Take the Money and Run (To the Credit Union)

Smart ways to start managing money your children receive as gifts.

Holidays. Birthdays. Religious celebrations. Graduations. They are special occasions that allow you to show your love and appreciation for friends and family members. If you are a parent of a young child, it can also be a time to make a big decision: what to do with the money your children receive as gifts from many generous friends and family members.

Do not toy around. When it comes to spending that money, your child probably has no shortage of short-term ideas on how to spend it. A new computer game, the latest electronic gadget or some other toy may all be on their list of must-haves. But you can actually use the money for a long-term benefit that really is a must – teaching your children the importance of saving, and building a nest egg for the things they will need later on in life.

Here are just some of the options available to you:

Basics Savings Account

You can start by opening a BeMoney Smart savings account in your child’s name. You can show them how to make a deposit, and help them track their account balances online. If they have an allowance, you can encourage them to deposit a portion of it. With a savings account, you can ensure your child’s money is NCUA insured.

U.S. Savings Bonds

Another secure option is to take the money and purchase U.S. Savings Bonds, which offer exceptional returns. In 10 years, these bonds double their values. After 10 years, you can redeem them and reinvest the money, since they do not earn any more interest after 10 years. To save you time, you might even ask friends or relatives to give your children bonds instead of cash or checks.

529 College Savings Plans

Another option would be to take the money they receive and deposit it into a 529 Savings Plan. This tax-advantaged vehicle allows you to build savings to be used specifically for higher educational expenses, such as college tuition.

Stocks

If you want to teach your children about the stock market, you can purchase individual shares of stock in their name. This is a great way to introduce your child to investing. Tracking a stock’s performance together is a fun and enjoyable learning experience for both of you (provided you pick a winner).

If you use the money gifted to your children to teach your children about the importance of smart savings, you will be using it to invest in their financial futures. For more information on savings vehicles available to you and your child, stop by at any of our eighteen convenient UCCU branches or call us today at (801) 223-UCCU (8228).

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Choosing Colleges

What is best – a two-year or four-year college?

Planning for your child’s college education can be stressful and overwhelming. There are so many things to consider. To ease your stress, it is helpful to understand your choices. Once you get a handle on your options, you can begin to think more clearly, set the best path for your college freshman – and work out how you will finance the education.

When selecting a school, it is most important to choose a college that best meets your teen’s needs and that does not put your family’s financial future in jeopardy. A teen might set his sights on the appealing social aspect of a popular four-year school. Perhaps he feels pressured to keep the family tradition alive and well by attending a parent’s alma mater. It is also possible to overestimate the impact of a pricey four-year private college or university on a student’s career and future.

Some parents assume that a four-year college is the best choice for their child. Also, it is considered the more traditional route. However, it is important to note that a two-year college can be a viable, and even preferred option in some cases. Junior colleges, community colleges, city colleges, and technical colleges often target specific careers. With an associate’s degree in hand, moving on to finish up a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college is always an option.

Benefits of a Two-Year College:

  • Expenses. It says it in the name: “community” colleges are generally based in the region in which you live. Most do not have expensive room and board plans like four-year colleges, and students can live at home to help save money.
  • Class size. Community colleges generally have fewer students per class, so your child could get more attention. These schools also offer flexible class schedules, which include day, evening, and weekend classes, to accommodate student work schedules.
  • Fundamentals. A two-year college can be a good starter school if a student’s high school grades are not up to snuff, or to determine if higher education is really in the cards. Students can always transfer to a four-year school at any time.
  • Specialization. Even nontechnical two-year colleges can be highly specialized, offering pinpointed education for specific careers. Two-year colleges may offer associate degrees in a wide range of programs such as criminal justice, paralegal studies, radiologic technology, and culinary arts.

