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New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Keep

Please enjoy this FREE E-Book from Mutual Credit Union as a gift to Kick Start your Successful Financial New Year in 2019! This workbook is designed to help you set goals, track them throughout 2019 and make your financial dreams a reality!

Click New Years Resolutions_eBook-interactive for the Downloadable Version. Enjoy!

New Years Resolution Workbook

January Resolutions Step 1

February Resolutions Step 2

March Resolutions Step 3

April Resolutions Step 4

May Resolutions Step 5

June Resolution Step 6

July Resolution Step 7

August Resolution Step 8

September Workbook

October Workbook

November Workbook

December Workbook

WE Can’t Wait To SAY……………………………..

 

Congratulations on a Job Well Done

5 Ways To Save On Winter Heating Costs

thermostat

 

  1. Heat Selectively – To avoid paying for unused heat in rooms that aren’t regularly used, shut the doors and close the vents in those rooms.
  2. Trap the Sunlight – Open your curtains when you’ve got sunlight exposure, and then close them when the angle of the sun changes. This allows you to trap the solar heat inside your home.
  3. Plug up Holes – Seal up all holes near windows, doors and the chimney to help keep the heat in and the cold out.
  4. Digitize Your Heating System – Use a programmable digital thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature in your home according to your family’s schedule and habits.
  5. Maintain Your Heating System – Check for proper airflow throughout your heating system and clear any blockages that you find.

 

Your Turn: How do you keep warm when the weather’s cold? Ugly sweaters? Visualizing a beach? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

8 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

holiday-stress

‘Tis the season to be merry-except sometimes, it’s not.

If you tend to feel stressed when the holidays roll around, here are eight tips to help turn that frown upside down.

1. Watch the buck

Nothing kills holiday cheer like a mountain of debt. Stick to a budget when doing your holiday shopping, and only spend what you can afford. Be extra careful not to overspend as the holidays draw near, and you’re feeling the pressure to finish your shopping in time.

2. Give back

According to the American Psychological Association, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to give back to the community.

Beat the stress by sharing holiday cheer with those who are less fortunate. You can bring some toys to the local hospital to brighten up a sick child’s holiday, volunteer at a soup kitchen or visit a nursing home and put a smile on the residents’ faces.

3. Stick to a schedule

Lack of quality sleep can make stress levels soar. You don’t need to follow your regular routine over the holidays, but it’s a good idea to keep some sort of schedule. Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye, and if a physical workout is part of your daily routine, don’t neglect it over the holidays.

4. Party smart

If you like to party, you can end up getting sick over the holidays. Do yourself a favor this year and watch what you imbibe. Enjoy a glass or two of your favorite alcoholic beverage, but try to keep the drinking to a minimum. Similarly, it’s OK to break your diet over Christmas, but it’s best not to go overboard.

5. Delegate

If you’re hosting a large crowd this Christmas, all the extra work can bring your stress levels through the roof. Here’s the good news: You don’t have to do it all! There’s nothing wrong and there’s everything right with asking for help.

6. Take some “me” time

“Me” time is important, and in the chaos of the holidays, this need is often neglected. Consider getting a manicure, taking a solitary half-hour walk, or just locking yourself in your room for some peace and quiet. You’re not being an antisocial snob if you need your “me” time; you’re just being human.

7. Give up the guilt

If you tend to overanalyze every interaction you have with family and friends, you can really beat yourself up over the holidays, questioning everything you’ve said. Try to let go this season and give yourself a break.

8. Lower your expectations

A common cause for holiday stress is unrealistic expectations. It’s best not to build huge castles in the air and to keep your expectations to a minimum. If you don’t expect perfection, you won’t be struggling with mountains of disappointment this holiday.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful holiday season stress-free from all of us here at Mutual Credit Union!

 

Your Turn: How do you beat the holiday stress? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

What Is The Prime Rate And Why Does It Matter?

A bank manager and customer look at interest rates

Q: What is the prime rate and why does it matter?

A: The prime rate, or prime, is the current interest rate that financial institutions in the U.S. charge their best customers.

We have answers for all your questions on the prime rate.

How is the prime rate determined?

