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.

DoverPhila Partners with Area Organizations to Promote Financial Literacy

OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County, United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc., and DoverPhila Federal Credit Union are partnering to offer a financial literacy workshop for area residents. “Master Your Money – Simple Tips to Improve Cash Flow” will be held Tuesday, December 5th, 10:00AM to 12:00PM at OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County at 1260 Monroe Street in New Philadelphia. 

The workshop will offer easy and straightforward methods to reaching financial goals. Topics include tackling expenses, increasing savings and improving credit.

“Many of the customers that we serve struggle with numerous financial difficulties due to lack of employment or other employment related issues. This collaboration with United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc. and DoverPhila Federal Credit Union is a positive step in helping area residents become financially stable and achieve financial independence,” said JoAnn Breedlove, COO of OhioMeansJobs Centers in Stark and Tuscarawas Counties. 

“This collaboration is a great example of how United Way brings together organizations with common missions and goals,” said Robin Waltz, President of United Way of Tuscarawas County, Inc.

For further details contact OhioMeansJobs Tuscarawas County at 330-364-9777. Pre-registration is suggested but not required.

Do You Know the Credit Union Difference?

Credit unions help consumers reach their financial dreams through its people helping people philosophy. Respondents in a 2017 Consumer Survey don by the Ohio Credit Union League were asked what they found to be the most significant difference between credit unions and other financial institutions. Here were the results:

  • 35% of respondents: lower interest rates on loans
  • 34% of respondents: fewer and lower fees compared to other financial institutions
  • 24% of respondents: credit unions are member-owned, with profits going back to benefit members

Credit unions are known for their service-centric model, and 90 percent of the respondents to the League’s survey rated the service they received from credit unions as “outstanding.” The American Customer Satisfaction Index consistently shows credit unions deliver excellent service to members. The most recent report, on its 100-point scale, ACSI said credit unions received an overall score of 82, up from 81 the previous year.

The World Council of Credit Unions data indicates there are 231.2 million credit union members worldwide who belong to 68,880 credit unions in 109 countries. According to the Credit Union National Association there were 110.6 million members of 5,812 credit unions in the United States as of June 2017.

In Ohio, the state’s 284 credit unions serve 2.9 million members. According to a CUNA’s Member Benefits Index, by choosing a credit union as their financial institution, those members received more than $206 million in direct financial benefits in the past year.

Credit unions serve a common field of membership based on characteristics such as a geographical area, employee groups, or membership in an organization. Every resident of Ohio is eligible to join a credit union, and deposits are protected by the federal government’s National Credit Union Administration insurance or the private American Share Insurance. So, if you’re trying to decide on a financial institution, keep the following in mind:

  • Do your research: Online reviews, consumer surveys, and regulatory agency reports are all good resources to find out how financial institutions treat consumers and how business is conducted. The FDIC (banks) and NCUA (credit unions) each have searchable databases on the size, financial health, and insurance status of the financial institutions they regulate
  • Compare your needs with their strengths: If you primarily conduct your financial transactions online, then you will want an institution that offers online or mobile banking. If ATM fees are an issue, then look for surcharge-free networks or institutions that reimburse you for fees. If you need advice on planning for the future, choose an institution with a strong financial wellness program. If you need a car loan or a mortgage, look for the lowest interest rates on loans
  • Choose to be involved: If you have an account with a credit union, you are both a member and an owner. This process guarantees you a voice and ensures that your credit union is looking out for your best financial interests and not that of a small group of stockholders.

Whether you are looking for your first loan, would like to start a small business, or just want to get rid of debt, a credit union can help. They offer many of the same services as other financial institutions, but are not-for-profit. They treat you like a person, not a dollar sign.

The RAIN Method for Buying a Car

The average cost of a new vehicle today is around $30,000. Whether you desire the shiny, brand-new ride or if you are content with a reliable used car, you still want to get the most for your money. The actual process of finding, researching, financing, and buying a car does not need to be scary or intimidating. In fact there is an effective technique for making the right purchase. It’s called RAIN. RAIN is an acronym for Research, Ask questions, Investigate or Inspect, and Negotiate.

