General, Personal Finances
What are your financial goals?
Whether you’re looking to pay off loan debt, make a down payment for a house, travel, or save for something entirely unique to you, we can help you get there. We’ll work with you to point you towards the financial products and services that best fit your values. Below is helpful information to get you started towards accomplishing your goals.
Is it time for a spending plan?
No matter your goal, a spending plan is the perfect place to start. Looking at your current spending habits and creating a spending plan is a great exercise to help you see your current financial ‘big picture’. Where is your money going? What are the necessities? What are the expenditures you might be willing to forgo for the goal you are working towards? The exercise ends with the creation of a spending plan that allocates your income into different buckets—monthly bills, current debt, savings, etc. Once you have your plan, stick to it and see yourself get closer to your goals every month!
Have more expenses than income? Come talk to us about ways to reduce your debt so you can get on track to reach your goals. Find our contact information here »
How’s your credit?
Whether it’s good, bad, or nonexistent, we can help you understand how your credit affects your personal financial life and offer solutions for building and improving it.
Why do I need good credit? What is it used for?
Your credit score is the system creditors use to help determine whether to give you credit (a loan) and how much to charge you for it—car, home, and business loans are all affected by your credit score. It can also determine whether you’re able to rent an apartment or are approved for a credit card. Needless to say, it’s hard to reach certain goals without understanding your credit score and how it is used. The following steps can help:
Step #1 Check your credit
The first step to improving or maintaining your credit is to have an idea of where you’re starting. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com to get one free annual credit report.
Step #2 Audit your credit score
Once you receive your credit score, make sure the information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. Make sure there is no fraudulent activity listed. If you do find errors, contact the consumer reporting company to tell them about the information you think is inaccurate.
Step #3 Establish credit
Having no credit can hurt your chances of a loan just the same as having bad credit. There are several ways to start establishing credit.
- Find someone with good credit to cosign a small loan with you. Be aware: your repayment of this loan affects the co-signer’s credit score, so make sure you are able to afford payments on time and in full. View our personal loan options here »
- Federal student loans are typically granted up to a certain amount if you’re enrolled at least part-time in an eligible institution. This is a great way to build credit if you have yet to develop a credit history.
- Apply for a credit card with a very small maximum balance. Use the card once a month and pay your entire balance monthly. View our credit card options here »
Step #4 Improve your credit score
If your score is not where it needs to be in order to reach your financial goals, here are some tips to improve your credit score:
- Building credit requires obtaining and maintaining several accounts over a prolonged period of time. Keep your accounts open and active; this helps to show a long lifespan of credit history.
- The biggest factor in your credit score is payment history, so make sure your payments are on time each month. Anything over 30 days overdue can be reported to the credit consumer reporting companies and hurt your credit score.
- Do not apply for many loans or credit cards at once, having multiple sources checking your credit score often can hurt your score.
- Avoid putting your credit on the line for someone else—bills your roommate doesn’t pay can hurt your credit score, and cosigning with a friend, relative, or romantic partner can also put your score at risk. Keep this in mind if you’ve asked someone to be your cosigner as well.
- As your hometown bank, we’re here to help! Contact a customer service representative to help establish, check, build, or improve your credit today »
Ready to take the next steps on your goals? Check out our goal specific resources and products below:
If you want to purchase your first home, refinance, or take out a home equity line of credit, we have resources that can help. Also feel free to contact one of our hometown lenders to talk about the specifics of your goals—we’re here to help!
In a small community like Vermont, it’s important to be able to get where you need to go on your own schedule and terms. Our automobile loans can get you moving in no time »
If you’ve always dreamed of owning a small business, our commercial lending team can help bring your dreams to life using their local knowledge and experience. If you’re looking to streamline your business’ finances, we have several tools designed specifically to help, view our business services here »