Wasatch Peaks has decided to make this the year of guiding new investors. Throughout the 12 months of 2017, Wasatch Peaks will provide you with 12 easy-to-understand steps about investing, making you a savvy, confident investor by the time the year is out. If you missed our first step, follow this link to learn about getting your finances in order, then come back here for the second step!
Don't invest a penny before you build a substantial savings account.
This might sound counterintuitive to a wannabe investor, but it's important to have a solid cushion of savings before you start putting your money into the market. Life is full of surprises. You don't want to be caught in an emergency that leaves you desperate for cash when all your funds are tied up in bonds, CDs and stocks.
This month, work on building up your savings to minimize risk. Here's how:
What steps have you taken toward building your savings this month?
It’s easy to find yourself in a bit of a financial crunch these days, and people looking for a bit of breathing room might be able to find a respite in an unexpected place: Their mortgage loan. We typically think of a mortgage as an expense for obvious reasons, but a home refinance can be a great way to increase your financial flexibility.
At Wasatch Peaks, we’re here to help you with every step as you refinance your mortgage. Why might this process be beneficial for you and your family? Let’s take a look.
The primary benefit of refinancing a mortgage is lowering your monthly payment. The idea of most refinancing projects is to either extend the period of the loan or lock it in at a new, lower mortgage rate (sometimes both), both of which will lower the amount you’re required to pay each month.
In most cases, mortgage brokers recommend refinancing via interest rate reduction as a smart move if the current market is at least two percentage points lower than your original interest rate. Two percent may not sound like much, but it can have a gigantic effect over the life of a larger mortgage.
Easier payments generally leads to a rise in your credit as you can hopefully dig out of any financial hole. You can also use the money you save each month to pay down other debts which might be contributing to negative credit. For some people whose belt isn’t necessarily tight financially, a home refinance can be a great way to build equity by lowering payments but continuing to make the original, larger payment anyway. Some people finish paying mortgages earlier than usual through these methods.
Many people who sign adjustable-rate loans do so as a gamble that their rates might significantly drop through the life of their loan, but often the opposite will happen and they’ll reach a point where they can’t handle the instability of rising rates. Moving to a fixed-rate loan is one of the primary benefits of refinancing, and brings much more financial certainty in monthly payments. Check out our rates here.
Want to learn more about refinancing, or any other part of our loan services? Our financial advisors at Wasatch Peaks are standing by.
One of the most important parts of the home loan process is utilizing your credit score. Credit score is one of the primary factors that determines many of the vital financial details of a mortgage loan, and can often be the difference between you getting the mortgage rates you need and not doing so.
At Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, we’re dedicated to providing our clients all the knowledge and savvy they need to make the right personal, business and family financial decisions. We’ve seen firsthand the pitfalls of lackluster credit in the mortgage loan process, so what are some things you can do to make sure you aren’t suffering from a low credit score?
Keep diligent track of your spending habits, particularly your lines of credit – exactly how far these extend should be something you know, and do your best to never exceed these limits. Many financial experts suggest the “20/10” rule of thumb: Never let your credit card debt get higher than 20 percent of your yearly post-tax income, and never tie up more than 10 percent of your monthly income in credit card payments.
Unexpected expenses are part of life, and if you’re forced to run these up on your credit card every time they happen, it could tank your credit score and impact your financial future. Keep a buffer of 10 to 15 percent of your available credit if possible, or even more if you can manage it. Try setting up a Budgeter Account to save money for an emergency fund. Many people try to keep several months’ worth of income saved up in case of emergency.
Staying organized prevents negative outcomes like missed payments or unnoticed spending limits. Keep track of your due dates in a comprehensive list you can easily access, and keep all your bills in one place – online and mobile banking with Wasatch Peaks has made this easier than ever.
You can schedule payments either online or in person with your credit union, and set up automatic payments. You’ll be thanking yourself down the line when your credit isn’t the thing keeping you from an affordable home loan.
Especially if you’re having any issues with credit card or other debt payments, keep an open line of dialogue with your lender. Lenders want the same result you do – their money back – and even if it often seems like you’re on opposite sides, they’ll generally work with you to restructure things if you’re falling behind.
Interested in learning more about mortgage loans, home refinance projects or any of our other services which may be directly impacted by credit score? Our financial advisors at Wasatch Peaks Credit Union are standing by.
