UCCU – Employee’s Choice for Best Place to Work

“Amazing company. I love what they stand for and how they run things.”

Utah Community Credit Union recently received national praise from career website Glassdoor, honored as one of the top 50 best small and midsize companies to work for in the nation.

Glassdoor evaluates anonymous, voluntary employee reviews to pick the winners. UCCU ranked number 44 out of 50, and was the only financial institution to make the list. In their reviews, UCCU’s employees have given a 99% approval rating for Jeff Sermon, President and CEO.

One review from an employee highlighted what he likes about his workplace. “It is a wonderful environment. They really want every one of their employees to be happy and successful. If you are a student they will work with your school schedule as best as they can without compromising service to their members.”

Another employee recently elaborated on the opportunities she’s enjoyed and lessons she has learned while worked at UCCU. “As a 20 year old, I was entrusted to start as a loan officer. Where else would I have been able to do that?” She praised UCCU for sticking to our mission. “UCCU strives to help people make smart decisions and to learn how to appropriately manager their money. This has greatly influenced me, and I have learned how to appropriately budget and save.”

As this is an employee’s choice award, it’s fitting to note that 94 percent of our employees have recommended the company to a friend.

We’re humbled by and grateful for the praise and the approval from our employees.

As one employee said, “There are so many things that I truly love about UCCU, but I don’t want to spoil everything! Come find out for yourself!”

Go browse all 65 reviews from employees on UCCU to see what else employees like. What do you like about working with UCCU?

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Business Book Review: E-Myth Revisited

Starting a small business is hard work; any budding entrepreneur can tell you that. Unfortunately, though, all that work is often for the wrong purposes.

People start businesses because they’re good at making a product or providing a service. That doesn’t mean they’re good at running a business! Michael Gerber takes on this “E-myth” — that someone can be an effective entrepreneur with much technical skill and little business sense.

The book is written as a step-by-step guide for thinking through building a business. The goal of any good business, according to Gerber, is to be able to hand it over to someone with minimal skills and have it run just the same – the franchise model of business. Gerber lays out many solid principles for achieving this goal.

It’s worth noting that the book is somewhat dated. It has little to say, for instance, about the power of digital marketing or social innovation. The text can also feel a little too sales-oriented, as Gerber regularly references his own consulting business. Some critics find the abstraction difficult to parse and the advice a little too general to apply to real world business operations.

Despite these limitations, “E-myth” is still worth a read. Taken with a grain of salt, there’s a lot of functional wisdom to be had in the narrative. If you’re starting or already running a small business, the concept of working ON your business instead of IN it is vital. Gerber clarifies what that means, and how to do it.

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6 Ways to Declutter Your Countertops

If you find yourself short on counter space, these six inventive tips can help you organize and maximize any counter in the house:

  1. On the wall: Take a look around your walls, particularly walls where cabinet spaces end. Wall-mounted corner shelves or receptacles near workspaces can give everything a lift.
  2. Drawer decisions: More organized drawers can help clear counter clutter. And drawer organizers aren’t just for tableware! Find solutions for everything from kitchen doodads, to that bulky butcher’s block of knives, to spice racks that fit inside drawers.
  3. Tool time: Save even more drawer space by moving spatulas, whisks, and other tools with handles onto a wall-mounted towel bar with “S” hooks.
  4. Think inside the box…or basket: Natural fiber boxes and baskets can consolidate space for groups of items, like measuring cups and spoons or lotions and styling products, while adding that designer touch. Or use them in cabinets to neatly organize space.
  5. Charging chamber: mount a plug strip to the inside of a drawer to keep those electronics powered-up and out of sight.
  6. Paper pusher: If paper is your problem, try using a wall-pocket organization system with multiple cubbies. Don’t forget to create a system for managing the flow. For example, one cubby might be for bills that need immediate attention, another might be for interesting things to read.

One of the biggest keys to cut clutter is frequently taking stock of what you don’t use regularly. Ask yourself if you really use it, and if not, don’t be afraid to minimize and donate?

