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Hackers often try to take advantage of unsuspecting people by posing as their financial institution, which is referred to as spoofing. They often use common communication methods such as phone…
article preview image Fraud: Spoofing Explained
Hackers often try to take advantage of unsuspecting people by posing as their financial institution, which is referred to as spoofing. They often use common communication methods such as phone call, email or text message.

The phone call, email or text may look like it’s coming from an Advancial number or email address, but it is better to be cautious and contact Advancial directly to verify the legitimacy of the communication.

An Advancial employee will never call, email or text you and ask for your personal information.  If we call you, we may ask some questions to verify your identity but they will not involve your account numbers, personal identification number (PIN), social security number, online banking password, or any other sensitive information.

Here are some key fraud words and definitions that can help shed some light on this type of fraud:

Phishing – This is a form of fraud in which an attacker masquerades as a reputable entity or person in email or other communication channels.  The attacker uses phishing emails to distribute malicious links or attachments that can perform a variety of functions, including the extraction of login credentials or account information from victims. 

Social Engineering – Techniques employed by cybercriminals designed to lure unsuspecting users into sending them their confidential data, infecting their computers with malware or opening links to infected sites. 

Spoofing – The act of disguising a communication from an unknown source as being from a known, trusted source.  Spoofing can apply to emails, phone calls, and websites, or can be more technical.  Spoofing can be used to gain access to a target’s personal information or spread malware through infected links or attachments.

Fraudsters will try to exploit a consumer’s trust and catch you when you’re unsuspecting. Stay alert and if something seems fishy, it probably is!

If you receive a call, text or email from someone claiming to be an Advancial representative and that person begins to ask you questions about your personal information (i.e your card number, pin number, password, account information), immediately cease the communication, do not respond or click any links, and contact Advancial directly at 1.800.322.2709 or msc@advancial.org.
 

You don’t need to spend a fortune to give your house a new look this spring. Read on for a list of home improvement hacks and learn how to upgrade your home on a budget. 

young girl painting a wall blue Home Improvement Hacks
You don’t need to spend a fortune to give your house a new look this spring. Read on for a list of home improvement hacks and learn how to upgrade your home on a budget. 
 
1. Cabinet makeover 
You can give a tired kitchen a fresh look by just replacing the cabinet fronts. You’ll pay a fraction of the price and no one will know it’s your old, creaky cabinets hiding behind those beautiful new fronts. 
 
2. Cover your countertops with contact paper 
Granite countertops may be gorgeous, but they’re also pricey. Instead of taking out a second mortgage for beautiful counters, try covering them with patterned contact paper. You’ll find loads of granite lookalikes at home improvement stores and you can learn how to apply it neatly from DIY tutorials on YouTube. 
 
3. Use PVC pipes for curtain rods 
Pretty curtains and drapes add a splash of color to any room. Lower the price tag on your new window treatments with this hack: Use PVC pipes instead of curtain rods. You can paint them to match the décor of the room and hang them with inexpensive hooks that fit well. Curtains, done! 
 
4. Create a mirrored backsplash 
All you need for this fantastic hack is a pack of self-adhesive mirror tiles, which retail at about $15 per 20-tile pack. Use your snazzy tiles to create a mirrored backsplash in your kitchen. The mirrors will give the illusion of greater space and you won’t have to deal with grout and caulking. It’s a super-cheap way to make your kitchen sparkle! 
 
5. Slipcover your sofa 
You can find a leather-look slipcover to match the shape of your sofa for $100 or less. They’re not just for protection; the right slipcover will give you an (almost) brand new couch! 
 
6. Let the light in 
Light fixtures can make or break a room. Walk through your home and take note of the fixtures that are relics from a past life, paying close attention to highly visible areas. Then take a trip to a home improvement store or check out sites like Wayfair and Hayneedle for trendy, striking light fixtures you can use to replace those in your home. For less than $100, you can give your home an entire new look! 
 
7. DIY paint 
If the walls in your home are desperate for a fresh coat of paint, look no further than your local home improvement store. House painting is fairly simple and you’ll find loads of tutorials on YouTube. You’ll only have to spring for the actual paint and a few supplies.
 
 
SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thrillist.com/amphtml/home/home-improvement-hacks-under-50-diy-home-projects
https://diyjoy.com/diy-remodeling-hacks/
https://www.architectureartdesigns.com/15-smart-hacks-that-will-save-you-money-while-remodeling-your-home/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.remodelista.com/posts/apartment-rental-simple-easy-budget-hacks/amp/
 
 
Are you desperate to own a home of your own?
20% down on a home myth The 20% Down Myth

Are you desperate to own a home of your own?

