16 May

Averting a College Debt Crisis

Move over credit cards – college debt is now the No. 1 source of consumer debt in America. Student loans now account for more than $1 trillion in outstanding debt for U.S. consumers, surpassing what’s owed on credit cards, according to a recent survey from the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. And with tuition costs continuing to rise, some experts predict the growing debt burden could soon spark an economic crisis.

The College Conundrum

There is no simple solution, as higher education remains a boon to most graduates’ future prospects. Statistics show that those with a college degree enjoy lower unemployment rates, a better chance of having health insurance and job satisfaction, and higher lifetime earnings (nearly $20,000 per year higher according to the U.S. Census Bureau). So how can degree-seekers balance the cost and benefits? Very carefully.

First, be sure to pursue all forms of financial aid. In addition to completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) every year, search for college scholarships on your own. You may find scholarship opportunities through family members’ employers, organizations based on your area of study and groups that you belong to.

When it comes to borrowing, consider limiting the total loan amount to no more than twice what you can expect to earn in your field as an entry-level worker. Subsidized federal loans often offer the lowest interest rates and most flexible terms, including covering the interest payments while you’re in school. Take the maximum amount offered in subsidized loans before turning to unsubsidized federal loans.

Let Us Help

You can also apply for funding from Navigator to help cover the remaining balance of a college education. Our loan officers will work with you to understand your goals and situation, then create a strategy that makes the most sense for you and your family. To learn more about how we can help you keep college debt under control, call our Lending Call Center at 228-474-3401.

16 May

Check Us Out on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest

Do you “like” us on Facebook? Follow us on Pinterest or Twitter? We love interacting with Credit Union members and we’re proud of our status as a not-for-profit organization that stands up for you and your best interests. If you’re proud of your status as a Credit Union member, we hope you’ll show your support and “like” us and “follow” us, too.

Find Us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest

Navigator’s social media pages exist to help members stay connected with the latest opportunities and happenings at the credit union.

  • Join more than 3,000 others who stay connected with us on Facebook. “Like” us and you’ll get Credit Union news, photos and events right in your newsfeed. Our Twitter and Pinterest profiles have recently launched – so be among the first to follow us on Twitter @NavigatorCU and check out our boards on Pinterest.
  • Read financial news and tips designed to help you stay on top of your finances – and pass them on!
  • Stay in the loop about special events that interest you. Your support is what drives the success of Credit-Union-sponsored charitable events and opportunities, as well as educational seminars and Credit Union gatherings.
  • Participate in contests and promotions posted for our Facebook and Twitter communities.
  • Check in for the latest updates from your mobile phone or computer. Find out if our offices are closed due to a holiday or bad weather, for example.

Join the Conversation

If you find value in your membership at Navigator, let us know! We encourage you to write your questions or comments on our wall or feed so we can respond. To protect your privacy, please refrain from posting any personal or account information online. If you have questions about your specific accounts, please contact us directly at marketing@navigatorcu.org.

16 May

Broccoli Potato Soup

Number of servings: 4

Warm up with a delicious, nutritious soup!

INGREDIENTS

4 cups broccoli (chopped)
1 onion (small, chopped)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, low sodium
1 cup evaporated milk, nonfat
1 cup mashed potatoes, instant (prepared in water) salt and pepper (to taste)
¼ cup cheese, shredded cheddar (or American)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine broccoli, onion and broth in large sauce pan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  4. Add milk to soup. Slowly stir in potatoes.
  5. Cook, stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened.
  6. Season with salt and pepper; stir in a little more milk or water if soup starts to become too thick.
  7. Ladle into serving bowls.
  8. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon cheese over each serving.

Per serving: 200 calories, 6 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 350 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 15 g protein. Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recipefinder.nal.usda.gov.

16 May

Take a Bite Out of Your Grocery Bill

You know how much money you need to set aside each month for fixed expenses such as rent and your car payment. But what about food? Because groceries are a variable – yet large – expense, you may not be aware of how much you are spending. If you aren’t keeping track, chances are good you could take some steps to save money.

Here are some smart shopping strategies to cut costs.

Take inventory and make a list. Look through your cupboards and refrigerator. Are any staples almost gone or about to expire? Write down what you need before you hit the store so you don’t stock up unnecessarily or have an I-forgot-to-buy-milk moment. And don’t stray from your list!

