Let the math help you decide on 0% financing

Zero percent financing deals are being advertised on almost every new car ad you’ll see these days. Sounds like a great deal, right? I mean, no interest, how can that be a bad deal? Well, one of my coworkers helped someone buy a vehicle recently and all it took was a simple math lesson to show why the 0% deal was not in their best interest.

Real life example:

The offer was simple. For a vehicle price of $50,000, the member had two options:

Option A: Finance the vehicle at 0% with no rebate

Option B: Finance the vehicle at 3% with a $9,000 rebate

 

Now let’s do the math:

Option A:

Interest Rate: 0% APR*
Loan Term: 60 months
Rebate: $0
Vehicle Price: $50,000

Full amount paid over the life of the loan: $50,000

Option B:

Interest Rate: 3% APR*
Loan Term: 60 months
Rebate: $9,000
Vehicle Price: $41,000

Full amount paid over the life of the loan: $44,203

The Result:

By taking the rebate option, the member saves over $5,700!

Decision driven by feelings and not math

So why is the 0% interest offer so compelling? My theory is that interest is treated subconsciously like taxes. No one wants to pay taxes, and the same goes for interest. The decision is based on feeling rather than simple math. By taking the time to do the math and taking the emotion out of the decision, the choice is clear in this case.

Don’t take my word for it

Use math to verify for yourself. If you find yourself at the dealership and are offered the 0% APR* interest rate or a rebate, use a financial calculator to do the math and make a decision that works for you.

 

*APR = Annual Percentage Rate

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Always be prepared on the Gulf Coast

If you’ve lived along the Gulf Coast long enough you know that you should always be prepared. In addition to hurricane season, we’ve got year-round severe weather with flooding chances, damaging winds and more. Just in the last few years we’ve had several events that have led to school and business closures such as floods, fires and a pandemic. The key to getting through it has always been preparation.

So far in 2020, the credit union has already had to activate two plans that outline how we as an organization prepare for different circumstances. Our pandemic plan was activated early this year and the preparation from that plan helped the credit adjust during the pandemic to continue providing service to our member-owners. June 1st marks the start of hurricane season and our hurricane preparedness plan was activated as a named storm entered the Gulf.

Prepared at home

My wife is much better at preparing our household for contingencies such as floods, hurricanes and as I found out more recently, pandemics. A big part of preparing is paying attention and since it is hurricane season, a visit to the National Hurricane Center is a must. She quickly identifies potential concerns and prepares the house for at least a minimum of a week without being able to access outside services such as grocery stores.

The list usually includes the following:

  • Bottled water
  • Nonperishable foods
  • Batteries
  • Bags of ice

Prepared to leave

A part of being prepared on the coast is an evacuation plan. For hurricanes, mandatory evacuation orders may come to those who live closest to the coast and bays. Know where you will be going ahead of time. For example, we have family on the west side of Houston where we can go. You no doubt have seen the digital signs on area roads that read storm in Gulf, keep tank filled. Sound advice that I know some people always follow and never let their tanks go below halfway.

Prepared for the aftermath

This part of planning is the most difficult. Take the pandemic and stay at home orders for example. It was very difficult to plan for the volume of job loss and business closings that came with it. People had to use their emergency savings to sustain them as they instantly were out of work. With hurricanes, the aftermath can include being without power for weeks to having to demo your house due to flood damage. Preparing for the aftermath includes having all your important documents and insurance contacts readily available.

Being prepared should be the motto of everyone who lives along the Gulf Coast.

Additional resources:

 

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Is now a good time to buy a house?

As you’ve undoubtedly heard, mortgage loan rates have been at historic lows. That reason alone shouldn’t be the only reason you decide to buy a house though. Judging by how busy our mortgage team has been these past few weeks, many of our members have indeed decided that this is the right time to buy. Those members have probably gone through a laundry list of considerations, beyond simply the rate being low.

Buying a house is an enormous investment. If you are considering making a home purchase, we recommend you ask yourself these three questions:

1. Do I plan on staying in the house for a long period of time?
If you move around frequently, buying a house may not be your best option. Yes, you can build up equity through home ownership, but that takes time and/or extra payments. When you purchase a home, there are closing costs and fees charged that can eat away your equity, so frequent sales and purchases erode the equity that you build up.

2. Am I ready to take on the additional costs of home ownership not included in the mortgage payment?
This one hit me like a ton of bricks when the air conditioner went out in our first home. No simple call to the apartment maintenance department was going to take care of this issue. No, it required my own money to fix the problem. Furthermore, there are a number of other expenses and time required that come along with maintaining a home, such as the yard and minor repairs.

3. How much house can I afford?
A common rule of thumb is the 28/36 rule. According to this rule, your mortgage payment (including escrow) shouldn’t be more than 28% of your before tax income. In addition, your total debt, including mortgage, auto loans, personal loans, credit cards, and student loans, shouldn’t be more than 36% of your before tax income. So to answer the question, you can do simple math or use an online mortgage calculator such as the one on our website.

