Added NAHB’s chief economist, Robert Dietz: “April saw an increase in new home sales as buyers sought new construction even as builders struggle to keep up with demand because of a shortage of distribution transformers and skilled construction workers,” he said. “Sales for 2023 thus far are still down 9.7% on a year-to-date basis due … [Read more…]
A credit union is a nonprofit institution that’s owned by its members. Compared to a traditional bank, a credit union tends to offer more personalized service.
You can turn to a credit union for a variety of financial products, like checking and savings accounts, credit cards, car loans, and mortgages. Some regional and federal credit unions also offer wealth management services and other extras.
A typical credit union only accepts members who live in a specific region or work for an eligible employer. For example, they may require that you’re a resident of Atlanta, Georgia or work as a teacher.
The good news is some credit unions require less and make it easy for just about anyone to join. If you’d like to join a credit union but don’t want to worry about the strict membership requirements at most institutions, you’ve come to the right place.
38 Best Credit Unions Anyone Can Join
There are hundreds of credit unions that anyone can join, but we’ve done the heavy lifting and found the best ones for you. The credit unions below, which are overseen by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) may be an option for you, regardless of what you do for a living or where you’re located.
Just keep in mind that you may have to make a donation, join an organization, live in a certain state, or meet some other eligibility requirement. We encourage you to explore this lengthy to list of credit unions anyone can join so you can hone in on the ideal credit union for your unique situation.
1. Alliant Credit Union
Alliant Credit Union made its debut in 1935 to serve the employees of United Airlines. It stands out for it high-interest savings and checking accounts with low minimum opening deposits as well as excellent customer service.
You’ll also receive access to more than 80,000 free ATMs across the U.S. and get reimbursed up to $20 in out-of-network ATM charges per month. Since it only has two brick-and-mortar locations, you should feel comfortable with online banking. If you’d like to join Alliant Credit Union, make a $5 donation to Foster Care to Success.
2. Connexus Credit Union
Connexus Credit Union was founded in 1935 and has a widespread presence in Wisconsin as well as more than 54,000 ATMs across the country. It couldn’t be easier to join the credit union as all you have to do is pay a one-time $5 fee to the Connexus Association, which supports financial education through college scholarships.
As a member, you can open one of its three checking options with high APYs and a traditional savings account or one that’s specifically designed for the holidays.
3. Pentagon Federal Credit Union
Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, was founded in 1935 as a credit union for military and civilian government. Today, this Virginia-based credit union has opened it doors to anyone as long as they open a savings account and deposit a minimum of $5. It offers two savings accounts, including the Regular Savings and Premium Online Savings.
In addition, you can find checking accounts, CDs, and money market accounts. Other products include Coverdell Education Savings Certificates, IRAs, credit cards, mortgages, home equity loans, and student loans. Plus, you can enjoy modern perks like mobile check deposits, online bill pay, and instant transfers.
4. First Tech Federal Credit Union
First Tech Federal Credit Union is headquartered in California. The credit union offers many benefits, such as excellent customer service, many branches throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, online banking, and mobile banking.
It also has the Dividend Rewards Checking Account, which gives you 1.00% APY on balances below $1,000. You don’t have to live in California to join as long as you donate to a nonprofit called the Financial Fitness Association.
5. Consumers Credit Union
Consumers Credit Union was established in 1951 as a local credit union. Based in Illinois, it’s one of the largest credit unions in the state with over 100,000 members and more than $1.2 billion in assets.
You can join it, even if you don’t live in Illinois. All you have to do is donate the $5 membership free to an affiliated nonprofit. You can open almost all of its accounts online, except for the checking accounts and IRAs. The credit union also offers a high-yield checking account that offers high interest if you meet certain criteria.
6. Langley Federal Credit Union
Langley Federal Credit Union is based in Virginia and made its inception in 1936. At that time, members of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, chartered the credit union.
Today, Langley offers membership to anyone who pays a fee to support an important cause in Virginia and deposits at least $5 into a savings account. You can choose from a checking account without a monthly fee, a variety of no-fee savings accounts with competitive interest compounds monthly, and Visa Cards with cash back rewards.
7. Lake Michigan Credit Union
Lake Michigan Credit Union made its debut in 1933 by a group of teachers. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it has 51 branches in Michigan and southwest Florida. Since it’s part of the Allpoint ATM network, members can enjoy free access to more than 55,000 free ATM.
To join, donate $5 to the ALS Foundation and deposit $5 into a Member Savings account. Once you do, you can earn perks through the MORE rewards program and redeem them for complimentary checks and free out-of-network ATM transactions.
You may also open the free, no frills Max Checking account. Note that the Member Savings account, which you must open to become a member, requires a minimum daily balance of $300 or you’ll be charged a $5 monthly fee.
8. Lafayette Federal Credit Union
Lafayette Federal Credit Union was founded in 1935 as an alternative to traditional banks. It offers numerous perks, like no minimum balance requirement or monthly maintenance fees, online banking, mobile deposits, free direct deposit, and special discounts.
You can join it if you live, work, worship, or attend school in Washington D.C. If you live outside the D.C. area, you may still become a member as long as you invest in a lifetime Home Ownership Financial Literacy Council (HOFLC) membership for only $10. This nonprofit focuses on helping consumers navigate the path to homeownership.
9. Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union has 26 branch locations across Minnesota. APFCU offers MyPlus Rewards that gives you points if you keep a certain amount of money in your bank account or use its debit or credit card.
