Monday, July 20, 2015

HEROES ARE ALL AROUND US - HELP US FIND ONE TO HONOR



The 14th Annual Christmas In July event sponsored by the Kiwanis and Broward County Board of County Commissioners took place this past Sunday in Ft. Lauderdale.  This event serves to provide some of Broward County’s homeless children with clothing, school supplies, book bags, books, toiletries, toys and a day of fun and entertainment.  Tropical Financial Credit Union had a team of employees volunteer at the event to help with the distribution.  Employees also collected donations and hosted jeans days at work to collect funds for this great cause. This is the latest example of TFCU employees being Everyday Heroes in the community.  

Tropical Financial employees are everyday heroes at work too.  They are dedicated to helping members achieve their financial goals, whether its buying a home or guidance on how to  repair their credit, helping members is what it’s all about for us! Together we create The League of Financial Goodness!



The truth is, heroes are all around us.  TFCU is looking to recognize ONE  local hero as the official League of Financial Goodness Local Hero  and, we need your help! If you know a local everyday hero, tell us about them by August 21st at www.submitahero.com.  TFCU will be choosing one Local Hero and will be awarding them $2,500! Plus, TFCU will donate an additional $1,000 to the winner’s favorite charity! Click here for the official rules.


Tell us all about your local hero so they can get the “thank you” that every great hero deserves!

^MY

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Best Way To Spend Your Money: Don't Buy A Thing



Summer is well under way and many young adults have taken the opportunity to seek and obtain a summer job! So what is the best way to spend your money that will allow you to achieve the most amount of satisfaction and happiness? Don’t buy a thing. Not one thing. Literally. 

Scientifically the best way to obtain happiness is by spending money on others, however if you want to spend money on yourself, you are much better off investing in experiences rather than material items or “things”. Traveling and going to large events is an exponentially more effective method for achieving happiness and satisfaction. For example, buying a $2000 luxury coffee table will only be useful as a piece of furniture and the happiness gained from that investment will only last a few days at most. However, going to get a bite to eat with friends will be a unique and enjoyable experience each time. 

According to a 2014 Psychology Today article titled Why Other People Are the Key to Our Happiness, “The interactions we have with other people affect the way we feel about life. Our close relationships keep us grounded and influence both happiness and the sense that we are part of a larger community. Interestingly, even our interactions with people we do not know that well give us a sense that we are part of that larger community. When we are first introduced to that community, those interactions and that feeling of belonging also increase our happiness.” Luckily in South Florida, there are lots of events and attractions happening almost every weekend and when there aren’t, there are several outdoor opportunities that will allow you to make positive memories and create opportunities to build long term happiness and friendships with new people! 

So this summer, don’t buy a thing. Buy experiences! Now get out there and have fun!

^AC

Monday, June 22, 2015

Mortgage Step Five: CLOSING!


The process is finally complete and the day you've been waiting for has finally arrived! Most of the time closings happen at the office of the title company, but be sure you double check the address so you know where to go. Make sure to bring your picture ID and have your arm nice and loose as you'll be signing a lot of documents.

As the day approaches make sure to resist the temptation of opening any new lines of credit or accessing existing ones to buy furniture or put a new car in the new driveway - additional credit may adversely affect the closing. Just before closing takes place your credit will be looked at one last time and if there's additional credit showing up it may hurt your debt-to-income ratio and the whole deal could be cancelled. I've repeated this warning throughout the home buying series because it has happened and I don't want you to lose your house because you bought the living room set too early.

At closing you usually will be joined by your mortgage loan officer and your real estate agent. In addition a representative from the title company will walk you through the closing documents. If you have questions ASK THEM - don't be afraid to speak up,  it's very important that you understand all the documents your signing.

Once all the documents are signed you'll be getting a little housewarming present from your Tropical Financial mortgage loan officer as well as the most important item - the key to your new home! With key in hand it's then time to turn that house into YOUR home.

^Amy

Friday, May 29, 2015

MORTGAGE STEP 4: THE PROCESS



Okay you found the house - CHECK
You were pre-approved for the loan - CHECK
You chose the perfect mortgage to fit your lifestyle - CHECK
Now we move into processing.

The toughest part of getting you into your new home is the processing. This is when all the documents are being verified and it definitely takes the most time. Even though you may not talk to your mortgage rep every day, rest assured the processors are very busy at work. Everyone in the process wants to see you in your new home as soon as possible!

So what can you do during this time? The number one thing you can do is keep the lines of communication open. Often your mortgage rep will need additional documents to verify information from you. Remember that the process is paused until you get what is needed back to the mortgage rep so the quicker you can return needed items, the quicker that closing date can be marked on the calendar.

So what NOT to do during this time? Do NOT open any new lines of credit during this processing period of time. Remember that credit is pulled one last time just before closing and if you've opened a new line of credit (for new furniture or a new car) that can affect your debt-to-income ratio and could prevent the closing from taking place. Feel free to plan out what you want to buy for that new house, but wait until after you close and you have keys in hand before heading to the furniture store to make those big purchases that may require more credit.

