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Explor-a-Mortgage, Part 2  by Jan

July28

As you may or may not know, I’ve been exploring refinancing my home on and off for a couple of months.

My latest meeting was with Larry, and we worked the numbers (OK, Larry worked the numbers…) and I came to the conclusion that, even though the interest rate was a smidge lower, the $250 toward closing offer wasn’t enough of a savings for me to refinance, nor did it make sense to enter a 15-year refi agreement, what with the closing costs and all. But… I thought maybe the special 10 and Done offer might be worth it. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the info I needed with me. (Derp.)

So, I finally got my schtuff together and met with Tom Wehmeyer, another one of our crack mortgage specialists. I brought in my most recent mortgage statement to see if the 10 and Done refi offer would be a good fit for me. We uncovered a few surprises, and I gotta say, I learned a lot!

Basically, Tom walked me through how refinancing would change things financially for my family. (I asked him to walk really slow, like we were idly strolling, looking in shop windows. And I warned him we might have to circle the same block a few times.)

When my husband refinanced our home in 2012, I thought we had set up payments so that the 20-year mortgage would be paid at an accelerated 15-year rate. But no. We had refinanced for 20 years, and we were making payments that would pay off our mortgage in, you guessed it, 20 years. So we had 16 years of payments left instead of 11 years.

And this misconception affected everything.

In order for us to take advantage of the 10 and Done refinancing offer, we would have to condense that 16 years into 10, which would increase our mortgage payments by $255 each month. A-a-a-and, that amount doesn’t include taxes and insurance. We also would have to set aside money to pay that out of pocket when the due dates came around. (No more of this handy escrow stuff to make sure the money was available.)

Basically, yes, said Tom, you would save some money. Over the 10-year run, we would save about $3,200 in interest. But you’d have to be comfortable with increased monthly payments. Is that “worth ‘feeling the squeeze’ every month?” as Tom put it.

Whew! An extra $255 a month? Not gonna happen. But on the bright side, Tom did lay out another option for me.

If I did want to pay it off faster, we could simply start paying more on a monthly basis. The beauty of this option is that we’re not committed to the higher payment, so if other expenses got in the way that month, we could simply pay our regular amount.

I have to say, Tom was awesome. Not only did he stroll through the numbers and terms slowly enough for me to keep up, he was willing keep circling back until I thoroughly understood what he was saying. All the while, never making me feel like I was the dullest knife in the drawer. Patient, he was. Knowledgeable, he was. Condescending, he was not.

I asked him if our conversation was typical of refinancing meetings. Oh, absolutely, he said. You get involved with each person a bit before narrowing it down to what’s best for them.

I love that about Linn Area Credit Union. Even though I spent a few hours exploring various options, and ultimately decided not to refinance, not a single person acted like I was wasting their time. They were truly looking out for my family’s best interests, not pressuring me to sign something that I would regret.

Maybe in five more years, we could take another look at refinancing. Until then, I’ll just keep my eyes open for other ways to save.

Explor-a-Mortgage, Part 1  by Jan

July6

When was the last time you refinanced your home? Were interest rates lower or higher? If you don’t know, then you should take a look at your mortgage paperwork. It might be totally worth your while!

My interest (pun intended!) in this is very personal. My husband and I refinanced about four years ago, and I had little to do with it. I was going through a very difficult time trying to help manage my parents’ health, so my husband took care of the whole shebang. It was all I could do to show up and sign the papers. Even that stressed me out.

Flash forward to April 2016. Hey, hey! I now work for Linn Area Credit Union, and I’m around money-smart people all day long! So I got this crazy idea that maybe we should look at refinancing again (re-refinancing?), and maybe even rolling our HELOC in with it and doing other crazy-fancy financial stuff. This time I was prepared to take the lead, instead of my husband.

So I had a little sit-down with Larry, one of our top mortgage specialists. Totally cool guy. Brews his own beer, knows oodles about mortgages, and has an awesome sense of humor. (As I like to say, he’s hi-Larry-ous!)

Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t going to work out exactly as I imagined. We couldn’t roll the HELOC into the mortgage because of a little thing called the loan-to-value ratio, aka LTV. Basically, with both the HELOC and the mortgage together, the loan would be higher than 80% of the home’s value. (I didn’t know that was a thing, but, yes, Larry knew it was a thing.)

