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Savings Advice

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Savings Resources

Check out these links for additional savings resources.

  • Team Saving - In the same way we need support for losing weight, this site gives all sorts of tips and support to help you save.
  • Help from Uncle Sam - MyMoney.gov is the U.S. government's website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education. Whether you are buying a home, balancing your checkbook, or investing in your 401(k), the resources on MyMoney.gov can help you maximize your financial decisions. Throughout the site, you will find important information from 20 Federal agencies and Bureaus designed to help you make smart financial choices.

If you've got favorite sites for savings tips or want to share your savings tips, send us an email.


Got Cash?

You've got choices

It used to be that you paid cash for items or you just didn't bring them home. Then there was lay-away where you paid for a portion of an item, little by little. Once paid in full, you brought the item home. But today we live for more immediate gratification. When we want something, we want it now and expect to bring it home, NOW. With credit card companies out to get a card in everyone's pocket, they've made it "normal" for us to bring the stuff home first, and pay later. We now are a nation of debtors instead of savers. But we don't have to be.

When you save you have choices. When you have cash, you have choices. Having choices gives you power. By saving you have a cushion to pull from and take care of that car repair or cover you for a couple weeks off of work due to illness or family emergency. Saving may be hard at first, but then it becomes routine. There is only so much money we have available to spend in a day (or week, or month). The object is to not spend more than you make.

To help you keep more of your hard-earned cash, here are some popular savings tips that you can put to work for your family today.

  • Take two weeks and write down every penny you spend. Have your family members do the same. It doesn't matter if you "spend" with a credit card, debit card, cash or check. Write down exactly what the money was spent for (or hold all of the receipts). At the end of two weeks, sit down with the family and examine where that money went. What could have been eliminated? What was "extra" or only for immediate gratification? What was purchased with only you in mind (as opposed to the entire family)?
  • Don't spend change. This is a little one but a good one. When you purchase something with cash and you get change back, set the change aside. You'll be surprised what you accumulate in just one month.
  • Pay on time. One way to cut extra spending is to be sure you pay your bills on time. Why pay a late payment fee? That could add up to $10 to $40 per month, or $120 to $480 per year!
  • Shop with a list and stick to it. Avoid impulse purchases by sticking to your list of NEEDS versus a "wish" list. By saving today, you may just be able to afford your wish list in the future!
  • Look for less expensive alternatives in everything. Perhaps you buy a used car instead of new. Maybe you cut out some of the special cable or satellite channels that you rarely watch. Shop at lower-priced markets instead of corner convenience stores.
  • Pay yourself first. This seems strange but it works. Set aside a portion of your paycheck to come directly to your credit union savings account each pay period. The money deposited in that account should be used for emergencies or surprise expenses - not regular use.
  • Save your IRS Tax Refund. Instead of spending your tax refund, let it jump-start your savings plan. You can even direct deposit it to your savings account.
  • The Goal. You should save six to nine months of living expenses for your household; six months if there are two or more working adults or nine months if just one. It may take several years to get there, but that's the minimum we should each have. So get saving!

Southern Security has several savings accounts, Insured Money Market Account and Share Certificates from which to choose - all earning dividends. And the checking accounts with many free features can also be managed with no fees.


Making Your Money Go Further

Everyone can save. But do we?

No. Most of us don’t. Why? We all have different reasons why we live from paycheck to paycheck. But experts agree that we should all have three to six months of “living expenses” in a savings account at all times. The term “living expenses” means we should have cash to pay utilities, rent/mortgage, phone, food, medical expenses, clothing and all other expenses that we typically incur in a month.

Two-Income Households
If you live in a two-income household, you should have enough cash to pay your bills for six months.

Single Income Households
If you are the only bread-winner in your family, you should have nine months of savings.

Emergency Fund This savings will help when you need it most, whether you’ve been laid off, had an accident or illness, had a major appliance breakdown (refrigerator, stove or car), or have to leave work to take care of a family member for a period of time. We’ll call this your emergency fund.

Credit Union Help Of course, credit unions are known as places to save and borrow money. Through payroll deduction you authorize your employer to deduct a specific amount from your paycheck each pay period. We’ve found this to be the BEST savings tool. But it only works if you leave the funds alone to grow. To help you get your savings built up, we’ve asked our staff for their best savings tips. We hope these help.

