Can I Trust Credit Karma?

Q: I’m trying to increase my credit score ahead of applying for a large loan, so I’m considering signing up for Credit Karma to track my score. How accurate are the credit scores it shares? Is there anything I need to be aware of before signing up for this service?

A: Credit Karma is a legitimate company; however, for a variety of reasons, its scores may vary greatly from the number your lender will share with you when it checks your credit.

We have answers to all your questions about Credit Karma.

What is Credit Karma?
Credit Karma is an online credit service that operates under the principle that everyone is entitled to a free and honest credit score. To that end, the site allows you to check your credit whenever you’d like without paying any fees – a privilege that can cost you about $20 a month from its competitors. You’ll need to sign up for the service and share some sensitive information, like your Social Security number and your financial goals, but you won’t be asked for any credit card numbers or account information.

Scores are updated once a week, and the company only performs a “soft inquiry” on your credit to get the necessary information – which means your score is never impacted by it checking your credit on your behalf. Credit Karma also offers lots of credit advice, customizable loan calculators, and reviews on financial products of all kinds.

Credit Karma earns its profit through targeted ads. As you learn your way around the site and start to frequent it more often, you’ll see ads that are geared toward your specific financial situation. For example, if your credit is excellent and you’re looking for a home loan, you’ll probably find loads of ads from mortgage companies. While this may seem like a breach of privacy, it’s no different than the way much larger online platforms you likely use, including Google and Facebook, earn a profit.

How does Credit Karma calculate my score?
The online credit company uses information from two of the three major credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Equifax, to give you a VantageScore 3.0. While this type of credit score is gaining popularity among lenders, you may not recognize it – and for good reason. The FICO scoring model is by far the most widely used credit score among financial institutions and lenders across the country, with 90% of lenders using this score to net potential borrowers.

The atypical scoring model used by Credit Karma, coupled with the absence of information from Experian, the third of the three major credit reporting agencies, tends to make Credit Karma scores differ from scores pulled by other companies and financial institutions. The credit service is usually within range and a good indicator of your overall credit wellness. You can also get a report with a thin credit history through this model, which is super-helpful for those seeking to build their credit from nothing.

How do other lenders calculate my score?
Most financial institutions use a FICO scoring model to measure consumers’ credit scores. As mentioned, this number will likely be lower than the score you see on Credit Karma, but will fall within the same general range.

It’s also important to note that, each time you apply for a specific kind of loan with an individualized lender, it will likely also use its own customized formula. For example, if you were applying for a mortgage with a home loan company, it would probably use a score that is specifically developed for mortgage loans. Similarly, if you were to apply for a car loan from an auto lender, it will use its own score designed to predict the likelihood of you defaulting on an auto loan. This can result in an even lower credit score from these lenders.

Is there any other way to get my credit score?
If you’re looking for a more relevant credit score, you have several options. You can ask a potential lender to pull your credit, though this might cost you both in fees and in a knock to your credit for the hard inquiry. You can order your free credit report with information from all three credit bureaus once a year, at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Lastly, for more frequent monitoring, you can sign up for access to your FICO score and 3-bureau credit report on Experian.com, where packages start at $19.99 a month. There are other similar services out there, but most are not legitimate or are grossly overpriced.

How does DoverPhila Federal Credit Union decide if I’m eligible for a loan?
We use the FICO model to calculate your credit score when you apply for a large loan. While this number will likely differ from your Credit Karma score, it gives us a broader picture of your credit as it includes information pulled from all three credit bureaus. We’ll also review your full financial history and trajectory to determine if you are eligible for the loan.

Here at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, our goal is to help you achieve and maintain financial wellness. Consequently, we are far more likely to approve a loan for one of our members than a random lender who doesn’t know the first thing about you or your financial history.

If you’re trying to increase your credit score before applying for a large loan, we can help! Stop by DoverPhila Federal Credit Union today to speak to one of our free financial counselors about steps you can take to improve your credit.

If you’re ready to take out that loan, make DoverPhila Federal Credit Union your first stop! Our stress-free application process, low interest rates, and reasonable terms make us the best choice for your next large loan. We’ll help turn your dream home, car, or business into a reality.

Step 6 of 12 Towards Financial Freedom: Trim Expenses

If you’ve been following our Financial Freedom series, then you know that last month we focused on creating a budget. Now that we have a budget, let’s slim it down!

You’ve already practiced spending less thanks to Step #2 in this series. Now, it’s time to get serious about it. Take a long, hard look at the money you spend each month and find your weak spots. Maybe consider going out to eat less often. Check out the example below.

Example:
In general, a single meal costs $5 to $7 at a fast-food restaurant (average is $6).

Saving by packing

You could save over $1,000 in a year!

Now, it’s your turn. Where do you spend the most on unnecessary purchases? What’s your particular vice? You may even have several spending traps. How can you cut back on you daily expenses? Any extra money you save goes toward your debt payments.

Need a fresh perspective on trimming your expenses? Sit down with one of our free, on-staff financial counselors. Call today at 330-364-8874 and ask for Katy Steinebrey or Fred Weingarth.

Need budgeting tools? Check out our interactive library through Banzai by clicking here.

Seven Steps to a Mid-Year Financial Check-Up

It feels like you just packed away the holiday decorations yesterday, but believe it or not, 2019 is already half over. As we sail into the season of barbecues and beaches, take a few minutes to give yourself a mid-year financial checkup. A small investment of time can spur important changes that can affect your financial wellness for the rest of 2019 or even for years to come. 

Use the seven steps detailed below to guide you through your checkup. 

Step 1: Revisit Your Budget 
Remember sitting down in December and crunching all those numbers? There’s no need for such a detailed job again, but take some time to review your monthly budget. Are you sticking to the planned budget for every category? Are you overspending in some categories or under-spending in others? Do you need to adjust your allotted budget in some areas or maybe trim your discretionary spending across the board?

