Financial Tips for First-Time Car Buyers

Man switching radio station while drivingFrom budgeting and auto loans to choosing a vehicle, there are a lot of factors to consider when preparing to buy a car. For first-time buyers, the process is often overwhelming, especially when it comes to the financial aspects. Fortunately, you can avoid the most common buyer mistakes with these four expert tips.

  1. Determine a Realistic Budget
    Your budget should be the most important factor in your car purchase. You should only shop for vehicles you can afford or risk putting your financial future in jeopardy. When determining your budget, don’t forget to factor in loan interest rates as well as operational and maintenance costs, like fuel, car insurance, and regular oil changes.

 

  1. Consider Your Vehicle Options
    One of the biggest decisions buyers make is deciding between a new and used car. New models are available across a variety of price points, but depreciation causes drastic drops in value after leaving the dealership. A new vehicle can lose 10% of the purchase price in the first month and over 20% in the first year. That’s why most first-time buyers are better off selecting a quality pre-owned option with low mileage.

 

  1. Save Up for a Down Payment
    Unlike mortgages, auto loan lenders don’t always require a down payment, but choosing to wait until you have some cash saved can make all the difference in the buying process. Offering up a down payment reduces your long-term expenses because you won’t have to pay interest on that amount. Additionally, it’s likely to increase your chances of loan approval since you’re investing from the get-go.

 

  1. Secure an Auto Loan Pre-Approval
    A common mistake among first-time car buyers is saving the financing process for the end of the journey. Applying for an auto loan pre-approval cuts out the what-ifs of the scenario by knowing how much you’re allowed to spend. It also shows sales associates you’re serious about the purchase, which can save you a substantial amount of money when they go above and beyond with deals to secure your buy.

 

Ready to buy your first car? Turn to Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union for stress-free auto loan options. With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 60,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-3700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

4 Tips to Raise Your Credit Score

When it’s time to apply for a home mortgage, credit card, or car loan, a credit score carries a lot of weight. This three-digit figure shows lenders how responsible people are with managing debt. The higher the score, the better the rates and terms on all types of loans. If your score is on the low end, here are a few tips to boost it.

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1. Get Your Credit Reports

Start by requesting your credit report from the three credit bureaus, TransUnion®, Equifax®, and Experian®. You’re entitled to a free one each year. The reports will show a history of all debt obligations. Check them thoroughly for errors, such as loan defaults that you didn’t create. If you spot mistakes, send a written letter to each credit bureau explaining the disputes. Once you know how your credit report looks, you can tackle the obligations not in question.

2. Make Small Credit Card Transactions

Lenders like to see loan applicants who can diligently manage their debt. If you have a credit card, make small transactions and pay them off in full each month. A pattern of on-time payments, regardless of the transaction amount, shows lenders you don’t overspend.

3. Restrict Credit/Loan Applications

It may be tempting to apply for credit cards and loans to cover expenses, but you should resist. Every time a person submits an application, their credit score may drop since lenders pull credit reports for each one.

4. Clean Up Old Debt

Depending on the time frame, it may not be too late to clean up old debt. If you have outstanding loans sitting on your credit report, reach out to the respective lenders and ask if you can pay a portion of the debt to settle the account. Some lenders may agree to this arrangement. Once the debt is paid off, your credit report should be updated.

Need to improve your credit score or having trouble applying for a loan?  Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union can help!   We offer share secured loans and credit card accounts to help you rebuild your credit.  With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 50,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our broad array of services online, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

What’s the Difference Between a 401(k) and a Roth IRA?

happy asian seniors walking on the beachThe most well-known retirement planning options are the 401(k) and Roth IRA, which offer different benefits. At Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union, we want our members in Honolulu and across the state to play an active role in their savings accumulation. As your trusted credit union we would like to offer the following information, which can help you make the right choice for your retirement.

 

What Is a 401(k)?
401(k)s are often provided through your workplace. You specify which investment options you prefer, then pre-tax money is taken from your paycheck and placed into a special account. When you withdraw this money upon retirement, taxes will be taken out. However, it’s presumed that your tax burden will be lower at this point since you won’t be earning the same income, thereby placing you in a lower tax bracket.

In some cases, your employer may match the amount you contribute, doubling your savings. Many people find 401(k)s far more convenient since money is automatically deposited, making it easy to build retirement savings.

