Bellwether's Blog on life and money
HELOC vs. Personal Loan
Planned events, unexpected events…they can be covered with a Bellwether HELOC.
It might be your son or daughter's wedding. Or a home renovation for the new baby. Or maybe a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. Whatever the special event, you can make it happen with a Bellwether HELOC.
What is a HELOC?
HELOC stands for Home Equity Line Of Credit. A HELOC is money that's available to you based on the amount of equity you have in your home—meaning the difference between your mortgage balance and the value of your home.
Precious little bundles sometimes need more room than you think.
Is a HELOC better than a personal loan?
A HELOC provides funds that you're able to access whenever you need it. You only pay interest on what you use. A personal loan is a set amount of money loaned to you, on which you make monthly interest and principal payments. One big difference is with a personal loan you're paying interest on the full amount, versus only paying interest on what you use when you have a HELOC. PLUS, sometimes HELOC can be tax-deductible—BONUS!
HELOCs are a great way to be prepared for unexpected expenses, or to prepare for a big event, without having to commit to a high monthly payment. As long as you pay the interest due, you can pay off the principal at your own pace.
Think a HELOC might work for you?
Our staff can discuss your needs and help you determine the best solution. Give us a call today at 1-866-996-9828 or get started online!0 Comment(s)
Finding a position that’ll add to your resume, not just use up your summer.
The current job market is extremely competitive for recent college grads, and internships help them stand out with future employers. Finding an internship that fits your personality and teaches you transferrable skills is important to make sure you get the most out of your experience. A valuable internship should offer education, practical work experience, and the opportunity to grow as a young professional.
So how exactly do you find an internship where you aren’t just making coffee runs and filing papers?
Forbes provides valuable tips to consider when looking for the perfect internship that suits you both personally and professionally.
Things to Consider:
- What are your values?
- Exactly what is it that you want to gain from this experience?
- What type of environment do you thrive in?
- How far are you willing to travel?
- Do you have the proper transportation?
- Is the internship paid or unpaid?
Tip #1: Networking
Networking is an important part of finding an internship. Reach out to both your personal and professional contacts to see if you know anyone that works at the companies in which you are applying. Use sites like LinkedIn to see if you know anyone who knows anyone, it could help you get a foot in the door.
Tip #2: Develop a great cover letter, resume, and sample of your work
Develop a cover letter, resume, and any other application materials that the company requires. Your resume may be a single page with limited experience but include positions held in school, organizations you’ve worked with, and examples of projects you’ve been a part of. Peak their interest for best results.
Tip #3: Research the Company
Remember that it is important to research the company. Check them out on LinkedIn, Facebook, or just google their name. You can find all kinds of information to determine if they’re a company you want to work for, and what challenges they are facing. Come up with questions that directly connect to their reality to impress your interviewer with your level of interest.
Tip #4: Rock the Interview
Once you have secured an interview, professional dress is crucial until someone tells you otherwise. Arrive to the interview a few minutes early to make sure you have enough time to find where you are supposed to be. If the interview is relatively close it may be wise to drive there a few days prior to the interview to avoid getting lost the day of.
Always make sure to look the person interviewing you in the eye, be confident and have good posture. Make sure to ask them questions that show them that you are eager about the position. Ask the interviewer about next steps and the time frame in which they expect to make their decision. This information will tell you when a good time to follow-up about the position.
Tip #5: Follow-Up
An email is an acceptable way to follow-up with an employer after the time frame that they gave you. If they advised you to call this may also be acceptable. Handwritten notes are not as common with the increasing use of technology, but will certainly help you stand out against other candidates. Mashable provides expert tips on following up, including what NOT to do.
If you are offered the position make sure to respond to the offer in a timely manner. If you are not offered a job do not get discouraged. Every interview is a learning experience and better prepares you for the next one.
Good luck finding an internship, the experience will be more than worth it!1 Comment(s)
In New Hampshire, there’s really no way around it; having a car is essential to everyday life. With the exception of urban areas such as Manchester or Nashua, there’s little-to-no public transportation available.
If you’re a recent college graduate, the situation becomes even more imperative- gone are the days when everything you need is only a short walk across campus. You may be able to survive by hitching a ride with your family or friends, but that's a temporary solution. Once you land your first professional job, you'll need your own reliable source of transportation.
But how can a recent college student go about obtaining a car loan if you're already swamped with student loans and/or credit card debt?
You're not alone. Here are some facts to consider:
- As of 2012, student loan debt surpassed credit card debt with a total of over $956 billion. (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)
- Over 90% of college students have at least one credit card and graduating seniors have an average of $14K in credit card debt. (Forbes)
- In 2011, students graduating from Granite State colleges and universities had the highest average student loan debt load in the nation at $32.4K compared to the national average of $26.6K. (Nashua Telegraph, the Project Student Debt)
These facts may seem daunting at first glance. But with the right financial institution, you can devise a plan for a successful future.
Some key advice for College graduates seeking a car loan:
1) Build Good Credit
If you can document your monthly income it’s time to start thinking about applying for a credit card under your name. Building good credit is not only a great habit, but also necessary to apply for loans, mortgages, auto insurance, rental applications, cell phone plans and even some jobs. Start by using your card for small, reoccurring expenses that you can pay off in a few months on a regular basis, such as groceries or your Netflix account. It's not a good idea to live off your credit cards, but in the beginning, to build a track record and not spend more than you should, using the card for regular expenses you already know you can afford helps to build a solid payment history. Think of building good credit as a journey; most financial institutions need to see six months or longer of good credit history before they decide to hand you a loan. It takes longer than a month or two, but if you stick to it, you'll get there. Lastly, the quality of your credit score will depend on your ability to make payments on time, so don’t be late!
