When Times are Tough, Your Credit Union Can Help
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When Times are Tough, Your Credit Union Can Help

In tough times, it's more important than ever to develop and maintain good financial habits. Having a household budget and shedding high-rate credit card debt are two obvious things that could benefit most consumers. But figuring out where to start can be a daunting task - especially if you're already in trouble. It's never too late to ask for help from your credit union.

Manage your mortgage
If you have an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) or high-interest rate mortgage, refinancing your home loan with your credit union might be the break you need. If you qualify, you could take advantage of historically low rates and refinance into a fixed-rate mortgage.

Even if you have a fixed-rate home loan, refinancing may reduce your monthly payment, freeing up money you could use to:

  • Pay down more expensive debt - credit card bills, for example.
  • Build your emergency fund for unexpected expenses, such as car repairs or appliance failures.

Tap your home's equity
A home equity line of credit can be useful in many ways:

  • You can set it up and not draw on it but know it's there if needed.
  • You can borrow at a lower rate than most personal loans to make home improvements or consolidate high-interest debt.

Cut credit card costs
Not all credit cards are helpful. Switch to a credit union credit card. On average, they offer lower interest rates than bank credit cards and often have lower fees. To keep your expenses lower, be sure to:

  • Pay on time, no exceptions.
  • Whenever possible, pay the balance each month. When you have to stretch payments, pay it off in as few months as you can manage.
  • Avoid cash advances - the interest rate is higher than on straight purchases.

Pass up payday loans
Payday lenders promise to help when you're short on cash. You'll get the money you need, but with interest rates from 300% to 1,000%.

  • See what it really costs to borrow from a payday lender.
  • Visit your credit union - credit unions offer payday loan alternatives with fairer terms and lower interest rates, such as short-term personal loans.

Use direct deposit
Direct deposit will help you to save automatically. You simply need to set up a certain amount or a percentage for deposit into your checking account and another amount into your savings. The benefits include:

  • One less thing to worry about as it's the safest way to receive your money.
  • An easier and more convenient way to contribute to IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) and other savings vehicles.
  • More control over your money and your time - it's predictable and dependable.

As member-owned not-for-profit institutions, credit unions look out for their members' best interests. Credit union rates and fees can save their members hundreds of dollars annually. Don't wait until you're in deep trouble to ask for a financial checkup at your credit union. The earlier you ask for a review, the better the outcome can be.

First Florida Credit Union is an Equal Housing Opportunity/Lender. We do business in accordance with Federal Fair Lending Laws.

Source: Copyright Credit Union National Association, Inc.