Which Features Should I Look For In A New Car?

Q:  I’m in the market for a new set of wheels, and the choices are making me dizzy. How family getting car keysdo I decide which features to look for in a new car and which to skip?

A:  Shopping for a new car can be complicated-but it doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of research and some time spent determining what’s important to you, you can make a choice you’ll be happy with for years to come. To help you out, we’ve created a list of key features you might want to consider in your new car, as well as a list of features you can skip.  When you know what features you want, you can easily shop all of the available inventory in the area on one simple car buying site at Destinations Credit Union.

Must-have safety features

  • 360-degree camera: This camera takes the risk factor out of backing up by giving drivers a bird’s-eye view of the car. This way, drivers can see the entire area surrounding their vehicle and check for children and objects in their way.
  • Evasive steering: Keep yourself safe even in the event of surprises on the road with this handy new feature. Evasive steering will provide you with additional steering support when you’re in danger of colliding with another vehicle and your own steering efforts are not sufficient.
  • Blind spot alert: This feature alerts the driver when there is an object or pedestrian in direct line of their blind spot.
  • Forward collision warning: If you’re prone to distraction while behind the wheel, you might want this feature. It provides a visual and/or audible alert when your vehicle is heading toward a forward collision.
  • Automatic emergency braking: Stay safe with this feature, which automatically applies the brakes when it senses a vehicle in your car’s way. Some systems include pedestrian detection as well.

Convenient features

  • Automatic keyless entry: This feature was created for those moments when you’re staggering toward your car with armfuls of grocery bags: it automatically unlocks a car’s doors when it senses a nearby fob.
  • Head-up display: You don’t have to risk swerving every time you want to check out your car’s display. With a head-up display, you can see important information, like your fuel level and speed, right on your windshield. Displays are dim enough so they don’t block your visibility, but clear enough to easily read.
  • Power tailgate: If you plan on hitching a boat, ATV, or another large vehicle to the back of your new pickup truck or SUV, you might want to shop for this feature, because it lets you lower and raise your tailgate with the push of a button.
  • Multi-zone climate system: Family road trips are peaceful again with this feature, which allows for different climate controls throughout the car.
  • Speedy USB-charging outlets: No more unbearable waits for your gadgets to power up! You can now buy a car that charges your device super-quickly.
  • WiFi hotspot: Stop eating up your phone’s data-just plug into your car’s WiFi instead. Some in-car hotspot services charge a monthly fee after a complementary introductory period, but these tend to be cheaper for unlimited data than a similar data plan through a mobile phone carrier.
  • Heated steering wheel and driver’s seat: This one is for those frosty mornings when your car can’t get warm quite fast enough.
  • Wireless charging pad: Leave the wires at home! Just place your phone on one of these pads and it will start powering up. These super-techy gadgets use induction to charge your device and work with most new smartphones. If your phone is aging and won’t charge on an induction pad, you can buy a special case to bring it up to speed.

Fun-to-have features

  • Home assist device connectivity: Telling your phone to crank up your AC or to shut off your oven is old news. But, did you know you can now do the same for your car’s controls? Some new cars allow you to use remote voice control with home assist technologies, like Alexa, for your car. You can tell the assistant to set the temperature in your car, unlock doors and even get your favorite playlist going while your hands are busy making lunch.
  • Rear entertainment systems: No more backseat fighting! This feature gives the rear seat of your car a completely separate entertainment system.
  • Sound enhancement: If you’re an incurable gearhead who needs to actually hear your car revving up, you’ll love this feature. It simulates the performance experience of your vehicle, even in a car that is built to be quiet, so you can listen to your engine roar itself to life.
  • Android Auto and Apple CarPlay: Leave your phone in the cup holder and avoid dangerous distraction with these features. Both will sync your smartphone’s interface with your car’s infotainment system so you can use the car’s screen for controlling your phone and keep your eyes on the road.

Features you can skip

  • Bigger wheels and thinner tires: The look might appeal, but the ride will be less comfortable. Plus, your wheels will be more prone to damage from potholes and other obstructions on the road.
  • Built-in navigation systems: Please don’t pay extra for a navigation system when you know you’re going to use Waze or Google Maps most of the time anyway. Also, most built-in navigation systems require constant and tedious updates.
  • Lane keeping assist: This feature automatically steers or brakes your car when your vehicle crosses lane markings without turning on a blinker. It sounds tempting, but in real life, it’s more annoyance than convenience. Often, you’ll need to suddenly cross a lane marker for good reason, like moving over for an emergency vehicle or for a cyclist on the shoulder of the road. Plus, according to Consumer Reports, there is no data that proves this feature has any safety benefits for the driver.

Before you start shopping, call, click, or stop by credit union to hear all about our auto loans. We have fantastic rates to get you behind your new set of wheels!

Your Turn: Did you buy a new car recently? Tell us about the features you chose and why they made it to your list.

SOURCES:
https://www.consumerreports.org/automotive-technology/must-have-features-to-get-in-next-new-car/

https://www.hotcars.com/must-have-car-features-for-2019/
https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/cars-with-the-most-high-tech-features-for-the-money

7 Ways To Save Money On Camping Costs

Q:  I’m planning a camping trip for the summer, and I’d love to keep the trip as low-cost family around a campfireas possible. How can I cut down on camping costs?

A:  It’s great that you’re looking for ways to trim your vacation expenses. We can help! Read on for seven ways to save on camping costs.

