Friday, July 22, 2016

Volunteer Your Child For Success Later In Life



Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union
Volunteering is one of the most selfless acts a person can do. It's all about experiencing things as someone else experiences them, and making life a little better for the both of you. Some parents would rather their children spend that time studying instead of doing something selfless. Volunteering, to them, is nice in theory, but just not worth it. What if, though, volunteering could help you as much as it helps your community? There's nothing selfish about seeking a win-win.
Here are three excellent (if slightly selfish) reasons to volunteer:
1.) Do it for the money
The Corporation for National and Community Service estimates that, in the last year alone, volunteers across America have provided an estimated $184 billion in the value of their service. At first glance, that might seem impossible, but if we take it down to each individual person, it starts to make sense. Let's pretend a volunteer at a soup kitchen got paid. Let's say their minimum wage is $7.25 and they worked three hours every week, times 10 different volunteers at that soup kitchen. That's $11,310 each year that the soup kitchen can spend on countless other things: fresh or canned food, extra for patrons to take home, or even something as simple as more comfortable chairs. The more time your child spends volunteering, the less money your city (and you as a taxpayer) have to spend on keeping that city clean and healthy.
2.) Do it for the job
Though some might see volunteer hours as less time your child could spend at a job, statistics show that volunteering helps a lot in the long run. The Corporation for National and Community Service says that volunteers have a 27% better chance of finding a job than non-volunteers. On a more long-term note, volunteer hours are always on a college's top list of things they look for on an application. Volunteering may mean lots of hours and transportation right now, but the shining spot on your child's resume in the future makes it all worthwhile.
3.) Do it for growth
Volunteering, in the end, is all about two things: making a difference and growing as a person. If your child has the opportunity to impact someone else's life, it will always change their own. Even the thanks they get from something as dull as collecting trash or shelving books is enough to show them the impact they can have.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Five Ways To Partner With Destinations Credit Union To Build Your Credit Now


Perhaps you may have had good credit in the past, but are now experiencing a much lower credit score due to choices or life circumstances. Or, you may be building your credit for the first time as a young adult or as a newly single adult. Whatever the reason, you can rely on Destinations Credit Union as your partner in building or reestablishing your credit.

Here are five ways we can help you get your credit rating going in the right direction if you're just starting out, or boost your credit rating at any time:

1.)   Telephone counseling - Give us an opportunity to work with your credit report and your budget to help you find ways to pay down and eliminate debt or unnecessary expenses. Sometimes, it takes a fresh perspective to see your own situation clearly, and we've already helped countless members do just that. This is especially true if you feel weighed down by debt and monthly payments. Give our credit counselors a chance to show you how to pare down your debt and build up your credit score. It's one of your many free benefits as a credit union member!
2.)   Credit builder (or re-builder) loans - We offer a credit builder credit card for members with limited credit history.  In addition, if your credit is damaged, we offer a variety of loans to help you get back on track.
3.)   Secured credit card - Consider setting aside $200-$300 to secure a credit card in your name. You'll have the convenience of shopping with a reputable card brand, and we hold the funds in a savings account to secure your purchases. You pay off your card balance or make monthly payments by the due date each month, and your credit score goes up.
Compare our low interest rates with no annual fee to bank products, and you'll see they generally have higher interest rates and annual fees. It's easy to see why it makes sense to build your credit with your Destinations Credit Union membership benefits.
4.)   Online budget/financial management tools - Our credit counselors will help you set up your online budgeting program and provide you with options for saving and investing, too. You can use the program on your own, whenever you're ready. You'll find options for monthly spreadsheets, and profit and loss statements for your personal and small business needs.
5.)   Rent payment reporting - Make sure your rent payments are tracked and reported to Experian RentBureau, the only major credit reporting agency to include on-time rental payment data on its reports. Use of timely rent payments to build and boost credit scores is relatively new, and many people don't know about it yet.
If you're already leasing a home, or looking to find a suitable property to lease, ask your management company if your payments are reported to Experian RentBureau. And if you pay rent to an individual rather than a management company, you can still take advantage of a service that collects your rent payments electronically, pays your landlord and reports to Experian. It may be possible to include your excellent rent payment history, too.
Here's the important thing to remember - to use your timely rent payment history for building or rebuilding your credit, you'll need to be proactive about it. There are a handful of services that will collect, disburse and report for you, but of course, you'll pay a small fee for the service each month. You must contact them to pay the small fee, but it can be a valuable investment in building your credit score, along with credit counseling, credit builder loans and secured credit cards from Destinations Credit Union.

