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Bellwether's Blog on life and money

When and Why to Get a Personal Line of Credit

Posted in Main Blog
January 20, 2015 by BCCU
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clothesline with money clipped to it

 

 

A personal line of credit is very much like a flexible personal loan—use it when you need it, pay it back at your own pace. Image from ultimoslibros.com

 

 

Sometimes you use a credit card for a nice dinner out. Maybe you're considering purchasing a new car and looking for an auto loan. In between those two needs fall other purchases that are the perfect reasons to use a personal line of credit.

What is a personal line of credit?

A personal line of credit is very much like a flexible, personal loan. You apply for it, are approved, and receive access to funds up to $20,000*. Unlike a loan, which has fixed payments over a set time period, with a line you can pay money borrowed from your personal line of credit at your discretion—all at once, or over several months.

Why should I consider a personal line of credit instead of a credit card?

The best reason to use a personal line of credit instead of your credit card is the rate. For example, if you're considering purchasing a new computer, or planning a special anniversary holiday, Bellwether has created a special loan rate for our members. Our members often enjoy better rates over those national credit card companies.

When should I use a personal line of credit instead of a term loan?

When you only need a small sum of money (under $20,000) for a shorter period of time—say only six months—a personal line of credit gives you that repayment flexibility. You'll also save money since interest is only paid on the money you use for the amount of time you use it. Loans, on the other hand, are usually repaid over terms of 24 or more months, with interest owed on the full amount borrowed.

Are you considering getting a personal line of credit? Call us at 1-866-996-9828. We'll be happy to discuss your financial needs and the best solution for your situation.

* Payment example: A loan amount of $5,000 financed at 8.90% APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of approximately $158.77. Your rate will be determined by your creditworthiness, term requested, and ability to repay. Payment examples assume $0.00 down payment. Rates are subject to change at any time.
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Couponing

Posted in Main Blog
January 14, 2015 by Amanda N.
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I love a good bargain, and I’ve always been pretty budget conscious, but couponing has taken my budgeting and savings to a whole new level. It started during my senior year of college. I was sharing an apartment with a couple of my friends and none of us had much in the way of money so we had to get creative when buying food and supplies. I would check the weekly circulars for deals and clip coupons for the things we needed. When one of my roommates had their hours cut back at work, I stepped up my couponing efforts to help save a few more bucks.woman holding cell phone

I researched best couponing practices. Some worked, some didn’t ,so you’ll want to consider whether a deal is really a good deal for you. For example, my local grocery store offered a “ten for ten dollars” deal on avocados. Since I was the only one who ate them, most of the avocados would have gone bad before I could eat them all. With that in mind, here are my suggestions to get started couponing.

Best Sources

  • The Sunday paper! If you have access to a free copy even better. If not it’s worth the investment. I was lucky my mom gave her copy to me.
  • Online! There are hundreds (probably thousands) of couponing sights. I love couponing sites; they are a fast and easy way to find all the coupons I want. Here’s a list of legitimate couponing sites.
  • Coupon packets. Every month I receive a packet in the mail full of coupons!

Always read the fine print on the coupons. One time, I made the mistake of not reading the fine print on a couple of coupons, I got all the way to the register and the cashier refused my coupons because I didn’t have the correct sizes. Always check flavors, sizes, quantities, etc. against the coupon requirements.

Keep your coupons organized. For physical coupons I like to keep my coupons in clear plastic sleeves in a 3-ring binder and take them out when I’m ready to go shopping. For online coupons I take screen shots and save them on my phone or through apps.

Everyone’s heard the expression “There’s an app for that!” This is also true for couponing. I’ve recently started using a few apps with some success.

Couponing Apps

  • I really like Target’s Cartwheel app. I can search for what I need, tag it ahead of time and then shop.
  • I recently downloaded a coupon app called Ibotta. It received some great reviews, so I’m really looking forward to checking it out.
  • SnipSnap is a large database of coupons. One really cool feature on the app is the rating. You can see how successful others were when using the coupon.
  • RetailMeNot. I’ve used RetailMeNot in the past and found some features helpful.

