What's New At Mid American
Discounted insurance available to members
Mid American Credit Union members can take advantage of discounted rates for auto, home and life insurance through TruStage Insurance. Members will receive a special mailing about the program in November 2013, or you can find out more by clicking here.
Being insured is part of having a solid financial plan. From getting a good rate on coverage for your car and covering your home and possessions to making sure your life insurance is adequate, having dependable insurance can help provide financial relief during a tough time. It’s an added bonus if you get plans that are affordable for your wallet, such as TruStage Insurance, a program designed specifically for credit union members. More than 14 million credit union members already take advantage of the program, which is part of CUNA Mutual Group. The insurance products are issued by leading U.S. companies.
Calling in the pros
By Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer
A house is a major purchase or product to sell, so make sure you’ve got someone who knows the real estate terrain in your corner.
According to the National Association of Realtors, 89 percent of buyers used a real estate agent in 2012, up from 69 percent in 2001. On the selling side, only 9 percent of Americans sold a home without an agent, down from a high of 20 percent in 1987.
Real estate agents are skilled at negotiating contracts and navigating the buying or selling process if something gets tricky or complicated. They usually can get what their clients want, and after all, they want to keep you a happy, referring client. Agents can also help make your house hunting more effective; they know your needs and wants as they review listings coming onto the market. If you’re a seller, agents can help weed out who’s a serious buyer and who’s not.
Here are some questions to consider when interviewing for an agent:
• Are you a Realtor or a real estate agent? Both help buy and sell houses, but a Realtor belongs to and must uphold the standards of the National Association of Realtors.
• How long have you been in the industry?
• What is your average list-price-to-sales-price ratio? Listing agents should have ratios closer to 100, meaning they negotiate closer to list prices; buyer’s agents should be below 99 since they’ve negotiated lower than the list price for clients.
• What’s the strategy? As a buyer, you’ll want to know how they’ll search for your future home; how many homes you’ll see and how they’ll handle competing offers. As a seller, you’ll want to know how they’ll market your home.
• How do you separate yourself from competitors?
• Ask for references
• Ask to preview documents, such as agreements or disclosures, before being asked to sign
To let your agent know you’re a serious buyer, get prequalified for a Mid American mortgage. Go to www.midamerican.coop/buying-a-home for more information.
Tax on credit unions would hurt members
By Jim Holt, President/CEO
In early October, Mid American Credit Union President/CEO and other credit union leaders and volunters participated in the Credit Union National Association's Hike the Hill, a grassroots effort to visit with elected Congressional leaders and their staffs to champion the cause that credit unions are a vital part of the economy. Here's what was on the forefront of this year's Hike the Hill effort.
This year’s challenge is making sure Congressional leaders understand the impact of a proposed tax reform legislation that would add a federal income tax to credit unions. Lobbyists claim we are not helping the economy by not paying taxes.
They are missing the point that credit unions do help out –– by ensuring that low- and middle-class Americans can afford loans to buy vehicles and homes and keep more of their money by paying lower fees for financial services or even getting access to their paychecks. They also miss the point that because credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, there are no profits to tax. Any profits are reinvested into your credit union to provide more services and upgrade technology without having to raise member fees or interest rates.
Credit unions have been exempt from federal income taxes because they are cooperatives that help people who are part of a specific community or group or have a particular affiliation. Often they are people who more than likely would not be served by banks. We serve people who often have limited or few assets or who can’t prove their creditworthiness. A lot of people like that still exist in America. A recent Pew State and Consumer Initiatives study showed that 12 million borrowers spend $7.4 billion in payday loans.
At Mid American, for example, we have a second-chance accounts program for employees of our affiliate business partners. Many of those employees would not qualify for an account at a bank and would be forced to use higher fee "payday" cards or check cashing centers that also charge a fee, diminishing the value of their hard-earned paycheck. After keeping a savings account in good standing for six months –– more than half do –– they can add a checking account. The remainder keep a savings account until they qualify for a checking account.
