Unity One Credit Union

House Shopping: Devise a Down-Payment Plan

Thu, Oct 24, 2019 @ 11:00 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in Unity One Credit Union, Servion, First Time Mortgage


Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource CenterWritten by Dianne Molvig.

Are you thinking about buying a house in the next year or two? Most Americans still believe that buying a home is a good financial investment, according to the 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey, conducted by the National Association of Realtors. Eight out of ten respondents feel that paying off a mortgage and owning a home by the time you retire was a primary motivation for buying a home, and they consider it a good way to build wealth and increase net worth.

How much do you need for a down payment?

Before 2008, many lenders offered zero-down-payment on mortgages to prospective homeowners. Then came the housing market crash and the Great Recession. As a result, lending guidelines became stricter. You still may find some zero-down-payment mortgages available from quality lenders. Just expect to pay a premium in the form of a higher rate on the loan and/or higher fees, says Tracy Ashfield, President of Ashfield & Associates, Madison, Wis., a mortgage consulting firm that assists credit unions.

"That's why we stress so much to folks that it's important to accumulate some down payment," she says. "You'll get a more competitive mortgage product that will help you keep your monthly payments down." That will save you a lot of money in interest over the life of your loan. "Sit down with your lender as soon as you can," Ashfield advises, "even if you're a year or 18 months away from buying." With your lender, you can go over your income, savings, other assets, and credit score. From there, you can figure out a reasonable down-payment goal. "Maybe you've accumulated a 5% down payment," Ashfield notes. "Or maybe it makes more sense to pay 3% down and use some of your money to pay discount points to buy down your rate a little bit." (Discount points are fees you pay a lender at closing to reduce your interest rate. A point is 1% of the amount borrowed.)

Your best strategy depends on your complete financial picture. Your lender can help you select a down payment and other mortgage features that best fit your financial situation. (Note: If your down payment is less than 20%, you'll generally pay for private mortgage insurance, which protects the lender against losses. That adds to your monthly mortgage payment.) 

Where will you get your down payment?

  • Save your money. Set aside a certain sum out of every paycheck, before you get a chance to spend it. Also, put bonuses from your job and tax refunds and rebates into savings. See where you could trim costs. If you're having trouble finding ways to save, talk to a credit union financial counselor.
  • Get a second job. It may make life a bit more hectic for a year or two, but it might be worth it if it means being able to buy a home.
  • Ask for family help. Anyone can give up to $15,000 per year to another person, without federal gift tax consequences (this number adjusts annually for inflation). In other words, your parents could give you up to $30,000 a year and, if you're married, another $30,000 to your spouse. You need not pay income tax on this money.
  • Borrow from family. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sets a minimum interest rate that a family member would have to charge you for the loan. Be sure you have a written, enforceable note that spells out the terms. A downside: Your lender may count this loan in your debt load in determining your mortgage eligibility.
  • Tap your IRA (individual retirement account). The IRS allows a first-time home buyer to withdraw up to $10,000 to use for a down payment ($20,000 if you're married and your spouse also is a first-time buyer). You pay no penalty for early withdrawal, but you may owe taxes, depending on the type of IRA. You must use the funds within 120 days of withdrawal. See IRS Publication 590 for details.
  • Look at your 401(k). See if you can borrow from your company's plan. Be sure to continue putting money into your 401(k), too, so you can get your employer's match.
  • Look into first-time buyer assistance programs. You might be eligible for a state or local program that provides down-payment assistance to first-time buyers. Your lender may know of some.

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How much home can I afford?

Tue, Oct 22, 2019 @ 09:15 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in Unity One Credit Union, home buyer, Servion, First Time Mortgage



Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource CenterWritten by Spencer Carver.

