you're doing an increase in percentage.

So you're contributing more and more and more toward your retirement. Again, there's tax benefits to doing that, depending on how you've got that structured again, not giving tax advice, not giving investment advice.

Health Savings Accounts

If you have access to a health savings account, and I know a lot of people have high deductible health plans this is also a good opportunity to take a look at that.

Are you contributing what you can to that plan?

If I had to guess most people are not maxing out their health savings, but you know, as an individual, I think this year, but $3,600 into a health savings plan. Family plans double that $7,200.

Again, those are tax advantage plans as well. That allows you to save for either current or future health care costs that the money is yours to keep one wants it in that account.

It's not like a use lose it, flexible savings spending plan. Just a great way to be saving up for, cause you never know when you're gonna have a future health care expense.

So to plan for that now, it could be just putting a few extra dollars more out of every paycheck into, into an HSA and saving up that way.

Maxing Out Your IRAs

If you're eligible for an IRA and you're not currently maxing that out, take a look at that. Eligible employees now can do up to $6,000 a year into an IRA account.

There's two different versions of the traditional and a Roth. They both have different rules and different tax implications as well. But again, good opportunity to look at that stuff there.

If you're comfortable with all those look at different savings options, you can look at investing options.

That's, where you might want to sit down and talk with a financial advisor and really get some direction on where to put some excess money.

But yeah, for majority of people in the short term, it's getting your budget in place and then start focusing on saving for your future. And then if you're already saving for your future, beefing that up just a little bit each time.

Approach Your Finances as Layers

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I mean, it's brick by brick. You're building that financial foundation.

We mentioned last year, but that was really a stress test for a lot of people's finances through no fault of their own, where something comes up, we're all experienced, some kind of pressure.

I think that was , if you could take a key takeaway is do your best to have your financial safety net or cushion, whatever you want to call it in place as best as possible.

Then once that's in place, then you have more options.

You have some peace of mind too, to save for a dream. Whether that's a retirement, a career pivot you're saving for a family house, you know, or could be investing for the future. Maybe you want to speed up that retirement date.

However you want to play around with that, but you gotta have that foundation, right?

I know we talked about several goals, but I want to hone in a little bit more about savings in investment options. You mentioned IRA, as an option as well.

Choose the Best Bank Accounts for You

Coastal has a lot of different accounts especially on the saving side so do you mind just going over a couple of them?

Joe Mecca: For a lot of people they're saving for short-term goals. I'm going to focus on really the short-term stuff, and then the things that products that coastal offers. A lot of people use our go green checking account.

Even though it is a checking account, it does pay a dividend

. A lot of people will use that as their savings vehicle because they use that account to do their transactions once every month. But that's where they can also earn a dividend too. So it's a way to kind of boost your savings.

In the short term, a lot of people like to keep money separate and they don't like to mix their transactional money they're spending money with their savings. So coastal offers a companion to go green checking. It's actually the go green money market.

That's actually where I prefer to do most of my savings. So I do my transactions out of the checking account that helps me earn a higher dividend out of the money market account.

I like to keep money in the money market account for all my short-term goals.

You can do multiple accounts. I actually like to keep it all in one account and then I keep a spreadsheet and segment out-

Elle Martinez: I'm not surprised with the spreadsheet.

I'm a fan of the spreadsheet spreadsheet. You're a super saver.

Joe Mecca: Yeah, and I do like to like segment out, like I'm saving for a car I'm saving for a trip. If I ever get to travel again and savings for some other things I want to do around the house.

For me, it's okay put all that short-term stuff into the money market account. It's separate from the money I'm spending. It earns a dividend so it's going to grow a little bit each month. It's accessible when I need it.

The other option is to do a certificate account CD. Everybody knows CDs. Those are a little different cause they're they're time bound. You're agreeing to put money on deposit for a set period of time with traditionally the benefit of getting a little bit higher rate on that.

That's good if you've got a kind of little further out goal that you're trying to save for.

So now you're talking about, I want to pull together the down payment on a house. And my goal for that is to do that three years or five years or whatever.

You can set aside money at a yeah, put it in a three-year certificate, put it in a five-year certificate and set it aside.

