Need Help Paying for College?

College tuition and expenses continue to rise and many families are looking for funding solutions to finance higher education. Recognizing this need for its customers, Hopewell Federal Credit Union continues to offer a competitive private student loan designed to ease the burden of paying for college. The Hopewell Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan can help pay for all qualified education expenses, including tuition, room and board, books, computers, and even past due tuition bills.

Private student loans are supposed to be used to bridge the funding gap after federal funds have been exhausted. For families confronted with this funding gap, the Hopewell Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan provides an affordable option while promoting responsible repayment habits through a modest monthly in-school payment. To be eligible for the Hopewell Federal Credit Union Private Student Loan, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, enrolled at least half-time in a degree-granting program at an eligible school and meet the credit requirements.

Learn more at https://partner.lendkey.com/hopewellfcu/student

How to Take the Heat Off Your Summer Budget

Summertime brings more than sunburns and barbecues — it can also send your monthly expenses through the roof. But with a little work now, you can enjoy the hot season and avoid pinching pennies in the fall.

“Ideally, one saves a little bit of money in each of the cooler months and then spends down those funds in the summer,” says Michael Schupak, founder of Schupak Financial Advisors in West New York, New Jersey. But, if you’ve failed to plan your budget that far ahead, all is not lost.

Saving on travel

Plan vacations wisely, paying for as much as possible in advance. Lodging, transportation and entertainment in many cases are less expensive when booked ahead. And getting started early means there will be less scrambling for money later.

If you’re down to the wire and don’t have enough money for a big trip, visit family who’ll put you up or plan a staycation this year. Crashing on a relative’s couch or being a tourist in your town may not be a dream vacation, but it is still a break and can give you a head start on saving for next year’s trip.

» MORE: 3 ways to save money

Saving while at home

On the homefront, find out if your utility company offers a flat rate plan. This can spread power, heating and cooling costs across 12 equal monthly payments, eliminating spikes on your bill caused by more people, like school-age children, being at home during the day in summer.

Older children home for the summer may spend their days raiding the fridge. Couponing is one way to save on groceries, but it can take a lot of effort to see measurable payoff. Instead, encourage your kids to cook and limit convenience foods — those that are easy to eat mindlessly — on your shopping list.

If you are looking for supervised activities for younger children, an overnight summer camp or full-time day care, generally the most expensive choices, aren’t the only options. If you didn’t budget for these big-ticket items, look for local day camps, which are often run by religious or community organizations and parks departments and are a fraction of the cost of child care.

For next year, Schupak recommends estimating how much expenses climb in the summer and setting aside — through automation, if possible — a portion of each paycheck for a summer fund.

» MORE: How to build a budget

Other tips for cutting summer costs

  • Opt for free or cheap weekend activities
  • Cut out streaming subscriptions
  • Encourage older children to get a summer job for their own spending money

Elizabeth Renter is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ElizabethRenter.

This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by USA Today.

The article How to Take the Heat Off Your Summer Budget originally appeared on NerdWallet.

The Lease is Up–Should You Buy the Car?

Your auto lease gives you a right to buy the vehicle for a fixed price at the end of the lease. But should you? If you have less than three months remaining on a lease, now’s the time to decide. So, find your lease and read on.

1. Do you like the car? If it’s performed well with a minimum of unexpected cost and repair, then it might be good to renew the lease.

2. Will it still fit your needs? If you’re driving a 2-door sports coupe but are expecting a baby, you probably need a new car.

3. What is your lease-end buying price? You’ll find the purchase option price in your lease. Let’s assume it’s $14,000.

4. What is your vehicle actually worth? Check websites such as Kelley Blue Book (kbb.com) and Edmunds.com Let’s assume your highest wholesale value is $15,000.

5. How does your vehicle’s wholesale value compare with its lease value? If it’s higher than the lease value, then it’s a good deal. In our example, your lease says you can buy for $14,000. You’ve confirmed wholesale value is $15,000. You’re buying a car you know and like for $1,000 less than its wholesale value. Buy the car.

6. What if the wholesale value is less than the lease value? If it’s a lot less, don’t buy the car. It doesn’t make sense to buy the car if your lease’s buy-out price is $14,000, and the car’s wholesale value is only $11,000.

7. What’s the bottom line? If your lease car is a good friend, and you can buy it for no more than $1,000 over wholesale value, that’s a smart buy. Your next smart decision is to finance it at Hopewell Federal Credit Union.

Copyright 2017 Credit Union National Association, Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

Travel smarter and save bigger this summer vacation

Spring flowers are in full bloom, which can only indicate one thing: summer is nearly upon us. For many, that means it’s time for a well-deserved vacation with family and friends. In a year-end 2016 survey conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, an overwhelming majority of respondents, 71 percent, are planning to get some rest and relaxation with a vacation this summer.

Whether heading somewhere new or traveling back to a family favorite, most Ohioans plan their vacations in advance, but at varying times – 34 percent plan six months to a year in advance, 31 percent plan three to six months in advance, and 15 percent plan one to three months in advance. And, while ample time to organize is important, budgets definitely play a role in those plans as well, with 70 percent of Ohioans surveyed noting the cost of the trip as a major influence on where they go for vacation. Other factors included travel distance, scheduling, and amenities or activities at the destination.