  1. Save on location

Nightly rates for camping sites can cost a pretty penny during peak camping season. But why pay the fee when you can camp for free? You can find a campground where you can pitch your tent or park your RV at no cost, on Freecampsites.net or Campendium.com.

Another great option is to camp at a national forest. You’ll be charged an entrance fee as well as an amenity fee, but you’re free to stay anywhere on these grounds as long as you follow park guidelines. If you’re a frequent camper, consider purchasing a National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands annual pass. For just $80 a year, or $20 for individuals age 62 and older, you’ll have access to more than 2,000 national parks and national wildlife refuges. The pass covers entrance fees, parking fees, amenity fees and more. If you’re currently a member of the U.S. military, you and your dependents are entitled to a free annual pass.

Finally, if your schedule allows, consider mid-week camping. Lots of campgrounds offer lower prices on off-peak days.

  1. Consider “workamping”

If you don’t live near a national park and you’d love a free stay, “workamping” can be a terrific option. Lots of campsites and RV parks are now offering this choice: For a bit of hard work, you’ll be granted free access to the campgrounds. You might even walk away with some extra cash in your pocket!

  1. Rent or borrow camping gear

High-quality camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, camping stoves and camping clothes can cost a pretty penny. In fact, according to the American Camper Report from Coleman Company, adult campers spent an average of $546 on camping gear in 2016.

You can have your gear and your budget, too, by double-thinking the purchase of brand-new gear. Are you a frequent camper? If not, does it really pay to spend big bucks on specialized equipment you’ll only use once or twice a year? If you have friends who practically live in a tent or RV, ask about borrowing their equipment for your trip. Otherwise, consider renting the gear you need from companies like REI Co-op. If you’d rather have your own equipment, check out sites like Switchback Gear Exchange for gently used camping paraphernalia at terrific prices.

  1. Skip the prepackaged meals

Yes, they might be super-convenient, but they’re also super-expensive. Save a ton on food costs this trip by ditching the prepackaged meals. You can find loads of ideas for easy camping meals you can cook over a fire by doing a quick Google search. Often, all you need is some basic food supplies and a roll of aluminum foil!

  1. Share meal prep

If you always camp as a group, take full advantage by sharing the meal prep. Divide the meals completely, having each family be fully responsible for several meals. Alternatively, you can create a master list of supplies and food and then divide and conquer. This way, only one of you needs to bring small packets of ketchup and a jug of maple syrup, while another one brings the coffee and salt. The packing and meal prep are a whole lot easier when they’re shared!

  1. Pack like you’re being marooned on an island

Don’t set out on your trip until you’ve checked that you’ve packed everything on your list at least three times. It will take a few extra minutes, but it’s worth the time and effort. You don’t want to be forced to pay inflated small-town convenience store prices for forgotten items like bandages or batteries.

To keep it simpler, create a master list of everything you need to bring on a camping trip. Make a digital and physical copy of the list. When you return from your trip, review the list and edit it according to how it all went down. Do you need to bring more paper cups next time? Did you overdo it on the ice? Adjust as necessary. Before your next trip, use the list when packing so that you don’t forget a single item.

  1. Check out free camping activities on your campsite

Many campgrounds feature boat rentals of all kinds, but they can be pricey. Enjoy every minute of your camping trip by exploring walking trails, fishing and bike riding along a forest path. Don’t forget to pack some board games and books for rainy days.

Use these tips when planning your trip and you’ll save big on costs without compromising on the camping experience. Here’s wishing you the camping trip of a lifetime, from all of us here at Destinations Credit Union!  And, if you decide to make camping a way of life, don’t forget that we finance recreational vehicles!

Your Turn: Have some camping hacks that save on costs? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://bargainbabe.com/20-quick-tips-to-save-money-camping/}

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thepennyhoarder.com/smart-money/camping-on-a-budget-how-to-save-money-on-your-next-trip/amp/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.budgettravel.com/article/save-money-camping/amp
https://axleaddict.com/rvs/CampingForCheapskates

6 Ways To Save Money On Gardening Equipment And Supplies

As spring deepens and vibrantly colored flowers blossom everywhere, you might be family working in a gardendreaming about a garden of your own. You’ll till the soil, pat the fertilizer into place and plant your young shoots with tender care. You’ll make sure they get just the right amount of sunlight and water, and you’ll be careful to keep out unwanted pests with strong fences and natural pesticides. And you’ll be rewarded with beautiful flowers and fresh vegetables, straight from your very own garden.

But when you hit the stores to start shopping for your garden, the sticker shock can be alarming. There’s so much to buy-and it’s all so expensive! There’s specialized equipment, must-have tools, frequent runs for seeds and fertilizer and a steady supply of weed killers and animal repellents. You might be wondering: Can I really afford to have the garden of my dreams?

Yes, you can! Save on gardening costs this year with these six creative hacks:

1.) Share equipment

You won’t be able to care for your yard and garden without the proper tools, but that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank to get all that equipment. Instead, speak to your neighbors about sharing some of your gardening gear. Let your neighbor use some tools you own, like your weed-whacker, trimmer and spreader, in exchange for free use of your neighbor’s gardening tools. If you dare, consider sharing your larger, more expensive tools like a lawn mower and rototiller as well.

To make it easier, consider tending to your gardens and yards on different days of the week so you know you’ll have your equipment available when you need it.

If you and your neighbor both need to purchase a new tool or machine, talk about splitting the cost and then sharing the tool.

