All Articles: Planning for Life Events and Major Purchases

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Preparing for a Possible Recession

A recession represents a decline in economic activity and often leads to high unemployment. Recessions are a natural part of the business cycle, but they can also have a detrimental effect on your finances. Recessions come and go, but they are historically difficult to predict. Learn how to prepare for a possible recession by adjusting your personal finances accordingly.

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Great Resignation: Money Tips When Transitioning Your Job

With a record number of job openings all over the country, it’s a great time to look for a new job. But transitioning careers can leave you without income for several months or more, depending on how long you are out of work. If you are thinking of changing jobs, learn how to manage your finances during this period of transition.

Young couple standing in living room moving into their new house.
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Interest Rates' Impact on The Housing Market

Most people need a mortgage to buy a home, and this means borrowing money from a lender. The lender will always charge interest on top of the principal amount used to buy the home. The interest rate depends on a number of factors, including those related to monetary policy and the health of the economy, as well as those related to your personal finances and credit history. Learn more about how these rates affect the housing market and your bottom line.

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How to Vacation on a Budget

There’s nothing better than leaving town with your loved ones as you explore a new city or country. But going on vacation is more expensive than it used to be. The cost of travel, housing and meals out can put a major dent in your finances. You don’t want to get to your destination and suddenly realize you don’t have enough money to enjoy your trip. This is your time to relax. You shouldn’t have to worry about every dollar you spend. Learn how to budget for your upcoming trip, so you can make the most of your time away from work.

Senior couple sitting down taking a break after doing home rennovations.
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Have Home Equity? Cash-Out Refinances versus Home Equity Loans

If you’ve been in your home for several years or more, chances are you have what is known as home equity, which means you’ve paid off a substantial part of your mortgage loan. You can turn your home equity into cash with a cash-out refinance or a home equity loan. Refinancing your mortgage may also allow you to lock in a lower interest rate, helping you save money in the years to come.

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How to Get the Best Mortgage Rates

For homeowners, a common financial goal is to pay off the mortgage as soon as possible and avoid paying extra interest. The lower the interest rates, the less you will owe down the line. That’s why it’s important to find a loan with the lowest possible interest rates, usually represented as annual percentage rate (APR), and other fees associated with the lending process. Use this guide to help you find the best mortgage rates to save money over time.

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Buying a Fixer-Upper Home: Know the Pros and Cons

If you’re looking to save money when buying a home, you might consider buying a fixer-upper home. Some individuals choose to renovate an older home or one that needs repairs and flip it to make a profit, but are these homes really worth your money? Take a look at the pros and cons of buying a fixer-upper home

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How Much Equity Do I Need for a Home Equity Loan?

One upside to owning a home is that you can start building equity. Once you pay off a certain percentage of your mortgage, you can use this equity to borrow money against your property by taking out what’s known as a home equity loan. This money is often used by homeowners to make repairs, pay down debt or invest in their education. If you are interested in borrowing against the equity you’ve built up in your home, learn more about how these loans work and how to qualify.

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Student Loan Forbearance

Student loan forbearance is a period in which you aren’t required to make a payment on your student loans. You can temporarily make a smaller payment, but the principal amount of the loan will continue to accrue interest. Forbearance can help you reduce your monthly expenses in the short term, however, you won’t make any progress in terms of paying off the loan or loan forgiveness. Learn more about student loan forbearance and when to consider this option.

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Spring Cleaning with the Help of a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)

Spring is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to get your home in shape. Spring cleaning is a time for cleaning, organizing and improving your living space. From adding a new deck to renovating your kitchen, there are so many projects to consider. However, spring cleaning home improvements can be costly.  Depending on the size and scope of your project, you might need to borrow money. You can use a HELOC to help finance your spring cleaning plans. Learn more about how to use a HELOC to improve your home.

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What are Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC) and Home Equity Loans?

If you are new to the world of Home Equity Loans and HELOCs, learn how these loans work and how you may be able to use them to your advantage.

How to Apply for a Mortgage 

The mortgage application process can be overwhelming. Use this guide to simplify the application process so you can finance with confidence.
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Infographic: How to Apply for a Mortgage

The mortgage application process can be overwhelming. Use this guide to simplify the application process so you can finance with confidence. 

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Money and Marriage: What Newlyweds Should Know

You’re looking forward to a long, happy marriage with your betrothed. However, before you say your “I do’s” you might want to have a heart-to-heart talk about money and how you’ll manage your finances. Disagreements on money-related issues are a common challenge that married couples face. Here are some steps you can take so money issues don’t become marriage issues.

