Friday, 22 September 2017 16:20

Medicare Supplement Insurance

Get the flexibility to choose between different plans to meet your individual needs and budget.

Wasatch Peaks Credit Union has partnered with HealthPlans Insurance Advisors to offer members Medicare Supplement policies. 

Published in Financial Planning
Wednesday, 30 August 2017 16:18

Peaks Perks™ Checking

Choose the reward that fits your lifestyle!

At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we offer free checking choices that make sense for you. In addition to our FREE Checking account, Wasatch Peaks offers free checking that pays you back! If you're looking to earn a high dividend or get cash back, then Wasatch Peaks has the perfect checking account for you.

Over the past five years, mortgage interest rates have been low! I know a lot of people who have moved during this time, and with their new house came a new loan that has these low interest rates. Those who haven’t moved also have the option of getting a new loan by refinancing. Refinancing our home almost a decade year ago saved us a ton of money (over $140k), but in order to know if it would benefit you, it’s important to understand your loan.

Getting to know your loan

If loans never changed, it would be simple to explain all of the different types of loans, but they do change. For example FHA loans borrowed before June, 2013 are different from FHA loans borrowed after June, 2013. You can find out the details of your specific loan by looking at your loan documents. If you can’t answer these questions from your loan documents, call your lender or mortgage servicer, and ask them these simple questions.

What kind of mortgage loan do I have?

Conventional

Follow-up question #1: How much is my PMI (private mortgage insurance) payment?

Follow-up question #2: What is required to remove PMI? (For example, if you pay down 20% of the loan, the PMI should be removed. But if your home’s value has increased, you may be able to pay for an appraisal that shows you have 20% equity, which would allow you to eliminate the PMI much faster than paying down the loan by 20%.)

FHA

Follow-up question #1: How much are mortgage insurance premiums (MIP)?

Follow-up question #2: Is there an option to remove MIP by paying down the principal loan balance to 80% of loan to value?

VA

Other

What is my interest rate?

Follow-up question #1: Is this fixed (locked in) or variable (not locked, which means it can increase)?

Follow-up question #2: How does my rate compare to interest rates today?

How many years is the term on my loan?

Most loans are 30. Some are 15 year terms, and a few are 20 or 40 year term.

How much equity do I have in my home?

Calculate this by dividing what you owe by the market value of the home

Storytime: Almost two years after we bought our home, the home’s market value had increased by thirty thousand dollars. The ratio of what we owed was 78%, meaning we had 22% equity. Our loan was conventional, so we were able to refinance and eliminate PMI. We did pay $4000 closing costs to refinance, but we also lowered our interest rate and the length of our loan. You can calculate how long it will take you to recoup those refinance costs. If you plan to stay in your home longer than that, refinancing will be worth the cost.

After you have gotten to know your loan, you can start to compare and see if it is worth refinancing your property.

Check here for more information on refinancing with Wasatch Peaks Credit Union. This calculator that Wasatch Peaks provides is a great tool to use to run through different scenarios. You can decide if refinancing is worth it to you.

What have you found out? Will it be worth it for you to refinance?

Wednesday, 09 August 2017 14:26

Back-To-School Savings

Q:

Back-to-school shopping kills my budget each year. Is there any way to start the year off right…without spending a small fortune?

A:

Rows of freshly sharpened pencils, an unopened box of crayons and a pair of shiny, new shoes will provide a thrill for any child.

As the parent, though, you’re the one footing the bill. If the thought of all that back-to-school spending makes your head pound, you’re not alone. The National Retail Federation reports that parents of children entering kindergarten through 12th grade plan to spend nearly $700 per child on school supplies, new clothing and shoes this season. That’s enough to fill any budgeting parent with dread.

No worries – as always, Wasatch Peaks has your back! Let us help you navigate the second-largest shopping season of the year with your budget and sanity intact. Read on for 12 ways to save on back-to-school shopping.

Do a house-wide sweep

Before you spend a penny on new supplies or clothing, scour your closets and drawers to see what you have lying around the house. Round up all the supplies you find and take inventory. Write it all down and keep the list handy – in your phone, purse or car – so you don’t forget what you already have and end buying unnecessary items.

While digging through your kids’ closets, sort and purge. Donate outgrown clothing (take note and get a receipt for tax deduction purposes) and throw out everything that isn’t wearable. This way, their closets won’t be cluttered with junk and you’ll know exactly what you have and what each child still needs.

Get the teacher-approved list

Most schools and teachers will send you a school supply list that details exactly what your child will need. Those lists are also often available at major retailers. Pay close attention to specifics on the list instead of buying supplies at random. This will prevent you from buying items your child can’t use and being forced to later repurchase according to teacher criteria.

