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Great home repair professionals – those you can trust to complete work properly, charge a fair price and be available when needed -- are worth their weight in gold.
Repair professionals and customers shaking hands Finding the Best Home Repair Professionals
Great home repair professionals – those you can trust to complete work properly, charge a fair price and be available when needed -- are worth their weight in gold. That’s why it’s vital to compile and keep handy a list of quality home repair professionals. You never know when you might need help with a leaky water pipe, balky garage door, flickering lights or an array of other common home fix-it needs.
 
Keeping in mind your home is likely the most important and expensive asset you own, it makes sense to employ a team of professionals to help you take care of it. You’ll enjoy greater use and benefit from a well-maintained home, plus down the road, you’ll more easily sell your home if it’s in good condition.
 
Assembling Your Home Repair Team
 
Who should be part of your home repair team? Start by thinking of repair or remodeling work you likely would not or should not attempt on your own, unless you have extensive specialized repair experience. This means your “core repair team” likely includes the following six members:
 
  • Plumber – for plumbing fixture repairs, water leaks, water flow issues, etc.
  • Electrician – for rewiring, installing switches, outlets, lamps or circuit breakers, etc.
  • Carpenter – for building or repairing framing, installing doors, repairing drywall, etc.
  • Roofer – for repairing loose shingles, fixing roof holes or replacing the entire roof
  • Gas repair professional – for repairing or replacing any gas appliances
  • HVAC professional – for maintaining, repairing or replacing any heating, ventilating or air conditioning (HVAC) appliance or component
 
In addition to the core repair professionals listed above, other contractors you might consider making part of your home repair team include:
 
  • Handyman – for simple home repairs or projects beyond your skillset or time
  • Professional painter – for quality, mess-free interior and exterior painting work
  • Flooring professional – for repairing, replacing or refinishing flooring and/or carpeting
  • Garage door professional – for repairing or replacing garage doors, springs, openers, etc.
  • Exterminator – for preventing and/or removing unwanted pests
  • Interior designer or architect – for work involving the functionality or structure of your home
 
Start Searching Now
 
Rather than assembling your home repair team suddenly based on an urgent repair need, it’s better to be deliberate about the process and compile a list of resources before they’re needed. That way, you’ll be better-assured that those you’re hiring to care for your most valuable asset are your best resources.
 
To start, ask friends, family members and neighbors for their recommendations on home repair professionals that they’ve used. This way, you can hear about – and potentially see firsthand – a contractor’s work.
 
Your most recent real estate agent may also be a great source of contractor referrals. Because agents are in the business of selling well-maintained homes, they likely know several quality home repair or remodeling professionals in your area. Plus, an agent can advise on what types of home repairs or remodeling will be most cost-effective for you.
 
You can also search for contractors and scan their reviews on several different online sites. Google, Yelp and Angi (formerly Angie’s List) offer consumer reviews of contractors. You can also check online with your state’s Better Business Bureau (BBB), a non-profit organization connecting consumers with trustworthy businesses. The BBB assigns businesses a rating of A (highest) to F (lowest) based on multiple criteria, including consumer complaints (if any), transparency and proper licensing. The BBB will also list the business owner’s name and contact information, and the year the business was founded.
 
Depending on where you live, your local electric or gas utility may offer a subscription-based home appliance repair service. In exchange for a monthly fee, your utility’s repair service will send someone to address issues with any kitchen, laundry or HVAC appliances covered under your repair contract. Even if you have such a service, however, you’ll likely still need professionals beyond appliance repair.
 
Who to Hire?
 
If you live in a well-populated area, the good news is you’ll likely have several contractors in each specialty to choose from to be on your home repair team. The challenge is eliminating candidates who may not be a good fit.
 
