Archive for July 2020

When Times are Tough, We Can Help

In tough times, it’s more important than ever to develop and maintain good financial habits. Having a household budget and shedding high-rate credit card debt are two obvious things that could benefit most consumers. But figuring out where to start can be a daunting task—especially if you feel like you’re already in trouble. The thing to remember is that it’s never too late to ask for help from your credit union.

Manage your mortgage

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) and are facing a rate adjustment, refinancing your home loan with your credit union might be the break you need. If you qualify, you could:

  • Refinance into a fixed-rate 30-year (or shorter-term) mortgage.
  • Refinance into a new ARM that has terms better suited to your situation.

Even if you have a fixed-rate home loan, refinancing may free up some money you could use to:

  • Pay down more expensive debt—credit card bills, for example.
  • Build your emergency fund for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or a new furnace.

Tap your home’s equity

A home equity line of credit can be a useful cushion if you’re not already overloaded with debt.

  • You can set it up and never draw on it but have the comfort of knowing it’s there if needed.
  • If you’re already tapped out, borrowing more is not the answer.

Cut credit card costs

Not all credit cards are created equal. Switch to a TCAFCU credit card!

  • Pay on time, no exceptions
  • Whenever possible, pay the balance each month. When you have to stretch payments, pay in as few months as you can manage.
  • Avoid cash advances—the interest rate on these is higher than on straight purchases.

Pass up payday loans

Payday lenders promise to help when you’re short on cash. You’ll get the money you need, but with very high interest rates.  Visit your credit union—Credit unions offer alternatives with better terms and lower interest rates, such as short-term signature loans.

Use direct deposit

Direct deposit will help you to save automatically. You simply need to it set up to place a certain amount or a percentage into your checking account and another amount into your savings. It gives you:

  • One less thing to worry about; it’s the safest way to receive your money,
  • An easier and more convenient way to contribute to IRAs (individual retirement accounts) and other savings vehicles, and
  • More control over your money and your time—it’s predictable and dependable.

Steer clear of scams

Some scammers use negative economic news to scare investors into high-risk investments. They use investor fears to promote sketchy schemes with promises of high return and no risk that leave investors with nothing but empty wallets.

  • Hang up on aggressive cold callers
  • Delete unsolicited e-mails promoting investment opportunities.

As member-owned not-for-profit institutions, credit unions look out for their members’ best interests. Credit unions rates and fees can save their members hundreds of dollars annually. Don’t wait until you’re in deep trouble to ask for a financial checkup at your credit union. In fact, the earlier you ask for a review, the better the outcome can be.

For more information, give us a call at 610.326.3705!

Home Remodeling: What Questions Should You Be Asking?

Thinking about renovating your home? Make sure you’re prepared by choosing a well-liked and trusted contractor. Choosing the right contractor is the single most important decision that homeowners make on a remodeling project.

Here are five questions you should ask yourself, your contractor, and references if you decide to renovate your home:

 

  1. Are we talking about the same thing? Make sure that you and your contractor are clear about cost estimates. Oftentimes, a contractor’s concept of a “worst-case-scenario” cost can be different than yours. Always tell your contractor what your assumptions are.

 

  1. Did you experience cost overruns? Talking to references is the best way to learn whether a contractor routinely underestimates projects, either out of optimism or as a ploy to get the job. Ask them, “I’m concerned that the price of my remodel will change a lot during the job. Was your final cost much higher than the quote?”

 

  1. Did subcontractors view the job and provide estimates? A good contractor will get firm proposals from all the trade contractors. To do this, the trade contractors should visit the site with the general contractor before they provide their proposals and before the job starts.

 

  1. Can you put that in writing? When the contractor creates a written contract with firm quotes from subcontractors, the final cost should only vary about 3% to 5%. The contract should specify that if things go wrong, the contractor will absorb any additional cost.

 

  1. What’s happening? Asking questions throughout the project is part of the homeowner’s job. By talking to the plumber, you may learn that it’s possible to turn a large linen closet into a laundry area at minimal cost, compared with the total price of getting the laundry out of the basement. Asking questions can also clarify other choices, especially when problems occur.

 

There may be problems and surprises, so it’s good to know ahead of time how your contractor will respond to them.

If you’re planning to remodel, our Loan Specialists can help you determine if  a home equity loan is right for you!

Call us at 610.326.3705 or click here if you are ready to start the online application process!