How To Improve Your Credit Score!

If you’ve ever applied for a loan, you know how important your credit score is!

Your credit score is a number that tells a story about your creditworthiness, and it’s based on your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, and types of credit used.

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If you’re thinking about making a major purchase, like a home or a car, it could be wise to take a look at your credit score and make sure it’s in good standing before applying.

There are sites, like credit karma, where you can retrieve your credit score. But, unfortunately, those scores aren’t always accurate. Plus, knowing your score is only one side of the equation. The other side is knowing what you can do to improve it.

What steps can you take to improve your credit score?

Step 1 is to get an accurate score. Casco Federal Credit Union offers Free Credit Report Month for members and non members during the month of August. You can stop in anytime and ask to get your free credit report.

Step 2 is to analyze what is on your report and look for opportunities to make improvements. Casco FCU staff can also help you with this! Experienced loan officers and member service representatives will sit down with you when you come in during free credit report month. They will look for ways to help you boost your score.

Step 3 is to take action! Improving your credit score will take time and commitment on your part. Whether you need to set up a system to make your payments on time, or whether you need to establish new lines of credit, taking control of your finances means being responsible and committed!

Step 4 is to check your score once per year. Check in once per year to make sure you’re on track to improve your score. Checking in on a yearly basis also means that you can catch any red flags on your credit report.

Remember, Casco FCU is offering a Free Credit Report Month this August, so if you’re in need of a credit checkup, stop in any one of the three locations and just ask for your free credit report!

Take care!

Mallory

Motorcycle Poker Run To End Hunger

Since 1990, credit unions across the state have been working hard to help end hunger. The Maine Credit Union Campaign for Ending Hunger is an ongoing campaign that raises money for local food pantries and hunger organizations. Since the campaign began, it has raised and distributed over $7.2 million to end hunger in Maine.

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This September, Casco Federal Credit Union is hosting its first annual Motorcycle Poker Run, and all proceeds will benefit Maine’s Credit Unions’ Campaign for Ending Hunger! The ride will take place on Saturday, September 9th, and will kick off at the West Gorham branch, at 393 Ossipee Trail. Here’s a preview of the day’s events:

8:30 a.m.:  Registration and light breakfast

10:00 a.m.:  Ride begins! The route is around Sebago Lake.

12:30 p.m.:  Return to 393 Ossipee Trail for lunch and raffle prizes!


There will be raffle prizes, a 50/50, and a prize for the Poker winner. The cost to ride in the event is $20.00 per bike and $10.00 per passenger. Please consider coming out to support this event, as it benefits an important cause in our communities.

To register and for more info, please visit Casco FCU’s website.

Thanks for reading,

Mallory

 

How To Save Money As A Wedding Guest

Summer is here, and what does that mean?

Weddings! Lots of weddings.

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June, July, and August are the most popular months for couples to tie the knot. When it comes to summer plans, you might be working around wedding dates, Jack n’ Jills, Bachelor and Bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and the list goes on.

And with wedding activities, comes a significant cost – not only to the bride and groom, but to you! The wedding guest. While you might think you can squeeze by without spending much, a survey from The Knot says the average wedding guest spends $888 per wedding! And if you’re in the wedding, you will spend even more:  close to $1,000.

While you might spend less depending on where and how far the wedding is, the costs associated with attending can add up pretty quickly. Think of the travel costs, hotel expense, gifts, wedding clothes, etc.

So if you are trying to save money this summer, here are some tips to cut down on wedding expenses!

The Average Cost of Wedding Attire Is $81 

Tip:  Wear the same outfit to multiple weddings, but use different accessories. Or, use sites like Rent The Runway, Le Tote, or Menguin to rent an outfit inexpensively. Another great way to save is to borrow an outfit from a friend!

The Average Cost of Wedding Travel Is $321 for Travel, $322 for Accommodation

Tip:  Carpool with others, or book your flights early to make sure you have time to shop for the best rates. Splitting your hotel room with another couple or friends is a great way to cut down on the cost, too.

The Average Cost of a Wedding Gift Is $118

Tip:  The best gifts are those with meaning, not necessarily those that are most expensive. If you know the couple well, get them something meaningful. If you want to get a big gift, split it between friends or other couples.

Thanks for reading & have a great summer!

Mallory

Are You Spending Too Much Money?

 

 

Money is a complicated issue. It can be a source of happiness when used to do things we love. It can be a source of stress when we don’t have enough. In today’s world, it’s necessary to our survival.

