Common Trust Federal Credit Union, Author at Common Trust FCU

How to Manage Credit Card Debt Wisely in 9 Steps

According to Experian’s 2019 Consumer Credit Review, 75% of American consumers with credit cards carry an average balance of over $6,000. And the impacts can be financially devastating. 

Credit cards can be enticing, offering not only the ability to buy now and pay later, but also a bevy of rewards like cash back and airline miles. However, there are downsides. Credit card offers often come with high interest rates, a variety of fees and the potential to damage your credit score, if mismanaged. 

Learning how to manage credit card debt today can help improve and keep your credit score high. In return, a high credit score will help your borrowing power should you someday need to get a mortgage, open up a HELOC or take out a personal loan

Here are 9 steps to help you manage credit cards to minimize interest payments, avoid fees and take full advantage of the benefits many credit cards offer:

1. Live Within Your Means

The number one key to learning how to manage credit card debt (and your entire financial life) is to live within your means. In short, this means identifying the difference between your net income from paychecks (plus other sources like Social Security or investment income) and your consistent monthly debt obligations. 

To calculate your monthly debt obligations, list your rent or mortgage payment then any car or loan payments, as well as the money you need for gas, groceries, streaming services and cell phone bills, plus other expenses you incur on a month-to-month basis. This figure should not be larger than your take-home pay each month. If it is, it’s time to reevaluate not only your spending but your employment situation to see about earning more income, possibly from a second job or side hustle.

2. Set Up Autopay

According to a CreditCards.com survey from May 2020, seven of the country’s top 16 credit card issuers now charge customers up to a $40 late fee, even if you miss your due date by a single day. The easiest way to avoid late fees is to enroll in autopay. You can typically set this up for the minimum payment due, the full statement balance or any amount in between to be paid automatically from your checking or savings account each month, on the due date or any date before. By taking advantage of autopay, you’ll never forget to make your payment or pay a late fee.

3. Pay More Than the Minimum

You should always pay at least the minimum payment due each month. However, paying only the minimum will leave you in debt longer and could mean paying thousands of dollars in interest. 

As an example, let’s say you’re carrying a $6,000 balance on a credit card that charges a 14.99% interest rate, and you make only the minimum payments. In doing so, you may eventually pay upward of $4,000 in interest before you even pay off your original $6,000 balance! 

4. Pay in Full

The opposite of paying the minimum is paying in full. When you pay your entire statement balance in full before the due date each month, you’ll pay no interest. If you’re using a rewards credit card and have learned how to manage credit cards effectively in this way, you’ll get all of the benefits (cashback, airlines miles, hotel points, etc.) while paying the credit card issuer nothing for these rewards. This is the pinnacle of wise credit card management.

5. Pay Your Bill Only After Your Statement Period Ends

Speaking of those rewards… It’s great to pay down your balance or pay your credit cards in full as soon as you have the money to do so. But there’s a caveat… If you pay current charges before the statement period ends, you could be missing out on the rewards for those charges. This is because rewards are often calculated based on the charges posted and due at the end of each statement period. If you pay off or pay down this balance before the monthly statement period closes, that’s less you’ll earn rewards on. The sweet spot to pay your credit card is after the statement period closes but before the due date.

6. Track Your Spending

You can either track your spending habits on your own or use a free credit card spending tracker app. Some of these apps even offer color-coded summaries to easily identify how and where you typically spend your money. 

For example, are you spending hundreds on groceries each month yet still ordering a lot of takeout? Tracking your credit card spending will illuminate trends and point you toward ways you might improve your financial life. No matter how you keep tabs on your spending, it’s a key step toward learning how to manage credit cards successfully.

7. Find a Credit Card with No Annual Fee

While many rewards credit cards carry an annual fee (although some may be waived for the first year), some credit cards offer no annual fees. Choosing a card without annual fees could save you upward of $99 each year while still allowing you to build your credit history and improve your credit score.

*Make sure you check out Common Trust Federal Credit Union’s MasterCard® with no annual fee!

8. Manage Your Credit Utilization Rate

This tip is all about managing your credit score. One of the factors that goes into calculating your credit score is your credit utilization rate. This is the amount of your credit card’s spending limit you regularly use. 

For example, if you have $6,000 in credit card debt but a credit limit of $20,000, your utilization rate is 30%. The lower your credit utilization percentage, the better, because it means your credit cards aren’t maxed out. A low percentage also shows potential lenders that you know how to manage credit card debt.

