Posts Tagged ‘ credit union membership ’

Shrewsbury Branch Grand Opening Event Slated for Saturday


We hope to see you at our celebration event on Saturday!

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Shrewsbury Branch Opens August 15


We’re opening our 60th branch location on Monday, August 15 in Shrewsbury. This new branch is our 9th location in York County. Stop by to visit. Check out our special offers.

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We hope to see you there.

 

What’s the difference?


Do banks and credit unions all seem the same to you?  You have heard the term “credit union” over and over again but you just don’t know what makes it all that special.  Credit unions are actually much more different from a bank than you think!  Here at Members 1st Federal Credit Union, we take pride in the things that differentiate us from banks, and we want you to better understand why.

There are many distinct differences between credit unions and other banking institutions. If you’re already a member, that’s great. Think back on the reasons that made you switch financial institutions. If you’re not a member, this video will highlight some very good reasons to help you to decide which financial institution is the best for your needs. The benefits of credit union membership are countless!

 

5 reasons graphic-blog

Experience the credit union difference. If you’re not a member at Members 1st Federal Credit Union, consider checking us out.

 

Written by guest blogger Zach Heckert, Marketing Intern

Think of what you spend in a day


Have you ever wondered during your daily routine if there was something you could be doing to save you money?  Every day, you make simple decisions that can cost you a good chunk of cash that could be saved and used for weekend fun.  Often times you make these decisions without even thinking of the quick and easy alternative rather than spending money.  Luckily for you there are plenty of simple and cheap swaps you can make to have more money at the end of the day.

In this quick video, you’ll see multiple ways that you can save money that are easy to change in your daily life.  You will see how simple it really can be for you to save money, which will make you and your wallet much happier!  Not only could these cheap swaps save you money each week, but they could also result in saving you time.  Begin applying these easy changes to your daily routine, and start saving some serious cash.

swaps graphic-blog

Members 1st Federal Credit Union can help you manage your money. Click here to learn more.

 

Written by guest blogger Zach Heckert, Marketing intern

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.

How Can You Help Your Credit Score?


Stressed man with bills

Think of your credit report as your financial resume. It says a lot about you and how you manage your money. It’s a summary of all of your debts – those you’re currently paying on, those you’ve paid off and it shows payment history, debt amounts and more. It’s your ticket to being approved for a loan or being denied. It determines how much interest you pay when it comes to the amount of money you want to borrow.  Maybe you’ve had some financial issues due to job loss, illness, or maybe you simply developed some bad financial habits like having too much money going out for bills and not enough money coming in.

Whatever your situation is, there’s always a way to help improve your credit score. May we suggest:

Pay your bills on time. This is pretty much a no-brainer. If a situation comes up and you know you’re going to be late with a payment or can’t make it in full, pay something and/or call the creditor to work out an alternative payment arrangement and make sure it’s noted in your account. Consider using an online bill pay system to help you schedule payments.

Credit card usage. Use them lightly. Just because you have a $5,000 limit, doesn’t mean you need to go on a charging spree. Use less than 30 percent of your total available credit.

Pay off your installment loans  (mortgage, auto, student, etc.).  This can help your scores but typically not as dramatically as paying down — or paying off — revolving accounts (think about all of those store credit cards you signed up for to take advantage of that point-of-sale discount) and other credit cards.

Lenders like to see a big gap between the amount of credit you’re using and your available credit limits. Getting your balances below 30% of the credit limit on each card can really help; getting balances below 10% is even better. Pay off  your highest-rate card(s)/loans first and then put those payments towards other debts such as credit cards that  are really close to their limits.

Pay more. Anytime you can pay more than the minimum payment, do it. You’ll end up paying less interest in the long run. Remember, every little bit helps.

Lines of credit. Too many open lines of credit, whether or not you’re using them, may send a red flag up the pole to potential lenders.

Balance. Maintain a good balance of credit between your installment loans (car loans) and credit cards.

