Metro Credit Union is Heart Walking This Saturday

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IMG_8921Metro Credit Union is excited for this Saturday’s American Heart Association Nebraska (AHA) Omaha Heart Walk to benefit the AHA and their quest to reduce heart disease and stroke in America.  We are serving as a presenting sponsor with Metro management and staff participating in the Heart Walk. Metro President, Mike McDermott is serving as a Co-Chair of the event along with UNMC Chancellor, Dr. Jeffrey Gold and Honorary Co-Chair, Nebraska’s own, Dr. Tom Osborne.

This event, located at Miller’s Landing (151 Freedom Park Rd.), promotes healthy living as well as to raise funds for cardiovascular disease. The Heart Walk is family and pet-friendly, featuring a one and three-mile course with a half-mile Kids Heart Challenge obstacle course.

Heart disease affects all ages, both male and female. Congenital heart conditions in babies are the most common in the United States, occurring in 1 out of every 110 births.  Heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans, and it is the #1 killer of women, causing 1 in 3 deaths a year. May is American Stroke Month, and stroke is Nebraska’s leading cause of death.

Thanks to the AHA, deaths due to heart disease and stroke have declined 35% in the past decade. So far, Metro Credit Union has raised over $14,000 with our company goal being $16,000. You can help by donating or registering to walk, and you will save lives by providing funds for education and life-saving research.

Gates will open at 7:00 a.m. with the kids walk to follow at 8:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies follow at 9:00 a.m. and the adults hit the pavement at 9:30 a.m.  At the walk, make sure to visit the Metro Credit Union tent to pick up snacks and enter for our drawings. You also may spot adorable Odie, Metro Credit Union’s honorary dog, who will be walking to fight heart disease.

Remember to take many pictures and share them on Metro Credit Union’s social media. If you’re on Snapchat, Metro Credit Union will have a special Heart Walk geofilter for you to use and share with your friends and family.

Thank you for doing your part to help fight cardiovascular disease and spreading awareness for this cause.

 

LStreet

Metro Credit Union 50th & L Street Staff Promoting the Omaha Heart Walk

 

Finance Tips for Newlyweds

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couple_laptopAll couples promise “for better or for worse… for richer or for poorer,” when they marry. However, it can be a challenge to actually survive being richer or poorer without financial management skills.

Money has become a top issue over which newlyweds end up fighting. Consider openly discussing your finances together, because it can be an essential ingredient to a long and happy marriage.

Sometimes in a marriage one person is determined to manage money only their way, and it may not mesh with their spouse’s methods. Others might take all the responsibility on themselves or just put it entirely on their spouse. Some spouses lie about their overspending habits, which causes trust issues among the couple. However, as a newlywed couple, you can avoid these problems and keep your marriage on the right track. However, the two of you will have to work a few things out, and you should do so by taking plenty of time to talk.

The following tips can help you and your spouse get accustomed to healthy financial habits:

Talk About Finances

Communicating your thoughts about spending is best to do before you get married. However, it’s never too late to talk about your finances with your spouse. In the event that you failed to discuss the topic before your marriage, you should discuss the matter as soon as possible with your significant other. You will have to go through the accounts you have open and the debts you owe. You should also be clear on how you would like future money to be handled, and then listen to your spouse for their suggestions.  Together, you will be better equipped to make any changes that you both agree on.

Determine the Goals

Once you come up with your baseline financial status, discuss the long-term financial goals that you might have, such as retiring at a certain age or paying off your debts completely. Make sure that you write down your goals and review them regularly. By doing so, you will have a better chance of success.

Bank Accounts

There are ups and downs of having a joint bank account as well as maintaining individual accounts after marriage. Some may even opt for both types of accounts. By combining your accounts, you can simplify your finances and develop trust in your marriage. It can also benefit you and your spouse if either one of you chooses to take on the extra household or child rearing duties. Having some independence may be preferred by the both of you.

Emergency Fund

Make saving for an emergency fund one of your top priorities. Aim for saving at least six months of your household expenses for emergencies. It should be a priority because an emergency fund can bring security and help protect your relationship if some disaster or mishap arises.

Budget

Make sure that you stay within a budget each month. Limit how much you can spend on a certain budget category in a month. You should do so by reviewing your joint expenses for a few months to understand how much you and your spouse have been spending, and whether you need to reduce the amount. Once you have done that, you can establish a limit on every category that you decide on. Don’t forget to allocate some funds for surprise events.

