Wednesday, April 27, 2016

CAR BUYING MADE SIMPLE!




Getting a new or used car can be a scary experience. Where do you start? What’s needed and what is a better option? To buy a car… or leasea car? These are all questions that everyone faces and we’ve tried to bring light to some of those answers for you in our blogs this month.
But today, we want to discuss another option with you. Did you know that Tropical Financial offers members a car buying service? It’s called Auto Advisors!
We know and understand the car buying process and it’s not always the best experience. You most likely spend many weekends at the dealership talking to the dealers, test driving cars and having in-depth financial conversations that could have your head spinning. 
But, what if we told you that you could skip all the headaches? That you could share your needs and wants with a Tropical Financial Auto Advisor and they would find the perfect car at the right price?
Check out this week’s Money Minute on our Auto Advisor program and get your car buying process started sooner than later!


^Alysha 

Monday, April 25, 2016

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

Tropical Financial’s college scholarship program is going strong but there is still some time left... But not much so hurry! This year we are awarding $5,000 in scholarship money! 

So, what are you waiting for? Applying is easy and fun if I do say so myself. This is the one time it's okay to brag about yourself and talk about... Well You. So share with them what makes you a shining student. Whether it's the clubs you dedicate your time to, or the sports team that has captured your heart. Share with them your academic successes and what you hope the future will bring your way. Don't forget to include your ACT or SAT scores as well as your official transcripts... That means leave them sealed ;)



Oh and one last thing... don't forget to tell us how Tropical Financial has helped you with your finances! Has it been through a high school presentation? Maybe a series of blogs or maybe a TFCU employee took the time to help you set and meet your financial goals. Or it could be something as simple as you were approved for your first credit card by Tropical Financial. Whatever the case might be, we want to hear from you!

Once you've gathered all of your required documents and written about why you love TFCU, submit the application to your closest branch or to our headquarters.   Keep in mind, applications must be received AT HEADQUARTERS by Friday, April 29th by 5:00 PM so if you are going to drop it off at one of TFCU’s branches do so as early as possible.   I wish you all the best of luck and if you have any questions please feel free to reach out and ask, TFCU representatives are happy to help!


Good luck!!

^Alysha 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

HOW TO CELEBRATE EARTH DAY!!!

Happy Earth Day!

For me, Earth Day is about getting out and enjoying all that we have. It's about being grateful for this beautiful place where we live.

So how can you celebrate earth day as a family and how can you do your part to keep our Earth strong?

Go visit a local garden area and really enjoy it. In West Palm beach there is a beautiful botanical gardens area. it's a hidden secret but just so pretty. There are koy fish that swim in the ponds, a butterfly garden as well as nice bench areas to kick your feet up and oh if you go there, look for the rainbow tree- it's a tree that gets wet and changes colors.

Another great way to spend earth day with the family is to take a family bike ride. Give your car a break and ride around the neighborhood.  

If your looking for a fun bonding activity with your children planting a garden is a great way to spend time together and grow fresh veggies too. Think about it, you plant the garden together and then when the veggies are ripe, you pick them together and enjoy a family meal. It's a great way for kids to take ownership in something and to gain an interest in healthy eating.

Search for an Earth Day event! Find something you can do as a family whether it's a beach clean up, park clean up or just a fun city event with face painting and tree-planting.

Be sure to check out your community calendar to see what fun events your community has for you and your family. But more than anything, teach your children to appreciate the Earth and the world we live in. Create one new habit whether it be creating a Garden, or making a toxic free cleaning solution or even using reusable bags while grocery shopping.


Have fun and Happy Earth day !

Alysha 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

IT'S A MONEY THING: INSURANCE!!





Insurance coverage can be tricky to shop for, because it requires making specific financial decisions about some hazy and unpredictable concepts. Depending on the type of insurance you’re looking into, you might find yourself pondering some downright uncomfortable questions:

   What would happen if I get sick the day I’m supposed to leave for the three-week European vacation I’ve been planning forever?
   What would happen if a major earthquake damaged my home? If my basement flooded? If there was a fire in my apartment building?
   What would happen if I became so ill I couldn’t work any more?
   What would happen if I had a break-in?
   What would happen to my family if I died tomorrow?

And just in case following this worst-case-scenario thought spiral isn’t depressing enough, figuring out the right amount of coverage also requires some awkward speculation: how much, in dollars, would it cost to “replace” you in the event of a tragic accident? What’s the total value of every single thing you own? If you were disabled to the point of not being able to work, how much money would you need in order to get by for the rest of your life? These questions are hard to think about and even harder to answer. Mixing the matter-of-fact nature of finances with the randomness and unpredictability of life is a complicated process.

Although individual insurance policies and coverage details can seem endlessly complex, the fundamentals of insurance coverage—and your attitude towards it—can be simple. Understanding the expectations you have of your insurance policy can make much of the confusion and second-guessing disappear, so that you can focus in on what you truly need from your insurance provider.

