Friday, December 18, 2015

Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

With the amount of online shoppers drastically growing each year, ecommerce is here to stay. With the ease of price comparison, wider variety of products, and the ability to shop from virtually anywhere, no wonder consumers are increasingly opting to shop the web compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

While there are many benefits to shopping online, it also comes with some hassles (no we are not talking about shipping). When making online purchases, you have to give out your credit card information, shipping address, and other personal information that can be used for identity theft and credit card fraud.

When shopping online:
Look at Reviews: Shopping on a new website for the first time? Look at reviews of the website. Oftentimes by doing a simple web search, you can find out if they are a trusted online retailer. This is especially true for products you find on social media. Sometimes products advertised on social media lead to undependable offshore retailers.

Use your common sense: If the website looks out-of-date, the company is outside the United States, or something doesn’t feel right, don’t purchase anything. Find a more trusted online retailer for your purchase.

Use a Trusted Computer and Wi-fi: You can help keep your credit card numbers and other personal information protected by using a computer with up-to-date antivirus, firewalls, and antispy software. When using public computers, consider if it's an updated computer. Oftentimes, web browsers automatically save information submitted into text boxes. Make sure that the web browser does not save any of your information.

Don’t use your debit card online: Because your debit card is linked to your entire bank account, you are subject to much more vulnerability if a thief were to access your card. Credit cards offer more protection for online purchases. Credit cards also allow buyers to seek credit from the issuer if your order isn’t delivered or it wasn’t what you ordered.

Look for HTTPS: Trusted websites will have a SSL (secure socket layer) encryption installed to protect your data. You’ll know if it has an SSL if the URL starts with HTTPS:// instead of just HTTP://. A padlock image will also appear in either the browser or the bottom of the page.

Never give out your social security number or bithdate: Online retailers never should need your SSN or birthdate to complete a transaction.

How St. Cloud Federal Credit Union services can help:
Keep track of your purchases: Access your account from anywhere at any time from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Track your spending on the go.

Regularly monitor your credit score: Checking your credit score on a monthly basis will help you spot mistakes that you can address immediately. Visit our credit monitoring page for more information.

Safeguard yourself with knowledge: When spending money online, you want to take every precaution to protect your finances. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union offers information on general security education to help you protect your accounts and identity when making transactions online.

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Look, Same Great Credit Union

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union was founded in 1930 by St. Cloud postal employees, with the first department inside a post office. Over the years, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union has grown in members and services, but our purpose has stayed the same: “We exist for people, not for profit”.

In late September, we unveiled our new modern, streamlined logo. It features an intertwined ‘S’ and ‘C’ over a diamond in two solid versions — black and burgundy. The new and personalized look is more representative of the character and culture of a credit union’s value, and the logo has been received positively by the community.

“The challenge- and much of the fun- of writing an established future history lies in incorporating new knowledge while remaining true to what has gone before. Expanding and enriching, not contradicting.” - Edward M. Lerner

Despite the new look, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union will continue to be a premier financial institution of choice by making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. We will always advocate for people through a member-focused culture, an enthusiastic employee environment, and purposeful action within our community.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”- Abraham Lincoln”

Be on the lookout for our new St. Cloud Federal Credit Union logo. Together, our future will be amazing!

Bank on a Meaningful Difference: A Commitment to Community

On October 12th, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union participated in the first annual Community Day, a day in which St. Cloud Federal Credit Union employees volunteered their time to make a substantial and meaningful difference in the lives of the St. Cloud area community.

Looking for a project to make an impact, we reached out to St. Cloud Federal Credit Union members on how we could leverage over 50 employees’ volunteer time. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Member, Pastor Carol Jean, responded that Place of Hope Ministries had a need.

“When we heard that Place of Hope needed to update their second floor wing for women and children, we knew it would be a great match for our Community Day,” stated Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

Place of Hope Ministries is a St. Cloud organization that has provided assistance, care, and shelter to the homeless population of the city for generations. They provide over 7,000 meals per month, as well as housing and shelter services to nearly 100 people each night. Place of Hope also covers services from counseling, ministry, and outreach service, and even provides an Expressions of Hope Thrift and Distribution Center.

Donning shirts emblazoned with the message of, “Bank on a Meaningful Difference,” St. Cloud Federal Credit Union volunteers were able to redesign and refresh the second wing at Place of Hope, a space designated for women and children in need. Volunteers focused on repainting gathering spaces, bathrooms, and hallways.

