I have successfully survived another Holiday season, complete with stomach bugs, lingering colds, and trips to the pediatrician’s office. Despite going over our Holiday budget, I’m determined to do a better job in 2013 of keeping track of our finances and saving money wherever I can. Since most nights its 10:00 p.m. when I finally sit down and have my dinner (usually a bowl of cheerios), I’m going to keep it simple and give myself a few small goals. That way when we welcome 2014, I can feel like I accomplished something and have a little extra cash in the bank…I mean Credit Union! Maybe you can join me.Read More »
Traditionally, February is a BIG month for car sales! You’ll find many Presidents' Day special deals from the auto makers, car dealerships and financial institutions. Before you shop for your new car, here are some smart strategies to help you drive home with the right car and the best deal!
Know What You Can Afford
It pays to get pre-approved first– just like shopping for a home – shopping for a car is easier when you have a realistic budget in mind. You’ll be able to eliminate some choices, and focus on a few models that meet your needs and your budget. Buying a new car can put a damper on your budget – an offer like 90 Days No Payment No Interest can help you get back on your feet with your budget. See details here: http://www.mvcu.com/npniRead More »
If you’re tired of getting blasted with cold air every time you head outside, it’s time to start planning for the warm Spring & Summer breezes. The warmer weather will be here before you know it! If you’ve been dreaming of a new family boat, check out the upcoming boat shows coming to our area!
Upcoming Boat Shows:
- New England Boat Show
Boston, MA, February 10-18, 2018
Tickets and information: http://www.newenglandboatshow.com/
- Great Northeast Boat Show
Bedford, NH, March 16-18, 2018
Tickets and information: http://greatnortheastboatshow.com/
Read More »
There may be snow on the ground, but the warmer seasons will be here before you know it! If this is the year you hope to get a new RV for your family, check out the upcoming RV and Camping Expos coming to our area!
Upcoming RV & Camping Shows:
- Springfield RV, Camping and Outdoor Show - February 16-19, 2018
Location: The Eastern States Exposition Grounds, 1305 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA. For tickets and information: http://www.springfieldrvcampingshow.com/
- Worcester RV and Camping Show – February 23-25, 2018
Location: The DCU Convention Center, 50 Foster Street, Worcester, MA. Free admission! Learn more: https://worcestershows.com/rv/
Using debt consolidation as a tool to
lower your monthly payments and interest
If you’re like most Americans, you may be juggling several different payment responsibilities each month: credit cards, car loans, store credit cards, gas credit cards and even student loans. It can be overwhelming!
Did you know that a debt consolidation loan from Merrimack Valley Credit Union could simplify your monthly bill-paying AND save you money? With a consolidation loan, some of your debts can be rolled into one monthly payment, with rates starting at just 7.99% APR*. If you’re currently paying interest rates that are higher than that, you could end up with a lower payment each month and pay less interest over the lifetime of the loan.
As a bonus, you’ll have less checks to write each month and less payments to schedule—because one loan could eliminate multiple debts that you’re currently paying for.Read More »
On behalf of the Cooperative Credit Union Association, Inc., we are pleased to announce the 2018 Student Essay Contest for seventh and eighth grade students.
Students in seventh and eighth grade are asked to write an essay in 250 words or less on the following topic:
Whether it's grammar, math, science, or social studies, students are taught many different topics in schools today, but there's one glaring gap — financial education. Many students graduate high school not understanding about the basics of loans, savings, credit, and other core financial issues. Shouldn't Financial Literacy be taught in schools? Please explain why you think schools should add financial literacy as a core curriculum in our school systems and what benefits it would have for society?Read More »
1. Provide Food – Donate canned goods or funds to your local food bank or pantry. You could also volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen, such as Bread & Roses in Lawrence, or get involved with Meals-On-Wheels.
2. Donate clothing and household items – Clothing you rarely wear and pots and pans you never use could be greatly appreciated by a new family. Thrift stores take in these items and sell them at low prices for families in need. You can donate these items to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or your local thrift store.
3. Donate your old cell phone or tablet – Cell Phones for Soldiers accepts donations of old cell phones and tablets and provides them to soldiers stationed overseas so they can stay in touch with their families.
Read More »
Today all our branches are celebrating
International Credit Union Day!
We have goodies and surprises for our members.
THANK YOU to all our members-- we appreciate you!
Click below to see photos of our celebration:Read More »
Basically, FICO refers to your credit score. Your FICO score is created based on information from the major credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. Your score represents whether or not you are likely to pay your bills in a timely manner and if you’ll be able to use additional credit responsibly.
What’s a good score?
The higher your FICO score number is, the better your credit is considered to be, and the more likely that you’ll qualify for additional credit or better lending terms. FICO scores range between about 300 and 850.
What affects your score?Read More »
Even if you’re a fantastic driver, you’re surrounded by other drivers every time you hit the road—and they may not be skilled, alert, focused, sober or even awake! Did you know that MILLIONS of car accidents happen in America each year?
Aside from the disruption of your life that comes from dealing with car repair or replacement, you may have injuries, medical costs, and legal issues to deal with.
Did you know that it’s not mandatory to have car insurance in New Hampshire? If you’re in an accident, you may have to deal with another person who is NOT financially prepared to cover their share of the expenses.
Every time you jump into your car, you could be gambling with your finances. And the accident doesn’t need to be YOUR fault to cause chaos and outrageous expenses in your life.Read More »
Seabrook has been a year in the making for our team. Each associate brought their passion, dedication and spirit together to form a successful team!
We have built a family within and extended that to each and every member walking through our doors. We've enjoyed celebrating events within the community we service here in the Seacoast.
Our team shares a commitment to building our name brand along the Seacoast, and ensuring Merrimack Valley Credit Union is a name our members can trust for all their banking needs. We could not have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for all of you!
Here is a flashback of this exciting year in the making:
see the video here and share our memories with us!
Home insurance is required with most mortgages and provides wide-reaching protection to you and your family. If your house is ever damaged or destroyed, you would still be responsible for making your mortgage payments. Homeowners Insurance helps protect your personal finances and provides peace-of-mind to your family.
Coverage and the amount of compensation you may receive will vary based on your individual policy, and it can provide:
- funding to repair or rebuild your home if it becomes damaged
- funding so you can stay in a hotel or other temporary residence while your house is undergoing construction during repairs
- funding so you can replace your damaged or stolen household goods
- protection in case someone gets hurt while on your property, possibly paying for medical and legal costs associated with an accident at your home
There’s a common misconception that life insurance is only for those married with children.
But is this true?
According to the 2012 Aflac WorkForces Report, 58% of U.S. workers don’t have a financial plan to handle the unexpected, and 28% have less than $500 in savings for emergency expenses (51% have less than $1,000). If a person were to unexpectedly pass away, the loved ones would ultimately be responsible for handling the funeral arrangements, which can cost an average of $7,755, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.
Let’s talk about a few scenarios and how life insurance provides vital protection for your family:Read More »
#1 Before you buy anything for your teen’s dorm room, find out what the school already provides either in the room or somewhere in the building. Some dorms have shared kitchen areas, vacuums that can be borrowed, etc.
#2 It’s also important to learn about which items are not allowed in the dorm room so you don’t purchase something that can’t be used.
#3 Have your teen connect with her roommate and talk about what shared items will be in their room, and who will be bringing them. They likely only need one mini-fridge, rug, etc.
#4 Don’t pack seasonal clothing and items your teen won’t need during the first few months of school (like a winter coat). If your teen will be coming home to visit mid-year, she can return to school with these additional items.
Read More »
#1 What supplies from last year are still alive & kicking? Older children likely have folders, binders, and backpacks that can be re-used another year.
#2 Sign up for store reward programs to get access to special coupons, discounts, and rebates.
#3 Follow your favorite stores on Facebook and Twitter, or check in on their social media pages periodically to look for special coupons and sales they’ve published for their fans.
#4 Shop generic where possible. For example, a pencil-case decorated with a character likely costs more than a plain pencil-case or generic branded pencil-case.
Read More »
Recently, members of our Seabrook Branch enjoyed hanging out with WZLX at Heav'nly Donuts in Amesbury.
Many people came out to enjoy yummy donuts!
Read More »
Six local graduates each receive $1,500 award
After a busy season of high school scholarship nights, Merrimack Valley Credit Union (MVCU) awarded $9,000 to six graduating seniors. Each of the recipients was surprised with the $1,500 award at their respective high school’s senior scholarship event.
A scholarship recipient was selected from the public high school associated with each town in which MVCU has a branch.
Each applicant submitted their high school transcript, a list of extracurricular activities and a brief essay about a challenge that they have overcome.
A recipient from each school was selected from among their peers, not only for their dedication to their education, but also their commitment to their schools and communities.
Read More »
10- and 15-year fixed rate mortgages are still very low. It’s a great time to refinance your existing 30-year fixed rate mortgage or adjustable rate mortgage, or even to buy your first home.
10-year fixed with no points: 2.875% (3.035% APR)
15-year fixed with no points: 3.000% (3.110% APR)
Rates above effective on July 5, 2017, and may change without notice.