9. Consolidate Your Debt

If your past credit card usage has become a heavy burden, debt consolidation may help you get a handle on your credit card debt. Learning how to use home equity to consolidate debt or applying for a debt consolidation loan through Common Trust Federal Credit Union may help get your financial life in order and improve your emotional well-being. 


Source: Blog post written by Taylor Rohwedder on January 20,2021 – Prosper.com

Tips for Making & Sticking to Resolutions

When the new year ball drops, it is the perfect time to turn a new page. The new year can be exciting, yielding opportunities to restart with a clean slate for fresh goals. Personal and fiscal reflection helps you assess where you stand in your shoes to set your resolutions in motion. As you begin to draft your resolutions list, the Common Trust team is offering some tips to kick off a great 2022 and keep you on track to stick to your resolutions.

Limit Your Resolutions List

Typically, humans tend to be harder on ourselves than we need to be. You might have a long list of resolutions, but be kind to yourself and focus on only a few so you do not overwhelm yourself. Self-care is important in reflection, so be sure to cut yourself some slack. Consider starting with a small, actionable goal so you can get into the goal-achieving mode.

Choose a Specific Goal

Many people often set lofty resolutions at the turn of the new year, and this practice makes some bite off more than they can chew. However, it also presents great opportunities to grow and overcome any struggles with sticking to goals.  Setting your mind on one specific, realistic goal helps craft a concrete plan to achieve that goal. For example, if your goal is to exercise more, create an actionable plan and create daily calendar reminders to go for a walk or go to the gym.  Achieving a small goal boosts your self-esteem and helps you tackle things more easily.  If you have a big goal, consider breaking it into manageable pieces and take one thing at a time.

Change up your Resolutions

If you find yourself stuck on one resolution year after year, chances are you have it in your mind you cannot stick to that goal and may mean that you will likely abandon it. So if your resolution in years past was to lose weight, for example, change it to something like just eating more vegetables per week to retrain your mind to embrace a different version of your goal. 

Plan, Plan, Plan

Whatever your goal might be, you need to plan to achieve it – just the thought of an idea won’t be enough. Creating a detailed plan and even using your phone for reminders, tracking progress, etc. will help you manage how you will achieve your goal. Working on a goal without a plan creates a higher risk of giving up if an obstacle arises.

The Buddy System

More often than not, a goal with a friend or family member means you’ll be even more motivated to achieve that goal. Connect with a friend or loved one to see if you both share the same goals and create a method to keep one another accountable. If you make it fun or like a game, you may even find yourself enjoying motivating the other, which means you’ll be more likely to adhere to the plan.

Set One Financial Resolution 

We recommend making one small economic goal that improves your financial well-being when creating your list. Even making one adjustment to your finances means you can put money towards something that makes you feel good– like travel or giving to a charity. Pennies turn into pounds quickly, you will find, and making a financial modification will help you allocate money towards something you love. 

When challenging yourself to change the tides, remember that taking on too much is usually the very reason New Year’s resolutions can fail. Be kind to yourself and create realistic steps to get into the right mindset to create the change you seek. 

As always, Common Trust is available to help you with any of your own personal financial goals. Happy New Year, and we look forward to helping you make 2022 your brightest year yet.

Holiday Shopping Tips

The most wonderful time of the year is around the corner, and we are ready to get you prepared. The holidays bring about festive feelings of generosity and community with family and friends, but sometimes, getting in the holiday mood can create stress with gift-giving and efficient shopping. The 2021 holiday season is anticipated to be the most unpredictable holiday shopping season in years. Given post-pandemic supply shortages and that people are still recalibrating their financial well being from the pandemic, consumers are generally exploring a different take on what consumption means. Common Trust Federal Credit Union shares in your holiday excitement with ideas, insights, and tips to reset your mindset and enter the season equipped to reduce holiday brain fog. We hope we can help you proactively celebrate the season and become a holiday shopping expert.

Deck the Digital Halls

Every year, eCommerce continues to grow as consumers find that online retailers have done a lot of the heavy lifting with gift ideas and catering to budgets. Even more so, eCommerce has surged as online sources have improved for a seamless digital experience with fewer clicks and better shopping platforms. With email marketing blasts and promotions, consumers can access abundantly varietal merchandise with tremendous ease and feel good about the specials offered. One study suggests that 64% of shoppers will be more emotionally invested in their purchases than before because of the stakes set by the pandemic. 

Budget & Review Your Recipient List

Common Trust recommends first setting your holiday budget from the outset, so there are no surprises as you forge ahead on your shopping journey. Even if you plan to use credit cards, which 40% of Americans do for their holiday gifting, tackling your recipient lists with a pre-determined budget means you won’t go overboard with spending. 

