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What is Your American Dream?

These days, the “American Dream” is no longer a universal idea; it means different things to different people. In previous decades, the American Dream meant doing better than your parents, which can include buying a home. But today, owning property isn’t necessarily everyone’s immediate goal.

During the Great Recession, between 2007 and 2014, 7.3 million consumers lost their homes, according to RealtyTrac. With so many families affected by this loss, it is no surprise that in recent years the home ownership rate has fallen from 69 percent in the early 2000s to 63.7 percent at the beginning of 2015, according to the Washington Post. As home ownership has declined, the 2010s are on track to see the fastest growth in renters in history.

In the Ohio Credit Union League’s 2017 Consumer Survey, 25 percent of all respondents do not own their home, and only 8 percent of all respondents are planning on buying a house in the next year. A CityLab article recently reported that renting is increasing nationally across an array of demographics, including age and income bracket. This indicates people are renting because they choose to, not because it’s their only option.

Some consumers want more flexibility and don’t want to be locked into a mortgage when they might want to leave in a few months or years. Some don’t want the responsibility of maintenance and shouldering costs of homeownership, and would rather rely on landlords to handle. To others, choosing a location, even if they can’t afford to buy a home in the desired area, is the deciding factor, and they are willing to forego ownership to live exactly where they want.

As for how Ohio consumers make their housing decisions, 67 percent of survey respondents said location plays the biggest role, followed by 23 percent who consider monthly rent or mortgage payment to be the most significant factor. The size and layout were the most important consideration for 10 percent of respondents.

So, will you put off those big life purchases or remain a mainstay of the American Dream with homeownership? For those weighing renting vs. buying, here are a few things to consider about where you want to live.

• Short-term future: Think about the lifestyle you want to live. If you’d like to stay in a place for at least five years and have enough savings to make a down payment, buying a house may be the best choice. Use a home affordability calculator to crunch the numbers.

• Consider the details: Moving to a new home isn’t just about the building where you’ll be living. Think about the neighborhood: what stores, shops, and restaurants are nearby? Is your new home close to public transportation? If you have kids, what sort of schools does the area have?

• Be prepared: Check your credit score and history before you look for a new place. If you’re going to rent, get renter’s insurance. If you’re going to buy, get pre-approved financing to ensure a smooth closing process. Fully understand the terms of your lease or purchase agreement.

• Take your time: Avoid waiting until the last minute to decide where you’ll be living next. Knowing what’s available in your market will help you choose well and save the trouble of moving again shortly.

ProMedica FCU will be hosting a home buyer seminar in the near future. Please keep a look out for dates and times.

Travel

Travel Smarter and Save Bigger this Summer Vacation

Spring flowers are in full bloom, which can only indicate one thing: summer is nearly upon us. For many, that means it’s time for a well-deserved vacation with family and friends. In a year-end 2016 survey conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, an overwhelming majority of respondents, 71 percent, are planning to get some rest and relaxation with a vacation this summer.

Whether heading somewhere new or traveling back to a family favorite, most Ohioans plan their vacations in advance, but at varying times – 34 percent plan six months to a year in advance, 31 percent plan three to six months in advance, and 15 percent plan one to three months in advance. And, while ample time to organize is important, budgets definitely play a role in those plans as well, with 70 percent of Ohioans surveyed noting the cost of the trip as a major influence on where they go for vacation. Other factors included travel distance, scheduling, and amenities or activities at the destination.

We all want and need downtime, but a large financial burden will long outlive the benefits of a vacation. In 2016, households likely to take a vacation spent $1,798 on average, up roughly 11 percent from 2015, according to Condé Nast Travel. In addition, a survey conducted by ValuePenguin noted that the typical vacationing family spends 44 percent of their travel funds on transportation.

Since many vacation decisions are driven by cost, here are a few tips to spend wisely when you take those hard-earned vacation days.

• Scheduling matters: When planning low-cost trips, timing is everything. To save money booking accommodations, try traveling during an off-season or even a few weeks before peak-season starts. If you’re booking airfare, do so at least a month in advance, if not earlier. Airlines price their flights differently depending on the day of the week, so use an airfare tracker site or app, like Hopper, to keep up with changes.

• Travel smart: Many vacation destinations take advantage of the naiveté of travelers, so tourist hot spots may be higher priced than smaller, locally-owned places. Do your research before deciding where to say, what to eat, and what activities you should embark on and you’ll likely save during your trip.

• Use rewards: ProMedica FCU’s VISA Platinum Card earns rewards points that can be redeemed for airfare or other vacation expenses. Even though you may not consistently travel, airlines, and booking services may also offer rewards points.

• Set aside a little at a time — If traveling is important to you, make room for vacation savings in your annual or monthly budget. ProMedica FCU has an account specifically for saving for your dream vacation. ProMedica FCU is also a great resource to consult if you’re looking for ways to save and budget for vacation.

