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A Shift In Savings Strategies

July 29, 2020

A woman reviews her finances from her home.Forming New Spending and Saving Habits

COVID-19 has caused shifts in many of the things we do that make up our daily lives. One major shift has been with money management. 

What have you noticed about your spending habits in the past few months? With stores, restaurants, venues, attractions and so many other places closed during lockdown and beyond, the options to spend money outside of our home, other than online shopping, or for essentials, were few and far between. In that time at home, away from our usual daily stops, we were given the opportunity to reflect upon our past spending habits.

We’ve been able to look at that daily cup of coffee we used to get on the way to work, the places we’d go to on our lunch breaks, and meeting friends out on the weekends with a different view. All of a sudden that money wasn’t being spent. It was being, more or less, saved. People are now spending less, saving more, and planning ahead. 

Statistics show that over the past 5 months, including both during quarantine and post quarantine, entertainment, social activities, traveling (even gasoline) and impulse buying are all down. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. According to CUNA Mutual Group’s Trends Report, indicating COVID-19 impacts, personal spending fell 13.6% while savings balances in credit unions rose 4.7% in April. Consumers, it seems, have been sticking to purchasing essentials only- and only when needed.

This shift in spending, along with stimulus checks and relief loans, have helped to ease the financial burden of furlough and layoffs, enabling many of us to get by. Even for those that may have been fortunate enough to continue working in an essential industry, we still see those consumers driving less, eating out less, traveling less, shopping less, etc. This has helped increase the balance of their savings. 

If you have been able to create some pockets of extra funds, now is the perfect time to consider looking at your budget and deciding more strategically on what it is you really need. It is a time to scrutinize your own past habits and channel those funds to what is really important. Use our Budget Calculator to find out your net monthly and yearly income.

Paying owed bills is certainly a great start. Paying off loans is yet another. Once loan payments are more manageable, or possibly gone quicker than you were expecting, you can take the money you were using to make those payments and use it for something else- like building up your savings again. 

If this experience has taught us anything about our spending habits, it’s to consider planning ahead with serious, realistic goals of saving. 

To help you get going on starting a new savings strategy, try a Term Share Certificate or Money Market Account. These are great places to save that can earn higher dividends.

Can you refinance and consolidate your debt? Rates are very low right now on car loansmortgageshome equities and more.

Use this helpful Savings Goal Calculator to find out how long it will take you to reach your savings goal.

If you have questions, we are here to help. 

Should You Buy Used, New, or Lease?

July 23, 2020

Cars in a dealership lot.Pros And Cons To Paying For Your Next Car

Who doesn’t like the excitement of looking for their next car? Before getting behind the wheel, or even looking for that car, knowing the varying factors of purchasing one is helpful to keep in mind, as that can greatly influence your financial position.

When it's time to purchase your next vehicle, there are generally three options: buy used, buy new, or lease. Let's break down the pros and cons for each purchasing method.


Used Cars

Pros: 

  • Used cars are generally less expensive up-front and they have the added benefit of not drastically depreciating when they leave the lot. 

  • Buying a used car, offers a pretty good-sized savings percentage compared to purchasing that same car brand new. Therefore, it may be easier to afford a higher class of car than you normally could have. 

  • Also, car insurance rates and registry renewals are typically lower for used cars. This can save you hundreds of dollars, or more, over the life of the car.

Cons: 

  • While today’s cars are much more efficient and can go longer between scheduled maintenance visits, if you choose to buy used, there are some additional costs to consider. For example, you’ll want to have the car checked out by a trusted mechanic to determine when maintenance work or repairs would be necessary.

  • You may have to pay additional money to have the car certified.

  • Depending on the age of the vehicle, you may possess it for less time, which means spending more on a another vehicle sooner.


New Cars

Pros: 

  • Buying a new car may present you with more financing options from a seller, as well as new-car incentives such as cash rebates and great interest rates. You may also be able to spend less than the first-market price after negotiations, incentives and rebates. 

  • New cars are also likely to provide the latest in tech features for performance, safety and comfort. 

  • A brand new car offers peace of mind without the need to take it to a mechanic before buying. If issues arise, most warranties will cover the cost of repairs for the first few years.

Cons: 

  • New cars are expensive and you may have to put a large amount down up front. They also depreciate as soon as you leave the lot. In some cases, the value of the car drops as much as 20 percent right when you pull away! That means a $25,000 car will lose $5,000 within the first few minutes of ownership.


Leasing A Car

Pros: 

  • When you lease, you don’t pay the full purchase price of the car, rather, you pay the depreciation of the car. This means if you lease a $25,000 car for 3 years, and the anticipated value of the car at the end of the 3 years is $15,000, you only make payments on that $10,000 difference. If you had purchased the car, you would make payments on $25,000.

