Your midterms are in full swing, your brain is fried, the travel plans are booked and all you can do is anxiously wait for Spring Break. For those of you going somewhere warm this Spring Break, you might want to take this opportunity to update your wardrobe. Just remember, updating your wardrobe does not have to cost a lot of money. Here are a few ideas to keep your new wardrobe within budget.
- Make a list beforehand, while leaving just a little room for “impulse buys.” Decide on what would make your new wardrobe awesome beforehand. If you don’t, you might be leaving with more shopping bags than you can carry. Making a shopping list can help you avoid buying something you don’t need or actually want.
- Take inventory of what you have. You do not need 20 new swimsuits for your trip. Repeats of what you love aren’t a bad idea, but if you have a defined budget, it can allow you to buy something you don’t already have.
- Avoid the malls, unless you’re shopping clearance rack. There is no point in paying an extremely high price for something you can buy at another store for so much less. Stores like TJ Maxx and Marshall’s occasionally carry these “mall brand” items in their stores for a lower price.
- Ask your best friend or significant other before making a “trendy” purchase. I have fallen into the trap of buying what’s “trendy” many times. When you go shopping it’s best to bring someone who knows you very well. They have an idea of what you would actually wear as opposed to what you think you would wear, but in reality you wouldn’t. Listen to their opinion and take what they have to say into consideration.
- Don’t be “too cool” to use coupons. This is an obvious one. Look online for coupons. Use your rewards card for the store. Look through ads to see when and where the sales are. Any way you can save money means more awesome clothes for you. BUT, do not open several store credit cards just because you could save 15% on your purchases. I promise you, this is a bad idea.
- TRY THINGS ON. I can’t say this enough. Although I am guilty of breaking this rule, it is very important in saving money and time in the long run. Unfortunately, sizes are NOT universal. Size 4 jeans in one store might not fit like size 4 in another. It is important to try things on to see if they fit and if you like the way you look in that article of clothing.
As young adults, we do not have a lot of money just to throw away. Buying clothes, sadly, is no exception. Buy things that you like and that you can wear often by mixing with a lot of things you already have. Last but not least, remember “quality not quantity” when buying a new wardrobe!
The 86th Academy Awards are days away, and I can’t hide my excitement anymore! The talented and wonderfully spontaneous TV icon, Ellen DeGeneres, will return to host the Oscars for a second time on March 2nd. What makes this even better is that she’s a big fan of the Oscars, and well, I’m a huge fans of hers. It’s a perfect match!
With the special night almost here, I have released my Oscar predictions for the top categories. Here, I’ve listed the nominees, and then, more importantly, who I think should win. (Cough cough….Leonardo DiCaprio)
- American Hustle
- Captain Phillips
- Dallas Buyers Club
- 12 Years a Slave
- The Wolf of Wall Street
Best Actor in Leading Role:
- Christian Bale (American Hustle)
- Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
- Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave)
- Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress in leading Role:
- Amy Adams (American Hustle)
- Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
- Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
- Judi Dench (Philomena)
- Meryl Streep (August: Osage County)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
- Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips)
- Bradley Cooper (American Hustle)
- Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave)
- Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)
- Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
- Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine)
- Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle)
- Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
- Julia Roberts (August: Osage County)
- June Squibb (Nebraska)
- American Hustle ( David O. Russell)
- Gravity (Alfonso Cuaron)
- Nebraska (Alexander Payne)
- 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen)
- The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese)
Best Animated Feature:
- The Croods
- Despicable Me 2
- Ernest & Celestine
- The Wind Rises
What are your 2014 Oscar predictions? Keep track of the nominees and winners with this printable Oscars ballot provided by Vanity Fair.
Until Next Time,
In the current economic climate, getting approved for a home loan can be confusing and difficult for first time home buyers. However, with some knowledge and some preparation, young adults can obtain home mortgage loans and purchase property. To better prepare younger loan applicants, here is a list of five things that lenders will consider when determining whether or not to fund a loan for a us 20-somethings:
1. Down payment
Today, lenders expect borrowers to put down more money toward the home purchase. For conventional loans, borrowers should anticipate a down payment of at least 3%-5% of the property’s purchase price, although some lenders may require down payments as high as 20% or even 25%. The higher your down payment, the more at ease lenders will be about lending you money, and the more inclined they’ll be to offer you their lowest mortgage interest rates. Young adult borrowers who cannot afford to make a sizeable down payment should consider putting off their first home purchase until these funds can be acquired.
