Figuring Out Banking Terms

Do you ever find yourself confused by all the different words and phrases banks and credit unions use? No need to worry, we’ve all been there! Here are a few definitions of terms we’ve not been sure about.

Do you ever find yourself confused by all the different words and phrases banks and credit unions use? No need to worry, we’ve all been there! Here are a few definitions of terms to help clear the air.11-2-18 1.jpegCredit Union – As a credit union ourselves, SunWest would like everyone to know what we’re about. Wikipedia defines a credit union as “a member-owned financial cooperative, controlled by its members and operated on the principle of people helping people, providing its members credit at competitive rates as well as other financial services”, but what does that mean for you? Well, CUs like SunWest are owned by members – people who have an account with us. We want to help them and our society through great financial services as well as involvement in local communities.

APR – This stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It’s the cost of credit for an entire year, told as a percentage – so if you get a loan with 2.50% APR, you have to pay that percentage of the loan for the credit.

Credit Score – This number will generally be between 300 and 800. Most likely you’ve seen yours as a FICO score. It measures your credit worthiness, which basically translates to what sort of credit card, loan, or other financial service you may qualify for. The higher the number, the more likely you are to get better rates. This number comes from a math formula that calculates what the different pieces of information in your credit report add up to. To get a better score, you can do things like pay your bills/credit cards/loans on time, or get a credit builder loan.11-2-18 2.jpegThese are only a few of dozens, maybe hundreds, of unclear banking terms. What words would you like to know more about? Ask us in the comments here or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, and we’ll continue to explain everything we can! You can also ask any of our knowledgeable branch team members – we always want to do our best to make things clearer for you. We know the world of finance can sometimes be a little (or a lot) difficult to understand, so we want you to be comfortable coming to us for help in making things simpler.

International Credit Union Day Part 2

International Credit Union Day has come to a close for this year, and we had a blast! Did you stop by any of our branches and join in the celebration? It’s amazing to think that this day has been officially celebrated for 70 years – and did you know that SunWest FCU has been around even longer?

International Credit Union Day has come to a close for this year, and we had a blast! Did you stop by any of our branches and join in the celebration? It’s amazing to think that this day has been officially celebrated for 70 years – and did you know that SunWest FCU has been around even longer?

10-16-18 Vintage Photos-2We were founded in 1937 – so this year is our 81st anniversary! But back then we were called Phoenix Telco Federal Credit Union, which makes sense since 12 telephone workers were the ones who came together to start it up. Which name do you prefer?

From the beginning, the goal was a financial cooperative that truly existed for the people. Now we continue to do our best to give you all exceptional service focused on dedication, integrity, and compassion. Supporting our communities is extremely important to us. We want our members to thrive!

Not only that, we want you to feel comfortable with us, and confident that we’ll take care of you. So we aim to be friendly and respectful, as well as a place where you can ask any financial questions you have and get a helpful answer. Ask us your questions on our Facebook or Twitter so that we can help you reach your goals sooner! And of course, you can always visit any of our branches to ask in person.

As Erin on Facebook said, “There is such a difference in the atmosphere when you enter the bank. You all make me feel like a valued customer and not just a number! Thank you all! 😁

International Credit Union Day 2018

International Credit Union Day is coming up and we are so excited! This year, it’s the 70th anniversary, which means everything is platinum-themed. SunWest will be having giveaways on our social media next week leading up to the big day, then a grand prize giveaway for those who visit one of our branches on October 18. But what is so special about credit unions that they were able to get their own day dedicated to them – all around the world?

International Credit Union Day is coming up and we are so excited! This year, it’s the 70th anniversary, which means everything is platinum-themed. SunWest will be having giveaways on our social media next week leading up to the big day, then a grand prize giveaway for those who visit one of our branches on October 18. But what is so special about credit unions that they were able to get their own day dedicated to them – all around the world?

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Credit unions as we know them began in Germany in the 1850s. They were based on cooperative principles, such as self-help, democracy, and equality. Hermann Schulze-Delitzsch was so passionate about his credit union projects that they popped up wherever he went. By 1912, the people’s banks he founded in Germany had 641,000 members!

Friedrich Wilhelm Raiffeisen built on Hermann’s approach but aimed to help more rural areas. This established some more conventions that we still follow today, such as people volunteering to serve on the board of directors to save the smaller communities money. Thanks to many rural communities joining the credit union movement, they were able to prove wrong those who believed that poor people were unlikely to pay back loans and no bank would be able to profit from poor Germans.