Finally, come up with your plan of attack. Make your shopping list and check store circulars for those items on sale. Match that against your coupons. Now you’re ready to go to the store.

Remember to stick to your list and only purchase what you planned for. I immediately noticed a savings of 20-40% on my grocery bills. Before you know it you’ll be a “super couponer.”

Are you a coupon pro? If so, please feel free to share your tips or your favorite app in the comments section.

Sources:
Couponing 101
The Krazy Coupon Lady
Frugal Living

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Winter Running Tips

Posted in Main Blog
January 09, 2015 by Jenn R.
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couple running outside in winterHave you signed up for your first 5K of the year yet? Maybe your New Year’s Resolution involves running more. Either way, it’s time to get started right? Wait, what’s the temperature outside? 10 degrees? Oh no. I can’t do another day on the treadmill but I’m going to freeze if I run outside.

If you’re like me, and you live here in New England, you’ve faced this dilemma every winter. However, if you plan and dress accordingly, you can survive and get a good run in outside even during these extremely low temperatures with the following cold weather running tips.

Have a plan. When it’s cold out, it’s best to plan your route before you leave. There are plenty of sites available, like Runkeeper or MapMyRun, that will help. It’s a good idea to plan your route to include places you could stop along the way, since you never really know how cold or wet it might be while you’re out there. Weather can suddenly change, wet feet will freeze, then what? Be flexible and have a backup plan in case conditions get worse and you need to cut your run short. There’s always tomorrow!

Bring a friend. As mentioned above, you don’t know how it’s going to be until you’re out there, so why go alone? Invite a friend or co-worker, or join a “group run” with local running club. Not only will it keep you motivated and give you someone to chat with along the way, it’s safer. If you do have to run alone, let someone know where you’re planning on going and get a runner’s I.D. to wear on your body or your clothing.

Dress appropriately. You want to dress in layers, but how many of layers you wear isn’t as important as what type of layers you wear.

  • Active.com suggests dressing for 15-20 degrees warmer than the actual temperature to let your body temperature increase, and reduce the risk of overheating.
  • Start with a wicking layer, a shirt or tank top that will pull the moisture away from your skin
  • Select a mid-layer like a fleece, for those extra cold days
  • Top layer should be wind and water resistant
  • Warm running pants or tights, and if they’re water resistant – even better
  • Thicker sole running shoes, like trail running shoes have more tread for traction on slippery or uneven surfaces
  • Don’t forget the accessories – lightweight winter hat or headband, gloves, moisture-wicking wool socks, and a scarf or fleece neck warmer that you can slide over your mouth and breathe thru to prevent burning your lungs by inhaling frigid air

What not to wear

  • Avoid cotton as it doesn’t evaporate your sweat fast enough
  • Heavy gloves will be too warm and difficult to take off if needed
  • Worn-out running shoes can lead to injury
  • Heavy clothes can cause you to overheat or sweat too much

Stay hydrated. When it’s cold outside, your body has a harder time regulating hydration. As we know, fluid is lost from sweating, but it is also lost from the air you exhale. According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) close to 95% of hypothermia cases result when people go out without being hydrated sufficiently. Replenishing the lost fluid is key to prevent dehydration.

Now that you’re fully prepared to hit the cold pavement, let us know how it goes and if you have any tips to add.

Sources:
Stay.Work.Play.
RoadID
Wise Geek
POPSugar Fitness

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Winter Skincare on a Budget

Posted in Main Blog
January 07, 2015 by Trish R.
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home made skin care ingredientsIf you live in the northeast like I do, winter can be rough on your skin and your wallet. I have extremely sensitive and acne prone skin. As a 40-something woman this is incredibly frustrating. I’ve tried just about every skin care routine out there from Proactive and Neutrogena to Mary Kay. I’ve even tried several of the store brand products, all with very limited success.

