January 13, 2017
Now might be the time to refinance your FHA mortgage!
Good news if you currently have an FHA mortgage, or are looking to purchase a new home with a FHA loan. Effective January 27, 2017, the FHA is dropping their annual Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) to their lowest levels in nearly a decade. The annual mortgage insurance premiums most borrowers will pay will be cut by one-quarter of a percentage point.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the reduced MIP rates could save homeowners an average of $500 annually. However, savings will depend on the size of the loan.
For example, on a loan amount of $250,000, homeowners could save approximately $500 annually. On a loan amount greater than $625,000, homeowners could save approximately $2,812 annually, or $230 each month.
Start the refinance process today, or get pre-approved for a new FHA mortgage loan through our partner American Family Funding.
January 11, 2017
The average American spends two hours in their car every single day, which averages out to about 30 days a year! Spending that much time in a car makes it all that more important to choose the perfect one, with perfect options to suit your needs. Every option can make a difference. Every new model nowadays offers a mind-boggling combination of optional features, packages and accessories. Navigating between them can mean the difference of spending thousands on features you’ll never use, or experiencing years of buyer’s remorse over that one must-have accessory you overlooked.
With most states adopting hands-free driving laws, Bluetooth connectivity is a must-have accessory for any driver seeking to brighten up the commute with a chat. Bluetooth, when not standard, is a relatively inexpensive option that you might wish you had when you get pulled over for having your hands on the phone instead of on the steering wheel.
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January 9, 2017
The “American Dream” of owning a home is making a slow comeback after the 2008 financial crisis, but there are still things to consider before undertaking this large financial commitment.
- Don’t consider your home as part of your assets. It’s where you and your family live, and it’s not something you can trade on.
- It’s not liquid, meaning even in a good market, selling may take longer than you expect. If your future includes a job move or family expansion and the need for more space, consider NOT buying until your situation is more stable.
- Review your mortgage qualifications and credit history before you start looking so you know exactly what conditions, rates, and challenges you may be facing.
- Don’t forget to include insurance costs in your housing budget, especially if private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required by the lender, usually for FHA or low down payment loans.
- Sell your current home first. Yes it’s exciting to start looking, and you may even fall in love with a new home, but getting caught with two mortgages can ruin your present and future dreams for years to come.
It’s important to get pre-approved for your mortgage before you shop as well – that way, you know how much house you can really afford.
Buying a home brings many questions – meet with our mortgage experts!
Click here for information on our mortgage program, and click here to schedule an appointment to meet with one of our Mortgage Advisors!
January 5, 2017
A new year brings a chance to start fresh with just about anything. If your midnight toast includes a resolution to improve your financial health, here’s how to make it happen.
Get on a budget
To get ahead, it’s important to know where you stand and to create a plan with realistic goals such as a comfortable retirement, education and home ownership. Budgeting may sound old-school, but it’s still one of the best ways to accomplish this. Start by totaling your income and subtracting your monthly expenses for a quick financial snapshot. Then set goals, reduce unnecessary spending and, if the situation calls for it, explore ways to increase your income.
Budgeting doesn’t have be time consuming or complicated. Downloading a budgeting app to your smartphone lets you track spending and financial progress effortlessly in real time. To take the work out of saving toward your goals, you may also want to sign up for an automatic plan that electronically deposits an amount you choose from your paycheck or checking account into your savings account at regular intervals.
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January 3, 2017
It’s a new year, and that means new laws went into effect January 1. One very important law is AB 1785 – Vehicles: Use of Wireless Electronic Devices.
This new law states that motorists are no longer permitted to hold a wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device while driving a motor vehicle. Rather than holding the device, it must be mounted in the 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield farthest removed from the driver or in a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield nearest to the driver. Another option is to affix the device to the dashboard in a place that does not obstruct the driver’s clear view of the road and does not interfere with the deployment of an airbag. To ensure your safety, and the safety of others, please refrain from holding your phone while driving. You’ll not only make the roads safer, you’ll avoid getting pulled over.
Other new laws include School Bus Safety, Splitting Lanes (for motorcyclists), and more.
To see all of the new laws for 2017 click here.