Old credit is good.  If you have charge cards you haven’t used in a while or have paid off, but still have open lines of credit, use them once in a while and pay them off in full each month.

Check your credit report. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. Go there, order up your credit report, grab a cup of coffee and take a good, long hard look at it. Make sure you get it from all three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. Dispute any discrepancies you may find. You don’t necessarily need to correct accounts you closed listed as being open or accounts you closed that don’t say “closed by consumer.” Closing an account may hurt your scores. If your goal is improving your scores, leave these alone.

Pay attention to significant errors. Sometimes life deals us a bad hand – you have financial issues due to job loss, medical issues, divorce, gambling problems, and so on. If you have any of the following on your credit report, it is worth your effort to correct these issues sooner rather than later:

  • Late payments, charge-offs, collections or other negative items that aren’t yours.
  • Credit limits reported as lower than they actually are.
  • Accounts listed as “settled,” “paid derogatory,” “paid charge-off” or anything other than “current” or “paid as agreed” if you paid on time and in full.
  • Accounts that are still listed as unpaid that were included in a bankruptcy.
  • Negative items older than seven years (10 in the case of bankruptcy) that should have automatically fallen off your reports.

Additional resources:

Members 1st FCU offers 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

NerdWallet

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Board of Governors Federal Reserve System

5 Financial Resolutions for 2014


financial goalsAccording to a Marist poll, a whopping 44% of Americans make some sort of New Year’s resolution. If you’re one of the 12% that are setting new financial goals for 2014, the tips below offer practical, sustainable changes that can substantially transform the weight of your wallet. Since these activities are effective even as short-term goals, they should help you maintain your resolutions long after January 1. Read on to get started.

Set aside at least 10% per paycheck
It’s easy to get swept up in spending spree fantasies when you receive your paycheck, but don’t forget to set apart a percentage of your income for your savings account. The key word is percentage. If you save in proportion to your income, your savings can adjust to any sudden changes in pay—for better or worse. This takes the pressure off of having to save a set amount each month.

Try to make your savings contribution as seamless as possible. Some direct deposit options allow you to send a certain percentage of your income straight to your savings, before you have a chance to see it. If you don’t have that option, set aside money manually. To do this with discipline, it helps to think of your real income as your paycheck minus savings. If it helps, start at a modest 10%—which is the minimum generally recommended—and over time steadily increase the percentage of your paycheck you contribute to savings.

The key is to let the savings build—set up a special savings account if you need to remind yourself not to dip into them.

Pay high-interest debt first
Look over your loans and credit card bills and sort them out in order of interest rate. Paying more than the minimum on the debt with high interest will save you incredible amounts in uncharged interest. Even if your other balances continue charging you interest, so long as you make the minimum payments and maintain the low interest rates, you’ll be ridding yourself of the fastest-growing debt.

In addition, when you finally free yourself from the worst of your debts, you’ll not only have fewer payments to make, but you’ll feel fantastic knowing you avoided extra debt. Confidence from your previous success will make paying off small-interest debts that much easier and bring you one step closer to financial freedom.

Consolidate your credit
Another way of securing lower interest rates (and paying less in the long run) is by consolidating your credit card and loan bills. Consolidating means combining your outstanding debts, or transferring outstanding balances, onto a new loan or credit card with a lower interest rate. The main benefit of debt consolidation is that you can exchange the high interest rates of your previous loans or lines of credit for the lower rate of the new one.

However, keep a sharp eye out for any deals that seem too good to be true. Sometimes, lenders will initially give you fantastically low rates, and then jack up the interest as soon as the promotional period expires. Be careful to read the fine print, or consult a professional, before committing to a loan consolidation.

Learn more about the balance transfer options at Members 1st Federal Credit Union.

Automate and synchronize payments
Automating your loan and credit card payments can help you avoid those pesky late-payment fees or hiked up interest rates. Late payments reflect badly on your credit score, so anything you can do to avoid missing the due date helps. Automated payment services like online bill pay or direct debit are easy to set up and require little to no maintenance.