Buying a home can be an exciting time. It’s also a significant decision that should be carefully thought through. Before you begin looking for a home, there are 3 things to consider before you sign anything:

1.    Actual cost vs. Monthly payment As you move throughout the mortgage application process, you will receive a quote for a monthly payment. Take for example a mortgage of $200,000 at an interest rate of 4% APR over 30 years. The minimum monthly mortgage payment would be $955.00. This is just the amount going toward principal and interest. But there are other expenses you’ll have to pay each month as well:

  1. Taxes and Insurance These expenses won’t be included in your quoted monthly payment. However, since lenders want to make sure you pay your taxes and insurance, many will require you to open an escrow account to collect the money for these expenses. They’ll then pay these bills with this money on your behalf. A percentage of these yearly costs are then added to your monthly payment. That cost varies depending on property taxes and home values in your area. It is important to note that this payment can fluctuate, typically every 12 months. In most instances, plan on a slightly higher payment each year you own your home.
  2. Repairs, maintenance, upgrades, etc. Used homes and newly built homes will have repairs. Once you join the world of home ownership, you own (literally) the cost of all repair work. Plan on setting aside a certain amount per month for these costs, on top of your monthly mortgage payment, so you don’t have to incur additional debt.

2.    Explore different lending programs:  Are you aware of FHA, Veteran’s, or USDA loan options?  What about first-time home buyer programs?  Down payment assistant programs? Minimum or “no” down payment options? There are multiple programs that are worthy of exploration.  However, be careful of who you give your information to – you’ll want to deal with a reputable lender, like your local credit union. They can review multiple options, assess your situation, and tell you about programs for which you may qualify. Take the time to learn about and explore these options. Ask questions and seek clarity.

3.    Net income vs. Gross Income:  To start the mortgage lending process, your lender will calculate a debt-to-income ratio. Most lenders base their lending decisions on your gross income and not your net. (The “gross” is pre-tax and the “net” is what is deposited into your account.) The debt-to-income figure is calculated by adding up all the tradelines (credit accounts) on your credit report and dividing that figure by your gross income.

For example, if your expenses add up to $1,500 and your total income is $5,000 per month, then your debt-to-income ratio would be 30%. Keep in mind, the total debt typically does not include groceries, cell phone payments, gym memberships, etc. To stay on solid financial ground, most financial experts recommend that you add all your housing expenses, then divide that by your net income. Try to keep your debt-to-income ratio under 35%.

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When are credit card balance transfers helpful?

Fri, Oct 18, 2019 @ 04:33 PM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in credit card, Unity One Credit Union, balance transfer


Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource CenterWritten by Jenna Taubel.

If you find yourself buried in credit card debt you’re not alone. At the end of 2018, Americans carried nearly $420 billion dollars in credit card debt. However, simply having the debt itself is not necessarily an issue; it’s how you manage it that makes a difference. If you feel like you’re struggling to manage your credit card debt, you may want to consider a balance transfer.

A balance transfer of your credit card balances is an option for debt management that allows you consolidate high interest rate credit cards into one lower rate credit card, thus saving you money on your monthly payment and simplifying your finances.

Balance transfers may be helpful if you:

  • are making payments on multiple high interest rate credit cards
  • can qualify for a card with a lower interest rate than your current one
  • are not going to continue using the high interest card after the transfer
  • want only one credit card payment to make every month

There are many balance transfer credit card options out there, so make sure you do your research before jumping on the first offer to come along. Many credit cards will offer a 0% interest rate for a short time upfront to entice you to transfer your balance, but when the introductory period is over and the regular interest rate kicks in, you may not be saving as much as you thought. Ideally, after transferring your balance, it’s best to pay off the total amount during the low or 0% interest rate introductory period. That way, you accrue as little in interest charges as possible.

Additionally, to successfully get control over your credit card debt, you must stop using your high interest rate credit cards. If you continue to use these cards after your balance transfer, you will be back in the place you’re in now, struggling to pay down your debt.

Balance transfers may not be helpful if:

  • the regular interest rate after the introductory period is higher than what you’re currently paying
  • you continue using your high interest rate credit cards to make purchases
  • you still cannot afford to make your monthly payment after transferring balances

Using a balance transfer to manage your credit card debt is an excellent option for many people. But do your homework and choose the transfer offer carefully to avoid hurting your credit score. For instance, you don’t want to max out the new card with your transfer. Instead, choose one with a higher credit limit than the amount you want to transfer. To improve or maintain a good credit score, keep your credit utilization ratio under 30%.


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Join Unity One CU for Kidtoberfest!

Mon, Oct 07, 2019 @ 07:32 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in Unity One Credit Union, Kidtoberfest, North Tarrant branch


NT Branch Plasma Ad

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Live Simply, Reap Savings

Thu, Oct 03, 2019 @ 07:50 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in family budget, budgeting, Unity One Credit Union


shutterstock_670636621 (1)
Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Monica Steinisch.