Larry gave me something else to think about, too. We’ve only got about 12 years left to pay on our home, and when you bundle the closing costs into the mortgage, you raise the amount you owe. In our case, even though we could refinance at a much lower interest rate, in the short term, the savings would be offset by the closing costs.

So the savings would be a wash, unless we commit to this house for the next 10 years. Even though my husband and I have no plans to move, I’m not willing to predict what the next 10 years will bring. Which brought me to a standstill.

Of course, that was in April… flash forward to July!

Right now, Linn Area has a couple of really great special offers that might tip the scales toward refinancing. Because of my earlier chat with Larry, I’m guessing the promotion that offers $250 toward closing costs might not be for me. (It could be perfect for you, though… everyone’s situation is different. Linn Area mortgage specialists will help you figure out what’ll work best!)

Personally, I’m intrigued by the 10 and Done special offer, since I would only have to pay $100 in closing costs. I’ll have to make another appointment with Larry, or one of our other mortgage specialists if he’s not available. (They’re all super-sharp and fun to work with, even if they don’t all homebrew.)

And even though my HELOC-bundling idea didn’t pan out, I really feel like there IS a way for our family to refinance and save some money, especially with the current mortgage offers. If so, I know the Linn Area mortgage team will help me find it!

Making the Leap  by Jan

May5

I’m truly impressed with our Mobile Money app. Truly.

Generally speaking, I’m not a person who leaps into action when the brand-spankin’-newest, high-tech gadget is introduced. Or software. Or anything, for that matter.

It’s pretty easy for me to be that person who just goes along with what they’ve got, and that works for them. (If you’re an early adopter, I know I’ve totally lost you. That’s OK. Go find something new-to-you to fall in love with… and catch up with us next time!)

So when Linn Area Credit Union launched the Mobile Money app last year, I was surprised by my reaction. I wanted to try it!

As the mom and CFO of our family, I got myself set up for online banking years ago. Need to transfer money? Bam! Need to pay a credit card? Boom! (Way easier than writing checks and dropping them in the mail… although, yes, there are times I still do that.)

Sometimes, though, I would be nowhere near a computer when I realized that, hey, that credit card bill that I tossed into the back seat of the car weeks ago, remember that one? It’s due today! (Really, you never do that? It can’t be just me!)

So I’m out and about, with no laptop, and I’m thinking about what I can use. Coffee shop wi-fi? Nope. No laptop. (And would that be secure?) A library computer? (Heck, I don’t know. How risky is that?)

Ugh. I’ll just have to deal with it tonight when I get home. Double ugh.

Flash forward. As soon as Linn Area released the Mobile Money app, I downloaded it. I. Was. Totally. Hooked. (And it didn’t take long, either!) Want to see account balances? Bam! Want to transfer money? Boom! Plus, I always have my cell phone with me, so the convenience factor is off the charts!

In fact, I loved the Mobile Money app so much, when we began testing the Mobile Deposit function, I was one of the first in line! Does this make me an early adopter? Nope. But it sure makes my life easier!

Especially when I find the credit card bill in the back seat.

We LOVE Teachers!  by Jan

May2

TeacherSquareYep, there’s a soft spot in our heart for teachers. (After all, we ARE the teacher’s credit union!)

I have fond (but vague) memories of teachers. When I was a kid, we moved around a lot. My dad was in the Navy, and we moved every couple of years. My younger brother always struggled with relocating — he was a very social guy who made friends easily and had his heart wrenched every time he had to leave his buddies behind.

As for me, I found solace in books and schools and teachers.

Mrs. Campbell. Mrs. Johnson. Mr. Zito. These are just a few of the teachers I remember from my childhood, which is quite a bit further back than I would like to admit. (Although, truly, my memory has always been a little sketchy due to all the place-hopping our family did.)

I’d like to think that we all have at least one teacher who affected our lives for the better. The one who told you that your artwork was awesome. The one who wrote “Very Interesting!” in red pen at the top of your book report. Or the one who didn’t believe you when you dramatically whined you couldn’t solve the math problem because it was TO-O-O-O-O HARD! And instead of letting you off the hook, that teacher challenged you, enlightened you, and inspired you. That teacher encouraged you. That teacher respected you. And that teacher told you that no matter what it was, no matter how impossible it seemed, “You could DO it!”