Keep in mind that we have the biggest tendency to overspend when we forget our debts and think of only the positive number in our accounts. Timely, regular and synchronized credit card payments will keep your brain (and your eager, spending heart) in check.

Get your free credit report
If you use credit, it’s always helpful to have a credit report on hand. A credit report tells lenders all the details about your past credit use, payment history and total credit available under your name. It’s best to know exactly how your credit is doing in what areas, so you can make specific changes in your faulty credit habits. Luckily, through the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

To get a better sense of how your credit is doing throughout the year, order one of your free credit reports every 4 months.

Last word
The best thing about these resolutions is that they are each practical enough to start immediately—even today—yet, they also promise to significantly improve your finances in the long run. Half the battle of keeping resolutions is your ability to feel good about what you’ve accomplished in the short-term, and these changes allow you to hit rewarding milestones along the way to accomplishing your bigger, long-term goals. With a little prioritization, effort, and discipline you can proudly make 2014 your best financial year yet!

Note: Members 1st offers 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

Guest blogger: Nico Leyva of NerdWallet

 

 

 

 

Is a department store credit card worth it?


woman shopping

We’ve all been there: you’re at a department store standing in line to make a purchase and the cashier offers you a chance to save a few extra dollars by opening a store credit card. While saving money is almost always an appealing option, you may be wary of opening another line of credit.

Store credit cards aren’t always bad. However, they’re certainly not always good either. Whether or not you choose to open one should depend on a number of factors, the most important being your own financial situation and the specific terms and conditions attached to the card.

The main pros associated with department store credit cards include:

  • Special Discounts: Department stores often provide perks to store credit card holders, including special discounts, free shipping and tickets to special events. If you frequently shop at the store anyway, signing up for a credit card could help you to save a lot of extra money. However, it’s important to look very closely at the rules surrounding the discounts first, to make sure you’re getting a good deal. For example, some stores require you to charge a significant amount before you get access to savings perks. On the plus side, other stores offer cash back right at checkout, which can really add up. Always be sure to read the fine print.
  • Establish Credit: If you don’t have much of a credit history or are trying to repair a damaged one, opening a store credit card can help to raise your score. Department store credit cards are typically much easier to obtain than traditional credit cards. As long as you shop responsibly and pay the balance off each month, it will look good on your credit report.
  • Fund Major Purchases: Some store credit cards offer a zero percent interest rate for the first six months or a year, which can help you finance major purchases when you need them, instead of waiting until you can save up the cash. However, it’s important to finish making payments before the interest kicks in or you’ll owe some serious extra money.

While opening a store credit card can have its benefits, there are also many drawbacks. The biggest cons of department store credit cards are:

  • Lower Credit Score: If you have a good credit score already, opening too many department store cards per year can lower it. Even if you only open the card to take advantage of the initial discount, pay it off, and cancel it, that doesn’t remove the inquiry from your credit report. As a general rule of thumb, don’t open more than one or two lines of credit per year.
  • High Interest Rates: Department store credit cards may have much higher interest rates than you’d find with a traditional credit card. Confirm the interest rate before you sign up for the card.
  • Low Credit Limit: As department store credit cards are typically much easier to obtain than traditional credit cards, you usually won’t get too high of a spending limit. While this can be a good thing, it can also be annoying if you have the money to do some pricey shopping, but can’t put your entire purchase on the card.

Making the decision to open a new credit card is a big deal. You should never rush into something that can have such a huge impact on your finances. While it can be tempting to sign up for a store credit card on a whim to save a little extra money at checkout, don’t do it. Take the time to read the fine print and really think about whether the card is a good fit for you.

There are other credit card options that offer you low interest rates, no annual fees, and reasonable limits. Some cards also allow you to make purchases and reap rewards from purchases outside of a single store. If after weighing your options you decide a store credit card is for you, open an account on your next trip to the store.

 Guest blogger: John Gower, NerdWallet

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