A big part of buying a house is getting a mortgage.
Your rate will be based in part on your credit score, so you’ll need to know what your score is so that there aren’t any surprises. In addition to your score, take a look at your credit report for any potential roadblocks. The credit union makes this information available to you at no charge via our partnership with SavvyMoney.. Once you are armed with that information, you can start the mortgage process. At the credit union, you can work with a member of our mortgage team online or in person and they will help guide you through the process.

So depending on how you answer those questions, now may be a very good time to buy a house. If you are actively searching, we wish you happy house hunting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

The Resiliency of the Class of 2020

Congratulations to the class of 2020, you’ll always have a story to tell. The one word that I will forever associate with the Class of 2020 and those who helped them get there is: Resilient.

Class of 2020

Definition of resilient from Merriam-Webster
: characterized or marked by resilience: such as
a: capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture
b: tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change

All involved as a part of the Class of 2020 have exhibited resiliency in spades. Everyone from the students, parents, teachers, and administrators have shown resiliency during the events of this pandemic. The normal end of year ceremonies and traditions have been adjusted and changed.  There has been a lot of lemonade made lately through creative events such as: parades to honor the graduates, alternative graduations, online proms, etc.

The majority of what I observe from the Class of 2020 has focused on the journey to get here and not what they’ve lost. This mindset will serve them well as they embark on the journey to adulthood. Most would agree that change is happening at a faster rate now than ever before, and maybe that constant change has created this resilient characteristic in the Class of 2020.

My hope is that this resiliency will help them navigate their financial lives as they enter college and the work force. The Class of 2020 has shown they can use different tools to succeed and as they enter adulthood, the tools at their disposal to succeed financially is growing rapidly. Congratulations again to the Class of 2020. I look forward to witnessing your future successes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Buying local always matters

Several years ago, as Chairman of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, one of my top priorities was a buy local initiative. Buy into Bay Area was our vehicle for letting area residents and businesses understand the importance of buying local. We expanded this beyond just buying local, we wanted people to think local. We expanded it to every facet of life including getting your education locally, volunteering locally, and playing locally.

Why buying local mattersshop local

Study after study can be found about the benefits to the community of buying local. Three of the biggest benefits are:

  1. Strengthening your community’s economy. Buying local means keeping money in your community. Buying from local small business has an even bigger impact and more of that money stays in the local area. A strong local economy attracts more services and businesses that benefit community members.
  2. Taxes. Local sales taxes help municipalities provide services and infrastructure to keep communities safe and functioning.
  3. Jobs. Local businesses provide jobs for friends and neighbors and cut down on the need to look for jobs outside of your community. Working in the community you live in can add to your quality of life and work-life balance.

Matters now more than ever

Given the struggles our local businesses face due to the pandemic and stay at home orders, buying locally means more now than ever. As a credit union, we are a local business and appreciate the loyalty of our member-owners during the good times and the bad. We try to use local resources whenever possible and have built some great relationships with local businesses over the years.

I encourage you to look to the local businesses that have provided your community with services and give them the opportunity to serve you as they reopen. It could mean the difference between that business being able to keep its doors open and your fellow community members employed.

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Comparison shopping can save you big

saving money

It never ceases to amaze me how certain companies take you for granted as a customer. They make you that great new customer offer and put their best foot forward only to raise the price on you each year you stay with them.

Insurance

I’ll never forget the first time I comparison shopped my homeowner’s insurance. I had been with the same company for years and thought they were taking good care of me. The comparison quotes told a different story. Each year (without any claims), the cost had gone up and I had just left it alone since it was paid by my mortgage company through an escrow account. Once I began paying for the insurance myself, I felt compelled to see what else was out there. What I found was the same coverage from another reputable provider at half the price I was paying. Now, I shop it each year. If you use an independent insurance agency like the credit union owned agency, you can get multiple quotes to compare.

Utilities

Another service I shop on an annual basis is my electric provider. This one makes total sense because the price is market driven and if the cost to make electricity goes down, shouldn’t I get to share in those savings? So I make my annual visit to powertochoose.org and select a provider based on current market conditions.

Travel

Given present circumstances, travel may or may not be something I shop for soon, but in the good old days we used to travel quite extensively. My wife even started working as a travel agent in her spare time and we discovered that pricing between providers can vary wildly – for the same trips, flights, cruises, hotels etc. With all the online tools available, this one is low hanging fruit.

Time is the only investment

Comparison shopping is a lot like reading this post. It is only an investment of your time. You may learn something or you may not. You may save money or you may not, but the only way to find out is to put in the time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Appreciating the teachers in our lives

Teacher appreciation week is coming up and it is going to be strange one. It is usually a week when kids eagerly bring their teachers gifts that they either made or picked out. It is usually a week where our team has special events in the lobbies to recognize and honor our members who teach. It is usually a week where our business development team is on campuses hosting appreciation luncheons. It is usually a week where we celebrate outstanding teachers by announcing our Appreciated Teacher award winners.

