Direct Deposit Trims Your To-Do List

We’re a nation on the go. There’s work time, fitness time, child time, spouse time, parent time, friend time, and–if you’re lucky–some quiet time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to worry about one less thing? Try direct deposit.

With direct deposit, you authorize your employer or federal agency, like the Social Security Administration, to deposit your check directly into your Hopewell Federal Credit Union account so you can count on access to funds without visiting the credit union. Instead of a check, you receive a paper record of the transaction. Employers, for example, provide an earnings statement on payday showing net deposit and how much was withheld for taxes, company savings plans, or any other withheld amounts.

And direct deposit isn’t just for paychecks. If you’re receiving Social Security checks, you can easily switch those to direct deposit as well.

The Internal Revenue Service also is getting into the act. Direct deposit now delivers tax refunds to accounts of both electronic and non-electronic tax filers.

No matter where your check’s coming from, direct deposit takes the worry out of:

* Stolen or misplaced checks. The Treasury Department reports that more than a million mailed Social Security and government pension checks are lost, stolen, or late every year. And, more than four million paychecks are lost or stolen each year.

* Delayed deposits. Your funds are deposited regularly, and on time. You get paid even if you’re not at work on payday, or can’t make it to Hopewell during business hours.

* Losing potential dividends. With direct deposit you earn dividends on funds as soon as possible. If you have to deposit funds in person, any delay postpones when your money starts making money.

* Lost time. One estimate says direct deposit can save up to 24 hours a year otherwise spent going to the credit union to cash or deposit your paychecks.

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Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks

We were thrilled to read, NerdWallet selected our Blog as a top pick among Credit Union blogs.  Nerdwallet.com is a great website loaded with information.  Take a moment to review the article featuring Hopewell Federal Credit Union and be sure and sign up for their mailing list.

Credit Union Blogs – NerdWallet’s Picks.

Give Your Debts a Financial Health Check

A debt-to-income ratio is a measure of financial stability calculated by dividing monthly minimum debt payments by monthly gross income. This calculation gives a straightforward depiction of your financial position. Typically, the lower your ratio, the better handle you have on debt.

Determining your debt

* Collect your most recent credit billing statements for current balances
* Outline your total monthly bills using two columns: bill type (such as car loan, mortgage/rent payments, and so on) and monthly payment. Do not include bills such as taxes and utilities in this list.

* Add up the total for all of the monthly payments listed.

* Calculate your monthly before-tax income. If you receive a paycheck every other week, as opposed to twice a month, your monthly gross income is your before-tax income from one paycheck times 2.17.

* Your monthly debt-to-income ratio is calculated by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly income. For example, someone with a monthly income of $2,000 who is making monthly payments of $500 on loans and credit cards has a debt-to-income ratio of 25% ($500 / $2,000 = .25 or 25%).

Staying aware of your ratio can help avoid debt reaching a problematic stage.
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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; some renovations pay off better than others. Bathroom and kitchen renovations provide the greatest return, between 90% and 95%. Decks and home offices hold the low end, between 65% and 70%.

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.

How do you calculate your available equity? First step: Say you made a down payment of $20,000 on a house priced at $100,000 five years ago. Since then, you’ve paid $15,000 toward the principal, and the market value of your house has increased to $115,000. The sum of your down payment ($20,000), principal paid ($15,000), and the increase in property value ($15,000) gives you $50,000 in equity.

Second step: Ideally, what you owe on your home–mortgage plus home equity loan–shouldn’t exceed 80% of your home’s value. So 80% of $115,000 suggests, if you meet other lending yardsticks, you may be eligible for as much as a $27,000 home equity loan (house is worth $115,000; 80% of that is $92,000; you still owe $65,000 on the first mortgage; so $92,000 – $65,000 = $27,000).

Call Hopewell Federal Credit Union to discuss your home equity loan options today.