And you believed that teacher. And by believing that teacher, you learned to believe in yourself.

So… here’s to all the teachers who make a positive difference in a child’s life. In doing so, you are changing the world.



Linn Area Credit Union would like to say “Thanks!” to all our area teachers.

Please join us for our Teacher Appreciation Party at the Teacher Store on May 3rd from 3:30 to 7pm. Enjoy food and drinks, do some shopping, and socialize with other area educators. There’ll also be door prizes and giveaways! Print out your very own invitation, including a Teacher Store coupon good for five Teacher Bucks.

Enter for a chance to win! In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2-6, Linn Area Credit Union will randomly select five lucky teachers to each win one (1) $25 Granite City gift card. To enter, tell us why you love teaching. The drawing will be Monday, May 9.

Thanks for all you do for our children and our community!

Get FREE Checking, Get $50!  by Jan

April11

We know, we know! No one really wants to move their checking account. It’s such a chore! But let’s weigh the short-term pain against the long-term gain.

If you don’t have a Linn Area checking account, take a good hard look what Get $50you DO have. Are you paying a monthly maintenance fee? Are you paying an annual or monthly fee for debit cards? Mobile banking? Automatic bill paying? What else are you paying for?

At Linn Area Credit Union, we don’t charge you for those things. When we say FREE, we mean FREE! PLUS, if your average daily balance is over $2,500 OR if you sign up for our high-yield checking account, you get money back in the form of dividends. (Money back? What? Yessirree Bob-o!)

And speaking of money back, this month we’ll give you $50 just for making the leap to one of our great checking accounts! (How’s that for easing the short-term pain?) To get the $50, you’ll need to set up your new account with either direct deposit or online banking with eStatements. (Heck, you would probably do that anyway, right?) Be sure to use promo code 50FORME so that we credit your account!

So is it worth moving everything? YES! (And we’ll totally help you with that!) Once you get settled in with our FREE checking, you’ll wonder why you waited so long!

Join us for the Easy Expo!  by Jan

April1

It seems like there’s always something new and exciting going on in Linn Area land!

This year, we have a brand-spankin’-new format for our annual membership meeting on Monday, April 25. We’re calling it the Easy Expo and 2016 Annual Meeting, and here’s a quick snapshot of what it’s gonna look like!

EasyExpo_croppedAt 4:30 p.m., we’re going to throw open the ballroom doors at the Marriott Cedar Rapids. You (and all the other members!) are going to come in, check in, and check it out! (You don’t have to be there at 4:30 on the dot. Anytime between 4:30 and 6-ish will do.) We’ll have tables with friendly Linn Area staff (there really is no other kind!) waiting to talk with you and show off some of the exciting products and services YOUR credit union offers. (And swag. There’s always swag!)

Maybe you’ll drift over to the eBranch table first to learn more about our online banking service. (Don’t forget to drop your name in the box for a chance to win an iPad®! Fa-a-a-a-bu-lous!)

From there, you might decide to visit the Mobile Money booth where you can learn how to deposit checks using your mobile phone. (A-a-a-and drop your name in the box for a chance to win another fabulous prize: an Apple Watch®!)

Afterwards, good gravy, where to go?!

You could stop by the financial literacy table and learn more about protecting yourself against fraud, how to request a credit report, and other necessities. (Register for a chance to win a shredder!) Or check out our credit card and loan tables and drop your name in for a chance to win a $200 Visa® gift card and monthly car washes for a year!

The buffet dinner will be ready at 5:30 p.m., so flash us your dinner ticket and help yourself. (To join us for dinner, purchase a $10 dinner ticket in advance at one of our branches. Tickets will be available through Saturday, April 16.) Dinner is optional, and it’s the only thing that costs–everything else is totally free!

At 6:30 p.m., the booths will close, and we’ll begin the business meeting. We’ll look back at 2015, preview 2016, and take care of other business-y stuff. (After all, you’re not just a member of Linn Area Credit Union, you’re an owner, too!)

Immediately following the business meeting, we’ll (drum roll, please…) draw for all the fabulous prizes! Yep, you guessed it! You must be present to win!

