Home Equity Loans Give You Room For Improvement

It’s a tough choice for a homeowner: Move into a new house, or improve the one you have. It seems so easy to call a realtor and arrange a showing. But your current home has something no new home can offer—equity.

Home equity is on the rise, providing homeowners a ready financing source to turn home sweet home into home sweet dream home. On average, homeowners spend 18 months planning home improvements. It’s time well spent, but some renovations pay off better than others. According to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” replacing your front door can transform the look and feel of your house and return 75% at resale. Similarly, you can expect a 67% return on a kitchen update. A home office remodel returns the low end under 50%

As you plan, look beyond your house to your neighborhood. Will renovations put you in a different league—and price range—than your neighbors? Also, keep in mind how long you’ll be in your house. If you’re going to fix it up and sell in six months, you’ll get all the pain of remodeling and not much gain. But if you plan to live in the house more than three years, it makes economic sense to remodel.

Call Hopewell Federal to help you calculate your equity and discuss your home equity loan options today.

Utilizing Digital File Keeping

Most everyone has too many digital files to count these days. Music, pictures, financial files, product warranties, even retail receipts that are e-mailed rather than printed at the cash register leave us with digitized pieces of our everyday life.

Sixty-eight percent of Ohioans organize their important documents digitally, according to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League. When it comes to their personal bookkeeping, 27 percent said they receive all their monthly account statements digitally via e-mail, 52 percent said they receive at least some of their monthly statements digitally, and 21 percent said they still prefer to receive hard copies of all statements.

Even while people utilize digitization for their personal accounting and filing systems, almost 57 percent of the survey’s respondents said they’re not entirely sure their personal information is safe. Less than 32 percent said they have complete faith that their files are safely stored.

A 2015 international survey conducted by Accenture Consulting noted that while consumers find smart devices, and the files stored on them, to be increasingly relevant to their lives, they are not convinced there is a satisfactory level of security and privacy.

While less paperwork to pile, file, or shred is a bonus, digital consumers still want to feel like their personal information is safe. Here are a few helpful tips for staying organized and keeping digital data safe.

• Take control of your computer. Perhaps the most important step in digital organization is taking control of your computer. File important e-statements in labeled folders in your “My Documents” folder. It reduces desktop clutter, adds a level of security if your system crashes, and makes searching easier should you need to find a document.
• Set a rule for creating passwords. You don’t need to remember 75 passwords if you have one rule set for generating them. For instance, try always using your initials to start, followed by a favorite number, then the first two to three letters of the service name. Using the same password repeatedly makes it easier for identity thieves to hack into your accounts. And creating multiple passwords with no rule makes it difficult to remember them all.
• Archive files. Archive what you don’t want or need. Create a folder in your “My Documents” folder called “Archives.” You can place items there you don’t necessarily need, but aren’t comfortable deleting right away.
• Keep a paper trail. Keep a digital and a safely-stored paper version of critical documents that are either hard to replace, such as family health records and major home improvements, or for documents that are tax or business related.

To learn about credit unions in your community and how they can provide digital documents for your financial needs, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org.

Millennials Serious About Ditching Debt

Millennials are making wiping out debt a top priority, according to a USA Today/Bank of America Money Habit survey.

Among those surveyed, two-thirds of millennials said they have made getting out of debt a top priority. This ranks just above having minimal financial stress, spending less than they earn and having an emergency savings fund.

The study showed a significant difference in responses from college-educated millennials versus those without a degree. Almost 60% of respondents with degrees said they were somewhat satisfied with their current financial situation, while only 40% of non-college grads felt confident about their status.

Other findings:

• On average, 64% of those polled have savings–57% without a college degree and 85% with a degree. Even college grads strapped with student loan debt have more confidence than those who didn’t go to college or didn’t graduate;

• Across the board, 51% are concerned that they won’t have enough money to achieve financial wellness;

• Among millennials with savings, 43% have less than $5,000 put away; and

• One-third of those with savings have a 401(k): About half of millennials ages 26-34 participate in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, while only 14% of millennials younger than 26 participate in a plan.

Even though most young adults said that at times they worry about their financial situation, most generally are satisfied with their situation. They are wary about taking on more debt and are hesitant to purchase items they can’t afford.

No matter your debt situation, we’d love to touch base with you. Stop by or call today at 740.522.8311 or visit online at http://www.hopewellfcu.org.

Surviving the Loss of a Job

The loss of a steady paycheck or consistent income can quickly change anyone’s day-to-day reality. Although unemployment levels are improving, 5.3 percent nationally and 5 percent in Ohio, more than 2 million Americans have been jobless for more than six months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite this statistic, 52 percent of Ohioans surveyed in the Mid-Year 2015 Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, said they are only prepared to cover up to three months of essential expenses if an unexpected job loss happens to them

Fourteen percent said they could live for 3-6 months in the event of a job loss, while only 11 percent of respondents said they could cover expenses for 6-12 months. In order to prepare for an unforeseen event such as losing a job, consumers should consider putting away at least 10 percent of net income monthly into a savings account.

Here are some tips to getting back on your feet following an unexpected change in job statue.

• Visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website. This website is a good resource for obtaining new employment, unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance, and health benefits. http://jfs.ohio.gov/
• Consider borrowing from current investments. There may be a tax or other penalty, but when income abruptly stops, one option to consider is borrowing from your 401K, Roth IRA, or insurance policy. It can help keep your head above water until you find employment and keep you from having to take out a loan or running up the balance on high-interest credit cards.
• Consider temporary job options. If finding work is taking a while, a temporary job can help bring in some income while you’re still seeking a permanent fit.
• Check with a credit union. If you’re out of work and need advice, a credit union can help. These not-for-profit financial institutions believe in helping consumers afford life by offering benefits such as lower interest rates on loans, flexible payment options such as skip-a-pay to help in a crisis situation like a job loss, higher savings deposit yields, and fewer/lower fees compared to banks.