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How to Pay for College: College Programs, Loans and Student Budgeting

In some ways, going to college has become essential in today’s economy. Having a degree can be your ticket to a better paying job, but the cost of tuition can be prohibitive for some aspiring students and professionals. The good news is that there are many financial aid programs for you to choose from, regardless of your financial situation. You can lower the cost of college by doing your research and taking advantage of as many of these programs as possible. Don’t wait! The sooner you start researching these programs, the less you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

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Calculating a Car Payment and Other Things to Know About Buying a Car

So, you’re gearing up to buy a car and now it’s time to put your hard-earned money toward a beautiful vehicle that will hopefully last you for the foreseeable future. But calculating a car payment isn’t as straightforward as you might think. Getting pre-approved, locking in a low interest rate and shopping around for the best price is key to making sure you can afford your payments going forward. If you’re new to the world of buying a car, use this guide to get your finances in order before you sign on the dotted line.

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Buying vs. Leasing a Car

This age-old dilemma continues to find new life in today’s economy. Driving is so much a part of our daily lives, but not everyone can afford to buy their car outright. Leasing a car can be a great option to save money, or for those individuals who enjoy driving a different car every few years. Like renting an apartment, you spend money month after month without walking away at the end of the lease with anything of your own. Let’s compare the pros and cons of buying vs. leasing a car so you can make the right decision based on your lifestyle.

Young couple taking a break while moving into their new home.
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Buying a House in a Hot Market

Buying a home in a seller’s market can be challenging. While housing market conditions may be less than ideal, there are still benefits to buying a property versus renting. Use these tips to stay ahead of the competition and land the house you’ve always wanted.

Mixed race middle-age couple in the kitchen looking at a laptop for mortgage refinance interest rates.
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Refinancing Your Home: How to Refinance a Mortgage

Refinancing your mortgage is a great way to reduce debt and take control of your finances. There are many reasons to swap out your current home mortgage for a new repayment plan. It all depends on what you’re looking to achieve with your new home loan. Use this guide to learn more about the refinancing process to see if this is the right option for you.

Man and a woman sitting on a couch, smiling together while looking for home listings on their phone.
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Buying a Home for the First Time? How to Navigate Your Purchase

Nothing could be more exciting than buying your first home! After years of saving and renting, it’s finally time to be the master of your own domain. But buying a home can be much more complicated than you might realize. The asking price of the home is just one piece of the equation as you navigate this all-too-important purchase. From shopping for a mortgage to budgeting for unexpected costs, we’ll walk you through every step of the process.

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Paying Student Loans: How to Pay Back Your Student Loans

Paying off student loans is a top financial priority for many people, but it can be confusing and hard to navigate. Many people don’t understand how student loan debt works or what their options are to reduce their payments. Read this article to learn more about student loans and what options you have to pay them back.

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How Much Does a Wedding Cost? Ways to Prepare Financially

As exciting as this moment may seem, it’s best to plan your wedding around your finances and future lifestyle. Your wedding is just one piece of a much bigger financial puzzle. Use this guide to help plan your special day in an affordable way so you don’t end up putting a financial strain on your marriage before it starts!

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College Savings Plans: What You Need to Know About 529 Withdrawal Rules

Whether you’re saving for your child to go to college or planning the next chapter of your career, you have several options to choose from when it comes to paying for school. The good news is that you’re thinking about your options ahead of time, which should help you make the most of your money as you prepare to further your education. 529 plans can be confusing but learning about these programs will help you save money over time as you finance your education, regardless of where you decide to go to school.

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Home Buying Process: Seven Major Steps in Buying a House

The decision to buy a home can be both exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Homeownership is what many of us strive for—to be able to have a home that we can call our own, as well as a real estate asset we can use to build our personal wealth. It is a big step to take. At the same time, though, the process of buying a house can be overwhelming. Understanding the step-by-step process in purchasing a home can help make the home-buying experience a more positive one for you and your family and can help reduce the additional stress that comes with big purchases in life.

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How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

Are you ready to house hunt, but are wondering "How much mortgage can I afford?" Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can show sellers that you are a serious prospect and give you a leg up on other buyers who jump the gun by visiting open houses without even knowing their budget. In this market, where sellers are getting many offers including cash offers, a pre-approval can help you stand out as a buyer. When you have a documented pre-approval, the seller knows you will be able to get the funding you are offering for the home and you’ll be able to close more quickly and reliably.

