News, events, and useful financial information from APCO Employees Credit Union.

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7707f4ce-6033-42cf-a991-f074c6426c11Your credit union would like to offer a few tips to help you save money during those cold winter months.

1. Have your furnace inspected once a year.
2. Check for drafts and repair or replace weather stripping on leaking doors and windows.
3. Check your air ducts. Make sure the air is not being blocked by furniture, rugs, or drapes.
4. Change your filter regularly. A clean furnace filter traps dirt and allergens and in turn, makes your furnace run more efficiently.
5. If you have ceiling fans, run them in reverse to move the warm ceiling air down into the rooms.
6. Open the drapes on the sunny side of the house during the day to allow the sun to warm your home; close curtains at night to trap in the heat.
7. Set back thermostat at night and when you leave home. Setting the thermostat back 10 degrees at night or when not at home can save up to 15% on heating costs.
8. Invest in a programmable thermostat. Some cost less than $50 and can be installed by homeowners.

Are you looking for a new car? If so, make sure you finance it with APCO Employees Credit Union!

Our Winter Auto Loan Special is now in progress. Qualified members are eligibile for a 1.9%* APR interest rate on a new car loan for up to 60 months.

To apply, go to www.apcocu.org and click on “Auto Loans” or visit your nearby APCO Employees Credit Union branch.

*A lower credit score may cause a higher loan rate.

Do you live for the next paycheck? Don’t worry… you’re not alone. However, there are some things you can do to give yourself a financial cushion until the next payday.

One of the easiest ways to put more money in your pocket is to change your eating habits. Instead of eating out for lunch every day, pick one day a week to bring your lunch to work.  You can also bring your own water and avoid vending machines.

If your kids are keeping everyone away from home at night, or if both parents work, try picking one night a week to cook at home. Then, a month later, try two nights a week. Suddenly, you will start to see your monthly meal expenses decrease significantly.

Another idea? Make your own coffee. Brewing your own cup in the mornings can cost you pennies compared to the cost of that $3 cup of joe each day.  If you feel like you don’t have time in the mornings to make your coffee, buy a coffee pot with a timer or a single-cup coffee machine. They are quicker to use than sitting in line at the coffee shop and can save you money down the road.

Speaking of the road… try to carpool with co-workers. Some cities offer ride assistance programs (such as CommuteSmart in Birmingham) that offer van pools or fuel reimbursements for people who carpool.

And while we are talking about cars… how much do you pay for car insurance? Talk to your insurance company (or compare rates with other insurance companies) to see if you can get a better deal.

The internet is very helpful when it comes to saving money. If you are considering a purchase, use shopping websites like Google Shopping or Amazon to compare prices with what you see in the store. It may be cheaper for you to purchase your needs online.

Note: Don’t assume products sold on the internet are cheaper than those sold in stores. Sometimes stores have sales and discounts which exceed internet sites. Do your homework.

When you shop, shop with a list. Walking up and down the aisles leads to more impulse buying, which is more expensive.  Also shop with coupons. Manufacturers are always trying to entice you to buy their products.

Speaking of shopping, look for generic products. Usually they are identical to name brand products except cheaper.

When was the last time you looked at your cell phone plan? You may be paying for services you don’t use. Update your plan… and while you’re at it, get rid of those premium cable channels you never watch.

If you are looking at ways to save money in the long-term, consider eliminating as much debt as possible. The more debt you have, the more money you spend each money paying interest on the debt. Pick one credit card and pay it off, then use the money you spent on that credit card and add it to the minimum payment on the next credit card. Pretty soon, you will be eliminating debt quickly.

You can also lower your monthly expenses by refinancing your mortgage. Interest rates on home loans are much lower than where they were just five years ago. If you have at least seven years left on your mortgage and are paying an interest rate higher than seven percent, refinancing your mortgage may be a good option.

Need personal help?
APCO Employees Credit Union has made arrangements with Reliance Financial Group to allow them to provide a full range of Financial Planning and brokerage services with reduced commissions to APCO members. Now you can enjoy quality brokerage services with easy access to a broad array of investment services. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, insurance products, options – you’ll find everything you’d expect from a traditional brokerage firm – except sales pressure, big commissions, and unwanted investment advice.

If you would like assistance in establishing your financial goals or developing a road map to accomplish those goals, please call our in-house Financial Planner, Brad Kamman. Brad is with Reliance Financial Group and you may reach him at (205) 397-2450 or email at bkamman@reliance-financial.com to schedule a no-cost consultation.

If you would like to refinance your mortgage, please apply online in our Online Mortgage Center at APCOCU.org.

Article sources:
http://www.businessinsider.com/20-ways-to-save-money-at-the-end-of-the-month-2012-8
http://www.dumblittleman.com/2008/01/30-easy-ways-to-save-money-and-no-you.html

(photo source APCONews.com)

By Don W. Manuel

Everyone wants to buy stocks low and sell high, and buying a home evokes similar feelings. You never want to pay more for a house than what you have to.

My son recently bought his first home. As his father, I wanted to make sure he spent his money wisely.  Let’s face it: buying a home is probably the largest investment any of us will make, and I didn’t want him to make a mistake that could cost him for years.

I’ve worked in the mortgage service business for decades. Here’s some things I learned that can help you, too.
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