After getting input from others on potential contractors, including reviewing information you’ve gathered online, it’s time to start asking your candidates some questions. The bigger and more costly the need – for example, rewiring an entire house versus replacing a wall outlet – the more questions you’ll want to ask. Your questions may include some or all of the following:
 
  • How long have you been in business? (Longer may be better, as it suggests prior customer satisfaction)
  • Can I see your license and proof of insurance? (This is especially important for larger projects)
  • Can you provide a list of references or reviews? (Again, especially important for big projects)
  • What’s your experience with a project like mine?
  • How long will this project take?
  • Who exactly will be working on my project, and if not you directly, what role will you play?
  • Is a building permit required for my project, and if so, will you take care of it?
  • What steps will you take to minimize disruption in my home and ensure safety?
  • What and how do you charge? (Many projects will require at least partial payment up-front)
 
Turn to Advancial for Financing
 
Before embarking on a major repair or remodeling project, it’s smart to get your finances in order. If you have built equity in your home, a home equity loan from Advancial may be just what you need to make your project a reality.
 
Our home equity loans offer several potential benefits. For starters, the interest paid on your loan may be tax deductible (consult your tax advisor for details). Plus, Advancial’s competitive loan rates and fees can help lower your financing costs. For more information, contact Advancial.
A savings certificate is similar to a certificate of deposit (CD) that you might receive from a traditional bank. It’s just offered by a credit union instead. If you’re seeking a…
Money growing like a plant Is a Jumbo Savings Certificate Right for You?
A savings certificate is similar to a certificate of deposit (CD) that you might receive from a traditional bank. It’s just offered by a credit union instead. If you’re seeking a safe, guaranteed-return on investment for a sizeable sum of cash, a jumbo savings certificate might be just what you’re looking for.
 
Jumbo savings certificates work much like regular savings certificates but have higher minimum deposit requirements and typically deliver a higher dividend rate. Unlike funds in a traditional savings or checking account, which can be typically withdrawn at any time, funds in a jumbo savings certificate, as with a regular savings certificate, should stay put for a set period of time. This is called the “term,” which typically ranges from three months to five years.
 
Once your jumbo savings certificate reaches the end of its term, called the “maturity date,” you may redeem it for the amount you originally invested, plus its guaranteed dividend rate. Or, you can use the funds from a mature savings certificate to open an entirely new one with a new fixed term. Note that withdrawing funds from any savings certificate before its maturity date may incur an early-withdrawal penalty.  
 
While most jumbo savings certificates start at a minimum investment of $100,000, some financial institutions (including Advancial) make them available for a much lower dollar amount to make them available to a wide array of people. Despite their large investment size, jumbo savings certificates are considered a risk-free investment, as they’re federally insured up to $250,000 per person, per institution, per ownership category.
 
When to Consider a Jumbo Savings Certificate? 
 
Because they offer a guaranteed return when held to maturity, jumbo savings certificates are most appropriate for those preferring a low-risk and/or fixed-term investment. For example, if you’re retired or soon will be, you may wish to put some if not most of your funds in low-risk investments. Or, if you’re trying to save for a future major expense by a certain date, such as for the down payment on a new home in two years, a jumbo savings certificate might be a good fit if you can afford to keep your down payment funds untouched until maturity.  
 
Funding for a jumbo savings certificate can come from a variety of sources, such as:
 
  • Proceeds or profit from a large sale, such as property or a vehicle
  • A workplace bonus
  • A sizeable investment return you wish to “lock in”
  • A large balance in a savings or checking account
  • Insurance claim proceeds
  • An unexpected inheritance
  • Lottery, sweepstakes or gambling proceeds
 
Choosing a Jumbo Savings Certificate
 
When trying to choose a jumbo savings certificate that is most appropriate for you and your goals, you’ll want to consider both the rate of return and its term. Dividend rates are typically higher on jumbo savings certificates that have a longer term. While it may be appealing to invest in a savings certificate with a higher dividend rate in order to maximize your return, you’ll want to ensure that the maturity date is within your desired time frame. Your financial institution should be able to help you with your selection.
 
