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Is Now the Right Time to Buy a Car?

Is Now the Right Time to Buy a Car?

Have you been considering purchasing a vehicle? Now could be the right time for you to buy. According to US News, March car sales were off by almost 40 percent compared to the same month in 2019. What does this mean for you? Due to declining sales, dealerships are highly motivated to sell vehicles but you may not necessarily get the deal that is best for you. Our goal is to encourage you to do your due diligence and buy a vehicle that’s best for your lifestyle and budget. To help you make a smart decision, we’re providing a few tips to ensure you’re well-informed. Know you have choices Due to dealerships looking to make up for lost sales, they’re offering flashy, headline-making deals. However, once you take a look under the hood, the deals aren’t as great as they seem. For instance, a cash rebate will be a better deal than 0 percent interest when paired with a low-interest loan as it can lower your monthly payment. Therefore, you can take the rebate and finance with Power Financial Credit Union for your best deal. If the dealership requires you to use their financing, you can finance with the rebate and then refinance your auto loan with us. We will work with you to ensure you receive the best deal on your vehicle. TransUnion reports that car buyers who refinanced their auto loan, lowered their rate by over 2 percent!* Consider your warranty options When you’re buying a vehicle, whether new or used, dealers will try to sell you or automatically include add-ins like warranties to your loan. When buying...
6 Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Responsibly

6 Ways to Spend Your Stimulus Responsibly

Have you received your COVID-19 stimulus payment or are you expecting it soon? Have you started thinking about how you would spend it? It’s tempting to think about all of the ways you could spend an extra $1,200 or $2,400 – depending your filing status and the number of dependents you claim. Before you get that list finalized, we want to give you some tips to help your money stretch as far as possible. 1. Prioritize. Look at your bills. What are essential – rent or mortgage, car payment, utilities – and what bills are non-essential – entertainment, streaming services, unusable memberships? Make a list of what you need and what you can live without. Focus on paying the essential bills first. 2. Save. Save. Save. Don’t miss an opportunity to pad your savings account with some of your stimulus money. It’s a one-time payment so think of your stimulus as a mini emergency fund. You may want to set aside some of the payment as “in case” money. 3. Divide and conquer. You only get one stimulus payment, but your bills will still come monthly. If you’re currently unemployed, it’s especially important to be strategic in how you spend your stimulus payment. Take this opportunity to divide it up into smaller chunks to help cover some of the essential bills you pay each month. Also, talk to your landlord or mortgage lender, your utility company and internet service provider if you’re having trouble meeting your monthly obligations. A lot of companies are finding ways to help their customers during this unprecedented situation. 4. Don’t hoard cash. Hoarding cash...
Stimulus Payments Are On The Way

Stimulus Payments Are On The Way

Economic Impact payments are on their way, and most Americans have already received their money. But, what does it mean for you if you haven’t? Where is my stimulus check? The IRS began sending out stimulus payments in April. But if you haven’t received yours yet, there’s no reason to panic. Retirees, senior citizens, and taxpayers who filed income taxes in 2018 and 2019 and included direct deposit information were the first groups to receive their payments. If you’re not in one of those categories, you’ll still receive a payment, but it’ll arrive by mail instead of being directly deposited into your checking or savings account. Taxpayers who didn’t include direct deposit information will receive a paper check sometime in May. The IRS does a feature on its website that will allow taxpayers to provide direct deposit information if their check hasn’t yet been mailed. However, the feature isn’t slated to be up and running until mid-April. What you need to know about payments Most taxpayers are eligible to receive a stimulus payment. The payments are automatic, and no further action is needed to receive the payment. The amount, however, will vary based on filing status, the number of dependents and adjusted gross income (AGI). Individuals or head of household filers will receive $1,200, while married taxpayers filing jointly (if they aren’t a dependent of another taxpayer) will receive $2,400. Taxpayers will receive up to $500 per dependent claimed on their federal tax returns in 2018 and 2019. Stimulus payments are based on the AGI claimed by the filer. Taxpayers will receive the amounts listed above if they have a work-eligible...
What You Should Know About The Stimulus Checks

