June 7, 2013 04:34 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

Do You or Someone You Know Need Affordable Health Coverage?

Starting January 1, 2014, individuals may be able to get subsidies or tax credits when they buy health coverage.  So who can get these subsidies or tax credits, and how do they work? We’ll break it down for you.  

Subsidies for individuals

In 2014, people who qualify may be able to get a tax credit from the government to help them buy health coverage and pay their premiums. Or they may qualify for subsidies from the government to help them pay for their out-of-pocket health care costs. You don’t have to wait until tax time to get it. The tax credit can be used for any individual plan sold on the exchange. 

 Who qualifies?

 Tax credit:

·         People who are U.S. citizens or legally live in the U.S.

·         People earning between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level if they are not eligible for other sources of insurance.

·         Single people with household modified adjusted gross incomes from 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level would earn from $11,490 to $45,960 each year.

·         A family of four with household modified adjusted gross income from 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level would earn from $23,550 to $94,200 each year.

Subsidy:

·         People with incomes up to 250% of the federal poverty level may also get an extra subsidy. The federal government subsidizes the higher benefits provided by the insurer.

 Who doesn’t qualify?

·         People who can get Medicare or Medicaid.

·         People who can get a plan through their employer with premiums that cost less than 9.5% of their earnings.

 When health insurance marketplace open enrollment starts?

Open enrollment for plans offered through the health insurance marketplace begins on October 1, 2013, and plan coverage starts as early as January 1, 2014. 

We Can Help

Dan Bitler at Robert K. Jones Insurance can work with you to design a plan that works best for your family. There is no additional cost going direct or working with an agent. To learn more, please contact Dan Bitler at (937) 294-2600 or dan.bitler@rkjonesins.com.

 This article gives basic information.  It is not legal or tax advice.  Please review your current situation with your own tax and legal advisers. 



May 28, 2013 09:05 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

9 Steps to Safer Mobile Banking

Banking is keeping pace with technology quite well. I know what you're thinking...online banking is risky. But those risks are offset by the convenience of banking from your phone or laptop, as millions of consumers would agree.

To balance risk and reward, here are 9 security steps experts say consumers should take to keep their sensitive financial information out of the hands of thieves and hackers.

  • Don't leave your phone unattended in public places.
  • Password protect your phone. Don't forget to set the auto-lock feature so it automatically locks after a few minutes.
  • Be sure to keep your phone's operating system and other software updated. New releases of software nearly always patch known vulnerabilities that crooks can exploit - but they only work if you download them.
  • Antivirus software isn't just for computers anymore - there are many great security apps available for mobile devices. It's a good idea to use one.
  • When using your mobile phone for banking, use the 3G connection offered by your carrier - not Wi-Fi connections, which are notoriously insecure.
  • Never use "remember me" features on banking or shopping sites.
  • Use the mobile application offered by your credit union or bank, when possible; this app will have maximum security built in. (Download Heartland Federal Credit Union's mobile app now.)
  • When downloading an app, be certain it is the authorized, legitimate app offered by your credit union or bank. (note: the above link goes directly to HFCU's secure, authorized app)
  • If your phone goes missing, use a service to "wipe" it of all data to prevent thieves from draining your account.


May 23, 2013 04:46 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

Student Loans: Think Before You Borrow

The total amount of outstanding student loan debt in the United States now tops $1 trillion. To make matters worse, recent graduates have been emerging from colleges and universities, with diplomas in hand, into one of the worst job markets in living memory.

Yes, we have had higher unemployment rates in years past: It reached 12 percent during the height of the 1981-82 recession. But that recession was over relatively quickly. And we have never had the combination of stubborn unemployment, underemployment and high student loan debt that we have today.

College costs have been outpacing incomes for a generation, fueled in no small part by the easy access to credit for college costs. The federal government has sought for years to make college more accessible for middle and working-class families. It routinely provides generous guarantees against default for student loans. However, the more money that’s available for any commodity, the higher consumers will bid up the prices for it, and education is no different.

Many of today’s students are having difficulty in making the payments on their student loans once they’ve graduated or left college. This is particularly true of humanities and arts graduates, who could wind up working low-skill service jobs that pay wages that are not designed to support a hefty student loan payment and the raising of a family.

As a result, the rates of default on student loans are soaring. An October 2012 report from the U.S. Department of Education notes that 13.1 percent of student loan borrowers have defaulted within three years of graduating. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that over 14 percent of Americans aged 20 to 24 are unemployed. That figure drops to 7.9 percent for 25-34 year-olds – but a large number of them are underemployed.

