SIU Credit Union Blog

Category: Financial Resources (page 1 of 12)

Mortgages: The 20% Down Myth 

Are you desperate to own a home of your own?

If that’s your dream, you are likely saving up, dollar by hard-earned dollar, until you have that magic number: 20% of your dream home’s total value. That’s what all the experts say, right?

For the average American home, 20% amounts to a pretty big number. Throw in closing costs and you’ve got a small fortune to raise – and years to go until you reach your goal.

It’s great that you’re putting money away toward what will likely be the largest purchase of your life, but there’s one huge mistake in your calculations: You don’t need to put down 20%.

Yes, you read right. The 20% myth is an unfortunate leftover from the era after the housing crisis, when out of necessity, access to credit tightened up. Thankfully, times have changed, and since FHA loans were introduced more than 80 years ago, mortgages have not required a 20% down payment.

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How To Fund An Emergency  

Q: Help! I’ve been hit with a financial emergency and I don’t know how to pay for it! What are my options?

A: Ideally, you’ll want to have an emergency fund in place for this very reason. If you don’t, or the money you have set aside isn’t enough, you have several options to consider.

We’ve listed some ideas below. Be sure to review the pros and cons of each before determining which option(s) will work best for you.

1.) Credit cards

For many people, when faced with staggering and unexpected bills, the default option is to pull out their plastic. Unfortunately, following this trend can put you on the fast track toward a lifetime of debt and playing catch-up because of this one-time emergency.

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How Grads Can Get Another Shot at Student Loan Forgiveness

The Trump administration is giving student loan borrowers who missed out on public service loan forgiveness a second chance, and they should move now to prepare.

The recently passed $1.3 trillion federal spending plan sets aside $350 million to forgive student debts owed by borrowers who met all the conditions needed to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, but were mistakenly enrolled in the wrong repayment plan.

Borrowers in PSLF must make 120 qualifying payments to get forgiveness on the remaining balance.

Under the new budget law, borrowers who have made payments on a graduated or extended repayment plan have a chance to get relief through PSLF, even though payments made on those plans don’t normally qualify.

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Best Ways to Fund Spring Home Repairs

Now that spring has blossomed into full-on allergy mode, the time we spend outside is even more appreciated — especially with the help of a good antihistamine. The next time you venture out, take a moment to do a walk-around inspection of the old homestead. See some room for improvements? Maintaining, repairing and upgrading a home can range in cost from a minor trickle to a major cash drain.

Paying for minor repairs

If you see the need for only modest repairs, you might be able to tackle them within the bounds of your cash flow. But remember, your emergency fund is best left intact for unexpected cash needs, not for replacing a gutter or downspout.

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Website Review:   

If you’re looking to learn about your credit score, is a great place to start. The site offers a free credit score, a helpful Credit Report Card and loads of articles featuring credit advice from many professionals.

Despite looking too good to be true, is a reputable site run by professionals. There’s absolutely no cost to use the site’s features, and the business earns its profit by revenue generated from its products as well as commission earned through visitors using advertised businesses.

It’s important to note, though, that the credit score the site will generate for you is not a FICO credit score. Since more than 90% of lenders consider your FICO score when determining whether to grant you a loan, this number won’t tell you if you’ll be eligible for a mortgage or a car loan. The score gives you is based on your Experian credit reports and is are liable indicator of your general credit standing. However, you can easily access this information yourself through

Aside from the credit score, you can also use the site to draw up a Credit Report Card, a unique product that tells you all you need to know about your credit status. The report will give you a snapshot of your payment history, including the timeliness of your payments and a score ranging from “very poor” to “excellent.”

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Equifax Extends Free Credit Freezes

UPDATED: This story was updated to reflect an announcement late Jan. 29 that Equifax would extend free freezes through June 30.

Equifax has extended its offer of free credit freezes through June 30. Equifax made freezes free late last year in the wake of a data breach that compromised personal data on about 145 million U.S. consumers.

The offer had been set to expire on Wednesday.

If you’re looking to keep your credit data from being accessed, the best way to protect it is a credit freeze, also known as a security freeze. Credit monitoring, another service the credit bureaus offer, can tell you when someone uses your data to apply for credit, but it won’t typically prevent it.

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