Other Big Life Events:
Planning for Buying a Car
Buying a car is an exciting time that’s often overwhelmed with a focus on the particulars: new car vs. used car, safety ratings and even color. Before getting carried away with the details, there are steps you can take to put yourself in the driver’s seat.
Determine your budget.
One of the most important first steps down the path to new car ownership is deciding on a budget. It’s important to be realistic here – buy only what you can afford. From this budget, you’re able to determine if you’re in the market for a new or used car, as well as the types of vehicles in your price range. Most advisors suggest your total monthly expenses (car payment, insurance, gas, etc.) not exceed 20 percent of your income.
Clean up your credit history.
If you’ve seen your credit score and know it won’t get you the financing options you’d like, take a step back and reassess. If your new car purchase can wait, consider working on improving your credit first. Low credit scores will result in much higher interest rates, causing the final price of your dream car to exceed the sticker price.
Shop for money before you start shopping for a car.
Getting pre-approved for your new (or new to you) car loan gives you added confidence as you shop for cars and negotiate a fair price, putting you at an advantage when you’re ready to buy. If you have questions or are ready to start the pre-approval process, speak to a UHCU loan specialist by calling 512.435.4444 or by applying online.
Know how to work the dealer.
Before you stroll into the dealership, do your homework. Show up with paperwork on market values, trade-in values and financing options.
Know exactly what you’re buying.
Be wary of dealer add-ons and up sales. Add-ons like service contracts and extended warranties can inflate the price of your vehicle. Check with United Heritage first; we often offer the same products as the dealership but at a much lower cost. And of course, make sure to read all the fine print before signing anything.
Buying a Home
Buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make in your life. Because of this, it’s imperative that you understand what buying a home really means. Before you start touring neighborhoods and picking out tile patterns, there are some important things to think about and work on to ensure you are financially ready for the commitment of home ownership.
Check your credit history.
As with any major purchase requiring financial assistance, it’s a good idea to take a look at your credit before shopping for a home or a mortgage. Review your credit reports and make sure all listed information is correct. If you spot mistakes, address them as quickly as possible. While you might not have time to rebuild your entire credit history, you can see what impacts your credit score and start a credit improvement plan.
United Heritage offers pre-qualifications so you can determine your borrowing power. Getting pre-qualified enables you to understand how much home you can afford and set a budget as you start your search for a new home. Having a pre-qualification puts you in a better position to make a serious offer when you find the home that’s right for you.
Determine your down payment.
If it’s financially feasible, try to make a 20% down payment. A 20% down payment will eliminate the need for mortgage insurance or a second lien on the home. The amount of your down payment could impact your mortgage loan rate. However, there are still plenty of options available if you do not have 20% to put down. Determining your down payment amount is an important step in preparing to buy a house.
Use your pre-qualified purchase price to shop with confidence.
Enjoy house hunting knowing that the property you fall in love with is one you can afford. Once you have your pre-qualified purchase price, you can focus on your real estate wish list. Various factors come into play when shopping for a home, such as square footage, number of bedrooms, floor plan, outdoor area, kitchen, and much more. Make a list of the features you consider most important and keep these items in mind as you evaluate each home. You might need to be flexible as you start narrowing down your search, but a pre-qualification and planning ahead can help you stay on track.
Consider the future of your investment.
A house is more than a place for your family to live. Start thinking of your future home as an investment. In addition to the actual structure, be sure to consider the neighborhood, school system and property values. Pay attention to the amenities offered either within the community or in the areas close to the home - like nearby shopping centers, restaurants, activities for families and other conveniences. All of these things affect the overall value of your home.
Understand the current condition of the home.
Before your option period ends, hire a qualified home inspector. If you’re working with a realtor, he/she can coordinate the home inspection. Regardless of whether or not you're working with a realtor, a home inspection is always a good idea. Home inspectors will provide you with detailed information on the true condition of the home. This information helps you determine how much money you’ll need to put into repairs or upgrades should you decide to move forward with the purchase. It can also be used in negotiations with the seller - either to lower the purchase price or to ask them to complete certain repairs before moving forward.
Work with a United Heritage loan specialist.
Having United Heritage in your corner during the home-buying process is an asset. United Heritage loan specialists are armed with valuable knowledge and experience to answer any questions you may have along the way. Whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned professional, a United Heritage loan specialist's goal is to make the process as quick and easy as possible. When you're ready, learn more about UHCU mortgage loans and start the home buying process.
Membership/Regular Savings account required.
United Heritage loan policies and other qualifications apply.
Saving for College
Saving for your child’s education is an important step for his/her future. With some smart financial maneuvers, you’ll be able to make your money grow, so that by the time high school graduation comes around, funds are available. As important as saving for college is, it’s critical to remember that you should not allocate your retirement savings for college expenses. Securing the funds for a college education is far easier than securing money to see you through retirement.
Start as soon as possible.
Saving now for college ensures that you have the most options available when the time comes. If you feel overwhelmed by such a large, looming expense, consider this: even modest investments can pack a punch. Whatever savings method you choose, it’s important to first do your homework. Consider your needs, objectives and personal financial situation before making your selection.
The Coverdell Savings Account functions similarly to Roth IRAs but, instead of retirement, is instead used for educational expenses. With an annual contribution cap of $2,000, earnings within the account grow tax-free and can be used for any educational expense – not just college tuition.
With tuition costs rising faster than inflation, a portfolio of stocks is a smart way to build savings in the long term. As your child nears the end of high school, you can protect your returns by switching the funds into bonds and cash.
Want to make college funds grow by investing? With a mutual fund, a professional is put in charge of your savings so that you don’t have to watch the market daily.
Texas Tomorrow Funds:
Chances are, you have plenty of time to save for your children’s’ or grandchildren’s’ education. After all, it could be 15 years or more until the money is needed. But have you factored in how much college will cost then? Tuition costs are skyrocketing, rising at a rate of approximately 6 percent a year. The truth is, time is on your side now. By getting a head start, you will be taking one of the most valuable steps to ensuring a good future for your child, grandchild or other loved one. For more information visit the Texas Tuition Promise Fund website.
Membership/Regular Savings account required. Programs (including without limit, fees, rates and features) are subject to change without notice. See rate sheets for applicable dividends. Fees may reduce earnings. Annual contributions cannot exceed $2,000. Consult tax advisor concerning maximum annual contributions and considerations for children with special needs to receive contributions after the child turns 18. Funds must be used for educational expenses and withdrawn before child reaches 30 years of age.