Today is International Credit Union Day

Wauna Credit Union was formed, and continues to act, to serve our communities of Clatsop, Columbia, and Western Washington Counties in Oregon, and Pacific County in Washington. The way we do that is by providing financial tools to allow our members achieve their dreams. A huge part of that is being a not-for-profit credit union instead of a for profit bank.

Many people, even some who are members, don’t realize there are some pretty big differences between banks and credit unions, even though they experience the differences every day. In many ways, that’s the way we want it to be. Our rural communities tend to be filled with show, don’t tell, type of people, and we view ourselves as a show, don’t tell, type of organization. Our members know we provide personal service, tend to have better rates, and help people who banks don’t want to bother with because they don’t fit in a nice box.

ICU Day

Today, we are talking about it though, because today is the 70th Annual International Credit Union Day. Today is the day we celebrate the collaboration between credit unions. It’s one of the things that gives us our edge. Credit Unions work together. It’s why you can go into credit unions all over the country and conduct business on your Wauna Credit Union Account.

This year, we’re celebrating International Credit Union Day’s platinum anniversary, a chance to look back after 70 years and be thankful for the lives and communities that have been improved by the unique principles and actions of our movement. It’s no wonder that this year’s slogan is #PlatinumLiningFound.

Celebrate International Credit Union Day! from CUNA on Vimeo.

 

Emotional Intelligence and Your Money

Wauna Credit Union isn’t just a name. It actually says a whole lot about who we are as an organization. The first part is Wauna, because we were founded by members of the Wauna Mill 51-years-ago. While, we’ve expanded some over the years, it’s only to neighboring communities. We’re local, and proud that our name represents that. The second part, credit union, means something too. A lot of people don’t realize that credit unions are different than banks. In reality, we’re actually quite different. We call that the Credit Union Difference, and it’s why here at WCU we want you to join a credit union. It would be great if it was us, but if you’re putting your money and getting your loans from a credit union, we know you’re being looked out for.

Wauna Charter
Our Original Charter

At Wauna Credit Union, we serve our members by listening. If you read our anniversary blog post — we like to call them Waunaversaries — you’ll hear people talking about The Member Advantage (TMA). Every single employee at WCU spends a weekend in training and multiple phone calls to learn the best process to ensure that we are asking the right questions, and listening, to help our members.

Asking and listening are a big part of it, but how do we know we are listening in a way that we actually hear what our members are saying. Last week, six members of the WCU family attended the Emotional Intelligence workshop hosted by LCHRMA at Tongue Point Job Corps in Astoria, where they learned more about how to consider their own emotions, as well as the emotions of the people they are speaking with to ensure true communication.

Team at Emotional Intelligence  Workshop
The team after the workshop

The workshop taught them the importance of first identifying their own emotions and preconceived opinions to understand their strengths and limits, and the importance of recognizing and regulating those emotions to get a clear mind to guide decisions.

In addition, the workshop focused on the importance of empathy, and identifying the impact other’s state of mind has on their interactions.

“It’s important for us to understand ourselves, and to work to understand others in all of our conversations,” said Anna Bennet of WCU. “TMA teaches us to listen and interview, before offering a solution, but we also need to work to understand what our members and colleagues are really trying to tell us. The Emotional Intelligence Workshop helped reinforce that idea that you only get valuable information from people if you are willing to put in the time and effort to hear what they are saying.”

The workshop not only provided value to the attendees, but will provide future value across the credit union, as those who attended share what they learned about emotional intelligence with their colleagues through formal training, and informal discussions.

