Small Business Saturday = Bank Local

small-town-main-street-1940x900_35232

Credit Unions across America are gearing up for one of their busiest days, Small Business Saturday, on November 29th. Credit unions across the country will be hosting various events that include discounts for current members. Support your community by shopping, dining, and banking locally! #shopsmall

Below are some ‘bank local’ events, hosted by various credit unions:

San Francisco Federal Credit Union: 9AM -3PM

Ticonderoga Federal Credit Union: .25% off of loans

Community First Credit Union: 10AM-4PM

Lancaster Red Rose Credit Union

FORUM Credit Union

Community First Credit Union: hosted at Riverside Arts Market

Columbia Credit Union: 10AM-12PM

Didn’t see your local credit union listed above? No problem! Use our search engine to discover what your local credit unions will be doing this Saturday. Begin your search, here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org 

Know your budget before applying to college

education

Attending college is becoming more and more expensive by the day. For some, college is not feasible anymore due to the increase in tuition.

Parents need to advise their children before they apply for college what their tuition limit is. Telling them this from the beginning eliminates the situation of your child getting their hearts set on an institution that you cannot afford to send them to.

As stated in the article, Parents: Borrow for Kids’ College, Jeopardize Retirement, written by Jennifer Garrett:

“Parents need to let their kids know what they can afford to pay for college, and they need to let them know early in the process,” says Joe Orsolini, a certified financial planner with College Aid Planners in suburban Chicago.

This is critical, Tirukonda agrees, because it not only gives kids parameters to work within, but also gives them greater ownership of their decision. If they choose to apply to or attend schools that cost too much, they have to figure out how to make up the difference. That could include a private loan from your credit union, financial aid, or even deferring college for a year while they work and save money, says Jennifer de Thomas, a certified financial planner with New Outlook Financial in Portland, Ore.

Learn more about how to budget accordingly for your child’s college tuition, here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

What you need to know about myRA

myRA

President Obama launched a new retirement savings plan aimed for lower income Americans as well as millennials to take advantage of in orer to prepare for their retirement. myRA is similar to a Roth IRA (individual retirement account) in regards to it having the same tax treatment, annual income and contribution limitations.

Learn more about the benefits to an myRA below:

* “Low start-up cost. An initial investment can be as little as $25, with ongoing contributions as little as $5. By contrast, many IRAs require an initial deposit of at least $1,000.

* No fees, no market risk. The money essentially will be invested in government bonds paying the same variable rate as the retirement account for federal employees. As of April 2014, the rate for the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan G Fund was 2.36%.

* Tax-free earnings. As with a Roth IRA, all contributions are nondeductible, but qualified withdrawals are tax—and penalty—free.

* Penalty-free withdrawals. You can take out money you’ve put into the account at any time, but any earnings you take out before age 59 ½ will be subject to taxes and a 10% penalty.”

But before you begin, please be cautious of the drawbacks:

Once the balance in a myRA reaches $15,000, or you have had the account for 30 years, you must transfer the myRA to a private sector Roth IRA. And, you are limited to a single investment.”

Visit your nearest credit union for more help and guidance on setting up your ‘myRA’ or learn more in the full issue here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Don’t fall for the attractiveness of extended car loans

borrow_r1

When looking to buy a car, you’ll be tempted to take out a car loan, which most Americans do. However, beware of how long you finance your car loan. Longer car loans prove to be in the long run detrimental your finances.

Most people fall victim to this scheme by the enticement of lower monthly fees. What they don’t realize is that they’ll end up paying  a lot more in interest.

Today the average car loan lasts 67 months, way up from a typical 3-4 year car loan.  ” Almost 25% of vehicle loans made in the second quarter of 2014 were for 73 to 84 months, according to Experian.”

Here’s why you shouldn’t commit to a longer car loan:

  • “The longer the term of the loan, the worse your interest is likely to be. Shorter-term loans generally qualify shoppers for a better rate;
     
  • There’s a greater chance you’ll end up underwater. Without a substantial down payment, if you total the car or need to sell it, you could up receiving less than you owe on the loan; and
     
  • You’re stuck with the car even if you don’t want it anymore. If you want to buy a different vehicle, you likely won’t be able to trade in your car because of the difference between what you owe and what the dealer is willing to pay for it.”

Do your research! Visit your local credit union who can guide and pre-approve you for a loan before you begin the car buying experience.

Read the full article, here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Level of satisfaction with credit unions stay steady, above banks.

Tired of the poor service from your bank? Than switch to your local credit union!

In today’s poll released from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) more Americans are satisfied with the level of service, attention to detail, and lower fees credit unions provide. The level of satisfaction in credit unions continues to grow steady as bank satisfaction is down. The reason being over the use of fees.

A growing number of consumers are finding that the best way to avoid bank fees may be to avoid banks altogether,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder. “Credit union membership growth broke records in 2014, and their customers are far more satisfied. The structure of credit unions means they can charge lower and fewer fees, but they still manage to provide superior service in nearly every area, from tellers to websites. Banks can’t easily give up the revenue that fees generate, but clearly the pressure is on to improve service.” via The ACSI.

The ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2014 covers customer satisfaction with banks, credit unions, and other forms of insurance. Participants are asked to rate their level of satisfaction on a 100-point scale. Credit union scored an 85 (the second highest of the 43 industries listed in the index) while banks slump to a score of 76. 

 

The members have spoken and are happy they made the decision to finance with a credit union. Why haven’t you made the switch?

