Financial Education

Banking from Home – Is it really that easy?

Mar 26
2020
Woman Banking from Home

With the world suddenly shifting to staying home, the importance of being able to do anything you need from home easily has risen. Many people are switching entirely to online shopping and only going to stores when absolutely necessary. Restaurant orders are being placed online ahead of time, groceries are being picked out the nightRead more

With the world suddenly shifting to staying home, the importance of being able to do anything you need from home easily has risen. Many people are switching entirely to online shopping and only going to stores when absolutely necessary. Restaurant orders are being placed online ahead of time, groceries are being picked out the night before and picked up quickly during lunch breaks, and home essentials are being set up as subscriptions and getting delivered automatically exactly when needed!

At Idaho Central, we believe your banking doesn’t have to be any different, and we’re proud to offer many options to let you stay home and still get your to-do list done – everything from checking your balance, budgeting, making a deposit, applying for a loan, and paying your bills! Let’s go over some questions you may have…

What is eBranch?

eBranch is our online banking option, which allows you to manage your accounts online anytime, anywhere. eBranch serves as your own personal branch, right in your pocket, and allows you to perform the most routine banking tasks from the comfort of your computer or mobile device (with our app) at home, the office, or on the road. Day or night, seven days a week, eBranch is easy, safe, and convenient. Find tutorials to help you learn everything you need to know about eBranch now.

Is it secure?

When it comes to your finances, feeling secure is important. When you register for eBranch online banking with Idaho Central, you will be able to choose a username unique to yourself, a password, answer a few security questions, and select a secret image. All of these measures are put into place to help you feel secure each time you log in. Utilizing all three of these together, to secure your own login, protects your accounts with ICCU. For extra security, your mobile app can even be set to open with biometrics!

When setting up your username and password, or in reviewing it periodically, ask yourself, is this a username that others know? Is this a password that I have used before? Is it long enough? Does it have unique characters? Have I updated it recently? Do these questions have generic answers, ones that anyone could guess?

Can I manage my bills with it?

Absolutely! Through eBranch, we offer many different features to help you stay on top of your finances, including managing your bills. With our budgeting feature, you can keep track of each of your regular payments, and budget accordingly. This helps you see what’s coming up, and know exactly what is happening with your funds month to month. Our Savings Goals option is there to help you save for bigger purchases or payments that you may have, keeping those at the forefront of your mind!

When you’re ready to make payments, you can make them directly from our Bill Pay option! Bill Pay is a free, safe and convenient option to pay all of your bills from one location. From here, you are able to send checks and electronic payments, plus view past payments easily. Do you want to set up automatic payments for recurring bills? Bill Pay can handle all of that for you easily. No need to order more checks or stamps to mail in bills when you have Bill Pay to quickly and securely pay those bills!

What if I need to make a deposit?

While many jobs have fully switched over to electronic deposits, we know the age of receiving checks is not quite over. Making a deposit at your convenience has never been more important. Why spend your free time traveling to and from your branch after work? Why go through the trouble of loading your small children into the car? If there are numerous reasons why coming to a branch to deposit your check just isn’t convenient, Mobile Deposit, within our app, is the solution for you!

It works like this: you receive a check, you sign the back, snap a quick photo of the front and back of the check, enter in the amount, and deposit! Just like that, your deposit is made and you didn’t even have to leave you couch.

Do you have limited time to run errands? No need to make the choice between going into a branch and grocery shopping. No worries, just take out your phone, snap a quick picture of the front and back of the check, and you’re ready to go!

What if I need to open a new account or apply for a loan?

With the many great accounts we offer, at any point you may be thinking of opening a new CD account, High-Yield Savings, or just a secondary checking account. Or, maybe on your way to work this morning, your check-engine light came on yet again, and you’ve decided that it’s time to finally get that new car you’ve been eyeing.

In the past, this may have required calling up your financial institution, setting an appointment, getting in the car, driving all the way there, and then setting aside the next hour getting everything squared away for your new account or loan.