In addition to volunteering time and energy, the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union also donated $500 and provided lunch for the community at Place of Hope.

With service and community as core values for St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we will continue to look for volunteering and giving opportunities. Where do you think we should volunteer next?

Friday, September 18, 2015

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union and St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union Announce Merger Intention

St. Cloud, Minnesota: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union and St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union are proud to announce the intention of merging their two organizations. The merger process was pre-approved by regulators and affirmed by a vote of St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union members at a special meeting on September 16th, 2015. Final regulatory approval is anticipated in the coming months. Both organizations have a rich history in Central Minnesota dating back to the 1930s, and will continue operating “as is” until the merger is finalized later this year.

The merger was proactive with both organizations, enhancing economies of scale to better serve the needs of members. “Our board and our members are excited about this partnership. We gain more products, services, and delivery channels with a strong strategic partner to better position our member service for years to come,” stated Mel Tody, President and CEO of City and County Employees Credit Union. “Our shared values and local commitment will allow us to fulfill our mission within the cooperative model even stronger in the future,” stated Tody. Upon merger completion, Mr. Tody will assume the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

The merged credit unions will become one organization under the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union name, with assets exceeding $140 million serving over 18,000 members with three branches. “We are excited about the nature of this merger in having two strong organizations who share common core values, positioning us to do even more for the members and the communities we serve,” stated Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union. “I am very excited to work alongside Mel as our new CFO, and I would like to extend a warm welcome to the rest of the staff and members of St. Cloud City and County Employees Credit Union,” stated Meyer.

Celebrating its 85th year in business during 2015, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union began in 1930 serving Postal employees and expanded throughout the years to people who live or work in Stearns, Benton, or Sherburne counties. City and County Employees Credit Union began in 1934 serving employees and family members of the City of St. Cloud, Stearns County, Great River Regional Library, and School District 742. The combined organizations will now have two branch locations in St. Cloud and one in Sartell. The mutual core values and mission will remain essentially the same – to leverage their not-for-profit financial cooperative to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people and the community.

About St. Cloud Federal Credit Union: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative founded in 1930. Currently with over 15,000 members and over $120 million in assets, the credit union is proud to serve members in Central Minnesota with branches in St. Cloud and Sartell. The organization prides itself on making a meaningful difference for members and their local communities.

Why St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is a Great Option for Your Loan Needs

So, you’re looking to apply for a loan. Where do you go? Choosing a big name bank may seem easier at first, but is it the right choice for you? Looking into St. Cloud Federal Credit Union can prove to be a better fit for your needs, and here’s why:

It’s important to trust your lender. Big Banks are for-profit organizations, and can have many hidden fees. Shareholders will ultimately do what is right for the shareholders - they care about the bottom line. At SCFCU, we are not-for-profit and our owners are our members, so our main focus is and always will be you.

At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, you can be assured that we are on your side. Through big banks, customers are many times approved for large loans they might not necessarily need, which they may take out because they think it’s what's best- If you’re approved for it, why not, right? Most often, employees of big name banks are required to sell as part of their job. SCFCU takes the time to really assess your options. We do what is right for our customers, NOT the bottom line.The people who work at our credit union are local people, meaning they live in our community, and can better understand your needs.

Big banks have many employees that are constantly revolving in and out and it can be impossible to get to know your loan officer on a personal basis. At St. Cloud Federal Credit union, we will take the time to explain every part of a loan with you. You want a face to face, personal relationship with your loan officer, and you can get that at a St. Cloud Federal Credit Union. We guide you through the whole process and answer every question you may have on the way.

If you have any questions about taking out a loan from a credit union, we encourage you to stop into St. Cloud Federal Credit Union and meet with us. We are happy to answer any questions you may have!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Matches Grant Funding for Sartell High School Financial Education and Micro-financing Initiative

St. Cloud Federal Credit is proud to announce a $2,500 grant submission to the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation on behalf of Sartell High School was awarded. The credit union also committed to matching the grant if it was awarded; the high school now has $5,000 to fund a financial education program focused on helping people in developing countries.

The social studies department of Sartell High School is now teaching Human Geography to create a lending curriculum to fund student led micro-financing to people in developing countries around the world. The 9th grade students will create development plans for different parts of the world which will be presented to a panel. Finalized plans will result in research for micro-lending opportunities in those areas of the world selected. In turn the students will partner with Kiva, a global non-profit organization that helps people around the world alleviate poverty through small loans.