Review your spending over the last few months and make any necessary changes so your budget can continue working for you. Be sure to account for any significant life changes that may alter your financial needs, such as a marriage, the birth of a child, a divorce, or a job change. 

 You will avoid falling into a mindless spending trap and you will be taking proactive steps toward staying on top of your finances for the rest of 2019 by reviewing and adjusting your budget.

Step 2: Anticipate Large Expenses 
Now that you’ve updated your monthly budget, take a moment to list any large expenses you anticipate having in the next six months. This can include household appliances that may need replacing, expensive car repairs that will likely become necessary, or an anticipated medical expense that is not fully covered by insurance. 

Once you have this information in hand, determine which spending category you will take the money from to cover these expenses. Do you have a rainy-day fund that can pay for one or several of these costs? Can you use the money in your emergency fund? Make the decision about sourcing this money now so you don’t make the wrong choices when you’re stressed and pressed for time in the future. 

If you do not have enough money set aside for these expenses, build a savings plan into your monthly budget now so you have the funds available when you need them. 

Step 3: Review Your Tax Withholdings 
Review your tax withholdings to see if they need any adjusting. If taxes and numbers are not your thing, ask your accountant for assistance with this step. Your goal here is to pay the perfect amount so you’re not hit with a huge tax bill at the end of the year but also not lending the government your money interest-free. 

Step 4: Check Your Credit Score 
Your credit score is like your money grade, indicating the degree of your financial wellness and responsibility. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for your free credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. 

If your score has gone up in the last six months, you’re doing great! Keep up the good work. 

On the flip side, if your score has dropped, review your report in detail. Are there any errors you’ll need to contest with the Federal Trade Commission? Is there a credit card bill or another line of credit you’ve been neglecting that is dragging your score down? Are you having trouble remembering to pay your monthly bills in a timely manner? Take the necessary steps to fix your score today by setting up an automatic payment on some of your bills, by lowering your credit utilization rate by paying with plastic less often, or by sitting down with one of our free financial counselors.

Step 5: Review Your Investments
Now is the time to review and adjust all of your investments. This includes your contributions to your retirement funds or savings certificates at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union. Make sure you are maximizing your contributions when possible and that your other investments are performing according to plan, adjusting as necessary.   

Step 6: Tackle Your Debt 
List every single outstanding debt you carry, including credit card debt and loans. Designate one debt to tackle first, either choosing the one that carries the highest interest rate or the one with the lowest balance. Next, work on a plan to get rid of your chosen debt, being careful not to neglect the others. See if you can trim your budget or boost your income in any way to increase your payments on this debt. Once you’ve paid it off, move to the next one on your list so you’re on your way to a debt-free life. 

Step 7: Review Your Financial Resolutions and Long-term Goals 
Which financial resolutions did you jot down at the end of 2018? What are your dreams for the future? Did you want to start socking away another $200 a month? Is your goal to retire comfortably at 55?

Take some time to review these goals and to determine whether you are indeed taking the steps necessary for making them happen. If you’ve been neglecting them for the first half of 2019, create a plan for working toward them for the rest of the year. Remember: With determination and proper planning, nearly any financial goal is possible! 

Now that you’ve given yourself a thorough financial checkup, you can kick back and enjoy the sweetness and the sunshine of the season, guilt-free. Click here for more tips and tools to help maneuver your finances in the right direction.

The Credit Union Difference Part 2: What’s in a Membership?

As a member of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, you are uniquely positioned to manage your finances and watch your money grow on the best possible terms. Like the member of an elite club, you are entitled to exclusive privileges and individualized service, courtesy of your credit union. Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits you can enjoy as a member of DoverPhila. 

Highly personalized service 
Credit unions are well known for the highly personalized and attentive service they provide to members. A 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index Finance and Insurance Report found that members rate credit unions with better service than banks, scoring an average of 82 out of 100. It’s part of what makes credit unions unique. 

When you step through the door of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, you know you’ll always be welcomed by familiar faces, warm smiles and friendly greetings. There are no aloof tellers who don’t know you or your financial situation—just our helpful service representatives who treat you like family. No matter your age or stage, our staff is happy to guide you through any monetary challenge and assist you in reaching your financial goals. 

At the credit union, our outstanding member service means we’re personally invested in your financial well-being and only want to see your success. To that end, we’ll grant you a loan quicker than most big banks. We also partner with area organizations to host financial literacy programs for our members and the larger community throughout the year, enabling you to broaden your money knowledge and to learn how to make smarter financial choices. 

Increased value for your money 
As a not-for-profit cooperative, your credit union is proud to provide savings to you in the form of low or no account fees, better loan terms, and higher dividend payments on your savings. 

According to a report by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) that studied credit unions in New York from March of 2017 through March of 2018, credit unions provided average financial benefits that were equivalent to $85 per member and $178 per household. Another 2018 study performed by Bankrate found that 84 percent of the nation’s 50 largest credit unions offered their members checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fee – something members also receive at DoverPhila.

Your credit union doesn’t have to answer to outside investors. This enables us to be more attuned to your needs without worrying about increasing our own worth. Our not-for-profit status frees us to offer you optimal terms on share certificates, savings accounts, and more. It’s more money in your pocket just for being a member of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union.

A voice in how the credit union operates
As mentioned, your credit union does not need to answer to stockholders. Instead, DoverPhila is member-owned, operating with only your best interests in mind. 

As a full-fledged member of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, you have a voice in how your credit union runs. You are invited to cast your ballot in our annual elections in which we vote on a volunteer board of directors. The board is then charged with oversight of the credit union and forming all official decisions regarding the way the credit union operates. Our board is comprised of members of the credit union, just like you. This means the decisions they make will always be advantageous to our membership and to the general community instead of trying to pander to outside stockholders. We’re all about doing what’s best for our members. 