Before investing in any jumbo savings certificate, review all of the documentation to ensure that you fully understand the dividend rate you’ll earn, how it is compounded and credited to your account and any early-withdrawal penalties for removing funds before maturity. Know both the fixed dividend rate and annual percentage yield (APY). An APY is an annualized rate that reflects the estimated earnings based on the fixed rate of return and frequency of compounding.
 
Jumbo Savings Certificates from Advancial
 
When compared with the jumbo CDs offered by banks, Advancial is among the nation’s leading providers of jumbo savings certificates. This is based on Advancial’s industry-leading rates of return and favorable investment minimums across an array of terms, ranging from three months to five years.
 
Advancial offers both jumbo savings certificates, with a minimum investment of $50,000, and junior jumbo savings certificates, with a minimum investment of $25,000. Regardless of size, all of Advancial’s jumbo savings certificates are available within regular accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and business accounts.
 
To learn more about jumbo savings certificates from Advancial, click here or stop by your local Advancial branch.
If you’re in a position to help others in need through your donations of cash, goods or time, that’s great – for them and for you!
article preview image The Importance of Helping Others in Need
If you’re in a position to help others in need through your donations of cash, goods or time, that’s great – for them and for you! While it’s clear how others can benefit from your generosity, did you know that giving is proven to be just as good for you, as well?
 
Research shows that giving to others imparts a variety of physical and mental health benefits. For example, giving has been shown to reduce your blood pressure, similar to the way that a healthy diet and exercise can create positive health results. Adults who volunteer are 44 percent more likely to live longer, over a 5-year period, than those who do not. Volunteering can also reduce your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone that can make you feel overwhelmed or anxious.  
 
On the mental health side, acts of giving contribute to the brain’s production of “feel good” neurochemicals such as oxytocin, which imparts a sense of connectedness, dopamine, which gives a sense of pleasure, and endorphins, which have a pain-relieving effect. Giving also provides us with a sense of meaning and purpose, which has been shown to be psychologically beneficial. No wonder a major study found a positive connection between giving and happiness in nearly 90 percent of 136 countries studied.
 
Crafting Your Personal “Giving Plan”
 
To enjoy the greatest personal benefits of giving to others and make it a habit, it pays to set up a specific giving plan in which you’re regularly engaged. After all, you’re more likely to find giving gratifying when you’re personally involved in the process versus, say, making a charitable contribution through an automatic monthly credit card charge that you hardly ever see.
 
How to begin crafting your giving plan? For starters, if you have a spouse, significant other or other family members in the house, consider including them in your planning. Having an open discussion with others in your household about your shared values and areas of charitable interest can be illuminating and ultimately bring you closer together. For younger members of your home, this activity can also provide an important lifelong lesson around the value of helping others.
 
Whether internally to yourself or in dialogue with others, ponder your potential reasons for giving. Sample questions to ask include:
 
  • What sort of charitable groups, events, needs or causes inspire you the most, and why?
  • How, where and when did you come to appreciate the value of giving? Did it come from a family member or trusted adult, such as a teacher or coach? Or were you yourself the recipient of someone’s giving at some point in your life?
  • Why give now, versus later? Are you thinking of a one-time gift or something recurring, and if so, why?
  • What do you hope to impart, accomplish, demonstrate or leave behind through your giving?
 
Based on your answers to these questions, you’ll have a much clearer idea of those you’d like to benefit through your giving, and why. From here, consider how and how much to give. As you may already know, often the most difficult gift to give is time, through volunteering, due to the scarcity of time versus other commitments like work, family and personal activities.
 
Then again, a gift of time can be immensely personally pleasing, as it can directly engage you with your charitable designations of choice. Through donations of time and effort, you can typically directly see how your efforts are making a positive difference. Plus, depending on the organization, your gift of time may be far more valuable than any cash donation. For example, consider the immeasurable benefit of volunteering at your local senior care facility, community center or school library.
 