There’s been an ongoing movement to simplify and unclutter our lives as a way to ease stress. One piece of advice has the power to both simplify and transform your life: Live beneath your means.

That philosophy is hard for some to adopt. For them, getting a raise doesn’t mean paying off debt or saving it. It means staying on the “make more, spend more” hamster wheel, racking up even more debt. 

Real change only possible with new mindset

In their best-selling book, Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence, co-authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez explore the role of money in our lives and its power over us. Among their observations, the authors note that Americans "project onto money the capacity to fulfill our fantasies, allay our fears, soothe our pain, and send us soaring to the heights.... We buy everything from hope to happiness."

Funny thing—spending as a means to achieve greater fulfillment doesn't seem to work. Numerous surveys conclude that consumers on the higher end of the middle-class earning and spending scale are not any happier than those on the lower end.

Spending less than you earn results in less stuff and less stress.

So why do we keep spending beyond our means? Habit may be partly to blame. A daily routine that includes premium coffee, lunch, and snack purchases could have you spending at least $15 a day without a second thought. To avoid mindless spending, Robin and Dominguez encourage consumers to ask of each expenditure whether it brought "fulfillment, satisfaction, and value in proportion to life energy spent"— the hours of work it takes you to pay for a purchase. When you realize that dinner at an expensive restaurant will cost nine hours of your energy, you start to analyze your spending choices more critically.

Change your mindset that views spending as a reward and saving as deprivation. Instead, realize that overspending can deprive you of the freedom to choose how to live and work, and see living beneath your means as the path to peace of mind and financial independence.

Straightforward steps reduce spending, increase saving

The point of living beneath your means is to avoid debt and save for what is most important to you—homeownership, freedom to spend time with your family, early retirement, etc. Keeping your reward in mind will make adopting these techniques for easier:

  • Make saving automatic. According to David Bach's book The Automatic Millionaire: A Powerful One-Step Plan to Live and Finish Rich, the key to accumulating wealth is to pay yourself first, automatically. That's easy to do: Just set up a funds transfer from the account where your paycheck is deposited to a savings or investment account.
  • Track your spending.  Writing down your expenses will help you change automatic routines, like going out to dinner every weekend, and make you aware of your choices.
  • Challenge every expense. Compile a list of everything you spend money on. Then look at every essential expense, like housing, groceries, transportation, and determine how you might be able to reduce each one. Then make a list of your nonessential spending (for example, entertainment, meals out, and vacations) and determine which expenditures deliver the greatest bang for your buck. Also, think of ways to save money in those areas. For example, if you love eating out, you could substitute a less-expensive brunch for dinner.
  • Avoid temptation. The easiest way to do that is to not make shopping a recreational activity.

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When should I apply for FAFSA?

Tue, Oct 01, 2019 @ 09:56 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in Texas Extra Credit Education Loan, student loans, Unity One Credit Union, fafsa



Planning to go to college in the Fall/Spring of 2019-20? Then it’s time to apply for financial aid!

On October 1, you can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) if you’re planning to enroll in college for the 2019-20 academic year!

What is the FAFSA and why should you complete it?
The FAFSA is a form used by the U.S. Department of Education and your college to determine your eligibility for financial aid programs including grants, loans and work-study.  Even if you don’t think you’ll be eligible, YOU SHOULD STILL APPLY Over 1 million students fail to complete the FAFSA each year because they believe they are ineligible, when in fact, over a third of these students would have been eligible to receive some form of grant aid – THAT’S FREE MONEY.

To complete this FREE application all you’ll need is your 2018 federal tax return, social security number, driver’s license number, records of untaxed income and information on cash, savings, and investments.  If you’re considered a dependent student (per FAFSA) your parent(s) will also be required to provide this information.  For more information or to apply, go to www.fafsa.gov.

Still need additional money?

If you still need additional money to help cover your college expenses after you’ve been awarded by your college, be sure to visit Unity One's website to check out the Texas Extra Credit Education loan – an outstanding private student loan provided by one of our partner organizations.

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Free Up Cash in 30 Days

Fri, Sep 27, 2019 @ 11:36 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in family budget, budgeting, Unity One Credit Union


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Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Laura Varela. 

