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How to Finance Your Ski Vacation

December 22, 2017

Skis, boots, and poles rest against a Jeep as family prepares for their financed ski vacation
Saving and planning ahead

A family ski or snowboarding trip to a popular resort can be an experience to remember, and it can also be expensive. From accommodations to lift tickets, gear rental, meals, and entertainment, the costs for your winter getaway can quickly add up. This list may help you enjoy the full experience without the highest costs. How can you save, and decide if a personal loan is right for you?

Saving Money

  • Book Ahead
    Your biggest cost savings could be achieved by planning ahead. Decide how you want to finance the trip, and book your trip in advance. Almost every aspect of your trip, from accommodations to lift tickets, cost the most when paying “at the desk”. Most resorts offer discounts for those planning ahead.

  • Avoid Peak Dates
    While this isn’t always possible, planning your trip in the early or late season, during the week, and during times that most people aren’t on vacation, can save you on almost all your expenses.

  • Choose Hidden Gems
    The most popular winter destinations are in highest demand, and so can demand the highest prices. Look for highly rated resorts that are just a bit less popular, but offer a great experience. We’re also close to Canada, home to many amazing ski resorts.

  • Shop for Discounts
    Look for promotions, package deals, and discounts online before you book. You might be surprised at the sizable savings. Don’t forget to check travel sites, which offer savings on airfare, lodging, and rentals. Consider booking your accommodations through a trusted home- and apartment-rental site, or even a home swapping service.

Paying for Vacation

If you’ll need financing for your trip, there are some solid recommendations, and some decisions to make about how you finance.

Personal Loan

A personal loan may be a good option to cover reasonably large expenses.

  1. It’s often less costly than other forms of borrowing. Check online or ask us about current rates.

  2. Budgeting can be easier. You’ll know up front what your monthly payments will be, and how long they’ll last.

  3. It tends to be easier on your credit score.

Meet with a First Source Representative first, and make sure all the terms, any fees, and the payments all work with your budget and financial standing.

Credit Cards

We generally recommend using your credit cards to pay for some of the day-to-day vacation costs, especially if you earn rewards, and can pay them back over the short term. One option: secure your personal loan, use your credit cards for expenses (to earn your rewards), and fully pay them down using your loan; then all you have is a low-rate loan to pay back.

Plan Ahead

Vacations are some of the most rewarding ways to spend our money. With our help, you can plan ahead and manage your finances in a way that makes your vacation a little more enjoyable.

Live smarter by making an appointment today to meet with one of our Financial Services Representatives about your winter vacation financing.


How to Finance a Snowmobile

December 7, 2017

A man rides his snowmobile, financed through First Source, across a snowy field
Start with these helpful steps

If you want to get your first snowmobile—or upgrade to a newer model—and your credit isn’t ideal, can you still get financing? And just as important: should you finance? It might be best to plan and save first. Whether you want new or used snowmobile financing, we offer smart, sensible ways to help guide you in what’s best for getting what you want, while still keeping your finances in check. 

Know Your Options
We recommend that you sit with us first to discuss your options before considering financing solutions. Our Member Representatives can look at your options, and the effects a loan may have on your credit and financial standing.

Determine What You Want to Spend

  • Determine the type of snowmobile that will fit the kind of riding you want to do; ask your friends who ride for their help

  • Decide if you want a new sled, or are willing to consider a used one

  • Do some initial research into pricing—both new and used—for the sled you want

  • Include other relevant costs in your total: insurance, typical maintenance and repairs, a trailer, storage, trail fees, clothing and accessories, etc.

  • Arrive at a total for your initial costs and ongoing monthly expenses

Evaluate Your Financial Standing
While your First Source representative will help you determine your current financial standing, you can do some of your own research, including checking:

  • Your credit standing

  • Your cash flow (monthly income and spending)

  • Your current savings

You can check your own credit before an appointment, and we’ll take a look during the loan process. The kinds of factors that can affect your credit standing:

  • Have you always (or almost always) made loan payments on time?

  • Do you keep your credit within practical limits (avoid over-extending yourself)?

  • Do you have a limited number of loans you are currently paying?

  • Do you have high balances on any credit cards?

How Much Can You Afford?
Before you apply for financing, look at your household budget for a rough idea of how much you can afford every month. You don’t want to stretch yourself thin so that you can’t make your loan payments for any reason. Consider how much you have left over each month, how much you have saved, and how long you believe you can pay off a loan. We can work with you to determine what you can afford.