Your turn: What do you do to keep clutter down in your house? Comment below to contribute!

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How to Build Your Resume – The Basics

Filling out a simple application may have been enough to snag that part-time summer job at the ice cream store during high school. But now that you’re in college, it’s time to graduate to a more advanced job-finding tool: the professional resume.

Creating your first resume can seem daunting, especially since your professional experience may be limited. But the sooner you master this skill, the sooner you’ll have a document you can easily send out whenever you happen upon an internship or employment opportunity.

When starting out, don’t be intimidated. No one expects a student resume to contain long lists of accomplishments, but you should have at least one or two. It should also convey your interests, goals and potential — all within one page. Use short, declarative phrases and action verbs instead of full sentences and try to keep the tone positive and upbeat.

Start by including your name, city of residence, email address and phone number — typically centered at the top, with your name in larger, bold font. If you have a LinkedIn account, you can include that, but be sure to leave out any other personal social media accounts. This is a professional document, not a showcase of your social connections.

You can also include a summary statement outlining your goals, but it isn’t necessarily required. Perhaps you’re an art major looking for a chance to develop your graphic design skills, a computer science major interested in work as a programmer or a marketing major seeking a chance to work on marketing campaigns. The key here is to demonstrate you already have some knowledge in a given field and are looking to expand it by gaining practical experience.

Stick to a traditional resume format, using a commonplace font such as Calibri or Arial. Save the crazy, hard-to-read fonts and wild colors for your art projects. Sure, you want your resume to stand out, but you want it to stand out for the information it contains, not its oddball appearance.

Next, add an education section. Make the entries reverse-chronological, beginning with your current studies. Be sure to include your degree objective and your planned date of graduation. Don’t forget to add your extracurricular activities, particularly teams and clubs. Employers want to see how you have been involved and what you do with your free time. Skills and accomplishments aren’t the only reasons people get hired. Employers also want to connect with their employees as people with talents and interests, not just robots to do a job. You can also add a bullet point about projects you completed at school. Don’t feel like you need to include every single one, but try to include projects that show specific skills you have acquired that are related to the job you are applying for. Maybe you led the planning of senior prom, or maybe you did market research for a local business. Those are examples of the accomplishments that set you apart and show what you can do if you professional experience is limited.

After education, add the professional experience section. This is the place to list any jobs you’ve had, even if they were babysitting or summer jobs. Include the beginning and ending dates and briefly list your main responsibilities. The idea is to demonstrate that you’re responsible, conscientious and can follow directions.

Including an accomplishments section can help paint a fuller picture of who you are. This is the place to note any awards or distinctions you have received. You can also include any high grade point averages, projects you completed at school or volunteer experiences. Basically, list things here you’re proud of or which would reveal aspects of your character to a potential employer. Try to use quantifiable support whenever possible. If you increased sales by 4% for your sales team over the summer, be sure to add that concrete, quantifiable number.

You may also include a skills section if you think it’s warranted. This is the place to list any computer software proficiencies you’ve used or office skills you’ve developed. Make sure the skills you list relate to the types of positions you’re seeking. For example, forklift driving would not be a useful skill for a sales position unless you’d be selling forklifts.

Finally, take time to edit and format your resume. A resume filled with typos and formatting errors does little to convey that you’re careful and conscientious. Have a friend or your parent proofread your resume to make sure you didn’t miss any typos and to get their opinion.

View your resume as a work in progress. It will remain an important professional tool throughout your work life, evolving and growing as you graduate college, get your first full-time job, and progress in your career.