Insurance is not an investment
Many people automatically categorize insurance coverage as a complete waste of money, especially if you never end up needing it. Let’s take a moment to think about how backwards that is. Using that logic, in order to get your money’s worth from your insurance provider, you would need to make a huge claim. But here’s the thing: in order to make a huge claim, you would first need to suffer a major loss, and major losses typically result from unfortunate events. If you expect your insurance payments to act as an investment, you’re basically hoping for a natural disaster, property damage or serious illness—or worse. 

Adding to the confusion are plans like whole life insurance policies (or return of premium policies), where if you outlive the term of the policy, the money you’ve paid in premiums is returned to you. This may or may not make sense for you personally for many different reasons, but return on investment should not be one of them. Insurance is not an investment; insurance is protection, and therefore needs to be prioritized differently from investment products in your personal financial plan.

Insurance is a transfer of financial risk
So if insurance coverage isn’t an investment, what exactly is it? When you take out an insurance policy, what you’re actually doing is paying your insurance provider to take on your financial risk regarding a specific situation outlined in your contract. Consider this: your insurance provider fulfills this responsibility whether or not that specific situation ends up taking place.

As an example, let’s say you have a car insurance policy that, among other things, includes coverage of any damage resulting from a tree falling on your car. Let’s also say (for the purpose of this example) that, statistically, there’s a 1% chance that a tree will fall on your car this year. By paying your annual premium, you are transferring any financial consequences associated with that 1% risk over to your insurance provider. If a tree falls on your car (a rare scenario), the insurance provider reimburses you for the damage. If a tree falls on your car 12 times throughout the year (a very rare scenario!), the insurance provider would reimburse you each time. If zero trees fall on your car this year (the most likely scenario), there is no tree-related damage for the insurance provider to reimburse. In all three of these outcomes, the insurance provider is still assuming that 1% risk. You pay your insurance provider to hold up its end of the deal, and the provider is doing that, whether or not a tree ends up falling on your car.

Insurance protects against losses
When shopping around for insurance coverage, it’s best to think of your policy as simply a way to cover a significant financial loss—and significant is the key word.

Purchasing insurance for something that you could easily replace yourself in the case of a loss (like a $20 set of earbuds) doesn’t make a ton of sense, because it often costs you more to have it insured than to just assume the small financial loss yourself, should you need to replace it.

The same goes for expenses that fall under the emergency fund category. Though emergency funds share some of the same roles that insurance policies do (financial protection from unexpected circumstances), they are not interchangeable, and a solid personal financial plan requires both. Emergency funds are designed for situations that realistically will happen eventually (a stretch of unemployment or a car breakdown), even if the “when” and “where” are unpredictable. These emergency situations can usually be smoothed over with a few thousand dollars’ worth of emergency fund savings—it’s a lot of money, but it’s not an impossible amount of money.

A significant financial loss, by contrast, is a seemingly impossible amount of money to recover—tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars. A significant financial loss is the kind that would literally change the course of your life and the lives of your dependents. It’s for those losses that insurance coverage offers the best protection.

The more realistic you are about how much a particular loss would cost you, the better you’ll be able to articulate your insurance needs when shopping for a policy. Instead of blind guessing, put a little bit of thought and research behind your estimates. If you’re considering fire insurance, for example, you might start by doing an inventory of the contents of your home—but you should also consider researching the cost of construction in rebuilding a home after fire damage.


Insurance policies are complex, but your attitude towards them can be straightforward. Insurance policies are not designed to grow your money—they’re designed to protect you and your family from significant loss by transferring your financial risk associated with a specific set of unpredictable circumstances. It’s up to you to determine which unpredictable circumstances warrant protection (and how much protection to have in place), but by simply identifying the role of insurance in your financial plan, you’ll be better prepared to make smart decisions about what to insure. 


Friday, April 15, 2016

Purchase a car or lease a car... Which is Better?





When it come to car shopping, have you ever sat down and truly weighted out your options? Yes, you do have options when it comes to getting a new car. You can either purchase the car or you can lease it? Both options have great benefits to you so it's important to be informed what getting a new car. Check out this Money Minute to help understand the difference between a purchase and a lease. 

-Alysha 


Monday, April 11, 2016

I WANT TO BUY A CAR... BUT WHERE DO I START?

Buying a car is such a fun process. I remember going car shopping for my first car. I loved the new car smell, the various choices and the fact that I could customize my car. I also remember my mom not letting me drive it off the lot because, “I had never driven the car before." Well duh! But I didn't argue, I was so excited to have my own car.

The car buying process can be enjoyable but there was a lot I was unaware of. It's not always as simple as walking in and walking out with a new set of keys. There are many things you need to do before walking into the dealership and a few things to follow too.

First things first, check out your credit score several months to a year before you start the car buying process. Look at where your score is, and see if there is anything on there that could hurt the loan approval process. And take those next few months or even a year if needed to build your credit score and make it stronger. Trust me you'll thank me later.
 
While you’re working on your credit score, work on saving money for your new car too. Tuck away a little bit from each paycheck and use that money as a down payment to help lower your monthly payment or keep it tucked away for an emergency fund in case you have any major issues with your car once the warranty expires and if nothing else you have a nice savings account growing.

