Archive for the ‘ Branches ’ Category

Join Us for Family Fun Day at our Hershey Branch!


Mark your calendar! Hope you can join us for this free event at our Hershey Rt. 322 Branch. The community is welcome to attend.

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Click here for directions to our Hershey 322 Branch.

5 Reasons to Get an Auto Loan from Us


car
Although the thought of finally having a dependable set of wheels can be thrilling, a car’s price tag can quickly quell that newfound excitement. Financing your car through a financial institution can therefore be incredibly helpful. Credit unions are particularly popular among consumers who want hassle-free loans with excellent rates and member (customer) service. So don’t panic when you see your dream car’s price tag – here are five reasons why it’s a good idea to get an auto loan from Members 1st.

1. Stellar rates and flexible terms
Credit unions offer lower rates and more flexible payment schedules than many big banks. Rates for new cars are often under 3%, which comes in under the national average of about 4%. If, for example, a car is financed at $30,000 over the course of a 60 month loan, that seemingly small difference will save you around $1,000. What’s more, at Members 1st, we will finance cars with terms ranging from 12 to 84 months depending upon the model year, thereby allowing you to set a payment schedule that best suits your needs and budget.

2. Good odds of having your loan approved
If you have a poor credit score because of past credit problems, credit unions are a great place to look for auto loans. Unlike bigger financial institutions that have more rigid policies and requirements in place, we’ll do our best to help get you the money you need and discuss your credit history and any issues you may have had so we have an understanding of your particular financial situation. If, on the other hand, you have a good credit score and also happen to be a loyal member of a particular credit union, you might qualify for especially low rates or other perks.

3. Great member (customer) service

Credit unions are member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives. What does this mean for you? Essentially, it means that it’s in our best interest to offer you loans that you can actually pay off, and that you won’t have to worry about being ripped off or taken advantage of.

4. Mutually beneficial relationships between credit unions and members (customers)
Our profits go back to members in the form of lower rates on financial products. Your needs are therefore always front and center. We are happy to work with you to ensure that you don’t encounter any problems while making payments.

5. Access to information
If you’re new to the world of auto loans and find yourself scratching your head trying to understand words like “loan rates” and “payment schedules,” don’t worry. We have a resource centers and tools to help members learn more about how auto loans work and we offer Car Loan Calculators aimed to help you determine what payment plan would work best for you. Taking advantage of these resources will help you make more informed decisions down the road, which will save you stress, time, and, most important of all, money.

Buying a car is a big investment, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting one. Whether you’re in the market for a brand new hybrid, a used car, or a truck, consider going to Members 1st to help you finance your new ride.

Note: With a Members 1st auto loan, we can help you Member Value Protection – optional coverage for an additional price that offers you peace of mind knowing that your monthly loan payment will be cancelled in the event of death, disability or involuntary unemployment. Ask us for details, (800) 283-2328, ext. 6040.

Members 1st also offers a first time car buyers program – just ask for details! We really do make car buying easy!

Need car insurance? Want a quote from Members 1st Insurance Services

 Guest Blogger: Tony Armstrong, NerdWallet

How to Handle Your Finances after a Divorce


divorce
While young adults are living together in increasing numbers, possibly avoiding the fate of being a split-up statistic, divorce rates have actually doubled over the past two decades for couples over 35, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota . When it comes to marriage, baby boomers may be two-time losers. But young or old, divorce, whether legal or laid back, can be an emotional — and financial – train wreck. Here’s how to get back on track.

The credit you deserve
After years of being in a joint financial partnership, it’s time to reestablish your individual credit identity. First, obtain a free copy of your credit report. The three major credit agencies are mandated by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide a free copy of your report once a year. The official website is annualcreditreport.com, or you can call 1-877-322-8228 to request yours.

In case you haven’t already; cancel any remaining joint credit cards so that neither former spouse is liable for the other’s debt going forward. If you don’t have a credit card in your own name, you might want to consider applying for one, in order to build your new credit history.

It’s also quite likely that you’ll be carrying a bit of debt with you out of the divorce, such as court costs and attorneys’ fees; perhaps some credit card debt, as well. You may be tempted to pay off those debts all at once with any cash acquired through a settlement, but it might be a better idea to preserve those dollars until you see how your after-marriage money situation works out.

Account for every account
Remember to update the names on all other accounts, such as life insurance beneficiaries and authorized users. You may also have to change the names on deeds and titles to property that was granted to you as part of the divorce settlement.  Assets that may need to be retitled can include investment accounts, vehicles and houses. You may also want to consider refinancing any debt or mortgages that you have acquired in the process. And of course, you’ll want all of your bank and credit union accounts in your name only.

A fresh beginning
If you received the home as part of your settlement, think about if it’s financially feasible – or even emotionally beneficial – to stay. Not only do you have to consider the mortgage payment, but all of the associated expenses, too: insurance, upkeep, taxes, utilities and all the rest. Children can play an especially important role in this decision, depending on their age, school activities and social involvement. From a financial perspective, you will also want to weigh the tax consequences of a sale, though as a single-filing taxpayer you may qualify to exclude $250,000 of the capital gain from your income.