Keep Track of Your Budget

Making a budget is a great step, but it isn’t enough. You will also need to make sure that you are staying within your spending limits and adjust your spending accordingly. An effective way of sticking to your budget is by using an envelope budgeting system. This method is best suited for young couples who have lower incomes. Another way is to make a spreadsheet that will track all of your expenses, spending, and totals up at the end of the month. Also, make sure that you pay off your credit card charges every month on time. Constantly communicating with your spouse about the budget will help you both keep track of your budget and avoid overspending. Never assume the other person took care of it, or that the other person is staying within the budget. It is better to ask and confer with them so you both stay on the same page.

Get Out of Debt

Being in debt can be damaging even for a single person, but it becomes a double threat when two people have to pay it off. Work out a plan with your spouse for getting rid of your debt and making sure you do not get back into it.

Estimating Your Retirement Needs

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Retirement2017It is important to have a plan for your retirement, but where should you begin? The first step that you should take is to estimate the income that will be required to fund your retirement. However, it is not as easy as it sounds since retirement planning is not an actual science. Your needs will depend on what your goals and requirements are.

You Current Income: The Starting Point
Your desired annual retirement income is something you should decide on first. It depends on who you discuss it with, but it can be anywhere from 40 to 80 percent of your current income or even more. This approach is quite simple and straightforward since your current income is what sustains your lifestyle. Taking the income that you earn now, and reducing it by a certain percentage will give you an idea if you can afford to retire on that amount given the monthly expenses that you have.

However, there is a problem with this approach as it does not account for your specific situation in the future. It’s good to use your current income as a yardstick, but it is also worth it to go through your current expenses extensively and think through the changes that these expenses might go through in the future.

Plan Your Retirement Expenses
The income you get in your retirement period should be enough for your retirement expenses. Therefore, it is important that you estimate those expenses as it is a huge piece of your retirement planning. However, if your retirement period is still quite far away, then determining these expenses can be difficult. To help in getting started, a few of the common retirement expenses are mentioned below:

  • Clothing and food
  • Housing (property taxes, repairs and upkeep, rent, or mortgage)
  • Utilities (electric, gas, water, etc.)
  • Transportation (auto payments, maintenance and repairs, public transportation, etc.)
  • Insurances
  • Healthcare cost (those not covered by the insurance)
  • Taxes
  • Debts
  • Education (children’s or grandchildren’s)
  • Savings and investments
  • Recreation
  • Care for yourself or family
  • Miscellaneous (personal)

You should keep in mind that the living costs can increase with time. You should also keep in mind that the retirement expenses can change from year to year. To protect yourself from unknown variables, you should create a comfortable cushion for yourself with your estimate. Moreover, you should ask for expert financial help to set up for your retirement.

Decide Your Retirement Period
Defining your retirement needs is not the only goal, because you can’t merely estimate the annual income that you will require. You will also have to decide how long you will be retired. The longer your retirement period is, the more years of income that will be needed for funding your retirement. Therefore, it depends on you when you plan on retiring. This decision is usually based on your personal goals and your financial situation.

Your Life Expectancy
The age at which you choose to retire isn’t the only factor to be looked into. You will also need to estimate your lifespan. We all hope to live a long life; but the longer your life, the more years of retirement that you will need to fund. To avoid outliving your retirement savings, you can use government statistics and life expectancy calculators to estimate your lifespan.

Identifying the Sources of Retirement Income
Once you have determined all your retirement needs, you will have to look into the sources of your retirement income that might be available to you. The amount of income that you will receive from these sources depends on how much you invest in them, the rate of investment return and other such factors.

Income Shortfalls
There are steps that you can take to cover the gap if you do not anticipate being able to save enough. A financial professional will be able to guide you, however here are some of useful tips:

  • Cut back on current expenses
  • Turn your assets into investments that may have a potential outpace inflation
  • Lower the retirement expectations
  • Part-time work during retirement

Delay your retirement for a few years

7 Ways to Increase the Value of Your Home

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DMI_711Real estate prices are not the same anymore, so it is natural for a homeowner to think about selling their houses and ways to raise their home’s financial value. With housing prices growing, this is a great time to increase the value of your home. With that being said, it is not always necessary to spend a lot of money on the total remodel of a house.

You can learn about the buyers and what they want. Starting early in the process and completing small projects can provide some of the best results. Here are some tips for making improvements to your home, and smartly utilizing your time and resources.

