16 Nov

HELOC vs Home Equity Loan Video

HELOCs and home equity loans may sound very similar, but in reality, they act very differently.  In this video, Cary discusses the differences between HELOCs and Home Equity Loans, their typical terms, and what they are commonly used for. For more information, check out past blog posts on what a HELOC is and how to use it to pay off debt. If you think you could benefit from a HELOC or home equity loan, give us a call at (303) 458-6660 or visit our website to learn more and apply today!

08 Nov

First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid

First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes to Avoid

Buying your first home can be exciting and stressful. You are finally going to be able to call a home your own, but must also pay the price that comes with that ownership – the mortgage. While there are many things to consider before and during your home buying journey, RMLEFCU is here to make the whole process a bit easier with these first-time homebuyer mistakes to avoid.

Ignoring or Not Knowing Your Credit Score

Before you even begin planning to buy a home, you must first know if you are financially able to do so. Do you have enough money to pay for the house in cash? If not, how good of a loan will your credit score allow you to get? These are the hard, but important, questions to ask yourself when determining if you are ready to own your own home.

The first, and most basic, step to determine your financial ability, is knowing your credit score. This is the score that banks will look at when determining which home loans you qualify for and, ultimately, which houses you will be able to afford. By being aware of your credit score before meeting with a mortgage consultant, you will be able to more easily communicate your concerns and desires with them and are more likely to be happy with the result.

Looking for a Home Before a Loan

Being realistic about what you can afford is just one of the harsh truths that you must face while buying a home. By looking for houses before you know what kind of loan you qualify for, you may be setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. Instead, know where you stand before you start shopping. Visit our website or come into a RMLEFCU branch and have a financial discussion with one of our mortgage specialists to get pre-qualified for a home loan amount before you start looking.

Being Too Picky

Finding your dream house in your price range is really only a thing of fairytales. Make a list of what’s important to you in a home and decide what you need and what you can sacrifice on. For example, a great school district and large yard might be deal breakers if a home doesn’t have them, but you could maybe live without the dual master bathroom sinks and extra-large walk-in closet. It’s all about finding the happy medium between price and features.

Assuming Your Mortgage is the Only Expense

A common mistake some people make when budgeting for buying a home, is assuming that the mortgage payment will be their only expense. There are many other costs to take into account, such as property insurance, property taxes, maintenance costs, and homeowners association dues (if your residence has them). All these smaller, less significant costs can add up quickly when it comes to home budgeting and affordability. It’s best to over-budget and anticipate for more expenses early on so you’re not left blindsided and broke if anything changes in your financial situation.

The bottom line is that there more first-time home buying mistakes to avoid than you might have originally thought. It’s always better to be over-prepared, and that’s why we’re here! RMLEFCU is ready to help you finance your first home when the time comes and we have the experts here to get it done right. Visit our website or give us a call to get started and see how easy your first-time home buying process can be!

18 Oct

Planning for Retirement Now

Planning for Retirement Now

No matter what age you are, the time to start planning for retirement is now. If you have no idea where to start, or just want to review your current plan, we’re here to help. By following these few pieces of advice, you can take your retirement savings plan up a notch and start seeing the real difference that saving early can make.

Contribute to Your 401(k)

Contributing to your 401(k) is the simplest way to start planning for your retirement. Even if it seems impossible when you’re struggling to pay off student debt, pay rent, and just afford to eat, focusing on setting aside a small amount every paycheck and contributing it to your 401(k) can make a huge difference in the long run.

Another benefit, is that most employers offer contribution matches to your 401(k). Meaning the amount that you put in, they will match up to a certain percentage, usually 3%. This is essentially free retirement money, so take full advantage and contribute at least the maximum amount that they will match. You should start contributing to your 401(k) as soon as possible.

Open an Individual Retirement Arrangement (IRA)

There are two types of IRAs, traditional and Roth – both with advantages depending on when you would like your contributions to be taxed. A traditional IRA allows you to contribute up to $5,500 per year and grows, tax-deferred, until retirement. With a Roth IRA, you can contribute the same amount per year, but the money is taxed now instead of when you remove it at retirement. RMLEFCU offers both types of IRAs, so you can pick the account that best suits your retirement savings needs. Learn more about our IRA options here.