Planning for a good credit rating is just as important as planning for major purchases and life transitions. The importance of a good credit rating means it can't be an afterthought and it shouldn't be left to chance.

You've made the decision to become a credit union member, and that's a step in the right direction! Give Destinations Credit Union a call at 410-663-2500 to take a look at your credit score and to talk about options for improving it.

SOURCES:

https://www.rentreporters.com/

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Brextastrophy Or Brexportunity? What The Brexit Vote Means For Homebuyers And Homeowners



The recent decision by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has led to serious turmoil in stock markets around the world. Many investors are panicking and selling off stocks in a hurry. Smart investors, though, can be prepared to ride out the storm by making a few savvy moves.

In times of trouble, people tend to look for the safest possible investment. These generally fall into three groups: stock in big companies, bonds of financially stable governments and real property. That last category should be of interest to homeowners and house hunters alike, as the recent Brexit vote is likely to be a boon to real estate markets everywhere outside the United Kingdom.
It's not that people are flocking out of the UK and looking for houses to buy. Rather, many people are looking to invest in real estate, but the British pound sterling is experiencing a loss of value. On the other hand, for people looking for real estate either as living space or as an investment, the time has never been better.
Let's take a look at how this could affect each group individually.

Real Estate Investors

Owning rental property is a big wealth-building strategy component for many people. Whether you serve as landlord yourself or turn the property over to a management company to handle the day-to-day operations, rental income is as close to passive as it gets. You get the rent minus expenses, plus the appreciation of the property.

One of the biggest costs associated with buying rental property is the mortgage. Very few landlords own rental property outright. More often, they mortgage the property and use the rent to cover the mortgage payment.

Interest rates have been historically low as a means of economic stimulus for quite some time, so costs have already been modest. With the uncertainty created by the Brexit vote, most experts expect the Fed to avoid raising those rates. Mortgages will stay cheap into the foreseeable future.

Moreover, investors seeking to invest in a more diverse real estate portfolio are buying mortgages at an accelerated rate. They're doing so because they're seeking a safe investment, and prime mortgages (loans made to people with good to very good credit) represent a pretty safe place to park money. Since there are more dollars available to lend, the cost of those dollars (the interest rate) will drop further.

If you've been on the fence about buying an investment property, the time could be right. Low rates and rising property values could make it a valuable part of your retirement strategy.

Homebuyers

Most of the reasons why home ownership makes sense for investors also make sense for people looking to buy a home for themselves. There's one more factor, though, that could tip the scales in favor of buying a home.

One of the other effects of increased mortgage availability is an easing of mortgage requirements. The door is open for borrowers with less-than-optimal credit scores. Many of these people have been scared away from the mortgage market because they fear they won't be approved. The increased availability of credit, though, may make mortgages easier to get. Working through a community lender like Destinations Credit Union can offer borrowers the personal guidance they seek along with access to loan options that are not always widely available on the open market.

Homebuyers with good or very good credit may be able to up their price range a bit. If you've been on the market for a while and had little success, it may be time to take another look at payment projections and re-evaluate how much house you can afford. With interest rates approaching 3-year lows, you may be able to find an affordable house payment on a more expensive house.

Homeowners

If you're a current homeowner, these rates should be attractive to you, as well. If you're thinking about selling your home, now's a great time. Cheap loans and rising rents will continue to push more people into the housing market, and more demand means prices are sure to continue to increase. Now might be a good time to get an estimate or test the waters to see how much you might get for your home.

If you're happy with your home but want to make some upgrades, getting a home equity line of credit to do those remodels is another way to take advantage of low rates. Remodeling a bathroom or kitchen using a home equity loan could help you take advantage of the surging real estate market, and it could make your house a happier home in the meanwhile.

If remodels aren't in the cards right now, it may be a wise opportunity to refinance. If you got a loan when you had less than perfect credit but have been making payments consistently, you could qualify for a significant savings in your monthly payments. The same is true if your mortgage is more than 10 years old. Refinancing now could lock in some serious savings and take some pressure off the budget each month.