With our online banking, however, opening a new account or applying for a loan has never been easier! Simply log in, select the Open a New Account widget, and begin the process. Most necessary documents can be signed online, your loan officer will be happy to help you over the phone, and you will typically be able to get everything finished without ever leaving your house!

Isn’t it easier to do all of these things with a person who knows how to help?

We completely understand. You may start a loan application online, get a bit into it, and then realize that you have questions. The benefit of having a person who knows how to help guide you through this has not been forgotten, and our team is ready to help! We are available to help over the phone, through online chat, or even through VideoChat!

Our VideoChat team is excited to help you face to face, directly from your mobile app. Whether you need to sign loan documents, submit a wire transfer, inquire about an unfamiliar transaction, or even ask some questions about our products, there’s no need to leave your home. We’re excited to help!

How do I sign up for Online Banking?

We are happy to offer online banking to all of our members for free. If you have any account or loan with us, you’re eligible for this great benefit! If you are not currently enrolled in eBranch, simply fill out the enrollment form here: https://myebranch.iccu.com/Registration If you prefer, you can call us at 800-456-5067 to enroll over the phone.

Financial Education

Which credit card is right for my business?

Feb 24
2020
Deciding which ICCU credit card is best for your business

Running a business comes with many expenses, and you may be wondering when the right time to get a business credit card is. Business credit cards can provide important benefits to your company, such as expense management, credit to grow your business, and rewards or perks! Rewards credit cards can be a great way forRead more

Running a business comes with many expenses, and you may be wondering when the right time to get a business credit card is. Business credit cards can provide important benefits to your company, such as expense management, credit to grow your business, and rewards or perks!

Rewards credit cards can be a great way for businesses to earn extra cash while spending on business essentials. You can use the rewards for many things, including incentives for your employees, saving on expenses, growing your business, or perhaps even a company retreat paid for with rewards. Choosing the right card for your business can seem daunting. There are so many credit card offers out there for you to take advantage of, and they can seem attractive at first glance. It’s hard to compare them, so here are three of the most important criteria to consider when deciding which card will be best for your business:

How much are you spending?

Knowing how much your business spends is the first step to knowing which card is right for you. You might have a high-spending business; or you might have a very focused-spending business, where you only spend on specific items. Whether you are one or the other, or both at times, knowing your spending can help you estimate what you would be spending on the card each month. Once you have an estimate of what you spend each month, you can then compare card offers by looking at the point accumulation and seeing which offer gives you the best rewards for the amount you’re already spending.

Where are you spending?

Do you spend mostly on office supplies? Do you have a lot of materials needed each month? Are you spending more on gas and travel expenses each month?
Many business rewards credit cards offer travel insurance on their cards, as well as more points earned on travel. If you travel often with your business, a travel-focused business rewards credit card might be right for you. Or, do you spend most on online ads? If so, a straight-forward point system for a fixed amount of points for each dollar spent would be best. Some business rewards cards also offer specific categories with more points, and anything other than those categories earns less points. For example, a reward card that offers 3% cash back on gas might only offer 1% on everything else, so if your business doesn’t have many travel or gas expenses, it’s better to go with the card that offers 2% cash back on everything.

What is the card’s maximum limit?

It’s important to check for maximum limits. Some credit cards offer a great point system for specific categorical spending. However, they can also have a maximum limit on each specific category. For example, if a business credit card lets you earn 3 points for each dollar spent on travel, but has a limit of $10,000 maximum, anything after the $10,000 will earn you only 1 point per dollar spent. And if you spend about $100,000 a year on travel, even this travel business credit card might not be a good fit for you. You might be better off with a straight forward 2 points for each dollar spent on everything with no maximum.

In many cases, having a fixed point system business credit card could get you even more actual cash back. Idaho Central’s Business Visa Rewards Credit Cards offers fixed points for every dollar you spend, and there’s no limit on any category. This means you can earn the same great cash back for every dollar you spend. If you are still not sure which card would work best for you and your business, Idaho Central’s Business Relationship Officers would be available to walk through the process and benefits with you. Contact one of our Business Relationship Officer and apply for a business visa rewards card today!

