Friday, June 22, 2018

Save on Road Trips This Summer!

Summer is here, and for many, this means summer vacations are calling. But with airlines’ increasing fees and charges, you may find yourself opting to hit the open road instead of the sky.


Slow down speed racer; if you’re not careful, road trips can get pricey, too! Since we all deserve a break and some fun in the sun, we’re giving you our best tips to pinch every penny and make the most out of your next road trip.

Budget First

Make travel a piece of your monthly budget. Determine how much your ideal trip will cost and how much you can reasonably set aside. Start saving months in advance. This way, when trip time rolls around, you aren’t scrounging through the couch cushions digging for nickels.

Plan, Plan, Plan

Once you’ve got the cash, the real fun begins. Start researching your destination(s) and planning activities and restaurants you’d like to visit while there. Often tickets to parks, events, concerts, etc. are cheaper in advance. A simple Google search of “destination and date and events” will let you know what’s going on.

You’ll also want to set up accommodations before you go. Booking sites like Hotels.com and Booking.com search for the best deals, so you don’t have to. There’s also Airbnb and campsites if you’re going the nontraditional route.

Mapping out your route not only saves you time, but can save you money by helping you avoid tolls, travel the least amount of miles, and drive through more affordable areas. Apps like Waze can help you find the best route and automatically change routes if something pops up – like construction or car accidents.

Guzzle Less Gas

Gas isn’t cheap, with the average price sitting somewhere around $3 per gallon. Use GasBuddy.com to calculate how much you’ll be spending, and make sure this number finds its way into your budget.

Use less fuel and save more money by:
  • Packing the vehicle as lightly as possible
  • Following the speed limit
  • Avoiding aggressive driving
  • Filling tires to the correct pressure and making sure tire tread is sufficient
  • Renting a fuel-efficient vehicle

Pack Snacks

Driving for hours can really get the tummy rumbling, but constantly stopping at convenience stores to grab food can put a major dent in your wallet. Pack a cooler with the essentials like granola bars, fruit, cheese sticks, crackers, chips, bottled water, and other drinks. Pro tip: buy in bulk and separate into individual bags – or go family style and dig right in.

Packing “picnic lunches” can also save you lots while on the road. Toss some bread, peanut butter, and jelly in the cooler for a quick lunchtime meal that costs you pennies.

Dine In

If dinnertime rolls around and you’re absolutely famished, skip the drive-thru and opt for a mom-and-pop shop instead. These places are often tastier and have better deals than big name restaurants. Plus, they allow you to get a little flavor of the area you’re in.

Check for Coupons

Coupon clipping isn’t just for Moms on TLC. If there are specific stops you’d like to make or attractions you’d like to see, check online for any coupons. Do this simply by typing, “destination and coupon” into Google.

You can also use GroupOn before heading out to get deals on food and fun.

Get Going!

Now all that’s left to do is jump in the car and go! Don’t forget to call your bank and let them know you’ll be on the move. Oh, and don’t forget your chargers either – a good road trip calls for lots of photos!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Factors to Consider Before Buying A New Boat


The open water and sunny days are calling, but what are the actual costs of purchasing a boat, and is it worth it? Part of advising our members on financial decisions is revealing some of the hidden costs you need to be aware of before you take the plunge into a life on the water.

The Purchase Price

Whether you’re shopping used boats or new, sailboats or speed boats, obviously the biggest part of your overall price is the ticket price.

Insurance

Boat insurance generally covers collision, property damage, theft, and/or bodily injury liability. Your cost will vary by state, the type of motor and boat, and whether you’re boating on freshwater or open ocean.

Boat License

Watercraft licenses are required in most states for boats over a certain length. In Minnesota, boat dealers will help you apply for title and registration, and are good for three years.

Trailer

If you plan on visiting other lakes or taking your boat on the move, you’ll need a trailer, not to mention a vehicle that can tow something as heavy as a boat.

Storage in Winter

With many local options for winter rack storage, these storage facilities make sure to prep your boat, wrap it, and store it for a monthly or annual fee. Some boat owners choose to store their boats on their own property over the winter, which still requires winterizing and boat wrap.

Dock and/or Marina Space

Now that you have your boat, where will you dock it? You may be purchasing a dock for your own property or renting marina or dock space on a nearby lake, both additional costs to take into consideration.

Maintenance

Last, don’t forget the costs for cleaning, repairs, and maintenance to the boat, sail, or motor.


For additional advice on making a boat purchase, or questions about recreational vehicle loans, contact us at Financial One.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Navigating Home Loan Options and Rates



With the Spring Home buying season around the corner, there may be some confusion over the different types of home loans available for those making the big purchase.

Financial One Credit Union is here to help – both with providing answers and with financing your new home.