Spread your purchases

Spreading your back-to-school purchases throughout the summer will allow you to take advantage of weekly sales. One week there might be a great deal on pencils, the next week, folders will be dirt cheap. Over the course of the summer, you’ll get all your supplies at terrific prices. Also, by picking up a few items a week, you won’t feel the financial squeeze as much as you would if you’d buy everything at once.

Take advantage of sales-tax holidays

Many states have a sales-tax holiday during the first week of August; others have tax-free days in July. Look up the timing of your state’s gift to budgeting parents and do your shopping then. You’ll save big!

Organize a clothing swap

The clothing your best friend is trashing may be the perfect fit for your daughter. Organize a clothing swap party with other parents in your area. Choose a date and venue, and instruct all attendants to show up with three or more items of gently used children’s clothing. At the party, parents can exchange their kids’ outgrown clothing and go home with incredible finds – all free of charge!

Find the best prices

This doesn’t have to mean touring your town in search of the best deal on crayons. Instead, hunt for specials in the Sunday paper and weekly circulars and look up coupons and deals online, at sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCabin. To make it even easier, check out PriceGrabber.com or use the ShopSavvy app for help in snagging the lowest possible price on an item.

Use Twitter and Facebook to save

Many companies will send coupon links to their followers and let them know about upcoming sales. Monitor your favorite stores’ Twitter feeds and Facebook updates to find super deals.

Follow these stores on Twitter:

Staples: @Staples
Office Max: @OfficeMaxDeal
TJ Maxx: @tjmaxx
Marshalls: @marshalls

Save through Ebates

When you buy through Ebates, you earn cash back on every purchase. You’ll also find exclusive deals and offers on the site. You can shop major brands and stores like Macy’s, Walmart, and Kohl’s on Ebates. Some users receive upward of $300 from the site throughout the year. That’s like getting paid to shop!

Time it right

Your child needs to be ready for the first day of school – they don’t need a year’s supply of paper or a full autumn wardrobe before Labor Day. Purchase what your kids need now, and save the rest for later. You’ll find deep discounts on school supplies and fall clothing just a few weeks into the school year.

Set limits

Every year there’s a must-have school supply or clothing trend. You want your child to fit in, but you don’t have a money tree growing out back!

That’s why it’s important to set limits. Share your budget with your child. If your budget allows, let them choose one or two pricier items – but that’s it! Don’t give in to every whim; you’ll be enforcing bad habits and breaking the budget at the same time. If your child insists on more, you can always check out sites like eBay and Craigslist for discounted high-end items.

Cash and debit card only!

Paying with cash or using a debit card that draws from your checking account will help you stick to your budget. Resist the urge to charge supplies if you can. You don’t want to end up paying interest on pencils for months after they’ve already broken.

Plan ahead

Finally, start thinking about the next school year now! When school supplies and backpacks are ridiculously discounted a few weeks into the school year, stock up for next year. Stash away your extra supplies to pull out at the end of next summer. You’ll be grateful you did!

Do you have a great back-to-school shopping hack? We’d love to hear it! Share your best saving tips with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
http://www.moneycrashers.com/back-to-school-supplies-list-tips/
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/realsimple/work-life/family/kids-parenting/back-to-school-shopping%3Fsource%3Ddam
http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/money/back-to-school-shopping-savings/
https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/07/22/14-back-to-school-shopping-hack

Published in Blog

Now you can carry the Wasatch Peaks cards you keep in your wallet, without even bringing your wallet along. Wasatch Peaks has joined the list of institutions participating in the highly anticipated Apple Pay service. And that means your transactions can be simpler, more secure and more private than ever.

Apple Pay is available on iPhone® 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 7, and iPhone 7 Plus devices, and it’s free to use, apart from any message or data rates specified in your wireless plan. Once you’ve entered your cards into your phone’s Wallet app, you’ll be able to make purchases at thousands of merchant locations. Apple Pay also lets you use your iPad Air® and iPad Mini™ 3 for online-only shopping within certain apps.

Apple Pay’s advanced technology works behind the scenes to make your purchases more secure than ever before. In participating stores, you just hold your phone near the merchant’s contactless reader, with your finger on the Touch ID sensor. That’s it. Not only do your name and card number remain anonymous to cashiers and bystanders, but your phone itself carries only a unique, encrypted Device Account Number rather than your actual debit or credit card numbers.

How easy is it to get started with Apple Pay? Just open your Wallet app, swipe down and tap the plus sign. Then enter your card by snapping a photo with your device’s iSight® camera, or adding the data manually. If you already have a card in iTunes, you’ll be prompted to add it to your Wallet. Start shopping with greater ease and confidence today!

Published in Blog

Wasatch Peaks Credit Union and Get Away Today have teamed up to give you the best tips to plan your summer vacation.

