22 Sep

At Navigator Credit Union, Technology Means Safety and Convenience

Navigator Credit Union is proud to continue the tradition of building a legacy of excellence for our members. One proof of this is our commitment to provide the best service possible by continuously updating our technology. Best of all, using our online and mobile services can also help protect you from identity theft and other financial fraud. Here’s how:

Online Banking. Periodically logging on to your account through online banking lets you keep an eye on your balances and account activity, ensuring you catch unauthorized transactions quickly, when damage may be easier to repair. All of your information is safe, thanks to our advanced security features and encryption.

e-Statements. With e-Statements, you will receive an email within the first few days of the month letting you know that your account statement is available through ’N Touch Online Banking. That means that you will receive your e-Statement faster and your paper statement will no longer sit in your mailbox where it can be stolen.

Online Bill Pay. When you pay bills online, you avoid placing checks and other personal information in your mailbox where it can be stolen. Plus, by using e-Statements and online Bill Pay, you can virtually eliminate sensitive paper mail.

Direct Deposit. Having your paycheck, benefits or investment income payments deposited electronically into your account can save you a trip to Navigator and give you quicker access to your money.

Debit Cards. They work the same way as a check — the funds are deducted directly from your checking account — but debit cards are simpler to use, easy to carry and allow for faster transactions. They also don’t contain any personal information, such as an address or phone number, like a check does.

In addition to security, we also have a number of new and upcoming technology additions that will add convenience to your life:

Ask Auto. While you’re visiting the car lot, this new app can be downloaded to your smartphone and will give you detailed information on your vehicle of interest. After you’ve made your decision, skip going to the branch by applying for your loan on the spot using your phone or tablet.

Phone System. Navigator Credit Union recently converted to a new, user-friendly phone system giving members more automated capabilities than ever before. Members will now have access to a full employee phone directory. Our new call back feature keeps you from waiting on hold when call volume is high. By requesting a call back, you can do other things until your call is returned by the next available representative.

Online Account Opening and Mobile Deposit. These two new services will make it easier to open a new account and deposit your checks without ever coming to a branch. Watch for future announcements of these new services.

To learn more about how we offer technology that provides convenience and keeps you and your hard-earned money safe, contact us at 228-475-7300 or visit www.navigatorcu.org.

Respectfully,

Robert A. Fertitta
President & CEO

22 Sep

Save for Your Future with a Health Savings Account

Did you know that a health savings account (HSA) can be a powerful tool to help you save for your health and your future?

HSAs are designed to work with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) so you have more control over your health care dollars. The money in your HSA can be used for current medical expenses. But that’s not all!

You can use an HSA to pay for medical expenses anytime in the future. An HSA can ramp up your retirement savings, too. Perhaps you’re already saving in a retirement plan at work and/or an individual retirement account (IRA). An HSA provides another option for taxadvantaged savings in the long run. Think of it as an IRA for your health.

HSA Funds Are Flexible

Are you making the most of your HSA? Consider saving more money in your HSA to take full advantage of the tax benefits now and in the future. The contribution limits in 2015 are $3,350 for individuals and $6,650 for families, plus a $1,000 catch-up contribution if you’re age 55 or older.

Use it now: A health savings account can be used to pay for costs for you and your family — it’s there if you need it. For example: You go to the doctor and submit the expense for reimbursement (or pay with a debit card linked to your HSA, if you have one). The money you take out of your HSA is tax-free when it’s used to pay for qualifying health care expenses for you and your dependents.

Save it for later: You can sock away money that can be used for health care expenses later in life. There are no “use it or lose it” rules as there are with flexible spending accounts (FSAs), so your unspent balance in an HSA accumulates from year to year. You own the account, which means you can take it with you even if you change health plans or leave your employer.

Spend it in retirement: HSA funds can be used tax-free to pay for qualifying health expenses before and during retirement. After age 65, HSA funds can be used for expenses other than health care without penalty (though ordinary income taxes will be due).

Talk to a financial advisor at NCU Wealth Management to create a financial plan that addresses your retirement goals and future health care expenses. To Schedule your appointment, call 228-474-3427.

TRIPLE TAX ADVANTAGE OF AN HSA
HSAs offer tax benefits including pretax or tax-deductible contributions, plus tax-free earnings and tax-free distributions when used for qualified medical expenses.

  1. Tax-deductible contributions. The money you put into your HSA may be tax-deductible. 
  2. Tax-free growth: Earnings in the account are not taxed.
  3. Tax-free distributions: The money you withdraw from your HSA is not taxed (if used for qualified medical expenses).
22 Sep

How to Start Saving on an Entry-Level Salary

If you have an entry-level job and feel like you’re already stretching your salary as far as it will go, savings might be the last thing on your mind.

Saving for retirement or building an emergency fund isn’t possible until you get that raise, right? Well there’s good news: You don’t have to wait for a bigger paycheck to start putting money aside.

Saving money isn’t about earning more — it’s about spending less. Trimming some expenses and cutting others altogether can add up to significant savings over time. With a few cost-conscious moves, you could cover all your financial bases and start saving money today.

Adopt a Frugal Lifestyle

Saving money doesn’t just happen; it starts with a commitment. Decipher your needs and wants, and limit how often you splurge on things you could do without. You may find you can get by — and live just as happily — with significantly fewer purchases.

When you feel like buying a new outfit or stereo system, simply take that money and put it into your savings account instead. Turn to alternative forms of entertainment — make dinner at home for friends, spend time outdoors instead of the mall, visit museums on free days. Treat yourself just once in a while, and those occasions will be all the more special.

Cut Easy Corners

Trimming everyday expenses can add up to significant savings over the course of a year. Try these money-saving ideas that won’t leave you feeling like you’re skimping.

  • Dine out less. Keep a stash of leftovers in the freezer to help you resist heading to a restaurant after a long day at work.
  • Buy only the groceries you need — and eat them. Think about the money you waste on produce that spoils and canned goods that collect dust.
  • Swap DVDs and books with friends or check them out from the library.
  • Visit a beauty school for discounted haircuts and spa treatments.
  • Cut commuting costs by carpooling, taking the bus or telecommuting.
  • Go generic with off-brand groceries, medications and clothing.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs in your home. They’re more energy efficient and last longer.
  • Volunteer at fairs and festivals for free admission.
  • Switch to basic cable or drop it altogether — unless you really need hundreds of channels.

Bank It

It’s also a good idea to consistently put any unexpected money — an income-tax refund, a birthday present, overpayment on a bill — directly into savings. If you receive a pay raise, consider increasing your savings contributions or direct deposit.

A savings account at Navigator Credit Union can help you reach your savings goals. Call us today at 800-344-3281 or visit our Web site at www.navigatorcu.org.

22 Sep

What Do You Spend on Essentials?

How does your spending on essentials such as housing, food, transportation and health care compare to that of other Americans?

Check these figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey to find out.* The chart shows the percentage of income spent by Americans in each category, broken into five groups by annual income, each representing one-fifth of the total population.

chart of percentage of income spend by Americans for housing, food, transportation and health care

* Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics news release, April 2, 2015. Expenditures measured from July 2013 through June 2014.
22 Sep

Hey, Millennials: Whom Do You Trust for Financial Advice?

A recent survey of millennials — individuals born between 1980 and 1989 — found that 39% of respondents worry about their financial future at least once a week.

That sounds like a group in need of some counsel, but a significant number 23% trust “no one” for financial advice.*

The survey notes the top three financial issues for millennials (also called Gen Y): retirement saving, reducing credit card debt and paying off student loans. On a positive note, 47% of respondents are saving for retirement with a 401(k) at work or an individual retirement account (IRA).* However, that leaves more than half of Gen Y who haven’t started a retirement savings program.

The Importance of a Sounding Board

In its survey of millennials, TIAA-CREF found those who seek financial advice are more likely than the general population to make positive changes, such as:**

  • Monitoring and making changes to spending more frequently.
  • Establishing a plan to manage debt.
  • Starting an emergency fund.
  • Increasing monthly savings.

The value of financial advice is clear. Many millennials turn to their parents as well as friends and social media. However, a financial institution’s professionally developed online tools and resources, as well as consultations with a financial advisor, may be more appropriate. In spite of being technologically engaged, TIAA-CREF’s study reports most respondents — 55% — prefer face-to-face financial counseling.

We’re Here for You

The world of finances can be complex, but you don’t need to face it on your own. A financial professional at Navigator Credit Union can provide the help you need to create your savings and spending plan and explore options for retirement saving. Visit www.navigatorcu.org or call 800-344-3281 today.

* Source: Fidelity Investments Millennial Money Study, conducted in April 2014 by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communication, Fidelity.com.
** Source: TIAA-CREF Gen Y Advice Matters Survey, press release, Sept. 30, 2014, www.tiaa-cref.org.
22 Sep

Things Young Adults Should Know About Money

Whether you’re in school, working or exploring your options, you’ll need to get your finances in order. Get started with these tips.

1. Set goals. Are you paying for college, hoping for a new car or dreaming of a backpacking trip across Europe? If you know what you want, it may be easier to sacrifice now for the payoff later.

2. Start saving early. Strive for 10% of your earnings, but if that’s not doable, save as much as you can. If you’re working, be sure to participate in your employer-sponsored retirement plan, if offered (especially if there’s a company match). If you have earned income — even from part-time work — you can open an individual retirement account. With decades until you reach retirement age, even small amounts can reap big benefits. For example, suppose you are 18 years old and will retire at age 67. If you put aside just $50 a month for 49 years in a tax-advantaged retirement account earning an average of 7% a year, you could have a quarter million dollars when you retire.*

3. Avoid debt. If you do use a credit card, pay off the balance each month. According to a recent survey, the average college-age millennial has $559 in credit card debt.** If you pay only the minimum each month on a store credit card with a 21% interest rate, it could take 29 months to pay off that amount and cost $156.40 in interest charges.***

4. Protect your personal information. Keep identity thieves from stealing your information. Use strong passwords and change them regularly. Avoid using public Wi-Fi for online banking. Protect your personal identification number (PIN), and shield the keypad from view when using an ATM. Review your financial statements each month to make sure there are no fraudulent transactions.

5. Seek advice. Studies show that individuals who seek financial advice tend to make better financial decisions. At Navigator Credit Union, we’re committed to helping you on your path to financial security. Call 800-344-3281 or visit www.navigatorcu.org today to learn more.

* Rate of return is provided for information only and is not intended to represent the return of any specific investment. No taxes or fees are taken into account.
** Source: TDAmeritrade’s 3rd Annual Generation Z survey, press release, Sept. 11, 2014, amtd.com.
*** Assumes minimum payment of 3.5% of balance or $25. Source: Minimum payment calculator, creditcards.com. Based on a $559 balance at a 21% annual percentage rate.
22 Sep

Student Loans vs. Retirement Savings: Deciding Which to Tackle First

Is there anything more exciting right now than graduating and landing that first post-college job?

Of course, mixed in with that euphoria is the knowledge that pretty soon, you’re going to have to start repaying those student loans. And you’ll need to start thinking about the future — aka, retirement.

The average student loan debt is more than $25,000 for 20-somethings — not exactly small change when you’re just starting out. But, as some experts point out, it’s a debt that can be paid off within 10 years if the first job you land has an annual salary more than your debt load. Of course, $25,000 is just an average, and new graduates may leave the academic world $50,000 or more in the hole. So this begs the question: What should I do first, start chipping away at my loan debt or saving for retirement?