First, the Federal Reserve System, which is the central bank of the United States, sets the federal funds target rate, or the interest rate, it thinks is best for financial institutions to use when lending each other money. When financial institutions lend each other money, they base their interest rates on the federal funds target rate. The Wall Street Journal then surveys the country’s largest financial institutions to determine the rate they are using and then publishes it as the prime rate. This number is generally 3 percent higher than the federal funds target rate.

The fed’s target rate, and consequently prime, changes often. The committee who sets the federal funds target rate meets a minimum of eight times a year to discuss possibly changing the rate. You can check out the changes in the prime rate at Federalreserve.gov.

How does the prime rate affect the individual?

First, the interest rate on nearly every loan is affected by the prime rate. Financial institutions and large lenders will base their interest rates on the prime rate, generally establishing their current rates at an amount that is higher than the prime. If the prime rises, the interest rate on your loans and adjustable-rate credit cards rises as well.

Second, the prime rate affects liquidity in the financial markets. When the rate is low, liquidity increases. This means funds are more readily available because loans are less expensive and easier to qualify for. This, in turn, generates a growing economy as businesses expand.

Is the prime rate the only factor used to determine individual interest rates?

While the prime is the starting point used to determine an interest rate on a loan, it is by no means the only factor considered.

Your credit score plays a vital role in the interest rate you’ll be granted for a loan. The higher your score, the lower the interest rate you’ll earn. Keep your score high by using your cards sparingly and paying your credit card bills on time.

Here at Mutual Credit Union, we also consider the general state of your finances when determining your interest rate on a loan. If we see that you’re working toward paying down your debts, we’ll be more likely to grant you a favorable interest rate.

Also, as an institution devoted to your success, we are always striving to help you maintain financial wellness.

Your Turn: How do you keep your credit score high and your interest rates low? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

6 Misleading Advertising Ploys To Beware Of This Black Friday

ARTICLE-misleading-advertising

Here at Mutual Credit Union, we hate seeing your money go to waste, so we’ve put together a list of misleading advertising you may encounter when hunting for deals this Black Friday.
1. Very limited quantities
That $200-off supersized TV on the front page of the big-box circular that landed in your mailbox looks like an incredible deal-until you show up at the store on Black Friday and find it’s sold out. Of course, no deal lasts forever, but when a store that’s only been open for the day a few hours, claims it’s run out of an item, you can assume it only stocked a limited quantity.
When checking out the ads for Black Friday, look for an “In-Stock Guarantee” or a “1-hour In-Stock Guarantee.” This will allow you to get a rain check for a sold-out item as long as you show up on Black Friday, or in the case of the 1-hour guarantee, as long as you show up within the first hour of opening.
2. No discount
In this ploy, retailers deceive shoppers into thinking a product is on sale. They’ll list an item in a Black Friday circular so you’ll assume it’s being offered at a discount when it’s actually being sold at regular price. Do a quick check of an item’s standard selling price before running out to buy it on Black Friday.
3. Full price with a store gift card
At first glance, a regular-priced item that comes with a store gift card can seem like a fantastic deal; however, some research might reveal this product is being sold elsewhere on Black Friday for less. Also, if you’re not a regular customer at this store, you may end up blowing that gift card on stuff you don’t need.
4. Sales based on a dishonest manufacturer’s price
When retailers advertise their sales, they’ll often post the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, for customers to compare. However, this value can be theoretical at best and simply dishonest at worst. If the item was never actually sold at the listed MSRP, the number is essentially meaningless.
Avoid getting pulled in by this deceptive advertising ploy by checking out an item’s retail price online.
5. Stripped-down or downgraded versions
When shopping for computers and TVs, read up on every feature offered with the product. A common Black Friday ruse is to advertise a discounted item, which offers the very minimum in features and accessories. These “add-ons” are often essential features whose lack can make the device almost useless until you buy them.
Your Turn: Have you ever been taken in by a misleading ad? Tell us about it in the comments.

Word of the Month: Interest

boat ride with godparents

“Wow, Grandma! This is awesome!” Sean exclaimed as he toured his grandmother’s new boat.

With delight in his eyes, he admired what he was seeing. It was big. And it was beautiful.

Sean and Grandma sat down on the upholstered bench at the back of the boat and watched the passing waves.

“You know, Grandma,” Sean said after a while, “this must have cost a whole lot of money.”

Grandma laughed. “Well, yes and no,” she said.

“What does that mean?” asked Sean.