Live smarter by making an appointment today to meet with one of our Financial Services Representatives about snowmobile financing. Don’t keep those trails waiting!

5 Reasons for a Holiday Loan

November 16, 2017

Children open a present as their parents watch, enjoying a holiday assisted by Holiday Loan financing
A smarter way to cover holiday expenses

Why Consider a Holiday Loan?
As we approach the holiday season—from Christmas to Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, and more—we take advantage of the many sales and discounts offered by retailers. We also tend to have more family feasts and gatherings, or plan holiday travel. Our best intentions can temporarily exceed our bank balance, and paying off credit card debt all at once or at credit card interest rates can become costly come January. A smarter approach: financing these expenses with a lower-interest loan that can be paid back over a longer period. That’s where a First Source Holiday Loan comes in.

Funds from a Holiday Loan can be used to pay for qualifying expenses that could include travel, gifts, food and groceries, or entertaining. We encourage all our Members to save over the course of the year for these year-end expenses, but our actions don’t always live up to our best-laid plans. Having a financial buffer can relieve some of that stress. Do you think you need a Holiday Loan? Here are 5 possible reasons to apply.

1. You Can Plan Ahead
If your funds for holiday shopping and expenses traditionally run low before the holidays are over, you may be miscalculating for your seasonal budget. A Holiday Loan can help you to plan a holiday budget and follow it as closely as possible. While unexpected expenses always come up (and those unexpected sales often catch us by surprise), armed with a budget, we’re much more likely to stay on track.

2. Your Budget Will Thank You
The Holiday Loan is currently at 6% APR, coming in at a rate significantly lower than most credit cards, and the terms allow payment in known monthly amounts. Resorting to credit cards with high interest rates to cover gift purchases and unexpected expenses can wreak havoc with a household budget. A Holiday Loan makes payments predictable and manageable.

3. You’ll Know What You Can Spend
While the funds from a Holiday Loan are there to help you get through a busy financial period, we help you make sure you can handle the payments before finalizing your loan. If your monthly budget can’t handle the additional amount, you may have to adjust your gift list, shopping plans, social calendar, or travel details. We can help you work out the details so you can pay off your loan in a year (or less), and be ready for next year!

4. You’ll Gain Resolve
Speaking of those unexpected sales and promotions, a Holiday Loan forces you to evaluate your financial standing, strengthen your resolve before the shopping season starts, and limit your purchases to only what you need. If you don’t have the funds, it’s easier to say no to added debt or expense.

5. You’ll Have Less Stress!
If you apply and receive approval, we’ll put a payment plan in place. Once your funds are secured, you can follow your plan, and not stress so much. You can cover your holiday expenses, and not have to worry about that enormous January bill.

This seasonal loan is only available through December 20th, 2017, and requires application and approval time, so make an appointment to meet with one of our Financial Services Representatives as soon as possible to see if you qualify for a Holiday Loan. Then enjoy your holidays with peace of mind!

Helping Stevens-Swan Humane Society

October 20, 2017

First Source FCU staff members present a check to Stevens-Swan Humane Society employees.

Community Service 

We have donated more than $5,000 this year to the Stevens-Swan Humane Society (SSHS), through credit union employee and Member fundraising, and corporate sponsorship of the SSHS annual telethon. Along with many generous Members, our employees have donated physical items, such as pet food and blankets, volunteered for the Society’s annual telethon, and participated in the Wiggle-Waggle Walk-a-thon.

First Source has long supported the Stevens-Swan Humane Society and their many services. In addition to sheltering animals in need, they spay/neuter animals, nurse them back to health when needed, and help with pet adoption and burial services.

“We’ve been very involved with the Humane Society for well over a decade,” said Lynn Riley, First Source Member Care Center Manager. “Our staff really gets into fundraising and being a part of the costume contest for the Wiggle Waggle Walk-a-thon. We’re proud to help animals in need, and raise awareness for the shelter.”

Blanche, a dog at Stevens-Swan Humane Society, is shown with her new canine wheelchair.“The support we receive from the community and individuals is what sustains us,” said Nicole Curley, Shelter Services Coordinator for Stevens-Swan Humane Society. “We are not a government funded organization, so businesses like First Source are very important to us and the animals. On top of what they had already done this year, Lynn Riley from First Source was our top fundraiser, so she received a gift card as a thank you. She chose to donate that card back to us, and we were able to help offset costs for a much-needed dog wheelchair for our girl Blanche.”

