I’m still cleaning walls. This job seems to be neverending, but one good result is that I've lost all desire to upgrade to a larger home. (I don't want any more walls to clean.) Last week I had to move the couches in the front room so that I could get to the walls. Underneath the couches was a big mess. I thought it would take me a few minutes to clean the front room, but it took several hours! My kids had shoved items under and behind the couches instead of throwing and putting the stuff away. I hadn’t realized that area was even getting cluttered because the clutter hid beneath the couch. I found broken junk, dirt, books, socks, shoes, and a lot of pens. Now I know why I can’t ever find a pen!

Like the couch, financial clutter is often unseen. It can be an overwhelming mess that we don’t want to uncover. I’ve observed so much pain result from cluttered finances. I hope the next few suggestions are helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed with finances.

Sort out the mess

To be honest, I felt like throwing away everything that was underneath the couches. I almost did but if I had, I would have caused other problems. It’s hard to know where to start when you’re in a mess. Financially, we can also feel like giving up. It’s not a fun feeling. When I help a family make a budget, the first thing we do is to sort through the bills and the income. We examine one financial item at a time and figure out how much is due, when it is due, and how it will be paid. This is such a simple idea, but I’ve seen people change from feeling overwhelmed to feeling hopeful. It’s not hard to sort through bills, but it is time-consuming so the next suggestion can be helpful.

Get a budgeting mentor

I have had several exercising friends over the years. It helps so much to have them exercise with me. It is helpful when they know about weight equipment and nutrition. But, even when they don’t, it helps to have someone to exercise with me. Finances can be the same way. Sometimes it just helps to have someone alongside you. It could be a spouse, friend, parent, or sibling. It really just needs to be someone who cares about you. If they have financial background, it can be helpful, especially if they are working on financial goals. We can all find someone who doesn’t mind helping us because it helps them too. It helps them to be motivated. It helps them to serve. So, it’s good for everyone. My cleaning buddy was my five year old. When she stayed with me, it was helpful. When she left, it was much harder.

Commit to your finances

That was not the first time I cleaned under the couch. In fact, my husband had cleaned behind it recently. We were both amazed at how quickly it became cluttered. Unless our family changes the habits that caused the clutter, the problem can recur. Clutter can easily come back. Financially, I have seen this happen. Oftentimes, we are making big changes, so it’s going to take more than one time. Just like exercising, each day we need to find motivation to do it. We also need to do this with our finances.

No matter how cluttered your finances may seem, you can work through it and remove the clutter. It’s such a peaceful feeling that is worth the effort.

A couple of weeks ago the weather was very rainy, and we stayed inside a lot. I started noticing how filthy the walls in my house were. They had layers of dirt, dust, handprints, marker, pen, crayon, boogers, and mold. I hadn’t noticed them gradually get so dirty. Have you had an experience like that? I decided to wash the walls and the windows of our house. As I’ve scrubbed boogers and crayon off the walls this past week, I have had a lot of time to think. As I felt the sun’s warmth coming through the windows, my thinking drifted to summer.

I’ve had a few summer plans fall through already. We were planning to host a foreign exchange student, but we were not picked. We signed Jackie (11) up for a camp, which ended up being full. I like to have plans. My friends tease me about it. I’ve had plenty of summers where the spending plan failed. I’ve come to the conclusion that budgeting for summer is different than budgeting for the rest of the year. Trying to budget for summer in the same way that I budget for the rest of the year doesn’t work.

Although we don’t have school lunch or school expenses, there are other expenses that can make school expenses seem cheap. My kids brought home fliers for a dozen different summer camps. There is a camp for almost everything. We also have summer vacations, pool passes, drive-in movies, memberships, and holiday parties available to spend our money. With the warm weather, we may want to buy gear for our outdoor hobbies. It’s also a time to work on outside projects. Ty’s trip to Lowe’s last week caused a budgeting challenge this month.

Summer expenses are harder for us to predict than expenses during the other seasons of the year.

They just are! Has this been true for your family? I have accepted this, but this year I am going to embrace the unpredictability. I’m going to plan on it! I’m not going to fight it. That doesn’t mean that our budgets have to fail, but it does mean that I need to budget differently.

