6 Ways To Save On Summer Vacation

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  1. Time it right. Experts say the sweet spot for cheapest flight booking is 54 days before your travel date.
  2. Clear your cache before every new flight search. This way, airlines can’t access your browser history and inflate the prices they offer you.
  3. Sweet-talk your way to savings. Ask for an upgrade at the check-in counter. About 78% of hotel guests who request an upgrade at the front desk actually get one.
  4. Never pay full price. Check sites like coupondivas.com, entertainment.com and Groupon.com for deep discounts at local eateries and entertainment centers.
  5. Freebie fun. Search local sites and blogs for write-ups about free things to do near your destination.
  6. Save your mega event for the last day. Finish your vacation on a high note by saving your most exciting event for the last day of your trip.

Your Turn: How do you save big while getting the most out of your summer vacation? Share your best hacks with us in the comments!

MORTGAGE LENDER SPOTLIGHT: AMY TONSGARD

MORTGAGE LENDER SPOTLIGHT: AMY TONSGARD

Located in Juneau, Amy is a lifelong Alaskan, wife, mother and True North Real Estate Loan Officer. In her free time she enjoys traveling with her family and spending time outdoors.

Amy believes a mortgage should be about building relationships, and helping our members achieve their home financing goals. Amy strives to customize every home loan to the unique needs of each applicant. Amy’s goal is to deliver results through clear communication, personalized service, and great attention to detail.

Whether you are financing a home for the first time, purchasing a second one, or refinancing your current mortgage, reach out to Amy today at (907) 523-4710 or atonsgard@truenorthfcu.org!

A Guide To Opening Your First Credit Card

Opening your first credit card is one of the rites of passage into genuine adulthood, but with so much conflicting information, it can all get confusing fast! 

wallet-credit-cards-cash-hand-magifying-glass

Let True North FCU walk you through the process to help you build a strong credit score and credit history that will serve you well throughout your life. 

Choosing a credit card 

The way people typically build a credit history is by opening a credit card. But ironically, many credit cards won’t accept your application because you don’t yet have that credit history! 

You’ll need to build your credit history from the ground up, starting with cards that offer a very low limit but will accept almost any applicants, such as those offered by Capital One or Credit One. If you’re rejected from even these cards, work on paying all your bills on time for a few months and then try again. You can also reach out to us by calling (907) 523-4700 or email memberservice@truenorthfcu.org to ask about the credit cards we offer our members.

Don’t apply to just any card that’ll have you. Look for these features when making your choice: 

  • No annual fees. You shouldn’t have to pay money to use your card. Sometime in the future, you may want to open up a high-perk card with an annual fee to match, but for now, just concentrate on building your credit score.
  • A low interest rate. For your first credit card, you likely won’t be offered a really low interest rate, but that doesn’t mean you should be taken for a ride. Shop around for a card offering a reasonable rate, maybe only slightly higher than the average rate.
  • Incentives for good behavior. Why not earn brownie points for playing by the rules? Look for a card that offers incentives, such as a bonus each month when the bill is paid on time, a waived first late-payment fee or no foreign-transaction fees.

Credit card dos and don’ts 

Once you’ve opened your card, or cards, make sure you use them to build and maintain that excellent score. Follow these guidelines and you won’t go wrong: 

Do …

  • Pay your bill on time each month.
  • Check your credit score monthly.
  • Review your statements for suspicious activity.
  • Keep your cards in a safe place.
  • Accept offers of a higher line of credit.

Don’t …

  • Pay just the minimum balance due each billing cycle.
  • Open new cards just before taking out a large loan, like a mortgage or auto loan.
  • Use all of your available credit.
  • Allow unsecured websites to save your card information.
  • Share your card information with anyone.

Your Turn: Did you recently open your first credit card? Share your best tips on the process with us in the comments!

The Proven System For Breaking The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle

Book Review: You Need A Budget

 

The Proven System For Breaking The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Cycle, Getting Out Of Debt, And Living The Life You Want

How do you budget? Do you follow the 50-30-20 rule? Are you careful to pay yourself first? Do you tweak your budget each month to suit current needs and then play catch-up when you inevitably fall behind? 

Or maybe you’re one of the thousands of people across the globe who have embraced the You Need a Budget (YNAB) approach and changed your relationship with money forever. 

You-Need-A-Budget-Book-ReviewThe YNAB methodology was introduced years ago through specialized software and a series of lectures by its creator, Jesse Mecham. Now you can read all about this brilliant budgeting method in the Wall Street Journal’s bestseller, You Need a Budget. There’s no need to purchase software or attend classes to incorporate the YNAB platform; it works perfectly well with an old-fashioned spreadsheet or even paper and pencil. 

YNAB stands apart from most budgeting advice because of its innate flexibility. While traditional budgeting wisdom advocates using specific percentages of your income for different spending categories, Mecham is careful not to tell you what to do with your money. Instead, he encourages readers to design their own plans using YNAB’s Four Rules: 

  1. Give Every Dollar A Job. Designate a specific task for all the money you earn.
  2. Embrace Your True Expenses. Budget for expected, but irregular, expenses like car repairs, insurance premiums and holidays. By building these into your budget, the large, occasional bills won’t throw you for a loop.
  3. Roll With The Punches. Life is inherently dynamic, and your budget must follow suit. A flexible budget is sustainable and realistic.
  4. Age Your Money. When you incorporate the first three rules, you’ll start having more funds to spare. Learn to stretch the time between earning a dollar and spending it so you can shatter the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle for good.

In You Need a Budget, Mecham examines those rules in detail while exploring the priorities that might be shaping your budget. He talks about budgeting as a couple, sharing expenses and teaching your kids about money management and financial responsibility. The book is packed with actionable advice and tips, and is sprinkled with personal accounts of people who have embraced the YNAB approach to budgeting.  

Some readers don’t like the fact that the last of the four rules has been changed from “Live on Last Month’s Income” to “Age Your Money.” They claim the old rule was more measurable and effective and that the new one is too vague and harder to implement. 

Most readers, though, find the book to be fascinating and transformative. If you’re wondering why thousands of people are avid followers of the YNAB budgeting platform, and you’re longing to stop living hand-to-mouth, read this book. 

Your Turn: Do you follow the YNAB approach to budgeting? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Budget Fettuccine Alfredo

Creamy pasta for just a few dollars in less time than it takes to order dinner in!

Yield: 4 servings
Hands-on prep time: 3 minutes
Total prep time: 10 minutes

alfredo-fetticine

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 3/4 cup cream
  • 2 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 pound fettuccine
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When butter completely melts, add garlic and cook until it starts browning.
  3. Whisk the cream and egg yolks together and add mixture to pan. Cook on low and let mixture thicken slightly without boiling, stirring constantly.
  4. Turn off the heat and add pasta. Stir well until mixed through.
  5. Add the grated cheese and mix well until cheese melts. You may need to turn the heat back on to low for this step.
  6. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley.

MORTGAGE LENDER SPOTLIGHT: WESLEY SHUTT

MORTGAGE LENDER SPOTLIGHT: WESLEY SHUTT

Mortgage-Spotlight-Wesley-Shutt.pngWesley was born and raised in Juneau, and loves the active life: spending time outdoors, hiking and camping with his family and dogs. Wesley is a veteran of the Marine Corps.

Wesley has extensive experience in the mortgage industry. He knows the mortgage loan process can feel overwhelming, and has a commitment to giving you the information you need to have full confidence in your decisions. He’ll explain all your options, and make sure that you have the loan that fits your needs.

Wesley is here to help guide you through the mortgage process. Reach out to him today at (907) 523-4783 or wshutt@truenorthfcu.org!