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Browsing True Stories From Members

TV Star: Adam  by Tara

July19

EXCLUSIVE SNEAK PEEK! Linn Area Credit Union is about to start running a new and fabulous series of  commercials featuring our members! This spot won’t hit your TV until Monday the 22nd, but we’re giving YOU a special sneak peek. Drum roll, please…

Now, you might recognize Adam (and most of our other featured faces) from the TV Stars contest that we held on Facebook a couple months ago. We had such a great response that we ended up doing a couple more spots than we originally planned and had some cool photo shoots!

Keep your eye right here on the blog, as we’ll keep trying to give you sneak peeks as the spots are completed. :o)

Comment below: What did you think of our first new TV commercial???

Become our next TV star!  by Tara

April5

TV Star Email and blog image

We just have to let you in on a little secret… we are going to start filming new TV spots soon and want to feature some of our raving Linn Area fans! Before we can film anything, Linn Area Credit Union needs to find our next TV commercial STARS! That’s where you come in.

You love us? Check. You don’t mind just a little bit of attention? Check. You’ve got a sparkling personality and a winning smile? Check. Yep, you’re exactly the kind of person we’re looking for!

Throwing your hat into the ring is super simple. All you have to do is go here to fill out a questionnaire and be sure to include a picture. Bada-boom, you’re in like flynn.

All entries submitted will be considered for interviews with our TV production team (you would be contacted no later than April 19th). Even if you aren’t ultimately selected to do a TV spot, you just might be featured on our website or blog.

All entries must be submitted no later than Thursday, April 11th at midnight. So giddy up, Linn Areanites!

Tara’s Refinance Story  by Tara

December28

“Rates are at a historic low! Now is the time to refinance!”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, you’ve heard this at least a dozen times. When my husband and I became homeowners in 2008, we locked into a rate that our loan officer was ecstatic about because it was “so low!” As the years passed, the rates got lower and lower. Just like you, I kept hearing, “The rates are lower than we’ve ever seen! NOW is the time to refinance!”

The idea of refinancing kind of scared me. It sounded almost as fun as going to the dentist or listening to an album featuring nails on a chalkboard. My husband and I had avoided it like the plague until September of this year. Rumor was if your APR was 4.00% or higher, you absolutely needed to look into refinancing. People seemed to be saving a ridiculous amount of money – and, since our APR was higher than 4.00%, I thought it was worth a shot.

What’s really cool about our mortgage department is that they can tell you pretty quickly (either in person or over the phone) whether or not you’d save money by refinancing. My husband and I sat down with one of our helpful mortgage loan officers who ran through several scenarios (15 year, 30 year, various other combos). The loan officer seemed to be almost as excited as we were about the difference refinancing would ultimately make in the life of our loan.

Many people find that they can reduce the amount of money they would have to pay each month. We decided to keep our payments the same and, instead, shorten the life of our loan. Thanks to our refinance, we will have our house paid off 8 to 10 years faster than if we had ignored all the yammering about historically low rates. Yes, we did have to bring a little money to the table

Curious about the process? Let me give you the nutshell version:

We met with a loan officer and locked into a new, much lower rate at the end of September. My husband and I had to provide some paperwork, such as our most recent pay stubs, most recent mortgage statement, and our most recent bank statements. (DON’T WORRY! These things are super easy to get your hands on, thanks to online access to accounts! You just need to print stuff off instead of digging through the piles of paperwork you have stored away.)

Linn Area Credit Union selected an appraiser, who then contacted me for an appointment. This was the part I was most nervous about, but it was super easy. You don’t have to clean to closets out, TRUST ME! The appraiser is looking at the overall big picture, not the dust bunnies. Not that I have any of those… Anyway, he had performed the appraisal and returned all of the documents within 3 weeks of us locking into our rate!

Now here’s the part where you get to kick back and relax while Linn Area Credit Union takes care of the rest behind the scenes. What kinds of things are they doing? I’ll sum it up in one word: PAPERWORK. Bleck. So glad we didn’t have to deal with any of that jazz! Occasionally, they’ll need a little more info from you if requested by the underwriters (dun dun dunnnn). We had to resubmit our latest mortgage statement. *shrug* Whatever, no biggie. The next time I had to do anything for our refi was when I was asked what a good time of day would be for our closing. I’m serious! It was THAT easy. Heck, I spent more time signing documents at closing than I did on the rest of the process combined!

Our entire refi process took about 45 days, but they can take up to 60.

So if you’ve been dragging your feet thinking that refinancing was going to be too big of a pain in the tuckus, please at least call one of our loan officers at (319) 378-0101 ex.3 to see if you’re missing a HUGE opportunity! You can also check out rates, find out about our loan officers or apply online at www.linnareacu.org/mortgage.