First: Book with Get Away Today. They guarantee the best prices on tickets and hotel rates. Reserve your hotel now at the best price and experience all the fun happening this summer including Summer of Heroes, the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT! and the reopening of Rivers of America.

Second: Take advantage of the Fastpass system. Now that Matterhorn and Toy Story Mania have Fastpasses, there are plenty of opportunities to skip the line and hit more of your favorite rides. You will also want to download the Disneyland app so you can check ride wait times, make dining reservations, locate your favorite characters and more!

Third: If you decide to head further south to San Diego, the new Orca Encounter and Ocean Explorer are making their way to SeaWorld San Diego this summer. Meet your favorite orcas and experience unique aquariums, digital technology and a new interactive ride called Submarine Quest.

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 05 July 2017 14:19

President's Message

Blakes Blog PhotoWhy do you buy a lawnmower? Most people would answer “to cut the grass.” This is certainly true, but when a lawnmower company digs deeper, they might find that the real purpose is to keep the grass short and beautiful, make an impression on neighbors, or increase property value. Knowing this could allow the lawnmower company to fine tune their product roadmap.

As Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want a quarter-inch drill; they want a quarter-inch hole.” People buy products and services to get jobs done. While jobs and services could go away, the foundational job to be done does not go away. This helps Wasatch Peaks Credit Union understand that members don’t buy products and services as much as they seek out solutions at various times to get jobs done.

As we better understand the jobs that our members are looking for, we position ourselves to create competitive products or services based on your member insights. And in the process, we create viable growth strategies that are beneficial to the credit union and to the members.

The easy part is to talk about it, while the hard part is to figure the whole thing out and we try to do this in a world that changes so fast. Do we build branches? Are they self-service branches? How many people do we put in them? What kind of payment systems do we implement? So many questions. As Steve Jobs of Apple said, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

The goal of Wasatch Peaks is to “exceed your expectations” in understanding the financial environment in an innovative way so that we have products and solutions for the jobs that you need to get done.

Published in Blog

Q:

Summer always puts a big strain on my budget. There are so many extra expenses! I've been looking for a way to get through these months without racking up a huge credit card bill, and one option I'm considering is Skip-a-Pay. What do I need to know about this program?

A:

Summertime brings loads of expenses that can bust any budget. There are family vacations that put a serious strain on your wallet, costly camp fees for the kids and dozens of other expenses that may not always be part of your usual financial planning.

Many people wonder how they'll get through these months. Fortunately, Wasatch Peaks offers an exclusive break from your loan payments during this costly time of year. Now that sounds like a dream vacation!

Skip-a-pay is a program that allows members to skip a monthly loan or credit card payment during an especially tight financial season. Most credit unions offer this program during the holiday season, and again during the summer. Members can choose to skip a payment once a year. There is usually a small fee attached to the payment omission.

Specific criteria must be met to qualify for skip-a-payment. The program is generally only allowed for loans with terms that are 12 months or longer, have been open for at least 9 months and have a good payment history of 6 or more months. Some credit unions allow payment omissions on most loans with the exception of real estate loans. Others only allow the payment break on fixed, closed-end consumer loans like auto and signature loans. Some do not allow it for credit cards and lines of credit. Nearly every credit union requires you to be up to date on your loan payments, and for you to have sufficient funds in your checking account to cover the nominal associated fee.

At our credit union:

  • There is a $25 fee per loan payment skipped
  • Only one payment may be skipped in July, August or September
  • Skips exclude all real estate (including HELOCs) and VISA payments
  • Loan must have been opened prior to May 1, 2017 and made at least one payment
  • Loan must be current and in good standing
  • Interest on the loan will continue to accrue
  • Payment will be added to the end of the loan
  • Paid-ahead loans are excluded
  • Any insurance on the loan will expire on its original expiration date

If you are considering skip-a-payment, speak to a member representative for full details. Additionally, here are some important points to consider before you decide to skip a payment:

1.) Breathing room

The primary benefit of choosing to skip a payment is quite obviously, the extra cash flow. During an expensive time of year, you might not make it through the month without resorting to swiping your credit card - and paying high interest on every purchase you make. By opting to skip a large payment on a loan or credit card, you'll free up cash for your daily expenses so you don't finish the month in the red. Summertime is so much sweeter when you're not sweating about your bills!

2.) Longer loan term

It's important to remember that by skipping a payment, you're lengthening the life of your loan. True, you're skipping a payment now, but you'll need to make that up one day. You're essentially moving this month's payment to the end of the loan.

3.) Accrued interest

While you won't be racking up credit card bills with high interest rates this month - thanks to the extra cash you'll have - you will be billed for interest on the skipped loan or credit card payment. You'll need to pay that up at the end of the loan term. This means you'll end up paying a bit more in interest during the life of the loan.