Considering who you want to give to this season will help set that budget per person to protect your wallet. Create your gift receiver list and check it twice. 

Charitable & DIY Gifting for Budgeting

There are thousands of unique ideas online for artisan foods, treats, or crafty gifts that feel personal while budget-friendly. Consider online food provisions or handmade goods that feel more meaningful. Additionally, charities have made it possible to donate online in someone’s honor to a cause they value. Not only is this more personal, but any donation amount is greatly appreciated so you do not have to spend too much to make an impact. Magazine or online news subscriptions for those with particular hobbies and interests are a cost-effective and personal idea, as well as gift cards to specific retailers you know your loved one enjoys. There are now even online retailers that send unique home plants to nurture to endure past the holidays.

Price Shopping & Avoiding the Rush 

‘Tis the season for deals. With the abundance of online retailers, price comparison shopping can be an entirely daunting task itself, but online shopping still makes it easier to chase the best deal. Once your gift is in mind, allow time to price shop across at least three other retailers to ensure you are grabbing the best deal to stay within your budget. Shopping online vs. in-person also means you can subscribe to receive news and offers in advance to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping. It has been reported that up to 50% of shoppers have started their holiday shopping even before Black Friday.

Play the Online Shopping Cart Game

Shopping cart abandonment is typical of online shopping behavior and occurs when website visitors place multiple items in their cart but do not complete the purchasing process. eCommerce retailers track this behavior and “watch” what you are viewing and do not purchase to email you a coupon to receive an additional discount on goods you may have planned to buy. This is a great way to get an extra discount as they want to move goods on their site.

Protect Your Identity & Your Porch

You’ve read the countless holiday horror stories of identity theft and then physical theft once your packages arrive. Holiday shopping scams are unfortunately prevalent now, as fraudsters know the holiday rush. So as you scour the internet for your gifts, beware of odd-looking websites that lack the verification methods to secure your identity, and double-check their credentials via reviews. Thieves are scouting neighborhoods looking for packages on porches, too, so once you have made your purchase, ensure you receive the shipment tracking information to follow its way to your porch to be sure you collect your goods. 

A Fun & Safe Holiday!

There are good times to be had this season! Your holiday joy and safety are Common Trust’s highest wishes for all of our members. We are here to assist you with your holiday budgeting and any other needs during this time to take advantage of year-end promotions.  

Reach out to a Common Trust team member anytime and let us know how we can help at the start of this season’s celebration.

Don’t Miss This Auto Loan Promotion

For Common Trust’s communities, we mark many milestones together, striving towards further emergence from the pandemic to ease into a more comfortable life day by day. Common Trust Federal Credit Union understands what the last 18 months have meant to our members and their families, and we have been working diligently to extend supportive measures so that you can continue to regain and maintain your financial strength. As we begin to close out 2021, Common Trust aspires to help stabilize your financial wellbeing by offering our incomparably great Auto Loan Promotion through the end of this year. 

We look forward to the future with you and helping you explore all of its benefits. 

The Time for Auto Financing 

Insights into the auto category are crucial as you start your research engines.  As automobile demand is at a high right now, there are typically not as many deals to be had. However, because we are in the year’s final quarter, it is usually the time dealerships are offering promotions and discounts. Auto dealerships historically look to clear out the current inventory of new 2020 or 2021 models that have not yet sold, so you can anticipate that there may be good deals to explore.

If your current car is starting to show its age or your family has grown in size since the last time you purchased a vehicle, it could be a good idea to initiate car shopping before 2022 models start to roll out. We encourage spending the extra time to research and shop around and even think about expanding your geographic search — neighboring cities may have different models and deals going on. Explore all dealer incentives and arrive at the dealerships prepared with competitor information.

Our Offer to You 

With these quarter-end benefits in mind, Common Trust invites you to take advantage of our special Auto Loan Promotion so that you can finance the car you want as 2021 closes out. We are running our Auto Loan promotion from now through December 31, 2021, giving you ample time to research so that you can find the best deal for your family.

Our Auto Loan Promotion includes the following benefits:

  • Rate would be 1.79%*
  • Terms would be up to 72 months
  • Autos must be 2020 or newer
  • Must be a new loan, cannot refinance an existing CTFCU loan
  • *Actual rate based on creditworthiness (counter offers could be made)

Common Trust welcomes our members to work together to get the car they want.


Learn more about our Auto Loan Promotion and start your application here.

What is the Importance of a Good Credit Score?