Plan meals. Cooking for one or two doesn’t have to be wasteful – make enough so you can freeze meals or have leftovers for lunch the next day. Planning meals can help you avoid fast food lunches and frequent grocery store trips because you “have no food at home.” Bonus: It can also help you pay better attention to nutrition and weight management.

Compare prices. Higher-priced, name brand items are usually at chest level on store shelves. Look above and below at different brands, and note the cost differences so you get the best deal. You may want to use a calculator to figure the unit price if it isn’t listed.

Use coupons. Coupons are available all over – in store fliers and newspapers, on manufacturers’ websites or websites such as coupons.com. Your regular grocery store may have double coupon days or accept other stores’ coupons. Take advantage!

Food for Thought

With Online Banking at Navigator, you can easily check your grocery store spending – and savings. Take the money you save and transfer it to your Savings Account!

16 May

Save Money with Your Smartphone

While it may cost you a Benjamin Franklin or two (or more) to purchase a smartphone, these handy devices can save you time and money. Use your phone’s built-in features and download free apps available at the App Store and Google Play to save.

Pay less for gas. Compare gas prices in your area with an app from Gasbuddy.com.

Get cheap talk. Tap into Wi-Fi to video call those you love for free. The iPhone comes with a feature called FaceTime and apps such as Skype or Tango are available for download.

Comparison shop. Apps such as Red Laser and ShopSavvy compare prices for you. Scan the barcode of an item you’d like to buy to find out what stores in your area offer the lowest price.

Find deals. Digital coupon pioneer GrouponTM offers an app that pulls up deals in your area for food, spas, entertainment and more. Once you sign up you can snap up great deals on the spot.

Don’t be tardy. Use your built-in GPS or Google Maps so you don’t get lost.

See in the dark. Use your device’s camera LED/Flash screen as a torch to emit intense light in the dark.

16 May

Mobile Banking Is Here

Navigator now offers Mobile Banking for members who want to complete transactions on the go right from their cell phones. To utilize Mobile Banking, download the Navigator Credit Union App from the App Store on your mobile device. You can also visit https://navigatorcu.org from your phone’s Internet browser and select “Mobile Banking” to download the Mobile App to your phone.

With Mobile Banking, the convenience of Online Banking is right in your pocket. Access your accounts anywhere – on the bus, at the beach, in the mall. Want to check your account balance before swiping your debit card? There’s no need to pull out your laptop or look for a Wi-Fi hotspot. Just grab your mobile device to log on with a secure user name and password. Account information is encrypted and stored on a server, not on your phone.

Mobile Banking features give you the ability to:

  • View account balances.
  • Check transaction history.
  • Transfer funds.
  • Make loan payments.
  • Find branch and ATM locations.

And It’s Free!

Mobile Banking is free for Online Banking members. Don’t have a smartphone? You can enjoy the simplicity of Mobile Banking via text messaging from another cellular device by enrolling from a PC at https://mobile.navigatorcu.org. Click on “SMS Settings” follow the instructions online. To learn more about Mobile Banking go to www.navigatorcu.org.

15 May

Spotlight On … A Good Night's Sleep

According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, 30% of American workers sleep less than six hours a night.

Although individual sleep needs differ, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance and well-being.

People who are regularly sleep deprived are more likely to be less productive, have trouble focusing, be cranky, cause accidents and have chronic health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure. If you have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, consult your doctor.

If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep after 15 minutes, experts agree you should go to another room and engage in a relaxing activity until you feel sleepy.

You can sleep tight knowing your funds are safe at Navigator. Your money is federally insured by the NCUA. To learn more about our secure savings products and services, stop by, call or visit us online.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov; National Sleep Foundation, www.sleepfoundation.org; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, www.nhlbi.nih.gov.
14 May

Your Financial To-Do List

What are your financial, business or life priorities? Your goals? Specify them, then consider investing, saving or budgeting methods you could use to realize them.

Think about deductions. If you’ve made a great deal of money in a given year and have the option of postponing a portion of the taxable income until the following year – that may bring some tax savings.

Can you max out your IRA contribution at the start of the year? If you can do it, and want to do it, do it early – the sooner you make your contribution, the more time those assets have to earn interest.

