Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Feeling Stuck In Your Car Loan? Might Be Time To Shop Around!

Bills are a lot like bad weather. They're going to come anyway, so you might as well not try to fix them, right? For some bills, that's the case. For others, though, you can make a big difference in your monthly budget with a little legwork. 

One of the bills you can change is your car payment. Refinancing your vehicle loan can lead to a lower monthly payment, a shorter term, or both! It depends on a wide range of factors, including the value of your vehicle, how much you owe on your current loan, and your credit standing. 

If any of these factors have changed since you bought your car, you owe it to yourself to check out your refinancing options. Let's look at some common life changes and when they might be cause to look at refinancing. Read on to learn about three scenarios where refinancing makes sense for your car or truck:
1.) Your credit improves
One of the biggest factors in determining your auto loan status is your credit score. When your lender is building a loan package, a credit report is pulled as a central part of that process. That number helps define your interest rate, whether or not you'll have to pay a premium for insurance, and what other fees your lender might charge.
It's worth keeping a copy of the credit report your lender pulled. That can let you see if your credit score has improved. It can take as little as nine months of steady repayment to boost your credit score, and that could result in a cheaper loan if you refinance.
If you didn't have much experience with credit when you purchased your vehicle, refinancing can do you a world of good. Interest rates as high as 18% are common for borrowers who have little to no credit history. Having even a few months of solid payments on your side can cut that rate in half or more.
2.) You didn't shop around before you borrowed
Many people feel railroaded throughout the car-buying process. They pick a car they like, then they are told what the price is, what the monthly payment is and everything else. It may seem like the choice of lenders for your car loan is predetermined.
Dealers tend to have a smaller range of lenders with whom they work exclusively. Those lenders know they have limited exposure to competition, so they can charge slightly higher fees and interest rates. By doing your own comparison shopping, you can save quite a bit on both the loan and any ancillary insurances or warranties you may have purchased. Dealer rates tend to be 1 to 1.5% higher than those offered at smaller lenders, like credit unions.
If you've never shopped around for a car loan, it's definitely worth doing. By getting multiple offers, you can ensure you're getting the best price available for your loan. Try to do your shopping inside a 15-day period. Otherwise, the multiple checks on your credit could negatively impact your credit score.
3.) You need to change your monthly payment
You may be in a much better financial situation now than when you bought your car. You may have a better job or more security. You may have paid off credit card or other debt. All of these things free up how much you can pay per month.
Most people don't go into the refinancing process looking to increase their monthly payment, but you can save yourself money in the long term by committing to a faster repayment plan. If you can afford to pay more per month now, you can pay off the balance on your car faster. Shorter term loans usually also have lower interest rates, since the lender assumes less risk in making the loan. Once the car is paid off, you'll have all that money to devote to other saving or spending priorities.
On the other hand, if money is tight, it might be a good idea to refinance into a longer term. While you might end up paying more in interest, you can reduce your monthly payment and save the money you need right now.
Your Turn: What do you do to save money on your car payment? Let us know your best tips and tricks in the comments, and don't forget to stop by Destinations Credit Union to find out how refinancing can improve your financial life!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How To Get A Summer Job: A Guide For Students Of All Ages

Temperatures are rising, days are getting longer and kids are dying to get out of the classroom! This
can only mean one thing: Summer is just around the bend. It's time to start planning trips, summer camps, and summer jobs.

Despite the fact that school won't end in most places for another few months, it's still a good time to start thinking about summer work. The timeframe for hiring can be as long as a month, so waiting until school is officially out isn't a good idea. Not sure where to start? Try these four tips to jumpstart a summer job search for yourself or a young adult.