Sartell High School Teacher Roy Snyder researched and launched the program. Since the project’s inception, he has seen the students gain an immediate increase in financial and world knowledge and issues surrounding poverty, “these are real life stories; the biggest thing I see is empathy and increasing understanding that helping is not about a handout but about a partnership. They are acquiring financial and world knowledge, confidence and skills to develop passion by having to present their findings that result in a real impact,” stated Snyder.

Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union submitted the grant and committed to the matching funds. The credit union created a panel of experts that the students will present to in order to help determine which countries will receive the grant money. “We are really excited about this opportunity to help kids in our community! We care about improving financial education and this program accomplishes that for these 9th grade students. In addition to the students, this program is improving the lives of people around the world and is an awesome opportunity that we are extremely proud to be a part of,” stated Meyer.

Most of the loans granted will be between $50 and $100 and will help the students with lending and collection knowledge in addition to global knowledge of developing countries. The payback of the loans will create a self-perpetuating program to be used by students in future years.

Friday, May 15, 2015

4 Fun, Inexpensive Things to Do in St. Cloud This Summer

Summer is right around the corner— as long as the typically temperamental Minnesota weather mood swings calm down. So what are your plans this summer? Lengthy road trips, summer camps for the kids, and excursions to the Mall of America can get expensive very quickly. If you’re looking for fun, inexpensive activities to do this summer while sticking to your budget, read on.

1. Parks and Rec
Whether you are interested in strolling around, people watching, dog walking, or disc golfing, St. Cloud offers a variety of parks for you to enjoy your time outdoors. In fact, with over 90 recreational parks to choose from, you have a site to suit your every need. Additionally, visit one of our specialty parks; you can learn about local history at the Stearns History Center and Nature Reserve, smell the beautiful roses at Munsinger and Clemens Gardens, canoe along the Beaver Island Trail and Park, or swim in the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in neighboring Waite Park.

2. Sports, Sports, Sports!
What better way to spend a warm summer night than catching a baseball game with the St. Cloud Rox at Joe Faber Field. St. Cloud also hosts a variety of summer league sports programs such as the Central MN Youth Soccer Association for kids or adult-league softball and volleyball. If you are more fan than athlete, visit the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. St. Cloud Standbys
Every August, the Benton County Fair arrives to the thrill of St. Cloud natives. With amusement rides, a petting zoo, numerous talent contests, fair food classics, and a beer garden, the Benton County Fair offers a mix of fun and entertainment for everybody. This year, the fair will be hosting, ‘The Wall that Heals,’ a 250 foot traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Don’t miss it!

4. New Classics
Summertime by George at Lake George hosted by the St. Cloud Rotary Club has recently become a summertime classic. Every Wednesday night, Lake George plays host to a free music concert with different local artists every week. Set out a blanket and listen to wonderful music, then visit the craft and food stands with local fare available. This year also marks the 10 year anniversary of the Downtown St. Cloud Art Crawl. With two opportunities to enjoy free art, music, and entertainment, be sure to wander about St. Germain Street on the evening of June 12th and all day August 14th. 

Bonus for Kids A family-oriented town, St. Cloud hosts a variety of kid-friendly activities to enjoy. There are many playgrounds and splash pads around town, such as the River’s Edge Splash Pad, that offer sanctuary on days pushing 100 degrees. The Great River Educational Arts Theatre hosts a children’s theater year round for kids to engage in culture and entertainment on an affordable basis. St. Cloud institutions such as Parkwood Cinema and the Municipal Athletics Complex offer kid-friendly discount days for inexpensive fun for the family.

There are many options all around St. Cloud for you to enjoy a fun, carefree, and budget-friendly summer. Now get out there and enjoy the sun while Minnesota weather allows us!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Four St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Services You May Not Know About

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union provides personal financial care to its loyal members and community partners. We are a not-for-profit credit union that emphasizes building personal and genuine relationships and helping our members get the most out of their finances. Read on for four great St. Cloud Federal Credit Union services that you may not know about.