You can also work out a bartering system with your neighbors, exchanging extra gardening supplies, like leftover seeds and fertilizer.

2.) Purchase used gear

You can save big on gardening equipment by looking for second-hand tools and machines. Check out sites like Craigslist, Freecycle and eBay for quality equipment at bargain prices. Be sure to give the pre-owned tool a test run before finalizing a sale.

3.) Rent equipment

Instead of shelling out big bucks on expensive tools you’ll only use once or twice a season, consider renting them as you need them. Home Depot rents out a wide variety of gardening tools at excellent rates, and lots of smaller hardware stores have a similar garden tool rental service during the spring and summer months, too. You’ll have access to quality equipment when you need it at a price you can afford. Plus, you won’t have to worry about storing bulky gardening tools all year long.

4.) Shop the dollar store

Before hitting the big chain stores, like Lowe’s and Home Depot, for gardening supplies, check out your local dollar store. You’ll find loads of gardening supplies, like seeds, markers, buckets and planters, at rock-bottom prices in stores like Family Dollar and Dollar Tree.

5.) Shop the sales

Like every retail product, gardening equipment and supplies have their season for markdowns and sales, and the wise consumer knows how to time their purchase in order to save big.

Larger gardening equipment, like mowers and tillers, usually sees steep discounts at Memorial Day sale events, making the start of summer an excellent time to stock up on pricey garden tools.

Flowerpots, garden décor, lawn furniture and select plants will retail at blowout prices during the clearance sales at the end of July. If you’re hankering after a new set of Adirondack chairs for your garden, or you want to spruce up your yard with some garden gnomes, this is the time to buy them.

You’ll also see some wilting flowers on sale now; don’t let those drooping leaves scare you. If you find a marked-down perennial past its blooming window, check for strong roots and stems. A firmly rooted perennial planted late in the season might not bring you colorful blossoms this year, but if it’s well cared-for, it will likely recover by next spring and reward you with beautiful, healthy flowers.

Whenever you decide to buy your tools and supplies, be sure to check coupon sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCabin before making a purchase.

6.) Buy seeds

Purchasing young transplants is a lot easier and a lot quicker than starting from scratch, but the difference in price can be enormous. You can pick up a packet of flower or vegetable seeds for less than a dollar in many nurseries and through gardening catalogues. You’ll also have a much broader choice of plant when you buy seeds instead of being limited by the store’s pick of transplants. Finally, raising a plant from seedling to vegetable or flower is a uniquely rewarding experience.

Tending a garden and watching it grow is one of life’s last remaining pleasures that remains unaffected by the encroachment of technology. Use these tips to bring your dream garden to life without draining your wallet.

Happy gardening from all of us here at Destinations Credit Union!

Your Turn: How do you save on gardening supplies? Share your best tips and tricks with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/slideshows/10-ways-to-save-while-gardening

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/planting-and-maintenance/5-surprising-ways-to-save-money-on-gardening-supplies
https://www.thegraciouswife.com/tips-to-save-money-on-gardening-supplies/
https://www.littlehouseliving.com/5-ways-to-save-money-gardening.html

All You Need To Know About Flipping Houses

In the 2019 real estate market, home-flipping has become more popular than ever.man painting as family looks on

Flipping houses is a basic real estate investment concept that involves purchasing a rundown or undervalued home at the lowest possible price, spending the necessary time and money fixing it up and then selling it for a profit. Flipping, or rehabbing, homes has become the primary or secondary source of income for thousands of people across the country. In fact, according to a report by ATTOM Data Solutions, a total of 48,457 single-family homes and condos were flipped in the first quarter of 2018.

If you’re thinking of jumping on the home-flipping bandwagon, proceed with caution. You’ll need nerves of steel, large sums of cash to work with and the ability to juggle several projects at once.

Read on to learn more about buying, rehabbing, and selling properties for profit so you can make an informed decision.

Is it a good time to flip houses?

2019 can be an excellent time to make money by rehabbing properties. The robust economy and falling mortgage rates mean more people are rushing to buy homes this year. Consequently, prices on homes are predicted to rise as supply falls behind demand. This can be excellent news for rehabbers who can make a bigger profit off a home-flip.

Before you get started

If you think house-flipping may be for you, ask yourself these questions before getting started:

  1. How is my credit?  Unless you’re paying for each house in cold cash, you’ll need to have a minimum credit score of 720 to qualify for mortgages on the homes you’ll be flipping. If you’re not there yet, work on raising your score before launching a house-flipping business.
  2. Can I afford the down payment?  You’ll also need to have a large amount of cash available for your first down payment. The more you can drop on a house, the bigger chance you have of winning a bidding war.
  3. Can I handle a delay or a loss? You might sink $40,000 into a house and then watch in horror as it sits on the market while refusing to sell. You might buy a house in an up-and-coming neighborhood, but the market promptly falls apart as soon as you close. Hopefully, you’ll only see success, but you’ll need to be emotionally and financially prepared for unpleasant surprises.

5 Steps to Starting a House-Flipping Business

Are you ready to flip some houses? Follow these steps to get your business up and running!

Step 1: Create a business plan

Sit down and write up a business plan before making any other moves. Outline your goals, delineate the number of projects you can realistically manage over the course of a year, create timelines for each project, build a marketing strategy and determine a financing source for your business. Get as detailed as possible for optimal success.