A chance to give back to the community
We’re strong believers in giving back to the community. We support many community initiatives and organizations, and we are committed to making decisions that benefit the entire community. When you choose DoverPhila, you’re choosing to give back to the community, too. 

As a member of the credit union, you are entitled to enjoy all of these benefits and so much more. Whatever your particular needs are, we’re here to help you manage your finances every step of the way. Call, click, or stop by DoverPhila Federal Credit Union today to learn how to make your membership work for you in the best way possible.

Step 3 of 12 Towards Financial Freedom: Negotiate a Lower APR

If the majority of your outstanding debt is credit card debt, you may be spending hundreds of dollars just on interest alone. Aside from wasting money, this keeps you from moving forward and paying down your debt.

NEGOTIATE FOR A LOWER APR
Most people don’t know you can call up a credit card company and negotiate for a lower APR. Take the time this month to do that. Explain that you are working on paying down your debt and that the interest payments are impeding your progress. You can even research competing cards and cite their interest rates in a bid for a lower APR from your current credit card company.

Lowering your interest rates will allow you to make another real step toward getting rid of debt. Click here to get the facts on credit cards and credit card debt.

Feeling overwhelmed? No worries; we’ve got you covered! Sit down with one of our free, on-staff financial counselors. They can suggest tips for saving more and spending less so you can be one step closer to financial freedom. Call today at 330-364-8874 and ask for Katy Steinebrey or Fred Weingarth.

DoverPhila Partners with Area Organization to Host Annual Kids’ Day Event

Mark your calendars for DoverPhila Federal Credit Union’s annual DP’s Kids Club Day. The family-fun event is scheduled for Saturday, August 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the credit union’s main office on Fillmore Avenue in Dover.

The credit union is partnering with area organizations such as Tuscarawas County YMCA, Tuscarawas County Public Library System, Dover Public Library, STEAM Centers, Salvation Army in Dover/New Philadelphia, Takin’ It to the Schools, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Central Ohio, Everhart Magic, and more to provide lots of family fun and entertainment.

Area youth ages 12 and under can experience a variety of activities such as an agility course, a mobile library, face painting, a wacky world inflatable, a pop-up museum that features demonstrations, make and takes, and activities, and much, much more. This free event includes a goody bag (while supplies last), a water cooler area and pizza for kids, and a magic show that starts at 11:30 a.m. The first 100 kids receive a DoverPhila kendama in their goody bags.

Check out the DP’s Kids Club Day event page on Facebook for more information, updates, and sneak peeks of what else the credit union and its partners have planned.

Elder Abuse—Do You Know the Signs and How to Help?

Ohioans may not have a clear grasp of the prevalence of financial exploitation and abuse of elderly adults. According to an Ohio Credit Union League 2019 consumer survey, 67 percent of Ohioans say they’ve never known an elderly person who has been the victim of some kind of elderly abuse.

Elder abuse refers to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult, according to the U.S. Administration for Community Living.

According to research from the National Adult Protective Services Association, one in nine elder adults reported being abused, neglected, or exploited in the past year. Financial exploitation was a particularly prevalent form of elder abuse, with one in 20 older adults indicating they had been in some way financially mistreated in the recent past.

That number is likely just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Ohio Department of Aging, 16,000 reports of abuse, neglect, and exploitation are made each year in Ohio; however, according to the National Institutes of Health, these reports represent only one in 14 cases, and the National Adult Protective Services Association found that only one in 44 cases of financial abuse is ever reported.

Many cases stay under the radar because the victim is hesitant to get their perpetrators into trouble.

According to the Ohio Credit Union League study, 84 percent of respondents believe family members and close friends are the people most responsible for protecting the elderly from financial abuse. That belief may perpetuate a dangerous trend. According to the National Adult Protective Services Association, 90 percent of abusers and exploiters are the very family members and caretakers entrusted to care for the victim.

Financial institutions, especially credit unions who are close to their members and communities, are a key defense to elderly abuse by reporting suspicious activity reports for potential elderly exploitation. When and how to report elder abuse in Ohio can be located here.

Tips for Preventing Elder Financial Abuse

Keep in contact.
According to AARP, it’s easier for criminals to step in and befriend elderly people when they’re lonely. Be sure to call and visit elderly friends and family members frequently. Establish yourself as a trustworthy presence for them to lean on if they find themselves worried or in trouble.

Remain vigilant.
Keep an eye on the financial habits of your elderly friends and family members. Take note of large withdrawals, unusual requests for money, or alarming lapses in memory about major financial transactions. Remember that you don’t have to prove financial exploitation to report it. Your suspicion is enough. 

Know your elderly relatives’ acquaintances.
Make sure you are becoming acquainted with the people interacting with your elderly friend or relative. It may also be helpful to know the nature of these interactions. Keep a close eye on anybody you don’t know well and track suspicious behavior in acquaintances—and family members.

Have difficult conversations.
It may be uncomfortable to ask an older relative about financial matters, especially if they’ve always been financially independent in the past. It might be equally difficult to approach a trusted relative about suspicious behavior toward an elderly acquaintance. While these issues might be sensitive, it’s important they’re brought to light, just in case.

Get professional help.
A lawyer can work with elders to establish trusts and other financial arrangements that are difficult for criminals to breach, according to Money Crashers. Lawyers can also recommend mediators and counselors who can work with families experiencing tensions over the finances of an elderly relative.

Learn how a credit union can help strengthen your financial security by visiting www.YourMoneyFurther.com.

The Credit Union Difference Part 1: The History of Credit Unions

As a member of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, you know credit unions are always striving to serve their members and community in much as possible. We value each member’s input as an equal owner in the credit union, and we offer flexible loan terms, low-cost accounts, and higher dividends to help members achieve and maintain financial wellness. 

