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4 Habits to Make Your Money Work Harder

From discounts on everyday items to savings account perks, take full advantage of your NEA benefits and give your bank account a boost.

Saving gives you options, less money stress and more financial freedom, says consumer finance expert Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Financial Network. “Money may not buy happiness,” he adds, but it is a vehicle to help us achieve many goals, whether those goals include buying a new piece of furniture, spending time to train for a marathon, providing for a child’s education or saving for retirement.

It can be hard to get to any destination without a map, Gallegos notes. He recommends creating a budget that includes your plans for saving. “The key is not to start with dollars and cents, but with your goals,” he says. Make a list of your goals and use it to guide your budget and plan your savings.

Once you’ve created your roadmap, take full advantage of the NEA member resources that can help you reach your goals. A few simple changes could lead to more money in your pocket!

1. Shop at NEA Click & Save. At NEA Click & Save, you can find discounts from well-known retailers such as Kohl’s, Sears, Macys and many more. And when you shop, you earn reward points—called WOWPoints—which you can apply toward future purchases. Collectively, NEA members have saved more than $10 million just by shopping through NEA Click & Save!

NEA Click & Save also provides a travel booking engine that offers great deals on plane tickets, hotels, vacation packages, rental cars and cruises. As you start to plan your holiday travel, check out the current travel deals and get the most out of your travel dollar.

Start saving now with NEA Click & Save

To find out more about the kinds of everyday items you can buy through NEA Click & Save, read our popular article titled “10 Everyday Discounts You’re Missing Out On.” And shop with our infographic “The Best Times to Buy Just About Anything” to time your purchases to get the best deal.

2. Make your money work harder with an online savings account. It pays to pay yourself first: Set up or add to your emergency fund, start setting aside money for your next vacation or a start a down payment fund for a car. By saving small amounts consistently each month, you’ll meet your goals before you know it.

“Use technology to simplify savings,” suggests Gallegos. Decide how much of each paycheck—or any income source—you want to save. “Establish a monthly savings goal and turn that [goal] into a ‘bill’ to pay,” just as you pay other bills.

Find out more about an online savings account just for NEA members

Learn why it’s so important to pay yourself first in “9 Reasons You Need an Emergency Fund” and learn more about financial planning in “The Smartest Way to Reach Your Financial Goals Faster.”

3. Get the most out of rewards with the NEA Cash Rewards Card. To earn more cash back on the things you buy most, you’ll want to have the NEA Cash Rewards Card in your wallet. You’ll earn 1% cash back everywhere, every time, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 3% cash back on gas, up to $2,500 in grocery/wholesale club/gas quarterly spend. And there’s a special incentive for new applicants for the card: You can qualify for a cash rewards bonus by using your new Cash Rewards credit card to make at least $500 in purchases within 90 days of your account’s open date.

Find out more about the NEA Cash Rewards Card

Read about making the most of all sorts of rewards in our article “Get Rewarded for Holiday Shopping,” and maximize this years’ holiday shopping season.

4. Build a stronger budget with the NEA Visa Prepaid Card. One way to stick to a budget is to pay with cash. But as buying habits have moved away from paper money and moved to online and app purchases, it’s become more difficult to go the “cash-only” budgeting route. In addition, according to Bankrate.com, an increasing number of people are going without a traditional checking account, or going “unbanked,” for multiple reasons, including fee avoidance or to avoid banks in general.

Enter the prepaid card. The NEA Visa Prepaid Card works the same as cash, is convenient and safe, and you can use it in person or online. Add money to your card through cash deposits, bank or PayPal transfers or even direct depositing your paycheck.

“It’s really more than a prepaid [debit] card. It’s an account, and you have access to it like any other bank account,” including the use of an online account center, mobile app access and the physical card for point-of-sale or online transactions, says Frank Kaplan, senior vice president for business development at NetSpend.

The card includes access to online budgeting tools that can help you keep track of spending and stick to your goals, says Kaplan. Suppose you budget $400 a month for groceries. Each time your card is swiped at a grocery store, you’ll get an alert that tells what percent of your budget you’ve spent so far. At the end of each month, the alert shows a red, yellow or green traffic signal so you can see your progress for the last 12 months, Kaplan explains.

Another feature cardholders can opt-in for, if they wish, is Payback Rewards, which gives rewards based on what you’ve bought with your card. For example, Kaplan says, “if you’re going to quick-service restaurants, you’ll get offers for [other] quick-service restaurants. If you go to McDonald’s, you may get an offer for Burger King,” such as $5 cash back the next time you spend $15 or more within a certain time, usually a 60-day window. “Our customers are getting $7 to $10 a month back in cash, which is a beautiful thing.”

Find out more about the NEA Visa Prepaid Card ›

 

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