This year things will be different. My wife is a part time teacher for a local school district, so I’ve seen firsthand how different school has been for this last month. She’s been busy rewriting curriculum to adapt it for online delivery and consumption. It is a major undertaking and she’s been so positive about it. I’ve seen her in countless online meetings with teachers and they’ve all been so positive and upbeat during this uncertain time. So, to my wife and all the teachers out there, you are truly appreciated.

Here are some ideas for appreciating the teachers in your life that can be done virtually:

  • Send an electronic gift card
  • Send an email with scanned in artwork
  • Send an email to your teacher with some heartfelt words to show them your appreciation
  • Use social media to find a teacher who made a difference in your life and try to connect with them
  • Have the kids make a video to share with their teachers

Now more than ever we need to show appreciation for those that have a positive impact on our lives.

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Take Online Security Seriously

Now that we all do more online than ever before, we need to be more vigilant about our security efforts. We have seen a spike in fraud and scams during the pandemic. The bad guys never miss an opportunity to take advantage of a disaster.

Tool #1: Keep login information private

One common crime is account takeover and it usually starts online. The criminal gets access to your login credentials and logs in pretending to be you. Sometimes they make changes to your contact information and sometimes they leave it, but in either case the aim is the same – pretending to be you to access your money and move it out of your account and into theirs.

The first tool to prevent this type of crime is you. You control the amount of information that is available about you online. Make sure you review privacy settings for all your social sites and that the information you are posting online doesn’t give the criminals information they could use to pretend to be you.

Tool #2: Update your operating system

The second tool is your actual device. Make sure your device has the latest version of the operating system with timely security update and virus protection. We’ve seen too many instances of members who didn’t keep up with device security and ended up with a key logger recording their every key stroke including usernames and passwords.

Tool #3: Set up alerts & dual factor authentication

The third set of tools are found in the sites you visit. Our digital banking system has tools you can use to make the experience safer. For example, instant alerts by text or email of a login (Settings è Notifications).  One of the most powerful tools available is Two-Factor Authentication where you receive a text with a code in order to complete the login process. Basically, you have to have the device in your possession to log in so even if a criminal knows your username and password, they are missing the final component (In the desktop version go to Settings è Security tab and set to require for desktop logins).

I encourage you to make sure you use all of the tools at your disposal to make your online experience as safe as possible.

 

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

Have you bought a vehicle online yet?

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our normal lives and forced so many people to turn to doing everyday things like school, shopping, banking and meeting in an online environment. But have you ever bought a vehicle online?

I’ve bought my last two vehicles completely online. Everything from the research to financing (with the credit union of course) and to actual picking the vehicle completely online. The only thing I had to do in person was go pick up the vehicle (and now delivery is even an option readily available). Best two car buying experiences I’ve ever had.online auto buying

All our local car dealers now have online sales capabilities. Here are a few things that I’ve learned from buying my last two vehicles online:

  • You can quickly compare prices without feeling pressured.  You aren’t face to face with a salesperson asking for a decision. Purchasing online allows you to work completely on your timetable.
  • If you use a vehicle shopping service, expect a few calls and emails from local dealerships, but you will be able to widen your search in a very short amount of time.
  • I found that the online departments at dealerships often had lower pricing.
  • The tools that the dealers use to showcase their vehicles are getting impressive. Some have very interactive tools that allow you to look the vehicle over completely from bumper to bumper.

In both cases, they wanted me to meet with their finance department but once I told them I already had a pre-approval from the credit union and that all I needed was the final details and that the credit union would let me sign electronically by email. They were impressed with how quickly our loan team was able to get everything over.

Give it a try if you are considering a new vehicle. It is the ultimate social distancing way to buy.

 

 

Post author: Jamieson Mackay, CCUFC

The opinions expressed on this page are for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or financial advice. The views expressed are those of the author of the article and may not reflect the views of the credit union.

GCEFCU named in Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions

A+ health gradeOnce per quarter, DepositAccounts.com evaluates the financial health of over 10,000 banks and credit unions in the United States. A comprehensive health score is calculated, as each institution is graded on several factors including capitalization, deposit growth, and loan-to-reserve ratios.

Gulf Coast Educators FCU was awarded with an A+ rating; the highest health grade given out by DepositAccounts. Financial institutions are graded on a scale from F (worst) to A+ (healthiest). GCEFCU was ranked as #44 out of the 5,321 US credit unions that were analyzed.

The Deposit Account Health Grades analysis was created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and has continued releasing a new analysis annually, with quarterly adjustments posted to each credit union’s dedicated page on DepositAccounts.com. During times of economic uncertainty, consumers want to feel confident that their credit union is on solid footing financially.

Experts analyze the call reports for every NCUA insured credit union in the United States and run the data through a proprietary algorithm to rate financial health. Results are published on their website for free so that consumers can make more informed decisions and feel confident in the financial institutions where they deposit their money.

Gulf Coast Educators FCU is proud to be named one of the Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions, and to be included in the 11% of financial institutions that received an A+ rating. Our management team and board of directors strive to provide quality and sound service to all of our members. For a complete listing of the 2020 Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions in America, visit https://www.depositaccounts.com/banks/health.aspx

 

Top 200 Healthiest Credit Unions