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Affected by the government shutdown?  by Tara

October3

government2At Linn Area Credit Union,“We Are Family” isn’t just a tagline. We want to let you know that we are here for you during the government shutdown.

We understand this may be a difficult time financially for some people. Should you find yourself in a situation where you are unable to make a loan payment, or your paycheck is delayed or less than usual, please contact us at (319) 378-0101 and ask for a financial counselor or email hello@linnareacu.org with a brief explanation of your situation and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible. We have many options that may be able to help.

We’re here for you!

Six smart money moves  by Tara

July3

Rates are ridiculously low across the board. From auto loans to home loans – we’ve never seen anything like this. But what goes up must come down… err… I suppose it is opposite in this situation. What has gone down surely will rise up – we just don’t know when. So how can YOU use these low rates to your best advantage? Read on, my friends.

With the help of this article, here are some ideas on how you can be a smart borrower:

1) Buy a home or rental property. Long-term mortgage loan rates are the lowest they’ve been in decades. With the combination of low home prices (hello, Buyer’s Market!) and low rates, you definitely shouldn’t put off purchasing that house. (Click here to check out our mortgage website!)

2) Refinance your home. If your current rate is 4.00% Annual Percent Yield or above, you definitely need to consider refinancing. We are seeing a lot of people who have 30 year mortgage loans be able to refinance to a 15 year loan for a similar monthly payment (this, of course, all depends on your credit score, equity in your home, and rate you are able to lock into). Not sure if your situation would work for a refi? One of our helpful mortgage loan officers can usually tell you pretty quickly over the phone. Just call (319)378-0101 ext. 3.

3) Buy a car. Auto rates are incredibly low. Depending on what rate you qualify for, you might be able to get into a new car and barely have to pay interest. It’s like you’re borrowing money for a miniscule cost! Click here to see our current auto rates.

4) Refinance your car. Did you know you could even do this? Say you bought your car and, for one reason or another, ended up with a higher rate. Well, guess what? You don’t necessary have to be stuck with that same nasty rate for the life of your loan. See if you can refi and lower your monthly payments.

5) Lock in student loan rates. Although federal rates are typically low, they have also dropped slightly recently. If you have more than one outstanding student loan, it might be worth calling your loan provider to see if you can consolidate and lock in a lower rate.

6) Pay off credit card debt. We’ve seen rates drop on mortgages and auto loans, but credit cards seem to have gone the opposite direction – except ours – we haven’t changed our credit card rates in over a decade! While you work on paying down your credit card debt, why not consolidate all of it and transfer your balance over to a card with a lower interest rate, such as ours (click here).

There are so many ways that you can take advantage of these low rates! We’re here to help. Even if you’re not sure what you can do, but know you want to save money, stop on by and one of our financial counselors with happily guide you in the right money-saving direction!

Sound off in the comments below: If you had an extra $250 a month, what would you do with it?

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!

Denied? No biggie.  by Tara

March7

I heard something the other day that I wanted to address. Someone told me that they wanted to apply for a loan, but were afraid that they would be rejected. If this happened, the person was worried that they would feel embarrassed.

As someone who truly encompasses the values of LACU, my first reaction is “Ahhhhh! I want to give this person a hug!!!” Okay, now that I have THAT out of my system, I want to scream to the hilltops that we will never, ever judge you. We encourage people to come in, chat with us about your needs and then let us help you figure out how we can save you money or determine if we can help get you that new car you need or the bigger home for that growing family of yours.

But let’s push away the hearts and flowers for a second. I’m going to reveal to you exactly what happens if you are not approved for a loan:

A financial counselor will let you know that you have not qualified at the time. Instead of laughing at you (which would never happen here!) or kicking you out the door, the financial counselor will go through your credit report with you. Together, you’ll look at what portions might be, well, bruised. Based on what the credit report says, the financial counselor will be able suggest things you can do to start improving your credit right away. You might even be able to determine a timeline as to when you could reapply for whatever loan you were hoping for.

What’s helpful about this process is that once you see the good, the bad, and even sometimes the ugly on your credit report, you’ll finally be able to determine a plan of attack. I truly believe that a PLAN is the key to achieving your goals!

You should know that we are required by law to give you a denial notice. The notice contains all sorts of information, including your credit score, contact info for the credit bureau that we obtained your credit report from, and information on how you can obtain a free copy of your credit report (you just have to mail that denial notice into the credit bureau we got your info from).

Also, a denial is never listed on your credit report and does not negatively impact your score. For example, if you were denied a loan from us, your credit report would say that Linn Area Credit Union had an inquiry, but it does not say that you were not approved.

I hope that this has taken out some of the mystery for you curious folks. We will always remain professional and you’ll even receive some great financial advice to help improve your future! See, there really is a silver lining to a denial!