The Easy Expo and 2016 Annual Meeting is an exclusive members-only event… and it’s gonna be fun, engaging, and informative, so be sure to RSVP and buy your dinner ticket at one of our branches!

Hungry for a Tasty New Ride?  by Jan

March2

Boat and SUV on a forkA boat and an SUV on a fork? What’s THAT all about?!?

Well, it’s March, and we know that you’re starting to think about all the fun stuff you want to do… if only you had the right tools and/or toys! (We know you’re thinking about it, because WE’RE thinking about it, too!)

So…? Now is a great time to satisfy your craving for a tasty new ride! Go ahead and get that loan you’ve been thinkin’ about, and we’ll EAT a half percent of your rate! (You knew we would work in that fork somehow.)

I ask you: What are you hungry for? Maybe an RV? An SUV? ATV? Motorcycle? Boat? Car? Truck? We’re happy to serve up any and all of these goodies for you!

Here’s what comes with the main dish:

  • All loans subject to approval.
  • Existing Linn Area loans do not qualify.
  • Loan must be for $5,000 or more.
  • May not be combined with other offers.
  • Minimum of 2.0% APR.
  • Other restrictions may apply.

This blue-plate special is good through March 31, 2016. If you have questions about the menu, ask to speak to a loan chef at (319) 378-0101 or email us at hello@linnareacu.org.

If you’re ready to stick a fork in it (there’s that fork again!), you can come on in and see us or apply online right now! Bon appetit!

Mobile Deposit is Here!  by Jan

February9

We’ve been working overtime to bring you the mobile products you want!

First, we released our free Mobile Money app. (Available for Android and iPhone. Hopefully you downloaded that already!) Now, the app includes Mobile Deposit. (And there are even more awesome mobile-y things on the way. Promise!)

But let’s talk a little about Mobile Deposit! It lets you deposit checks directly into your account using your mobile device. Mobile Deposit is perfect for when you get a check from someone (your mom, maybe!) and you don’t want to dash off to deposit it. (You want to keep your jammies and slippers on. We totally get it!) And Mobile Deposit is super-easy to use.

Just log on to the Mobile Money app to sign up for Mobile Deposit. Authorization can take a couple of days, so be sure to sign up now, before you need it! You’ll get a text letting you know when you’re ready to go.

To make a deposit, you enter a few key bits of info and then take photos of the front and back of the check. Ba-da-boom!

To learn more, take a stroll through the Mobile Deposit FAQs at www.linnareacu.org!

Download Our New Mobile Money App!  by Jan

October27

We’re so excited! (And we just can’t hide it!)

Our new Mobile Money app is a reality! It’s a pretty slick deal, too, if we do say so ourselves!

The free Mobile Money app is available in both the Apple App and the Google Play stores. Just pick your store and search for “Linn Area Credit Union Mobile Money.” Install that bad boy, and you’re good to go!

(Helpful hint: You gotta be signed up for eBranch, our free online banking tool, in order to log in to the app, so be sure to click here and take care of that, if you haven’t already!)

Our new mobile app lets you check balances, pay bills, transfer funds, and view transactions. You can even budget on-the-go with MyMoola, our personal money manager. Your account information is at your fingertips 24/7/365!

If you’re already a Mobile Money user, you’ll want to install the new app asap and uninstall the old one, because (eventually) we will be retiring the original. (Hey, it’s old hat, now!)

Happy Mobile Moneying!

Android App Store Download_on_the_App_Store_Badge_US-UK_135x40

Contest: You have goals. Let’s reach them.  by Tara

July3

Summer-2015-PFM-Contest-472x394Everyone has goals: taking a dream vacation, renovating your home, paying off student loans, buying a new car or house, saving for retirement, sending your kids to college – we could go on and on!

MyMoola helps you track and manage these goals AND gives you a chance to win $1,000!

Share your goals and dreams with us through MyMoola and we’ll help you get there.  MyMoola can help you manage your money, set goals, and track your progress!

We are offering an incentive to help you get started or stay active in MyMoola. Entering the contest is easy! Log in to MyMoola and set at least one goal before August 31st, 2015 and you’ll be automatically entered into the drawing to win $1,000!

Let us help you reach your goals! Visit www.LinnAreaCU.org/MyMoola to learn more.

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