September Statement Insert – Call for nominations, International Credit Union Day, IRA, Credit Card

Page 1

Call for Nominations: Join the WCU Board of Directors
Do you enjoy being involved in your community? Do you love Wauna Credit Union? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, then you are just who we’re looking for! Candidate applications are now available for our volunteer Board of Directors. Learn more and apply today by grabbing an application at your local branch, by mail, or by visiting
https://waunafcu.org/about/annual-elections.shtml. If you would like to be considered by the board’s Nominating Committee, submit your completed application by close of business on Friday, November 5, 2018. You are welcome to deliver applications in person to any branch or by mail: Governance committee, PO Box 67, Clatskanie, OR 97016. Our 52nd Annual Meeting (you’re invited!) will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 6:30 pm at the Erlene Darby Learning Center, located at 49249 Hwy 30, Westport, Oregon. Questions? Contact the Board Governance Committee at gcomm@waunafcu.org. We look forward to meeting you!

October 18, 2018 Is International Credit Union Day
This year, we’re celebrating International Credit Union Day’s platinum anniversary, a chance to look back after 70 years and be thankful for the lives and communities that have been improved by the unique principles and actions of our movement. Stop by a Wauna CU branch to celebrate or use the hashtag
#PlatinumliningFound on Twitter, Linkedln, Facebook, and Instagram to tell us how your credit union has made a difference.

Wauna Credit Union
waunafcu.org
800-773-3236
Apply 24/7
NMLS# 421867
Our mission is to provide opportunities for
our members to build their financial well-being

NCUA
All deposits up to $250,000 are insured
by the National Credit Union
Administration, and backed by the full
faith and credit of the U.S. government.

 

Page 2

Looking to grow your savings?
Find out about our IRA program and let Wauna Credit Union help you build your financial well-being.

Bank Transfer Day, Wednesday, November 5, 2018
Move your big bank accounts over to a credit union. Transferring your accounts is easy with WCU’s Click Switch. By moving completely over to a credit union, you’ll begin to own your banking experience, and keep your money in the Community.

Go to waunafcu.org to find out how you can win tickets to the big game in February just for using your WCU Visa.

Your Wauna Credit Union Visa card is packed full of features and benefits that make it the best choice for your everyday purchases, and your big ticket items.
Every WCU card comes with:
VISA Checkout, Wauna Credit Union’s newest tool to add convenience and help ensure secure online transactions.
Mobile Wallet puts your credit or debit card directly on your mobile device. It’s a more simple and more secure way to make payments. Our cards now support Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
Account Updater makes it easier for you to make sure your automatic payments are up-to-date and accurate with participating merchants when you get a new card number.
VISA 3-D Secure is VISA’s new and improved way to ensure that rightful owner of the VISA account. All members are automatically protected.

September Anniversaries

Wauna Credit Union has been serving members of the towns and cities surrounding the Columbia River for 51 years. We’re continuing to grow (if you want to join us check out our careers page).  Employees celebrating September Anniversaries school us on what it means to serve members and practice TMA.

Sadly, instead of wishing Rich Parker a happy 10-year Waunaversary, we’re saying goodbye. Hear Richard’s retirement announcement, and his thanks to all his clients, here. 

 

Danea Passmore – 13 years
What is your current position?
My current position is Chief Operations Officer.  That means I head WCU’s IT, Operations, Strategic Implementations and Card Services teams.  Fortunately, I am blessed to have my office in Clatskanie, where I grew up and see my family often.  My main focus is to coach and develop teams that embrace the Wauna Way – Integrity Coaching, TMA, LSCI, Core Values, Mission, Vision, and people helping people.  I used to be in the Training Department, so you know that’s something I love doing. I also love to collaborate with all departments in the organization to implement products and services to exceed our members expectations. Wauna is my family.

Danea
Danea’s sunny disposition matches the weather on this day

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
I have learned a great deal at Wauna, but the most important thing I have learned is to be more financially fit.  Prior to working at Wauna, I was one of those people who sometimes experienced when bad things happen to good people.  Our daughter was pushed into a swimming pool, spiral fractured her neck, and drowned.  They were able to resuscitate her; however, my world for a over a year was revolved around hospitals, doctors, and taking care of her.  My finances were a wreck, my payments were late, and frankly, I didn’t care at the time because I knew I had to do something else.

