How to Choose an Auto Loan in 3 Simple Steps

If you’re looking to finance a vehicle, you’re not alone. In fact, about 43% of people are currently financing a vehicle. And while auto loans can make it possible to buy a new vehicle when needed, finding the right loan can be difficult. So let’s take a look at a few simple steps to help you throughout the process of choosing an auto loan.

Determine a budget: First things first, it’s important to determine exactly how much you can afford to pay on your auto loan every month. You want to ensure your auto loan fits in with your overall financial goals so you don’t have to worry about having enough money to pay for your home loan and put money in your savings account. So you need to know your budget in order to be able to decide on a reasonable auto financing option. While it’s important to get the right size loan, you don’t want to stretch your finances too thin.

Compare lenders: When you begin to start looking for auto financing lenders, you should talk to more than one lender before you make a final decision. If you impulsively decide to just go with the first lender you meet with, you may be missing out on lower rates and better opportunities. So make sure to compare lenders when you’re in the preapproval process. Credit union auto financing opportunities generally offer better rates and options than other lenders, like the car dealership. But overall, make sure you know you’re truly getting the best deal before you sign.

Fully understand the loan terms: Before signing the final papers, it’s absolutely crucial that you understand all of the terms of the loan. There are often hidden fees, add-ons, and penalties that people miss and have to deal with later on. So make sure to ask any questions you have, read through the complete loan contract, and make sure you’re comfortable with the finalized funding agreement. Knowing and fully understanding the terms of your loan is an important step to take so you don’t have problems later on.

Choosing an auto loan is a process that should not be rushed. So make sure to follow these steps and you’re sure to find the right auto financing option for your needs.

7 Halloween Hacks You Don’t Want To Miss

Halloween is coming – and so is the fun! Everyone wants to win the prize for creepiest costume and the most frightening yard décor in the neighborhood.

 

But all that spookiness comes with a scary price tag. The average American will spend $169 on Halloween costs this year. And, if that’s not enough to terrify you, consider this: Most people spend close to $70 just on their Halloween getups. That’s a lot of money for a costume you likely won’t wear again.

 

Ready to save big? Read on for 7 awesome Halloween hacks that are just too good to miss. From DIY décor that will scare the living daylights out of your guests to effortless costumes that look great without costing a bundle, we’ve got you covered!

 

  1. Is that real ketchup?

 

No Halloween costume or party is complete without some sickly-looking crime scene splatter. And there’s no need to blow big bucks on whatever concoction the party store’s got in stock. Make your own fake blood with this quickie recipe. All you need are 3 ingredients:

  • 4 cups corn syrup
  • Red food coloring
  • Blue food coloring

Pour the corn syrup into a large bowl and start adding the red food coloring a few drops at a time. Stir your mixture with a whisk until you reach your desired consistency. To darken the “blood,” add a few drops of blue food coloring while continuing to stir.

 

You’re all set – now go scare someone silly!

 

  1. Whose hand is floating in the punch bowl?

 

For a super-scary addition to your Halloween party, fill a rubber glove with water and seal it shut. Stick it in the freezer and just a few hours later, you’ll have an iced severed hand to drop into the punch bowl and really freak your guests out.

 

  1. Stick ’em up!

 

For a ridiculously easy costume that will make people laugh, go as a stick person!

 

Dress in black from head to toe. Use white masking tape to add stick lines to your legs, arms and torso. Put some lines in the back, too. For a full-body costume, take a paper plate and paint it black. Use your tape to draw a stick-face on the plate and glue a popsicle stick onto the bottom so you can hold it up.

 

Don’t forget to do the stiff stick-walk and you’ll really crack people up!

 

  1. Is that a witch sticking out of your snake plant?

 

Got some spare pool noodles lying around? Dress them up to go as witch legs!