It’s pretty easy to see why the idea of credit unions caught on! We still highly value our communities and believe in openness and social responsibility. If you have any ideas on how we can better serve you as our members, or help the communities you live in, leave us a comment here or message us on social media. We would also love to hear your story about how credit unions have made a difference in your life.

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As Lisa on Facebook said, “I have been with SunWest Federal Credit Union for over 30 years. You have proven I can trust you as banks have not. You have always been fair, not perfect but fair. Everyone is always so pleasant, fun and helpful. I created accounts for my two kids years ago, my dad has had an account there as well. It feels like family.#platinumliningfound”. That’s what we love to hear, thank you Lisa!

Buying a Car Like a Pro Part 2: At the Dealership

Buying a car can be an exciting experience. It can also be daunting and expensive, especially if you’ve never bought a car before or have limited experience with car buying and dealerships. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of tips you should have ready to go when you walk onto the car dealer’s lot. Now that you have everything ready to with your credit score, financing, and budget, you’re ready to buy your car.

Buying a car can be an exciting experience. It can also be daunting and expensive, especially if you’ve never bought a car before or have limited experience with car buying and dealerships. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of tips you should have ready to go when you walk onto the car dealer’s lot. Now that you have everything ready to with your credit score, financing, and budget, you’re ready to buy your car. Follow these easy steps to ensure that your car buying experience goes smoothly.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-car-buying-like-a-pro-6Create a List
We recommend that you start your car search online. This way you can see and compare models and features in the comfort of your own home without being pressured by a car salesman to pick a car or make up your mind. Look at what comes standard and what will be extra on the cars you like most, and determine whether the prices you see will fit into your budget. Once you’ve done your research, come up with a short list of a few cars that you would seriously consider owning. Have this list ready, along with the research that you’ve complied, with you when you head to the dealership.

New, Used or Leasing
Decide which option—new, lease, certified preowned, or used—works best for you. You’ll find all options in your budget, and you’ll find all quality of cars in each option. Buying used is often the best value, but you’ll pay a high interest rate, have a shorter warranty, and may not know the car’s full history. If you’re looking to lease, you won’t own the car, and there are often certain rules to avoid penalties. Buying new gets you a full warranty and lower interest rates, though there may be fewer features available without spending extra. Certified preowned cars are often a good compromise, as they are less expensive than new cars, but have some warranty and have to meet certain standards and regulations for safety. Pick which option you are most comfortable with and go with it.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-car-buying-like-a-pro-8.jpgTest Drive
Don’t rush your test drive. Once you’ve done your research and picked your car or cars, schedule a test drive with the internet or fleet manager. This will help you build a relationship with someone at the dealership who will be less likely to push you into making a deal. Ask for more time with your test drive. You’ll be driving this car around for a few years at least, so make sure you like how it handles on surface streets and freeways. Take your time with the car in park too—adjust seats and mirrors and play with the different controls. If you often drive with a passenger, bring them along and make sure they’re comfortable too. If you haul things, make sure everything will fit.

Negotiate Smart
When it comes to start signing the paperwork, you’ll already be ahead of the curve by having your credit information and the financing all set up, but there are still other fees and terms you’ll need to negotiate. Have ready any discounts you may have researched. Negotiate the trade-in value of your car separately from the purchase of your new car, and research the value of your current car ahead of time so you know if you’re getting a good price. Look carefully through the list of fees to make sure they are accurate and necessary. And be prepared to say no to the extras you’re offered. You can always get them later, if you end up wanting them, after you’ve done your research.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-car-buying-like-a-pro-4.jpgIf you follow these simple and smart steps, you’ll have a great experience buying your next car, and you’ll get an amazing deal on your dream car. Check out these tips and tricks to get the best deal before you head out to the dealership.

Buying a Car Like a Pro Part 1: Before You Go to the Dealership

Buying a car can be an exciting experience. It can also be daunting and expensive, especially if you’ve never bought a car before or have limited experience with car buying and dealerships. With the information in this post, you’ll be able to walk out with a great car at a great price once you understand these terms and ideas.