Bankruptcy is Not an Option

Most people who get into debt over their heads can seek refuge in America’s generous bankruptcy laws. Low-income individuals who can’t pay credit card debt or consumer loans, for example, can file a Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy and discharge some or all of the debt. They are allowed to keep a limited amount of assets with which to start over.

But federally-guaranteed student loan debt is not normally dischargeable through bankruptcy. The courts only discharge federally-guaranteed student loan debt in the event of extreme hardship.

How You Can Protect Yourself

Consider your employability after graduating. Some fields, such as psychology for example, tend not to pay well until you have a master’s degree. Here are a few additional tips to consider:

    • Lean towards STEM majors. That is, science, technology, engineering and math. These fields provide students with hard skills that are more marketable to employers.
    • Don’t co-sign student loans for your children if you cannot afford the risk of default – especially if they won’t be obtaining a marketable degree, or one that is not from a recognized, accredited institution.
    • Make maximum use of scholarships and the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Tip: Some veterans with the Post 9/11 GI Bill are able to transfer unused GI Bill benefits to family members. If you have a veteran in your family, explore this option.

Considering your student loan options? Check out our Student Loan resource page to see what we have available!

 



January 16, 2013 12:21 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

8 Tips to cut costs at the grocery store.

1. Make a list: Making a list makes you less likely to pick up extra items you don't really need. According to the research about 20% of groceries bought are unplanned, so sticking to your list means you'll stick to your budget!

2. Grab a sack: A sack of potatoes that is, or onions, or oranges, or..anything. The 5 pound sacks of your favorite produce normally cost half as much as buying the same amount individually. 

3. Weigh the cost: Before shopping at bulk stores check out the Cost Per Unit (CPU) displayed on the shelf, to see if you're really getting a good deal. It may not make sense to buy in bulk for all your grocery needs.

4. Go the extra step: Prewashed lettuce or already shredded cheese may be convenient but they come at a price, sometimes 5 times the price of their whole counterparts! Do the work at home and save the cash! 

5. Remind yourself of the cost: Post the receipt on the fridge, this is a great way to keep inventory of what's in your fridge plus it reminds you to eat in. 

6. Eat it, don't toss it: We toss 14-25% of the food we buy in the U.S. Keep the foods that will spoil the fastest up front in your fridge so you see them every time you open it up!

7. The Deep Freeze: Bread, baked goods, hard cheese, some fruits and veggies, meat and soups can be frozen. Use ice trays to freeze baby food and raw eggs to save for later. 

8. Make it yourself: Does your family have a soda addiction? Consider buying a Sodastream and make your own soda. They cost around $80 and will cut your soda addiction down to just .25 cents per 12 ounces! Kick your bottle water habit and invest in a home filtering system. A water pitcher filtering system can cost as little as $25 dollars, you'll make your money back in no time!



September 13, 2012 09:45 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

Turbo Charge Your Retirement

Q: I'm in my 40s and haven't saved nearly enough to prepare for retirement. How can I 'turbo-charge' my retirement savings to catch up?

A: The good news is that you still have a lot of peak earning years ahead of you. Many people don't hit their professional stride until they reach their 40s, 50s and 60s, and they have their best earning years, by far, late in life. If you qualify for a traditional pension, so much the better, because many systems use your highest-paying three or five years to calculate your benefits. These traditional pensions, however, are getting quite rare.

The bad news is this: Interest rates are at or near record lows. That's great for borrowers, but it makes things a lot harder on savers. Chances are, you will need to save a lot more money to generate a given level of retirement income than your forebears did a generation or two ago.

Here are some principals:

