14 Sep

Avoid Making a Big Money Mistake with these Questions

The best way to avoid a money mistake is to question big-ticket items fully before committing. Asking yourself these questions will help you help you maintain your financial health by avoiding unnecessary debt. If it doesn’t relate to heating your home, drying your clothes, keeping your house dry, or getting you to work – the purchase is likely not one you MUST make.

This brings us to the first question in our series that you’ll want to answer.

1. Is it necessary? Can you function in your day to day life without it?

We realize we’re being strict, but a narrow view of necessities is key to maintaining control over your finances. You may have guessed from the introduction that we consider a new heater, a dryer and a car to be necessities. Boats, vacations to Tahiti, and kitchen renovations are typically not.

2. Can you borrow? Buy used?

Use Facebook or Nextdoor to put a call out. Examples of things you might be able to borrow include phones and laptops. They are necessary for us to maintain our jobs but if we don’t have the money to buy them new, one option would be to borrow or buy a sparingly used phone or laptop from a friend. Furthermore, while you wouldn’t borrow a dryer, you might make due without one for the summer months by hanging up your clothes to dry outside, using a neighbor’s, or going to the closest laundromat until you have saved up enough to buy your own.

Some items are harder to borrow, like a car or truck. Having a reliable vehicle to get you and your loved ones to where they need to go is important. RMLEFCU is proud to partner with AutoTrek for honest car buying advice. They are offering the following incentives to RMLEFCU members for used and new cars:

  • $100 gas card
  • Discounted prices on 2017 models
  • Exclusive access to 50,000 used models online and over 100 on their lot

3. Shop around if possible and pay attention to reviews.

The Internet and social media make it so much easier to Google the specific brand and model of many big-ticket items and find out who has the best price. A little research can save you a lot of money.

4. Can you do it yourself? Do you have the time? Are you handy?

Be honest not only with how capable you are, but with how much time you are willing to give up to fix or replace the item yourself. YouTube videos can be useful to show you how to properly cut a mango, but hanging drywall may be best left to a team who has done it before.

We have mentioned starting an emergency fund in many of our articles. If you don’t have one, here’s a few reasons why you should. Thankfully, RMLEFCU offers a service called Courtesy Pay that will allow check, debit and ACH items to be paid up to $1,000 by allowing your checking account to go into the negative; rather than returning the overdraft item. This will help keep you out of debt in case you have any financial emergencies.

Speak with a RMLEFCU employee about our current AutoTrek promotion and Courtesy Pay today!

22 Jun

5 Things to Do When Buying in a Seller’s Market

When you’re buying a home in a seller’s market put yourself in the mindset of a contestant on an episode of the Amazing Race. Success depends on being resourceful, keeping a positive attitude, and managing your resources.

Thankfully, Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union can offer their members competitive rates and advice in the form of these five MUSTs before you start looking on Zillow, Redfin or your favorite local realtor’ website.

  1. Get your financing in order.

    In short, pay down your debts, have money earmarked for a down payment and check your credit report so there are no surprises.

    1. Pay Down Debts – Pay the most expensive first. This is the bill with the highest interest rate. Consider moving your balance from one credit card to another with a 0% interest rate, but be faithful with your payments before the 0% offer expires.
    2. Down Payment – Aim for 10-20% of the purchase price.
    3. Credit Report – Order your free one here. Get all three at once. Check for late payments and make sure they are not erroneous, especially recent late payments. If your name is common, make sure that the address noted is correct. If you see something that shouldn’t be there, call the creditor whose name appears alongside the disputed information.
  1. Get a low interest loan.

Here’s where Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union can help. From now until the end of June we can offer 125%* for 30 year and 3.25%* for 15 year loans. There’s no requirement for private mortgage insurance and we’re offering extremely low origination fees of 0.5%.

  1. Be willing to look in different areas and during the weekday.

If there’s a great house out there but you’re only able to view it on the weekends, you might lose out. Buying in a seller’s market means meeting the realtor at the first opportunity. Having a manageable commute is important, but be willing to look for homes in areas you haven’t considered. Arvada and Lakewood are our picks if you want to live closer to the mountains.

  1. Be flexible with the closing date!

Summer and Fall are busy and maybe you have dates in mind that would be less than ideal for moving. Sorry to say, you need to make it work for the seller when you’re buying in a seller’s market. What matters most ultimately is the price you end up paying – and getting a home that works for you. Don’t get hung up on dates.

  1. Shorten your lists of must haves.

You may think you have to have air conditioning, but a swamp cooler can do just fine in this area of the country. Be open to a corner lot, replace the kitchen cabinets yourself, and don’t get stuck on the existing paint colors. Certain characteristics are non-negotiable: school districts, number of bedrooms for each child (bunking brother and sister together for the “perfect house” is not recommended). Save your long list of must haves for a buyer’s market that will eventually happen. If anyone has any guesses of when, let us know.

Buying in a seller’s market is difficult, but not impossible. Stay tuned for more home buying advice from RMLEFCU.

*Annual Percentage Rate. With approved credit. Some restrictions may apply. Applications must be submitted by June 30th, 2016 to qualify for the promotional rate and origination discount.