Two BIG reasons why you should consider a 10- or 15-year fixed-rate mortgage:
- Save thousands in interest compared to a 30-year fixed-rate loan.
- Pay off your loan earlier, allowing you to build equity in your home faster.
Visitors to our Seabrook Branch
this past Saturday enjoyed
FREE ice cream treats!
Thank you to everyone who came out to say "hi",
and to our Seabrook team members for facilitating a fabulous event!
Click the link below to see the rest of the photos!Read More »
You could spend this summer between high school and college vegging out, or you could use the next few months to get ahead. Here are 3 tips for making the most of this special summer:
1. Strengthen your heath
Establishing healthy eating, sleeping and exercise habits NOW, while you have a more flexible schedule is a good way to prepare for college life. The “Freshman 15” (gaining 15 pounds Freshman year) is a reality for many new college students as they sleep less, move less, and eat unhealthier convenience foods. Get a jump on protecting your body by establishing healthy habits now.Read More »
You successfully made it through the college application and admissions processes—congratulations! Now that you’ve found a fantastic school, it’s time to create a smart plan to pay for your education.
If you filled out the FAFSA, you may be eligible to receive scholarships, grants, and loans through your college, state, or the federal government. You may also want to check out the Federal Work Study program to see if you qualify.
Merrimack Valley Credit Union is here to you bridge any gap with Undergraduate Private Student Loans and Graduate Private Student Loans. Learn more about student loans by attending our FREE webinar from the comfort of your home! During this webinar, Student Choice's College Access Counselor will share information about Federal and Private student loans, interest rates and terms, how to apply, and how to track your loans.
Read More »
When you were a little kid, did you dream of being a millionaire? Did it sound like a magical fantasy that would allow you to live a luxurious life?
Well… experts are now warning that a million dollars may no longer be enough savings to fund your retirement, depending on your personal circumstances.
Meeting your long-term investment goal is dependent on a number of factors. This not only includes your investment capital and rate of return, but inflation, taxes and your time horizon.
Try our Investment Calculator to get an idea of how these factors might change your bottom line.Read More »
Did you know that May 6, 2017 is Herb Day?
This holiday was created in 2006 to encourage people to learn more about how to use herbs in their daily lives.
So what does this have to do with your finances?
Well, cooking meals at home is generally less expensive than choosing to dine out at restaurants. With the use of fresh herbs, you can learn to make even tastier meals & eat more meals at home…saving you money!
I want to thank you all so very much for your support these last few months.
I hope you know how much I appreciate every “How’s it going?”, “How far this weekend?”, “ You’ve got this!”, and every “Good luck!” followed by “How was it?” and “How are you feeling?”!!
It is an awesome and overwhelming feeling at times to realize that this run is so much bigger than the people out on the course each week.
When Patriot’s Day finally rolls around (and it comes on so quickly!), and we are finally getting out there and showing our support for the charities we have raised money for, it is truly an amazing experience.
The morning of the marathon was no different as far as runners sharing their reason “why” they were running for Children’s.
Merrimack Valley Credit Union is proud to cheer on Carrie Fitzgerald as she runs her heart out today in the Boston Marathon!
Credit Unions Kids at Heart is the credit union community's favorite public service activity and one of the largest credit union collaborative fundraising programs in the nation.
In 2017, the Credit Unions Kids at Heart Team is continuing to focus its fundraising energy and resources on several pediatric brain research projects, including the search for treatments, therapies, and cures for Moyamoya disease, Sturge-Weber syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and brain tumors.
It’s not about luck…
YOU could save $200 a month!
How would your life change if you were able to save $200 a month?
Did you know that’s less than $7 per day?
It could be as easy as skipping a fancy latte and snack each day. If you make this a daily habit, save this little stash of money, and utilize it smartly… it can do wonders for your financial situation over time.
Merrimack Valley Credit Union has a tradition of raising money each year for MVCU Charities with our Festival of Baskets Fundraiser.
This year, the Festival of Baskets Fundraiser will run from Friday, 3/24/17 to Wednesday, 4/12/17. The drawing for the winners of each basket will take place on Thursday, 4/13/17.
We have 8 baskets to choose from, and each branch will have their basket on display. Tickets are 1 ticket for $1.00 and 7 tickets for $5.00. This fundraiser benefits MVCU Charities and in return you could win a great prize!
Was ‘saving money’ or ‘making more money’ on your list of New Year’s resolutions?
Are you one of the millions of Americans who reach each payday with less than a few hundred dollars in your checking account, or even a completely empty checking account?
If you’re looking for some simple ways to save more money this year and start building real wealth without cramping your lifestyle, here are a few simple and unique ideas (no coupon clipping involved!) to get you on your way to a fat bank account by the end of the year.
You're at a restaurant out of town and you've just finished a great dinner. Your server comes back to the table with your credit card. She looks at you and says, "I'm sorry, but your card has been declined. You stare at her for a moment, while your mind immediately starts calculating how that could be - you have a $10,000 credit limit, and you're not even close to hitting it. You pull out another card, hand it to her, and continue to wonder what happened... then it hits you. Your credit card number has been stolen and your card has been turned off by your credit card company for suspected fraudulent activity.
If this has ever happend to you, you know how violated you can feel that someone is using your card and spending money that is not theirs. Credit Card Theft can happen even when the card is still in your possession - the thief has obtained your number and security information and has created a new card with the same information. And it may just be the first step in obtaining other parts of your identity.Read More »
To all of those efficient Americans out there who are finished with their taxes - Congratulations! You probably already have your return and have moved on to bigger and better things.
For the rest of us who put it off because the task is either too unpleasant or too daunting, we just need to breathe and dive in.
Here are some quick tips to make the whole process just a bit easier:Read More »
Living in the United States, most of us don't negotiate the price of purchases on a daily basis. We pay the price that is marked before we move on. It's only on the most major decisions we make in our lives that negotiating comes into play. And that's why most people are uncomfortable when it comes to arriving at the final price of the car they'd like to buy.
Even if you don't have any experience haggling with a salesperson, you can go into a dealer confidently with the price you're willing to pay. You'll just need to do some research and apply some of the tips provided below.
- Do your research. Look into the make and model of the car you want, as well as the features that you're looking for. After arriving on that selection, look for pricing information on resources such as Kelly Blue Book or Edmunds. Look at a few different sources so you can determine what a fair price would be.
- Get your financing in line. Talk to your credit union about their rates and offers, and know how much you're qualifed to borrow. Being armed with this information before you step into a dealership will eliminate the salesperson's ability to wrap the financing into the price of the car.
- When you're ready to purchase the car and you start discussing prices, let the salesperson know the full price you're willing to pay - not the monthly payment you're comfortable with. A smart salesperson will wrap interest into a monthly payment and will draw out a loan term - so keep that information to yourself. Start with the price you'd like to pay. Know your ceiling, but don't share that with the salesperson.
February is the kick off to car buying season! Dealerships have great Presidents' Day deals, your financial institution has a great loan offer with a great rate, and you're ready for some new wheels to brighten up the winter gloom.
Now you're faced with the eternal question of car buying - do you buy new or used? There are passionate arguments on both sides, so you have to take your needs, wants, and budget into account while making this important decision. Below are the pros of buying a new car and buying a used car. We'll leave it up to you to decide which is the best choice for you. And remember - all cars can come with "new car smell", not just the new ones!
You've been eyeing that brand new model that your favorite automaker has just released. Should you buy it?
New cars offer the following advantages:Read More »
It's great to be a New Englander as we head into Super Bowl weekend with the New England Patriots making their seventh appearance in the big game this century. Even if you're not a huge football fan, the Super Bowl provides a little something for everyone. Some enjoy the parties, the food, the half-time show... and some of us tune in for the ads.
If this year's Super Bowl is like those we've seen in recent years, we'll get to watch the Budweiser Clydesdales, Coca-Cola will have a catchy spot, Doritos will be fun, and we're going to see a lot of car commercials.
Car commercials and car advertisements are a great way to learn about what's available on the market. However, just like any other product, if the ad seems too good to be true... it is. Here are some things to look for when watching or reviewing an automobile advertisement:
No money down, 0% APR. You can go to a dealership and leave with a car without paying any money? Sign us up! Unfortunately, this is the epitome of "too good to be true". Read the fine print and you're going to see "qualified buyers with approved credit". Notice how it doesn't sayRead More »
If you've ever carried a lot of debt, you know how overwhelming it can be - it can feel like you're constantly being dragged under water and you just can't get out from under it. Thankfully, there are several ways to get your head back up above the surface, and they can be done at the pace you're most comfortable with.
It's easiest to start with a list of your cards, what you owe on each, and the interest rates associated with each card. If you respond well to instant gratification, decide that you'll pay off the card with the smallest amount on it first. You'll have some early success, and be motivated to continue! Conversely, you can start by paying the card with the biggest amount off first. It'll take a bit longer to see some success, but after that's paid off, it'll be smoother sailing moving forward. Remember - while devoting effort to paying one card off, you'll still have to pay the minimum balances on the other cards to avoid hurting your credit score!