  1. Put back a little bit each day – whether it’s 50¢, $1, $3 or more. But commit to the same amount EVERY DAY. Can you save some of your lunch money every day?
  2. Don’t spend change. Whenever you receive change back from a purchase set it aside. Then each month, deposit your coins into your savings account. You’ll be surprised how fast your change adds up.
  3. Forget any increase in pay. Many people get yearly pay raises. A good way to save is to ignore the pay raise and continue to live on your current income. Take the excess and put it into your savings account, 401(k), 403(b) or any other retirement plan.
  4. If you’re making loan payments, continue to make them after the loan is paid off. Just make them to your savings account instead of the lender.
  5. Look for areas to save money. Are you spending too much money on foreign ATM fees? Check-cashing outlets? Hair salons? Pay television features? Be sure to ask yourself: Do I really need this? Can I get this service for less or for FREE? Whatever you’re able to cut out or reduce, be sure the amount saved goes directly into your savings account.
  6. Make a budget. This doesn’t have to be elaborate or scary. Simply write down everything you will need to pay for each month. Estimate how much you think those items will cost. Then total your expenses. Is your take-home income higher than your expenses? If so, save what’s left. If not, then you may be living beyond your means. Check out tip #5.
  7. If your company offers a 401(k) plan, participate in it. If your company matches your contributions, that’s FREE MONEY! Be sure to contribute at least as much as your company matches in order to take advantage of the savings benefits.
  8. Take one month and write down EVERYTHING you spend money on. Keep a list of what you purchased, when and what it cost. You’ll be surprised at all of the little, unnecessary items that suck up your savings dollars.
  9. Set up payroll deduction into “restricted” accounts so that you will not be tempted to withdraw it. You can deposit $5000 per year ($6000 if over age 50) into an Insured Retirement Account (IRA) where there is a significant penalty for any withdrawal prior to retirement. Or you can opt for a Holiday Club. Designed to help you save for the most expensive retail season of the year, a Holiday Club can make paying for all of those gifts a little easier. If you make a withdrawal, there is a penalty.
  10. Will you get an income tax refund? If so, put that directly into your savings account.
  11. When setting up your budget, be sure to indicate “savings” as an expense and pay yourself first! This way the money is always set aside – just as it is for any other bill.
  12. Pay your bills on time. Why waste your money paying late fees to companies you pay each month. If you pay on time you can save $60+ a year per company. Once you get your emergency fund built up, don’t quit saving.

This is your first BIG step in becoming financially secure. The next step is paying off outstanding bills or saving for a major expense like a car, house, medical bills, etc. Then comes your retirement. Some steps can be taken together. But the most important is the first one – your emergency fund. If you’d like more information on developing a savings plan for yourself or your family, please contact us or visit any location and we’ll help. We can also refer you to counseling centers for debt management techniques. 


Teaching Kids To Save

One of the best lessons a parent can teach a child is wise money management. Here are just a few ways to teach kids of all ages the principles and values of saving.

Needs vs. Wants
In order to teach kids about saving, parents must first teach them the difference between needs and wants.  Regardless of age, kids (and sometimes adults) say they need all sorts of things that are really just wants.  Needs are the essential things we must have in order to survive.  Wants are fun or pleasing things that we could live without if we had to.  We need food, clothing, and shelter, but toys, designer clothes, and name brand cereal are wants.  Once kids understand this difference, you can explain how needs come first, then savings, and if anything is left over, then wants can be satisfied.

Preschool Years (2-5)
You can start teaching kids about money as soon as they express a curiosity or interest about the topic.

  • Money Identification: Start with the basics such as money identification with preschoolers. Teach them to tell the difference between a penny, nickel, and a dime.
    • Sort Coins by Color: Begin by differentiating pennies from silver coins. Pennies are easily understood as children learn how to count. Practice counting out 10 pennies at a time.
    • Sort Coins by Size: Work on the difference of the silver coins by grouping the coins by size. Even though children learn the sizes, learning that a dime is worth more than a nickel is a hard concept for young children.
    • Introduce Paper Money: Once your child has mastered coins, it is time to introduce paper money. In a child's eye, coins are probably more valuable than paper money. Over time they'll begin to understand the relationship. Start showing them how you use these dollar bills to purchase items.
  • Piggy Bank: Even a two-year old can be taught to put coins into a piggy bank. Give your child a piggy bank to save his money in. You may want to consider a clear container so it's easy for your child to see how much is in his piggy bank.
  • Use Money Related Toys: A toy cash register is a great gift for a three year old to practice learning about money.
  • Pretend: Practice by pretending to be a teller and exchanging money - 10 pennies for 2 nickels and 2 nickels for a dime. Another pretend game is to operate a store where your child can buy his own toys.
  • Can I get this? Please, please, please? We’ve all heard it repeatedly. When a child asks for something in a store, explain that you have to pay for item – it is not free. At this age, you can introduce the concept of “needs vs. wants.” Instilling good money values can begin very early.
  • Use a Coin Counting Machine: Unloading all your coins into the machine at the credit union is a fun way to deposit money into a credit savings account; it's also a great way to practice coin counting. And Southern Security does not charge to count coins deposited into a child’s account.