Did You Know?

  • Many people fall out of the habit of making their monthly payments when they choose to skip just one payment. Payment history influences credit scores most, putting you at significant risk of hurting your score if you skip a payment without your lender's permission. Remember: this is a one-month-only deal! Be sure to make your payments next month.
  • The popularity of skip-a-payment programs plunged at the turn of the millennium. They are now offered almost exclusively by credit unions, with very few banks still offering them.
  • If you feel like you could use skip-a-payment every month, you may be in financial trouble. Speak to a Wasatch Peaks member representative for advice on money management, debt counseling and budgeting tips. We're always here to help!

Want to hit the road without worrying about bills? Call, click or stop by Wasatch Peaks Credit Union today to learn about our skip-a-payment program. Take a break from your loans!

Have you ever taken advantage of your credit union's skip-a-payment offer? Why or why not? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://blog.credit.com/2015/12/wait-some-banks-let-you-skip-payments-during-the-holidays-131160/
http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/12/03/the-perils-of-skipping-loan-payments-this-holiday-season
https://www.servicecu.org/mobile.asp?MPID=819

Published in Blog

If you’ve dealt with the friendly experts at Wasatch Peaks in the past, you know we’re your go-to stop for many loan formats – home loans, auto loans, RV loans and many more. Did you also know, however, that we offer Visa Platinum Cards with low rates and great benefits?

As a credit union offering credit services, we hold a few specific advantages over for-profit banking institutions. What are these advantages, and how can they benefit you? Here’s a look.

Interest Rate Considerations

Federal laws prohibit credit unions from charging interest rates higher than 18 percent – there are no such restrictions on for-profit credit card companies. The average interest rate for cards with these institutions is nearly 17 percent, far higher than through credit unions.

In addition, interest charges on credit union issued cards are 20 percent lower than the same cards issued by banks on average. Both on the lowest and highest ends of the spectrum, credit unions offer lower rates for the same services.

Lower Fees

Credit unions also levy fewer fees and penalties for their customers than banks do. The average credit union customer pays $20 for a late bill payment or exceeding credit limit; the average penalty for this same thing at a bank is $39. Banks also charge much higher rates for cash advances.

Member-Owned

Credit unions are owned by their members, meaning they’re not incentivized by the same things as Wall Street banks who must please investors. Profit on credit cards and other loans go back to credit union members in the form of lower rates on mortgages or savings accounts.

Service

Seventy percent of credit union members claim that their financial institution put customers’ interests above their own, according to Forrester Research – only 58 percent of bank customers had the same opinion. In general, satisfaction rates are higher for all credit areas.

Want to learn more about why a credit union is beneficial for a credit card, or about any of our home loan or other services? Speak to the experts at Wasatch Peaks today.

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 30 May 2017 11:57

How You Can Benefit From FHA Loans

We’re here to provide excellent mortgage loan options for first-time homebuyers at Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, and some of the best options on our list are federally-backed loan options. These programs are guaranteed or insured by arms of the government, lowering risk for lenders and allowing you to get better mortgage rates and qualify for more advantageous loans.

A great example here is an FHA loan, insured by the Federal Housing Administration. They offer several more flexible options than many conventional loans. Here’s how you can benefit from an FHA loan.

Lower Qualifications

There are several areas where the requirements for qualifying for an FHA loan are much lower than they would be for a similar loan in a different format. Credit score is the most important: Only a 600 minimum credit score is typically required for an FHA loan, with some wiggle room depending on the institution.

There are other qualification benefits as well. You will be required to pay a much smaller down payment, as low as 3.5 percent rather than up to 20 percent for most traditional situations. There are no prepayment penalties, either. This makes these loans perfect for first-time homebuyers.

Mortgage Rates

The rates you can get through FHA loans far outstrip those you’ll find through the equivalent standard loan. If you have a credit score of 660, for instance, this will qualify you for an FHA interest rate roughly equivalent to what a score of 740 would have qualified you for in a conventional format.

Refinancing

FHA loans are perfect for refinancing. They allow options for members who got their first mortgage from outside lenders, never a guarantee during a traditional loan situation. They’re offered in both fixed and adjustable rates, and you can typically refinance up to 98 percent of a home’s value.

Assumable

When a buyer is allowed to take over an existing home loan from someone else rather than taking out a new one, this is called an “assumable” loan. FHA loans fall under this classification, meaning you can pick the best option between assuming a previous loan at its rate and looking for a new loan with a better market rate. There are no penalties here in either case.

Want to learn more about FHA loans, or any of our other mortgage services? Speak to the financial advisors at Wasatch Peaks Credit Union today.

Published in Blog
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