Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The 5 Best Tips For Saving For Retirement

Taking the first step toward financial security in your retirement years isn’t something many young people think about. No matter your age or financial situation, it’s always the right time to get started. If you take the time to plan and save for retirement now, you will have added assurance that you’ll be prepared in your golden years. Take the time to learn about your saving options with these five easy steps.

1. Save Now

If you start to save in your 20s and 30s, you’ll be in better shape for the future and able to invest in smaller increments. If you’re in your 40s or older, you should be a bit more aggressive with your savings; it’s a good idea to put a larger amount aside from each paycheck to build up a solid base.

2. Make Everything Automatic

Many people use a 401k account with their employer as their main source of retirement savings. If it’s not a 401k, it’s another type of employer-based retirement plan. You will have to decide what percent or dollar amount to put in from each paycheck and stick to the plan. Consider increasing the amount you put aside as you grow older. This might seem hard to do, but sooner or later, those car, student loan, and mortgage payments will start to drop off, and you’ll have more disposable income.

3. Don’t Touch Your 401k Account Until You Retire

Try to keep the money you save for retirement for that purpose alone. It can be tempting to handle some bigger expenses now, but try and handle those with payment plans so you can leave your retirement money alone. In other words, don’t treat your 401k like a bank account or rainy day fund.

4. Save Outside of Your 401k

If you’re maxing out your 401k, then you should think about saving even more in an IRA or personal brokerage account. You can set aside up to $5,500 if you’re under 50 and $6,500 if you’re over 50 in an IRA. Depending if the money you make reaches a certain limit, the contributions may be partially deductible.

If an IRA isn’t right for you, you may want to consider a personal brokerage account. Some investment options include stocks, bonds, exchange traded funds and mutual funds. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you’re getting advice from a reputable source.

5. Find the Right Advice

The best professional financial advice can be hard to find. As your savings grow, knowing where to invest your money can be overwhelming. A good financial advisor can help you avoid pitfalls and find the right opportunities.

Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union has retirement advisors that can help you plan for your future. If you’d like to start planning for retirement now, be sure to visit MMFCU’s Retirement Central.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Simple Ways to Improve the Value of Your Home

Home equity is one of those industry buzzwords that some homeowners are aware of, but don’t think about until it comes time to sell. Once you have the home of your dreams, you may not give much thought to increasing its value. So how do you go about ensuring your home has value? Here a few quick tips to boost your home equity.


Have Your Home Inspected

First, it’s important to have a thorough inspection of your home. According to HGTV, deteriorating roofs, walls, floors or other home aspects may massively affect the worth of your home. That being said, HGTV suggests hiring an independent inspector; you can’t fix it if you don’t know it’s broken, and sometimes it’s best to leave it to the professionals!

Take a Step Back

Curb appeal is often forgotten as we are busy with our daily lives. HGTV.com suggests taking a black and white photo, when you take away the color the truth is revealed. You are able to see the cracks in the walls and other glaring flaws. Take the time to make a list of ways to enhance the positive and eliminate the negative. If the first thing you notice is your garage door; try adding a colored door to attract the viewers eyes there first. A curvy walkway can be accentuated with flowers or lanterns.


Keep it Clean

It’s important to keep your house well cleaned - this means the dreaded carpet-cleaning-like activities that we tend to put off for later. Cleaning windows, shampooing carpet, vacuuming vents, and attic upkeep are all necessary to keep your home from depreciating. Check out this handy guide from Goodhousekeeping.com to stay up-to-date on your cleaning schedule all year round.

It might seem like you need to make major additions to up the value of your home, but keeping your home properly inspected and routinely cleaned as well as focusing on small remodeling tasks are great ways to keep your home from depreciating. They also don’t take up a large amount of your time or money. 

Small Improvements Reap Big Rewards

Torn between your home’s d├ęcor versus making upgrades? Homeowners are often surprised to hear that doing a little bit of both will actually pay off. Begin by making two lists, one for your decor such as – furniture, artwork, and window treatments. And one for upgrades to your home which may include old faucets, doors, flooring and permanent lighting. Classy kitchens and beautiful bathrooms may lead to some extra dollars in the refinancing process, as well as a nice profit when selling your home. Painting the rooms in a fresh, modern color and style can make any home – no matter its age – seem newer and more valuable.