That way the money's locked up. You can't really touch it. There it's yours. If you really have an emergency, you can get it back out.

What you're doing is you're agreeing to put it on deposit for a longer period of time in exchange for a little bit, a little bit better return. Yeah. Again, those are all insured products too.

They're guaranteed by NCUA up to it's a $250,000 per account. Just great safe, kind of boring savings vehicles, but savings savings yeah exciting if you make it. Exciting. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Well, we had enough ‘excitement' in 2020. We can just do boring this year, and progressing.

When You Need a Financial Advisor

Joe Mecca: Now if you do have longer term savings goals and you mentioned saving for college or are you doing retirement planning? Are you, are you looking for things that are furthered up?

That's why I say go talk to go talk to a financial advisor. Coastal offers coastal wealth management to all of our members.

You can sit down with financial advisor and work through things like retirement planning and investing. You're doing a 529 college plan and really trying to look at the stuff that's further down the road.

You know may involve More variety in the types of financial investments that you have access to a little bit more risk, a little bit more, potentially more reward, but yeah, that's where you really want to sit down with somebody and lay out your plans and say, here's what I want to do.

Here's when I want to do it and have them help you work backwards from there and decide like what type of, what type of risk you're willing to take and how much you want to put into those certain types of investments. With the hope that over time, you're gonna be well situated to reach those savings goals.

For the short term stuff, I love savings products. I love the money market. I love certificates. They're reliable.

There's a reason that everybody's still offering them, you know, after decades and decades and decades of financial services, because they're really solid products for short-term savings.

Coastal's Wealth Management Team

Elle Martinez: I do believe you should layer your money and finances based on the timeframe and everything. Before we wrap up, I definitely want to point out with the wealth management team.

I've met a few of them and I have to say two things stuck out to me. Of course you want this with a financial advisor, very knowledgeable about specific things, but they genuinely are people oriented.

We were giving general advice, which is helpful for a lot of people, but when you're coming up with a plan for those big milestones

  • if you know you're saving up for college,
  • if you're planning for retirement,

It is incredibly helpful to have someone sit down, look at your particular situation, look at all the numbers and give you a personalized, crafted plan.

Joe, in case anyone is listening is here in the triangle area of North Carolina and they want to start maximizing their finances, whether it's saving more or maybe sitting down and crafting that plan, what's the best way they can find out more about Coastal?

Joe Mecca: I would say, start with our website. It's Coastal24.

You can go there, you can research all the products and services that we offer. Even open an account online start conversation with wealth management advisor, see some of our other services that we offer too.

We're very consumer oriented and, and are really geared toward people who just want to want to take the next step in their finances financial journey.

Our motto is bank better to live better. That's really our goal. That's our mission. We're gonna help you. We're gonna help you live better.

Support the Podcast!

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Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

Identity Theft & Credit Card Fraud: How to Protect Your Money

With credit card fraud and identity theft happening more frequently, we all have to step up our game. Learn keys ways to protect your finances and identity!

Fraud And Identity Theft Not Going Away

I hope you never have to deal with identity theft, data breaches, or fraud but chances are you will.

There were 4.8 million identity theft and fraud reports received by the FTC in 2020, an increase of 45 percent from 2019.

The Ascent from Motley Fool reported that credit card fraud was the most common type of identity theft last year – over 270,000 reports.

Another unfun stat – identity theft doubled from 2017 to 2019.

Finally in 2019 almost 165 million records containing personal data were exposed through data breaches.

The point? 

Cyber crimes aren’t going away anytime soon.

In fact last year, I got hit.


The first one, I received a call from Coastal about suspicious activity on my card. Thankfully that was quickly resolved. 

Second time, I discovered it when doing my monthly review. I saw a $140 charge from California. I called and explained this wasn’t me. 

It took a month of back and forth, but I got it cleared. It was a headache.

One I hope you avoid. 

Which is why I’m so glad Joe Mecca is back on the show. 

In this episode we get into:

  • Practical ways we can protect our finances when you're offline or online
  • Tools to manage your passwords and cards
  • What you need to do if your card is compromised

Hope you enjoy it!

Resources to Protect Your Finances

If you're getting more proactive with protecting your identity and money, here are some handy resources to check out!

