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Live a healthier financial life. Welcome to the SmartOne Financial Wellness Blog!
Live a healthier financial life. Welcome to the SmartOne Financial Wellness Blog!
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SmartOne Financial Wellness Blog

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Podcast: How to Build Your Dream Home with a Construction Loan
Authored By: UnitedOne Credit Union on 2/16/2024

Building your dream home from the ground up is an exciting endeavor.

A construction loan is an essential tool in turning blueprints into reality for many aspiring homeowners.

“In this market, when there are not a ton of houses out there for sale, sometimes it can be a nice option to purchase a piece of land and to build instead,” said UnitedOne Mortgage Specialist Kari Johnsrud, NMLS # 441414. “You’ll get the home that you want the way you want it.”

The Local Home Loan Experts at UnitedOne Credit Union delve into what a construction loan entails on the latest edition of their podcast, At Home on the Lakeshore.

A construction loan covers both the interim building phase and the permanent loan once the home is finished, eliminating the need for multiple loans.

The first nine months of the loan, also known as the draw period, disburses funds to contractors or subcontractors during the building phase. This period features a lower rate, interest only payment on outstanding balances plus property taxes if applicable. 

Once the house is finished, the loan rolls automatically converts to an ARM loan/permanent financing (for primary residence/second homes only).

One of the biggest benefits of a construction loan is it features a one-time close.

“The one-time close that we do offer here saves you money in that construction-to-permanent phase,” said UnitedOne Mortgage Specialist Linda Serrano, NMLS # 441416. “That’s something we love to do for our members to save them money.”

If you haven’t purchased the lot you plan to build on the initial draw disbursement in a construction loan will include the payoff of the land.

“Some people purchase the land first and pay on it for a while before they choose to build, and that’s OK, too,” Johnsrud said.

Construction loans also can be an excellent option for bigger remodeling projects to an existing home, like adding a second floor or changing layouts of a house.

Whether you’re planning to build new or do an extensive remodel, it doesn’t hurt to start doing your research now on prospective builders if you anticipate doing a construction loan in the upcoming years.

“It’s not too early to start,” said UnitedOne Mortgage Specialist Julie Peot, NMLS # 441412. “I know there are already some builders looking for builds in 2025. It’s not too early to start talking through options because it’s going to take time to get everything you’re looking for.”

By meeting with UnitedOne’s team of Local Home Loan Experts in Manitowoc and Sheboygan, aspiring homeowners can embark on their home-building journey with confidence knowing they have the financial support to bring their vision to life.

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Listen to more episodes of At Home on the Lakeshore

How to Inflation-Proof Your Finances
Authored By: UnitedOne Credit Union on 2/12/2024

Smiling couple looking at a laptop with the words "How to inflation-proof your finances" on the leftThe increasing cost of daily necessities – most noticeably groceries – is again closing the gap between income and expenses. With few places to make cuts, many people are resorting to credit cards to make ends meet.

According to data from the Federal Reserve, consumers’ total credit card debt reached $1.03 trillion in the second quarter of 2023, the highest amount on record.

Though the use of plastic may work in the short-term, be cautious about using credit cards as a long-term solution to cash-flow problems.

Even if you’re still able to make the monthly payments, relying on credit cards could put you into a danger zone. For example, are you charging more than you used to? Or carrying over part of your debt into the next month when you used to pay off the full balance each month?

If your credit card debt becomes so high that you can’t even make the minimum payment within 30 days of its due date, your credit score could drop by as much as 100 points. That late payment will stay on your credit report for seven years, making it harder to get loans in the future.

If you’re starting to feel the pinch of higher prices, here are a few ways to protect yourself from serious financial trouble:

  • Figure out how much you’re spending on gas, groceries, and other necessities every month compared with a year ago. You may not even realize you’re spending more, because you haven’t changed your lifestyle.
  • Revise an outdated budget using the information you gather. Identify where you can make cuts. Start with any remaining luxuries but be prepared to economize on necessities.
  • Plan for further price increases. Looking at your new budget, ask yourself how you would make ends meet if gas went up another dollar or groceries cost you an additional $75 per month. Recession- and inflation-proofing your finances is all about planning, as opposed to reacting.
  • Look for reductions in income. For example, retired consumers may find they have to tap into their principal to achieve the same annual income they used to get from the return on their investments.