1.) Ask friends and family
One of the best ways to hit the ground running is to disrupt the lengthy hiring process of most big employers by going after small business opportunities. Where better to get your foot in the door than with someone you already know? Asking friends and family if they need help with their businesses can be a great way to start building your experience.
Parents, too, can help out in the search. They might ask at their own workplaces about summer or seasonal positions. Commuting with a parent will give you extra quality time and cut down on transportation difficulties.
Even if you don't have friends and family who can connect you directly to employment, it's a good idea to let them know you're looking. If you've got a friend of the family you're especially close to, ask if they'll serve as a reference. A good reference can really boost a short resume!
2.) Think seasonal
If you're not looking for a job that will carry over into the school year, it's a good idea to look for an industry that does most of its work during the summer months. Fortunately, such jobs are common. Many businesses are looking to hire seasonally during summer months.
If you live near a major tourist attraction, odds are good they'll be bringing in extra hands to cover an increased service demand. The same goes for restaurants and shopping centers near those attractions. If a major festival comes anywhere near you this summer, call and ask if they need extra help. Such jobs are usually short-term and perfect for someone who has those same few weeks off.
Other businesses do booming trade during the summer. Many people take on big remodeling projects during the summer, so construction companies need more people to help clean up job sites. Lawn care services usually have more work than they can handle, and city park districts also step up their programming to serve kids while they too are out of school.
3.) Hit the pavement
It's tempting to do all your job searching from the computer. It's air conditioned and you don't even have to get out of your pajamas! While these benefits are nice, they don't do much to showcase you to potential employers.
Think of it this way: What most employers are looking for is someone who will show up regularly and be presentable. Putting on your dress clothes and hitting the streets with a resume shows that you're willing to leave the house and can put yourself together professionally. That's something no online resume can convey.
4.) Make a plan for the paychecks
Getting that first real paycheck can be an exhilarating experience. Unless you're careful, it can also be a very short-lived one. It's too easy to watch that hard-earned money disappear into a few fast food meals or evenings with friends.
Making a plan now, before you've got a dime in your hands, can be a great tool to keep you on track. Decide how much you'll save, and what you're saving for. What portion of your money will you save for new clothes in the fall? What will help cover college expenses? Of course, you'll want to budget yourself a little fun money, too.
Once you've made the plan, Destinations Credit Union can help you stick to it. Save with the Credit Union - they offer competitive dividend rates combined with other features that make them ideal for those summer checks. Call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union to find out how a savings account can improve your financial future.

Your Turn: What's your best summer job hunting tip? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!

Monday, March 20, 2017

What To Do About Spam: Cutting Down On Unwanted Email

Your inbox is probably overflowing with unwanted emails. Everyone wants to sell you something, or worse, steal from you! How can you take your inbox back from these spammers?

Spam is big business. According to web security firm, Norton, 72% of email messages are spam. That means for every three emails from people wanting to have a real conversation with you, there's another seven that are from unwanted sources.
Most commonly, spam email is just a nuisance. It's another buzz or ding that demands your attention while offering nothing in return. However, spam can be much more menacing than that. Some messages may include links to malicious websites, attachments containing viruses and other malware or fraudulent forms designed to steal your personal information. Reclaiming your inbox is about more than peace of mind; it's about safety.
If you're tired of seeing this build-up of messages, there are a few things you can do. Read on for four tips for cutting down the spam.
1.) Use (and train) your filters
Every email service comes with some form of spam filter. Some of them are more effective than others. All of them, though, get better the more you use them.
It can be frustrating to go through the process of marking spam emails, but it's worth it in the end. The more messages you mark, the better your filters get at weeding out messages like them. Your email service can learn what sort of emails you don't want to read and catch them automatically.
If you're concerned about missing something important in a spam folder, designate a time to look through it before deleting them. You don't need to read every message, but you can look at subject lines and senders for anything that looks important. Best of all, you can do this on your terms, when you want to, and with the healthy degree of skepticism most internet messages deserve.
2.) Read the fine print
There's big business in collecting email addresses. Spammers pay big money for lists of emails, and many companies, even reputable ones, are too tempted by the easy payday to stick up for your right to privacy. Companies disclose their plans for your information, but they do so in dense documents written in nebulous legalese.
Unfortunately, if you're trying to decide whether to do business with a company, you need to wade into that mess to look for a privacy policy. The privacy policy lists the parties and purposes for which the company will release your information. Be careful for phrases like "to our commercial partners" or "to notify you about special offers from." These kinds of phrases mean that a company will probably be selling your email address to spammers.
Most of the time, companies will let you opt out of sharing your personal information. Although it may take some hunting, you can likely find a checkbox that revokes your authorization to share your personal information. If a company isn't willing to take these steps to protect your privacy, consider carefully before doing business with them.
3.) Don't click unsubscribe
The unsubscribe button might be one of the worst lies in the email marketing industry. Marketers are required to include this button in their messages. They're also required by the FCC to honor your request to unsubscribe from that list within 24 hours.
Of course, there's no FCC requirement that they don't sign you up for a dozen more lists. Worse yet, by clicking unsubscribe, you've confirmed your email address is linked to an actual person. You've increased the value of your address to potential spammers.
The best thing to do to spam is ignore it and let your email spam filter do its work. Even opening a message can send information back to the sender that the email was opened, which will prompt more spam. Just like the junk mail you get in paper, your best bet is to shred it unopened.
4.) Get a phony
If you're doing business on the internet with a company that doesn't respect your privacy, there's no reason to give them your real email address. There are several sites, like MailDrop or FakeMailGenerator, which will provide you with a temporary address. It'll last as long as you have a browser open, so you can get confirmation messages. Once you're done with the address, just close the window and the address goes away.
This can be a great hack if you're looking to sign up for a free trial of a service. Giving the company a fake email address will let you try the service without the pressure of a constant stream of ads. You can decide on your own terms if the service is worth the cost.
Your Turn: How do you cut spam out of your email diet? Let us know your best tricks for sorting out those emails from those you actually want to read!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Women's History Month: Women In Finance