What unexpected events have you experienced in past summers? We have family visit during the summer. I didn’t expect to spend much money because I wasn’t on vacation, but we did activities with them. This year, I need to plan on spending money on those activities. One of my friends told me that she had family come for several months and the activities started to cost too much, so they had to say no to some of the activities, which is okay too. Just like the rest of the year, we have to say no to some of the summer opportunities.

Budgeting requires flexibility. Summer budgeting requires more flexibility!

I briefly mentioned the trip to Lowe’s. My husband is finishing the garden fence and backyard patio. The supplies cost $320. That amount of money could really break a rigid budget, and honestly, I started to wig out. Before I approached my husband about the expense, I took some deep breaths. The deep breathing made me realize that I needed to allow more flexibility. I wasn’t able to predict this expense, but that is okay. It opened up a conversation with my husband. We discussed what budget category it would come from since we didn’t have that much money in our repairs fund. Should we use our emergency fund? It wasn’t an emergency. Were there other categories with money that we could move to the repairs fund? We had saved to replace an engine in our 1975 Volkswagen thing, which has been sitting in our garage for years. We discussed using that money for the outside repairs, but Ty is planning on getting it running.. Thankfully, we were a month ahead (using last month’s income to pay this month’s expense). We decided to use that money. It wasn’t the ideal, but budgeting isn’t a perfect process, and if I try to make it perfect, it will fail. Embrace imperfect budgeting. Budgets will work if we embrace it.

Summer income.

Summer expenses aren’t the only thing that can fluctuate. Income can too. Summer may give more time to earn extra income. My darling nieces and their family bought a shave ice shack last year and sold shaved ice. My cousin photographs families. My neighbor teaches classes online. Another neighbor lifeguards in the summer. My cousin-in-law prints logos on shirts. These friends inspire me to use the flexibility of summer to create income.

Summer is right around the corner. What are your plans to make sure your budget doesn’t go on summer vacation?

Thursday, 11 May 2017 17:05

Mother’s Day On A Budget

Along with the blossoming flowers, the blazing sunshine and the tinkling bell of the ice cream truck come ideas and plans for celebrating Mother’s Day.

Our moms are always there for us, as a sounding board, a virtual treasure trove of advice and to dote on us when we need a little pampering. Mother’s Day, then, is when we show them how much we appreciate all they do for us throughout the year.

However, between purchasing the perfect gift, buying mom flowers and dining out, Mother’s Day costs can quickly add up to a small fortune. How do you keep within a reasonable budget while still showing mom how much she means to you?

Fortunately, with just a bit of forethought and careful planning, you can save big while still celebrating Mother’s Day in style. Here’s how:

1.) Frugal flowers

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a vibrantly colored bouquet, but those beautiful blossoms can cost a bundle. Start your savings on mom’s flowers by doing some of the work yourself. Instead of relying on the florist to provide the perfect base for the bouquet, bring your own basket from home. Alternatively, you can pick up a cheap but pretty vase at a craft or thrift store, adding a strand of ribbon to customize it to mom’s style.

Also, consider shopping your local grocery store or sidewalk stand before visiting a florist. You might find significant savings – such as a bouquet for as little as $10 – by cutting out the middleman.

Lastly, if you’re shopping at a floral shop, be sure to call first to find out when their flowers are delivered so you get the freshest of the bunch.

2.) Gift it right

More difficult than dreaming up the perfect gift for mom is scraping together the money for it. Solve both problems by getting creative. Mom would love something you personally crafted, like a decorated framed photo of a shared memorable moment, or a scrapbook of your best childhood memories. You can even make your mom a playlist of songs that both of you love.

If you’d rather purchase a gift than create one yourself, remember to shop early so you don’t feel pressured into buying something you can’t afford. Also, don’t forget to carefully mine coupon sites like RetailMeNot, Coupons.com and Couponcabin to see if you can snag a deal.

Remember, gifts that show effort and thought matter a lot more than how much you spend.

3.) Dining out (or in) for less

Of course, celebrating Mom’s special day won’t be complete without sharing a wonderful meal together. But restaurants can be expensive, so don’t book reservations without carefully considering if they’re absolutely necessary.

Maybe Mom would enjoy a home-cooked meal more than an evening out. You can whip up her favorite foods, set the table with long candlesticks, your finest dishes and best silverware, and enjoy a deluxe, sumptuous dinner at home.

Or throw together a family barbecue. Load the car with Frisbees, balls and kites, pack up a cooler and stake out a corner at the local park. Then, get the grill fired up for a delectable dinner that’s fun to prepare and even more fun to eat!

