Month: January 2018

auto insurance

Understanding Auto Insurance

After buying a new or used vehicle, your next step should be getting it insured. Auto insurance, after all, can save you a lot of money on repairs, hospital stays, and even property damage. Most states require drivers to carry insurance, but it’s important to understand what you’ll need before you hit the road. Here are the main auto policy categories.

Liability

This pays for the other person’s damage and injuries when an accident is your fault. If the accident is caused by the other driver, his or her liability insurance pays for your repairs and medical bills. Getting this is usually mandatory, though the levels of coverage may vary. In Utah, for example, you are required to have a minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $65,000 for bodily injury total per accident, $15,000 for property damage per accident, or $80,000 total for bodily injury and property damage. This may sound like a lot but, remember, this is not the premium you’re paying the insurance company, it’s the coverage you’re getting from it.

Personal injury protection (PIP)

Also necessary in some states, personal injury protection is primarily for the cost of accident injuries. Utah law requires that you have a minimum of $3,000 per person. It is also known as no-fault insurance, because it gives you additional financial protection, regardless of who caused the accident.

Collision

No matter who’s at fault, this insurance pays for your vehicle’s repairs when you’re in an accident. Collision coverage comes in handy when the damage total is more than what the other driver’s insurance can pay. Additionally, if the vehicle is unrepairable, it will provide payment at the actual cash value. It’s optional in most states, but many lenders require that you carry collision until your car is paid off.

Comprehensive

Sometimes vehicles get wrecked by things other than cars & trucks. Comprehensive coverage takes care of damage due to fire, hail, flooding, tornados, theft, vandalism or even if you hit an animal. Once again, it’s optional, but it’s a good investment if your vehicle has an expensive price tag.

Uninsured motorist

This pays for car repairs and medical expenses if the other driver isn’t covered. It’s estimated that one in seven drivers on the road are uninsured or are underinsured, which means that you could end up facing the costs of the crash if the wrong person hits your vehicle.

There are, of course, other types of auto insurance, such as rental reimbursement, where you’ll get a loaner if your car isn’t drivable, but these five are the most prevalent. Discuss all options with an insurance agent, then decide what’s best for you and your vehicle.

used car

Five Steps to Take Before Buying a Used Car

It’s an exciting experience to buy a used car—especially when you finally find the make, model & color you want—at a price that looks like a good deal. However, before you get caught up in the process and sign the paperwork, here are five steps you should take.

Do your research

Don’t make a final decision the first time you visit a dealership or private seller. First, look up the vehicle online and, if applicable, the dealer. Use NADA or similar guides to check the value and read what others who own the same type of car are saying. You can even find repair records if you have the vehicle identification number (VIN).

Take a test drive

The best way to get to know a used car or truck is to drive it. Create a checklist beforehand so you don’t overlook anything. And don’t just take it around the block, either; see how it handles at various speeds on different roads. Use each of your senses by looking for excessive wear and tear, listening for strange rattles, knocks and squeaks and determining if the heater or air conditioner is generating odd smells. Press all the buttons, flip the switches, and turn on the lights to be certain everything is in working order.

Get a second opinion

While you’re out test-driving, take it to a friend or family member’s house. Talk to them about the mileage, the seller, the price and anything else that’s on your mind. This will give you the valuable perspective of an outsider who might be able to uncover red flags you can’t.

Visit the mechanic

If you’re not well versed in vehicle maintenance, you might consider going to an auto repair shop and getting a pre-purchase inspection. The mechanic can likely discover things you wouldn’t find just from looking under the hood. These normally run around $100, but spending a little upfront could save you from expensive repairs in the future.

Get preapproved

Never wait until the last minute to think about financing. Getting preapproved for an auto loan will help ensure you get the lowest possible rate. Plus, you can choose your lender instead of relying on expensive dealer offers. This will speed up the buying process when you’re ready. America First even delivers instant online approvals so you can get an idea of what you can afford before you even set foot on a used car lot.

control

Take Control to Achieve Financial Well-Being

Good financial health doesn’t just happen—you must take an active role to have stability and success. But gaining control of your money isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Here are four simple things you can do:

Follow a budget

You don’t need a complex algorithm from a popular financial website—find a budget that works for your lifestyle. It could be an Excel spreadsheet, allocating cash envelopes to each family member, or just using a pen & paper. America First’s money manager is a free online tool that intuitively tracks, provides a plan to deal with debt, and automatically categorizes your transactions. Plus, you can add any other accounts to see everything in one place.

Monitor your account

It’s important to stay informed about income and your expenditures. You can log in to free online banking every morning and look at your transactions. What’s even more convenient is setting up free account e-alerts to be notified when certain actions happen. Receive an email or text when your balance is low, money with withdrawn, you’ve reached your Visa® credit card limit, a loan payment’s due, when your paycheck arrives & more. Customize the alerts according to your needs.

Secure spending

Speaking of custom notifications, Card Guard® is a free app from America First that adds an extra level of control to your Visa accounts. After registering, you’ll get instant alerts whenever your cards are used and you can limit transactions to certain geographical areas. You can additionally set up threshold amounts so your card will automatically deny purchases for more than you allocated. And if your card is lost or stolen, you can simply turn it off. Using this kind of instant security is essential, as identity theft and cybercrime continue to increase.

Know your credit score

Understanding credit is essential to reach your financial goals. Your score, after all, informs institutions of how much risk they’re taking by offering you a loan. It influences your interest rate, terms, and even if you’ll get financing at all. You can look up your FICO® Score every time you log in to free online banking from America First and it won’t affect your credit. It’s updated quarterly, which means you can always see where your borrowing power stands.

