OFCU Suggests 7 Ways to Save Vacation Money

Plan your next vacation ahead to ensure that you get the most for your money without sacrificing a good time. Then relax, knowing that you might even have funds left over when you get home. Here’s how:

  1. Airfare — Book flights on travel websites and you may be eligible for a voucher if the airfare goes down after you’ve purchased your tickets. Sign up for alerts from Airfarewatchdog and follow other travel sites on social media as well. Call your airline agent and ask for a deal. Use a regional airport — low-cost airlines often don’t service the large international airports.
  2. Lodging — If you book by phone, ask the desk agent to beat the online rate. Consider an apartment or home rental instead of a hotel — you’ll save even more by cooking your own meals. Consider booking a place to stay through airbnb.com.
  3. Food — Make lunch your main meal. Lunches often are 30% cheaper than the same entrées on a dinner menu and you’ll be less likely to splurge on expensive alcoholic beverages. Stock up on snack foods before you leave home and replenish your supply at local grocery stores rather than convenience marts.
  4. Search for vacation package deals — Package deals often give great discounts. Find them on Expedia and Priceline, or daily deal sites like Groupon Getaways and LivingSocial Escapes.
  5. Book by your budget — If budget is more important than destination, search “explore” on kayak.com or “flights” on Google.com. Select your departure city, season of travel, price, and get ready to be inspired.
  6. Add a free destination — Find deals under “special offers” or by searching “stopover” on your airline’s website. You might be able to squeeze in an extra destination at little or even no cost.
  7. Travel off-season — If you’re flexible, travel in the shoulder seasons — just before or after peak season depending on your destination. Prices are low, the weather could be really nice, shops and restaurants are open, and there are fewer tourists.

An OFCU Vacation Club Account lets members save for their dream vacation. Through payroll deduction, members can save systematically and painlessly. The Vacation Club Account matures on April 30 and the funds are transferred to your Savings Account on the first business day in May. You can open a Vacation Club Account by signing into Virtual Branch, clicking on the “Self Service” tab and then clicking on “Open Additional Accounts”. 

Omaha Federal Credit Union is right here with you, ready to help you save for your next vacation. If you would like to open a savings or investment account, or need help budgeting, check out our website at www.omahafcu.org or contact us at 402.399.9001.

OFCU Offers Post-Pandemic Financial Advice

The COVID pandemic is and continues to be a defining period of our lives. Among its many effects, it caused all of us to take a hard look at how we live our lives, including the way we spend our money.

Quarantine kept many of us at home, preventing us from spending as much as we usually did for things like entertainment and travel. Many people lost their jobs or were furloughed, forcing them to reduce their expenses. One clear effect was that those with emergency funds fared better than those who did not have them.

We all took at least a few moments to evaluate and reassess the things we believed were important to us. For example, many people realized that the things they used to consider “needs” like expensive shoes, eating out every day, or having the latest cellphone, suddenly weren’t as important to them. Those things were simply “wants” or “nice to haves.” We learned we could get by with a less expensive way of life.

If you did manage to save some money, what did you do with the extra cash? Hopefully, you used it to create some financial security, like pay down debt, open a retirement fund, or boost your emergency fund.

There’s a chance that when the pandemic is history, some people may revert to their old spending habits, indulging in all their “wants” again. That would truly be a waste of the lessons we’ve learned. Instead, try to continue spending as mindfully as you have during the pandemic.

1. Make a commitment to save each month. Pay your emergency and retirement funds first. If you haven’t created accounts for either one, then start them now. To make saving easier, use automatic transfers to deposit funds into those accounts after your paycheck is deposited. Try to save 20% of your monthly income.

2. Pay off credit cards. Then make sure you only spend as much as you can comfortably afford — that doesn’t mean your credit limit. Ideally, you want to pay the total in full at the end of each month, so you don’t accrue interest charges.

3. Get clear on what your “needs” and your “wants” are. A lot of people have trouble with this, but it isn’t difficult to figure out. “Needs” are things you need to survive — groceries, housing, utilities, health insurance, transportation. These expenses should amount to 50% of your expenses. Everything else is a “want” — dining out, entertainment, vacations, etc. That should take no more than 30% of your expenses.

Omaha Federal Credit Union is right here with you, ready to help you get your post-pandemic finances in order. If you would like to open a savings or investment account, or need help budgeting, check out our website at www.omahafcu.org or contact us at 402.399.9001.

Support Omaha Federal Credit Union as we join #TogetherToFightSuicide

Omaha Federal Credit Union has joined a community of caring people from hundreds of cities across the country in support of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide.

