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Money Smarts: Assets and Liabilities

You may often hear talk about assets and liabilities, whether it’s on a television show about money, the internet or in books. What are assets and liabilities and how might they impact you and your financial health? Let’s take a look:

Assets: Assets are anything of value that you own. Examples of assets include: cash, funds in savings accounts (CDs, money market, IRAs), valuables (like jewelry or antiques), vehicles that you own outright and real estate (the current market value of the property, even if you still have a mortgage).

Liabilities: A liability is anything that you owe to someone. Although we mentioned above that real estate counts as an asset, the amount you owe on that property falls under the liabilities category. Other examples of liabilities include: credit card debt, student loans, vehicle loans, etc.

Understanding what your assets and liabilities are can help you to grasp your full financial picture, and help with calculating your net worth. Your net worth is your assets minus your liabilities.

Net worth = Assets – Liabilities

Earn Points on Balance Transfers to Our Platinum Visa

Transfer Your Balances and Earn Extra Awards Points

We want to help you find financial flexibility by transferring balances from credit card issuers who charge high rates and steep fees to your SF Fire Credit Union Platinum Visa, rates as low as 7.25%*.

Offer Ends February 28, 2015**

If you already have an SF Fire Credit Union Platinum Visa, you can easily make your transfer within Online Banking. If not, our Loan Application directly in Online Banking makes it very easy to apply and set up your balance transfers upon approval. You can also apply directly within our Mobile Banking apps as well.

If you prefer to speak with someone over the phone, one of our Contact Center Representatives can help you make a balance transfer from your current credit card to your SF Fire Credit Union Platinum Visa, seven days a week from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Pacific) at 1 (888) 499-FIRE (3473).

Refresh Your Portfolio with a Financial Check-Up

Do you own investments that you’ve held for years? Are you fuzzy on the objective of the funds and how they have performed relative to their benchmarks? Has it been a while since anyone has taken time to review and analyze your holdings? If this sounds like you, the New Year presents an opportunity to conduct a portfolio check-up with our CFS* Financial Advisors. We employ tools to help analyze our members’ fund positions.

Rebalance to Avoid Unnecessary Risk

Rebalancing can be a crucial element in helping to reduce risk while ensuring a portfolio remains aligned with an investor’s intended investment plan. Over time, the asset mix in a portfolio can begin to drift from its original allocation – this is especially true during periods of extreme volatility. If an asset class performs well for an extended period of time, it can grow to become a higher percentage of a portfolio and subsequently have a much higher impact on the intended overall risk and return of the portfolio going forward.

Message from the President - Ringing in the New Year

On behalf of all of us at SF Fire Credit Union, I hope a wonderful holiday season was had by all. It can be such a busy time of year, brimming with plans to spend time with families, friends, and loved ones. But despite this, what our members continue to demonstrate year-after-year is an unwavering support of our efforts to raise funds for the SF Firefighters Toy Program. Thank you so much for your donations, which totaled over $15,000 this season and will benefit a program which is the oldest of its kind in the United States and helps over 40,000 children a year.

The year we leave behind was a good one for SF Fire Credit Union. The Bay Area’s economy is well into its recovery, certainly in regards to the jobs and real estate markets. The credit union’s financial performance remained strong, with steady growth and continued profitability. Our capital reserves now stand at $79 million, helping to ensure we’ll be here to meet your financial services needs well into the future. We’re committed to providing an exceptional service experience, and worked hard to become a better credit union. Our Real Estate program was completely revised, and now offers members a streamlined and communicative process. We believe knowledge is empowering, and expanded our educational seminar topics to include investing, healthcare, real estate, car buying, and credit scores. Protecting your accounts from fraudulent activity is a priority, so we made it possible to load travel notifications for your debit and credit cards within online and mobile banking. Time is valuable, and you should to be able to do business based on your schedule, not ours. We understand this, and expanded the appointment making tool on our website to include new membership, new accounts, consumer loans, real estate, investments, business services, and notary public. Recognizing the increasing use of mobile phones and tablet devices to browse the internet, we launched a new public website which is more informative and easier to read on screens both big and small. And finally, we completed the remodel of our California Street location. The Main Branch expanded the areas designated for real estate and business lending, which we feel was necessary to provide members with a better service experience.