Buying a car can be an exciting experience. It can also be daunting and expensive, especially if you’ve never bought a car before or have limited experience with car buying and dealerships. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful list of tips and terms you should know before walking onto a car lot. You’ll be able to walk out with a great car at a great price once you understand these terms and ideas.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-car-buying-like-a-pro-5Credit Scores
Before you ever step into a car dealership, make sure you understand what your credit score is. Dealerships often advertise very good interest rates on new cars, but often these rates are only available to those with credit scores of 750 or better, and you will only see that in the fine print. Those with credit scores of 700 or higher can usually get pretty good rates, but anything below that usually comes with much high interest rates. And almost anyone can get a car loan regardless of their credit score or credit history because cars are relatively easy to repossess if you miss payments. So before you go looking for a car, make sure you know what your credit score is and what kind of rate you should be getting. If your credit score isn’t as good as you’d like it to be, Experian.com has some tips to raising your credit score.

Get financing quotes before you shop
Even if you have amazing credit, it doesn’t hurt to look around for the best rates. For those with high credit scores, you can often find great financing rates directly from the dealer. If you have average credit, visit your credit union or bank and apply for a car loan before you shop. You can often find some of the most competitive rates with credit unions and local banks. You can also apply for car loans online if you want more options, but you won’t necessarily get the best rates.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-contactSet a budget
One of the first things you should do when you start searching for a car is determine exactly how much you can afford to spend on loan payments each month. While it might be tempting to get a longer loan term so you can have smaller payments over the course of the loan, in the long run you’ll end up paying a lot more in interest. So while a shorter loan term might have higher payments, you won’t have to pay as much interest. Calculate how much you can afford to spend each month and then find the shortest loan term that will fit in that budget.

Consider extra expenses
In your budget, make sure you account for other common car costs such as car insurance and GAP Insurance. GAP, or guaranteed auto protection, Insurance, is protection to cover the “gap” between than an insurance company believes your car is worth and what you still owe on your loan if you’re in an accident and the car is deemed totaled. So if you still owe $8,000 on your loan, but the car is only worth $6,000, the GAP insurances covers you for that $2,000 that you would owe on the loan. For both GAP insurance and car insurance, make sure you shop around to find the best rates. And shop around for both of these annually, as rates can change from company to company every year.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-car-buying-like-a-pro-8Now that you know your credit score, have financing ready to go, and know what you can afford for your budget, it’s time to start looking for your new car. Whether you’re buying a brand new car, or one that’s just new to you, these tips will help ensure that you won’t get taken for a ride at the dealership.

Find more information on auto financing with these tips for saving on your car loan.

Funding Baby: Financial Tips to Make Things Easier for New Parents

So you’re expecting a baby, or maybe you just had your first. Your bundle of joy is a wonderful addition to your family, but you might not realize just how much money new babies can cost. We want to help take some of that financial worry off your mind by offering some easy and useful tips that will make paying for baby significantly easier.

So you’re expecting a baby, or maybe you just had your first. Your bundle of joy is a wonderful addition to your family, but you might not realize just how much money new babies can cost. We want to help take some of that financial worry off your mind by offering some easy and useful tips that will make paying for baby significantly easier.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-funding-baby-2Create a pre- and post-baby budget
There are several new costs that pop up when you find out you or your partner is pregnant, as well as after baby comes, so creating budgets is going to be essential. Things to consider budgeting before the baby comes includes out-of-pocket medical expenses related to the pregnancy, car seat, crib, stroller, clothing, formula, and diapers. While some of these will drift into your new post-baby budget, you’ll want to have some on hand for the first days and weeks after baby arrives and certain normal activities go out the window. After baby arrives, make sure you factor in recurring expenses like diapers, food, child care, and more. You’ll also want to consider how much your budget will need to be adjusted for maternity and paternity leave.

Insurance
Before your baby arrives, or shortly thereafter, make sure you find a pediatrician in your health insurance network. Baby’s first doctor’s visit will come within a week of the birth, so having one already picked out will be helpful and make that first week a little less stressful. You’ll also want to make sure you add baby to your insurance policy within 30 days of birth to ensure that your little boy or girl is covered.

It might seem a little morbid to think about this after baby comes, so we recommend looking into life insurance policies before the big day. If you already have one, make sure you adjust it accordingly to reflect your new son or daughter. If you don’t have one, get one. You love your child, and can’t ever imagine not being with them, but sometimes the unexpected happens, and you’ll want to make sure that your child is protected and taken care of no matter what happens. Adjusting your will and beneficiaries goes hand-in-hand with this, so make sure you make those changes as well.

