Archive for the ‘ Education ’ Category

How to Choose a Real Estate Agent


As you start on the path of finding a home, having a real estate agent guide you in the process can make a difference. About 98% of buyers who used agents viewed them as a helpful source of information, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors, or NAR. Because an agent can help determine how much you pay for your new abode, it’s important to find one who is right for you.

Seek referrals and research associations

Start your search by asking friends and family members for recommendations. In this way, someone you trust can verify how effective and helpful the agent was.

You can also make a list of agents who sell homes in your price range and in areas where you’re looking to buy by checking online and through trusted real estate associations. Some have specialties and only work with certain clients such as first-time buyers or those looking for luxury homes. Also check for Realtors, or real estate agents who are NAR members. They follow a code of ethics in working with clients.

You can also check whether any of the agents have expired or suspended licenses by looking them up on state regulatory agency websites.

Ask the right questions

When you have a list of candidates, start interviewing agents. Consider asking them the following:

  • How long have you been in the real estate business in this area?
  • What credentials do you have?

You’ll want to find someone who has experience in your area and determine their specialties, if any. Some possible credentials include Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) or Certified Buyer Representative (CBR), which means they have met specific qualifications and passed exams to represent a buyer at every stage of the process.

  • How many clients do you currently have?
  • Will you represent just me, or a seller, too?
  • Do you work part time or full time?

These questions can help you determine how reachable and invested an agent might be in helping you. A buyer’s agent negotiates strictly for you in a deal, as opposed to a typical real estate agent who may represent the seller, too.

  • How would you help me find a home?
  • How much do you charge?

These two responses can let you know how the agents work, what sources they use and whether there are any costs involved. A buyer’s agent typically splits the home sale commission with the listing agent, with the seller usually paying the cost of the commission. Buyers typically pay nothing for the service directly.

By the end of the conversation, you’ll want to know if you can trust this person. When agents start recommending other professionals, including lenders, you need to be able to trust those judgments.

Check their references

During the interviews, ask agents for the contact information of some of their former clients. Call these people and ask open-ended questions such as whether there was anything that the agent could’ve done better or what factors made them choose this agent. You may be able to glean some insights from them as you make your final choice.

As you select your real estate agent, remember that you don’t have to stay with the first one you choose if things don’t work out. You want the right guide to help you find the home that works for you.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


Whether you are buying your first home, a vacation home, are relocating or looking to refinance your existing mortgage, Members 1st has a mortgage program tailored to your needs. For more information visit our Mortgage Services web page.

Tips to Fix Your Finances


Unless you’re born into it or inherit it, most of us have to work for the money we need. Some of us work more than one job to make it all come together. Sometimes we have to borrow money for the things we want or need like a home, car, wedding, or to finance an education. Sometimes people take on more debt in terms of credit cards and loans than the amount of money they bring in to make the payments.

Bob Marquette, our President & CEO, was recently featured on FOX 43’s “Fixing Your Finances“. He discussed how credit score works, why a good credit history impacts your ability to obtain a loan, and provided tips on how you can improve your own credit score.

Looking to fix your finances? Check out Bob’s segment by clicking below:

FOX43 Blog Post

Friendly reminder – Check Your Credit Report Annually

You are entitled to a free copy  of your credit report every year. It’s important to check your credit report regularly for accuracy, discrepancies, fraudulent activity, and identity theft. And federal law requires Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, the big three consumer credit reporting companies, to provide you  with a free credit report every 12 months if you request it. Get your free credit report today.

Need additional help? 

We offer our members access to money management and financial education services through GreenPath Financial Wellness.  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

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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.

10 TIPS FOR SAVING $$ AT COLLEGE


CollegeStudent-Pig1. Create a budget before heading off to school.

Sit down and evaluate how much money you have to spend and what you will need to be spending it on. Will you have a job at school? How much spending money will you allow yourself a week? Do you need to go grocery shopping or do you have a meal plan? Are there bills that you will need to pay monthly? What forms of transportation will you be using? Prepare yourself for your regular expenses and put aside money for the fun things that you want to do!