If you have sufficient means or materials to donate cash or goods to an organization or cause, that’s wonderful. If you’re considering donating money to an organization you’re unfamiliar with, such as in response to a phone call or mail solicitation, it’s a good idea to first check out that organization to ensure that it’s reputable and will use your contribution sensibly.
 
Nearly all charitable organizations of sufficient size maintain up-to-date web sites that detail their mission and goals, their principal areas of focus, and their outcomes. Many charities also publish online their most recent IRS Form 990, “Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax,” which details all of their financial information, including the salaries of their principal staff members. This is important to know, as charities that pay outlandish sums to staff members, at the expense of providing services, might not use your contributions as you intended.
 
Online charity evaluators such as GiveWell, GuideStar and Charity Navigator maintain current, comprehensive databases of charities from across the country, to help you find charities that meet your giving goals and help differentiate well-run charities versus those that are lesser so.
 
Advancial’s “Save Up for Good” Program
 
As an Advancial member, whenever you use your Visa® debit card for a signature-based transaction, our Save Up for Good program will round up the dollar amount of that transaction and transfer it to Advancial’s Save Up for Good donations account. Within that account, your contribution will be combined with other members’ contributions, then given to a worthy designated charity.
 
To help encourage member participation in Save Up for Good, Advancial will match every $1,000 donated by members, up to $30,000. This is Advancial’s way of helping its members more easily contribute to charity while also making a significant community impact.
 
Click here to learn more and enroll in Advancial’s Save Up for Good program.
If you’ve never written a check before, know that it’s relatively easy, once you get the hang of it. For starters, be sure you have a Dinero Checking account, if you don’t…
article preview image Check-Writing 101: What You Need to Know About Writing a Check
In an era of digital payments, you may not regularly need to write a check to complete a purchase. But at some point, you will likely want or need to write a check, because it’s the best option available, such as when you are:
 
  • Lacking cash on-hand or don’t have a credit or debit card
  • Shopping at a small business that doesn’t accept digital payments
  • Seeking to trace payment for an important transaction
  • Gifting money to someone
 
If you’ve never written a check before, know that it’s relatively easy, once you get the hang of it. For starters, be sure you have a Dinero Checking account, if you don’t have one already. It’s the perfect checking account for teens, as it offers no monthly service fee, unlimited check-writing, a free debit/ATM card, unlimited free ATM use and debit rewards – one point for every $5 spent.1 Plus, you can see all of your Dinero Checking transactions online or on your mobile device via cuAnywhere® banking.
 
How to Write a Check
 
With your Dinero Checking account, you’ll receive a deck of paper checks with your name printed in the upper left of each check. As shown in the accompanying graphic, there are seven simple steps for writing a check.

Advancial-OPI-Bank.jpg
 
  1. Enter the date in the line in the upper right corner. Be sure to write the month, date and year, either as “June 6, 2023” or “6/6/23”.
  2. Write the check recipient’s name in the “Pay to the order of” line on the left. Be sure to get the spelling of the check recipient right.
  3. Enter a dollar and cents amount, using numerals only, in the blank box with a dollar sign. Be sure to write out both dollar numerals and cents numerals, and put a decimal point between the dollar amount and cents amount. For example: “23.00”.
  4. Write out the dollar amount of your purchase using words and a fraction in the line right below the “Pay to the order of” line. Write the dollar amount first. For example: “Twenty-three”. Then, insert the word “and” followed by the cents amount, written as a fraction divided by 100. For example: “00/100”. Your complete line should then read: “Twenty-three and 00/100”. If there’s any room remaining on this line afterward, draw a straight line to the end of the blank.
  5. Write a reminder to yourself of what you’ve purchased in the “For” (or “Memo”) line in the lower left of the check. This will help you remember what you used this check to buy.
  6. Sign your full name on the signature line, in the lower right of the check. Use your given name, not a nickname, as this is a formal document. For example: “Anthony” not “Tony”.
  7. (Not pictured) Write a record of your check, including the check number, date, transaction description, and payment amount, in the check registry section of your checkbook. This will help you keep track of your checks written.
 
