The Car Dealership: Myth-busted

girl looking on as salesman shows off a car
girl looking on as salesman shows off a car

The Car Dealership: Myth-busted

There are a few occupations that instantly make us think of skeezy men in cheap suits looking to prey on your good nature. You’ve got lawyers, you’ve got loan sharks, and then you’ve got the car salesman. Even with all the balloons, colorful flags, and waving tube men, stepping foot on a car lot can feel less like a trip to the fair and more like a dip in a shark-infested dunk tank. While we’re sure there are some honest car salesmen out there, there is a reason car dealerships have a less than savory reputation. However, it’s not all bad and you don’t have to leave the dealership feeling like you’ve signed away your life. We’re busting five dealership myths that will make your next dealership visit a little less scary.

 

Top 5 Myths:

 

  1. Paying Cash Will Get You The Best Deal – Ok, this may have been true at one point, but cash is not the king it once used to be. In many instances, dealerships are incentivized to get you to finance. If you walk in with a wad of cash, they may up their “bottom line” to make up for what they can’t add to your payment or rate. The best thing to do? Choose the option that works best for you, NOT the one you think can get you the “best” deal.
  2. The Internet Is The PERFECT Place To Buy A New Car – Sure, the internet does some amazing things for us, that’s a fact. However, it isn’t the place you should look for an incredible deal on a car. Why? Unless you’re buying from an independent person, where do you think the car you’re looking at is coming from? Most likely, a dealership. There’s no doubt that the internet has revolutionized car buying, but the internet is also good at hiding things. There could be hidden fees or stipulations you can’t see behind a computer screen. Plus, there’s no guarantee the car you want is even on the lot. The best bet? Use the internet to educate yourself, but don’t assume anything until you’ve signed on the dotted line.
  3. A Lower Price/Payment Means You Got The “Best” Deal – Many car shoppers are laser-focused on two things: the price they are getting and what their payment will be. Just because you got a low price and payment doesn’t mean you got a great deal. You also have to take your interest rate into account. You may have gotten a great deal on the MSRP, but if your interest rate is through the roof, you’ll end up paying way more on that “good deal” than you anticipated. Do the math and focus on the deal as a whole.
  4. Demanding A Good Deal Will Get You A Good Deal – “I talked to this other dealership.” “You’re going to get me the best deal.” These seem like a good idea. Take charge and get what you want. We can admit that there might be some rare times where this works, but most of the time, you’ll just make yourself look foolish. Dealerships talk to each other, salespeople know their stuff, and chances are they’ve heard everything under the sun. Yes, it is fun to put people on the spot, but it won’t get you far. Instead, treat them like the people they are and come at them in a nonconfrontational way. You’ll get much farther.
  5. Go Shopping In The Rain – You’d be surprised how many people have heard this myth. Although it may seem silly, many people believe this to be true. The idea here is that people will be so deterred from visiting a dealership that the salespeople will be foaming at the mouth to make a sale. But really, when has rain really stopped anyone from doing what they want? Many dealerships report that rainy days are some of their busiest. Don’t let the weather dictate when you visit a dealership.

 

To say buying a car is intimidating is an understatement. However, if you know what you want, how much you’re willing to pay, and you’re ready to look at the deal as a whole, you can get a great deal. If you’re still hesitant, don’t worry United Community has got your back. We can get you the financing you need to make your automotive dreams a reality. Click here to learn more!

 

Sources:

https://www.edmunds.com/car-buying/car-buying-myths-and-misconceptions.html

https://cartelligent.com/blog/ten-car-buying-myths-and-misconceptions/

 

Budget Friendly Fall Activities

kid playing in a pile of leaves
kid playing in a pile of leaves

Budget Friendly Fall Activities

With the leaves changing colors and that nice cool crisp feeling back in the air, the autumn season has finally arrived! Are you looking for ways to enjoy the fall without falling into debt? Well, get your pumpkin spice, grab a football, and pick up that rake in the garage, because we’re about to explore some great ways to enjoy the fall traditions on a budget!