2. Save, Save, Save
In addition to down payment, lenders are much more likely to approve younger borrowers with money set aside, either in a savings account or in assets, to cover any unexpected emergency situations. This money may be used to make mortgage payments during times of unemployment, periods between employment, and financial hardship. Without some money stored away in savings, young adult borrowers may find lenders reluctant to issue them a loan. If you haven’t yet, establish a savings account! Start putting away a small percentage of your paycheck every two weeks or whenever you get paid.
3. Solid Employment History
For young adults and college students, lenders will require proof of steady, full-time employment before approving you for a loan through pay stubs or previous income tax returns. Part-time workers may be perceived as a higher risk and might not qualify. Furthermore, self-employed borrowers will need to provide ample proof to verify stated income and to establish reliability. These entrepreneurs may be slowed during the approval process by requirements for additional tax returns and extra documentation.
4. High Credit Score
Let’s face it, a higher credit score will result in a lower mortgage rate and a more cost-effective loan. Typically, the lowest interest rates are reserved for borrowers with credit scores exceeding 740, far above the credit score range of most young adults. While qualification can still be possible with a FICO score within the 600 range, the smallest decrease in an interest rate can can result into tremendous savings over the course of a loan. Young adult borrowers should consider whether it would be beneficial and financially worthwhile to purchase a home immediately or wait several years to build up their credit history.
5. Diminishing Debt
You don’t need a zero balance on your credit cards to qualify for a mortgage loan. However, the less you owe your creditors, the better. Your debts determine if you can get a mortgage, as well as how much you can acquire from a lender. Lenders evaluate your debt-to-income ratio before approving the mortgage. If you have a high debt ratio because you’re carrying a lot of credit card debt , the lender can turn down your request or offer a lower mortgage. This is because your entire monthly debt payments — including the mortgage – shouldn’t exceed 36% of your gross monthly income. However, paying down your consumer debt before completing an application lowers your debt-to-income ratio and can help you acquire a better mortgage rate.
- Do not apply for new credit in the few months leading up to your mortgage application. Financial institutions get suspicious if it looks like you’re piling on the new credit.
Are you a home owner in your twenties? What was getting your first mortgage like? What did you learn?
Until Next Time,
If someone came up to you and randomly asked if you knew what student loan default is or what your credit score is, would you know the answer?
Did you have to think about it for a minute, or better yet, Google how to find that information? I’m assuming that the majority of might not know the answers to those questions, but that’s okay…..for now.
Take a few minutes to watch this video below.
Were you one of those who knew how many days Kim Kardashian was married but didn’t know what your student loan interest rate or credit score is? Several years ago, my answer to that would have been yes. Since then I have realized how important financial education is, especially for us 20-somethings.
Young adults today have more opportunity to get into financial trouble than previous generations. Teens are obtaining credit cards earlier, and 60 percent of students have taken out student loans. Outstanding student loans total over $1 trillion. Financial education has become essential for students today, because they have the ability to enter into severe debt. Many young adults feel that saving for the future is not something that they need to think about, when in reality, it is crucial. Financial literacy is important simply because it results in a better life for you, and in turn creates an increase in the standard of living for you and your family. By practicing financial responsibility at a young age, you’re creating habits that you’ll carry into adulthood and can pass on to your children. Increasing your financial literacy at a young age will help ensure a financially stable future.
How do I start?
That’s easy! Follow my blog and social media sites! I write articles and makes videos about financial topics that us 20-somethings can relate to. And trust me, if I would have known or cared about this information earlier on, I would have been much smarter with my money and now you can too. It’s better to be knowledgeable about your finances before you are thrown out into the real world to fend for yourself. It’s simple…. just start!