To be eligible to join, all you have to do is donate $25 to the Affinity Plus Foundation and open a basic savings account. If you live and work in Minnesota or have a family member in the state, there are other ways to become a member.
10. Chevron Credit Union
Chevron Credit Union has been around since 1935 and has 19 branches that span six states, including California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Utah and Virginia. It operates under two brands: Chevron Federal Credit Union and Spectrum Credit Union.
To become a member, join one of its nonprofit partner organizations, such as the Contra Costa County Historical Society. You’ll also need to deposit $25 into a primary savings account and maintain a $25 minimum balance.
Chevron also offers a second chance checking account called New Solutions for those who need help rebuilding their banking history.
11. Ascend Credit Union
Since its inception in 1951, Ascend Credit Union has offered a variety of products, like checking and savings accounts, a money market account, Christmas Club account, youth accounts, credit cards, and loans.
If you’re interested in these services, join The Nature Conservancy, Tennessee Chapter and you’ll be eligible automatically. Note that there is a one-time fee of $25.
12. Hope Credit Union
Hope Credit Union is a black-owned credit union that was organized in 1995 by the Anderson United Methodist Church in Mississippi. You can join if you pay a $10 membership fee and show a foreign passport, permanent resident card, or Matricula Consular. Plus, you may use an ITIN number instead of a Social Security number.
Hope Credit Union provides a number of personal bank accounts, business banking accounts, and transformational deposits. With its transformational deposits, you can participate in socially responsible investing.
13. Boeing Employees Credit Union
Boeing Employees Credit Union, or BECU, was established in 1935 for Boeing employees and currently caters to more than 1 million members. But despite its name, you don’t have to work at Boeing to join.
Its products and services are available to you if you become a member or donor to the KEXP, which is a nonprofit art organization or the Sea Hawkers Central Council. The most noteworthy benefit of joining is the first-time homebuyer grant in which you can receive $7,500 toward your down payment and closing costs.
14. Hiway Credit Union
Hiway Credit Union made its debut in 1931 to serve employees of the Minnesota Department of Transportation. It offers a free checking account with no monthly fee or minimum balance requirements, a free money market account with a $500 minimum deposit, credit cards, and loans.
You can qualify for a Hiway Federal Credit Union membership if you donate to the Minnesota Recreation and Park Foundation for $10 per year or the Association of the U.S. Army, which costs $40 for two years.
15. GreenState Credit Union
GreenState Credit Union was founded in 1938. It provides its members with personal accounts, business accounts, credit cards, loans insurance, wealth management services, and more.
GreenState was named one of the fastest growing credit unions in 2021. As long as you live or work in the state of Iowa, you can become a member and take advantage of its services without any issues.
16. Cascade Credit Union
Cascade Credit Union made its debut in 1952 to serve employees of the Cascade Division of the Great Northern Railway. Today, it’s open to many people and offers great perks like members-only sweepstakes, competitive rates, online banking tools, financial counseling, and group insurance benefits.
If you’d like to join, simply become a member of the Great Northern & Cascade Railway Association (GNCR) and pay an annual membership cost of $40. The credit union can help you fill out your application online or in-person at a local branch.
17. Wildfire Credit Union
Wildfire Credit Union began in 1937 as Saginaw Telephone Employees Credit Union, its original credit union name. Its first location was in the basement of the home of Hank Kosk, the credit union’s treasurer.
After some office upgrades, the credit union opened the doors to its current location on Bay Road in Saginaw and merged with Flint Telephone Employees Credit Union that same year. Today, Wildfire Credit Union offers several deposit accounts as well as personal banking and business banking services. You can join if you live, work, worship, or attend school in Michigan.
18. Nextmark Credit Union
Nextmark Credit Union made its debut in 1958. Its offerings include personal and business checking, home equity loans, personal loans, credit cards, gift cards, and more.
To join, you must live in a qualifying county in Virginia or make a donation to Herndon Elementary PTA, a Title I school.
19. Technology Credit Union
Technology Credit Union, or Tech CU, was established in 1960. It’s based in Silicon Valley and provides its members with no shortage of benefits. These include competitive rates, online banking, access to fee-free ATMs, free credit score monitoring, conference room space, and easy online appointment booking. To become a member, join Financial Fitness Association for only $8.
20. Veridian Credit Union
Veridian Credit Union was established in 1934. Most of its members are those who live or work in Iowa or certain counties of Nebraska. However, it’s open to anyone who is a registered user of Dwolla, a financial technology company. This means you can join as long as you sign up for a personal account at Dwolla.
You’ll also need to open a savings account and deposit at least $5. If you’re already a member of a credit union or bank but would like to switch to Veridian Credit Union, the switch kit may be helpful.
21. Harborstone Credit Union
Harborstone Credit Union’s roots date back to 1955, when it was known as McChord Federal Credit Union and served airmen on the McChord Air Force Base. In 1996, the credit union expanded its membership to anyone in the state of Washington and changed its name as a result.
As long as you live, work, or worship in Washington, you may join Harborstone Credit Union and enjoy a variety of financial products and digital tools.
22. NASA Federal Credit Union
NASA Federal Credit Union began in 1949 to serve NASA employees. Since then, it’s grown to more than 177,000 members. While the credit union is headquartered in Upper Marlboro, Massachusetts, there are 12 branches in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC.
Its product lineup includes a simple checking account with no minimum opening deposit, a savings account with a great rate, and several CDs. You can also monitor your credit score and make deposits with the mobile app. If you don’t work for NASA, you can still join. Simply sign up for a one-year membership at the National Space Society (NSS).