Because March is Women's History Month, we're taking a moment to reflect on many of the important contributions women have made to society. At Destinations Credit Union, we're proud to be a part of the nationwide celebration of women. 

As part of this effort, we'd like to take time to recognize a few important women in the history of finance and entrepreneurship. Here are five lesser-known and underappreciated women who are sometimes left out of the popular economics conversation. That, of course, does not diminish the importance of their trailblazing efforts and work.

1.) Maggie Lena Walker, first female bank president
Maggie Lena Walker was the first woman to charter a bank. The St. Luke's Penny Savings Bank was a community lending institution designed to promote savings and homeownership, especially among women and racial minorities. Founded in 1902, the bank served the Richmond, Virginia area for several years before it merged with two other banks. Walker went on to serve as chair of the board for the consolidated bank.
By 1920, St. Luke's had helped more than 600 people buy homes. Walker's vision and leadership set the standard for community lending institutions. Her bravery and trailblazing business spirit, at a time when women didn't yet have the right to vote, is truly commendable.
2.) Marie Van Brittan Brown, inventor of the home security system
While few museums will showcase her work, nearly all of them have some modern iteration of the device Marie Van Brittan Brown pioneered. She was the original architect of the home security system. Her system was devised in response to the dangers she perceived in her own neighborhood.
Concerned about the length of time it would take police to respond to a call for help, Brown put a camera on a mobile swivel to enable it to view the front door through each of four peepholes. A motion sensor triggered a recording device, and the system also enabled the homeowner to view and listen to the cameras by using a television set. Brown's original home security system soon caught on in businesses around the country. She was given an award from the National Science Committee for her work.
3.) Victoria Woodhall and Tennessee Clafin, first female stock brokers
These two pioneering sisters broke the gender barrier on Wall Street. They ran the first female-owned brokerage. Despite the blatant sexism they faced in their struggle, the two sisters made millions advising clients like Cornelius Vanderbilt. While enduring headlines like "Wall Street Aroused," the two sisters quietly made enough money to put their male counterparts to shame.
Woodhall would go on to be a polarizing figure in the suffrage movement. She made the first recorded run for president as a woman, doing so a full 50 years before women were legally allowed to vote! While her suffrage-based platform didn't carry the election, her intellect and force of persuasion were instrumental to the passage of the 19th Amendment.
4.) Rosemary McFadden, first female exchange president
Rosemary McFadden broke another gender barrier in finance. She was the first woman to serve as president of any American exchange. Starting her career as a staff attorney for the New York Mercantile Exchange, she climbed the career ladder to become the first female president of that organization or any other trading exchange in American history in 1984.
Despite the steep resistance she encountered as the first woman in a traditionally male position, McFadden was a strong and effective leader. When her term was up, she continued to climb towards greatness. She now serves as deputy mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey.
5.) Abigail Adams, first female investor
The wife of President John Adams is mostly noted for her documentation of the home front of the Revolutionary War and for her strident advocacy for women's rights in the early years of the country's founding. A little-known tidbit, though, is that she's also America's first documented female investor.
Adams managed the financial affairs for the household while her husband served in war and, later, in the White House. She was quite a shrewd woman, making a great deal of money investing in government bonds. In one exchange in 1783, her husband advised her to invest some money in farmland. She ignored the advice, buying bonds instead. The move made her family quite a bit more money in the long run!
Your Turn: What influential women in your life would you like to honor this month? Let us know in the comments about the women that have played a big part in shaping who you are!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Staying Healthy During Flu Season