Credit, creditworthiness, credit report, and FICO are all terms that may ring a familiar bell for you as it relates to your financial education and lifestyle planning. But what do they all actually mean for you and your financial goals? Credit scoring can be confusing and cause head-scratching on how it works. Common Trust is your go-to resource to illuminate credit-centric terminology, as well as reveal how to obtain good credit and what it means to have a good credit score. Establishing credit is an important barometer allowing you to achieve your financial and personal goals. As ever, Common Trust is here to help you recognize the value of having good credit and support your prosperity. 

Credit Score & Credit Score Factors

A credit score is a rating of how reliable you are when borrowing money from a financial institution. Lenders use credit scores to determine the likelihood of repaying on time if given a credit card or loan. Your credit score is formulated on your accrued credit history and can range from 300 to 850. A good credit score is the access key to your financial well-being and creditworthiness. The higher your score is, the less you are viewed as a credit risk by lenders.

Your credit score is made up of key factors that formulate your total score. FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) is the most widely used credit scoring calculator to generate an individual’s credit score and is based on several factors. The core factors that affect credit scores are:

  • Types of accounts you hold and the age of these accounts, including the ratio of the limits on the card versus the balance owed.
  • The total debt you hold and/or how many credit cards you hold, auto loans, mortgage payments, etc.
  • Payment history and late payment history: On-time payments on your accounts help your scores, whereas missing payments can hurt your scores.
  • Credit score activity: whether you’ve recently applied for or opened new accounts, it can affect your score. 

These factors are indicators of your credit history that affect your credit score when it is calculated. Knowing your score also illustrates what you need to address in your credit history to increase your creditworthiness. When you monitor your credit, it also helps you keep an eye on how you can improve your score; remember that on-time payments can strengthen your score, whereas late payments can lower it.

A Good Credit Score & Why It Matters

Credit scoring occurs within a range of 300 and 850 to indicate creditworthiness. A good credit score is 690 to 719 on the scale commonly used for FICO scores. A score of 800 or above is considered to be an outstanding credit score. On average, most people have a credit score that falls between 600 and 750. The higher your score, the more confident creditors are that you are able to repay debts per the debt parameters. Creditors can set their own determinations for what is considered as good or bad credit when consumers apply for loans or credit cards. 

A good credit score is essential to your future and what you want to accomplish personally and financially. Having a good score also determines if you are approved to borrow money and how much you can pay back with interest. In addition, a good credit score can help you get a credit card with a decent interest rate or even a balance-transfer card, an auto loan or lease, or a home mortgage with a favorable interest rate. 

In summary, a good credit score can be the difference between qualifying for a home or auto loan or obtaining credit cards with healthy limits and interest rates. The relationship between a credit card and your credit score factors in the timeline you are paying off your card, and your bottom line score can impact how much you will have to pay in interest on your accounts. Additionally, credit reports/scores can even impact non-lending-related matters, such as whether a landlord will rent you an apartment. Some insurance companies also may use your credit score to help determine your auto, home, or life insurance premiums. Finally, credit scores matter to some employers who might review your credit when hiring or offering a promotion. In practice, though, a good credit score is the one that helps you get what you need or want, whether that is access to new credit in a pinch or lower mortgage rates. A good score is an important gateway to specific lifestyle achievements.

Common Trust’s MasterCard Credit Card

Paying attention to your credit score and maintaining its strength is a vital part of your comprehensive financial health. Common Trust’s Mastercard Credit Card is a card you can afford to carry and can help you start your credit journey towards excellent financial standing. Using a credit card enables you to build a good credit score when used correctly, and we are here to advise you on best practices.

We invite you to learn more about our exceptional Mastercard Credit Card, perfect for shopping, travel, and emergency use here.

The Ultimate Dorm Room Essentials Checklist

The end of summer marks the harbinger for bright, fall beginnings, and for some, the start of an extraordinary journey to college. For first-time first-year college students, the passage into university life can be a daunting one–it is a new experience all around and necessitates learning independence and organization. Entering campus life is an exciting milestone, and the Common Trust team wants to propose the ultimate dorm room essentials tips in addition to offering financial assistance for a seamless start. We hope our Essentials Guidelines provide some useful ideas to help you plan. Also, this exciting event of venturing to college is notably the ideal time to explore our Back to School Loan for your preparation. Your excitement is our excitement, and we look forward to offering incoming freshmen support for this significant turning point moment. 