Hanscom Federal Credit Union opened in 1953. The credit union has over 20 branches in and around Boston as well as one in McLean, Virginia. It offers fee-free checking accounts, savings accounts with rewards, credit cards, and loans.
To join, you’ll need to support one of its partner organizations, such as the Burlington Players, a volunteer theater group. In addition, you’ll be required to deposit $25 into a free primary savings account.
24. Pen Air Federal Credit Union
Pen Air Federal Credit Union was founded in 1936 to support civil service employees of Naval Air Station Pensacola. It has 16 locations in northwest Florida and southeast Alabama. You may be surprised to learn that you don’t have to be an active duty or retired military member to join.
You’ll be able to take advantage of Pen Air Federal Credit Union if you become a member of the Friends of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society and deposit a minimum of $25 into a savings account. As a member, you can enjoy the Pen Air Platinum Mastercard, Share Savings account with the Round It program, and more.
25. State Department Federal Credit Union
State Department Federal Credit Union was founded in 1935. To join, you can become a member of the American Consumer Council for $8. This is a non-profit organization with a focus on consumer education and financial literacy.
The State Department Credit Union offers a long list of products and services, including basic, advantage, and privilege checking, a money market account, share certificate accounts, individual retirement accounts (IRAs), credit cards, and loans.
26. United Nations Federal Credit Union
United Nations Credit Union made its debut in 1947. As long as you join the United Nations Association of the United States of America, you can become a member.
UNFCU has a vast product lineup that includes a checking account, membership savings account, credit cards, debit cards, and loans, like car loans and debt consolidation loans.
Other membership perks include loyalty rewards, credit card rewards, and the member referral program.
27. Premier Members Credit Union
Premier Members Credit Union was established in 1959 for members of the Boulder Valley School District. You’re eligible to join if you make a donation to Impact on Education, a charity in the Boulder Valley School District, and open an online savings account or youth savings account.
As a member, you can expect perks, such as high interest rates on checking accounts, no monthly service fee, no overdraft fees, and free overdraft protection. The credit union also offers an extensive network of branches and ATMs for your convenience.
28. SRI Federal Credit Union
SRI Federal Credit Union is headquartered in Menlo Park, California. It was founded in 1957 and offers membership to anyone who joins the Financial Fitness Association for $8 per year.
The credit union’s account offerings include a checking and savings account, money market account, IRA, health savings account, and youth, teen, and gradate accounts.
29. United States Senate Federal Credit Union
United States Senate Federal Credit Union has been around since 1935. Its mission is to “improve the financial wellness of members throughout all stages and circumstances of life.” Its products are similar to what most credit unions offer.
As a member, you can enjoy access to a number of checking and credit union savings accounts, mortgage loans, personal loans, auto loans, Visa debit cards, and business advisory services. To join, you’ll need to become a member of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society for $65.
30. Wings Financial Credit Union
Wings Financial Credit Union was founded in 1938 by seven employees from Northwest Airlines. To date, it serves more than 320,000 members with more than $7.5 billion in assets. You can join if you donate $5 to the Wings Financial Foundation, even if you don’t work in the aviation industry.
There are no fees on its basic banking accounts, including its checking and savings accounts, a money market account, and CDs. Its high yield savings and checking accounts offer competitive rates to help you grow your money.
31. Skyward Credit Union
Skyward Credit Union was chartered in 1941. It offers a share savings account with competitive rates, an aim higher checking account with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, affordable mortgage and home equity loans.
It also offers online banking, a variety of insurance products, and access to over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs. Like most credit unions require membership, so does this one. To become a member, join the Kansas Aviation Museum.
32. San Diego County Credit Union
San Diego County Credit Union has been around since 1938 and has over 430,000 credit union members. It’s considered the largest locally owned financial intuition in San Diego.
As a member, you can enjoy a free checking account, secured and unsecured credit cards, a wide range of account options with no service fees, and access to over 30,000 ATMs without ATM fees. To join San Diego County Credit Union, become a member of the Financial Fitness Association.
33. Bellco Credit Union
Bellco Credit Union is a Denver-based credit union that opened its doors in 1936. You can join it even if you don’t live in Colorado as long as you donate at least $10 to the Bellco Foundation, pay a one-time $5 membership fee, and deposit at least $25 in a savings account.
Once you do, you’ll have access to several noteworthy products, like the Boost Interest Checking account, which offers a competitive interest rate, the Premier Money Market Account, and two, no-fee credit cards.
34. Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Bethpage Federal Credit Union was founded in 1941 and currently has over 30 branches across Long Island and New York City. It has a reputation for competitive rates on it money market accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs).
The credit union also offers three checking accounts, a few savings accounts, retirement planning services, IRAs, insurance, and more. You don’t have to live in New York to join if you open a $5 savings account. As a member, you may meet with credit union staff virtually and bank on the go with a handy mobile app.
35. First South Financial Credit Union
First South Financial Credit Union opened its doors in 1957 to serve those on the Millington base. Since then, it has become of the safest financial institutions in the U.S., as stated by independent rating agencies. While the credit union has locations throughout Tennessee and Mississippi, its online banking services make it a suitable option if you live elsewhere.
Like other credit unions, it offers a full suite of checking, savings, CDs, and IRA accounts. To join, become a member of the Courage Thru Cancer Association, which supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
36. Dow Credit Union
Dow Credit Union was founded in 1937 in Midland, Michigan. It provides numerous products, including checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit (CDs), HSAs, deposit trust accounts, and loans.