For freezing your accounts or putting an alert you need to contact the credit bureaus.

  • Equifax: 1-888-766-0008
  • Experian: 1-888-397-3742
  • TransUnion: 1-833-395-6938

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! If you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better, come check out Coastal today.

Protecting Yourselves Against Fraud and Identity Theft

Elle Martinez: I'm thrilled to have you, but this topic about fraud protection is never a happy subject to talk about, but sadly, we've been having to deal with this. So I love having you over to share your expertise.

Joe Mecca: I almost hate having the expertise.

Yeah, it's an important topic and unfortunately, for a lot of people, it's usually not one that, you're ready to talk about when you have to talk about it. Fraud is reality though; it happens.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, even with traditional banking, fraud was an issue; scams of course.

Now, especially with the past year, most of us are moving to digital banking for everything. They've gotten more sophisticated and you just have to be on top of everything.

Last year we had to deal with it twice. One case [was] with a credit card, from a different bank. It was a headache.

Thankfully, Coastal actually notified me [with the other situation] and I found out about that, but yeah, it's something that we deal with.

Even if we have the strong passwords, even if we're taking the precautions and making sure we're not having the same, like usernames and passwords through different accounts.

Joe Mecca: Right, right. I actually, I had, I think I had my own situation since the last time we talked about the subject where I use my debit card.

It was an ATM at a diner and a couple of months later I started getting attempts. I had the card turned off, but I started getting attempts.

Somebody was trying to use my card and out West somewhere.

I had the team look into that and they confirmed that. It was in fact, yeah, somebody had duplicated my card, so you never know when it's going to happen.

Why It's So Important to Track Your Finances

Joe Mecca: The best we can do is be vigilant and know what to look for and know how to protect ourselves. And then what to do if something happens.

I think that's probably the most important thing is, if you can recognize it and catch it early enough, there are things that you can do to protect yourself to stop the damage from occurring and to work, to reverse and all the effects of it.

That is the nice thing, especially if we're talking about card fraud is you're not liable if you catch it early you report it.

You're not the one who's liable for that, so you can get made whole but you need to do some things to make sure you're on the lookout for it.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, I know the first step is always staying on top.

I recommend having monthly money dates where you [two] sit down and kind of plan and talk about what you want to do for the next month and look back at the last month.

We also do these really quick [reviews] on Fridays; just seems to be the best time for us.

Just log into the accounts, make sure everything's gone through the bills for the week or whatever you need to take care of.

That's actually how I caught on the credit card. I was reviewing things and I saw that there was this charge for groceries of all things on the other side of the country.

And I was like, ‘Oh, wait a minute. That's not me.'

Tips to Keep Tabs on your Bank Accounts

Joe Mecca: Yeah and a lot of times that is the big red flag, because it's a transaction that's happening in a completely different geographic area. You touched on the first thing. What can you do to protect yourself?

And let's be vigilant, and know where you use your card, be aware of the places that you're typically spend. Be in constant communication if you're sharing accounts or sharing cards. And then monitor those accounts regularly.

So you log in online banking, you can, yeah. If you have the mobile banking app, you can check your accounts that way.

I love setting up transactional alerts. We've got alerts. They make fun of me at work because I set up all the alerts that we have. And for me, it's more about seeing what the experience is, but well, a little bit of it's being extra paranoid.

So I'll do it every time I do a transaction, I might get three alerts, through each system we have, but if you can set up transaction, you can set them up by dollar amount or type of transactions.

I encourage people to always do that. So that way, something pops up on your phone and says your card was just swiped at CVS and you haven't been to CVS. Well, that's something to look into But it even goes as far as like how you use your card.

You mentioned having strong passwords and having, multi-factor for your online log-ins and that'll protect you from doing your online transactions and hopefully, people keep people from accessing your account.

How the EMV Credit Card Chips Protect You

But still the biggest source of fraud is people stealing your card information at the register or at the ATM.

So I always prefer to do, if I can do a chip transaction instead of a Stripe transaction, cause those are encrypted.

Those are going to be a lot harder to steal and replicate because what they're doing is going to take the information from the card and they're going to move, make a duplicate card.

Somebody wants to either for your online use with your card information, your credentials, or to actually create a fake version of your card, a piece of plastic that they can go and use at a store.