Get & Stay Organized 

For any incoming college student, living away from home and the dawning of independence can feel overwhelming. Organization is the key ingredient to relieving stress, as your dorm room checklist is probably multiplying by the minute. The first order of being organized is to distill your list to purchase the items you actually need. We recommend first combing through your checklist and narrowing it down to key things– it can be easy to go overboard, but remember that less may be more as space is limited. Before heading to the store, talk with your roommate(s) to coordinate your new environment to figure out who is bringing what so you do not transport more than you should. 

Mainstays for a Comfortable Stay 

Dorm room essentials may seem obvious; bedding, bath and laundry products, and computer necessities, but dorms are bare and primed for your arrival. Dorm rooms are typically fairly small, so adjusting to a tighter room requires a downsizing mentality to maximize space. The following items should help you condense space and allow you to have all the things you need.

Bedding & Personals List

  1. Bed Risers – bed lifts allow you to increase space under your bed so you can store what you don’t need for that season. We also recommend buying a few plastic bins to store items under the bed.
  2. Bath caddy, towels, and shower shoes 
  3. Health and Grooming essentials 
  4. Hanging closet shelving and over-the-door hanging vanity organizer to keep all your toiletries together and free up space elsewhere
  5. Hydro Flask – save on buying bottled water and keep a hydro flask handy when in-room or heading to class.
  6. Small vacuum or dustbuster to keep your room clean 
  7. Favorite art or music posters, string lighting, and other items for decor to personalize your space

Study & Electronics List

College life is surely about balancing studying and fun. While in academic mode, having your desk and study zone well-organized will help keep you focused and feel less overwhelmed. Late night studying is bound to happen, so be equipped with the proper necessities for optimal concentration.

  1. Laptop, printer, surge protector, and all appropriate charging cables 
  2. Laptop desk for portability 
  3. Desk lamp for late-night study sessions
  4. Wireless headphones, or even noise cancellation headphones
  5. Desk shelving units for books and files
  6. Calculator and Dictionary 
  7. Supplies 

Entertainment & Downtime List

Amidst your rigorous studies, you will have time for recreation with your new friends and roommates. Sharing in streaming services and TV purchasing can also ease budgets, so be sure to collaborate with your suitemates on how you want to contribute to your shared space.

  1. TV 
  2. Mini fridge and microwave 
  3. Streaming stick 
  4. White noise machine for tranquil sleep 
  5. Speakers for music streaming

Carpe Diem

From August 1st through September 30th, Common Trust is running a Back to School Loan Promotion for students to get a jump start on collecting the items needed for success away from home. With first-time expenses amassing, this loan was calculated to lighten the load as you settle into your new routines. Our exclusive Back to School Loan features benefits such as; 

  • A $2,400 Loan (Existing loans must be paid off or included in the new loan)
  • Rates as low as 7.5% (*subject to creditworthiness)
  • 12 months to repay the loan
  • Payments amounting to $208.22, or approximately $52 per week

Getting acclimated to dorm life is an exhilarating process, and we look forward to helping you thrive upon your first foot on campus. The Common Trust Team is accessible to answer your questions on activating this unique loan opportunity to launch your new experience ahead of the game. We wish the best of luck to all rising college students in this new academic year — you’ve got this, and we’ve got you.

To learn more about the Back to School Loan, we invite you to explore here

Summer Safety Tips

 

Temperatures are rising, swimming pools beckon, and family activities are in full swing as summer is officially here. An air of a more ordinary summer means adventure awaits, and we forecast that our community is excited for an active summer. Common Trust encourages a summer of fun sustained by safety to enjoy the season to its fullest. So whether you’re laid back at home poolside with a summer reading list or hitting the road for the beach, here are some helpful reminders to live your best and safest summer.9[op

Take Shade & Hydrate

People often forget how serious heat-related issues are when sun over exposure and poor hydration clash. Carry water with you wherever you go, as dehydration is the most common heat-caused illness. Hydrate more than you think is necessary, and take breaks in the shade when outside. It is more important to make sure younger children drink plenty of water, even if they are not thirsty. Wearing loose clothing that dries quickly also helps to keep cool. Be vigilant of overheating symptoms when hiking or doing outdoor group activities; typically, if one person has symptoms, chances are others do too. Don’t overdo it if you crave more exercise— opt for a walk in a cooler environment like the mall. When it hits 90° or above and is humid, children should not play outside for more than 30 minutes at a time.

As we all know, the sun can cause severe sunburns and sun poisoning in its worst form. Sunscreen is your summer staple, so carry a small bottle with you everywhere. Lathering up on cloudy days is essential as it is no myth that the sun’s burning rays pierce through clouds.

