Friday, September 26, 2014

ADVANTAGES OF A HELOC

As home values continue to rise in South Florida, it might just be time to check out what your home is worth. You may be pleasantly surprised and be able to tackle some big projects you've been putting off. I desperately wanted a new kitchen, and I found out that I now could afford it - it was "on the house"!
I wanted to share some great advice about HELOCs from our friends at Nerd Wallet ^Amy


Whether you need extra cash for home improvements, to consolidate credit-card debt or pay for medical expenses, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may be your lowest-cost borrowing option this year. 

Besides low interest rates, this mortgage product provides a number of advantages, including potential tax savings, low fees and borrowing flexibility.

What is a HELOC?

A home equity line of credit lets you borrow against the available equity you have in your home, or its fair market value minus whatever is owed on any mortgages tied to it. A HELOC is a form of revolving credit, usually with a lender-set time limit and a variable interest rate on the money borrowed.  

If you’re approved for a HELOC, the maximum you can borrow will be based on the equity in your home.  For example, Tropical Financial Credit Union finances up to 90% of the property value minus the first mortgage. So if your home is valued at $200,000 and you owe $120,000 on the mortgage, your equity is $80,000 and you may be able to borrow as much as $60,000 ($200,000 x 90% = $180,000 - $120,000 = $60,000).

The credit line you receive comes with a draw period, which is the length of time during which you can use the HELOC funds. The period typically lasts from five to 15 years and at Tropical Financial the draw period is ten years. You can use and repay as much of the HELOC as you like during this period.  After that  you will have a repayment period - at Tropical that period is ten years. During that time you can focus on repaying the outstanding balance, thus regaining your equity.

Here are some other potential benefits of HELOCs:

Borrowing flexibility

HELOCs offer a convenient way to make use of the equity you have in your home when you need it, and if you don’t use it, you won’t pay any interest. This distinguishes HELOCS from second mortgages, home equity and personal loans, that provide advances on which repayment often must begin immediately

 Low interest rate

Since you are using your home as collateral,  the initial rate you’ll pay is likely to be significantly lower than a personal loan. However, remember that today’s rates, which remain near historic lows, are unlikely to persist for a decade, and in time you may end up paying a significantly higher rate on what you borrow. Ultimately, the terms for your HELOC will depend on factors that include the amount made available, your history as a borrower, credit score, work history, income and other debts.

 Potential tax break

The interest you pay on money borrowed through a HELOC can be treated like mortgage interest to reduce your federal tax bill. This aspect also distinguishes these products from personal loans and credit card debt, neither of which provide tax benefits. Consult with a tax adviser to determine your specific situation.  

Given these advantages, a HELOC may be your best option if you’re a homeowner in need of some extra cash. 

Steve Nicastro, NerdWallet

Friday, September 12, 2014

#RefiMyRide

Tropicalfcu.com/refimyride

Throughout the month of September and even into October we're asking our members to show us selfies of how they roll!  So many people don't know that you can refinance your CAR! We wanted a fun way to let people know how easy it is to refinance a car from another financial institution to Tropical Financial AND earn up to $200* JUST for refinancing with us.  PLUS when you apply for the refinance you're automatically entered into our #RefiMyRide contest to WIN $500**!

When I first moved to Florida I knew about refinancing cars, but was SUPER impressed that not only was I able to save money through a better rate and payment, BUT by doing it I was awarded a thank you from Tropical of $200! So you know what I did, right?  I refinanced my family's second car!  Now of course there are restrictions - like if you've already have your loan with Tropical you're not eligible for the refinance offer - BUT you're definitely eligible for the contest! Just post a picture of yourself with your car on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag: #RefiMyRide and you're ENTERED! 

Let's see if you're as cool as my awesome Pug Trixie - and SHOW US HOW YOU ROLL!!!

^Amy

Here's the legal stuff:
*Auto refinance does not apply to car loans finan­ced at TFCU or through SFAC. TFCU membership required with $5.00 minimum in savings. $7,000 minimum loan balance required for cash incentive and rate offer. Refinance offer limited to one per vehicle. *$100 cash bonus will be paid for loans between $7,000 and $9,999, $200 cash bonus will be paid for loans $10,000 and above. Cash bonus will be deposited to your TFCU savings or checking account at loan closing. Offer cannot be combined with any other loan offer. Other restrictions may apply. Rate will not be lower than 2.49% APR.
**No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. Odds of winning determined by the number of entries. Sweepstakes open between September 8 - Oct. 17, 2014. See tropicalfcu.com/refimyride for complete rules and alternate method of entering.

Monday, August 11, 2014

0% MAY ACTUALLY COST YOU MORE


Zero may sound like the best deal you can get, but when it comes to financing your car - zero may not necessarily be better.  If you have to give up a rebate to get 0% financing at the dealership, you may be giving up a LOT of money. 

