Top 7 Home Improvements You Can Do Yourself With A Little Help From NASA FCU

Stop and take a look around your house. Are you delighted with everything in it? This is where you spend a good portion of your day, and where you and your family build happy memories. There’s no reason why it should be anything less than your dream home.

It can be expensive to hire a professional to redo some part of your home, and choosing a contractor can be a stressful process. Instead of shelling out tens of thousands for a contractor, why not consider these great home improvement ideas that you can do yourself!

1) The deck of your dreams

With cooler fall weather on the way, you might be thinking about turning your boring outside space into an outdoor living room! Whether you’re after a raised wood deck to give your guests someplace to sit or a classy brick patio for lounging by the grill, a usable outside space can make a big difference in how you enjoy your home. The charming visual addition to the outside of your home is a great way to add value, too.

While this is a big project, it’s big on rewards, too. Start by drawing up some plans – remembering that you’re basically building a series of wood boxes that are bolted together. Draw up a shopping list of things you need, and click here to get the financing done. Then, head to your local home improvement store for lumber, bolts and a few new power tools.

2) Paint a room … or a whole house!

If you’re not feeling up to building much, you can make your house feel new again with a fresh coat of paint on the interior. Choose colors that complement your furniture and flooring, but choose slightly different shades for different parts of the house. Maybe you want to paint your kitchen and dining room in mellow earth shades to give it a sense of coziness, but you want to paint your bedroom a calming blue to help you sleep.

This can be a great project to get the kids involved in, too. Wall paint, sponges, and scissors can let children paint fun and imaginative shapes on their walls. A sense of ownership over the design might encourage them to help keep it a little cleaner as well. You can get creative in main spaces, too! Try painting an accent wall to change the light effects in your living room! Aside from paint, brushes, and rollers, make sure you get covers for furniture and floors and painters’ tape.

3) Fix up an entryway!

Your front door is the first thing people see when they come into your home. You want to make sure it says great things about you and your family. A little bit of time and effort can make this part of your house feel more welcoming while also saving you time and effort.

You can make relatively minor changes here. Metal house numbers, trim paint and a few planters can make your front stoop look much nicer. You can also make some serious investments. A new door can really liven up the front of your house. New weather stripping can make your front door more energy efficient to save on winter heating costs. Nice light fixtures can take a little time to install, but they can make your house both more charming and a little safer. Sketch out some ideas, then head to your home improvement store to figure out what you need to make your front door the talk of the neighborhood.

4) Add a splash of class with a tasteful backsplash

The section of wall above the sink can see a lot of water damage. Left uncovered, this can lead to mildew and even mold behind the sink. A backsplash is an attractive option for preventing that damage.

While these are typically done in tile, there’s nothing stopping you from looking at wood bead board, ceiling tile or wallpaper. You could even turn them into a functional addition to your organization system with chalkboard, whiteboard or magnetic film! Write up a recipe or meal plan to help keep your prep work organized in the kitchen, or write a fun morning greeting to your kids in the bathroom! There’s no limit to what a backsplash can do for your home. Head down to your local home improvement store to see what kind of material you want to use, and don’t forget to pick up adhesive to stick it all together!

5) Create a new outlook with new windows!

Installing new windows can seem like a daunting task, but they’ll pay for themselves. Energy efficient windows with new molding and stripping can significantly reduce your energy bills. Plus, having new windows and screens will make your home look well-cared-for when it comes time to sell.

Do some research on energy efficient two- and three-ply windows. Figure out which will both fit your budget and hold long-term value. Remember, though, that the general rule is you get what you pay for. Cheap windows won’t conserve much energy.

6) Refresh a tired kitchen or bathroom with new fixtures!

Your faucets and knobs see a lot of abuse. They get touched by grimy hands, splashed by soapy water and can build up calcium and rust even if you’re careful about washing them. Because they’re usually metallic, they tend to draw a lot of eyes. Dull, streaky fixtures can suck all the energy out of a kitchen or bathroom.

Replacing them, though, is pretty easy. In the bathroom, you can get sleek, modern fixtures that will save you sink space for storage. In the kitchen, consider getting a detachable head with a vegetable sprayer to make cleanups easier. Whatever you do here, you’ll end up with a nicer looking kitchen or bathroom.