If you have a tight budget, the thought of finding any extra money can seem unrealistic. But with a few minor tweaks to your spending, it may be easier than you think.

Here are ways to cut down on debt and actually save money in the long run:

  • Consolidate debt — Sometimes the key to paying down debt can be as simple as combining it. One way to consolidate is to get a 0% balance-transfer credit card, transfer your debts to this card, and pay off the balance in full during the promotional period. Another way is to get a fixed-rate debt consolidation loan through your credit union. By consolidating your loans, you could save on interest rates, simplify monthly payments, and start saving money. However, if you’re just going to use it to run up more debt, consolidation isn’t for you.
  • Refinance your house and car loans   Refinancing your loans to get a lower interest rate will free up money that can be put toward other bills or put into savings. A credit union loan officer can determine if you qualify for lower rates.
  • Revisit home and auto insurance policies —  Check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website and Insurance Information Institute for advice about picking reputable companies and then compare quotes from different companies. Consider raising deductibles. Ask your insurer about good-student discounts for kids in high school and for college students who live away at school but leave their car at home.
  • Go green  Be environmentally conscious and save money while doing so. Programmable thermostats, fluorescent and LED bulbs, and window coverings are options that can help you save energy and money. Go green at the credit union as well by signing up for e-statements and automatic bill payments. Using automatic bill pay will help you avoid late fees and make consistent progress toward your financial goals. Signing up for automatic loan payments may also get you a discount on your interest rate. Ask a credit union loan officer for more information.

With just a little research and a few emails or phone calls, you should be able to free up more cash to pay off debt or put into your savings account.

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Unity One earns Great Place to Work Certification

Mon, Sep 23, 2019 @ 04:49 PM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in Unity One Credit Union, great place to work


gptw_certified_badge_sep_2019_rgb_certified_daterangeFort Worth, Texas – Unity One Credit Union announced today that it is Great Place to Work-Certified™. Unity One joins 23 other credit unions nationwide in this prestigious designation.

Using validated employee feedback gathered through Great Place to Work’s rigorous, data-driven “For All” methodology, certification confirms 7 out of 10 employees have a consistently positive experience at Unity One Credit Union. Great Place to Work is the global authority on workplace culture, employee experience and the leadership behaviors proven to deliver market-leading revenue and increased innovation.

“We are thrilled to be Great Place to Work-Certified™,” says Gary Williams, president and CEO, at Unity One Credit Union. “We make employee experience a priority every day and it means a lot that our employees have reported a consistently positive experience with their coworkers, their leaders and with their jobs. This is important to us because we know that when our employees have a high-trust experience every day, they are more productive, drive better business results and make a difference to our members.”

“We congratulate Unity One Credit Union on their Certification,” said Sarah Lewis-Kulin, vice president of Best Workplace List Research at Great Place to Work. “Organizations that earn their employees’ trust create great workplace cultures that deliver outstanding business results.”

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About Unity One Credit Union

Unity One Credit Union is a member-owned financial cooperative providing financial services to approximately 31,000 members in Fort Worth, Texas, Kansas City, Kansas, and St. Paul, Minnesota. Originally chartered in 1927 for the employees and family members of Great Northern Railroad, today Unity One continues to provide excellent service to BNSF Railroad employees and their families as well as the communities surrounding their eight branch locations. To find out more, visit us at www.unityone.org.

About Great Place to Work®

Great Place to Work® is the global authority on workplace culture. Since 1992, they have surveyed more than 100 million employees around the world and used those deep insights to define what makes a great workplace: trust. Great Place to Work helps organizations quantify their culture and produce better business results by creating a high-trust work experience for all employees. Emprising®, their culture management platform, empowers leaders with the surveys, real-time reporting, and insights they need to make data-driven people decisions. Their unparalleled benchmark data is used to recognize Great Place to Work-Certified™ companies and the Best Workplaces™ in the US and more than 60 countries, including the 100 Best Companies to Work For® and World’s Best list published annually in Fortune. Everything they do is driven by the mission to build a better world by helping every organization become a Great Place to Work For All™.

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Rejected for a Loan? Stage a Comeback.

Tue, Aug 20, 2019 @ 10:02 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in loans, Unity One Credit Union


shutterstock_1154320222Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Dianne Molvig. 