In this episode of Money Minute learn how much trading a rebate for 0% financing can actually cost you.  Look at the numbers for yourself BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.

0% Dealer financing
Credit Union financing
Price of car
$20,000
$20,000
Trade-in
$1,000
$1,000
Down Payment
$500
$500
Manufacturer rebate
$0
$2,500
Amount financed
$18,500
$16,000
Number of months in loan
36
36
Loan interest rate
0%
3.00%
Monthly Payment
$514
$465
Total cost
$18,500
$16,751
Total interest paid
$0
$751
SAVINGS
$0
$1,749

Here are a few additional DOs before you go to the dealership:

DO your research before heading to the dealer - know the true cost of the car with all the options before you start negotiating. Also make sure to do the research on the car your trading in. Check out Kelley Blue Book beforehand so you have an idea what you should be getting for your trade.  Remember not to mention the trade to the car salesman until after you've settled on the price of the new car.

DO get preapproved before going into the dealership. You can do that through Tropical Financial Credit Union at www.Tropicalfcu.com. This will give you a leg up when entering the F&I office (Finance and Insurance) as well as easily allow you to avoid being talked into any extras the dealer may want to add on.

DO talk to your insurance agent beforehand. Know what it will cost you to insure the new ride and make sure your budget can handle that expense.

Buying a car is a very exciting time, but if you're unprepared it can cost you more than it should. Remember the more you know, the more you save!

^Amy

 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Enjoy a Summer Staycation


 
Trying to come up with a vacation destination that will top all the places you’ve already visited? Consider looking closer to home – so close you won’t even have to pack a suitcase. More and more Americans are taking staycations, or staying home and visiting local attractions or taking daytrips rather than flying to a distant destination during their time off. Staycations are good for your wallet, good for the local economy and they can be just as much fun as a more elaborate excursion.

Save big on transportation

One of the best opportunities for staycation savings is transportation, since domestic airfares average more than $380, and international flights cost even more. Keep in mind that seats for children typically aren’t discounted; so flying may run you more than $1,500 for a family of four.

Taking a staycation cuts out those expenses can reduce others dramatically. Attractions within walking or biking distance don’t involve any transportation costs at all, and if your area has good public transit systems, you won’t have to dish out lots of cash to reach destinations a little farther afield.

Even when driving is your only option, you’ll probably still come out ahead. With gasoline averaging $3.67 a gallon in the U.S., a 125-mile drive with the whole family will only cost about $18 for fuel in a vehicle that averages 25 miles per gallon.

Save on other travel expenses

The average vacation was forecast to cost $1,145 a person last year, and prices generally haven’t gone down. Airfare isn’t the only culprit. A U.S. hotel room averages $131 a night, and renting a car can burn through $45per day, plus fuel. Chances are you’ll also have to eat at in restaurants, inexpensive or not. Taking a staycation lets you to eliminate or reduce most of these costs, leaving you with the cash to splurge when you choose to, or not.

Factor in kids and pets

If you have a family and plan a vacation without taking the kids and pets, you’ll pay even more. Babysitters get about $14 an hour, on average, and more in larger cities. That can really add up, especially if you have to hire someone for 24-hour care. Pet hotels and kennels can cost from $35 to $90 a day. Even taking a few “adults only” excursions, child and pet care will be much more affordable during a staycation than if you took a long-distance vacation.

Now you can splurge or not

Residents of Florida’s Atlantic coast don’t need much cash to take an amazing staycation. The region has plenty of beautiful beaches as well as other attractions, including amusement parks, raceways and museums.

With your staycation savings, you may want to partake of a few luxuries – a dolphin cruise, parasailing above the ocean or a jaunt to the Bahamas for a day. Enjoy a spa massage or treat the entire family to dinner at a fancy restaurant. If your budget needs a little boost to make your time off outstanding, your local credit union may offer personal loans that accommodate your budget.

Still undecided what to do with your time off this summer? If your budget isn’t as loose as you’d like, taking a staycation may be the best way to go.

Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

SURPRISE VACATION CAN GET EXPENSIVE

What an incredible 4th of July holiday I just had! My son, daughter-in-law and sweet baby granddaughter from Michigan surprised me with a week long visit to celebrate the 4th of July.  To say I was completely surprised would be nothing short of an understatement, but it was the greatest surprise a grandma could ever hope for! 

Part of the surprise was a trip up to Disney World so I could share the Disney magic with my granddaughter for her first time. We had the most amazing (and exhausting) day filled with memories that are priceless! Although I wouldn't trade those memories for anything, going to Disney isn't the cheapest vacation we could have taken. The hotel, which my son insisted on picking up, ended up being the least expensive part of the trip. There were the park tickets, the special breakfast with our friends from Winnie The Pooh, the snacks, the special $12 balloon and tons of souvenirs that Grammie HAD to get - they all added up real quick.