So I always prefer if I can to do a chip transaction. Now Coastal's one of them, but a lot of, a lot of other institutions are rolling out contactless, which you don't have to insert your card.

You don't have to swipe your card. It's doing, it's doing a little over, you know, radio signal back and forth to the card, but those are encrypted.

Those are going to generate a unique code and it's going to be for that transaction for that point in time.

So again, it's going to be much harder for somebody to replicate your card because the information they have, isn't tied to your card. It's tied to that transaction.

Know Your Mobile Payment Options

Same thing too if you've got mobile payment options, I like to use Apple pay. That's creating a encrypted token, so you're not actually passing your card information because really in order for somebody to do like you've gone and purchase stuff online. Right?

And to do that, you put in your name, your card number, your expiration date and the code on the back.

Yep. Well, If some, somebody can skim the information from you using your card at a compromised terminal somewhere, they're going to be able to get that information and that's all they need to do at transaction.

I always like to, you know, be on the lookout for limiting as many opportunities you can for you to do, to transaction that way, which would reduce the number of times that somebody could possibly steal your card information.

The same thing with using your phone. Everybody's got online, log-ins tied to their phone now, and you can do online banking or mobile banking from your phone. You may have, you may have your cards stored on your phone password store on your phone.

Whenever possible, make sure you're using a password on your phone, use biometric login. That would be your touch ID or your facial recognition because more and more access to your phone has access to your financial records.

You want to be able to help prevent that from happening and really keep your information secure.

And then just be on the lookout for the types of places you're using. Like I had mentioned, I got compromised using an ATM at a diner and I knew it.

I knew it going, I knew it going to withdraw the cash. Like this is the kind of place I don't want to lose my guard. And sure enough that's what happened.

So go with your gut. If it feels sketchy, if you're using a gas pump, that's kinda out of view or an ATM that's out of view.

Go down the road a little bit and look for something that's a little bit better situated. Cause you know, if it doesn't feel right, there's a good chance that it feels right to the person who's trying to steal from you.

Avoid These Big Mistakes with Your Passwords

Elle Martinez: Yeah, definitely. They've gotten more sophisticated which means, we have to step up our game and you have a lot of great point.

I want to rehash and make this clear because I had been guilty of this in the past- which is [not] having different passwords for your accounts, especially with your financial institutions.

I know it's so hard to track all the passwords now because everything is online. For me, password manager, I like, because it will generate a secure password.

You can put like the rules that you want to have the upper lowercase symbols, all that.

You can have these unique passwords because if they get access to one, they're going to try to get access to different accounts, once they have that information.

So those are really good tips, Joe. I appreciate it.

Joe Mecca: If a website gets compromised, if people's passwords get stolen what they'll do is they'll just create a big, long list. There'll be millions of logins and passwords, and then they'll go to every site they can find and try those credentials.

They get in because people use the same passwords and usernames, so it mix it up. Same as you, I like to use a password manager. I don't know my passwords, the most important passwords to me. I don't know.

Elle Martinez: It's sad because we got, you've just gotten to the point where, creating so many passwords between work, personal, and then with the kids remote learning, then they have their own accounts.

The temptation to go with easy to remember passwords is there, but it's just better, less of a headache being more proactive with the passwords and protecting yourself.

What You Should Do If You're a Victim of Credit Card Fraud

Elle Martinez: So I want to switch just a little bit. Let's say, unfortunately someone's done their best but they got hit with their cards and they found out while they were checking transactions for the week, something unauthorized happened.

Do you mind kind of giving like a high level view of the steps they need to take? You mentioned, if they do it quick enough, they won't be liable.

Joe Mecca: Right. So that's true with, with credit cards, debit cards. We tell people anything with the visa logo on it and Coastal's a visa shop. We issued visa plastic, but I know the rules are similar for MasterCard and other issuers.

The consumer is not liable for fraud if it's shown to be fraud.

Most cases it's going to be the institution that eats the cost and does what they need to do to make you whole but you know, you're going to want to notify your provider.

It could be your credit union, your bank, your, your just credit card issuer. You want to make sure you notify them, let them know that your card has been compromised.