If you’ve got your heart set on taking mom out to a restaurant, shop around for the best Mother’s Day deals. It’s worth making a few phone calls and checking out sites like Groupon or LivingSocial before making reservations.

Once you’re at the restaurant, save money by checking the left side of the menu first. Restaurants usually put their pricier dishes on the right side of the menu since that’s where most people’s gazes automatically land. Also, consider sharing a few bigger portions instead of ordering individual plates for every diner. Lastly, be sure to wait a bit between courses so you don’t end up with a table full of leftovers that you’re too stuffed to eat.

4.) Plan ahead

It’s never too early to start saving, and it’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s Mother’s Day. While you obviously can’t buy mom flowers that far ahead of time, shop the post-Mother’s-Day sales for fantastic deals on greeting cards, wrapping paper and gifts for mom.

It isn’t that hard to save on Mother’s Day expenses. And it’s worth it. After all, no one will be happier to see you saving money than dear sweet mom!

How do you show your mom how much she means to you while sticking to a budget? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.grandparents.com/money-and-work/saving-and-investing/monday-money-savers-mothers-day
https://www.google.com/amp/www.abcmoney.co.uk/2017/03/15/how-to-save-money-on-mothers-day/amp/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thepennyhoarder.com/smart-money/mothers-day-flowers/amp/

Published in Blog

My youngest daughter is at a magical age. She thinks that the automatic doors, faucets, and hand dryers are all magical, and she often dresses up as a princess. She just boughta Belle outfit and new shoes for her Cinderella dress. One day last week after I helped her into the car, she called me “magic.” She’s never been to Disneyland, but for her, childhood is magical, and I realized that moms are pretty magical to their kids. Moms can make tears disappear, make meals appear, and create laughter. They seem to magically appear when we need their help. Since I’ve been a mom, I’ve often admired moms who both raised 7 children! I agree with Chloe that our moms are magical and I want to honor and celebrate all women who nurture and serve. To every woman, thank you for your service to your family and your community.

I just learned that the first Mother’s Day in the U.S. was celebrated in 1908, which is before you or I were alive! Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother Ann. Ann had unified other women to help wounded soldiers during the American Civil War. Before she died, her mother Ann said, “I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial mother’s day commemorating her for the matchless service she renders to humanity in every field of life. She is entitled to it.” I love Anna's purpose for celebrating mothers.

As I’ve grown, I realized that not everyone likes Mother’s Day. Some women feel guilt, grief, sadness, and other negative emotions on this holiday. But it can also be a happy day filled with good memories! I’ve been thinking about what to give our mom’s to help them feel honored. I needed to write this post because I haven't decided what to do for our moms. How can we honor and appreciate them? No matter what your budget is, you can honor your mom.

A few years ago my mother-in-law said she would be mad at us if we bought her something. She told us she didn’t need or want anything. I didn’t know what to do. I appreciated her and wanted to do something for her to show how much we appreciate her, but didn’t know how since I couldn’t buy the traditional flowers or chocolates.

Here are a few things that I came up with to honor our mothers:

Service. Since moms serve their families and their communities, service is a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day. My husband and kids clean my car every Mother’s Day. I love this gift. This year, my sister-in-law suggested we make dinner for my mom and give her the day off from cooking because our mom regularly hosts dinners and cooks for everyone. What service have you done for moms or what services have been done for you? Some of these are small and simple but can mean a lot. Hugs, kisses, coloring pictures are great. This isn’t just for kids but for adults and can be done year round!

Peace. The best gift my kids could give me is peace to ride in the car without hitting, kicking, teasing, or bugging one another. Tommy was a peacemaker today. He calmly got in the car to go to school. He didn’t fight. When my youngest started throwing a tantrum so she could listen to her music, he calmly asked if they could please listen to kid’s music. I told him how much I appreciated him doing that.

Homemade cards. These are some of my favorite gifts from my young children, but even our moms love handmade cards. In fact, that’s usually the only thing that Ty’s mom requests.

Remember her and follow her example! She doesn’t need a Facebook account for you to follow your mom’s life. Especially if your mom isn’t living, she left a legacy and you can remember her.