Types of Home Loans: 

1. Adjustable Rate Mortgage

ARMs give you a fixed interest rate for a certain number of years (the “adjustment period”) at a very reasonable rate. Following that period, your mortgage then becomes what is called a variable rate mortgage, where the rate adjusts on an annual basis based on market conditions, usually +/-1%.

2. Fixed Rate Mortgage

With these loans, the interest rate is fixed for the term of the loan – usually for 15 or 30-year terms. Fixed rate mortgages are more stable over the long-term even though you may see a higher interest rate than you’d get at the beginning adjustment period of an ARM.

3. Home Equity Loans

These loans take advantage of the equity you have in your home and are available if you owe less on your home than it is worth. Home Equity loans give you large amounts of funds to use for a variety of reasons and are available through Financial One Credit Union as lump sum loans (up to 100% loan to value) or as a Home Equity Line of Credit (up to 80% loan to value variable rate).

Interest Rates

Interest rates fluctuate daily based on changes in financial markets. Your individual interest rate will be determined based on your credit score, your income vs. debt ratio, down payment amount, the amount being borrowed, and the term of the loan. If you have any questions about how interest rates are calculated or why they fluctuate, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Rates at Credit Unions are Often Better than Banks

According to Investopedia, Credit Unions are able to turn income into savings for their members. “Since profits to stockholders aren't a part of the company vision, credit unions are free to pass surplus money on to members.” In addition, Credit Unions don’t need to answer to stockholders; we are member-owned and are concerned with benefiting members over anything else.

Apply now for a Home Mortgage Loan from Financial One Credit Union, or view our current rates here.

Friday, January 5, 2018

How to Set a Personal Budget for 2018



In a season known for indulging and overspending, the holidays can be the last time you want to think about a budget.

However, the start of a new year is the perfect time to revamp the way you think about your money. It’s a way to set yourself up for 2018 to make your budget work for you, instead of working for your budget.

With that attitude in mind, take these three steps as you begin budgeting for 2018:

1. Start with the Basics

You might feel tempted to go way into detail when you first set out to budget, but that’s not necessary. Divide your budget into simple categories in a program such as Microsoft Excel so you’ll easily be able to make edits and be realistic with the amounts you set for each category. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Think about how much you’re already spending in each area and visualize what you could cut back on. Draw your budget as such.

Be honest about the best way to keep your budget. If you like math, it could be pen and paper. If you’d like to be more hands-off, try a budgeting program such as Mint, which categorizes your purchases as you make them.

2. Save for the Worst

Build an emergency fund into your budget. This type of savings account will give you a financial buffer in the case that illness or injury, hospital bills, or other times of need make money tight. Putting money into the fund can be as easy as the change from your lunch, cutting unnecessary expenses, or saving your tax return.

Build the fund with the requirement that it be used strictly for emergencies, and not as general savings. Don’t use the fund for holidays or planned expenses. This way, when the unexpected happens, your money will be ready.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Make Changes

Your budget shouldn’t be set in stone. As you start spending in 2018, see where your estimates and actual spending don’t match up and take a look at why that is.

If money is tight, it’s tempting to underestimate costs as you set your budget. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Allow room for fun and an occasional splurge. Get too restrictive too soon, and it will be harder to follow the budget as the year goes on.

If things still don’t add up, think about adding to your income instead of cutting from your expenses. An extra part-time job, some freelance work or selling something you’re not using can free up some space in the budget.


No matter your budgeting goal for 2018, Financial One Credit Union is here to help.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

5 Tax Season Tips You Need To Know Before 2018

It’s never too early to start thinking about tax season.

There are many things to consider for a quick and seamless tax return this year. If you keep these 10 tips in mind, you will be less likely to experience a tax refund delay.


1. The First Day to File Taxes

There have been rumors about the first day to file taxes in 2018. According to some websites out there, the first day you can file taxes in 2018 will be January 21st. However, according to the IRS, an official date hasn’t yet been decided. It is likely to be the third week of January, based on past tax seasons. Be sure to always check the IRS website to see when the official date will be.


2. Check If Your ITIN Will Expire

An ITIN is an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is a tax processing number for the IRS. On December 31st, 2017, any ITINs that haven’t been used for the last three years will expire. On top of those, according to the IRS, they will be expiring ITINs issued before 2013 and have middle digits 70, 71, 72 or 80. If your ITIN is due to expire, send an application to renew it before the end of the year. This will help ensure there won’t be a delay in your tax refund. Note: If you use a Social Security Number for filing taxes, this does not apply to you.



3. Start Gathering Your Documents

You’ll want to ensure you have all necessary documents for your tax return. This includes your previous tax return, W-2, 1099, and any other forms required for taxes. These typically come from your employer and banks in January. Once you receive them, double-check that all your information is correct. Use TurboTax’s preparation checklist to help know which documents you need.