Quick tip: Did you know that by law you are entitled to three copies of your credit report each year, for free? You can receive the reports all at once, or spread them throughout the year to track whether your credit is improving. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for a free credit report. This is the official website to obtain your free reports.
2) Co-sign with a Parent/Guardian
If you’re still working on your credit history but need a vehicle now, another option would be to get a parent or guardian to co-sign the loan for your new or new-to-you car. Many financial institutions ask for a co-signer when a borrower has a limited credit history. The co-signer usually has established a good credit history and has a solid credit score. Many parents co-sign for their children’s cars in order to help them achieve financial independence quicker.If they're willing, this is a great way to get yourself started, but make certain you're the Primary Borrower so the payment history helps you build credit history. It’s also important to note that it's your responsibility to make payments on the car loan on time. If you fail to do so, responsibility is then be placed on the co-signer (parents or guardians). This could result in damaging your co-signer's good credit standing. They are taking a risk by signing with you, so talk with your parent or guardian about the possibility of co-signing a car loan before making your final decision and make sure you both understand the level of responsibility.
3) Seek Financial Advice
Regardless of how you obtain a car loan, it’s always important to seek professional advice. Important financial factors like your maximum debt-to-income ratio will determine the terms and amount of car loan available to you. At Bellwether Community Credit Union, our maximum debt to income ratio for auto loans is usually 40%. Meaning total debt (including housing, credit cards, other loans including student loan, and the new auto loan) can't exceed 40% of gross income (before taxes) on a monthly basis. Discussing your options with a professional will help point you in the right direction. Stop by one of our branches or call us at 1-866-996-9828 and we'll be happy to chat with you, no appointment needed. You can also submit one of our online applications available on our website.
To learn more about our auto/truck loans and apply online, visit our page.6 Comment(s)
Warm weather is here and with it comes the excitement of open country roads and a new motorcycle. If you’ve been thinking about getting one, there are few things you should know.
1. You need a motorcycle license.
2. You will need a motorcycle. (May seem obvious, but this is about the destination, not just the journey!)
3. "How will you pay for that new ride?" (a very important question)
Getting the Paperwork Out of the Way
Obtaining a motorcycle license is pretty straight forward. You need to pass a vision test, prove sufficient fitness to drive a motorcycle, and you must be at least 16 years old. Fitness is proven by either passing a Basic Rider Course or by taking a motorcycle skills test. In New Hampshire any applicant under 18 years old must take the Basic Rider Course.
Shopping for a Bike
Now the fun part: What kind of bike do you want? Options are varied:
Sport bikes (emphasizing speed, acceleration, braking and cornering on paved roads) - Kawasaki Ninja or a Suzuki GSC-R are good examples
Cruising bike (less demanding to ride because they're tuned for low-end torque, requiring less shifting. Also designed to allow the rider to sit in a more relaxed position) Honda Shadow, Harley-Davidson Road King, or Honda Gold Wing are great options.
It helps to consider how you will use the bike. Are you looking to save on gas and drive it back and forth to work? Or are you and your friends up for leisurely drives on the weekends?
Financing Your Dream
Once you’ve decided what kind of motorcycle you want it's time to think about financing. Most people finance motorcycle purchases with a loan. Questions to ask yourself :
· Will I finance all or only a portion of the money needed?
· What can I afford for a monthly payment?
· How long do I want to be paying for this bike? (36 months? 48 months? Or something in between?)
A Bellwether bike loan provides multiple options and flexibility. We offer up to 100 percent financing. Apply online or stop by one of our branches to get started. At Bellwether we make applying for a motorcycle loan easy.
So, you’re brown-bagging your lunch, clipping coupons, and saving your pennies. Now what should you do with your savings? It’s time to do a little planning and settle on your savings goals – both short-term and long-term.
Opening a savings account
Don’t simply decide you'll keep your extra cash in your checking account and vow not to touch it. It’s far too tempting to justify a splurge on a cute pair of shoes or a night out when the funds are so readily available. Set up a separate account for your emergency fund. This account should be separate from any other savings account, as well.
Setting savings goals
It’s important to start with a goal in mind, but don’t set your sights too high at first. Trying to save too much and cutting out all fun money can lead to frustration and send you off course. Choose a realistic initial goal, like $500 or $1,000. Employ some of the tips from my previous post to gather up initial savings and help you reach your goal as soon as possible. Once you reach your initial goal, set a new goal. Your second goal could be to save enough to cover one month of living expenses.
Experts generally agree you should have three to six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency account. Make this your ultimate goal, but don’t get bogged down with how far away those numbers seem. Remain steadfast with your commitment to save, and watch your account grow.
Make saving a habit in order to grow your fund, and increase the amount you can save each month as your situation changes. Consider setting aside a portion of each paycheck, and have it directly deposited into your emergency savings account. You may never miss the money you don’t see in your checking account, and this way you won’t be tempted to spend it. A little bit each week can add up quicker than you think.
When to use your savings
Emergency funds are just that: funds to use only in case of a crisis. Be clear on what constitutes an emergency for you. Large car repairs, appliance repair or replacement, and loss of employment all qualify. Nearing the end of a pay cycle and not having quite enough to purchase concert tickets, however, does not. Resist the temptation to dip in when it’s unnecessary, and honor the true purpose of your fund.
And as emergencies do pop up, remember to USE your savings. Many people get caught up in hoarding their savings and forget why they created an emergency fund to begin with. Don’t sink yourself into debt when you have the cash available; you’re creating this safety net to use it when you need it. You should choose to rebuild emergency savings instead of incurring debt and paying high interest. Saving now will allow you to handle life’s future twists and turns without disrupting your living habits.
By Erin Pittman Copyright 2014 brass Media, Inc.