  1. Create Space

Many buyers today prefer more space. So what is the best solution? Knocking out any non-structural walls, or even the kitchen island can open up space and fashions a sense of flow in the house. Though a kitchen island is an asset, if the kitchen has enough cabinets it may produce a better financial outcome to remove the island. With spending a minimal amount of money, you can transform your house entirely.

  1. Landscaping

Landscaping is one of the top three investments that has the possibility of bringing the largest return and can change the outlook of the house. If your house has a garden or an area with lots of overgrown trees and shrubs, then those tangled trees can sometimes create obscure views.

Overgrown landscaping creates problems at all price points. People often say, “Where’s the house?” If a buyer is unable to view the house properly, they are unable to determine what they are getting and will most likely move on to a house that they can view properly.

If the landscaping has been neglected for a long period of time, it can definitely get out of control and be expensive to fix the situation.

  1. Let in the light

Improving the lighting can be one of the best ways to increase the value of your home. Anything, ranging from a dimmer switch to sun tubes, can enhance a home’s appeal. Sun tubes, also known as sun scoops or light pipes, can be used. These sun tubes use a reflective material that is used for funneling the natural light from the rooftop through a ceiling fixture and into the room.

Other ways by which you can light things up in the house would be to fix any broken panes, and make sure all the windows are open. Consider using lights that use motion detectors so they can turn off automatically. You should also keep in mind that wattage bulbs make a small space feel bigger, and softer lighting brings warmth to empty spaces.

  1. Do Not Put Off Maintenance and Care

Before starting any large upgrades, you should consider some basic improvements and maintenance care. A few suggestions may be insulating the attic, repairing any plumbing leaks, replacing any rusty rain gutters, inspecting the furnace as well as the septic system, replacing or repairing leaky windows, installing storm doors, and weeding out the flower beds. These kinds of fixes add value in the long run to the house. Investing in the maintenance and repairs is moneywise and can be crucial for the sale of your home.

  1. What’s Under Your Feet?

What you are standing on has a value, so you should not neglect the flooring. Many real estate pros recommend spending money on the flooring, but it doesn’t have to be a lot of money.

  1. Easy Bath Upgrades

Spiffing up the kitchen and the bath is a sure way to add value to your home. Some upgrades may not be economical, but other upgrades are affordable, easy and fast, especially in the bathroom.

You can:

  • Replace the glass
  • Clean the mortar
  • Remove the stains left by corrosion
  • Apply fresh seals
  • Change doorknobs and cabinet pulls
  • Change old faucets
  1. Neutral Wall Colors

If you plan on selling your house, then you should fix any walls with chipped paint. If there is a need to do more than a touch-up, we suggest you opt for neutral colors. Removing your personal taste and design can be beneficial. Buyers want to visualize their ideas for a space, and a seller can assist by providing a toned-down wall that can serve as a canvas for the many possibilities they envision their house to hold.

You can add value to your home in several ways. Understanding what a buyer really wants can be the best way to do that. Try to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes.

6 Questions to ask when choosing a Home Equity Loan

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house1A house is usually one of the biggest assets that a person owns. Whether it is big or small, it plays an important role in a person’s life. That’s why homeowners should decide very carefully when taking out a home equity loan.

Getting a home equity loan seems to be an easy option in situations when you need liquid cash quickly, but it’s not a good strategy to get this type of loan right away without asking yourself a few key questions.

Before taking out a home equity loan, here are some things to think about:

1. Are Interest Rates Relatively Low?
It is important to assess current economic trends to determine if a home equity loan is the right choice. If interest rates are relatively low, then it could be a good choice to opt for a home equity loan. With lower interest rates, you can count on paying less interest over the life of the loan. On the other hand, if interest rates are relatively high, obtaining a home equity line of credit might be a better option.

2. Are There Any Stipulations Associated with Home Equity Loan?
Home equity loans are not exclusively used for home renovation or other similar purposes. They can also be used for other financial needs a person might face like an unanticipated expense or college tuition for a child. Ask the lending institution if there are any limitations on the utilization of the home equity loan. This question can save inconveniences in the future and help you decide whether to apply for the loan or not.

3. Will There Be Any Additional Costs?
A homeowner thinking about a home equity loan should inquire about all the costs associated with the loan. There are often extra costs. For example, taxes might be required, there could be annual or closing costs, cancellation fees, etc. It is important to ask about additional costs to make sure you have enough money to stay within your monthly budget.

4. Which Term of the Loan is the Best?
Next, it’s important to decide the term of your loan, since it can play an important role in managing the repayment. If you are in better financial condition, then a short term loan is better. If you can’t manage higher payments, then a longer term loan might be best.