This article is the first in a series celebrating the history, contributions, and benefits of credit unions. 

Both credit unions and banks provide consumers with financial services and products, but there are many distinctions between the two. The primary credit union difference lies at its core; Banks are created to generate profit for owners while credit unions are created to provide members with a place to manage their finances at the best possible terms. 

The goal of putting members first is deeply rooted in the history of the credit union movement. 

The first credit union was established in 1864 by Friedrich Raiffeisen in southern Germany. Raiffeisen proposed that all community members pool resources so individuals in need of loans could easily access the necessary funds. Raiffeisen’s idea was well-received, and the first credit union model was soon established. 

In 1909, the credit union movement reached American shores. With Edward Filene serving as its pioneer, the movement gained momentum and continued to grow. In 1920, Edward hired attorney Roy F. Bergengren to assist him in generating the movement’s expansion. Roy created a more systemized concept for the credit union we know today. 

In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act into law.

Federally chartered credit unions in every state were legally authorized to create a system of not-for-profit cooperatives to promote thrift and sound financial practices. 

 In 1970, the public’s confidence in the credit union model grew stronger as the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund was established. With it, credit union deposits became federally insured much like the FDIC insures bank deposits. 

The credit union movement was growing at its most rapid pace, with credit union assets in America tripling between 1970 and 1979. Then, in 1977, another credit union-friendly regulation was signed into law, empowering credit unions to offer more services and products to members. 

Today, the credit union movement continues to thrive in the path charted by its predecessors and is backed by the “full faith and credit of the United States Government.” These not-for-profit institutions serve their 103 million+ members by always putting their members’ needs first and helping them achieve their personal goals through sound financial practices and targeted advice.   

Here at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, we’re proud to be a part of the collective institutions dedicated to the credit union mission. At the core of our values is an unwavering commitment to creating mutual benefits for members and the larger community. To that end, we are always here to help our members and enable them to optimize their savings or manage finances as smoothly as possible. Our innovative banking solutions, low fees, and high dividend rates, along with personalized service, helps members achieve and maintain financial wellness no matter the financial goals they have. As a member-owned institution, our only objective is your satisfaction and your success. 

Credit union history is still in the making. Be a part of it by clicking here or stopping by DoverPhila today to learn about our exceptional financial products and to benefit from our highly personalized service. 

Step 2 of 12 Towards Financial Freedom: Don't Dig Yourself Deeper

When you’ve dug yourself deep into a pit, the only way to get out is to stop digging. This month, focus on not racking up more debt. Stop using your credit cards. Skip your weekly trips that usually have you buying too many non-essentials.

Instead, start brown-bagging your work lunch and brewing your own coffee. Get into the habit of spending only on essentials so you can make real progress toward paying down that debt. Click here if you need some tips for cutting expenses.

Don’t forget to make the minimum payments on every line of credit and loan you have open. Neglecting your debt will only pull you deeper into the pit.

 Feeling overwhelmed? No worries; we’ve got you covered! Sit down with one of our free, on-staff financial counselors. They can help suggest ways of saving more and spending less so you can be one step closer to financial freedom. Call today at 330-364-8874 and ask for Katy Steinebrey or Fred Weingarth.

Want more information on managing debt? Check out our interactive library through Banzai by clicking here.

Seven Ways to Avoid Getting Scammed on Craigslist

The arrival of warm weather and the deep house cleaning it inspires means more people are selling their old furniture, devices, sports equipment, and clothing. That’s why the amount of items like these on sites like Craigslist swells considerably during this season. There are wonderful treasures to be found, if you have the time and patience to sift through the offerings.

Conversely, if your own cleaning unveils hordes of sellable stuff you don’t use anymore, you can make good money selling them online. Unfortunately, when there’s money to be made, the scammers are never far behind. Craigslist is riddled with scammers looking to make a quick buck off people’s naivety. Follow these eight tips to stay one step ahead of scammers and keep your money safe when using Craigslist.

1.) Be familiar with Craigslist and the services it offers
Lots of Craigslist scams can be avoided by knowing basic information about the site. Make sure you know the following before using Craigslist:

  • The Craigslist URL is http://www.craigslist.org. Scammers often use fake sites to lure buyers into paying for items that don’t exist. Always check the URL before finalizing a purchase.

  • Craigslist does not back any transaction on its site. You’re looking at a scam if you receive an email or text trying to sell you purchase protection.

  • There is no such thing as a Craigslist voicemail service. You’re dealing with a scammer if a contact asks you to access or check your “Craigslist voicemails.”

2.) Deal locally
The “barely used” couch that’s up for sale a couple of states over might be better-priced than the one being sold just a 10-minute drive away, but it’s always safer to deal with locals on Craigslist. According to the site’s advice on avoiding scams on their platform, you’ll avoid 99% of the scams on Craigslist by following this rule.

Keeping your transaction local will enable you to finalize a sale in person. Plus, there’s less of a chance for a blurred language barrier regarding the details of the deal.

3.) Examine the product(s) before finalizing a sale
Never rely solely on pictures to get the full scope of what you’re buying. Ask to look at the item in person. Ask to try out an item if you’re purchasing an electronic device or something else that needs to work in order to be valuable.

4.) Don’t accept or send a cashier’s check, certified check, or money order as payment
Fraudulent checks can be impossible to fight. Also, a bad check can seem to clear on sight, so you’ll agree to the sale and use the money that’s supposedly in your account. A few days later, though, you’ll realize the check bounced. By that time, the buyer has vanished with your goods, leaving you responsible for covering the funds you used while presuming it cleared.

 On the flip side, if you pay for an item with a money order or wire transfer, you’ll have no way of recouping your loss if the seller fails to come through with the goods.