Fortunately, you don’t have to work at Dow Chemical to take advantage of them. To join, make a $10 donation to the Dow Chemical Employees’ Credit Union Endowed Scholarship Fund.
37. Blue Federal Credit Union
Blue Federal Credit Union was chartered in 1951 as Warren Federal Credit Union. If you’re looking for a high-yield checking account, you’ll appreciate its Blue Extreme Checking Account with no minimum opening deposit or monthly service fees.
Other perks include a tiered membership rewards program and round-the-clock customer service. The easiest way to become a member is to donate $5 to the Blue Foundation and open a Membership Share Savings Account with $5.
38. Digital Federal Credit Union
Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU), based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, was established in 1979. Today, it is known for its comprehensive range of financial products that includes checking and savings accounts, auto loans, mortgages, personal loans, credit cards, and wealth management services.
Perhaps one of DCU’s standout features is its commitment to digital banking, offering robust online and mobile platforms that compete with larger, nationwide banks. This makes DCU a fitting choice for those who prefer online banking, no matter where they live.
Membership is open to those who are a part of participating organizations or live, work, worship, or attend school in eligible communities. If you don’t fit those criteria, you can still join by becoming a member of a participating nonprofit organization, such as Reach Out for Schools, which requires a nominal donation.
See also: Best Nationwide Credit Unions of 2023
Not all credit unions are created equal. Some have strict membership criteria, while others are more flexible. Before you join a credit union (or several credit unions) on this list, be sure to consider numerous factors.
You’ll want to look at eligibility requirements, branch location, monthly maintenance fees, accounts offered, interest rates, mobile banking, digital banking, reputation, and customer service. Best of luck as you explore the best credit unions and search for the perfect credit union.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can civilians join Navy Federal Credit Union?
Yes, civilians can join the Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU), the largest credit union in the U.S. However, this is limited to immediate family members of service members in all branches of the armed forces. This broad eligibility criteria is one of the reasons why NFCU has grown to be the largest credit union in the country.
Can anyone join American Airlines Credit Union?
No, not anyone can join the American Airlines Credit Union. Membership is limited to those who work in the air transportation industry, including airlines, airports, and related businesses, as well as their family members. While this broadens the scope beyond just American Airlines employees, it still doesn’t include everyone.
In a rather surprising turn, Zillow has suspended new home purchases via its Zillow Offers unit through the end of 2021.
It’s actually the second time they’ve suspended iBuying this year, the first coming back in March due to “market uncertainty” related to COVID-19.
This time, it’s for reasons more loosely associated with COVID, namely a backlog in renovation and operational capacity.
Similar to many other industries feeling the brunt of supply chain issues, Zillow is apparently having a difficult time finding folks to repair the many homes they buy and flip.
Is this no big deal, or a sign of trouble ahead for the hot housing market?
Why Is Zillow Completely Pausing Home Buying?
In a press release, Zillow chief operating officer Jeremy Wacksman said the company is dealing “within a labor- and supply-constrained economy” during a time when the housing market is ultra-competitive.
He added that Zillow hasn’t been exempt from market/capacity issues that others are experiencing in different sectors, and that they’ve now got “an operational backlog for renovations and closings.”
By pausing new home purchase contracts, they’ll be able to focus attention on home sellers who are already under contract with the company, along with existing housing inventory.
In other words, they own too many homes and don’t have enough contract labor to fix them up and get them back on the market in a reasonable timeframe.
Of course, with the way the housing market is going, what’s the rush to put them on the market over the next few months?
Why not wait until next spring when home prices are even higher and demand likely stronger?
What is somewhat odd, which an analyst pointed out, is why they completely paused the business, as opposed to simply slowing down.
Did Zillow Buy Too Many Homes?
If we look at their 2021 second quarter earnings report, they appeared to buy a ton of homes relative to prior quarters.
At the same time, they didn’t sell a proportionately higher number, which speaks to the backlog mentioned by their COO.
In Q2, they purchased 3,805 homes and sold 2,086 homes. The increase was apparently driven by “strong customer demand for Zillow Offers.”
It was more than double the 1,479 homes purchased in Q1 of 2020, at a time when 2,394 homes were sold.
Zillow Offers gross profit was $71 million in the second quarter, and the average gross profit per home sold was $33,849.
The average home had about $10,000 in renovation costs, $2,200 in holding costs, and $14,000 in selling costs.
The average price of a home was around $325,000, which tells you the target market for the platform.
It could just be a combination of growing pains, compounded by the supply chain and labor issues affecting nearly all industries at the moment.
And as Jefferies analyst Brent Thill pointed out, you can scale via technology and automation, but you still need humans for things like repairs and inspections. At least for now…
What Does It Say About the Current State of the Housing Market?
You would think that with the way things are going, it’d be foolish to stop buying homes, even if you can’t resell them right away.
Why not deploy your capital, especially if inflation is surging and the value of the dollar is rapidly eroding?
When you consider the latest forecast of 2022 home prices rising another 16% by the end of next year, it’d be prudent to just buy, buy, buy.
And even Zillow itself expects home values to rise 4.4% from September through the end of this year, and to increase 13.6% through September 2022.
But they do note that some downside risks are present, including the end of mortgage forbearance, which could increase supply, and higher mortgage rates, driven by inflation.
So maybe Zillow’s pause has nothing to do with the strength of the housing market, and is purely a labor shortage.
After all, other iBuyers such as Opendoor and Offerpad haven’t announced anything similar.
And Offerpad actually bucked the Zillow news by announcing a first quarter 2022 expansion into California, initially focusing on Riverside, Sacramento, and San Bernardino.