“Well, it did cost a lot of money, but because I saved up for it over time it wasn’t so hard. It was just a little bit at a time.”

Sean thought about this. It still sounded tough to save up so much money.

“Plus,” Grandma went on, “my saved money also earned interest, so it took even less time than I expected.”

“Interest?” asked Sean. “What’s interest?”

“Interest,” Grandma said, “which is actually referred to as ‘dividends’ by the credit union, is money that my savings earns while it’s in the account. It’s what helps my savings grow without any extra work on my part.”

“The money earns? For doing what?”

“For doing nothing!” Grandma laughed. “My credit union uses my money to loan money to my fellow members of the credit union so they can buy cars, homes and cover expenses for many other needs. Then, the credit union pays me some of those earnings since the money in my account allowed them to do that. It’s sort of a reward for saving money. You get it?”

“I’m not sure,” Sean said slowly. “Would this work for me, too? How much money do I need to save in order to earn interest?”

“Not a lot at all,” said Grandma. She sat quietly, looking out into the ocean. “I’ll tell you what,” she said after a minute. “How about I teach you about savings and interest by acting like your credit union?”

“What do you mean?” Sean asked.

“I’ll give you an extra dollar for every $10 you save over the next six months,” said Grandma. “That’s a great interest rate-10 percent! Do we have a deal?”

Sean smiled. This sounded cool. “Deal!” he said.

He was excited for the challenge. How much would he be able to save?

***

At first, saving some of his allowance money was easy for Sean. He put away a little at a time, a dollar here, two dollars there. It was just like Grandma had said she had done when saving up for her boat. This way, it wasn’t too hard for Sean to reach his first $10, and then his second and third. Soon, Sean had $40 saved up in a little glass jar at the edge of his desk.

But then came Sean’s birthday. His parents threw him an awesome Star Wars-themed party and all his friends and relatives came to celebrate along with him. His friends gave him presents, but most of his relatives gave him cash gifts.

When the party was over and everyone had gone home, Sean counted up his birthday money. He had gotten $250 in cash! Sean had never had so much of his own money in his life. He was thrilled! Now he’d be able to buy a few new Wii games, a new football and all the pizza he wanted. This was the best birthday ever!

But then Sean saw the little glass jar on the edge of his desk and the pile of money inside. He remembered Grandma’s boat and all she’d said about earning interest. He had $290 saved up already. With Grandma’s interest, that would be $329! And he would be making all of that money, just for holding onto his birthday money a little bit longer.

There were still five full weeks until the six months would be up and Grandma would pay him the interest he’d earned. But he really wanted to buy something with his birthday money. Could he wait that long?

After thinking about it, Sean decided to buy a new football for $25 and put the rest of his money away until the six months were up. He’d also continue saving as much money as he could.

It wasn’t easy to hold onto that money, but Sean knew it would all be worth it in the end.

And it was. When Grandma came to visit after the six months were up, she asked Sean how much money he’d managed to save. Sean told her he had $270. When Grandma handed over the $27 he’d earned, he knew he had made the right choice.

Talking points:

  • Why do you think Grandma offered to reward Sean for his savings?
  • Why do credit unions offer interest/dividends on savings?
  • In your opinion, is it more important to have an account that offers greater convenience or a higher rate?

6 Ways To Spot A Payday Loan Scam

Payday Loans Neon Sign

Payday loan scams may seem like old news, but they’re more common than ever. In fact, in 2018, the FTC paid a total of $505 million to more than one million victims of payday loan scams.

In this scam, a caller claiming to represent a collection agency who is acting on behalf of a loan company tells victims they must pay their outstanding balance on a payday loan. They’ll ask victims to confirm identifying details, such as their date of birth or even their Social Security number. They claim they need it as proof that they’ve seen the victim’s loan application and actually do represent the company. Unfortunately, the caller is actually a scammer trying to rip off victims or steal their identity.

In many payday loan scams, victims may have applied for a payday loan but not yet completed the application, or they may have submitted the application but not yet received the funds. In these scenarios, the victim has unknowingly applied for a loan with an illegitimate company which proceeds to sell the victim’s information to a third party. This way, the caller can appear to be an authentic loan collector because they know lots of information about the victim.