5.) Use cash—safely
The most secure way to pay or collect funds for a Craigslist transaction is with cold cash. If the idea of handing over a large sum of money to a stranger scares you, you can make the exchange of money and goods in a safe place like your local police station.

6.) Never share your personal information with a buyer or seller
As always, when online, keep your personal information to yourself. There’s no reason a buyer or seller needs to know your checking account number, your date of birth, or even your mother’s maiden name. Back out of the deal if a contact is asking too many questions.

7.) Be wary of fake escrow service sites
Escrow services, in which a company holds onto a large sum of money for two parties in the middle of a transaction, can be super-convenient when buying and selling things online. However, they can also be a clever trap for unsuspecting victims. Scammers often create bogus escrow service sites to lure victims into dropping their money right into the scammers’ hands. The site will be a copycat of a reputable escrow service site, with some slight deviations you wouldn’t notice unless you looked for them.

It’s best to find the site yourself instead of following a pop-up ad or a link when using an escrow service site. Check the site carefully for spelling mistakes and poor syntax. Also, make sure the URL is secure and matches the site of the service you intend to use.

8.) Create a disposable number
You may need to share a working phone number when conducting business on Craigslist. You can create a cost-free, disposable number on Google Voice instead of giving out your real number. Your Google Voice number will be untraceable and will expire within 30 days of non-use.  

Getting scammed is a serious crime that can disrupt your finances. Click here to get more details on theft and how to protect your personal information.

DoverPhila Set to Host Annual Video Game Tournament

2019 Video Game Tournament Presented by DoverPhilaFederal Credit Union and GameStop

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is partnering with Park Place Teen Center and the GameStop located on Bluebell Drive in New Philadelphia to host the 2019 Video Game Tournament on Friday, May 31st.

The free event kicks off at 3:45PM at Park Place Teen Center located in Tuscora Park and is open to all area youth in grades 6 through 12.

The 2019 Video Game Tournament consists of two, single-elimination mini tournaments and a championship game for top scorers of the mini tournaments. Featured games are Forza, Madden, and Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. Prizes are awarded to the top players.

All tournament participants receive DoverPhila and GameStop gear and access to food, beverages, and other activities available at Park Place Teen Center.

Participants are encouraged to register prior to the tournament at www.dpfcu.org or by visiting Park Place Teen Center or any DoverPhila Federal Credit Union location.

Visit the 2019 Video Game Tournament event page on Facebook or call 330-364-8874 for more information.

Step 1 of 12 Towards Financial Freedom: Take Stock of Your Debt

You’re determined that this will be the year you finally pay down (or pay off) that debt. Get ready, because every month, our Financial Freedom plan will have you taking another step on your journey toward living a debt-free life.

First, sit down and take stock of all your debts. Don’t let the numbers scare you; you need to do this to move forward. Get out every single credit card bill, personal loan, student loan, and any other debt you’re carrying (except your car and mortgage payments). Tally up the numbers to give yourself an idea of what you’re dealing with.

Next, organize your debt into different categories, such as credit card debt, student debt, personal loans, etc. Use a spreadsheet to list your debt, the remaining term of each loan (if applicable), the minimum payment, and the interest rate.   

Finally, designate one hour each week for working on your finances. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union has simple tools and tips to help you navigate through your finances. Click here for an interactive library

Feeling overwhelmed? No worries; we’ve got you covered! Sit down with one of our free, on-staff financial counselors. They can help simplify the first step towards financial freedom. Call today at 330-364-8874.

More Reasons to Love Being a Member of DoverPhila

Your credit union membership is about the trust and care of community, built around where you live, work, learn, and play. That’s why we’ve made it so that your DoverPhila Federal Credit Union membership saves you money through exclusive member only offers through our trusted partners. Through Love My Credit Union Rewards, credit union members have saved over $2 billion with offers like:

  •  $100 cash reward with each new line you activate with Sprint. Plus, existing customers earn $100 Annual Loyalty Cash Rewards, and 25% off select accessories in Sprint stores.

  • Credit union membership also saves you up to $15 on TurboTax federal products.

  • We want you feeling as safe at home as you do in our credit union. That’s why you can get an exclusive smoke communicator and a $100 gift card with a new ADT home monitoring security system. Just call 844-703-0123 to get this special offer through the Love My Credit Union Rewards Program.

  • Sometimes accidents happen, but credit union members enjoy special True Savings with TruStage Auto and Home Insurance.

  • Your credit union membership benefits go with you when you shop too! With Love to Shop, get member only cash back rewards from over 1500 online retailers.

Learn all about how your credit union membership gets you all these exclusive savings, and more at DoverPhila Federal Credit Union or LoveMyCreditUnion.org. Check them out and start enjoying credit union member benefits you never knew you had before.

DoverPhila Celebrates Youth Members

We often look at pictures to remember the past, but what about the future?

If you ask your children, they can likely picture a future they would like to live in. Some dream to become doctors and help people, others want to be known for their talents. For children and teenagers, the future brings limitless possibilities. But no matter what the dream is, financial education can be instrumental in helping achieve it.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union knows that financial literacy is a crucial skill for people, but it is one that too few are learning. We believe that financially prepared youth is the key to a successful future, and that is why we are using April to celebrate our youth members.

The theme for this year’s youth celebration is “The future is yours… Picture it! Save for it! Share it!” To kick-off the celebration, we are hosting a Picture It! Save for It! Share It! Contest. The month-long contest that ends April 30th encourages members, 17 years old and younger, to submit vision board posters that consist of photos and illustrations that express their own financial goals/future. Submissions will hang in the lobby of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union’s main office on Fillmore Avenue in Dover. Winners receive a $50 deposit into their youth accounts.