Step 2: Acquire financing

The simplest way to flip a home is to acquire the entire property with cash. But, if you don’t have access to such huge sums of cash, you can still be a successful house-flipper. You can take out a personal loan or a business loan from [credit union], tap into your 401K or open a HELOC against your home.

Step 3: Find the right group of professionals

If you’re super-handy around the house, you can rehab the homes yourself. Otherwise, you’ll need to hire a group of professionals to help you succeed at rehabbing the houses you intend to flip. You’ll also need to seek counsel from attorneys and others who are well-versed in local laws to make sure your house is up to code and that you have all the necessary permits for construction projects. Take your time researching and hiring the right group of professionals, as a smart choice now will save you loads of money and time down the line.

Step 4: Find your property

Once you have your business plan, financing and group of³ professionals in place, you’re ready to look for your first property. But where do you start looking?

Most experts predict that the best investment opportunities of the 2019 housing market will be found in the suburbs, and more specifically, in emerging new neighborhoods. This way, you can capitalize on lower prices without getting stuck with the house no one wants to buy in a less-than-desirable neighborhood. Check out factors like crime rates, desirable schools, and the number of foreclosures in any neighborhood you’re considering.

The best way to find homes is to trundle around a neighborhood, look for vacant houses, and then send the owners a letter, asking if they’re willing to sell. You can find properties for sale at auctions, on home-searching sites like Zillow and Realtor.com, or by driving around your chosen neighborhood and scouting out For Sale signs. It’s best to have a licensed inspector check a potential home for structural problems and deficiencies before you close.

Step 5: Buy, rehab, market and flip

Once you’ve found a potential house to flip, use the “70% Rule” to determine if it’s a worthwhile proposition. The 70% rule states that an investor should pay no more than 70% of the ARV (after-repair value) of a property minus the repairs needed. If you follow this rule and all works out, you’ll walk away with a sizeable profit.

As soon as your purchase is finalized, the clock starts ticking. Every day you own the home is another day you need to pay the mortgage. If your doing the rehab yourself, get ready to start as soon as you close. Otherwise, have your team of professionals prepared to begin their work as soon as the home is yours. Depending on the condition of the home, this can take anywhere from several weeks to several months. During this time, be sure to check periodically that all renovations are up to code.

When the rehab is nearing completion, you can start marketing the home and vetting out potential buyers. Check out similar homes in the area to work out a fair asking price. With any luck, you’ll find a buyer quickly and the home will once again change owners.

If you’re ready to start a home-flipping business, stop by Destinations Credit Union to talk about your financing options. We can help make your business dreams a reality!

Your Turn: Have you ever flipped a home for profit? Share your experience with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
http://money.com/money/5640988/why-500-houses-in-st-louis-are-on-sale-for-1/

https://www.mashvisor.com/blog/2019-start-house-flipping-business/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thestreet.com/amp/how-to/flip-a-house-14843879
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/08/house-flip.asp

Dollar Stores: Are They Worth The Price?

Q:  I love browsing my local dollar store, but I often end up spending more than I woman shoppingplanned or regretting my purchases. Are dollar stores worth the price?

A:  Dollar stores can be tremendous spending traps, but they can also be a great way to snag a bargain. It’s all in how you plan your visit.

Read on to learn how to get the best deal at the dollar store.

Before you start browsing

Everything is just a buck, you say. How can you possibly go wrong?

Unfortunately, with that mindset, you might find yourself going way overboard with your spending. Before you set out for the dollar store, create a physical or mental list of what you need to purchase.

Love to throw just-for-fun products into your cart? The dollar store is a great place to do that, so exercise caution. You don’t want to blow tens of dollars on stuff you don’t really need and might never use. Establish a limit of how many of those items you can pick up on your trip before you set out. If you always find yourself pushing your self-imposed limit, only shop with cash so you’re forced to stick to your budget.

What’s hot at the dollar store …

Here are some products that are great bargains at the dollar store:

  • Cleaning supplies: Get clean for less by stocking up on Ajax, bleach, glass cleaner, scouring pads, spray bottles, off-brand Swiffer refills, sponges, dryer sheets and ammonia.
  • Seasonal: Visit the dollar store before hitting chain stores for your holiday decorations. Halloween décor, cheap gift boxes and wrapping paper can all be had at the dollar store.
  • Toys: Load up on bubbles, sidewalk chalk, balls, card games and kites.
  • Groceries: Get your frozen fruit and veggies, string cheese, spices, name-brand condiments, rice, oatmeal and snack foods at the dollar store.
  • Kitchenware: Stock up on bargain-priced storage bins and containers, whimsical kitchen décor and glasses. Paper plates, cups and napkins can also be bought at super low prices.
  • Party gear: Greeting cards, wrapping paper, balloons, ribbons, streamers, birthday candles, party decorations and gift bags can all be bought for, you guessed it, a dollar each.
  • School/office supplies: You won’t be able to find every item on your school supply list that’s actually worth the price, but you can load up on project display boards, tab dividers, binder clips and poster boards at the dollar store.
  • Kids’ activities: The dollar store is a great place to stock up on rainy-day supplies for the kids. You’ll find some great books, puzzles, craft supplies, colored papers, stickers, activity books, coloring books and more.

… And what’s not

Not everything you’ll find in the dollar store is worth as much as a dollar. Plus, there are lots of things you can get elsewhere for a better price.