Until Next Time,
It’s that time of year! Students all over the nation are applying for college and applying for scholarships and grants to help pay for school. I can confidently say that our C1st/Walt Tetmeyer Memorial Scholarship has the easiest requirements you’ll see when it comes to entering to win big money for your college education!
- Must be a high school senior with plans to be a full time student at an accredited college or university for the 2014-2015 academic school year.
- All applicants must submit a current high school transcript and have an accumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher.
- Multiple scholarships will be awarded for the C1st Scholarship and a $1,000 scholarship will be awarded for the Walt Tetmeyer Memorial.
- Entrants must be a member of C1st and have an account established in their name by April 1, 2014.
- All entries must be postmarked no later than April 1, 2014. Entries must be sent to:
Attn: Scholarship Committee
Community 1st Credit Union
PO Box 737
Ottumwa, IA 52501
- Scholarship winners will be selected through a random drawing of qualified recipients.
- Awards will be announced in late April 2014.
All applications and transcripts must be postmarked no later than April 1, 2014. Click here to apply!
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!
For those of you who have now waited until the last minute to get that special person a Valentine’s Day gift, you still have time! Before you start panicking, check out some of these ideas below:
- Get Creative: I’m sure you’ve heard this before but, there’s nothing wrong with a homemade gift. Your significant other will be swept off their feet when you give them a heartfelt, handwritten letter on notebook or construction paper, I promise. If you have extra time, print off a photo of you and your boo and stick it in your homemade card. Add a meaningful note and you are all set!
- Flowers: If flowers are a must, you may have to cash up a few extra dollars. Flower bouquets are always extremely over priced on Valentines day. My recommendation is to pick some up from the grocery store as opposed to a flower shop. Also, try looking for flowers at wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club.They will be cheaper, and your loved one will never even know the difference! It’s the thought that counts, right?
- Sweets: If you don’t typically spoil your significant other with sweets, then they’ll likely be stoked for even the most standard of chocolates! Better yet? Try making a batch of cookies, brownies, or chocolate covered strawberries yourself! You will gain some baking skills and get a lot more for your money!
- Picture Perfect: If a picture is worth a thousand words, why not give your beloved a picture that declares your love? Whether you choose an image of the two of you or one that evokes a memory you share, the right photo will make your Valentine’s Day picture perfect.
- Get Cooking: Instead of spending a fortune at an expensive restaurant, run to the grocery store and pick up the essentials to make your loved ones favorite meal. Light some candles, dim the lights and play some romantic music in the background. Don’t forget the desert!
- Plan a throwback night: Still have a vintage Nintendo or PlayStation tucked away in storage? If your significant other is into video games, plan a “throwback” night with old-school games (video or board)!
Whatever your last-minute gift might be, the most important feature of any gift is sincerity. Show your Valentine you’re happy they’re in your life. The best gift of all should be spending quality time with your loved one and showing them how much you care about them, not just on Valentine’s Day, but everyday!
Until Next Time,
Alright guys, this one is for you. Valentine’s day is fast approaching! The most romantic day of the year is just hours away now and because you are a procrastinator you haven’t thought of that great plan that will make the day memorable, right? Where will you take your love for the date? How will you spend the day? So much pressure right?
Take a step back and start your Valentine’s day tonight (as you should everyday). Insist on staying in and watching a romantic movie to put you and your significant other in a loving mood. You probably have some of these in your collection already, so pop some popcorn and watch these love stories unfold in the comfort of your living room.
1. The Notebook
The Notebook follows Allie and Noah’s long romance, starting as a teenage-summer fling. Although Noah is from the wrong side of the tracks, Allie falls helplessly in love, but the summer comes to an end. Allie is engaged to another man when the two reunite, but all the same feelings are still there.
A wealthy seventeen-year-old girl, Kate Winslet, expected to marry a rich claimant by her mother, falls in love with a kind but poor artist, Leonardo DiCaprio, aboard the luxurious, ill-fated R.M.S. Titanic.
3. The Vow
Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams star in this emotionally charged true story of a woman who loses her memory in a car accident. She remembers her early life, but does not remember falling in love with her husband. The husband, who is still completely in love with the woman he married, vows to help her remember their love story.