5. How Much Time Does It Take to Get the Loan?
Thanks to technology, loan procedures aren’t as time consuming as they used to. The application submission, approval and loan withdrawal can take as little as a few days to complete. It is a good idea to ask questions about an approximate time that this process might take. This can be important if the cash is needed immediately.

6. Are There Tax Advantages Associated with Home Equity Loan?
One of the advantages associated with home equity loans is the tax advantages available to homeowners. This tax advantage is not available with many other kinds of loans. Tax benefits differ from person to person depending on the lending institution, loaner’s financial conditions and state laws.

Metro To Serve As Heart Walk Presenting Sponsor

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In 2016, Metro Credit Union became a first-time participant in the American Heart Association Heart Walk. In 2017, we’re jumping in with both feet as the credit union will serve as a participating sponsor of this great event.

This fundraising event benefits the American Heart Association and their quest to reduce heart disease and stroke in America. Heart disease is still the #1 killer of Americans, but thanks to the AHA, deaths due to heart disease and stroke have declined 35% in the past decade.

In addition to Metro management and staff participating in the event, Metro President, Mike McDermott will serve as a Co-Chair along with UNMC Chancellor, Dr. Jeffrey Gold and Nebraska’s own, Dr. Tom Osborne.

The walk takes place at Miller’s Landing (151 Freedom Park Rd.) and features a one and three-mile course. In addition, the little ones can join in on a half-mile KidsWalk featuring obstacles.

It’s a great event supporting a very worthy cause, and we’d love for you to join in on the fun! You can participate by joining the Metro Team and walking with Metro staff members on May 13th. Your $25 donation gets you registered, plus you’ll receive a great looking Team Metro t-shirt
like the one shown in the ad below. Best of all, you’ll be doing your part to help fight heart
disease.

Gates will open at 7:00 a.m. with the kids walk to follow at 8:00 a.m. Opening ceremonies follow at 9:00 a.m. and the adults hit the pavement at 9:30 a.m. To join the Metro team here.  You’ll be taken to Metro’s Heart Walk page where you can choose which Metro branch you’d like to we’d love for you to join in represent.

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Buying a Used or New Car: Things to Consider

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DMI_1011When the decision to buy a vehicle arises, there are a number of things to consider before signing on the dotted line. Take the time to research and become familiar with the car buying process. Buying a car is a significant investment and having a clear understanding of what you want and need in that vehicle will ultimately help you get the best deal for your money.

A few of the factors that come into play when deciding to purchase a vehicle are the cost, whether or not to buy new or used, the fuel efficiency and perhaps environmental concerns. This article features a few factors to take into consideration before purchasing an automobile.

Extras
A good place to begin is by making a list of features, or extras, you will want your vehicle to have. The desire to have the latest and greatest features can be one of the top factors in deciding what car is right for you. If there is no compromising over those extras, then looking into purchasing a new car is the way you may want to proceed. However, if having the latest and greatest features is not a priority, looking into purchasing an older vehicle with good features and within a reasonable price range, may be best.

Price Comparison
When looking into a new vehicle, a price comparison typically is not as high of a concern since it is generally easier to predict the price. But nevertheless, do your homework, the price should be compared to find out if that vehicle is available through a different dealership at a lower price.

Buying a used car will require a keen attentiveness on your part. Obtaining a detailed analysis of the market price ranges can give you a better insight into the proper estimation of the amount to be paid for a particular vehicle.

Fuel Efficiency
Customarily it is the newer automobiles that are comparatively more fuel efficient than their preceding models. If fuel efficiency is one of your top priorities, it would certainly be worthwhile to look into a newer vehicle. On the other hand, if fuel economy is not as high a priority, an older vehicle that has been well taken care of would be worth consideration.

Depreciation
Another matter to be aware of is depreciation, which is the reduction in the value of a car at the time of sale. Depreciation is not as huge a concern when buying an older car, but the latest models are prone to considerable depreciation within the first year. You may want to contemplate purchasing an older automobile for greater savings.

Checking the VIN
The Verification Identification number (VIN) is a unique combination of letters and numbers that are assigned to every vehicle. Every repair or change that a vehicle encounters is tracked through that VIN number throughout the life of the vehicle. When purchasing a used vehicle, investigation of this information will give a detailed history of how that particular vehicle has been maintained. There are many resources available, especially online, to retrieve the car history results.