  • Cleaning supplies: The following cleaning supplies at the dollar store are either made too cheaply to be worth the price or can be bought for less in other stores: dishwashing soap, tissues, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, laundry detergent.
  • Toys: Small toys for young children that aren’t made well can quickly become choking hazards. Also, dollar-store dolls and toy cars are likely to break the day you bring them home.
  • Groceries: These foods can be bought for cheaper in a grocery store: pasta, soda, gum, canned goods, chocolate.
  • Kitchenware: Plastic cutlery from the dollar store is too cheaply made to be worth the few cents you’ll save. Ditto for disposable baking dishes. You’ll also want to stay away from can openers, knives and oven mitts, as these items need to be well made to do their jobs.
  • School/office supplies: The following supplies can be bought for less money and of better quality in stores like Walmart and Target: lined paper, composition notebooks, glue, crayons, markers, Post-its, pens, pencils and highlighters.
  • Self-care: Cheaply made soap, shampoo and cosmetics can be harmful to your skin. Don’t buy name-brand travel-size toiletries either; you can usually get tiny shampoo and soap bottles for less than a buck at big-box stores.

When it’s not a bargain

When making a purchase at the dollar store, hold it up to this checklist. If your item fits any of these criteria, you’re better off without it:

  1. It’s sold in tiny quantities. Often, what looks like a bargain is just a product in a really small package. Check the size on food items and cleaning products; you can often get more for less money when you buy a product in a bigger size at a larger store.
  2. It’s made with harmful toxins. Check all health and beauty products for toxic and carcinogenic ingredients.
  3. You don’t need it. A dollar spent on something you don’t need is a dollar wasted.
  4. It’s made super-cheaply. If it’s going to break during the first day of use, or even the first hours, leave it in the store.
  5. It isn’t food-safe. Check all products that will come into contact with food, like serving platters or dishes, for a label that proclaims them food-safe.
  6. It’s expired. Be careful to check the “Sell by” date on candy and other foodstuffs so you’re not paying for expired products.

Learn how to shop smart at the dollar store and you’ll go home with true bargains!

Your Turn: What are your favorite dollar store picks? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/dollar-store-dos-and-donts/
https://www.bradsdeals.com/blog/things-you-always-should-buy-at-the-dollar-store
https://www.cheatsheet.com/money-career/the-real-reason-everything-at-the-dollar-store-is-so-cheap.html/

When Should I Put My House On The Market?

If you’re thinking of selling your home, think spring. That’s because the season of family in front of houseblossoming flowers and gentle breezes has traditionally held the designation as the best time of year to sell a home.

Before you start prepping your home for a photo shoot that shows it off in the best light, take a moment to consider your particular circumstances and needs. What makes spring so well-suited for house-hunting? Does the seller benefit from this arrangement, or is it only advantageous to the buyer?

Let’s take a deeper look at the sell-in-the-spring rule so you can make an informed decision about when to put your house on the market.

Why spring?

There are two primary factors making spring an excellent season for selling a home: The weather and the time of year.

The beautiful, mild weather of spring showcases the exterior of your home in all its glory. Your yard will be alive with healthy, green grass, your flowers and bushes will be in full bloom, and your property will be free of unsightly piles of leaves or mounds of melting snow. If you have an in-ground pool, there’s a world of difference between presenting it to a prospective buyer when it’s sparkling under a brilliant sun, or pointing to a dark, covered shadow at the edge of your yard surrounded by windswept branches and ice puddles.

The pleasant weather that typically heralds the arrival of spring also makes it easier for you to tend to repairs and upgrades on your property. The cold and the dark tend to lead to neglect. Plus, it’s a lot easier to paint the picket fence, stain the deck, and power-wash the siding when the weather is mild and sunny.

Aside from delightful weather, springtime also brings the end of the school year. House-hunting in the spring often makes the most sense for families that include school-age children. This way, they can be settled into their new homes and schools before the new school year. By listing your home for sale in early spring, you’re making it available for this entire group of house-hunters.

Finally, spring means longer daytime hours. This can be advantageous for shoppers who work full-time and can only spare time for home viewings in the evenings. You can schedule a viewing as late as 7 p.m. and still enjoy the benefits of a daylight showing.

Do homes listed in the spring really sell quicker and at higher prices?

It’s not just hype. There are actually studies proving that houses sold in late spring to early summer are on the market a shorter amount of time than houses listed the rest of the year. Also, they tend to close at higher price points.

Here is a sampling of studies proving this theory:

  • An ATTOM Data Solutions analysis of 14.7 million homes sold over a span of 6 years proved the best month to sell a home is May. Most homes sold during this month closed at 5.9% above their estimated market value when compared with other months.
  • A Zillow study showed that homes sold during the first two weeks of May tend to be on the market less time than homes sold any other time of year.
  • According to Realtor.com, homes listed during the spring are 1% less likely to sell with a price cut than homes listed during the rest of the year.

Does this rule hold true for everyone?

“Springtime to market” might be a good rule of thumb for most home-sellers to follow, but it does not apply in every case. Here are some factors to consider:

  • The local market. If your neighborhood is full of for-sale signs and your home does not have any distinguishing features, you may put yourself at a severe disadvantage by listing your home in the spring. Consider waiting until the market cools off in mid-summer, or even in the early fall months.

On the flipside, if your home has one or more features that set it apart, you’ll want to list it when the neighborhood is full of house-hunters, to give it optimal exposure.