What You Should Know About The Stimulus Checks

President Donald Trump has signed a $2 trillion economic relief plan set to provide aid to millions of Americans impacted by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The package includes stimulus payments for individuals, additional unemployment coverage, student loan relief, and more. But, what does that mean for you? Stimulus Payments Most adults will receive a check or direct deposit. The amount will vary based on adjusted gross income, filing status, and the number of dependents you claim. The amounts will break down as follows: Single adults who made $75,000 or less annually will receive $1,200. If you have qualifying children 16 or under, you will receive an additional $500 per child. Married couples with no children who made $150,000 or less will receive $2,400. Taxpayers who file as the head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less. For single adults who make more than $75,000, the payment gradually decreases until it stops all together at $99,000. For married people with no children who make more than $150,000, the stimulus payment gradually decreases until it stops all together at $198,000. If someone claims you as a dependent – even as an adult – you will not be eligible for a relief payment. To see your adjusted gross income, look at Line 8B on your 2019 1040 federal tax return. Most people will receive their payments within three weeks. However, according to the bill, you’ll receive a paper notice in the mail a few weeks after your payment has been distributed. That notice will also contain information about where the payment ended up and in what...
COVID-19 Scams

COVID-19 Scams

No question – the past few weeks have been insane as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re seeing things unfold that most of us haven’t experienced before. Entire cities have shut down, people are being quarantined, and credit unions are being forced to find different ways to serve members. While we’ve seen the best in humanity from Publix setting aside the first hour they’re open to serve the elderly to multiple restaurants providing meals for kids who are out of school, we’ve also seen scammers who are exploiting people’s Coronavirus fears. Scams you should be aware of Android malware and ransomware Android devices in particular have been left vulnerable to malware attacks allowing scammers to spy on you through your smartphone camera, listen to you through the microphone and go through your text messages. The scammers, suspected of operating in Libya, send out text messages with a link promising an app that will allow you to track the Coronavirus. Once you click on the text message, the malware installs itself on your phone. DomainTools, a Seattle-based security research team, has discovered that Android users are also the target of ransomware that threatens to erase their phone. Much like malware, users are promised an app with a real-time COVID-19 tracker. The app is actually poisoned with ransomware called CovidLock that denies users access to their phone by changing the locked- screen password. It requests $100 in bitcoin within 48 hours or the phone’s contacts, pictures and videos will be erased. It also threatens to publicly leak social media accounts. Scammers impersonating organizations The FBI, Centers for Disease Control (CDC),...
Wedding Planning on a Budget

Wedding Planning on a Budget

So, you’re engaged! Congratulations! You’re probably over the moon and full of stars in your eyes and have visions of wedded bliss. You’ve been thinking about this day for as long as you can remember. You’ve got your Pinterest boards, a planning notebook, and you’re ready to hit the ground running. But, have you put a price tag on any of those ideas and visions? $35,329 That’s the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. And that doesn’t even include the honeymoon! After hearing this sky-high number, you’re probably ready to simplify the process, save money, and elope. However, It’s absolutely possible to have the wedding of your dreams without spending well over what you can afford. Simply prioritizing your must-haves, creating a budget, and allocating your money accordingly will go a long way in planning for the big day. What’s important to you? Before you can create a budget, there are a few things you need to decide. First, determine what kind of wedding you want. What do you see when you think of your big day? A country club wedding and reception? An elegant downtown loft? A backyard barbecue? Once you answer this question, have the budget talk with everyone contributing to the wedding. When you start talking money, make sure you talk about more than the total amount you’ll spend. For instance, break down the wedding budget into categories – ceremony, reception, decorations, etc. – and decide what you’ll spend in each category. Now that you’ve taken this step, you’ll need to determine the most important and the least important items on your checklist. Is there anything...
4 Best Budgeting Apps

4 Best Budgeting Apps

Budget. Did you just get cold chills reading that word? It’s not a popular word, and it’s certainly not a popular idea. Typically, the idea of a budget is enough to take away any sense of fun you have when thinking about spending your money. But, it doesn’t have to be. There are several benefits to creating a monthly budget. When you have a budget in place, you instantly: Make your money work for you Assign each dollar in your account a job Gives you 100% control of your money Allows you to track your expenses Relieves some of the stress that finances can bring Helps you create a “safety net” There are obvious benefits to creating and maintaining a budget, and there are just as many tools to help you budget as there are benefits. So, where do you start? First, figure out how much you make each month. Then, figure out how much you spend. Once you figure out what you’re bringing in vs. what you’re spending, you can start creating specific categories for your money. This is where you get to tell your money what to do. Now, you’ve got a basic budget in place. You know what you’re making, what you’re spending, and your money has a specific goal. But, how do you keep track of all that information in a manageable way? Budget apps! The great thing about budget apps – not only do they keep track of your budget, but you can take it with you everywhere you go. Check out some of the best budgeting apps for 2020. Wally — Get the...
Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Tips for First Time Homebuyers

