Tips for Year End Car Buying

shutterstock_130321391Most consumers are under the impression that by waiting until the last few months of the year, they will be able to negotiate the most competitive price on their new vehicle purchase.  While this may have been true decades ago, it is the exception rather than common practice in today’s marketplace.  Why?

The main reason is that most manufacturers do not wait until October to launch new products.  Today, they are introducing new products year round to drive consumers into their dealerships to shop.  Historically, the auto manufacturers introduced their new vehicle lineups in October and huge rebates and incentives were introduced at that time to move the old inventory.  Consumers, who were patient and willing to drive the previous year’s model, knew that they could wait and negotiate a lower price than at any other time of the year.

Further, with product introductions year round, year-end rebates are typically uncommon, but do come into play when manufacturers are trying to be the market leader in a particular vehicle segment.  For instance, if the sales volume race between BMW and Mercedes is running close in November, December might bring retail incentives, usually in the form of a very competitive lease program, to help drive business so that one of them can proudly advertise “First Place” in a particular product segment.  While this claim is typically unimportant to the consumer, the benefit might be a low monthly payment not otherwise available during the rest of the year.

For most consumers, however, shopping at year end should not be any different than shopping during any other time of the year.  Here are 5 Quick Tips to keep in mind as you begin the process:

  • Always start with a loan preapproval from your credit union.  Knowing how much you are approved for, and being comfortable with your monthly payment, is critical to know BEFORE you go car buying.  Remember, he who controls the financing controls the transaction.
  • Use the resources you have at your fingertips. The Internet is an informative place to begin your research.  There are many sites that will allow you to view pictures of new models and numerous owner forums that will let you know about product and service issues that you wouldn’t normally encounter before purchase.  You can be in the know with very little effort.
  • Buy a car magazine a month or two before you purchase to understand the state of the auto industry. If you read about a truck segment battle going on, watch for an increase in rebates and/or other retail incentives.  Waiting a week or two to purchase may save you some money!
  • Always test drive the vehicle BEFORE you purchase. Many consumers think they want a particular vehicle because of the styling, but driving it is the ONLY way to confirm that it FITS YOU.  We do not recommend buying a vehicle sight unseen.  Feel it, touch it, see it and drive it!
  • Finally, if a professional and reputable car buying service is available to you, take advantage of it! Our credit union partners with Auto Advisors and they have assisted over 70,000 credit union members in Florida and Georgia with the purchase of a new or used vehicle.  This service is a no cost member benefit of our credit union and we highly recommend you take advantage of their knowledge and expertise.  You can reach them at 800.929.8971 or http://www.autoadvisors.com.

Credit Unions’ History Shows Resilience of Cooperative Banking Model

CUNA_ICU_Logo_Final_WCIn honor of International Credit Union Day, NerdWallet Looks Back at the History of Credit Unions in the U.S.

Credit unions surpassed the 100 million-member mark in June, reaffirming the strength of the federally insured system throughout the years—from the Great Depression to the Great Recession and its aftermath.

Credit unions are gaining popularity among consumers who want financial benefits, fewer fees, lower loan rates and higher interest on savings accounts. In the past year alone, credit unions added 2.85 million members. This growth was the largest reported 12-month increase in more than 25 years, according to Credit Union National Association (CUNA). From the start, these not-for-profit financial co-operatives have greatly benefitted their members.

Rise of credit unions

The first U.S. credit union opened in 1909 in Manchester, New Hampshire, according to the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which regulates, charters and supervises federal credit unions. However, it was not until the Great Depression that these financial institutions were organized under federal law.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the 1934 Federal Credit Union Act at a time when Americans had very little faith in banking institutions. The law was intended to make credit available to people at all economic levels and to promote thrift. By the end of 1940, there were 3,756 federal credit unions in the U.S.

 

Mid- to late-20th-century changes

By 1970, Congress had created the NCUA as well as the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund to back share accounts in all federal credit unions, as well as most that hold only state charters. At first, credit union membership was open only to a well-defined community, such as residents of a specific town or county, or the employees of a particular company.

In the 1980s, membership criteria were loosened, allowing more flexibility in who could join. By then, the services credit unions could offer had been expanded to include share certificates and home mortgages. In 1985, credit unions insured by the fund received the backing of the “full faith and credit” of the U.S. government.

Banks, which compete with credit unions, challenged looser membership rules, and in 1996 and 1997, the federal courts backed those challenges. But in 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the Credit Union Membership Access Act to restore membership flexibility.

The Great Recession

During the financial crisis that spawned the most recent recession, Congress took a number of steps to help banks and credit unions handle fiscal stress. One, a temporary increase in share insurance protection to $250,000 from $100,000, matching the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s backing of bank deposits, was made permanent in 2010.

Today, about a third of all Americans belong to credit unions, which hold $1.1 trillion in assets, according to NCUA figures.

How do credit unions offer better deals?

Unlike for-profit banks, credit unions are member-owned organizations operated democratically and overseen by volunteer directors. They are exempt from federal and most state taxes, a status that has drawn challenges from bank groups, who say it provides an unfair competitive advantage. Credit unions say their status is appropriate because they exist to serve members, not make a profit.

