14 May

For the Holidays, Give the Gift of Membership

Holiday celebrations are a wonderful time for families to get together and share traditions and memories. Often, thoughtful gifts are exchanged, as well. This year, make your holidays extra special for family members by sharing a unique gift: the gift of credit union membership.

It’s Important

Sure, finances are not usually top of mind at a holiday gathering. But these days, an ever-growing number of bank customers will take any opportunity to complain about the fees and/or poor service their bank is dishing up. And when you contrast bank customers’ experiences with all the benefits you receive as a credit union member, it’s easy to see that sharing your membership with family members will be a gift with lasting value.

Credit union membership lasts a lifetime. Once you become a member, you can remain a member even if you change jobs, move to another part of the country or retire. And the same is true for your family members, if they join. That makes credit union membership especially valuable for children, who have long lives ahead of them. Because you’re a member, your spouse, siblings, parents, grandparents,children, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and members of your household can join Navigator. This includes stepparents, stepchildren, step siblings and adopted children.

Share the Benefits

Being part of a democratically run organization that looks out for its members’ best interests can help anyone. When you encourage your family members to join Navigator, they’ll enjoy the same benefits you do already:

  • Fewer and lower fees than you’ll find at most banks.
  • Generally better rates on loans and deposits.
  • Innovative financial products and services designed to fit your lifestyle and maximize convenience.
  • Attentive, personal service available when you need it.
  • Opportunities to learn good money management skills through seminars, this magazine and tools available through BALANCESM and on our website, www.navigatorcu.org.
  • Our genuine desire to help you meet your financial goals.

Happy Holidays!

So with your family members gathered ’round this holiday season, amid all the merrymaking, find an opportunity to discuss the enduring benefits of joining Navigator. Then point family members in the direction of our website, https://navigatorcu.org to learn more about how to sign up, or call 228-475-7300.

01 Nov

Click Carefully! Protect Yourself Online

Teenagers are great multitaskers. You might be on Facebook, looking at a friend’s latest update, texting another friend, listening to music on iTunes and reading a website dedicated to your favorite celebrity, all at the same time. There’s one more thing you should be thinking about when using the Web – your safety.

It’s easy to get caught up reading a funny post, then click on a link and next thing you know, you’ve infected your computer with a virus. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind while surfing the Web:

  • Think before clicking links. If you see a link from a friend on Facebook or Twitter, think twice before clicking on it. Sometimes hackers hijack accounts and post links, hoping people will click on them. When you do, your computer downloads a virus.
  • Don’t give out personal information. Don’t post your address, school or other personal information on social media sites. Also, if you get an email asking you for account information, such as your bank or credit union account or Social Security number, do not respond. These are from scammers who want to steal your information.
  • Create strong passwords. A good password can help keep your accounts and personal information safe. Don’t use the same password for all your different accounts. Create unique passwords that include special characters (@, !, #, etc.), numbers and letters.
01 Nov

Be a Smart Shopper

Jeans, T-shirts and other clothing may cost more this fall. But don’t despair if you need some new threads. Try these tips to make your clothing
budget go further.

Know what you need. Assess your wardrobe before you go shopping. Plan to replace essentials that no longer fit or are worn out.

Update your look with accessories instead of more clothes. Statement jewelry, a colorful scarf or simply adding a belt or a vest can take a basic shirt and jeans up a notch. Plus they save closet space!

Think about complete outfits when you buy. To get the most mileage from your clothes, buy items that are versatile.

Hit sales racks, discount department stores or outlet malls. Popular styles at lower prices – enough said!

Consider a clothing and accessories swap with friends or relatives. Trading clothes, bags and jewelry can be a fun and free way to give new life to items your best friend or stylish cousin no
longer wears.

SHOP VINTAGE

Shop second-hand stores. Consignment shops are ideal places to find gently used (and sometimes never worn) designer brands at a much lower cost than new.

01 Nov

Are You a Spender or a Saver?

Do you like to spend your money fast, or save it for a rainy day? Answer these questions to find out if you’re a spender or a saver.

1. When you get money for your birthday, you:
a. head to the store.
b. save it in your piggy bank.
c. buy one thing you want and save the rest.

2. You see a toy you really want at the toy store for $50. You see a similar toy for $30 in a different store ad. You:
a. buy the original toy. It’s more money, so it must be better.
b. decide not to buy either toy and save your money for something else.
c. look at a few other stores to compare prices.

