Your Personal RV Buying Guide

It’s vacation time again. Maybe you’re thinking about doing something different and buying an RV, but RV lots seem so intimidating!  What do you need to know to take some of the stress off?

Summer is coming, and for many that means the call of the open road. It might even be ringing loud and clear. Nothing is more American than a summertime road trip, but long hours in the car can really suck the fun out of any vacation. That’s the beauty of recreational vehicles. The road IS the destination; anywhere you go, you’ve got luxury-class accommodations waiting for you.
Buying an RV is a big decision, though. If your biggest assets are your car and your house, this decision represents a purchase that is somewhere between the two. There’s a lot to know before you set foot on a lot, and the more you research now, the better things will go.
With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself before you start shopping for an RV. With these as jumping off points for research, you can make informed decisions about your needs. You’ll also be able to more clearly communicate what you’re after, which will make the sales experience more pleasant for everyone.
1.) What class are you in?
Broadly speaking, there are three classes of RV: Class A, Class B and Class C. Class A are the biggest and most comfortable. Built on big rig platforms, these are basically rolling houses. They feature full-sized couches and TVs, full bathrooms, kitchens and expandable bedrooms. Many also include storage underneath the vehicle (called the “basement” by enthusiasts) with enough space to stock supplies for a months-long journey. As one might expect for top-of-the-line vehicles, the price tags are as big as the vehicles, ranging from $60,000 to over a million for custom-built motorhomes.
Class B motorhomes are on the other side of the spectrum. These are built on full-size van platforms. They can include scaled-down versions of the same amenities in Class A motorhomes, but in a more maneuverable, less costly package. Expect to see a small kitchen, a compact bathroom, and enough sleeping space for 2-3 people for several weeks. The price tags on these vehicles run between $50,000 and $100,000.
Class C motorhomes offer a compromise between A and B. These start with cargo van platforms and extend the wheelbase somewhat to about the length of a small bus. Amenities will be more complete than in a Class B, but nowhere near as robust as in a class A. Definitely more vehicle than home, these usually run between $60,000 and $200,000.
There are other options, of course. Camper trailers, pop-ups, and fifth-wheel tow-behind campers can often fill the same needs at lower prices. It’s worth investigating these options, as well.
2.) What’s your budget?
Before you make a major purchase, you’ll want to be clear on how much you can afford. Given the significant cost of purchasing an RV, financing periods are typically 10 years or longer. Because RVs depreciate, interest rates are slightly higher than home loan rates, too. It’s not just the monthly payment you need to include in your budget: you’ll also need to factor in for fuel, insurance, registration, and maintenance — even if you don’t go anywhere!
Finally, It’s also worth figuring out what you can budget for a down payment. You may be able to finance 100% of the purchase price of your RV, but putting money down helps protect you against depreciation. That means you’ll be able to get clear of your RV payment if you decide to sell it later on down the road.
3.) When should you get financing?
While many dealers will try to work out financing in-house, it’s not a bad idea to go in with a pre-approval (Check out Destinations Credit Union’s RV rates and terms!). It’ll allow you to negotiate from a position of confidence, and it’ll also prove to the salespeople that you’re serious about buying. Getting pre-approval will also make sure you don’t fall in love with an RV you can’t afford. Nothing can ruin a fun vacation like a big bundle of “How are we going to pay for this?” stress!
If you’re thinking about an RV, the time to talk financing is now. How much RV you can afford should be at the forefront of your selection process. Getting your financing in order will help you figure that out.
Your Turn: Are you an RV wizard? How did you choose the one you’re currently driving? What features are absolutely must-haves in a new RV? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Feeling Stuck In Your Car Loan? Might Be Time To Shop Around!

Bills are a lot like bad weather. They’re going to come anyway, so you might as well not try to fix them, right? For some bills, that’s the case. For others, though, you can make a big difference in your monthly budget with a little legwork. 

One of the bills you can change is your car payment. Refinancing your vehicle loan can lead to a lower monthly payment, a shorter term, or both! It depends on a wide range of factors, including the value of your vehicle, how much you owe on your current loan, and your credit standing. 