Also in conjunction with this year’s youth celebration is Bonus Week. From April 22nd through April 27th, youth club members can receive a 10% bonus up to $10 on qualifying deposits made to their youth accounts. Each deposit made during this week is an entry into a DPFCU gift basket drawing.     

Please click here or contact a DoverPhila member service representative for details and rules regarding the youth celebration.

Five Ways to Pay Off a Loan Early

If you’re like most Americans, you owe money toward a large loan. Whether that means carrying thousands of dollars in credit card debt, having a hefty mortgage in your name, or making car loan payments each month – loan debt is part of your life.

It can all get kind of depressing—but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can pay off your mortgage, auto loan, credit card debt, and any other debt you’re carrying quicker than you thought possible with a carefully applied technique. These tricks won’t hurt your finances in any dramatic way, but they can make a big difference to the total interest you’ll pay over the life of the loan and help you become debt-free faster.

A note of caution before we explore these tricks: Check with your lender before employing any approach, as some loan types have penalties for making extra or early payments.

1. Make bi-weekly payments. Instead of making monthly payments toward your loan, submit half-payments every two weeks. The benefits to this approach are two-fold:

  • Your payments will be applied more often, so less interest can accrue.

  • You’ll make 26 half-payments each year, which translates into an extra full payment on the year, thereby shortening the life of the loan by several months or even years. If you choose this method with a 30-year mortgage, you can shorten it to 26 years!

2. Round up your monthly payments. Round up your monthly payments to the nearest $50 for an effortless way to shorten your loan. For example, if your auto loan costs you $220 each month, bring that number up to $250. The difference is too small to make a tangible dent in your budget, but large enough to knock a few months off the life of your loan and save you a significant amount in interest.

3. Make one extra payment each year. If you can’t make bi-weekly payments, but you like the idea of an extra yearly payment, accomplish the same goal by committing to just one more payment in the year. You’ll only feel the squeeze once (tax or bonus time, perhaps) and you’ll still shorten the life of the loan. You can also spread that extra payment throughout the year. Divide your monthly payment by 12 and then add that cost to your payments all year long. You’ll be making an extra payment while hardly feeling the pinch.

4. Refinance. If interest rates have dropped since you took out your loan or your credit has improved dramatically, contact DoverPhila Federal Credit Union to ask about refinancing, whether the loan is with us or not. Refinancing makes the most sense if it can help you pay down the loan sooner. You should easily be able to afford shortening the life of the loan with a lower interest rate.

5. Boost your income and put all extra money toward the loan. Cut the life of your loan short by earning more money and putting the extra cash towards your loan. Consider selling stuff on Amazon, moonlighting as a consultant, or taking on a side hustle. Even a job that nets you an extra $200 a month can make a big difference in your loan.


Triumph over your loans by using one or more of these tricks to make them shorter and pay less interest. Feel free to contact DoverPhila Federal Credit Union if you have questions about loan repayment or if you need a fresh perspective on debt repayment. Our free, on-staff financial counselors can help!

Cash Flow Budgeting: A Fast, Flexible Way to Fix Your Finances

You’ve heard it from a million places: Budget your money! Make a firm plan and stick with it. It’s the pathway to prosperity!

For many people, though, that advice just doesn’t resonate. They feel constricted by a budget. Keeping cash in separate envelopes makes them feel like they can’t have a life. It takes too much planning and too much rigid denial. They break their budget and sometimes wind up in serious financial trouble.

Other people have an inconsistent cash flow, making creating and keeping a budget difficult. Maybe they’re freelancers who work gig-to-gig. Maybe they’re in commissioned sales. Maybe their hours fluctuate from month to month. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to make a detailed plan when your bottom line changes every month.

The answer isn’t to give up on budgeting. The collective wisdom, that monitoring your expenses and income streams is the way to stability, still holds true. It might just require a different approach to budgeting: cash flow focus.

Cash flow focus is the strategy used by most businesses. They pay their fixed costs, and whatever is left is used to grow the business. You can manage your finances the same way. Just follow these four steps:

1. Automate your savings. Even if you disregard everything else in this article, implementing this one tip can be life-changing. Figure out how much of your income you can save, and then take that out as soon as you get paid. You can set up monthly transfers from your draft account to your savings account. You can also divide the money between the accounts on a per deposit basis. How you choose to do so is less important than doing so.

Like the saying goes, pay yourself first. This savings provides you the flexibility to cover big expenses or make major purchases on your schedule. It’s the single most important step in any budget, but it’s even more important with cash flow budgeting.

When you automate your savings, you remove the money you saved from consideration. You can’t spend it; you’ve already spent it on savings. The importance of this kind of savings will become more clear once you see this budget in action.

2. Pay your needs and your priorities. Make a list of your essential expenses each month. Include your rent or house payment, your car loan, and your utilities. Also include your student loan payments, your insurance, and other necessary expenses. These are your “fixed costs.” They get paid after your savings contributions are made.

Next, make a list of your priorities. Include your charitable contributions, vacation savings, and retirement account contributions. These are your “growth expenses.” They get paid after your fixed costs.

If you don’t have enough money to make these bills, you don’t need a better budget. You need to lower those bills or increase your income. No amount of spreadsheet magic will change that bottom line.

It’s helpful to automate savings for these expenses, too. That way, you never get caught short on these bills. Transferring this money to a check-only draft account can be a helpful way to ensure you don’t spend it.

3. Spend the leftovers. This message may sound peculiar for personal finance advice. Remember, though, that you’ve already automated your savings. What you’re spending here is the leftovers – the extra that’s left at the end of the month.

 Spend this money however you like – don’t worry about putting this much in entertainment and that much in travel. Just keep track of how much you’ve spent so you don’t accidentally overdraft your account.

This approach allows you to go out or indulge in a latte. You don’t have to worry about including it in your budget. Your spending habits might change as the month goes on, just like a business. If you know there’s a big outing before you get paid again, you may want to save some money for that. You don’t need to say that you can’t go because you didn’t budget for it.