It is somewhat odd though to completely halt business, as that usually portends bigger, badder things.
But don’t expect any less competition as a result of their pause – their competitors are likely already taking full advantage.
Read more: Should I use an iBuyer to sell my home?
A summer vacation can feel like a seasonal rite of passage — a sacred time to break away from the demands of everyday life in favor of fun and relaxation.
But summer can also be an expensive time to travel, which makes it hard to budget enough money for your vacation.
Though it’s best to pay in cash for nonessential travel, there are financing options available, including credit cards, “buy now, pay later” plans and vacation loans. Consider the interest rate and how long you’ll be in debt when deciding which to choose.
The challenges of budgeting for summer travel
Travel demand is in “near-record territory” with all indicators pointing to a “very robust summer leisure travel season,” the U.S. Travel Association, a nonprofit that monitors the U.S. travel industry, said in an email. According to the association, demand has driven up prices in sectors like airfare and lodging.
Even without higher prices, travel is tough to budget for, says Jake Northrup, a certified financial planner in Bristol, Rhode Island.
“Travel usually comes in big waves, and there’s just a lot of uncertainty as to what things will actually cost,” Northrup says.
Adrienne Davis, a certified financial planner in the Washington, D.C., area, says her clients often receive last-minute offers to go on trips with friends or family, which leads to a cash shortage.
“We don’t expect prices to be that high when it’s time to book,” Davis says. “And if your money is already allocated on a month-to-month basis, it’s like, ‘Wow, where am I going to get this extra $500 or $1,000?’”
Northrup and Davis emphasize it’s best to avoid taking on debt for a vacation. But because a trip can mean precious time with loved ones or an enriching personal experience, it’s reasonable to explore your options.
“I certainly understand sometimes the best decision that you can make is not the most financially optimal one, and that’s OK,” Northrup says.
Credit cards, ‘buy now, pay later’ and vacation loans
Davis prefers a credit card if you must finance a trip because you’ll likely earn points or cash back, which can offset costs. Some cards come with protections, she says, like travel insurance.
But interest rates on credit cards are high, which is why Davis recommends getting a card with a 0% annual percentage rate and paying off the balance during the initial promotional period — typically 15 to 21 months — before regular interest kicks in.
Companies like Affirm and Uplift offer buy now, pay later plans for travel. These plans divide your purchase into equal installments that you pay over time, and interest rates vary.
Uplift partners with airlines, resorts and other travel companies, including some that offer zero-interest financing and terms up to 24 months, depending on the partner and loan amount. Affirm offers no-interest options with terms up to 60 months.
Northrup prefers buy now, pay later if it’s zero interest, but like any debt, it’s important to prioritize repayment to avoid fees or hits to your credit.
A travel loan, or an unsecured personal loan from a bank, an online lender or a credit union, is another option. These loans are larger, and rates vary based on your credit score and debt-to-income ratio. Repayment is typically two to seven years, so consider how long you want to be in debt after your vacation.
Saving for your next trip
Unpacking your bags after a trip with zero debt to repay is a great feeling. Here are tips for saving for your next vacation:
Start now: Time is your most valuable resource when saving. Start putting aside money now for next summer, even if you don’t have a trip planned, Davis says. By saving $85 per month, you’d have over $1,000 saved in a year.
Open a high-yield savings account: Davis and Northrup advise their clients to put travel-specific funds in a separate high-yield savings account. You’ll earn interest, and you won’t accidentally dip into the funds to cover other expenses.
Pick the destination last: Many travelers pick their destination first, then try to come up with the money. But you can reverse that process, Northrup says, by “backing into” the trip you want. See what you have saved, then choose a destination based on that figure.
This article was written by NerdWallet and was originally published by The Associated Press.
Inflation slowed more than expected in July, the result of a dip in gas and energy prices. But soaring housing costs continue to weigh heavily on family budgets. Rents and home purchase prices are up – 17% and 20% respectively – from last year. It seems as if every day there is yet another news story highlighting how so many families are suffering under crushing housing costs.
These costs make up one-third of the Consumer Price Index, meaning they account for a big part of the inflation dilemma. For a little perspective: The shelter component of the CPI increased 0.5% in July, rose 5.7% over the last year, and accounted for about 40% of the total increase in all items other than food and energy.
CPI changes also typically lag real-time changes in housing costs, so we can expect shelter to loom large in future CPI calculations even if rent growth may be slowing down, as some have suggested.
Classic supply and demand mismatch
At the root of high and rising housing costs is the severe shortage of affordable homes both for rent and sale. What we are witnessing is a classic supply-demand mismatch: there are simply not enough homes, particularly those that are affordable to low- and middle-income households. While estimates vary, most analysts agree we have underbuilt housing of all types by millions of homes over the past 20 years.
Economists are beginning to highlight the importance of increasing housing supply to help reduce inflation. As Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, explained to the Washington Post: “No matter what happens to pricing across most goods, inflation will remain high as long as the cost of housing continues to rise so quickly.” In a more recent tweet, Zandi adds: “Driving [strong rent growth] is a severe shortage of affordable homes, which has been long in the making, and won’t be resolved quickly.”
Jason Thomas, former economic advisor to President George W. Bush, concurs, saying that high inflation can be attributed to the country’s “structural shortfall” when it comes to housing. He notes, “You could really see core inflation down close to target by year end were it not for shelter, were [it] not for primary rents…. When you look at the data in terms of cumulative housing starts it looks to be somewhere between one-and-a-half and 4 million short of what is regulatory compliance costs, as well as local zoning and land use requirements that Residential construction statistics from July 2022 show construction of single-family homes is the weakest since the onset of the pandemic and construction of multifamily dwellings has fallen as well.