Benefits of a Four-Year College:

  • Advanced degrees. Four-year schools offer bachelor’s degrees in a variety of subjects, and unlike trades or more specialized careers, many professions expect a four-year degree as a matter of course.
  • Academic excellence. There is nothing saying that a two-year college cannot provide an outstanding education, but all things being equal, a four-year school simply has more time to provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Due to the abbreviated schedule, an associate’s degree may not include a foreign language requirement for matriculation, for example, where a four-year degree might.
  • The college experience. Experiencing life away from home can be a fulfilling and enriching part of college life. The experience is an opportunity to learn how to budget appropriately, how to prepare meals, and how to manage time without parental oversight. Four-year colleges with housing options allow students to experience living away from home while still providing a fairly strict set of rules to follow.
  • Scholarships. Even considering the emphasis that has recently been placed on community colleges, four-year colleges simply offer more scholarships, for both academics and athletic programs. Your child’s decision might be heavily based on this consideration alone.

Have an honest discussion with about college as early as possible. Also, talk about your values and monetary considerations, and determine whether a two-year or four-year college is best. Remember to apply for financial aid or scholarships if applicable. You can also visit any of your UCCU member service representatives about loans or other financial assistance.

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Fall Back In Love with your Home

Many of us reach a point where we begin to feel a little blah about our home, and moving is not always an option. Here are some tips on how you can get a “new” home without a new mortgage – and increase your home’s value.

Little changes can have a big impact

A home makeover does not have to involve spending big bucks. Things like painting walls, changing light fixtures and knobs, and adding curtains and plants can give your home a completely different look for only a few hundred dollars. Rearranging furniture, artwork, and knick-knacks can also freshen things up, and the only cost is a little time. If you have some items that you are tired of but are in good condition, you may be able to arrange a swap with a friend. Perhaps she has been eying your table, which clashes with your other furniture, while you would not mind having hers instead.

Sample Shopping List
2 Gal. Primer
2 Gal. Paint
Painting Supplies
3 Lighting Fixtures
20 Cabinet Knobs
3 Sets of Curtains
5 Plants
Total
$40
$60
$20
$250
$50
$90
$75
$585

Expand

If you are feeling cramped, paint and new curtains are not going to solve the problem. Converting an unfinished attic or basement can be a great way to get extra space at a fraction of the cost of building an addition. For either project, you can expect your home’s value to increase by around 70% of what you spend, which is not bad as far as remodeling projects go. Adding a deck is another fairly simple way to increase your space. If you are hiring a contractor, be sure to get quotes from at least three and their complaint history with Better Business Bureau.

Make the most of what you have

What if you have no cash to finish your attic or basement – or do not have an attic or basement? There are many ways that you can make your space seem bigger without actually increasing your square footage. The cheapest – although perhaps least fun things you can do is clean, throw away, donate or sell anything you do not need. If you have not worn anything from an entire box of clothing or used something in over a year or longer, you probably do not need it. If you have a little cash to spare, you can buy organizational tools, like shelves, hooks, and furniture that provide extra storage space, such as a coffee table or bed with drawers. If your space is especially challenging, consider hiring a professional organizer. He or she may come up with some creative solutions to your space and interior design issues.

For all types of home improvements, UCCU can help. Visit any of our eighteen convenient UCCU branches for information on equity loans rates and options,, visit us online at uccu.com/homeequity or call us at (801) 223-7650.

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UCCU Member Night at the Ballpark – UVU vs. BYU

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President’s Message April 2012

Cycles of Nature

One of the great blessings of living where we do is the miraculous cycles of nature and the recurring changes of seasons. Each season brings its own surprises and splendor.  Each change in season also gives us the opportunity to pause, enjoy, and appreciate the people, the challenges, and things around us that enrich our lives.  While I enjoy each season and its attending opportunities, I have always been partial to spring. As days get warmer and sunnier, I sense renewed energy and anticipation. Spring is about hope and promise. Spring is about new beginnings and opportunities. Being an old Idaho farm boy, spring for me also means a lot of work planting and planning for the future. Spring tends to bring out the best in all of us.

Other Cycles

Perhaps not as fascinating, but certainly just as real are other cycles in our lives – such as economic cycles. We seem to be turning the corner on a particularly brutal cycle of economic down turn and turmoil. Unemployment, mortgage troubles, decreasing real estate values, low savings rates, and general uncertainty have been the earmarks of this most recent cycle of recession – often referred to as the worst recession of our life time. Credit union members have been affected by this cycle however,  In general, economic conditions are improving. Unemployment in the state is decreasing. Home sales and prices, while low, seem to be stabilizing. Out of state companies and industries continue to be drawn to our state, thus increasing the outlook for continued growth and economic improvement in our state.

In a way, the current economic cycles reminds me of spring. New budding businesses are beginning to appear. The icy fingers of economic uncertainty seem to be thawing a little as businesses begin to expand and rehire. Like new plants, more new homes are springing up around the valley as people begin building dream homes or undertake home improvement projects. The warmer promise of better times is certainly in the air. We are optimistic for a continuing but cautious recovery.

Your Credit Union is Healthy and Strong

Throughout the recession, your credit union has remained strong and vibrant. Continued growth in assets, membership, and capital reflect the efforts of a great Board of Directors, a very hard-working staff, and a terrific and responsible membership. Just as many of us have taken certain precautions to protect our families and our finances, the credit union has also been disciplined in making wise decisions as well as continuing to provide innovative and valuable services to help all members better navigate the recessionary landscape. As a not-for-profit financial institution, our sole purpose is to help members manage their finances and make wise financial decisions that will benefit them and their families.  We are pleased to acknowledge our strong growth and reaffirm our commitment to serving you and providing you with professional service and relevant, well-priced products and services. Look for exciting new upgrades to Personal Branch and Mobile Banking services this summer. You will love them!

You Can Rely on UCCU

As spring turns into summer and as our lives continue through expected and unexpected cycles, you can count on the credit union to be there for you and your family. You can trust us and can rely on us to focus on your needs and serve your interests. As a member of UCCU, you can expect to pay less and earn more through all cycles of your life. And through all economic cycles.

We are proud to serve you. We appreciate your business and your trust. Our mission is to be your “First Choice” financial partner for life and we intend to earn that position now and continue earning it throughout all of life’s many cycles.

free web statsJeff Sermon
President/CEO
Utah Community Credit Union

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SHRED FEST 2012

Utah Community Credit Union is partnering with Cintas Document Management to bring “Shred Fest 2012,” where members can bring personal documents to be shredded for free!

UCCU members are encouraged to bring their personal documents to get shredded. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to protect yourself from ID Theft by safely destroying your personal documents and papers on-site.

Examples of documents that should be shredded include old tax returns, junk mail with personal information, dated documents with personal information, dated pay stubs with personal information, etc. There is a limit of 5 boxes of paper per member. No metal, plastic, cardboard or binders (paper clips and staples are okay).

Due to the demand, Shred-Fest 2012 will be held on two days:

• Sat. April 21st from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm (OR until the truck is full)

Location:  UCCU’s Riverwoods branch located at 188 West River Park Drive (5200 North) in Provo.

and

• Sat. April 28th from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm (OR until the truck is full)

Location:  UCCU’s Spanish Fork branch located at 810 North Main Street in Spanish Fork

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Spring Is The Time To Buy A Home

Great borrowing in bloom– Why spring is a great time for financing a home.

After a long winter, spring is in full bloom. And in addition to being a great time for exercising, watching baseball, and gardening, it is also an ideal time for buying, fixing up or refinancing a home. But before you draw up your plans, it is important to understand the types of loans that are available

Home equity credit. If you are thinking about renovating your home, consolidating debt, financing college or making a significant purchase, home equity can be a smart solution. You can choose from two options:

  • Home equity loans. Ideal if you need to make a lump sum purchase, home equity loans offer the predictability of a fixed rate and fixed monthly payments over the life of the loan. You can choose from a wide range of terms and will have the assurance that your rate and payment will be the same throughout the entire term, making budgeting easier.
  • Home equity lines. If you prefer to borrow over time, you may want to choose a home equity line. A home equity line is a revolving line of credit that is almost like a credit card. You can borrow and repay funds over and over again. The thing to keep in mind is that home equity rates are usually tied to an index, such as the Wall Street Journal Prime rate and may vary throughout the life of your line.