It seems like no one can stay healthy during this time of year. Everyone's got a sniffle or a cough, or worse ... the dreaded flu bug! These viruses have evolved over the years to be highly resistant to many of our efforts to contain them.

It may seem like we're powerless to prevent the spread of disease. Though we can't prevent it, we can help to lower the risk of spreading it around. Here are five tips you can use to beat the flu this year!
1.) Wash your hands
This is the best and easiest way to help prevent the spread of infectious disease. Your hands are the most likely means for spreading disease. You touch something with the virus on it, then you touch your eyes, your nose or your food. Next thing you know, you're coughing up a storm.
Regular hand-washing is the first line of defense. Not only should you wash your hands after using the bathroom, but also before meals and after any contact with someone who might be ill. If you work at a job that includes a lot of public contact, take regular hand washing breaks as your job allows. Scrub firmly for 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
If you can't get to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Be warned that using this too much can dry your hands, leading to cracks in the skin and greater risk of disease. That's why it is wise to accompany your sanitizing with a good moisturizing lotion.
2.) Practice good self-care
Your immune system is just like the rest of your body. It takes energy to keep your body free of disease. That's energy you won't have if you're not sleeping or eating well.
Getting a good night's sleep is important year-round, but it's especially important when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious disease. Also, a diet rich in vitamin C can help keep your immune system in good shape. Citrus is an obvious choice, but leafy greens, like kale, also contain tons of the stuff.
3.) DAB - destroy all bacteria
If you've been on social media in the last year, you may have noticed a craze called "dabbing." Started by professional athletes, this pose involves tucking your nose into the inside of your elbow. It may be a little goofy-looking, but it has a fortunate, but unintended, consequence. It's the most sanitary way to cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough.
Covering your mouth with your hands doesn't do as much as you might think. You're going to touch other things with your hands. Your elbow, though, doesn't see nearly as much contact. You can also get more complete coverage of the bits of fluid that escape when you cough or sneeze.
4.) Practice self-quarantine
If there's a rule for disease prevention that's more important than anything else it's this: If you're sick, stay home. If your child is sick, they need to stay home. Nobody likes missing a day of work or school, but the alternative means an even more widespread illness. Staying home will also give you the time and rest you require to recover more quickly, leading to more productive time when you return.
You don't do your best work when you're sick, and neither does anyone else. If you're running a fever, wait at least 24 hours after the fever has broken before returning to work. There's nothing brave or heroic about "toughing it out" and getting a bunch of other people sick in the process.
If you can't stay home, at least take steps to prevent disease from spreading. Avoid prolonged or close contact with anyone. Wash your hands and avoid touching things that other people regularly touch. Warn others that you're feeling sick so they can keep a safe distance.
5.) Avoid crowds
You might be practicing the best hygiene habits in the world, but you can't do much to control the habits of others. Wherever many people gather, disease will tend to follow. As much as possible, avoid concerts, conventions and crowded public spaces during this time of year.
Be aware that people who are traveling from afar may have different strains of the same bugs. Any time people gather from multiple communities, the chances of infection go up. If you're entertaining or traveling, double down on good hygiene habits!
Your Turn: What's your best health hack for beating the flu and other colds? Let us know how you stay safe and healthy!