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  1. Everything To Know About Home Equity Loans

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    Do you own a home and feel overwhelmed by multiple high-interest debts? A home equity loan might be the key to simplifying your finances and saving money. This article will delve into the world of home equity loans, explaining their benefits, drawbacks, and how they compare to other options like Home Equity Line of Credit (also referred to as HELOCs).

    What is a Home Equity Loan?

    A home equity loan is a type of loan that uses your home’s equity (the difference between its market value and your outstanding mortgage) as collateral. You borrow a lump sum of money at a fixed interest rate and repay it over a set period, anywhere from 1-15 years.

    Benefits of Home Equity Loans:

    • Consolidate Debt: Simplify your financial life by combining multiple high-interest debts into one manageable loan with a potentially lower interest rate. This can save you significant money in the long run.
    • Lower Interest Rates: Compared to credit cards and other unsecured loans, home equity loans typically offer lower interest rates due to the security of your home.
    • Potential Tax Deductions: Consult your tax advisor, but interest paid on home equity loans may be tax-deductible, further reducing your overall cost.
    • Improve Credit Score: Making consistent payments on a home equity loan can positively impact your credit score.

    Drawbacks of Home Equity Loans:

    • Risk of Foreclosure: If you default on the loan, you risk losing your home.
    • Closing Costs: Expect to pay fees associated with origination, appraisal, and other closing processes.
    • Temptation to Overspend: Having access to a large lump sum can lead to overspending, so use it responsibly.

    Home Equity Loans vs. HELOCs:

    While both use your home equity as collateral, there are key differences:

    • Structure: Home equity loans are fixed-rate, fixed-term loans, while HELOCs are revolving lines of credit with variable interest rates.
    • Flexibility: HELOCs offer more flexibility in accessing funds as needed, while home equity loans provide a one-time lump sum.
    • Interest Rates: Home equity loans typically have lower fixed rates than HELOCs—but HELOCs may offer lower rates initially.

    Choosing the Right Option:

    The best choice depends on your individual needs and circumstances. Consider:

    • Purpose of the Loan: Is it for a one-time expense like consolidation or renovation, or ongoing expenses like education?
    • Interest Rates: Compare fixed rates of home equity loans with variable rates of HELOCs.
    • Financial Discipline: Can you manage a revolving line of credit responsibly?

    Ready to Learn More?

    If you’re a homeowner considering a home equity loan, contact Slovenian Savings & Loan. You don’t need to be an existing customer! Their friendly loan officers will discuss your options and help you determine if a home equity loan is the right move for you. Remember, using your home equity responsibly can be a powerful tool for debt consolidation, home improvement, and achieving your financial goals.

    View all locations & phone numbers

  2. Safe deposit boxes at SS&L

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    Did you know Slovenian offers safe deposit boxes? A safe deposit box is a secure metal box locked in a bank vault that can be rented by customers to store valuables.

    As the world has become more and more digital, renting a safe deposit box to securely store physical objects is less common than it once was. But safe deposit boxes are still an excellent choice to store items like:

    • Personal papers, including wills, birth certificates, marriage licenses, important contracts or other key business papers
    • Valuable collections of small items, such as coins, stamps, or other rare collectibles
    • Jewelry

    Using a safe deposit box to store these types of items provides security and peace of mind.

    When you rent a safe deposit box, you’ll pay an annual fee and receive a key to the box. A bank employee will accompany you into the vault when you come in to access your box. Access is limited to people whose names are on the lease.

    Interested in renting a safe deposit box at Slovenian? Talk to a teller today to get started.

  3. Slovenian Spotlight: Holly Ott

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    Holly Ott has a lifelong history with Slovenian Savings & Loan.

    “I grew up in East Conemaugh, and my mom used to take me to the Conemaugh branch of Slovenian. I loved it, because I’d always get a lollipop and all the ladies who worked there were so nice,” she says with a laugh. “Some of those ladies are still there, and now I’m one of them.”

    A graduate of Conemaugh Valley High School and Cambria-Rowe, Holly first worked as a secretary in an office, then in banking, and later as a teacher’s aide. She was hired as a teller for Slovenian about 11 years ago in Windber, where her husband grew up and where the couple raised their two daughters, Alyssa and Rylee.

    She notes that Slovenian is very supportive of its employees when times get tough. A few years ago, just months after losing her mother, Kellijo Statler, to metastatic breast cancer, Holly faced a breast cancer diagnosis.

    “You need your family and whole community to get you through something like that,” she says. “Everyone at Slovenian sent cards and well wishes, and I really felt cared for by the entire company. It’s a major reason why there’s not a lot of turnover – it’s just a great place to work.”

