Tag Archives: CUNJ

Understanding Credit

Please join us as the Credit Union of New Jersey talks about all things credit and credit-related.  They will cover the following topics:

  • The benefits—and costs—of credit cards
  • The different types of credit
  • The difference between your credit report and credit score
  • How to figure your credit limit
  • How to build a good credit history


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How to Manage Debt Program Recap

Debt is a problem many people struggle with and if left unresolved, can easily spiral out-of-control.  While some debt is a part of life nowadays, effectively managing your debt can provide great benefits should you need to finance a car or are looking to purchase a house.  The Credit Union of New Jersey has some tips for managing your debt and help you achieve financial independence.

What is debt?  Debt is money that you have borrowed with the agreement to pay it back in full, oftentimes with interest.  Some common types of debt are mortgages, car loans, personal loans, or credit cards.  Debt is often organized into different categories:

  • Secured debt – debt associated with some sort of collateral that can be taken back for failure to repay the debt (car loan, mortgage)
  • Unsecured debt – debt without any collateral (credit cards or personal loans)
  • Installment credit – debt where repayment terms and amounts are fixed (mortgage, student loans)
  • Revolving credit – debt where repayment amounts may vary depending on amount of debt (credit cards, cash advances)
  • Fixed interest rates – interest rate does not change over the life of the debt (car loan, mortgage)
  • Variable interest rates – interest rate can change depending on size of the debt or a failure to pay debt on time (credit cards, payday loans)

While debt is scary, not all debt is bad.  Debt has a large impact on your Credit Score, which many places use to determine finance options for important purchases such as apartments, homes, cars, and furniture.  Good debt or debt that directly affects your overall net worth or helps generate you value, such as a mortgage, are positive things to have and will help boost your Credit Score.  A higher Credit Score can help you secure low or no interest payments for loans and may allow you to qualify for higher loan amounts.  Bad debt does not help you generate value and oftentimes is associated with credit card purchases for expendable items with no longer term value, such as gas, food, or utilities.  For example, if you pay a $100 electric bill on a credit card rather than a debit card, you may be paying $120, $150, or even $200 for that same bill once interest accrues.

You can find out more about all of the debts you have through your credit report.  A credit report is a record of all your credit-related activities from three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Transunion, and Experian.  It lists any credit-card accounts or loans you have, their balances, and how regularly you make your payments.  It also shows if any actions from creditors has been taken against you.  Similar to your credit report is your Credit Score.  Your Credit Score is made up of the following information:

  • 35% Payment History
  • 30% Amount Owed
  • 15% Length of Credit History
  • 10% New Credit
  • 10% Credit Mix

So what are the warning signs for having too much debt?

  • Spending more than you earn
  • Making the minimum payments on credit cards or having maxed out credit cards
  • Unsure about what you owe
  • Arguing with your family or loved one about money
  • Debt to income ratio is more than 36%
  • You have no emergency funds (3-6 months income)
  • Little or no retirement savings
  • Credit card balance exceeds 10% of income

If you have too much debt, what can you do to change your financial situation?  First and foremost, you have to make a plan.  Sit down and write out a budget, including your monthly income and expenditures.  This will help you visualize where you are spending money on unnecessary things, such as a $5 coffee every morning or eating out multiple times in a week.  Once you can identify areas where you can save money, put that money away, such as in a savings account, so that it can grow, or apply it to one of your debts to pay it off quicker.

You should also call any loan companies and request lower interest rates.  As long as you are able to pay something, credit card companies are required to work with you.  You may even be able to settle your debt for less, but that often comes at a price; you must report the remaining debt as income on your taxes.  You should also seek professional assistance from a financial counselor who can help you in all aspects of your financial life.  They can help fight with loan companies and help build you a responsible budget to get you out of debt.

Another way to help get out of debt is to increase your income.  Whether it is selling items from a personal hobby or unused items around the house, downsizing a car or home, or getting a part time job, being able to increase your income, if not to pay down the debt, but at least to provide more financial security is important.  Additionally, set SMART financial goals for yourself – Specific, Measurable, Adjustable, Realistic, Time-Oriented.  Lastly, never give up; oftentimes people give up too early on their efforts to become debt free.  It will not be easy or fast, so remain committed to your financial plan and reward will be more freedom with your money.

If you have any questions about your personal financial situation, you can reach out to the Credit Union of New Jersey for a free financial assessment.  For a copy of the presentation, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/How-to-Manage-Debt.pdf.  For a copy of financial worksheets, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/How-to-Manage-Debt.pdf.