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5 Things You Shouldn’t Store in Your Garage

For many of us, the garage is a catchall for stuff that refuses to fit neatly inside our houses. The problem is most garages are neither climate controlled nor dust- or pest-free. Here are five items you should think twice about before keeping them in the garage:

  1. Paint cans left on cement flooring will rust faster, and the extreme temperature fluctuations can ruin the color. Store unused cans in a temperature-neutral room, donate to charity, recycle at a transfer station, or safely dispose of them in regular garbage with paint hardener additive from the hardware store.
  1. Refrigerators operate efficiently at surrounding temperatures between 67 to 77 degrees. In warmer or cooler temperatures, refrigerators need to work harder, wasting energy and increasing costs. And, if temps reach below 30 degrees they may not work at all. Place extra fridges and freezers in the basement or insulate your garage, so temperatures stay consistent.
  1. Canned goods have a shorter shelf life when subjected to temps above 70 degrees, costing you money, and potentially making you ill if consumed. More efficiently organizing your pantry can help eliminate the need for outside storage.
  1. Electronics are sensitive to temperature fluctuations. Repeated expansion and contraction can loosen contacts, glues and soldering. Humidity can also be a problem.
  1. Propane tanks should never be stored in inside spaces where they can leak, accumulate gas and cause a fire. Always keep propane outdoors where gas can safely ventilate.

The garage isn’t the most ideal place to store many items. After all, isn’t the garage designed to keep your cars safe and clean? The bright side is, this knowledge can encourage you to be more organized elsewhere in the house.

If you’re ready for a new garage but don’t know where to start, contact our UCCU Mortgage Experts and they will help you find the home with the perfect garage for you. Call 801-223-7640, email homeloan@uccu.com, or visit uccu.com/mortgages to find your neighborhood Mortgage Expert.

Sources: Reader’s Digest, Good Housekeeping

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What Causes Home Loan Rates to Move Up and Down?

The Federal Reserve (Fed) monitors the U.S. economy and, when necessary, takes steps to address inflationary concerns to avoid economic recession. When the Fed discusses interest rates, it is primarily concerning the Fed Funds Rate, which is the rate banks use when lending money to each other overnight.

Home loan rates, on the other hand, are dictated by the trading of Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS or Mortgage Bonds), which are a type of bond.

At the real heart of home loan rate movement is the dual relationship between Stocks and Bonds, as they compete for the same investment dollars on a daily basis. Inflationary pressures, economic conditions, and geopolitical events all influence the direction of Stocks and Bonds.

When economic reports are weak or disappointing, investors often move their money from riskier investments like Stocks into Bonds, which are considered safer. Since home loan rates are tied into Mortgage Bonds, this helps home loan rates improve and go down.

In contrast, strong economic news often causes investors to move their money into Stocks to take advantage of any gains. This can cause Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates to worsen, or in other words, the home loan rates go up.

Inflation also plays a role as it reduces the value of fixed investments like Bonds. This means that a low inflation environment tends to be good for Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates (think lower rates), while high inflation can cause both to worsen (think high rates).

Political turmoil or economic crises around the world can also cause investors to move their money into the safety of the Bond markets, helping Mortgage Bonds and home loan rates improve.

If you’re trying to decide if now is a good time to purchase a new home, visit with our Mortgage Center or call your neighborhood mortgage expert! We’ll analyze your financial situation together and create a plan that’s right for you.

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4 Steps for Buying a Home in Today’s Economy

Whether you’re a regular news junkie or you rely on your better half to keep you updated on the latest, you’ll get the same conflicting messages about the state of today’s economy. One day you’ll hear about rising wages, and the next day you’ll read about the lagging growth in the GDP, or Gross Domestic Product.

The only thing certain about today’s economy is that it is uncertain. While things look relatively stable now, no one can guarantee what the next few years will bring.

Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on the home of your dreams because of a fluctuating economy. Read on for four steps you can take to make sure your money – and your house – are completely safe regardless of what’s going on.

1.) Maximize your down payment

The magic number for down payments has been established at 20% of the home’s value. Those who can’t afford to plunk down that much money, though, will often put down a much smaller amount.

If you can’t come up with a down payment worth at least 5% of the home’s total value, UCCU can help you get access to some of the down payment assistance programs out there. Call, click, or visit a UCCU branch for more information on what programs might be available for you.