The good news
While these facts should give us pause, the good news is there are many policy options that can be tapped now to increase housing supply and improve housing affordability.
At the local level, city governments can:
At the state level, officials can:
streamline the application process to obtain affordable-housing financing,
utilize tax incentives and other measures to spur the conversion of underutilized commercial space to housing, and
work with industry and academic institutions to support innovations in home construction that can reduce costs.
Federal policymakers, in turn, should:
expand and strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, a vital source of financing for affordable rental homes,
pass the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which would encourage private investment in entry-level homes for sale in distressed communities,
create federal incentives to help communities implement zoning reforms, and
strengthen efforts to preserve our existing affordable housing stock.
The affordable housing crisis is a national problem requiring a national response, one that is not limited just to Washington, DC, state capitals, or city halls. Fortunately, solutions abound – some big, some small, but all meaningful.
Dennis C. Shea is the executive director of the J. Ronald Terwilliger Center for Housing Policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“The US economy is showing continued resilience which, combined with debt ceiling concerns, led to higher mortgage rates this week,” Freddie Mac chief economist Sam Khater said. “Dampened affordability remains an issue for interested homebuyers, and homeowners seem unwilling to lose their low rate and put their home on the market. If this predicament continues … [Read more…]
By Peter Anderson12 Comments – The content of this website often contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you buy through those links (at no cost to you!). Learn more about how we make money. Last edited August 19, 2022.
The last few years have been tough ones, with the economy going through recession, millions of people becoming unemployed and businesses going under left and right.
The economy has shown some signs of improving, but indications are we still have a lot of rough road ahead of us.
With the economy being so unsure, now is as good a time as any to start thinking about how to cut back on your regular monthly bills. For many, once you’ve cut out some of the more obvious expenditures, it doesn’t feel like there are that many other places that can be cut. The truth is, however, that most people have a lot of places that they can still cut back and save money.
Today I thought I’d look at some of the main areas of spending that people have every month – their regular monthly bills.
Often people take those monthly bills for granted, not even thinking about how they can save money on those regular expenditures, just taking it on faith that they can’t get those bills any lower.
So today’s post is all about how to save money on just about all of your regular monthly bills.
How To Save On Your Phone And Wireless Bills
There are a variety of ways that you can save on your cell phone, home phone and mobile internet charges. Here are a couple of the options that we’re using – or plan to start using in the coming year to save on our phone bills.
Landline phone service
: For years we’ve had a landline because my wife prefers talking on that versus a cell phone, and also because we needed the landline for our home security system. We recently made changes that mean we can now opt for a cheaper VOIP option for our landline service. After doing some research a lot of other bloggers are talking about the Ooma phone service, which is apparently very good. All you have to do is pay upfront to buy an Ooma Telo device for around $140, which then allows you to make unlimited calls in the U.S. for free over your existing broadband connection! All you have to pay is local taxes in your area (about $4.50 for us). You can port your current landline phone number over as well, for a $39.99 fee. Read my full review of Ooma here, and my post talking about setting Ooma up here.
Prepaid Cell Phones: One way that we’ve been saving a ton of money over the years is by using prepaid cell phone service, instead of more costly contract plans. We have no contract phone service from Republic Wireless, and we pay on average about $40/month for two phones. Both of them are Android smartphones with tons of minutes and unlimited text with 1GB/data ($20/month). The only downside is the up front cost of the cell phone – it isn’t subsidized like on contract plans. There are a variety of other low cost prepaid cell services out there that many people recommend including Tello and a Gen Mobile. Check out the related content below for a full article talking about saving on your cell phone bill using prepaid services. Want to use a traditional phone service? Check out Bill Shark, BillFixers or Rocket Money to negotiate a reduction in your monthly cell phone bills.
Low Cost Hotspots: A while ago I had a need to have Internet access on the go while traveling. At the time I settled on buying a mobile hotspot from Virgin Mobile via their prepaid wireless broadband plan. You just buy the hotspot, and then pay $35/month for 1GB of data. I was in a rush so I bought the hotspot and used it while on my trip. When I got back I became aware that there are quite a few companies that offer mobile hotspots for much lower cost, or phones and phone plans that can be used as hotspots – for much less. Do your research.
How To Save On Your Housing Costs
One place that you can save hundreds of dollars every month is in your housing costs. Most people are aware that they could probably save by refinancing, but there are other ways you can save as well.
Refinance your mortgage: The most obvious way to save on your housing costs is simply to refinance your home mortgage. Rates are so low right now, and by refinancing you can often save hundreds of dollars off of your regular monthly payment. I’m in the middle of looking for a refinance right now, and we stand to save in the neighborhood of $200-300/month.
Appeal your property taxes: A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually appeal your property taxes in many counties by appealing the county’s tax appraisal value. I have successfully appealed our value once a couple of years ago, saving $363/year. Find out how I did it below via the related content.
Get cheaper homeowner’s insurance: I go into this more in the insurance section below, but if you shop around you can often find hundreds in savings every year just by switching insurance companies. We saved almost $1000/year by doing this just a couple of months ago.
Remove mortgage insurance: If you’re paying mortgage insurance with your regular monthly payment, and you have already reached 20% equity in your home, you may want to look into having that insurance removed by your mortgage company. It isn’t there to protect you, but the bank. Often you can have it removed after getting 20% equity in the house, and in many cases it may be required that they remove it. In some cases, if you’re a high risk borrower or if you have a FHA loan, you may need to keep the mortgage insurance longer.