  • Leasing is also often available with no money down or a much smaller amount than when buying the car outright.

  • A major benefit of leasing is that you get to drive a brand new car every few years. This means the latest in safety and technology.

Cons: 

  • A drawback of leasing, is that the money you're spending isn’t investing in an asset, it’s simply spending money. Like renting instead of buying, you are not purchasing any equity in an asset you can later sell.

  • Other considerations are mileage fees and potential damage to the vehicle. If the car is damaged or you drive it over the mileage limit, you may end up with hefty fees.

  • Leasing often costs more than buying in the long run, as you typically drive a purchased car for longer than 3 years.


Drive Smarter

Between the three options of buying your next car, your best choice will be based on various financial considerations, your driving habits, and your personal preferences of owning a car. Before choosing, visit our Car Loan page to learn how we can help you get on the road with a car you will enjoy.

Learn More


Article adapted from Banzai.

Posted in: Car Loan

Buying A Home

July 9, 2020

Couple reviewing their finances so they can buy a home.The Cost of Buying

Buying a home can be a big step, and an important one. You want a home you and your family will be happy in for as long as you own it. 

We can help you figure out how much you can realistically afford.

Begin by defining your goals. Consider where you want to live, the features you're looking for, and what you feel is a comfortable monthly payment. We’ll work with you to ensure you factor in all of the variables like down payment, closing costs, etc.

Check out this quick tool to help give a rough idea of what you may be able to afford today.

There are other financial and personal factors that could determine what kind of mortgage loan you might be eligible for. For example, if you are a Veteran, new home buyer, have certain income thresholds, etc.

First Source has a systematic process we’ve developed over the years to make your experience as easy and as smooth as possible. This is an important milestone in your life and we want to make sure you can reach it with financial stability. That is why we will communicate with you through every step along the way.

Learn more about our mortgage loans and programs today. 

Mortgage: Learn More


Article adapted from Banzai.

Posted in: Mortgage

Better U Program Resources

May 19, 2020

Takeaways You Can Implement

As we’ve followed Lynne’s journey through the Better U Program, we’ve had the opportunity to gather resources that have helped her along the way. We’ve included links to many of these tools, so you can follow along.

Since we are still in the midst of COVID-19, we will begin with this short video about current safety tips from the American Heart Association. From no-touch greetings to sanitizing, here is a quick video lesson and reminder of how you can help keep yourself safe and those around you comfortable. 


Continuing along with direct health initiatives, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield offers MDLIVE. MDLIVE is a medical and behavioral health care service offering online or over-the-phone help from doctors, psychiatrists and therapists 24/7/365. This is a great resource for both adults and children and can help you manage anything from cold and flus to addiction and trauma.

Behaviorial Health: PDF

Medical Health: PDF


“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” That old saying is based on the fundamental notion that eating a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins and complex carbohydrates will help you stay healthy. The Better U Program has recommended the Mayo Clinic Health System’s video “Grocery Shopping with Dr. Donald Hensrud”. This was Lynne’s virtual tour through the grocery store which can also help you shop better and healthier. Give it a quick watch here:

Watch the Video


Understanding the information on the Nutrition Facts label can help you make healthier eating choices and identify the best foods for a healthy diet. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your meals:

Reading Labels: PDF


Eating right and healthy doesn’t mean losing some of the treats you love but in fact can help you incorporate those treats in a more balanced manner. Here are some recipes we’ve included that are easy and delicious!


We understand that shopping healthier can be coupled with spending money and spending more money can feel daunting and stressful. Eliminating stress is all part of becoming a better you and while the stresses of finance can not be fully deleted, staying on top of your bills can help alleviate a large portion of that stress. We’ve included here our Budget Worksheet for you to use as a guide. This can help you incorporate your finances evenly across all of your expenses. Use this worksheet to keep track of your monthly income and outgoing expenditures:

Budget Worksheet


In addition, we’ve also included the document “My Disappearing Dollars.” This is an opportunity to list all of your monthly expenses and their positive OR negative impacts on your life. No one else ever needs to see this list so it provides a great opportunity to take an honest look at what you spend your money on and help you discover for yourself whether those expenses are truly worth it or not:

My Disappearing Dollars: PDF


It’s almost time for many of us to get back into the swing of things at the office. The Better U Program has provided 10 tips from Memic to help you keep a healthier (and therefore more productive) workspace. Does your chair make you slouch? Does your desk height make for awkward shoulder movements? Use this checklist to help you make your workspace more comfortable and physically therapeutic:

Perfect Office Fit: PDF


Speaking of being back in the office amongst your colleagues, this is the perfect time to learn a bit about effectively using CPR- just in case. The American Heart Association has provided this simple 4-step how-to that can help save yours, or someone else’s, life. This would be good to print or share among your coworkers. And remember, when performing CPR (as shown in Step 2), push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the popular song “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees. The rhythm of that song is the exact rhythm that can literally help one stay alive until professional help arrives.