2.) Get less than you qualify for

If you’ve been hoping to qualify for a more expensive home, you may be planning to push the limits of your mortgage approval. In fact, it’s best to buy a house that comes in well under your approved limit, allowing you to maintain a lower debt-to-income ratio. This will give you breathing room and keep your mortgage payments from dwarfing your monthly budget.

Also, if the economy worsens and you feel the effects, you’ll have a smaller mortgage payment to scrape together each month.

The good news is that with UCCU you’re going to get more house for the same payment when compared to getting a mortgage through a conventional bank or mortgage lender.

3.) Pick the right Realtor

Here’s how to cut through the hype of the real estate market and find the Realtor that is truly best for you:

  • Speak to recent clients. Ask about their level of satisfaction and their overall experience with this agent.
  • Look up the licensing of your prospective agent. You should be able to easily find this information online.
  • Choose a winner. A Realtor who has been recognized for their excellent work is one you want working for you.
  • Research how long the agent has been in the business. You don’t want the rookie Realtor who’s building their experience through you.
  • Check the current listings under the Realtor’s name. Are they in the same price range as the house you’re hoping to buy?

4.) Look for red flags

A professional inspection before signing on a home is a given, but did you take a careful look around? You don’t want any unpleasant surprises after you’ve moved in.

Check for the following:

  • A sturdy roof.   Do the shingles look like they’re going to give way in a few years? That can translate into expensive repairs. If you like the house and don’t mind replacing a faulty roof, use it as a negotiating point to get a lower price.
  • Efficient heating and cooling systems. These can be costly to fix and replace, and inefficient systems can really hike up your utility bills.
  • Strong structural components. Most sellers will give their house a new coat of paint before showing it to buyers, but don’t be fooled. If the foundation is weak, the best paint job won’t cover it up. Check beneath the surface for strong pipes, wiring, and insulation.
  • Overall functioning of the home. Don’t be shy; try out everything in your potential new home. Open doors and windows, turn on every faucet, flick each light switch, flush toilets and taste the water. If you find any major problems, you may want to give this house a second thought. If you don’t mind a handful of minor repairs, remember to use these as a negotiating point.

Don’t forget to call, click, or stop by a UCCU branch to learn about our fantastic programs on home loans and mortgages before you start your search. We’re here to help you with the finances as you find the home of your dreams!

Your Turn: Did you recently purchase a new home? What did you wish you’d known before you started on your search? Let us learn from your experience; share your wisdom with us in the comments!

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Mother’s Day On A Budget

Along with the blossoming flowers, the blazing sunshine and the tinkling bell of the ice cream truck come ideas and plans for celebrating Mother’s Day.

Our moms are always there for us, as a sounding board, a virtual treasure trove of advice and to dote on us when we need a little pampering. Mother’s Day, then, is when we show them how much we appreciate all they do for us throughout the year.

However, between purchasing the perfect gift, buying mom flowers and dining out, Mother’s Day costs can quickly add up to a small fortune. How do you keep within a reasonable budget while still showing mom how much she means to you?

Fortunately, with just a bit of forethought and careful planning, you can save big while still celebrating Mother’s Day in style. Here’s how:

1.) Frugal flowers

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a vibrantly colored bouquet, but those beautiful blossoms can cost a bundle. Start your savings on mom’s flowers by doing some of the work yourself. Instead of relying on the florist to provide the perfect base for the bouquet, bring your own basket from home. Alternatively, you can pick up a cheap but pretty vase at a craft or thrift store, adding a strand of ribbon to customize it to mom’s style.

Also, consider shopping your local grocery store or sidewalk stand before visiting a florist. You might find significant savings – such as a bouquet for as little as $10 – by cutting out the middleman.

Lastly, if you’re shopping at a floral shop, be sure to call first to find out when their flowers are delivered so you get the freshest of the bunch.