Also keep in mind that if you're buying a home that was a foreclosure or part of a short-sale, these transactions take even more time. Trust me, when I moved down to Florida I bought a house that had been foreclosed on and was technically owned by the government so every step had to be verified by a Fannie Mae rep in Washington...yeah they don't always move real swiftly up there.  I thought I had planned it perfectly, but the process took 2 more weeks than expected and I ended up in a hotel for a few weeks until I could get the closing completed. Needless to say I had to pack some extra patience during that time, but I made sure the mortgage processing folks here at Tropical Financial had exactly what they needed as soon as they needed it.

Remember that the end result is you and your family in your new home, and THAT is worth the wait!

^Amy


Friday, May 22, 2015

MEMORIAL DAY, NOT JUST FOR BARBECUE

Memorial Day


On the Friday before a holiday weekend, I wanted to take a quick moment to remind everyone that all branches of Tropical Financial Credit Union will be closed on Monday, May 25th in observance of Memorial Day.

Did you know that Memorial Day is a day that has been around since the Civil War? Originally called "Decoration Day" it was a day to recognize those that gave their lives in battle.  By 1882 the day became widely known as "Memorial Day," and was usually celebrated on the 30th of May.  It wasn't until 1971 that the day moved to the last Monday of May to make the holiday a convenient 3 day weekend. That was also about the time people started planning family getaways, beach days, and barbecues. It was also about the time the real meaning of the holiday began to get lost.

As the daughter of an Army Lt. Colonel and sister to a Naval Captain, military holidays were never lost on me.  Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to spending an extra day of the weekend with my family, but at the same time those that gave their lives to defend this nation are never far from my thoughts. So as you gather with friends and loved ones this weekend, raise your glass to those brave men and women, for whom Memorial Day is really all about.

^Amy

Friday, May 15, 2015

MORTGAGE STEP 3: THE TYPE OF MORTGAGE


The next step in getting you into your home is making sure the TYPE of mortgage fits your needs. There's a common assumption that the way to go is the conventional 30 year fixed rate mortgage, but that actually may not make sense unless you're seriously planning on living in that home for 30 years. The average time a family lives in a home is actually LESS than 10 years!

You may be thinking, "I've found the perfect house I'm never gonna move!" But then life happens: families grow (or shrink as the kids move on with their own lives), jobs change, or your dream house becomes stale and boring after a decade. Any of these things can and DO happen so maybe looking at a shorter term loan might be the answer.

There are numerous home loan types available in the market, the trick is finding the best one that fits your life and your budget. For example an ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage) may have gotten a lot of bad press a few years ago, but it's actually a very good option for some people. This is where the loan is fixed for a set number of years (5 or 7 are typical) and then adjust each year after that. Where these loans make sense is when you know you'll be moving after a certain period of time. There's also shorter fixed loan terms that allow you to pay off the mortgage quicker, but keep in mind your payments will be higher.

You also will need to know if you're going to escrow the taxes and insurance into the mortgage payment and take that into account as you are putting your budget together. Your best bet is to talk to your Mortgage Loan Officer and review your options so that you have the best fit for YOU and your family!

^Amy

Thursday, April 30, 2015

IT PAYS TO START SAVING NOW



In case you haven’t heard, compound interest is the best.

You may remember it as an equation you had to memorize for math class, but it’s so much more than that. It’s the concept that powers all sorts of savings and investment products and, over time, allows you to turn your money into, well, more money!

Compound interest = more money for you!—those who can potentially benefit most from it (those in their teens and 20s) don’t seem to be taking advantage of it. Savings contributions and retirement savings participation rates are falling among young adults.

So if we understand that compound interest translates into free money down the road, what could possibly be standing in the way?

As it turns out, it’s not so much a math or finance issue as it is a life issue—if we have trouble identifying our life goals, we’ll also have trouble planning and saving for them.

Acknowledge the big picture
This is a tough one, because a lot happens between your teens and your 30s. You’ll experience a combination of moving out, starting your career, dealing with student loans, getting married, financing a home—all these things have their own set of stresses that make it difficult to see past them. When you’re a new grad and job hunting, it’s hard to imagine yourself retiring in 40 years. If you’re living with your family rent-free, it’s hard to imagine yourself putting down a deposit on a home. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s hard to imagine having enough to pay off your student loans.

The first step is to acknowledge that you want these things, even if they seem impossible right now. You want to retire comfortably. You want to buy a home. You want to live debt-free. You may even want to travel or go back to school. These goals may seem far away, but they’re definitely there and they’re certainly not going away. Every day that goes by is one day closer to the time when you want to achieve those goals.

The good news is that a little bit of your time and energy now can go a long way later. How about stop by your local TFCU branch to learn about our savings products. When you’re dealing with compound interest, the longer you wait to get started, the less money you’ll earn in the long run.

Don’t let decisions overwhelm you
Not many people enjoy making decisions—especially when it comes to life changes and major financial commitments. It’s easy to understand why—decision-making is scary (not so much the actual “deciding” part, but more the “fear-of-making-the-wrong-decision-and-regretting-everything-forever” part).

Savings goals require you to make a lot of big decisions. You need to choose goals to focus on, you need to choose between different banking products and you need to choose how to distribute your savings contributions. Sometimes the choices are brutally blunt, such as choosing between owning a car and paying off your credit card debt.

The important thing is to not let all that decision-making overwhelm you. Remember: just by facing those decisions, you’re making progress, because you’re establishing what’s most important to you and you’re renewing your commitment to your goals.