 

Take two pool noodles and stuff them into a pair of striped leggings. Top it off with black witchy-looking shoes and you have yourself a pair of witch legs! Stick them upside down into the plant on your front porch, or make them look like they’re coming out of your garbage can.

 

Now sit and watch your visitors’ reactions and you’ll have the last cackle!

 

  1. Would you like some spiders with that?

 

Have fun with a cheap bag of plastic spiders! Here are some ways to use these creepy crawlies to add the fear factor to your Halloween party:

  • Stick them in your ice cube tray for floating critters that will terrify your guests.
  • Drop them inside your soap dispenser to frighten anyone looking to wash up.
  • Scatter them inside the popcorn bowl for a scary surprise.
  1. Did you really just kill a box of cereal?

 

Looking for a funny-scary costume you can make yourself? Go as a serial killer! Err … a cereal killer, that is.

 

Take an old white T-shirt and decorate it to look like your favorite cereal box. Then take a dress-up dagger and carefully cut off its tip. Glue the blunted dagger to the middle of your cereal box so it looks like it’s piercing it right in the heart. Then use your fake blood to add splatters and drippings all over your shirt. Make your face look menacing with some dark costume makeup and add an ominous scar across your cheek, too.

 

You’re ready to hunt down those no-good cereals!

 

  1. Anyone care for some fresh worms?

 

Serve up an entrée from the dark side that will have your guests completely grossed out!

 

Drip a bit of black food coloring into boiling pasta and it will instantly turn your dinner into a dark, horrendous-looking creation. Drain your pasta as usual and then bring it out to the table, asking if anyone would like some delicious hot worms for dinner.

 

Don’t let Halloween costs scare you. Follow our hacks for a frighteningly fun time that won’t kill your budget and will still terrify the entire neighborhood!

5 Reasons to Open A Money Market Account    

Are you looking for a place to park your savings dollars? Do you need an account that blends accessibility with a more than standard rate of return?

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Savings accounts are an ideal home for funds you want to put away for emergency or special purposes. Checking accounts are the way to go for

money you will spend for your living expenses. But, what if there were a way to take everything you love about your savings account and put it together with the best parts of your checking account into one fantastic account?

 

Look no further! Members Choice Money Market accounts offer convenient features with an attractive rate of return to help your money grow more.

 

Money Market accounts are perfect for funds you don’t need immediate access to but may need to withdraw portions of sometime in the future. You’ll earn a handsome return on your money without the risk of the stock market, or the restrictiveness of a savings certificate account.

 

It’s important to note that most Money Market accounts have a minimum balance requirement. While some large banks won’t let you start one without a minimum deposit of $3,000 or more, here at Members Choice, you can open up a Money Market account with as little as $500. Interest is only earned on amounts of $500 or greater.  Also, there are no fees or penalties.

 

Still not convinced? Here are 5 reasons to open a Money Market account:

 

1.) Security – Funds in your Money Market account is insured by the NCUA up to $250,000. This means you can keep a large sum of money in your account without the risk of losing it to a market crash or a poor choice of investment. It’s a great opportunity to start saving with confidence!

 

2.) Accessibility of funds – One of the most attractive features of Money Market accounts is the liquidity of funds. Money Markets have no maturity date or term requirement. This affords them ease of access that other savings vehicles, like CDs or Share Certificates, do not have: You are free to access the funds in your account at any time, usually without penalty.

 

There are restrictions on the number of transactions you can make a month, though. If you own a Members Choice Money Market account, you can make up to 6 electronic or automatic withdrawals from your account during each statement cycle.

 

The accessibility factor makes Money Market accounts super-convenient for members who don’t know exactly when they will want to withdraw their funds. So, they are perfect for those large, occasional expenses, like tuition payments, emergency household repairs and unexpected medical fees. You might want to put away a tidy sum to use as spontaneous splurge money when the desire strikes. Or, you can keep your quarterly tax payments in your Money Market account until they’re due, so you earn more dividends on this money while it’s waiting to be spent.