2.) Gift it right

More difficult than dreaming up the perfect gift for mom is scraping together the money for it. Solve both problems by getting creative. Mom would love something you personally crafted, like a decorated framed photo of a shared memorable moment, or a scrapbook of your best childhood memories. You can even make your mom a playlist of songs that both of you love.

If you’d rather purchase a gift than create one yourself, remember to shop early so you don’t feel pressured into buying something you can’t afford. Also, don’t forget to carefully mine coupon sites like RetailMeNot, Coupons.com and Couponcabin to see if you can snag a deal.

Remember, gifts that show effort and thought matter a lot more than how much you spend.

3.) Dining out (or in) for less

Of course, celebrating Mom’s special day won’t be complete without sharing a wonderful meal together. But restaurants can be expensive, so don’t book reservations without carefully considering if they’re absolutely necessary.

Maybe Mom would enjoy a home-cooked meal more than an evening out. You can whip up her favorite foods, set the table with long candlesticks, your finest dishes and best silverware, and enjoy a deluxe, sumptuous dinner at home.

Or throw together a family barbecue. Load the car with Frisbees, balls and kites, pack up a cooler and stake out a corner at the local park. Then, get the grill fired up for a delectable dinner that’s fun to prepare and even more fun to eat!

If you’ve got your heart set on taking mom out to a restaurant, shop around for the best Mother’s Day deals. It’s worth making a few phone calls and checking out sites like Groupon or LivingSocial before making reservations.

Once you’re at the restaurant, save money by checking the left side of the menu first. Restaurants usually put their pricier dishes on the right side of the menu since that’s where most people’s gazes automatically land. Also, consider sharing a few bigger portions instead of ordering individual plates for every diner. Lastly, be sure to wait a bit between courses so you don’t end up with a table full of leftovers that you’re too stuffed to eat.

4.) Plan ahead

It’s never too early to start saving, and it’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s Mother’s Day. While you obviously can’t buy mom flowers that far ahead of time, shop the post-Mother’s-Day sales for fantastic deals on greeting cards, wrapping paper and gifts for mom.

It isn’t that hard to save on Mother’s Day expenses. And it’s worth it. After all, no one will be happier to see you saving money than dear sweet mom!

Your Turn: How do you show your mom how much she means to you while sticking to a budget? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

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Score.org – Free Business Mentors

Do you ever wish you could discuss your business challenges with a person who has real-world business experience? Do you want to tackle your issues armed with advice from someone who is familiar with your field, not just a good friend or random acquaintance?

Score.org does exactly that. This website offers free business mentoring and education in over 60 industries.

Working on a business plan.

Score.org can help provide personalized business help.

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses launch and achieve their goals. The website is easy to use, with a clear search function for business questions. Users can search for mentors by area of expertise or industry, from accommodation and food services to waste management and more. You can choose the area for which you’re seeking assistance, such as accounting and budgeting or tax planning and technology. Mentors are available for face-to-face meetings, email questions or video conferences.

Score.org also offers workshops and live webinars in a range of topics. Expert speakers offer insight on the latest business strategies and answer questions from participants. Workshops are offered on everything from e-commerce and SEO to nonprofit planning and cyber security. You can also search the archive of recorded seminars by topic.

Aside from the standard search parameters — by industry, location or keyword — there is also an option catering to specialized groups, such as women entrepreneurs or veteran-owned businesses. Users can narrow their search by business stage, from pre-start to already in business.

The library on Score.org is chock full of useful advice, with an easy to browse functionality. It offers e-guides, templates, infographics and videos. In just five minutes on the site, entrepreneurs can read an article on “understanding business credit” and view a template for a pricing strategy worksheet.

Score volunteer mentors all have practical business experience. In addition, Score.org provides a Mentoring Methodology Training program to certify each of their mentors and provide them with valuable tools and methods to help equip others for success.

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Presidents on Your Money (Infographic)

How much do you know about the cash you carry and the figures on them? Here’s an infographic to help you know more:

This comes from NerdWallet.com, a website that helps people find low rates on credit cards, savings and checking accounts, scholarships, and other things.

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