As you make these home improvements, don’t forget the cash. Your financial strategy can boost your home value in a big way. Many different loan features can be added together to give you a loan that is comfortable; give you an opportunity to do home improvements and to invest in your future.

If you would like to invest more into your home, visit our website at www.mmfcu.org for more information on our refinancing process and mortgage lending options.

Friday, July 14, 2017

3 Things You’ve Got to Know Before Buying a Cabin

The soft sound of the wind shifting through the trees, the smell of the lake at your doorstep; having a cabin in Minnesota is something many find to be a gratifying experience. Here are a few things you need to do to make sure your lifestyle and finances are up to the task of maintaining that lakeside property.

Are Your Finances in Check?

Oftentimes, a large investment like purchasing a cabin can feel daunting. Plan as far in advance as you need to assure your financial security. Saving money now can pay off in lakeside sunsets in the near future. An article from hgtv.com lays out three key factors: financing, insurance, and Maintenance costs. It is important to understand all three before purchasing a cabin.

Is Your Weekend Availability High Enough?

Aside from the costs, many people don’t consider the time it takes to upkeep a cabin far away from their home. If you work frequent weekends, you may not have the time to get up to the lake to maintain the yard and home itself. Your time at the cabin won’t just all be fun and games, much of it will be spent doing the maintenance tasks you’ve let slip in the time you’ve been away. Be sure you have the time and effort it takes to maintain a second home away from home.

Which Type of Cabin is Right for You?

Just as Minnesota has an abundance of lakes, there are tons of options when it comes to picking a cabin. Do you want o town? Rent? Is a timeshare or joint ownership a good option for you? In an article for Cabin Living Magazine, Ehren Graf points out that it is important to, “Take the time to educate yourself as to what you are getting and what is being presented to you.” The article also lays out the different options and packages that come with purchasing a cabin. You can check it out in its entirety here.

At Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union, our goal is to help you reach yours. If that goal is a cabin by the lake but you’re not sure if you can afford it, stop by one of our branches to speak with one of our extremely talented financial planners and loan officers. Get started by calling or visiting our website at www.mmfcu.org.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Finance Your Summer Fun with Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union

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Summer’s around the corner and we have made it easier than ever to finance the recreational purchase you’ve been thinking about—boats, RVs, ATVs, personal watercrafts, or motorcycles—just in time for the warm weather, and often right at the dealership!

Whether you’re looking for new or used, we help our members achieve their summer fun with a Recreational Loan, often at the area’s best interest rates. To make the process even easier, we’ve partnered with local dealerships who sell these “toys” so that buyers can apply for Mid-Minnesota's Recreational Loans on the spot at the dealership. If you aren’t yet a member of Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union, you can even become a member at the dealership or online before you head over to shop. See our list of participating dealer partnerships.

Still need to think about it? Consider these steps when making the decision about purchasing a new recreational vehicle.

1. Do Your Research

A little online research will give you a good base of information. Find out about the various types and price points of the item you want. There are several classes of RV’s, several types of ATV’s, and manypersonal watercrafts to choose from. Read reviews, research manufacturers, compare features, and have some understanding of what you’re really hoping to get in your new purchase.

2. Ask Around

Chances are, you have your heart set on this purchase because you’ve tried someone else’s. Ask those friends and neighbors what they like or dislike about their models, and maybe ask to take it for a spin!

3. Establish a Budget

Just like any large purchase, it is essential to have a predetermined budget. You can always contact Mid-Minnesota for financial and budgeting advice.


4. Don’t Rule Out Previously Owned

All of these items can be purchased used—something to consider when thinking about price versus how often you will use it. Our dealer partners will guide you through the process and show you quality used options that might be lighter on the wallet. Due to the nature of recreational vehicles, you may find used ones that have only been used for a few seasons–and sparingly, at that.

