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Welcome To The Insighter!

Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland FCU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight!
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All Posts > Lifestyle

Banking Credit Lifestyle

It’s nearly summer, and the next generation of high school and college seniors are getting ready to take their next step into independence. For those amazing graduates, the next few years will be a whirlwind of new schools, new jobs, and a whole lot of other firsts.

For those just starting out their financial lives, it can be a tough to start building good credit. After all, most loans and credit cards will require a history of on-time payments, showing future lenders that you are responsible. But, how are you supposed to get that without getting credit first!? For those with no credit history, obtaining those loans often requires a cosigner (someone else who is also on the loan that does have that history). A cosigner is also responsible for the on-time payments of the loan. A big responsibility.

Starting life on the right foot, financially, is important. Good credit scores and credit history are essential for those big purchases that need to be financed (think cars and homes!) and your credit can even be a factor when an employer is deciding whether to hire you.
 

The Basics of Credit


If you’re new to credit, there are a few really important terms you need to know. Your credit score is “a numerical value derived from a modeling system used to predict the likelihood of default.” Experian.com. Two of the most popular scoring frameworks are the FICO® and VantageScore®, and the scores range from 300 to 850. These scores are important to potential lenders when determining whether to issue you credit and how much to charge you for the service (i.e. interest rates). 700 is considered an average score, according to Experian.

The most reliable way to get your credit score into a good range is with good credit history—your record of taking on and paying back debts. Making on-time payments, keeping your credit utilization (the credit you’re using compared to what is available to you) low, and having older credit accounts all help boost your score. Opening a lot of accounts in a small window of time will lower your credit score, so makes sure to space those applications out. An excellent resource for credit score information is www.myfico.com/credit-education.

Keeping an eye on your credit report is also a really good idea, whether you’re starting out or have established credit. Your credit report is aggregated information about your credit accounts and history. You can access your credit report for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. Check it carefully to find issues that may be affecting your credit score. It’s also a really good idea to check your report to verify that the accounts on it actually belong to you. Fraud and identity theft isn’t uncommon, and the earlier you can catch inaccuracies, the easier it is to deal with the damage.

So, how are you supposed to build your score up when you’re just starting out? After all, your accounts, if you have any at all, aren’t likely to be seasoned. You haven’t had the opportunity to make steady payments. A credit card is a way to get started with revolving credit. Credit cards are issued with a credit limit; the maximum amount you can utilize. Keeping your spending low and paying it off each month can really help your credit score increase.

Another fantastic way is to obtain a manageable loan and make steady, on-time payments. Kirtland FCU can help! Kirtland FCU is proud to offer the Jump Start suite of starter loans and programs, just for those with little to no credit history—no cosigner required!

Jump Start Signature Loan

It’s your first loan! With no cosigner required, this small loan is the perfect way to borrow a little ($500–$1,000) and pay it back over 12 months. You will need to meet income and employment requirements.

Jump Start Auto Loan

A car is the first big purchase many of us will make in our financial lives. Qualifying with little to no credit history? Not so easy, and a cosigner is often necessary. With the Jump Start Auto Loan, you can get into that first car with no cosigner. Just meet income and employment requirements, provide a small down payment (at least $1,000) and purchase a car through a participating dealership (check with a representative to find a dealership).

Building credit through manageable amounts of debt with on-time payments is the smart way to build your credit and set yourself up for long-term  financial health!

Get started now!

APPLY FOR JUMP START SIGNATURE LOAN

APPLY FOR JUMP START AUTO LOAN

Home Loans Lifestyle

It’s heating up, and that means it’s time for home and yard projects!

Creating a new (or improved) space takes some creativity, planning, and yes, a way to pay for it all! You have a lot of options for funding your next big home project.
 

CREDIT CARDS


A credit card is an obvious choice for quick purchases that you can make now, pay for later! Credit cards offer great flexibility, but make sure you factor in the interest rate before you fund a project with a credit card. Also, if you need to fund a large project, your credit card limit may not be enough.

