Making on-time and regular student loan payments is crucial to financial health. Paying loans back faster than originally planned has a bonus: You can save a bunch of money.
Here are six ways to manage student loan debt and pay it back faster.
1. Become familiar with your loans
Determine if your loans are private or federal, their amounts and interest rates, and if rates are fixed or variable.
2. Use a repayment calculator
Use an online repayment calculator to calculate how quickly you can pay off your loan based on loan amount, interest rate, and monthly payment.
3. Make biweekly payments
By making biweekly half payments instead of monthly, you’ll shave time and money off your total. The reasons—there is less time between payments for interest to accrue, and you end up with an extra month of payments each year.
4. Pay extra each month
Analyze your budget—are there any discretionary expenses you can cut? Consider tapering things like cable, going out to eat, happy hours, expensive gym memberships, buying a new car, and other expenses to put more money toward paying off student debt.
You can considerably lower your interest rate by consolidating private loans. The 1st USCU Visa card can do that! With no balance transfer fee, no annual fee and great rates, it is the smart way to save. http://bit.ly/1eVvHAJ
6. Enroll in auto deductions
Automated online payments make it easier to repay your loans—and you might save money. That’s because all government and some private lenders offer a lower interest rate for borrowers who pay with automatic withdrawal.
Whether you’re just starting to look at how you’ll pay for college or if you’re getting ready to pay back loans, we’re eager to help. Stop by today, visithttps://www.1stuscu.org or call us at 800-649-0193.
A phishing attack: This high-tech scam involves three components:
-Spoofing is creating a replica of an existing Web site.
-Spamming is unsolicited or “junk” e-mail.
-Phishing is the act of using spoofing and spamming to lure unsuspecting victims, hoping to deceive you into disclosing your Social Security number, credit card and checking account numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information.
The Federal Trade Commission recommends the following tips to help you avoid getting hooked:
•If you get a pop-up, e-mail message or something on social media (like Facebook or Twitter) requesting personal or financial information, don’t reply or click on the link in the message. 1st United Services Credit Union will never ask for this information.
•Be cautious about opening attachments or downloading files from e-mail messages.
•Never send personal information via e-mail. Look for a closed padlock at the bottom of your browser window, or a URL that begins with “https”—the “s” stands for secure. However, some phishers forge these security icons.
Report suspicious activity to 1st USCU (800) 649-0193 and the FTC at www.ftc.gov. Forward suspicious messages to email@example.com
Credit Union Info Day for Alameda County employees held at the Tri-Net building in San Leandro.
ID theft is on the rise again. The most recent survey conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research stated that 12.6 billion Americans were victimized by identity theft in 2012, translating into a total of $20.9 billion in losses.
While older adults are not the exclusive targets of ID theft, they can be especially susceptible to victimization, and the impact can be devastating. Identity thieves use the information to open new accounts, misuse checking or saving accounts, rent housing, obtain medical care or employment, or to obtain government records such as tax returns. Some thieves even use stolen identities when being charged with crimes.
The FTC offers these tips to protect yourself and elderly relatives:
• Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact, can identify whom you’re dealing with, and know how your information will be used and secured.
• Guard your mail and trash from theft. Deposit outgoing mail in post office collection boxes or at your local post office instead of in an unsecured mailbox. Remove mail from your mailbox promptly.
• Tear or shred your charge receipts, copies of credit applications or offers, insurance forms, physician statements, check and bank statements, and expired charge cards.
• Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet. Rather, keep it in a secure place and give your SSN only when absolutely necessary.
• If your Medicare card has your SSN listed on it, make a photocopy of the card and use a permanent marker to black out the first five digits of your SSN only on the photocopy. Carry the photocopy of the card wit you and keep your Medicare card in a secure place.
• Limit the identification information and the number of credit and debit cards that you carry.
• Keep your purse or wallet in a safe place at work and at home.
• Monitor and review your credit report annually.
For more identity theft prevention tips, call or stop in to 1st United Services Credit Union today. And if you ever become a victim of identity theft, remember that we’re here to help. https://www.1stuscu.org
Battery-operated transportation is finally gaining traction with consumers.
May 2013 marked the sale of the 100,000th electric vehicle in the United States, according to Plug-In America, an electric vehicle advocacy group in San Francisco. Barry Woods, a director for Plug-In America and a business operations manager for an electric vehicle charging company in Portland, Ore., says we’re now at a place culturally and technologically where electric vehicles are a viable transportation solution.
“Batteries will continue to be more efficient and the cost of electricity over time is much more stable than gasoline,” Woods says. “I’m saving close to $150 a month in gas.”
Although Woods relies on his battery-operated vehicle for 90% of his travel, his family owns a traditional car for long-distance travel and for when time constraints prevent his LEAF from charging completely. Those two factors are precisely why some consumers hesitate to buy electric vehicles.
According to Woods, most electric vehicles hold enough energy to power a 20- to 30-mile commute twice a day. For many, that’s plenty, but for others, it’s not nearly enough. That’s where the hybrid electric vehicles, like the Chevy Volt and the Toyota Prius, come into play. Hybrid electric vehicles combine a traditional combustion engine with an electric platform, where gasoline can act as “insurance” for the battery.
While consumers dream of batteries with larger capacities, they don’t love the associated cost—and the battery accounts for the primary cost of electric vehicles. But federal and state tax credits, some up to $15,000 when combined, are putting these energy independent vehicles within reach. (note: Check status of tax credit atIRS.gov for up-to-date info.)
