In tough times, it’s more important than ever to develop and maintain good financial habits. Having a household budget and shedding high-rate credit card debt are two obvious things that could benefit most consumers.
Figuring out where to start can be a daunting task, but the thing to remember is that it's never too late to ask for help from your credit union.
Manage your mortgage
If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and are facing a rate adjustment, refinancing your home loan with your credit union might be the break you need. If you qualify, you could refinance into a fixed-rate 30-year (or shorter term) mortgage or a new ARM that has terms better suited to your situation.
Even if you have a fixed-rate home loan, refinancing may free up some money you could use to pay off debt – credit card bills, for example, or build an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs.
Tap your home’s equity
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) can be a useful cushion if you’re not already overloaded with debt. You can set it up and never draw on it but have the comfort of knowing its there if needed. If you’re already tapped out, borrowing more is not the answer.
Cut credit card costs
Not all credit cards are created equal. Credit union credit cards typically average more than two percentage points lower than bank credit card interest rates and often have lower fees as well. Make sure to always pay on time and, whenever possible, pay the balance each month. If you must stretch payments, pay in as few months as you can manage.
Pass up payday loans
Payday lenders promise to help when you’re short on cash, but with interest rates from 300% to 1,000%. Instead, visit your credit union. Credit unions offer payday loan alternatives with fairer terms and lower interest rates.
Use direct deposit
Direct deposit is the safest way to receive your money and will help you to save automatically. You simply need to set it up to place a certain amount or a percentage into your checking account and another into your savings accounts. It gives you more control over your time and money, and an easier and more convenient way to contribute to IRAs and other savings vehicles.
Steer clear of scams
Some scammers use negative economic news to take advantage of others. Be skeptical of links and attachments, don’t give personal information to someone who calls you, and hang up on automated robocalls.
As member-owned, not-for-profit institutions, credit unions look out for their members’ best interests. Credit union rates and fees can save their members hundreds of dollars annually. Don’t wait until you’re in deep trouble to ask for a financial checkup. First South Financial is here and ready to help you. Call us at 901.380.7400 or email email@example.com.
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