Be Wise with Your Investments

The younger you are, the more aggressive you can be with your investments as you can handle the ups and downs of the long-term market. The older you get though, you likely want to start choosing more conservative investment options with less risk. If you know little to nothing about investing, instead of trying to decipher the world of stocks and mutual funds by yourself, it’s wise to enlist the help of a professional. Here at RMLEFCU, we have a great financial planning department that is ready to help you plan for retirement and long-term success.

Plan an Emergency Fund

Now that you’re contributing funds toward your retirement, you may think that you don’t need to save anything else. In the case of an emergency though, you’ll want to have a separate account set up with a decent amount of money that can be used for unexpected expenses instead of putting large expenses on a credit card or, even worse, using retirement savings. By setting up a separate savings account with an ideal amount of about 3 months living expenses saved up, you can maintain peace of mind that you will be able to handle any unfortunate emergency that might come up. Sometimes cars break down and dogs need to visit the vet. RMLEFCU offers both regular and custom savings accounts to help you with your specific savings goals. Check them out and see which is the better option for you.

Give yourself peace of mind by looking at the big picture and planning for retirement sooner rather than later. You’ll thank yourself in the long run and probably not even miss the simple expenses you might have to cut back on today. If you need help getting started planning for retirement and would like to speak with one of our financial advisors, give us a call at (303) 458-6660 or visit our website for more information.

 

 

12 Oct

Tips for Paying Off Debt

Tips for Paying Off Debt

Debt has become a dirty four-letter word of sorts. People don’t want to talk about it, and yet it consumes and frustrates so many of us. Fear not though! RMLEFCU is here to give you a few tips for paying off debt and help you along the way.

Plan and Budget

Even though it may be intimidating and seem impossible to dig yourself out of the debt hole, if you learn how to take control of your finances and come up with a game plan, it can be a lot simpler than you think. A simple way to start, is by gathering the balances and interest rates from your various credit cards and loans. Once you have a good idea of how much you owe in total, then you can begin to come up with a budget and plan of attack.

To create a budget, start out by making a spreadsheet that includes your monthly income and expenses. Then, go through the expenses and see what costs are truly non-negotiable and which you can live without – at least until you are debt free. This will loosen up some extra cash that you can put directly towards paying off your debt, getting you one step closer to financial freedom. Check out the new budgeting tool in the RMLEFCU online banking portal. This handy feature integrates with your spending to help you plan a budget and stay on track.

Tackle the Most Expensive Debt First

Now that you have decided how much you owe in total, it’s time to take a closer look at the different interest rates on various loans and cards. Sort them from highest to lowest interest rate and focus on paying off the higher ones first, by putting more than the minimum payment down on them each month. By doing this while continuing to pay at least the minimum on all others, you will lower the amount of interest costing you the most money every month.

Another option is to consolidate your high interest debt into a lower interest option. If you have credit card debt, consider transferring the balances on your higher interest credit cards to a lower interest RMLEFCU credit card for no additional fee. If you have high interest loans such as student loans or an auto loan, talk with a loan advisor about paying them off with a lower interest RMLEFCU option such as a HELOC, personal loan, or by refinancing.

Pay More Than the Minimum

The minimum monthly payments on credit cards and loans are usually 2-3% of your total outstanding balance. In order to make a dent in your debt, you must pay more than just the minimums. Otherwise you are just dragging out the repayment period causing yourself more stress and costing yourself more money. The longer it takes you to repay charges, the more interest banks charge you. Don’t fall into this vicious cycle. Instead, try paying the minimum payment every other week or pay double the monthly minimum. For example, if your minimum payment due is $100, try paying $200 or more whether it’s all at once or sporadically throughout the month. This will allow you to avoid interest charges and improve your credit score. Win-win!

Increase your Assets

If you’re following all of the above steps and still don’t feel like you’re getting un-buried as fast as you would like, it might be time to consider other options to increase your cash flow. This can be anything from selling unnecessary items you may have accumulated over the years, or even getting a second job. Depending on how much money you need and how much time you are willing to invest, each of these options has its pros and cons that should be taken into consideration with your unique situation.