If you’ve applied for a payday loan, be on the lookout for these six red flags, any of which should alert you to the fact that you’re being scammed:

1. You’ve never received a payday loan

While these scams usually target people who have filled out an application for a payday loan, fraudsters often go after victims who haven’t completed one or who have done so but have not yet been granted the loan. Obviously, you can’t be late paying back a loan you never received.

If you haven’t completed your application or you haven’t yet received an answer from the loan company you applied to, you’re talking to a scammer.

 2. The caller demands you pay under threat of arrest

Scammers often dishonestly align themselves with law enforcement agencies to coerce victims into cooperating. A legitimate loan company will never threaten you with immediate arrest.

3. The caller refuses to divulge the name of his collection agency.

If the caller actually represents a collection agency, they should have no problem identifying this agency by name. If they refuse to do so, you may be looking at a scam.

4. You can’t find any information about the agency the caller allegedly represents.

The caller is sometimes willing to name the agency, but the company is completely bogus. If you’re suspicious about the call, do a quick Google search to see what the internet has to say about this company. If you can’t find any proof of the company’s existence, such as a web page, phone number or physical address; or the search turns up evidence of previous scams, hang up.

5. You have not received a validation notice in the mail.

By law, anyone representing a collection agency and attempting to collect on an outstanding debt must send a validation letter to the debtor. This letter will inform the borrower that they can dispute the debt within 30 days. It will also detail the amount of money owed and the party to whom it must be paid.

If you have not received any such letter in the mail before the alleged debt collector calls, you’re probably looking at a scam.

6. The caller only accepts immediate payment over the phone.

If the caller was reaching out to you on behalf of a legitimate collections agency, they’d be happy to work out a payment plan with you, and provide you with an address to which you can mail your payments. When a “collector” insists that you pay in full over the phone and refuses to furnish an address to which you can mail your payments, you’re likely talking to a scammer who is only interested in getting your financial information and your money.

If you find yourself struggling to survive financially between paychecks, call, click or stop by Mutual Credit Union today. We’ll be happy to help you learn how to keep your finances at optimum health.

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a payday loan scam or a similar con? Share your experience with us in the comments.

Mutual Credit Union Celebrates The 71st Anniversary of International Credit Union Day

ICUDay20191Color

On Thursday, October 17th, Mutual Credit Union will, along with more than 56,000 credit unions around the world, celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day), and the philosophy and achievements of the credit union movement. There are 200+million credit union members around the world with more than 100 million in the U.S. alone-and Mutual Credit Union joins them in celebration of the not-for-profit cooperative spirit that all credit unions share.

This cooperative spirit has led to life-changing opportunities for people all over the world. At its most basic level, a credit union is people pooling their money to provide each other with affordable loans-it is literally people helping people. This is why Mutual Credit Union celebrates ICU Day. Because credit unions empower people, wherever they are in the world or life, to take control of their financial future.  This year’s ICU Day theme is “Local Service. Global Reach.”

To celebrate You and International Credit Union Day we INVITE all members of Mutual Credit Union and the Public to visit any of our five branch locations for refreshments and a few goodies on Thursday, October 17, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please find a list of locations below or follow this link for more location details. Refreshments and Mutual Credit Union items available while supplies last.

  • Cherry Street Branch – 1604 Cherry Street Vicksburg, MS
  • Clay Street Branch – 4210 Clay Street Vicksburg, MS
  • Raymond Branch – 460 East Main Street Raymond, MS
  • South Frontage Road Branch – 2086 S. Frontage Road Vicksburg, MS
  • Yazoo City Branch – 1505 Grand Avenue Yazoo City, MS

Mutual Credit Union members are welcome to celebrate with us in this worldwide movement that has made helping people its No. 1 priority for more than 160 years.

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our web page. Any additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1220.

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Take Caution Before Borrowing Someone’s Charging Cable

scam-alert-cell-phone-chargers.jpg

You know the feeling. It’s like a bona fide coffee addict running low on caffeine, or like a hiker almost out of drinking water. You’re travelling and your phone is running low on juice. Frantic, you’re searching for a place to plug in and recharge. The last thing you want is to be completely stranded in a strange place with no way to order an Uber or pay for your dinner. In one last desperate move, you search through your bag for the charging cable you always keep there – and then you remember you lent it to your friend and never got it back.

What to do?

And then, like an angel, a stranger appears out of nowhere with a friendly smile on their face. They’re holding a wonderful, beautiful charging cable in their hands.