 

Whatever purpose you have in mind for your funds, a Money Market account is an ideal place to keep them.

 

3.) High interest rates – Money Market accounts offer a rate of return that surpasses your typical savings account. Here at Members Choice, our APY for Money Market accounts is as much as 1.51% (as of August 29, 2018). This is especially beneficial in a rising-rates environment when those rates are only expected to increase. Give your money its best chance at growth!

 

4.) Account benefits – Like every account here at Members Choice, your Money Market account comes with lots of benefits and attractive features. There is no monthly maintenance charge for your Money Market account. Also, we won’t charge you a fee for accessing your money via the ATM.

 

If you’ve got a question or concern with your account, we’re always here to help. You can drop in for a chat, give us a shout-out on mccu.net, or contact us by phone at 606-329-7876. A member service representative will be happy to assist you.

 

5.) Personal checks and debit card access – Money Market accounts offer some flexibility. In fact, you can easily transfer funds into your checking account. Then you’re free to use the funds to make payments by writing personal checks or using your debit card. This flexibility means you can use that money in a pinch without any major effort or waiting for a withdrawal to clear.

 

Are you ready to start saving big? Open a Money Market account at Members Choice today!

Leveraging 3 Common Banking Tools for Your Financial Gain

Financial literacy in America is not the best. Many highly intelligent people were never taught the fundamental precepts of proper money handling habits, and it can cause them to make poor financial decisions. Still, there are ways to get the upper hand using very basic financial tools. Here are three examples that you can get from a local credit union.

 

  1. Cash Back Credit Cards 

Roughly seven out of 10 Americans have one or more credit cards, but many of those people likely misuse them. A line of credit is a potential loan amount that you can use on a monthly basis. If you pay back the loan in full every month you won’t be required to pay interest on your balance. Paying in full and on time will also increase your credit score over time, making it easier to secure loans and rent apartments. Certain cards also give cash back rewards. Whether they give points or a percentage of each transaction, these perks can add up over time. You must remember to pay your bills on time, though, or else you risk paying more in interest than the cash back rewards are worth.    

 

2. Checking Account

A checking account makes it easier to pay for things like utilities, rent, phone bills, and even your credit bill in one place. Most checking accounts these days have the option for auto pay, a convenient way to automate your monthly bills. You won’t need to worry about missed payments once you set this up.

 

3. Saving Account

Savings accounts can award you a great interest rate for storing your money in a credit union. And they can also give you options. If you need money in a hurry, you can’t really remove money from an IRA or from the stock market. Plus, your checking account is reserved for paying bills. A savings account can be treated as a separate money accumulation fund for emergencies.

 

There are many other financial tools at your disposal once you learn more about money management. These three are very common examples of banking tools people often underutilize. If you can leverage them correctly, you can become much more financially secure.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SHOPPING HACKS

You may be deep into your summer routine of lazy afternoons at the beach, family day trips and bedtimes postponed in favor of firefly-chasing, but back-to-school season is already in full swing. 

And, any way you slice it, it’s going to be expensive! Between new backpacks, textbooks, a long list of supplies and a fresh autumn wardrobe, most parents are looking at a bill of close to $700 for school-related expenses this season.   

Be proactive and save big! Read on for our handy list of back-to-school shopping hacks that will help you keep more money in your wallet. 