They'll typically issue a new one right away. They're going to typically block your existing card right away so it can't be used anymore.

Identify which transactions you believe are fraudulent and the time period as well, because they're going to want to be on the lookout for maybe a new transaction comes in.

Especially when things get run as credit cards, there's always a lag time and it could be a few days before another transaction comes in before you can see it.

So you don't want to notify them, not just the transactions, but the time period that is in question.

You may have to file a police report. I think the last time we talked, you had a stolen purse. So it was more than just more than just notifying your card to assure, but you may want to file a police report as well.

And then continue to watch for fraudulent charges and you can always add additional fraudulent charges onto whatever claim you've made back with your financial institution.

If it's only one financial institution, that's easy. If you've had multiple cards stolen, then you may have to call multiple people and work it from that angle.

The sooner you can identify the transactions, the sooner you can identify the time period then your card issuers are going to be able to stop new fraud from happening, get you a new card and then work to make you whole on, on what you've lost on those other transactions.

Elle Martinez: I know when I went to Denver and my purse was stolen, I was more frustrated because like you mentioned, your phone has access to so many different accounts.

Thankfully I was able to, basically turn it into a paperweight remotely.

It was easy to call and immediately get those things canceled. I know part of it was also financial institutions are getting smarter about this – some, a little faster than the others.

Personally, I've seen Coastal be real responsive. Last year when I had those two incidents, two different cards, Coastal's the one that called me.

It was another out-of-state charge. It was a gas. I think it was Midwest this time. Got the call for that and they instantly responded.

How Coastal Credit Union is Protecting Its Members Against Credit Card Fraud

Elle Martinez: Coastal has been doing to protect your finances and give you some peace of mind. Do you mind going over some new developments?

Joe Mecca: So my favorite thing and there is a new development with it too. I know I've talked about it in the past is the CardNav app, which is a second app.

It's not our core mobile banking app. It's a second app that is really designed to be a card control app.

We recently launched a new version of the app. The old one was it wasn't branded. It was made by our card provider.

We've worked with them to create a coastal version of that app, coastal branded, which is really nice. It makes it really easy to organize your cards because it's got the actual card art in there.

It's got the more accurate card names. The old way it was, you see the last four digits and you have to kind of remember which four digit card was which now you can actually see which card you're talking about and scroll through your cards a little bit easier.

The nice thing about the card nav app too, is we've also now added credit cards to the app. It used to just be debit cards. Now it's credit and debit.

The great thing about card nav is it allows you to control your cards. You can turn them on. You can turn them off.

You can set limits on the geographic location of where your card can be used. You can actually set the proximity so you can say don't let my card be used if it's not near my phone.

So if your card and your phone aren't in the same place. Yeah, it'll, it'll not allow that transaction you can set dollar amount limits. You can limit the types of transactions.

So my credit card, I always, and I have to remember this on my credit card because sometimes you get recurring stuff, so I'll shut off everything except for recurring payments.

I know the recurring payments will go through, but nobody else can use my credit card for anything else until I turn it back on.

You can set, you can set dollar threshold so even if you wanted to like protect yourself from yourself, cause some of us need to do that.

Some of us need to do that, but those habits until we get them in place, you know, I only want this card to be used for $500 per month. You could set that.

It'll cut you off, you know, if you're over that limit or over that limit per day, or even per transaction, like say I only use this card to buy lunch. So if it's more than 15 or $20, don't allow the transaction.

The flip side of that too, is there's alerts, so you can get alerted for everything.

So even if you don't want to limit or block transactions from happening, which is great way to prevent fraud is to turn the card off and not allow the transaction. But if you want to just monitor your card and leave it on, you can really customize the types of alerts you get.

So you can get a little text alert or a little. It's actually a push notification pop up right on your phone. That'll say, you know, your car has been used here. Here's how much your card was declined. And here's why and for me, it's, I forgot to turn the card back on. Or I had limited a category.

And then did the transaction that fit into that category that I didn't realize it would be like, yeah, it was online purchase and I thought it was something else. So yeah, for me, it's just remembering to turn the cart, the cards back on or off, but it's really nice. Cause you'll get you, you get a lot of insight into, into how your cards work and where they're being used.