Free ATM Network

On the go and in need of cash? You should be able to have quick access to your own cash, and with a St. Cloud Federal Credit Union checking account, you can easily take advantage of a free ATM network service through CO-OP Network and the MoneyPass Network. By texting your location to a provided code, you’ll be able to find the nearest surcharge-free ATMs. Make sure to utilize all the available credit union benefits such as making free withdrawals up to $500 a day, transfers, and inquiries with a St. Cloud Credit Debit Card or ATM Cash Card, accessing your primary savings account or checking account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Youth Savings Accounts

Help your kids develop an excellent financial future by helping them create a savings account. The St. Cloud Federal Credit Union has a variety of options for your child to begin saving at any age. They offer valuable benefits that include, but are certainly not limited to providing special incentives for deposits made by children, special gifts when a youth account is opened, a low minimum balance of only $10.00, no fees for monthly maintenance, and free 24 hour account access by phone. Opening a Youth Savings Account will help your child develop healthy financial habits at a young age, and it will help you in the long run as they save for their first car or budget for college.

Payroll Deductions and Direct Deposit

With the benefits of automatic payroll deductions, you can consistently add to your savings account without even thinking about it. It’s as easy as determining what percentage of your paycheck you would like to deduct, and watching the money enter your savings. This will make it much easier to visualize that new car or trip to Aruba that you’ve been saving your hard-earned money for.

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union also offers direct deposit, meaning that on payday, you can avoid the hassle of driving to the bank and waiting in a long line. On payday, you can withdraw cash at an ATM, transfer money and make payments online instantly.

Discounted Tickets

Planning for events for the whole family to enjoy shouldn’t create a huge hole in your bank account. In addition to excellent member services, you can take advantage of the community benefits and score great deals on tickets for the whole family to popular Minnesota summer events like Valleyfair and the Renaissance festival. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union even offers discounted movie tickets to Marcus Parkwood Cinema so that you can see all the latest summer blockbusters at a great value!
Don’t wait to get access to these great St. Cloud Federal Credit Union services!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Skip-A-Loan Proceeds Help Boys and Girls Club of Central MN

This past holiday season, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union offered a Skip-A-Loan service to members. The goal of the service was to provide members with an option to accommodate for extra expenditures revolving around the holidays but give back to the community at the same time. The result was the Skip-A-Loan service. This option allowed members to “skip a loan” payment by paying a $30 fee. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union in return used a portion of that fee to give back to the St. Cloud area community.

The program was a great success. Many members participated in this service to allow for a more flexible budget during the holiday season. From the proceeds of the Skip-A-Loan service, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union was able to donate $2,500 to the Boys and Girls Club of Central MN. This money went towards the rebuilding of the Roosevelt School Gym that burned down last June. The destruction of the Roosevelt School Gym was a devastating loss to the neighboring Boys and Girls Club of Central MN. The loss was felt most by the older kids. Many of the older kids are mostly attracted to the Boys and Girls Club to play organized sports in the gym. Not having an indoor structure for sports made it difficult for the Boys and Girls Club staff to plan organized sports. With the construction of a new gym, the Boys and Girls Club of Central MN will once again have the ability to plan more organized sports.

Below is a picture of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union representatives presenting a check for $2,500 to the Boys and Girls Club of Central MN.

Employees pictured from St. Cloud Federal Credit Union are: Alyce Justin, Jed Meyer, Sarah Mason, and Tammy Butler. Employees pictured from the Boys and Girls Club are: Mark Sakry, Executive Director and Buddy King, Roosevelt Unit Director, along with Roosevelt Boys & Girls Club member

Even though the holidays have come and gone, we encourage our community to continue to reach out to those in need whether it is through financial donations, volunteering, or random acts of kindness.

The St. Cloud Federal Credit Union would like to thank all of the community members for their help in getting the gymnasium rebuilt. We are honored to have taken part in this and would like to thank our members who took part in the Skip-A-Loan program.

For any of your financial needs, feel free to contact one of our friendly representatives at (320) 252-2634.

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of Central MN, click here

Monday, March 16, 2015

Your Piggy Bank Needs an Upgrade

Don't get us wrong, most piggy banks are absolutely adorable but we all reach a certain time in our life when a piggy bank just isn't enough. Read on to discover why opening a savings account is a good idea. 

Saving Up

Life is unpredictable. There’s no seven day forecast or crystal ball to show you what to expect. Instead, you are forced to walk along the path towards an unforeseeable future. Yet, there is one decision you can make in order to ensure you are prepared for upcoming events: open a savings account.

What is a Savings Account?

To put it simply, a savings account allows consumers to hold their money while also earning interest. However, savings accounts tend to have stricter rules and regulations than other types of accounts. For instance, individuals may only be able to access money from their savings accounts a few times a month. Still, savings accounts offer safe storage for everyone, and all accounts are insured from upwards of $100,000.

Why Should I Get a Savings Account?

