The Best Deals On Wheels For College Students

Date July 13, 2017

You’ve shopped for weeks and you’ve packed for hours. Now, you’re finally ready to load your trunk and pull out of the family driveway toward your next stage in life.

Which set of wheels will accompany you on your rite of passage into the grown-up world?

Yes–you’ve chosen your college, your major, and perhaps your roommate. Now it’s time to choose your car.

There are loads of factors at play when making this decision, though.

First, you’ll need to determine if it makes more sense for you to lease or to purchase a car.

Leasing offers flexibility. It’s the perfect choice for those who aren’t ready to commit to a car for long-term usage. It’s also more practical if you can’t afford to be solely responsible for a car’s maintenance and repairs. Monthly lease payments – even with repair warranties and liability waivers – also tend to be cheaper than payments on a purchased vehicle.

Of course, a lease won’t net you anything of value in the long run. When your lease is up, you’ll be out the thousands of dollars you spent “renting” the car, and have nothing to show for it. Also, if you max out the annual mileage limit, you may end up paying a small fortune in fees.

Purchasing a car, on the other hand, is a commitment that pays off in the long run. If you can afford the down payment, monthly fee, and can foot the bill for any repairs (talk to your credit union about affordable coverage for mechanical breakdowns), it may be the choice for you. Remember, though, that cars depreciate as soon as you take them for their first spin. It’s also hard to predict which vehicle will serve you best a few years down the line.

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Road Trip On A Budget

Date July 11, 2017

Whether it’s summer or spring break, college campuses will empty out and highways will fill up with students blowing off a semester’s worth of steam while road tripping to great vacation destinations. For many students, this might be the first time they’ve taken a vacation without parents to help plan (and pay for) it. For a newbie, it can be quite a challenge.

Worry not, road warrior! Here are a few ways you can save some green on your next four-wheeled adventure. Try these three savings tips!

1.) Budget beforehand
If there’s one rule of financially savvy vacationing, it’s this one: Make a budget before you hit the road. It can be easy to justify an ever-ballooning budget. A few dollars here and there can quickly turn into one big expense, and it’s one you could be paying for long after the semester’s over.Instead, take control of your spending by giving yourself a realistic goal of how much you’ll spend. If you end up a few dollars over, you can make up the difference much easier than if you were to later find out you massively overspent. Making a budget also gives you an idea of how much you need to save between now and the start of your grand adventure.

If you need some extra money, or security, before your trip, look into a low-interest rate Rewards Credit Card, or a low-rate Personal Loan to help you pay for your adventure.

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Plan For The Payoff When You Plan Your Student Loans

Date July 6, 2017

 alt= Planning ahead for college is not just a matter of getting good grades and accumulating a list of extracurricular activities and awards. It’s also a process of understanding how to pay for tuition and living expenses during the college years, which often extends beyond the typical four-year period and sometimes also includes graduate school.

Parents tend to focus on a college degree as the payoff for all the time, effort, money and love they have invested in educating their child. So they invest significant time, money and effort in helping them get accepted by good schools and get situated comfortably when college begins.

But completing high school and entering college marks the beginning of the rest of your child’s life, which generally involves repaying student loans. The payoff for anyone with student loan debt is budgeting successfully for monthly payments, and having the income to make them on time each month.

You may have the means to keep your student loan borrowing to a minimum, which is ideal. But many parents are looking for every financial advantage available in scholarships and loans. Working together with your child, begin early by considering all the options for minimizing total student loan debt and the forthcoming monthly payments.

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Video: Paying Back a Loan

Date July 3, 2017


6 Ways To Save On Your Summer Vacation

Date June 30, 2017

The open road is calling and your dream vacation awaits! But first, you need to work out the financial details. How are you going to pay for your getaway?

Ideally, a plump vacation fund is the way to go. Unfortunately, though, many of us don’t think about how we’re going to pay for vacation until it’s a few weeks away.

Be proactive in planning your vacation by saving up for it in advance. Forgo some luxuries in the months or weeks leading up to your vacation and put the extra cash aside for your getaway. When you’ve got the money saved up, create a realistic vacation budget.

These six vacation saving tips will help you plan a perfect getaway without busting your budget.

1.) Timing is everything

There is an ideal window for buying everything, and booking airline flights is no exception. Flight prices generally fluctuate until departure day, but experts say the sweet spot is 54 days before your travel date.  Read the rest of this entry »

Your Personal RV Buying Guide

Date June 28, 2017

Q: It’s vacation time! We’re thinking about buying an RV, but RV lots seem so intimidating! How can we fight that stress?

A: Nothing beats a summertime road trip, but long hours in the car can really kill a vacation. That’s the beauty of recreational vehicles. The road IS the destination; anywhere you go, you’ve got luxury-class accommodations!

