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What exactly does it mean to “be a member”?


Happy Multi-Generational Family

Do you remember when you opened your account and the member service representative, or even Members 1st Online, asked you for a $5 opening membership deposit? Do you know what that represents?

That small opening deposit represents your “share” in the credit union. While this is not like a “share” of stock, it represents your sharing in the ownership of the credit union. All members of every credit union are considered an “owner” of that financial institution.

Once you establish your initial account, typically a savings account, that opens the door for you to start doing your financial business immediately – making deposits, applying for loans, applying for a credit card, establishing electronic services, and so on.

As a member-owner, you have a say in what happens at the credit union. Each year, credit unions have an Annual Meeting where members are invited to hear updates about the financial status of the credit union as presented by the credit union’s volunteer Board of Directors and various members of management, including the president and chief executive officer. Each year members may submit petitions to be considered for a seat on the board of directors. And, as a member of the credit union, you’re eligible to participate in special events such as member bus trips, contest/giveaways, and other fun member related activities and programs.

As a member, we encourage you to tell everyone you know (we know how you  LOVE to talk about us) about our products and services. You can earn a referral incentive through our CASH4U program for every referral you make to us who opens an account. So when you hear your immediate family members, neighbors and co-workers talking about not so happy experiences with their current financial institution, there’s your opportunity to tell them about your happy experiences with us.

Credit unions are all about the people they serve, not profits. We don’t have stockholders or paid board members. Our focus is people helping people with the vision of being the preferred financial institution and an employer of choice in the South Central Pennsylvania Community. It’s our mission to serve our community and partner with our members to offer value-added financial products, services, solutions, and no-compromise member service by:

  • Delivering unparalleled experiences
  • Creating and maintaining a culture that supports a high level of associate morale and satisfaction
  • Providing resources and leadership to enhance our community presence
  • Ensuring opportunities for associates’ professional development

What’s it mean to be a member? It means you are part of a financial family that truly cares about your personal financial goals, needs and wants. We’re here to help you in any way we can so that you can make the most of that small opening deposit in your savings account.

Want to learn more about the differences between a credit union and other financial institutions? Click here.

 


Are YOU a member?

If not, be sure to visit us at members1st.org to learn how to become a part of our Members 1st family.

If you are a member, visit our website via your mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer and keep up-to-date with current events and special offers!

Do you work for a company that doesn’t offer credit union membership? Click here to learn how your company, organization, school, or church can offer credit union membership, a great free benefit for all!

Organize your Credit Card Debt!


woman choose one credit card, concept of  credit  debt

Do you have multiple department store or gas cards that you never use or pay annual fees for cards that never see the light of day? Maybe it’s time for a little house (or wallet) cleaning!

Pay. 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. When that one is paid off, roll that amount into the next highest credit card balance (old amount plus the minimum balance required).

Transfer. Consider transferring your higher rate credit card balances and loans to a card with a lower rate. Also, research VISA® Balance Transfer specials which can offer a very low rate for a specific amount of time.

Choose. Figure out which card you’ve had for the longest amount of time. Make sure to keep this card open, since lenders often see borrowers with short credit histories to be riskier than those with long credit histories. Determine one or two cards to utilize regularly and leave the rest at home. If you have a card that has a low interest rate or offers rewards, it may be best to keep it open. It’s alright to close those credit cards that you’re no longer using, as long as they don’t have balances and you have other cards.

Follow up. If you choose to close a credit card, make sure to send a letter to the issuer sharing your decision. Double check your credit report to see if the card is reported as “closed.”


Which Members 1st VISA Card is Best for You?

Cash Back – Earn cash back for everyday purchases.
red chip card_hi-res

Points – Earn points to use towards great items.

Low Rate – No frills, just a low interest rate.

For more details or to apply click here.

Already have a Members 1st VISA credit card? Ask for a credit line increase!

Learn about our fee-free balance transfer program.

Members 1st logo

How to Spot a Flood-Damaged Vehicle


Rural FloodingThe recent hurricanes have flooded many vehicles, and experts are warning of a possible rise in flood-damaged vehicles hitting the market for sale. These could be full of hidden dangers, and compromised mechanical and electrical systems. You should use caution before making your purchase.

The National Automobile Dealers Association posted a list of ten inspection tips to detect flood-damaged vehicles on their website, which includes among other things, to check for rust on screws in the console and other areas where water would not normally reach unless the vehicle was submerged, check under the dash for dried mud and residue, and inspect electrical wiring for rusted components or suspicious corrosion. See the full list of tips from NADA below.

1. Check a vehicle’s title history using the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VinCheck, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or a commerciallyavailable vehicle history report service, such as Experian or Carfax, etc. Reports may state whether a vehicle has been flood damaged.

2. Examine the interior and the engine compartment for evidence of water and grit from suspected submersion.

3. Check for recently shampooed carpeting.

4. Look under the carpeting for water residue or stain marks from evaporated water not related to air-conditioning pan leaks.