Utah saves money with historically low interest rates!
You can save money with your Wasatch Peaks auto loan:
Getting your auto loan started is as easy as coming into any branch, applying online, or calling 801-627-8700!
Wasatch Peaks makes it easy for you by preparing your loan documents and paying off your current loan balance with another financial institution. All you have to do is sign and drive away with a lower rate on your new auto loan!
*Annual Percentage Rate (APR). On Approved Credit (OAC). This is our best rate; your rate may be different depending on credit history and underwriting criteria. Rates subject to change based on vehicle loan-to-value and term. Limited time offer.
Creature comforts like smartphone bank deposits are nice, but how much are they costing you? Your statement might not show the costs directly, but there’s an old adage about situations like this: If you’re not paying for a service, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. In this case, corporate banks use slick technological bells and whistles to get you in so you’ll be more likely to take out loans and use other for-pay services.
If you’re tired of being treated like a product, you’re not alone. Last year, 2 million people between the ages of 18 and 35 joined a credit union. 28% of credit union members are under 35 while 54% of them are under age 50. The tools of technology are making it easier to see the value that credit unions offer.
Don’t just take our word for it. Do your research and see for yourself how credit unions compare to for-profit banks. Consider these five categories:
Here’s a fun game. Call a corporate bank with a simple request, like checking the balance of a savings account. Count the number of irritating phone tree menus you have to sift through before you could talk to a real person who could answer your question. You win when you get frustrated and slam the phone down in anger!
For-profit banks have earned a reputation for cumbersome customer service and out-of-touch policies. Getting information on financial services, like credit repair or auto loans, means sitting on hold for hours. Credit unions, on the other hand, provide easy-to-use services and real, live human beings who can answer questions, make recommendations and help you understand the complicated world of finance.
For-profit banks answer to corporate owners. They expect a predictable, stable rate of return on their investments. This demand puts a straitjacket on lending and ensures those practices never deviate from a pre-determined formula. Take income, multiply by credit score, divide by 2, that’s the interest rate they’ll charge.
However, let’s pretend you just got a new job, so last year’s tax returns aren’t a good indicator of how much you are earning. That’s not in the formula, so it doesn’t matter. Credit history ruined by an old medical bill? Corporate banks stop reading after the first three words of that sentence. In short, there’s no room for flexibility and interest rates tend to be much higher.
Credit unions are community institutions, so helping people out is part of what we do. Our rates tend to be lower than those of corporate banks. We also tend to be more willing to make exceptions for details that may not be reflected in the conventional lending formula.
In the wild west days of the Internet, only corporate banks could afford online banking. Now, your pet gerbil can have his own website. The Internet is everywhere and credit unions are on board. The services you use every day, like online bill pay, direct deposit and checking on account balances are just a click away. Follow this link to learn more about the mobile banking that Wasatch Peaks offers.
Most people don’t handle paper checks anymore, so banking from the computer or mobile device is all most consumers really need.
Corporate banks have historically made a killing by keeping people in the dark about their practices. Credit card companies made it hard to tell exactly how much interest you were being charged. Banks charged overdraft fees without ever telling you they were doing it. These things got so bad, Congress took action. Consumer ignorance was built into the profit model of big financial institutions. Educating consumers was not just a waste of money to them, it was actually costing them business.
Credit unions are not-for-profits that want to make their communities a better place. Wasatch Peaks donates thousands of dollars and volunteer hours each year to our community. Part of the mission of making our community a better place includes financial education. If you need advice about home-buying, making a budget or using credit responsibly, Wasatch Peaks will be happy to help. We also have a blog called "Peaks Financial Fitness" that is published every Monday. It relates everyday topics to finances in a way that is applicable to almost all lives.
Credit unions work for their members. We pay back the money they make to their members in the form of dividends. Since our members are also the people paying for their services, we don’t have much of an incentive to charge an arm and a leg in interest and fees.
Wasatch Peaks Credit Union offers competitive rates on savings accounts and CDs/certificates. Because we don’t have to siphon off money to pay shareholders, we can return that money to their investors: you know, the people who do their banking with the credit union. Compare the earned interest on a credit union checking or savings account to those offered by a for-profit bank. Then, go open an account at a credit union, like Wasatch Peaks. You’ll thank yourself later.