You can help us reach our goal by spreading awareness about Omaha’s Out of the Darkness Community Walk on September 18 at 11 a.m. It will be held at Stinson Park at Aksarben Village in Omaha. What better way to show men and women that they are never alone in their experiences? What better way to lead real change within the communities that we live in and work? Whether it is to honor a loved one, to raise awareness about prevention, to cherish a lost friend’s memory, to support each other or someone who is struggling, or to open up the conversation, we are walking side-by-side to help lead the fight against suicide. And, in the process, we have the opportunity to save lives, and to cultivate a culture that’s smarter about mental health and more empathetic to humankind.

You can support this important cause by becoming involved in the following ways:

  1. SUPPORT – Join OFCU’s team (no need to donate, walk or volunteer)
  2. WALK — Participate with OFCU’s Team at the Walk on Sept. 18 at Stinson Park
    • Go to link in Step 1 or CTRL CLICK the WALK icon below
    • Select JOIN OUR TEAM, then follow the prompts to register. Everyone must register.
    • Then, mark your calendar to walk with us on Sept. 18. Enjoy music, food, raffles, vendor booths and – of course — camaraderie!
    • If you’d like to raise funds for the Walk and/or donate, feel free to do so on our OFCU Team website page (CTRL CLICK the WALK icon below)! However, donating and fundraising are NOT required to walk.
  3. DONATE – Just interested in contributing funds, but not necessarily doing the Walk?
    • Go to link in Step 1 or CTRL CLICK the DONATE icon below
    • Select ROSTER on our team’s Walk home page
    • Select the team member that you’d like to support. Note: you must select an individual team member to donate to OFCU’s Walk team.
    • Then select DONATE and follow the prompts to make your donation
  4. VOLUNTEER your time at the Walk on Sept. 18 or directly with AFSP
    • There are many opportunities for pre-walk, during-walk and post-walk activities
    • Call us at 402.399.9001 for more Walk details, or CTRL CLICK the VOLUNTEER icon below for opportunities with the AFSP Nebraska Chapter
  5. COMBO of any of the above!
    • Support, Walk, Donate, Fundraise and/or Volunteer – it’s all up to you!
    • Once registered, you can donate to others in support of THEM, and/or others can donate to you in support of YOU!

All donations are 100% tax deductible and will help bring AFSP one step closer to achieving its bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

For more information about the Omaha Walk, go to: AFSP Out of the Darkness Community

For fundraising tips, go to: Fundraising Tips and Tools (afsp.org)

FOR FAQs, go to: Frequently Asked Questions (afsp.org)

If you have any questions, please call 402.399.9001.

Thank you in advance for your support!

P.S. Register today and be part of the movement uniting #TogetherToFightSuicide and bringing suicide out of the darkness in our communities.

College Students Share Their Honest Thoughts on Student Finance

It has been a year of twists and turns for everyone…but particularly for college students. Zogo brought together a group of them to get their honest thoughts on the current state of education and student finance, discussing everything from online learning to the student debt crisis. These were some of the key questions and answers from the discussion:

Did your parents prepare you for taking charge of your finances when starting college? Or was this something that you learned from just throwing yourself into it?

Natalie: I mostly learned from throwing myself into it. My parents focused on teaching me to save my money, but I guess I was never really taught the ‘why’ part. I definitely wasn’t prepared for all the extra expenses at college that you wouldn’t think of, like sports fees and textbooks.

John: A little bit of both. A lot of it comes with experience, but saving money was the first and foremost thing I was taught by my parents. I actually learned a lot from my two older sisters who had been through the college process and watching them make their first financial decisions.

Should parents or schools be the one to teach kids about student finance?

Kevin: Schools would probably be one of the best platforms for that. Parents may come from different backgrounds and maybe they don’t know enough about the topic. There could be a chain of knowledge that’s missing. Schools would be a good place to instill some of that base knowledge and cover everybody on a uniform basis – the question is how would they do that.

Roshni: Schools should do at least the foundation of personal finance. Every family has a different financial position or viewpoint – they may not have the privilege to teach their kids about it. Schools need to prepare students and not just release them into the real world.

Do you think that high schools do a sufficient job at preparing students for taking on student debt?

John: Everyone knew it was coming. We all knew it was something we would have to deal with, but school never really highlighted the complexities of it like they should have. They spent so much time focused on getting us into college, that they overlooked student debt. Even the tuition differences between in-state and out-of-state colleges weren’t really highlighted. They were just keen on getting us into the best school possible.