How to Manage Debt

Debt and credit impact our lives in many ways, from determining what we can afford to interest rates on loans.  Managing your debt effectively can open financial doors and is a great indicator of your financial health.  Please join us as the Credit Union of New Jersey will discuss debt management, including:

• The different kinds of debt
• The benefits and costs of credit
• The warning signs you have too much debt
• How to improve your credit report and score
• How to tackle your debt and avoid pitfalls
• How to rebuild good credit
• How to stay out of debt


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Planning for Retirement Program Recap

One of the biggest financial considerations for anyone is retirement.  When do I retire? How much money will I need?  Where should I put my money?  These are some common questions as it relates to retirement, but you don’t need to be a financial expert to start planning.  Britany Enelow, Financial Advisor from the Credit Union of New Jersey shared the following information to help you on the pathway to retirement.

First and foremost, there are some broad considerations regarding retirement you should think about.  What does retirement look like for you?  When are you going to start retirement and how long will it last?  What sources of income do you need in order to live comfortably in retirement?  By having a clearer picture of what you want your retirement to be, including where you are going to live, you will have a better understanding of how you should start preparing financially for retirement.

Once you have a picture of our retirement, you need to start building a retirement strategy.  When determining how you are going to prepare for retirement, you should plan to have enough funds to last 20-30 years while in retirement.  The assets in your portfolio should be spread out between Growth, Access, and Predicable Income:

  • Growth – assets that continue to grow while in retirement, such as stocks.  Goal is ensure that your money outpaces inflation.
  • Access – liquid money that you can use immediately for emergencies or unexpected expenses, such as a savings account
  • Predictable Income – used to cover necessary expenses, regardless of how the market is doing, such as Social Security, Pension, Annuity, part-time employment

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual expenditures for persons aged 65 and older are:

  • Housing and utilities – 34%
  • Transportation – 15%
  • Health Care – 15%
  • Food – 13%
  • Entertainment – 5%
  • Other – 18%

By preparing a budget using the assets in your portfolio, as well as your current expenditures, you can more definitely determine how much money you would need in retirement to survive.  This includes determining the sources of income that you will rely on to meet those expenditures.  Possible sources of income include Social Security, 401k, IRA, investments, pensions, or deferred compensation.  Once you identify all of your income sources, organize them into Predictable and Variable incomes to better determine how much money you will have easily accessible to pay for your necessary expenses as well as plan for non-essential costs that add to your quality of life.  Use the 4-Box Strategy, shown below, to better visual your incomes and expenses and determine what works best for you.

Once you have done all the planning, its time to start building your Nest Egg.  As you approach retirement, your asset allocation should become more conservative, relying less on stocks and high-risk ventures and more one safer options, such as bonds.  In an ideal world, you want your Nest Egg to be 15x your annual income.  The reason for such a high number is to ensure that your annual growth from the investment, about 5%, will equal 75% of your pre-retirement salary, which should be enough to pay for your necessary expenses.  For example, for someone making $75,000 a year, their Nest Egg should be around $1.125 million.  5% of that Nest Egg equals $56,250, which is equal to 75% of their $75,000 annual income.  This will help insure that you will not run out of money in retirement and allow you to have some monetary legacy to pass on after your death.

Unfortunately, retirement planning and funding are not without risk.  With modern medicine, people are living longer which means that you might outlive your retirement funding.  Therefore, it is critical to plan for at least 20 years of retirement when determining how much money you will need.  Another risk is inflation, which means that the money you have today will not be worth the same amount in the future.  Therefore, it is important to have some of your money in growth-focused assets to ensure that your money keeps up or outpaces inflation.  Healthcare expenses are rising quickly and can easily consume a majority, if not all of your retirement spending.  For example, the median yearly cost for a home health aid is about $50,000; it is higher if you live in NJ.  Lastly, withdrawing money too soon or too often can have a devastating impact on your future finances, which you may never be able to recover from.

For more information on retirement planning or investing, please contact Britany Enelow at benelow@cunj.org or 609-538-4061 ext. 2056.  For a copy of the handout, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Planning-for-Retirement.pdf.


Planning for Retirement

Join us for a COMPLIMENTARY seminar from the Credit Union of New Jersey to help you better understand how people prepare for retirement. Retirement planning is the basis of a person’s future financial well-being and all their long-term financial plans.  Britany Enelow, Financial Advisor, will outline strategies you can use to help create a secure retirement plan, including:

  • Envisioning your Retirement
  • Building your Retirement Strategy
  • Sources of Retirement Income
  • Building your Nest Egg
  • Retirement Risks to Consider
Securities, Investment Advisory and Financial Planning services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC, Member SIPC: 222 Central Park Ave Suite 1100 Virginia Beach VA 23462 (757) 490-9041. Member Wealth Management and Credit Union of NJ are not subsidiaries or affiliates of MML Investors Services, LLC.  CRN202101-253093


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Please indicate the classes you would like to attend by clicking on the appropriate box below.

