John Holt : February 16, 2015 3:13 pm : President's Blog
It’s February and hopefully you have kept your New Year’s resolution to do things like spend less money, invest more, pay down debt, start exercising, quit smoking, etc. If you actually broke your resolution by January 2, don’t feel bad. Statistics show that only 8% of the people who make resolutions actually keep them. This is usually because people don’t set small attainable goals but huge overwhelming ones. Research shows that 42% of the people that made financial resolutions found it easier to pay down debt and save more for retirement than to lose weight or give up smoking…. interesting right?
Goals need to be realistic but challenging especially when setting goals for your finances. If one of your goals is to reduce your credit card debt, then consolidate the debt or pay off the higher interest cards first. For the best results, try not to charge additional purchases on those cards while you’re trying to pay down what you owe unless you know you can pay off the purchases within 30 days. I highly recommend that you review the rate you’re paying on your auto and/or home loan. If you think your rate is high, you should shop around and try to see if you can reduce your rate by refinancing. This could save you hundreds of dollars a month!
When it comes to saving money, it’s best to make your goals as specific as possible. For instance, don’t just say you want to save $50 each month, find a place to cut $50 from your spending and save that. Doing a monthly budget check helps make those little expenses such as a cup of coffee purchased every morning stand out. Two dollars a day doesn’t sound like a lot but if you do it 20 times a month, you’re spending $40. Also, did you finally pay off your loan? If you’ve been paying on it for years, continue the habit and make the same payment right into a savings account. It might also be a good idea to throw all of your loose change into a jar. You wouldn’t believe how fast the coins add up! As an incentive for you to save, we encourage you to be a part of our Savings Challenge. Click here to find out how you can easily save over $1,300 a year.
Always be cautious about setting your financial goals- they should be simple and clear. Now is a good time to look at your financial resolutions and adjust them as necessary. I hope you will continue to work hard at your 2015 resolutions, whether they’re health related, money related or anything else you’ve resolved to change this year.
We look forward to working with you on ways to make it easier for you to meet your financial goals.
President and CEO
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John Holt : February 9, 2015 1:08 am : President's Blog
When most people need an auto loan, they usually end up just getting the loan from the financial institution the dealer recommends, without consideration of the actual rate. We prefer you think of us first, which is why we ensure our rates are always competitive, especially this Presidents’ Day. We want you to take home the car you’ve been wanting! Or even save money by refinancing your existing auto loan with another financial institution.
From February 12 – 16, you can buy or refinance a new or used vehicle with rates starting at 1.24% APR for up to 39 months. We make it affordable and easy for you. We also want to ensure you are never overextended. Equifax recently reported that more than 2.6% of the people who borrowed to purchase a vehicle in the first quarter of 2014 had missed at least one car payment by November. And almost 8.5% of borrowers with weak credit scores had missed several payments by November. This is the reason we want to work with you to determine how much car you can afford. We also understand that buying a car can feel overwhelming, so we want to ensure the experience is seamless. Whatever your budget or taste, we are here to assist. If you love your current car, or are simply waiting to pay it off first, we want to help make the right financial choices for you there too. You won’t have to stress about the idea of shopping around for great rates OR the vehicle itself, either. With our Carcierge Personal Auto Buying Service, we have one of our employees work to find you that next great car. Tell them your personal specifications, and they take care of everything from shopping to finalizing the loan. Click here to contact our Carcierge service.
Refinancing can be a great option to help lower your monthly payments. Paying your existing loan on time has probably greatly increased your credit score. When you refinance, you have the potential to lower your interest rate, saving you money month-to-month and over the entire life of the loan. In many cases, you may be able to reduce the number of payments as well. With a lower interest rate and payment altogether, refinancing may be the best option for you. The switch is easy and one of our Loan Team members can make the transition fast and easy for you. Click here to begin refinancing your existing auto loan.
Don’t let the upcoming Presidents’ Day auto loan sale pass you by. Buy or refinance today! Contact us for more information!
Thank you for banking with us!
President and CEO
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Exciting Changes Are Underway for 2015
We’ve had a lot of successes in 2014! We continued to look for ways to improve and make it easier for you to bank with us. We upgraded our technology in order to make it easy for you to access your accounts. We introduced our First Choice Checking account – one of the best checking accounts available in the CT market. It not only pays 4.99% APY on balances up to $10,000, but there are many other benefits as well, such as rate discounts on loans, and rate bumps on certificates.