WE WANT TO KNOW: Have you refinanced? How much did you save??

Contest: And the winner is…  by Tara

April11

Hey everyone! Thanks so much for all of your wonderful entries in Our Family Tree Contest! There were 65 people entered into the drawing to win a $250 gift card. I printed off everyone’s entries on single sheets of paper, shuffled them repeatedly (like a deck of cards), placed them into a large bin, mixed them up again, and then brought them down to our front line staff at NE to assist me in taking a video of the selection. Well that was a mouth full, eh? Without further ado, here is the winner…

Congratulations to our winner!!!

How I became debt free  by Tara

March23

I’ve talked before about how I used to have a bit of credit card debt. I thought you might be interested to know how I managed to say sianara to it. :o)

I had four credit cards with varying balances – some low, some high. Two were store cards and two were major credit cards; all with interest rates 20.00% APR or above. I was making the minimum payment each month, plus a little extra per card. Each month I’d look at my statement and feel frustrated that my payment was barely making a dent in the overall balance. I felt helpless. How was I ever going to pay them all off?

It was time to get real.

I grabbed a piece of paper and my stash of credit cards. I divided the paper into three columns. In the first column, I wrote down the name of the credit card. In the second column, the current balance. Finally, in the third column I wrote down the interest rate. Then I added the total. Nearly $5,000. Then I ate a piece of chocolate and counted to ten. Now that I knew exactly what I was working with, it was time to devise a plan.

My plan of attack was just that – MINE. Linn Area Credit Union is in no way endorsing my plan. I’m just sharing with you guys what worked for me at a time when I was tremendously overwhelmed. Hopefully you can start thinking how you can tackle any debt that you might have! (Need help? Give us a call and we can see how much money we can save for you!)

I borrowed from Dave Ramsey’s “snowball” idea and implemented it into my debt-free plan.

I arranged my credit cards from the lowest balance to the highest balance. The lowest one had about $250 on it. I decided that THAT card was the one I would conquer first.

I added up how much total I could afford to spend on paying off my credit cards in a month. For me, the minimum payments totaled to about $85 per month. I could afford to allot about $175 per month (my minimum payments plus about $90).  Instead of dividing that number up equally between all four of the cards, I paid the minimum on three cards and used the rest of the money and put it ALL towards that fourth card.

That very first month, my credit card balance on that first card went from $250 down to about $150. WHAT?!?! And guess what? I had that sucker paid off within a couple months.

I was excited!!! I only had three cards to worry about now and I could now focus all my energy on the next troublesome card – but now with more money because there wasn’t a fourth card reaching into my pocket.

And another cool thing happened. I became PSYCHED about paying off my cards. I looked for other ways to cut back in order to put more money towards paying off my debt. It was psychologically uplifting to watch the numbers decrease – all because of ME! I was able to completely take care of my credit card debt in about a year.

I know some people shy away from using credit cards after dealing with past debt, but that’s not the case for me. I make sure that I have credit cards with the best rates (you can’t beat Linn Area’s – click here) and I pay charges off quickly. I also like cards that give me something back, like our Rewards Card.

You have to be diligent, committed and brutally honest with yourself, but I believe that you, too, can get yourself out of debt.

Sound off: Tell us in the comments below things that you have done to get out of debt!

Scary CC Stories: Dionn’s Nightmare  by Tara

October31

Happy Halloween, all you Linn Area gouls and goblins! We hope that your day is going well and that you’re successfully dodging any black cats that try to cross your path.

Today is the final story from our real-life spooky credit card stories – and we’ve saved the best for last. So hold onto your knickers… this story is really going to make you cringe!

Victim: Dionn Pinckney

“My nightmare began March 2010. I had been with a card company for over 12 years. Most of the time, I paid my card off every month. This card was used quite alot for frequent flyer miles. In March I charged over 1000.00 for airline tickets to attend my aunt’s funeral. Because of bad weather, the airline cancelled our flight. With the new regulations the government put in place in Feb., this affected my card. My interest rate was 4.5% before the new rules.  Then it went to 17%.

For 2 months, I kept getting this huge interest charge.  I called the card company and they told me I had to pay my credit card off 2 months in a row in order not to be charged this rate. My interest was so large, because it was acruing daily.

I was shocked and very upset. I couldn’t pay it off, because of the credit from the airline. The next month when I received the credit, I paid the balance, cancelled the card, lost my flyer miles, and demanded they send me my .13 credit. I also told them they were backstabbing good customers, and will never come back. Linn Area is now the card for this family.”

*shuddering*  Uhhh!!!! That story gives me the heebie-jeebies! Well, except for the part when Dionn found Linn Area’c credit card. That part fills me with warm fuzzies!