I am blessed that Wauna hired me even though my credit was an “E”. That stands for eeeek to some; but to Wauna, I was more than a number.  Yep, went from A to “E”eeek.  I learned how to get back on track, clean up my credit, and come back to the top.  I use that each day when I talk with members or employees, and want them to know that bad things happen to good people so get the story before you judge.  Thankfully too, Wauna asks the story and takes great care of its members.  I will forever be grateful to Wauna.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I love this question! If I could choose a brand new hobby, I would love to become a pilot and fly.  But since I should probably be more realistic, I would love to be hiking.  The outdoors is so energizing, fun, freeing, and a good brisk walk is exhilarating.  I recently watched a show where there is a large hike from the North Kaibab Trail on the North Rim to Bright Angel Trail at the South Rim.  It is a hike of over 23 miles and just sounds incredible, especially in a majestic place like the Grand Canyon. Actually, forget that. I always shoot for the stars, so pilot it is, or maybe even astronaut.

Audrey McTague – 5 years
What is your current position?
My current position is Training Specialist and I train Member Consultants in consumer loans.  I lead training classes at the Erlene Darby Learning Center in Westport, as well as go to the branches for one-on-one training.  My main goal is to make sure everyone understands our lending philosophy using LSI principles as well as training them how to process loans from start to finish.  Training has always been one of my passions.

Audrey
Audrey knows a thing or two about helping members get loans

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Wauna has taught me The Member Advantage, which emphasizes listening to people to find out what they need, or are looking to accomplish. TMA is something I can use inside and outside of work in my everyday life

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
My hobby this summer was making my own spices by dehydrating them, grinding them and bottling them up.  I did garlic and onions.  I also made tomato powder which I can make tomato paste or sauce with.  Next year, I plan on doing jalapenos, thyme, rosemary and chives.

Laura Lovegren – 3 years
What is your current position?

I am the Financial Center Manager in the Clatskanie Branch. My job is to work with our Members and my team to create relationships to grow with our members throughout their lives.

Laura
Laura loves getting out in the community

This role is new to me in the last year and I have been enjoying building our community relationships and working to educate our youth.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at WCU has taught me that my limits are self-created.  I have been encouraged to grow and dream during my career here. I have worked in the Branch and in the Back office operations department as well. My goal is to learn more everyday and am grateful that I have the opportunity to learn many different aspects and to work with so many driven and wonderful people. It has not only grown my career but who I am as a Human being.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
It would most likely be to  travel more. I recently traveled to Croatia, and there is much of Europe waiting for me to visit.

Hannah Coffey – 2 years
What is your current position?
I’m a Member Consultant at the Astoria Branch. Member Consultants deal with the community face-to-face, and assist them with their daily financial needs, as well as provide part-time counseling (ha-ha). Being the face of Wauna is a great opportunity to connect with members and build lasting relationships between them and Wauna.

Hannah
Hannah always travels in style and with a sidekick

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me a lot about patience. It’s easy to go day-to-day thinking you know how everything in the financial industry works and rush through it all, but it’s very humbling to help people who maybe aren’t so familiar with finances, as well as other things that may seem simple to us that work here such as online banking; especially since we just launched our new U-Banking platform back in May!

 

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I had to choose a new hobby, I would choose something musical. I played piano when I was little, but it never really stuck. It’s something that I would enjoy picking back up.

Michael Murdoch – 1 year
What is your current position?
I’m the Communications Specialist. My office is in Clatskanie, but my job is to go all over our footprint to talk to members and our staff. I spend most of my time communicating to Wauna staff how-to communicate while communicating communications to members and our communities. It’s a communications thing.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Wauna Credit Union has taught me to take greater ownership with my mistakes, but more importantly, with my accomplishments. As a communications person, I’m often more comfortable in the background, but rewarding good work is a big part of the culture here.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I’ve always wanted to take up sailing. But, I’d need a sail and a boat. And common sense.