That’s it! If you have any questions about how to properly write a check, simply call or stop by your nearest Advancial branch office.
 
1Earn 1 point for every $5 spent on all non-PIN-based transactions.
If you’re a junior in high school (or will be soon) and you’re thinking of attending college, know your junior year is critically important. That’s because junior year is the…
class room Junior Year Rules! Why Your Junior Year in High School is Important
If you’re a junior in high school (or will be soon) and you’re thinking of attending college, know your junior year is critically important. That’s because junior year is the last full school year that colleges can review your high school performance, once you submit any college applications.
 
Your junior year also matters a lot because you’ll need to make key decisions – about current classes, future schooling and a career path – that will impact your next few years. Below are the most important items to think about for your junior year.
 
  • Class selection and grades – College admissions offices will pay close attention to the rigor of the junior year classes you select and the grades you earn. If you hope to gain entry to a selective college, you’ll want to take tougher classes and get good grades in them. Plan also to get to know your favorite junior year teachers well enough to ask them to write letters of recommendation for you for college.
  • Activities/athletics – If you choose during junior year to be in a school-related activity, like band or drama, or you’re part of a school athletic team, know that many colleges will review your extracurricular activities and interests as closely as your academics.
  • Career path – Where do you see yourself after your formal education ends? Perhaps in business, technology, education or something else? Your career interests will guide the types of colleges you consider. Or, if you don’t see college in your near future, you might consider joining the military, a civic service organization or the workforce after high school.
  • College planning – You can expect to receive lots of mail from colleges during your junior year. Colleges know it’s when students weigh their future education options, attend college fairs and visit colleges of interest. If you’re considering college, narrow your “short list” of school possibilities down to no more than 8-10.
  • Standardized tests – During junior year you might take the PSAT/NMSQT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), which may qualify you for merit scholarships, AP Placement exams, if you took Advanced Placement classes, or the SAT or ACT, which many colleges still use as part of their admissions criteria. Some local school districts also require juniors to pass a qualifying test for high school graduation.
If you’re seriously thinking of college, plan now for its cost and how you’ll potentially pay for it. For 2022-2023, average annual tuition and fees (not counting room and board) are $39,723 at private colleges and $10,423 at public, in-state colleges. Many colleges potentially provide students with grants, scholarships and loans to help reduce and cover these costs. There are also several online sites to help you find other scholarship opportunities, such as this one.
 
If your parents are willing to help you pay for college, have that conversation now. If you have a part-time or school break job, you might consider dedicating some or all of your earnings to a designated “college fund” in a Dinero savings account. Advancial also offers student loans to help you fund college.
 
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Choosing a Credit Card: What You Need to Know
Laura Edgar is a senior writer for NerdWallet.com, a consumer finance comparison website. In some ways, credit cards have a competitive advantage over cash and debit cards. They’re safer for online and overseas purchases, and, when you ma…

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Mobile Wallets Provide a Contactless Way to Pay

Tired of carrying around a wallet stuffed with cards? Don’t like waiting for a chip card to process? Worried about the germs on the payment terminal? Try using a mobile wallet!
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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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When Buying in Bulk Backfires

Toilet paper shortages, long lines at stores, stress and panic-buying made grocery shopping a nightmare during the pandemic. Some of these experiences fueled a trend toward buying in bulk to prepare for future emergencies. Whether you’re prepping for a disaster or just trying to tame your grocery bills, stocking up on bulk items at warehouse stores can save you a bundle.

But beware of a “bigger is better” approach to shopping, because sometimes it can backfire. Thinking twice before you buy can help save money and reduce waste.
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