If you’re already watching your debt climb and you can’t see any alternative to using credit cards, contact UnitedOne Credit Union today to discuss your options for consolidating debt. You can book an appointment online to see a Member Service Representative or call us at (920) 684-0361 in Manitowoc or (920) 451-8222 in Sheboygan.

Navigating the Future: A 2024 Real Estate Market Forecast in Sheboygan and Manitowoc
Authored By: UnitedOne Credit Union on 2/8/2024

Sheboygan and Manitowoc real estate market

As we step into 2024, the real estate landscape in Sheboygan and Manitowoc is poised for substantial growth and opportunity. The region has seen consistent growth in property values and home prices driven by high demand for homeownership and shortage of inventory, and recent data suggests that this trend is set to continue. There are a number of key factors that are likely to shape the industry and make this the opportune moment to consider a home purchase this year.

Current Real Estate Trends

The average home prices in Sheboygan and Manitowoc have experienced a steady upward trajectory in recent years. This upward trend is indicative of a robust and flourishing real estate market, driven by factors such as economic stability, job growth, and an overall positive living environment.

As of the latest reports, Sheboygan and Manitowoc have witnessed an impressive increase in property values, making them attractive options for potential homebuyers and investors alike. The desirability of these locations is further underscored by the consistent demand for housing, as people recognize the unique charm and quality of life that our local communities offer.

Projected Growth and Expected Rate Cuts

Looking ahead to 2024, the real estate market in Sheboygan and Manitowoc is expected to continue its upward trajectory. Zillow and Rocket Homes projections indicate that the average home prices are likely to experience sustained growth, making real estate investment an increasingly lucrative opportunity.

One of the key factors contributing to this optimistic outlook is the anticipation of interest rate cuts. As economic conditions evolve, there is speculation that mortgage rates may see a decline in the coming months. Historically, lower interest rates have spurred increased home buying activity, as they make homeownership more affordable and attractive. This potential drop in interest rates could serve as a catalyst for a surge in real estate transactions in Sheboygan and Manitowoc, driving further appreciation in property values.

In the dynamic landscape of real estate, securing the right financing is crucial for turning opportunities into reality. This is where UnitedOne Credit Union steps in as your trusted financial partner. As a member-focused institution, we understand the unique needs of our community and are committed to providing tailored solutions to help you achieve your homeownership goals.

By choosing UnitedOne Credit Union for your mortgage needs, you benefit from competitive rates, personalized service, and a range of mortgage products designed to suit your individual requirements. Our team of experienced professionals is dedicated to guiding you through the entire mortgage process, ensuring a smooth and seamless experience from application to closing.

Why Choose UnitedOne Credit Union for Your Mortgage?

  • Competitive Rates: UnitedOne Credit Union offers competitive mortgage rates that can help you save money over the life of your loan. Our commitment to providing affordable financing options sets us apart in the market.

  • Personalized Service: At UnitedOne Credit Union, we prioritize a personalized approach to meet your unique needs. Our team of local home loan experts is here to answer your questions, provide guidance, and support you throughout the entire home buying journey.

  • Community Focus: As a credit union rooted in the local community, we understand the intricacies of the Sheboygan and Manitowoc real estate markets. This local knowledge allows us to offer insights and solutions that align with the specific dynamics of these areas.

In conclusion, the 2024 real estate market forecast for Sheboygan and Manitowoc presents a compelling case for prospective homebuyers and investors. With a history of steady growth and the promise of favorable economic conditions, now is an opportune time to consider home purchase.

As you embark on your real estate journey, trust UnitedOne Credit Union to be your financial partner. Our commitment to providing competitive rates, personalized service, and a community-focused approach sets us apart. If you are a resident of Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Kewaunee and Door counties take the most of the anticipated growth in the real estate market by becoming a member of UnitedOne Credit Union and securing a mortgage that aligns with your goals.

Take the first step towards homeownership and financial success. Contact us today to learn more about our mortgage offerings and how we can help you turn your real estate aspirations into reality. Join UnitedOne Credit Union, where your homeownership dreams come to life.


Boost Your Savings with Share Certificate Laddering
Authored By: UnitedOne Credit Union on 2/2/2024

Woman working in a store; Boost Your Savings with Share Certificate LadderingGetting the most out of your savings can be a challenge. 

You want to have access to your hard-earned funds when life throws you an unexpected expense, but you also don’t want to see a large sum just sitting in a savings account and earning a small amount in dividends.