So when it comes to spending it, at what point do you know:  have you spent too much money? Spending money (on things that aren’t necessary) can be a problem when it starts to interfere with other aspects of your life. If you’re struggling to pay bills, feeling guilty, or trying to hide your spending habits from others – especially your loved ones, you may need to stop and take a look at the bigger picture.

Like with everything, there is a balance. If you’re feeling like the scales are tipping too far in one direction, there are some steps you can take to help rebalance your finances.

STEP 1:  RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM.

You have to recognize the problem in order to fix it. If you spend more than you make, struggle to afford bills, and don’t have financial priorities, these are red flags.

STEP 2: FIGURE OUT WHERE YOUR MONEY IS GOING.

If you’re not sure what your spending habits are, keep track. Keep receipts, check online banking statements, or carry a notebook for the next two to four weeks.

Then ask:  Do you spend more than you make? Does the majority of your paycheck go to non-essentials, i.e. dinners out, entertainment, subscriptions/memberships, junk foods, etc.?

Over-spending on non-essentials may be hurting your financial health.

STEP 3:  MAKE ADJUSTMENTS

THE EXPERTS RECOMMEND THE 50/20/30 BREAKDOWN.

Can you account for your spending in these three categories? I recommend writing this out to help visualize where all of your spending fits in. If your budget is in the positive, GREAT! If you need to make adjustments so that everything fits, try trimming some of the “extras.” Tip:  The best places to cut are in fixed costs or flexible spending. Cutting in the financial goals category will hurt you in the long run.

50% Fixed Costs – The expenses that don’t change much from month to month, like rent, mortgage, utilities, car payment, gym memberships, Netflix, other subscriptions.

20% Financial Goals – This part of your budget helps you secure a solid financial foundation, for example, paying down credit card debt, or other debt, saving for retirement and building an emergency fund.

30% Flexible Spending – These are day-to-day expenses that can vary from month to month, like eating out, groceries, shopping, hobbies, entertainment, or gas. You can add any miscellaneous expenses in this part of your budget, just be aware that it must account for only 30% of your budget.

STEP 4:  ACCOUNT FOR ALL SPENDING IN YOUR BUDGET

Make sure all of your spending is accounted for in your budget! Doing this will ensure that you don’t dip into other important parts of your budget.

If you want further help with your budget and feeling balanced in your spending, call Casco Federal Credit Union! We’d love to help you! 207-839-5588.

Take care,

Mallory

What Members Say About Casco FCU!

At the 2017 Annual Meeting, Casco Federal Credit Union members shared their stories and their experiences with the credit union. See what they have to say!

Check out the video!

“We like the friendliness of the credit union. People are always willing to help.” -Carol Pedley

“They work hard, if you go in for a loan, they work hard for you to have it. They’re very easygoing and friendly.” – Tom Pedley

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Tom and Carol Pedley, Casco FCU Members for 43 years

“I tried a bank in town first, and it was like arguing with a brick wall. I came [to Casco Federal Credit Union]…it was friendly, simple, and they had free checking. I have a home business, so there’s no problem depositing checks.” -Roland Rhoades

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Roland Rhoades, Casco FCU Member for 16 years

“My dad always was a member of a credit union, and I’ve always heard a lot of good things about credit unions, so it’s something I wanted to do when I got my job. And, I needed to rebuild my credit. I got married 20 years ago, and my wife needed to do the same. The [credit union] gave us a loan so we could put a new furnace in the house, and that was at a time that our credit wasn’t that great. But, they had faith in us and to this day, our credit rating couldn’t be better.” – Linwood Varney

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Linwood Varney, Casco FCU Member for 23 years

Thank you to our members for your continued loyalty to Casco Federal Credit Union! We appreciate your membership!

Thanks for reading,

Mallory

How To Afford Anything!

Making major purchases often feels like an impossible feat. Even thinking about affording a home or big vacation seems impossible at times. If you’ve ever felt this way, I can relate. These major purchases – cars, vacations, a home – can feel out of reach for a lot of us who are facing significant debt mixed with high costs of living.

Although at times it may seem like we’ll never get into a house of our own, there are small things you can do every day to work toward your goals. Number one:  figure out your goals.

Whether you need a new car, or you need to get out of town for a week-long vacation, you have to write this goal down. Trust me, it helps tremendously to see your goal on paper.

Once you know your goals, the rest of the process is much easier.

Number two:  figure out how much to save. If you want to purchase a car, you might save for a downpayment of $1,000. If you’re buying a home, you might need a downpayment of 10% or more. Or, maybe you just want to build up a savings account. You could set a goal of $2,000.