5. Inspect for interior rust and under the carpeting, and inspect upholstery and door panels for evidence of fading.

6. Check under the dash for dried mud and residue, and note any mold or a musty odor in the upholstery, carpet or trunk.

7. Check for rust on screws in the console and in other areas water would normally not reach unless the vehicle was submerged.

8. Look for mud or grit in alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses and around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays.

9. Inspect electrical wiring for rusted components, water residue or suspicious corrosion.

10. Inspect other components for rust or flaking metal not normally found in late model vehicles.

 


We are your experts for information about Auto Insurance, Flood Insurance and more!

Members 1st Insurance Services is available to help you through your options of purchasing insurance.

 Click HERE for more information about receiving a FREE quote!

Call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 5245, visit your nearest branch, or click here for information about insurance services.

 

*Insurance services available to PA and MD residents only.

 

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How Much 20-Somethings Should Save


Your 20s may seem like an odd time to think of saving for retirement, but it’s actually the perfect moment to start planning for your later years. That’s because the earlier you start saving, the more time your money has to grow.

Savers who begin setting aside 10% of their earnings at 25, for example, could amass significantly more by retirement age than those who wait just five more years to start saving. You can use a retirement calculator to see how much you should start saving now to reach your retirement goal.

Building a nest egg on a starter salary and a shoestring budget can seem daunting, though. Focusing on the incremental savings, rather than the goal, can help your savings objectives feel more manageable.

How much to save for retirement

For those earning around $25,000 a year, the median income for 20 to 24 year olds in 2015, saving the recommended sum of 10% amounts to a little more than $200 a month.

It may seem like a reach, but consider this: If you start saving $100 a month at age 25 and invest it to return 7.7% a year — the average total return of the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of U.S. stocks over the past decade — you’ll have more than $378,000 available at retirement age. And it could be tax-free.

If you wait until you’re 30  to start and save the same monthly amount at the same rate of return, you’ll wind up with less than $253,000.

Several vehicles can help you build a retirement fund. A 401(k) plan, typically offered by your employer, is often the most convenient and easily accessible of these. Contributions you make usually aren’t taxed, which helps reduce your income tax liability.

Pre-tax 401(k) accounts make up around 80% of retirement plans offered by employers, according to the American Benefits Council. Roth 401(k) accounts are another option, though these are less widely available, and money contributed to a Roth 401(k) account goes in after it’s taxed. Money withdrawn from this type of account — including earnings — is usually tax-free.

Companies that offer a 401(k) plan often match employee contributions, up to a certain percentage. This is essentially free money toward your retirement.

If your employer will match your contributions, try to take full advantage and commit a large enough percentage to get the full benefit.

Beyond a 401(k), individual retirement accounts, commonly referred to as IRAs, offer another solid option. There are two types: traditional and Roth.

Money put into a traditional account is tax-deferred, similar to funds put in a traditional 401(k) plan. That means those funds aren’t taxed until they’re taken out. But typically any earnings you make with the money are also subject to income taxes on withdrawal.

Money put into a Roth IRA has already been taxed when you earn it, so there’s no immediate tax benefit. When it’s time to withdraw the cash, however, you usually don’t pay taxes on it. And anything the money earns also can be taken out tax-free.

Contributions to both types of IRAs are currently capped at $5,500 a year for those under age 50, and $6,500 for older workers.

How much to save for emergencies

In addition to retirement, it’s also wise to save for a rainy day. Ideally, your emergency fund should be enough to cover three to six months of living expenses.

Some experts suggest setting aside even more for savings and investments: 20%. That’s roughly $415 a month on an annual income of $25,000.

That’s not always feasible, especially if a big chunk of your monthly income goes to student loan and credit card payments. Consider saving what you can, even if it’s just $10 a month.

Making a habit of saving now could serve you well down the road. And, as your income increases, the percentage you save can as well.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Members 1st FCU has many options to help you get on the right track for saving! Visit our website now and find the type of savings that will fit your goals, no matter what age.

5 tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Rewards Credit Card


Happy Young Man Pointing

One of the best things about choosing to use a rewards credit card for your day-to-day spending is the points, miles or cash back you can earn every time you swipe. But it can be tricky. To make sure you’re getting the most out of your card, take a look at the tips below.

  1. Pick a card that offers rewards you’ll actually use

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement around a new card that’s just hit the market. But before you apply, consider whether the card comes with a rewards program that actually fits your lifestyle. Otherwise, you might get stuck with a bunch of points or miles that you’ll never redeem — something that happens to 1 in 5 consumers, according to NerdWallet’s research on rewards cards.

Doing some digging upfront to find a card that will be valuable to you is the key to ensuring you’ll get the most out of your plastic.

  1. Know your card’s rewards earning structure

By investing a little time in reading your card’s terms and conditions, you might find there are ways to score extra points on certain kinds of spending.

For example, it’s common for travel credit cards to award extra points or miles for every dollar spent on dining out. Consequently, using your travel card when you take your family out to dinner or pick up your morning coffee is a smart idea, because it will help you get to your next vacation faster. Knowledge is power, so get familiar with the ins and outs of how to maximize earning your rewards.