Once you determine which card balance you're going to attack first, here are some tips for paying them down and avoiding additional debt:Read More »
Do you feel like just when you catch up...something hits your budget out of the blue? Like when you suddenly need new tires... or your refrigerator dies and you definitely need to replace it? Just when you think you're on top of everything, new expenses seem to pop up.
If you look VERY closely at how much you spend and where, it's very likely that there are some "leaks" in your budget. Small things that you could do to shave off a few dollars here and a few dollars there. Some of these things will be more difficult than others or require more sacrifice, but they can help relieve the stress of trying to make sure everything gets paid for and your credit doesn't suffer.
Brew coffee or tea at home. If you're like many New Englanders, your day doesn't really begin without a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts (or some other coffee purveyor).
- Approximate cost of a medium hot coffee every day for a year: $700/year
- Approximate cost of Dunkin Donuts 14 K-Cup Box from Amazon.com over the year: $290/year
- Approximate savings: $410/year
If you're like 40% of Americans, you've made your list of resolutions and you have the best of intentions to keep them through to 2018. If you're the 8% who make it through to the end of the year - congratulations! For the rest of us, it takes a little more planning and willpower to last the full 365 days.
According to Business Wire, the fifth most popular New Year's Resolution for 2016 was "Save more, spend less", and that will very likely be a common theme once again in 2017. Regardless of whether you've previously been able to see your resolution through to December, 2017 is a great time to set financial goals and get your budget on track.
A budget is simply a plan that takes into account money you think you're going to make in a year versus how much you think you're going to spend. Your goal is to make more than you spend!
Since December 2017 is fairly far down the road and a lot can happen in 12 months, break your budget down into a month-by-month plan. To keep track of what your expenses are month over month and see your progress, using a spreadsheet program like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets will help.Read More »
Whether you're considering your first home purchase or a move from your current home, there are several options available. Choosing a single family house, a multifamily property, or a condominium all have pros and cons. As you begin hunting for the perfect dwelling, be open to the possibilities.
For many couples, a condo is a great “starter home” choice. If you don’t need a lot of square footage, and if you’re tired of apartment rental living, a condo provides the financial benefits of home ownership. Plus, you can paint and decorate inside just the way you want!
Condos can be one unit of a building or multifamily property and typically include amenities such as landscaping, snow removal, and exterior maintenance. Some condo communities even offer fitness, recreation, entertainment, and/or business facilities.Read More »
There’s no question that buying your first home is an exciting chapter in your life. But it can also be a confusing or overwhelming one. There are so many options and opportunities available for purchasing a home, it's hard to know where to start.
Whether you're considering a condo, a single-family home, or a multi-family home/investment property, you'll want to make sure you're in the absolute best position possible to get a low interest rate and have cash on hand for any unexpected expenses. If you're just getting started in this process, this can take some time, so we've listed some of the steps you can do in the next 12 months to reach your goal of homeownership before the end of 2017.Read More »
At Merrimack Valley Credit Union, our annual Santa Party is one of our favorite days of the year. We have an opportunity to invite local families into our headquarters to have a meet and greet with Santa, enjoy snacks, face painting, activities, and entertainment while getting into the holiday spirit.
The event is free and open to the public, and guests are asked to donate non-perishable food items which are delivered to local food pantries. This year, more than 200 boys and girls met with Santa and had the chance to have a free photo taken, as well as let the Big Guy know what they wanted for Christmas. A wonderful time was had by all, and we can hardly wait to do it again next year. Here is a recap of our 2016 Santa Party, by the numbers.Read More »
For small businesses on a calendar year schedule, December can be a hectic time. If you have yet to meet your year-end sales goals, you're likely scrambling to bring in those last few customers or contracts. If you’re excited about exceeding your goals with higher revenue than expected, you may be looking to spend down as much of that cash as possible so as not to incur a higher tax liability.
Now is the time to meet with your financial planner or accountant to discuss year-end tax planning, and whether you should invest in some long-term assets for the future, or perhaps invest in a retirement plan for yourself and your employees. Looking ahead to 2017 should be part of that conversation, too. A review of the past year’s sales and expenses will help you make sure you’re in a good position for the next 12 months.
Some critical questions will shape many of your financial decisions moving forward.Read More »
More and more holiday shoppers are turning to the keyboard, tablet or phone to check things off their gift lists. It’s so convenient! Avoid the crowds at the stores, take advantage of online sales and coupons, and get those gifts shipped where you want, all with a few clicks. While technology has made holiday shopping much easier and more convenient, there are potential security risks associated with completing a payment transaction on a website.Read More »
We’ve shared many reasons to choose a credit union over a bank for your financial needs on our blog. Perhaps you already know about the low rates and flexible options on mortgages, home equity loans and lines of credit, personal loans, student loans, and auto loans. If you don’t, head on over to our website to learn more about each of these.
But in addition to the services credit unions provide that rival – and often beat – those of a big bank, there are some membership perks you might not know about.Read More »
You’re a young adult, out in the world for the first time. With your first job and first apartment comes financial independence and responsibility. There are many reasons why a credit union can be the best place to rely on for financial success.
Here are just a few of the things you may not know about credit unions:
Student Loan Options
If student loan debt is one of your biggest concerns, like it is for most college students and recent graduates, seek out the resources of a community credit union. Financing an education can be intimidating, but the personal service of a credit union can help guide you through the financial aid process. Even before you know just how much help you’ll need to pay for school, a credit union can show you where to apply for scholarships and grants, then work with you to access affordable student loan options that are within your budget and meet your needs. Personal finance management information is always available at Merrimack Valley Credit Union, helping students avoid unnecessary expenses.Read More »
Quite often, people think about saving for college in relation to their child’s age. Indeed, the best college savings strategies may depend on whether your child is still in diapers or is closer to graduating high school. That said, your age also matters.
Depending on when you're beginning to save, some strategies make more sense than others. As a parent, you must think about factors that come into play during your own lifecycle, as well as your children’s.Read More »
According to “US News & World Report,” more than 100 million Americans currently use a Credit Union instead of a traditional bank. Merrimack Valley Credit Union is proud to be both a trusted financial institution and a valuable resource to our members - with an even great reach after our recent expansion into Seabrook, N.H.
Knowing the Differences
Many people don’t realize that while credit unions offer financial products like traditional banks, they are member-based, nonprofit organizations. This allows credit unions the ability to be much more flexible and customer-centric. Members benefit from lower fees, higher rates of return on savings accounts, and lower interest rates on loans. MVCU also offers several unique Member Rewards ranging from referral bonuses to scholarships to special savings on services.Read More »
From the moment you become a parent, you start to think ahead to all of the important milestones in your child’s life. From first steps to first day of school, to first car and beyond, it’s only natural to worry and hope for the best. Saving money for college is one area where it (literally) pays to get good advice and start planning early.
Even if your “baby” is long out of diapers, there are still some things you can do to start beefing up his or her college fund. It also helps to know that some strategies make more sense than others depending on how old your child is when you begin to save. For example, if you have 18 years to plan, you can take a more aggressive approach to investing than if you're just starting to save during your child’s teen years.Read More »
If you've purchased a new or used car at a dealership in the past, you're probably familiar with one of the most commonly asked questions by car sales reps, “What is your budget for a monthly payment?”
It sounds innocent enough, right? Perhaps the salesperson just wants to make sure they show you vehicles within your price range and not waste your time on those that will be too expensive. Wrong. This question is one of the many tactics that car dealers use to get you to pay a lot more in the long-term than you should. For starters, the likelihood is that you're going to give him or her a number that is somewhat lower than your actual budget. They know this, so they'll try to inch you up over that monthly budget, justifying that it's 'just a few dollars' more. It will also give them incentive to sell you a vehicle at the top of your budget, when you may have been perfectly happy to drive away in a vehicle that cost $5,000 or $10,000 less. After all, what salesperson is going to try to get a commission on a $30,000 sale when they could have had one at $37,000?Read More »
Seniors in high school are on the brink of young adulthood. After more than a decade of homework, sports, activities, and everything else that goes with being a kid, this time in a high school student’s life often is about preparing to say goodbye to lifelong friends and community. It can be incredibly exciting, too! There are new friends to make and new opportunities ahead!
For some students, this last year of high school also is a financially stressful time, with concerns about how to pay for college and related expenses. There are a few things you can do while you're still in high school to get a head start on next year and reduce your future education expenses, whether you’ve chosen college or a trade school.
Earning college credit even before high school graduation can reduce post-secondary education expenses. Those credits will be applied to college graduation requirements, and that means you’ll pay for and take fewer courses once you’re a college student. There are several ways high school students can get early college credit or find ways to reduce the cost of college tuition:Read More »
Buying a vehicle can be expensive. What if you had a way to reduce the overall cost of the vehicle? What if you could avoid commonly overpriced and unnecessary extras, and save on interest over the life of your auto loan? What if you could get all of this without spending countless hours researching cars online or making multiple trips to the dealership? Finally, what if all of this were free?Read More »
The expectation that students graduating from high school will go on to some kind of post-secondary education is higher than ever. Most of us agree that a degree or career training is a requirement for employment and long-term success in any one field. But what life after high school looks like varies from student to student, because one size does not fit all.
