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Financial Tips

Buying your first home is a big deal — which is why we compiled all of the information you need on our homebuyer resource page to get started from mapping out the home buying process to digging into pre-approvals, credit scores, down payment assistance, and more.

Your home is one of the biggest assets you own and the equity in your home can help you fund home improvement projects, college tuition, a wedding or many other life events.

Here are some things to think about before taking out a home equity loan:

  1. Which type of home equity loan best fits what you want to accomplish?

    Are you needing funds upfront for a one-time fix up, wedding or trip? Then a fixed rate second mortgage loan may be your best option. If you are doing a project that will have several phases, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may be the best choice since you can continually borrow what you need when you need it.

  2. Do you have any equity in your home?  What is your home’s current value?Do you have a current appraisal on your home? Ask us how we can run a free detailed ValueCheck on your home and depending on how much you want to borrow, there may be no appraisal fees. Also, at Westerra, there are no closing costs on HELOC loans up to $100,000.

  3. Determine which loan term is best for you.The term of your loan can play an important role in managing the repayment. Westerra HELOCs offer 10-year interest only line of credit, which helps keep your payments low, or a 5-year line of credit with a 2% of balance payment. Fixed rate second mortgage loans offer terms up to 15 years.

  4. Taking the next step.Secure your loan prior to starting your project. Have a plan and budget in place so you know what you will need and when. A plan and budget will also help you decide if a fixed rate second mortgage loan or a HELOC is best for you.

  5. Is the interest tax deductible?Tax benefits differ from person to person depending on your financial situation, how you are using the funds and your tax status. Consult your tax advisor before beginning a project so you fully understand any tax benefits.

Start making your dreams a reality! Schedule a consultation appointment at any Westerra branch, apply online or call 303-321-4209 for more information.

Westerra donates $20 to the Colorado Homeownership Coalition for each closed mortgage.

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Congratulations on opening your checking account at Westerra Credit Union! Having a checking account will provide you with the flexibility to make purchases with a debit card, access your funds through an ATM, deposit paychecks or allowance money, and monitor your transactions through Digital Banking. It can also help you establish a good financial track record to pave the way for future financial opportunities. 

Taking steps to improve your credit score can qualify you for better interest rates that save you money.

Whether you’re buying a home, a car, or applying for a credit card, financial institutions rely on your credit score to determine what level of risk they assume by approving your loan. Your credit score affects how much you can borrow and what loan terms (including your interest rate) you qualify for. The long story short is: it’s pretty important!

To understand what a credit score is and how to improve it, this post will go over the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) scoring model. You’ve probably heard it called the FICO® score, and it’s the most widely used in the financial services industry to help make credit decisions. The information presented here is largely provided by FICO at

Your credit score is a big deal. Lenders use it to decide what kind of credit card or loan you’ll qualify for and what interest rate you’ll have to pay. If your credit score is low, working to improve it can open doors for you now and in the future. 

There are 3 things you should avoid in order to protect your credit score:

Traveling soon? Here are a few tips to help you gain peace of mind and manage your finances before you leave town:

  • Let your financial institution (ahem us!) know your travel destination and how long you’ll be gone. That way, when you use your debit or credit card away from home, we will know that it’s really you using it and authorize your transactions.

  • Before you leave, make sure you have downloaded the mobile banking application to your Smartphone, which you can find in the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android, and test logging in. With the mobile banking app, you can monitor your accounts, transfer money, pay bills, and even deposit checks using your phone!

  • Check with your financial institution to see if they offer an app that lets you turn your credit and debit cards “on” and “off,” like CardNav. This type of app will give you peace of mind in the event your cards are lost or stolen.

  • If you receive your bank statements by mail, sign up for electronic statements (or “eStatements"). Typically, you’ll receive an email when your eStatement is ready. Then, log in to Digital Banking to see your eStatement, whether you’re home or away. Electronic statements are good for the environment, too (by saving trees!).

    • In the eStatements section, go to "Quick Actions" and select "Download Statements." If you have not already signed up for eStatements, you can enroll there. Then you will no longer receive paper statements in the mail — instead you will receive an email notification when your electronic statement is ready each month.

To notify Westerra of your upcoming travel plans, call us today at 303-321-4209, send us a secure message through Digital Banking or stop by any Westerra branch. We will place a “Travel Note” in our records, so that you can use your Visa® debit and credit cards without triggering a potential fraud alert interruption.   

We wish you safe and happy travels! 