Download the ACSI Finance and Insurance Report 2014 here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Ever thought of working at your local credit union? Credit union jobs have it all!

earnings

Not only are credit unions the smarter choice to finance with, but they are also serve as a great employer. There are more positions than you’d realize in areas of expertise that include communications, marketing, information technology, human resources, finance, business management, and more. Credit unions not only invest in their members but in their staff as well with professional development opportunities.

In addition, credit unions provide a generous benefits package to their employees:

“Credit unions are dedicated to taking care of their members and employees and offer competitive benefits packages that go beyond financial compensation. Benefits vary by credit union and position but, in addition to medical and dental benefits, some credit unions offer tuition reimbursement, paid time off and holiday pay, contributions toward retirement savings, bonuses, employee assistance programs, good work/life balance, and more.”

The question is: ‘Why not consider working for a credit union? They offer the same positions as other companies.’

Begin your job search by identifying the closest credit union to you or search the CU hire site.

More details about obtaining a career with credit unions are available here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Unmarried home buyers soar as marriage rates drop

unmarried home buyers

In an article written by Lisa Schaefer, author of The Teashop Girls, more and more people are putting marriage off but are still committing to buying a home. It is important to note is to plan for everything and anything in advance and make sure it’s all in writing.

Below are some ways to take ownership of the title of the home loan:

“1. Individual vesting: In this case, only one individual of the unmarried couple owns the property and owns 100% of it. The other individual has no ownership involvement or rights.

2. Tenants-in-common: Tenants-in-common allows each borrower to delineate their ownership percentage of the home. Also, in tenants-in-common, each can leave his or her portion of the home to selected heirs.

3. Joint tenants: In joint tenancy, the owners own 100% of the property together. There is no delineation of who owns what percentage of the home. Joint tenants must both sign documents when transferring the property or using it as a security for a loan.

4. Community property (with right of survivorship): This vesting is intended for married persons or domestic partners. Similar to tenants in common, the tenants own 100% together.

5. Trusts: Unmarried people also may take ownership in the form of a trust. The trust documents will determine each trustees’ ownership percentage and will determine what takes place upon the death of a trustee.”

See which option best suites your situation and plan accordingly!

The full version of the article is available to view here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

College students invest now with these 4 options

college students

I found this article by Christa Deneault from The Collegian at Kansas State University very interesting & insightful because it reminded me what I could have done as a college student to begin investing in my future post grad.  Out of the four investment options listed, the one that stuck out the most for me was the stocks option.

“Stocks are shares of a corporation. Once purchased, the value of the stock changes depending on the health of the company. The value of stocks is determined by the profits received divided by the number of shares in the corporation. Investing in the stock market is risky. Most students do not have the money needed to do well in investing in individual stocks; stocks are not insured.”

As quoted in the article, “it’s never too early to start investing” — a motto that college and post grads should apply.

Read the full article here.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

In 2015, save with tax-advantaged accounts

save_r1

Next year you can put an extra $50 in your health care flexible spending account bringing the total to $2,550. Meanwhile the contribution limit for dependent care remains fixed at $5,000 where it’s been stuck since 1986 when Congress originally set it.

While both accounts are employer-sponsored, the flex account for health care is adjusted each year for inflation. The account to help employees pay for day care is not. If it was, the contribution limit should now be at a robust $10, 859.08 ( The New York Times Nov. 7).

For a long time, the government didn’t even cap flexible spending accounts for health care–though employers usually limited annual savings to $5,000–but the Affordable Care Act capped it at $2,500 while allowing for future inflation adjustments. Next year will be the first time it’s risen since the cap was put in place.

Still, these caps shouldn’t stop you from contributing, because the savings can be significant. Here’s what you need to know about the various tax-advantaged accounts and their new limits for 2015:

  • Health care flexible spending account, $2,550 cap. Your employer takes set aside pre-tax money out of your paycheck and puts into a separate account for health care expenses;
  • Dependent care flexible spending account, $5,000 cap. Works the same as the health care account, except the money is set aside for child care expenses for children 12 and under or, in some cases, a disabled spouse or aging parent who lives with you. If your employer doesn’t offer this, you can use the dependent care tax credit;
  • Commuter expense account, $130 cap for public transportation, $250 for parking. Works the same as other flex spending accounts but is used for commuting expenses;
  • Individual retirement account, $5,500 cap, plus extra $1,000 for people age 50 and older. How it works depends on where you open the account, but most people are eligible for a $5,500 federal tax deduction for contributing; and
  • 401(k) and 403(b), $18,000 limit, plus an extra $6,000 for people age 50 and older. Your employer takes pre-tax money from your paycheck and places it into an investment account. You pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it in retirement.

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Holidays on a Budget

budget_r2

If you visit any retail store or website, you would think the holidays are next week.  That said, it’s never to early to get your holiday budget in order and these same principles apply for Thanksgiving as well.  When was the last time you budgeted for how much your dinner might cost?

Thanks to our friends at Focus Credit Union, we have a three part holiday budgeting series to help us and you stay on track when it comes to your budget and spending this holiday season.  This part in particular, I found very valuable:

Budget categories might include:

  • Gifts
  • Stocking stuffers
  • Gift wrap
  • Postage and shipping
  • Christmas cards
  • Holiday photo
  • Tips and service gifts
  • Holiday meals
  • Baking and kitchen gifts
  • Entertaining
  • Décor items and Christmas tree
  • Home improvements
  • Travel expenses
  • Holiday clothing
  • Charitable donations
  • Post-Christmas sales

So many things on that list that I’ve never considered to budget for! All of these are so important though.  By accounting for them you’re actually seeing how much you spend and can plan accordingly.  When you do this, you’re actually managing your money rather than your money managing you!

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money including financial education and other products to end the payday loan cycle. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org

Credit Unions are a Smarter Choice!