Swimming & Water Safety

Thousands of adults and children are hurt in avoidable swimming and boating accidents every summer. Water safety spans from simple swimming precautions to having life vests for everyboat rider. Younger children are notably less experienced swimmers and always need to be supervised by an adult or lifeguard. Where diving is involved, always watch for the person to come up as back and head injuries can occur. An at-homepool is best protected with a fence that stays locked and out of reach for kids. An extra layer of pool precaution is to have cameras or gates with sensors that connect to mobile apps and send alerts if a pool gate is left open. If your child ventures to a neighbor’s pool, confirm an adult at home watching at all times.

The most common boating accidents happen when drinking is involved for adults, so designate an experienced boat driver who won’t partake in the libations. Lastly, always have your cellphone charged in case of an emergency, and in some cases, for longer boating outings, keepflares aboard.

Roadtrip & Air Travel

With so many Americans chomping at the bit to roadtrip, car safety is paramount. A regular car maintenance check is a good safeguard against unforeseen car troubles. If your car use was down over the last year, it is wise to have the tires checked and rotated. It might be a great time to purchase a tire gauge to keep in your car, too, especially if you plan to drive on rockier terrain on your adventures. We also recommend purchasing a mobile phone holder so you can be as hands-free as possible when using your phone’s GPS. Lastly, a First Aid Kit is the best accessory for your glove box.

If you plan to hit the skies for vacation, mandatory mask-wearing and regular hand washing persist as TSA protocol. While airlines continue to adhere to strict sanitation standards and improve air circulation systems, it will put you more at ease to take these precautions when traveling. Before you set out on your adventure, contact Common Trust to ensure you do not experience issues with your card while you are traveling. Apply for Common Trust’s Mastercard Credit Card today before hitting the road. 

Going Out and Outdoor BBQs

Restaurants, bars, and even music venues are opening their doors for livelier times but have a mask handy if required. A backyard gathering is best when summer time food is cooked over a fire. Still, grills and campfires are to be tended to as adults and children risk burns caused by fire proximity. Placing the grill far enough away from anything flammable and inspecting the grill before using it prevents gas tank malfunction. Fireproof mitts and long-handled utensils help avoid exposure to flames. Make sure kids are closely supervised around a campfire or at a BBQ.

Safety and fun do not have to be mutually exclusive. Remember to plan ahead, keep a vigilant eye, and lean on friends and family for support. Let Common Trust know how we can help you enjoy your summer more with credit cards or vacation loans to help pay for your travels. Our team wishes you and your family a safe and memorable summer.

2021 Summer Budget Roadmap

Resilience seems to be a common theme in our country and our communities as consumer strength regains post-pandemic. A shared trend in the pandemic’s aftermath is to reassess personal finances to balance enjoyment with everyday expenses. Common Trust aims to assist our members and help budget for the road ahead this summer and beyond. We are ready to welcome the community for in-person financial assistance for a stress-free and enjoyable summer to help you navigate 2021.

Create a Summer Budget Strategy 

There are valuable lessons learned from the pandemic, and people adjusted their finances to ensure protection against worst-case scenarios. As a result of suspended everyday life, people, in turn, had significantly fewer monthly expenses during the consumer “time out.” Travel, shopping, and general discretionary spending were at an all-time low, resulting in accrued personal savings. Now the time has come to enjoy the extra financial padding while budgeting for sustained resources for your lifestyle. We recommend grouping recreation into specific categories and allocating an amount to each class. For example, if you’re planning a trip this summer, determine how much to pay for airline tickets, dining out, car rentals, and recreational activities, like National Park fees. Planning allows for a better grasp of your budget while anticipating other new types of expenses and analyzing where you can trim back. 

Technology is Your Compass

Technology continues to prove to be a great budget friend, and we encourage mobile app usage to track your spending. The ease of streamlined banking and mobile applications enhances the user experience to know the bottom line at any moment. Some applications go as far as to group your expenditures and send you activity notifications to protect you from overspending. These are improving by the day and continue to offer unique features to guide you on the right path towards creating a feasible budget.  Big box stores, grocery stores, and food deliveries also offer promotions and coupons on their mobile app programs to help cut costs. Energy providers’ mobile apps are another great tool to monitor your energy usage and stockpile small savings per month this summer.

Another potential source for savings is to participate in Common Trust’s Shared Savings Accounts. As a member, your member-owner status is represented by the shares you save at Common Trust FCU.  In this program, members have the ability to open multiple share accounts for specific savings purposes like education, taxes, vacations, or special purchases.  Members can access their accounts and customize the name on these secondary share accounts. Tracking the money earned from day-of-deposit to day-of-withdrawal and the quarterly-distributed dividends from the shared accounts are easily accessed in your mobile banking account. Learn more about Share Savings Accounts here.