Many high school grads move directly to a four-year college or university and onto a career or even graduate school immediately after that. Others attend a community college for two years, after which they may be able to apply their associate’s degree to a chosen field or transfer to a university to continue their education and earn a bachelor’s degree. Some students choose a trade school that allows them to learn specialized skills and begin a career a few years earlier.
So which option is right for you? It depends on career goals and, in some cases, your current financial situation. One option may make more economic sense than the others.Read More »
Congratulations on receiving a new small business loan or line of credit! No doubt, this influx of funds will ease your worries about not having the cash flow to manage your operational expenses. Welcome to the next big make-or-break decision for your business: how to best spend the money.
If you were already envisioning new office furniture, a huge advertising campaign, flashy new signage, or hiring a team of new staff before the money even hit your account, hold on. It's important to take a few steps back before making any big decisions. Small business loans and lines of credit are valuable assets, and sometimes having a large influx of cash can lead a business owner to make decisions that aren't necessarily in their best interest. There’s a difference between planning ahead and moving too many steps ahead too fast.
As with any business decision, everyone's situation is different. We strongly encourage you to consult with one of your financial advisors before you start writing checks. In the meantime, here are some ideas of wise, and potentially unwise, ways to invest (not spend!) your small business line of credit or loan:Read More »
There’s always something to be fixed or updated around the house. Meanwhile, you’ve been enjoying fun in the sun and the too-short summer season. If the idea of tearing your house apart and opening the door for contractors at 7 am hasn’t been a priority over the past few months, now is the time!
For a variety of reasons, early fall is a great time of year to make home improvements. The days are still warm enough to tackle outdoor projects or leave the windows open, the kids are back in school, and contractors may be more available for certain types of projects. Also, most remodeling projects can be completed well before the start of the holiday season so you can relax in your new kitchen or living room with family and friends.Read More »
In the old days, back to school shopping meant buying a few new outfits, shoes, some notebooks, pens and pencils. The extras were a cool binder and maybe some fun locker decorations. Yes, those were the old days, and the parents of today wish the start of the new school year was as simple.
Twenty-first century learning means the list of required supplies is longer, and schools and teachers send home some very specific guidelines to follow when making purchases. CNBC reports that the average cost of going back to school in 2016 is $659 for elementary school students (a 1.5% increase from last year), $957 for middle schoolers (1.6% higher than 2015), and a whopping $1,498 for high school teens (a 6.8% increase from 2015)!
In addition, classrooms are often so underfunded and understocked that teachers spend their own money filling up carts of supplies for their students. Parents are asked to contribute to the inventories of glue sticks, crayons, and tissues as well. “Bring your own device” protocols are becoming more common, allowing students to use their personal laptops or tablets when there aren’t enough at school for the whole class.Read More »
The statistics about the fate of most small businesses are eye-opening. According to Forbes, 8 out of 10 small businesses will fail in the first 18 months. The data also shows that even if they survive early days, 96% of small businesses will shut their doors within 10 years of being in business.
There are many factors that lead to business failure, but the number one reason that most small businesses ultimately fail is that they simply run out of cash. Many businesses never achieve profitability or don’t have enough reserve cash to cover operational expenses while also investing in growth opportunities.
In order to achieve success, a small business must be able to withstand the inevitable sales downturns and the stretches of time between providing services or products and receiving payments. The business must also be able to invest in the opportunities and marketing activities that will lead to future success. For example, there may be a need for key growth investments such as a prime piece of real estate or a high-performing website.Read More »
Have you noticed the sun is setting earlier and earlier? Yes, we're nearing the end of summer, and soon it’ll be time to set the morning alarm for school. But you can make the most out of the remaining days of the season with some affordable and fun excursions in and around the Merrimack Valley.
How about a day trip north, for a driving tour of waterfalls in New Hampshire? Follow the itinerary provided here to see nine beautiful spots worth seeking out. A few are hidden gems, while others might have been on your list to visit if only you could get around to it. Now’s your chance!
New Hampshire also is home to what’s thought to be the oldest man-made structure in the United States. America’s Stonehenge in Salem is over 4,000 years old. Learn some history, explore nature, and see the alpacas who live there!
It’s halfway through the summer, and many parents are running out of ideas for things to do with their kids. Meanwhile, the tally of expenses is rapidly adding up. If you're tired of hearing, “I'm bored!” and you're tired of pulling out your wallet, here are some great things to do with kids in the Merrimack Valley that won't break the bank:
- Lowell Summer Music Series “Free Fun for Kids” – Enjoy free weekly events on Wednesdays and Thursdays. You even get a healthy snack plus a free trolley ride!
- The Lowell Folk Festival – Now in its 30th year, this fun-filled weekend takes place July 29-31. All performances and activities are free, and you can purchase food, beverages, and merchandise throughout the festival.
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This is the big summer, the last one of your high school career! At this time next year, you'll have graduated and will be on your way to the next phase of your life. Life will change quite a bit, whether you go to college or trade school, take a gap year to volunteer or travel, join the military, or jump right into your career. Are you ready? Probably not, but there’s still time!
While you can still enjoy the summer with long days on the beach or quiet nights at the lake, you’ll also want to put yourself in the best position for a successful senior year and beyond. Here are a few things to get you on the right track before school starts up again in the fall:
- Read some books. While you're in school, required reading often takes the place of your own interests. Summer is a great time to lounge outside with a good book on any subject you choose. Learn something new that might never be covered in school. If you start a new book that doesn’t hold your interest, move on to something new. There’s no test! Have fun with it!
- Explore new activities. Life during the school year doesn’t leave much “free” time. Days and nights are packed with school, sports, clubs, homework, and the precious moments with friends and family. With a few extra hours this summer, think of a new hobby you’ve always wanted to try. Take an art or photography class, learn how to build a simple mobile app, or try something completely out of your comfort zone, like trapeze flying. Go for it!
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According to US News & World Report, the average American will spend up to four percent of their home's value annually on repairs and maintenance. For a $300,000 home, that equals $10,000 per year on typical needs such as landscaping, roof repairs, painting, replacement of water heaters and appliances, and many other possible items.
Beyond ongoing maintenance, many homeowners will invest in a larger home improvement project every few years. As the budget and home equity continue to grow, so does the demand to reinvest. This is especially true if there are plans to sell the home in the future. If you are considering a larger home improvement project and your goal is to increase your home's value, plan to spend approximately twice the typical maintenance costs.Read More »
The month of July signals the halfway mark on the calendar, and a time when things typically slow down for many small businesses. With customers and clients taking time off for vacation, it’s tempting to leave the office early to catch a game of golf or head to the beach for the weekend.
Meanwhile, a little downtime might be exactly what you need right now to make sure you hit those year-end goals. In fact, this is the perfect time to take inventory of the first half of the year, analyze what has been working and what hasn’t, and revisit your annual marketing plan. Most importantly, you’ll want to take stock of your budget, cash flow, and revenue projections to make sure you come out on top before you break out the New Year’s bubbly.Read More »
Looking to spend more time outside this summer? A great way to do that is to make some improvements to your outdoor living spaces. You’ll get to enjoy your own home, and as a bonus, the projects you choose might even increase your property value. If you’re thinking of selling your home in the fall, these are the kinds of things that might also attract potential buyers.
Adding a Deck or Patio
A new deck or patio is a wonderful place to unwind on summer evenings. Depending on the size of the project and your experience with construction, you may choose to do it yourself or hire a professional and head to the beach instead. If you have an existing deck that looks a bit worn out, simply give it a facelift with a new stain or paint.Read More »
The weeks of summer are stretched out in front of you, and now you have major fear of missing out on fun in the sun. If only you’d booked that beach house you’d seen last year or had thought about a cool destination to fly off to before airline prices got too high. But it’s actually not too late to plan a weekend getaway or vacation for the whole family to enjoy.
Leaving on a Jet Plane
Some of the most popular vacation destinations all year long have great deals to be found during the summer months – and a flight to get there won’t break the bank, either.Read More »
If you’re planning to put your house on the market this fall, now is the time to think about the ways you can boost its appeal to potential buyers – and its selling price! Some simple, cost-effective improvements can make all the difference.
Spruce up the curb appeal
Perhaps nothing is more important than the first impression. If you want house hunters to consider buying your home, then what they see on the outside is going to set the tone for how they perceive the inside. Mow the lawn and repair all the things that you’ve been putting off attending to. Neat landscaping, a coat of paint on the entry door, and a new mailbox are some of the things that can give your home’s exterior a fresh look to entice buyers to tour the inside.Read More »
Summer is the perfect time for small businesses to gain a competitive advantage. It's like overtaking a runner in a race while they're stopping for a water break; you have an opportunity to gain an edge while others are slowing down.