7) Bring your stuff together with built-in storage!

If your house looks like most others, it’s chock-full on the inside with memorabilia and keepsakes. Tossed about the room, this can look cluttered and dingy. It makes it hard to clean and dust. Adding more furniture, though, can make a space feel cramped and tiny.

Instead, think about adding more built-in storage. Whether you just want to hang a shelf over an entryway, put some coat hooks by the door, or build a bookshelf into a living room wall, built-in storage is a great way to display your treasured memories without shrinking a room with too much stuff. Installing it requires lumber, mounting tools and a few other gadgets that DIY experts should have no trouble identifying.

When it comes to improving your home, NASA FCU is ready to be a partner every step of the way. You may have heard about home equity loans and lines of credit, but you may have thought you can’t use it for small remodeling projects. However, it’s actually one of the most common uses for those accounts.

Let’s talk. You supply the ideas, NASA FCU can supply the home equity loan or line of credit to make your dreams a reality. Apply online or call 1-888-NASA-FCU to speak with a representative and start enjoying the equity in your home today.

Predatory Student Loan Relief Organizations: How They Work And How You Can Avoid Them

Student loan debt is not just financially draining. It can also be emotionally damaging. The tens of thousands of dollars of debt can feel like an anchor hanging around your neck, weighing you down and preventing you from achieving prosperity. You were told to go to college and study hard, so you did. You were told there would be jobs waiting on the other side. There were not. Now what?

There’s usually a 6-month grace period after graduation before you have to start repaying your student loan(s). That started the minute you received your diploma. If, like most of the class of 2014, you don’t have a job lined up immediately, that ticking clock can be pretty panic-inducing.

This is the kind of emotionally vulnerable situation scammers love to exploit. They take advantage of the fact that you’re desperate to get out. Your “too good to be true” alarm doesn’t go off like it should.

You see an advertisement online, at the bus stop, on the radio or on a light post in your neighborhood. The ad tells you there are new student loan forgiveness programs that can free you from your debt. You might not have to pay any of it, thanks to official-sounding programs like the “Obama Forgiveness Program.”

Eagerly, you call the number or visit the office. You tell them your situation and they explain that there are a variety of programs to help people just like you. All you need to do is pay them an up-front fee, which can be as much as $1,200. Compared to the size of your debt, that’s an insignificant cost.

The catch? These agencies, like First American Tax Defense and Broadsword Student Advantage, either don’t offer any services at all or provide information on services that are readily available for free. They’ll send you forms that you could have found at no cost and pocket the difference.

These particular companies have been the target of a lawsuit from the Illinois Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General alleges that these scammers have broken an Illinois law prohibiting the collection of money upfront for debt relief services. That’s a start, but these organizations are likely just the tip of the iceberg. As long as people are desperate and afraid, organizations will be trying to defraud them.

If you have student loan debt, be on guard against these schemes. Getting rid of your loan debt is the obvious solution, but it may not be practical right now. Here are four concrete actions you can take to protect yourself today:

1.) Educate yourself about government loan relief programs. The Department of Education’s website, is a great place to start looking. Three very popular options are public service loan forgiveness, teacher loan forgiveness, and Perkins Loan cancellation. If you qualify for these programs, you can have your debt forgiven, sometimes altogether.

2.) Speak personally to your lender. Under most of these programs, you don’t need to fill out a standardized form. Each lender has their own paperwork that they’ll provide. They don’t lose money on the forgiveness process; they get the loan paid in full immediately. Even if you don’t qualify for forgiveness, you may be eligible for income-based repayment or some other system to lower your monthly payments. You can ask these questions directly – you don’t need an intermediary.

3.) Make repaying your student loans a priority. As soon as you land a job, set a monthly budget that includes both savings and an aggressive debt repayment plan. Getting out of debt and moving toward financial security will give you the confidence to resist these scams in the future.

4.) Get re-consolidation help from a lender you already trust. If you’re juggling student loan debt, a car payment, and credit card bills, you might be able to save a bundle by getting a debt consolidation loan from NASA FCU. This loan takes all your outstanding debt and re-bundles it into one easy monthly payment. This consolidation can make it easier to make your monthly payments and give you the breathing room to gain financial peace of mind. Speak to a representative about your debt repayment options today!