Financial Education

How to Save for the Future

Feb 20
2020
America Saves Week 2020

Saving is an important part of life, but it can be hard to do when there are so many immediate wants and needs. Here are a few ideas on why and how you can save.

Saving is an important key to achieving financial success, but it can be hard to do when there are so many urgent wants and needs. Here are a few ideas on why and how you can save.

WHY SHOULD I SAVE?

Have you ever been in a bind? In that moment, it was probably clear why a savings was valuable. If there was no money in savings, it increased stress and worry. A savings allows for greater flexibility, confidence, and peace of mind now and in the future.

It seems that most people want to save. The hard part is knowing how.

HOW DO I SAVE?

Make a clear plan. 

What are you saving for? How much is it? How long until you need it? How much do you need to save per day, week, or month to get that goal?

Spend less than you make. 

It is said that there are two ways to make money: make money, and don’t spend money. Deciding how much to save is important, but deciding what not to buy is also important. It doesn’t matter if you make one million dollars, you could still be the poorest man if you spend more than you make.

Open a savings account. 

savings account can be a great way to start. Read more below about some of the savings account promos we have this week.

Set up automatic savings. 

Did you know that you can save money automatically? For instance, if you sign up for ICCU’s Central Cents plan, every time you swipe your debit card, that transaction will round up to the next dollar and put those cents in a Central Cents account!

Set up automatic transfers. 

You can also preauthorize automatic recurring transfers from a checking account to a savings account through eBranch. Transfers are so easy to set up, and you choose the amount and frequency!

Hide the account. 

Some people are tempted to dip into their savings if they can see it. Did you know that you can hide accounts from view on eBranch? This will make it easier to save because you will not see the money readily available, but it will still be there.

Deposit raises, bonuses, and tax refunds into savings. 

You are used to living on the income you make. That means that any raises, bonuses, and tax refunds could go into your savings and give an extra boost to your savings total.

Plan as a family. 

Finances affect everyone in the family. Work with your significant other to make smart financial plans and share those goals with your children, even when they are young. Children can learn smart money habits from their parents and be better prepared with financial sense.

WHAT IF I STILL HAVE DEBT?

Sometimes it can be hard to save when there is still debt to pay. What do you do?

— Pay off credit card debt with a debt payoff plan, paying off the highest interest card first.

— Consolidate credit cards to one credit card with lower interest.

— Start saving small amounts along the way to get in the habit. Even $1 per day. You can save more aggressively after your debt is paid off.

— Some debt is normal, such as mortgage loans, school loans, and auto loans. You can still save while paying those off, since the interest rate is usually lower. You may even use part of your savings to pay one of those debts off!

— Secure lower interest rates on auto and personal loans by giving us a call or visiting one of our branches.

— Talk to one of our Financial Service Officers for a financial review. They can help you assess your needs and move toward your savings goals!

AMERICA SAVES WEEK is happening across the country from February 24 through February 29, 2020. There are many ways that Idaho Central Credit Union supports this nationwide initiative!

During America Saves Week, we will have FOUR great ways for our members to save even more! (1) New members with a savings with a direct deposit will get $30! We will also waive the $5 membership fee. (2) Every branch will have a drawing for $500! Simply visit a branch for a financial review and be entered to win! (3) We will hold contests on our Facebook and (4) Instagram. Keep a close eye on our social media for tips and ways to save. Simply comment to win, and you could be entered to win an extra money toward your savings goals!

Are you ready to start on your path to save? Or pick up where you left off? You can contact us or visit us at any of our branches to learn more. Whether you are opening a new account, getting a financial review, or setting up an even easier way to save, we can help!
We look forward to seeing you this week and saving together!

If you or a child is not a member of ICCU, you can open an open a savings account online this week with a couple extra perks. Adults will receive $30 in their savings and waived $5 membership fee. Youth (0 – 15 years old) will receive a free ICCU piggy bank!

We look forward to seeing you this week and saving together!