 

  1. Go Apple Picking: One of the most iconic fall activities, apple picking is a great way to get outside, get some delicious and healthy fruit, and enjoy the harvest season! By checking out your local orchard you can enjoy a fruitful afternoon with the family and walk away with some delicious juicy apples to snack on, all for one low price!
  2. Have A Bonfire Night: Bonfires are the perfect way to warm up on a cool autumn evening, and the perfect occasion to invite your friends over to roast marshmallows and hotdogs on an open flame. You can save by having everyone bring a s’mores ingredient, and you can even go hunting for sticks to fuel the fire in the woods!
  3. Tailgate From Home: You don’t have to buy those pricey tickets to the big game to enjoy a tailgate with your friends and family! Watch the game from home and grill burgers from your own backyard. Plus, if you party potluck style, you can split food costs by having everyone bring a tailgate treat.
  4. Carve Pumpkins: Fall means it’s time to start looking for the perfect pumpkins for carving! Whether you create a more traditional Jack-O-Lantern, or try a new artistic direction on your pumpkin, the whole family will have fun carving their own creation. It can be tempting to go to a pumpkin patch to pick out your pumpkin, but you can actually save some money if you purchase from a grocery store where pumpkins are less expensive.
  5. Spooky Movie Night: Fall is spooky season after all, so why not plan a movie night where you watch a few of your favorite Halloween movies! Most low-cost streaming services have Halloween film collections. You can also use the apples you’ve picked and the seeds from pumpkin carving to make tasty snacks like caramel apples and toasted pumpkin seeds as your film fest snacks!
  6. Play In The Leaves: Who doesn’t love raking up a big pile of leaves and then jumping into them? Your kids will love any play time they can get in the leaves, whether they’re just doing a cannonball into the colors, or building their very own leaf fort. And all it costs is a little afternoon yard work. Plus, if you want to teach the value of a hard-earned dollar, you can have the kids help bag the leaves once they’re finished playing and give them a few dollars for a job well done!

 

Feeling that Fall fever yet? However you enjoy the season, there’s plenty of great ways to find fun activities that save on your fall budget! And don’t forget, if you’re looking for an affordable way to take a fall adventure United Community has you covered!

The Cost of Raising a Child

pexels-yan-krukov-5792907

The Cost of Raising a Child

As inflation continues to wreak havoc on the middle and lower socioeconomic classes, many will feel the sting of rising costs in different areas of their lives. Those with children can attest to this fact, as the statistics show that raising a child can cost upward of $310,000.00 from infancy to age 17. This does not include any higher education costs and works out to be about $18,000.00 per year. We aren’t going to scare you with this stat and leave you wondering what to do. Here are a few ways you can combat the rising costs of parenthood:

 

The simplest way is to avoid clicking links that you receive through a text message, even when they look official. If you receive a text alert from someone that looks like your financial institution claiming there is an issue with your account, we recommend the following:

  • Searching social media groups can result in some very supportive and mutually beneficial communities. There are hundreds of options for gently used toys, clothing, and furniture that are either free or a fraction of the price of brand-new items. Find safe drop exchange areas like your local police department.
  • Childcare is the largest line item for those who need their children to be looked after during working hours. Try to link up with a neighbor to share a nanny service or alternate days or hours where time is the exchange instead of cash. For those who are lucky enough to have willing relatives, a day off from childcare costs here and there can add up!
  • Meal prepping takes time and dedication but can make grocery shopping trips more structured and will save you money in the long run. While figuring out what meals to make for your family, see what is on sale and in-season to keep a variety of foods!
  • Making memories with your family does not have to cost a fortune. We’ve all seen or heard about the child who plays with the box a toy came in rather than playing with the brand-new toy, right? Keep it simple. Take a bike ride instead of a trip to the movies or head to the park for a picnic with friends! Have experiences instead of collecting things. And take lots of pictures!
  • Budget for holidays. Check out the Christmas Club Saving Accounts at United Community to put a little away each paycheck and have cash on hand to do some shopping for the holidays. This way you won’t have to worry about the credit card interest cost or dipping into your bill-paying money and still have a great holiday with lots of love and giving.
  • Start your kids out on the right foot! A strong foundation of financial education will help people cultivate a healthy relationship with money that will benefit them for each stage of their lives. At United Community we help our younger members begin to learn about savings!

Remember to give back when you can! As your children grow out of clothes, shoes, toys, and furniture, think about how much you appreciated the help from others and pay it forward. A direct reflection of the community is how willing the individuals are to help each other in times of need. This is also a great way to upcycle and keep using items that would normally be tossed out after use!

 

Sources:

https://cheddar.com/media/raising-a-child-now-costs-an-average-of-300k?utm_source=t.co&utm_medium=social

https://www.discover.com/online-banking/banking-topics/7-ways-to-save-money-on-family-expenses/

The Great Outdoors

pov looking over the handlebars of an atv
pov looking over the handlebars of an atv

The Great Outdoors

Picture it. The forest is calm except for a slight breeze rustling the leaves. There is a thin layer of mist covering the ground You’re perched in your favorite deer stand, the smell of coffee perking you up. You’re waiting for the perfect buck…

What could make this scene even better? How about knowing you have an ATV waiting for you to take you and your trophies back to civilization? It’s possible with UCCU. Take advantage of our low rates on ATV loans and add a little more fun to your outings.