You can probably save money on your homeowner's insurance too.  If you haven't shopped around for a while, you might want to see what switching can save you.  Our partnership with TruStage and Liberty Mutual offers great discounts to our members.  Liberty Mutual was one of the companies cited in The Simple Dollar's Blog for the cheapest home insurance.  Get a quote and put some extra money in your pocket.

Don't buy into the hype. The Brexit vote is not a time for panic. It's not a time to stuff your money in a mattress. It's a time to make smart moves to protect your investments, when disciplined investors can significantly improve their position. You can do it, and Destinations Credit Union can help!

SOURCES:

Monday, June 27, 2016

Trust Your Intuition To Shop Online (And Offline) Safely


In one way, shopping online is very similar to shopping at kiosks, in shops and in malls. Personal and financial safety is always of great importance, but it's easy to forget about safety when we're distracted or in a rush. Either way, online or offline, searching for the best item at the best price can be very distracting, and distraction can be a real problem. 

Think about the actions of a pickpocket for a moment. Professional pickpockets are looking for victims who are distracted, making it much easier to lift wallets, phones, purses and bags from preoccupied shoppers. Victims in hectic airports and on busy sidewalks are often distracted by the crowd, and they might be talking or texting on their phones at the same time, too. 

How many times have you passed through an airport and consciously thought about a pickpocket or a thief? And whenever you're making your way through a downtown crowd or attending a special event, are you thinking about your personal and financial protection? 

If you're not inclined to think about your safety while in a crowd, you're probably not thinking too much about your safety online either. Sadly, unscrupulous online vendors are well aware of that fact. They may set up a website, or a Craigslist or eBay listing, based upon the fact that most shoppers are too busy and too distracted to take a moment to consider their personal shopping safety. 

Trusting your intuition is a very useful safety measure ... assuming you pay attention to it. 

If you just don't feel right about a particular brick-and-mortar store, you probably avoid it, right? That's natural. But do you avoid a website or auction listing just because something doesn't look or feel right about it? If so, good for you. You are ahead of many folks in this area.

Most people who have used online dating sites become well-acquainted with profiles that don't seem to make sense. It's not always easy to identify the problem, but something just seems off, so they click away and check out other profiles as they shop for a possible date. Maybe it's just a feeling, but they learn to trust it. 

Online dating can teach you a lot about using your intuition when you shop online. Even if you haven't explored online dating yourself, no doubt you've heard stories about fakers and scammers who compromised the personal and financial safety of someone they met online. Sadly, it's not an uncommon experience.

That's why internet shopping safety is primarily a matter of considering the real person or company behind every website and each listing you visit. Trust your intuition to guide you. To do this, you have to set aside distractions and you can't be in a rush.

Look for:    
  • Product descriptions that are too short, clipped and inadequate. If a normal person needs more information to make an intelligent purchase, move on to another site to make your purchase. Something may not be right.
  • Spelling and grammar errors that stick out and detract from your shopping experience. Reputable companies hire experienced copywriters and editors to eliminate basic spelling and grammar mistakes. Scammers, many of whom are not located in the United States, skip the expense and try to do it themselves.
  • A physical address in the United States. If you can't find a physical address at the bottom of a website, or on the About or Contact pages, there's a problem. The CAN-SPAM Act requires commercial emails to include the physical address of the sender in the email and on the website to which any commercial email is linked. But, CAN-SPAM does not require websites to list a physical address, and it does not impose a fine as it does on commercial emails without physical addresses.
In other words, the law does not protect you by requiring a physical address on every website, but your own intuition can protect you by raising a red flag whenever you can't locate a physical address. Reputable sellers are eager to provide the information buyers need to identify and verify them. Go elsewhere to shop if you don't find a physical address you can verify online by making sure it matches the business you found on the web.        
  • A secure payment portal. Look carefully at the website address in the address bar at the top of your browser screen. It should begin with https:// because the "s" indicates a level of security you need whenever you're going to enter credit card or other personal information.
However, you may visit a site with an address beginning with http:// (without an "s") and it can also be safe because it will direct to a secure site for credit card or checking account information when you check out. Usually, you'll need to begin a purchase transaction before you know how a merchant is set up to collect your data. So, it's not a bad idea to select one item and simply begin the checkout process, stopping short of clicking, "confirm". That way, you'll know what to expect with your real purchase.

Your Turn: Do you trust your own intuition when you're shopping online? Do you make sure to pay attention and take the time to protect your personal and financial safety wherever you shop? Share your experiences - good or bad - here.