Savings accounts provide individuals with a feeling of comfort and safety. In the case of a medical emergency or natural disaster, it is nice to have something to fall back on. Not only does it provide a feeling of relief, but it also accumulates interest as it sits. The longer you leave your money in your account, the larger your account becomes. That means you will have a larger safeguard when the time comes to use it.

How do I get started?

You can begin a savings account easily with $25 or less. After completing your registration you are free to add whatever funds you would like. Some individuals choose to set aside a portion of their paycheck to place into their savings account. Also, work bonuses and tax refunds are both smart decisions to add to your account. Keep in mind your other accounts as well. You cannot access your savings account every day, so it is best not to keep all your money saved up.

At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we understand how important it is to prepare for the future. We understand banking can be confusing, and that is why our highly trained staff is ready to help you every step of the way. Stop in today to see what rates we are able to provide for you. With St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, your future looks safe with a ninety-five percent chance of success!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Your Lease and Hello to Your New Home: Where to Start

Thinking of putting your days of renting behind you? Between credit scores, bank accounts, mortgage rates and existing loans, when is the right time to switch from renting to buying? Take these factors into account before saying goodbye to your lease and rest assured your venture into the land of mortgages will be successful.

Understanding your Credit Score
There’s a magic number in the world of mortgages, and it’s called the credit score. If you’re thinking of purchasing, this number is no longer an invisible variable, it’s now a transparent factor in securing the best rate available to you. A mortgage, or the loan acquired to finance the purchase of a house, is likely one of the largest debts that you’ll ever willingly take on and your credit score is a record of your past debts and spending habits used by your financial institution to help determine whether you are financially stable and reliable enough to pay back your loan in monthly installments, typically within 15 to 30 year agreements.

An excellent credit score of 750 points or above will ensure you receive the lowest mortgage rates on the market, costing you less in interest paid over the course of your mortgage, while a credit score ranging between 640-660 leans towards the lower end of the lending spectrum; anything below these scores and your ability to obtain a mortgage may be in jeopardy.

To improve your chances for securing the lowest mortgage rate possible, take a look at your credit score online to verify that you aren’t being penalized for past settled debts and transgressions. Refrain from opening any new credit cards at least a year before applying for financing, as too many open lines of credit will add up to a lower credit score, and may scare off potential lenders.

Consider the “Don’ts”
A few Don’ts to consider: don’t start closing all of your unused credit cards before applying for financing. Closing unused credit cards or transferring credit debt to a new account will lower your credit score and affect your ability to secure the best mortgage rate available. Tempted to purchase that new car you’ve been coveting? Hold off; adding a new loan to the mix or spending your hard earned savings could stave off your chances for acquiring home financing. Skipping or defaulting on any current loans and credit payments will take your credit score down notches as well. Prepare for obtaining a new mortgage by ensuring on-time payments to your open accounts.

Timing is everything
The right time to purchase a new home is when you can comfortably afford a mortgage payment, and not a moment sooner. A rule of thumb to ensure financial stability; home expenses should never exceed more than 28 percent of your monthly income. Committing to a mortgage with constraints that are too tight on your monthly budgets is a recipe for disaster. Until you can afford a mortgage that easily operates within your budget, you are better off renting.

A desirable loan candidate has at a minimum of 3-5 months worth of mortgage payments set aside in a savings account. Make sure you’re depositing a sizable portion of each monthly paycheck to pad your savings account if you plan on purchasing in the near future.

Consider the down payment and loan fees. Your mortgage will end up costing you more than just your monthly payments; you’ll be responsible for down payments and loan fees upfront. Start saving now, you’ll need anywhere from 3 to 20% of the home’s price for your down payment, and roughly $2,000- $4,000 to settle closing costs.

There’s such a thing as a ‘pre-approval process’ that amounts to extra time spent garnering mortgage financing before you even set out searching for your perfect home, and shopping for the best loan available to you is an integral part of the financing process. Call around to financial institutions in your area for a free, over the phone estimate of the loan you would likely qualify for. Be prepared to offer information regarding your income, assets, and debts. Pre-qualification can help you better understand the price range you’ll be working within when you do set out to check out your potential palace.

Pre-approval requires an appointment with a lending institution and delves into your credit history and current circumstances to potentially offer you a pre-approved loan in good faith, laying out the likely terms of your mortgage agreement in the event that you decide on a home to purchase and opt for a financing agreement with said financial institution. Going through the pre-approval process with several different lending establishments allows you to compare terms among different financial institutions to garner the lowest possible rate on your mortgage.

