04 Nov

Build the Foundation: 6 Steps for Financial Success in Your 20s

Your 20s is a time to enjoy your freedom and learn new life lessons. Often a decade of important decisions (career, marriage, home), it can also be a time for big financial mistakes if you’re not careful.

Making smart financial decisions now could lead to financial freedom in the future. It could mean the difference between retiring early or late, or whether you can afford the vacation home you’ve always dreamed about. Here are a few steps to build a solid financial foundation in your 20s.

1. Develop a marketable skill. Income is your wealth builder, and your 20s is a time to learn what you love – if you’re lucky, it will be what you went to school for. Find a skill that could translate into a career.

2. Make a simple budget. Sound easy? It is. By learning to create a budget now and sticking to it, you’ll also be able to apply that principle later in life.

3. Create a debt-repayment plan. Yes, you aren’t the only one who has enormous amounts of student debt. And waiting to pay it off until you’re more established in your career could have negative effects on your financial stability. Start paying it back now. It’s easy to set up automatic payments online so you aren’t tempted to skip a month.

4. Build an emergency fund. Even though you may live on little these days, it’s smart to have at least $1,000 set aside for emergencies. After all, it’s inevitable that your clunker car will break down eventually.

5. Start your retirement saving. Don’t stop reading now! This might be the hardest one to put into action, but completely worth it. The key to long-term compounding is to start early. If a 25-year-old invests just $100 a month, assuming an 8% average annual return, it totals to more than $300,000 by the age of 65.*

6. Start building your credit. Make sure to keep up with monthly payments on your loans and credit cards because that will be beneficial for your credit score. If you are considering opening a credit card, Navigator Credit Union has competitive interest rates and can help you manage payments.

* Rate of return is for illustration only and does not represent the return of any specific investment. Your returns will vary. Depending on the type of account, taxes may be due upon withdrawal.

Investment (and/or insurance) products:
Not federally insured
Not a deposit of this institution
May lose value

04 Nov

Money-smart movesA Year-end Financial Checklist

Use FSA dollars. If you have a calendar-year flexible spending account (FSA) or other health spending account through your employer, check the balance and use up the money in the account to avoid losing it.*

Save year-end bonuses. Rather than go on an impulsive spending spree, stash a year-end bonus or financial gift in your savings account, where it can grow.

Max out retirement plan contributions. If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you may want to contribute up to the maximum before the end of the year. Or consider increasing your paycheck contribution a percentage point or two.

Make charitable donations. If you’re planning to itemize charitable gifts on your income tax form in 2015, donations made by the end of 2014 may lower your tax bill.

Making money-smart moves now can help you end this year on a high note and be in a good place to kick off the new year. Look to Navigator Credit Union for more helpful ways to save and manage money
wisely — now and all year long.

* Depending on the rules in your employer’s plan, you may be able to carry up to $500 forward to the following year.

Please note that neither this financial institution nor any of its affiliates give tax or legal advice. Consult your tax advisor regarding your individual circumstances.

04 Nov

Chicken Noodle Soup

Warm up with this delicious homemade soup — and freeze portions to reheat when you’re feeling under the weather!

Number of servings: 6

Ingredients

3 pounds chicken pieces (skin removed)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 onion (chopped)
1 cup celery (washed and chopped)
3 carrots (large, scrubbed, thinly sliced)
4 cups noodles (dry)
1 teaspoon thyme or sage (optional)

Directions

1. Thaw frozen chicken in refrigerator (about 24 hours), or thaw in microwave just before cooking soup.

2. Place chicken pieces in large kettle. Cover completely with water. Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 2-3 hours.

3. Remove cooked chicken pieces from broth with tongs or slotted spoon. Cool 10-15 minutes before separating bones from meat. Break meat into bite-size pieces. Remove any bones from broth.

4. Remove fat from broth by skimming with spoon, adding and removing ice cubes, or blotting top of broth with paper towels.

5. Add chicken meat, seasonings and vegetables to the broth.

6. Bring broth to a boil, cover, reduce heat and cook about 15-20 minutes on medium heat until sliced carrots are crispy-tender.

7. Add noodles and boil uncovered for about 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any noodles that might stick together.

8. Ladle into soup bowls.

9. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within 2 hours of cooking. If refrigerated, use within two days. When reheating, bring to a boil.

Per serving: 350 calories, 12g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 100mg cholesterol, 320mg sodium, 27g carbohydrates, 3g dietary fiber, 5g sugar, 33g protein, 120 percent vitamin A, 8 percent vitamin C, 4 percent calcium, 15 percent iron.