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Learn How to Calculate Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

If you’re hoping to get a home loan, auto loan or debt consolidation loan, there’s one important number lenders will want to take a close look at. That number is your debt-to-income ratio (DTI.) Even if your credit report is squeaky clean, your DTI is a good indicator of whether or not you’re overextended and might have trouble with additional monthly debt payments like house or car loans.

Family looking over home improvement plans.
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What Is a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) and What Can You Use It For?

Home equity lines of credit (HELOC) have a wide variety of uses. Read this article to learn more about how they work and how they can help you tackle your next project.

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Vehicle Inspection Checklist: Pre-purchase / Used Car Inspection Checklist

Use this checklist when buying a used vehicle to help make sure you're getting a good deal and a reliable car.

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Insurance Policy Review: When Should I Review My Insurance Coverage?

While a periodic review of your coverage is always a good idea, it’s also important to know what other things should prompt an insurance review.

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Auto Insurance Tips: 5 Tips to Help You Review Your Auto Insurance Coverage

Use these car insurance tips the next time you're reviewing your policy to help make sure you have enough coverage and potentially save some money.

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Estate Planning Documents: Four Important Estate Planning Documents You Need

Estate planning allows you, not the courts, to make important decisions about your assets in the event you are incapacitated or deceased. Take a look at this lesson to learn about four documents that are essential to any estate plan.

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Do Youth Accounts Help Kids in College?

Read this article to learn how a youth account can help your kids succeed in college.

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A Parent’s Guide to Raising Money-Smart Kids

As a parent, you might struggle with when and what to teach your children about money management. Is five too early to earn an allowance? Should you share the family budget with your children? When should teens learn about credit? These are all important questions, and it’s often not easy to know the answers. Kids have different levels of interest in financial education. But research tells us that by the age of five most children understand money and what it can do. The information below offers more specific guidelines for different age groups. Again, these are just guidelines. What decisions you make about when and what to teach at home depend on your family situation, household budget and how comfortable you are in the role of teacher.

Life insurance application.
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How Does Life Insurance Work? The Basics of Life Insurance Explained

Let’s face it, life insurance is something that many people need, but don’t want to talk about. We’ve all seen those GoFundMe pages asking for donations for a person that passed away. It can feel strange planning for the worst-case scenario, especially if you’re young and healthy. Life insurance is a way to help prevent leaving your loved ones with the added stress of financial burdens. Whatever your reason is for thinking about life insurance, this guide will help you get familiarized with some life insurance basics to make your planning and research a little simpler and a little easier.

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Life Insurance Buyer's Guide: Life Insurance Made Easy

This article will cover what to expect, give you some tips to help compare your options and make the life insurance buying experience more convenient and stress free.

Car Ownership, Used Car Selling, Car Rental, Signing Event, Contract
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Private Party Auto Purchase: Tips for Buyers

Private Party purchases can be stressful and intimidating if you’re not prepared. Review our checklists for information that can help you buy a vehicle with confidence.

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Selling Your Car to a Private Party? Tips for How to Sell a Car Privately

Selling your car to a private party can be stressful and intimidating. Use this checklist for information that can help you sell a vehicle with confidence.

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Mortgage Comparison Calculator: Home Loan Comparison Calculator

When purchasing a home the mortgage you choose and the options you want with it will have a significant impact on how much your home costs you in the long run. Interest charges, origination fees, fees paid for a particular interest rate (formerly referred to as 'points') and settlement costs will often have the most impact. Of these, the interest rate you pay will matter most.

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Home Rent vs. Buy Calculator

Depending on how fast prices and rents rise and how long you stay in your home, you may be better off renting rather than buying. Factors that are part of the equation are the difference in monthly rent versus mortgage payment, home value appreciation, annual rent increases, the interest rate you will pay on your loan, your marginal tax rate and the yield you might receive on savings. When looking at these factors, consider the present value of each option. The one with the lower present value will be the better financial choice.

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Five Things to Avoid After You're Pre-approved

Getting pre-approved is a great first step in buying a new home. To stay on track, it’s important to protect your pre-approval status. Specifically, this means maintaining similar finances as when you applied for your home loan. Changes that you may not think twice about may impact your pre-approval. Below are some common events that can put your home loan approval in jeopardy.

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Auto Loan Calculator: Calculate a Vehicle Payment

Your monthly auto loan payment is based on the net purchase price of the vehicle, the loan term and the interest rate for the loan. The loan amount is based on the net purchase price of the vehicle (plus sales tax) or the vehicle price less any cash rebate, trade-in or down payment. If you have an outstanding balance on the vehicle you trade-in, that amount is added to the price of the vehicle you are purchasing.