If that’s your dream, you are likely saving up, dollar by hard-earned dollar, until you have that magic number: 20% of your dream home’s total value. That’s what all the experts say, right?

For the average American home, 20% amounts to a pretty big number. Throw in closing costs and you’ve got a small fortune to raise – and years to go until you reach your goal.

It’s great that you’re putting money away toward what will likely be the largest purchase of your life, but there’s one huge mistake in your calculations: You don’t need to put down 20%.

Yes, you read right. The 20% myth is an unfortunate leftover from the era after the housing crisis, when out of necessity, access to credit tightened up. Thankfully, times have changed, and since FHA loans were introduced more than 80 years ago, mortgages have not required a 20% down payment.

While it’s true that a higher down payment means you’ll have a smaller monthly mortgage payment, there are lots of reasons why this isn’t always the best road to homeownership.

Let’s explore loan options that don’t require 20% down and take a deeper look at the pros and cons of making a smaller down payment.

Loan options

If you’d like to go the route of government-backed loans, these are your options:

  1. FHA mortgage: This loan is aimed at helping first-time home buyers and requires as little as 3.5% down. If that number is still too high, the down payment can be sourced from a financial gift or via a Down Payment Assistance program.
  2. VA mortgage: VA mortgages are the most forgiving, but they are strictly for current and former military members. They require zero down, don’t require mortgage insurance and they allow for all closing costs to come from a seller concession or gift funds.
  3. USDA home loan: These loans, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture, also require zero down, but eligibility is location-based. Qualifying homes need not be situated on farmlands, but they must be in sparsely populated areas. USDA loans are available in all 50 states and are offered by most lenders.

If you’d rather take out a conventional loan, though, you can choose from the following loan types:

  1. 3% down mortgage: Many lenders will now grant mortgages with borrowers putting as little as 3% down. Some lenders, like Freddie Mac, even offer reduced mortgage insurance on these loans, with no income limits and no first-time buyer requirement.
  2. 5% down mortgage: Lots of lenders allow you to put down just 5% of a home’s value. However, most insist that the home be the buyer’s primary residence and that the buyer has a FICO score of 680 or higher.
  3. 10% down mortgage: Most lenders will allow you to take out a conventional loan with 10% down, even with a less-than-ideal credit score.

Bear in mind that each of these loans require income eligibility. Additionally, putting less than 20% down usually means paying for PMI, or private mortgage insurance. However, if you view your home as an asset, paying your PMI is like paying toward an investment. In fact, according to TheMortgageReports.com, some homeowners have spent $8,100 in PMI over the course of a decade, and their home’s value has increased by $43,000. That’s a huge return on investment!

Why make a smaller payment?

If you’re thinking of waiting and saving until you have 20% to put down on a home, consider this: A RealtyTrac study found that, on average, it would take a homebuyer nearly 13 years to save for a 20% down payment. In all that time, you could be building your equity – and home prices may rise. Rates likely will as well.

Other benefits to putting down less than 20% include the following:

  • Conserve cash: You’ll have more money available to invest and save.
  • Pay off debt: Many lenders recommend using available cash to pay down credit card debt before purchasing a home. Credit card debt usually has a higher interest rate than mortgage debt – and it won’t net you a tax deduction.
  • Improve your credit score: Once you’ve paid off debt, expect to see your score spike. You’ll land a better mortgage rate this way, especially if your score tops 730.
  • Remodel: Few homes are in perfect condition as offered. You’ll likely want to make some changes to your new home before you move in. Having some cash on hand will allow you to do that.
  • Build an emergency fund: As a homeowner, having a well-stocked emergency fund is crucial. From here on, you’ll be the one paying to fix any plumbing issues or leaky roofs.

Cons of smaller down payments

In all fairness, there are some drawbacks of making a smaller down payment.

  • Mortgage insurance: A PMI payment is an extra monthly expense piled on top of your mortgage and property tax. As mentioned above, though, PMI can be a good investment.
  • Potentially higher mortgage rates: If you’re taking out a conventional loan and making a smaller down payment, you can expect to have a higher mortgage rate. However, if you’re taking out a government-backed loan, you’re guaranteed a lower mortgage rate despite a less-than-robust down payment.
  • Less equity: You’ll have less equity in your home with a smaller down payment. Of course, unless you’re planning to sell in the next few years, this shouldn’t have any tangible effect on your homeownership.

