Rental Assistance During COVID-19: How to Get Help

February 16, 2021

Many of our members are facing the threat of losing their homes because of the pandemic. In late December, a relief bill was passed to help households at risk of becoming homeless due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you or someone you know is affected, find out how you can get rental assistance.

Rental Assistance During the Pandemic

eviction notice envelope | rental assistance during COVID-19 The Coronavirus has hit American families hard, on many different levels. As the virus continues spreading (the U.S. is averaging over 3,000 deaths each day), businesses have had to temporarily shut down or close altogether and lay off workers. Without a steady income, this is putting many households at risk of losing their homes.

In late December 2020, lawmakers passed a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, which included $25 billion to help households that are at risk of becoming homeless due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is given to States, U.S. territories, local governments, and Indian tribes (eligible grantees) to be used to assist eligible households or rental assistance programs.

The money can be used for rent (current or past due), utility services (current or past due), and other expenses related to housing. Funds will be paid directly to landlords and utility service providers.

Do You Qualify for Rental Assistance?

To see if you qualify for this assistance, you’ll need to meet at least one of these criteria:

  • Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19
  • Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability
  • Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median. However, states have been instructed to prioritize applicants at or below 50 percent of the area median.

Apply for Rental Assistance

To apply for rental assistance, you must go through programs established by eligible grantees. To find such a program in your area, contact your state housing authority site. Also, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has a webpage with information specifically for renters experiencing hardship because of COVID.

If you’re worried about being able to pay your rent or utilities during this extremely difficult time, know that there is help. Seek out the assistance available to you through your state and local governments.

Argent Credit Union, A Safe Place to Bank

January 15, 2021

It’s unsettling to see major swings in the stock market or to observe heated exchanges among political leaders about the best financial course for the country. It’s understandable that you might be concerned or worried.

However, Argent Credit Union is a safe place to bank. Keep reading to learn the advantages of credit unions.

Advantages of Credit Unions

National Credit Union Administration (NCUA)

You can be reassured on one point, and that’s the security and stability of your credit union and your accounts here. At Argent Credit Union, savings are always insured to at least $250,000 and backed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Federal insurance protects your money in credit union share savings, share draft/checking, money market, share certificate, trust, and retirement accounts.

Strong Capital Position

In addition, our strong capital position—a safety net of undivided earnings and other reserves—helps us weather setbacks. And we keep an allowance for loan losses that provides an additional buffer in case a few members can’t repay their loans. Further strengthening the credit union, federal and/or state regulators routinely examine our business practices to make sure we’re observing safe and sound operations.

Personal Approach

advantages of credit unions | African American couple sitting on the couch happily discussing finances

If you’re concerned about your personal finances, an Argent Credit Union professional can help, too. Whether you’d like to review current loans to see about refinancing at better terms or find out about savings plans that will help you attain your goals, we’re here to help.

Lower Loan Rates | Higher Saving Rates | Fewer Fees

The advantages of credit unions can’t be overlooked. Credit unions provide financial benefits to members through lower loan rates, higher saving rates, and fewer fees than banking institutions. National studies show that credit union member households, on average, are about $225 a year ahead of other consumers.

Our credit union—your credit union—is strong when our members are strong.

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Teaching Kids About Money Now So They’re Financially Independent Later

September 28, 2020

Teaching kids about money and exposing your kids to finances at a young age will empower them to be financially independent when they’re older.

teaching kids about money | a father and son at the kitchen table with change and dollar billsOne in four U.S. adults with young children said their parents taught them essentially nothing about money when they were kids, according to a 2019 survey by CreditCards.com.

Some schools include a certain amount of financial education in their curriculums, but parents remain the main teacher of financial education, especially when it comes to learning about money.

So here are three uncomplicated tips for teaching kids about money to make it easy for you as a parent.

Turn Learning About Money Into a Game

Kids and parents alike, love games. Who doesn’t love Monopoly? Turn learning about money into a game. Jim Brown, a financial consultant said he used “shopping games.” He would give his kids cash and send them to the store to see if they could buy the right items without overspending.

This is an easy way to introduce money and how it works to your kids.

Look for Opportunities to Teach Your Kids About Money

The old saying, “kids do what you do not what you say” holds true with money as well. As kids get older and start earning money, they will begin to follow the way you handle money. If they see you using a credit card all the time, they will do the same thing.

Teach your children the importance of savings and delayed gratification. Let them see you put money into a savings account for a larger purchase later. This will teach them to save first and reap the gratification of spending later, once they have enough money.

Make Your Lessons Age-Appropriate

Remember to make sure the financial lessons you’re trying to teach are appropriate for your kid’s age. Teaching a 5-year-old about credit card debt is NOT appropriate. Failing to teach your high schooler about interest rates and how to use credit or debit cards responsibly is also NOT wise.

Make it age-appropriate and based on their understanding level at that time.

Empower Your Children

Remember, as the parent, you want to empower your child to make wise financial decisions. It starts by teaching them at a young age and consistently helping them through their teen years. Taking these steps now is worth the time and effort!

Different Types of Savings Accounts | Deposit, Money Market & Certificate of Deposit

July 30, 2020

There are several different types of savings accounts. The kind you choose will largely depend on your needs and money goals. For example, you’ll want to consider how much access to your money you might need and how quickly you want your savings to grow. Find out which type is best for you. 

Different Types of Savings Accounts: Which is Best for Me?

different types of savings accounts | coins in a mason jar with a graduation capDeciding on which type of savings account to open should not be overwhelming. One thing to keep in mind is that a savings account is designed to earn you some interest with little or no risk. There are three common types of savings accounts.

Deposit Savings Accounts

A deposit savings account is what most people think of when they think about opening a savings account. You can open one of these accounts with just a small deposit. The interest you earn is going to vary on where you open the account. Look out for fees. Depending on the financial institution’s opening requirements, you may be charged transaction fees or a minimum deposit fee.

Money Market Accounts

A money market account is a savings account option that may pay a higher interest rate than a deposit account, depending on where you have the account. With this type of account, you usually have to maintain a higher balance. The good thing about this type of account is that you can write checks against your balance, something you can’t do with a deposit savings account. Bear in mind, there are limits to the number of checks you can write per month as this is not a checking account.

Certificate of Deposit

Certificates of deposit, often called CDs, require you to lock your savings away for a set amount of time. During that time, if you choose to withdraw funds, you will pay a penalty. When your set term period ends or matures, your money is usually reinvested in a new CD for the same term unless you withdraw your money. This account traditionally offers the highest interest rates of any savings account type. The longer the CD term, the higher your interest rate.

Traditional bank savings accounts are typically insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC, for up to $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category.

With federal (and some state) credit union savings accounts, your funds are insured by the National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA. Up to $250,000 of your savings account will be insured with a participating credit union.

It’s always a good time to start saving. Consider how your options can help you toward your goals, and then select a savings account that fits your needs.