Michael Murdoch
Michael hangs out with colleagues, and a duck that supports CUs

Others

  • Ian Wiggins
  • Brittany Warren
  • Lidia Sanchez
  • Ericka Barnett

 

 

August Statement Insert – Elite Money Market, Adopt a Teacher, Strong Mortgage

August Statement Insert Page 1

Introducing Elite Money Market Account
The more you invest, the higher you’ll go
Federally insured by NCUA

August Statement Insert Page 2

Wauna Credit Union
waunafcu.org
800-773-3236
Apply 24/7
NMLS# 421867
Our mission is to provide opportunities for
our members to build their financial well-being

NCUA
All deposits up to $250,000 are insured
by the National Credit Union
Administration, and backed by the full
faith and credit of the U.S. government.

Home of the Strong Mortgage
Dennis S. – Clatskanie
Equal Housing Opportunity

Adopt a Teacher
Learn more on our
Facebook page

 

 

 

How do I remove a debt collection from my credit report?

If you’ve ever let a debt go unpaid, your creditor probably sent it to a debt collector. Debt collectors are serious about getting you to pay. That’s why part of their strategy is to list the unpaid account on your credit report. This in turn damages your credit score, and appears on your report for future lenders to see. Your collection will remain on your credit report for up to seven years.

While there is no guaranteed tactic to getting it removed, here are a few things you can try:

Check for accuracy

If you’re reviewing your credit report and don’t recognize the collection account, confirm that it’s actually yours.

A study by the Federal Trade Commission concluded that about 25% of consumers had an error on their report, and 5% were stuck with higher interest rates as a result. Additionally, about 20% of people who disputed those errors received a better credit score.

File a dispute (if the debt isn’t yours)

If you discover a mistake, let the credit-reporting bureaus know as soon as possible. Send a message online or through the mail explaining the error and why it’s wrong, and provide copies of any supporting documentation if possible.

Credit bureaus typically have 30 days to respond. Even if they correct the inaccurate information, however, it might take a few months for your report to update.

Write a “goodwill letter”

What do you do if the collection account is accurate? Try writing a “goodwill letter” to your creditor.

Because if you have great credit history and pay off the collection, they may remove the negative information. Alternatively, if you missed payments because of a financial hardship, you should write a letter explaining that as well (just make sure you’ve since paid off your collection balance).

Need help reviewing your credit report? Talk to one of Balance’s Certified Financial Coaches or contact us to talk with one of our friendly member consultants today!

August Statement Insert – Back to School, Last Days of Summer

August Statement Page 1

Back to School With WCU and VISA
Ready for back to school? A WCU
VISA Rewards Card gives you the
purchasing power, protections, and
features to make back to school fun.

NCUA
All deposits up to $250,000 are insured
by the National Credit Union
Administration, and backed by the full
faith and credit of the U.S. government.

Wauna Credit Union
waunafcu.org
800-773-3236
NMLS# 421867

August Statement Page 2

Summer is For Fun & We Make Fun Affordable!
60 Days No Payments on RVs, Boats, Mortorcycles
Wauna Credit Union offers affordable loans for
RVs, boats, motorcycles, and other vehicles that
help you have fun in the sun!

New/Used Purchases Qualify for 60-Days No
Payments.*

1% Cash Rebate and 60-Days No Payments for
refinances from Elsewhere!

Promotional Terms Available Through August 21!