Fortunately Tropical Financial Credit Union is offering a special Vacation Loan to help alleviate the pressure of unexpected expenses.  I have to admit that although I am usually an intense planner, the spontaneity of a surprise vacation was certainly worth the unplanned costs!

Vacation Loan


If you've been thinking about doing something special, but hadn't put money aside for a getaway, think about applying for the TFCU Summer Vacation Loan and start making your own magical memories!

^Amy

Friday, June 20, 2014

Simple Money Savings Tips



We all have our own little secret ways to save money - clipping coupons, reward clubs, after holiday sales, even getting tacos only on Tuesdays.  In this episode of Money Minute here are five quick and easy tips that you can use to help save money every day or help pay off debt quicker.

  1.  If you're going to the mall leave the credit cards at home and only bring your debit card. That way you won't be tempted to spend more money than you planned. Works like a charm.
  2. Going to the grocery store? Make a list AND STICK TO IT!!  That is toughest part for me, especially if I'm hungry.  So if I'm tempted I use the #3 tip:
  3. 10 second rule - if I'm tempted to buy something I didn't plan on, I hold it for 10 seconds and try to justify WHY I need it, and if I can't find a good reason in 10 seconds, then I put it back. 
  4. Make a debt calendar. Lay out all your debts and look for the one with the highest interest rate and start making the biggest payments on that debt, once that is paid off then take those payments and apply to the next debt until that's paid off and take the combination of THOSE payments and apply to the next debt. It's an organized way to really make a dent in that pile of bills.
  5. My favorite - Tropical Financial ONLINE BILLPAY! It allows me to keep track of all my bills in one place AND I save money on envelopes and stamps!

These are just a few ideas that I use in my everyday life, but I would LOVE to get some other ideas to share. SO I'm inviting YOU to share your best savings tips with us and the BEST one is going to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Entering is easy, just email us at: listening@tfcu-fl.org or post a comment on our Facebook page under the post: Simple Money Savings Tips.  We'll be sharing the tips that people enter as comments to this post as well. Hurry this contest ends on June 30, 2014 and we'll post the winner here on July 1st.

^Amy

For a complete set of rules click here.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Four Vacation Planning Tips to Save You Money

 
Whether it involves a nap on a sun-drenched beach or flying through crisp mountain air on a zip line, everyone needs a summer vacation. Stepping out of your regular routine recharges your energy like nothing else, but the hassle and expense beforehand can make it seem like more trouble than it’s worth. These easy tips will help smooth the road to your destination and save you a bundle, too.

1. Book your dream vacation in advance

Even if you can’t afford a trip to Paris or Tokyo right now, that doesn’t mean you should write off the idea. While you’re online arranging a more modest vacation for this year, book your dream trip up to 15 months or more in advance for the best rates and to avoid possible future price increases.

You would be surprised how affordable a dream trip becomes as you put a little money aside each week for over a year. Create a separate savings account  like a club account, to keep track of your vacation fund’s growth, and earmark your credit card rewards for vacation expenses. 

2. Romance the rails

Train travel is often cheaper than flying, particularly for shorter trips. Another benefit is that you see the country in a much more personal way than you would from 30,000 feet in the air. Riding the rails may be slower, but it’s truly an adventure, especially for kids. You’ll also avoid baggage fees and the hassle of airport security, plus you can use your cell phone whenever you like and the dining car serves hot meals.

3. Avoid peak vacation times

Costs vary dramatically depending on the time of year you travel. If you rent a house at New Jersey’s shore for a week in July or August, it will cost thousands of dollars more than it would after Labor Day. Tropical vacations usually are more expensive during the winter months. You’ll save big by learning what’s off-season for your destination, and making your reservations for that time.

4. Eliminate the middleman

Before making reservations through a booking site, be sure to check rates directly at websites and maybe give airlines a call, too. Some airlines don’t list with booking sites, and hotels often run unadvertised sales that you’ll never know about if you don’t contact them directly.

Before you depart

As you complete your vacation checklist and attend to last-minute details, don’t forget to notify your credit union if you’re leaving the country, so they won’t suspect fraud when foreign charges appear on your accounts. Your credit union can also be an excellent ambassador for you abroad as it helps you with money exchanges, traveler’s checks, free foreign ATM locations and emergency advice.

If you're in need of additional funding for your big trip, consider a TFCU Summer Vacation Loan. You can select the loan amount and payment term that works best for you.  It also can help pay for that modest trip this year while you start saving for that big trip next year!


Roberta Pescow, NerdWallet