December 29, 2016
With tax-time quickly approaching, our goal is always to keep your money and not give it all away to the IRS.
Your retirement savings has been chugging away for years. Then, when you reach the magic age of 70 1/2, required minimum distributions, or RMDs, are a factor because Uncle Sam is finally able to collect on those tax-deferred investments. Want to keep as much as you can?
Plan early. As soon as you are able, start talking to a financial planner about strategies you can employ to avoid the tax man later on. Begin in your 60s to draw down your IRAs with penalty-free withdrawals when the law allows at age 59 1/2. You’ll pay regular income tax but your bracket is probably lower than when you were working and the taxes on future RMDs will be lower. Convert some IRA money to Roth before you turn 70 1/2. Again, you’ll owe income tax on the converted amount but it should be lower now that you’re retired. If it sounds confusing, that’s because there are so many variables to each person’s individual situation that need to be examined. Meeting with a trusted financial advisor early and often is the safest way to ensure that you money is working hardest for you and not the IRS.
Find out more about MCCU IRAs and open yours today!
December 26, 2016
With passbook interest rates still at all-time lows, teaching kids the magic of compound interest is tough. You may want to consider showing the benefits of regular contributions and gift money in an account via a Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors (UTMA). Until your child reaches 18, either parent can be the custodian and guide decisions.
With these investment vehicles, you can demonstrate investments in stocks, mutual funds, and exchange-traded funds as long as you reach all the contributions requirements.
There are additional tax complications and financial aid impact, but the overall horizon for the growing of the account is much rosier than a straight and simple passbook savings account.
With an idea of how much money you anticipate directing to this type of strategy, consider your goals and consult your financial planner and tax advisor for detailed guidance for your circumstances.
Find out more about MCCU’s alternative Youth Savings Accounts and open yours today!
December 21, 2016
Wouldn’t it be great to discover you have money out there that you didn’t know about?
Did you move and forget to close out a small bank or credit union account? Did you change jobs and forget to give your forwarding information to human resources? Or maybe you gave a security deposit for a rental and it wasn’t immediately returned to you. There are lots of ways people lose track of money but it doesn’t have to stay “lost.” State laws require property left behind in safe deposit boxes and money left behind in accounts or at businesses to be returned to its rightful owners if at all possible. Visit sites like the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to search databases in 39 states. Visit the government sites of the states not listed and search separately.
You can also search for relatives that may have passed on and left items or funds that weren’t claimed through their estates.
Be prepared with proper identification and forms to claim your property or money.
December 19, 2016
While most teens nowadays value their smart phone more than car ownership, the fact is, most kids still need to get from point A to point B. Whether it’s your car they’ll be driving or their own set of wheels, there are a number of safety considerations that go into picking the right car for a new driver. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind when selecting a vehicle:
The more standard safety features, the better – Be sure to look for cars that come standard with safety features like anti-lock brakes (ABS), and front and side airbags. Protective airbags like these can be crucial in keeping drivers safe during a vehicle rollover or head-on collision. Vehicle stability control is another feature that can benefit an inexperienced driver who may be apt to over-correct their vehicle when maneuvering. The 2016 Honda Civic is one vehicle that scored high in vehicle handling and comes standard with stability control and brake assist. It’s easy to determine if the vehicle you’re considering includes these features – just build your car at Autoland.com and check the safety features listed under the equipment summary section. An Autoland Consultant can also personally research these features for you.
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December 16, 2016
Almost no one is perfect when it comes to credit scores. The average score for Americans has been inching up over the past decade and is now close to 700. Many lenders consider that a good number, but the highest possible score is 850, according to Fair Isaac Corp., or FICO, which developed some of the most widely used models for credit scoring. The lowest possible score is 300.
So how can you nudge your score higher? Here are some simple steps you can take to improve your credit score over the next year:
- Make your credit card payments on time every month. Pay every bill by the due date, even if you can only cover the minimum due. The biggest factor affecting your credit score is your payment history on installment loans, credit cards and other debt. It accounts for 35% of your score. So if you have a good track record with paying your bills on time, it can go a long way toward improving your credit score. If you have trouble remembering payments, look into online automatic bill pay from your checking account. Your check won’t get lost in the mail either.
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