4. Crazy Stupid Love
Sometimes you already have love, but you forget or abandon it. This romantic comedy that’s a must-see. A sweet man is heartbroken when he finds that his wife wants to leave him and takes the advice of a ladies-man to woo her back. That ladies-man also goes on to find a love of his own. You’ll laugh and you’ll hug your loved one just a bit tighter.
5. Pretty Woman
The world fell in love with Richard Gere and Julia Roberts in this fairytale of a film. A very successful, wealthy lawyer, Edward Lewis, hires a beautiful girl, Vivian Ward (Julia Roberts), working on Hollywood Blvd to bring along to various business events. An attraction developes between the two, and Edward finds it harder and harder to let the infectious, kind-hearted Vivian go.
“Ghost” starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, shares a unique story of a man whose love for his partner is so strong that not even death could tear them apart.
7. Sleepless in Seattle
“Sleepless in Seattle” starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, is a romantic comedy that questions, “What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only someone for you?”
8. Dirty Dancing
The is an oldie but a goodie! Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey documents a teenage girl’s coming of age through a relationship with a dance instructor whom she falls in love with during her family’s summer vacation.
9. Romeo and Juliet (1996)
Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is one of the oldest love stories in the world. In this modern remake, Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the teenage lovers, living in the fictional modern-day Verona Beach. Swords and horses are replaced by guns and sports cars for this action-packed version of an original love story.
10. 10 Things I hate About You
Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles steal the screen in the comedy that chronicles the relationship between two outcasts in high school. Julia Stiles’ character is not looking for love when the self-assured boy, Heath Ledger, with an Australian accent changes everything.
11. A Walk to Remember
Love brings together what peer pressure and lifestyles seek to keep apart in this story based on the bestselling book. Teen idol Shane West and multiplatinum recording star Mandy Moore star as two high schoolers — she a straitlaced preacher’s daughter and he an unmotivated delinquent. When events thrust him into her world, he begins an unexpected journey he’ll never forget.
If your favorite romantic movie didn’t make the list, share your picks with us in a comment below!
Until Next Time,
Just a few more days until the most romantic holiday of the year is here. Love is in the air and credit cards are being swiped left and right. Are you one of those people that have a tendency to go above and beyond on Valentine’s Day? If so, what are you buying your significant other this year?
If you’re worried that your funds can’t stretch far enough to give your loved one the most memorable Valentine’s Day, remember that the best gift your partner can receive is knowing that they’re loved, cared about, and wanted. Save your money and still have a great Valentine’s Day!
Until Next Time,
Do you know people in your circle that are already living debt-free lives? Well for us 20-something’s, that feels nearly impossible with our entry level jobs and never ending student loan debt. As hard as it seems, it is not impossible. If you look at people who are successful they will tell you it wasn’t easy, but I bet they will tell you that it was worth all the sacrifices. For those of you who envy those debt-free people, let’s take a look at why they now live a financially savvy life. According to the Business Insider, here are 10 Characteristics of Debt-Free People:
1. They Pay Attention to Details
People without debt monitor their personal finances closely. They know how much money they have coming in and how much they are letting go, and I can assure you they aren’t forgetting about payment due dates or overdraft fees. If this is something that you struggle with, the key here is to just start. Try looking at your credit card statements every month. Next monitor all of your spending. Now add up your income. Compare the two and see where you could cut back. Re-visit your budget a few times a year to stay on track. This is a great time to evaluate your needs vs. your wants.
2. They Know Their Stuff
Debt-free people do their own research. If you want control over your finances, you need to learn about them. It may feel overwhelming but the sense of security you will feel in understanding what’s happening with your money will outweigh the discomfort.
3. They Pretend They Make Less
Imagine you make 10%, 25% or even 50% less than you do now. Make a budget using that math. It may be hard at first, but start making cuts to your spending. Debt-free people live on less than they make. Do you ever look at a Millennial with expensive clothing or accessories and wonder how they can afford them? Over and over I see poor people spending all of their money on luxury items, making them appear to be rich. Yet at the end of the day, they are broke and can’t afford to pay their bills. I have been guilty of this in the past but have successfully changed my habits. Be smart and live within your means. One quote that I will always try to live by and I think you should too is, “Have more money at the end of the month, not more month and the end of your money.”
