20 Oct

High Value Home Improvements to Make with Your HELOC

Did you know about 50% of Home Equity Line of Credit loans, aka HELOCs, are used to make home improvements according to the US Census Bureau’s Housing Survey? It’s a common sense move since the updates you make, especially in Denver’s market, are likely to reap rewards when you decide to sell. You can even use some of the new equity in your home you’ve earned with your labor (or a contractor’s) to pay for the old equity you borrowed. Winner! Winner!

How is a HELOC different than just a loan? A home equity line of credit is more like a credit card than a loan. Once the line of credit has been approved, the homeowner decides if and when to use the money and can withdraw it from the account as needed. Payments aren’t due until there’s an outstanding balance on the line of credit.

We published a post about HELOCs and rising home prices in Denver in an April 2015 blog post and one and a half years later, the song remains the same – home prices are still HOT. The average sold home price in metro Denver was around $398,663 then and now it’s just slightly lower at $396,700.

Did you know there are also tax benefits to getting a HELOC? If you itemize your taxes, you may be able to deduct the interest paid on a home equity loan or HELOC if the loan amount is limited to $100,000. It doesn’t matter if you used the money for home improvement, or a car, or a trip of a lifetime.

If you’re ready to build equity and want to choose a midrange remodeling project that will yield the greatest return, check these recommendations. Source: Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs. Value 2016 edition for Denver, CO.

  1. Minor Kitchen Model
  2. Front door
  3. Deck
  4. Convert attic into a bedroom
  5. Garage Door Replacement

Even if you’re not going to be selling right away, consider how your HELOC can improve your quality of life in the home you’re in now. Consider the following scenario. Your home is worth $300k with a remaining mortgage of $150k, so you have $150k of equity in the home and you decide to invest $50k in a major kitchen remodel. The average ROI on this investment is 65 percent, so the project adds $32.5k of value to the home. While you now owe $200k on the home, it is now assessed at $332.5k. The homeowner has decreased the home’s overall equity by only $17.5k, and now enjoys a brand new $50k kitchen in a home that still has plenty of equity.

Talk to one of our RMLEFCU associates today about a HELOC! Find out more about our HELOC offerings here.

02 Aug

Planes, Trains and Automobiles – How to Save on Summer Travel

Want to Save on Summer Travel?

The way we look at it Fall starts on September 22nd, so you have 51 days left of summer to take a summer trip. We’re determined to save you money on the different modes of transportation you’ll use to get there. In no particular order, here are ways to make your money go further when booking a flight, taking a train and reserving a rental car.

Planes –

It used to be all about waiting until the last minute to find deals. But with all of the low cost carriers and an increase in the number of people flying, you’re better off booking in advance. We recommend Kayak and Skyscanner. Both are comparison websites that perform all of the data digging to get you the best deal and tell you whether to buy now or wait. According to Kayak’s blog, “The lowest average domestic airfares are found 21 days prior to departure while international airfares are at their lowest point 34 days out.”

  • Fly on unpopular days: Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
  • Sign up for email alerts from airlines you fly regularly. Consider creating an email address or a filter for emails like this so as to not clog up your regular email account.
  • After you book, watch the fare – remember that you have 24 hours to cancel with most airlines. Some airlines like Southwest will let you cancel and rebook anytime before you check in.
  • Be willing to fly out of a regional airport. Bonus: Sometimes the parking is free, or at least cheaper, which helps to balance out the gas money you used driving there.
  • Fly Southwest – they are the only airline that allows a free checked bag, two in fact.

Trains –

Why would you book a train ride when air travel is so much faster?

Maybe it’s because the prices are more stable than airfare, you’ve saved up more vacation days so scrambling back is unnecessary, and it’s a more scenic way to see this great country. Any of the headaches that air travel gives you (long security lines and cancelled flights) are avoided with train travel.

Check out Amtrak SmartFares. There are new rail deals every week, available for travel Tuesday through Friday.

Trains have great discounts. Military personnel and their families and AAA members save 10%. Students save 15% no matter if they are full or part-time, undergraduate or graduate. If you are a veteran, you can save 15% with a card. Have little ones? Kids always pay half of an adult fare.

Sign up for Amtrak alerts to be in the know about new deals.

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21 Jul

How to Bounce Back from a Personal Financial Crisis

There is no agreed upon definition of what constitutes a “personal financial crisis.”