In addition to making our services more accessible, we launched virtual branches in East Windsor and New Britain where you can work with a loan representative via live video chat. We did this to save you time when you visit a branch for a loan, a great alternative to waiting for someone in the branch. Additionally, we added a loan sales center to make it easier for you to borrow from us. And the best part is, you never need to leave your house! You can do everything online, including signing the paperwork. We also introduced new ways for you to save money on your insurance. When you visit our Web site, you can access a link that allows you to comparison shop major providers, and then buy the package that best meets your needs.
We are proud of everything we have accomplished in 2014. We also had record growth in membership numbers and loans. Our assets have grown to over $378 million. We continue to do well financially and we remain well capitalized, making us one of the strongest credit unions in the country.
We’re looking forward to exciting changes in 2015! Our biggest change will be our conversion to a State-chartered credit union, which allows us to expand into New Haven County. Because we will no longer be Federally-chartered, our name will be changing to Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union. Our logo will also be changing – see image below for the new look. Converting to a State-charter allows us to remain viable in a competitive market, and it allows us to open our doors to an additional 900,000 people in New Haven County. This also gives us the opportunity to expand our branch and ATM networks – You’ve been asking for branches in this county, and now we can open them there!
It is important that you know that this change will have no impact on the membership. Your Nutmeg account number, membership and privileges will remain the same and you will experience no change in our operation as a State-chartered credit union. The changes that you can expect to see will involve our logo and places where our name is displayed like branch signage, Web site, and printed materials. These items will change over the next several months to reflect our new name.
In 2015, we will continue to focus on providing exceptional service at every interaction. Service is, and will always be, a top priority. We also plan to introduce new products and further enhance our existing products. This will include the introduction of Apple Pay which gives you the ability to make purchases at stores right from your phone. We will also update our mobile app to allow for more accessibility and easier navigation, convert our VISA® credit cards to EMV chip cards for your added safety and protection, launch a new Web site, and open a branch in New Haven County. We are looking forward to the year ahead!
I want to thank the Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee for their support and governance of the credit union. I want to thank Staff for their hard work and for supporting the vision of the credit union. And most importantly, I want to thank the membership for their continued support.
President & CEO
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If you read my BLOG posts regularly, you know that I am a big advocate of technology and our electronic services, particularly our mobile banking app. We are living in a more connected world where everyone wants 24/7 accessibility because it offers more control and flexibility. For most financial institutions, the mobile banking app is quickly becoming the branch of choice among their consumers. With the ability to easily do everything from transfer funds, view statements, pay bills, open accounts, make deposits, and so much more, mobile devices are actually becoming branches themselves.
As more and more people embrace digital channels, physical locations become less necessary. With that in mind, mobile usage is quickly becoming the leading digital platform, with mobile banking logins beginning to exceed online desktop logins. Nearly half of all smartphone owners have used mobile banking in the past year, according to a study released by the Federal Reserve. This is up 42% from the previous year.
Driving the increased usage of mobile banking are mobile deposits. It doesn’t get any easier than allowing people to deposit checks easily and securely without taking a trip to an ATM or branch. Once you have our app downloaded, all you have to do is snap a photo of the front and back of the check, and then follow a few simple on-screen instructions to complete the deposit.
As we look to evolve our e-Deposit service, we’ll introduce the ability make real time deposits. Eventually we hope to also advance toward voice command technology. The possibilities are unlimited. We are committed to making banking easy for our members, and since its introduction, our app has grown in popularity. Members appreciate that we offer easy and convenient alternatives to banking and like that they don’t need to worry about driving in traffic to get to a branch. They know they can just open our app and make a deposit. It also bridges the distance gap for out-of-state members. We understand the need to continue evolving our mobile banking platform and we are prepared to continue evolving our technology in order to make your banking life easier.
We understand that the rise in use of mobile devices is changing what you expect from us, and anticipate that mobile banking users will continue to grow and exceed all other channels as a primary interaction tool. Technology is bridging the banking playing field. For those of you who haven’t downloaded our app… try it! You’ll love it and wonder what you ever did without it.
Thank you for banking with us.
President and CEO
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John Holt : November 3, 2014 5:07 pm : President's Blog
Internet banking has come a long way since first-generation solutions were introduced in the 1990s. Older systems allowed you to view recent statements online, conduct transfers between accounts at the same institution, and pay a limited range of bills. Over time, however, most people have come to expect greater accessibility. We are fully cognizant of that.
