Friday, May 29, 2015


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!


Friday, May 22, 2015


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.


Friday, May 15, 2015


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!


Thursday, April 30, 2015


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.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


When you think about the word budget what comes to mind? For some people it means controlled spending, for others it’s giving up the fun and for some it’s preparing for tomorrow. Many people see the word budget as a negative thing, but I see the word budget as a positive. To me, the word budget means planning for new adventures and achieving dreams.

Budgeting is spending in confidence not guilt

A budget is about sorting through your finances and creating a spending plan that allows you to be confident. It’s not meant to hold you back from going shopping or keep you from having fun, it’s simply to guide you in a better direction.

When I went to college, I opened up one checking account and two savings accounts. Every time I earned a paycheck, received birthday money or even holiday money, I’d divide the money between all three accounts. The checking account was my “fun” money. My fun money allowed me to go to dinner with friends, shop the mall with the girls or take a fun trip.   Then I had one savings account that was really for saving, this is the account that I am building for the future. The second savings account was for Graduate School expenses. I always dreamed of getting my masters and I was diligent about putting money away so I could cover the expenses without having to depend on my parents or having to take out student loans.

Having these three accounts helped me organize my expenses in a way that allowed me to never miss out on a fun memory with friends, plus it created a nice start for my long-term savings and it allowed me to pay my Graduate School expenses each semester so I was able to complete my studies without debt.A budget is simply of way of making your goals and dreams come true.

Create a budget that works for you… not your friend.

Not all budgets are created equal. Everyone has different financial goals, spending habits and incomes. Don’t follow a budget that is going to stress you out but instead put the time and energy into creating a budget that will work with your needs. Here’s my suggestion.  First, collect all your receipts from one month of spending.  ALL your receipts, no cheating.  Even small purchases can add up throughout the month.  Then add up the receipts to see how much money you are spending. Then, create a list of priorities, rank your priorities and created a budget based on that. Set small goals that are achievable and don’t leave you discouraged.

Maybe you found that you like to eat out to dinner a lot and you were spending roughly $100 on meals. Try setting a budget and goal of $75 for the following month and adjust that number as needed. Set goals that work with you and use that as a guideline for creating your budget.

Be Honest with yourself!

It’s important to know and to understand how much money you have coming in… after taxes. When you look at your paycheck or any other source of income, look at the bottom number, and base your budget off that number. And always, look at your budget… not the balance in your account. Sometimes we might think, I set a budget for $100 for food, my account is showing $120. Great!  I have can have another dinner with friends. When you find left over money, be honest with yourself and add it to your “future” account or place that money somewhere you won’t touch it because you never know when you might need it.

Prepare for the unexpected!

Emergency expenses are something I never thought about… until I ran into an emergency. We never know when a job loss, medical emergency, home damage or car trouble is going to happen. You don’t want sit around waiting for disaster to strike, but you want to be prepared for all situations. It’s important to have an emergency fund set up and it’s important to keep it separate from your other accounts. This way you are less likely to turn to that money to spend. Always be prepared!
So, get to creating a budget that works for you. One that allows you to chase your dreams and have new adventures in your life!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Have you ever stopped to think about your “carbon footprint” and how YOU are impacting the Earth? I mean, we only have ONE earth if you think about it. All you have to do is change one behavior to make a positive impact on our Earth, and know, one person can make a difference. According the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970 by 22 Million Americans who celebrated having clean air, land and water. So, how can we as an individual or as a community give back on Earth Day?

It’s simple, just change our habits. 

This Earth Day, I want you to take on a challenge, a challenge that isn't just for the day but for a lifetime. After all, ever day should be Earth Day.

Reduce Food Waste: According to the EPA, one-third of the food we produce and buy gets thrown into landfill each year. So, how can we fix this? Simple. Buy the foods that we need. This means taking the time to plan your meals ahead of time and buying only the items that are necessary.
Reuse and recycle: Instead of using plastic grocery bags, use a reusable bag, Hint: You can stop by any Tropical Financial Branch and pick one up in honor of Earth Day. Not only are they sturdy but they are a great way to carry groceries, a great way to pack snacks when it comes to a road trip and they are also great for carrying work files when your briefcase has run out of room.

Turn it off: Often times when we brush our teeth, we leave the water running. By turning off the water, you can save about 8 gallons of water. That’s a lot of water that could be put to good use. Plus, you’ll even be saving some money in your pocket. But, there are more things than water that we can turn off. Like your fans and lights. How often do you leave a room and leave both the fans and lights on. Well, turn them off and help reduce carbon pollution. As easy as it is to turn these items on… it’s just as easy to turn them off.

There are many steps that we can do as individuals and a community to better our planet. Look at some of your day to day activities and see how you can make changes to make a difference. For more tips and tricks on how you can give back as well as volunteer this Earth Day, be sure to visit the EPA site.

Happy Earth Day!


Thursday, April 9, 2015


There's NO better feeling than when you get a call from your realtor to tell you the seller just accepted the offer you made on the perfect house! After you finish celebrating that big milestone it's time to get the financing process underway.

If you've already been pre-approved a lot of the documentation needed will have already been provided, but just in case here is a list of what you'll need:

  • Last 2 years of documented income (tax returns, W2s, and/or 1099s)
  • Last 2 months of bank statements (checking, savings, and retirement)
  • Last 30 days of paycheck stubs
  • Explanation for any credit inquiries or letters explaining negative ratings
  • Proof of downpayment or gift funds
  • Home appraisal fee
  • Signed executed purchase contract
Now you are on your way to moving into your dream home! Note of caution: Do NOT make any large purchases or apply for any new credit while you're going through the mortgage process. Credit is pulled one more time just before closing and anything new on your credit report could upset your debt-to-income and potentially prevent the deal from closing.  So wait until you have those keys in hand before you buy the new furniture.

For more help, I suggest working with a knowledgeable loan officer from Tropical Financial Credit Union who can guide you every step of the way!