The First Financial Credit Union Blog

Buying a Home When You're Self Employed

Posted by Jen Laud on Oct 19, 2017 11:11:28 AM

Entrepreneurship and side jobs are especially popular right now. There are 15 million self-employed workers in the US and Chicago alone is home to tens of thousands of small businesses.

While self-employment can give you more freedom and great satisfaction, it can also add some real challenges when trying to buy a home. Luckily, some lenders - including FFCU - have more flexibility and can help you jump the hurdles.

Let's walk through some of the common challenges that self-employed workers, freelancers and contractors face when trying to buy a home; a member's recent home buying story; and some tips you can use to get ready for your home purchase.

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Topics: Home Financing

Meet the Team: Tony

Posted by Jen Laud on Jun 16, 2017 3:51:31 PM

As a community credit union, First Financial's team is bursting with people who are ready to help and make an impact in the community. Always a fan favorite, Tony Marcus has been with FFCU since August 2011 and is one of the best at finding ways to help members make financial decisions to benefit them now and in the future.

Growing up a stone's throw from the FFCU main branch in Chicago, Tony knows the West Ridge community well.
Over the last 6 years, he's been able to work one-on-one with our neighbors as a Member Service Representative, a Senior Contact Center Representative, and now a Member Solutions Representative. 

Before coming to First Financial, Tony worked for a bank and says he's so happy he made the switch to a Credit Union. He describes FFCU as more personal, more like a family and is happy to be a part of an organization that cares about making its account holders financially secure.

So you can get to know the man behind the desk a little better, we asked Tony a few questions about his life, his job and the wisdom he can share.

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Topics: FFCU Updates

Leasing vs. Buying a New Car Infographic

Posted by FFCU Partner on May 23, 2017 12:00:00 PM

When it comes to buying a new car, most members choose between leasing or purchasing with the help of a loan. But making an apples-to-apples comparison can be tough - so how do you choose the option that is best for you?


This handy infographic breaks down some key differences between leasing and buying a car, including pros and cons to consider. When you're done reading, you'll be able to choose with confidence.

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Topics: Borrowing Advice & How to Build Credit, It's a Money Thing

To Lease or To Finance Your Car: That is the Question!

Posted by Jen Laud on May 16, 2017 9:36:52 AM


When it comes to buying a new car, you have three options: purchasing it with cash, purchasing it through a loan (also known as financing) or leasing it. For most shoppers, the decision comes down to buying or leasing.


On the surface, the differences between leasing and buying a vehicle seem fairly straightforward. Leasing a car means you’ll usually have access to a new set of wheels every few years; buying it likely means that you plan to drive the same car for a much longer period of time. Leasing usually includes a warranty that covers most of your repairs; buying means accepting larger repair costs, which are inevitable as the car ages. Leasing agreements can limit your mileage and your ability to customize your ride; buying means you can put as many miles as you want on the car and customize it however you’d like.


Looking only at the comparisons above, you might conclude that buying a car is a more practical and economical option than leasing a car—but if that’s really the case, why are monthly lease payments so much lower (often 40% lower!) than monthly loan payments? Why is leasing considered more expensive in the long term if you’re paying less on a month-to-month basis? To answer these questions, let’s take a look at the concept of depreciation.

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Topics: Borrowing Advice & How to Build Credit, It's a Money Thing

6 Steps to Building an Emergency Fund Infographic

Posted by Edward Sablan on May 9, 2017 10:30:00 AM

It's time to get your savings in shape!


We know emergency funds are important, so why is it so hard to get down to work and save?


The reality is that emergency expenses come in many forms and that there are less traumatic examples out there that would be equally good at messing up your financial situation, so it might make more sense to think of your emergency fund as a “life happens” fund.


Our infographic will walk through 3 steps to building an emergency fund. Let's get to it!

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How Changing Interest Rates Affect You

Posted by Jen Laud on May 4, 2017 11:00:00 AM

It's not uncommon for members to have questions about interest rates and how they are impacted by changes in the national or global economy. When there's a news story about economists speculating that rates will go up again, it can be hard to understand exactly what that means on a personal level.


Interest rates had been near zero for almost ten years - since the financial crisis of 2008. Now that there's been steady and consistent signs that the economy has turned around, the board of the Federal Reserve has been raising rates again. But what does that mean for you?

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Borrowing Advice & How to Build Credit

Choosing the Right Realtor and Mortgage Partner

Posted by Jen Laud on Apr 28, 2017 10:57:22 AM

Home is where the heart is, but the process of buying a home can be far from a lovely experience. Choosing the right partners really sets the tone for your home buying and selling journey. We've broken down some key things to look for, ask about or consider when you're trying to choose a real estate agent and a mortgage lender. 


The very first thing to do, even before jumping into property searching, is to check your credit score. Once you know your score, you'll know if you need to do a little work or if you can continue what you're doing to maintain it. When you're financing a major expense like a home, even a small change in your interest rate can have major consequences over time. And with just a little tweaking, you can adjust your score for the better. Want more tips on building credit? Take a look at our previous post on boosting your credit score. 


Choosing a Real Estate Agent.

Phone a Friend

When you're looking for an agent, testimonials are a goldmine of information. If you have friends or family in the area that have recently purchased or sold a home, ask them who they worked with and if they had a good experience. Online reviews are another great source to check out. Look on reputable sites like Google reviews, Yelp or even the business page on Facebook to see what clients have to say. The agent may also have some testimonials on their site or can give you a list, but keep in mind that they have more control over those resources. 

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Topics: Home Financing

Wills and Trusts for Parents

Posted by Jen Laud on Apr 24, 2017 11:29:27 AM

Especially for parents, there are many benefits to having a will and trust established. With just a little planning, you'll gain peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will always be cared for and your wishes are known. Plus, it no longer takes a lot of time or money to create a will or a trust.

When is it a good time to do a little research and decide if these are right for you? We recommend creating your documents and accounts when you're a new parent, growing your family, or have money you'd like to be designated for your children or other beneficiaries. 

Here we'll share what is a will and trust; why you should consider having them; and the best way to get started.

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Youth Services, Family & Youth

Save Your Tax Return Check

Posted by Edward Sablan on Apr 17, 2017 5:30:00 PM

Your tax return is coming (or is here), do you know what to do with it?

As tax season comes to an end, people across the country are frantically working to meet the April 18th deadline.  While it's mostly viewed as an unavoidable part of life, it does provide a glimmer of joy in the form of a tax return check.  However the question arises, what do you do with your tax return?  One idea would be to place the funds into some type of savings. 

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting

Level Up: Talking to Your Kids about Money, Part 2.

Posted by Edward Sablan on Apr 13, 2017 12:15:00 PM

Help Your Kids Develop their Money Skills with some Advanced Training.

Being able to manage personal finances is one of the best things we can teach our kids. Last week, we discussed some basics. This week, let's take our training up a notch with some additional lessons you can teach your kids who are older or who have already mastered the basics.


Using the Save, Spend, Give method, we'll offer some additional discussions, broken down into intermediate (Green Belt) and advanced (Black Belt) levels to help continue the training.

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