We get it. You want to bank 24/7 no matter where you are. It is for this reason that we continue to improve upon our digital banking experience (note that I didn’t say online banking experience). The digital banking landscape is changing and it continues to be segmented by device (online, mobile, tablet) or services (personal financial management, P2P, e-Pay). And soon a new player – Apple Pay – will enter the arena.
Although some will argue that there is still an urgent need for physical branch locations, more attention is being given to the fact that the digital channel is now the branch of choice. With this in mind, our goal is to present you with an optimal user experience. Statistics even suggest that consumers are leaving banks and credit unions that do not offer them the digital experience they expect.
With the continuing use of mobile devices for banking (50% of consumers and growing, according to a recent First Data survey), we know we have to continue to adapt our technologies. By the end of the year, you will see a sleeker design for our Mobile app. You will also find it easier to access accounts, pay bills, make deposits, access e-Statements, stay up to date on the latest promotions, and get real time rate information.
Next year we will also launch Apple Pay, your wallet without the wallet. It will make paying for transactions easier than ever. This process will eliminate common online shopping hassles, like entering credit card information and typing out a billing address. For those who are concerned about security, private information will be secure since it will not be shared with the merchant.
Also on the horizon is the conversion to EMV chips in our VISA credit card. With all of the recent news around fraud and data breaches, consumers are more focused on the safety of making purchases. This awareness has called for more security. EMV cards include tiny electromagnetic chips which authenticate the transaction, and is proven to reduce transaction fraud.
Digital banking is changing the way everyone banks, and to effectively keep pace with the demands, we are prepared to continue ensuring we provide the latest and greatest technology.
Stay tuned! More will follow!
President and CEO
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Paying for school out of pocket isn’t a reality for most. I know there are exceptions to this, but research shows that seven in 10 college seniors (71%) who graduated last year had student loan debt, with an average of $29,400 per borrower. It’s expensive and unless you are willing to work multiple jobs and endless hours per week, student loans are the only option.
While student loans create opportunity, the burden of the debt upon graduation can be very stressful and overwhelming. More often than not, you are looking at a statement showing a student loan balance that seems too high to pay. Making matters worse, you may be unemployed, underemployed, or just not in a financial position to start making payments on your loans.
At the end of the day, you’ve worked hard to get through school. Now it’s time to learn how to manage your finances so you’re not living pay check to pay check, you’re able to pay off your student loan debt, and you’re finally able to move out of your parent’s house!
Create a budget.
Creating a budget helps you easily track your income and expenses. It’s also very telling. So start budgeting. You can use anything from a budget app to an excel spreadsheet. Track everything. Start with your disposable income and then go through and list all of your expenses, including your daily stops at Dunkin Donuts. This helps you see what expenses are necessary and what expenses are unnecessary. Can you cut anything? I mean, don’t give up everything to save money though. Just don’t splurge.
Cut expenses then apply that extra money to your student loan.
You’ve created a budget, now what can you cut? Cutting expenses isn’t as hard as it may seem. First start by cutting back on the unnecessary expenses, then take a look at everything else. I know the goal is to move out of your parent’s house, but if you can reduce housing expenses, it may be worth it to stay a little longer. Typically, housing is the biggest monthly expense, so cutting back can provide the biggest boost to cash flow. Use that money to pay down your student loan debt. To further increase cash flow, you can also reduce recurring expenses such as your cable or cell phone bill, or even sell stuff you’re no longer using for cash, like some of those text book you’ll most likely never use again.
Don’t be afraid of your student loan debt.
Think about your current financial situation and ask yourself: Do I need to lower my payment? Do I need to postpone my payment? However, just remember, the debt doesn’t go away, so the more you can pay and the sooner you can start making those payments, the quicker the debt will be paid off. And the quicker you pay off your student loans, the less burdened you’ll feel.
Find ways to pay off your student loan debt faster.
What if you tried to pay off $29,400 in student loan debt in three years? Seems impossible, right? If you pay $901.03 for 36 months at an average rate of 6.50%, you actually can pay your loan off in three years! Although probably not as easy as it sounds, if you can find a way to increase your monthly income while reducing your monthly expenses, you might find that it actually is possible.
Your student loan debt doesn’t have to be scary, and eventually you will pay off it off. It’s up to you just how fast. If you need help figuring out how to manage your loans, please contact us and ask for a financial review and advice! Please also look for more information about our new student loan program coming very soon.
Our goal is to make your financial life easier!
President and CEO
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Home Depot recently announced they were investigating a potential breach in their payments data, which may impact shoppers who made credit or debit card purchases in their stores from April forward. In light of this announcement, I just wanted to take the time to remind you that we do everything in our power to protect your personal financial information.
