19 Jun

Paying for College Without Going Broke

Paying for College Without Going Broke

One of the first thoughts after being accepted to college is usually, “Now how do I pay for this?!” The current costs of tuition are staggering, but there are several options for paying for college without going broke. It is worth the research and effort to explore all options, in particular assistance that does not need to be repaid like grants and scholarships.

Paying for Tuition

Financial Aid

The first step in beginning your quest for financial aid should be to fill out your FAFSA at https://fafsa.ed.gov/. Filling out this document will tell you what government aid you qualify for, including grants, loans, and other programs like work-study.

It is a good idea to always accept all grants first, and then figure out what additional funding you may need after that amount is deducted from your tuition. Grants do not need to be re-paid if you graduate, but beware, dropping out of school can mean you have to repay the full amount you accepted.

Scholarships

The next best form of funding for college expenses after grants are scholarships. Scholarships do not need to be re-paid (under most types) and can be awarded for a variety of reasons. There are scholarships for all sorts of interests and activities. Some are based on merit, some are based on sports performance, and some are based on where you live.

The William Threlkeld Scholarship

RMLEFCU members that are in high school or college are eligible to apply for the William Threlkeld Scholarship. Four deserving members/students will be awarded the scholarship based on academic performance (a 3.0 GPA or higher), community involvement, and the potential to succeed at the college level. 2017 applications are due by July 31, to apply, fill out this application and mail to:

Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union
attn: Threlkeld Scholarship
10025 Park Meadow Drive
Lone Tree, CO 80135

Loans

Loans for college expenses come in two forms: government and private; both of which must be paid back plus interest. Through your FAFSA you will find out if you qualify for any government loans. Subsidized government loans are better than unsubsidized or private loans because you will not accrue interest while in school.

If after receiving grants, scholarships, and subsidized loans you still need cash for school, your next step is to decide between an unsubsidized government loan or a private loan. Choose whichever has a lower interest rate (hint: this won’t always be the government loan!). Another option is to use your parent’s home as collateral for a low interest loan. This could be in the form of a home equity loan or home equity line of credit.

Personal Expenses

As far as personal expenses while you are a student, some grants or scholarships allow for personal expenses. Only use these though if you have all school expenses (like tuition and books) covered first.

The ideal way to pay for personal expenses while in school is with a part time job or work study program. You want to minimize student debt as much as possible, so going into more debt for living expenses can put you into a bad cycle of increasing your debt each year.

College costs are intimidating for every student, but there are a large number of ways to pay for these expenses without graduating completely broke. Research your options, apply for every scholarship under the sun, and only accrue debt when necessary.

09 Jun

Conveniences of RMLEFCU

Conveniences of RMLEFCU

At Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union, members not only get to enjoy low rates and great service, but we strive to be on the cutting edge of banking technology. Take advantage of our many conveniences such as mobile and online banking, shared branching, courtesy pay, mobile check deposit, and more!

Online Banking

With RMLEFCU, your bank account is never more than a click away. Online banking is free, secure, and easy-to-use. Anywhere with internet access you can log on to your account to:

  • Access eStatements
  • View transaction history
  • Check account balances
  • Complete funds transfers
  • And more!

Another great convenience made possible by online banking is online bill pay. With your RMLEFCU checking account, set up one time or recurring bill payments to any person or business in the country.* This service is available 24/7 and will send email alerts directly to your inbox. No need to keep mailing the same check each month, set up bill pay and let your bills pay themselves!

Mobile Banking

With mobile banking, all your main transactions just got even easier to reach; in the palm of your hand! RMLEFCU mobile banking is fast, free, and secure for every member enrolled in online banking. With the mobile app (available for iPhone or Android) you can:

  • View account balances
  • Review history
  • Deposit checks
  • Transfer funds between accounts
  • Pay bills
  • Make loan payments

Don’t ever get to the checkout line, watch the total start to rapidly climb, and stress if you have enough in checking to complete the transaction. With mobile banking, you can quickly transfer the needed funds before the moment of truth – potential embarrassment avoided!

Shared Branching

Myth: Local Credit Unions are inconvenient because if you ever travel, you are out of luck if you need to visit a branch.

Myth busted! Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement FCU has 5,000+ shared branching locations in the United States.