3. You are walking along the street and see something green. You pick it up and it’s $20! You:
a. walk into the nearest store and buy all you can.
b. put it in your piggy bank until you can go to your credit union.
c. stick it in your wallet until you see something you really want..

HOW’D YOU DO?

If you chose mostly A answers, you’re a spender. You like to spend your money and rarely save it for later.

If you chose mostly B answers, you’re a saver. You like to save your money for a rainy day or something special.

If you chose mostly C answers, you’re a thinker. You may enjoy spending some money, but you think about things first.

Do you want to change your spending habits? Maybe you’d like to put some more coins in your piggy bank. Try saving half of your money and spending half, rather than spending it all. Deposit it in your Navvi-Gator Super Saver’s Club account to keep it safe and sound.

01 Nov

Gift IdeasGet Creative for the Holidays!

The holiday season is about spending time with the people you care about. It’s also a fun time to give gifts. Sometimes it’s hard to think of gifts for adults. Here are some creative gift ideas that don’t cost a lot, but can mean a lot. They can be special surprises for your teachers, parents,
grandparents, aunts and uncles!

Colorful chip clips. Turn plain clothes pins into mini works of art that are useful, too. Use markers or paint to color them, or add stickers. The clips can be used to keep bags of chips and pet food closed.

Cookie and tea set. Fill a mug with some tea packets and a nicely wrapped bag of cookies. Ask your mom or dad if you can help make cookies for gifts!

Tote bag designed by you. Check craft stores for plain white canvas bags. You can use fabric markers to draw pictures on them. Let the person you give a tote bag to know it can be used in place of paper or plastic bags at a store.

IOU coupons. These are great gifts for parents. IOU stands for “I owe you.” Make coupons that say you’ll clean your room, empty the dishwasher, clear the table and more. Also add some coupons that are good for hugs!

SAVE FOR SOMETHING SPECIAL

Navigator can help you save money for gifts, and help you save money you receive as gifts too. Make a deposit to your Navvi-Gator Super Saver’s Club account, and we’ll keep it safe!

27 Jul

Get a Social Life for Half Price

Do you love social activities but lack the money to go out? Don’t underestimate the fun factor of cheap (or even free!) group outings. It’s possible to have twice the fun on half the money (or less) if you watch for deals and use your creative skills.

Shop ‘til you drop for less. If your friends like to meet at the mall, try mixing it up and shopping the secondhand stores instead. You can find cool stuff (as well as some strange and hilarious items) at deeply discounted prices. Still miss the mall atmosphere? Pack some refreshments from home to enjoy on a park bench – where the people-watching may be just as entertaining!

Kick it for free at home. You can spend a small fortune catching a movie at the theater with friends. Why not host a game or movie night at home instead? Everyone can bring their favorite game or movie and enjoy snacks and sodas at a fraction of the cost.

Save it for later. Spending less on entertainment now means you can save money for bigger, better stuff in the future. Don’t forget to deposit your extra money in your savings account.

26 Jul

Finding a Balance How to Save for Retirement and Send the Kids to College

As a parent, you may have lofty goals to save early and often for your child’s college education while also saving for your retirement. But as life unfolds your plans may take a detour, especially in the aftermath of stock market volatility and a tough economy. Perhaps your retirement accounts have taken a hit and you’re looking for ways to build them up. At the same time, kids may need help paying for rising college costs.

Many parents wonder:

  • Should I focus on saving for retirement or college?
  • Should I save for both goals equally?
  • Should I save more for the goal that comes first chronologically?

The answers depend on your unique situation, but in general, it makes sense to put your retirement savings first. Students have numerous opportunities to manage college costs, from taking out low-interest student loans to choosing a less-expensive school or working through college. They have decades to pay off the debt, whereas your retirement horizon may be approaching quickly.

Before the College Years

Maximize retirement savings first. If your employer matches your contributions up to a certain amount, make sure to contribute enough to receive this benefit. Try to increase your contributions each year, or whenever you get a raise. Keep in mind that retirement assets are sheltered from the aid formulas used to calculate student aid, so it can be beneficial to build up funds in your retirement accounts vs. other taxable accounts.

Save for college next. Consider directing additional savings to a 529 college savings plan. Contributions compound on a tax-deferred basis and are tax-exempt when the money is used for qualified higher education expenses. Family members can contribute as well, so you may encourage grandparents and other relatives to contribute to your child’s 529 plan instead of giving cash gifts.