When the weather heats up, here are five ways you can get the edge on the competition:
1) Update your goals and strategy for the current year.
This is the halfway point in the calendar year, so it's the perfect time to take an accounting of where your business is compared to the goals you set at the start of the year. Then, you can adjust your plans for the second half of the year to meet or exceed those goals.Read More »
You’ve received your college acceptance letters, graduated from high school, and maybe even had a big party to celebrate. Congratulations! While some students may be hitting the beach and taking time to decompress, you want to make the most of the next few months before going off to college. You’re smart!
There are several ways you can maximize the summer break to put yourself in a much better position for your upcoming college career:
1) Secure a summer internship.
Internships are a great way to explore the field you're interested in and see if it's a good fit for you. It will also help you make valuable contacts that you can leverage down the road for higher-quality, paying jobs.Read More »
Taking a gap year between high school and college is becoming a more common practice in the United States. America’s most high profile high school senior, First Daughter Malia Obama, recently announced she is postponing enrollment at Harvard University in the fall. Her decision is turning the spotlight on the idea that students can consider a year off from formal education after high school.
In fact, many schools report students who take a gap year benefit from the break before hitting the books. Gap year students typically have higher GPAs and perform better overall. The time can be used to explore interests which can help students focus on what they want to study when they arrive on campus. Another year to mature goes a long way, too.
So if you choose to take a gap year, how can you make the most of it? It can be the most influential of your life, giving you the chance to try new things, gain experience, and in essence, ‘find yourself’.Read More »
School graduations are a major milestone. So it makes sense that you’d want to mark the occasion with a memorable, meaningful and useful gift.
For the middle school grad
Students heading into 9th grade might appreciate some high quality school supplies for the coming year, such as a backpack that can accommodate a laptop, a flash drive to easily transfer assignments, or a scientific calculator necessary for some classes.
A sweatshirt or t-shirt from the student’s new high school will get a lot of use at sporting events and other school activities.
When you still have a few years to plan for post-secondary education expenses, a 529 savings plan could be the way to go. This unique gift will keep on giving when you continue to contribute to it over time. By the time your student graduates from high school, there will be a significant amount to help defray some of the high college costs. We offer a range of investment and savings options for college. Let our financial consultants help you find the one that’s right!Read More »
How much do you think your teenagers understand about money? Chances are, not as much as they should in order to be ready to leave home when the time comes.
In a recent international survey of the financial literacy of teens, 18 percent of Americans could not answer basic financial questions or handle simple money tasks. Tech-savvy youth might be more prone to money missteps; it’s easier than ever to spend money with smartphones and accounts like PayPal, 24 hours a day.
All of these factors might make parents worry that their children are unprepared for making smart financial choices. But it’s not too late to help them learn how to manage their own finances and avoid the consequences that can come from getting into debt or not being able to cover basic living expenses.Read More »
We know financial planning can be difficult when you have a young family. After monthly expenses for the home, food, child care, school needs, and activities are met, many families find that there is nothing left to save. Setting money aside for future college and retirement while meeting the costs of the here and now becomes a seemingly impossible goal to reach.
The average American currently saves less than 5% of his or her income, and many people save nothing at all. A single emergency event such as a job layoff or an unexpected home or medical expense could leave them unable to cover their basic needs. We have some ideas for what you can start doing to get back on track toward long-term financial stability.Read More »
Going to college is a milestone for many young adults living independently for the first time. That independence includes financial freedom. Students are suddenly in charge of their spending. They open their first checking accounts and start using credit cards. If they live off campus, they’re paying monthly bills like rent and utilities.
Without knowledge or experience, college students can get into trouble by spending beyond their means. When they’re short on cash, they ask their parents for help, and in some cases, they rack up credit card debt. But before they have too many personal financial obligations, college is the perfect time for young adults to practice the money skills they’ll need in the real world.Read More »
In honor of Financial Literacy Month, we are devoting April to advice on navigating various money issues we think a lot of people can relate to.
Let’s start with owning a small business. One of the most difficult things about starting or growing a small business is funding it. Skills like developing a budget and sales forecast, managing expenses and monthly cash flow, and generating capital for large purchases and investments are essential for any entrepreneur to succeed. Even when everything goes according to plan, the financial burden on a business owner can be challenging.
But you don’t have to go it alone. There are many resources available for education and assistance. Nonprofit, federal and state-run organizations can assist with establishing a financial plan.Read More »
Are you on the verge of retiring or have you already retired? Congratulations! It's time to bask in your accomplishments and enjoy the prospect of some well-deserved time off. At this point in life, many retirees have mixed feelings of anxiety about their financial future. Your sense of freedom and happy anticipation may be muddied by a swirl of financial concerns: Did you save enough? What if you outlive your earnings? What will you do if you incur a major unexpected expense? Do you have realistic expectations about living without a regular paycheck, raises, benefits, and paid vacation time?Read More »
Congratulations! You've graduated, landed a good job, and are ready to trade in that cheap old clunker for your first set of new wheels! There is sure to be a lot of excitement around this fun purchase. Still, before you head to the dealership with visions of driving off the lot in a fabulous new car, there are several things to keep in mind.
1. Look beyond the fun buttons and high-tech gadgets.
The 'shiny things' are there to get your attention, pique excitement, and create an emotional purchase. Luckily, you’re smarter than that! Look beyond the iPhone dock, Bluetooth system, sunroof, navigation, and cool rims. Do your homework to make sure that the vehicle itself is going to meet your needs and budget. For help with the new car research, check out the AutoSMART Online Research Tool.Read More »
Spring is a great time to get outside and explore the Merrimack Valley! From communing with wildlife to exploring a 4,000-year-old archeological site and touring an actual castle, there is something for everyone to do in the Merrimack Valley region.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to get out and explore this Spring:
1. Visit more than 200 animals from 40 species at Charmingfare Farm in Candia, NH.
In addition to getting up-close-and-personal with agricultural animals and more adventurous wildlife, Charmingfare Farms offers hay rides and other activities for the whole family.Read More »
While the last of the late snow melts and spring flowers start to bloom, many people are also hoping the housing market will start to get hot. Unfortunately, inventory levels have not been favorable for those trying to find their dream home. While some sellers leverage the fresh spring thaw to put their house on the market, many wait until later in the season. At the same time, there is a lot more competition for available properties as buyers come out of the woodwork to find their new home by the end of the school year.
Here are five ways you can find your perfect home and still get a great deal, even in a competitive spring market.
1. Have your financing ready before you start looking.
You want to be able to pounce on the home you want, and win the bid if you're up against other buyers. If you’re not paying with cash, the key here is to be 'pre-approved', not 'pre-qualified'. In addition, be sure that you have enough cash available for the down payment, and be able to document its source. Also, get your credit score as high as possible prior to pre-approval.Read More »
According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, car buying is expected to reach an all-time high in 2016. Are you one of the many who are considering purchasing a new or pre-owned car this year? Are you wondering if it makes sense to hold onto your existing set of wheels and continue paying for maintenance and upkeep, or move up to a newer model? Perhaps your needs have changed; you've had a child, adopted a dog, or changed jobs. You may need a vehicle with more space, something more comfortable, more reliable, or fuel efficient.
Here are some common reasons to trade in your wheels, along with some ways to save on your purchase:Read More »
Your last child has finally left the nest, freeing up their bedroom and possibly other areas of your home. This leaves you with space for you to use in new ways, plus some big decisions:
What is the best use for those rooms?
How can you create a space that will both benefit you and your family?
How will the changes affect the value of your home?Read More »
February school vacation is one of the most difficult times of the year to find things to do. It takes some prodding to get the kids to go outside in the cold, and indoor activities are often expensive or overcrowded. Who wants to stay in the house all week with kids proclaiming the fact that there's 'nothing to do'? Not you!
Here are seven ideas to get you out of the house with fun activities that can also be educational and inexpensive (or even free!)
1. Visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History to see exhibits you won't find anywhere else.
Even better, it is free to Massachusetts residents on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons from September through May.Read More »
Looking for a romantic place to take that special someone for Valentine's Day? Trying to avoid the kissing couples and enjoy a casual night out with friends? Whatever your mood, there are plenty of great options in and around the Merrimack Valley.
Here are a few of the best ways to spend Valentine’s Day:
1) Escape for a romantic getaway.
Check out special romance packages at local hotels such as the Wyndham Andover, complete with deluxe accommodations, champagne, strawberries and late checkout. Treat yourselves to an in-room massage at a quaint B&B such as the Colby Hill Inn in Henniker, NH. Or, head to the coast and enjoy a lovely suite at the Essex Street Inn in scenic Newburyport, MA.Read More »
After a long period of slumping home sale prices, the past few years have seen home prices continue to climb. Sellers may finally be ready to put their homes on the market. This is a very positive trend, as one of the biggest issues we've seen in the last two years is the lack of available inventory on the market. With many potential sellers choosing to wait for prices to come back up to higher levels, ready buyers have not had a lot of choices.