“Credit union products and services saved consumers $8.5 billion in 2013,” said Pat Keefe, CUNA’s top spokesman, in an August 2014 statement. “That benefit goes both directly to credit union members, because members—not stockholders—are owners, and to the American consumer overall because credit unions’ better pricing puts competitive heat on banks.”

Credit unions return earnings to members in the form of lower loan rates and high interest on deposits. For example, the national average credit union rate for a 36-month used car loan was about 2.7% in the second quarter compared with the almost 5.3% average bank rate. Meanwhile, a five-year share certificate with a $10,000 minimum carried an annual yield of more than 1.3% compared with the less than 1.2% average bank yield.

Depending on the individual credit union, other financial benefits may include truly free checking accounts for students, seniors and businesses; a larger network of surcharge-free automated teller machines; mobile banking apps; and interest on savings that beats that of most banks. Because credit unions are managed for the benefit of their members, they’re often able to provide more personalized service than banks can.

Credit unions have a long history of providing Americans with a stable source of loans and a secure place for savings. These institutions have proven their ability to weather even the bleakest economic climates, so there are plenty of good reasons to join one. After all, can 100 million people be wrong?

Anna Helhoski, NerdWallet

Best and Worst Jobs in America

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” -Confucius. We hope you do what you love, but if not it’s never too late to start a career that truly matters to you. This post by NerdWallet shows you the best and worst jobs in America. Enjoy!

http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/money-nerd/making-and-spending-money/best-worst-jobs-america-careers/

Fall into Savings

Labor Day and Black Friday aren’t the only days great for saving. It turns out the entire Fall season is a great time to buy big ticket items, incuding cars and wedding gowns. Head to the link below to see what else you can save big on this Fall (maybe even stock up on Christmas presents while you’re at it).

https://www.balancepro.net/education/publications/fallsavers.html

Millennials & Money

shutterstock_192796643Achieving financial security before your 30’s

Diverse, tech-savvy and easily distracted are some ways to describe a Millennial, someone born between 1980 and around 2000. This generation experienced 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings. But maybe the thing that has shaped this generation and its spending habits would be the 2009 recession. Many of us saw how our families and friends were hit by this recession. Now Millennials are graduating high school, college, starting families and paying off those student loans we knew would come around about six months after college. Maybe you’ve thought about getting your first place, leasing a car, or investing in a mutual fund. Either way, it’s time to start budgeting for your future.

  1. Pay Yourself First

SAVE! SAVE! SAVE! Put the money away before you have the chance to spend it. Open up a savings account at different credit union and have some of your paycheck directly deposited to that account. You won’t even realize the money is gone until you remember once in a while and check the account.

  1. Good Debt v. Bad Debt

Many of us are taught to avoid debt at any cost. But what about when you need to pay for school or when you start looking for a home only to realize you haven’t built any credit for lenders to determine if you’re a good risk. There are two types of debt: the good and the bad. Good debt includes student loans, mortgages and business loans because they typically have lower interest rates and are considered an investment for the future. Bad debt is anything from credit card debt, car loans and personal loans. This debt has higher interest rates and can be prevented with a little smart planning.

  1. Employer Plans

It’s never too early in your career to think about retirement plans. Start putting money into your 401(k) every year. Many companies will match every dollar an employee puts in their 401(k) with around 50 cents. You might not be able to get this season’s sunglasses but you could be able to retire a few years earlier with proper planning. Retirement > Sunglasses

  1. 50/20/30

It’s all about budgeting. The 50/20/30 rule is great because you don’t need a certain salary to maintain it. It’s just an example to follow. Use these percentages to help you budget your lifestyle

  • 50% goes towards essentials like housing, food, transportation and utilities. It may seem high but it gives you room to adjust and keep your budget in check.
  • 20% goes toward your financial obligation such as savings, from retirement to emergency savings, and credit card debt.
  • 30% towards whatever you want; entertainment, cell phone, cable and gym memberships. Anything that isn’t necessary to have will go in this section

These are just a few steps to maintaining financial security for all the Millennials out there. Good luck! To manage all of your finances with BrightStar Credit Union, go to Online Banking and use Money Desktop for all of your account to see where all of your money is going.

The Charms of Charity

BrightStar Credit Union is happy to help the community with a brand new contest

 photo shutterstock_169952327_zpsb95114b9.jpgWho doesn’t love a good charity? Whether it’s making a child’s wish come true or helping someone who lives in poverty, charities have a way of making the world a better place. You may be someone that donates on a weekly basis or maybe you have always thought about donating but it always slips your mind. Whatever the case may be, donations to any organization have benefits that are not only physical, but emotional as well.

Most of us can agree that donating money, time or property would make even the scroogiest person feel good. But there are more benefits than just making yourself feel better.

