President’s Blog

John Holt

East Windsor Branch Closing


John Holt : July 17, 2015 11:14 am : President's Blog


As my frequent readers know, we periodically evaluate our products and services, hours of operation, security and technology, staff and branch locations so as to ensure that we are always doing what is best for the membership and the credit union!

As the lease for our East Windsor branch was coming up for renewal, we were unable to settle on fair and appropriate lease terms with our landlord. For this reason, this branch located at 137 Prospect Hill Road will no longer be in service after the close of business on Saturday, August 29, 2015. Rest assured, you will still see the familiar faces you’ve grown to know as our employees from this branch assume roles in other locations. Nutmeg is prepared to continue its community commitment in the East Windsor area assuming we can find an appropriate location that works for us and our members. In addition to seeking a replacement location in the East Windsor area, we are narrowing our search for a branch location within New Haven County before the end of 2016.

Our suite of e-Service products allows you to do anything right from your smart phone, tablet, or home computer. You can deposit checks, apply for loans, transfer money, pay bills and access account information from anywhere at any time. Click here to find out more about our electronic services. If you ever have questions about our products and services, we encourage you to contact us. Our Contact Center hours are:

  • Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • Saturday: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

We also invite you to visit one of our nearby locations at 270 Broad Street, Manchester or One American Row, Hartford. Click here for a complete list of our branch locations. You can also enjoy fee free access to over 40,000 ATMs throughout the country through the SUM and CO-OP networks. Click here to find the closest free ATM to you.

We will always continue to make decisions that are in the best interest of our members. I will be sure to share updates in my blog about new branch locations as we move through the second half of 2015 and beyond. Thank you for continuing to bank with us.

Sincerely,
John Holt
President & CEO


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John Holt

Improve Your Home with Great Home Equity Loan Rates


John Holt : June 16, 2015 11:00 am : President's Blog


The most valuable thing you own is your home, so making sure you have the best options available to you is important to us. Whether you want to borrow for home improvements, educational expenses, debt consolidation, or major purchases, a home equity loan or line of credit from Nutmeg is the right choice. Because home equity lines of credit and loans are secured by the equity in your home, the rates are typically lower than on most other loans.

Home Improvements Add Value
Even though you can use the equity in your home for other expenses, updating your home by making improvements adds great value. For example, statistics show that a moderate kitchen remodel adds up to 70% of its cost to your home’s value, as does upgrading exterior siding. Even further, certain energy-efficient upgrades could give you tax benefits and lower energy bills in addition to adding value. Please keep in mind, however, a $70,000 kitchen in a $200,000 house doesn’t make sense. You want to ensure improvements are proportional to your home’s value.

Additional benefits of home equity loans and lines of credit:

• Interest may be tax-deductible
• Fast decision making
• Fixed-term, fixed rate home equity loans for borrowing a specific amount
• Home equity line of credit for whatever you need, whenever you want, simply by transferring money from your line of credit to your checking account
• Easy online application process
• Work with a Home Loan Specialist for the best results

As an added bonus, we’ve got 2 very special offers. We’re offering 5-year home equity loans as low as 3.25% APR or 7-year home equity loans as low as 3.75% APR with a $375 cash back bonus, giving you even more cash on hand to jump-start those repairs and remodeling. Click here to learn more.

Fixed rate home equity loans and lines of credit can be a great way to get much-needed cash at a reasonable interest rate. Your home could be an untapped financial resource that can help you make improvements, pay for large expenses or even just take a vacation. Call us today to find out more!

Thank you for banking with us!

Sincerely,

John Holt
President and CEO


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John Holt

Finding the Mortgage Loan to Meet Your Needs


John Holt : May 12, 2015 4:28 pm : President's Blog


Finding the Mortgage Loan to Meet Your Needs

Finding the right mortgage loan can be a time consuming and confusing process, but we’re here to help! A mortgage is a huge long-term financial commitment so selecting the right one involves a lot of research and a clear understanding of the financial impact it could have.

As you know, we’ve always offered mortgage loans, and recently we added more options for purchase and refinance. We understand that not everyone can qualify for a traditional loan and may need to explore other alternatives.

With that in mind, we now offer HARP and FHA loans. FHA loans are designed to help first time home buyers who don’t have a lot of money to put down; and HARP loans are designed to help people who are underwater in their mortgage (home value is less than the mortgage). This is part of a federal program to help keep people from losing their homes. This program ends at the end of the year, so now is the time to get started!

To help you determine which program best fits your needs, below are some of the features of each program.

HARP – Home Affordable Refinance Program
These loans are for people who are current on their mortgage payments, but owe as much if not more than the current home value (current Loan-to-Value ratio is greater than 80%).

  • Closing costs can be bundled into the new loan so very little cash is needed up front
  • Can be used on primary residences, second homes or investment properties
  • For mortgages originated on or before May 31, 2009
  • Today’s market rates are more than 30% lower than in 2008
  • You can build equity faster if you switch from a 30-year mortgage to a 15-year mortgage

FHA Loans (Federal Housing Administration)
The FHA loans allow buyers to get a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5%. The underwriting requirements to qualify for an FHA loan are usually less rigid than traditional 30 year mortgages, and give those that don’t have a large down payment a viable option for financing.