Interest rates also increased slightly in fall 2015, and there is talk of a second potential rate increase during the summer of 2016.
If you're considering buying a home this year, you'll want to do your homework and make sure you’re aware of all the trends. Get educated and be prepared so that when you do find your dream home, you can act quickly. Particularly if interest rates are likely to go up, it pays to be agile.
Here are five ways to stay on top of your game when you are considering a new home:Read More »
Is this the year you FINALLY get out from under that pile of credit card and student loan debt? The new year means new beginnings. Follow this month-by-month plan to help you tackle those credit cards and get rid of debt once and for all:
Enter all of your expenses into a spreadsheet, including total credit card balances and minimum payments. Make a note every time you spend money throughout the month or use an online tool like Mint.com. Be honest with yourself about your spending and look for ways to cut back. (Hint: Eating out is often a huge expense!)
February:Read More »
For the past three years, Carrie Fitzgerald has run the Boston Marathon to support Credit Unions Kids at Heart and Miles for Miracles. These collaborative programs provide much-needed funding for children and their families receiving treatment at Boston Children's Hospital.
This year, Carrie is excited to participate once again and hopes to raise even more money. She will again be paired with patient partner, Collin Hill, who is receiving care at Boston Children’s Hospital. Collin’s mom is Nikki Hill, a close friend and a co-worker at Merrimack Valley Credit Union.Read More »
The trick to keeping those New Year’s Resolutions is making them attainable and trackable. Sustaining your goals requires being able to see consistent progress along the way. Too often, we set lofty goals and then struggle to stay on track. Statistically, more people fail than succeed in keeping their resolutions.
This year, we want you to reach your goal of improving your financial situation. Instead of creating a list of ways you can do a complete money overhaul, we came up with some things you can start doing immediately to see real results and start on your way to a successful year.
Here are seven New Year’s money resolutions to make for 2016:Read More »
Last winter was a record-breaker in New England, with levels of snow and freezing-cold temperatures that had many of us wondering whether it would ever end. Despite the relatively late start, the winter season is about to hit full force once again.
If you're dreading the thought of paying those heating bills over the next few months, there are a few things you can do now to reduce your expenses:Read More »
Congratulations! You've graduated from college, started your first job, and are on your way to financial independence. What may be holding you back, however, is the burden of student loan debt and repayment of multiple loans at varying interest rates. Although it may feel overwhelming, there is a way to make your life a lot easier while saving money in the process.Read More »
This is a great time of year to live in the Merrimack Valley region. Many folks have been enjoying the mild winter while others are looking forward to the frostier days that are sure to come. Either way, there are lots of options for family fun! Whether you choose to stay close to home or take a scenic drive, explore the outdoors or stay cozy inside, there are plenty of family friendly activities to enjoy. Best of all, many of the available activities are inexpensive or even free.Read More »
This Thanksgiving, we have so much to be grateful for.
We are appreciative for all things fall: leaves, football, pumpkins, apple cider, Thanksgiving,
family, friends, and our members.
We are wishing our valued members a healthy, happy, successful Thanksgiving.
We went behind the scenes and asked a few members of the team what they are grateful for:
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Are you wondering how to come up with some extra spending money for the holidays? Are you considering a family road trip or weekend away during holiday break for your family? Are you still trying to figure out how to pay for it all without the headaches that come with using credit cards?
Don’t worry, there are some things you can do!
Here are some great ways to find and save extra cash in the weeks leading up to the holidays:
1.) Cook ALL of your meals and brew your coffee at home. Think about all the money spent on grab-and-go breakfast, school and work lunches, and weekend dinners. Check out allrecipes.com for some great ideas and make it easy on yourself by doubling the recipes. Make family dinners and store the leftovers in containers that you can use on the go the next day. Also, depending on how posh your caffeine habit has become, you may be able to save $40 - $100 per month, just by making your own coffee. It's only eight weeks; you can do itRead More »
Tuition costs are at an all-time high, and they continue to increase year after year. Luckily, there are some excellent ways that college students can save money while they're in school. In fact, they can even make money, potentially a LOT of money, right from their dorm room. Heck, businesses such as Facebook, Napster, Microsoft, Apple, and countless others began in collegiate halls and are now worth billions. More than ever, college students are tapping into their entrepreneurial spirit.
Whether you're looking for Friday night pizza and beer money or you want to start a profitable business before graduation day, it is possible to make money outside of a traditional “job.”Read More »
In addition to the usual chaos of the holiday season, year-end can bring a lot of anxiety to small businesses. We are face-to-face with the ambitious goals we created last January, for better or for worse! Either way, now is the time to close out the year as strong as possible and prepare for a successful 2016.
If Your Business is on Track to Do Well
If you're on track to bring in far more in profits than you initially anticipated, congratulations! Naturally, this also means that the IRS will want to share in your success. Be sure to meet with your accountant in November to review your projected year-end numbers and plan for tax time so you aren't hit with a big surprise in April. You may even be able to spend or re-allocate some funds before December 31, 2015 to reduce your tax liability, so don’t delay! If you haven’t done so already, you should also consider getting a business Visa card. This will help your business build positive credit and also help you better manage cash flow in times ahead. Merrimack Valley Credit Union offers a number of Visa card options including credit cards with no annual fee, cash back rewards, travel points, and many other benefits.Read More »
Recently, Merrimack Valley Credit Union hosted a special seminar to help educate potential home buyers in the community. Held in our Methuen branch, we were pleasantly surprised to see the amazing turnout. We were happy to bring in more chairs!
One of the key goals for the Home Buying Seminar was to provide a comprehensive set of answers and resources in one place, at one time. In addition to our credit union staff and lending professionals at Merrimack Valley Credit Union, attendees heard expert advice from an attorney, a credit repair expert, a home inspector, and a realtor. Together, we were able to answer several of the most commonly asked questions when it comes to purchasing a new home:Read More »
During our 2015 “Great Branch Giveaway” in September and October, we ran several fun contests for members and prospective members.
Participants were encouraged to check Facebook or our website weekly to see which branch would be hosting that week's contest.
Those that visited the Merrimack Valley Credit Union “Giveaway” branch, were then entered to win some fabulous prizes!
2 Samsung 55" Smart 4K Ultra HD TVs
$1000 VISA Gift Card
2 Canon EOS Rebel T5 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm and 75-300mm Lenses
iPad Air 2Read More »
Think October is too late to make the improvements in your home before the holidays? Think again! Many home upgrades are fast enough to complete in October and November, before the holidays and the cold weather. Many of these enhancements will not only make you more comfortable and lower your energy costs this winter, they may also increase the value of your home. Getting this kind of return on investment is beneficial whether you stay in your home or wish to sell it in the coming years.
Here are seven “high ROI” home improvements to consider this fall:Read More »
Consider what would happen if you could save $200 a month. That’s about $50 a week or less than $7 a day. That’s the equivalent of just one premium coffee and a snack each day. Can this small amount of money really change your financial situation? Yes! If you are diligent about saving and utilizing this amount of cash, it can do wonders for you over time.
Here are a few ways to get the most out of that coffee money (while you also get more use out of your own coffee pot!):Read More »
Are you ready to stop renting and make the investment in your own home? Congratulations! Buying a home for the first time is an exciting experience. It can also be the biggest investment you ever make in your long-term wealth.
Luckily, first-time homebuyers have the opportunity to capitalize on great programs and incentives. These programs may allow for a smaller down payment, provide reduced or more flexible interest rates, and allow you to qualify for a home loan even if you don’t have extensive credit.
When looking into your options for a home, there are several things you should pay special attention to as a new home buyer:Read More »
Beyond the initial shock of tuition and room and board costs, there are many other college expenses that can easily begin to add up. Parents and students are often shocked at how much they spend on incidentals.
Here is a quick list of items that will have your college student digging into their wallet:
- School supplies
- After-hours meals
- Expensive Wi-Fi café coffee
- Dorm room décor and necessities
- Printing and copying
All of these expenses can really add up over time. Some college students may start out with good intentions, then be surprised by how much everything actually costs once they get into the school year. Those who avoid sticking to a budget often turn to their parents to make up for their overspending.Read More »
September brings cooler weather along with the routines of life. New school and sports schedules take over, work duties ramp up, and everything seems busier. All of those chores that were left for another day during the height of summer, now beg for attention. Such begins the season when people have limited time available.
What this also means is that less people are visiting the car dealerships. Demand is low across the Merrimack Valley right now. Meanwhile, auto dealers are looking for ways to move inventory off of their lots before the end of the year. In addition to having annual quotas to meet, they will want to make room for next year’s models. All of this puts car buyers in a nice position to find exactly what they're looking for and negotiate a good deal.Read More »
According to Forbes Magazine, 1 in 20 Americans have been victims of identity theft. Those numbers continue to grow each year as identity thieves become more sophisticated in their methods to gain access to information. Meanwhile, Americans give out more personal information than they ever have before. They freely share personally identifiable information such as birthdays, anniversary dates, children and pet's names on social media. With mobile devices becoming the technology standard, more individuals are also using smartphones, public Wi-Fi connections, and other low-security means of accessing their data.