How do you make your money work harder for you? Enter the magic of share certificate laddering.

  • What’s a Share Certificate?
    Share certificates, also known as certificates of deposit, are like a savings account where you can’t withdraw the money for a certain period of time. In return for agreeing to keep your money in a share certificate for a longer period of time, your financial institution pays you a higher rate of return.
  • What’s a Share Certificate ladder?
    Share Certificate laddering is a simple concept: Divide the amount of money you have to save among certificates that mature at different intervals. As each certificate matures you can turn it over into a longer maturity certificate. In time, all your certificates will be earning a higher yield with a longer maturity. Because you have a share certificate maturing regularly, you can always cash it in if you need the money.
  • A beginner’s Share Certificate ladder
    A common share certificate ladder would be as follows: If you have $20,000 to invest, deposit $10,000 into a one- and two-year certificate. Each year when a certificate matures roll the principle ($10,000) plus the dividends (interest made over the year, which varies depending on the interest rate) into another certificate for a higher-dividend yield than a savings account. Continue each year as your certificates mature, and reinvest them into higher-yield certificate options or specials so all your money is earning more.

    If you're starting with less, you could invest smaller amounts into three, six, 12, or 24-month certificates that have lower minimum balances ($1,000) to open. Again, the same principle applies, as each certificate matures reinvest it for a longer-term certificate until all your money is earning the highest rate.

Depending on your financial goals you can ladder any way you want. For help starting your share certificate laddering, contact UnitedOne Credit Union today. You can book an appointment online to see a Member Service Representative or call us at 920-684-0361 in Manitowoc or 920-451-8222 in Sheboygan.

6 Ways to Practice Mobile Security
Authored By: UnitedOne Credit Union on 1/19/2024

6 Ways to Practice Mobile Security. Image of a woman looking at her mobile phone.Almost anything you can do on a desktop computer you can also do on a mobile device in today’s world.

Surfing the web, checking email and online banking all can be done with a mobile device when you’re out and about thanks to advancements in technology.

One of the things you should always do when using a mobile device is practicing digital safety by being vigilant with all of your actions.

Check out these best practices for staying safe on your mobile device.

  • Apps
    Only download apps from trusted developers that are available in your mobile device’s official store.

    Make sure you install app updates to ensure you are using the latest and most secure versions of apps on your mobile device.
  • Wi-Fi
    You should never send sensitive information over a Wi-Fi network unless you are sure it’s secure and you should not allow your mobile device to auto-join unfamiliar networks.

    It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of turning off Wi-Fi when you don’t need it.
  • Browser
    Be on the lookout for ads, giveaways and contests that seem too good to be true. These could lead to phishing websites.

    Don’t forget to look at the full URL of a website to check to see if it’s secure and never save your login information when using a browser.
  • Bluetooth®
    Much like Wi-Fi, turn off automatic Bluetooth® pairing and turn it off completely if you’re not actively using it.
  • Smishing (phishing via SMS)
    Use the same caution with text messages that you would with emails and think before you click.

    Don’t trust text messages from unfamiliar sources and remain vigilant before clicking on a link from a friend if it looks suspicious. Hackers may have compromised the account of someone in your contacts could be posing as them in attempt to get your personal data.
  • Vishing (voice phishing)
    Do not respond to telephone calls or voicemail requests asking for personal financial information.

    If you are concerned about the legitimacy of a call, hang up and contact the financial institution directly at a trusted phone number.

Visit our Digital Safety page to learn about the ways UnitedOne Credit Union and our partners will and won’t contact you about your account.

About UnitedOne

UnitedOne Credit Union has branches in Manitowoc and Sheboygan, and is open to everyone living or working in Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Kewaunee and Door counties. The credit union serves consumers and small to mid-sized businesses.

When you
join UnitedOne Credit Union, you become a member-owner of a not-for-profit financial institution with a history of success and service dating back more than 80 years. Our "We're here because you're here" philosophy continues to grow our reputation of strength, stability, service, and convenience today. We embrace a successful and straightforward member-owned cooperative mission: meet the financial needs of our members by empowering them with the knowledge to make informed financial decisions. That's the UnitedOne difference.

To learn more about our services, contact us today! You can book an appointment online to see a Member Service Representative or Mortgage Specialist. You can also call us at 920-684-0361 or 920-451-8222.

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