Roshni: There were close to 4,000 students in my high school. My grade alone had 800 kids. Among all of those students, there are only two college counselors. The information tends to be geared toward certain groups depending on who needs it most – when really it should be universal.

There may be no answer to this, but do you think there is a way to fix the student debt crisis?

Natalie: There are a lot of ideas that could potentially help, but there aren’t many that are realistic. I think student loan refinancing would be really good for a lot of people. I also think the policy of FAFSA should be entirely changed because a lot of people get denied student aid, even those who truly need it. It’s based on a number system that seems to be completely skewed. I think it should be changed.

Kevin: It seems like right now a lot of the burden of student debt is falling on the students. The question is, do we want to be moving the student debt burden to the taxpayers? You can…but do you want to burden the taxpayers with the student debt if they’ve personally paid theirs off?

You can watch the full discussion, College Students Discuss the Future of Education, at: https://youtu.be/bHMkQXUrytg

By Lucas Mill, VP of Customer Success at Zogo

For more information, please click here.

4 Homebuying Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

Sometimes, the housing market can feel like a jungle. Some of you have been on the hunt for months, searching through a forest of homes that hopefully are within your budget, but nothing has really caught your eye or even met half of the items on your preferences list. Not to mention, the housing inventory is so low right now, many homebuyers are getting their offers rejected because there are so many cash offers on the table for sellers to consider.

You may also have a tough time understanding what questions you should ask your real estate professional and mortgage loan officer, what you should expect, and what you’re required to do in the homebuying process.

On the HGTV show, House Hunters, the featured homebuyers always manage to quickly choose one house out of three choices. Why does buying a home seem a lot more complicated for you than on the show? First of all, that’s a TV show. Also, the buyers all use a real estate professional, something you may not have considered yet. Third, there are only about 30 minutes to get introduced to the family, hear their list of demands, get an overview of the city they’re moving to, tour three homes, listen to them complain about all the houses, and see them pick one, and move in. Come on —buying a home is much more involved than that!

While the homebuying process can be complex and stressful, I’m familiar with the landscape, so I am here to clear up some of the most common misconceptions.

Myth #1: You don’t need a real estate agent to buy a home.

Don’t rely solely on the internet to guide you through the homebuying process. Real estate professionals can guide you through the journey. Real estate professionals have a thorough understanding of the industry, as well as access to tools and databases to thoroughly search home listings that will meet your needs. Because of their experience, they are able to give homebuyers objective opinions on a home, seeing beyond great features that buyers tend to “fall” for, such as a great yard or granite countertops. Real estate professionals can help their buyers understand potential repair costs, neighborhood crime rates, school systems, and tax rates to make the best decision for their families. They have the expertise to explain documentation, terminology, and what you’ll need to consider when you buy a home. They’re especially helpful when you’re overwhelmed and not sure what to do.  

Myth #2: Your down payment has to be 20% of the home’s value*.

Depending on your financial situation, including credit score, assets, confirmed income, and collateral, homebuyers may be able to qualify for a home loan with as little as a 3% down payment. Don’t assume that just because you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars available for a down payment, you cannot buy a home. A qualified mortgage loan officer will assess your full financial picture to determine the loan terms that are the best fit for your situation. *PLEASE NOTE: Omaha Federal Credit Union requires 20% down for a first mortgage.  

Myth #3: If you’re prequalified, you’re pre-approved.

First-time buyers (and, truth be told, many experienced buyers) often confuse prequalification with pre-approval. When you supply your lender with information about your income, assets, debts and other financial details, your lender uses that information to suggest a good loan type and amount for your circumstances. That’s a prequalification. A pre-approval is only issued when your lender has agreed to provide the loan after considering the financial information you supplied. A pre-approval is stronger because it shows you are truly able to secure the loan you need.

Myth #4: There is little or no room for negotiation in the asking price.

Certainly, a home’s asking price is a good indicator of whether you can afford the home. However, remember that the asking price will not necessarily match the selling price. Here are some instances when sellers may be likely to accept an offer quite a bit lower than the asking price:

  • If a home inspection reveals troublesome repairs that most buyers would demand, a seller may be willing to lower the selling price to compensate for necessary repairs and/or entice buyers to overlook the problem.
  • If a home has been for sale longer than its competition, it’s likely the price is too high. In a case of overpricing, reasonable sellers will consider offers that more closely align with current market rates. An experienced real estate professional can guide you in figuring out the right amount to offer in a case like this.
  • Not all buyers are seen as equal. If you can demonstrate that you’re approved for a loan, have the ability to pay, and have saved a down payment, you’re an attractive buyer. Sellers often prefer selling to a stable, dependable buyer, even in the face of a bit higher offer from a buyer who may not be as reliable.