Financial Education

5 Times an Adjustable Rate Mortgage Is a Good Move

Jan 30
2020
Couple Completing ARM loan application with ICCU loan officer

Adjustable Rate Mortgage, otherwise known as ARM, is a loan that starts with a fixed lower interest rate for a period of time, then the rate changes. The interest rate usually increases, but the rate could decrease depending on market rates at the time. At Idaho Central Credit Union, we offer 5/5 ARM home loans.Read more

Adjustable Rate Mortgage, otherwise known as ARM, is a loan that starts with a fixed lower interest rate for a period of time, then the rate changes. The interest rate usually increases, but the rate could decrease depending on market rates at the time.

At Idaho Central Credit Union, we offer 5/5 ARM home loans. A 5/5 ARM has an initial fixed interest rate for the first 5 years, and the rate will be fixed at “below market rate” to help you gain buying power. After the fixed period expires, the rate may adjust every 5 years. Each 5th year thereafter, the rate will adjust on the anniversary date until the loan is pain in full. This means that you not only get an amazingly low introductory fixed-interest rate for 5 years, but you also get to lock the next best rate for another 5 years. The less frequent adjustments help you worry less about when your monthly payment will go up again, and provides the ability to plan ahead.

So when would an ARM be a good fit for you?

Are you planning on moving soon?

If you know you will be moving for work or other reasons, an ARM is a great way to take advantage of a lower interest rate and monthly payment.  You can take advantage of the low monthly payment while building equity quickly. This helps you have peace of mind when you are preparing to sell your home. Whether you want to move into a different home, or turn your home into a rental property, an ARM can help you save on interest paid and maximize your earned equity in a shorter amount of time.

How high is the current market rate?

You can’t always predict the best time to buy a home.  Often, the market is changing and when you find a home you want to purchase, you have to act fast. If, at the time, mortgage rates are too high for comfort, it might not seem like the ideal time. An ARM can help bridge the gap. Since ARMs typically come with a below market introductory interest rate, you may be able to get into the home you want without being overwhelmed with a larger monthly payment. Then, if the market rates have gone down when your rate will adjust, you can refinance your home with a fixed-interest rate mortgage.

Will you be able to pay off a large portion, or all, of the loan quickly?

While the ARM interest rate could decrease after the introductory period, this is not usually the case. If you know you will have paid off all or the majority of your loan before your rate increases, take advantage of the lower interest rate and monthly payment! With an ARM loan and some good timing, you can pay off your home in a short amount of time with less interest.

How quickly do you want to build equity?

Since an ARM comes with a lower interest rate, it allows you to also build equity faster. With a lower interest rate, you will be paying more on principal and less on interest, thus building equity faster than most fixed-rate loans. There are many reasons you might want to build equity at an accelerated rate, such as to be able to take out a home equity loan for home improvements, or if you plan to sell the home sooner rather than later.

Do you need or want a lower monthly payment?

Good news! A lower rate also means a lower payment. If you are hoping for a lower monthly payment for a few years to give your finances a little extra wiggle room, an ARM can be a great way to do that.  Whether it’s more cash flow for savings, monthly spending, or being able to make extra payments on your auto or student loans, an ARM can help you free up your income to pay off smaller debts.

 

Idaho Central offers a variety of home loans designed specifically to meet your needs. Whether you need your first home or are looking to upgrade, we are able and willing to help. Get to know more about our Advantage Adjustable Rate Mortgage and speak to one of our Mortgage Loan Officers today!

Financial Education

All About 401K and IRA

Jan 15
2020
Post-it notes with 401K, IRA, Roth, and a question mark written down
Planning for your retirement can be overwhelming, and with it being so far in the future, it’s easy to put it off to another day. In fact, in a 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual, 21% of Americans have no money saved for retirement at all. If you’re part of the 21%, it may feel overwhelming to start, butRead more

Planning for your retirement can be overwhelming, and with it being so far in the future, it’s easy to put it off to another day. In fact, in a 2018 study by Northwestern Mutual, 21% of Americans have no money saved for retirement at all. If you’re part of the 21%, it may feel overwhelming to start, but it doesn’t have to be! Idaho Central is happy to help guide you through this important planning, and there are a few different accounts to consider.