Appreciate her. Gifts such as jewelry, flowers, chocolates could mean a lot to your mom. I don’t think any mom would want their child to go into debt or stress about how to pay for their gifts, but if you have a large budget and can afford it, enjoy giving these gifts! Even though Ty’s mom doesn’t want us to buy her gifts, we did buy her some flowers to plant in her yard. She really enjoys that.

Be happy. Moms want us to be confident, happy, courageous, and kind. They see our gifts and our personalities.

Forgive. Until I became a mom I didn’t realize all that my mom did for me and how challenging motherhood can be. I was too hard on her. We can forgive not just our moms but others on behalf of your mom: the guy who backs his car into yours, the child who throws tantrums. the friend who let me down. I’m sure my mom had to forgive my behavior so many times. Forgiving others helps us become like our moms.

Time. My friends often comment about how fast time is going and how we wish it wouldn’t. Spending time with your mom might be the most precious gift that you can give her. Yesterday we spent the Sunday afternoon playing games with Ty’s mom and dad.

Whatever you do, make Mother's Day as magical as possible by honoring her! Please share it with us!

Monday, 17 April 2017 15:30

3 Keys for Teen Budgeting

Last week I gave ideas for youth to earn money. Once teens learn how to earn money, they need to learn how to spend it. When I was a teenager I earned money, saved money, and avoided debt, but I wish that I would have understood how to spend money an intentional and focused way. I hope this post helps at least one teen avoid my mistake.

Twenty years ago, we didn’t have social media, but I often got distracted by items “on sale." I really loved the feeling of getting a good deal. One time, we were an outlet store that had jeans on sale for $5. There was no dressing room to try the pants on, but I bought 4 pair because they were cheap. The pants did not look good. I didn’t like how they fit, so I didn’t wear them. It wasn’t a good deal. I would have been better off to buy one $20 pair of pants which fit me and which I loved. I needed a plan to help me stay focused on what I wanted.

There are 3 keys to budgeting:

A Budget Is a Plan

Budgeting is really simple to understand. You decide where to spend your money rather than letting your friends, social media, or advertising decide. Through budgeting, teens decide where their money will go and then they make it go there.

Youth use plans every day: recipes, school schedules, and game plans. For example, every teenagers has an education plan. Their counselors and their parents help them to make this plan and evaluate it regularly. Then, they take classes based on the plan. They consider the different classes and decide which classes that they will take: some are required and some are optional. It would be very chaotic if they just showed up to school and decided what class they would attend that day based on what was going on.

“Oh, there is a field trip in the choir class: I think I’ll join them.”

“There’s a party in Spanish. I’ll make that one of my classes.”

But, this is what often happens with our money and our eating habits. What if parents, leaders, and teachers sat down with the youth and helped them decide to spend money in the same way they help them decide which classes to take? There would be some required classes. We also have required expenses called needs: gas for the car, supplies, clothes, etc. There are some elective classes, and there are elective “variable expenses" (vacation, entertainment, and eating out).

Budgeting Is Flexible

Let’s say you have a plan for your vacation. What if the weather is bad, or what if you get sick? What if you hear about a neat activity that you hadn’t planned on? You can adjust the plan. You don’t abandon the plan. There are unknowns. What if an opportunity comes up which you weren’t expecting?

A couple of weeks ago, my niece invited my daughter Jackie to come up to Alaska with their grandparents. Jackie hadn’t budgeted for that, and she didn’t have much time - only three weeks. She had been saving her money and once she heard about Alaska, she focused on that trip. I heard her tell someone that she didn’t want to spend her money because she was saving it for Alaska.

Sometimes unexpected opportunities come up that you want to do. That isn’t the same as buying anything that’s a good deal or letting others talk you into it. If we hadn’t had the money, it would have been fine to say that we couldn’t afford it and that we will travel to Alaska when we can afford it. But, our family had a vacation fund. We decided we had enough in there to pay for half of her ticket. It took most of her savings to pay for the other half of the ticket.

Not everything is predictable. You can predict a lot of things, but without flexibility, budgets will fail. Back to the school schedule analogy, if a class isn’t working, it can be evaluated and changed. The schedule isn’t permanent but it is set.

Budgeting Requires a Gauge

Although budgeting does have flexibility, it is important to still follow the budget. Teenage drivers learn pretty quickly that they can only drive until the car runs out of gas. At that point, they have to refill. So, they have to watch the fuel gauge or they get stranded.

