An ethical question?

August 15, 2008

Our latest poll asks an ethical/moral question about money.  Well maybe it’s moral?  I guess the poll really is geared to reveal whether or not people have morals when it comes to money or whether decisions are based on logic and consequences.  Anyway here it is…


Little Foxes

July 7, 2008

Since my watch has broken I find that I don’t spend near as much time looking down at my wrist. You see, looking at my watch had become a response to even the mildest bit of stress. What was meant to make me more efficient had actually become a hindrance to me. So I’ve found that I really don’t miss it all that much. I find myself in less of a rush, and I’ve found a great conversation starter in “Do you have the time?”

What are some other things that we “can’t do without” which in reality hinder us almost as much they help? Facebook comes to mind. I’ve recently become hooked on that. From a personal finance perspective lots of things pop into my head. New cars for one. Why pay thousands more for new car when a used cars are widely available. Or consider cell phone costs. I just don’t see how having a Blackberry Curve will make me $1,000 per year more efficient. But I would sure feel hip and with it while I surf PCU Mobile on it.

Here’s my point. Looking for ways to save money and prosper financially sometimes requires counter-cultural steps. Don’t just follow the crowd and give all your money away just to experience the same thing as everybody else.

There’s a proverb that reads…

“Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.”

(Song of Solomon 2:15)

What are the “little foxes” in your monthlyFox image payments or expenses that ruin your budget? Is it a high car payment or a 2nd mortgage? Maybe its a shopping fix? (guys have those too) Or a gas guzzling SUV? What conveniences can you do without that will make a substantial difference in your budget over time. Hmm… Cable TV?


A Savings Story … This is what credit unions are all about.

May 23, 2008

Yesterday while visiting one of our member companies, I met a very nice woman who had purchased a car just a few days ago. Her supervisor had wisely suggested that she check on a loan at the credit union instead of keeping the loan from the dealership. So she came to speak with me. When I calculated that her current interest rate was 21% I thought I had made a mistake, but she confirmed that I was correct. I thought perhaps she had a very rocky credit history but that was not the case. It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly wasn’t poor either. Fortunately the dealer had not processed the paperwork and she had a few hours to get a loan through our credit union.

So we made her a new loan which saved her loads of money! Below you’ll see just how much she saved…

Dealer Loan

Piedmont CU Loan

Over $4,000 Dollars!!!! She chose to use some of that savings to buy our 48 month mechanical breakdown protection and GAP protection for her loan. Her total cost of the loan even with those add-ons was still $2,000 less than the dealer loan! As you can see, here’s yet another happy credit union member. And that’s who it’s all about!

Happy Piedmont CU Member


Automobile Warranties & Car Companies

May 8, 2008

This post is about the new Mechanical Breakdown Protection available through Piedmont Credit Union.

I am the classic “do-it-yourself-er”. But when my wife’s Acura started having transmission problems late last year I started to think, “maybe I shouldn’t have hung up on those people who call and try to sell extended warranties?” Acuras are not cheap cars and neither are their parts. Did I mention the warranty had expired several thousand miles ago? So I made the dreadful trip to a nearby Acura dealership and nicely explained that I didn’t buy an Acura to see the transmission go bad so soon, and even though it was outside of any warranty coverage I humbly asked if they could help me out a little. What really impressed me was how they pretty much agreed that Acuras are one of the highest quality cars available and that it should not have had this type of problem at this point of it’s life. So Acura corporate agreed to discount the cost of the transmission but I would not have any further warranty on the discounted parts like they usually give. I was pretty satisfied because it appeared that I would be able to pay for these repairs without too much financial discomfort.

Now for all you readers who think the next part Acurais about how the dealership found other things wrong and boosted the price by a thousand dollars, I hate to disappoint you. When my wife picked up the car, the total price was $800 LESS than what they quoted me and it was going to come with a new 36,000 mile warranty! I’m now an Acura fan for life!

So what’s the moral of this story? I think it’s this: Consider purchasing an extended warranty for your vehicle. When you compare it’s cost to that of major repairs the choice is easy. Do the math.

New non-discounted transmission installed by dealer=$4,500.

Cost of Piedmont CU Mechanical Breakdown Protection=$1,565.

Mechanical Breakdown Protection is very affordable when seen from this point of view. Plans start around $900 and can cover almost any car that runs. You can read more about it on our main website here. Oh, if you decide to buy an Acura, just be sure to do your financing at the credit union!


What not to do at Christmas (or any time of year).

December 14, 2007

For most of us the Holiday Season and the weeks after it are usually pretty tight financially. There are gifts to buy, regular bills, and then there are those non-regular bills like taxes or insurance. This year my family even has the added pleasure of paying a $1,500 deductible for a recent hospital stay. At times like these when bills are piling up and it’s nearing that overwhelming point, it can be very tempting to consider an alternative like a “quick cash” place. This type of debt is a bad idea. If you don’t believe me then look at this video interview with a woman who used to run a Payday Loan store.

If you’re financially exhausted then it’s a good idea to sit down and work on a financial plan. Here are a few characteristics your plan might include:

  • It doesn’t have to be complicated, simpler is usually better.
  • It will probably show how much money you expect to make over the next several weeks. It should also involve planning how to spend that money. This is probably the most important step. But be prepared to face the possibility that the money coming in is not enough to cover what needs to go out! If that’s the case don’t panic. This is why you’re making a plan, to figure out how you are going to make it through.
  • It might include contacting the places you owe money to and making arrangements to pay over time. That’s what I’m going to ask our local hospital about! 😉
  • It might include making an appointment to sit down with someone at the credit union for some honest financial counseling and advice or to look into re-structuring your existing debts.
  • Lastly, if your plan does involve a loan here at crunch time, consider the different options available to you before getting it and be sure that the new payment will not put too much of a burden on you either in the short-term or in the long-term. A credit union Christmas loan has a very low interest rate(9.5%), can be paid back over 12 months, and you don’t have to borrow the whole amount.

The credit union wants you to be prosperous all year long. If you’re struggling, tell us. We’ll listen to your story. And we’ll try to offer real help. So have a Merry Christmas but remember to resist the temptation to go overboard on spending, and not to rush into any loans or purchases. Most of all, avoid taking those high interest loans or Payday Loans. The only people such loans benefit are the executives who own the Payday Loan stores.


Electric Cars or Really Fast Golf Carts?

August 17, 2007

Since Piedmont Credit Union started offering one half percent off the interest rate for cars that get better than 40 miles per gallon, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for good deals on fuel efficient and hybrid cars. Here’s one that really caught my eye! Take a look at the newest 100% electric car to hit the U.S. market. Tesla Motors has recently made their new roadster available for pre-order. Currently their website estimates that if you order one today you would receive it by July 2008. But with a starting price of $98,000 I think I’ll be waiting much longer than that to get behind the wheel. The car is rated to go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds with a top speed of 135 mph. It will go up to 200 miles on a single charge and recharges in about 4 hours. The trunk is just the right size for a set of golf clubs!

Just for fun I calculated what my payments would be for a new metallic orange Tesla roadster with all the options priced at $116,275: At the discounted rate of 5.00% the payments would be $1,872.60 for 72 months. That doesn’t include taxes and registration!