Best For:
  • Smaller projects
  • Borrowing only what you need, when you need it
  • Paying interest only on what you need

Check out the Independence Visa Credit Card from Kirtland FCU. No annual fees, no balance transfer fees, and a low interest rate, cash back or rewards make this card a great option.
 

HOME EQUITY


As you pay down your mortgage, you gain equity—value you own that you can borrow against in the form of a home equity loan or line-of-credit. Home equity options are great for larger projects that require a higher amount than you can get with a credit card, and may come with a lower interest rate.

Best For:
  • Larger projects
  • Those who own their own home and have sufficient equity
  • Those who want the option of fixed payments (home equity loans) or revolving credit (home equity line-of-credit)

Learn more about the Kirtland FCU home equity options now!
 

HOME IMPROVEMENT SIGNATURE LOAN


A signature loan requires no collateral—you aren’t borrowing against your home or other property as you would with a cash-out refinance home loan or a home equity loan or line-of credit.

Now through July 31, 2021, you can get a Kirtland FCU signature loan up to $15,000 with a term up to 60 months and an extra 1.00% off the current rate when you borrow the funds for a home improvement project! With a rate as low as 7.99% APR*, all you have left to do is pick out the paint.

Apply for the home improvement signature loan now!

We've got you covered when it comes to financing your big (or little) home projects. Apply online now or give us a call to discuss the best option for you!
 
*APR = Annual Percentage Rate. 7.99% APR rate includes a 1.00% discount and is valid for a 36-month term with an excellent credit rating on loans for home improvement purposes. Actual rate varies based on loan term, credit worthiness, and other factors. 1.00% rate discount available for terms up to 60 months. Promotion ends July 31, 2021. See a representative for complete details.

Lifestyle

Originally published August 24, 2020

If the coronavirus has you going stir-crazy, there’s a good chance you’ve thought about renting or buying an RV and taking a road trip. After all, an RV allows you to travel without exposing yourself to germy airports and hotels.
 
You wouldn’t be the only person to come up with that idea. In May, peer-to-peer rental service RVshare saw a 650% spike in bookings since the beginning of April. But if you’re a first-time RV driver, there can be a steep learning curve to overcome.
 
Before you hit the open road, make sure you don’t make one of these major first-timer mistakes.
 
1. Believing bigger is better
Considering that you’ll be spending a good amount of time in your RV, you want to be comfortable. Choosing something too small will make traveling feel claustrophobic. But that doesn’t mean you should buy the biggest RV you can.
 
“The mistake I made was thinking I needed more space than we actually needed,” said Angela M. DiLoreto, who travels nearly full time in her travel trailer and blogs with her husband at Fitting in Adventure. “People compare the space to their houses; we spend a lot of time in the four walls of our home but little time inside the walls of an RV.” However, she said, the RV experience is about what happens outside those walls.
 
A smaller vehicle will be easier to drive and park, as well as faster to set up and tear down. Plus, many national parks have length restrictions for camping, so keep this in mind when choosing the size of your RV.
 
2. Buying brand spanking new
If you’re buying your RV, it might be tempting to lean toward the security of buying brand new. After all, new cars are in great shape and ready to roll, so you might presume RVs are, too.
 
“This isn’t true in RVing, unfortunately,” said Georgianne Austin, communications director for Escapees RV Club. Common advice shared in RVing circles, she said, is that it’s best to buy an RV that’s at least two years old. “The idea behind this is to let someone else deal with the fresh-off-the-lot issues, such as interior construction problems, chassis problems, etc., which surface during the first real ride with the RV.” This is often referred to as the “shakedown” trip.
 
By purchasing a used RV, someone else has already dealt with those issues that arise with the first few trips and has hopefully had them fixed by the time you take over.
 