6-12 year-olds
Keep in mind that kids will be more influenced by their peers at this age, too. They may be more aware of high-priced sneakers or jeans and be more vocal in wanting these items.

  • Allowances: Sit down with your child and encourage them to identify ways for them to earn money through work (e.g., put away their toys, make their bed, etc.) – help them make a list and keep a chart of all the chores they complete (chores should be appropriate for age).  The lesson is that money does not grow on trees – there is a value to money – it is earned through hard work.
  • Match Savings:  Match their savings dollar for dollar, quarter for dollar, or whatever fits your budget. What kid doesn’t like free money? Okay, so it may not be free to you, but the saving habit you are establishing now will save you a lot of money later on.
  • Open a Savings Account:  Encourage him to deposit a portion of money he earns into a credit union savings account and track the dividends earned on his account.
  • Encourage Them to Set Goals:  Encourage children to identify fun things to spend their money on. For older children, prioritizing the list can be a helpful challenge.  Hang a picture of a wanted item off their wish list on the wall. If your child is saving for a special purchase, hang up a picture to remind them of what they are working towards.  Make sure there are enough “short term” goals to keep them interested.
  • Chart Success:  If they want to purchase an item, price it. Then hang up a drawing of an empty thermometer with the dollar value of that item at the top. As they save their money, color in the thermometer. They'll be able to track their progress visually.
  • Give Non-monetary Savings Rewards:  Young children may not understand that $10 tomorrow is better than $5 today. Consider rewarding children with things special to them for saving their money: stickers, toys, and special outings can be helpful.
  • Put Child in Charge:  Put them in charge of buying their own stuff. This is usually done through allowance and includes all those extra things that kids usually want: bubble gum, video games, cell phones, etc. You may be surprised at how frugal they become when it’s their money that’s being spent. And this one has the added benefit of actually saving you money.
  • Save Money in Front of Your Children:  Keep your own piggy bank or deposit money in their account when you are with them.  Explain what you are saving for and your children will mimic your behavior.
  • Help Them Spend Money:  Occasionally, children will get so focused on saving their money, that they won't spend any money along the way. Help them enjoy their money by spending some on small purchases or surprising them by buying something they'd like.
  • Family Finances:  Have family meetings to talk about family finances (e.g., paying for the house, food, gas, vacations, etc.).  Also, if you have not yet mastered the “needs” vs. “wants”, family discussions are a great place to review these.
  • Entrepreneurship:  Show them ways to make money (e.g., bake sale, lemonade sale, etc.).  But don’t forget to show them the cost of supplies! 
  • Recognize Opportunities:  Keep your eye out for moments perfect for teaching. Using a toll booth, buying milk, and leaving a tip are all great opportunities to explain to your child what you are doing and why. The best learning opportunities are just regular day-to-day activities.
  • Going out to eat: Compare menu items and prices (e.g., ordering water vs. soft drink).  Show them the bill at the end of the meal, talk about tips and taxes.  The lesson is about double-checking to make sure you know where you money is going and that the bill is correct, and that there is no such thing as a “free meal.”
  • Compound interest:  As their math skills progress, take advantage and show them the meaning of simple and compound interest.  Show them how fast their money can grow as well as how fast debts can add up.
  • Withdrawing money from the ATM: Teach them about the “invisible money” at ATMs and how it really works – it isn’t free – you had to earn it and save it (e.g., how it is connected to a financial institution). 
  • Praise Their Efforts:  Praise your child for any amount of savings and encourage your child to keep saving even if he has shown wasteful behavior.

Teenagers
Children learn directly from watching their parents.  As a parent or grandparent you must walk-the-talk when it comes to managing your finances if you expect your kids to understand and appreciate the value of money, saving, and preparing for their financial future.