  • Your preferred time to move. When is the ideal time for your family to move to another town? Pick a date and work backward to decide when to list your home. There’s no way to determine exactly when you’ll close on a listed home, but Realtor.com estimates the average home sale takes 50 days to close after going under contract. Add a month for preparing your home for the market, choosing a selling agent, making any necessary repairs or upgrades, and finding a buyer.
  • Local climate. Springtime might mean beautiful weather for much of the country, but in some areas, like Southern California, pleasant, mild weather is an all-year-round delight. Conversely, in many northern states, the warmer weather doesn’t set in until early summer, and you’ll want to wait a bit before putting your home up for sale.

Whether you choose to put your house on the market in spring, or you decide you’d be better off waiting until summer or fall, we wish you a smooth sale at the best possible price. Don’t forget to stop by [credit union] to ask about our fantastic home loan options when you’re ready to start searching for a new place to call home.

Your Turn: Have you sold a home in the spring or summer? Tell us all about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.pennymacusa.com/blog/what-is-best-time-to-sell-house

https://www.housingwire.com/articles/48685-want-to-sell-your-house-list-in-the-1st-week-of-april
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/reneemorad/2018/04/30/the-best-month-and-day-to-sell-a-home/amp/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.fool.com/amp/retirement/2018/05/31/whats-the-best-time-to-sell-a-house.aspx

 

Beware Tech Support Scams

The FTC is warning of a surge in tech support scams, many of which can be difficult toclose up of cell phone in hands spot.

In a recent widespread scam, a company calling itself Elite IT Partners, Inc., purchased keywords so it showed in searches for password recovery assistance. Victims contacted the “company,” which asked them to fill out an online form with their contact information.

Scammers then called the victims, asking for remote access to their computers. Once inside, they used phony evidence to convince victims that their computers were in need of repairs requiring pricey software. The scammers accepted payment for this software, but did not provide it.

Tech support scams don’t always follow the above script. Here are two other common scenarios:

  1. Phone calls

In this variation, scammers spoof the numbers of well-known companies claiming they’ve found a problem with the victim’s computer. They’ll ask for remote access to it, run a “diagnostic test,” and plant bogus problems. They’ll then ask the victim to pay an exorbitant amount of money to get the issue fixed.

Red flag: Legitimate tech-support companies will never initiate contact by phone.

  1. Pop-up warnings

Sometimes, a tech-support scammer will target victims with an alarming pop-up warning. The pop-up might look like a legitimate error from the victim’s system or antivirus software. The message will warn about a computer security issue and instruct the victim to call a listed number. Once the victim calls, they’ll be asked to grant the scammer remote access to their computer. The scam will then proceed much like what’s described above.

Red flag: Legitimate security warnings from tech companies will never ask you to call a phone number.

If you’ve been scammed

Are you a victim of a tech-support scam? It may not be too late to reclaim your money.

If you paid via credit or debit card, you may be able to stop the transaction. Contact your credit card company or [credit union] about contesting the charge.

You’ll also want to update your computer’s security software and run a scan. Delete anything your computer identifies as a security issue. Be sure to change your usernames and passwords as well.

Finally, don’t forget to report your scam to the FTC.

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a tech-support scam? Tell us about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2019/03/keep-tech-support-strangers-out-your-computer

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4013405/windows-protect-from-tech-support-scams
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-spot-avoid-and-report-tech-support-scams

Don’t Get Caught In A Pyramid Scheme!

Pyramid schemes are just one of the many ways scammers capitalize on human greed.man looking at computer and looking upset These business-centered schemes have been around for years, but scammers are still growing rich off victims.

Pyramid schemes are especially dangerous because they can be difficult to spot. They make every effort to appear legitimate, and are often confused with authentic multi-level marketing (MLM) companies.

Let’s take a look at what constitutes a pyramid scheme and how to avoid falling into their trap.

What is a Pyramid Scheme?

A pyramid scheme is a system in which participating members earn money by recruiting an ever-expanding number of “investors.” The initial promoters of the business stand on top of the pyramid. They will recruit additional investors, who will each also recruit even more investors. At each level, the number of investors multiplies. Investors earn a profit for each new recruit, and pass on some of the profit to their recruiters. The further up on a pyramid an investor is, the more money they will earn.

Sometimes, pyramid schemes involve the sale of a product, but that is usually just an attempt to appear authentic. The product will typically be faulty, and will obviously not be the focus of the business. The main object of all pyramid schemes is to recruit new investors in a never-ending quest for expansion.

It may be difficult to spot the crime here-and pyramid schemes are actually legal in some states. However, there are definitely underhanded tactics you’ll want to be aware of with every pyramid scheme.

First, new investors need to pay a fee for the right to sell a product or service, and to recruit others for monetary reward. This fee can be quite steep. Essentially, the recruiter is paying the salary of their superiors.

Also, as mentioned, if a product is sold, it is likely faulty or damaged and will not sell well. Recruiters might be required to purchase the product themselves. To make it even worse, the company will refuse to take back products that are deemed unsalable.

Finally, every pyramid scheme is set to fail because they are dependent on the ability to recruit more investors. Because there is a limited number of people in any community, every pyramid scheme will eventually collapse, leaving only those at the top with a profit.

What is Multi-Level Marketing?

MLM companies are often confused with pyramid schemes, but there are some distinctions that set them apart.

First, MLM companies work by selling products directly to consumers without a retail store or website. Distributors or salespeople will market the products on their own and will also train and recruit additional distributors. Each distributor earns a commission on each sale, as well as commission on the sales of the distributors they’ve recruited.