While everyone is a potential target for identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission indicates that certain groups are statistically most at risk. This includes college students, children under 19 years of age, the elderly, and the deceased.
No matter who you are, here are a few steps you can take immediately to protect yourself:Read More »
This is a great time of year to get organized and back on track. Something about the return of regular schedules after a nice summer break leaves many people feeling ready to take on the world. Still, going into the end of the calendar (and tax) year can also leave us a bit anxious about our financial situations.
Money.com recently reported that nearly a third of people making $75,000 per year are actually living paycheck to paycheck. This means they have no emergency funds available and no savings plan in place. It also means that an unexpected misfortune such as a roof leak, medical need, or temporary job loss could easily put a family in big trouble.
Here are ten ways to get your finances on track so you can build up an emergency fund, pay off debt, and build a long-term savings plan:Read More »
We know the feeling -- you're a few years into your vehicle and the maintenance expenses are starting to add up to the same cost as a monthly payment on a new car. The vehicle may no longer be meeting your needs, or you want to upgrade to all-wheel drive before the winter. Maybe you are in a better financial position and want to splurge on leather seats and a built-in navigation system for your commute.
As you consider buying a new car, you may also be thinking about trading in your old one. Doing a trade-in could be a great way to move up to your next purchase, or it could cost you thousands of dollars. If you want to get the best value for your current vehicle, it’s important to know all of your options and how to make the most out of each type of transaction:Read More »
Knowing how to select the right car and get the best deal is especially important for women today. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, there are more female drivers than male drivers in the United States and the number is increasing. Women also take more frequent trips and drive greater distances. The data also notes that 80% of all car buying decisions are influenced by a woman.Read More »
Summer is the best time for a road trip, and New England offers a variety of unique opportunities to explore and have fun. We've compiled a list of the best trips you can take within four hours from anywhere in the Merrimack Valley. That's less than a tank of gas, round trip. Also, you won't need to include hotel expenses in your budget; unless you want to stay the weekend, that is!
You may have heard that for the first time in history, student tuition now exceeds state funding across all public colleges. According to the Government Accountability Office, "State funding decreased by 12 percent overall while median tuition rose 55 percent." This news comes as no surprise to the students and parents facing skyrocketing costs at colleges and universities.
Whether you have a new or established company, you may find the need for a small business loan at some point in your career. In addition to the items on the small business loan checklist, your lender is likely to ask some additional questions:
Are you in need of a summer vacation but can't figure out how you could possibly afford one right now? Vacations don't have to break the bank! We have five ways you can get away this summer and enjoy a little freedom from life’s many responsibilities. The great thing about living in the Merrimack Valley is that there are amazing destinations within driving distance. Whether you are looking for relaxation, adventure, beach, or mountains, there is something for everyone. It’s time to treat yourself to a great summer vacation without enduring airline expenses and hassles.
Every business, no matter its size or success, needs a helping hand once in a while. The process of getting a small business loan will go a lot more smoothly if you have all your ducks in a row. Here is a checklist of things you will need before being accepted for a credit union business loan:
Whether you are interested in weekend camping or long trips on the open road, a recreational vehicle (RV) offers both practicality and adventure. Along the path towards RV ownership, there are at least five important considerations:
Having a motorcycle can turn a routine work commute into a thrilling adventure. If you’ve thought about spicing up your ride this summer, there are a few things to keep in mind. Even though a motorcycle is smaller than a car, the purchase should be approached with the same level of research and care.
Once you purchase a vehicle and start making those monthly payments, don’t dismiss the possibility of saving hundreds of dollars with the chance to refinance later. Yes, just like with a home mortgage, you have the option, when the time is right, to refinance an auto loan.
It’s time for your child to go to college, and you didn’t save enough for the education you want to provide him or her. You might be surprised to know that your goals are still within reach, with the help of a combination of resources.Read More »
Paying for college can seem almost impossible. With tuition, room and board, books, and all of the other expenses to consider, families are finding themselves overwhelmed by financial stress. These days, a student can’t even make enough of a dent in the price of education with a job while going to school and still making ends meet.
Looking to buy an investment property but lack the cash? Don’t deplete your savings or retirement funds! Consider a home equity loan. If you've built up equity in your home, it can be an asset to provide a down payment or even the entire purchase of real estate you want to rent. Home equity is the difference between what a person owes on a mortgage and the home's market value. For example, someone who owes $200,000 on a home that is worth $300,000 has $100,000 in home equity.
That’s it! You keep seeing co-workers come back with tans, and your friends are posting photos of perfect blue water while you’re still doing the same routine. It’s time to make a last-minute travel budget so you can take a vacation this summer.
Here are six ways to budget for your itinerary and soak up the sun:
After a long New England winter, we’re all ready to tackle our spring cleaning and get ready for the summer ahead. Don’t forget to include money on your springtime to-do list. There are some great ways to get your financial house in order during this season.
You’re probably familiar with the joy of expecting a refund, whether it’s your own or something you’ve heard others brag about. You’ve probably also had enough “tax talk” by now, but it’s important to continue the conversation before next April. The bottom line is that getting a refund isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Is your house ready for the warm weather? Building a deck gives you opportunities to save money, while enjoying the warm weather with the people you care about most.
Are you ready to buy a new, pre-owned or used car and feel like you’re ready to head to the dealership? Perhaps you’ve chosen a make and model, scoured the internet for information on pricing and options, and maybe even read a few articles or watched videos to learn the tricks to negotiating a great deal. You’re feeling pretty confident and ready to make a decision?
In celebration of Irish History Month, we wanted to pay respect to the Irish immigrants who paved the way for the growth of the Merrimack Valley, and whose tireless efforts to achieve rights for workers in the US allowed future generations the opportunities for education and career achievement that we have come to expect.
Are you thinking about buying a new set of wheels? Tired of waiting for your old car to warm up in the freezing cold temperatures, or just looking for a whiff of that new-car smell each time you open the door? Well you’re in luck, Presidents’ Day week is one of the best times of the year to buy a car or truck, and this year the massive snowfall in Massachusetts and New Hampshire is keeping demand down at the dealerships, which means that salespeople will be more inclined to work out a great deal for you. More on that topic here.
Valentine’s Day weekend just ended, and it got us thinking about love (well how could we not, as everywhere we turned for the last month we were bombarded by ads for jewelry, chocolate, and romantic getaways). But when we talk about love and passion at MVCU, it’s about the mission of love that we want to give back to our members and our communities. It’s about the passion we feel for our jobs and for the contributions we’re able to make for those around us. Passion isn’t a word we throw around lightly, and it’s not a marketing catchphrase for us – we actively work to build this into the culture of our entire organization at every level, and we encourage our staff to find their own ways of contributing to our members and communities.
As I’m looking out my window at 10+ foot snow piles and 4 story tall icicles on the mill buildings here in Lawrence, it really does feel like winter will never end in the Merrimack Valley. But according to the calendar, we’re only a few weeks away from the first signs of spring, which means melting snow, pushing the clocks forward, and the start of Red Sox spring training, of course! So even though it’s tough to go outside right now (we’re right here with you!), if you want to save a bundle on a car this year, now may be exactly the time to brave the cold and go for a test drive.
Was ‘saving money’ or ‘making more money’ on your list of New Year’s resolutions? Are you one of the millions of Americans who reach each payday with less than a few hundred dollars in your checking account, or even a completely empty checking account? If you’re looking for some simple ways to save more money this year and start building real wealth without cramping your lifestyle, here are a few simple and unique ideas (no coupon clipping involved!) to get you on your way to a fat bank account by the end of the year.
You probably already know that your local credit union offers competitive rates on loans for auto, business, home, and personal uses; and that they have the same convenient services as bigger banks, such as online banking, direct deposit, linked accounts, and ATM’s. What you may not realize are some of the ways that local credit unions benefit their members and their local communities as a whole; ways that bigger banks, especially those national and global banks that are publicly traded, do not.
A new car might seem like too big of a holiday gift to wish for – even from the big man in red. But December is an ideal time to go shopping for a new vehicle and get a great deal! The reason? Baby, it’s cold outside. Who wants to wander around a car lot looking at vehicles in freezing temperatures? You do! When salespeople are eager for customers, and they don’t want you walking away before they’ve closed a deal with you, they have incentive to make it worth your while.
It’s the end of the year, and a great time to evaluate finances to make adjustments for 2015. Review your expense and savings. Did you save enough? Did you spend smart? Are you paying too much?
In a recent Gallup survey1, 30% of US adults stated they expected to spend more than $1,000 on gifts this holiday season, and the average US adult will spend an estimated $763 on gifts this year. In addition, we often can’t help ourselves while we’re shopping for others, and the average US adult also spends more than $100 on themselves while out shopping. And that’s not even including the hundreds of dollars we spend on wrapping, cards, groceries, decorations, clothes and hairstyling for parties, and the gas, mileage, babysitting, and restaurant expenses it takes to get out and go shopping.Read More »
At this time of year, people are thinking about holiday shopping, preparing food and their homes for Thanksgiving, and planning their winter vacations. They are generally very busy with work, school, and the holidays, which means that they also are likely not interested in looking for their next vehicle at the dealerships. Which makes this the perfect time of year to get a great deal on your new car or truck.