Now that we’ve debunked some myths, you can continue your search with renewed confidence. Your homebuying process should be easier and move more speedily. Just remember some of these myth busters and you’ll have a greater chance at homebuying success.  

Always consult a real estate agent for real estate advice.

By Marcia Messer

For more information, please click here.

Lock in a Low Interest Auto Loan — As Low As 1.99% APR*

It’s a great time to buy a vehicle! Bring in your current auto loan or call for details (402.399.9001). APPLY TODAY!

*New Loans Only. Loans subject to credit qualifications and approval, which will be determined promptly.

Other rates and terms available. Rates, terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

*Annual Percentage Rate

Check Out Our Latest E-Newsletter!

Click on the link or the image below to enjoy the latest issue of Omaha Federal Credit Union’s monthly e-newsletter. This issue is packed with great articles, news, links and updates and we hope you enjoy this and future issues.

July 2021 E-newsletter

Four Simple Steps to Getting Your Credit Score Back on Track

Written by Amanda Harr

One of the biggest life lessons that will prove valuable over and over again: the credit-related mistakes made in your past can come back to haunt you in the future, particularly if you intend on purchasing a home, vehicle, or taking out any other type of credit.

Your payment history, types of credit used, new credit, length of credit history, and amounts owed play a huge role in the importance of a FICO® score, which in turn determines if you’re eligible to make significant purchases, such as a home or car.

The silver lining to this story is, even though you may have a terrible credit score, it is not finite. Your credit score changes monthly, and there are several things you can do to help steer yourself in the right direction. In this blog post, we’ll outline a simple, four-step process to help you begin improving your credit score and work toward achieving your financial goals.

If you need help or advice regarding your current credit score, here are some helpful sites:

Step #1: Find out what your credit score is.

Did you know that one in eight Americans is unaware of their credit score? In fact, even among those who have checked their credit score, 46% haven’t done so in over two months.

If you would like to maintain or improve your credit score, the first step is finding out what it is! You’ll want to get copies of your credit report from all three major bureaus. You can obtain a report once per year from each bureau for free (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion).

While your credit score alone does not determine whether a lender can issue you credit, it is very important. Credit scores range from 300—850. A credit score of 711 is considered “good” by most lending standards.

The components of FICO scores are made up of five categories: length of credit history, credit mix, new credit, payment history, and how much you owe. Once you determine where you stand, work to improve or maintain your credit score.

Related Reading: How Does Your Credit Score Stack Up?

Step #2: Pay down your outstanding debt.

Start by putting a stop to your credit card usage. Next, use your credit report as a reference to list all of your open credit. Use your credit card statements to determine how much interest you’re paying on each card, and prioritize which ones you’d like to pay down first. Try to pay off credit lines with the highest interest first, while maintaining minimum payments on the rest of your credit cards.

Some people may feel like paying down their debt is an unattainable goal, but with the right plan and perseverance, you CAN BE debt-free. There are numerous financial advisors, such as Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman, who have strategies on how to get out of debt; find an advisor and strategy that works best for you.

Step #3. Make on-time payments a habit.

Once you have a plan, be sure to adhere to it! Your payment history contributes to 35% of your overall credit report calculation, and late or missing payments are not easily corrected. If you have a pattern of making late payments and then make a series of on-time payments, your FICO score should improve.

Make it easy by setting up automatic payments for all of your recurring bills. By doing this, you’ll ensure you don’t miss paying any amounts due, which will help you since missing payments can trigger hits to your credit score and punitive charges like late fees. Paying your bills on time, every time will help build your credit score and keep more money in your pocket.

Step #4: Regularly monitor your credit score and usage.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to monitor your credit score and attend to the details of your financial plan to improve your credit score regularly. Having good credit can mean the difference between paying a 3.5% rate versus a 5.5% (or higher) interest rate on purchases such as your car or mortgage. That may not sound like much, but lowering a mortgage interest rate by as little as 0.5% could save as much as $150 a month on a $300,000 home loan.

Sites like CreditKarmaWalletHub, and Identity Guard offer free credit monitoring yearly and/or on a trial basis. It won’t always be easy, but nothing will compare to the satisfaction you will feel when you’ve improved your financial wellbeing.

Identifying and cleaning out any unnecessary expenses will help you keep your credit score on track going forward. Apps such as Mint, SWBC’s Vault platform, and most online banking services are also great tools to help you track your spending, manage your finances, and grow your wealth.

For more info, please click here.