RMLEFCU has joined with other credit unions around the world in a cooperative effort to bring you a new level of financial convenience. Through the CU Service Centers Network you can perform many of your financial transactions and obtain services even when you’re far away from your home branch!

As of February 2011, there are currently 190 credit unions in the State of Colorado participating in the Shared Branching program and 5,000+ locations within the United States. And that number is growing every day. We even have international Shared Branching Service Centers.

Isn’t it nice to know that you have easy access to your money when you are on vacation or if an emergency arises that takes you out of Colorado? Find a participating branch near you here or call 1-800-919-CUSC (2872).

Services Offered

Because a CU Service Center is a “shared” facility, members of participating credit unions can transact teller business, such as:

Some of these services may not be available at all locations.

  • Deposits
  • Withdrawals
  • Money orders
  • Transfer funds
  • 24-hour ATM access
  • Loan payments & advances
  • Balance inquiries on all accounts
  • Statement printouts on all accounts for the past 10 days
  • Purchase cashiers & certified checks

You can expect to pay a nominal fee* on the following items at service centers:

  • Service center checks
  • Checks deposited in excess of 10 checks
  • Money orders
  • Stop payments on counter checks
  • Notary service
  • Coin machine

NOTE: CU Service Centers may limit the amount of cash you can withdraw per day, regardless of RMLEFCUs withdrawal limit.

What You Will Need

You need these things when you visit a CU Service Centers Location:

  • Credit union name: Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement FCU
  • Your account number (without dashes)
  • A VALID U.S. Government issued picture identification with signature
  • Last 4 digits of your Social Security Number

Have these items ready to present to the teller. This will save you time and will help us with serving you. All transactions require identification because the CU Service Centers Network cares about protecting your identity and account information.

If you have questions regarding your account or transactions that were performed through the CU Service Centers Network, please contact us.

Courtesy Pay

Courtesy Pay is a free service that works as an emergency source of cash. If you do not have an Overdraft Protection Loan, Courtesy Pay will allow check, debit and ACH items to be paid by allowing your checking account to go into the negative, rather than returning the overdraft item.

Courtesy Pay will allow items to be paid up to $1,000. When paying the item, your checking account will go negative and you will be expected to pay the negative balance back within 30 days in addition to a fee of $28. This protects against mistakes made, or if you simply overdraw your balance. Courtesy Pay prevents collection agency fees and other associated fees and may help clear an important item such as a house payment.

Mobile Check Deposit

Deposit checks without ever setting foot in a branch! Mobile deposit uses your smartphone camera to make deposits in just a few quick clicks. No changing out of your sweats or human interaction necessary.

It’s free, secure, and easy to use. Save yourself some time — take advantage of this convenient mobile banking feature today.

  • Deposit checks anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone
  • Free service for customers with a Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement FCU checking account
  • Save time and avoid unnecessary trips to a branch
  • Deposit your check in just a few quick clicks.

Getting started is easy! Simply download the app for iPhone or Android and follow these steps:

  • Take a picture of the front and back of your check, following the on-screen instructions (make sure you sign it)
  • Select the checking account into which you want to make the deposit
  • Enter the check amount
  • Verify that everything on the screen is correct, then hit “Submit”
  • We’ll confirm that the check has been received

Apple Pay/Samsung Pay/Visa Checkout

Carrying around a wallet full of plastic can put in quite a bind if that wallet is lost or stolen. Connect your RMLEFCU checking account to a mobile payment app such as Apple Pay, Samsumg Pay, or Visa Checkout and have your virtual “debit card” password protected! A huge number of stores and restaurants now accept mobile payments, so you can leave the plastic at home.

Make banking easy, and dare we say it, fun. With RMLEFCU’s many convenient ways to bank, there is no need to fight traffic or even get dressed to perform your basic CU transactions.

*Some restrictions apply. Alimony, court, and certain government payments may not be made using the online bill pay service.

17 May

Getting Your First Mortgage Through a Credit Union- Lower Rates and No Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage Through a Credit Union

When it comes to buying your first home and applying for a mortgage loan, finding your dream home is only half of the battle. There is the task of making sure you understand all the requirements of applying for a loan, figuring out what type of mortgage is best for you, and making sure that your lender has your best interests in mind. Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make, so there is a lot at stake when choosing a lender.