Thinking about starting a home improvement project? There's still time to do it before the holidays, and it doesn't have to drain your savings account or add years to your mortgage! Consider a home equity loan or line of credit. Either option can be a great way to finance your remodeling projects that add value to your home.
It sounds like a deal too good to pass up: an auto loan with no interest! Zero percent financing offers are one of the best incentives for car dealers to get buyers onto the lot. On the surface, the deal makes an auto purchase more affordable. But not everyone attracted to the zero interest option ends up with that loan.Read More »
You’re a parent of children in their last years of high school. The reality of paying for college educations is looming. Maybe you haven’t set aside as much as you’d hoped for tuition – life has a way of interfering with our best intentions to save, doesn’t it? – but your retirement account is pretty healthy. It makes sense that you’d want to consider dipping into those funds to avoid loans and make college more affordable for your kids. But that really isn’t a financially smart idea.
For many small business owners, the summer months are slower and provide opportunities to re-energize and re-assess. Now autumn is upon us, and there are just a few months left in the year! Now is the time when your small business has a lot to gain – or lose, if you don’t stay focused on your goals.
It used to be that you had two choices when shopping for a vehicle: new or used. These days, the category of “certified pre-owned” vehicles is growing in popularity and, for some people, making the car-buying process more confusing.
In general, we know that a late-model used car in good condition is a better value than a brand new one. That’s because vehicles depreciate quickly, and if you buy a used car that’s only a year or two old, you can save thousands of dollars that the original owner paid when it was new. Certified pre-owned cars are more expensive than traditional used cars, but they come with some additional advantages.Read More »
We ran a photo contest this summer to award our Facebook community members for their time and support. Thank you to everyone who submitted a photo to the ‘Ya Gotta Have Heart’ contest, and to everyone who voted for their favorites!
Here are a few of the submissions. Stay tuned for future contests and promotions!
The Winner had 125 Votes!
Read More »
I am not your parents. I am not your teacher, an advisor, or a politician. I am a mid-30’s professional woman who graduated from a private university in Massachusetts in the early 2000’s, and I have some advice for you that I wish I had listened to back in the day.
I had a wonderful college experience, and am eternally grateful and proud to have had the opportunity to pursue an advanced education. It has helped me launch a career, start a business, build incredible lifelong friendships, and gain amazing experiences. But I made a lot of financial mistakes during those years, which I’m sharing now in the hopes that I can help one person avoid making those same mistakes.
Hopefully this will help you make better decisions in college than I did.Read More »
Life is busy. Not enough hours in the day, right? But even when you’re not busy, it would be nice to enjoy what little down time you have. So when shopping for a new car feels like ONE MORE THING on your to-do list, let the experts check it off for you!
For most of us, summer is still in full swing, but the store shelves and sale flyers are already reminding us that it’s almost time to go back to school. It’s an expensive time of year when your growing children need new clothes, shoes, and school supplies. After-school child care and recreational or extra-curricular activities come with their own costs as well, and over the past few decades, school budget cuts have led to parents shouldering even more of the burden for supplies, books, and activity fees.
There’s a growing trend among the college student population. Fewer parents are helping to pay for their children’s higher education. For some families, it’s a philosophical decision: Perhaps the student will study harder if he or she has a financial stake in the process. But a number of parents have a very real concern about their own finances, worried that they don’t have enough money to help put their kids through college. Even if they have some money to contribute now, parents might be nearing retirement and nervous about debt if they’re paying off their children’s college loans well into the future.Read More »
So you’re college-bound, and before you even step foot on campus, your bank account is already worthy of “starving student” status. You need money for tuition and expenses, but it’s too late to start saving now. Is there any hope? Yes!
Whether you’re looking to expand your existing business or start something new, the communities of the Merrimack Valley have a lot to offer! There are benefits in the region, which includes southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, that every business owner should consider taking advantage of when deciding where to set up shop.Read More »
It’s probably safe to say that most women dread the prospect of buying a new car. There’s a fear that they might get ripped off, or at best, talked down to by salespeople at the dealership. Yet national data show that women influence 85% of all vehicle purchase decisions. If women wield so much buying power, why do car dealers believe women aren’t on equal footing with men? Even when women are informed, they often encounter a different shopping experience than men do and have a harder time getting what they want. We’ve got some advice on ways to combat unfair treatment.
As a small business owner or individual/joint taxpayer, the thought of April 15th may bring with it a high amount of anxiety or fear. Unless, of course, you’re one of the fortunate, well-planning few who managed to net $0 owed, or even a refund, for 2013.
But if you are writing out a check in April for a large amount of cash, then here are some important steps you’ll want to take to make sure this never happens again! You’ll thank yourself next year on April 15th!Read More »
Each year, our staff and members provide financial assistance to local and national children’s charitable organizations through the Credit Unions Kids at Heart foundation. Locally, this organization provides donations to Boston Children’s Hospital (through the Miles for Miracles Patient Partner Program), the Professional Center for Childhood Development in Andover MA, and the Joe Andruzzi Foundation for children with cancer.
Throughout the year, Merrimack Valley Credit Union raises funds to support these organizations during events such as our annual Santa Party, and collecting direct donations at our branches. All of this fundraising then culminates in our final journey to the finish line at the Boston Marathon, where two of our staff members will be running to raise $10,000 each for their partner teams.
This is where we need your help.
We’re SO CLOSE to the finish line for each of these teams fundraising goals, and we need your help to achieve our commitments of raising $20,000 for these incredible children’s charitable organizations who do so much to improve the lives of families in our communities.
Can you donate to one or both of the teams below? And SHARE this post with your friends, family, and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn?
About the Teams
3 year old Collin is currently undergoing treatment at Boston Children’s Hospital for kidney-related issues he has been dealing with since birth.
Carrie’s own son was diagnosed with autism at Children’s 19 years ago, and was able to receive support services and education from the Professional Center for Childhood Development when he was young.
At only 17 months old, Jackson suffered a stroke and was med-flighted to Boston Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed with moyamoya syndrome. With the support and treatment at Children’s, Jackson is now on the road to a full recovery.
KC was motivated to join the Miles for Miracles program after witnessing the tragic events unfold at the 2013 Boston Marathon. He began running immediately after that event, and began looking for a charitable organization to sponsor him, so that he could use this focus his efforts on helping to support people in need.
We’re very fortunate in the Merrimack Valley and metro Boston region to have access to world class health care. The medical professionals, innovation and state of the art advances in care and treatment are second to none when our loved ones are sick or injured. But there also are situations when some challenges continue well after families leave the doctor’s office or hospital. The Professional Center for Child Development is one organization that provides the additional support children need day-to-day.Read More »
Merrimack Valley Credit Union is a proud member of Credit Unions Kids at Heart. Since 1996, the program has rallied support from credit unions to provide funding to several organizations, including Boston Children’s Hospital, the Professional Center for Childhood Development and the Joe Andruzzi Foundation. The participating credit unions raise money from various events through the year.Read More »
How great would it be to pull up to the pump on a cold winter day and find out that your tank of gas would be free?! We decided to take the random acts of kindness concept to our local community this morning, and gave away more than $6,000 in free gas to 144 surprised drivers!Read More »
Even if the idea of buying a car is intimidating, or if you feel like you’re not a good negotiator, you can still get a great deal on a new or used vehicle. Take a peek at Merrimack Valley Credit Union’s free Car Buying & Savings Guide for some tricks and tips.Read More »
So you made it through the shopping around process of buying a new or used car. You found the vehicle you want and have hopefully negotiated the best price. Now you have to pay for it, and an auto loan is the common way to go. Your goal is to weigh a loan’s total cost against a payment you can afford to make each month. Do you know how to avoid trapping yourself in a financing agreement that forces you to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars more in interest?Read More »
Almost everyone wants to save more money, and the New Year seems like perfect timing to set some financial goals. We don’t have to tell you how to spend less – you already know that sacrificing meals out or buying new clothes less frequently can be effective money savers. But there are a few other, less painful ways to be smart about your finances and watch your savings grow in 2014.Read More »
As a not-for-profit credit union, our biggest source of pride throughout the year is always in the ways that we are able to give back to the communities where we live, work, and raise our families.Read More »
More than 500 families in the Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire received a bountiful start to the holiday season with one of the biggest community service events in the region. Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union was proud to participate in the 20th annual Thanksgiving Turkey Brigade, hosted by Ocasio’s True Martial Arts of Haverhill. Together, the organizations and dozens of volunteers delivered complete turkey dinners to families in need.Read More »
Welcome to Merrimack Valley Federal Credit Union’s new Blog! Yes, we are finally joining the ranks and ramping up our online presence. Why? You, our members, are online. We started with our new web site, and now we’re jumping right into Facebook, Twitter, and our very own Blog.Read More »