While the Kids Are in College

Leave retirement assets alone. You may decide to reduce retirement contributions in order to help with tuition payments. However, you should avoid withdrawing money from retirement accounts to pay for college. Doing so may shortchange your retirement future and reduce next year’s financial aid eligibility, since retirement distributions are considered taxable income.

Consider other sources of funding. Financial aid, student loans, scholarships and grants may help fund higher education if your child qualifies.

After Graduation

Refocus on retirement savings. With college bills out of the way, make it your mission to ramp up contributions to your retirement plan. If your finances are in great shape, you may have the flexibility to help your child pay off student loan debt in the future, should you choose to be so generous!

Ask a financial advisor for help setting your savings strategies for retirement and college education. Contact Jeffrey Hamm at Navigator Financial Planning Services at 228-474-3427 to review your options.

Representative is not a tax advisor or legal expert. For information regarding specific tax situations, please contact a tax professional. For legal advice, consult an attorney.
Representatives are registered, securities are sold and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free (866) 512-6109. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members.
26 Jul

Extend the Life of Your Belongings

Saving money is most people’s mantra in this economy. While prices of necessities like gas and groceries continue to rise, most of us are looking for ways to save money in other areas.

By taking care of things you’ve already spent money on – especially big-ticket items – you can delay the need to replace them, perhaps for years. Take a look around and evaluate where you could extend the life of your stuff.

Maximize the Life of a Product

The kitchen: Ranges and refrigerators can have long lives if treated right. Burners on gas model ranges should be inspected regularly and the burner ports cleaned carefully. Refrigerator door gaskets should be cleaned with water and mild detergent. The condenser coil should be dusted or vacuumed at least once a year too. The filters on dishwashers should also be checked regularly for debris.

The living room: Your living or family room can easily be the most used room of the house. Carpets and rugs tend to be abused the most, so think about having them cleaned professionally every year or so. Use pads under smaller rugs and rotate them often. Regularly clean TV screens and make sure the air vents are not blocked so the TV doesn’t overheat. Your computer should have up-to-date antivirus software. Always shut your computer down before moving it.

Lawn and garden: Lawn mowers should have blades sharpened at least once a mowing season and the underside cleaned of grass and debris after each use. Check the owner’s manual for battery maintenance for your mower – keep it charged year-round if needed.

The car: Tires are a necessity we often don’t think about until a problem arises. Consult your owner’s manual for information about inspecting them for wear, and always keep them properly inflated.

Washer and dryer: Take care not to overload the washer. For front-load washers, keep the door ajar after each use to allow air circulation and prevent mold. Clean the lint filter after each use of the dryer, and clean the air duct at least once a year.

Save for Your Next Big Purchase

Save as you spend with a Save’N Up account at Navigator. The Save’N Up Debit Card can help you build savings while you’re spending. When your well-cared-for items finally need to be replaced, consider using your savings to pay for them outright rather than having to take on debt. Call us today to open an account at 228-475-7300 or visit us online at www.navigatorcu.org.

24 Jul

Are You Worried Sick about Debt?

With the current shaky economy, many people know that the stress of having too much debt can be a pain in the neck. But did you realize that it can also – literally – be a pain in the back, the head and the stomach? A poll conducted for the Associated Press and AOL found that people with higher levels of stress caused by debt reported more health problems than those without much stress from debt.

Americans may be just sick over the state of the economy, but there are steps you can take to keep your debt load and stress level in check. Here are some tips I’ve found to be helpful and hopefully you will too:

Create a realistic budget so you can live within your means. Write down everything you spend for a couple months, then look for places to trim expenses. You might also want to consider ways you could boost your income.

Contact your creditors if you’re having trouble making payments. It may be uncomfortable, but dealing with financial problems head on is the most effective way to keep them from escalating.

Seek expert help. A Certified Financial Counselor at Navigator Credit Union can help you analyze your situation and find a way to pay off debt. Consolidating your debt may lower your monthly payment and total interest charges.

Learn healthy ways to deal with stress. You may have other pressures in your life, too, such as work or family. Handling stress in a healthy manner – and steering clear of counterproductive strategies such as abusing alcohol, overeating or isolating yourself – can help keep stress from affecting your health..

Part of our mission is to help you achieve financial success – and we have all the right tools to do just that. Give us a call if you need help getting your debt under control. Ask how you can consolidate debt to create a little breathing room in your budget. 

Warmest regards,

Laurin F. Avara
President & CEO