Required Minimum Distributions? Retirees over age 70½ must take RMDs from traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. Make sure you’re aware of the deadlines.

Transaction? Did you (or will you) sell any real property this year? Start a business? Receive a bonus? Sell an investment held outside of a tax-deferred account? These moves may have an impact on your taxes.

Charitable gifts? Remember, if you make charitable contributions this year, you may claim the deductions on your return.

Mortgage payments? Can you make a January mortgage payment in December, or make a lump sum payment on your balance? If you have a fixedrate mortgage, a lump sum payment could reduce the loan amount and total interest paid.

Life changes? Did you marry or divorce? You
may want to change beneficiaries in your will and take a look at your insurance coverage. If your last name is changing, you’ll need a new Social Security card. Are you returning from active duty? Check the status of your credit, and the state of any tax and legal proceedings that might have been preempted by your orders. Review the status of your employee health insurance, and revoke any power of attorney you may have granted to another person.

Don’t delay – get it done. Contact Jeffrey C. Hamm, the Navigator Financial Planning Services Advisor serving the members of Navigator Credit Union. Call 228-474-3427 today.

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 800-369-2862. 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.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. 09142012-WR-594

14 May

The Right Deductible for Savings and Peace of Mind

You’ve probably thought about finding the right work/life balance, or determined the perfect ratio of coffee to cream and sugar. But have you put much thought into finding the right balance between the deductible and the premium on your auto and homeowners insurance? If not, you may be missing an opportunity to save yourself some money while still enjoying the peace of mind of having adequate coverage if a crisis arises.

Understand the Terms

The deductible on your auto and homeowners insurance is the amount of money you are responsible for paying for repairs or replacement if you have to file a claim. The insurance company covers the rest of the costs up to your coverage limit.

Generally, the higher your deductible, the less you pay in insurance premiums. Increasing the deductible on your homeowners insurance from $500 to $1,000 could save you as much as 25% in regular premium costs.* Similarly, raising the deductible on your car insurance a few hundred dollars could save you 15% to 30% on premium costs.** How much you save depends on the rates offered by the insurance company and on how often, if ever, you have to file a claim and pay the deductible.

Finding the Balance

Determining the right deductible is, in part, simply a matter of doing the math. If the situation arises, could you easily access the deductible amount to repair damage to your car or home? To decide, look at:

  • Your average monthly savings account balance.
  • The amount of credit available to you.
  • How much of your monthly paycheck is
    left after you’ve paid your bills.

Also consider your driving history when thinking of your auto insurance deductible. Frequent fender benders may mean that the higher premium saves you money. And homeowners need to keep in mind the different facets of homeowners insurance. Depending on your location, you may have a separate deductible for damage due to a windstorm, hail or earthquake.

Another factor that can’t be reduced to black and white is your tolerance for risk. Raising your deductible is a more effective way to save money if you don’t have to file a claim. How comfortable are you taking that chance? One way to make the risk more tolerable is to set aside money to cover the deductible should the need for it arise. Also, regular reviews of your insurance policies will allow you to make sure that you have the right coverage for your current situation.

* Source: Insurance Information Institute, www.iii.org.
** Source: MSNBC.com.
14 May

Prevent Child Identity TheftLock Down Your Child’s Private Information

Shredding credit card offers, securing personal information within your home, creating difficult passwords – these are all ways to reduce identity theft. But what if it isn’t your identity that’s the object of concern, but your child’s? Unfortunately it’s an emerging problem for children, as their Social Security numbers are clean slates, and often the crime isn’t detected for years, until the child is an adult.

What can you do to ensure your child’s identity stays safe and secure? Follow some of these tips:

  1. Keep your child’s Social Security card, birth certificate and other important documents in a safe in your home, or in a safe deposit box.
  2. Contact Experian, TransUnion and Equifax to request a free credit report for your child. You will need to prove your relationship to the child with a birth certificate.
  3. The credit report for your child will determine if your child has credit. If your child does have credit, contact the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov), Internal Revenue Service
    (www.irs.gov) and the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) to report your child’s identity theft.

Keeping an eye on your child’s credit report can help ensure his or her identity remains safe. For more information on a safe deposit box or Savings Account at Navigator, call 228-475-7300 or visit www.navigatorcu.org.