Whether you choose a home equity loan or line of credit, you will benefit from competitive rates, potential tax savings (consult your tax advisor) and the flexibility to access your funds easily–online or by check.

  • Home improvement loans. If you are like the growing number of people today who do not have equity in a home, you may want to consider another option–a home improvement loan. With an unsecured home improvement loan, you can lock in a low rate and fixed monthly payments for a specified period of time.
  • Home mortgages. With interest rates at near-record levels and home inventory high, now may be a great time to purchase a home. You can choose from a variety of options, including fixed and adjustable-rate mortgages. The one that is right for you depends on the length of time you will live in the house and whether you expect your income to increase. If, for example, you only plan on living in your home for three years, a three-year adjustable mortgage may be a smart choice, since your rate would stay low the first three years and then adjust every year thereafter. On the other hand, if you plan on staying in your home for several years, you may want the predictability of a fixed-rate mortgage.

Today’s low rates have also brought on a boom in homeowners looking to refinance their homes. There are some good reasons to consider this option:

  • Shorten the term of your loan. For example, you may be able to refinance a 30-year mortgage to a 20-year mortgage without paying any more each month. That allows you to save thousands in interest fees over the life of the loan.
  • Refinance or consolidate debt. If you have other debt, including a home equity line or loan, you may want to consider rolling it all into one mortgage.
  • Lower your monthly payments. If you have suffered a job loss, you may be able to lower your monthly payments by increasing the term of your loan. Then when you secure a job, you can pay extra each month to lessen the length of your loan.
  • Change an adjustable-rate mortgage to a fixed-rate. With rates so low, it might be a smart idea to refinance to a fixed-rate mortgage to get the peace of mind of fixed monthly payments.

Again, the loan that is right for you depends on your unique situation. If you want to discuss the options available to you, simply stop by any of our eighteen convenient UCCU branches. We are happy to help.

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Your Wallet Is Gone: Now What?

What you need to know and how to prepare

A lost or stolen wallet is no picnic. It can be a stressful and scary situation, and it can happen anywhere. A criminal with your wallet can treat himself not only to your cash but to the contents of your life.

Should this potentially grim situation happen to you, it is best to know what to do in advance. Taking the appropriate steps as quickly as possible can help prevent identity theft and unfortunate financial consequences. Any inconvenience and lost cash in your wallet are a small price to pay for what could potentially be a far worse scenario.

What to do if your wallet is lost:

  1. If you suspect that your wallet has been stolen, contact the police, file a report with any pertinent information, and keep a copy of the report for your records.
  2. Alert UCCU if your debit card or checks were stolen. Close any affected checking or savings accounts. Ask your bank for a new debit card and new checking accounts, if needed. If you had your safety deposit box information in your wallet, let us know.
  3. Contact your credit card issuers and ask for credit card account number changes and replacement cards. It is not a wise idea to cancel your credit cards, because that can negatively impact your credit score. Most financial institutions are prepared to handle this type of situation and are ready to help you.
  4. Contact the three major credit reporting agencies – Transunion.com, Equifax.com, Experian.com – and have a fraud alert placed on your account. Once this is done, creditors will need to verify your identity before approving any credit.
  5. Order and review copies of your credit reports.
  6. Contact your state’s motor vehicle department to report a missing driver’s license and to request a replacement.
  7. Contact your health insurance provider if your wallet contained your health insurance card.
  8. Get a replacement library card and membership cards, or student or daycare ID cards.

Future prevention tips:

  • Photocopy all items in your wallet or make a detailed list. You can also scan and save the information on your computer.
  • Keep only essential items in your wallet. If you have multiple credit cards, consider carrying only one or two and storing the rest in a safe place.
  • Do not carry too much cash.
  • Never keep your Social Security card or number in your wallet.
  • Do not carry account numbers or passwords.
  • Keep your financial and personal information easily accessible and in a secure place in your home, such as a locked fireproof box.

Wallets are stolen every day. Being prepared for the possibility can help ease the situation, should it happen to you. If a criminal ever swipes your wallet, you can save time and money by following these tips. If this were to happen to you contact us at (801) 223-UCCU (8228). We will do our very best to help you make sure you are protected.

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