  • Shopping: Make a grocery list and get kids to cut and organize coupons with you.  Then go to the store and have them match the coupons with the items on the shelves.  Talk to them about a “brand” item vs. generic.  As a reward, give them some or all of the money saved from using coupons.  Teach them about the importance of comparison shopping and waiting for items to go on sale.  Teach them about the importance of wants (e.g., chocolate chips cookies and latest “fun” cereal) vs. needs (food staple products like milk, eggs, bread, etc.)
  • Consider an open-wallet policy with your teens: Review family finances with your teens.  When they reach a certain age or maturity, have them take charge of the family checkbook.  They will learn what it costs to pay the mortgage, utilities, car repairs, groceries and more. They will get a dose of fiscal reality that will stick with them for life.
  • Part-time jobs:  To earn money, suggest jobs they might take on (babysitting, mowing lawns, getting a part-time job)
  • Track Favorite Stocks: Introduce them to the stock market and suggest they follow one or two favorite companies like a soft drink, sneaker, tech or locally-based company.  Suggest they track the prices for a period of time and create a graph.  Also, encourage them to follow news about their selected company(s). 
  • College:  Talk to them about what is entailed in paying for college.  Get them to design a plan to cover the costs, even if that plan involves you saving more, too!
  • Basic Financial Services:  Teach them how to fill out a checkbook register, track ATM withdrawals and debit card transactions.
  • Credit Cards:  Teach them how to use a credit card responsibly.
  • Dorm Life:  Start preparing them to live on their own in college/leaving the nest (e.g., budgeting, not going into debt, living with roommates, etc.).
  • Designer vs. No Name:  Talk about the quality of merchandise and let them know that just because it may have a designer label doesn’t make it better.

Sources:  ChooseToSave.orgAbout.comAmericaSaves.orgMotley Fool (Fool.com)360FinancialLiteracy.org


Preparing For A Catastrophe

Southern Security is ready.  Are you?

Whether it's the bird flu, a tornado or some other disaster that threatens the US, your credit union is prepared.  Southern Security has taken precautionary steps to minimize any disruption of service. In the event that a catastrophic event affects Memphis in particular or the US in general, Southern Security FCU is ready. But staff preparations may not be enough. Other services throughout the area or nation may be disrupted, as well.  Through experiences with Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy we learned that local infrastructure could be wiped out. But we were still available to assist our members in the affected areas.

What steps can I take NOW to be prepared?
To increase your accessibility to cash in the case of a major event, we suggest that each member have the following – all offered free by Southern Security. Waiting until the crisis occurs will delay your access to these services.

  1. Request a Member Access Number. This number, when used with your account number, provides account access via CU Online (internet), MoneyTalk (telephone) and mobile app. Members can track their balances, debits, deposits, transfer funds from one account to another and request withdrawal checks to be mailed to their home address.
  2. Request ATM or Debit MasterCard. All members are guaranteed* an ATM or Debit MasterCard. Using the card will allow you access to cash at remote locations such as ATMs. Those with a checking account have greater flexibility with the Debit MasterCard as it can be used to make purchases, as well. And members can request cash back at many retailers nationwide.
  3. Sign up for direct deposit [link to Benefits of Direct Deposit] with your employer. Direct deposit is the safest way to be paid. Funds are automatically deposited into your accounts on payday – typically before you would receive your paper check. But in the case of a certain emergencies, such as a pandemic, some employers may be delayed getting your physical paycheck to you. Through direct deposit no one handles or transports your check, thereby reducing infection risk or delays from damaged infrastructure. Your funds will be in your account and you can withdraw cash at the nearest ATM. If you need assistance completing your company's direct deposit form, please contact your nearest branch.
  4. Update your contact information. Should Southern Security need to contact you to inform you of special closings or changes regarding accessing your account, we need current contact information including home, mobile and work phone numbers and email. Please be sure to keep this information updated. If you have a Member Access Number you can update this information inside CU Online [link to CU Online] . 

What happens if a crisis strikes my home area?

Should you leave the crisis area – regardless of which region or city that is, you will still have remote access  options [link to Account Access Options] through CU Service Centers , ATMs, use of your Debit MasterCard and checks.

*All members are guaranteed an ATM card for remote access unless the privilege has been previously rescinded by Southern Security.

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Do you have a family member who is already a Southern Security member? Or, do you work for one of over 500 of our sponsor companies?

You may not be eligible for membership at this time. Please call 901.452.7900 or 800.633.4128 or visit a branch for further assistance.