To learn more about ProMedica FCU and how they can help you afford life, call us at 419.479.4040.

Apps

Consumer Comfort Level with Financial Apps

From Candy Crush Saga to Google Translate, consumers have thousands of mobile apps to choose from. While numerous people are quick to download music or movie-streaming apps, not everyone is as confident with financial apps.

According to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, 52 percent of respondents don’t use a financial app. The 48 percent who said they do, mainly use it for basic banking needs. Thirty-six percent said they use a financial app to deposit or transfer funds, 32 percent track financial accounts, 25 percent track where their money is going, and 17 percent keep a mobile budget. While nearly half of Ohioans use a financial app, 82 percent of users said they aren’t sure how safe their information is when using the app, and figure someone will let them know if any information is compromised.

Although threats to mobile data security have made consumers wary of using financial apps, market research shows that the number of consumers downloading them is increasing. A survey conducted by Market Force Information found that 77 percent of consumers whose financial institution offers a mobile app have downloaded it, an increase of 5 percent over 2015 and 12 percent above 2014. Those who are 18 to 24 years old have the highest adoption rate at 92 percent. Half of those older than 65, also use their financial institution’s app.

With so many apps outside of your primary financial institutions out there, how do you know which ones are safe, effective, and useful? Here are some tips for choosing safe third-party financial apps.

• Determine your goal: There are apps available for most financial initiatives. Are you looking at understanding where you money goes? How about building and sticking to a budget, or making the most out of your credit cards? There are even apps that will round up your debit/credit card purchases and invest the difference.

• Confirm an app is legitimate: If you decide to download an app to manage money, do the research. Check with the Better Business Bureau’s comprehensive database, and read customer reviews online before downloading a third-party financial app.

• Don’t ignore Terms of Service (TOS): Not only will the TOS outline the app’s privacy and security policies, but it will also summarize any important disclaimers.

• Use advanced security: Take advantage of security features such as fingerprint ID or a numeric passcode on your smartphone and on the app, if it allows it. This offers an added level of protection against fraud or theft. Bottom line, do your due diligence and find the app you are most comfortable with.

Credit Union Day

International Credit Union Day Celebrates The Authentic Difference

On October 20, 2016, credit unions around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, offering the same services as other financial institutions, but with a people-first philosophy. Since 1948, on the third Thursday of every October, credit unions have celebrated the principles that make credit unions the best financial partners of people all over the world. “The authentic difference,” this year’s ICU Day theme, zeroes in on what makes credit unions different from banks, fintech startups and other financial institutions—our principles.

Credit unions all over the world have operated according to the same core principles since the 1850s, when a group of weary German workers, tired of being exploited by loan sharks, formed the world’s first credit union by banding together to provide affordable credit to each other.

These principles are derived from the 7 cooperative principles, shared by all cooperatives. They are:

1. Democratic Control
One member = One vote. Whether you have $5 or $5 million, your voice is equal.

2. Open and Voluntary Membership
Members are connected by a bond of association, fostering a sense of community.

3. Non-Discrimination
Credit unions are open to all without regard for race, orientation, nationality, sex, religion, gender, or politics.

4. Service to Members
Credit unions are ranked No. 1 in service in numerous surveys, because they exist to serve members, not profit.

5. Distribution to Members
Credit unions return all profits to their members through dividends, lower fees, better savings rates, and improved services.

6. Building Financial Stability
Credit unions are historically stable organizations. They’re owned by the people they serve, so they don’t take unnecessary risks.

7. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Credit unions and cooperatives share the same principles. Together, they amplify each other’s good works.

8. Social Responsibility
Credit unions strive for social justice by committing to strengthening their communities and helping people of modest means.

9. Ongoing Education
Credit unions prioritize financial education for their members, employees, and communities as part of their pursuit of social justice.

This is why we celebrate ICU Day at ProMedica Federal Credit Union. We think ideas like people before profit, social responsibility, and financial education improve lives. It’s why cooperative banking is a key component of helping people in developing countries get access to microloans, or a middle-class couple in Northwest Ohio receive an affordable mortgage for their first home.

So when we wish you a Happy ICU Day at ProMedica FCU, know that we’re thanking you for belonging to a movement that’s helping your neighbors—and people around the world—grow and thrive and follow their dreams.

If you have any questions about the credit union philosophy or how ProMedica FCUcan help you, stop by or contact us at 419-479-4040 or at memberservices@promedicafcu.com.

Copyright 2016 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.

Credit Union Day

ProMedica FCU Celebrates Credit Union Principles

On October 20, 2016, ProMedica Federal Credit Union will, along with more than 56,000 credit unions around the world, celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day), and the foundational principles that make credit unions unique.