Chip-enabled Credit Cards Coming in May 2015

SF Fire Credit Union will be implementing chip technology into our credit cards beginning in May 2015. Our new credit cards will feature a microchip in addition to the magnetic stripe that is currently used by merchants when you perform transactions at terminals.

Chip cards will improve the security and global usability of your card, and we will begin issuing them to replace expiring cards starting in May. By the end of 2015, all SF Fire Credit Union Visa Credit Cards will be replaced with new chip-enabled cards.

Chip cards contain encrypted information that make it difficult for the card to be counterfeited. At merchants that use chip terminals, the card and terminal work together to add an additional layer of security to the transaction.

Now Accepting Donations for SF Firefighters Toy Program

The SF Firefighters Toy Program distributes toys seasonally to over 40,000 kids in need and responds on a year-round basis to children and families in crisis. They are the oldest volunteer-run program of their kind in the nation and rely solely on donations.

Help Us Raise $20,000 for the SF Firefighters Toy Program

There are many ways you can help support the Toy Program this holiday season:

  • Donate in Online Banking, in one of our branches, or over the phone
  • Bring unwrapped toys to one of our branches, or to any San Francisco firehouse

For more information, login to Online Banking or call us at (888) 499-FIRE (3473).

Annual Employee Bake Sale on December 17th

Cookies, cupcakes and other sugary items baked by staff will be available for sale at our California Street branch on December 17th. Please drop by to pick up some goodies and support a terrific cause.

Message from the President: Autumn Update

Autumn is upon us, sending students back to their classrooms, and causing many of us to wonder how it’s possible for the year to be passing so quickly. As we enter into the final months of 2014, you should know that the year thus far has been a good one for SF Fire Credit Union. Members continue to give us the opportunity to meet their financial services needs, which has been a key factor in our sustained profitability and ability to grow capital reserves. We’re grateful for your loyalty and support, and recognize its direct correlation to the strength and prosperity of our credit union.

Looking back at summer, it’s a season that I’d describe as a busy one here at the credit union. Our seminar series was expanded, with new topics including Health Care in Retirement and Auto Buying. As these seminars are intended to help members make better informed decisions regarding their financial lives, I welcome suggestions on other topics you’d like to see us offer. We launched our new website, which was designed to be more informative and intuitive. Recognizing the increasing popularity and usage of mobile and tablet devices, we created a new www.sffirecu.org which is easier-to-read on screens both big and small. Many of you are likely aware of the Home Depot security breach, the latest incident involving debit and credit card data being compromised by a large retailer.

Free Identity Theft Resolution Services

With all the recent news surrounding data breaches at large companies, retailers, and payment processors, we want to remind you of a free benefit of membership that can help in the event that you become a victim of identity theft. SF Fire Credit Union partners with Identity Fraud, Inc. to offer free resolution services that can assist with recovery from every aspect of identity theft and help protect you from recurring fraud.

What Identity Theft Victim Resolution Can Do For You

This helpful service is free to SF Fire Credit Union members. In the event that your personal information has been compromised, simply give our Contact Center a call, and we’ll refer you to a specialist who will work on your case. (If you call our Contact Center after hours, just press #4 to be connected to Identity Fraud, Inc.)

Understanding Credit Scores

When you apply for a loan, lenders want to know your credit risk, and credit scores are a near universal criteria in a lender’s decision. There are three major credit reporting agencies that report your credit score to a lender: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. These scores can differ slightly based upon the information reported to each of them by all of your creditors. One type of credit score (FICO) is provided to all three major credit bureaus, and these scores affect both how much and what loan terms (interest rate, etc.) lenders will offer you at any given time.

Your FICO Score is calculated from different types of data found in your credit report. The data is grouped into five different categories, with some categories having more impact on your FICO Score than others.

Credit Score Breakdown

Payment History (35%)
Amounts Owed (30%)
Length of Credit History (15%)
New Credit (10%)
Types of Credit Used (10%)

Knowing these percentages, you can get a better idea of how your score may be affected negatively or positively. Let’s dive deeper into each category: