Car Buying Checklist

From securing financing, to choosing the right vehicle and visiting a dealership, car buying can be a very exciting and stressful process. However, with a little effort, and the checklist below, you can create a plan which will help make your next vehicle purchase a much happier experience.

Set a Budget

Take a look at your finances to see what funds you have available. Will you trade-in your current vehicle or do you have money set aside for a down payment? The price of the vehicle extends beyond the sticker price. Don’t forget to calculate insurance, gas and maintenance costs too. Calculate how much car you can afford to find the price range that best fits your budget. Once you know how much per month you have for buying and operating a car, it’s time to find a car that fits that number.

Get Pre-Approved

Dealers are notorious for trying to focus your attention on the monthly payment (is it a payment you can afford?). That’s why having your auto loan pre-approved improves your chances of negotiating on what really matters: your new auto’s price. When you have a pre-approved auto loan, your monthly payment is none of the dealer’s business – so there are no games to play. You and your lender have already agreed to something, and the dealer just needs to decide if you’re offering enough for them to let go of the car.


No one wants to overpay for a car, but you need context to know you’re getting a good price. Free programs, like Apple’s Car Buying Service, powered by TrueCar®, makes it easy to access unlimited price and market reports, compare car features, see pictures, read reviews and check your trade-in value. You can also review the TrueCar Price Curve to see the average other shoppers have paid for the car you want, learn what you should be paying and discover what you could save off the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP).


Once your loan is pre-approved and you’re ready to make an offer, it’s important to find a trusted dealer. “You know what you can afford and you have found a couple of cars that fit into your budget. Don’t allow a salesperson to push you into something else”, says Russ Heaps from “Keep your monthly budget amount to yourself. The salesperson doesn’t need to know it. Your goal is to find the right car and then negotiate down the purchase price. Don’t muddy the water by revealing what you can afford to pay per month.”


To more easily navigate the car buying process, use the checklist below. And remember, the folks at Apple FCU are always happy to help. With low-rate Auto Loans and Apple’s Car Buying Service we’re sure you’ll find the car you want, a price you can afford and enjoy a hassle-free buying experience.

Best of luck with your car shopping experience and happy hunting!


Prom on a Dime

According to the 2014 Visa Prom Spending Survey, American families spend $800 – $1,000 to cover prom costs. Here are some ideas on getting the night you want without breaking the bank.

Establish a Budget

Whether your parents are helping to cover the cost or you plan to spend your own money, it is best to establish a budget. One easy way to do so is with the Plan’it Prom App for iOS and Android. The app helps you to create a budget and keep track of your spending. It also provides a timeline and countdown feature so you don’t forget any important details.

PromApp2 PromApp1


Save on Threads

Thanks to the internet, both guys and girls can rent formal wear online to avoid over paying for an outfit you’ll likely wear one time. If you plan on renting your attire, start window-shopping and reserving now since the hottest trends go fast. You can also check out consignment shops or thrift stores.

To Limo or Not to Limo? That is the question.

Renting a ride can be a luxury, but is it worth the cost? Call around and price-check different businesses in advance to make sure you get the best deal. Also, consider sharing the cost with a group of friends. If the rental is $600 for the night and you have six friends sharing the ride, you end up spending much less money than if it was just you and your date. You could decide to drive yourself at a huge cost savings so you can use your resources elsewhere.

Dinner Options

You and your date could choose to go out to dinner, but that can be a really large expense. Consider doing something low key or find a swanky restaurant with thrifty prices. Another option that you may consider, especially if you plan on having a group share a ride, is to have a little dinner party at home. It could be in the style of a potluck, but you could have parents provide the food or have it catered and then split cost with your friends.


Keep these things in mind whenever you are planning for prom. Remember that things can still be luxurious without all of the costs. What are some tips that you can think of to save money for these events?


About the 2014 Visa Prom Spending Survey

The survey results are based on 4,000 live telephone interviews conducted nationally from January 24 – January 26, January 31 – February 2, February 7 – 9, and February 14 – 16 in cooperation with GfK Roper OmniTel.

Wise Choices
for your Tax Refund

Tax season is here.  If you’re expecting a refund check, consider some of these ideas designed to help you make the most of your return.

Pay High Interest Loans and Lines Of Credit

Use your tax refund to pay more than the minimum payment to reduce the amount of extra money you’ll spend on accumulating interest. Contributing money to your minimum payment is always a good idea because the longer you take to pay the balance off, the more interest adds up.

Build Your Savings Account

Put your money into a dividend-earning account like the eXtras Student Savings account and let your money work for you. Whether it’s your tax refund, birthday cash or an employee bonus, having that extra cash earn interest will build your balance. Plus, the longer that money sits untouched in your account, the more interest you’ll earn.

Grow Your Emergency Fund

You never know when a crisis may occur. Having money set aside for unexpected expenses like auto repairs, medical expenses/emergencies or temporary unemployment makes these events a little less stressful.

No matter what you choose, plan ahead and use your tax refund wisely.

What are your tax return saving or spending plans?

Credit Card Facts and Fears

In honor of Credit Education Month, here are some facts to better educate you whenever it comes to the choice of your credit future.

Why is this important?

Credit cards can help you build a healthy credit score  and that is something that can change depending on how you handle your money. Obtaining and maintaining a good credit score is important because it affects the interest rate you’ll get with any sort of loan and lenders use it to determine if you are a worthy risk. Today, it’s also common for employers to check your score during the hiring process to see if you are a responsible person. You may think that if you do not have a credit card that you will have a good score, but this actually can detract from your overall score value.

Should I Get a Credit Card?

If used responsibly, a credit card may help you establish a better credit score. But before you apply, it’s important to decide if you are ready for a credit card.

Just ask yourself if you feel that you are currently financially stable and pay your bills on time. If the answer is ‘yes’, it could be a perfect time to start building your credit. You can protect yourself by keeping your credit limit low so you don’t have to worry about getting out of control. More importantly, know that you potentially have options and can “shop” for the right credit card that fits your life. Student credit cards and Credit Builder cards can be a less risky option to get you started. No matter what you chose, you should never feel limited or pressured into any option.

What should I do?

Credit is something that builds a snapshot of your financial history and will follow you for the rest of your life. While never having a credit card may protect you from the debt from the misuse of credit, it can also hurt your future if you never get one. With a good score, you will qualify for better interest rates when getting future loans. It is a really big decision getting your first credit card and it is one you should not take lightly. Ask yourself the big questions and make good decisions based on your answers.

Best of luck to you and your credit future!