Mortgage

Mortgage Rates Do an About-Face

Mortgage rates started the year on a tear, continuing an upward trend that push them to highs not seen in years. There was one-party rule in Washington! A new president who wanted to spend a trillion on infrastructure! An aggressive Fed eager to push interest rates higher and higher! And then, reality set it.

First, the one-party rulers failed to pass a healthcare bill. This exposed deep rifts within the party, and cast doubt on the spendy president’s ability to get his agenda passed.

All of this played out against a backdrop of global uncertainty, with a (potentially) unravelling European Union, a horrible civil war continuing in Syria and an emboldened young tyrant in North Korea, eager to play with his nuclear toys.

According to Bankrate, the international tensions, coupled with a spate of weak economic data, have prompted more investors to move into safe haven instruments like U.S. Treasuries.
When bond prices rise, bond yields fall and mortgage rates are closely related to the yields on long-term government bonds.

And fall they have: last week, the benchmark 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 4.16 percent – its lowest level of the year, Bankrate said.

Weakness, uncertainty, and nervousness, which have each been in plentiful supply in recent weeks, are good news for bond investors and mortgage shoppers alike.

Expectations for a June Fed interest rate hike have also eased slightly, further contributing to the downward adjustment on bond yields and mortgage rates.

Financial Literacy

Why financial literacy isn’t just one person’s responsibility

Since 2003, April has been designated “Financial Literacy Month” by the federal government, and for good reason. Although most would agree it’s important for people to learn (preferably early) the life skills that set them up for financial success, studies consistently indicate Americans are generally not sufficiently educated about their personal finances.

Respondents in the Ohio Credit Union League’s 2016 end-of-year consumer survey strongly agree that financial literacy is essential to a child’s education. On a scale from one to five (where five is “extremely important” and one is “not important at all”), parents ranked the importance of teaching their children about finances an average of 4.6. Without a doubt, parents recognize how essential a formal financial education is for their children.

That said, when respondents were asked about how they received their financial education, an overwhelming 62.6 percent stated that they learned from experience or life lessons. Despite the widely-accepted belief that parents should play a part in teaching their children financial literacy, only 20.6 percent indicated they received financial education from their parents.

The overwhelming demand for financial literacy training and simultaneous lack of access for Ohio consumers aligns closely with national trends. And when parents fail to educate their children about finances, schools don’t always fill the gap. While the demand for financial literacy courses in high school is nationally apparent, the Council for Economic Education says only 17 states (including Ohio) require students to take classes in personal finance.

In a survey by the National Financial Educators Council about which high school-level course would have benefited participants the most, 54.1 percent stated a money management class would have been the most useful.

Despite a lack of formal education opportunities, there is a multitude of easy, convenient resources parents can leverage to put their children on the path to financial health.

• Start now and involve the family: There is a lot of information to increase personal financial literacy that is appropriate for all ages and levels of wealth. Start now, right where you are. Use age-appropriate activities, including games and challenges to make it fun for kids, and get the whole family better educated about finances.

• Find a personal finance app: Using a personal finance app is an easy way to put money management at your fingertips and help you stay on track with your financial plans. There are many no- and low-cost apps available to help you budget, invest, or pay bills automatically. Check the user reviews to see what aligns best with what you’re looking for in a financial tool.

• Take advantage of online resources: The U.S. government sponsors www.mymoney.gov, which is dedicated to teaching the basics about financial education, including topics like buying a home, balancing a checkbook, or investing in a 401(k) plan. Additionally, with free credit union-funded resources and tools from MoneyAndStuff.info and bizkids.com, the “money talk” is the easiest talk to have with kids.

• Consult ProMedica FCU: According to OCUL’s survey, only 5 percent of participants received formal financial education from financial institutions. ProMedica Federal Credit Union however, has two Certified Financial Counselors on staff to assist you one-on-one with your financial health questions. This is a free service. Financial seminars are also offered monthly. Please check ProMedica FCU’s Facebook page for upcoming events.

To learn about ProMedica FCU how they can help you afford life, call 419-479-4040.

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