  1. Budget carefully every month

If you’re carrying a balance on your card and justifying it with all the rewards you’re earning, here’s a wake-up call: You’re paying out much more than you’re bringing in. Most credit cards return only about 1% of your spending in rewards, and charge double-digit interest rates on unpaid balances.

To make the math work in your favor, stick to a budget so you don’t put more on your card than you can pay off each month.

  1. Keep your account in good standing

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with a credit card is to fall behind on payments. Miss one and your account will no longer be in good standing and your ability to earn rewards could be jeopardized. Also, your credit score will suffer.

The solution? Pay your credit card bill on time each month or at least the minimum due. Online bill pay can make that process fast and easy.

Article courtesy of NerdWallet, Inc.


Which Members 1st VISA Rewards Card is Best for You?

Choose your Rewards!red chip card_hi-res

Cash Back – Earn cash back for everyday purchases.

Points – Earn points to use towards great items.

Low Rate – No frills, just a low interest rate.

For more details or to apply click here.

Already have a Members 1st VISA credit card? Ask for a credit line increase!

Learn about our fee-free balance transfer program.

Members 1st logo

Using Equity Loans to Winterize Your Home


There are all sorts of ways to guard your home from the winter elements. Some are cheap and may even fall in the do-it-yourself category, like adding weather stripping and caulking.

Water condensation on windows during winter

Do you have water condensation on your windows?

Other endeavors, such as swapping out single-pane windows for energy-efficient double panes, or replacing a furnace, are beyond the skill set of most homeowners — and often beyond the balances in many savings accounts as well.

In that case, taking out a home equity loan or line of credit may be the answer. Here’s what you should know before you do.

Take stock

If you know your home needs winterizing, it makes sense to get going on those projects in summer, or sometime before it gets really cold. It’s a lot easier to work a caulking gun when your teeth aren’t chattering or to have your furnace serviced when demand is down.

Adult male contractor taking measurements

Be realistic about your handyman or handy-woman skills! Hiring a contractor could be more cost effective.

What’s on your list? Many utility companies offer free energy audits and tips on improvements you can make so that your home doesn’t lose heat so quickly, saving you money on your heating bill.

Drafty doors and windows may be something you or a handy friend can handle. For many homeowners, though, installing storm windows or storm doors and adding insulation to an attic — particularly if access is tricky — might start to push the envelope.

Hire a contractor

If you know your heater is reaching the end of its run, or your gas furnace’s flame is burning yellow instead of blue, it’s probably time to hire a contractor.

You can avoid headaches that come from dealing with unscrupulous or second-rate contractors by researching their backgrounds and reputations before seeking bids. Check government websites that compile licensing and business records, as well as consumer-oriented sites such as Angie’s List, your local Better Business Bureau or, if you live in one of the many metro areas it serves, the Consumers’ Checkbook.

It’s usually a good idea to get at least three bids, and to ask for client references.

Decide how to pay for it

If you don’t have enough savings to afford winterizing your home, look into taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. Typically, both loans and HELOCs:

  • Carry lower interest rates, compared with, say, a credit card.
  • Are secured by the equity in your home; this means you can qualify for a bigger loan but also that you are using your home as collateral.
  • Allow you to deduct interest come tax time, under the IRS’ home mortgage interest deduction.

And when evaluating whether to grant either type of loan, and when setting an interest rate, lenders are likely to weigh the value of your home, how much you still owe and your creditworthiness.

But there are significant differences. With a home equity loan, you receive your money in one lump sum, and the terms call for a fixed interest rate and repayment over a specific period of time.

By contrast, a HELOC is a revolving line of credit, similar to a credit card. You pull from it as needed, up to a specified amount. HELOCs also come with variable interest rates. You pay only on what you draw, but the rate may rise or fall from what it was when you took out the line of credit. Many HELOCs also come with specified draw periods, followed by a repayment period to pay back the outstanding balance plus interest.

Keeping warm in the winter is certainly a good reason to tackle a home improvement project. And because your home is probably your single most valuable asset, it makes good sense to keep it in top condition — to maintain or boost its value for resale, or to pass it along to your kids. For important big-ticket items, home equity loans are a reasonable route.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

 

Make sure to check with Members 1st FCU about your next HELOC or Home Equity Line of Credit to get the rate that’s right for you! 

Looking to improve your home? Think Curb Appeal


You go through a lot of effort to make a first impression for a job interview, first date, an important business event and other social activities. Did you ever stop and think about that first impression people get from your home? How does it really look from the street?

First impressions do matter when it comes to real estate. How many times have you looked at the outside of homes and said to yourself, “what a dump” or “they should trim this or cut that” or “that porch looks nice but that house needs painted” or “don’t they know what a power washer is”?

We’ve all done it.

Try to look at your house with a fresh mind and a brand new first impression. What would you change? Is it your mailbox that needs a little TLC? How difficult is it to read those house numbers that are original and often forgotten? It can be surprising how different your house will look by simply refreshing the edging of your yard.

These are just a few simple projects but if you feel like your curb appeal could use bigger measures think about your house paying for those measures itself. Click here for more information!

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