4. Roll over what’s left. If you have worked in a big business, then you have seen departments desperately spending at the end of the fiscal year. Departments buy cases of pens and paper, knowing that they will lose whatever they don’t spend. Fortunately, you’re more flexible than a big business. You don’t have to spend it all. If you have money left over at the end of the month, then you have more to spend the next month.

If you have a month with slightly higher expenses, you can cover it from a previous month’s slightly lower expenses. Your spending will change from month to month, as might your income. So long as you keep the former smaller than the latter in the long run, you’ll be fine.

That’s what cash flow budgeting is about: flexibility. You don’t have to write your non-budgeted spending purposes in stone. You don’t have to mess with cash envelopes or other strategies. You can spend when you have money and save for when you don’t.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union can help if you’re thinking about adopting a budget. A friendly, knowledgeable financial counselor can walk you through the savings tools you need. You can automate your savings, flex your spending, and build toward financial security. Members can call 330-364-8874 or stop by the credit union’s main office on Fillmore Avenue in Dover for more information.

Sticking to Financial Resolutions

Ohioans, like most Americans, entered 2019 hoping to better their finances, but many have likely already fallen off track.

In an Ohio Credit Union League 2019 consumer survey, 69 percent said their New Year’s resolution was to get on a budget. That statistic isn’t surprising; many Americans looked critically at their financial situations as they headed into 2019. Statista, a platform providing statistical data on a variety of topics, polled 2,000 people about their New Year’s resolutions in early January. The survey found financial goals were the fourth most-popular New Year’s resolution, falling just behind dieting, exercising, and losing weight. 

Americans had good intentions to get their finances in order in 2019, but that doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily stuck to their new budgets. According to research commissioned by GuideVine, a service that matches people with financial advisers, 70 percent of Americans with a budget struggle to stick to it.

And it’s not likely that making your budget a New Year’s resolution will make keeping with it any easier. According to the Ohio Credit Union League survey, 79 percent of Ohioans make incremental improvements toward keeping their resolutions each year, but fall short of keeping them. Another 14 percent have never kept a New Year’s resolution.

The average American doesn’t fare much better. According to a study of 1,450 Americans by Vitagene, 88.6 percent reported they’d likely keep their resolutions for a year or less. Another 36.6 percent of respondents said they usually keep their resolutions for a month or less, meaning they’d be off track by February.

Although your train may have gone off track, all hope is not lost. Here are some tips to help you attain your resolution of getting down to business, paying off bills, buying a house, opening an IRA for retirement, or getting on a path to better financial stability. 

  • Use a budgeting tool. A successful budget must be recorded somewhere. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union offers Banzai, an award-winning financial literacy program that has user-friendly budgeting tools such as calculators, simulated games, and an interactive library with educational articles. Consider budgeting apps such as EveryDollar and YouNeedABudget if you’re looking for more mobile options.

  • Be realistic about spending and saving. Don’t set goals you can’t realistically achieve with your budget. Trying to spend too little or save too much each month could create frustration, which will increase the likelihood that you will dump your budget altogether. Instead, map out incremental changes you can make that will add up to big financial gains over time.

  • Keep goals in mind. Reminding yourself how you would ultimately like your money to work for you can help with exercising control over impulsive spending habits. Consider making your goals visual if you have a hard time picturing your long-term goals when you are tempted to splurge. Try keeping a picture of your ideal retirement in your wallet or a list of all the reasons you want that new car stuck to the fridge. 

  • Reward yourself. It is important to keep long-term goals in mind, but rewarding yourself for small budgeting wins along the way will keep you feeling positive about your budget. The more positively you feel toward a task, the more likely you are to continue performing it. After you reach certain budgeting goals, treat yourself to a small splurge. You earned it!

  • Seek help. Consider asking for help if you are struggling with sticking to a budget. Sometimes, aid can come in the form of a family member who shares household finances. Other times, however, you may require an expert opinion. DoverPhila Federal Credit Union offers free financial counseling to members and is always happy to aid with budget set-up and maintenance.

DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is here to help you reach your financial resolutions. Call the credit union at 330-364-8874 or visit your local credit union for more information.

Reasons to Not Skip a Home Inspection

Shopping for a new home can be an exciting blur of listings, neighborhood scouting and open houses. There’s so much to consider! You want a house in the perfect neighborhood with that gorgeous kitchen and great yard, all within your budget. And then, it all finally comes together and you think you’ve found your dream home. But don’t go “under contract” just yet! Before you officially become the new owner of the house, learn all you can about its general condition by having a home inspection.

A home inspection can set you back several hundred dollars, but it can easily save you thousands down the line. The inspector carefully examines the entire house and checks its systems, structure, and equipment for functionality and potential problems. Having an inspection contingency in your contract gives you a way to opt out even after you are officially under contract. 

Here are some reasons you don’t want to skip a home inspection: 

  • Find deal-breakers. A house may look fantastic, yet have major issues with wiring, roof, HVAC, plumbing, and more. A quality home inspection gives you the inside scoop. You might want to back out of the deal if the inspection reveals any large problems that may take heavy work or expensive repairs – or ask the seller to fix the problems before the closing date if you like the home too much to back away. Sellers sometimes agree to cover any major repairs or to offer the buyer a credit toward overseeing the repairs themselves. 

  • Safety concerns. An inspection can reveal the presence of harmful substances like radon, carbon monoxide, and mold. Look for these hazards before the home is officially yours. You do not want any unpleasant surprises after it is too late. 

  • Anticipate future costly repairs. A professional inspector can determine the age and condition of the home’s systems and equipment, and then forecast when repair or replacement may be needed. This might not be a big enough deal for you to back out of the contract, but it can help you budget for a major repair several years down the line. Alternatively, you may be able to use it for price negotiation. 