What Is a Roth IRA?
Unlike 401(k)s, Roth IRAs are provided by investment firms. The money deposited into these accounts has already been taxed and usually comes directly from a checking account. The maximum contribution per year is $5,500 for people 49 and under, while people 50 and older can contribute $6,500.

There are income limits, however. A person or couple’s modified adjusted gross income must be under a certain level to make the full yearly contribution. Single people earning between $120,000 to $135,000 are only allowed to make partial contributions. For married couples, the partial contribution amount applies to the $189,000 to $199,000 income range.

Both 401(k)s and Roth IRA’s can be confusing.  Always check with your accountant, financial advisor, or a trusted source such as Hawaiian Financial FCU.  Getting more information is the start to planning right.  Invest now and enjoy the benefits later when you take advantage of our IRA certificates and other great saving opportunities.

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 50,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial FCU is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation of combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions.  Learn more about our great rates and broad array of services, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call (808) 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

 

How to Identify and Avoid Phishing Scams

Business, technology, internet and networking concept.What is Phishing?
Not to be mistaken for the recreational hobby of fishing, Phishing is an act of sending fraudulent e-mails in an attempt to capture sensitive personal information.  It can also appear in the form of bogus screens or pop-ups. Criminals trying to phish for your information are usually looking for usernames, passwords, PINs, even your card numbers or date or birth — any information they can use to steal your identity and access your accounts.

How is Phishing Carried Out?
Though phishing scams can be carried out in many ways, the most common way is through e-mails and pop-up windows. Scammers can send e-mails to unsuspecting victims.  These fraudulent e-mails look almost identical to authentic e-mails that you might receive from banks, retailers, credit card companies, etc.  The e-mails will usually have some sort of call to action, a button or link to click which will redirect you to a fake site to disclose your personal information.

Scammers can also create pop-ups disguised to look like legitimate log-in windows or urgent requests.  These pop-ups will ask you to resubmit details you may have already just typed in, or it will have a link or button asking you to download harmful viruses or malware disguised as important content.  Always remember to think twice before clicking or downloading anything.

 

Do’s and Don’ts to Prevent Phishing

  • DO type in website addresses rather than blindly trusting a link that was sent to you. Be wary of clicking links to a website, as they could lead to fake ones.
  • DO make online transactions or include confidential information ONLY on websites prefixed with “https://…” (“http://…” is NOT secure).
  • Do NOT enter any information into a pop-up window when carrying out a financial transaction online.
  • Do NOT click any links or open attachments in e-mails from people or places you do not know.

 

How to Identify a Phishing E-Mail

  • The e-mail may appear to come from a known source.
  • The sender’s URL may be missing characters or closely resemble a legitimate URL. Fake URLs will never match the URL of a legitimate site.
  • The e-mail will display a sense of urgency to act now.
  • There may be grammatical errors or misspelled words
  • An e-mail requesting personal or confidential information most likely is a phishing attempt.

 

Protect Yourself from Phishing
Fraudsters are constantly phishing for personal information online. Protect yourself and remember to never respond to e-mails that require you to confirm, upgrade, renew, or validate any confidential details. Although these e-mails may appear to be legitimate, banks usually don’t ask for this type of information in an e-mail. Do not share any over-the-phone passwords or any passcodes with anyone, even if a caller may state they are from a bank or agency you may know; hang up and call them back at a number you know is correct.

Always remember to log out of an online session once you are finished. Sign up for alerts and notifications for any transactions made on your bank accounts. Lastly, keep your computer’s firewall and operating system up to date.

Following these tips can protect you from potential scams. If you are ever doubtful of an e-mail, pop-up window, or maybe even a phone call, your best bet is to delete the e-mail, close out of your browser, or hang up the call. Doing so will prevent any potential scams.  If you ever have a feeling something is fishy, chances are it may be a phish.

Advantages of a Kids Club Account

Mom and Daughter Saving

The financial habits people develop in childhood can have a significant impact on their ability to responsibly manage finances as adults. Because it’s never too early to teach your keiki about finances, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union offers Kids Club accounts with fun features that can help your children learn to save. Below are just a few of the benefits your keiki will have when you open a Kids Club account for them.

  1. Early Experience Leads to Long-Term Wealth

Forming good habits in childhood will ensure lifelong adherence. According to researchers at the University of Kansas, children who have savings accounts grow up to accumulate more assets, invest more, and develop strong retirement portfolios.