  • Typical for First-Time Home-Buyers
  • Conventional mortgages generally require borrowers to have debt-to-income of 45% or less, while the FHA allows borrowers to have a debt-to-income up to 57%
  • Minimum 640 credit score
  • Shorter time frame following major credit problems

Conventional Mortgage Loans
Conventional loans can be either a fixed or an adjustable rate. Fixed-rate mortgages have a set interest rate for the entire length of the mortgage term. Adjustable-rate mortgages (ARM) offer a low introductory rate for a fixed period of time followed by periodic adjustments.

  • Require between 5-20% minimum down payment
  • Only require Mortgage Insurance if the loan exceeds 80% of the loan-to-value
  • Credit sensitive
  • Can cover much higher loan amounts
  • Can cover second homes and investment properties, while FHA loans do not

Whether you are buying a home or looking to refinance a mortgage, we can help you make the best decision and get you a great rate as well! Call us for more information!

Sincerely

John Holt
President and CEO


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John Holt

Annual Meeting President’s Report


John Holt : March 26, 2015 5:16 pm : President's Blog


I’m very excited to report that 2014 was another record year for the credit union in many areas.

2014 by the Numbers
To recap, we experienced growth in net income, membership, loans, and deposits. We saw record growth in net income at $2.8 million even with the economic challenges and slow job growth in CT! We welcomed 2000 net new members as of year-end, ending 2014 with 34,963 or a 6.1% growth. Our loan portfolio grew by over 10.90% to $276,113,848 and deposits grew by 3.83% to $319,020,288. Our core deposit growth (checking and savings products) continues to show impressive growth at 11% as we introduced our First Choice Checking Account that pays 4.99% APY on balances up to $10,000. We remain one of the strongest credit unions in the state of Connecticut, if not in the country, with our capital ratio standing at 13.66%. This number signifies our financial strength and is well above the minimum required 7%.

Banking without a Branch
We experienced excellent growth in our e-Services in 2014. Many of our members have now opted to use our electronic delivery channels. Our e‐banking users grew 16.8% to 11,536. Additionally, more people enrolled in e-Statements, and our e-Deposits and Mobile app gained wider usage. The number of e‐deposit users grew by 38.0% to 2,339, which signifies increased usage in making deposits via your mobile device. e‐Statement usage more than doubled, growing a phenomenal 60.5% to 13,701. Mobile banking users also grew by 49.0% to 6,180 users.

2014 in Review
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 and invested in a major overhaul to our IT infrastructure further enhancing our reliability and security. We also launched virtual branches in East Windsor and New Britain where you can work with a loan representative via live video chat, and added a loan sales center to make it easier for you to borrow from us. 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 our insurance agency Nutmeg State Insurance Benefits, that allows you to comparison shop major insurance providers for all of your insurance needs including homeowners, auto, pet, renter’s, boat, motorcycle, accident and more!

A Look at 2015
We’re looking forward to exciting changes in 2015! Our biggest change was our conversion to a State-chartered credit union and a name change to Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union. The charter change has allowed us to expand into New Haven County which will open the door to an additional 900,000 people in the state of Connecticut. This also gives us the opportunity to expand our branch and ATM networks in New Haven County.

In 2015 we will continue to build on providing the best possible member experience. I say it over and over again, but member service is and will always be our top priority. In fact, I am so passionate about this that you now have the ability to e-mail me directly if an issue isn’t resolved to your satisfaction. My e-mail address is posted on our Web site, click here to e-mail me anytime. Technology will also continue to be a main focus. We want to provide you with quick and easy access to your account information in a safe and secure manner. We’re excited about our newly designed Mobile app and the launch of Apple Pay this spring.

I would like to thank the employees and our Board of Directors for their hard work and dedication. More importantly, I would like to thank you for your continued support and trust in us.

Sincerely

John Holt
President and CEO


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John Holt

It’s Not Too Late to Reset Your Financial Goals


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.

Sincerely,

John Holt
President and CEO


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John Holt

Don’t Miss Our Presidents’ Day Auto Loan Promo


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!

Sincerely,

John Holt
President and CEO


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John Holt

Exciting Changes Are Underway for 2015


John Holt : December 31, 2014 2:18 pm : President's Blog


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.

Sincerely,

John Holt
President & CEO


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John Holt

Mobile Deposits Continue to Gain Popularity


John Holt : December 8, 2014 5:48 pm : President's Blog


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.

Sincerely,

John Holt
President and CEO


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John Holt

Meeting the Digital Banking Experience Needs of Consumers


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!

Sincerely,

John Holt
President and CEO


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John Holt

How to Manage Your Student Loan Debt


John Holt : October 6, 2014 9:27 am : President's Blog


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!

Sincerely,

John Holt
President and CEO


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