17 Feb

When is it ok to tap into your IRA?

Ninety six percent of the time, it is wise to adopt an out of sight out of mind mindset when it comes to your retirement accounts. But this article is about the other 4%. When is it ok to withdraw money from your IRA? When does it make more sense than borrowing? How can you avoid being penalized?

First, there are two types of IRAs. The first is a traditional IRA, where you are taxed when you take out the money in retirement. The second kind, a Roth IRA, taxes you on the front end but doesn’t hit you with any taxes when you make your withdraw the money in retirement.

The good news: withdrawals are fair game and penalty free after your 59 ½ birthday, no matter which IRA you choose.

Unfortunately, if you withdraw money from a traditional IRA or Roth IRA before you turn 59 ½, you must pay a 10% tax penalty.

There are exceptions to this rule:

Higher Education: If you pay educational expenses for

  • yourself
  • your spouse; or
  • you or your spouse’s child, foster child, adopted child, or descendant of any of them.

Educational expenses include: tuition, fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for enrollment. To get into the nitty-pic for 2.17 bloggritty, see the chart at the bottom of this link.

This is not limited to a 2 or 4 year degree program but includes any college, university, vocational school, or other post-secondary educational institution eligible to participate in a student aid program, essentially all accredited public, nonprofit, and proprietary (privately owned profit-making) post-secondary institutions.

Home:

You can withdraw up to $10,000 of IRA funds toward the purchase of your first home. If you’re married, and you and your spouse are first-time buyers, you each can pull from retirement accounts, giving you $20,000 in residential cash.

Better news: You qualify as a “first-time homebuyer” as long as you (or your spouse) didn’t own a principal residence at any time during the previous 2 years.

Read More

15 Dec

Member’s Choice Mechanical Repair Coverage. You need it, we have it.

mechanical repair picMany people believe that cars are more reliable these days than in decades past and that additional auto coverage is a waste of money.  They’re half right. Cars are built better and are infinitely more functional than in years past. As IHS Automotive recently reported, nearly 1 out of 4 cars on the road was built before 2000.

But consider that if you are keeping your car longer, the likelihood that it will need repairs will increase with time. Not to mention that more of cars have electronic parts that require additional attention, otherwise known as more expensive repairs.

You are a prime candidate for this coverage if:

  • You plan on keeping your new car longer than the manufacturer’s warranty – most common are three years or 36,000 miles or 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
  • You bought a used car and the factory warranty period is fast approaching its expiration.
  • You want to sell your car to a private party to get the most money and want to increase its appeal.

Luckily, RMLEFCU offers Member’s Choice Mechanical Repair Coverage with a laundry list of benefits:

A few highlights:

  • Rental reimbursement: up to $35 per day for 5 days.
  • 24-hour emergency roadside assistance: up to $100 per occurrence. Includes towing, battery jump start, fluid delivery, flat tire assistance and lock-out service
  • Travel expense reimbursement: up to $500 for lodging, food and rental expense when a covered breakdown or collision occurs more than 100 miles from home
  • Honored at any authorized repair facility in the U.S. or Canada
  • No out of pocket expense (except for any deductible)
  • Transferable: if you sell your vehicle privately, the coverage can be transferred (for an administrative fee), adding resale value and appeal.

Select from 3 levels of coverage: Silver, Gold and Platinum. Platinum, the highest, covers ANY breakdown as long as you perform normal maintenance.

Car repairs can be crippling to your budget, but you can purchase piece of mind with Member’s Choice Mechanical Repair Coverage. Talk to a RMLEFCU member representative today to find out more.

 

 

26 Aug

How to Build Good Credit

how to build good creditCredit. Those five little letters have the ability to inspire fear and raise blood pressure. If you have little to no credit history or a low credit score, RMLEFCU’s Credit Builder loan was designed with you in mind.

It works like this: RMLEFCU acts as a gatekeeper and loans you between $500-$5,000 with a rate determined by your FICO score and our signature loan rate. You make payments on the loan over a period of time, perhaps a year, and RMLEFCU puts the money in an interest-bearing savings account. Once the loan is paid off, you can access the full amount.

To help ensure your success, RMLEFCU will arrange for a low monthly amount and set up automatic repayment options. Just ask us the next time you’re in or call our main line at (303) 458-6660. You’ll know within minutes if you are approved. Read More

24 Jun

4 Things You Must Do To Build Your Credit

Build your credit score RMLEFCUWe know you’re a trustworthy, reliable person. Anyone who has ever met you can tell right away that you fulfill obligations and that your word is as “good as gold.” I have bad news and more bad news. First, the price of gold is dropping and second, your reliability and trustworthiness, at least to people who might lend you large sums of money to buy a car or a home, relies on three little numbers – your credit score.

So, what are 4 things you need to do to build your credit?