Of course this doesn’t mean you should buy a home no matter how much – or how little – you’ve got in your savings account. Before making this decision, be sure you can really afford to own a home. Ideally, your total monthly housing costs should amount to less than 28% of your monthly gross income.

Ready to buy your dream home? We’d love to help you out! Call, click or stop by Advancial today to learn about our fantastic mortgage rates. We’ll walk you through all the way to the closing!

It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college!
ready for college finances Ready, set, go...to college

It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college!

The process of a child leaving home is a major milestone and is complex because of the emotions it generates. The reality, though, is that there are some very concrete things that need to be done to make this a smooth transition.

Medical Preparation

Schedule any necessary doctors’ appointments. A doctor may need to fill out college medical forms and can also write prescriptions for regular medications. This is an opportune time to make sure immunizations are current.

If your child has been seeing a mental health professional, make an appointment there, too. You may want to ask for a letter describing your child’s issues in case you need it for support services. Also, decide if your child needs ongoing support from this professional or if you want to arrange for a new therapist at school.

Your child needs easy access to medical insurance information. Will he or she use your private insurance? What about college health services? Make it easy for your child to get help if he or she gets sick.

High School Issues

Have your child check with the high school to make sure they’ve sent the latest high school transcript to the college. For your records, and for future college needs, request all high school records, including testing results.

Pave the Way for Success

If it’s appropriate for your child’s needs, make an appointment with the college’s disability services office. Learn about the services they offer and determine the documentation your child needs to apply for services. Most colleges require students to register or apply; the services are not automatically available. It is best to put this process in place before classes start.

Ease the Transition

It’s a good idea to help your child to think ahead about the coming year. Spend some time looking at the course catalog with her and discuss classes of interest. Help her select the courses that are best for her.

Pack It Up

Work with your child to make a list of things to pack. It will help you if you check off each item as you buy and pack it. Labeling each item may help prevent loss. Keep in mind, though, as Dr. Ruth Peters says, “Keep in mind that stuff gets stolen at school. I don’t care if it is an Ivy League school or a tiny institution – if the item isn’t tied down or locked up consider it at risk.”

Techie Stuff

Make sure your child’s technology is up-to-date. Does he or she need a new computer? An upgrade? It will be easier for you to take care of this at home.

Be at One with the Portal

Pick a quiet time and sit with your child at the computer to look at the college’s online portal. You should both be familiar with it and with the information that is available. Make sure you have the login information for your child’s account.

Where in the World Is the Library?

Look at the campus map to help your child identify important locations: dorm, tutoring center, administration offices and the library.

Finances

If your child does not have one yet, you may want to open an account that includes a debit card. Clarify how much money will be available. If you give your child a credit card, clarify when it is appropriate to use it. Define what constitutes an emergency. Advancial offers Ultimate Checking, the Visa Rewards Plus credit card and student loans to help get them off to the right start!

Thinking Ahead

You may be feeling a little traumatized by the prospect of your child leaving home, but don’t underestimate your child’s concern-even if he doesn’t express it. Talk about how you will keep in touch. Are you comfortable with email only? Do you want a phone call or video call once a week? It helps to clarify this before the big day.

Discuss your expectations. Even though you won’t be there physically, your child needs to hear what you expect. Talk about ways to combat stress at school and who to contact if he needs help.

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend many hours whipping up delectable dishes to please every palate and food plan.
bring dream kitchen to life Four Ways to Bring Your Dream Kitchen to Life

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend many hours whipping up delectable dishes to please every palate and food plan. It’s where we catch a quick morning chat over coffee and linger over dinners together in the early evening.

The kitchen is where it’s at.

It’s also the area of the home that sees the heaviest usage. All that food prep – and all that eating! – has your countertops, table, floors and appliances pulling full-time duty for hours each week. It is these reasons, beauty and practicality, that make kitchen renovations incredibly popular among homeowners. Give your kitchen a makeover, and you’ll almost feel like you’ve got a brand-new home.

Wondering how to make that happen? We’ve got you covered! Whether you’ve still got an avocado-green fridge, circa 1978, or your kitchen looks like it sprang out of a magazine and just needs a quick touch-up, we’ll show you how to give it a facelift on a budget.

Here’s 4 ways to bring your dream kitchen to life.