1.Show your appreciation

Maybe you went through some hard times and there was a food bank that was always there when you needed help. Donating time, money or food is an excellent way to show your gratitude toward them. Another way to show your appreciation is to make a donation under the name of a lost loved one. It’s a great way to honor them and their beliefs. Just choose an organization that meant a lot to them and give what you can. Any donation will show your appreciation and give back to the community.

2. Stay informed about social injustices

A social injustice is something that is happening in society that is unfair. For example, maybe you heard of the KONY 2012 campaign sponsored by Invisible Children. It is a viral video that taught the world about Joseph Kony, a war criminal that kidnaps children in Africa to make them apart of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The children are often forced to kill their family with “blunt tools” and girls are abducted to become sex slaves. It’s a very horrific topic but still something the world should know about. Well, that campaign raised more than $15,000,000 back in 2012 and is still fundraising today. By donating to Invisible Children or any other organization, you can stay up-to-date with social issues that are important to you.

3. Simple as Paying It Forward

Imagine you’re in line at the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, waiting to pay for your medium coffee and an egg and cheese bagel. When you pull up to the window (with your BrightStar Credit Union debit card of course) the worker tells you your breakfast has been paid for. It turns out the person in the car in front of you paid for your meal. This is known as Pay It Forward. If someone did a random act of kindness for you, all you have to do is Pay It Forward by doing an act of kindness for a stranger. This could be anything from complimenting a stranger to packing a lunch for a homeless person. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just something that will make your community a better place.

4. Tax-deductible donations

A tax-deductible donation is simply an item or expense you donated to a qualified tax-exempt organization. You then subtract your donation from your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to lower the amount of taxes you pay. These donations will actually help you because tax laws let you claim a deduction for most of the cash or items you donate as long as the value is more than $250.

5. Clean the clutter

Do you have a garage that is filled with old furniture, like couches, TV’s and dining room tables? Spring cleaning may have already passed but you can get rid of the furniture and donate it to organizations like Goodwill. It offers limited at-home pickup in certain areas for large, gently-used items.

6. Make new friends

If you’re new to the area and don’t have many friends or just interested in meeting a new group, volunteering is a great way to meet people. South Florida offers tons of opportunities to help your community, like becoming a Literacy Ambassador to help at-risk children enjoy reading or helping out at a charity dog wash to support the South Florida Siberian Husky Rescue. Wherever you decide to volunteer, you’re sure to meet new people and maybe even find a new hobby.

Now it’s time for the fun stuff! BrightStar Credit Union wants to help you help your community. Keep checking the BrightStar Credit Union Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for updates on an exciting contest coming up that could help out your favorite charity.

 

 

 

 

 

Wanderlust, Not Wanderbust

Pineapple   If you’re jealous of the pineapple, it might be time for you to start thinking about saving for a vacation

Beaches, barbecues, and the blistering heat is what we expect for South Florida’s summers. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a vacation and visit somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? Of course it would be. But tapping into that savings account unexpectedly would make anyone a little nervous.

At BrightStar Credit Union, we want to help make all of your dreams come true. Whether it’s a road trip to Savannah, Georgia or flying across the world to Fiji. When you open a vacation savings account, you can set aside money to make your wildest traveling dreams a reality. Here are some tips that will help the most careless spender save for their next summer vacation.

  1. Establish a Budget

Creating a budget is easier said than done. When you’re budgeting for a vacation, expenses can range anywhere from food to flights. If you’re working with a smaller budget, consider a staycation. Naples and Marco Island are just a few beach towns in Florida that are a couple hours away with numerous things to do. If you’re working with a larger budget why not start saving for the trip of a lifetime. Your list of expenses will be a bit longer if you have to include flights and passports. (If you’re a shopaholic like me don’t be afraid to put a little money aside for those must-have vacation shoes.)

  1. Open a FREE Savings Account at BrightStar Credit Union

Now that we’ve established your budget it’s time to do something about it. When you open a Checkings Account at BrightStar Credit Union you get a free Savings Account that will help you set aside your hard earned money. As long as your balance is $25 or more in your Savings Account we’ll pay you interest at a higher rate than most banks. At BrightStar Credit Union, members receive full benefits which includes being an equal shareholder.

  1. Save Money Automatically

But what happens if you forget to transfer your money over? No worries my friend. Here at BrightStar Credit Union we will help you set up automatic transfers to your savings account that can take place weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or monthly. There’s no need to stress about when you’ll find time to head to one of our many branches across South Florida. BrightStar Credit Union offers FREE Online Banking where you can check your account activity and transfer more money.

Now that you have all of these helpful tips, head to you nearest BrightStar Credit Union with locations in Davie, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Lauderhill, Margate, Pembroke Pines and Pompano Beach. One of our Member Service Representatives will be happy to help you create a savings account for the trip of a lifetime.

Free Financial Fitness Fair January 30, 2013 in Pembroke Pines

FFFJan2014

Mark your calendar and plan to attend BrightStar Credit Union’s Free Financial Fitness Fair, Thursday, January 30, 5:30 p.m. Get on track for a healthier financial future. Free seminars, snacks and giveaways. Location: Walter C. Young Middle School (901 NW 129th Ave, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028).  Click the image for more information.