We all want and need downtime, but a large financial burden will long outlive the benefits of a vacation. In 2016, households likely to take a vacation spent $1,798 on average, up roughly 11 percent from 2015, according to Condé Nast Travel. In addition, a survey conducted by ValuePenguin noted that the typical vacationing family spends 44 percent of their travel funds on transportation.

Since many vacation decisions are driven by cost, here are a few tips to spend wisely when you take those hard-earned vacation days.

  • Scheduling matters: When planning low-cost trips, timing is everything. To save money booking accommodations, try traveling during an off-season or even a few weeks before peak-season starts. If you’re booking airfare, do so at least a month in advance, if not earlier. Airlines price their flights differently depending on the day of the week, so use an airfare tracker site or app, like Hopper, to keep up with changes.
  • Travel smart: Many vacation destinations take advantage of the naiveté of travelers, so tourist hot spots may be higher priced than smaller, locally-owned places. Do your research before deciding where to say, what to eat, and what activities you should embark on and you’ll likely save during your trip.
  • Use rewards: Even though you may not consistently travel, airlines, booking services, or even your credit union’s credit cards may offer rewards points that can be redeemed for airfare or other vacation expenses.
  • Set aside a little at a time — If traveling is important to you, make room for vacation savings in your annual or monthly budget. Use your local credit union to open a savings account specifically for vacations; credit unions are also a great resource to consult if you’re looking for ways to save and budget for vacation.

    To learn about credit unions in your community and how they can help you afford life, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org.

It’s Not Too Late to Plan a Summer Family Vacation

The school year is winding down and temperatures are warming up. That can only mean one thing: summer vacation.

But as you glance between browser tabs — from the beach picture you bookmarked on that travel site to your bank balance — a summer getaway suddenly begins to feel worlds away.

Your dreams of sunshine don’t have to be dashed, though. If you’re willing to be flexible, it’s not too late to plan a summer getaway that’s within your family’s budget.

» MORE: How much can I spend each month?

Base your destination on your budget

Sure, you probably won’t be able to save up enough between now and August to book a two-week stay at a five-star hotel for your family of four, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on a trip altogether.

You’ll just have to make some adjustments. For instance, stay closer to home instead of leaving the state. Or, if you have your heart set on traveling abroad, consider a destination where your money will be more valuable.

It’s important to keep exchange rates in mind when traveling internationally, according to Andrew Marshall, an independent financial planner and principal of Andrew Marshall Financial in California.

“That’s the way I do it,” he says. “I look and see where my dollars will go the furthest, and then from the top countries, I would narrow it down to places I really want to go to.”

It’s better to research the rate before you book instead of vice versa. Websites and apps such as XE Currency provide exchange rates so you know how much your money will be worth overseas. And see if your bank offers currency exchange so you can avoid potentially high fees at airport kiosks.

Make short-term sacrifices

Regardless of where you go, you’ll need the means to get there. But even if your vacation savings aren’t fully funded right now, you can build them up quickly. You already know what your goal is; now you just have to put in the work to make it happen.

“If you’d like to set aside a little more for your vacation, consider your spending in other areas of the budget and see if there are places to cut back slightly over the next three months,” Theresa C. Wan, certified financial planner, chartered financial analyst, and the principal of Treesa Financial Planning LLC in New Jersey, says in an email. “For example, eating out once a week instead of twice a week, buying $1 coffees instead of $4 lattes.”

For family vacations, Wan says last-minute sacrifices can function as an educational tool to help children learn how to delay gratification. They might give up ice cream tonight if it means going to Disneyland in a few months.

» MORE: How to budget for needs and wants

Splurge on priorities, save on the rest

Finally, keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong way to take a trip. Splurge on what you care about most and cut back on everything else. If you can’t afford room service every night, that’s OK. The little deli down the street from your hotel will suffice.

Another way to save is to rent a home, as opposed to booking several hotel rooms. “Especially with group travel, having a kitchen and dining area can make a big difference to your trip’s budget,” says Laurel Greatrix, a spokesperson for TripAdvisor Rentals, in an email.

And remember that sometimes cheap travel comes to those who wait. This can apply to hotels as well as airfare. Wan recommends checking travel sites often for last-minute deals. She recalls one client who jumped on a deal to Vietnam for the following week. She says the family of four had a great time at an “unbeatable price.”

Need an extra push to get to your beachside goal? Check out our tips for how to save money to put away some extra dollars between now and then.

Courtney Jespersen is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: courtney@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @courtneynerd.

The article It’s Not Too Late to Plan a Summer Family Vacation originally appeared on NerdWallet.

11 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment

Tickets to concerts, plays, movies: you could live without them, but saving money shouldn’t mean sucking the fun out of life.

Here’s how to curb your entertainment spending without giving up your favorite pastimes.

1. Trim your services

Explore different pricing options for the services you already have. Take steps to lower your internet and cable bills, such as negotiating, downgrading your plans or bundling the two.