  1. Financial Literacy Begins at an Early Age

While most children are tempted to spend allowances and gift money on short-term wants, a savings account teaches them about long-term needs. Encouraging your keiki to save up for large purchases and understand money from an early age will give them the tools to make good financial decisions throughout their entire lives.

  1. They Become Familiar With More Financial Instruments

Loans, lines of credit, investment vehicles, and other financial instruments can be intimidating, especially for those with little experience. Developing an understanding of credit unions like us and the wide range of services we offer at Hawaiian Financial FCU will help your children take advantage of these products in the future for greater financial success.

 

BoarNearsay

Start your keiki off on the right path to wealth and open a Kids Club account today!  With a Hawaiian Financial FCU Kids Club account, your child will learn the value of a dollar with fun saving incentives. For a limited time only, open a Kids Club account with at least $100 and get a FREE* Year of the Boar bank!

With hundreds of millions of dollars in assets and over 50,000 members across Hawaii, Hawaiian Financial Federal Credit Union is one of the leading financial institutions in the state, with a reputation for combining personalized service with technologically advanced personal banking solutions. Learn more about our Kids Club accounts online, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for news and updates, or call 832-8700 on Oahu or toll-free at (800) 272-5255 with any questions.

*Restrictions may apply.  Offer good while supplies last.  Visit www.hificu.com for complete details.

Symbolically Speaking: The Alphabet (Part 4)

q_woolQ – Ball of Wool
Circa 1000 BC, the letter ‘Q’ was introduced, sounding like “kwaff” and meaning “ball of wool.”  Although the circular part of the letter was there since its inception, the ‘tail’ portion moved around quite a bit, first as a vertical line down the middle.  Later in 520 BC, the Romans moved the line to its current lower-right position, and determined that the letter “U” should always follow the “Q.”

 

r_profileR—A Person in Profile
The Semitics introduced the letter “R” as a symbol for a human’s profile.  It was pronounced “resh,” and meant “head.”  The Romans then flipped it to the opposite direction and included a tail, likely to differentiate it from the letter “P.”

 

s_bowS—The Archer’s Bow
The letter “S” first came into use around 3600 years ago.  Its curvy shape was representative of an archer’s bow.  It was initially a horizontally-oriented letter, but it was the Greeks who stood it up, and gave it the name “sigma,” as well its “s” sound.

 

t_markT—The Mark
“X” might mark the spot now, but this was not always the case.  The Phoenicians’ name for the letter “T” was “taw,” which translates to “mark.”  The Greeks later gave it the name “tau,” and then added the cross stroke at the top to help make it distinguishable from other letters.

 

u_pegU—The Peg
Around 1000 BC, the Phoenicians introduced what would become the letter “U”, although it started out looking more like our letter “Y.”  They called this letter “waw” which was their word for “peg.”  About 300 years later, the Greeks adapted the letter and renamed it “upsilon.”

Symbolically Speaking: The Alphabet (Part 3)

L_GOD

L – God

The letter ‘L’ first emerged around 1800 BC as a hook-shaped symbol called “El”, a Semitic word for “God”.  Then, the Phoenicians got a hold of it, flipped it around and called it “lamed” (lah-med), which meant “cattle prod”.  Finally, the Romans came along and changed the hook shape into a right angle, giving the ‘L’ the form we know today.

 

m_water

 

M – Water

The Egyptians originated the ‘M’ as a vertical wavy line with five peaks, a symbol for “water”.  It was then reduced to three peaks, and then finally to two peaks by the Phoenicians, who also gave it a horizontal orientation, thus creating the modern ‘M’.

 

 

n_cobra

 

N – The Cobra

The second snake on our list (the first being the letter ‘J’), the Egyptians created the letter ‘N’ circa 1800 BC as a representation of a cobra.  The Semitics gave it the familiar ‘n’ sound, and the Greeks later renamed it “nu” about 800 years later.

 

 

o_eye

 

O – The Eye

An Egyptian hieroglyph meaning “eye” and also called “ayin” by the Semitics, the letter ‘O’ ultimately got its current shape from the Phoenicians, who simplified the shape of the letter by making it a single circle.

 

 

p-mouth

 

P – The Mouth

You’ve likely seen the ubiquitous :p emoji, where the letter ‘P’ is used to symbolize a mouth.  But did you know the Semitics beat us to the punch 4,000 years ago?  The Phoenicians adapted the letter by adding a hook shape at the top.  The Romans closed the hook, flipped the letter around and in 200 BC gave the world the modern letter ‘P’.