Paying off debt doesn’t have to be intimidating and frustrating. If you develop a solid plan and stick to it, becoming debt free is completely possible for anyone. If you want more tips for paying off debt or would like to speak with one of our expert representatives, give us a call at (303) 458-6660 or visit our website.

09 Oct

Dreams Thrive Here –International Credit Union Day Contest

Dreams Thrive Here

Dreams Thrive Here –International Credit Union Day Contest

The theme for International Credit Union Day 2017 is “Dreams Thrive Here,” and we are behind that sentiment 1000%! After all, we’ve been supporting each other’s dreams since 1938. In that spirit, members are invited to visit our Facebook page and share their own experiences in using RMLEFCU’s tools and services to make a dream happen.

Tell us about a memorable trip, favorite vehicle, or educational experience that the credit union helped make happen and be entered to win your choice of:

  • A free loan slide-by for the holiday season
  • ¼ point off a new loan
  • Or one free year of Kasasa Protect

Enter the “Dreams Thrive Here” contest by sharing your story on the post linked below, by tagging @RMLEFCU in a post on Facebook, or using #DreamsThriveHere on Twitter or Instagram before October 19th (International Credit Union Day).

We look forward to hearing your stories!

Dreams Thrive Here Facebook Contest

*Entrants must qualify for RMLEFCU membership. Eligibility is open to current or retired employees of law enforcement organizations in the state of Colorado as well as family of our current members. For a full list of eligible organizations please visit https://www.rmlefcu.org/about-us/become-a-member.html.

04 Oct

How to Avoid Phishing Scams

How to Avoid Phishing Scams

In this day and age, most everyone is aware of phishing scams and does their best to avoid falling prey to their tricks. With such a high level of awareness, you might think that the volume of thieves out there creating phishing scams has decreased. The unfortunate truth though, is that innocent consumers still fall victim to scams every day, as criminals get better and better at their job of fooling every-day people. Fortunately for you, RMLEFCU has a policy to educate our members on these internet-related fraudulent schemes and how to avoid them.

Access Sites Directly

RMLEFCU advises that you not access the Credit Union’s webpage from a link on a third-party site, as it may not be authentic. Always access the site by typing the name or URL address into the browser or use a “bookmark” that directs you straight to the site. This will ensure that you are visiting the actual, secure website instead of a copy or lookalike page.

Beware of Emails Asking for Information

Nowadays, people get so many emails each day that it’s hard to keep track of them all. When going through your inbox, trying to decide which are important and which are spam, it’s easy to see the name of a trusted institution and immediately assume that it is a legitimate email. As a rule of thumb, RMLEFCU will never request confidential information such as account numbers, passwords, or personal identification numbers (PINs) via email. If you receive an email request requesting one or more of these examples, report it to the Credit Union and delete the email immediately.

Ensure Webpages are Secure

When visiting any site where you will be putting in sensitive personal information, always make sure to check that it is secure. You can check this by looking at the URL of the website. If it begins with “https” instead of ”http”, the site is secured using the SSL Certificate. This ensures that all of your data and information is secure when it is passed from your browser to the site’s server. RMLEFCU maintains current website security certificates that safeguard confidential transactions and information. Just make sure to authenticate the site pages before entering in any sensitive material.

How to Avoid Phishing Scams

Report Suspicious Activity

If you suspect that you have gotten a phishing scam via email, phone call, or other form of communication, reach out to the institution that the message was supposedly sent from at a phone number or email address that you know to be legitimate. This will not only validate whether or not the message was genuine, but, if it was a scam, will allow the institution to alert others and prevent further damage.

Everyone slips up now and then, but by following these precautions, you will drastically lower your chances of falling victim to a phishing scam. Just by getting into the habit of checking websites you visit for the SSL Certificate verification, the chances of your identity or personal information being stolen is significantly reduced.

If you have any questions about RMLEFCU’s policy regarding phishing scams, please visit our website or give us call at (303) 458-6660.