Downsize your house: If you’re really trying to lower your bills a sure fire way is to downsize your house. Not only will your payment go down, but your insurance, taxes, maintenance costs and other costs will go down as well. Of course any costs associated with moving also need to be taken into account.
How To Save On TV, Movies And Entertainment
There are a lot of ways that you can cut costs when it comes to your entertainment dollar.
Shop around and sign up for deals on premium TV: First, if you’re determined to keep your premium TV because of sports or programming only available on cable, you can at least make sure that you get the best possible deal on your cable TV package. Make sure to shop around once your introductory deal runs out and you can usually end up saving hundreds every year by switching companies! Or you can use a bill negotiation service like Bill Shark, BillFixers or Rocket Money to negotiate a reduction in your monthly bills.
Cancel un-needed services: Another thing you can do is check to make sure you’re not doubling up on any services. When we were cutting back a while ago we realized that we were paying for both Netflix streaming and Amazon Prime – which has a good video streaming option. We realized most of the same TV shows and movies were available on both sources, so we canceled Netflix – saving us $7.99/month.
Cut the cord: If you’re a bit more ambitious and aren’t very particular about receiving certain channels or waiting to see content the night it airs, you might want to make this the year that you cut the cord. Cancel your cable or satellite TV packages and move to something more affordable. Instead of paying for a TV package you can use free or low cost video streaming services like Hulu or Philo, shows streamed by the networks, and more. Use a software like Playon to stream the shows directly to your TV using an existing gaming console like the Xbox One or Playstation 4, or a cheap device like the Fire TV or Roku. The options are pretty numerous, and we’ve used options like this in the past to get most of our TV entertainment. Check out the related content below for a couple of exhaustive posts on how to set this up.
Use cheap movie rental alternatives: Don’t really watch TV or movies too much – and a monthly Netflix or Amazon subscription doesn’t make sense for you? Use a cheap rental alternative like Redbox, where you can rent a new release movie for a dollar. You can often find coupon codes to get free rentals every now and then. If you rent infrequently enough for it to matter, use cheap pay per view video options on Itunes, Amazon and Xbox to rent movies without leaving the comfort of your home. Amazon often gives away free credits on social media for their MP3 and Video stores, so follow them on Twitter and Facebook to get deals!
How To Save On Your Internet Costs
If you’re looking to save on your internet costs, the best thing you can do, similar as with TV deals, is to shop around, or use a bill negotiation company.
Search for the best deal: Find out where you can get the best deal. For us our internet options include DSL service from a couple of different companies and cable internet. You can usually find competing deals and introductory offers that you can use to hop from company to company and always have the best deal. Other times you can bundle with other services and save. It can be a pain, but it can save you a ton of money too.
Get reduced rate internet: Another thing you can do if you live in certain areas is us a free 4G internet service. Of course to do this you’d have to live in an area with good 4G coverage.
How To Save On Insurance
The best way to save on your insurance costs is just to shop around on a regular basis. I like to do it at least every 1-2 years for my homeowner’s insurance, auto insurance, life insurance and less often for other types. We found our best deal by using an insurance broker because they were able to compare rates at multiple companies and compare quotes for us.
Within the past few weeks we shopped around for new homeowner’s insurance after the premium skyrocketed. We ended up saving almost $1000/year when we switched our homeowner’s and auto insurance to a new company. That’s not the first time we’ve been able to do that! We did the same thing about 4 years ago, comparing rates and saving over $1000 that time!
Not sure where to start in getting quotes? Check out our insurance page to get quotes from a bunch of different companies.
Save By Getting A Better Bank Account
You may have had your old bricks and mortar checking or savings account since you were in high school, but have been noticing lately that they’ve started charging you fees for various things. You’ve also noticed that the fees for your brokerage account have gone up, and mysterious inactivity fees started popping up. Whatever the case, people often find that their bank account is no longer useful to them, and that they can save money on fees (or make more interest) by moving somewhere else.
Save money by closing old accounts: Often old accounts start charging inactivity fees for dormant accounts, or just start charging fees because they think they can get away with it. Closing an account can be a pain, but it can also save you money (and headaches) in the long run.
Sign up for better bank accounts: Signing up for a better bank account will mean not only savings because of no fees and no minimums, but also can mean you’ll end up making more money interest, cash back and other perks. For example, a while back we Chime a great online bank. We’ve saved quite a bit in account fees that we no longer pay. Our old account at a traditional bricks and mortar was charging us fees for all sorts of things, and customer service wasn’t great. We have also switched our savings account to online banks with accounts from Capital One 360 and CIT Bank Not only are we making more in interest, but the features available at those banks surpass our old bank.
Lower interest on your credit card accounts: If the interest on your credit card is getting unreasonably high, consider closing the account after signing up for a card with a lower interest rate, 0% balance transfer and no fees. Just be wary of big charges to actually transfer balances.
Different account types to consider closing if the fees or features aren’t up to snuff? Savings accounts, checking accounts, brokerage accounts, mutual fund company accounts, credit cards. Go down the list and figure out which ones just aren’t cutting it anymore.
How To Save On Energy Bills
Saving on energy bills often can’t be done by switching to another provider because there is often only one option for water, gas or electricity in many areas. That means the savings usually has to come from being creative and saving in other ways.