It's great. Like I said, if you've got family members who are, you have that another card that's tied to your account and you want to get notified that, you know, maybe, maybe you're great with the card being used, but you want to make sure, you know, how much has been used for, for budgeting purposes.

So it's really powerful tool because it gives you a lot of information and a lot of control. And like I said, we just, we just relaunched that. So it's a brand new brand new standalone app. There's information about that on our website. Yeah, of course you do have to be a coastal member to use it.

So a little, a little bit fun, a little bit of a complication there for your non coastal members, but yeah.

Elle Martinez: Well, it can be easily fixed, right? Really easily fix it. They sign up.

Joe Mecca: Well, I know you talk us up so much that I'm hoping a large portion of your viewership or listenership is is coastal members.

But there are, there are control tools like this available from other institutions as well.

So you know, hopefully if you know, people. Aren't with us. They're not a coastal member. They at least know enough to look back to their institution and say, Hey, does my, does my credit card or my debit card have this feature?

And if so, how do I, how do I get that? How do I use it? Because again, it's the most important tool that you're gonna have is the one that you control yourself.

Be With a Better Banking Partner

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. And I do also agree with you is you should feel wherever your banking options with whether it's, credit union or elsewhere, it should feel like a partner.

You know, which is why we stuck with Coastal because that's how we feel. We feel like we're not getting nickeled and dimed. When we feel like there's always some new feature that helps us manage your money better, which is a big help.

Key Takeaways on Dealing with credit Card Fraud and Identity Theft

Before we close up I want to focus on some key takeaways I got from my discussion with Joe.

  • Prepare yourself now. It’s not a matter of if, but when. It’s critical that we all become more vigilant.
  • Don’t reuse passwords. The way things are now, even if you do a good job on your side. Data breaches can happen so please mix your passwords.
  • Become familiar with tools and options available. I love that coastal has redone card nav, giving it more features. Like Joe mentioned, if you bank somewhere else, it’s good to become familiar with whatever features or services that offer. 

Unfortunately things like these aren’t going away, so if you want to talk about your experience and share some key tips that helped you, please join us over at Thriving Families on Facebook.

It’s a free, private, and positive community where we help one another out. We'd love to see you there!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your rating and review on Apple Podcasts.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in 4 weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Music Credit

Our theme song is from Staircases. Additional music by various artists from Audiio.

Simplify and Enjoy Podcast Launch!

It's finally here – today I published the first episode of the Simplify and Enjoy podcast!

For the past few months, I've been doing interviews and quietly trying to put this together while preparing and running the 9th season of the Couple Money Podcast.

It's been simultaneously exciting and exhausting trying to work on two shows, but I'm so happy the new show is out today.

In it a buddy and I share a bit about our money systems, I break down different options and apps to make managing money easier, and I discover a savings ninja when Joe breaks down how his process down. 

Not only does he save before paying the bills, he saves as he pays the bills, and…. then has a trick to sweep away savings at the end of the month.

About the Simplify and Enjoy Podcast

I think the first question I have to answer is why start this podcast, especially when I already have another one out.

The short answer while there is certainly some overlap on a few topics, Simplify and Enjoy has a different scope than Couple Money.

Where Couple Money is about getting spouses on the same page, dumping debt faster, and getting on the path to financial freedom, Simplify and Enjoy is more holistic.

Yep, there will certainly be conversations about finances but more importantly, it's about helping families find a path to wisely use the most precious resource – time.

For us, money is a tool that we use to reach our goals. 

I want to get into what we're spending our money on and why, especially as we're trying to enjoy the time we have now with our kids while pursuing financial independence.

There are times where on paper we could definitely save more, but we'd rather spend it on making this journey as family richer and meaningful.

I'm looking forward to talking with other families about their paths and choices they've made.

We'll also explore how minimalism fits in. It's funny to me how some people feel like we're firmly in the minimalist crowd while others think we're novices.

I'd love to dig in and see how we can take those principles and find that happy spot for us (and then adjust because with kids and life, change is a part of it).

So if you’re parents looking to give your family more options to design a life that reflects what you love, Simplify and Enjoy is for you!

Please check out the first episode and share ideas on what you like to see covered on it. 
Enjoy your week!