4. They Think Long Term
Many of us focus on instant gratification. Sure, it would be nice to have this season’s hottest gadget, but how will that help your long-term financial goals? This doesn’t mean you can’t ever buy nice things! It just means you have to save up before you buy them. Avoid making impulse purchases. Take a couple of days to think about if you really want it or if it was just something you felt you had to have in that moment.
5. They Aren’t Afraid to Ask
Ask for help. Ask for lower interest rates. Ask for forgiveness when they make one late payment. Debt-free people take control of their finances and they aren’t meek about it. If you know someone who has met a financial milestone you admire, don’t be afraid to ask how they did it. Talk to a representative at Community 1st Credit Union to help you get started! They are here to help you with your financial needs.
6. They Save
Whether you got a significant bonus or earned extra cash on the side, you should think first of paying yourself. This is true of your regular paycheck as well. You know you have to pay the rent and bills, so treat your savings account the same way. Make it a habit. And better yet, make it an effortless habit by setting up automatic deposit. Debt-free people know adding even small amounts now will give you more financial freedom later.
7. They Set Goals
You’ll find it easier to put aside money if you have a strong sense of what it’s going toward. This works for when you are saving up for that must have item, planning a vacation or thinking about retirement. Debt-free people set specific goals so they know what they are striving for. This helps you stay on track. Retirement can be a hard one for young people. It seems so far away! Think about what sounds appealing about retirement. If it’s travel, imagine the places you will visit. Now the goal seems more specific.
8. They Say No
Don’t let tempting offers by your friends or family influence your decision to spend money. It is okay to say no. Debt-free people know that saying no to smaller expenses can add up to big savings. This doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. Going out for dinner and drinks can add up quickly, so instead, invite friends over for a party or host a pot luck dinner. Have everyone bring a side dish and their beverage of choice and let the party begin!
9. They Know the Value of Cash
Debt-free people know the value of a dollar, because they see it! It can be easy to overspend when you are never seeing actual money. Swiping your card here, swiping it there…. it adds up and you may not understand how much you actually spent. Having to part with some cash can remind you the transaction you are making is real. Plus, once that cash is gone, it’s gone. Try only using cash for a while and see how it changes your perception of purchasing.
10. They Value Experiences Over Stuff
Debt-free people aren’t focused on things. They value experiences more than having the latest things. The average person will list family and friends high on what they value. But are your choices reflecting that? If you are working extra hours to pay for a fancy meal with the family, think about the tradeoffs. Would you be better off not working late and having several meals at home with the family? To become debt-free, you will have to get rid of your bad habits and take on some new, more constructive ones. Use this list to help motivate yourself!
If you want to get out of debt and stay debt-free, IT IS POSSIBLE – no matter how much money you owe! Even if you don’t think you display these characteristics, you’ll be amazed by how your perception of wants and needs change once you start and stick with it. Don’t let your circumstances or income ever be an excuse. Remember, everyone has the ability to change their ways and work towards a better financial future!
Until Next Time,
As not-for-profit and member-owned financial cooperatives, credit unions are exempt from paying income tax. This allows credit unions to return revenues back to their members in the form of better rates, lower and fewer fees, and innovative products and services to better serve members. Credit unions pay other taxes, including local and property taxes, as well as payroll taxes. Members also pay taxes on their dividends. Unfortunately, some members in Congress feel that this is not enough, and are seeking to impose a federal income tax on credit unions for the first time.
If credit unions were to pay income tax, your credit union, as well as others, would have to pass their tax payments onto you in the form of higher fees, higher loan rates, and lower savings dividends. Taxing credit unions would not affect the amount of tax you pay as an individual, but would affect how much you pay for credit union loans as well as how much you earn on your deposits. Unfortunately, the big banks and some in Congress want to raise taxes and impose new fees on 96 million credit union members who represent 40% of all Americans, yet represent only 6% of the assets in financial institutions. And, they want to do this despite the fact that credit unions are not-for-profit and meeting their core mission every day.
What Can You Do?
Until Next Time,