Emergency Fund
There is no way to predict what will happen in the future, so having an emergency fund set aside is always a smart way to go, whether you’re expecting a child or not. If you don’t already have an emergency fund, now is the time to start one. Whether you are the one who is injured, or your child, or something happens with your car or job, it’s a smart idea to have a rainy day fund set aside with at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses covered.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-funding-baby-3Plan for the Future
Setting up a college fund for your child is a bit of a given for many people, but many often to forget to plan for their own futures once a child comes into the picture. Don’t forget to keep funding your retirement as well as your child’s future. Their dreams and goals may become more important than yours in your ideas, but that doesn’t mean that your dreams should be neglected. Make sure you keep building your retirement fund so your kids won’t have to take care of you when you’re older—they’ll thank you for it, and you’ll be glad for it in the long run.

Babies are amazing, and we know that you’re excited to welcome this new addition to your household. Just make sure you follow these simple steps to make life with baby a little bit easier and a little more financially secure.

Raising Money-Smart Kids

How often to do you talk to your kids about good financial habits? Here are a few important tips you can share with your kids to ensure that they know how to manage their money now and into the future.

Every summer, thousands of kids across the country set up stands on their front yards to sell lemonade, or beg their parents for chores to do in exchange for a little more allowance so they can buy that super awesome cool thing they saw in the store that all their friends have now. And while it might be cute that these little entrepreneurs are working hard to earn the things they want, are they really managing their money wisely? How often to do you talk to your kids about good financial habits? Here are a few important tips you can share with your kids to ensure that they know how to manage their money now and into the future.

Teach Key Terms
Making sure you kids know the basic terms of banking and money management is a great first step to making them money smart. Make sure they know terms like Credit, Debit, Checking and Savings. And making sure they understand that money comes from hard work and not from the bank or the magic tree in the backyard is key to their future success with money management. Telling them how ATMs work—and that the money isn’t infinite—will help them grasp these concepts better later in life.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-money-smart-kids-3.jpgPatience is Important
When kids see their parents shopping, it seems magical. All they have to do is swipe a piece of plastic into a machine and everything they want is theirs. But as grownups, we know this isn’t the case. Teaching children that sometimes you have to wait to buy something is another important concept for them to learn. Waiting until the money is in place, or for the item to go on sale so it is less expensive, are key ideas that children should learn. Try teaching your kids about saving and waiting by having them set a goal, and then save to achieve that goal. Whether it’s a toy or a trip to the movies, encourage your kids to try and save their money until they have enough to buy the item or activity on their own. Don’t make it too expensive so that it takes them months to save the money, but something that they will have to work towards, and they will start to understand how Mom and Dad have to wait to buy what they want until they have the money for it.

Sometimes Choices are Hard
Like the previous example, understanding that tough choices are often involved in money management is also very important. Kids should learn that money doesn’t actually grow on trees and that you may not have enough money to buy everything you want. This is another way to encourage your kids to set and achieve their goals. They might have enough money for a game right now, but if they choose to wait a little while longer and gain a little more money, they could afford the upgraded version. Also, taking your children shopping with you and explaining why you pick one product over another is another way to show your kids how this idea can be applied to life. Ask your kids which is a better deal, the generic item or the name brand, and then ask which one they should buy and why.

sunwest-federal-credit-union-money-smart-kids-1The Importance of Savings
As your kids get older, and possibly get their first jobs, encourage them to set up a checking and savings account so they can manage their money and see how their savings can accrue interest over time. As they see their money grow in their savings accounts, they will begin to understand the importance of adding to their savings. It’s like free money, right? Well, it might seem that way to your kids, and who doesn’t like free money?

Make a Budget, and Make it Work
Budgets are even hard for adults to handle, so teaching them to your kids at a young age could be extremely beneficial to their money management abilities in the future. Help them sketch out a basic budget that shows them how much money they make from chores, allowance, or a part time job, and show them where their money goes each month. Breaking things down into categories like Entertainment, Toys, or Gas can help your kids and teens better understand where they spend too much or not enough, and will help them become efficient money managers as they grow older.

It might seem like an awkward topic to discuss with your kids, but once they can start doing simple math, they are old enough to understand some of these important ideas. And trust us, there will be much more awkward topics you’ll need to discuss down the road.