  • Rein in spending sharply. Learn to enjoy cooking, rather than eating out. Cut back on cable TV packages and take up exercise instead. The lower your monthly expenses, the more free cash flow you will have available to invest. All solutions to your problem start with this one step.
  • Pay down consumer debt and credit card debt. With credit card interest rates in the high 20s for some people, this is often the very best return on your investment you can get. Every dollar you pay down in credit card debt sooner or later nets you a return on investment equal to the interest rate on the card - with no risk, and no taxes due.
  • Next, make sure you are making the most of your tax-advantaged retirement savings opportunities. Are you working for someone else? Increase your 401(k) contributions. Maximize your IRA or Roth IRA contributions if you are eligible. Own some annuities, which are tax deferred (but gains are eventually taxed as income), and some people buy and hold mutual funds or ETFs. These aren't tax-deferred, but index funds are very tax-efficient, and if you hold them longer than a year, they are taxed at more favorable long-term capital gains rates, rather than ordinary income rates.
  • Do you own your own business? Can you start one? If so, you have some additional options: You can form and contribute to a SEP IRA, or simplified employee pension plan. This plan allows you to contribute up to 25 percent of your income from the business into a SEP IRA, or up to $49,000 per year, tax deductible. No taxes are due until you take the money out. Some businesses may be better off forming a SIMPLE IRA or Solo 401(k), depending on the specifics. Consult a qualified financial advisor with experience in retirement planning to find out which alternative is most appropriate for you and which will enable you to maximize your contributions.
    • Want more ideas? If you are self-employed and have your own business, you have few or no employees and a steady stream of cash flow, you can make nearly unlimited tax deductible contributions to an insured pension fund, under Section 412(i) of the Internal Revenue Code. (Make sure you have an experienced advisor working with you on these. This might not be a job for your nephew who is just getting started in the life insurance business).
  • Still have more money to sock away? An experienced life insurance agent can help you create a life insurance-based retirement savings plan. Premiums aren't deductible, but they grow tax free, and if you structure the property correctly, you can access the cash value tax-free later in life to supplement your retirement income. Meanwhile, your family gets a tax-free death benefit if you die, and the waiver of premium feature available will provide the unique benefit of continuing your scheduled premium contributions if you are disabled - making it the only retirement plan that "self-completes" in the event of disability.
    • These plans work best for those who are in good health and can pass a medical exam, get "preferred" rating or better from the life insurance company, and who have substantial free cash flow to sock away, funding the policy up to the legal limit, which your life insurance advisor can calculate for you.
  • Are you renting? It might be time to buy. That may sound expensive now, but interest rates are extremely low as of this writing. If you're in your 40s, you will have that 30-year mortgage paid off in your 70s. At that time, you may want to convert the equity in your home to a stream of income via a reverse mortgage. It's not for everyone, but if you rent rather than buy, you won't have that option. You can make that decision when you get there.

Above all, save money. Squirrel money away every way you can. Cash is still king, and there's no substitute for healthy cash reserves in your credit union account, whether in checking, certificates or other conservative savings options. You might not get a great return, but it's safe, secure and steady. Most of your success is going to come from controlling spending decisions, rather than from making brilliant investment decisions. Set things up so you don't have to be brilliant to succeed. Just prudent.

You do that by reducing expenses and saving money.



June 15, 2012 11:36 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

Piqua Farmer's Market Recipe - Tangy Onion Flower

Here's this weeks Piqua Farmer's Market Recipe. It was a great day to be at the market, we gave out lots of our reusable shopping bags and talked to lots of people about what it means to be a credit union member. Every week shoppers can bring back their Heartland shopping bags and get a stamp and be entered into a drawing at the end of the farmers market to win a grand prize! Every stamp is another chance to win big! Come out to see us at the Piqua Farmer's Market! 

Ingredients

  • 4 medium onions, (each 4 to 5 ounces)
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic or cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup seasoned croutons, crushed

 Directions

1) Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat. Peel onions; cut 1/2-inch slice from top of each onion and leave root end. Cut each onion from top into 8 wedges to within 1/2 inch of root end. Gently pull wedges apart.

2) Brush four 12-inch squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil with vegetable oil. Place 1 onion on each square; loosely shape foil around onion. Sprinkle onions with vinegar, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Wrap foil securely around onions

3) Cover and grill onions 4 inches from medium heat 50 to 60 minutes or until very tender. To serve, sprinkle croutons over onions.



June 7, 2012 08:48 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

Piqua Farmer's Market Recipe

It's nice weather for another day at the Piqua's Farmer's Market! Here's the recipe we're passing out today at the market! It's a refreshing fruit dip for your summer party. Don't forget to leave us a comment and we might just send you some goodies! Come down and see our booth at the market we'd love to see you! 

Honey-Yogurt Dip with Fresh Fruit

From www.rachaelraymag.com

 


 

Ingredients

·        2 cups vanilla yogurt

·        1/4 cup honey

·        1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

·        1 quart strawberries, cut into bite-size pieces

·        3 cups fresh pineapple chunks

·        1 cup melon chunks

·        1 kiwi, sliced

·        8 mint leaves

Directions

·        In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, honey and cinnamon. Thread the fruit and mint leaves onto skewers and serve with the yogurt dip.

 




May 31, 2012 08:55 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

Piqua Farmer's Market Recipes

The sun is shining and we're headed to the MainStreet Piqua Farmer's Market once again. Each week we'll be handing out really cool recipes. We'll post them on our blog as well each week, but if you'd like the nice cards we printed you'll have to visit us at the booth...or comment on this post and we'll pick a few lucky people to send the recipe card and something a little extra to help with your shopping trip.