One of the main selling points of electric vehicles is their “green” quality. Electric vehicles emit no pollutants directly. In many states, coal and carbon-intensive generation sources are being phased out. When electricity is harnessed from a hydro-, solar-, or wind-powered plant, the outcome is even better.
No matter the type of vehicle you’re looking for—electric, hybrid, or conventional gas-powered— 1st United Services Credit Union can help you get in the driver’s seat with a low-rate auto loan. Stop by, call us at 800-649-0193, or visit us athttps://www.1stuscu.org for more information.
Preauthorizing payments with a company that provides you a service, such as your cable provider or gym, can be a helpful time saver. However, doing so can lead to a “set it and forget it” mindset, which can present problems. Follow this advice to avoid auto-payment problems and automatic-renewal contract loopholes.
*Take control: Sign up for online bill payment services through 1st United Services Credit Union, which keeps you in control instead of handing it over to another company.
*Be alert: If you like autopay because it limits the risk of missing payments, but you’re not great at balancing your financial accounts each month, use 1st USCU Online Banking Bill Pay to setup recurring payments.
*Set it straight: Only use autopay for set-amount bills, such as your mortgage, car payment, or insurance premiums.
*Read details now: Whenever you’re providing payment for a service, read the contract or terms and conditions in full.
*Turn it off: Memberships for dating sites, game boxes, and security software all come with auto renewals built in. Turn the renewal option off in the account settings right away.
*Make contact: If there are hidden charges or auto-renewal clauses in the terms of service, talk to the company before agreeing to anything. If you can’t escape the conditions, walk away or accept the consequences.
*Ask nicely. Send a letter to the service provider asking to cancel your contract. If applicable, include reasons to support the cancellation request.
*See what your state says: Laws in your state could help you out of your contract. Check your state’s right to cancel policies to see what services apply.
The professionals at 1st
USCU can provide assistance with bill payment and other money management strategies. For more information, please go to:http://bit.ly/19cVTZz
With the price of college on a seemingly endless upward trajectory, families are getting creative in order to make higher education affordable.
Over the past five years the cost of tuition at public four-year colleges is up 27% above overall inflation with the average sticker price at public universities now a whopping $17,860, but a recent report by Sallie Mae found college spending per student dropped to $21,000 during 2012 from its 2010 peak when families were paying $24,097.
Here are some strategies families are using to cut the cost of college:
•Live at home. The report found 57% of students live with their parents or relatives, up from 41% last year.
•Cut the pricey top picks. Nearly 70% of families eliminated colleges during the application process due to their high price tags, up from 58% in 2008. About one-fifth of low-income students chose to transfer to less-expensive schools.
•Take a student job. Nearly half the students surveyed reported increasing their work hours in 2013.
•Finish quicker. Nearly 30% of students accelerated their course work to pay for fewer semesters.
•Use grants and scholarships. Families reported covering about 30% of their school bills with grants and scholarships—the biggest portion of their payment sources.
•Start a college-savings plan. Low-income, middle-income, and high-income families all increased their use of 529 plans, with 17% of families using the tax-advantaged college-savings plan—up from 12% the previous year.
•Begin paying back your loans immediately. Twenty-two percent of students reported they were paying back their loans while still enrolled in school.
•Choose a more lucrative major. About 20% of students reported changing their majors to more marketable fields.
Consumers who know little about credit scores also have little incentive to improve or maintain their scores—they don’t understand how having a low score can affect them.
Lower scores can mean those individuals will pay more to borrow money and have limited access to, and increased costs of, services such as cell phones, electricity, and even rental housing.
A survey by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Washington, D.C., and VantageScore Solutions, Stamford, Conn., identified several misperceptions about credit scores. Between one-quarter and two-fifths of 1,022 American adults answered several questions incorrectly:
* Forty-two percent did not know that mortgage lenders use credit scores in decisions about pricing.
* Thirty-six percent incorrectly believed that credit repair agencies help them correct credit report errors and improve scores.
* Thirty-one percent didn’t know that credit scores of co-signers of a student loan decline with just one late payment.
* Twenty-eight percent didn’t know that applying for several credit cards at the same time can lower their credit score.
* Twenty-six percent didn’t know that keeping low credit card balances can raise or maintain their scores.
One question tripped up almost everyone: Only 7% of respondents were aware that making multiple inquiries about getting a consumer or mortgage loan within a two-week window does not lower your credit score. Shopping around for the best rate is in your best interest.
Many job seekers are surprised to learn that potential employers check credit histories. A 2012 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, Alexandria, Va., revealed that nearly half (47%) of employers use credit checks in hiring decisions.
So it really pays to keep your credit score healthy. Things you can do to improve or maintain your credit score include:
* Pay all bills on time, all the time. Payment history makes up 35% of your credit score.
* Don’t max out. Keep balances below 25% or 30% of your credit limit.
* Pay down debt. Don’t just move it around—pay it off. And don’t open several new accounts in a short timeframe.
* Keep a healthy mix. This might include a mortgage, a credit card or two, a personal loan, and perhaps a retail card.
For more information, talk to the credit pros at 1st United Services Credit Union. We have your best interest at heart.
Ms. Laflore is driving around town in one of the only Alien Green 2014 Kia Soul’s in CA! Autoland, Inc. - Credit Union Auto Buying Service.