Emergency and retirement savings
The financial transition may be difficult, however you want to remember your short-term and long-term goals. First, having three to six months of income saved for unexpected expenses can help you get back on your feet. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will guide the terms of transfer for any qualified retirement account, such as a 401(k) retirement plan or pension. If you are to receive such assets, a trustee-to-trustee transfer will prevent an unnecessary mandatory tax withholding.

Make a money plan
While few people may guide their personal finances by a formal budget, it’s a good idea to have at least a “back of the envelope” money plan. You may be facing new expenses on your own, such as rent or mortgage payments and even legal costs. The household income has almost certainly changed.  Consider all spending as “up for review.” Total up every fixed expense, determine what can stay and what has to go – and then tackle discretionary spending, at least until you can get into a new financial routine.

Divorce can force you to think ahead, not back. And in matters of money – that’s a good thing.

Note: If you are facing a life changing event such as divorce or are suddenly single for other reasons and you need money management assistance, consider GreenPath, a financial management service that can help keep you on track.

Check out our brochure, Getting Married/Suddenly Single

Guest Blogger: Hal Bundrick, NerdWallet

Heartbleed bug – what you need to know


heart bleed bug

The media has been reporting about a widespread website bug called “Heartbleed” which is a vulnerability in the security software used by millions of web sites.

We want you to know that Members 1st does not use OpenSSL 1.0.1 to 1.0.1f which means we are not affected by Heartbleed. We have taken extra steps to test our web applications and third party applications and either they are not susceptible or have controls in place to prevent any malicious activity. 

If you’re not familiar with this, OpenSSL is one form of an encryption library used in HTTPS communication – online stores and banking websites that give you that lock icon in your browser bar when you visit them. OpenSSL uses a “heartbeat” to echo back data which a hacker can use to trick the server to return anything from Usernames, account passwords to sensitive data.

Here’s what you need to keep in  mind:
While Members 1st is not affected by this, it is a good security practice to periodically change your passwords. If you use the same password for your financial institutions that you use for any of the following vulnerable sites , you should change your password immediately: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google, Yahoo, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Amazon Web Services, GoDaddy, Intuit, USAA, Box, DropBox, Minecraft, OKCupid, SoundCloud, Wunderlist.

Rest assured, securing your personal and financial information is a top priority.

Stay on track with financing college


college kids

High school graduation is right around the corner. There’s no way your baby is old enough to be going off to college. You just waved goodbye to kindergarten and you’re dealing with the fact you really do have a child old enough to be in college. And it costs how much? What do we need to do when? What’s a parent to do?

We know there are many important steps to getting your son or daughter into school, so here’s a college preparation checklist to help keep you on track:

Now:
• Complete income tax forms as early as possible (information is needed to complete federal and state financial aid applications)
• Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Pennsylvania State Grant Application. The FAFSA can be completed online at www.fafsa.gov and the PA state grant application can be found at www.pheaa.org.
• If the college/university requires additional documents or applications, be sure to complete those, too. Make sure all forms are completed before each school’s deadline.
• Continue searching for scholarships now and the entire way through college.
• Plan college visits if you’re still deciding on the right school.

April through June:
• Financial aid packages/award letters and college acceptance letters will start rolling in from schools. Keep track of them and pay attention to any deadlines.
• Thoroughly review the award letters to determine how much financial aid (grants, scholarships, work-study and loans) you’ll receive and how much is still needed to bridge the gap between the cost of attendance and the amount of aid offered.
• If financial aid and college savings plans aren’t enough to cover all school-related expenses, start researching additional options (ex. monthly payment plans with the school, federal & private student loans, etc.)
• Attend one of our financial aid seminars for addition details on financing a college education. They’re scheduled for April 24, May 22 and June 26. You can register online at
www.members1st.org.
• Complete applications for student loans if necessary.
• Open a checking account and VISA® Debit Card with us for your child and set up across account transfer capability so you can transfer money from your account to your child’s account.
• Celebrate graduation with family and friends!

Not sure what do make of the entire student loan process or just need to talk to someone with some expertise? Call Tiffanie DeVan, our Specialty Loan Administrator, at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6017 or (717) 795-6017 or email devant@members1st.org.

 

Wondering how the interest thing works?


guy looking out window wondering
Recent years have shown all kinds of economic challenges. From the Wall Street debacle and the mortgage meltdown to ongoing zealous greed across the spectrum, consumers have paid the price in more ways than one – and unfortunately may continue to do so for a long time.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) isn’t offering a warm and fuzzy economic outlook for 2014. Consumer spending was up in the last quarter of 2013 yet we’re all at the mercy of inflation and the declining value of the US dollar against other world currencies. Our national debt stands at $17 trillion as reported recently in USA Today. Imported goods are becoming more and more expensive; food and energy prices keep going up; medical and education costs keep rising; the national unemployment continues to hover around 7 percent; and then there’s that healthcare fix.

