USC Credit Union Blog

USC Credit Union Blog

Purchase Your First House or Pay Off Student Debt?

Posted by Melissa on Apr 25, 2014 10:00:00 AM


Should I save for a house?
With my income at the time, repaying the minimum on the loans each month wasn't a problem. Interest on three types of loans ranged from 4.5% to 6.8%, which, considering inflation and comparing it to credit card interest rates, wasn't all that bad. Even if I only made minimum payments throughout the course of the repayment period, I would lose just over $5,000 to interest. Although I wanted the loans out of my life, I could live with paying that over time if it meant saving tens of thousands of dollars on a home and mortgage while the market was down.

Drawing a plan
Student loan payments accounted for roughly 20% of my income at the time, while rent and utilities accounted for about 40%. After other expenses, I had around 10% leftover – not enough savings to purchase a house by 2015 like I planned. I needed to save nearly five times more! After all, I wanted to make a 20% down payment.

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Flags and Fenders

Posted by Melissa on Apr 12, 2014 10:00:00 AM
 
A look at what red flags should cause you to throw up the white flag when buying a used car. Click "Read More" to watch the video!
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What Should I Do with My First Paycheck?

Posted by Melissa on Apr 11, 2014 10:23:00 AM

How should I spend my first official paycheck?

Whether it's a $30,000 salary or $130,000, your first "real job" is probably the biggest income change you'll experience. Sure we'll get gradual raises here and there, and maybe even a major promotion or two, but going from an income of nothing to a full time salary is quite a jump.

As a result, managing your first few paychecks can be difficult. It's easy to overestimate disposable income and end up spending money on things you really can't afford. Rent, food, loan payments, and other necessities are obvious items to add to your budget, but there are other essential expenses you might not realize. Here are some tips on what to do with your first paycheck:

Emergency Savings 

Bad things happen to good people. That's just the way life goes, so you need to prepare for the worst. Layoffs, car accidents, unexpected illnesses; whatever the case, you should have between 3-6 months of living expenses saved to prepare for life's unexpected expenses. It may seem unattainable at first, but saving a little bit at a time will help you reach it. And, once you have 3-6 months of your living expenses safely stored in your savings account, you'll sleep a little better at night.

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Building a Budget

Posted by Melissa on Apr 10, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Building a budget it sort of like building a house. Check out this video that provides some tips on how to make the most out of building your budget. Click "Read More" to watch!

 

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Make The Most of Your Savings From Your Tax Refunds

Posted by Melissa on Apr 8, 2014 10:30:00 AM

If you’re expecting a tax refund this year, you need a good plan for your money. Be sure to revisit your W-4 form and adjust your federal income tax withholding allowances.

Don’t get caught treating your refund check any differently than you’d treat your weekly or monthly paycheck or if you own a small business, revenue from your customers. Give the money a purpose. Don’t just let it sit in your checking account. If you do, it will quickly vanish after you use it for dining out here, shopping for clothes there, and getting Starbucks every day. Before you know it, you’ll have nothing to show for the refund.

Top 10 Priorities for Your Tax Refund

1. Start or Increase Your Emergency Fund
Without an emergency fund, just one surprising piece of bad news can send you on the debt spiral to financial disaster. Most experts say that your fund should have about six to eight months worth of savings in an easily-accessible interest-bearing account (e.g. an online savings account or money market account). Storing that much away might take months or even years if you’re just taking a little bit out of each paycheck, so use your refund to make a significant deposit in your emergency fund.

2. Pay Off High-Interest Debt
After establishing an emergency fund, the next best thing you can do with your tax refund is to pay off any high-interest debt that you’re carrying. If you have a lot of debt, just putting money in savings is like borrowing money from yourself. Put your refund to work by starting your debt elimination program of choice and paying off any payday loans, title loans, debt consolidation loans, high-interest private student loans, car loans, and of course credit card debt.

3. Spend It on Something You Need
Are you having car trouble, do you need a new winter coat, or have you put off dental work? You need to take care of these essentials, and now that your refund is here, you can cover the cost.

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5 Money Mistakes Students Make in College

Posted by Melissa on Apr 3, 2014 9:55:06 AM


Save now and prepare for your future.

When I ask most people if they have any regrets from college, they gaze off into the distance, smile, and shake their heads no. But for me, I look back and there is so much I would change. I made a lot of mistakes in college, and unfortunately most were money mistakes. Here are five of them that you can avoid.

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What is Credit and Why Do I Care?

Posted by Melissa on Mar 25, 2014 2:25:00 PM

Video-Play-Photo

Here's a helpful video explaining why credit is important even if you are too young to need it. Click Read More to watch!

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Credit Unions are not-for-profit Financial Service Cooperatives

Posted by Melissa on Feb 26, 2014 1:18:00 PM


Let's All Cooperate!

Credit Unions are not-for-profit financial service cooperatives, owned and controlled by their members, and operating in a democratic way. What difference does that make? Co-ops are businesses, in many ways like any other business. But a cooperative operates solely for the members' benefit. All co-op businesses run in accordance with seven basic principles, many of which have been part of the co-op philosophy from their beginnings more than 150 years ago.

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How Are Credit Unions Different from Banks?

Posted by Ivonet on Feb 21, 2014 12:02:00 PM


Start Owning Your Future Today!
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FREE eBook: Guide to Living with Debt

Posted by Myke on Feb 12, 2014 3:36:00 PM

 

"Let’s face it: living debt-free today is practically impossible. Whether you’ve got a car loan, student loans, several credit cards or a mortgage, most of us have some debt."

Debt isn't necessarily a dirty four-letter word though. But, here's the important thing to remember: Some amount of personal debt is good because it helps you establish a credit rating and teaches you how to manage your money. Debt's only a problem when the payments become overwhelming; you miss payments, or you find yourself borrowing money to make ends meet.

This eBook looks at all the different kinds of debt you can carry, the good and the bad, some guidelines to follow when you need to borrow money, and what to do if you find yourself in a pinch.
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