Enjoy!

Spinach Strawberry Salad

From www.food.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spinach (I pinch off the larger stems)
  • 1 pint strawberry, sliced set a few aside (egg slicer works wonders)
  • 1/2cup pecans, toasted

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup Roland raspberry red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar or 1/2 cup sugar substitute
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Directions:

  1. Toast pecans over low heat, set aside to cool.
  2. Combine dressing ingredients and shake well.
  3. Toss and garnish with a few sliced strawberries.
  4. Serve immediately.


May 22, 2012 11:15 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

The Skinny on FICO® Scores and Inquiries

One of the largest misconceptions around how the FICO® Score works involves its treatment of credit inquiries, and what happens to a score when a consumer applies for credit. In this post we'll answer some of the most common questions we recieve on this subject, from lenders, and consumers alike.

Does the FICO Score penalize for rate shopping?

FICO scoring models use specialized logic that accounts for rate shopping for student, auto, and mortgage loans. In general, student loan, auto and mortgage-related inquires that occur 30 days prior to scoring have no effect at all on the FICO Score. Outside this 30-day period, student loan, auto and mortgage-related inquires that occur within any 45-day period are treated as a single inquiry.

This inquiry logic applies to loans of the same type. In other words, if someone were shopping for a car loan and a home loan during the same 45-day time period, the auto loan inquiries would be counted as one inquiry, and the mortgage loan inquiries would be counted seperatley as another inquiry. This is because they represent two separate searches for credit. (Remember that all auto, mortgage, and student loan inquiries made within the last 30 days would not be counted at all).

The best advice for consumers about score impact is simply to do their rate shopping in a resonably short period. That's easier if borrowers do their homework ahead of time to decide which companies to approach for quotes. Such planning also should make the loan rates easier to compare since the quotes will come only a few days apart.

Do all inquires affect the score?

No, the only inquiries that count toward a FICO Score are those that result from when a consumer actively applies for new credit. This FICO Score does NOT consider:

  • Consumer disclosure inquiries - requests made by consumers to obtain a copy of their individual credit report in order to check it.
  • Promotional inquiries - requests made by lenders in order to review existing accounts with them.
  • Employment inquiries - requests marked as coming from employers.
  • Insurance inquiries - requests marked as coming from insurance companies.

How much does a credit inquiry impact a FICO Score?
 
In general, inquiries have a small impact; typically, a single inquiry can lower a FICO Score by less than five points. The precise impact will vary based on each person's unique credit history. Inquiries can have a greater impact if consumers have few accounts or a short credit history.
 
Among the five data categories that make up the FICO Score, inquiry characteristics fall into the "search for new credit" category, which accounts for only 10% of the score. Since inquiries only represent one type of characteristic in this category, they actually account for less than 10% of the score.
 
Why does a credit inquiry affect the score?
 
Research consistently demonstrates that consumers who are seeking new credit accounts are riskier than consumers who are not seeking credit. Statistically, people with six or more inquiries on their credit reports can be up to eight times more likely to declare bankruptcy than people with no inquiries on their reports. While inquiries often can play a part in assessing risk, they plat a minor part. Much more important factors for the score are how timely a consumer pays bills and his/her overall debt burden as indicated on the credit report.


March 19, 2012 04:45 by Heartland Federal Credit Union

How to Save Money with a Car Loan

When the new car bug strikes and you long for a new ride, there are several things to think about. The hard part is probably deciding what to buy, but make sure you spend some time thinking about the car loan itself. Here are some tips to help you save money:

  • Get pre-qualified. Some lenders offer rate discounts for this important step. You save money and time by knowing exactly what you can afford before even stepping on to a lot.
  • Consider the loan term. You don't want to stretch yourself too thin, but the longer you take to pay off a loan, the more you pay in interest. 
  • Make extra payments. This is especially helpful if you take a longer term. Set up payroll deduction or auto pay every two weeks and you'll essentially make one extra payment a year.
  • Ask your lender about other rate reduction programs they may have.
  • What other pieces of advice do you have? We'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!
How ever you do it, be sure to take time to search for the best rate you can find. In our case, you don't have to look too far...Heartland Federal Credit Union is now offering 1% for 1 year, 2% for 2 year and 3% APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for 3 years. Ask us today how you can take advantage of these deals or our other rate reductions.
 
One more piece of advice...buckle up and enjoy your new wheels!