Archive for the ‘ credit ’ Category

Credit Scores Explained in (Exactly) 250 Words


What credit scores are: Three-digit numbers expressing the likelihood you’ll repay someone who lets you use their money (like a loan or credit card).

Who has a credit score: People who have been listed on an account that was reported to any of the three credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. An account can be a student loan, car loan, credit card, credit-builder loan or maybe rent. It represents something you are obligated to pay.

Where the number comes from: Data is collected by the credit bureaus, which get the information from lenders, credit card issuers and public records. Then it is weighted to produce a score, typically on a 300 to 850 range. Higher is better. There are hundreds of scoring models, so most consumers have many credit scores.

How do I get started?

  • If someone with good credit makes you an authorized user on an account that’s reported, that can help.
  • Student loans and sometimes car loans can be relatively easy to qualify for.
  • Credit-builder loans and secured credit cards are made for people building credit or re-establishing credit.

What should I do to boost my credit?

  • Pay all bills on time, every time.
  • Use your credit cards lightly — that is, don’t use more than 30% of your credit limit on any card.
  • Keep old accounts open unless you have a good reason to close them (like high fees).
  • Apply for credit sparingly.
  • Consider having both installment (level monthly payments for a set period) and credit cards.

The article Credit Scores Explained in (Exactly) 250 Words originally appeared on NerdWallet.


Understanding your credit score doesn’t have to be difficult. For additional information regarding credit scores, click here.

Members 1st is here to help you to achieve your financial goals and assist you through all of life’s moments and milestones. If you have any questions, please call Customer Service at (800) 237-7288, visit our website, or visit one of our various branch locations.

4 Things to Do Before Buying a Home


As exciting as it is to buy a home, the lead-up can be a dizzying experience, especially for first-time buyers. But don’t fret. Breaking down the process into smaller steps can help ease your anxieties. Here’s a look at the kinds of questions you’ll want to ask yourself, as well as a few other practical tips.

Judge readiness for responsibility

Although the thought of home-ownership is generally a pleasant one, the reality can be much more stressful. That’s why it’s crucial to ask yourself whether you’re really ready for the hassles of buying and owning a home. Gone will be the days when you could simply call the landlord to fix a leaky faucet. Those chores will become your responsibility once you own your castle.

You’ll also want to think about how long you plan on living in the home you’re interested in, which will help determine the best mortgage for you. A fixed rate loan offers predictability: Once you take out your mortgage, your monthly payment will not change until you pay off the loan or refinance. An adjustable rate mortgage typically offers a lower starting interest rate if you plan to sell in a few years.

Determine what you can afford

Use a mortgage calculator to figure out how much home you can afford. It’s one of the most important steps to take. To start, think about your down payment, as well as the transaction costs. Although experts recommend having 20% of the price for a down payment, you may be able to put down as little as 3%, assuming your credit score is good and you’re willing to accept a higher interest rate and pay for private mortgage insurance, or PMI. To give you a better sense of what you might owe, consider that the median sales price of an existing home was about $270,000 in 2018. So 20% down amounts to $54,000.

Don’t forget the transaction costs, which can amount to 5% of the price, to cover things such as appraisal, title search and lawyer’s fees. When coming up with a home-ownership budget, factor in the monthly mortgage payment, maintenance costs and energy bills.

Clean up your credit

If you’re applying for a mortgage, you’ll want to clean up your credit to get the best possible interest rate on your loan. To lock in the best ones, shoot for a credit score of 700 or above. Over the course of a 30-year mortgage, higher rates stemming from a low rating when you borrowed can cost you thousands of extra dollars.

For starters, reduce your debt as much as possible. That includes slashing your credit card debt as well as any remaining student loans. To see what else needs fixing, order a copy of your credit report.

Stick with your current job

Financial planners agree that people should spend 28% or less of their gross monthly income on housing payments. The key to that, of course, is having a job. If you’re in between work, lenders are likely to view you as a greater risk when it comes to making mortgage payments. As such, the months leading up to purchasing a home are definitely not the time to make a sudden job or career change.

There’s little denying that the process of buying a home can be stressful. In fact, that may serve as good preparation for some of the hassles related to actually owning a home. In both cases, though, the benefits of home-ownership tend to outweigh the occasional headaches.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Members 1st is here to help you through all of life’s most important moments and milestones. For more information about buying a home, visit our Mortgage Services website.

Think Spring Home Improvement


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We’re dangerously close to March and if you’re like most people in Southcentral PA you have had enough of this winter weather. You’re looking to get outside and start enjoying some sunshine and some warmer weather, right?

It’s the time of year to start thinking about rediscovering the outside world and if you’re a homeowner, that rediscovery should include some annual springtime home maintenance. As the days hopefully get nicer, you may want to spend some time on the following so you don’t end up with costly repairs or damages later on:

Inspect your roof – Look for any water damage, missing shingles or related defects. A leaky roof can add up to a whole host of issues inside and out.