Over the weekend I bought Valentines for my family. Those are the first of the many gifts that I will buy this year. Budgeting helps me enjoy gift giving and helps me give more meaningful gifts.
The budgeting category of gifts can be challenging. It really is a subcategory that requires more planning. It’s not like my phone bill category that I allocate money and then pay it. Gifts need their own detailed plan within the budget plan.
Gifts and I have a love/hate relationship. I love giving gifts - especially when I find the “perfect gift” that will mean a lot to the person who is receiving it. Long before the Internet, I remember ordering gifts by phone. My sister and I were watching TV and saw an infomercial for a classical rock CD. She got excited and said she wanted it, so I sneakily wrote down the phone number and ordered it. Her eyes lit up when she opened it. That was so cool! I also love receiving gifts - especially surprises. I hate when I feel obligated to give a gift and can’t find one. In the past, I felt like I need to give someone a gift at Christmas because they gave me one, instead of graciously accepting what they gave. I’m trying to eliminate giving out of obligation, but I admit it is still a struggle.
Budgets make gift giving fun because it helps you avoid feeling regrets or other bad feelings. Here are steps to create your giving plan for this year:
Leave some flexibility in your gift budget. I’ve realized that there are some gifts that I’ll want to give that I can’t predict. I leave some flexibility in my budget for the baby showers, wedding showers, and graduations which will inevitably come up. We budget $20 a month to our miscellaneous “giving” category, so that we have some flexibility to give. Including this has been key to our gift budget.
Personalize your gift giving category. Make it work for you. When I give small gifts like the Valentines that I bought, I include them in my groceries. I keep it simple if it is minor, but for big gifts, I plan them out. There is no right or wrong way as long as it is your way! Just figure out what your way is. I learned to do what is right for my family.
Around our 10-year anniversary, I started to feel pressure to go on a big trip. When I thought about why I felt that way, I realized it was because my cousin and his wife had just posted pictures from their 10-year anniversary trip, but we didn’t have the money budgeted for that and didn’t even really want to do that. So, we didn’t. It’s cool that my cousin wanted to do that and had a great time. I was able to feel happy for them and feel content that we didn’t spend money we didn’t have on a trip we didn’t really want to do. By personalizing your gift budget, you give the way you want to give and can feel content.
Plan to save for the gifts that you can predict. Many of the big gifts that we give are predictable, like Christmas and birthday gifts. All of my family’s birthdays fall in the first 7 months of the year. I like this, but I have to plan for it. Some years I save throughout the year for birthdays and Christmas. This year, I don’t have the money saved, so I’m budgeting birthday money for the first six months. My husband is paid bi-weekly. I figured out when the 3rd paychecks of the month will fall, and designated those to go towards Christmas this year and birthdays for next year.
There are a lot of ways to save for gifts. Look at your personal situation to figure out how to save for those. Would it work best to put it all away at once or save every month? If you are self-employed and have a busy season, it could make sense for you to save for all your gifts during that time. Wasatch Peaks has a Christmas Club Account and Budgeter Accounts that could be a great tool to do this. I have used a spreadsheet or budgeting software to make electronic envelopes and set aside the money for birthdays so that I don’t spend it. Thinking through these details has relieved so much stress.
Don’t just give because you feel obligated. When I do this, I feel bad afterward. My mother-in-law asked us not to give her anything for Mother’s Day except a homemade card. This was very hard for me because I love her so much and really wanted to give her a gift. She knew this and told Ty that she would be mad at me if I did something. I learned a lot from this. If we can think of something she would enjoy, like pictures of our family, we give them, and she graciously accepts them.
Express love through gifts. We can’t buy love, but we can buy gifts, and if done in the right way, they can help express love and strengthen relationships. When we were dating, Ty made me a DVD with songs to go with it. He also gave me a watch. The DVD meant a lot to me because it was so thoughtful. And after 15 years, I still have the watch (it just needs batteries). These are gifts that last. Since that time, I remember only one other Valentine's gift. Instead of focusing on Valentine's Day, we try to show love all the time. It’s so fun to pick up a favorite treat for my husband while I’m at the store. We aren’t anti-Valentine's Day - if you buy the heart balloons, big stuffed teddy bear, and heart shaped chocolates, that’s cool with us! My husband has gone to Walmart the night before Valentine’s Day for entertainment. He loves to watch dazed shoppers searching for a gift.