Scary CC Stories: Daniel’s Dark Day  by Tara

October27

Many of you are preparing for your big weekend plans to celebrate Halloween - be it taking the kiddos treat or treating or causing some trouble of your own. We wanted to continue to share those near ghost tales of our members’ credit card stories.

Here is the 2nd installment of our spooky, real-life credit card stories from members just like you: 

Victim: Daniel Raleigh

“A while back I was sent a notice from the credit card company that I have had business with for at least 15 years. I have always had AAA credit with them, and was surprised that they sent me a notice that they were going to start charging me a $75.00 annual fee (from no annual fee). I called the customer service and they said that that’s too bad, but since the economy is the way it is, either pay it or close your account. Period. I asked if they did that to all their best consumers and the person I talked with said if it was him, he would just go somewhere else to get a different credit card. I told him he needs to find another company to work for, asked him to close my account, and hung up.

I applied that same day online for a Linn Area Credit Card and recieved it a while later. I kick myself for not doing that sooner since my house mortgages as well as other loans, my savings and my checking accounts have always been with LACU.”

Eek! Talk about blood curdling customer service! Glad we were able to help Daniel through his dark day!

Scary CC Stories: Julie’s Boogie Man  by Tara

October25

As Halloween lurks in the near future, we are reminded of a contest we ran last year asking for people’s scariest credit card stories. And, trust us, some of these are downright TERRIFYING!!! 

Here is the 1st installment of our spooky, real-life credit card stories from members just like you: 

Victim: Julie Mather 

“I had an account with one of the major banks for close to 18 years. My credit card limit was over $30,000. I had never come close to that as a balance. I always paid more than the minimum every month. I NEVER had a late payment in all those years. Out of blue, I found out the bank had jumped my interest rate up 7%. I called to question this move and they said it was to stay competitive with other banks. I was told that they might lower it 1 or 2% in a couple of months. After laughing at that comment, I called JoAnn at the Blairs Ferry Rd branch and she signed me right up for your credit card!  I always thought it would be a hassle to switch my credit card over from a bank to a credit union, but it was painless and very swift! Thank You for being there when I needed you.” 

Looks like Julie found the support she needed to battle the Boogie Man! If you need help in your own battle, just click here for info on our totally unscary credit cards. 

What’s your spookiest credit card story??

IDA: Ben’s Success Story  by Tara

October12

Saving money can be tough, especially if you’ve been a victim of a natural disaster (hello, Flood of ’08). We totally get that. But did you know that there is a very cool government assisted program that will actually MATCH your savings dollar-for-dollar? These accounts are called Individual Development Accounts, or IDAs. These funds can only be used for homeownership, higher education, job training, or starting a small business. 

Here’s a story of one of our successful IDA savers, Ben Gardner: 

“I cannot fully express my gratitude towards Linn Area Credit Union for allowing me to participate in the IDA program.  

Upon graduation of high school, I began researching degrees that interested me, and started the process of applying for financial aid. Once I saw my tuition bill, I quickly realized that the loans I had received would simply not be enough. Needless to say, the thought of taking out more loans to cover the bill was not very appealing. With today’s ever increasing college expenses, and high interest rates, I began looking for alternative ways to fund my education.  

Luckily, I spoke with a financial counselor at Linn Area who told me about the IDA program. He informed me that a variety of contributors, including the State and Federal Governments, and the Iowa Credit Union Foundation, were sponsoring a program in which students could save up to two thousand dollars and have the amount matched by all three participants to be put toward educational expenses.

I couldn’t believe it; I thought it was too good to be true. I enrolled in the program immediately. By contributing some money I had received from my graduation party, and working as a pharmacy technician, I was able to save the entire two thousand dollars.  

Throughout the process, the coordinator of the program would remind to me make deposits, keeping me on track with my savings. I even received several sessions of free financial planning education that helped me achieve my goal. Now, when I have a college expense that I can’t afford, I just put in a request and I receive the money quickly.  

It feels great to not constantly worry about finding money to pay for books, fees, and supplies. Having the additional financial assistance from the IDA program has even allowed me to focus more on school. I don’t have to work as much to keep up with all of the bills. I feel truly blessed to have been allowed this opportunity.”

 – Ben Gardner 

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Ben! We’re glad we were able to help you get a fabulous education by taking advantage of this amazing government sponsored program!

For those of you whose ears have perked up, do note that funds are limited and you must meet certain qualifications to take part in the program. Go here for more details! The program is very popular and actually has a wait list – with one exception. If you’ve were affected by a natural disaster with a federal disaster declaration (regardless of the year!) you get to bypass the wait list! Of course, you must meet the regular program income requirements and have some source of earned income from which to make deposits. 

Ready to talk with someone? Get in touch with Sandra at our SE office by phone at 892-7396 or by email scleppe@linnareacu.org.