We have fraud detection systems in place that monitor your credit and debit activity to minimize any adverse effects on you. If your cards are used for a purchase that triggers an alert, you will be contacted by our Transaction Review Department and asked to verify the purchase. The caller will only ask that you confirm the amount and location of the purchase, no other personal information will be requested. In the meantime, we encourage you to regularly review your credit and debit transaction history and account statements. We have many services in place that make it easy for you to do this. If you see any irregular or unauthorized activity, please contact us immediately. We will work with you to quickly research the issue, close your compromised card, and issue you a new one. Please note: It is always important that we have your most up-to-date contact information on file, so that if we need to get in touch with you, we can.
While there is no guarantee that you won’t become a victim of identity theft, you can minimize your risk by making it more difficult for identity thieves to access your personal information.
Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your Social Security number on a check. Give your Social Security number only when absolutely necessary, and ask to use other types of identifiers.
Shred to minimize mail fraud. Always shred your receipts, copies of credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, bank statements, expired charge cards that you’re discarding, and credit offers you get in the mail.
Be careful when using the Internet. The Internet can give you access to information, entertainment, financial offers, and countless other services but at the same time, it can leave you vulnerable to cyber crime, online scammers, identity thieves and more. It’s worth it to invest in a good anti-virus software such as Norton™, McAfee® or Kaspersky™. These will also help protect against malware.
Select complex passwords. Create a unique password for all of your online accounts, and avoid using passwords that contain information like your mother’s maiden name, your birth date, the last four digits of your Social Security number or your phone number, or a series of consecutive numbers. Combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters make the strongest passwords. It’s also a good practice to change your password regularly.
Verify a source before sharing information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or on the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact and are sure you know who you’re dealing with. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of financial institutions, businesses, and even government agencies to get people to reveal their Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, account numbers, and other identifying information.
If you haven’t already, enroll in our Identity Theft Recovery Program. This program helps you get your identify restored in the event that it is stolen. If you detect fraudulent activity and you are enrolled in this service, all you need to do is contact us and we will refer you to a personal Recovery Advocate. Click here for more information.
For more tips on how you can best protect yourself from identity theft, click here. And for credit report resources, click here. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call us at 860.513.5000 or 800.526.6933 or stop by any office to speak with a member service representative.
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As we close the first half of the year, I want to take some time to not only recap our successes but to also say thank you! Thank you for banking with us, thank you for believing in us and supporting us, and thank you for continuing to refer your friends and family to us. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with you and will continue to look for ways to improve your banking experience.
We’re always evaluating how we can better serve you. We are all about accessibility so whether you’re banking in a branch, over the phone, online or via our mobile app, our goal is to make it easy for you to do business with us. We’ve made many behind the scenes adjustments and upgrades, as well as ones that are directly visible to you, such as our e-Banking upgrade. We are especially excited about this upgrade because you now have the ability to reset your password at any time if you become locked out, and the ability to reset or unlock security questions by requesting a by-pass code 24/7 instead of having to contact us by phone. For more information about this upgrade, please click here.
We also added a loan sales center to make it easier for you to borrow from us. And the best part is, you never need to leave your house! You can do everything online, including signing the paperwork. We’ve even found ways to save you time when you visit a branch for a loan. Visit our Virtual Branch in either the New Britain or East Windsor locations to talk to a live representative from our loan sales center. This provides you an alternative to waiting for someone in the branch.
Coming soon, you will also see an upgraded mobile app, where your e-Deposits are processed in real time. So as soon as you electronically deposit your check, you will have accessibility to the funds. Upgrading our technology so that you can transact and interact anytime and anyplace through multiple delivery channels is very important to us.
I say it over an over again, but service is and will always be a top priority. We are committed to building strong relationships, which is why we developed our First Choice Checking account that offers 4.99% APY on checking balances up to $10,000 when terms of the account are met. The intent of this account is to build stronger relationships with you. We want to be the first place you think of for all your financial needs, and now even your insurance needs. We recently introduced a fully functional insurance agency, Nutmeg State Insurance Benefits, which makes shopping for insurance easier than ever. You can get quotes for everything from auto, home, life, accident, pet, legal and much more. Click here to visit our Web site and learn more about both of these new services.
We are always striving to provide you with the best value and service with complete confidence. We’re progressive and will always look to stay ahead of trends in order to bring you an exceptional banking experience. We continue to make substantial progress in transforming Nutmeg into the premier financial institution in Connecticut.