Number three:  set aside money each week. The best way to do this is to set up automatic transfer payments into your savings account. That way, your money gets put aside before you have the chance to see it or spend it!

At Casco FCU, you can give us a call and we’ll help you do this. Plus, cutting out extra expenses, like eating out or monthly subscriptions, could save you an extra $20 or more dollars per week.

Number four:  stick to your plan! I know it gets hard, and other responsibilities get in the way. But, learning to make saving a priority will help you be able to afford ANYTHING!

(P.s. It helps when you can find a great deal! For instance, Casco FCU is offering rates as low as 3.0% on auto loans! Take advantage of the deals!!)

Thanks for reading, 

Mallory

 

Sally’s Story: How She Purchased an RV and Her Big Plans for Giving Back!

Sally is a long-time member of Casco Federal Credit Union. And yesterday, she stopped by the credit union to share the start of her exciting new adventure!

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After courageously overcoming a history of medical issues, Sally decided that she wanted to find a way to give back. She turned to the credit union for help. Her dream was to purchase an RV so that she could travel to families in need and offer them support.

Patty, Casco’s Branch Manager, sat down with Sally to help her get approved for a loan. The cost of an RV is incredibly high, but with a great unfolding of events, Sally was able to find an RV for sale by an older gentleman, who had been the sole owner of the 2007 Winnebago – which was still in excellent shape.

With Patty’s help, Sally was able to get a loan, which she used to purchase the RV. Two weeks ago, Sally closed the deal and drove home in her gorgeous, tan and cream colored Winnebago!

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With its own kitchen, bed, and even washer and dryer hookup, she’s well-equipped to hit the road. She says driving it will take some getting used to, but despite that, she’s excited to give back, and have fun while she’s at it.

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We’re so glad we could be a part of Sally’s journey, and we wish her the best of luck as she takes off in her new adventure.

Congratulations, Sally!! 

 

Thanks for reading,
Mallory

 

Who Should You Turn to with Questions about Buying Your First Home?

No doubt, buying your first home is a huge financial decision! There are many steps involved in the process, and that’s why you should turn to your local financial experts first.

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Credit unions can empower you to feel confident about the home-buying process. More specifically, they can help you understand the various financing options, and advise you as to what would be the best fit.

If you’ve already started your home-buying journey, you’re probably aware of the abundance of available loan products. Know that you don’t have to sort through everything yourself. There are people who can help you make sense of the mortgage world!

At Casco Federal Credit Union, our experienced Mortgage Officer has helped countless people finance the homes of their dreams. Pat’s area of expertise is in mortgages – and she has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to pointing you in the right direction whether you’re just thinking about buying a home, or whether you’re in the middle of your search.

Give Casco FCU a call at 839-5588, and ask to speak with Pat, our Mortgage Officer! Learn more about Casco FCU’s home loan products here!

Take care,

Mallory

 

 

 

Sneaky Expenses to Keep on Your Radar

Sneaky expenses. They can be the downfall of a great budget. When you think sneaky expenses, think little things:  the coffee run at work, the random trip to Rite-Aid, the dinner out with friends, the gas station snack break.

When you’re creating a budget, it’s easy to remember large expenses:  rent, car payment, electricity bill, student loan bill. But, it can be tricky to remember, or know how much you spend, on the little things.

If you’re hoping to cut back on your spending, the best way to do it is monitor your purchases for a couple of weeks. Take inventory. Where is your “extra” money going? Are you a frequent coffee buyer? Do you rent movies from Red Box and forget to return them? Do you go out for lunches during the week? Pinpoint where your money is going, then decide on where you can cut back.

Here are some ideas of other “extra” spending that you may be able to cut back on! 

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Once you know where to cut back, saving money becomes a whole lot easier!

By cutting back on your spending, you’ll have extra cash to stash away in a savings account! Check out Casco FCU’s Kasasa accounts to learn how you can get paid to have your checking account here.

Take a look at this Budgeting Infographic for more sneaky expenses to keep on your radar.

Take care,

Mallory

 

 

Earn Money with a Kasasa Checking Account!

Earn money with your checking account? It seems like a crazy idea – maybe even too good to be true. Actually, the truth is, with a Kasasa checking account at Casco Federal Credit Union, you get paid for everyday transactions.

Yup. That’s right.

With a Kasasa checking account, you can earn 2.00% cash back every month on up to $300 in purchases. The maximum you can earn per month is $6. Although that doesn’t sound like a huge chunk of change, it adds up quickly. And, it’s better than paying a $6 account maintenance fee at the bank down the road…

Let’s break down what it would look like if you had a Kasasa checking account at Casco FCU versus a regular checking at a bank.