Even if you’re not a first-time home buyer, looking for and financing a home can be stressful. When you don’t know where to begin or what to do, it can be even more stressful. We’ve got a few tips for first-time homebuyers to get the most out of your home buying experience. Determine how much house you can afford and get pre-approved. When you’re ready to look for your dream home, it’s important to know how much home you can afford. This will narrow down your home search and will give you a realistic view of the types of homes you can buy inside of your price range. You will also avoid the temptation to purchase a home where you’ll struggle to make the payments. Save up for a down payment. With such a big purchase, having a down payment to invest in your home is important. A good rule of thumb for a down payment is to save 20% of your mortgage. For instance, if you have a $100,000 mortgage, your target down payment is $20,000. If 20% of your mortgage doesn’t seem feasible, there are other options for first-time homebuyers that will allow you to save and invest a smaller amount into your mortgage. If you’re wondering how much you need to save to achieve your desired payment, check out a down payment calculator for reference. Payoff as much debt as possible One of the factors that will determine your creditworthiness is your debt-to-income ratio. A debt-to-income ratio measures the total amount of debt you’re paying off each month compared to the amount of income you’re bringing...
The Benefits of Charitable Contributions

The Benefits of Charitable Contributions

We all know the saying, “It’s better to give than receive.” Giving makes us feel good, right? And we usually don’t think about what’s in it for us. But, what about charitable giving? Depending on the amount of your charitable contributions, you could be in for a sizeable tax benefit. As a matter of fact, if you factor your charitable donations into your budget, it will allow you to be more generous and lead to strategies that could improve your financial planning long term. With tax season just around the corner, let’s take a look at some benefits of charitable giving and what can be deducted. That altruistic feeling Whether we donate to them or not, we all have causes near and dear to our heart. If you’re an animal lover, the ASPCA commercials probably tug at your heartstrings. If helping kids is where your passion lies, then charities like St. Jude’s and the Shriner’s Hospital probably resonate with you. Regardless of where your loyalties lie, we all love the feeling of helping other people. Scientific studies have even shown that charitable giving activates pleasure centers in the brain. Tax benefits Charitable donation deductions actually allow you to lower the amount of taxable income. Of course, you can’t donate to just any organization. In order for donations or gifts to qualify, they have to be recognized tax-exempt organizations. Typically, religious organizations, veterans’ organizations and community organizations qualify as tax exempt. Have you made any donations to state, federal, or local governments for public purposes, like donating to rehab a public park? You can deduct those donations. You can also deduct any...
Meal Planning on a Budget

Meal Planning on a Budget

The beginning of a new year is a great time to change up your diet in a way that fits your budget. Meal planning is popular among those who desire to eat healthy while maintaining a healthy budget. While there are many resources available for recipes, we have a few tips on how to make the most of your meal planning options. Plan your shopping trips and meals in advance. Take some time to look at the grocery store circulars or online deals to see what is on sale for the week. Once you know what meats and seasonal fruits and vegetables are being offered at a good price, you can research recipes to maximize your meal planning options for the season. These prices tell you how much they are by amounts so you can compare with your recipes to determine your budget before you’re in the store. Check out meal planning resources via a Google search and on sites like Pinterest. There are meal preps and plans available from home cooks and more popular sources like Food Network. Be willing to try new recipes and look into meat-free recipes to conserve your funds. There are plenty of cost-effective options that can be a good source of protein. Choose different recipes with the same meat. Whether you’re making meals for a family or you’re making lunches for yourself, buying in bulk is always best. If you’ve found a few recipes for chicken that you think you’ll like, buy the chicken in bulk and freeze what you don’t use right away. This will keep your meat fresh and ready for...