As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, owned and operated for the members, you’re more than an account number – you are part of the Oak Trust family! Since there are no stockholders to pay, we are able to offer higher dividend rates on deposit accounts and charge lower rates on loans. Additionally, we offer a full range of convenient low-cost financial services that fit your lifestyle.
Mortgages – Perfect for New or Experienced Home Buyers
Whether you are financing your first home or moving to a new home, we offer smart, simple solutions to fit your needs. Choose from a full range of home financing options, including fixed and adjustable rate loans. Special programs are available for first time home buyers and borrowers with imperfect credit.
You can count on Oak Trust for competitive rates, low closing costs and knowledgeable professionals to guide you through the entire loan process.
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Here’s Why You’re Better Off Using A Credit Union Rather Than A Big Bank
By: Mandi Woodruff
Five years after the collapse of major banking institutions Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, Americans still don’t trust big banks with their money. A 2013 Gallup poll found that 74% of Americans had “some or very little confidence” in banks, while only 10% said they had a “great deal” of confidence.
Part of the distrust comes from the fact that banks are fundamentally profit institutions, meaning they’re more likely to take risks with your money, and will often sock users with high fees and have low rates on deposit accounts. With a credit union, on the other hand, you are more likely to see lower fees, get slightly higher interest rates, and experience better customer service.
Despite these advantages, less than one-third of Americans use credit unions. If you’re not quite convinced credit unions are the right path for your finances, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.
Big banks: They offer the accessibility factor. ATMs are typically plentiful and branches are open on the weekend if ever you need to make a quick withdrawal or deposit. On top of that, most major banks offer a wealth of mobile and online tools that make banking on-the-go a cinch.
Credit unions: Because credit unions are meant to serve local communities, they are most often not available outside of that area, and branded ATMs are practically nonexistent. To compensate, most credit unions will offer to reimburse customers for ATM fees if customers have to go out of network, which means you could basically use any ATM for free or use a shared ATM network. And since many credit unions also offer mobile banking options, customers can search for nearby ATMs in their area. However, some credit unions cap the amount they’ll reimburse for ATM fees, typically around $15 per month.
The winner: Draw
Checking Account Fees
Big banks: Big banks are notorious for levying major fees against customers for everything from overdrafts to monthly maintenance fees, and they’ve only gotten worse. According to a MoneyRates.com survey of bank fees, the average monthly maintenance is about $12 — that’s an extra $150 out of consumers’ pockets per year. Overdraft fees average more than $30. And then there’s the charge for using out-of-network ATMs, which runs about $3.
Credit unions: Unlike retail banks, which have large overhead costs and spend a lot of money to manage millions of accounts, credit unions are typically smaller operations and are able to pass on their overhead savings to customers. That means fewer fees across the board. More than 70% of the largest credit unions offer free checking, compared to 39% of banks, according to Bankrate.com. Overdraft fees run around $20 to $30 a pop, and while many do charge monthly maintenance fees ($2 to $5), customers don’t have to keep anywhere near as much cash in their accounts to escape them ($30 or less in most cases), according to Bankrate.com.
The winner: Hands down, credit unions are friendlier on the fee front.
Big banks: Good luck finding an interest-yielding bank account in this day and age. Interest rates fluctuate all the time, and even savings accounts at big banks are yielding next to nothing for account holders. We recommend doing your homework using a tool like Nerdwallet’s interest rate tracker or Bankrate.com to compare interest rate offerings.
Credit unions: Credit unions are known for offering higher-yielding savings and checking accounts, but recently, they haven’t been much to call home about. A 2012 study by Bankrate.com found that nearly 70% of major credit unions do not pay interest on checking accounts and those that do, yield an average of 0.12%.
The winner: Credit unions do offer higher-yielding accounts, but rates are so low it’s probably not enough to convince bank customers to go through the hassle of switching banks.
Big banks: Banks had a better year with customers in 2012, scoring a 77 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index; an increase of 2.7% over the previous year. But the ACSI chalks up the gains mostly to JP Morgan Chase’s 6-point gain in customer satisfaction. It remains the nation’s largest bank, “but still trails the small banks, which tend to offer more personalized service, free checking, and lower fees,” the report says.
Credit Unions: As the saying going goes, more money means more problems. As credit unions have been inundated with new customers, their customer service rates have taken a hit. Customer satisfaction with credit unions fell 5.7% to an ACSI score of 82 in 2012, though it’s worth noting they were still rated the highest overall for banking services.