  1. Plan to shop 5 times
    To take full advantage of the sales and clearance events throughout the summer, don’t buy everything at once. Plan on making 5 shopping trips this season, and you’ll get the best prices out there. 
  2. Stock up
    No, your child doesn’t need a 6-month supply of No.2 pencils for the first day of school or five spare pocket-folders. But, if you buy enough school supplies while prices are low to last through the first half of the year — or even all the way into June — you’ll save big. 
  3. Take advantage of loss leaders
    Every week during back-to-school season, retailers will advertise one product at a super-low price. This is their loss leader, an item priced so cheaply that retailers actually lose money on sales. Of course the bargain-priced product attracts customers, so it’s worthwhile for the retailer, but all you need to worry about is snagging those ridiculous prices. Make sure you catch those hot deals! 
  4. Shop the dollar store
    Before you hit the typical retail stores, shop for real bargains at dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Family Dollar. You can find calculators, paper, pencils, pens and more — for just a buck! 
  5. Buy designer backpacks online
    If your kid is begging for a brand-name backpack, but you don’t want to shell out big bucks for a label, check out sites like 6PM and eBags. You’ll find fantastic deals on designer backpacks that will keep both the fashion-conscious child and mom happy. 
  6. Look for manufacturer coupons
    Comb circulars, like RedPlum and SmartSource, for manufacturer coupons from supply companies like Bic and Mead. You can also find them in magazines geared toward parents like Parenting or on online coupon sites, like Retailmenot and CouponCabin. These are usually steeper discounts than retailer coupons and they can be combined with in-store specials. 
  7. Decode price tags
    When shopping for new clothing, you want to know if you’re getting the best deal possible.Most stores have a system for tagging items at their final markdown. Learn how to decode price tags and you’ll save big.
    Here’s how these popular stores mark their lowest prices:

    1. The Gap: Ending in $.97
    2. Target: Ending in an 8
    3. Old Navy: Ending in $.47
    4. TJMaxx: Yellow price tag
  8. Shop through Ebates for cash back
    Do all your online shopping through cash-back sites, like Ebates, and get 2-4% of every purchase back. Ebates is affiliated with almost every major retailer, and it hardly takes any extra effort to shop through their site. It’s like getting paid to shop! 
  9. Coordinate with other parents
    To help you get the best deals and save some time, work together with other parents of school-aged kids. If you’re in Walmart when they have their penny deals on pencils and you can get a box of 24 for just $0.50, offer to buy a few boxes for your friend’s kids. And, when your friend finds the super-hot deal on crayons, they’ll pick up a few boxes for your kids. That’s money saved and fewer trips to the store.
  10. Use the season to teach your kids financial responsibility
    With all the kid-centered shopping this season, it’s the perfect time for some financial lessons. Is your child desperate for designer supplies? Offer to pay for the regular price and let her fill in the rest with her own money. Give your older kids a list and some cash and let them shop on their own. Offer children a choice between a pricier backpack or a new pair of shoes. The teachable moments during back-to-school shopping are everywhere! 
  11. Check out gift-card sites before you shop
    Save by buying discounted gift cards to stores, like Michael’s and JCPenney, on sites like GiftCardGranny and Raise. 
  12. Use the Amazon App to price-match
    Have your phone handy when shopping so you can comparison-shop when buying your supplies. If an item is cheaper on Amazon, why buy it at the store (especially if you are an Amazon Prime member and can get free shipping)? 

    1. H&M: Save 20% on one item when you text your email address to 707-03
    2. Kohl’s: Save 15% off your entire order by texting SAVE15 to 564-57
    3. Old Navy: Sign up for a weekly text alert by texting 6046 to 653-689 and get a $5 coupon, and also sign up for promotional emails at OldNavy.com and you’ll be rewarded with a 30%-off coupon
    4. Crazy8: Sign up for emails and receive 18% off your next order, plus free shipping
    5. The Children’s Place: Input your email address in the pop-up box on TheChildrensPlace.com and get a $10 coupon.
  13. Sign up for promotional mail
    Most major retailers offer a discount for signing up for their promotional emails or text messages. 
  14. Take advantage of price-matching
    Lots of stores you’ll be shopping at this season, like Office Depot, Staples and Target, offer to match any competitor’s prices. Take advantage of this generous offer by coming prepared with an online price posting of a cheaper item you’ve found elsewhere. You’ll visit fewer stores this way and save money, too.
  15. Shop early in the week 
    Weekly sales go live on Sundays and the best stuff gets grabbed first. Shop Sundays and Mondays so you never miss out on a great deal again. 

