Tips for Teens – Time Is Money

Last semester in my Economics class, we talked about a fairly simple, yet fundamental concept: Opportunity Costs.

It goes something like this:

Graph showing quantity of guns producted vs quantity of butter produced.

The more a nation or industry invests in a product, such as guns, the more of that product will be produced, at the cost of the opportunity of producing another good, say butter, as we see in point A. The idea is that there needs to be equilibrium to maximize efficiency, close to or on point B. This ensures that you’ll have an equal amount of defense and goods. While this may be an economic concept, it can easily be applied to just about anything in life. read more >

President’s Corner – Personal Finances

Married members came into our office recently to consolidate their debts into a second mortgage loan. They wanted to amortize the loan over fifteen years, but we felt a second mortgage loan based on old debts should not have a term more than five years. We explained to the couple that in order to get rid of their debt as soon as possible at the smallest possible cost to them, they would have to accept the lower term. We showed them how much less interest they would pay with a five-year term versus a fifteen-year term, and they could afford the monthly payment on a five-year loan. read more >

Credit Corner – Speed or Service?

In the old days of the mid to late 20th century, financial institutions would take up to a week to evaluate a loan application. Today’s technology with online applications and smartphones has shortened the wait time to mere seconds. Rocket Mortgage promotes, “Goodbye, Paperwork” and “Get Approved Fast.” Tap n Loan brags, “A Better Day is a Tap Away.” Speedy Cash says it all in their name.

But is faster always better? While it’s much more convenient to complete the loan application online, there are shortcomings in dealing with online-only institutions. First of all, there’s no place to go if the borrower has questions. There are no “brick and mortar” branches, and phone support is spotty at best. Secondly, these sites claim to do a comparison of other large banks’ and credit unions’ rates but routinely omit smaller local institutions. The net effect is the borrower not necessarily receiving the best possible interest rate on the loan. Thirdly, the online-only outfits do not typically offer a full array of products. Finally, according to NerdWallet, a personal finance website, notes that Quicken Loans, the parent company of Rocket Mortgage, only looks at credit scores and debt-to-income ratios instead of alternative credit data such as employment history, payment track record, and monthly cash flow. read more >

Tips for Teens – Give up the Green for the Privilege to Stream

Image of Teen Boy at LaptopIt’s no secret that I’ve been against investing in streaming services for a while (like Spotify or Netflix) since they add up to be more expensive than buying the media that you stream from these services. Not to mention that once you cancel your subscription, you lose access to all the media you streamed, making your investment worthless. I was pretty strong on my position, that is, before I finally caved into my phone’s persistent plea to sign up for a trial of one of these streaming services, which I will refer to as Orange. It was without a doubt an addicting and joyful experience. But like all great things, it had to come to an end. The Orange trial ended exactly three months later, as did all my access to the songs I streamed. read more >

President’s Corner – Mr. Musk

“You have to spend money to make money.” We’ve all heard that well-worn phrase. To a business owner, that means investing funds for supplies, product, advertising, staff salaries, and other operating expenses. For entrepreneurs trying to get a business idea off the ground, spending money with no revenue is difficult without borrowing from friends, family, their financial institution, or if really lucky, a venture capitalist willing to take a risk.

Imagine the difficulty Elon Musk has trying to create an automobile company with new technology. Mr. Musk started off slowly by building a few cars at a time and selling them at a very high price which built up some cash reserves. Later on, the company went public, and more cash from stock issuances came in. read more >

Animal Shelter Drive Success

During the months of May and June, we hosted a drive in our lobbies to collect donations for the Contra Costa County Animal Shelter. We collected blankets, beds, towels, food and much more, and ended up being able to do two drop-offs to the shelter!

On behalf of all the doggies and kitties currently in the shelter, we thank you for your support!

Photo of Animal Shelter Supply Dropoff

Tips for Teens – Congrats Class of 2017

Image of Cheshire Cat in a Tree Smiling“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” said Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where-” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“-so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland read more >

President’s Corner – Clean Energy Loans

Last month, I talked about the changes we are making in order to remain independent and competitive. Not only do we have to compete against the “Big Five” largest banks, regional banks, community banks, other credit unions, and nonbanks such as Walmart and Quicken Loans, but now our federal regulators are currently reviewing an application from a clean energy company to charter a new credit union to fund clean energy loans for its customers.

“Clean Energy” has become an umbrella term for all the different types of energy that do not pollute the atmosphere when used. In other words, clean energy is any type of energy not originating from coal or oil. Renewable energy includes wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and to some, nuclear. While this is not a debate on climate change, I think we can all agree less air pollution is good. read more >

Tips for Teens – Think Before You Shop

Cat pushing shopping cart.The internet has become a modern day genie. Searching for cat videos? Boom! 146,000,000 results in 0.73 seconds! What year was the White House built? You’ll have the answer in 1.24 seconds. Shoe shopping? You only have 622,703 pairs to choose from on Amazon. While this access to basically everything is pretty cool, at the same time it can create a problem for impulse shoppers. The web makes it incredibly easy to quickly convince yourself that you need that teapot because it’s on sale and dares you compare prices from different stores. As an added bonus, it throws in free two-day shipping on orders over $25 dollars, which is what finally convinced you to buy that extra phone case. At the end of the day, you have spent $25 or more on stuff that you really didn’t need, but you were made to think you did. How do you avoid this? read more >

President’s Corner – Changes

As a lifelong UCLA fan and later alumnus, I studied their long-time basketball coach John Wooden. Basketball coaches generally don’t see beyond the 94 by 50 chunk of wood in front of them. But Coach Wooden was different. He saw basketball as an analogy for life. One of my favorite quotes from Coach was, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

I hear conflicting wants and needs from members. Some members want us to expand our branch network and add or expand services they want. Other members want us to do nothing and stay the same. Unless I’m missing something, both cannot happen. read more >