To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit www.asmarterchoice.org.

5 Financial Tips for Fall

Fall means dreams of pumpkin spice lattes, turkey dinners and a cozy holiday season just around the corner. Here are five ways to make sure you’re financially well-equipped for the last stretch of the year.

1. Tackle back-to-school shopping wisely

Whether you’re shopping for your kids or yourself, approaching back-to-school sales with a clear focus can ensure you’re spending on the right things.

It might be tempting to buy something just because it’s on sale. To guard against impulse buys, make a list of what you need, not what you want. Set a budget and stick to it. If you must make large purchases such as laptops, look for reliable models that should last through several school years.

2. Winterize your home: Save energy, save cash

As temperatures drop, home heating bills rise. But properly sealing and insulating a house can save an average of about 11% a year on energy costs, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Keep your expenses to a minimum by sealing gaps and cracks in windows and doors with weatherstripping or caulk. Clean and inspect your furnace to ensure it’s running as efficiently as possible. Also consider increasing your insulation. Though your wallet will take a hit for the season, you’ll probably get more than your money’s worth in a few years.

3. Start your holiday gift hunt

We all know that the sale to beat all sales — Black Friday — comes on the heels of Thanksgiving. But don’t forget about the little guys: Labor Day, Columbus Day and Veterans Day usually mean smaller but still significant discounts. As the year winds toward its close, expect sales on appliances, cookware, clothing and electronics. Beat the winter rush and get started on your holiday shopping.

4. Traveling in December? Book your trip now

If you’re flying for the holidays, now is the time to book if you haven’t already. Follow your favorite airlines on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for their email announcements for deals. This is also a great time to cash in your travel credit card miles, especially if your earned perks are due to expire at the end of the year.

5. Check your flexible spending account balance

If you’ve been putting money aside in a health care flexible spending account, or FSA, make sure you spend it before your money effectively disappears at year’s end. Book yourself a dentist or eye appointment, or get an annual physical.

And check with your company to see whether there’s any wiggle room. Your employer might allow you to roll over up to $500 to the next year or give you a few months’ grace period.

With a little planning in the fall, you can save enough money to get through the long (and often pricey) holiday season that’s just ahead.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Keep It Interactive: Teaching Kids About Money

Children are aware of money at an early age, long before they go to school, according to Philip Heckman, Credit Union National Association’s Director of Youth Programs, Madison, Wis. Interactive discussions–rather than lectures–are most helpful.

Heckman says parents should allow kids to ask questions, express opinions, and have input to decisions.

With young children it’s better to wait until they initiate discussions; even older ones may be more receptive if they ask the question. Sometimes, however, important matters require a sit-down discussion. Says Heckman: “Be reassuring and assess, based on the age of the child, how much they’ll understand and how much detail to offer.”

“If the change will affect the child, such as a cutback in the family budget, that’s something that needs to be explained,” says Heckman. “The child will understand and relate to that.” Indeed, parents often are surprised at how supportive their children are when cutbacks are required. If you discuss how you’ll reduce spending, children may volunteer to cut their own spending.

Talk openly with your children about things you’d like to buy but can’t afford. If you save for an item, let kids see you doing so. If you buy something you haven’t budgeted for, discuss what you’ll give up buying in exchange. “Show that it’s not just kids that have to go without–parents have limits too,” advises Heckman.

Copyright 2008 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

Hopewell Car Show A Success

This past Saturday, August 6th, 2016, Hopewell Federal Credit Union held its sixth annual Car Show in Newark, Ohio.  Proceeds from the event will be presented to the Licking County Humane Society (LCHS).  The event, sponsored by Courtesy Ambulance, Webb Financial Group, LICCO Inc., Grayson Graphics, Weltman, Weinberg, & Reis Co., LPA, and Golden Eagle Insurance, was coordinated by Jim Matheny of Kar Shoz.  The event brought in fifty-one cars featuring a variety of years, makes and models.

Attendees of the event enjoyed free admission, DJ music, food from Moe’s Original BBQ, 50/50 raffle, and door prize drawings.  The Licking County Humane Society was on hand with some of their adoptable pets.

Specialty award winners included:

DJ’S Choice Dennis Bennet Newark 1923 Ford T-Bucket
CEO’S Choice Sam Humphrey Newark 1963 Chevy Super Sport
Top 18 Chris Lackey Utica 1970 Chevy Chevelle
Top 18 Chad Deal Newark 1928 Ford Model A
Top 18 Irvin Fry Newark 1967 VW Beatle
Top 18 George Nash Newark 1968 Mercury Cougar
Top 18 Rick Cunningham Heath 1996 Ford F150
Top 18 John Wallace Newark 1999 Chevy Corvette
Top 18 Terry Dugan Newark 1930 Ford Streetrod
Top 18 Steve Clay Hebron 1972 Olds Cutlass
Top 18 Larry & Sue Altman Hanover 1955 Chevy Bel Air
Top 18 Rob Meldahl Newark 1934 Ford Sedan
Top 18 Michael Laymen Newark 1953 Dodge Pick Up
Top 18 Rick Lueckel Zanesville 1973 MGB
Top 18 Mark A. Sheets Newark 1968 Dodge Charger
Top 18 Ricky Wright Newark 1970 Chevy Chevelle
Top 18 Neil Moore Heath 1972 Ford Gran Torino SP
Top 18 Ron Nutter Newark 1962 Chevy Impala SS
Top 18 Charlie Blanchette Newark 1969 Chevelle
Top 18 Rob Messenger Newark 1931 Ford Model A Truck

We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our community.  We look forward to presenting the donation to the Licking County Humane Society in the weeks to come.