2. Seek an alternative to cable

If trimming won’t save you enough, cut the cord completely. Based on the average cable bill cost, this could put upward of $100 back in your pocket each month.

Axing cable doesn’t mean you’ll be starved for content. If you can survive without watching networks like CNN and AMC live, streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video feature movies, TV and original series libraries. If you must have extra channels, consider replacing your traditional cable package with a service like Sling TV, which offers live TV for a fraction of the cost of cable.

Looking to save even more? If you subscribe to multiple streaming services, such as Netflix and Hulu, drop the one you use less often.

3. Share memberships

Split the cost of a paid membership with a friend or relative. For example, Amazon Prime memberships cost $99 per year, but members can share benefits with another adult for no extra charge by creating an Amazon Household. This gives both parties access to free movie and TV streaming, Prime shipping and Kindle books for about $50 each. Or you can cut your Costco membership fee in half by sharing with a spouse or roommate. Members receive a free household card that they can share with another person over 18 years old who lives at the same address.

4. Shop wholesale clubs

Wholesale clubs, such as Costco and Sam’s Club, have an abundance of affordable entertainment. They sell discounted movie and theme park tickets, restaurant gift cards and more in bulk, which is helpful, especially if you’re shopping for multiple people. You’ll also find inexpensive electronics, books, movies and games.

5. Get a library card

With a public library card in hand, the entertainment world is your oyster: You don’t have to buy, or even rent, to get your fix. Use your library card to surf the web or check out movies, books, audiobooks, games and music for free.

6. Attend free events

Take advantage of street fairs, concerts in the park or other free happenings in your community. Some venues that normally charge admission — such as museums, zoos and aquariums — host free-entry days once per month. Next time you plan a dinner out or hit the bars, look for joints that feature live music or comedy shows. Check your local newspaper, coffee shop or university for a list of upcoming events.

7. Volunteer

If the sporting event or concert isn’t free, you still might be able to attend at no cost by volunteering at the venue. Just be aware that you might not fully enjoy the event if you’re busy checking tickets or collecting trash.

8. Ask about discounts

Identification is all some people need to save money. Seniors, students and members of the military — or their families — often qualify for discounts at retailers, movie theaters, theme parks, national parks and restaurants. Kids often receive discounted admissions well.

If who you are doesn’t cut it, your membership status might. For example, AAA and AARP memberships come with savings benefits. Ask if you’re eligible for special rates when making entertainment purchases.

9. Buy used

Save serious money by buying televisions, tablets, computers, movies and video games secondhand. Shop thrift stores and used book stores, and check retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart for refurbished tech.

10. Use credit card perks

Under the right circumstances, plastic is more budget-friendly than cash. Your credit card might offer points or cash back on tickets to the theater or sporting events, electronics purchases and other entertainment-related transactions. Certain cards give exclusive discounts on or early access to event tickets through partnerships and promotions.

11. Cut back

An obvious way to save on entertainment without giving up your “wants” entirely is to adjust your budget and set a lower spending limit for entertainment expenses. For instance, rent a movie every other week instead of weekly, or refrain from buying the latest gaming console if your old one still works.

Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.

The article 11 Ways to Save Money on Entertainment originally appeared on NerdWallet.

Stage Your Home For a Fast Sale

Today’s real estate market is crowded with inventory, so if you want to sell your home, it has to stand out. Staging, or making it appeal to the broadest possible group of people, is one way to do just that.

That means depersonalizing your home so buyers can visualize themselves living in it. Basic staging steps include:

* Neutralize—Put away family photos, religious items, collections.

* De-clutter—Pack up knick-knacks, clear off countertops, remove up to half your furniture. Consider renting a storage locker until your home sells.

* Rearrange—Arrange furniture so buyers can move smoothly through the home. Highlight rooms’ focal points, such as fireplaces, with furniture groupings.

* Let it shine—Clean or replace carpets, wash or paint walls, pressure-wash siding and decks, and scrub, scrub, scrub—especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Turn on all lights and open drapes for showings.

* Landscape—Mow and edge the lawn, trim the hedges, plant flowers. If your yard doesn’t look well-maintained, buyers will assume your home isn’t and drive on by.

If your funds are limited, spend money where it shows. Buyers form first impressions from your front door and foyer, so make sure they sparkle. Is the doorknob wobbly? The doorbell broken? The doormat shabby? If you’re debating replacing carpeting in the entryway or a back hallway, choose the entryway.

Be sure your changes make economic sense, though. Do normal maintenance, such as replacing stained, chipped countertops, but don’t install an expensive hot tub.

Consider hiring a professional stager. Realtors can recommend stagers, or you can consult the International Association of Home Staging Professionals’ website at iahsp.com. Costs vary, but the National Association of Realtors reports that spending 1% to 3% of your home’s asking price will generally yield an 8% to 10% return.

Whether you’re fixing up your home for resale, or looking to buy a new home yourself, Hopewell Federal Credit Union can help. Stop by or call 740.522.8311 today. Visit us on the Web at http://www.hopewellfcu.org.