We measure our success by how well we are able to meet your needs, and our plan is to continue to make a beneficial impact on your financial life.
Thank you for your continued support!
President and CEO
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We have great news! Not only do we have a checking account that offers cash back rewards and ATM fee rebates, but coming very soon, we will introduce a checking account that pays 4.99% APY!
A few years ago we introduced a More-Than-Free Checking account. We knew that free checking accounts were becoming less common and more and more banks were increasing minimum balances and charging fees. Not only did we seek to offer a free checking account, but we decided to pay our members to use it by giving them ATM rebates up to $10 each month and 50¢ cash back on qualified debit card purchases up to $15 per month. All this with ZERO monthly service charges or maintenance fees, and no minimum balance requirements!
Since introducing our More-Than-Free Checking account, we’ve enrolled over 3,500 members and on average refund $7.00 per month per member. It’s a great account with excellent perks and I encourage all of you to click here to find out more.
We’re always looking for ways to reward those who use us for all of their banking needs, which is why we’re going one step further. This summer we’re introducing our 1st Choice Checking account that pays 4.99% APY on checking account balances when the easy qualifications of the account are met. The account also offers other perks such as:
- 0.25% APY increase on new and renewed certificates
- 0.50% APR discount on consumer loans
And of course there are no monthly service charges or maintenance fees, and no minimum balance requirements! Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks!
Credit unions have become known for free checking, and as you can see, we’re determined to continue to exceed expectations. In fact, a recent Bankrate survey reports that the percentage of free checking accounts at banks has dropped from 65 percent to just 39 percent from 2010 to 2012. More banks are charging fees on checking accounts now that they face more pressure on both revenue and cost.
We are a community financial institution with an understanding of our members and their financial needs. Our goal is to build a relationship with those who bank with us. We want our members to use all our products and services and think of us any time they need a loan or just a better way to bank. We’re better than big banks for a lot of reasons. We offer the same array of services, from online bill pay and electronic deposits to instant issue debit cards, mortgages, auto loans and credit cards, at much lower costs than big banks. Our fees are also substantially lower and we don’t make our members feel as though they are being nickeled and dimed.
We want to make sure we are always finding ways to improve our members’ financial lives! We appreciate the opportunity to serve our members and the community as a whole. I encourage you to feel free to reach out to me anytime.
President and CEO
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We understand that switching your bank account can be time consuming and tedious. We also understand that there are many factors to consider and that many are reluctant to move because they think the process is too difficult. It’s time to stop sticking with the status quo. Switching doesn’t have to be a painful and arduous process, especially when you have us to help. Here are some easy steps to follow:
Do your research.
Many opt to keep their accounts at a big bank because they don’t fully understand the benefits of banking locally. Top things consumers look for include: 24/7 access through online banking, ATM fee rebates or access to ATMs across the country, low fees and great service. And here’s what they most likely don’t know about us:
- We offer the same array of services, from online bill payment to debit and credit cards, at much lower cost than big banks.
- Our fees are substantially lower than at big banks.
- We offer, on average, better rates on savings and better rates and terms on credit cards and other loans.
- We not only offer ATM fee rebates, but we give you access to over 40,000 free ATMs across the country.
Switching is actually easy.
You just need to be organized. Make a list of everything you need to switch. This includes:
- Determining what automatic payments you have coming out of your account.
- Informing your Human Resources Department that you are changing your direct deposit. Usually all you need to do is provide them with a voided check.
- Starting to write all checks from your new account or setting up your new electronic bill payments one bill at a time as they arrive for payment. This begins the process of turning your new account into your primary one.
- Updating your checking account information for any linked online accounts, such as credit cards or money transfer accounts (like PayPal).
Keep your old account open for as long as you need to ensure checks and other payments clear.
There’s no rush to close your old account or move all your money. You don’t want any checks or automatic payments to bounce. It may even be a good idea to leave some money in the old account and wait an extra month before you close it just to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
Close your old account only when you’re sure that all outstanding checks and scheduled payments have cleared.
Simply contact the bank by e-mail, phone, mail, or in person and let them know you’d like to close your account. The bank will forward any remaining funds.
Make it even easier on yourself, and use our Switch Kit.
We offer a Switch Kit that explains how to switch, and we have letters and forms that can be used to close old accounts, change direct deposit and move automatic account withdrawals. We can basically do all of the moving for you so that no mistakes are made.
There is no doubt that switching your financial institution takes some work, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. So if you haven’t already, it’s time to switch all of your accounts to Nutmeg today!
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