Budgeting also requires a gauge in order to follow our budget. Money is finite, so it’s important to know how much is left. It can be a very simple system. Teens start out with few expenses compared to adults, so it is relatively simple.

One example of a gauge is the envelope system. They have an envelope for entertainment, and they can see how much is in there and plan their entertainment. If they have a phone, there are a lot of apps that allow teens to do electronic envelopes. Without a gauge, budgeting doesn’t work, and we run out of fuel/money.

Life isn’t about money - money is a tool for life. Parents, grandparents, and other leaders of youth, we can teach them that they can budget their money to help them to live their life and be their best selves. They can stick to their financial plan, schedule, and budget. They can say "no" to expenses that aren’t right for them.

Friday, 14 April 2017 15:25

Buying A Home In Today's Economy

Whether you're a regular news junkie or you rely on your better half to keep you updated on the latest, you'll get the same conflicting messages about the state of today's economy. One day you'll hear about rising wages, and the next day you'll read about the lagging growth in the GDP, or Gross Domestic Product.

The only thing certain about today's economy is that it is uncertain. While things look relatively stable now, no one can guarantee what the next few years will bring.

Fortunately, you don't have to give up on the home of your dreams because of a fluctuating economy. Read on for four steps you can take to make sure your money - and your house - are completely safe regardless of what's going on.

Maximize your down payment

The magic number for down payments has been established at 20% of the home's value. Those who can't afford to plunk down that much money, though, will often put down a much smaller amount.

If you can't come up with a down payment worth at least 5% of the home's total value, you may not be ready to buy a house just yet, because having little or no equity in a home could mean taking a loss should you need to sell it. Also, not making any profit from selling your home means you won't have funds to cover the down payment on your new home and offset the closing costs. That's why it's always best to own as much of your house as you can.

Get less than you qualify for

If you've been hoping to qualify for a more expensive home, you may be planning to push the limits of your mortgage approval. In fact, it's best to buy a house that comes in well under your approved limit, allowing you to maintain a lower debt-to-income ratio. This will give you breathing room and keep your mortgage payments from dwarfing your monthly budget.

Also, if the economy worsens and you feel the effects, you'll have a smaller mortgage payment to scrape together each month.

Pick the right Realtor

Here's how to cut through the hype of the real estate market and find the Realtor that is truly best for you:

  • Speak to recent clients. Ask about their level of satisfaction and their overall experience with this agent.
  • Look up the licensing of your prospective agent. You should be able to easily find this information online.
  • Choose a winner. A Realtor who has been recognized for their excellent work is one you want working for you.
  • Research how long the agent has been in the business. You don't want the rookie Realtor who's building their experience through you.
  • Check the current listings under the Realtor's name. Are they in the same price range as the house you're hoping to buy?

Look for red flags

A professional inspection before signing on a home is a given, but did you take a careful look around? You don't want any unpleasant surprises after you've moved in.

Check for the following:

  • A sturdy roof. Do the shingles look like they're going to give way in a few years? That can translate into expensive repairs. If you like the house and don't mind replacing a faulty roof, use it as a negotiating point to get a lower price.
  • Efficient heating and cooling systems. These can be costly to fix and replace, and inefficient systems can really hike up your utility bills.
  • Strong structural components. Most sellers will give their house a new coat of paint before showing it to buyers, but don't be fooled. If the foundation is weak, the best paint job won't cover it up. Check beneath the surface for strong pipes, wiring, and insulation.
  • Overall functioning of the home. Don't be shy; try out everything in your potential new home. Open doors and windows, turn on every faucet, flick each light switch, flush toilets and taste the water. If you find any major problems, you may want to give this house a second thought. If you don't mind a handful of minor repairs, remember to use these as a negotiating point.

Don't forget to call, click or stop by Wasatch Peaks Credit Union to learn about our fantastic programs on home loans and mortgages before you start your search. We're here to help you with the finances as you find the home of your dreams!