What options do I have?

There are multiple options to consider, and we will review four options here, including 401K, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, and SEP IRA.

401K

When people think about retirement plans, a 401K is typically what their mind goes to first. You have most likely heard the term, but do you know what it is? A 401K is a qualified retirement plan that allows eligible employees of a company to save and invest for their own retirement on a tax-deferred, also known as pre-tax, basis. This means saving for retirement with earnings before getting taxed, and you will not need to pay taxes on the contributions until you withdraw them. For many people, this seems to be the easiest option, since it’s often what their employers offer, and this is deducted from their paycheck automatically.

There are limits on 401K accounts, however, which may not make this the best fit for you. For instance, 401K accounts must be established by an employer. This means that if your employer does not currently offer retirement benefits, but you are wanting to contribute to your retirement, you are not able to set up a 401K on your own. There are also limits on 401K contribution amounts. For 2020, the amount of income you can contribute to a 401K is $19,500, with a possible additional contribution of $6,500 if you’re age 50 or over. In some cases, your plan also may limit contributions to a lower amount. If a 401K does not meet all of your retirement saving goals, you may want to explore other options.

Traditional IRA

A traditional IRA is best if you want tax-deferred earnings and the possibility for tax-deductible contributions. This is the most common IRA. Established in 1975 with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), it has become known as a “regular” or Traditional IRA to distinguish it from a Roth IRA. Contributions to a Traditional IRA are pre-tax, making it similar to a 401K in that regard. Once you start withdrawing from your Traditional IRA, taxes would then be paid on the distributions. Anyone, regardless of income, can contribute to a traditional IRA.

For 2020, you can contribute up to the lesser of 100% of your earned income or $6,000. Once you reach age 50, contribution limits on IRAs increase by another $1,000. This allows for a “catch-up” contribution for those nearing retirement.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is best if you want tax-free withdrawals. The Roth IRA was established by the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. This differs from a Traditional IRA in that it allows you to make contributions after tax, meaning that your contribution amount is taxed before you deposit it. You will be taxed at the time of earning, not at the time of pulling the money. Since you are paying tax on the contribution amount, all future qualified distributions are then tax-free. This includes any investment earning, your money grows tax-free! There are income limits on Roth IRAs to be aware of.

For 2020, you can contribute up to the lesser of 100% of your earned income or $6,000. Similar to the Traditional IRA, once you reach age 50, contribution limits on IRAs increase by another $1,000. This allows for a “catch-up” contribution for those nearing retirement. If you choose to have both a Traditional and Roth IRA, the contribution amount for both cannot total more than your annual contribution limit.

SEP IRA

A SEP IRA is best if you are self-employed or own a small business and want to save for retirement. SEP stands for Simplified Employee Pension, and is a form of Traditional IRA. With that in mind, SEP IRA plans were created to meet the needs of small employers with few employees and limited resources. A SEP plan provides business owners with a simplified method to contribute towards their employee’s retirement as well as their own. A self-employed person can make SEP contributions to his or her own IRA. The purpose for a SEP is that they are easily established and maintained unlike traditional retirement plans.

How can Idaho Central help me?

Idaho Central is happy to answer any IRA questions you may have, and offer guidelines, such as a Roth IRA is better for those who will be in a higher tax bracket at retirement, while a Traditional IRA is better for members who will be in a lower tax bracket at retirement. However, when it comes to determining which IRA is the best option for your needs, Idaho Central recommends that members contact their Tax Advisor to determine whether you’re eligible and if it makes sense to contribute to a Traditional or Roth IRA and how much.

Idaho Central Credit Union aims to help our members achieve financial success, and believes that investing in an IRA is a great way to provide for your future financial needs. At Idaho Central we are proud to offer several individual retirement accounts, including Traditional, Roth, and SEP IRA plans with our IRA Share Savings, IRA Money Market Savings, and IRA CDs.

If you’re ready to open an account, you can do so in any ICCU branch, through our new VideoChat feature, or give us a call.