Give what you can afford to give. Often, the best gifts are the gifts that mean the most to the receiver. These gifts are heartfelt, and not because they are expensive. They are often super simple and cheap, but require understanding what would mean the most to the receiver.
Almost 2 years ago, I attended a youth conference with a group of youth and adults. We got to know each other really well on that trip. One of the leaders served as our cook. At lunch time one day, he found out that I love eating the ends of the bread. On the way home from this youth conference, I found out that my husband had be fired unexpectedly and without cause. This was an emotionally hard time for us. We really needed support as Ty & I clung to each other and our young family. One morning soon after, I opened my door and on the porch was a bag of bread heels! I knew who had left them. I’m sure that this unconventional gift that didn’t cost much more than the trip down to the bread store. Most people wouldn’t get emotional or appreciate a bag of leftover bread heels, but that gift is one of the most thoughtful, unique, and meaningful gifts I have ever received. Tears come as I think of the kindness of that dear mentor!
Gifts can be a major or a minor budgeting expense. It’s up to you! Budgets are personal. You can make your gift budget as small or as large as you want it to be.
I have received a lot of gifts over the past 4 decades and I really appreciate those gifts. Budgeting has improved my gift giving! It makes it less stressful and more fun. The work it takes to create gift budgets has been so worth the reward.
Having a car represents more than just another possession—it’s a way for you to get to school and work, a way to transport your kids to their activities every week, and the freedom to go where you want when you want. But for many people, the process of getting a new car is filled with uncertainty about whether you would be able to get a car with a payment you can afford. The interest rate has a significant impact on the total cost of your car and your monthly payments, so these simple steps to getting the best auto loan rate can help.
Most people look at the monthly payment to decide if they can afford a loan, and while it’s important to know that you will be able to make the monthly payments you should also consider the loan’s total cost. A common tactic used by car dealers is to extend the term of your loan (the total years and months you’re paying for the car) to reduce monthly payments. However, that increases the total amount of interest you pay so you want to take that into consideration.
You probably spent a few hours online researching your new car before you bought it—a 2015 Autotrader report indicates that people spend around 12.5 hours online before they even head out to a dealership—but how much time did you spend shopping around for the best auto loan rate? There are some misconceptions out there about auto loan rates. Some of the most common are:
• Rates are basically all the same so there’s no point to shop around
• The rate that the dealership finds you is going to be the best you can get
• The dealership has your best interest at heart
In truth, if you haven’t taken time to shop around and get pre-approved for financing you might be vulnerable to a higher interest rate than the dealer offers you, or even terms where the dealer marks up the interest rate (which could cost you several thousand dollars more over the life of the loan).
Banks and dealer financing are not the only places you can get an auto loan. Often a better rate is available from a local credit union, like Wasatch Peaks, where rates could be as much as 1 or 2 percent lower. While there are tools online where you can search for interest rates, often these will only show you large national lenders (even if you put in your zip code). A better option is to research local credit unions and contact them directly to find out what kind of interest rates are available. Credit unions only lend to their own members, but you should be able to join easily if you find one that will offer a good rate.
Before you start shopping around for interest rates, it’s a good idea to check your credit. This will help you identify any errors that could be dragging your score down, and if you do it far enough in advance you can take steps to increase your score if it’s low. Even a slight increase in your credit score could reduce your interest rate, saving you money.
Don’t pay more for the same car. Knowing how to get the best rate on your auto loan can help you get the best car for the best monthly payments, giving you the freedom to drive without putting a big dent in your bank account.
Did you know that as a member of Wasatch Peaks Credit Union, you have many member benefits available to you? From shopping online and earning cash back to saving up to $15 on TurboTax®, being a Wasatch Peaks member really has its perks!
Wasatch Peaks and Powder Mountain are teaming up to bring you discount tickets! Wasatch Peaks members receive 15% off day lift tickets and 40% off night lift tickets. This makes night tickets start at less than $16, and day passes following in an affordable fashion! All you have to do is follow this exclusive link, and enter in the following (Case Sensitive) creditentials:
Club name = WPCU
Password = WPMember
The snow and weather are working in the favor of those of who ski or snowboard, so grab your poles or board and take this long weekend to hit the slopes! Wasatch Peaks wishes you the best of time and thanks you for being a member, right here in Utah.