All of these reasons are why getting a first mortgage through a Credit Union like RMLEFCU is becoming more and more popular. Credit Unions operate very differently than big, private banks and in turn can offer you better service, lower rates, lower origination fees, and NO mortgage insurance if you’re putting down less than 20%.

Yes, you heard correctly! NO mortgage insurance required.

No Mortgage Insurance (PMI)

For many first time home buyers, the biggest obstacle to getting the ball rolling is the intimidating task of saving up 20% of the home cost or facing a monthly charge of $100-$300 for mortgage insurance. At RMLEFCU, you can have your cake and eat it too!

Is it up to the lender whether to charge mortgage insurance on loans with less than 20% down, and at Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union, there is none required. You can put less than 20% of the total home cost down and still avoid a monthly PMI fee.

Low Interest Rates and Origination Fees

Credit unions are able to offer lower than average interest rates and origination fees because of how their business models differ from that of a traditional bank. Credit Unions (like RMLEFCU) are owned by the members and run as close to cost as possible. Any profits earned don’t go into the executives’ pockets, members democratically decide where they go, which is usually to lowering rates and fees.

On a huge, long term loan like a mortgage, small fractional increases in interest rates can have an enormous impact on how much you will pay out over the life of the loan. Getting as low an interest rate as possible is a vital part of getting the best mortgage.

Better Service

Credit Unions are known for their great service. It all ties back to the business model; a Credit Union is owned by its members and decisions are made democratically. This involvement by members in the innerworkings of the business eliminates the divide between bank employees and you.

In addition, RMLEFCU is a local, Colorado credit union made up exclusively of law enforcement officers, support staff, and their families. Our loan officers understand the Denver real estate climate, your situation, and know you by name. Your experience applying for a loan will be much more personal and specific to you, not just how you add up on a piece of paper.

Make your dream of being a home owner happen sooner than you thought possible by getting a mortgage through a credit union. With no PMI and low rates and fees, you can’t afford not to!

08 May

Beware of Free Trials – Always Read the Fine Print

Free trials for software and website subscriptions are popular and very common. They exist with the goal of letting customers try products before they purchase. However, if you don’t plan to buy the service, beware of free trials!

Before signing up, always read the fine print agreement and make sure you know when to cancel before the trial runs out. It may help to write down that cancel-by date so you do not forget! Even if you have every intention of cancelling before the trial runs out, you will still be responsible for payment if you fail to cancel and your credit card is charged. This does not count as fraud.

Always Read the Fine Print

For most free trials (but not all of them), the business will be up front about how the trial works before you sign up. You enter your credit card information to get the free trial, but if you cancel by such and such date you will not be charged. Remember that you are responsible for cancelling.

Always read the fine print before you sign up, especially if the information about how/when to cancel is not obvious. Here are the most important factors to look for to make sure you do not end up getting charged:

  • Confirm that you CAN cancel the free trial and avoid being charged for the service.
  • Learn exactly how long the free trial lasts, and most importantly, the last day you can cancel to avoid being charged.
  • Once you identify the cancel-by date, plan to cancel at least a business day before. Write it down on a calendar or set a reminder on your smart phone.
  • Make sure that there are no clauses “trapping” you into buying the service. For example, check that you are not entering into a long-term contract where you will still owe a partial payment if you cancel, etc.
  • Be aware that the fine print likely tells you that if you do not cancel by the specified date, you have agreed to be charged for the service.

If You Forget to Cancel, You Are Still Obligated to Pay

If you planned the entire time to cancel the free trial before you were charged, but you forgot to cancel before the specified date, you are still liable for payment. This does not count as fraud. The fine print agreement often stipulates very clearly that your card on file will be charged at the end of the trial.

Unfortunately, you are responsible for this payment and filing a fraud claim or dispute with your credit union can rarely change that. Any time you enter your credit card information online you should be fully aware of what you are signing up for and the terms that go with it. Free trials are a nice way to try out a new program, but if you do not plan to buy the product, be sure you take the necessary steps to avoid being charged.

03 May

How to Fund Your Honeymoon with a Loan

Fund Your Honeymoon with a Loan

Figuring out how to pay for a honeymoon that lives up to your expectations, especially after planning and paying for a wedding, can just seem like one more daunting task to deal with.