1.) Know your budget

Before picking out your new countertops and appliances, sit down and crunch some numbers. You’ll have to scrimp and save a while, dip into existing savings or take out a loan to cover the costs of your renovations. A complete kitchen remodel can run you as much as $40,000, but there’s lots you can do on a smaller budget. When you’ve figured out how much you can spend, here’s what you’re looking at:

  • With $5,000, you can give your kitchen a superficial touch-up that can pack a big punch. You’ll be able to spring for a fresh coat of paint, replace the faucets, pick up a new light fixture, reupholster or change the fabric on your chairs and windows and spruce up the area with some modern accessories.     
  • With $15,000, you can do all that plus a whole lot more. You’ll be able to buy a new appliance or two, replace your countertops and even install new and budget-friendly cabinets.

If you’re planning on spending more, you might be able to re-do your entire kitchen.

When determining how much to spend, though, remember that kitchen upgrades can pay for themselves. Experts say that recently remodeled kitchens usually return between 80 and 105 percent of their cost when a home is sold.

And until you decide to sell, you’ll be the one enjoying your updated kitchen!

2.) Choose your cabinets

Cabinets can monopolize the visual wall space in a kitchen, making them a first choice for an upgrade. Here’s what you need to know about your cabinet options:

  • Cabinets with wood or plywood panels and solid wood frames are sturdy, budget-friendly, and fashionable.
  • Porcelain-tile cabinets are a fantastic new option that look almost exactly like wood for half the price.
  • Laminate is your cheapest option for cabinets. It’s durable, easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Refinish the outside of your cabinets instead of replacing them for a new look that doesn’t bust your budget.
  • Install wall-mounted shelves to add storage space to your kitchen without splurging on new cabinets.

3.) Make a splash

Don’t forget your sink when upgrading your kitchen. Replacing the faucets, bowl or hardware can modernize your kitchen without costing much.

When changing your faucets, make sure you know the ins and outs of your options. Want to go with the flow? Brushed nickel is the most popular choice for faucets, largely due to its durability. If you hate scrubbing those fingerprints and water spots, you’ll be happy to hear that nickel conveniently hides dirt and grime.

Short on cash? The least expensive faucet finish is chrome. For a long-lasting material that won’t cost a pretty penny, go with brass instead.

If you’re looking to change your sink’s bowl as well, there are three main styles to consider:

  • Farmhouse bowls are super-large and deep and are the perfect choice for people with numerous dishes to wash on a daily basis. On the flip side, their large size means they might require a customized base cabinet for installation.
  • Top-mount bowls have a “drop-in” rim that keeps the sink in place on the countertop. This makes installation simple, but creates a prime place for dirt and grime to accumulate.
  • Undermount sinks are trendy and look sleek, but can take double the time and work to be installed.

4.) Choose your countertops

This is where you chop, dice, measure and mix your ingredients. Your counters need to be durable and easy to clean – and help finish off your kitchen’s upgrade. The trending countertop choices are granite, quartz and stone. These materials are beautiful, easy to maintain and can last for years and years.

If these options are not in your budget, consider engineered stone instead. It will give you a similar look for a cheaper price. For something more budget-friendly, you might want to go with ceramic tile. It’s durable, comes in almost any imaginable color and is a fraction of the price of stone.

Another great option that is just as cheap is laminate. It’s easy to install and also comes in a large variety of patterns and colors. Lastly, consider going with solid wood. You can have it sanded and treated to give it an extra long life, and it will give your kitchen a warm, hearty finish.

Longing for an upgrade and short on savings or cashflow? You can still have your dream kitchen. Call, click, or stop by Advancial today to learn about our Personal LoansHome Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit.

We’ll help turn your dream into reality!

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How Best to Take Care of Your Money
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Beware of Spoofed Texts and Calls
Fraudsters are more active than ever and targeting credit union members and bank customers. Their new method is very clever and very deceiving. The member receives a call or text with the number spoofed to look like it's from Advancial. I…
Thinking of college? Start saving now.
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You may be able to snag a smartphone for around $200 (or free!) with a one-year service contract, but the cost to operate a smartphone is not free or cheap. Whether you or your parents cover the cost, the monthly cellphone bill can take a bi…
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Did you know it’s Fraud Education Awareness Week?
As the holidays approach we want to remind you that fraudsters do not take holidays off. The holidays are even more reason to be aware of fraud tactics and scams as fraudsters are working overtime to scam unsuspecting individuals. In particul…
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5 Ways to Save on Vacation Transportation Costs

Steep cab fees and car rentals are some of the best ways to kill a vacation budget. Read on for five ways to get around for less while on your dream vacation. 
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20% down on a home myth

The 20% Down Myth

Are you desperate to own a home of your own?
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ready for college finances

Ready, set, go...to college

It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college!
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