Did you recently purchase a new home? What did you wish you'd known before you started on your search? Let us learn from your experience; share your wisdom with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://grow.acorns.com/2017/02/on-the-rise-or-a-mess-how-our-economys-really-doing/
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-real-estate-trends-to-watch-in-2017-2016-11-15
http://www.bobwaldron.com/Pages/Westchester-CA-Real-Estate.aspx
http://time.com/money/collection-post/2792050/how-to-choose-a-real-estate-agent/
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/7-tips-for-picking-a-real-estate-agent-1.aspx
http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/30459291/list/home-buying-checklist-20-things-to-consider-beyond-the-inspection
https://www.ourfamilyplace.com/homebuyer/economy.html
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2016/01/05/10-things-you-absolutely-need-to-know-about-buying-a-home/amp/?espv=1

Published in Blog

I get to serve with teenagers in my neighborhood. When I talked with them about budgeting money, they all said, “We don’t have any money to budget!” That is an issue. Besides the occasional gift, they didn’t have steady income. They need to earn money in order to budget that money.

Here are some ways for teens to earn money:

Hourly Work

My first hourly job was working as a cashier at a drycleaners. My neighbor worked there. She told me they were hiring and asked if I was interested. It was a nice job for a high schooler because they would let me do my homework when business was slow.

  • Lifeguarding: This is a popular job for teens who like swimming and like to spend their summers in the sun. Lifeguards learn important life skills like first aid, swimming, and life saving. This job can be seasonal, so it doesn’t interfere with school. Three of my siblings were teenage lifeguards, and it worked well for them.
  • Grocery Store: Work at a grocery store as a cashier, bagger, stock clerks, deli, bakery. I’ve done this one too.
  • Fast Food: My sister and I were recently talking about our experiences working in fast food restaurants. This can be hard work, and it was good for me.
  • Waiter/Waitress: This is a combo of hourly plus tips. I’ve known several teens who have done this, and it can be a good job for teenagers.
  • Parents Business: If your parents own a business, this can be a great job. My husband started working for his dad at a young age. He learned construction skills. This was hard work, but it paid very well and it taught him a lot. I also worked for my dad. He worked as a realtor, so I did clerical work and ran errands for him in the summer time while I was home from college. Working for parents can be a great opportunity!

Small Business

This could be any product or service that others will buy. Here are a few ideas:

  • Pet Sitting: Although this may not be regular income, it could be a good side job. If you love animals, this might be a great fit for you. My kids recently got to try this. They really loved watching our neighbors cat. Then they watched my mom’s cat for a month, and they realized how much work it was to have a pet. There were some really unpleasant parts about taking care of cats like cleaning up poop. No one wanted to do that. They made that job so much worse than it actually was by taking so much time to do it.
  • Selling Pickles: My nieces made pickles with their grandma and sold them. I thought this was such a creative way to earn money. They learned how to make the pickles, then they took orders.
  • Babysitting: I started babysitting at age 9. If you love to babysit, let parents of young children know. It makes a difference! One of my neighbors loves to babysit. Every time I see her, she asks me when she can babysit. She plays with my kids too. I can tell that she loves to babysit, so I usually think of her first when I am looking for a babysitter. Let your parents know so they can tell their friends. One of my friends has been able to get her daughter babysitting jobs by letting her coworkers know that she babysits.
  • Yard Work: There are probably quite a few of your nieghbors that don't want to mow their own lawn, so having your teen charging for lawn mowing services is a win-win situation for both.

Online Businesses

This is an option I didn’t have as a teenager. Internet wasn’t available to the public until I was in college, and most connections were dial up, so they were slow. There are so many options now for online businesses! One teenager I heard about was interested in gems and he had an online gem store. How cool! The internet opens up a lot of options. Some teenagers blog. Online businesses can be started inexpensively.

What jobs did you have as a teenager? There are so many options, so if you have a teen or are a teen who doesn’t have money to budget, try some of these work ideas out and let us know how it goes!

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.

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 Wasatch Peaks to find out how refinancing can improve your financial life!

SOURCES:
http://www.bankrate.com/loans/auto-loans/10-steps-to-your-best-deal-on-a-car-loan/
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/long-improve-credit/story?id=33695732
https://www.learnvest.com/knowledge-center/ask-credit-karma-how-does-my-auto-loan-refinance-affect-my-credit/
https://www.creditkarma.com/article/refinancing-credit-effects
http://www.bankrate.com/auto/5-situations-when-it-makes-the-most-sense-to-refinance-your-car/

Published in Blog
Friday, 05 May 2017 14:07

Your Personal RV Buying Guide

Q: It’s vacation time again. This year, we’re thinking about doing something different and buying an RV, but RV lots seem so intimidating! What do we need to know to take some of the stress off?