You can help us Hike the Hill, too, by making sure your elected officials know you don’t want us to be taxed. Go to http://www.donttaxmycreditunion.org and click on the Take Action link.
Bankrate debunks CU myths, notes fewer, lower fees
A recent article by Bankrate.com notes that credit unions offer fewer and smaller fees for financial services than large banks. The article also debunks four myths about CUs regarding ATMs, technology, convenient branches and penalties.
Read the article and spread the word that credit unions are indeed a convenient, great choice to hanging onto more of your money.
Where to keep valuables
A safe deposit box and a fire-retardant safe are valuable tools for storing important, personal items. But which one is the best for irreplaceable, valuable items, documents or extra cash?
The answer depends on how quickly you or someone else needs access to those items and how irreplaceable those items are.
What to put in a safe deposit box
A safe deposit box is a secure place for things that are irreplaceable or needed infrequently. Some say the rule of thumb is “if I lost this item or documentation, would I be in big trouble?”
Keep items such as insurance policies, property deeds, a coin collection, heirloom or infrequently worn jewelry, stock or bond certificates in the box, experts say. Other items include a DVD or other media with documentation of your household inventory for insurance purposes and irreplaceable family photos (either the actual photographs or media containing scanned images).
What not to keep in a safe deposit box
Large amounts of cash should never be kept in a safe deposit box. Cash kept in a safe deposit box isn’t insured by federal deposit insurance.
You also shouldn’t keep originals of your will, medical directives, a power of attorney or other documentation and items that would be needed immediately by either you or your survivors in case of your death or if you become incapacitated, experts say. (Safe deposit boxes can only be opened by co-owners or estate executors, and state laws vary on how quickly an executor can access your box.)
Keep those kinds of items in a fire-retardant safe in your home. A safe is also an ideal place to keep your safe deposit box keys.
Another piece of documentation you’ll want to keep in your safe: financial accounts information, as well as passwords and other access information to online accounts.
Safe deposit boxes can be rented at Mid American’s west and northeast branches in Wichita and at the Larned branch. Annual fees range from $20 to $50 depending on the box size. Once you rent a box, you can access it as many times as you need to during a branch’s business hours.
Increasing taxes on credit unions strikes at heart of cooperatives
By Jim Holt, President/CEO
In a credit union, members are essentially pooling their money together to help other members. A key benefit of being part of a not-for-profit financial cooperative is that you keep more of your money through lower loan rates, higher dividends and lower or no fees.
That will change, if Congress decides to add a federal income tax to credit unions. Banker and other lobbyists and other proponents of taxing credit unions are being heard on Capitol Hill. As a credit union member, you can prevent increasing taxes on credit union members by being heard, too.
Credit unions have been exempt from federal income taxes since the federal income tax structure was started in 1916 because credit unions are organizations that have a mutual interest in serving communities or similar groups. Rather than providing profit for a select few, credit unions were started as a source of financing for people who often had limited or few assets or couldn’t prove their creditworthiness. A century later, we still serve that purpose.
Since a credit union is a not-for-profit organization, there really are no profits to tax. Profits are returned to members through the lower rates and fees and higher dividends, so adding a federal income tax to credit unions is just another tax for the 96 million credit union members.
Proponents contend that taxing credit unions will put $500 million in federal coffers, but the cost for members and their credit unions will be $5 billion in lost benefits, according to the Credit Union National Association. Ultimately, members will be affected by having fewer services, less convenience, lower dividends and higher loan rates.
We know most of you enjoy the benefits of credit union membership. That is why we are joining CUNA in its awareness and grassroots campaign, “Don’t Tax My Credit Union.” You can, too.
To find out more about the campaign, go to www.donttaxmycreditunion.org. In the “Take
Action” section of the site, you will find a template letter to send to your Congressional delegation. Tax proponents want to complete this process by the end of 2013 so your continued support will be necessary.