You might have unknowingly encountered an MLM business or even purchased their products. Some MLM companies include Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway, and Scentsy. These are all completely legitimate businesses, with no devious intent.

The primary difference between MLM companies and pyramid schemes is the reliable line of products or services that stand behind each MLM company. The bulk of the company’s profits come from sales, not from recruiting new investors.

Also, authentic MLM businesses will never leave their distributors with unsold products. They will gladly buy back unsold merchandise, though often at a discounted price.

How Can I Spot a Pyramid Scheme?

Watch out for these red flags which immediately mark a business as a pyramid scheme:

  • High-pressure tactics. Pyramid schemes work by ensnaring victims whose judgment is clouded by hopeful ambition and don’t bother to read the fine print.
  • Recruitment-based income. If your promised income is completely tied to recruiting more members for the business, you’re looking at a pyramid scheme.
  • Unsubstantiated income claims. If you’re promised a 6-digit salary within a year while working a low-skill job that requires no experience at all, opt out.
  • Outrageous products claims. Are you being asked to sell a cream that will make wrinkles disappear overnight? Or maybe a pill that makes people drop five pounds in a week? If the product is accompanied by outlandish claims that are hard to prove, you’re being targeted for a pyramid scheme.
  • You need to buy the product to sell it. A company that requires its salespeople to purchase its products is a company that is desperate for business. Run the other way and don’t look back.

If you think you’ve been targeted by a pyramid scheme, check your state laws and report the scheme to the authorities if a law has been broken. Also, warn your friends about the circulating scheme so they know to avoid falling into its trap.

Stay alert and stay safe!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a pyramid scheme? Tell us about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.fraud.org/direct_sale_pyramids

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/pyramid-schemes
https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/pyramid-schemes

What To Buy And What To Skip On Memorial Day

Since 1971, Memorial Day has been celebrated as an extended weekend away fromtwo women shopping in the spring work–and the unofficial start of summer. It’s time to get that grill going, dust off your patio set, and break out the white jeans you’ve had stashed away all winter.

More recently, Memorial Day has also turned into a second Black Friday for retailers, each offering loads of sale events in stores and online,and each promising to save you heaps of money. Lots of these sales will run for a full two weeks, starting a week before Memorial Day, which falls on May 27 this year, and continuing until the end of the month.

As always, though, not every marked-down product is actually a bargain. In fact, you can sometimes get the same product a lot cheaper by waiting a few months-or even just a few weeks. And of course, if the for-sale item is not one you need, you’re better off leaving it in the store. But, if you know what to shop for and you’re careful to stick to what you need and can afford, you can find some great deals.

Let’s take a look at what to buy and what to skip this Memorial Day weekend.

Buy: Outdoor essentials

Get ready to welcome summer with outdoor gear like grills, lawn mowers, mulch, ladders, and more, which may be marked down as much as 50% at stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Online retailers, like Wayfair and Overstock, host similar events and may offer free two-day shipping in honor of the summer season kickoff.

Skip: Electronics

You’re going to see lots of crazy-low deals on gaming consoles, laptops, and tablets around Memorial Day weekend. But, unless you need one now, it’s better to wait it out. You’ll find even better deals on electronics during Black Friday season, when retailers are looking to clear out last year’s models to make room for the newer inventory. If you need your electronics sooner than November, you may consider waiting until July, when many retailers host “Black Friday in July” events that feature steep discounts on electronics.

Buy: Furniture

Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to spruce up both the inside and outside of your home with new furniture. You can snag a great deal on a fully-loaded patio set, pick up a comfortable sofa, and even swap your old mattresses for new ones, all at great prices. You may need to use a coupon code to qualify for the reduced price, so be sure to check out a retailer’s website before hitting the store.

Skip: TVs

Don’t make the mistake of picking up a new TV in May just because you found one at an excellent price. Most marked-down TVs you’ll find around Memorial Day are older models with outdated features. You can find much better deals on newer models in November or January.

Buy: Wedding registry gifts

Department stores, like Macy’s and JC Penney, offer discounts on household essentials, like coffee makers and blenders, in advance of the wedding season. You’ll also find markdowns on these items at specialty stores, like Bed Bath & Beyond. If you’ve got any weddings to attend this summer, pick out a registry gift now to save big.

Skip: Cars

If you’re looking for a new set of wheels, wait until after June. You’ll find the hottest deals on cars between July and October, when dealerships are trying to move old inventory and make room for the newer models.

Buy: Tires

Preparing the family car for a summer road trip? You’ll find the year’s best prices on tires around Memorial Day weekend.

Skip: Swimwear

Don’t splurge on swimwear and other summer apparel just yet. Wait until June, or even mid-summer if you can swing it, for the steepest discounts.

Buy: Spring apparel

Retailers have been displaying their warmer-weather line for months now. That makes the end of May a perfect time to stock up on spring wear.

Skip: Power tools

You’ll only have to wait a few weeks for the hottest deals on power tools. Father’s Day sales usually start at the beginning of June, and they offer deep discounts on power tools and other outdoor power equipment.

Buy: Appliances and home décor

Retailers and manufacturers alike offer markdowns on large household appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens, at the end of May. Hold onto your receipts, as you may need to mail them to the manufacturer for a cash-back rebate. You can also score a deal on home décor products, like light fixtures, flooring, and kitchen essentials, at Memorial Day sale events.

