Author Archive for TCAFCU

Credit Unions Want to Make Your Kids Financially Strong

All parents want their kids to grow up healthy.  But most of the time that discussion focuses on getting them to eat more vegetables and spend less time in front of screens. Too few think about their kids’ well-being in terms of their financial health.

In fact, one in four parents don’t even feel qualified to teach their kids about money because they themselves don’t feel like they’ve been good enough stewards of their own finances, according to a survey by the investment firm T. Rowe Price. And two-thirds of parents worry about setting a good financial example for their children.

A perilous future

Fewer and fewer workplaces offer guaranteed pensions, making saving for retirement the responsibility of the individual.

Yet mobile technology and targeted online ads are making shopping instantaneous, increasing the likelihood of young people finding themselves in personal debt and ever-ballooning student debt. And almost no young person uses a checkbook, let alone learns to balance one.

Perhaps that’s why many young adults who live on their own still depend on their parents for money.

This is why credit unions are such a powerful resource for families. Credit unions recognize that kids learning to make smart money decisions is a quality-of-life issue, one that’s every bit as important as a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Credit union strong

One of credit unions seven foundational principles is education. They genuinely want to see their members succeed and gain financial strength.

So if you’re unsure how to teach your kids about money, start by talking to them. Look for teachable moments and bring the topic up naturally—without ever lecturing them.

Solicit their advice at the grocery store about what’s the best deal, and introduce the concept of money early with an allowance. Allow them to spend some of the money they earn, but also talk to them about the importance of giving and saving and lean on your credit union. Open a youth savings account…It could be one of the first steps you help your kids take toward a stronger, brighter future.

Click here to open an account online in just a few minutes!

5 Ways Good Credit Is Your Safety Net

A healthy savings account is your best defense against life’s curve balls. But sometimes setting aside some money every paycheck isn’t enough—particularly when you’re just starting out in life.

A good credit score can be an additional safety net, providing you access to low-interest credit options that can help cover any expenses your emergency savings can’t. Here are your options:

  1. Credit cards Can be useful for relatively small emergencies. Of course, this requires that you haven’t maxed out your credit card on espresso and concert tickets. Keeping a decent chunk of your spending limit available will not only offer you a good lifeline, but can also boost your credit score. Plus, a good credit score can earn you the best rates.
  2. Signature loans Also called personal loans, they can be used for making purchases like car repairs or for doing projects like updating your kitchen. Signature loans are good for moderate-sized projects.
  3. Car equity loan Did you know that if you have paid off your car, or if you owe less than its worth, you can often take out a loan against your equity? If your car is newer than 10 years old, these loans usually offer significantly lower rates than signature loans or credit cards. Just keep in mind that you no longer own the car outright—you will have to pay off the loan if you decide to sell your car.
  4. Home Equity Loan If you own your own home and have available equity in it (again, you owe less than your home is worth) you can take out a home equity loan. This is a one-time lump sum loan, usually of a sizable amount. This can be good for big projects, like remodels, additions, building a shop, or paying off your other higher-rate debt.
  5. Home Equity Line of Credit These are much like a home-equity loan, except instead of taking out one big lump sum, you can use the line of credit like a credit card. You can make purchases, pay the balance down, and make new purchases. This is great for regular projects or sizable emergencies.

There may be other options, but these are the main tools you can use to build a safety net. Even better—by using your available credit options, making payments on time, and paying things off, you are continuing to build your credit score!

Ready to apply for a loan?  Click here to get started.

Personal Finance Tips for Students

College years are the time when many people establish financial habits that will carry them for the rest of their lives.

Pay attention to these items to get started on the right financial foot:

  • Spending plan: Know how much money you have available for college expenses. Create a workable monthly spending plan that balances income, loans, and gifts with anticipated expenses.
  • Records: Use an app to track expenses or monitor expenses online. Tracking expenses will help you see where your money is going and adjust your spending as needed. Also, remember to review your financial statements every month.
  • Credit cards: Commit to paying credit card bills in full and on time each month. Using credit wisely teaches you how to live within your means while creating a positive credit record that could help when buying a car, renting an apartment, obtaining insurance, and even landing a job.  Click here to apply online for a TCAFCU credit card!
  • Organization: Keep all financial records, bills, and account statements in one location. This will help you pay bills on time, avoid late fees, and keep an unblemished credit score.
  • Personal information: Learn about the different forms of identity theft, the kinds of personal information you need to protect, and how to protect information—even, and especially, from friends and roommates. Learn the pitfalls of careless use of social media.

Check out our online Financial Learning Center today!

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!

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