Our purpose, our reason for being, is to teach one another to prosper. This includes helping everyone in furthering their financial education, especially helping teach kids wise money skills. 

Parents, here are a few ideas to consider to help your kids become more money smart:

  • Empower your kids to manage their own money – Let your child play an active role in how money is used by offering them an allowance. As a parent, the key is consistency: Be sure to keep your promise of paying your kids an allowance, no matter the amount. This demonstrates the importance of timeliness and indirectly shows your kids they will need to pay—their future credit card bills, for example—on time too. However, it isn’t advised to use this to discourage bad behavior.

  • Encourage your kids to give back – Giving to charity is fun for kids because they are instinctual givers. Make philanthropy more enjoyable by getting the whole family involved. Volunteer together at a local soup kitchen or be part of a fundraiser that you and your family are passionate about.

  • Make your own gifts instead of buying from the store – You can still give generously while saving money by creating your own homemade gifts. You and your children can make food mixes, candles, fresh-baked bread or cookies, soap, and many other things at home inexpensively.

  • Check out books, magazines, music, and DVDs at the library Swing by your local library to check out the latest books, magazines and music. The more your family borrows, the more money you’ll save over time. Alternatively, if you’re trying to organize your house, you can easily donate books, CDs, and DVDs your kids have outgrown to your local library, second hand or consignment stores (check out your local library’s website for what you can donate and where).

  • Turn grocery shopping into a teachable moment – Teach your kids about comparison shopping or how to shop by value rather than brand. Remember to always shop with a list, which helps children understand how prior preparation can lead to great savings in the end.

Here’s a list of documents that, in most cases, you might need when purchasing or refinancing a home. For a speedy and smooth loan process, we recommend you provide the required paperwork as early* as possible. Your mortgage loan officer will help guide you through the process.

  • One or two of your most recent pay stubs covering a 30-day period, including year-to-date earnings.

  • One or two years of the most recent W2s and/or 1099’s for each person listed on the loan application (K-1 tax forms if applicable).

  • If self-employed, two years most recent IRS 1040 and/or Business Tax Returns, providing all tax schedules.

  • One or two years of the most recent tax returns, personal and/or business (all tax schedules and pages are required).

  • Two months of the most recent bank and asset statements, such as spending/checking, saving, money market, retirement, etc. All pages, even if they are blank, are required. Please note: Large deposits will need to be explained and documented.

  • If applicable: Bankruptcy discharge papers and all bankruptcy schedules.

  • If applicable: Divorce decree and Complete Separation Agreement (all pages including schedules).

  • Name and contact information of the insurance agent you want to use for your homeowner’s insurance policy. If you do not have a trusted insurance agent, please let us know and we will refer you to a reputable insurance provider.

  • If applicable: A current mortgage statement.

  • Additional documentation may be required depending on your circumstances.

*Note: Documentation will expire after 120 days and updated information will be required.

If you are looking to purchase a home, you may have heard the terms pre-qualification, pre-approval and full credit approval. However, these terms are drastically different and can have an impact on your home-buying process. Understanding the difference A pre-qualification will provide you with a good idea of how much house you can afford. The number is determined by a simple calculation using basic information such as monthly income and monthly debt, and is often verbally provided to you from the lender. It takes no time at all to calculate and with nothing verified, a prequalification is truly a simple estimate. A pre-approval is achieved after a bit more analysis. It requires the lender to review the verbally provided borrower debt and income information, along with the factual information obtained from a credit report. A full credit approval looks at your full financial picture and provides you with a full credit approval letter, so you can be more confident when shopping for a home, knowing exactly how much you can purchase and finance. Offering a seller evidence of a full credit approval will position your offer for favorable consideration when the sellers are comparing offers from multiple home buyers, because they know they have a serious buyer.

At Westerra Credit Union, you will receive a fully underwritten file on a “To Be Determined” (TBD) property. This is our commitment to assist you before, during and after the transaction. To finalize the transaction after your offer has been accepted, we will need:

  • A valid purchase contract,

  • verified acceptable property,

  • and a verified acceptable title.



Full credit approval

Credit report required



Income & assets documentation required & underwritten


Provides accurate & verified information for a confident decision


Before you begin working with a lender, be sure to find out if they provide a full credit approval. Contact one of our experienced Mortgage Loan Officers at 303-321-4209 or stop by any Westerra branch. We would be happy to help you through the process.Westerra Credit Union financially supports the Colorado Homeownership Coalition, which provides mortgage assistance to individuals and families when they need an extra hand.

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