Utilize Financial Education & Assistance 

As credit unions welcome back the community, this summer is an excellent time to apply for financial assistance to access savings programs that buoy financial sustainability. U.S wealth grew by $20 trillion over the last year, paving opportunities for members to consider buying or leasing a new car, financing a home remodel, or managing debt with offset savings. Lowering monthly rates helps maintain your cash flow. In addition, it allows for other types of consumer spending should you want to or to grow an emergency fund. Common Trust even offers Vacation loans if you are looking for a substantial getaway. People who accumulated savings are also investing in personal care matters and budgeting accordingly. For example, braces sales shot up 19% in the last year. Overall, people are finding ways to rebalance their finances while also investing in new opportunities and experiences. 

Summer Support

Reexamination of our member’s financial well-being is central to understanding all facets of monthly living expenses and how you can grow your nest egg exponentially. Common Trust helps you create a plan for you and your family by identifying where to cultivate savings. We are committed to maximizing savings opportunities and pledge to work for our members’ financial success. As we forge ahead together, we reduce the complexities of budgeting so you can enjoy life along the way. 

We invite existing and potential members alike to learn more about our Financial Products and Services here.

What You Should Know When Preparing to Purchase a Car

Purchasing a car represents exciting and meaningful milestones for all buyers. Whether it is a first-time car purchase, an upgrade, or buying a new or used car for a loved one, it is natural to have questions about auto loan financing. Auto loans bridge making a large vehicle purchase possible over time. The experts at Common Trust Federal Credit Union shine a light on what you need to know when buying a car and what financing options are available to get you and your family on the move.

Timing 

Things are looking up in these times, and the automotive market appears to be making a solid comeback from COVID-19 with good deals blooming. At Common Trust, we encourage our members to shop around for a deal that suits your lifestyle and to pay particular attention to interest rates, contract length, payment amounts, and car value overall.

Budget Assessment 

From SUVs to Sedans to trucks, your car needs will require financing considerations ahead of time. Before you take out a car loan, we will help you learn how interest rates work to get the best deal on your loan. The best guide for your budget parameters is the 20/4/10 rule. We recommend putting 20% down, committing to a 4-year loan term, and ensuring that your loan does not exceed 10% of your gross annual income. When finalizing your budget, remember to factor in gas, insurance, and potential maintenance costs. 

Direct vs. Dealer Financing

85% of buyers elect for some form of financing. Both direct and dealer financing are available, and both have their unique advantages. Direct financing allows for more competitive rates as some institutions offer discounts to customers. Dealer financing may allow for flexibility if you are working on building your credit. Direct financing means your monthly payments are sent directly to the lender. Dealer financing means a dealer sells the loan contract to a financial institution, like a bank or credit union, and that institution then collects your payment. 

New and Used Car Loans

Common Trust offers auto loans for both new and used cars. We provide up to 120% financing on your new car or truck purchase for up to 7 years. For new and used vehicles, we will provide up to 120% financing of the NADA (National Auto Dealers Association) Retail value of your used car or truck purchase. We also finance vehicles up to 7 model years old, and in some cases, older. 

Get started

Now that you set your budget, gathered all of the necessary documents, and compared financing options, you are ready to apply for a loan. If you are not already a member, you will need to join Common Trust as a member before applying for an auto loan. Click here to become a member. If you are already a member, you can submit your application using your account number or Home Banking login information. 


We are committed to providing our members the opportunity to save in meaningful ways as we emerge from these challenging times. Common Trust is pleased to offer special rates as low as 1.99%* on auto loans until June 30, 2021. Click here to learn more about this Auto Loan promotion, and we look forward to assisting you.

10 Tips to Make the Most of Holiday Shopping This Year

‘Tis the season to start thinking about holiday shopping (cue the carols!) But, like most things in 2020, the way you’ll go about checking everyone off your gift list is bound to be a bit different this year. Major retailers including Target and Walmart have already announced they’ll be closed on Thanksgiving Day—doing away with the traditional jumpstart to Black Friday shopping—and the coronavirus has led to delays and backlogs for some brands.