When your credit is where you'd need it to be, come visit us and get pre-approved. This will help give you a better idea of what you can realistically afford. We'd all love a Ferrari, but it's not in everyone's budget. Within the pre-approval process, a Tropical Financial employee will also sit with you and discuss the estimated monthly payments, the amount based on the price range of the car and the loan amount as well as provide assistance for you with the car buying process if needed through our partner Auto Advisers.

Once you've been pre-approved and you know your price range. Go shopping!! This is my favorite part. I love test driving the cars, listening to the sales pitch, seeing all the options available and picking what fits me. Then I go online and compare all of my options. I look at the safety rating and the customer reviews and I work towards narrowing down my options.

Don't forget, on top of doing all the paperwork to purchase this new car of yours, you also need to be sure and have auto insurance as it is required in the State of Florida. Be sure to contact your auto insurer to find out pricing prior to buying the car and if you don't already have an auto insurance agency, then do some shopping around to see who will give you the best rate on insurance. You want to be sure to have this in place before you purchase the vehicle so that you're not blind sided with the cost of things.

The perfect car awaits you! You've made up your mind so now it's time to close the deal. It's time to sign the paper and hand over the check and it's time for you to drive away in your new car!

Enjoy and don't forget to make your monthly payments on time...


^Alysha 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

WAIT! MY CREDIT REPORT CAN BE INACCURATE?

How to Remove Credit Report Inaccuracies
Our credit reports share a lot of important about us. The lower the credit score the more at risk you are for not being able to get the loan you need, or scoring that cool new job or even getting the apartment rental that you are desperate for. It’s important to be aware of your credit score and to know what is showing on your credit report.
Last week, I spoke about how boosting your credit score by removing inaccurate information that may be on your credit report is a great place to start.

Wait… my credit report can be inaccurate?
The first time I pulled my credit report, I figured it was going to be a waste of time. I figured since I hadn’t opened any credit cards or loans, there would be nothing there.  Well, I was shocked to see there were two items, hurting my credit score… the credit score I never knew I had.
According to my credit report, when I was 2 years old, I had a credit card that I defaulted on. Yup, 2 years old, really? You all know about my shopping habits but they don’t go as far back as 2 years old.  But there it was, a mistake looming on my credit report. As I continued to read the report, I saw another credit card from when I was 10 year’s old (really?) that I also defaulted on.
But how? How can I have two credit cards before the age of 18, two credit cards that I didn’t apply for, or new nothing about?
It happens!
It happens, mistakes happen. That’s why it is so important to review your credit report yearly to see what mistakes might be there and what inaccuracies you can remove. Cleaning up your credit report is possible and doesn’t require tons of money… actually, it doesn’t require any money.
Because of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, cleaning up your credit report is super easy to do and takes only a few seconds of your time. Trust me, I know, I had to do it on my own credit report.
Step one – Obtain your credit reports
The first thing you need to do is get a copy of your credit report. You can do so by contacting each of the three major credit bureaus; Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Don’t be alarmed if the information varies on each report that can happen because all of your creditors don’t necessarily report to each bureau.
Here is the contact information for the three bureaus as well as the information for Annual Credit Report, which is also another great resource to receive your credit report for free.


Annual Credit Report Request Service
877-322-8228
Experian
P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104
888-397-3742
TransUnion
P.O. Box 390
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
800-916-8800
Equifax
P.O. Box 105783
Atlanta, GA 30348
800-685-1111
Step two – Know what can be removed
Now is the time to really review your credit report, look for credit cards that might not be yours, or loans that maybe don’t have all the right information. Keep in mind, you can’t get rid of all the negatives notes on your file. If you missed a few payments, or indeed defaulted on a credit card then take responsibility for that.
But, you do have the ability to remove anything with inaccurate information such as accounts you never opened, any judgement for lawsuits that you were not a part of, any personal information that is incorrect as well as other people’s names that might appear on your report.
Step three – Dispute inaccuracies
If you’ve spotted errors on your credit report, you can file a dispute with the bureau. You may do so by calling the bureau, using the website or even sending them information via mail. When I disputed my inaccuracies, I used AnnualCreditReport.com and I was able to do it right there on the web. If you have any documentation to verify the disputes it’s important to include it when filing.
The process could take up to 30 days, which is why so many financial institutions suggest pulling your credit before applying for loans so you can take care of these things ahead of time. Once the dispute is filed, an investigation of the matter will take place. If the creditor cannot prove the reporting, the bureau will have to stop reporting on the matter and then an update will take place on your credit report.

Most times, the dispute process is simple and easy, but every now and then you might have something that requires a little more time to figure out. If the investigation results in no change, then talk to the creditors yourself and find out what is taking place. Sometimes it could be as simple as one digit is off with your social security number or there might be several people with the same name holding the same credit card and that can be an easy thing to mix up AND fix.

If you can’t get any results by speaking with the creditors directly, then write a letter explaining the situation and add that letter to your credit report. This way future lenders and employers will see what took place and see your side of things.

There is no reason to live with inaccurate information on your credit report, take the time to make any necessary corrections and help boost your credit score in the process.


^Alysha