3. Failing to check the carrying capacity
Because RVs are big, you might think that they can easily haul whatever you can fit inside. And you might believe that the bigger the RV, the more it can tow. Those are misconceptions that can cost you, said Kimberly Button, co-editor of Couch Potato Camping. “All RVs are different, based on their designs, but they are only designed to safely carry a certain amount of weight, which is known as gross cargo carrying capacity.”
 
Cargo carrying capacities can range from just a few hundred pounds to several thousand pounds. Either way, that limit includes personal items (shoes, clothing, sports gear, etc.), food, water (including fresh, gray and black tanks), updates or additions to the RV (solar panels, TVs, etc.) and passengers.
 
Button warned that carrying more than that capacity could damage your RV or trailer, tow vehicle or both. “It is extremely important for RV buyers to consider how they are going to camp and how many people they will be bringing.”
 
4. Not considering what your tow vehicle can handle
Another mistake, specifically for those looking at travel trailers, is purchasing a camper too heavy for the towing capacity of their vehicle, according to Rosanna T. Mitchell, founder of outdoor family adventure site A Pragmatic Lens. “Horror stories abound of RV dealers and sales associates assuring customers that their vehicle is able to tow a camper weighing thousands of pounds only to realize later they need a new towing vehicle, or worse, get in an accident,” she said.
 
If you plan to buy a trailer, be sure that your existing vehicle is equipped to tow the weight. If not, you may need to budget for a new towing vehicle or consider a different type of RV.
 
5. Traveling with too many aftermarket modifications
Especially with the explosion of the “van life” movement, many RV owners are making aftermarket modifications to their vehicles to make them more livable and aesthetically pleasing.
 
However, you should be wary of purchasing an RV with modifications such as high roofs or different passenger and driver seats, said Tina Willis, a personal injury attorney in Orlando, Florida, who’s owned an RV for about five years.
 
“The reason is that these aftermarket changes very often aren’t nearly as safe as those tested and engineered by the original vehicle manufacturer,” she said. For example, removing the original roof from a van and adding a new high top eliminates the metal support beams that surround the occupants. Plus, many extended vans already have a higher rollover risk, and making them taller adds to that risk.
 
It can be tempting to buy something that looks like it drove right off an influencer’s Instagram feed, but safety should be the priority when choosing a vehicle.
 
6. Picking a poor floor plan
Rae Miller, blogger at the Getaway Couple, said it’s important for first-time renters or buyers to really think about the floor plan they want. For instance, are you a family that needs separate areas for the kids? Are you bringing any large toys along? Do you like the open concept or do you want distinct living areas?
 
Some newer RV models also have retractable slides that will affect how accessible the interior is while driving. “The number one question we tell first-time buyers to ask themselves is: Can you access the bedroom, bathroom and fridge with the slides in? You’d be surprised how many times you’ll want to access these areas with the slides retracted when traveling, so make sure they aren’t blocked,” Miller said.
 
7. Assuming you’ll get it perfect the first time
Becca Borawski Jenkins, a senior editor at FinanceBuzz who’s been a full-time RVer for over three years, said she knows few people who are still driving the first RV they purchased. “Most are on their second or third, and some have gone through even more than that.”
 
Why? It takes time and experience to truly understand what you want and need in an RV. And that’s OK. Jenkins said realizing you won’t buy the perfect RV the first time is a good thing, as it relieves some of the pressure when choosing a vehicle to invest in. “You’ll probably buy one that turns out to be too big or too small or doesn’t feature an amenity you later realize is essential to your camping happiness,” she said.
 
The most important thing is to not break the bank on your first choice. “If you don’t spend a fortune your first time out, then you can trade your first RV in and get the RV of your dreams the second time around.”
 
Also important to consider: an RV purchase will very often not include many accessories and parts you will need on your journey. Items such as wheel chocks, hoses, and other critical tools will be needed, so be sure to budget extra to purchase these supplies before you hit the road.
 
There are many avenues to pursue RV ownership: through a dealership or through a private seller. If you don’t have a chunk of change laying around, financing is available (and often cheaper than you might think) from your bank or credit union.
 