New Branch Hours Effective September 2, 2014 

The Annapolis, Bowie, Columbia, Falls Church, and Rockville Branch Offices have the following new hours:

Monday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

The Collington and Greenbelt Branch Offices have the following new hours:

Monday – Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

For your convenience, you can access your account(s) 24/7 through eBranch Online Banking, Mobile Banking, and Contact-24 Telephone Banking.

How to Know When You’ve Invested Wisely in a Certificate

Many consumers who are looking to lock in a higher interest rate than that offered by a savings account, but who still want the security of a federally insured account, find Certificates to be attractive options. If you are one such consumer and have decided that a Certificate should be part of your financial portfolio, below are a few checklist items to help you know that you have chosen your Certificate(s) wisely.

You’ve Researched the Rates

Currently, average interest rates on the gamut of bank deposit products are not all that exciting. However, some banks and credit unions offer Certificate deals that compete well with similar market investments and present attractive opportunities. NASA FCU’s 49-month Certificate special is one example; it tops the national rate boards and comes with an interest rate that more than doubles the national average for Certificates with a similar term length. By researching rates and products like this from financial institutions across the country, you can be sure that you’re taking advantage of some of the top offerings of the day.

You’ve Calculated the Inflation Risk

A certificate is a commitment of funds with a financial institution for an agreed upon period of time, in exchange for a return. Many people value Certificates primarily for the security they provide surrounding return OF one’s capital more so than the return ON your capital. That said, the longer the period of time to which you commit your investment, the more relevant broad economic factors like inflation become. For example, if you were to invest in a standalone Certificate with a 5-year term, the risk of your earnings (and purchasing power) being diminished by rising inflation would be greater than it would be for a shorter term investment like a 1-year Certificate. Exactly predicting what the inflation rate will do over the life of a Certificate’s term is impossible, but you should still keep this important factor in mind when committing your funds.

You’ve Read the Fine Print

Finding a good Certificate investment is many times not as simple as finding the highest rate being offered. Financial institutions include terms of agreement with every product they offer, so you should be aware of the fine print to which you are contractually obliging yourself. Some Certificates have a “call” feature that gives the issuing bank or credit union the right to terminate the Certificate after a specified period of time. You should also investigate how and when the issuer is agreeing to return your funds with the interest earned. Knowing the contractual details of the Certificate before investing will help you avoid a surprise that you weren’t expecting.

You’ve Included it as a Part of a Broader Savings Plan

Lastly, you should consider how investing in a Certificate fits into your overall savings, or retirement, strategy. When are you going to need the funds that you are investing? Could you reach for higher yields by tying your money up for a longer term? Would building a Certificate ladder be advantageous? A Certificate provides savings discipline and can also be a great hedge for riskier investments you are making elsewhere in the market. Considering how a Certificate could fit into your broader financial plan could help you leverage its value and use it as a tool to help you reach your goals.

After you have decided that a Certificate is a financial product for you, completing the above diligence will help you select and use the Certificate wisely within the context of your overall financial plan.

Ready to open a Certificate? Still want to learn more?

If you’d like to discuss NASA FCU’s Certificate options with a Member Service Associate, call 301-249-1800, Ext 555.

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College Credit: Six Ways to Save on Textbooks

Textbooks are one of those necessary, but pricey, college expenses. It’s easy to cut costs on food, clothing and even housing, but textbooks are a necessary requirement while in school. According to the Government Accountability Office, the cost of textbooks rose 82 percent from 2002 to 2012. That’s nearly three times the rate of inflation. And the College Board reports that students spend about $1,200 per year on books and supplies.

So what’s a college student to do? Here are six ways to save on your college textbooks:

  1. Don’t shop at the college bookstore. The bookstore has a captive audience and is very convenient, making prices higher.
  2. Find used books. Online bookstores, CraigsList, and bookstores that are not affiliated with your college are good places to start. has a search tool that can help, too.
  3. Check the library. If your professor is notorious for not using the textbook, consider not purchasing it. Visit the library when you need occasional access to available texts for completing assignments.
  4. Buy or rent the digital version. Many textbooks are now available as eBooks, and they’re often less expensive than purchasing a hard copy.
  5. Share books with a roommate or friend. Split the costs and make the book accessible to both parties. You can even set up a regular schedule or study date so you both have equal access.
  6. Do your research.,,, and others are great resources to rent, comparison shop, or even buy or rent single chapters of textbooks. Do your homework to find the best prices!