Recently, I’ve started to question if all the chemicals in these products were doing more harm than good to my sensitive skin, not to mention they cost a lot of money each month. I did some research into some all-natural skin care alternatives and I found five that have worked well for me and saved me some money in the process.

Brown sugar is a great exfoliator and gentler than salt scrubs. I like to mix the brown sugar with coconut oil for an amazing treatment. It leaves my skin soft and smooth. When exfoliating, remember to massage the skin gently, you don’t want to damage your skin.

I love coconut oil as a wonderful multi-use product. It works great as a makeup remover, is gentle on my skin, and a small amount goes a long way! It’s also great as a deep conditioner for my hair. Just ten minutes and my hair is softer than any store bought conditioner could achieve.

Honey has wonderful antibacterial properties, especially for people with acne prone skin. I spread a small amount of raw honey all over my face and leave it on for 10-15 minutes. It makes my skin look and feel amazing.

As I get older I’m finding dark spots on my skin (please do not call them old lady or old age spots). While researching homemade skin care, I learned that lemon juice can be used to brighten skin and lighten discoloration on the skin, especially from acne scarring, who knew? I’ve only used the lemon juice a few times but I’m already seeing a difference.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a great multi-purpose kitchen staple. It’s used to clean coffee pots, pickle vegetables and in salad dressings, but have you ever used it as part of your skin care routine? I dilute the ACV with distilled water and use it as a toner on my face.

I usually have these items in my pantry. The only change I made was to buy them as organic or raw, this does increase the price slightly. Ultimately, for the amount I’d spend for a month’s supply of a traditional skin care routine, I could get 3-5 months with my homemade routine. The results of these alternative treatments have been so wonderful that I’ve shared them with friends and family. Do you have a favorite all natural or homemade remedy that you love? Please share it in the comments section below.

Sources:
MindBodyGreen.com
Earth Clinic
National Center for Biotechnology Information

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New Year's Resolution: To Do or Not To Do?

Posted in Main Blog
December 30, 2014 by Jenn R.
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listing of New Years resolutions

It’s 11:55pm on December 31st and I just realized – I never decided on a resolution! Darn it. Hmm… well, I’ll just say lose weight because, well because it’s always a good one and who knows, maybe if I say it, it’ll happen… NOT!

Sound familiar? Sometimes I’ve come up with a New Year’s resolution months in advance and other resolutions I don’t select until mid-January. Sadly, either way, most of them still fizzled out well before April. Everyone has their reasons and excuses for what they decide and if they succeed, but out of the 45% of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions, only 8% actually achieve them.

Reason Why New Year’s Resolutions are Good

Setting goals is a part of life. It challenges us to do better, be better, and step outside of our comfort zone. Then, once you’ve completed your goal, you’ll feel accomplished and it’ll give you a confidence boost to challenge yourself again and again. Developing realistic expectations and allowing room for unexpected setbacks are keys to success for New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe your resolution doesn’t always have to involve weight loss, smoking, or becoming BFFs with your mother-in-law. Maybe you could try to stop overreacting when a family member annoys you, throw away socks without a mate (in my house this would mean we have to go out and buy new socks pronto) or something less predictable.

Reasons to Avoid New Year’s Resolutions

Failing is also part of life; however, it’s not a very fun part. And when you set unrealistic goals, you are setting yourself up for failure. “I’m going to lose weight, spend less money, and complete a marathon!” Wow, that sounds awesome, but as Huffington Post suggests “when we take on too much at once, our brain chemistry works against us. Successful resolutions require self-control -- say, the self-control to wake up early and run five miles -- and self-control is an exhaustible resource.” Exhaustible… that sounds like me at this time every year! Focus on one, attainable goal at a time, and maybe we’ll both be celebrating in the new year!

So, where do you fall – are you “for” resolutions or “against” resolution?

Sources:
Statistic Brain
The Frisky
Time
PBS

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