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives guided by nine principles, including democratic control, social responsibility, and returning all profits to members. This year’s theme is “The Authentic Difference,” a description of credit union’s cooperative structure and principles. ProMedica Federal Credit Union celebrates ICU Day because it believes financial services should be principled.
On ICU Day, ProMedica Federal Credit Union joins the more than 217 million credit union members around the world in celebrating the people-first principles that have helped lift people out of poverty and strengthen communities all over the globe.

Please continue to check our blog during the month of October as we highlight all nine principals.

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Digital Files

Utilizing Digital File Keeping

Most everyone has too many digital files to count these days. Music, pictures, financial files, product warranties, even retail receipts that are e-mailed rather than printed at the cash register leave us with digitized pieces of our everyday life.

Sixty-eight percent of Ohioans organize their important documents digitally, according to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League. When it comes to their personal bookkeeping, 27 percent said they receive all their monthly account statements digitally via e-mail, 52 percent said they receive at least some of their monthly statements digitally, and 21 percent said they still prefer to receive hard copies of all statements.

Even while people utilize digitization for their personal accounting and filing systems, almost 57 percent of the survey’s respondents said they’re not entirely sure their personal information is safe. Less than 32 percent said they have complete faith that their files are safely stored.

A 2015 international survey conducted by Accenture Consulting noted that while consumers find smart devices, and the files stored on them, to be increasingly relevant to their lives, they are not convinced there is a satisfactory level of security and privacy.

While less paperwork to pile, file, or shred is a bonus, digital consumers still want to feel like their personal information is safe. Here are a few helpful tips for staying organized and keeping digital data safe.

• Take control of your computer. Perhaps the most important step in digital organization is taking control of your computer. File important e-statements in labeled folders in your “My Documents” folder. It reduces desktop clutter, adds a level of security if your system crashes, and makes searching easier should you need to find a document.

• Set a rule for creating passwords. You don’t need to remember 75 passwords if you have one rule set for generating them. For instance, try always using your initials to start, followed by a favorite number, then the first two to three letters of the service name. Using the same password repeatedly makes it easier for identity thieves to hack into your accounts. And creating multiple passwords with no rule makes it difficult to remember them all. There are also numerous secure password storage apps to keep all of them in one place for easy retrieval.

• Archive files. Archive what you don’t want or need. Create a folder in your “My Documents” folder called “Archives.” You can place items there you don’t necessarily need, but aren’t comfortable deleting right away.

• Keep a paper trail. Keep a digital and a safely-stored paper version of critical documents that are either hard to replace, such as family health records and major home improvements, or for documents that are tax or business related.

Contact PFCU to find out how we can provide digital documents for your financial needs.

Annual Meeting

2016 Members Annual Meeting – Recap

2016 ProMedica Federal Credit Union (PFCU) Annual Meeting Draws Hundreds

Hundreds of ProMedica Federal Credit Union Members gathered in the Education Center Auditorium at ProMedica Toledo Hospital on August 16, for the 2016 Annual Meeting. Those in attendance enjoyed a fantastic selection of appetizers to fuel them through the meeting. PFCU Board President Vivien Townsend began by welcoming all Members, Board Members, Committee Members, and Employees and thanked them for everything they do for the Credit Union. Ms. Townsend then began the formal meeting by announcing board term expirations, an overview of the financial condition of the Credit Union and any old and new business that needed to be presented.

Then PFCU President/CEO Rick Haas enlightened the crowd of Members with a recap of 2015 and a lesson in global financial strategies centered on negative interest rates. Mr. Haas spoke extensively about income compression in the financial services industry with low interest rates attributing; adding that lending was a major part of the financial success of PFCU in 2015 with over 4 million dollars added to the loan portfolio. He sincerely thanked his staff for surpassing all lending goals in 2015 and acknowledged the Members in attendance for continuing to look to PFCU for their borrowing needs. Mr. Haas also highlighted PFCU’s very powerful mobile application.

The meeting took on a baseball theme as employees of PFCU began throwing t-shirts into the crowd followed by the raffle prize drawings. Members walked away with gift cards, Costco memberships, movie tickets and one lucky Member took home the grand prize an iPad mini. Thanks to everyone who attended.

Check out our facebook page to see more photos from the event.

Sign Drive Give

Sign, Drive, Give – Campaign Results

ProMedica Federal Credit Union (PFCU) wrapped up its Sign, Drive, Give campaign at the end of May and presented ProMedica Foundations on June 8, with a check for $2,700. Members that financed their vehicles with PFCU above a specified amount were awarded a bonus and a portion was donated in the Member’s name to ProMedica Foundations. PFCU President/CEO Rick Haas said, “We could not be more pleased with the results of the campaign. PFCU is all about giving back. We save our Members money by offering some of the most attractive rates in the area. It only makes sense for us to give back to ProMedica to directly benefit the communities we serve.” Mr. Haas also added, “We are looking at making this an annual campaign.”

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