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The smart choice seems obvious, right?

Even qualifying for Kasasa rewards is super easy. Just use your debit card 12 times per month, check your online or mobile banking at least once per month, and sign up for e-statements (instead of paper). All things you’d probably do anyway!

So the question is…

Why pay for a checking account when you can GET PAID!

Check out Casco FCU’s Kasasa checking account options!

Take care,

Mallory

Time for 2017!

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There is tremendous hype building up to the new year, with resolution-making and exciting plans to fulfill goals. We are bubbling with motivation to achieve our audacious ideas. You might be telling yourself, “2017 will be the year!”

When the new year does roll around, our strong-will and determination are quickly lost to excuses:  busy schedules, financial constraints, self-doubt. Something always seems to be standing in the way of us and our resolution.

The truth is, WE are usually our own obstacle. We all have what it takes to make good habits stick and bad habits go away. All it takes is willpower.

2017-goals

So, how will you stay committed in 2017?

First, you must commit.

Get specific about your goal. Do you want to improve your finances? Be clear! Maybe you want to save $25 a month, every month, for the next year. Maybe you need to save $1,000 for a vacation that you’re planning. Write down your specific goals.

Make a plan (and stick to it, no excuses).

The most important part of making a plan is sticking to it, especially when you don’t feel like it! Imagine the end result. Maybe you want to lose 30 pounds. Think about how happy you will be when you reach your goal! The more often you visualize your goals, the more likely you are to stick to them and stay motivated.

Be reasonable.

Sometimes breaking down your goals into achievable steps encourages you to stay on the right track. Don’t set goals that are too lofty. Be reasonable about what you can expect to achieve.

Stay positive!

If you fall off track, forgive yourself, and get back in the routine! Life happens, but it’s always possible to pick back up where you left off.

If you are interested in revamping your finances in the new year, Casco FCU has a great resource! You can speak with our financial counselor (free for members)! It’s a great way to kick off the new year!

Thank you for taking time to read this final 2016 blog post! See you in 2017!

Happy New Year!

Mallory

How to Save During the Holidays!

Americans plan to spend an average of $936 this year on holiday related expenses. With all of this planned spending in mind, you might be telling yourself that it’s impossible to save  any money!

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Let’s face it. It’s easy to get carried away. During the holidays, we overspend with the intention of spreading holiday joy. However, if you’re on a tight budget, you can pull off all of your holiday spending, plus save a little money, too!

Spreading Holiday Cheer Can Be Heartfelt

Getting in the holiday spirit doesn’t have to mean giving big, expensive gifts. In fact, it doesn’t have to mean giving a gift at all! You can spread holiday joy by volunteering, offering to help with cooking or preparing for a holiday get-together, sending holiday cards, or letting someone know you’re thinking of them!

My friends and I used to buy gifts for each other for the holidays. Now that we’re scattered across the state, we don’t do the gift exchange anymore. Instead, we send each other holiday cards, and it’s just as meaningful! And, much more cost-friendly.

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Plan Ahead

It’s smart to check your budget before you begin shopping. Know how much you have to spend. Then, make a list of everyone you plan to buy for, and write out your gift ideas. Doing this will help you figure out how much it will cost you to get your holiday shopping done.

Shop with Cash, Save the Change!

You’ve probably encountered this savings tip before…save your change! It’s a great idea. Especially for the holidays, you can withdraw the amount of cash that you want to spend on the holidays. Then, save your save from each purchase.

Shopping this way will force you to think about how much you’re spending, and how much you have left over. It puts a limit on what you can buy. Plus, you can save the change from every purchase. This way, you’ll be saving while you’re spending!

Avoid the “Shop & Dine”

Shopping at the mall gets exhausting, so afterwards, it’s nice to grab a good meal! Avoid this, if at all possible. You’ll save an extra $15 to $20, or more! Plus, if you go out shopping more than once, “dine-out” meals can add up quickly.

Look Outside for Decorations

The best decorations are in your backyard!

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Lastly, if you’re in a situation where you must borrow money to finance the holidays, shop around for low interest rates! Casco Federal Credit Union has a great Holiday Loan that let’s you borrow up to $2,500 for 12 months at a rate as low as 7.99% APR. This rate beats the rate of the average credit card, which means you could save tons of money by going with a Holiday Loan! Visit CascoFCU.com to learn more or apply!

Enjoy the holiday season!

Thanks for reading, 

Mallory