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.

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.

04 Apr

Our Low Motorcycle Loan Rates are Almost Criminal

RMLEFCU has made it easier to buy a motorcycle

There are so many reasons to pull the trigger on a motorcycle purchase. Perhaps you used to ride when you were younger but life’s responsibilities got in the way. Or, you are new to riding, but crave freedom from four door transportation. Regardless of your motivation, Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union can support your motorcycle purchase with rates as low as 3.99% APR* with up to four years to repay your loan. Plus, you’ll have some extra dough to spend on motorcycle accessories since we pause your first payment for 90 days!

Maybe you’ll stick to riding your motorcycle within the metro Denver area or you’ll hit the road and head to the San Juan Mountains for a ride that the Discovery Channel ranks as one of the top 10 Motorcycle Rides in North America.

Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union can serve the financial needs of law enforcement employees and their families throughout the Centennial state though our partnership with CU Service Centers Network. There are 190 participating credit unions, whether you live in Alamosa or Yuma, Colorado.

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21 Jul

How to Bounce Back from a Personal Financial Crisis

There is no agreed upon definition of what constitutes a “personal financial crisis.”

A few examples might be:

  • Taking a pay cut with a different job
  • Unexpected repairs to your home or car that aren’t covered
  • Credit card debt that is eating up your income and not allowing you to save
  • You’re facing bankruptcy
  • You or your spouse has been laid off

Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union understands that a personal financial crisis is personal to you. However, we have a few suggestions of ways to tackle a financial setback that are widely applicable – whether the crisis was of your own doing, or beyond your control.

  1. Try to recognize if your emotions are taking over. It sounds hokey but positive thoughts lead to positive actions, while negative thoughts usually lead to negative action. If you have negative feelings about what has happened, you are likely to make a decision based on an emotion like fear, shame or anger.

Our attitudes towards money are shaped early in life, or develop without having much formal education. Everyone knows someone who seems to be constantly plagued by money problems.

People who believe that money is something within their control are the ones who become more successful in how they manage their finances.

  1. Look for pro-active solutions and don’t give in to the fear of making the same mistake or another financial setback. One antidote to fear is as much research as possible. Before starting to look for work, do your research and determine what you need to be earning in a new job to support your lifestyle. If there is some way you can increase your skills or better your negotiation techniques to secure a higher salary – do so. In the short term, think about what you can immediately cut from your monthly budget. Simple things like eating out less can help you get through a tough time.
  1. Check out a few books about money. – You’re busy – we get it – but if you have a few moments each day for social media – you can skim a few of these books.
  • Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin
  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  • Start Late, Finish Rich: A No-Fail Plan for Achieving Financial Freedom at Any Age by David Bach
  1. Pare down a few of your non-necessities.

A few examples are: eating out at restaurants, movie theater tickets, a gym membership, outdoor gear.

Alternatives: Use coupons to eat out (restaurant.com, Groupon). Watch movies and TV on Amazon Prime, Hulu or Netflix or go to a cheap theater like Elvis Cinemas in Denver. Rather than a gym membership, explore free or low cost fitness apps on your cell phone or move along to free videos on Youtube.com like the Fitness Blender series. To save money on shopping, borrow items when possible, or buy used or from outlets.

  1. Be cautious about credit counseling companies. Credit counseling is an alternative to bankruptcy. These companies have you pay them and they in turn pay your creditors, having negotiated a payment plan and schedule. It’s not all bad but you should do your research first.

Advantages:

You avoid filing for bankruptcy.

You consolidate your bills into one monthly payment, for a period that lasts usually three to five years.

Your credit score should stay the same as when you enroll.

You’re forced to follow a strict monthly budget and live within your means.

Cons:

Reports from researchers show a 50/50 success rate.

Most lenders will not lend to you until your counseling period ends and you have re-established some credit. This will take a few years.

Similar to bankruptcy, credit counseling may impact how potential employers view you.

Nobody is born with superior financial knowledge. It is a learned skill and one that takes assessment and constant practice. RMLEFCU has dedicated personnel to help you in a financial crisis. You may call (720) 458-6660 to learn more. We also offer an in-house financial planner, Deborah Wilson, who can be reached at 720-855-4128. Call to schedule a free consultation and gain peace of mind.

04 May

National Police Week Activities Honor Sacrifice and Stress Remembrance

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and designated the calendar week in which this day occurs as National Police Week to honor law enforcement service and sacrifice. This year National Police Week runs from Sunday, May 15, 2016 through Saturday, May 21, 2016.

There are many national organizations who work diligently to ensure this week pays tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters. Below is a list and the individual events they manage.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund – This group is responsible for the May 13, 2016 Candlelight Vigil honoring law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2015. The vigil takes place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and those outside of D.C. can view it online by logging onto this site.  In 2015, 123 officers lost their lives and each of their names will be engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Judicial Square following the vigil.

Fraternal Order of Police/Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary (FOP/FOPA), which organizes the Memorial Service on the west front lawn of the U.S. Capitol. A wreath laying ceremony will immediately follow the service.

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13 Apr

Convenience: Because Waiting in Line is No One’s Idea of a Good Time

Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union’s members don’t have time to wait in line. Even if they did have time to spare, we wouldn’t want them to spend it on banking related tasks. After all, we live in Colorado, we’d rather be out exploring our great state.

We have created a host of services that make life for convenient for our members. From check deposits using a few taps of your smartphone to applications that hone in on the nearest compatible ATMs – Time is ON your side when you choose to bank with RMLEFCU.

We’re proud to offer you:

  • Mobile Banking – Once you’ve registered and log on you can view your account balances, transfer funds, deposit checks, pay bills, enroll in automatic bill pay, make loan payments, and transfer money to other banking institutions.

To register for mobile banking, click on ‘Log In’ in the upper right hand side of rmlefcu.org. Under the ‘Log In’ boxes, click on ‘Register’. Next, enter in your member number, the last four of your social security number, date of birth and a security code (to ensure you’re not a bot on the net!) and you’re on your way.

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