A few examples might be:

  • Taking a pay cut with a different job
  • Unexpected repairs to your home or car that aren’t covered
  • Credit card debt that is eating up your income and not allowing you to save
  • You’re facing bankruptcy
  • You or your spouse has been laid off

Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Federal Credit Union understands that a personal financial crisis is personal to you. However, we have a few suggestions of ways to tackle a financial setback that are widely applicable – whether the crisis was of your own doing, or beyond your control.

  1. Try to recognize if your emotions are taking over. It sounds hokey but positive thoughts lead to positive actions, while negative thoughts usually lead to negative action. If you have negative feelings about what has happened, you are likely to make a decision based on an emotion like fear, shame or anger.

Our attitudes towards money are shaped early in life, or develop without having much formal education. Everyone knows someone who seems to be constantly plagued by money problems.

People who believe that money is something within their control are the ones who become more successful in how they manage their finances.

  1. Look for pro-active solutions and don’t give in to the fear of making the same mistake or another financial setback. One antidote to fear is as much research as possible. Before starting to look for work, do your research and determine what you need to be earning in a new job to support your lifestyle. If there is some way you can increase your skills or better your negotiation techniques to secure a higher salary – do so. In the short term, think about what you can immediately cut from your monthly budget. Simple things like eating out less can help you get through a tough time.
  1. Check out a few books about money. – You’re busy – we get it – but if you have a few moments each day for social media – you can skim a few of these books.
  • Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence by Vicki Robin
  • The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
  • Start Late, Finish Rich: A No-Fail Plan for Achieving Financial Freedom at Any Age by David Bach
  1. Pare down a few of your non-necessities.

A few examples are: eating out at restaurants, movie theater tickets, a gym membership, outdoor gear.

Alternatives: Use coupons to eat out (restaurant.com, Groupon). Watch movies and TV on Amazon Prime, Hulu or Netflix or go to a cheap theater like Elvis Cinemas in Denver. Rather than a gym membership, explore free or low cost fitness apps on your cell phone or move along to free videos on Youtube.com like the Fitness Blender series. To save money on shopping, borrow items when possible, or buy used or from outlets.

  1. Be cautious about credit counseling companies. Credit counseling is an alternative to bankruptcy. These companies have you pay them and they in turn pay your creditors, having negotiated a payment plan and schedule. It’s not all bad but you should do your research first.

Advantages:

You avoid filing for bankruptcy.

You consolidate your bills into one monthly payment, for a period that lasts usually three to five years.

Your credit score should stay the same as when you enroll.

You’re forced to follow a strict monthly budget and live within your means.

Cons:

Reports from researchers show a 50/50 success rate.

Most lenders will not lend to you until your counseling period ends and you have re-established some credit. This will take a few years.

Similar to bankruptcy, credit counseling may impact how potential employers view you.

Nobody is born with superior financial knowledge. It is a learned skill and one that takes assessment and constant practice. RMLEFCU has dedicated personnel to help you in a financial crisis. You may call (720) 458-6660 to learn more. We also offer an in-house financial planner, Deborah Wilson, who can be reached at 720-855-4128. Call to schedule a free consultation and gain peace of mind.

04 May

National Police Week Activities Honor Sacrifice and Stress Remembrance

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared May 15th as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and designated the calendar week in which this day occurs as National Police Week to honor law enforcement service and sacrifice. This year National Police Week runs from Sunday, May 15, 2016 through Saturday, May 21, 2016.

There are many national organizations who work diligently to ensure this week pays tribute to our fallen brothers and sisters. Below is a list and the individual events they manage.

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund – This group is responsible for the May 13, 2016 Candlelight Vigil honoring law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2015. The vigil takes place on the National Mall in Washington D.C. and those outside of D.C. can view it online by logging onto this site.  In 2015, 123 officers lost their lives and each of their names will be engraved on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Judicial Square following the vigil.

Fraternal Order of Police/Fraternal Order of Police Auxiliary (FOP/FOPA), which organizes the Memorial Service on the west front lawn of the U.S. Capitol. A wreath laying ceremony will immediately follow the service.

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13 Apr

Convenience: Because Waiting in Line is No One’s Idea of a Good Time

Rocky Mountain Law Enforcement Credit Union’s members don’t have time to wait in line. Even if they did have time to spare, we wouldn’t want them to spend it on banking related tasks. After all, we live in Colorado, we’d rather be out exploring our great state.

We have created a host of services that make life for convenient for our members. From check deposits using a few taps of your smartphone to applications that hone in on the nearest compatible ATMs – Time is ON your side when you choose to bank with RMLEFCU.

