The First Financial Credit Union Blog

Jen Laud

Recent Posts

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

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

How to Teach Money Lessons to Your Kids

Posted by Jen Laud on Apr 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

5 tips for starting or continuing the discussion about money with your kids.

Being able to manage personal finances is one of the best things we can teach our kids. Money and credit impact so many things we do, making it an important topic to discuss with children early and often. If developed correctly, a young-saver's money skills can turn into a strong foundation to stand on later.

 

But many parents are unsure how to discuss money with their kids. We've put together some helpful tips to use when you're developing your teaching style.

 

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Youth Services

Money and Relationships

Posted by Jen Laud on Feb 14, 2017 3:27:52 PM

Avoid money arguments and successfully work together for a happy financial future.

Money matters can put a lot of stress on a relationship (31% reported money as a major source of conflict or tension in the American Psychological Association's 2015 Stress in America Survey), but they don't need to. While there is no one-size-fits all approach to accounts and expenses, the key is good communication. You already know there are plenty of ways you're compatible, have "the money talk" to find out if your goals and values for your wallet are too.

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Topics: Family & Youth

Give Back on GivingTuesday

Posted by Jen Laud on Nov 29, 2016 9:18:50 AM

Black Friday

Cyber Monday

#GivingTuesday

It's hard to resist a good deal right after Thanksgiving, and there are plenty of deals to be found on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If the retail frenzy has left you feeling about as gluttonous as that extra piece of pie after Thanksgiving dinner (we'll even admit to having pie for breakfast the next morning, too), Giving Tuesday may be your perfect cure. Tuesday is the day to feel good about doing a good dead and focus on bigger causes this Holiday season.

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Topics: FFCU Updates

Why Invest in a CD?

Posted by Jen Laud on Oct 26, 2016 8:00:00 AM

After such a long time with record-low interest rates, we're starting to see savings rates rise again. For people of all ages who are interesting in weighing their options, taking another look at CDs is worth it.

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting

Is Fall the Best Time to Buy a House?

Posted by Jen Laud on Oct 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Sometimes it’s smarter to buy certain items according to the season, like sweaters near the end of winter and swimsuits in late summer. But what’s the best season for buying a house?

The answer: the fall. As temperatures cool and trees shed their leaves, enough factors break in the buyer’s favor to make it the No. 1 season for homebuying. Here’s why.

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Topics: Home Financing

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