Buying an RV is a big decision and making the purchase can be super stressful. That’s why the more you research before you set foot on a lot, the better.

Here are 3 questions to ask yourself before you shop for an RV.

1) What class are you in?

There are three classes of RVs: Class A, Class B, and Class C.

  • Class A are the biggest and most comfortable. Built on big-rig platforms, these are basically rolling houses. They feature full-sized couches and TVs, full bathrooms, kitchens and expandable bedrooms. The price tags range from $60,000 to over a million for custom-built motorhomes.
  • Class B motorhomes are on the other side of the spectrum. These are built on full-size van platforms. They include scaled-down versions of the same amenities in Class A motorhomes, in a more maneuverable, less expensive package. Expect to see a small kitchen, a compact bathroom, and sleeping space for 2-3 people. These vehicles cost between $50,000 and $100,000.
  • Class C motorhomes offer a compromise between A and B. These start with cargo-van platforms and extend the wheelbase somewhat to the length of a short bus. Amenities are more complete than in a Class B, but nowhere near as robust as in a Class A. These vehicles run between $60,000 and $200,000.

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Beware Of Phishing Scams!

Date June 26, 2017

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned of a recent upsurge in phishing scams involving credit union brands.

In all phishing scams, the scammer poses as a legitimate business or service provider where the victim may have familiarity. In this case, they claim to represent your credit union.

The fraudsters use social engineering, capitalizing on social norms to inspire trust and manipulate unsuspecting people.

The scammers usually communicate via email, but they may also use mediums like phone calls, text messages or social media. They convince the victims of their legitimacy by providing personal details about the victim that have been found online.

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Skip-a-Pay: Free Cash Flow With A Summertime Break From Your Loan Payment

Date June 23, 2017

 alt= Q: Summer puts a strain on my budget because of extra expenses! Is there any way I can skip my car loan payment, just for one month, without being penalized?

A: Summer expenses can bust any budget. Skip-a-pay will give you more breathing room during this expensive time of year.

Skip-a-Pay is a program offered by MCCU allowing members to skip a monthly loan payment during an especially tight financial season for just a small fee. Many credit unions offer this program during the holiday season and again during the summertime. At MCCU, members are eligible to skip one payment a year. For a MCCU loan to qualify for skip-a-pay, it must be a consumer loan that was funded at least 6 months prior to the skip-a-pay request (credit cards not eligible).

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Financial Tips For Single Parents

Date June 21, 2017

Single parenting brings unique budgeting challenges.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that it costs an estimated $241,080 for a middle-income couple to raise a child to age 18 – and many single parents shoulder that responsibility alone. Even with adequate child support, it’s smart to be proactive about financial matters as a single mom or dad.

Estate planning should be your first priority. It’s essential to make arrangements for your children should you become incapacitated. Draw up a will, designating a guardian for your children, and a “power of attorney,” giving someone the legal right to make decisions on your behalf.

Consider setting up a trust – a legal structure that is overseen by a trustee, in which your assets can be held for your children. Also, ask your employer about disability benefits. Generally, you will receive a smaller income when you claim disability, however, ensuring even partial income is crucial for single parents who don’t have another source of income to cover a gap.

Taking out a life insurance policy is equally important. The policy you purchase will depend on your finances; a term policy is most economical because it offers a straightforward death benefit.

Health insurance is essential. Premiums may be sky-high, but if you’re uninsured, a serious medical procedure can be financially crippling. Comparison-shop for policies at your state’s marketplace or at

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Retirement Savings For Self-Employed People

Date June 19, 2017

 alt= Moonlighting is the new normal. It seems like everyone has a side hustle or a personal project they hope to someday turn into a business. While this money-making ambition is good for the pocketbook, it can be a little tricky come tax time.

Unlike salaried employees, independent contractors don’t get 401(k) programs, pensions or other employer-sponsored retirement programs. Since they are the employer, the burden falls on them to make all of the decisions about retirement accounts. While this can be a hassle, it’s part of the radical freedom involved in being your own boss. You have the flexibility to pick a program that works best for you.

There are three big options when it comes to saving for retirement as a small business owner, independent contractor or self-employed worker. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each. Remember not to let perfect be the enemy of good with these plans. Any savings is better than no saving at all!

SEP IRA is an acronym for Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account. It’s closely related to the Roth and Traditional IRA accounts that many people set up outside their workplaces, but there are a few important differences. First, they’re funded exclusively by employers, not employees. Of course, if you’re self-employed, you hold both roles and can fund your own account. Second, they have much higher limits. In 2017, you can contribute the smaller of $54,000 or 25% of your net income to a SEP IRA, as opposed to the $5,500 you can contribute to a personal IRA. Third, there aren’t the same Roth and Traditional variations. All SEP accounts are tax-deferred, which means you can deduct the contributions from your self-employment income, but will have to pay taxes when you withdraw the money.
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