These are just some fundamental things you can do to control your money matters. For more ideas for improving your financial well-being, check out our range of user-friendly products & services at americafirst.com.

healthy

Stay Healthy, Save Money

You probably know someone who’s sick because we’re right in the middle of cold & flu season. And since illness usually means spending hard-earned cash on doctor visits and medications, staying healthy can save you money. Here are some tips:

Keep things clean

First and foremost, wash your hands regularly—especially before eating. Experts recommend using soap & warm water for 20 to 30 seconds, then thoroughly drying. Carry hand sanitizer for when you don’t have quick access to a faucet. But even when you think your hands are clean, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth as much as possible, as those are direct ways for bacteria to enter your body.

Speaking of germs, ensure your surroundings are hygienic. After all, touching a dirty doorknob will negate all your hand-washing. You don’t have to become a germaphobe, but regularly using disinfectant wipes to clean keyboards, countertops, desks, light switches, and your phone this winter will help you avoid the nasty flu that’s going around.

Be on guard

It goes without saying that, in order to stay healthy, you should avoid contact with ill individuals. However, sometimes you can’t tell who is contagious and who isn’t. Whenever you share a sip of soda or a bite of your sandwich this time of year, you’re taking a risk. The same goes for grabbing candy out of a shared bowl at work or dipping your chip in some salsa at a party—you never know whose hands have been in there, so take the proper precautions to prevent illness.

Avoid large crowds whenever possible and, as strange as it may feel, resist shaking hands over the next couple months. If you do handle something used by the public such as a phone, cash or even a pen at a checkout counter, be sure to wash directly afterward.

Take care of yourself

When it comes to staying healthy, the best offense is a good defense. Stress and a lack of sleep can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible. Get plenty of rest and find time to relax or meditate. You should also eat foods rich in vitamin C (strawberries, broccoli, oranges), vitamin D (eggs, cheese, yogurt) and vitamin E (sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach) to boost your immunity.

Exercise can also help, but if you’re suffering from fever, fatigue or coughing, you should take it easy. Drink plenty of fluids to flush the toxins from your body. Also, get some fresh air. We often shut ourselves in during the colder months and even opening a window for a little bit can help disperse indoor pollutants.

You may still get sick with these precautions, but keeping things clean, being on guard and taking care of yourself can drastically reduce your chances, which will in turn lessen your medical expenses during the cold & flu season.

Keeping your IRA Options Open

We provide the perfect product if you’d rather pay taxes on your retirement fund immediately.

America First offers:

  • Roth IRA accumulators
  • Roth IRA certificates
  • Roth dedicated savings accounts

Open yours today & maximize the earnings.

Products that Can Provide for Your Complete Economic Well-Being

America First Financial Solutions offers products to help you achieve your personal objectives, including:

  • Saving for a home
  • Providing resources for your family’s education
  • Planning a comfortable retirement
  • Maximizing your IRA
  • And more

Make a personal appointment today.

Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (CFS), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Investment representatives are registered through CFS. The credit union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to members.

Resolve to Stay Safe Online

Although protecting yourself against scams and identity theft is a never-ending proposition, the new year brings an opportunity to place a renewed emphasis on cybersecurity.

To follow are some tips that can help:

  • Check in for free at annualcreditreport.com and look for any suspicious activity.
  • If you detect something, call us at 1-800-999-3961 or send an email to fraud@americafirst.com. And be sure to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Consistently check your accounts with free online & mobile banking.
  • Don’t respond to phishing emails or telephone scams that seek your account & PIN or other financial information.
  • Get educated—visit us here to learn more about enhanced security at America First.

 

Our Promise is to Strive for Continued Excellence in Financial Services

By John B. Lund, President and Chief Executive Officer

As a new year begins, it’s an appropriate time to reflect on the organization’s accomplishments during the previous months, as well as set goals and objectives for those to come. I made a list of personal benchmarks for myself and, so far, I’ve been reluctant to ask my wife what she thinks that checklist should really contain!

Your credit union performed very well in 2017. Several milestones were achieved, including the attainment of over $9 billion in total assets and more than 900,000 members. America First is the 11th largest credit union in the nation in terms of assets and the 6th largest in membership. We were honored to receive multiple awards and recognition from chambers of commerce, cities, and business groups, not the least of which was being named by Money Magazine as the best financial institution in Utah.

We certainly appreciate such positive recognition but, more importantly, it reinforces our dedication to the ideal of remaining relevant to our members’ financial needs in a changing and diverse landscape. Listed below are a few member comments that are representative of many we receive:

I believe your employees care for their members as people, instead of as income generators…Your service kept us at America First and will keep me [at the credit union] going forward.  Kudos to you for actually creating a corporate culture that stays true to your promise: Members come first. ~Virginia B.

 …I recommend [America First Credit Union] because of the care that I have received throughout the years. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! ~Tracy M.

I want to express my heartfelt thank you for the care and concern that Chad exhibited to my mother. [Because of] their conversation and his efforts, he was able to save my mother, who is on a very limited income, a lot of money. Thank you for having such great employees and an atmosphere that brings back the local friendly business that is as much a friendship as it is about business. ~Michael M.

I opened 3 accounts back in June. I was trying to get my credit straightened out to purchase a home. Aubrie was so helpful and gave me hope for what I thought was a hopeless situation.  I’ve since paid of much of my existing debt and my credit score has increased over 100 points. My old bank didn’t even have a suggestion for how to fix my credit problem. I thank [America First] and praise them for having great people like Aubrie! ~Online member feedback posted on November 21, 2017

For 2018, it is our desire and promise to continue assisting members to the best of our ability, providing beneficial products, services, and guidance that will improve and simplify your financial lives. Thank you for your trust in America First. We look forward to a lifelong relationship with you and your family & wish you a happy new year!