Save big this season with Members Choice’s back-to-school shopping hacks! 

Tips and Tricks to Help You Choose the Best Auto Loan

credit cardsChoosing to finance a vehicle is a popular choice nowadays. In fact, 43% of car owners are choosing to finance their vehicle. But if you’re looking for an auto loan, it’s important you know how to select the best one for you. Auto loans come in all shapes and sizes, and it’s crucial that you choose the right one for your situation. So let’s take a look at a few simple tips that can guide you in the right direction when financing your vehicle.

Compare rates: First off, you shouldn’t just go with the first lender you speak with. This is never a good idea when it comes to finances, especially with things like loans and credit cards. So to make sure you’re getting the best deal, you should speak with multiple lenders before making a decision. In doing this, you’ll be able to compare rates and all other aspects of the loan. For example, a credit union auto loan could have vastly different rates than another financial institution. Overall, it’s important to explore all of your options before making a final decision.

Consider the length: Today’s car loans are longer than ever to keep up with the increasing price of vehicles. And while it may seem nice to have lower payments over a longer period of time, this can hurt you in the long run. Longer loans generally have higher interest rates, meaning you’ll be paying more overall. So when you’re choosing a loan, make sure you’re considering the length of the loan — don’t get fooled by upfront prices. It’s important to always remember how interest rates will add up over time.

Remember extra fees: Many people make the mistake of thinking that once they get approved for an auto loan, all they’ll have to worry about is the monthly payment. However, that isn’t always the case. When you choose to finance a vehicle, you’ll also have to pay for things like sales tax, documentation fees, and warranties. So when you’re making your budget for an auto loan, make sure you’re thinking about all of the extra fees you’ll have to pay as well.

Auto loans aren’t like credit cards, which you can use and pay off at will. You’ll be paying off your auto loan for years to come — so make sure you’re following these tips and getting the best auto loan possible.

Regulation D: How Does It Affect Me?

Have you ever wondered about the real differences between your savings and checking accounts? Many people realize there must be more to it than just the fact that one includes checks and the other does not. However, they just don’t know what those differences are. So let’s look at some of the technical differences that define each account type.

Read More →

Choosing the Right Credit Card in 3 Easy Steps

When it comes to choosing a credit card, it’s important to pick the right one for your needs and uses. Credit union credit cards can offer users many benefits, but it’s also a major financial responsibility. Because of this, it’s important to choose wisely. This article is going to provide a step-by-step guide to choosing the right credit card.

 

  1. Check your credit score. In order to know which credit cards you will be eligible for, you need to start by checking your current credit score. Generally, the better your score is, the better chance you have of being approved for a credit card. It’s important to remember that applying for credit cards can have a negative impact on your score, so don’t apply hastily. Fortunately, there are free ways to check your score and make sure it’s where it should be.
  2. Pick a credit card type. Depending on what you’re going to use the credit card for, this may influence which credit union credit cards you apply for. There are numerous types of cards, including those that help you improve your credit, cards with low interest rates, and cards that allow users to earn rewards when they put money on them. You should determine what you plan on using the card for before deciding which type of card to choose.
  3. Narrow down your choices. Once you’ve determined which card is right for you, it’s time to narrow down the choices. To do this, you should do some research and ask any questions you may have. One of the great things about a credit union is that they offer unbeatable customer service. This means the establishment is truly invested in your financial wellbeing and will be willing to answer any questions you have regarding credit card options. Additionally, checking credit card reviews can help you compare a few credit cards you’re looking into.

After all of this is done, it’s time to apply for a credit card. When applying for a credit card, it’s important to read all of the fine print and make sure you fully understand the responsibilities attached to the card. While approximately seven out of 10 Americans are owners of at least one credit card, they should be used responsibly. Credit union credit cards are a great option and can offer users exceptional benefits and rewards.