We’re proud to offer you:

  • Mobile Banking – Once you’ve registered and log on you can view your account balances, transfer funds, deposit checks, pay bills, enroll in automatic bill pay, make loan payments, and transfer money to other banking institutions.

To register for mobile banking, click on ‘Log In’ in the upper right hand side of rmlefcu.org. Under the ‘Log In’ boxes, click on ‘Register’. Next, enter in your member number, the last four of your social security number, date of birth and a security code (to ensure you’re not a bot on the net!) and you’re on your way.

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14 Dec

5 Year End Money Tips You Can ACTUALLY Use

5 reasons pic_12.14.15“The bad news is that time flies, the good news is that you’re the pilot.”  December’s days are dwindling and before you know it you’ll be writing 2015 on your checks and scribbling it out. But you are still the master of your domain when it comes to finances. Here are 5 Year-End money tips that we at RMLEFCU believe are do-able even if you are a procrastinator.

  1. Make sure you maximize your FSA. This is where your employer allows you to pay for eligible out-of-pocket health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars. Sounds like the best thing since sliced bread, right? Sure, but many policies are use it or lose it. So check with your HR department and use the full amount since many companies won’t allow you to roll it over.
    New federal laws permit employers to let their workers roll over a maximum of $500, but it’s the employer’s choice whether or not to allow this. You may have a grace period until March of next year to use the prior year funds, while other employers require that the funds are used by Dec 31. So, if you’ve been meaning to get those prescription glasses or visit the dentist (haven’t we all?) better book those appointments STAT.

 

  1. Donate to charity. Secure some additional tax deductions by donating to a charitable cause. As long as you itemize your donations, you can claim everything from cash donations to goods to used vehicle donations.
    Ask for a signed and dated receipt from the charity, noting the amount of your contribution — especially if you’re donating goods instead of cash.

 

  1. Contribute to your 401k. For 2015, you’re allowed to contribute up to $18,000 to your 401(k). (If you’re 50 and over, that limit increases to $24,000.) This is the maximum you’re able to save per year and still defer paying income tax on that money.

 

  1. Get organized.Make this the year that you keep all your deductions/receipts organized and easy to find when April 15th rolls around. Check out these apps that help you manage your receipts.

 

  1. Examine the big picture. If you changed jobs, sold or bought a house, or expanded your family, you might need to add new insurance policies, adopt a more ambitious savings policy or rebalance your long-term investments.

RMLEFCU Members can now prepare, print and e-file simple returns FREE with TurboTax® Federal Free Edition. TurboTax makes it easy to do your taxes right with 100% accurate calculations and your maximum refund, guaranteed. Click here to find out more.

See it’s not so hard, two of our five tips are forward thinking. We bet that when we check in with you next December, you’ll be on your way to a more pleasurable tax experience. For any of you that are already doing the above give yourself a pat on the back!

19 Nov

12 Ways to Use Your Holiday Loan

12 Ways to use your holiday loanThe original 12 Days of Christmas includes a lot of birds, ladies dancing and pipers piping. While it is a catchy tune, deciding 12 ways to use your RMLEFCU Holiday Loan requires a modern view of consumer spending habits. If you plan, your Holiday Loan can last you all year long with timely purchases on the following schedule:

January: Cold Weather Coat – Head to the Columbia outlet in Castle Rock or online. Score an Omni-Heat cost for $199

February: Go out for a good meal with your sweetheart – One appetizer, two entrees, a bottle of wine and a dessert will likely set you back $150. For restaurants in Denver with ambiance we like this list.

March: Experience the Napa Valley of Beer (hint: You already live here) on a beer tour. A single ticket = $40/pp while a private tour = $79/pp. Many companies provide tours, but here’s one that Visit Denver recommends.

April: Tennis Shoes – Websites we like for the best deals and free shipping are 6pm.com, Zappos. Cost: $100

May:  Don’t forget to send flowers to Mom on Mother’s Day. Our pick for customer service and quality: is 1-800 Flowers.com.  Deeper discount is you use a coupon code. Your mom would approve. Cost: $65

June: Attend a concert at Red Rocks. To save more money, wait until the last minute and look on Craigslist or buy one in the parking lot. Cost: $150 for 2 tickets and dinner in nearby Morrison at the Morrison Inn.

July: Head up to Cheyenne Frontier Days. For $99 get a 4 pack that includes 4 rodeo tickets, 4 hamburgers or hotdogs, 4 fries, 4 soft drinks, a poster, park n ride pass, and a 20% merchandise voucher. Purchase here.   Read More