“Do you want to use this?” they ask.

What do you do?

A.   Smile your thanks, grab the cable and plug in your phone.
B.   Say “No, thank you,” before walking away, dead smartphone and all.

If you chose B, you made the right decision. Cybersecurity experts are warning against using a stranger’s charging cable or even borrowing one from an airport official or front-desk concierge at a hotel.

“There are certain things in life that you just don’t borrow,” says Charles Henderson, global managing partner and head of X-Force Red at IBM Security. “If you were on a trip and realized you forgot to pack underwear, you wouldn’t ask all your co-travelers if you could borrow their underwear. You’d go to a store and buy new underwear.”

Henderson heads a team of hackers that clients privately hire to break into their computers to identify vulnerabilities before blackhat hackers do. Henderson’s team will often send clients a compromised iPhone cable in the mail to see if the client will plug it in or if they’ve learned to be more cautious by discarding the charger instead.

Henderson warns that cyberhackers can easily implant charging cables with malware that can be used to hijack mobile devices and computers. This can spell complete disaster for the desperate traveler who graciously accepted the spare cable from their fellow passenger and plugged in their device.

At the annual DEF CON Hacking Conference in Las Vegas, a hacker known as MG showed the attendees how he had modified an iPhone lightning cable to serve as a hacking device. MG used the cable to connect an iPod to a Mac computer and then remotely accessed the cable’s IP address to take control of the Mac. These compromised cables are available on the Darknet for just $200 each.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that charging cables left over by previous guests in the front desk of the hotel are any better than a cable offered by a stranger.

“If the front desk had a drawer full of underwear,” says Henderson, “would you wear those?”

Unlike most scams aiming for as wide a target base as possible, using a charging cable to hack a victim’s device can only be pulled off on one victim at a time. Lucky for us, this means the charging cable hack isn’t as popular or widespread – yet. Henderson warns that the relatively inexpensive technology required for the hack and the fact that it is so easy to make the cable look completely innocent could mean an upsurge in these scams in the near future.

For now, it’s best to be aware of this threat and to practice caution when travelling.

Henderson adds that using public USB charging stations is currently a larger threat than compromised cables. These stations can easily be compromised and open your device to all sorts of malware and vulnerabilities. It’s best to use your own charger at all times.

“In a computing context, sharing cables is like sharing your password,” says Henderson, “because that’s the level of access you’re crucially conveying with these types of technology.”

To avoid falling victim to this hack, always pack an extra charging cable in your handbag. If you forgot to take one along or you can’t seem to find it, purchase a new one to use while you’re away. You can find charging cables in almost any convenience store for under $10 – a small investment for your safety.

The next time you’re running low on juice and a stranger offers you the use of their charging cable, make the safe choice!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by using a borrowed charging cable? Tell us about it in the comments.

 

Congratulations! Judy Rushe on 40 years of Service at Mutual Credit Union

Press Release

Thursday, September 26, 2019

(Vicksburg, MS): Mutual Credit Union is thrilled to celebrate today with Judy Rusche as she celebrates 40 years working and serving the members of Mutual Credit Union. Judy started with Mutual on September 26, 1979 as a teller when Mutual was located at 1411 Cherry Street in Vicksburg, MS. Since, 1980, Judy has offered support to both members and fellow employees in the operations center of the accounting department. Judy moved to the 1604 Cherry Street location in 1984 and has worked tirelessly to serve our membership through numerous changes to services, products, systems, mergers, branch additions and many more areas of progression and change including  renovations and expansions to the 1604 Cherry Street building both in 1998-1999 and the most recent in 2018-2019. President of Mutual Credit Union, Michael Mathews stated, “It is a true honor to work with someone as dedicated to Mutual as Judy.”

Congratulations, Judy Rusche on 40 wonderful years of a Job Well Done here at Mutual Credit Union!

Insta Judy

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our webpage. For additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

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Word Of The Month: HELOC

People painting house

Life at the Richards’ house had gotten really busy since the twins’ arrival-and really noisy. At first, Trish and Adam were delighted with the action. They loved their twin baby siblings and each day, they snapped dozens of pictures of the tiny infants to post on their Facebook and Instagram pages and show to their friends. They were the proudest older siblings ever.

But after a few weeks, the constant crying and the baby paraphernalia scattered all over the house began getting on their nerves.