Wishing things were even easier? They can be! When you get an ATV loan from UCCU you’ll be entered to win one of two $100 gift cards to have your deer processed. 

Get back to nature, the fun way, with UCCU.

*Annual Percentage Rate. Must meet credit union lending guidelines. Floor rate is 3.99% APR. Qualified applicants earn a rate of 3.74% with automatic payment via payroll deduction, automatic transfer, or ACH payment. Rates subject to change without notice. Some conditions apply. Existing UCCU loans do not apply. No purchase necessary to enter. †Two members will win one $100 gift card. Two $100 gift cards will be for The Country Butcher Shop & Butcher Block. The Country Butcher Shop & Butcher Block are not affiliates or associated with UCCU. Drawing to be held on or around 12.01.2022. Members gain automatic entry with each new or used ATV financing at UCCU. Alternative entry method: Members may send a self addressed, postage paid postcard to 1001 Vermont Quincy, Illinois 62301. Max of one (1) entry per member. See credit union for complete details. Credit union reserves the right to change, modify, or end this promotion at any time. Federally insured by NCUA.

“Smishing” is the New Phishing

guy texting near a plant
guy texting near a plant

“Smishing” is the New Phishing

Look out — there’s a new scam in town! “Smishing” is a scam format that has recently encountered a boost in scammer popularity, and it’s surprisingly sneaky. Keep reading to learn more about smishing and how to keep your information safe!

 

What is Smishing?

 

Smishing is similar to phishing, but the scam is accomplished through SMS messaging rather than emails. We all know to look out for suspicious emails, but we aren’t used to looking out for spam texts. And some of these texts can look very official.

 

Scammers will often make these spam texts look like they are from your bank or credit union’s text alert system. Sometimes, these fake texts will warn you that your account has been locked or that you have won a giveaway — and all you have to do to fix your account issue or claim your prize is to click a link in the text. This link will actually take users to a malicious phishing page that is used to steal your information.

 

Sounds simple to spot right? But here’s the thing: so many people fall for this scam. Nowadays, we’re used to text alerts or receiving links on our phones that we rarely think twice about clicking them, especially when the number looks official. Plus, when we think there is an issue with our account, we want to fix it as soon as possible, causing us to tap on a link without much thought.

 

How to Avoid this Scam?

 

The simplest way is to avoid clicking links that you receive through a text message, even when they look official. If you receive a text alert from someone that looks like your financial institution claiming there is an issue with your account, we recommend the following:

  • Visit your bank or credit union in person OR look up the official phone number on their website
    • Do NOT use the phone number that the text was sent from. Many scammers can “spoof” phone numbers, making them appear like real customer service numbers.
  • Explain the text alert you received to your financial institution’s representative and ask them to verify if they sent the message.
  • Never exchange any personal information such as your Social Security Number, credit card number, security question answers, or account number through a text message to an unknown recipient.

 

Spread the word!

 

Now that you know what smishing is, make sure your friends and family also know how to stay protected and spot this scam by sending them this article! Stay safe out there, and always remember that you can come to United Community for help!

 

Sources:

https://cyware.com/news/smishing-and-vishing-whats-the-difference-between-them-4f55d408/

https://www.wpxi.com/news/local/officials-warn-new-phishing-scam-get-bank-information/Z55R6ZMXLZEYROGU2JCSHP4VA4/

The Home Team Advantage!

father and child playing video games victorious
father and child playing video games victorious

The Home Team Advantage!

Every sports fan knows about the home team advantage. You’re on familiar turf. Everything is in its place and you can truly relax. Whether it’s the comfort of being in your own space, being in the spot where family and friends alike feel the happiest, or even just having control of the remote – find your advantage with UCCU! United Community can prequalify you for your next purchase so you know your spending power for that perfect home or home base.

We can also refinance the home you love to lower your payment or term to help get your home paid off when you want it. Apply today and take advantage now!

Mortgage credit and collateral are subject to approval and additional terms and conditions apply. Programs, rates and terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. See credit union for full details. Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Lender.

Slide into a Better Rate

baseball player sliding into home
baseball player sliding into home

Slide into a Better Rate

You’re running the bases of life and the Dangerous Debts are up by a point. You need this homerun so bad you can almost taste it. The crowd is quiet with anticipation and the Debts throw a powerful curveball. Lucky for you, UCCU is up to bat ready to help you slide into a better rate.