**Special Promotion Terms: New & used RV-Recreational Vehicle (includes: motor home, trailer, boat, motorcycle, ATV, side-by-sides, watercraft) loans qualify for 60-Days No Payments (interest will continue to accrue during the 60-Day period). Maximum Loan: $50,000. Qualifying loans refinanced from elsewhere to Wauna CU receive: 1. An immediate Cash Rebate equal to 1% of the approved loan value [Note: the full amount of the promotional cash rebate remitted to member may be forfeit if less than 50% of the total funded loan balance remains in the account 120 days after the loan funding date]; and, 2. 60-Days No Payments (interest will continue to accrue during the 60-day period). Minimum loan amount to qualify for special terms: $2,000; Maximum Loan: $50,000; maximum rebate allowed is$500 per loan. These special financing terms end at close of business August 31, 2018. Rates & financing are offered based on applicant’s credit worthiness on applicant’s credit worthiness and term of the loan. Membership with Wauna CU required to qualify for this special offer.

Fee Schedule Page 1

Wauna Credit Union Fee Changes
Effective September 1, 2018
Cards
Card payment by phone
$15.00 per transaction
Non-CO-OP ATM withdrawals
$2.50 per withdrawal
Safe Deposit Boxes
3” x 5” Box $35.00 annually
3” x 10” Box
$50.00 annually
5” x 10” Box
$60.00 annually
10” x 10”
$85.00 annually
SDB Late Fee(<30 days)
$20.00per month Services
Account research/Balancing
$45.00 per hour (min 1 hour)
Carfax
$20.00 per item
Dormant Account (12 mo. inactivity)
$10.00 monthly
Legal Process Fee (Garnishment/Levy)
$125.00 per item
Line Of Credit over limit fee
$35.00 per item
Skip-A-Payment
$40.00 per skip
Stop Payment
$30.00 per item
Unclaimed Property Notices
$15.00 per item
Undeliverable Mail Fee
$10.00 per item
Wires
Intl. Wire Research or Tracking
$45.00 per item
Business Accounts
Money Services Business Checking
– Cash Handling Fee >$150k
$35.00 monthly
$15.00 per $25k increment
Line of Credit Renewal
$250.00 per item

Questions? Contact us at
800-773-3236 or waunafcu.org.
Find a full rate sheet at
waunafcu.org or at any branch.

Fee Schedule Page 2

WAUNA CREDIT UNION
MEMBERSHIP & ACCOUNT AGREEMENT
Summary of Changes to Account
Agreement and Disclosures 2018
Revised Aug. 1, 2018
Funds Availability Policy
Section 1- General Policy
Added to end of section: Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs): When
the ITM is staffed, deposits are being made at a staffed facility. When
the ITM is not staffed, deposits are being made at an ATM. The funds
will be made available according to the General Policy.
Membership & Account Agreement
Section 8a. Endorsements
Added to end of paragraph: For mobile deposits, we may refuse
checks lacking a restrictive endorsement, such as “for mobile deposit
only”.
Section 26. Inactive Accounts
Deleted from first sentence: “your account falls below any minimum
balance”. Minimum balance is not needed along with inactivity for
specified period for account to be classified as inactive or dormant.
4th sentence was deleted: You authorize us to transfer funds from
another account of yours to cover any service fees, if applicable. To
the extent allowed by law, we reserve the right to transfer the account
funds to an account payable and to suspend any further account
statements.
Section 29. Termination of membership
Added to end of paragraph: A member who fails to complete
payment of one share within 3 months of admission to membership,
or within 3 months from the increase in the par value of shares or
a member who reduces the share balance below the par value of
one share, either through voluntary withdrawal of funds or through
involuntary assessment of fees and charges, and does not increase the
balance to at least the par value of one share within 3 months of the
reduction will be terminated from membership.
Electronic Funds Transfer
Section 1. EFT Services, b. Debit Card
Added to end of section: Card Information Updates and
Authorizations. If you have authorized a merchant to bill charges to
your card on a recurring basis, it is your responsibility to notify the
merchant in the event your card is replaced, your card information
(such as card number and expiration date) changes, or the account
associated with your card is closed. However, if your card is replaced
or card information changes, you authorize us, without obligation on
our part, to provide the updated card information to the merchant in
order to permit the merchant to bill recurring charges to the card. You
authorize us to apply such recurring charges to the card until you notify
us that you have revoked authorization for the charges to your card.
Your card is automatically enrolled in an information updating service.
Through this service, your updated card information (such as card
number and expiration date) may be shared with participating
merchants to facilitate continued recurring charges. Updates are not
guaranteed before your next payment to a merchant is due. You are
responsible for making direct payment until recurring charges resume.
To revoke your authorization allowing us to provide updated card
information to a merchant, please contact us.