Still Not Saving? You’re Not Alone!

We like to think of ourselves as learning animals. We take our lived experiences, extract valuable lessons from them, and use that information to improve our daily lives. This is how we get better at doing things over time.

However, a recent survey from shows that we haven’t yet learned the lessons of the Great Recession. While Americans paid down their debt in the months since the recovery, a shocking 26% of Americans still report having no emergency fund. Another 24% have less than three months living expenses saved. Only 23% of survey respondents have the recommended 6 months living expenses saved.

It’s not for lack of caring. The same survey reveals that 60% of Americans don’t feel comfortable with their current savings position. We all know we need to save more, but we still don’t actually do it. Why is that?

Many experts say the problem is there’s just not enough money left at the end of the month for savings. This is true no matter how much you make; fewer than half of people with incomes more than $75,000 have that 6-month cushion. Rebecca Kennedy, the founder of Kennedy Financial Planning in Denver, says that after utilities, rent, and other expenses, there’s no money left over for savings.

Not having an emergency fund is like walking a tightrope without a net. No one likes to think about it, but what you would do tomorrow if you lost your job, wrecked your car, or had to miss work due to illness? In 2008, the answer provided by many would have involved tapping into a home equity line of credit. But, when house prices began falling and interest rates rose, these people had to rely on expensive debt to finance their lifestyles. That forced them to postpone retirement, miss vacations, or compromise on educational plans for their children.

You can avoid this problem. It may seem impossible to create an emergency fund, but there are always ways to squeeze a few extra dollars out of each month. Consider these seven ideas:

1.) Start small. If you save $5 a week for four years, you’ve got an emergency fund of just over $1,000. That’s a great start to a rainy day fund, and you can do it by giving up one vending machine soda a day. Many people stash every $5 bill they get in a coffee can or store all their loose change. You might also consider a 52-week plan where you save $1 the first week, $2 second, and so on. These incremental steps can make a big difference in the long term – at the end of a year, you’ll have saved almost $1,400.

2.) Take on a second job. It’s never fun to leave one job and head to another. Remember, though, that you’ll have to work fewer hours to build a savings than you would have to work to pay down debt. Don’t limit your search to part-time jobs. Consider freelancing, taking surveys, babysitting, or selling tupperware. You don’t need to finance another lifestyle. You just need to make enough to start a savings fund.

3.) Pay yourself first. Think about your savings as another bill. This mode of thinking prevents you from treating the money as discretionary and frittering it away on impulse buys and luxuries. Make your savings as important as your house note, car payment, and utility bills.

4.) Automate it. Consider setting up a Club Account or a savings account with direct deposit. This step ensures you’ll remember to take the savings out of your budget each month. You’ll also be earning a little bit of interest on your savings to help you on your way. These savings products have the flexibility to allow for immediate withdrawals if you need it, but are limited by law in how many withdrawals they allow. This means your money is there when you need it, but far enough away that you won’t be tempted to spend it.

5.) Put luxury in the back seat. Whether it’s a fancy coffee drink, a pack of cigarettes, a fast food meal, or the latest cell phone, things we don’t need will consume much of our income. You don’t need to give up your vices all together. In fact, financial expert Candice Elliot compares these choices to dieting. Repeated denials can drain our will-power, leading us to snap back harder. The answer may be to cut back on our consumption instead. Go without your Starbucks on Friday or wait 6 months for the price to drop on a gadget. Put the difference into your savings account.

6.) Look at recurring expenses. If you’re honestly spending everything you get on your monthly bills, it may be time to look at them. Consider cutting your TV services or switching to a pre-paid cell phone plan. Simply giving up a premium movie channel for a year could save you as much as $240. Now that Game of Thrones is over for the season, do you even need it? These don’t have to be long-term choices. Your goal should be to make temporary sacrifices to ensure yourself against future loss.

7) Don’t spend it. Your emergency fund should only be used for actual emergencies. Ask three questions before you take even a dollar out of your emergency fund. Is the thing I’m paying for absolutely necessary? Is there nothing I can cut back on this month to pay for it? Do I have to pay for it right now? Unless the answer to all of these questions is yes, leave the money where it is.