Recipe courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, recipefinder.nal.usda.gov.

04 Nov

Don’t Be an Easy Target: How to Protect Your Smartphone

Smartphones and other mobile devices have made our lives easier in many ways. But, their allure and high resale value has also made them a prime target for thieves. While there’s no way to completely eliminate risk when owning one, there are ways you can protect yourself, your device and all the important data it contains.

Keeping Your Device Safe

When out and about, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. If an area feels unsafe it may be best not to use your device, or to use it discreetly. Never leave your device visible in an unattended vehicle. Take it with you or lock it in the glove compartment or trunk.

Write down your device’s make, model number, serial code and unique device identification number. This information can be given to the police in the event that your device is stolen.

Protecting Your Data

The first step in protecting your data is to establish a password to restrict access to your device. This can help prevent unwanted usage charges or use of your personal information if the device is stolen. Keep up-to-date with updates and patches to your devices’ operating system. These updates often include new protections when vulnerabilities in software arise. Also be sure to back up vital data to a trusted computer.

Installing anti-theft software on your phone can help in the event that it is lost or stolen as well. These apps are able to locate your device, lock your device remotely or even wipe sensitive data from your device using any computer. Legislation has been introduced in some states and nationally to require new smartphones to be sold with a preloaded “kill switch.”

In the Event of Theft

If your device is lost or stolen there are some steps you can take. First, change the login credentials to any online accounts you have access to through your mobile device. If your device is used to access Navigator Credit Union’s online or mobile banking you can visit https://navigatorcu.org to change your password. If you have installed anti-theft software on your device, you may be able to use it to locate your phone or wipe the data remotely. Do not attempt to retrieve a stolen phone yourself. Always report the theft to your local authorities as well as your wireless carrier. Finally, if you’ve purchased insurance on your mobile device find out what your plan covers in case a replacement is necessary.

04 Nov

A message from the NCU Wealth Management ProgramNew Records – Is it Time to Protect Your Gains?

Record highs for stocks. Record lows for interest rates. Recent months have seen new records for the stock market and a continuation of the historic lows for interest rates. Consider these facts:

• The S&P 500 Index, which tracks the top 500 U.S. stocks, surpassed 1,900 – a record.*

• The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which follows 30 large publicly traded U.S. stocks, topped 17,000 – a record.*

• Certificate of deposit (CD) rates have never been this low for this long, with 6-month CDs below 0.15% – a record.*

• The Federal Reserve has kept rates on short-term funds under 0.25% since 2008 – a record.*

The stock market has made a steady recovery since the financial crisis of 2008, and the growth in the past year has translated into attractive equity gains for many investors. But with these new records, people are now worried another stock market drop could come to threaten their retirement plans.

Some investors have sought shelter from market volatility in certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market accounts. Unfortunately, those accounts have set records of their own – historically low returns that have not kept pace with inflation.**

There Could Be a New Way

There are new annuity products now available in the industry that allow you to participate in the market’s upside potential while setting a limit on your downside risk. Other annuity options let you guarantee a retirement income you cannot outlive. The new record stock market highs and interest rate lows could mean it’s time to review your current portfolio and discuss these new opportunities. It may be time to protect retirement gains and reduce risk as part of your overall investment strategy.

For more information about new retirement planning options, contact Jeff Hamm, the NCU Wealth Management Representative located at Navigator Credit Union at 228-474-3427.

* SOURCE | Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500, finance.yahoo.com; 6-month CD rates, ratewatch.com; Federal Funds Rate, bankrate.com; July 30, 2014.

** Campbell, Dakin, “Banks Want Higher Interest Rates,” BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, November 2013.

All guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuer and do not extend to the performance of underlying accounts which can fluctuate with changes in market conditions.

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, IA 50677, 866-512-6109. Investment and insurance products are not federally insured, may 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. ANN-1213-NMPG

03 Nov

Credit unions offer a smart alternative to big banksLaughing All the Way from the Bank

From endless account requirements to lackluster customer service and soaring fees, big banks recently have found themselves and their services questioned by consumers. Frustration reached an apex in 2011, when one of the nation’s largest banks announced a $5 service fee on debit cards. Reaction was swift and harsh. Efforts mobilized to create Bank Transfer Day, which encouraged customers to say goodbye to big banks and their fees. Many consumers answered the call and in 2012 credit unions added more than 2 million new members.

Although the trend of moving away from banks seems new, credit unions are longstanding financial institutions in their own right, with the first U.S. credit union dating back to 1908. So what sets credit unions apart from banks? The difference between the two can best be described by comparing their focus, fees and financing.