A great option that not many know about is to fund your honeymoon with a loan. You can still go on the honeymoon you’ve always dreamed of while not racking up a mountain of credit card debt. Vacation loans have lower interest rates than your typical credit card (as low as 7.95% APR*) and you often have up to 12 months to repay.

You don’t want to start off your new life together without two pennies to rub together. Take out a loan for your honeymoon to eliminate the struggle of finding the cash to pay for it and make your vacation the way it should be: stress free!

Don’t Compromise on Your Dream Honeymoon

You probably have one or two vacation destinations you’ve always imagined for your honeymoon. Whether it’s something tropical or a mountain getaway, you don’t have to compromise on your honeymoon. This should be your one chance to truly take that romantic getaway to your dream destination. Celebrate your new marriage without stressing the financial details!

If you have a little bit of money set aside for the honeymoon but it just doesn’t seem like enough, pay for your honeymoon with a mix of both. Knock out the plane tickets and lodging with a loan, then use cash for dining out and spending money while on your honeymoon.

A Loan is Better than Credit Card Debt

Many new couples come out of their wedding and honeymoon with a mountain of credit card debt; probably not the ideal way to start your new life together. By opting for a loan rather than racking up your credit card to pay for a honeymoon, you can enjoy a lower interest rate and a structured re-payment plan.

A loan is gentler on your credit score as well. If you have other large purchases planned, like a house or a car, you will want your credit score looking as good as possible. Not only will a loan collect less interest but it is also “better” debt than consumer debt.

Start Your New Life Together in Good Financial Standing

A new marriage usually means new joint expenses and more serious planning for your future together. Do retirement-age you a favor and start things off on a good foot. Keep some cash for the unexpected, minimize your credit card debt, and prioritize low interest loans to higher interest alternatives.

With Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union, you can borrow up to $2,500 with an APR as low as 7.95%.* To learn more, call 303-458-6660, go to rmlefcu.org, or visit one of our branches.

*Annual Percentage Rate. With approved credit. Some restrictions may apply. Offer valid through July 31, 2017

27 Apr

Emergency Funds: Do I Really Need One and How Big Should It Be?

Emergency Fund

Did you know that according to recent survey, roughly 26% of adults in the U.S. have no savings set aside for emergencies*? What do you think is the percentage of adults that experience financial emergencies each year? It would be nice to think that it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 26%, but it is surely higher.

You probably periodically consider starting an rainy day fund but then something comes up to pay or save for and you put it off to next year. No matter how small your first contribution is, now is the time to get serious about building (and keeping!) a healthy emergency fund.

Why Have an Emergency Fund?

Separate from your general savings account, every individual and family should have a designated emergency fund with a consistent balance. Anyone with children knows how common unexpected dental work or home repair can be, but even unattached adults need to be able to survive a lay-off or medical emergency.

Other than interest, another thing that can be gained from having an emergency fund is simple peace of mind. Anyone who has ever lived paycheck to paycheck can tell you that it is not a fun lifestyle; the smallest financial inconvenience can spell falling behind on important bills, not to mention sleepless nights. By having a designated emergency fund, you are buying yourself a sense of security just as much as you are paying for those unforeseen life events.

How Big Should My Emergency Fund Be?

The general rule of thumb for an emergency fund is three months’ worth of expenses. Obviously the more savings the better, but enough cash to get you through three months should be your minimum. This fund can be for anything from medical bills to home repair, but it should also be large enough to support you and your family in the event of losing steady income.

If you do not already have a good idea of how much you spend each month on everything from housing to groceries, figure out that amount first. Go back and take a good look at your spending habits. Guessing your total grocery bill won’t do you any favors if you have to live off of your emergency fund and realize half of it is being lost to food.

Once you have that monthly figure, multiply by three and then add a little cushion of maybe 10% more for good measure. Don’t stop there if you have the means to beef up your emergency fund even more, but three months should be your absolute minimum balance at all times.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, today is the perfect day to start one. Open a separate savings account, deposit just $100, and make the mental decision to never withdraw money unless it truly is an emergency. Your future self will thank you.

Check out this video to learn more about emergency funds!

*https://www.creditdonkey.com/average-american-savings-statistics.html