 

That’s because when you transfer your balance to a UCCU Visa® Credit Card, you’ll slide into a low rate of 2.99% APR* for 6 months!

 

Members who already have a UCCU Visa® Credit Card will receive printed checks that you can use to take advantage of this low-rate offer for balance transfers or summer travel expenses.

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. See credit union for details. Promotional rate ends 6 months after first transfer or disbursement. Remaining balances will accrue standard rate after 6
months if not paid in full. Accounts that are 60 days or greater past due and/or those in excess of approved credit limit, the promotional rate will end and the standard terms will apply. Members must meet loan qualifying criteria. Not all members may qualify for credit approval. UCCU reserves the right to extend, alter, or cancel this promotion at any time. Federally insured by NCUA.

Start Saving and Stop Spending

colorful graphic about money
colorful graphic about money

Start Saving and Stop Spending

Credit reports, budgets, goals, and debt can be frightening words and concepts whether you are hearing them for the first time or the hundredth time. They are chilling because they are important in leading a healthy financial lifestyle, but we may not be well-versed in what they mean. Once you become familiar with the world of finance, you can maneuver more effectively through your own financial history to set up your future. Here are some ways to become more comfortable with the wild world of money.

 

  1. Check your credit report. Remember when teachers used to talk about your permanent record? This is similar in that it is a record of your credit transactions, lending applications, payment history, bankruptcies, payoffs, and anything financially related to your social security number. Take a moment to look at your credit score and history to make sure all the items or transactions belong to you and to see where you stand. You are entitled to a free annual credit report from each of the three bureaus from Annual Credit Report.
  2. A budget will show you where your money has gone. As you become savvier with your money, you will feel empowered to tell your money where to go. Find out how you are spending money AND how to cut back. Nerd Wallet is a resource that will give you tips on cutting back, as well as the psychology of why we feel we need to spend.
  3. Your goals should be specific. Write down the amount you want to save and the date(s) of when you plan to accrue the money. With specific goals, you can formulate a concrete plan with small steps that will result in a big check mark next to your goal. Have some grace with yourself, life does happen, and you may need to dip into the money saved for emergencies.
  4. Credit cards are, in fact, an important tool in your credit journey. They get a bad rap most of the time, but when they are used responsibly, they have a sizeable impact on your credit score and report. Credit cards have more versatility than a debit card. What does that mean? Well, when making large purchases, online purchases, or reservations, credit cards are the way to go. Also, it is much faster to process any type of fraudulent activity. This means your bill-paying money (attached to your debit card) is not in jeopardy.

 

These guidelines, and many others, can help you successfully navigate your current financial situation and prepare for future milestones. Be sure to check out https://myuccu.com for more information. One last tip. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out to experts. At United Community, we want everyone to succeed. Let’s become more financially fit together!

 

 

Sources:

https://www.transunion.com/blog/debt-management/how-long-rebuild-credit

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/finance/how-to-stop-spending-money-8-ways-to-resist-the-urge

Preventing Elder Abuse

grandpa with grandchild in a garden
grandpa with grandchild in a garden

Preventing Elder Abuse

Each year, elders are subject of hundreds of thousands of incidents of scams, cons, and other types of financial abuse. These scams are estimated to lose seniors up to $30 Billion dollars per year of their hard-earned wealth and financial assets. The worst part – yes, this abuse can be by tricksters, fraudsters, or con-artists but also from those the elder loves like family or close friends.

 

There are ways to prevent this abuse so your family member or loved one doesn’t have to be a victim. Below are some common scams to help you identify if you or someone you know is experiencing them.

  • Catfishing scam
    • As elders turn more to online services and social media, scam artists make connections and endear themselves as friends to the elderly. This often leads to them asking for money for an emergency like a flight back to the United States.
  • Telemarketing or mail fraud
    • This scam involves taking advantage of the elderly to sell goods that may never arrive, taking advantage of this age demographic who make purchases over the phone at twice the average of other age groups.
  • Phishing scam
    • This scam involves using fake emails, calls, or texts to steal personal information. One common way is an elder receiving an email that says it’s from their bank and they need to update their information. This is used to steal their identity and account information.
  • Tax Scams
    • This scam is where a fraudster calls the elderly to inform them they are past due on taxes and they will be arrested if an amount is not paid immediately. Often, they ask for the amount to be paid via means that are hard to trace, like gift cards.
  • Social Security spoofing
    • Scammers contact the elders and claim the victim’s social security number has been compromised. They ask the victim to confirm the number or risk the possibility it will be seized or locked down. These scams often involve caller idea spoofing and may appear that the Social Security Administration is calling direct.