Hands-Only CPR: PDF


While we consider all of the above information imperative to a healthier lifestyle, there is also an aspect to living balanced that is not as black and white as financial tracking or choosing fresh foods over packaged foods. It is called Reiki. It is in fact more spiritual yet is also totally within your control. Reiki is defined as “Universal Life Force Energy.” Included here are two enlightening documents to help you be present, meditative and grateful for being alive. They will help you understand how to open your chakras and promote healing throughout your body, mind and spirit.

Distant Reiki: PDF


The 7 chakras represent different points of your spinal column that are connected to various organs and glands. These terrific sources will explain how each one works within your body, within your energy, and help restore and maintain optimum health:

Chakra Information: PDF


We truly hope you find these resources as valuable as Lynne has. Understanding and accepting where you are and visualizing where you want to be are not that far apart. Like Lynne, you too can use this information to assist you in becoming the healthy, balanced person you know you can be!

Stay tuned for more takeaway tips from the Better U Program, compare how your path mirrors Lynnes path and continue to discover how to become the best YOU that you can be!

The Better U Program Wellness Session

May 6, 2020

Chapter #5 - A Financial and Spiritual Awakening

Lynne and the group recently had their first wellness session: a Mind, Body and Finance workshop. Chock full of terrific advice from the instructors, Lynne’s experience with the workshop has really helped open her eyes to saving herself from undo stress…and perhaps, one day, someone else’ life.

“It began with tips for financial wellness,” Lynne explained. “Cristina from First Source went over budgeting, interest rates, credit cards and student loans. We learned to look where we can lower spending and try to pay down debt. She talked about paying the smallest bills first to get those out of the way and off your plate, moving on to the next highest and so on as a way to make tackling debt more manageable. Setting small goals and achieving them. Once the smaller bills are paid down/off you can then use those funds to save. She gave us a budget worksheet and recommended to re-budget every 60 days as your finances change. She also had a really cool ‘Disappearing Dollars’ worksheet. It challenges you to see where you may be over or foolishly spending to see what you can put away instead for emergency funds. It was really relevant since we can see today just how important an emergency fund is. The other option was “Avalanche Debt” where you pay the highest bills first and  work your way down. Whatever works best for you. “I live and breathe managing finances as my career,” Lynne added, “but it was still great to hear and to know that all the program participants would now have this knowledge too.”

“Next Sarah from the American Heart Association gave us Hands-Only™ CPR training,” Lynne continued. “Demo dummies were sent to us at home to practice on. We learned the steps to check for a pulse first. Take charge and alert others around you giving them specific tasks. Have someone call 911 and leave it on speaker. We learned the steps for compression, where to place your hands and to not stop giving the compressions until help arrives. A hard, flat surface is best for performing CPR. Also if you sing "Stayin’ Alive” in your head as you give the CPR, it’s a good beat to give compressions to. It was also reassuring to learn there is a ‘No Sue’ law for helping. We got to keep the demo dummies to share what we learned with our family. It was very informative and could be live saving.”

Carrie, a Certified Nutritionist/Wellness Consultant went over reading food labels. She taught us to minimize intake of unhealthy oils/fats, fatty meats and dairy, to minimize sugar intake, and to eat breads, pasta and cereals made from whole grains that are high in fiber,” Lynne shared. “We learned it’s good to eat lean protein, drink lots of water, listen to your body, eat “feel good foods” that make you feel better. She talked about non-gmo, unsaturated fats, trans fats, food allergens….I  could have listened to her talk for hours. There was so much, really good information! I look at food very differently now.”

Sherri, a Certified Mindfulness Instructor then shared mediation yoga. “We went through breathing exercises, how to be mindful of our breath and help with our focus, to take 5 and pause,” Lynne described. “I would love to attend her actual classes some day. At the start of your day, take 3 minutes to clear your head then focus on your day. Try to start with no thoughts. Focus only on breathing. Draw a square in your mind. With each side breathe in, then out. Be fully present in that moment. Breathe from your belly. It’s very calming. Then think about 3 things you are grateful for. Start your day with gratitude. Lastly, think about your day. Be grateful for what you will accomplish. She taught us to ‘Take 5 and Pause’ whenever you need to throughout the day. Refocus and get centered. I have already successfully used this technique. This workshop was extremely Informative. I got a lot out of it and learned so much from everyone.”

Thanks to Lynne breaking it all down, you too can take the advice of the Certified experts to help you ease debt, relax your body and mind, and eat healthier food options.

Speaking of food, up next Lynne looks forward to a virtual healthy cooking class!

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