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!