5. Compare in Person

There’s nothing like trying something out in person. Take your time, take a trusted friend with you, and compare features, prices, and models. You may even find that the end of the season offers additional choices as people try to sell their RV’s, boats, and other vehicles.

We look forward to helping you finance your summer fun, and know that our knowledgeable staff and dealer partners will make it easier for you to get on the lake or on the road!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Home Improvement Projects for Aging in Place

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There’s a lovely, cozy term for staying in your current home and renovating it to fit your life as you get older—aging-in-place. Many baby boomers are facing the decision whether to remodel the home they’re in, upgrade to another house, or downgrade to something smaller. For many, the thought of a major move or leaving the home you’ve loved for many years and many memories doesn’t hold much appeal.

Do you have changes you’d like to make to your house or ways to improve it for how it’s being used now? Renovating or remodeling your home may be more accessible than you think. At Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union we offer several options in Home Equity loans to help you achieve the remodeling or renovation goals for your present home.

Let’s look at some of the trends for aging-in-place renovations.

A Safer Entry

Especially in frigid Minnesota, stairs or uneven walkways can be unsafe, difficult to maneuver, and prone to iciness. Make sure you have a railing along your stairs, good exterior lighting, and evenly laid concrete for you and your guests.

Replace Tubs with Showers

Not only are tubs harder to get in and out of, but they’re often a risk for slips and falls. If you don’t spend the time soaking in the tub, consider an easily accessible shower – perhaps with a bench installed.


shutterstock_85176691.jpgMany homeowners are requesting a full bathroom on the main floor of the house for accessibility. If you’re rethinking your main floor layout, consider expanding a powder room into a bathroom with shower. Bonus tip: replace your older toilet with a raised one for added ease of use.

Focus on the Kitchen

We spend a lot of our time in the kitchen, yet it is one room where things are often inaccessible. Your kitchen should be functional and easy-to-use. Consider installing pull-out drawers in your cabinets, and pull-down shelves in your upper cabinets to reach things without straining. Get a sink that is relatively shallow and consider having your dishwasher raised so you aren’t having to reach as far when you do dishes. Finally, small touches like a hands-free faucet, a pullout sprayer, and easy-to-grip handles can make living in your kitchen more comfortable.

Home Security

Security systems offer protection against senior-targeted break-ins and an immediate response to fires or alarms. In addition, the quick-response teams are often accessible at the touch of a button if there should be an accident in the home or someone needs fast medical attention.

Proper Lighting

As we age, good lighting can make a big difference in helping us avoid trips and keeping our eyes from strain. Install effective light fixtures where your lighting is low, replace low-light bulbs with brighter ones, and make sure the light switches are easy to find and operate.

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Home Loan Options from Mid-Minnesota

The Home Equity loans offered at Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union allow you to borrow against the equity in your home and are designed for projects like the ones above. We have many, many options to choose from. Below are a few:

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

This type of loan allows your more flexibility. You have access when you need it and make payments based on your balance after advances. The HELOC loan has a variable rate.

Interest-Only Home Equity Line of Credit

The payments on an interest-only loan are smaller each month due to the fact that your payments are only paying off the interest due, not going toward the amount borrowed. You may pay more than the interest amount each month but are not required to do so. Read more details here.

Property Improvement Loan

For home renovations or improvements on your property, this is a great option. Make your yard more accessible, add in a garden, or remove elements you no longer use, like a pool or water feature and build up your landscaping.

We look forward to walking you through the differences in loan options available to you, and to help you stay in the home your love while aging-in-place. Find out how we can work together—either online or at any of our locations.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Four Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Car

Buying a new vehicle is often a time-consuming and stressful experience. With the proper preparation, however, you will be able to confidently find and finance the perfect vehicle. Take these four factors into consideration as you begin the process of a purchasing a new vehicle.


1. Make a Checklist

Take a moment to consider what car will best fit your lifestyle, budget, and needs. Will you need to consider passenger and cargo space for a big family, better fuel economy for long commutes, or certain safety factors for winter handling? Consider the factors of quality, safety, value, technologies, customer satisfaction, environmental friendliness, and design.