Skip: Jewelry

All that glam won’t glow so brightly if you have to drain your wallet to pay for it. Skip the diamonds this month and wait until late summer, when the jewelry business is at its slowest and retailers put some of their products on sale. If you can wait even longer, push off your purchase until the end of February, when jewelry prices are at their lowest.

Now that you know what to buy and what to skip this Memorial Day, you can kick off the season of poolside barbecues and aimless road trips by snagging some great deals!

Your Turn: What was your best Memorial Day find ever? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.finder.com/memorial-day-sales

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/99B0B79C-4236-11E7-AE38-779A9096A819
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/shopping/shopping-tips-news/what-to-buy-skip-may/

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping; Should I Refinance?

Q:  I’ve heard that mortgage rates have dropped dramatically since the start of 2019. three people going over paperworkShould I refinance my mortgage loan to take advantage of these lower rates?

A:  Refinancing a mortgage is essentially paying off the remaining balance on an existing home loan and then taking out a new mortgage loan, often at a lower interest rate. It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are many factors to consider before moving forward with a refinance.

Is it a good time to refinance?

Mortgage rates have been falling steadily over the last few months. During the last week of March this year, rates took their biggest one-week nosedive in more than a decade, and mortgage applications rose 39%, as thousands of homeowners sought out their lenders for a refinance.

However, the downward trend has already reversed as of the beginning of April, when rates hit 4.29 percent. That’s up from 4.17 percent just one week prior. If you’re thinking of refinancing in the near future, it’s best to do move quickly so you can lock in the lowest possible rate. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars a month if you refinance a loan that currently has a relatively high interest rate.

Is a refinance right for you?

While this is definitely an excellent time to take out a new mortgage, that doesn’t mean a refinance is the right fit for everyone.

Here are two reasons a refinance might be a good fit for you:

  1. Your credit is strong and you’d like to lower your monthly payments

The first, and most obvious, reason homeowners refinance their mortgage is to take advantage of a lower interest rate. The drive behind this reason might be a change in finances, personal life or simply the desire to save money. As mentioned, the current mortgage rates make this an excellent time to refinance into a lower interest rate.

Don’t try a refinance unless your credit is in good shape, though. Taking out another mortgage with a less-than-desirable credit score can mean getting hit with a high interest rate, even if national rates are dropping.

Aside from reducing your monthly payments, a lower interest rate can also help you build more equity in your home sooner.

  1. You’d like to shorten the life of your loan

People sometimes choose to refinance their mortgage because they want to finish paying off their loan sooner. If you have a mortgage that has a really high interest rate but you can easily meet these payments, consider refinancing into a shorter-term option. You may be able to pay off your loan in half the time without changing your monthly payment much at all.

When refinancing your mortgage is a bad idea

In the following three circumstances, refinancing your mortgage may not make sense.

  1. You’re in debt.

If you’re looking for the extra stash of cash each month to pull you out of debt, you probably shouldn’t be refinancing. Most people who refinance for this reason end up spending all the money they save, and then some. Without making any real changes to your spending habits, giving yourself extra money is only enabling more debt. While the intention is rooted in sound logic, unless you make an equally sound change in your spending habits, you’ll be right back to your present situation in very little time.

  1. A refinance will greatly lengthen the loan’s terms.

If you’ve only got 10 years left on your mortgage and you want to refinance to stretch out those payments over 30 years, you won’t come out ahead. Any money you save on lower payments will be lost in the cost of the refinance and the extra 20 years of interest you’ll be paying on your mortgage.

  1. You don’t plan on living in your home much longer.

If you plan on moving within the next few years, the money you save might not even come close to the costs of a refinance.

How much will it cost?

Homeowners are often eager to get started on a refinance until they see what it will cost them.

Remember all those fees and closing costs you paid when you first bought your house? Prepare to pay most of them again. Broker fees will vary, but a typical refinance will cost anywhere between 3-6% of the loan’s principal.

Before proceeding with your refinance, make sure you’ll actually be saving money. You can do this by procuring a good faith estimate from several lenders. This will get you your projected interest rate and the anticipated loan price. Next, divide this price by the amount you’ll save each month with your anticipated new rate. This will give you the number of months that will have to pass before you break even on the new loan. If you don’t plan on staying in your home for that long, or you can’t afford to wait until then to recoup your losses, refinancing may not make sense for you.

Rates are still low, and if your finances are in good shape, a refinance can be a great way to put an extra few hundred dollars into your pocket each month. [If you’re ready to talk to a home loan expert about refinancing, call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to ask about getting started on your refinance. We’re always happy to help you save money!

Your Turn: Have you refinanced? What drove your decision? Was it the right decision for you? Let us know in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.myfinance.com/5-reasons-to-refinance/?utm_source=Millennial+Money&utm_campaign=millennialmoneycru&utm_medium=mfCRU

https://www.consumersadvocate.org/mortgage-refinance/a/best-mortgage-refinance?matchtype=e&keyword=should%20i%20refinance&adpos=1t2&gclid=CjwKCAjww6XXBRByEiwAM-ZUILOeJrx3aTigcckJXeQcxYZ5KC-gPj1HDcbQYQlprrg3zX08LqGaohoCL14QAvD_BwE
https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/refinance/when-and-when-not-to-refinance-mortgage/
https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/refinance/7-bad-reasons-to-refinance-mortgage/
https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/analysis/
https://www.wkbn.com/news/local-news/with-mortgage-rate-drop-many-buyers-consider-refinancing/1897961701