Dreaming of becoming a new home owner? St. Cloud Federal Credit Union can get you there. We can offer you a stress-free mortgage experience complete with the one on one attention you’re looking for to assist you in better understanding your options and the home buying process. We aim to provide you with the best loan available to you, to not only meet your needs, but exceed your financing expectations. From pre-approval options to indepth information to assist you in your first home buying experience, our mortgage loan department is ready to accompany you on your home-buying journey. Give us a call or stop in to our St. Cloud loan department today.

* Educational topics are meant to provide you general information. Examples are for illustration purposes only and are not specific to St. Cloud Federal Credit Union products.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tips on Buying a Used Car

Each year, St, Cloud Federal Credit Union lends millions of dollars for many different kinds of loans. Buying a new (or new-to you) vehicle can be stressful, since it is usually a purchase that comes with a lengthy investment. At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we want to help make the buying process fun for you! When purchasing a used vehicle, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Set your price range – You should plan on making monthly payments that are no more than 20% of your monthly income. Try using the budget calculator to get a good idea of what you can spend. Make a budget and determine your available price range, and don’t shop outside it.

Research – Once you know what you can spend, make a target list of makes and models you would be interested in. check pricing information and vehicle reviews on sites like Kelly blue book or Edmunds. One of the biggest mistakes a car buyer can have is going directly to a salesperson without doing research beforehand.

Check the Vehicle History Report – After you find a car you might be interested in buying, check the vehicle history report. You can look this up using the car’s VIN number or license plate (though license plates can be changes, so it’s best to use the VIN number).

Contact the seller – Develop a good rapport with the seller, especially if it is a private seller. Make sure to ask plenty of questions about the vehicle; owners are more likely to tell you things they left out of the ad this way. Most importantly, do NOT make an offer until you have seen the vehicle. Pictures and descriptions only go so far.

Go for a test drive – The best way to get a feel for the car is to take it out on your own. It is a good idea to drive the car before making an offer as well. If you are not completely confident, get the car inspected by a mechanic before moving forward. It may cost you a little, but can save you thousands in the long run.

Negotiate –When negotiating with the owner or salesperson, start low- make an offer that is in the ballpark of what you are willing to spend, and go from there. Keep in mind that there are a few different taxes and fees that vary from state to state, especially if you are buying from a dealer. Make sure you are aware of all the different taxes and charges before making an offer.

Our number one goal at the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Loan Office is to help you have fun purchasing a vehicle! We want to make sure you get the right car by offer you a variety of financing options, to make your monthly payments as low as possible. We also provide GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) coverage to protect your investment in your new or used vehicle. If you are considering purchasing a new vehicle, new or used, contact us at (320) 258-2190 or visit the consumer loans section on our website for more information.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Financial Fitness Resolutions

With 2014 at a close, it’s time to set your New Year’s Financial Fitness resolution. Setting a financial goal for 2015 will develop a rewarding habit that will continue for many years to come. Whether you are spending less money on the morning coffee, or setting aside a higher percentage of your paycheck for retirement, it’s time to start thinking about your financials, and we are here to help. The following are four easy tips to start your year off right.

Start envelope budgeting- Envelope budgeting is putting cash aside every month for your spending. You can start by dividing your money into certain categories. These can include taxes, rent, child expenses, groceries, date night and more. Assign each category to an envelope and budget your money to each category. Use the money as needed for each category. This will help you decide whether you need to spend the money, or if you can leave it for another time.

Pay down debt- Write down all your cards, their balance, and what the interest rate is on each. Increase payments on the card with the highest rate. If you aren’t already, try paying off the most expensive debt first, and try paying more than the minimum balance on it. Paying only a small percentage of the balance only prolongs the payoff.

Save more for retirement- Start saving, and keep saving! You will reward yourself in the long run if you continue to put 10 to 15 percent of your paycheck in a retirement fund. Make sure you know your retirement needs. Every individual’s retirement needs are different. Determine your needs ahead of time so you can prepare yourself- and your money- for the long haul.

Meet with a financial advisor- These men and women have the knowledge and expertise to guide you through financial decisions. They offer realistic goals that you can reach with their help. Invest in a good advisor and you can get started towards retirement in the right direction.

The best New Year’s resolution you can make is one to develop your own financial fitness. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is here to answer all your questions you may have about getting yourself “in shape” for 2015. Give us a call at 320-252-2634 for more information. Have a very happy Holiday season and New Year!