How you can recognize potential signs of elder abuse:

  • Financial changes
    • This could be checks that are missing or check copies that include suspicious signatures
    • Changes on or newly executed legal documents like Power of Attorney (POAs), wills, or trusts.
    • Unusual or large withdrawals that are out of character or the older person can’t explain.
    • Changes in account beneficiaries or authorized signers
  • Social changes
    • Missing property
    • Entry forms or prizes from supposed contests
    • Social isolation that is out of character

What to do once you recognize potential elder abuse?

  • Contact their bank or credit union. You may not be able to get information about the accounts or transactions unless you’re a signer, POA, or conservator but letting their financial institution become aware of a potential problem is beneficial. Financial employees are trained to recognize potential elder abuse and can help prevent or minimize loss. They can make note of suspicious activity and report it to the appropriate authorities
  • Contact Adult Protective Services. This government-affiliated agency is charged with investigating elder abuse reports. To find your state APS office, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at acl.gov/Resources/State.aspx.
  • Alert law enforcement. Contact the police or local sheriff’s office in the victim or loved one’s area.

In addition, to prevent these crimes from happening, Consumerfinance.gov has a great checklist. Use it for yourself or help your family to decide what’s right for their protection. The checklist can be downloaded or printed here.

Home Equity Loan vs. HELOC: Which Is Right For You?

updated kitchen with cool backsplash
updated kitchen with cool backsplash

Home Equity Loan vs. HELOC: Which Is Right For You?

Home Equity Loan versus a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) — two financial solutions that sound very similar yet have very different pros, cons, and considerations. So, how do you know which one is right for you? Allow us to give you the breakdown!

How are they similar?

Home Equity Loans and HELOCs are both based on your home’s equity. If you’ve owned your home for a few years, you’ve likely built up some equity, and you can estimate this equity by subtracting the amount of money you owe on your mortgage from your property’s value. The amount you can borrow in a Home Equity Loan or a HELOC is dependent on this equity.

Because both solutions are based on your home’s equity, they often come with lower interest rates than other types of loans. This makes them great solutions for borrowing money, especially when you have big expenses on the horizon. Many people use these solutions for home renovations, education expenses, vacations, medical bills, credit card consolidation, and more.

How are they different?

 

Home Equity Loan:

The funds from a Home Equity Loan are distributed to you in a lump sum at a fixed interest rate. This means that you will receive the entirety of the funds at once and have the same payment each month. This fixed interest rate can be beneficial if market rates are on the rise, but keep in mind that the rate you receive typically depends on your credit score, payment history, and income.

A Home Equity Loan is a great solution:

  • If you have a higher credit score.
    • A Higher credit score results in a lower interest rate
  • If you are likely to overspend.
    • Fixed payments and one lump sum create good guidelines.
  • If you have a specific project or expense in mind.
    • Knowing how much money you require for the project helps you determine how to use the lump sum.
  • If your property values are unlikely to decline.
    • Property values aren’t set in stone. If your home’s value decreases, you might end up owing more than your property is worth.

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC):

Opening a HELOC gives you access to a flexible line of credit. Like a credit card, you can draw funds from this line as needed. Most of the time, the interest rate on a HELOC can fluctuate with the market, meaning your monthly payments aren’t set in stone. Some months, your payments might be higher or lower. The good news: you only pay interest on the amount of money you draw from the line. This way, you have more flexibility in repayment.

 

A HELOC is a great solution:

  • If you don’t know exactly how much you need to borrow.
    • If you have a project or future expense in mind but you don’t know how much it will cost you yet, a HELOC allows you to borrow only what you need, when you need it.
  • If you want flexibility in repayment.
    • You only pay interest on the amount you borrow, so you can pace out your payments based on when and how much you borrow.
  • If you have upcoming expenses but uncertain timelines.
    • For example, if you know that college tuition is on the horizon but aren’t ready to borrow yet, a HELOC can give you that safety blanket. A HELOC can also keep you covered for unexpected medical bills or other surprise expenses.

 

Overall…

 

The best solution for you might not be the best solution for someone else. Our team can help you determine whether a Home Equity Loan or HELOC (or an entirely different solution) is best for you! Don’t hesitate to contact us or come by one of our locations.

Sources:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/mortgages/home-equity-loan-line-credit-pros-cons

https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/heloc/home-equity-vs-heloc/