Bellwether's Blog on life and money
My plan to save up and get back on the water.
I want to buy a kayak. I had a Perception Acadia a while back and used it every summer, but thought I should be using my money elsewhere, so I sold it. For the past 5 years I’ve missed that kayak and 2014 is the year I’m going to remedy that.
Research Your Goal
I’ve done my research and know the length and type I want. I also have a good idea of the price range ($300 and $500). I’ll consider a used kayak, and I know Fall is a better time to find a good deal, but I want my kayak now. REI provides a great guide on how to choose a kayak. Check their site out if you’re in the market and aren’t sure where to start.
There’s more to a kayak than the kayak
With new sports, there’s always a list of supplies you’ll need. They add to the cost, but also to the enjoyment.
- Personal Floatation Device (PFD- you need one, and can even lose your boat if you’re caught without one on board)
- Kayak rack
- Tie downs
- Water pump
- Kayak cart
- Paddling gloves (I have delicate hands)
- Water boots (makes getting out in marshy areas a little less scary)
- Rope bag (an inexpensive safety item to save someone’s life)
- Dry Bag (to keep your things dry!)
Thankfully, I retained most of these items, but I still need a few, so budgeting is my next step. With everything included, I’ll probably need about $600. I could use my tax refund, or pay for all of this on a credit card, but those don’t seem like responsible ways to buy a toy. Saving is more sensible… giving up some fun things now for a lot of fun over the next few years. Following is my proposal:
Give up buying fast food lunch every day - $25/week
Give up dinner out once a week - $25/week
Buy generic at the grocery store - $10/week
My vacation is in 8 weeks, so with this I'll have $480! I can then reasonably charge $120 and pay it off before the grace period is up by just continuing my “cutbacks” for two more weeks. In this way, I’m not eating into savings, and I know the loss of these extras isn’t going to kill me. In the end, the kayak will provide me with something I can enjoy for years to come. Well worth a few months of frugality!2 Comment(s)
See this smile? It'll last 24/7 when unexpected circumstances don't derail the family vacation.
When you're planning the family vacation, you want to be prepared. And you likely know all the warnings about the dangers of credit cards, but there are some smart reasons to have one.
5 Reasons having a Bellwether VISA in your wallet is a good thing
There are almost 40,000 ways (ATMs, credit union branches, or self-serve locations) to bank with Bellwether across the U.S.—whether you move there, going to school there, traveling on business, or passing through on a vacation.
From sea to shining sea
Image from Houzz.com, illustration by
Marley Ungaro available on Etsy.
How does banking across the country work?
Using an ATM is easy—just use your debit card. You can also access Bellwether's Mobile24 mobile banking to view balances, transfer funds, pay bills, and find a Shared Branch Location.
If you need to access your accounts at one of our network's shared physical branches, you only need three things:
1) The full name of our credit union (which is Bellwether Community Credit Union)
2) Your member number
3) A valid U.S/State, County, Federal, city Government-issued picture identification with signature
So feel free to journey, adventure and travel to your heart's content—you're part of a bigger network, which means you're never really far from home.0 Comment(s)
I handle my finances with an "out of sight, out of mind" mantra – basically the opposite of how we're taught. If I overspend during the weekend, I wait as long as possible to check my balance the following week. If I receive an unexpected bill, it immediately goes into the "I'll do it later" pile. Fortunately, however, I always end up getting it done.
Credit, on the other hand, is the ultimate financial "out of sight out of mind." I can't log in somewhere to view it, and there's no deadline for me to check it by. I know it exists, but I could go months, years even, without reviewing my credit report. And for someone like me, that's a problem.
I pay my bills on time, so what's the big deal about checking my credit report?
There are major problems that can arise from ignoring our credit reports – problems that exist even if we practice perfect financial habits. ID theft, incorrect information, and unknown collections are a few prime examples – things we'd never know existed without our credit report. And, left undetected, these errors can be detrimental.
I don't want to apply for a mortgage and discover my credit score is 510 because Joe Schmo opened four credit cards in my name in 2011. I also don't want to find out that I've had a $40-medical bill in collections for the last three years, causing my credit to plummet. Or maybe there's information on my report that's just inaccurate. In any case, without reviewing my credit report I'd have no idea these errors existed; and the sooner incorrect activity is detected, the easier it is to dispute and remove from my credit history.
Checking my credit report is a great way to catch and fix potential errors, but is that all?
Credit reports are also a great resource to help build and improve our credit. Although the reports don't give our actual three digit credit score (this is an additional charge), they do indicate negative and positive activity that impacts said score – information we can use to make changes to our financial behavior.
My credit report might point out that my credit-to-debt ratio is too high. With this information, I'd know to focus on building down my balances to improve my score. Or my credit report may indicate that I've had too many recent credit inquires, informing me that I need be more careful when applying for loans or other activities that pull my credit. Without reviewing my report, I probably wouldn't know that.
I understand why it's important, but how much of a hassle is it to do?
There are three major credit reporting agencies in the United States – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – and we're allowed a free credit report from each one every year. All we have to do is visit annualcreditreport.com and request it. You can request all three reports at once or, like experts suggest, request one from each agency every four months.
Yes, it's another task to add to our never-ending to-do lists, but it's one that's definitely worth it. I know I won't get anything done unless I have a deadline, so I created credit report deadlines for myself; every four months I have an alarm set to remind me. Whatever works for you, do it. Like most things in the financial world, it's much easier to be proactive than reactive.
By Anna Watson Copyright 2014 brass Media, Inc.0 Comment(s)
Are home improvement shows causing your DIY heart to flutter? A home equity line of credit instead of a home renovation loan might be the choice to make your reno dreams come true.
There hasn't been a time in history (well, television history) with as many home renovation and do-it-yourself shows as there are right now. And it's not only amazing projects for your unfinished basement, it's gorgeous ideas to create an outdoor kitchen, or eye-boggling designs to renovate your backyard!
Are you letting the thought of getting a home renovation loan stand in the way of you and your spring reno plans? Don't let that be a stumbling block.
Try out our loan calculator to see how the numbers look for your home renovation plans.
Your new kitchen is just a HELOC away
Whether you want to update your kitchen, add a garage, or turn your college-bound son's room into a Man Cave, you may already have the home renovation project funds you're looking for—in your home's equity.
Even if you purchased your home five or more years ago, or you're concerned that property values have declined, you may have enough value in your home to enable you to get a home equity line of credit (or HELOC.) With property values on the rise, and spring in the air, well…you may want to check out the HELOC landscape for yourself (pun intended!)
Bellwether's Home Equity Plus Line of Credit is calling!
Bellwether has a number of HELOC products, but the Home Equity Plus Line of Credit allows financing of up to 100% loan-to-value ratio (LTV.) This gives you lots of flexibility to take on the major renovation project you've been dreaming about.
One last thing—a HELOC doesn't just have to be for home renovation. It can help pay college tuition or fly you to your dream vacation destination. Call us today to talk it over!
For our full range of HELOC products, visit our site here.2 Comment(s)