Despite expensive commercials that may tell you otherwise, brand recognition is not as important as how well the vehicle performs. Make the distinction between the necessary and unnecessary before you buy.

2. Take your Research Seriously

When done thoroughly, researching could potentially help you save thousands, help you negotiate more confidently, and allow you to drive away in the perfect new car. Research everything from make and model, safety performance, fuel economy, consumer reviews – anything and everything that you can learn.

Comparison shop and review information on sites like Motor Trend, Edmunds, and Car Gurus. Search for online reviews and customer testimonials of dealers, and talk to friends and family who have recently gone through the process of purchasing a vehicle. While you research, get quotes on your top choices before you even get to the dealership. This can benefit you when you negotiate prices.


3. Check your Budget, Credit Score, and Financing Options

A car is a big-ticket item, and many people will need a loan to help cover the cost. Knowing your credit score will help you determine your financing options and develop a budget. Work with your local credit union to get an auto loan and get the best interest rate.

Visit the Auto Loan page at Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union to finance your vehicle purchase. Remember to compare promotional rates, rebates, and incentives from manufacturers to get the most out of your budget. Know the invoice price—otherwise known as the price of what the dealer pays the manufacturer for the car. Knowing this will tell the dealer that you are prepared and will not be misled.


4. Be Prepared When you Visit a Dealership

With the proper research, a strict budget, and some determination, a visit to the car dealership shouldn’t be a terrifying experience. Be willing to make a few visits to the dealership to decide what you need, and call ahead to make sure that your choice car is available. With this checklist of information in hand, don’t be afraid to negotiate. There are always other dealerships to visit if you feel that you aren’t getting the best value.

For more information on borrowing and auto loans, visit Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Money Making March: 5 Ways To Unclutter Your Expenses

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The temperatures are finally beginning to rise, and spring is right around the corner. As the weather begins to turn in a more pleasant direction, it’s a great time to make decisions to cut out unnecessary expenses. Saving for spring and summer activities may take some reorganization and adjustments to your everyday habits, but it will be worth it when you’re enjoying a day on the lake on your new boat! We’ve gathered our list of top tips and advice on how to declutter your expenses and find extra funds in your budget.

Check your Credit Score

Surprisingly enough, 2/3 of Americans have no clue what their credit score is. Are you part of that statistic? There are plenty of great resources that allow you to keep track of your credit score. If you are aware of the changes that can affect your score, you can be more proactive to avoid damaging it.

Some credit scores have errors that go unchecked unless reviewed by the person they are reporting on. I can be difficult for anyone who does not personally know the individual to even acknowledge the errors. According to one study by Nextavdisor.com, around 19% of credit scores have errors, while just 1% see a meaningful change. This is why it is important to review your credit score annually.


Cut the Cable

Tis’ the season for walks in the park and bike rides. As the weather warms up, we spend less and less time indoors watching television. Make a decision to cut the cable and start saving. Try Amazon Prime or Netflix for a more personalized and time-friendly alternative. Plus, it’s more than half the cost of regular cable!

Check your Thermostat

Set your thermostat appropriately. If you’re not sure how to effectively work it, check out this general guide for operating thermostats. As the article says, “You can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.”

closet-1209917_1920.jpgClean out your Wardrobe

Go through those old stretched out sweaters and clothes that no longer fit. Take everything in good condition to a clothing consignment store and sell your slightly used clothes for cash! It’s a fast way to earn money from something that would otherwise go unused.

Create a Budget

We all know that budgeting is a tedious task, which is why many of us avoid doing it. But if you know it may save you money in the long run, would you be more willing to give it a shot? Check out these budget and debt facts sheets to learn more.

Spring-cleaning can be applied to all aspects of your life. It’s important to declutter your finances too! Find out where you’re spending and how you can save money to enjoy the beautiful season that’s approaching.

Make March a moneymaking month and set yourself up for Spring! Contact Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union to get started!