Not the Chief of Kisses and Hugs: CXO, John Moore celebrates 5 years at Wauna Credit Union

Some leaders just have it…

…that spark you can’t help but feel drawn to…their charisma, challenging nature, or their ease in guiding the ship. This Wauna Credit Union leader comes from what us Credit Union-ers call the “Dark Side”, having spent the bulk of his early career in big banks. But it’s hard to shun such a past when with it comes a myriad of great ideas, experiences, and what-not-to-dos that have not only embraced our Wauna culture, but have inspired many to be greater.

And so today we celebrate our CXO, John Moore, because today marks fives years he has spent with us here at Wauna Credit Union. And to give you a better idea of who the man is behind the title, we posed a few queries to Mr. Moore to learn just a little bit more about who he is and what makes him tick.

What is your current position?

John hoisting up a Branch Achievement Eagle Trophy

CXO, which stands for “Chief Experience Officer” and not the Chief of Kisses and Hugs — although I do value all of our members and want them all to know how we are appreciative and honored to be entrusted as their consultants. More specifically, I Provide help and support to training, lending, and all WCU branches. This ensures our focus is on creating life experiences for our members with every interaction we have.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?

Coming from a 20+ year career in banking, I thought that credit unions did the little loans and small savings accounts. Also, I had no idea that WCU is a full-service financial provider. I am glad I didn’t know what I didn’t know prior to coming here or I would have felt intimidated competing against WCU. This credit union has the best Residential, Commercial, and Consumer loan products on the market. A bank cannot come close to delivering a service promise like we do. We tailor our lending and deposit products to meet what our membership asks for. Also, we survey our membership and always put their needs first…that is why we are here. I now truly understand what being “member-owned” means.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?  

I would love to write a book. Something in the horror genre, but nothing involving clowns as I don’t want to be afraid of my own work.

John and his daughter, Emma, giving the “Wauna Strong” post in front of his new rig

We hear you’re quite a fan of Star Wars. See if you can answer some trivia: In real life, this material made up of made of nitrobenzene, saltpeter, sulfur, and diatomaceous earth would have caused Bespin to explode. What do you call this substance?

Actually, it’s part of my New Employee Orientation presentation. I tell new employees that I will never leave or retire from WCU but will actually be encased in a block of Carbonite.  Oh, and Han not only shot first, but was the only one to fire his weapon.

Is it better to be extraordinary and always late, or just OK and always on time? 

Well, as the CXO, I would like to say be on time and be extraordinary. But if these are my choices then definitely get more beauty rest to be that much more extraordinary.

There you have it.

He loves Star Wars, is a member-oriented leader, and cares about his staff and the credit union movement. Thank you for a “Waunderful” 5 years, John! We are glad you came over to Wauna Credit Union from the Dark Side! We also look forward to freezing you in Carbonite and placing you in our headquarters’ lobby.

Warrenton ATM Skimmer

On Sunday 07/22 at 1:05 pm, a member of the public discovered a suspicious device on the outermost WCU ATM at our Warrenton Branch. Warrenton Police were notified and established the device to be a card reader (ATM skimmer). It is estimated the card reader was placed on the ATM at approximately 10:00 pm on Saturday 7/21.

Police are in possession of the reader. At this time, we believe the reader did not have the capability to transfer data wirelessly and was never retrieved by the culprit, and therefore no member information was compromised.

Members should closely monitor their accounts and statements for any suspicious activities and immediately call 1-800-773-3236 if there are unauthorized charges, withdrawals, or even deposits.