4 Factors to Consider Before Applying for an Auto Loan

credit union auto loanIf you’re not already one of the 43% of people who are choosing to finance their vehicle, you may be looking for a credit union auto loan in the future. But before you jump right in, there are a lot of factors to consider, and if you overlook something important, you may find yourself stuck with a lot of debt you can’t afford to pay off.

As your trusted financial support system, we’re here to help. Below is a list of a few important factors to consider before taking out an auto loan.

Length of the loan: The length of the loan is one of the most important conditions you’ll want to consider. While it is possible to have a fairly long loan term, this typically means an increase in interest rates. So while your monthly payments may be lower, it’s essential to remember this may hurt your financial situation in the long run. Additionally, you’ll be wise to consider the condition of the vehicle when thinking about how long to have the loan for.

Your budget: Before even looking at cars, you should decide how much you can afford to spend and create a budget. You will have to put down a downpayment, but it’s also important to consider monthly payments. Remember, putting down a large sum up front will allow you more flexibility later on. And monthly payments should be an amount you will be able to afford even if your income unexpectedly drops.

Your credit score: Your credit score is a major contributing factor when it comes to getting approved for a credit union auto loan. It’s important to consider any credit cards you haven’t paid off or any previous loans that could hurt your chances of getting approved for a credit union auto loan. Additionally, lenders consider your credit score when determining what kind of interest rates you’ll get. So before you apply for a loan, make sure you check your credit score.

Interest rates: After learning your credit score, it’s vital to determine how much you will be paying in interest. Car loan interest rates can vary depending on the lender, and you’ll want to factor in interest rates when determining how big of a loan you can afford to take out.

Taking out an auto loan is not a decision you should rush into. It’s important to find a lender who will take the time to go over all of these details and important factors to ensure you understand the terms of the loan. In doing this, you’ll be sure to get the best loan possible.

Fortunately, Members Choice Credit Union is a member-friendly institution that always puts people first. We will walk you through the entire process to ensure that you get the best loan terms for your situation.

3 Tips to Help You Secure a Good Auto Loan

credit union auto financingIf you’re looking for a new car, you’re probably wondering how to secure a good auto loan. Finding the right auto loan can be tricky and frustrating. Luckily, we’ve compiled a few tips to help make the process easier.

Understand your credit history. With home loans, lenders tend to be more strict about offers regarding your credit score. But when you apply for an auto loan, you may have more flexibility with what you can get approved for with your credit score. You can get free copies of your credit score reports through various platforms. This is important to do because you need to know what kind of loans you should consider looking into. Also, you should understand your credit score in general because it can impact other financial situations in your life. In fact, According to a Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 88% of borrowers with credit scores of 780 or higher had credit cards in 2016. Credit card and loan approval can be significantly influenced by your credit score.

Choose a lender separately from the car dealer. While many people choose to get their auto loan through the car dealership, it can actually be more beneficial to look into credit union auto financing. Credit union rates tend to be much lower and they can offer better loan terms. It’s important to get prequalified for a loan before talking to the dealership about their financing offers. This way, you can look at the contract with the dealer and see if they are able to beat the credit union auto financing deal you already got approved for.

Keep in mind the loan’s total cost. Auto loan rates can change every day, depending on where you’re looking. Of course, it’s important to look for the lowest interest rates possible. Additionally, you need to consider the length of the loan term. While a longer term means smaller monthly payments, you also don’t want to be stuck paying off a loan for too long. And lastly, consider how much you can afford to put down on the loan. While it may seem scary to put a large sum down, this can help you in the long run. All of these individual factors add up to contribute to the overall cost of the loan. Because of this, it’s important to think about what everything is going to add up to be in the end.

Hopefully, you feel better about applying for auto loans now. Just remember, credit union auto financing can offer you lower rates and work with you to make sure you get the right loan for your financial situation.

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