Inspection Matters
The inspection criteria are different for new and used cars. The inspection of a new car merely includes a detailed go through of the documentation along with a demonstration by a salesperson about all the specifications of the car. Older vehicles will need a more detailed inspection. Hiring a professional mechanic before the purchase of a used car is always a good idea, because it can be risky to rely solely on the owner’s claims.

One’s Own Satisfaction
Whether you choose to buy a new or used car, self-satisfaction should be one of your foremost considerations. If you feel dissatisfied at any stage of the car buying process, there may be justification to take a step back and re-evaluate your purchase.

 

As Metro Members Move, Branches Follow

New office coming on West Maple, 84th & Q office to close

 

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Metro’s 84th & Q office, scheduled to close on April 1, 2017.

Over the next two years, Metro will be shaking up our office locations to better meet the needs of our members. In January, the Credit Union purchased land for a new office on West Maple Road, and on April 1st, Metro will be closing our office at 84th & Q Streets. Metro is looking at another opportunity for a new office north of Dodge Street.

 

In the past three years, Metro opened two new offices at 50th & L and 72nd & Cornhusker. Why so many office changes in five years? We sat down with CU President Mike McDermott for a question and answer session:

Question: Why so many branch changes at Metro in such a relatively short period of time?

McDermott: Our strategy to open or close or move offices is really a function of meeting member’s needs.  We look at where members live and where they’re doing transactions, and we try to be more convenient for members.

Question: Did the last two new branches on 50th & L and 72nd & Cornhusker pull transactions from 84th Street Office?

McDermott: The simple answer is yes, but the decision to close 84th & Q was impacted more by where members are moving than two new offices. Since 84th&Q was opened, Metro has grown from serving about 14,000 members to serving almost 35,000 members. Over the last 10 years, transactions have grown year over year at every new office except 84th & Q. This decline in transactions tells us that the 84th Street location was not convenient for enough members.

Question: With two new planned offices north of Dodge, is Metro seeing a lot of growth in that area?

McDermott: Yes, and it’s been pretty dramatic.  Right now our fastest growing offices are on 72nd and Ames and 111th & Maple. In fact, in 2016, Ames Street became our busiest office.

Question: What’s happening with the Saddle Creek Office when the area is redeveloped?

McDermott: Metro will always have a major branch office to serve the UNMC/Nebraska Medicine Campus. We literally have thousands of members on that campus who use Metro as their primary financial institution.  With the redevelopment of Saddle Creek Road, we plan to build a new, state-of-the-art branch office very near our existing office.  This is really going to be an exciting project; it’s an opportunity to upgrade the old space for our campus area members.

Question: What’s just over the horizon for Credit Union branches?

McDermott: Future new offices depend on making Metro more convenient to members.
But, other than what we’ve already discussed, the biggest changes we’ve seen over the past decade are growth in transactions and the number of members performing transactions without coming in. Metro processes just under one million member transactions per month. In 2016, almost one half of transactions that used to occur in branches were done by members via home and mobile banking. Over the next
two years, we’ll be working to ensure we’re convenient for members electronically as
much as with our physical branches.

Question: One million transactions a month with 35,000 members seems like a lot. Is that normal?

McDermott: Every financial institution is different, but we do have a lot of transactions for our size, primarily because Metro has a much higher percentage of members who actively use the Credit Union’s products and services. When we moved our Card Processing to First Data here in Omaha, they initially thought they had Metro categorized incorrectly in their system as our member card usuage was double what they would expect to see for an institution our size. And, our transaction volume was a big reason we had to move to a larger computer system a couple of years ago. But, these are all good problems to have, when more members are using more services.

 

Most Metro VISA Debit & Credit Cards to be Replaced

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If your Metro Credit Union Debit or Credit card is looking a little frazzled these days, it actually has little to do with how much you’ve been using it.

The reality is, our supplier recently tested the plastic stock used to produce our cards and determined that the material was defective. As a result, many of the Metro cards in use today have begun to separate or peel prematurely.

In 2015 we replaced all member cards with new EMV Chip cards as a means of adding
additional security to our cards program. However, because of the quality issues (mentioned above), we will be replacing affected Debit and Credit cards in 2017. These cards will be replaced in two phases, with mailings beginning March 6th and May 8th. Once they arrive, please follow the instructions to activate your new card(s). Please note that the old cards will be deactivated roughly one month after your new card arrives. With that in mind, we’re asking members to activate their new cards within 30 days of receiving the new card.

For security reasons, the newly issued card(s) will include a new card number and expiration date. We apologize for any inconvenience this change may cause.