It’s enough to keep us all shaking our heads and wondering about how we’re going to make ends meet, save money, and what it’s going to cost to borrow money. We wonder if, when, and how we’re going to make more money when everything seems to always be costing more.

With economic instability, ongoing political deadlock, and government mistrust, it does appear that it’s going to be standing still for a while longer. The Federal Reserve says that interest rates may stay low through 2015 and beyond.

How exactly does this interest rate thing work? The Federal Reserve (the Fed) is responsible for the stability of our financial system. In order to maintain that stability, it either raises or lowers interest rates on a fairly routine basis. When the economy is booming and companies are seeing profits, the unemployment rate is low and you’re out spending money, short-term rates are raised to keep the economy from building too fast. When that happens, we experience inflation – prices go up when there’s too much money and too few goods and services. The Fed raises interest rates to slow things down and that means low rates go up.

The Fed lowers short-term rates when the economy is slowing, making it less expensive to borrow money. That means you have more money to spend elsewhere and that speeds up the economy. Recessions occur when consumers become tight-fisted with their money and don’t buy products and services to keep companies thriving and workers employed. Throw in an international incident involving oil-producing nations and interest rates could be affected.

Many of you ask why our savings rates can’t be higher. They’re all part of the big picture painted by the Federal Reserve. Credit unions and other financial institutions just can’t set rates on a whim. The Federal Reserve sets forth certain requirements for all types of financial institutions. What’s going on nationally and internationally affects us and ultimately you as a saver or a borrower. When interest rates are high, your money makes money for you, but at the same time, you’re going to pay more to borrow. Unfortunately, when rates fall, your money makes less money, but should you need to borrow, it’s a lot cheaper for you.

We understand that this prolonged period of low-interest rates has caused many challenges for those of you who have saved and saved your entire lives hoping to cash in on the interest accumulated in your savings to help supplement your retirement income. Unfortunately, like you, we’re at the mercy of these big picture conditions and requirements.

Keep in mind that we do have a variety of short and long-term savings options for you. Determining your savings goals or revising existing ones may be necessary for savings success. Now is the perfect time to take a good look at your financial picture to see how you can get the most out of your savings in 2014 and beyond.

Republished from our “Avenues” newsletter, “A Word From Bob”, March/April 2014.

Has Old Man Winter Done a Number on Your Home?


ice and snow on roofIce, snow, freezing rain, melting snow, refreezing snow – we sure have had our fill this winter, haven’t we? How’s your home holding up to all of this winter abuse? Old Man Winter has the potential to do serious damage to your roof, other areas outside your home – not to mention the possible ripple effects that can occur inside. Obviously pre-season prevention helps, but if you didn’t prepare your home for winter a few months ago, keep the following in mind as we move towards the end of the winter season.

Be aware of an ice dam forming on your roof. This happens when water from melting snow re-freezes at the edge of your roofline. If you don’t remove the snow from your roof, this ice dam could grow large enough to prevent water from draining off of the roof. When this happens, just like when the drains are covered on the street, water builds up, backs up and then it could make its way inside your home. The last thing  you want is your roof or ceiling having issues. As a property owner, you are responsible for the cost of preventive maintenance. You may find it helpful each winter season to develop a snow removal roof monitoring plan. 

If you have an attic, be sure it is thoroughly insulated. When heat escapes through the roof, it will melt what’s on top of it and then when it re-freezes, you could end up with a serious issue.

Make sure you’re turning off your outside water faucets and draining them before the deep freeze sets in. Add weather-stripping around doors and caulk your windows to guard against drafts and heat loss. Maybe you need to make the investment into new windows and doors. Be sure to get your chimneys cleaned and your furnace checked out each season. Change your furnace filter. Don’t turn off your heat or set it below 55 degrees. You need to have some heat circulating in your home, even when you are not home. You really don’t want to have to deal with frozen or bursting pipes, do you? Clean a clear path around your outside dryer vent, ventilation pipes and so on.

Keeping your safety in mind first, should you have a roof full of snow and ice, be sure remove as much snow as you can after every storm. The amount of snow and ice that your roof can handle varies according to a number of factors such as the roof type, age, and condition of the structure. And remember to inspect your roof each season, keep gutters free from debris such as twigs, leaves and the like. Clean out your down spouts.

Use a roof rake to clear the snow. Rule of thumb – if you have more than a foot of heavy, wet snow up there along with ice, do what you can to get it removed. If you can’t do it yourself or with a neighbor, call a reputable contractor or check with your home, landscape or roofing contractor or call your property maintenance company. Remember, climbing a ladder in snow and icy conditions is never a good idea. Safety first.

Before filing a claim, be sure to have seasonal maintenance done on your home to avoid those costly repairs. The cost of snow removal may be considerably less in price than the cost of roof damage, interior damage and other issues caused by water leaks.

Would you like a free quote for your homeowners insurance? Check out Members 1st Insurance Services*.  Also, ask us about renter’s insurance – protect your personal property while renting under someone else’s roof.

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