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Investment Basics Program Recap

Thank you to Britany Enelow, Financial Advisor from the Credit Union of New Jersey, for discussing the basics of investing from which anyone can start planning for their future.  While all investing carries some risk for the potential of some or all loss of money, being able to understand the different investment types, will help you to minimize your risks and work more effectively with a financial advisor.

So why should you invest?  Investing allows you to grow your money to meet your financial goals, such as retirement or college.  Money has purchasing power, both actual and potential.  Investing allows you to potentially increase the potential purchasing power by growing a set amount of money into more money that hopefully surprises the rate of inflation, netting you more actual purchasing power in the future.

Before investing, it is important to determine what your financial goals are and what your risk tolerance is.  All investing comes with some amount of risk so being able to determine how aggressive you want to be with your money will determine how you should invest it.  Generally, as we get older, we become more conservative in our risk tolerance because it becomes more difficult to replace any lost money.  This transition will affect your portfolio and the makeup of your investments.  It is also important to diversify your investments to help mitigate any potential losses.  By putting your money in a variety of investment types, you are better able to withstand market fluctuations and rebound quicker from downturns in the economy.

There are many different investments you can put your money into and each one will have a different level of risk as well as return.  Generally, the greater the return, the higher the risk so it is important to understand the different investment types on how they can best serve your financial goals.

One of the most popular investment choices are stocks.  When you buy stocks, you are buying into some ownership of that company.  When the company does well, you do well, but the reverse is true.  Stocks tend to have higher returns, thus more risk.  However, over the long-term, stocks tend to provide a positive return on your investment.  There are different types of stocks:

  • Income stocks – these stocks pay dividends to their shareholders and tend to be in less volatile industries, such as energy, finance, and natural resources.
  • Growth stocks – these stocks tend to invest all of their profits back into the business so you are relying on the success of the company to deliver a higher stock price which you can then sell to make money.  These stocks tend to have a higher risk than income stocks.
  • Value stocks – these stocks tend to be undervalued by the market even though the company’s performance may indicate otherwise.  These are bought low and then sold when the market positively adjusts to the success of the company.

Another type of investment are bonds.  Bonds are issued by a company or government entity to raise money for a project or activity.  When you buy a bond, you are essentially becoming a creditor to the bond issuer and they promise to may you interest on your bond for the life of the loan.  Generally, there is a minimum amount you must commit in order to purchase a bond.  These are generally safer than stocks because the borrowing entity agrees to pay back the amount with interest, but also have lower rates of return.  There are different types of bonds:

  • Corporate bond – issued by private and public corporations and generally issued in blocks of $1,000.  You are paid interest as the bond matures.  If the company declares bankruptcy, bondholder claims may be given preference over other creditors.
  • Municipal bond – issued by state, city, or other local governmental entity, but you do not receive any interest payments until the bond has matured.  However, oftentimes the interest earned is exempt from federal, state, and local taxes.
  • Treasury bond – issued by the U.S. Department of Treasury on behalf of the federal government.  These are generally seen as risk-free, but often have the lowest yield of any bonds.

Mutual funds are a great way to diversify your money within a single investment.  When you invest in a mutual fund, your money is pooled with other investors that is managed by a professional money manager who will charge of fee for managing that fund, generally 1%.  Each mutual fund has a stated purpose and goal, which the money manager is required to follow.  These funds can be spread out across one or more investment types, essentially trying to hedge as many bets as possible to maximize returns while mitigating risk.  However, depending on the fees, they may lower or eliminate your rate of return and if other investors in the fund decide to sell and pull their money out, the entire fund will suffer, including yourself.

When investing, please remember DAD:

  • D – Determine your financial goals and risk tolerance
  • A – Allocate your money to best meet those goals and in your risk comfort zone
  • D – Diversify your assets to help mitigate the risks inherent is all forms of investments

If you have any questions, please reach out to Britany Eneloy at 609-538-4061 ext. 2056 or benelow@cunj.org  For a copy of the handout, please visit https://www.njstatelib.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Investment-Basics.pdf.

Investment Basics

Join us for a COMPLIMENTARY seminar from the Credit Union of New Jersey to help you better understand investments.  Investments are a key part of a person’s financial well-being and long term financial plans.  Britany Enelow, Financial Advisor, will outline different types of investment vehicles and their associated risks, including:

  • Benefits and Risks of Investing
  • Types of Common Investments
  • Understanding Your Risk Tolerance
Securities, Investment Advisory and Financial Planning services offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC, Member SIPC: 222 Central Park Ave Suite 1100 Virginia Beach VA 23462 (757) 490-9041. Member Wealth Management and Credit Union of NJ are not subsidiaries or affiliates of MML Investors Services, LLC.  CRN202004-253092


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Please indicate the classes you would like to attend by clicking on the appropriate box below.

