Archive | June, 2013

The Latest: Home Interest Rates

28 Jun

The Latest will keep you current on issues that affect your financial life.  Today, let’s talk Home Interest Rates. Here are a few articles from around the web:

Forbes (June 27th, 2013)

How Interest Rates Affect the Housing Market

Baltimore Business Journal (June 27th, 2013)

Rising Interest Rates Could Slow Fragile Housing Recovery

Chicago Tribune (June 28th, 2013)

Whither Real Estate Market as Interest Rates Rise?

Herald Tribune (June 28th, 2013)

New: Home Buyers Keep Wary Eye on Interest Rates

StreetInsider.com (June 27th, 2013)

The Big Question: Will Rising Interest Rates Derail the Housing Recovery?

U-T San Diego (June 28th, 2013)

Would 1% Hike in Mortgage Rates Stall Housing?

Forbes (June 27th, 2013)

Pending Home Sales Hit 6-Year High As Rising Mortgages Rates Propel Home Buyers

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Frugality: Is it Bad?

26 Jun

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If you look up the word frugal related words include: cheap, closefisted, mean, miserly, penny-pinching, stingy, and tightfisted. Of course, there are positive words like: preserving and foresighted, but they are mostly negative. Why do we approach saving or spending less as a horrible way to live? First, it could be argued that we live in a society that operates on the selling of consumer goods and anything that goes against buying goods is viewed poorly. Second, and maybe more importantly we do not truly celebrate being frugal. Being frugal or money-minded does not have to mean self-denial.

In Frugality and the Myth of Self-Denial Kentin Waits writes: “Simply put, frugality isn’t about self-denial — at least not entirely. It’s about logically and purposely directing where our resources go to accomplish specific ends.” He goes on to address that the point of being frugal is to control your spending so that you can buy things that make you happy. Moderation is the key. But as humans we often try to go all in on everything we do and end up doing too much. Never spending your money can make you just as unhappy as never saving your money. Maya Angelou said, “Everything in moderation. But, also moderation in moderation”.

Balance can be the goal. Sometimes it tips too much one direction or the other, but bringing it back to center is ideal. It can be liberating and wonderful to buy a home or car or go on vacation, so don’t let being frugal stop you from that.

Don’t Tax My Credit Union Campaign

24 Jun

Via www.donttaxmycreditunion.org :

“’Don’t Tax My Credit Union’ is a national campaign dedicated to ensuring Congress doesn’t raise taxes on 96 million credit union members nationwide and preserves financial choice for American consumers. Join us today to share your story and tell Congress: Don’t Tax My Credit Union!”

We urge you to visit the link above and take action against raising taxes and imposing new fees on your credit union.

 

Budgeting Tools: Central Star’s Balance Program

21 Jun

First up, in our Budgeting Tools category is Central Star’s own program Balance.

Balance offers members certified counselors to speak with, help with managing money and debt, credit report reviews, home purchase counseling, and solutions to prevent identity theft.

They also offer three online tools designed to guide you through understanding and maintaining your finances. BalanceTrack offers mini financial education courses. OnTrack is an actual budget-making program. Financial Education provides in-depth articles, podcasts, calculators, and other resources to expand your fiscal knowledge.

Directly from their website, here is a detailed description of their services:

Screen shot 2013-06-21 at 5.41.50 PM

Central Star Credit Union provides all members with free access to Balance and all it has to offer. It is a wonderful resource to help you learn about, construct, and cultivate your new budget plan.

10 Tips for Starting a Successful Budget

19 Jun

Money Matters believes that creating a budget (and sticking to it) can be the most tricky part of budgeting. Once a budget plan has been started everything else gets a little bit easier. We have compiled 10 tips to help you start.

1. Simplicity is key. Keeping the plan simple will help you achieve your goals faster. At the core, a budget is tool used to figure out how to direct your money to the things you find important.

2. It all begins with a goal. An objective, like home-ownership or a new car, can give you the push to maintain the budget.