    October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Holly encourages women to get screened.

    “Even with what happened to my mom, I never thought it could happen to me so young,” she says. “I’m grateful to be here, and to be working part-time for Slovenian.”

  4. Great rates on CDs now!

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    CD interest rates have risen dramatically for the first time in several years. If you’re ready to invest some money but the current volatility of the stock market concerns you, an 18- or 27-month CD is a great option.

    Just a $500 minimum balance is required to open a CD, and you can get an interest rate of up to 1.375% – you can get your interest money in a monthly check, deposit to a different SS&L account, or compound it. CDs are a great way to maximize your interest earnings safely.

    Stop into any Slovenian branch today to get started!

    More about CDs

  5. Slovenian Spotlight: Marlaina Koss

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    Marlaina Koss, who has been a teller with us since 2019, loves being a part of the Conemaugh community.

    As a teenager, Marlaina delivered the “Saving Your Dollar Shopper,” a long-since discontinued periodical. She enjoyed getting to know people in the community as she made her rounds, and finds working for Slovenian provides her the same opportunity.

    “I had banked at Slovenian all my life,” she says. “So when an opening for a teller came up, it was a perfect job for me.”

    As a teller, Marlaina is on our front line, greeting customers and helping them with everyday banking needs.

    “I’ve always felt Slovenian has such a family feel to it – everyone here is friendly and welcoming,” she says.

    She lives with her dad, sister and nephew in Conemaugh, along with their new kitten, Haru.

  6. Slovenian Spotlight: Susie Lavely

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    Susie Lavely is a lifelong resident of Johnstown. A Westmont Hilltop graduate, she has been part of the teller team at our West Hills branch for five years.

    “I love how community-based Slovenian Savings & Loan is,” Susie says. “Most of our customers are from around here, and I really enjoy getting to know them.”

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  7. Now hiring! Full-time teller for our West Hills branch

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    Come work with us! Slovenian Savings & Loan is seeking a full-time teller for our West Hills branch. We’re looking for self-starters who can take the initiative when responding to customer concerns and complaints. The ideal candidate will have a friendly personality and a head for numbers. They should understand the roles that financial institutions serve in the community and have a customer-focused attitude.

    Please inquire at any branch, or send resumes to Slovenian Savings & Loan, 585 Goucher Street, Johnstown PA 15905, or support@sloveniansavings.com.

  8. Beware of online scams this holiday season!

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    Online scams are increasing as the holiday shopping season continues. Generally speaking, scammers will attempt to gain trust by impersonating a known contact or business, and will often create their own verification procedure that seems legitimate – like asking for personal information on a website or over the phone.

    To stay safe online, Slovenian Savings & Loan encourages you to keep an eye out for these danger signs:

    • Unsolicited texts or emails asking for money or a payment. Even if you recognize the person or company asking for help or payment, scrutinize details such as the originating email address or phone number, as well as the spelling and grammar of the message. Contact the person or company over the phone to check legitimacy before you act.
    • Requests for money or payment by a specific method. Often, scammers will request payment via unconventional means such as gift card, money or wire transfer, or cryptocurrency – this is because these methods are difficult to track, and even harder to recover. Unlike secure transactions with a bank/credit card, or PayPal/Venmo, you have no dispute rights if you pay with one of these methods.
    • A deal that’s too good to be true. There are a lot of great sales out there, but check to make sure any online vendor that’s offering an amazing deal is actually legitimate! Other scams in this general category offer a prize, an unclaimed inheritance, or a get-rich-quick investment opportunity in exchange for a fee.
    • An urgent call to action. Scammers try to get you to act before you think, often by appealing to your emotions — often fear (examples: a relative needs money urgently; you’ll lose an amazing deal if you don’t act right now). Make sure the message is legitimate before you do anything that might compromise your finances or online security.
    • Links to websites that spread malware or solicit personal information. Never click on a questionable link in an email or text message — your computer could become infected with malware. Other links may lead to legitimate-looking websites that ask for personal information as a log-in or verification of some kind. If the message or the link itself seems sketchy, contact the business or individual who appears to have sent it before you click.

    Slovenian Savings & Loan encourages you to pay special attention to online transactions to make sure they’re not part of a scam or other illegal activity! The bottom line: if something seems off, it probably is.

  9. Congratulations to Chelsea Kozar, who has been promoted to Loan Officer!

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    Chelsea Kozar, a 15-year veteran of the banking industry, began working for Slovenian in August 2019 as a full-time teller at the Windber branch, was promoted to head teller, and was recently named a Loan Officer!

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