Still, there is plenty to be merry about. You can expect to save money thanks to more online discounts, Cyber Monday deals, and special holiday pricing in the months leading up to Christmas. Retailers have also come up with clever ways to streamline the shopping experience like expanded curbside pickup and same-day delivery. And it has never been a better time to support your local community by spending your holiday gift budget at independently owned shops or buying gift cards to your favorite neighborhood restaurants. Plus, there are plenty of ways to spread holiday cheer without it costing a lot, from DIY gifts to keepsake-worthy ornaments to homemade treats that are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

From money-saving tricks to out-of-the-box gift ideas, read on for more ways to help make this year’s holiday shopping stress-free, safe, and fun.

1. Make a Budget and Stick to It

One of the biggest stressors of holiday shopping is overspending, so be sure to create a budget before you hit the stores. First, figure out the total you can afford to spend on gifts. Then, make a list of the people you would like to give to and allocate portions of your budget toward each person. Apps like Christmas Gift List Tracker and Santa’s Bag do the math and organize purchases for you (though a pen and paperwork just fine, too!). If you’re planning to DIY gifts, be sure to factor the cost of materials into your budget.

2. Shop Small

Small Business Saturday, which encourages shoppers to spend within their communities the Saturday after Thanksgiving, hit a record high last year according to a survey from American Express and the National Federation of Small Business—a hopeful sign for independently owned shops who need holiday dollars more than ever this season. Spending at your local shops not only helps your neighborhood, but you are also bound to find unique, curated gifts for friends and family, too. Check out the Shop Small Map to find stores and restaurants in your area.

3. Make Use of Curbside Pickup

With coronavirus making social distancing essential, many retailers are offering curbside pickup for merchandise purchased via their website or app. Lots of shoppers have been taking advantage already (according to Adobe Analytics, purchases made online then picked up at a store have increased 62% from last year), and it’s one easy way to streamline your holiday shopping and avoid long lines.

4. Sign Up with Your Favorite Stores

Sure, promotional emails can clog up your inbox, but if you are a devotee of a particular store, they are worth signing up for as they often include discount codes and sale previews. Be sure to investigate loyalty programs, too. Most are free to join and offer benefits like exclusive sales for members, discounts on purchases, and rewards for dollars spent.

5. Support Companies That Give Back (or Make a Direct Donation)

Check people off your gift list—and do some good—by buying from companies that give a portion of their profits to important causes. For book lovers, check Out of Print, which supports literacy programs; Hand in Hand donates soap to children in developing countries for every bar sold while the toys and apparel at Box Lunch help get food to the hungry via Feed America. Another great way to make a difference: Choose a charity based on a friend or family member’s passions and make a donation in his or her name (one of our favorites for kids: the adorable stuffed animal and certificate that come with a symbolic species adoption benefitting the World Wildlife Fund).

6. Take Advantage of Free Shipping

December 14 is Free Shipping Day when hundreds of retailers provide free shipping on orders guaranteed to arrive by Christmas Eve. It is especially worth waiting for if you have your eye on gifts from online shops that usually add shipping costs. You’ll find a list of stores that participate in Free Shipping Day here.

7. Shop Early

Keeping your eyes open for holiday presents year-round not only prevents you from having to pay for all your gifts within a few weeks, but it also adds a thrill to the hunt through flea markets, vintage stores, and souvenir shops, all great sources for affordable gifts. Shopping early is a good idea for online purchases, too. You will be able to take advantage of sales events like Cyber Monday when gifts are discounted and will also ensure presents have plenty of time to arrive.

8. Update Your Apps

The secret to savings may be as easy as pulling out your phone thanks to apps designed to find discounts. ShopSavvy lets users scan the barcode of an item, then reports back on the best prices for it both online and locally. For holiday food shopping, Coupons.com organizes free digital coupons from your local grocery stores and lets you upload paper ones (for some stores, you can also upload your paper receipt and receive cashback to your PayPal account). Before you make a purchase, check Retail Me Not, which provides access to discount codes, coupons, and cashback offers for clothes, tech, restaurants, and more.

9. Start a Secret Santa Tradition

For big families or groups of friends, consider starting a Secret Santa tradition where each person picks another’s name at random and focuses on their gift only (instead of everyone buying for everybody). This way, you can put more thought, money, and time into finding them something they will truly love. Plus, it is fun to see the surprised looks when recipients try to guess who their mystery gift-giver is.

10. Expand Your Gift List

Whether it’s your mail carrier who’s delivered package after package, a teacher who’s done their best to adjust to the challenges of distance learning, or a neighbor who’s been extra helpful, think through the people in your community who have made a difference this year and, if you can, add them to your gift list to thank them. Handmade cardsbaked goods, or gift baskets, are all great ways to show your appreciation.

 

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