2. Saving money on text books – shop around.
The biggest mistake many college students make is buying textbooks from their school bookstores. Often times many online distributors such as Amazon, Chegg and eBay offer textbooks at a fraction of the original price. Used books are significantly less expensive than new books. Renting a book is a great option. Whether you rent or buy your books, if you don’t need them for reference for subsequent classes, sell them at the end of the semester. Many online distributors buy back used books and their websites will direct you through the sell-back process (sometimes with free postage). Check with your campus bookstore for their book buy-back process, too.

3. Limit the amount of times you eat out.
Once you reach that limit, cut yourself off. Also, check your meal plan – does it offer “swipes” at partnering restaurants near campus?

4. Cut out excessive habits.
There is always that one weakness that ends up costing you an enormous amount of money. $4 a day for coffee before class is $20 a week! That would be $300 a semester on coffee! What could you do with $300 in your pocket?

5. Always pay your bills on time.
Skipping a bill here and there doesn’t seem like a big deal, besides you’ll pay them eventually, right? This can actually end up costing you hundreds of dollars in late fees and even ruin your credit score. If you need a reminder, make a calendar of when all the bills are due, that way you will never miss one. You can also use an online bill pay service to schedule your payments.

6. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.
Let’s be honest, you don’t really need 200 channels of football. Use that money for something more useful or on something you can’t go without.

7. Do you really need a car at school?
Many colleges offer free student bus services around campus/town or rides to the airport, bus terminal or the train station. Check with your school for options. Many offer day-long bike or car rentals for a nominal fee.

8. Take advantage of free on-campus activities.
Many colleges and universities offer a variety of free social events on campus. Remember, you pay a student activity fee, so take advantage of these events.

9. Do not use loan money for anything that does not go toward your education.
Your student loans are for your tuition, room and board, and educational expenses. Borrow only what you need and don’t use this money on anything else. Remember, you have to pay them back once you are no longer in school.

10. Flash your student ID for discounts.
Many businesses  including movie theaters and restaurants offer student discounts. Always ask and show your ID.

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Guest Blogger: Megan Lopez, Marketing Intern (student at St. John’s University, New York)

How you can save money and make money on college textbooks!


TextbooksNo one likes spending their hard-earned money on textbooks. Unfortunately this is something every college student goes through each semester. Don’t worry though, because there are steps that you can take to save money and even make money each time you go through this process!

First, do not wait until the last-minute to buy your textbooks. Give yourself time to shop around and find the best deals out there.

The next thing you must do is make a list of each book you will need. Look over the books and decide which books you will rent and which books you will buy to keep for long-term use. Often times if the textbook contains information you may be able to utilize for your major, it is a good idea to hang on to the book as you may need it again.

Now you can begin shopping around! Avoid your school book store if at all possible. Amazon, a major online retail store, carries hundreds of textbooks that you may find easily by simply entering your textbook’s ISBN. If the book is in stock it will appear with price options for renting, buying used and buying new textbooks. Other websites that offer the same services include Chegg.com, BookRenter.com and Textbooks.com. These are just a few examples of companies that offer these services, as there are dozens available online.

Another option to save money is by sharing textbooks with friends. If you and a friend are taking a class at the same time it may be a good idea to split the cost of the book and share. Keep in mind that everyone in the same major takes primarily the same classes, so ask around and see if anyone has some old text books lying around that may be of use to you. EBooks are also becoming popular with college students, as they can also be significantly cheaper and are available instantly upon purchase.

Finally, when the end of the semester rolls around (which will be quicker than you think) look into selling back textbooks that you will not be using again. Just like buying textbooks, it is a good idea to avoid selling back to the bookstore, unless you’re okay with only getting a few bucks back. I don’t know about you, but I want to make as much money back on the book as I can!

Many online textbook retailers offer services to buy back books as well. After all, that is where all those cheap used textbooks you bought came from anyway. Selling back is simple and painless. On Chegg.com you simply click the “more” button on the upper right hand corner of the website and hit “sell back” to get a quote on the textbook you wish to sell by entering the ISBN number. Then, you simply agree to sell the book, enter your information and ship the book!

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Guest Blogger: Megan Lopez, Marketing Intern (student at St. John’s University, New York)

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