  • Reveal illegal additions. An inspection checks for rooms, garages, and basements that were added or finished without following legal codes or obtaining the proper permits. Having an illegal addition in your home means owning property that does not officially exist. This can get you into trouble with home insurance and property taxes. It can also make it difficult to do more work on these areas in your home. You can ask the seller to obtain the proper permits if a home inspection reveals any illegal additions. This information can be used as a bargaining chip.  

  • Obtain insurance easily. Lots of home insurance companies do not insure a home if it has not undergone a certified inspection because they do not want to take a chance covering a home that is going to need costly repairs in the near future. 

  • Learn how to protect your investment. If possible, arrange to follow the inspector around the home as they complete the job. They are an invaluable source of information to you by providing tips and knowledge on how best to maintain your home, its systems, and its equipment. Knowing how to properly care for your home can save you thousands of dollars over the years. 

  • Negotiate. Most home inspections reveal several problems. You can use them as bargaining chips to renegotiate the purchasing price of the home if these problems are minor enough to keep you interested in buying the house in its present condition.

It’s never a good idea to skip a home inspection no matter how perfect your dream home looks.

Are you in the market for a new home? Click here, stop by DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, or call 330-364-8874 today to ask about the home loan options we have for you.

Tax Reform 101: 5 Reasons You Should Start Planning for Next Year Now

Even if you didn’t owe money this past tax season it’s more important than ever to plan for next tax season now. The idea of tax planning isn’t anything new, but with so many changes under the new tax reform law, DoverPhila Federal Credit Union wanted to break down the five reasons to start planning, and the moves you can make now to help you save money on your taxes when you file.

Five Reasons to Start Planning
1. Lower tax rates, more money. One of the biggest changes under the new tax law that may impact how much you need to have withheld from your paycheck is the reduced tax rates. Tax rates were reduced about 1 – 3% for the majority of taxpayers so you may be seeing more money in your paycheck. Although the IRS adjusted the withholding tables that employers use to produce the correct amount of tax withholding for people with simpler tax situations, for instance, those who only take the standard deduction, the withholding tables don’t reflect some of the other changes that impact more involved tax returns like the reduction of some itemized deductions.

 2. Elimination of personal and dependent exemptions. Under the new tax law the personal and dependent exemptions of $4,050 were eliminated. If you are married and have a few kids, the elimination of your personal and dependent exemptions can mean a big reduction in the number of write-offs you once had.

3. Increase in the Child Tax Credit. Although you’re no longer able to take the dependent deduction, the new tax reform law increased the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child. The law also adds a new, non-refundable credit of $500 for dependents other than children. Finally, it raises the income threshold at which these benefits phase out from $110,000 for a married couple to $400,000, which means more people will be eligible for the credit. The Child Tax Credit is for kids under the age of 17. You may see a change in your taxes this year if your youth celebrated a 17th birthday.

4. Changes if you’re a homeowner. If you are a homeowner or you are considering buying your dream home, some of the changes in the new tax law are very important for you. As an existing homeowner, you may see fewer tax deductions that lower your tax liability especially if you live in a state with high property taxes since the new law limits the amount of state and local property, income, and sales taxes that can be deducted to $10,000. In the past, these taxes have generally been fully tax deductible. Due to the cap on these tax deductions, you may now also have to take the standard deduction on your taxes instead of taking itemized deductions since the standard deduction has almost doubled. Don’t worry about knowing if you take the standard deduction or itemized deduction at tax time.

If you are considering purchasing a new home this year, one thing to keep in mind is the law also caps the amount of mortgage indebtedness on new home purchases on which interest can be deducted at $750,000 down from $1,000,000 in the former law if you already own a home. If you are trying to make a decision between purchasing in a high property state like California or a state with lower property prices, knowing about these changes could help you with your decision.

5. Elimination of tax deductions. The new tax reform law eliminated several popular tax breaks starting in tax year 2018 (the one you file in 2019) like miscellaneous itemized deductions. This includes deductions such as job search expenses, unreimbursed work expenses, investment expenses and tax preparation fees, exceeding 2% of adjusted gross income as well as moving expenses.


What You Can Do to Start Planning Now?
Adjust your withholding allowances. One of the best things you can do is to use the TurboTax updated W-4 calculator to boost your tax refund — or your take-home pay.

Reduce your taxable income. You can decrease your taxable income by making smart money moves throughout the year like investing in your 401K or IRA. Also, don’t forget expenses like paying student loan interest can be tax deductible and will decrease your taxable income at tax time.

As a member of DoverPhila Federal Credit Union, you have access to TurboTax at an affordable price. TurboTax is always up to date with the latest forms and 100% accurate calculations. There is no fretting your taxes when you use TurboTax. You can file your taxes with complete confidence – and get your biggest possible refund, guaranteed. Click here to access TurboTax and your savings!

Warm Up to the Bill Pay Winter Sweepstakes

Image: Bill Pay Sweepstakes

Pay bills online with DoverPhila Federal Credit Union’s online bill pay in December and January for entries into the 2018 Bill Pay Sweepstakes. Two cash prizes of $5000 will be awarded EACH month during the promotion!

To enter for a chance to win, complete one of these options:

  • Add 5 new payees to DoverPhila’s bill pay. Schedule recurring payments to ensure you are entered each month.

  • Make 5 or more online bill payments.

Online bill pay is convenient, secure, and a smart way to pay your bills. Sign up today at www.dpfcu.org if you’re not already paying your bills with the credit union’s online bill pay.

More information and the official rules for the 2018 Bill Pay Sweepstakes is available here: https://tinyurl.com/ycfk7ob2.

To participate in the sweepstakes visit https://billpaysweepstakes.com/dpfcu.