Getting rejected for a loan can feel like a kick in the teeth. No way around it, rejection is painful. But consider looking at it from a different perspective.

Being denied for a loan tells you something you're not aware of or not acknowledging is going on in your financial situation. Take this opportunity to figure out what that is.

You can turn this around if you put your mind to it. Here's how to get started.

Find Out Why You Were Rejected

Upon reading "We are sorry but ..." in your rejection letter, you may feel the urge to pitch the letter into the trash.

Instead, read the whole thing. That letter will tell you precisely why your loan was denied. You have to know the reasons for the problem before you can fix it.

Were you late on paying bills? Are you already borrowing too much compared to your income? Maybe you need to work on paying down the debt you already have.

When you get a rejection from one lender, you may feel tempted to apply at other lenders, hoping you'll eventually get lucky. You're only postponing what you need to do—work to improve your credit standing. Also, each time you apply for a new card, your credit score gets a hit, bringing it down a few points.

Get a Copy of Your Credit Report

The denial letter will state which credit bureau the lender used in making the loan decision.

When you're turned down for a loan, you are entitled by law to a free "adverse action" credit report. This copy will not count against the free credit report you can get each year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. Get a copy and check it over closely

It’s a good idea to review your credit report before applying for a loan to make sure everything in it is accurate.

What To Do If You Find Errors

Mistakes on credit reports are not uncommon. If you find any errors on your report, take three steps:

1.   Contact the credit bureau to report the error.

2.   Ask the bureau to send a corrected copy of the credit report to any lender that recently received the inaccurate one. The lender may reconsider your loan application.

3.  Get your credit reports from the other two credit bureaus to make sure mistakes don't show up there, as well. Clearing up a mistake at one agency doesn't mean the corrected information gets passed on to the other two.

If you feel the errors are the result of identity theft, report this immediately to the credit bureaus, your creditors, and law enforcement authorities.

Get Expert Help

To fix your credit problems, start by talking with the folks at your credit union. Someone on staff may be able to work with you to devise a credit repair plan. Or your credit union may refer you to a free or low-cost outside counseling resource.

Don’t lose hope. With a bit of work and discipline, your credit problems can be resolved, and loan rejections can be a thing of the past.

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Show, Don't Tell: Teaching Teens Money Skills

Thu, Aug 15, 2019 @ 10:11 AM / by Alyssa Guillory posted in financial education for teens, teens and money, saving money, Unity One Credit Union



Originally posted on the CUNA Financial Resource Center. Written by Laura Varela. 

Do conversations with your teenagers about money begin and end with "How much do you need?” Then stop right there. If you want your teens to learn how to manage money successfully, show them how it’s done.
Being a good financial role model may prove challenging to some. According to a Debt.com poll of 1,000 American, 92% believe everyone needs a budget, but only 70% said they were using one. Many who do budget admit to slipping during holidays or on special occasions, sometimes undoing all their careful work during the year.

But don’t give up hope. You can still teach your teens how to manage their finances and brush up on a few skills yourself. Here are a few activities you can do with your teens that can help both of you:

  • Check impulse buying. If your teen wants something expensive, have him or her wait 24 hours before buying it. If the item isn’t as important to them by that time, then the money can be better spent elsewhere.
  • Comparison shop. Ask your teen to research the item with you to find the right one at the best price.
  • Show them how to create a budget. Debt.com has good instructions their website. There are some free budgeting apps you can use as well.
  • Compare credit card offers. Review with your teens several online offers or those you get in the mail so they can evaluate different interest rates and fees.
  • Warn them about the minimum payment trap. Choose a desired item that costs, say, $1,000 and use an online credit card repayment calculator to show how long it would take, and how much extra they'd pay in interest, if they pay only the minimum due each month. Or show them the table on your credit card statement that shows the cost of only making minimum payments.
  • Brace them for college sticker shock. Rather than telling your teens to save for college, show them why they should save. Have them choose three schools they're considering, then have them check the net price calculator required on all college and university websites. Discuss how financial aid, scholarships, and grants reduce the sticker price.

Finally, know that the real world is a far better teacher than a high school math assignment. Make your teens responsible for personal items, such as new clothing, hair and face products, and snacks. This teaches them how to search for bargains to stretch their dollars.

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