Some ways to save on your energy bills:
Get a programmable thermostat
: A good portion of your utility bills every month are going to come from your heating and cooling bills. By buying a programmable thermostat like the smart Nest thermostat, you can have your heat turned down at night, turned low when you’re gone and even control it remotely. They advertise an annual savings average of $173, so it may take about 18 months to pay back the $249 cost – unless you can find it for less. Other options include regular programmable thermostats which can run $50-70 or more.
Get (slightly) out of your comfort zone: Be willing to turn the temp down slightly in the winter, and up in the summer. You can save a ton of money just by turning the temp up or down even a few degrees!
Use a power saving device: A lot of the electronic devices we use these days have phantom power drain even when you’re not using them. Get around this by getting an auto-sensing power strip that will turn off all power when the unit is off, or energy saving power plugs that have on off switches for things like coffeemakers or toasters.
Save at your water heater: The water heater can account for 14-25% of your energy bills every year. Often the heat on your water heater is turned up higher than you need it to be. A temp of 120-140 degrees is hot enough, and every 10 degrees you lower it you’ll save 3-5% on your bill. Some experts say not to go below 120 degrees, however, because bacteria can grow in the tank. You can also save by putting a fiberglass insulating blanket on the water heater to save money on heat loss.
Get a home energy audit to find energy leaks: Local utilities will often come out to do a home energy audit free of charge or a small fee to help you find where your home is leaking energy. Plug up the leaks and save!
Maintain your appliances: Doing things like cleaning your AC condensor coils or changing furnace filters regularly can save you money on your energy. If you don’t, appliances can work harder than they need to, and drain more energy.
Save On Bills By Negotiating Them
One way you can save money on your regular, recurring monthly bills is to negotiate them.
If you have the time to do a little research, and make a few phone calls you can often reduce your monthly bills by hundreds of dollars every year.
If you don’t have the time, there are quite a few companies that will do it for you, for a small cost.
So there you have it, how to save money on just about all your possible monthly bills. I could probably go on, but the point is there are no shortage of ways to save money on your regular monthly expenditures. You can save on your housing costs, your phone and wireless broadband costs, your insurance costs, your energy costs, your bank accounts and even on your spending on entertainment. You just have to be creative, find cheaper alternatives and cancel un-needed services.
So what ways to save on your regular monthly bills can you suggest? Tell us your money-saving strategies in the comments!
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. The Adams Morgan neighborhood may be small, but there is no shortage of things to do while here. This charming neighborhood is one of the most sought out areas to live in, and for good reason. Between the convenience and ease of living here to the … [Read more…]
The 30-year fixed rate for conventional loans was 7.03% at Mortgage News Daily as of Thursday morning. HousingWire’s Mortgage Rates Center had Optimal Blue’s 30-year fixed rate for conventional loans at 6.73% on Wednesday, up from 6.50% the previous Wednesday.
“Although the probability of a default remains low, even the fears and panic related to a potential government default could cause creditors to ask for higher interest rates from the U.S. Treasury, resulting in a significant increase in various borrowing costs, including mortgages,” Jiayi Xu, an economist at Realtor.com, said in a statement.
Xu added, “Resolving the debt impasse sooner rather than later would mitigate potential adverse effects on the housing market, which is already contending with high prices and elevated mortgage rates.”
George Ratiu, a chief economist at Keeping Current Matters, agrees that the likelihood of default is “virtually nil” but adds to existing risks, which are reflected in the spreads between the 10-year Treasury and the Freddie Mac 30-year mortgage rate.
The spreads were at 172 bps on average between 1971 and 2023, but reached 278 bps from January to May 2023. The only times the spreads exceeded 300 bps were during periods of high inflation or economic volatility, such as in the early 1980s or the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09.
“Investors are reacting to the political brinkmanship over the debt limit, which is injecting another shot of uncertainty into the financial outlook,” Ratiu said in a statement. “Mortgage bond investors are looking for higher yields in exchange for the increase in perceived risk.”
A debt ceiling agreement, however, may not mean less economic volatility. The U.S. can still face a downgrade to its long-term debt. On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings placed the U.S. “AAA” rating on a negative watch.
“Fitch still expects a resolution to the debt limit before the x-date. However, we believe risks have risen that the debt limit will not be raised or suspended before the x-date and consequently that the government could begin to miss payments on some of its obligations,” the rating agency wrote.
Fed’s next steps
Another source of uncertainty is the Federal Reserve‘s (Fed) monetary policy. Officials will meet on June 13-14 to decide on the new federal funds rate. And, despite mortgage industry experts believing the Fed is likely to stop its tightening monetary policy, a still-resilient economy brings the possibility of another rate increase.
“An additional area of focus revolves around the release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes from its May meeting: although investors anticipate a pause at the upcoming meeting after ten consecutive rate hikes, the minutes revealed a sense of uncertainty regarding the future direction of monetary policy,” Xu said.
Ratiu added that the Fed’s willingness to take a break from its monetary tightening at the June meeting, as expressed by Chair Jerome Powell, may be a welcome reprieve for financial markets.
“However, the Fed has its eyes clearly fixed on the inflation double-peaks from the late 1970s and early 1980s, seeking to avoid the same mistake,” Ratiu said. “For people who assume that the central bank is done pushing the policy rate higher, prices riding an upward trajectory may provide a counterpoint.”
According to Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, the U.S. economy is showing continued resilience which, combined with debt ceiling concerns, led to higher mortgage rates this week.
“Dampened affordability remains an issue for interested homebuyers and homeowners seem unwilling to lose their low rate and put their home on the market,” Khater said in a statement. “If this predicament continues to limit supply, it could open up an opportunity for builders to help address the country’s housing shortage.”