The winner: Once again, credit unions beat big banks. But as their customer base grows, it will be crucial for the industry to ramp up resources to meet demand.
THE VERDICT: Credit unions are better.
We get it. Big banks are attractive, what with their vast array of credit products, flashy commercials, and glossy logos. But for the most part, credit unions are hard to beat. If you are able to take advantage of a credit union and don’t mind the lack of branded ATMs and physical branches, they are by far the best option for banking today. At the very least, it’s worth opening a checking or savings account with a credit union, based on their fee structure alone. You’ll pay fewer fees and get more personalized services out of the deal as well. If they don’t offer the credit products you like, trust us, banks will still be more than thrilled to take you on as a borrower.
6 Simple Ways to Rev Up Your Savings
You can meet your goals with automated deposits and investments.
Many people starting out in their careers find themselves burdened with lots of debt (perhaps from student loans, credit cards, and car loans) and very little savings for future needs. But there are simple strategies for gradually building small savings or investments into large sums, even during your school years, and often with the help of automated services that make it easy.
Here are key examples:
1. Save for specific goals.
You should have a savings plan for large future expenses that you anticipate — perhaps education costs, a home or car purchase, starting a small business, or preparing for retirement (even though that may be many years away). And, young adults just starting to be responsible for their own expenses should build up an emergency fund that would cover at least six months of living expenses to help get through a difficult time, such as a job loss, major car repairs, or unexpected medical expenses not covered by insurance.
2. Commit to saving money regularly.
This is important for everyone, but especially if you are supporting yourself financially.
3. Aim to save a minimum of 10% of any money you earn or receive.
Putting aside a designated amount is known as “paying yourself first,” because you are saving before you’re tempted to spend.
4. Put your savings on auto-pilot.
Make saving money quick and easy by having your employer direct-deposit part of your paycheck into a federally insured savings account. Your employer or your financial institution may be able to set this up for you. If you don’t yet have a steady job, you can still set up regular transfers into a savings account.
5. Make use of tax-advantaged retirement accounts and matching funds.
Look into all your retirement savings options at work, which may come with matching contributions from your employer. Chances are your retirement savings will hardly reduce your take-home pay because of what you’ll save in income taxes, and the sooner you start in your career, the more you can take advantage of compound growth.
If you’ve contributed the maximum at work or if your employer doesn’t have a retirement savings program, consider establishing your own IRA (Individual Retirement Account) with a credit union or investment firm and make regular transfers into it. Remember that you can set up an automatic transfer from a checking/share draft account into a savings/investment account for retirement or any purpose.
6. Decide where to keep the money intended for certain purposes.
- Consider keeping emergency savings in a separate federally insured savings account instead of a checking/share draft account so that you can better resist the urge to raid the funds for everyday expenses. Be sure to develop a plan to replenish any withdrawals from your emergency fund.
- For large purchases you hope to make years from now, consider share certificates and U.S. Savings Bonds, which generally earn more in interest than a basic savings account because you agree to keep the funds untouched for a minimum period of time.
- For other long-term savings, including retirement savings, young adults may want to consider supplementing their insured deposits with low-fee, diversified mutual funds (a professionally managed mix of stocks, bonds and so on) or similar investments that are not deposits and are not insured against loss by the NCUA or FDIC. With non-deposit investments, you assume the risk of loss for the opportunity to have a higher rate of return over many years.
- For future college expenses, look into 529 plans, which provide an easy way to save for college expenses and may offer tax benefits.
- For healthcare, find out whether you are eligible for a health savings account (HSA), a tax-advantaged way for people enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans to save for medical expenses.
Think about ways to cut your expenses and add more to savings. For your financial services, research lower-cost checking/share draft accounts at your credit union and some competitors. And, if you are paying interest on credit cards or fees for spending more money than you have available in your checking/share draft account, develop a plan to stop.
More broadly, look at your monthly expenses for everything from food to phones and think about ways to save.
If you are trying to teach your child or grandchild about money management, Oak Trust is a great place to start. Click here for more info about Oak Trust Youth Center.
By: Princess Clark-Wendel (SungardAS Contributor)
Recently, four people have been charged by the FBI for allegedly scamming $2.4 million from the country’s most vulnerable citizens: seniors. And it is a growing problem.
Anyone with an aging parent should take precautions; financial exploitation among the elderly is widespread and costly. According to a dated, but still widely cited 2011 study conducted by MetLife and the Center for Gerontology at Virginia Tech about elder financial abuse, the annual financial loss suffered by senior victims of financial fraud is estimated to be $2.9 billion. That is more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of Aruba.