At Kirtland FCU, you could finance your home on wheels with a rate as low as 5.99% APR* for 180 months.

See how an RV payment would fit into your budget

 
Article originally published at Huffpost.com. Membership eligibility required. *APR=annual percentage rate. Rates are subject to change at any time without notice, and are effective the 1st of the month. Actual rate and loan are dependent on age of vehicle, type of loan, credit worthiness, and other factors.

Lifestyle

You may or may not have heard of QR codes, but in the midst of COVID-19 and the focus on contactless communication, these little black-and-white boxes are in their heyday.


What is a QR code?

A QR (quick response) code, pictured here, is simply a box with black-and- white patterns that lead to a particular action in a device (usually activating a URL or an app download). The pattern is a new-age barcode—but instead of transmitting information about a product, including price, this code holds information that can take you anywhere on the web. No fancy scanners—all you have to do is take a picture of it in most of today’s devices.
QR codes aren’t new. Launched in 1994, QR really failed to catch on with any regularity in the quarter-century that followed their inception. But with 2020 came a resurgence of contactless options in business, fast-tracking this previously no-hit wonder to modern-day mainstream.


Why QR?

On a device, a hyperlink is obviously, instantly clickable, and a fast way to reach a particular website or app. But what happens in real-life when you need to do the same thing? You could type in the web address manually, but that takes time and some URLs are really long. This is the bread-and-butter of QR codes! And in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, any option that reduces contact is in high demand. QR codes are shining, and odd are you’ll encounter one:
  • In a restaurant: QR codes printed on stickers or table signage provide a contactless way for patrons to view the menu online.
  • On a vehicle: Moving objects and long URLs don’t mix. But taking a quick photo? Easy peasy.
  • On products: Adding a QR code is a space saving way for companies to direct customers to more detailed information about their product.
  • In advertising: In the year of food delivery, putting a QR code on a receipt, flyer, banner, poster, or other visual advertising is a compact way to let the reader easily access more information if they decide to.
  • As a payment method: It’s not AS common, but behemoths like PayPal have started adding QR codes into their platforms to use as a payment option. Many merchants aren’t quite there, but in the lightspeed advancement of contactless payments that’s happening right now, that’s changing.


How to use a QR code

In the beginning, a special QR reader app was required to make sense of this special, nonsensical box, and the demand for the technology didn’t justify many device makers rushing to build the tech into their products. Slowly, but surely, as QR codes have gained popularity and widespread recognition, device makers have finally caught up. We’ve said, “Just snap a photo!” and it’s literally that easy on most devices. In fact, it’s easier. Have an iOS (Apple) device? Scanning a QR code is as simple as opening your camera app and pointing it at the QR code with the rear camera. Don’t press the shutter button—the phone will recognize the code automatically.

Most Android devices also have built-in functionality through their camera app. If not, the Google Lens app can easily be added.


QR Safety

So, here’s the thing about links: there is always the potential for it to be malicious. When you scan a QR code and head off to that page, you run the same risks as you would clicking on a link in a virtual environment. Here are a few things to consider before scanning:

Where did I find this code?
Is the code in a restaurant you’re sitting in? It’s probably safe if it’s on the official restaurant signage. Likewise, QR codes that come in bills are probably safe. But scanning QR codes you find laying around may not be the best idea. It’s incredibly easy to generate a QR code—for good or for ill. Receive an email with a QR code? Err on the side of caution and just visit the site yourself (not with a link) and look for the information you want.

Where does this lead?
Your device may allow you to preview the link itself before actual launching. Make sure you check this link before heading to the site! If it doesn’t match a site you thought you’d be headed to, cancel out and do not follow it. It’s safer to type in a URL, just in case.

Have you ever scanned a QR code? Next time you see one on official advertising or in a business you’re patronizing, give it a scan!

See more of the contactless ways you can get life done

 

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