If any of these factors have changed since you bought your car, you owe it to yourself to check out your refinancing options. Let’s look at some common life changes and when they might be cause to look at refinancing. Read on to learn about three scenarios where refinancing makes sense for your car or truck:

1.) Your credit improves
One of the biggest factors in determining your auto loan status is your credit score. When your lender is building a loan package, a credit report is pulled as a central part of that process. That number helps define your interest rate, whether or not you’ll have to pay a premium for insurance, and what other fees your lender might charge.
It’s worth keeping a copy of the credit report your lender pulled. That can let you see if your credit score has improved. It can take as little as nine months of steady repayment to boost your credit score, and that could result in a cheaper loan if you refinance.
If you didn’t have much experience with credit when you purchased your vehicle, refinancing can do you a world of good. Interest rates as high as 18% are common for borrowers who have little to no credit history. Having even a few months of solid payments on your side can cut that rate in half or more.
2.) You didn’t shop around before you borrowed
Many people feel railroaded throughout the car-buying process. They pick a car they like, then they are told what the price is, what the monthly payment is and everything else. It may seem like the choice of lenders for your car loan is predetermined.
Dealers tend to have a smaller range of lenders with whom they work exclusively. Those lenders know they have limited exposure to competition, so they can charge slightly higher fees and interest rates. By doing your own comparison shopping, you can save quite a bit on both the loan and any ancillary insurances or warranties you may have purchased. Dealer rates tend to be 1 to 1.5% higher than those offered at smaller lenders, like credit unions.
If you’ve never shopped around for a car loan, it’s definitely worth doing. By getting multiple offers, you can ensure you’re getting the best price available for your loan. Try to do your shopping inside a 15-day period. Otherwise, the multiple checks on your credit could negatively impact your credit score.
3.) You need to change your monthly payment
You may be in a much better financial situation now than when you bought your car. You may have a better job or more security. You may have paid off credit card or other debt. All of these things free up how much you can pay per month.
Most people don’t go into the refinancing process looking to increase their monthly payment, but you can save yourself money in the long term by committing to a faster repayment plan. If you can afford to pay more per month now, you can pay off the balance on your car faster. Shorter term loans usually also have lower interest rates, since the lender assumes less risk in making the loan. Once the car is paid off, you’ll have all that money to devote to other saving or spending priorities.
On the other hand, if money is tight, it might be a good idea to refinance into a longer term. While you might end up paying more in interest, you can reduce your monthly payment and save the money you need right now.
Your Turn: What do you do to save money on your car payment? Let us know your best tips and tricks in the comments, and don’t forget to stop by Destinations Credit Union to find out how refinancing can improve your financial life!

What To Do About Spam: Cutting Down On Unwanted Email

Your inbox is probably overflowing with unwanted emails. Everyone wants to sell you something, or worse, steal from you! How can you take your inbox back from these spammers?

Spam is big business. According to web security firm, Norton, 72% of email messages are spam. That means for every three emails from people wanting to have a real conversation with you, there’s another seven that are from unwanted sources.
Most commonly, spam email is just a nuisance. It’s another buzz or ding that demands your attention while offering nothing in return. However, spam can be much more menacing than that. Some messages may include links to malicious websites, attachments containing viruses and other malware or fraudulent forms designed to steal your personal information. Reclaiming your inbox is about more than peace of mind; it’s about safety.
If you’re tired of seeing this build-up of messages, there are a few things you can do. Read on for four tips for cutting down the spam.
1.) Use (and train) your filters
Every email service comes with some form of spam filter. Some of them are more effective than others. All of them, though, get better the more you use them.
It can be frustrating to go through the process of marking spam emails, but it’s worth it in the end. The more messages you mark, the better your filters get at weeding out messages like them. Your email service can learn what sort of emails you don’t want to read and catch them automatically.
If you’re concerned about missing something important in a spam folder, designate a time to look through it before deleting them. You don’t need to read every message, but you can look at subject lines and senders for anything that looks important. Best of all, you can do this on your terms, when you want to, and with the healthy degree of skepticism most internet messages deserve.
2.) Read the fine print
There’s big business in collecting email addresses. Spammers pay big money for lists of emails, and many companies, even reputable ones, are too tempted by the easy payday to stick up for your right to privacy. Companies disclose their plans for your information, but they do so in dense documents written in nebulous legalese.
Unfortunately, if you’re trying to decide whether to do business with a company, you need to wade into that mess to look for a privacy policy. The privacy policy lists the parties and purposes for which the company will release your information. Be careful for phrases like “to our commercial partners” or “to notify you about special offers from.” These kinds of phrases mean that a company will probably be selling your email address to spammers.
Most of the time, companies will let you opt out of sharing your personal information. Although it may take some hunting, you can likely find a checkbox that revokes your authorization to share your personal information. If a company isn’t willing to take these steps to protect your privacy, consider carefully before doing business with them.
3.) Don’t click unsubscribe
The unsubscribe button might be one of the worst lies in the email marketing industry. Marketers are required to include this button in their messages. They’re also required by the FCC to honor your request to unsubscribe from that list within 24 hours.
Of course, there’s no FCC requirement that they don’t sign you up for a dozen more lists. Worse yet, by clicking unsubscribe, you’ve confirmed your email address is linked to an actual person. You’ve increased the value of your address to potential spammers.
The best thing to do to spam is ignore it and let your email spam filter do its work. Even opening a message can send information back to the sender that the email was opened, which will prompt more spam. Just like the junk mail you get in paper, your best bet is to shred it unopened.
4.) Get a phony
If you’re doing business on the internet with a company that doesn’t respect your privacy, there’s no reason to give them your real email address. There are several sites, like MailDrop or FakeMailGenerator, which will provide you with a temporary address. It’ll last as long as you have a browser open, so you can get confirmation messages. Once you’re done with the address, just close the window and the address goes away.
This can be a great hack if you’re looking to sign up for a free trial of a service. Giving the company a fake email address will let you try the service without the pressure of a constant stream of ads. You can decide on your own terms if the service is worth the cost.
Your Turn: How do you cut spam out of your email diet? Let us know your best tricks for sorting out those emails from those you actually want to read!