One day, Adam stumbled down to the kitchen for breakfast, bleary-eyed and grumpy.

“Those twins,” he groaned. “They kept me up all night!”

Mrs. Richards looked at him while rocking one of the twins. “They kept you up?” she laughed. “I didn’t see you getting up for the four o’clock feeding!”

“Or the two o’clock feeding, for that matter,” a tired-looking Mr. Richards chimed in. “Come to think of it, I didn’t see you at the six o’clock feeding either.”

Adam fell into a seat and flung his head down on the table. “Well, they woke me up. Again and again and again. Why do they need to cry every time they eat? And so loudly!”

“You’re complaining? I didn’t sleep a wink!” Trish announced, shuffling into the kitchen. “I heard them crying all night long!”

“I don’t know how I’m going to stay awake in class today,” Adam grumbled.

“Me neither,” Trish said. “Can’t me and Adam move to the basement?”

Adam brightened. “Yeah. Then we won’t hear those annoying babies all night!”

Right on cue, the baby in Mrs. Richards’ arms started howling. Adam and Trish covered their ears and winced. Mrs. Richards stuck the baby’s pacifier into her mouth and rocked her.

“You know, we’d need to finish fixing up the basement if you guys want to sleep there,” Mr. Richards said thoughtfully.

“Oh, can we? Can we please?” Trish and Adam begged.

Mr. and Mrs. Richards shared a long look.

“We’ll see,” Mrs. Richards said after a while. “It isn’t fair for the two of you to be woken up by the twins night after night.And the basement may be the perfect solution. But it’s going to cost a lot of money to finish it, so we need to figure out if we can swing it.”

“It would be nice to have a little more living space around here.” Mr. Richards said thoughtfully. “You know what? Today’s my last day of paternity leave-maybe Mom and I can work something out while you two are at school,” Mr. Richards said. “We’ll talk about this later.”

***

When Adam and Trish came home that afternoon, their parents were waiting for them at the kitchen table with big smiles on their faces.

“Guess what?” Mrs. Richards said. “We’re going to be fixing up the basement soon and you guys can both move down there!”

Adam and Trish whooped and shared high-fives.

“When can we move?”

“Can I paint my new room with chalkboard paint?”

“Can I have a sleepover next weekend?”

Mr. Richards held up his hands. “Hey, slow down there! Nothing’s happening just yet! We’ll discuss all the details when they become relevant.”

“What happened today, Mom? Dad?” Trish asked curiously.

“Yeah, did you guys win the lottery?” Adam grinned.

“Not quite,” said Mr. Richards. “We actually took a trip to the credit union today.”

“That’s right,” said Mrs. Richards. “And we opened up a HELOC.”

“A what?” Adam and Trish chorused.

“A HELOC,” Mr. Richards said calmly. “Or a home equity line of credit. It’s an open line of credit we now have against our house’s equity.”

“Can you say that again in English?” Adam asked.

Mrs. Richards laughed. “Sure. That means the credit union allows us to borrow money we need for renovations. This is called a line of credit, meaning we can withdraw the money we need, when we need it. And then we pay it back, just a little bit at a time.”

“And it’s against-what was that you said?” Trish wrinkled her eyebrows.

“Our home’s equity,” Mr. Richards explained. “That means the credit is secured by the value of our home. It’s serving as collateral, or a guarantee, that we won’t default on the loan and neglect to pay it back.”

Adam and Trish were quiet as they processed this information.

“Cool,” Trish said after a while. “Now we can afford to finish the basement.”

“Yeah!” Adam cheered. “And we get to sleep without the twins screaming their heads off right near our rooms!”

The baby monitor chose that moment to start crackling-and soon the sound of an infant’s howling shattered the calm in the kitchen.

Mr. Richards stood up to go fetch the crying baby from upstairs, but before he went, Adam and Trish stopped him.

“Thank you, Mom and Dad,” they said together. “This is awesome news!”

“Don’t thank us,” Mrs. Richards smiled. “Thank the credit union!”

Talking points:

  • A HELOC is an open line of credit that allows the borrower to withdraw money as needed, and a HEL (home equity loan) is a loan that the borrower receives in one lump sum. Which do you think is the smarter choice when funding a home renovation?
  • How is taking out a HELOC different than using a credit card?
  • Why do you think some people make improvements on their home before they sell their house?