A: Yes, summer is coming, and for many that means the call of the open road. It might even be ringing loud and clear. Nothing is more American than a summertime road trip, but long hours in the car can really suck the fun out of any vacation. That’s the beauty of recreational vehicles. The road IS the destination; anywhere you go, you’ve got luxury-class accommodations waiting for you.

Buying an RV is a big decision, though. If your biggest assets are your car and your house, this decision represents a purchase that is somewhere between the two. There’s a lot to know before you set foot on a lot, and the more you research now, the better things will go.

With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself before you start shopping for an RV. With these as jumping off points for research, you can make informed decisions about your needs. You’ll also be able to more clearly communicate what you’re after, which will make the sales experience more pleasant for everyone.

1.) What class are you in?

Broadly speaking, there are three classes of RV: Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A are the biggest and most comfortable. Built on big rig platforms, these are basically rolling houses. They feature full-sized couches and TVs, full bathrooms, kitchens and expandable bedrooms. Many also include storage underneath the vehicle (called the “basement” by enthusiasts) with enough space to stock supplies for a months-long journey. As one might expect for top-of-the-line vehicles, the price tags are as big as the vehicles, ranging from $60,000 to over a million for custom-built motorhomes.

Class B motorhomes are on the other side of the spectrum. These are built on full-size van platforms. They can include scaled-down versions of the same amenities in Class A motorhomes, but in a more maneuverable, less costly package. Expect to see a small kitchen, a compact bathroom, and enough sleeping space for 2-3 people for several weeks. The price tags on these vehicles run between $50,000 and $100,000.

Class C motorhomes offer a compromise between A and B. These start with cargo van platforms and extend the wheelbase somewhat to about the length of a small bus. Amenities will be more complete than in a Class B, but nowhere near as robust as in a class A. Definitely more vehicle than home, these usually run between $60,000 and $200,000.

There are other options, of course. Camper trailers, pop-ups, and fifth-wheel tow-behind campers can often fill the same needs at lower prices. It’s worth investigating these options, as well.

2.) What’s your budget?

Before you make a major purchase, you’ll want to be clear on how much you can afford. Given the significant cost of purchasing an RV, financing periods are typically 10 years or longer. Because RVs depreciate, interest rates are slightly higher than home loan rates, too. It’s not just the monthly payment you need to include in your budget: you’ll also need to factor in for fuel, insurance, registration, and maintenance — even if you don’t go anywhere!

Finally, it’s also worth figuring out what you can budget for a down payment. You may be able to finance 100% of the purchase price of your RV, but putting money down helps protect you against depreciation. That means you’ll be able to get clear of your RV payment if you decide to sell it later on down the road.

3.) When should you get financing?

While many dealers will try to work out financing in-house, it’s not a bad idea to go in with a pre-approval. It’ll allow you to negotiate from a position of confidence, and it’ll also prove to the salespeople that you’re serious about buying. Getting pre-approval will also make sure you don’t fall in love with an RV you can’t afford. Nothing can ruin a fun vacation like a big bundle of “How are we going to pay for this?” stress!

If you’re thinking about an RV, the time to talk financing is now. How much RV you can afford should be at the forefront of your selection process. Getting your financing in order will help you figure that out.

Are you an RV wizard? How did you choose the one you’re currently driving? What features are absolutely must-haves in a new RV? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.reserveamerica.com/outdoors/things-to-ask-yourself-when-buying-an-rv.htm
http://www.rvuniversity.com/staticpages/index.php/Buying_Tips
https://blog.allstate.com/tips-buying-rv/
http://www.gonewiththewynns.com/buying-an-rv
https://rv-roadtrips.thefuntimesguide.com/rv_class/

Published in Blog

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 month, 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.

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!

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.

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.

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, Wasatch Peaks Credit Union can help you stick to it. Youth savings accounts are made just for people in your position. They offer competitive dividend rates combined with other features that make them ideal for those summer checks. Call 801.627.8700 or stop by Wasatch Peaks to find out how a youth savings account can improve your financial future.

What’s your best summer job hunting tip? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/6-tips-for-finding-a-summer-job-2.aspx
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/personal-finance/6-tips-for-finding-a-summer-job-2.aspx\
https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started/outside-the-classroom/how-to-find-a-great-summer-job

Published in Blog
×
Have a minute?  Take our quick member survey