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Home Value Estimator

Use this calculator and compare home values in your neighborhood and discover big savings with Ent Credit Union.

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HELOC Calculator: Home Equity Line of Credit Calculator

The amount of equity available for a home equity loan or home equity line of credit is determined by the loan-to-value ratio of the home and the ratio requirements of the lender. A loan-to-value ratio is calculated by taking total mortgage debt (including any second mortgages or existing home equity loans) and dividing it by the current, appraised value of the home. The size of a home equity loan or line of credit will also depend on the loan-to-value requirements of the lender. Higher loan-to-value requirements can result in larger home equity loans or lines of credit.

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HELOC Calculator: Consolidate Debt with Home Equity

Consolidating high-interest debt with home equity can help simplify your debt payments and save you money on interest payments. Use this calculator to see if a consolidation loan can lower your monthly and help you get out of debt.

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The Ultimate Guide to Buying a New Car: Things to Know When Buying a Car

Ahh the rumble of the engine starting up, the sun glinting off the new paint and that sweet new car smell. There are few things that are more satisfying than the feeling of driving your brand-new car off the lot for the first time. But before you walk away with keys in hand, there are a few steps you must go through first. There can be a lot of anxiety around the car buying process, especially if you aren’t familiar with it and don’t know what to ask. This guide will give you a comprehensive primer of things to know and look out for to ensure that your experience at the dealership is a smooth ride.

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Mortgage Payment Calculator

The primary factors to consider when determining how much you can afford to spend on a home include your income, your monthly debt obligations (car payments, student loans, credit cards, etc), how much money you have for a down payment as well as your specific financial goals. There are also a variety of loan programs available offering a range of options for different situations. Ultimately, the best way to understand what is right for you is to talk to a licensed loan officer who can help you explore and understand what is right for you.

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Mortgage Proceeds: Home Sale Proceeds Calculator

One of the most important questions consumers will ask themselves is "how much money the sale of their home will yield?" That is largely dependent on two things: the amount you still owe on the home and what you will have to pay your realtor for selling the home. If you have a second mortgage, or home equity loan, on the property, you will have to pay that off when you sell the home. When you sell a home, you will also have to pay interest on your outstanding mortgage balance from the date of your last payment until the time of the sale. You are also liable for property taxes up until the day you sell the home. At times, sellers have additional expenses. Local governments will often require that you pay a transfer tax when the home is sold. Incidental closing costs may also nibble away at your proceeds.

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Adjustable Rate Mortgage Calculator

Adjustable rate mortgages typically offer home buyers the advantage of having a lower mortgage payment during the initial period of the mortgage. Adjustable rate mortgages are generally offered on a 1, 3, 5 or 7-year basis. Once the initial period expires, the mortgage rate will reset at then current interest rate levels. Depending on the direction interest rates are taking, these resets can result in higher or lower monthly payments to the borrower. This adjustable rate mortgage analyzer will help you understand the implication of your adjustable rate terms by showing what your monthly payment will be under different scenarios.

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Loan Rebate Calculator: Auto Rebate vs. Low Interest Financing Calculator

Vehicle manufacturers or dealers will often offer incentives to purchase a particular vehicle in the form of a low rate loan or a cash back incentive. While a low rate loan sounds attractive, you might be better off taking the cash back, using it to add to your down payment and reducing the loan amount for the vehicle. Evaluate which option is best. A lower loan amount will mean a lower monthly payment, and you might find that the interest savings you will gain by the low rate loan is less than the cash back amount.

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HELOC Payment Calculator: HELOC - Home Equity Line of Credit Calculator

Repayment of a home equity line of credit requires that the borrower makes a monthly payment to the lender. For some home equity lines of credit, borrowers can make interest-only payments for a defined period, after which a repayment period begins. Interest-only payments are based on the outstanding loan balance and interest rate. During the repayment period, the payment includes both repayment of the loan principal, plus monthly interest on the outstanding balance. Loan payments for the repayment period are amortized so that the monthly payment remains the same throughout the repayment period, but during that time, the percentage of the amount that goes towards principal will increase as the outstanding mortgage balance decreases.

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Car Affordability Calculator

The purchase price of the vehicle you can afford is based on several factors, including the monthly auto loan payment you can afford to make, your down payment, the net value of any vehicle you will be trading in and any rebates or cash back offers available from the dealer or manufacturer.