3. Give yourself a cushion. When calculating how much to save for expenses, choose the largest number you have paid out. For example, use the largest utility bill in recent months as the set deduction. If it ends up being less than you budgeted allocate that money elsewhere. Chances are it will not be higher since you used the highest bill as the standard. Remember to add in emergencies and extras as well.

4. Pay yourself. A good rule to follow is 90/10. 90% of your take-home income should go to expenses and 10% should be saved.

5. Understand and use a budgeting tool. Mint.com is a current and reliable money management website. Central Star’s own Balance Program is a great resource. Even something as simple as the envelope system can work.

6. Follow what works for you. Creating and maintaining a budget is very personal. What might work for others, might not work for you. It is vital to find something that works with your personality, not against it.

7. Find the losses. Where is money being lost? Discover the expense that is a money drain and correct it.

8. Use the right categories. All budget programs have default categories, if they do not work for you construct your own.

9. Making mistakes is natural. If you overestimate the money coming in and underestimate the money going out reevaluate and adjust it. Adjusting as you go will help you to run your budget more smoothly in the long run.

10. Stay with it. Just like any new habit, money management can be hard to stick to. But if you stay with it and push through the hard times your rewards will be great.

Because we couldn’t resist, here are a few extras:

Be flexible. Do not let a wonderful (and possibly profitable) opportunity pass because your budget is too rigid. It is ok to stretch the budget at times to accomodate time-sensitive expenses. Just be wise and not make it a regular thing.

Add in fun money. Failure is guaranteed if you do not have money set aside for entertainment.

Frugal Fatigue is real. Be careful, so that you can avoid feeling burnt out on doing a budget. Too much worrying can cause you to splurge or stop the budget altogether.

A Few Questions with the President of Central Star Credit Union

17 Jun

Lee Williams is the current President of Central Star Credit Union. We caught up with her and had her answer a few questions.

Why were you interested in banking as a career?

I wasn’t. I thought banking would hinder my creative side and I wanted to help people. Once I started, I discovered how wrong I was. Banking offered me the chance not only to create, but to really help people change their financial lives. Impacting, not only, their futures but generations.

What do you think are the three most important things someone should know about their finances?

Where are you financially (debt to income ratio, interest rates you are paying and credit score)?  What do you want financially (goals)? A plan to get there. Or, how much is coming in, how much is going out, and what that means to your future.

What are the best/easiest ways to improve credit scores quickly?

Knowing the right combinations of credit to have. Which debts to pay. Paying installment loans like car, house, and credit cards on time, even if already past due.

What advice do you have for someone who is afraid to apply for a loan due to bad credit history?

Ask before you apply. Visit with someone at a financial institution. Explain your situation.  We have solutions and options you may not be aware of.  It is much easier to get a yes, if you have a roadmap and someone on the inside working for you.

Why choose a credit union over a bank?

I maybe biased, but I have worked for both. Credit Unions are member-owned financial cooperatives; if you use us you are an owner. When individuals pool their funds for the betterment of the group, good things happen. Credit Unions are about “People helping People”.  Earnings are given back to members in lower loan rates and higher dividends, not stockholders.

What celebrity needs a financial planner?

Any one past, present or future who thinks their stardom is bigger than the IRS. Seriously, Blu Ivy, keeping track of her net worth and managing her brand would already take a full-time employee.

A bit about our upcoming posts

12 Jun

Hi there.

We are going to have a few reoccurring categories: Meet the… and A Few Questions. Meet the… will introduce interesting people in the financial industry. A Few Questions will be just that, a few questions for someone in the community interested in finances. We would love your feedback. What questions do you want answered? Who do you want to know more about?

Starting off the summer will be a series on Budgetting. How to start. Best options. Everything you want to know and more you didn’t know you wanted.

We will also be posting articles on important information in the banking sector.

Drop us a line in the comment section and let us know what kinds of articles you want to see.