Women’s History Month: Women In Finance

Because March is Women’s History Month, we’re taking a moment to reflect on many of the important contributions women have made to society. At Destinations Credit Union, we’re proud to be a part of the nationwide celebration of women. 

As part of this effort, we’d like to take time to recognize a few important women in the history of finance and entrepreneurship. Here are five lesser-known and underappreciated women who are sometimes left out of the popular economics conversation. That, of course, does not diminish the importance of their trailblazing efforts and work.

1.) Maggie Lena Walker, first female bank president
Maggie Lena Walker was the first woman to charter a bank. The St. Luke’s Penny Savings Bank was a community lending institution designed to promote savings and homeownership, especially among women and racial minorities. Founded in 1902, the bank served the Richmond, Virginia area for several years before it merged with two other banks. Walker went on to serve as chair of the board for the consolidated bank.
By 1920, St. Luke’s had helped more than 600 people buy homes. Walker’s vision and leadership set the standard for community lending institutions. Her bravery and trailblazing business spirit, at a time when women didn’t yet have the right to vote, is truly commendable.
2.) Marie Van Brittan Brown, inventor of the home security system
While few museums will showcase her work, nearly all of them have some modern iteration of the device Marie Van Brittan Brown pioneered. She was the original architect of the home security system. Her system was devised in response to the dangers she perceived in her own neighborhood.
Concerned about the length of time it would take police to respond to a call for help, Brown put a camera on a mobile swivel to enable it to view the front door through each of four peepholes. A motion sensor triggered a recording device, and the system also enabled the homeowner to view and listen to the cameras by using a television set. Brown’s original home security system soon caught on in businesses around the country. She was given an award from the National Science Committee for her work.
3.) Victoria Woodhall and Tennessee Clafin, first female stock brokers
These two pioneering sisters broke the gender barrier on Wall Street. They ran the first female-owned brokerage. Despite the blatant sexism they faced in their struggle, the two sisters made millions advising clients like Cornelius Vanderbilt. While enduring headlines like “Wall Street Aroused,” the two sisters quietly made enough money to put their male counterparts to shame.
Woodhall would go on to be a polarizing figure in the suffrage movement. She made the first recorded run for president as a woman, doing so a full 50 years before women were legally allowed to vote! While her suffrage-based platform didn’t carry the election, her intellect and force of persuasion were instrumental to the passage of the 19th Amendment.
4.) Rosemary McFadden, first female exchange president
Rosemary McFadden broke another gender barrier in finance. She was the first woman to serve as president of any American exchange. Starting her career as a staff attorney for the New York Mercantile Exchange, she climbed the career ladder to become the first female president of that organization or any other trading exchange in American history in 1984.
Despite the steep resistance she encountered as the first woman in a traditionally male position, McFadden was a strong and effective leader. When her term was up, she continued to climb towards greatness. She now serves as deputy mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey.
5.) Abigail Adams, first female investor
The wife of President John Adams is mostly noted for her documentation of the home front of the Revolutionary War and for her strident advocacy for women’s rights in the early years of the country’s founding. A little-known tidbit, though, is that she’s also America’s first documented female investor.
Adams managed the financial affairs for the household while her husband served in war and, later, in the White House. She was quite a shrewd woman, making a great deal of money investing in government bonds. In one exchange in 1783, her husband advised her to invest some money in farmland. She ignored the advice, buying bonds instead. The move made her family quite a bit more money in the long run!
Your Turn: What influential women in your life would you like to honor this month? Let us know in the comments about the women that have played a big part in shaping who you are!