Tag Archives: financial education

All You Need To Know About Home Loans

Here at USAgencies Credit Union, we provide a variety of products and services to meet your specific financial needs and in the most ideal ways possible. One such example is home loans. Let’s take a closer look at how its application process works.

What is a home loan?

A home loan, or a mortgage, enables you to purchase a home without having to foot all the cash out of your pocket when purchasing. You will, however, need to make a down payment, which is typically between 3.5-20% of the home’s appraised value, along with closing costs and some other fees. The lender then finances the rest of the purchase. You’ll repay the loan, along with interest, over the course of (generally) 15 to 30 years.

Are all home loans alike?

Before you get started, you’ll need to choose a mortgage type. A conventional loan will necessitate a 5-20% down payment on the home. There’s also an FHA loan, which only requires a down payment of 3.5%, but necessitates mortgage insurance. If you’re a military veteran, consider obtaining a VA loan, which lets you buy a home with zero down payment.

Once you’ve chosen the kind of loan which is best for your scenario, you may be given a choice of repayment arrangements for that loan. Here are the three common types of mortgages:

  1. 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. The interest rate on this 30-year mortgage will remain fixed no matter the changes to the national rate.
  2. 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. This mortgage will also have a fixed interest rate, but the term lasts just 15 years. The monthly payments will be higher, but the overall interest paid over the course of the loan will be significantly lower.
  3. Adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). An ARM gives the borrower a lower interest rate in the early years of the loan, and then a gradual increase (adjustment) in rate over the rest of the life of the mortgage.

What do I need to know before applying for a home loan?

A home is likely to be the largest purchase you will ever make. To qualify for one, you will need to prove that you are living a financially responsible life and that you can afford the monthly payments.

The primary way lenders gauge your financial responsibility is through your credit score. This number is like a grade that tells lenders how you’ve handled your past credit card accounts and other debts. It will include the length of time you’ve had your credit cards and loans open, the timeliness with which you’ve made your payments, the trajectory of your debt and the amount of available credit you might use. Most lenders will only grant a home loan to borrowers with a credit score of 650 or higher. You can check your score for free with My Credit Score in our Online and Mobile Banking. You might also consider ordering a free credit report from all three major credit bureaus once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.

During the time leading to your mortgage applications, make sure to pay all your bills on time, don’t open new credit cards and work on paying down overall debt. A higher credit score will help you get approved quicker and it will net you a lower interest rate on your loan.

Another crucial factor in determining your eligibility for a mortgage is your debt-to-income ratio, or your DTI. Lenders want to know how big your collective outstanding debt will be in relation to your income if you receive the home loan. Most lenders will only allow a maximum DTI of 36%.

When should I apply for a home loan?

While you won’t need the loan until you are ready to close on a house, it’s a good idea to start the process before you begin house-hunting. Your lender will let you know whether you can expect to be approved for a loan and will provide you with an estimate of how much house you can afford so you don’t face disappointment later.

When initially applying for a home loan, ask your lender for a letter of pre-approval. This letter confirms you are preapproved for a home loan up to a specific amount. Having this letter in hand shows real estate agents and sellers that you are serious about buying. Most pre-approvals are only good for 60-90 days, so make sure you’re ready to start house hunting before you get yours.

How do I apply for a home loan?

To apply for a home loan at USAgencies Credit Union, connect with us to help you get started. Make sure all of your financial paperwork is in order and hold onto all important financial documents in the months leading up to your application.

To make it easier, we’ve created a list of the information and documents you’ll need:

  • Name of current employer, phone and street address
  • Length of time at current employer
  • Official position/title
  • Salary including overtime, bonuses or commissions
  • Two years’ worth of W-2s
  • Profit & loss statement if self-employed
  • Pensions and Social Security check stubs
  • Proof of child support payments
  • Copies of alimony checks
  • Statements for all checking and savings accounts
  • Investments (stocks, bonds, retirement accounts)
  • Proof of any gifted funds from relatives
  • Car loan information

You will also need to explain any blemishes on your financial record; including bankruptcies, collections, foreclosures and delinquencies.


Have more questions about Buying or Refinancing, or ready to get your application started? Connect with us at 503.275.0300 or visit our website. 

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USAgencies Credit Union
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The Money Talk with Kids

National Credit Union Youth Month is here, keeping your kids educated about saving and spending money is crucial for their financial success. Are you looking for ideas to start the money talk? We’ve got some conversation starters for you!

Saving Smart

For the responsible adult who thinks about being prepared for the future, savings are a fixed expense that is built into the monthly budget just like car payments and insurance. For most people, though, this habit does not come naturally. It needs to be acquired and practiced. Teach your kids those saving smarts now when they’re young to help make it a lifetime habit they’ve already mastered by the time they hit their 20s.

Give your kids a clear understanding of why saving is crucial to financial wellness and how to make it happen. Here are some points to cover:

  • Why putting money aside each month is crucial
  • How interest and compound interest work
  • Long-term vs. short-term saving
  • Reasons to save

Conversation starters (For kids under age 9):

  • Let’s say you’ve only got $15 and you want to buy a drone that costs $65. You get $5 a week as your allowance. How can you buy that drone?
  • When did you wait for something and find that it was more enjoyable because you waited for it?
  • Can you think of some things that Mom or Dad saves up for?
  • If you earn 10 cents for every dollar you save, how much money will you earn by putting away $5?

Conversation starters (For kids over age 9):

  • Are you saving up for anything important?
  • Can you think of some things that Mom or Dad saves up for?
  • Have you ever had to pay for something unexpected? How did you come up with the money?
  • Some things we save for are short-term goals, and others are long-term goals. Can you name some of each kind of goal? How will we save differently for each kind?
  • Do you think it’s smart for Mom and Dad to keep money they’re saving under the mattress? Why or why not?

Working It Out

One of the most fundamental financial lessons your kids are going to have to learn is about how you work for your money.

Do your kids understand that every time you pull out a wad of bills or swipe a card to pay for a purchase, that money is directly linked to time you put in at the office? Do they realize all of your money is earned through hard work?

Here’s how to make sure your kids — at any age level — understand this concept.

Goal: Teach your children that money for purchases, whether it’s paid through cash or a card, is earned through hard work. Here are some points to cover:

  • Money is earned through work.
  • Every dollar spent is time you spend working.
  • Any method used to pay for purchases comes from the same source.

Conversation starters (For kids under age 9):

  • What do you think mom/dad does all day at their job?
  • We work to do what our bosses want and need. How do you think our bosses reward us?
  • When we spend money for pizza, groceries, toys or movies, where do you think that money is coming from?
  • This is mom/dad’s paycheck from work. When we give it to USAgencies Credit Union, we have money to spend. Why do you think we put the paycheck in our account at USAgencies Credit Union?
  • When I swipe my credit/debit card, how does that pay the store owner? Where is the money coming from?

Conversation starters (For kids over age 9):

  • Why do you think people work?
  • Do you think people who work harder for their money spend it more carefully?
  • Would you still want that (article of clothing/toy/gadget) if you had to work for it?
  • If you had the choice to work 16-hour days for double the salary of an 8-hour day, would you take it? Why or why not?

We’ve also got a few fun activity pages for your kids to complete.

Youth_activity_pages preview
Download printable worksheets

Youth_activity_pages preview
Download printable worksheets

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Download printable worksheets


Do you encourage your kids to save money? How do they spend their allowance, chore money and money they earn from odd jobs as soon as they have it?

Connect with us to help get your children ready for their first savings or checking account to establish healthy financial habits. Call us at 503-275-0300 Option 4, or email info@usacu.org. Everyone deserves a better banking experience. Get it here.