4. EITC and ACTC Refunds Will be Held

For those filing with Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit, your refund will be held until late-February. This is required by law. Ensure you aware of this timing when filing these credits and making plans for your return.

5. Choose E-file and use Direct Deposit

Using these options during your tax return will help you get your refund fastest. The IRS states, “Electronically filing a tax return is the most accurate way to prepare and file. Errors delay refunds and the easiest way to avoid them is to e-file.” Along with e-file, direct deposit is the quickest way to receive your refund. It also saves taxpayer money if you choose direct deposit instead of a paper check.



Now that you have the top 5 tips for tax season, start preparing by gathering your documents and applying for a new ITIN before the end of the year. This will make it much easier for you and/or your accountant when it comes time to file your tax return.

For advice on what to do with the extra funds from your return, contact the specialists at Financial One Credit Union. We have partnered with Ameriprise Financial and can help you invest, pay off debts, plan for retirement and manage your money for the future.

 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Best Ways to Give Back This Season

It is the season of giving and there is a multitude of ways you can make the holidays a little happier for those around you. Here are the best ways you can give back and spread cheer!

Volunteer Opportunities

Great places to volunteer this time of year are food shelves and homeless shelters. As the cold weather sets in, these places experience higher volumes. They also have an influx of donations around the season of giving so they need extra volunteers to sort and manage these items.

If you are looking for the right opportunity to volunteer, you can get matched with local organizations at volunteermatch.org.

Local Love

If you feel like giving back in a more personal way, consider helping locals in your area that are struggling. If you know a family with young kids struggling financially, consider giving them toys to gift their children when they can not afford to buy them. Adopt a family through a charitable or religious organization to give something that specific family needs, usually clothing. Consider small acts of kindness to spread joy like shoveling a neighbor's driveway, making your coworkers cookies unexpectedly, or inviting someone lonely for dinner.


Bank With Financial One

To give back on a larger scale, consider banking with Financial One. We are committed to serving our community's needs, which is why we stick to our Social Promise.

When you choose Financial One for your home loan, we provide 1 night of housing for someone homeless. When you open a checking line-of-credit, a veteran in need receives one coat. Lastly, when you open an auto loan with Financial One, we donate 100 lbs of food to the local food shelf. This program has allowed our credit union and members to give back in a big way!


The best ways to give back during the holidays are easy to find when you know where to look. The best thing about giving back is that you aren’t limited to the holiday season. Commit to giving back to your community all year round.

How will you be celebrating the season of giving this year?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Keeping Your Financial Information Safe After The Equifax Breach



The news of the massive Equifax breach in September was unsettling for many as millions of Americans’ private financial information was hacked. The latest news reveals 2.5 million more consumers were impacted than initially thought, bringing the total to 145.5 million. This news can make people very nervous to apply for a loan, check their credit score, or share their personal financial information with anyone - and rightly so.

We at Financial One Credit Union want to be part of the solution instead of downplaying the problem. Here are some questions you might have about protecting your financial information.

Do Banks Communicate via Text message?

While some banks do communicate via text, be wary of a type of financial scam called “smishing”. Bankrate.com explains, “Smishing occurs when you get a dubious text message from a fraudster posing as a bank representative. The message may warn you of security breaches and ask you to call a toll-free number. Then you’re asked for your account number and pin.” Don’t trust text communication as a communication method; call the customer service line at your financial institution instead.

Can Viruses on my Computer Hack my Financial Information?

Yes, malware is rampant and one of the most common ways hackers gain access to your private information. Malware is downloaded onto your computer by clicking an online link or opening an infected email. Be very wary of sites and senders you are unfamiliar with.

How Do I Know if a Website is Secure?

Look closely at the website address (URL). If it starts with http, the site is not secure. If you see https, the site is more secure, but still not fool-proof. The added “s” in the URL means the website is secured using an SSL Certificate. Extra-secure sites will have a lock icon, meaning the company that owns the site has an Extended Validation - the safest and most secure level.


How Do I Know if I Have Been Affected?

Even high-profile companies like Yahoo and LinkedIn have been hacker victims. Check 179 hacked websites at one time by entering your email address into the website Haveibeenpwned.com. If you are curious about the recent Equifax breach, you can visit their website directly to find out if your information was stolen.


To learn more about the Equifax breach specifically, visit Krebsonsecurity.com. The best thing to do moving forward is to keep a close eye on all your finances and accounts. If you spot something unusual, notify your financial institution right away so they can help you stop the unlawful charges.

For our members impacted by the Equifax breach, Financial One will do everything possible to protect you and your financial information. Contact us for more information.

Keeping Your Financial Information Safe After The Equifax Breach