Financial fraud against the elderly doesn’t only impact the victim; it impacts the entire family. It causes confusion, disrupts lives, and can tear families apart.
Will Your Parents Be The Next Victims Of Financial Fraud?
When Amy, who wishes to remain anonymous because of the nature of this story, discovered her smart and savvy elderly parents were victims of fraud, she had never seen her brother so upset. Here’s what Amy said happened to her parents, who were in their early 80s at the time:
“My parents were victims of fraud. They got a call in the middle of the night saying their grandson had been arrested in Panama and needed bail money. They wired $2,000 and immediately after it was wired, realized that it was probably fraud. The criminals then called and said that he (my nephew) was out on bail but would need additional money for a lawyer.”
Although they reported the fraud to the police and FBI, no money was ever recovered. Amy and her brother tried to put a withdrawal limit on their parents’ checking account, but their bank wouldn’t allow it. When they tried to get their parents to switch banks, their parents refused. To this day, Amy and her brother are still afraid that their parents are easy targets for scammers.
Are Your Parents Easy Prey?
“Yes,” according to Kai Stinchcombe, founder and CEO of True Link, which offers financial protection service to help seniors live happily and independently longer. “Scam artists are out there, and they’re preying on all of us, but are especially targeting older victims. People with memory loss make for ideal bait.”
Stinchcombe co-founded True Link as a result of trouble with his grandmother, Betty, being bilked by numerous sweepstakes and spending snafus that threatened to wipe out her nest egg. She admits getting bilked by “every single scam” out there from TV shopping and mysteriously recurring bills to home repairs and sweepstakes.
“I get scammed all the time! They target elderly people, you know; it’s such a problem. And it just sounds so good when they’re telling you about it, whatever it is; you just can’t resist it! But when you get it in the mail, it’s not really like what they told you about,” says Grandma Betty.
Educate Your Elderly Parents or Grandparents About These 4 Commonly Perpetrated Scams
- The Home Repair Scam
The Repair Scam can occur both on and offline.Due to loneliness or diminished capacity, the elderly are particularly vulnerable because most seniors live alone and may not be able to withstand a pushy salesman.
Stinchcombe says they may contact the victim by phone or email and say something like this: “Mrs. Brown, your new air conditioner has arrived, and we are ready to come and install it, but we just need your credit card information to run the payment and then we can get your installation scheduled.”
This scam works because, according to Stinchcombe, people often pay for things to save themselves embarrassment (they may not remember ordering something like a new air conditioner).He says that people with genuine repair needs can suffer greater risks from unscrupulous vendors.They might be overcharged or charged multiple times for the same work.
- The Magazine Subscription Swindle
Anyone can be targeted for this one, but seniors are especially vulnerable.
Here is how it works: For the last three months, your parents receive free issues of a magazine.Once the three months are over, the calls begin.The call might sound something like this: “Hi, Mr. Reader, this is Sally Fraudster in accounting with Free Catch Magazine. I’m calling because your subscription with us is approaching the deadline. You’ve received Free Catch Magazine for free for the last three months and according to the offer today is the final deadline.I just need your credit card to ensure timely delivery of your magazine.”
Everything Sally Fraudster has said is true: Mr. Reader has received the magazine for free for the last three months, but Mr. Reader incorrectly believes he owes them money.
Stinchcombe says this scam works because people with any form of memory impairment generally believe that they probably did order something. Similar to the Home Repair scam, con artists are banking on the elder preferring to pay up rather than suffer the embarrassment of trying to convince the caller that they did not place the order.
- The Uncollected Debt Scam
This scam preys on seniors at a very vulnerable time in their lives: after their spouse has died.Scammers search the obituaries hoping to find a widow.Then they call her and inform her that her husband left behind thousands of dollars of unpaid debt.The scammers often threaten the widow with financial ruin, eviction, and public disgrace unless the debt is paid immediately.
This works in households where one person manages the finances.The widow does not want to be embarrassed and ends up paying the “alleged “debt to the criminals.
- The Phony Bank Inspector Scam
This is a scam which preys on the tendency of older people to have a “public spirit:” the phony bank inspector. It was detailed in an episode of Dragnet 1967. A criminal poses as bank inspector and pretends to investigate bank fraud at the senior’s bank.He calls the senior and asks the senior to help him with his investigation by withdrawing a large sum of money.Once the senior withdraws the money and hands it over to the phony inspector as “evidence,” the inspector disappears along with the money.