If it is determined that any member’s information has been compromised, we will immediately take action to ensure card/s are replaced and any other potential issues are secured.

It is our practice to audit all WCU ATMs multiple times daily for card readers. This is the first incident of an ATM skimmer found on a WCU ATM, but it does happen with regular frequency throughout the country.

For more information on skimmers and other fraudulent activity, we recently posted a blog about skimmers https://waunafcu.org/blog/fraudsters-and-skimmers-oh-my/.

A picture of the actual card reader is below.

Warrenton ATM Skimmer
A picture of the actual device

 

Saying “I Do” to Homeownership: How to Prepare for This Big Commitment

Buying a home is a major commitment. It’s a bit like, well, getting married. You’ve got to be ready and you have to find the right “one.” And, like a marriage, homeownership is a dynamic experience that requires a tremendous amount of care and attention. If you are ready to shift from renter to buyer, you’ve got some legwork to do.

Here’s how to prepare:

Credit matters
Quite simply, the past can either haunt or help you. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, financial institutions will likely be wary of extending you another loan. If you have had problems repaying past obligations, a lender will have trouble trusting that you will pay your mortgage on time.

You can increase your FICO score (a credit scoring model that helps lenders assess risk) by reducing debt, making timely payments, not shopping aggressively for credit, having a variety of credit instruments, and keeping at least one credit card for a long period of time. Make significant improvements in as few as six months.

Understand what you can afford
Most lenders require that total housing costs not exceed 28% of gross monthly income, and total debt payments per month (including the mortgage) not surpass 36%. In real terms, this means that if you owe no consumer debt and have a household income of $75,000, then $1,750 in housing costs is within your range.

Accumulate cash
If you don’t have at least some cash in your coffer, start a savings plan now. How much you will need depends on many factors, including the home price and how much you will put as a down payment. Closing costs, points, moving expenses, and a post-purchase reserve fund of two to three months worth of housing payments can add up to many thousands of dollars.

Once you own your home, you may eventually want a bigger or better living space. Rather than purchase a new residence, first consider remodeling. You can add rooms and customize your home to meet your needs and desires without having to move. Yet while remodeling can be wise, it can also be stressful and expensive. Be careful when hiring someone to do the work for you. A contractor you hire should:

  • Have a licence
  • Carry general liability insurance
  • Carry workers’ compensation insurance
  • Provide you with a written waiver at the end of the job
  • Guarantee work for at least one year from date of completion
  • Provide you with references
  • Be financially sound, so won’t declare bankruptcy in the middle of your project
  • Can provide proof that he or she has completed similar projects
  • Ensure that the price includes removal of all job debris and full clean up

So how are you going to pay for those fabulous improvements? There are three basic options: cash, refinancing, and using home equity.

  • Cash: If the job is small or short term, paying with cash is often the best method. A nice advantage of using savings is that you won’t have to repay a loan for the work that is done. When using cash, be sure to pay in agreed-upon increments.
  • Refinancing: Swapping a higher interest mortgage for a lower interest one can free up money for the project. You can refinance your existing mortgage and take all or part of your current equity in cash. Keep in mind though, that it will only be cost effective if you plan on remaining in the home long enough to recoup the closing costs and other fees associated with refinancing.
  • Home equity: Using home equity can be a great way to make major improvements – and get a tax benefit of interest deduction at the same time. To tap into your home’s equity, you can get a conventional second mortgage, a home equity loan, or a home equity line of credit. Second mortgages and home equity loans are best for large, long-term projects that require lump sum payments. Home equity lines are good for short-term projects or those requiring incremental payments.

Finally, remember that at home is not only where the heart is—it is also where the money is. You can get the most from your relationship with real estate by giving it the time and attention it requires, just like a marriage.

Visit our Real Estate Loans and Mortgage page to learn more about how you can get started today.

Provided by Balance.