  1. Get a credit card. First check out RMLEFCU’s visa cards. We have a couple options available depending on whether you want better rewards or a lower interest rate. If you’re unable to get an unsecured credit card, look into a gas card or store card. We would suggest if it’s a store card, to get one at a place where you normally do your shopping. For example, check out Target or Wal-Mart store credit cards. With Target you’ll get 5% off with every purchase, no shipping if you shop online and you’ll have 30 extra days to return items. With Wal-Mart, when you first open your account and spend $75 at Walmart.com, you’ll save $25. You’ll also receive 5 cents off per gallon at participating Wal-Mart gas stations. Bonus: Neither card has an annual fee.
  1. Pay your card IN FULL and ON TIME each month. We know what you’re thinking, isn’t this two things in one? “Paying in full” is like the peanut butter to the jelly that is “on time.” They are best when they are done together. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to carry a balance to build an awesome score. If you absolutely cannot pay it in full, always pay the minimum balance.

To make sure you are never late, set up an automatic payment. If for some reason that option is not available, ensure you have some kind of reminder, handwritten or electronic, to pay the bill each month. Thirty-five percent of your credit score is determined by your track record with making on-time payments on your bills.

There are a couple of myths out there about building credit that, like cockroaches, are hard to kill. Carrying a large balance will help boost your score and so will closing old accounts you don’t use. Doing either of these can really HURT your credit, so avoid them at all costs. Little known fact: Fifteen percent of your credit score is based on the length of time you’ve maintained a credit account.

Read More

11 Jun

Get a credit score so strong that Chuck Norris will think twice before fighting it!

chuck-norrisDid you know RMLEFCU offers a Credit Builder loan?

This is specifically designed for:

  • Members with little to no credit history
  • Members with low credit scores

RMLEFCU members are able to establish or re-establish their credit rating with the three major credit bureaus with RMLEFCU acting as a gatekeeper. It works like a layaway plan: instead of getting the money upfront, borrowers make payments on the loan over a period of time, perhaps a year, and RMLEFCU puts the money in an interest-bearing savings account. As loan payments are made, the borrower can begin to access the money, although we recommend waiting until the loan is paid in full.

Read More

20 May

Financial Advice for Younger Adults

financial advice for younger adultsRMLEFCU employees were informally surveyed and asked, “If you could go back in time and talk to yourself at 21, what kind of financial advice would you give?”

In no particular order, here are 6 top responses:

  • If your employer has a retirement plan, you had better contribute. If they don’t, open an IRA. Unless you are planning on checking out early or not having any children or loved ones you leave behind, you will want to start saving as soon as you move your belongings out of your college dorm.
  • Cash or Debit Cards Only. Speaking of college, chances are you don’t have the income to offset any high interest credit card debt you may have been enticed to rack up. I know it’s tempting, but if you can’t get by on a debit card or cash, you probably don’t need it. P.S. That’s great that they were giving out those mini footballs/Frisbees/t-shirts and you needed/wanted/had to have one, but cut that credit card up now if you can’t afford it.
  • If you already have a credit card, remember this advice, “Do not put anything on your credit card that you can’t pay off the next month.” Look at it only as a way to afford something that you’ll have the money for in 28 days. Maybe the movie “28 Days Later” will help drive this point home since having credit card debt will be worse than a zombie chasing you. Zombies can be outrun, creditors will never stop coming after you.

Read More

15 Apr

Your Financial Spring Cleaning Checklist

spring cleaning financial checklistNow is the time to give those finances a thorough Spring cleaning! At the Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union we are big fans of setting financial goals and achieving financial success. To help you we have assembled your financial Spring cleaning checklist!

Discard

  • Debt
    • Until you can completely pay off your credit card bill, there are still a few things you can do.
    • Pay your bill the day you get it. Grace Periods usually only exist for those who pay their balance IN FULL EVERY When you do this, you won’t be charged interest.
    • Always pay more than the minimum when you can.
    • If you are not eligible for a low interest rate card like our RMLEFCU credit cards, apply for one with a teaser rate (1 year or less) ONLY DO THIS if you know you can pay off the entire balance before that attractive rate disappears.
  • Discrepancies on your credit report
    • Contact Experian, Trans Union and Equifax for a free credit report once a year at: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/index.action

Read More

05 Apr

Been There. Done That. Retirement Advice from a Fellow Cop.

Retirement Planning Advice for PoliceTerry Lucas served with the Illinois State Police for 28 years rising through progressively higher ranks mostly in the investigative field. Terry then served as the Law Enforcement Coordinator for the US Attorney’s office in the Central District of Illinois for 15 years. While with DOJ he served in Iraq assisting in the prosecution of Sadaam Hussein.

He has a few nuggets of advice for fellow cops.

On retirement planning: “You have to think outside of your pension.” Terry, father to five daughters, speaks from experience, “Don’t overlook something that is staring you in the face. Contribute to some kind of deferred compensation plan. Why not have that amount taken out before taxes and put into an account? It will hurt a lot less now than it will when you’re 55 and looking at starting over in another job.”

Asked for advice to cops nearing retirement age, he says, “Think very carefully about taking a large chunk of time off right after you sign those retirement papers to travel and just relax. Chances are you’re young enough that you’ll need to keep working, and the best time to get a job is when you already have one.” Read More