Clean your gutters – Clogged gutters are a recipe for disaster. They can break off, cause leaks and more.

Check your HVAC filters – Now is a great time to clean or replace your filters which you should be doing more than once a year anyway. Dirty filters cause your HVAC systems to work harder which means higher heating and cooling bills. And, let’s face it, if the motor blows on your system, then you end up with yet another costly repair.

Dryer vents – Dirty, clogged dryer vents lead to one thing – fires. The lint trap on your dryer doesn’t catch every fuzzy. Make sure you’re cleaning them out with your vacuum. Clean dryer vents help your dryer run more efficiently.

The washer – Check all of your washing machine’s hoses for cracks. Cracked hoses end up causing leaks. Leaks mean you’re going to get water all over the place – either as one big flooded floor or you could end up with a slow drip you’re unaware of that seeps down between your floor and subflooring and the next thing you know, you have an issue with rotting wood and extra repairs.

Window screens – Gently scrub your window screens, patch holes or replace them.

Decks, driveways, fences and more – These these don’t clean themselves, even when it rains. You may need to power-wash, repair, paint, stain and so on to keep them looking extra spiffy.

Cracks – Check for cracks in concrete, wood, and so on. Fill ’em up. Seal cracks around windows and doors, your pipes, bathtub and so on.

Paint – Peeling, chipped, cracked paint just doesn’t look good. Touch up painting is an easy fix.

Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors – If you don’t have them, get some. If you do have them, change the batteries. Do this more than one time a year. You cannot underestimate the power of these inexpensive alarms and how much impact they can have in saving your life or the lives of your loved ones and pets. Invest in some fire extinguishers as well and know how to use them.

The frig – Vacuum your refrigerator coils to keep them nice and clean. If they’re covered in layers of dust, they’ll work harder, and you’ll have a higher electric bill. Clean them often. And while you’re at it, give the inside and outside of the refrigerator a good cleaning and disinfecting.

Prepare your power tools – Sharpen your lawn mower blades and check all of your other tools like chainsaws, trimmers, etc. so that they can run as efficiently as possible.

Reduce heating & cooling bills – Consider shades, shutters or other window treatments such as curtains that keep heat out and cool air in.

Check your homeowner’s or renter’s policy – Now is a great time to review your coverage. If you’d like a free quote to compare your current policy give our Insurance Services department a call.

Need help financing a home improvement project? Check out our home equity loan.

2015 Financial Resolutions – There’s still time


couple with billsWe’re one month down, 11 more to go and 2015 will be a wrap. It’s still early enough in the year to review your finances and set goals. If you haven’t made your financial resolutions yet, here are seven tips that can help you achieve financial success.

  1. REVIEW YOUR BUDGET. List your recurring monthly expenses and compare them to your monthly income. Make adjustments or cuts where necessary to prevent dipping into your savings or using your credit cards. For helpful hints on budgeting basics, download our free brochure on budgeting.
  2. COMMUNICATE. Yes, it may be uncomfortable, but it’s very important to talk with your partner about where you stand financially (debt included). Knowing where you are helps you know where you want to be. Learn how to manage money as a couple or when you find yourself suddenly single by reading our free brochure, “His, Hers, Mine & Ours.”
  3. PAY DOWN DEBT. If you have numerous credit card balances, tackle the one with the highest interest rate first and pay the minimum amount required on all of your other balances. Also consider transferring your higher rate card balances to your Members 1st VISA®, which could save you money.
  4. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUND. Most specialists suggest saving three to six month’s salary in case of an unexpected setback or job loss. Start by putting aside a little from each paycheck now.
  5. AUTOMATE YOUR LIFE. Utilize the Bill Payer feature of Members 1st Online. It’s simple to set up recurring payments to ensure that you’re always paying your bills on time, every time.
  6. THINK BEFORE YOU BUY. Do you really need that item or is it something that you simply want?
  7. MEET WITH A FINANCIAL PLANNER. Our team of Investment Services representatives can help you develop a customized financial plan that will help you feel confident in your goals.* You may schedule a free consultation at any of our branch locations.

If you need additional assistance, we offer free access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath, a financial management program. Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years. As a member, you can receive assistance with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

 

 

 

*Registered Representative of INVEST Financial Corporation (INVEST), member FINRA/SIPC. INVEST and its affi liated insurance agencies offer securities, advisory services and certaininsurance products and are not affi liated with Members 1st Federal Credit Union or Members 1st Investment Services. INVEST does not provide tax or legal advice. Products are: • Not FDIC or NCUA insured • Not Bank or Credit Union Guaranteed • May lose value including loss of principal.

Free Credit Reports Available


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You can request a free credit report once a year from each of the credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You’ll want to review your report regularly and make sure that your information is correct and current. Also, check for these signs of identity theft: errors, suspicious activity, or accounts/addresses that you don’t recognize.

If you notice any alarming discrepancies, make sure to place a fraud alert on your file by contacting all three credit reporting companies:

Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call (877) 322-8228 to request your credit report today.

 

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