Blanche is a great example of the many services SSHS provides that community members rarely hear about. She recently came to the shelter with a slipped disk in her back. She had very little feeling in her back legs, but was not in any pain. With no pain and her good spirits, she was a great candidate for a wheelchair. “We are happy to report that Blanche took well to her wheelchair,” added Curley, “and is ready for her forever home.”

Please consider supporting this organization’s efforts to provide comfort, care, and homes for area animals. 

Photo 1: First Source FCU staff members present a check to Stevens-Swan Humane Society.
Photo 2: Humane Society resident Blanche with her new wheelchair.


Posted in: animals, community, pets, service, SSHS

5 Steps to Getting a Car Loan

October 6, 2017

Young women look in the window of a new car after applying for an Auto Loan.
An Easy Approach to Financing  

Getting financing for a new vehicle can be fast and relatively easy…when you’re prepared. When you know you want a new (or used) car and need financing, taking a few basic steps can make the process smoother and help you avoid many common problems.

1. Research Your Credit
You may have heard that your credit score matters when applying for a loan. Not only does your credit score and credit standing affect whether you get a loan, it affects what rate your loan will be. The better your score, the lower your loan rate, the less money you spend on interest. There are 3 major credit reporting agencies, and each will let you get a free credit report once a year (each score may vary slightly). Review yours, make sure that all their information is right, and report any problems right away. Check your credit score as well, though this is one of many scores, and it may be slightly different from the one reported to the credit union.*

2. Decide How Much You Can Afford
This isn’t referring to the price of your vehicle per se, but how much you can afford to pay each month without breaking your budget. Make sure your budget includes costs for insurance and vehicle maintenance, which you’ll have to pay for separately. If you’ve never insured a vehicle before, call an insurance agent for estimates, and check online for typical maintenance costs for the vehicle you want. When you have a maximum amount, enter that into our Auto Loan Comparison Calculator on our Auto Loan page to see how your numbers work out. Don’t have a budget yet? It’s a great idea to put one together. If you’re not sure where to start, ask us for help!

The Loan Calculator will ask you to enter the loan term: how many years/months you have to pay the loan down. While a longer term may mean lower monthly payments, the total amount you pay will generally be more, so find terms that are a good balance of your monthly cost vs. total payments.

3. Apply For Your Car Loan
When you know how much you can afford, make an appointment to sit down with one of our Loan Representatives. They’ll work with you to determine what your credit and financial standing is, the type of loan you’ll need, and the terms that work with your lifestyle and budget. Let us know if you plan to buy new/used from a dealer, or in a private deal. If you qualify, our goal will be to get you pre-approved for your loan, giving you a certain amount of time to shop for a vehicle. Pre-approval gives you extra buying and negotiating power when you’re talking to a dealer. You’ll know the highest price you can go, and you won’t be dependent on the dealer for financing. If you buy an auto for less than your pre-approved loan amount, you’ll simply get a smaller loan (with smaller payments). If you have no credit history, let us know; we can discuss your options, such as asking someone to co-sign your loan.

4. Shop For Your Vehicle
Armed with your pre-approved loan amount, you’ll need to know how much you would consider putting down for a down payment, or any trade-in value on an existing vehicle, either of which will affect the vehicle you can afford.

Be cautious in your price negotiations; when dealers know you have financing already, they may offer you a longer-term loan with lower monthly payments, but that may cost you more over the term of the loan. If you’re looking at used vehicles and we’ve pre-approved you for a used car loan, you may need to limit your shopping to vehicles within a certain age or mileage limit.

5. Let Us Know
Once you’ve made the commitment to purchase your auto and negotiated the final price, the dealer’s financing department will contact us to finalize the sale paperwork. They will almost certainly try to convince you to purchase extras, such as extended warranties, rust-proofing, fabric protection, and more. Research all the options ahead of time so you know what’s recommended and what’s not. If you’re buying in a private deal, let us know so we can finalize the payment.

After the sale is complete, you will begin your payment schedule. We offer a number of options, such as online bill payments, automatic deductions, and ways for you to prepay if you ever decide to pay off the loan faster.

Learn More
Visit our Auto Loan page to learn more about how Auto Loans work, and to set up an appointment with one of our friendly representatives to discuss your needs.

*Free credit reports are available under Federal law at AnnualCreditReport.com






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