Research
In this step, you use information from publications like Consumer Reports, Kelley Blue Book, and other resources to make sure the vehicle you are looking at is a wise choice and a reliable investment. You also need to use the buyer’s guide to find pricing of the vehicles you are looking at. It is easy to find the sticker or retail price, but your goal should be to find out the wholesale price which is the price the dealership paid minus any rebates, hold-backs, or incentives. The wholesale price is the price you will use to negotiate when the time is right. Also, make sure you research more than one vehicle option. Having interest in numerous car options at various dealerships will provide a larger arena for negotiating a price.

Ask
You should contact the insurance company and find out the rates you can expect with the vehicle you are looking at along with a quote from your insurance agent. There are a lot of costs associated with owning a vehicle and insurance is a major one. You should also ask the dealership for information regarding the average cost of upkeep. This information is critical as you examine the overall costs of the purchase you are going to make.

Investigate or Inspect
If you are considering a brand-new car, you should go to the dealership and investigate it. Be sure the salesperson knows that on this trip you plan to test drive only and that you are not ready to make a deal quite yet. This is your opportunity to get a feel for various car options. As you investigate your potential purchase, think about if each vehicle meets your needs, handles well, and if it will keep you happy in the long run.

If you are in search of a used vehicle, the inspection process is very important. Even if you have limited knowledge of automobiles, everyone can conduct a basic inspection. Check out the exterior and interior of your vehicle options. Make sure you take each car for a test drive so you can see how it handles, how it accelerates, and how it brakes. When your inspection is complete and if you are serious about purchasing one of the vehicles, take it to a certified mechanic for a full-car diagnostic. It may cost you $100, but it gives you a detailed report of the car’s condition along with a list of problem areas and the costs to fix those problems. Also, a full diagnostic will help with your last step of negotiating price. Remember to make sure you have more than one vehicle option – each from a different dealership. This will also help with negotiation.

Negotiate
For many, the negotiation process is intimidating. Everyone wants to get the best deal – including salespeople. A good way to take the pressure off of you is to inform each salesperson that you are interested in more than one vehicle at different dealerships and that the dealer with the best offer will get your business. Take all numbers that each dealership gives you and see which offer is the best.If you are not happy with the offers, share your thoughts on what you consider to be a fair price based on your research. If the dealer says no, move on. 

Purchasing a vehicle is probably going to be the second largest expenditure in your life. Being prepared is key to getting the best deal. Following these steps will help you tremendously. Always remember, DoverPhila Federal Credit Union can provide not only the best financial deal for you, but they can also provide support, guidance, and education. 

Three Things to Know Before Purchasing a New Car

When purchasing a vehicle, there are many things to consider before taking the leap such as the pros and cons to buying new cars versus the pros and cons to buying used cars.

Before purchasing a vehicle, think about what the daily use of the vehicle will be, the amount of trunk space you will need, and how much seating space you should have. Make sure the options you are considering are practical reflections of how you will use the car. You may love the look of a larger vehicle, but do you have a need for that much seating? If you do not need that much space then that particular car may not be right for your daily commute and errands.

After you have considered the personal aspects of which car to purchase, move on to the less subjective parts of the process such as depreciation, cost-to-own, and affordability.

Depreciation
Most cars depreciate at about 15% per year. With new cars, there is about a 20% depreciation rate as soon as you drive off the lot. You should consider this before you decide to buy a new car, especially if you cannot afford a large down payment. Chances are you will be upside down on your car loan almost immediately if you’re financing the entire cost.

Cost-to-own
Consider the true cost to own the car you are considering. There are always costs when owning a vehicle such as insurance, fuel, maintenance, and more. Maintenance costs vary by manufacturer and model. Some manufacturers have better reputations than others when it comes to maintenance. Some new cars come with “free” maintenance plans for the first couple of years or for a certain number of miles.

Affordability
Shop around. Do not guide yourself solely by what the dealership is willing to lend you. People are often blindsided by an attractive low monthly payment that is usually tied to a super-long loan term – do not be fooled. Consider all aspects of financing so the total amount you are going to end up paying for that vehicle when it is all said and done is something that is affordable. That’s what matters.

Before you even step on the lot, visit DoverPhila Federal Credit Union. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, we offer low loan rates and flexible terms that fit your lifestyle, and we are happy to explain the lending process and answer any questions you may have about loans.