*You must use Yes to answer the last question*

Home Buying Program Recap

Thank you to James Goodman, Home Finance Consultant for the Credit Union of New Jersey, for breaking down the complex process of buying a home.  James highlighted the entire home buying process step by step, including securing a mortgage and what to expect at closing, especially the different fees that will be factored in.  He also went through the entire mortgage process, explaining how to calculate how much you can afford, the documents needed when applying for a mortgage, as well as the timeline for the entire process.  When choosing a mortgage loan, and by extension buying a house, it is important to consider how much money you can afford as a down payment, what are your financial goals and how a home figures into them, and how the closing costs can affect the overall price of the home and how much money is required up front at closing.  Please visit the following links for more information:

Copy of the presentation

CUN’s Mortgage Center

NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency Home Buyer Resources

You can contact James Goodman at (908)-860-7120 or jgoodman@mortgagedept.com with any questions or for further information on any part of the home buying process.

Managing Your Credit and Credit Reporting Program Recap

Thank you to the Credit Union of New Jersey and Pete Manferdo from Experian for presenting Managing Your Credit and Credit Reporting.  Credit plays an important role in our finances, from car loans, to mortgages, to credit cards.  While many financial institutions still lack to provide the right amount of loan despite a person having all the right paperwork, this where the secure online websites come into place as they provide guaranteed installment loans to people even if they have a bad credit score. This form of loan lending has significantly taken over the world by storm as the return interest is quite low and the lenders are a 100% verfied. One should just keep in mind that if they have taken out loans from multiple places, setting up trust deeds is the next big step they must take in order to pay back the loans without any form of hassle, as it not only helps people not declare themselves bankrupt but is also the perfect solution to make a person financially stable again. It is important to understand exactly how credit and credit reporting works and what you can do keep on top of your credit.  The following topics were covered: Credit Report

  • What is on a report?
    • Identifying information such as name, address, and social security number
    • Account information, such as credit cards, car loans, mortgages, etc.
    • Bankruptcy Public Records
    • Credit Inquiries
    • Dispute instructions
      • You can dispute anything on your credit report
      • usually takes 30-45 to process the dispute, including investigation
  • Used by lenders to gauge the likelihood of paying back a loan
  • FICO score is used by lenders to predict your risk of defaulting on loan within 24 months (higher the score, the less risk there is)
  • Credit Reports do not include your Credit Score

Credit Report Retention

  • How long information stays on your Credit Report
    • Accounts open that are in good standing – indefinitely
    • Accounts closed that are in good standing – 10 years
    • Late or missed payments – 7 years
    • Collection accounts – 7 years
    • Chapter 7 bankruptcy – 10 years
    • Chapter 13 bankruptcy – 7 years
    • Credit inquiries (hard hits) – 2 years

Common Myths about Credit

  • Once bad debts are paid off with the help of a iva you can get on an IVA site, it goes away – all debt will remain on your credit report according the to the retention information above
  • The credit reporting company denied me credit – the reporting company only houses your information; the lending company makes the decision on the loan
  • I am not responsible for charges on my account – if someone else is linked to your account or you have a joint account, you are responsible for all debt associated with your accounts
  • Divorce decree separates joint accounts – marital debt is considered joint debt even after a divorce decree
  • I must give permission for a report to be issued – Lenders can request information on your credit history (soft inquiries) for purposes such as pre-qualified offers for credit cards or loans.
  • Requesting your own credit report and pre-approval offers harm history – You can obtain your own credit report once a year for free without any impact on your credit score
  • There is one score based on your report – different companies have different calculations for evaluating your credit so scores will be different based on different criteria

Breakdown of the Vantage Score (Similar to FICO Score)

  • Payment History – 40%
  • Depth of Credit – 21% (how long you have had credit)
  • Utilization – 20% (how much you owe vs. your available credit limit)
  • Account Balances – 11%
  • Recent Credit – 5%
  • Available Credit – 3%

For more information on credit reports and credit scores, contact your financial institution or visit the Federal Government’s Credit Reports and Scores page at https://www.usa.gov/credit-reports.

Managing Your Credit and Credit Reporting

Creating and maintaining a healthy credit history can be difficult, but is necessary for many things in our lives, from getting personal loans, mortgages, car loans, or obtaining a credit card.  Please join us as the CUNJ and Experian will present on how to better understand credit reporting and provide general information about how you can manage your credit reports so that you can get the credit you need and want.  Specifically, it will touch on:

  • How your data is obtained
  • What are credit reports and credit scores
  • What is and is not in a credit report
  • Disputing items on your credit report
  • Managing your credit and improving scores
  • Free resources available to help improve your financial fitness


Fields marked with an * are required

Please indicate the classes you would like to attend by clicking on the appropriate box below.

*You must use Yes to answer the last question*