Focus on Service

Compared to banks, which are for-profit organizations owned by stockholders, credit unions are nonprofit and owned and governed by their members. Created by members for members, credit unions often have regional or organizational ties, whereas banks are open to everyone. As credit unions aren’t profit-driven and emphasize member service, they can work cooperatively with other credit unions. Examples of this collaboration include shared ATMs and branches to provide a convenient, fee-free network for their members to use across the country.

Credit unions also have historically maintained higher customer satisfaction ratings, thanks to their emphasis on member service. Furthermore, in an effort to best serve their members, credit unions tend to have lower minimum balance requirements and less restrictive eligibility requirements to open accounts and access loans.

Fewer and Lower Fees

Big banks have become known for their high fees for basic customer services like checking account maintenance and card services. Credit unions, on the other hand, don’t need profits to satisfy shareholders like banks do. They are free to pass the savings along to their members, translating into fewer and lower fees across the board.

Financing for Their Members’ Future

Because of their nonprofit nature, credit unions pass along profits to their members through dividends, with generally higher interest rates on their members’ deposit accounts than banks. On average, credit unions also offer more attractive interest rates for personal loans and credit cards.

As a member of Navigator Credit Union you’ve experienced the benefits of using a credit union first-hand. Be sure to encourage others to see the light! Refer a friend or family member today to help them start enjoying the same excellent member service and benefits that you enjoy from your financial partner.

03 Nov

Credit class: Choose the Best Loan for You

Credit allows us to borrow money to pay for items we couldn’t otherwise afford — like homes and cars and a college education. Mortgages and vehicle loans are examples of secured loans. The lender uses your home or car as collateral, and if you fail to pay back the amount borrowed in the allotted term, the lender can reclaim the item.

Unsecured loans are not backed by any type of collateral. You simply promise the lender that you’ll pay back the loan. This affords you some freedom in borrowing — you can use the funds to pay for a computer, a vacation or anything else you’d like. But that freedom comes with a price: higher interest rates than secured credit.

Types of Unsecured Loans

Three common types of unsecured credit are:

Credit cards. A form of revolving credit, the card issuer approves you for a set amount (your credit limit) and you access the credit whenever you need it. The lender charges interest on the balance each month and asks that you pay off a portion of the balance regularly.

Personal loans. Personal loans let you borrow a set amount of money at a particular interest rate, then pay it back in a series of fixed payments.

Personal lines of credit function very similar to credit cards, except the funds can be accessed by check, online transfer or withdrawal rather than a card.

When Unsecured Credit Makes Sense

While a personal loan may come with a higher interest rate than a secured loan, it offers a smart alternative to riskier forms of borrowing, like payday or pawn shop loans. Finance companies may charge excessive interest rates and their loans may come with unreasonable terms.

What’s more, a personal loan can help build your credit history and enhance your ability to qualify for better loan rates and terms in the future. Making payments on time and managing your loan responsibly hows lenders you’re a smart credit consumer, and may make lenders more willing to extend a loan in the future.

To learn more about how a Navigator Credit Union credit card, personal loan or personal line of credit can help improve your financial picture, talk to a representative today.

03 Nov

All-in-one convenienceConsolidate Your Financial Accounts with Us

Seeing your complete financial picture can be quite a challenge. It’s not uncommon to have a savings account at one institution, a checking account at another, plus several loans and credit card accounts all over the place. If you’re tired of remembering multiple web addresses, user names and passwords just to get at your financial information, maybe it’s time to consolidate.

Responsive local service, member-owner benefits and greater savings are among the many reasons why it makes sense to consolidate your financial accounts with Navigator Credit Union. In addition to the all-in-one convenience of having your accounts in one place, we also help you earn better yields and save money on unnecessary fees.

Navigator Credit Union’s insured savings accounts and certificates offer an advantage over most other financial institutions. Our savings yields compare favorably or better than the national average, so your money has the potential to earn more. In addition, our savings products are geared toward savers of any level — even those just starting to save.

We’re committed to providing better value than our competitors. Compare our rates on auto loans, credit cards, home equity lines of credit and mortgages with banking institutions. You’ll find that as a credit union, we consistently offer lower rates on almost all our loan products and services.

Why Consolidate with a Credit Union?

Credit unions work to promote the economic well-being of our members. Because we are not-for-profit, cooperative organizations, we can return earnings to our members in the form of higher dividends on interest-driven accounts, lower rates on loans, fewer and smaller fees and more convenient services. When you bring all your financial accounts, loans and credit cards to your credit union, you are helping to make the credit union stronger.

Respectfully,
Robert A. Fertitta
President & CEO