Find what’s best for you

There’s really no one right answer, although experts do give saving for retirement the edge in most cases. To come up with the plan best suited to you, consider your unique circumstances:

Do you have low-interest-rate loans? Consider making the minimum payments on your student loans and put your excess cash into retirement. Money you put away in your 20s is usually worth more than what you invest in your 30s, simply because it has more time to grow. If your student loan interest rate is less than the return rate you can expect to earn on your retirement investments, this choice can make sense. The earnings on retirement savings may be more valuable than the interest you save by paying off your student loans faster. Other benefits of putting more into retirement savings include potential employer-matching contributions and tax breaks. For most people, saving for retirement will only get harder as you assume additional financial obligations, such as a home mortgage or child-rearing expenses, as you get older.

Do you have high-interest-rate loans? Think about saving for retirement later and aggressively tackle those student loans now. This may be the option for you if you have private or older federal loans with higher interest rates. That’s because your student loan interest could outpace your retirement investment earnings.

Do you have interest rates that aren’t too high, but aren’t too low either? Consider tackling both student loans and retirement. Divide up funds equally and apply to both.

Still on the fence? The best choice for your situation may not be clear to you. If that’s the case, consider sitting down with an investment professional with NCU wealth Management to help sort out your options.

22 Sep

Long-Term Investment Truths: Key Lessons for Retirement Savers

Provided by Jeffrey C. Hamm, CRPC®
Vice President,
Wealth Management

You learn lessons as you invest in pursuit of long-run goals. Some of these lessons are conveyed and reinforced when you begin saving for retirement, and others you learn along the way.

First and foremost, you learn to shut out much of the “noise.” News outlets take the temperature of global markets five days a week (and even on the weekends) and fundamental indicators serve as barometers of the economy each month. The longer you invest, the more you learn to ride through the turbulence caused by all the breaking news alerts and short-term statistical variations. While the day trader sells or buys in reaction to immediate economic or market news, the buy-and-hold investor waits for selloffs, corrections and bear markets to pass. You learn how much volatility you can stomach. Volatility (also known as market risk) is measured in shorthand as the standard deviation for the S&P 5001. Across 1926–2014, the yearly total return for the S&P averaged 10.2%. If you want to be very casual about it, you could simply say that stocks go up about 10% a year — but that discounts some pronounced volatility. The S&P had a standard deviation of 20.2 from its mean total return in this time frame, which means that if you add or subtract 20.2 from 10.2, you get the range of the index’s yearly total return that could be expected 67% of the time. So in any given year from 1926- 2014, there was a 67% chance that the yearly total return of the S&P might vary from +30.4% to -10.0%. Some investors dislike putting up with that kind of volatility, others more or less embrace it.1

You learn why liquidity matters. The older you get, the more you appreciate being able to quickly access your money. A family emergency might require you to tap into your investment accounts. An early retirement might prompt you to withdraw from retirement funds sooner than you anticipate. If you have a fair amount of your savings in illiquid investments, you have a problem — those dollars are “locked up” and you cannot access those assets without paying penalties. In a similar vein, there are some investments that are harder to sell than others.

Should you misgauge your need for liquidity, you can end up selling at the wrong time as a consequence. It hurts to let go of an investment when the expected gain is high and the P/E ratio is low.

You learn the merits of rebalancing your portfolio. To the neophyte investor, rebalancing when the market is hot may seem illogical. If your portfolio is disproportionately weighted in equities, is that a problem? It could be.

Across a sustained bull market, it is common to see your level of risk rise parallel to your return. When equities return more than other asset classes, they end up representing an increasingly large percentage of your portfolio’s total assets. Correspondingly, your cash allocation shrinks as well.

The closer you get to retirement, the less risk you will likely want to assume. Even if you are strongly committed to growth investing, approaching retirement while taking on more risk than you feel comfortable with is problematic, as is approaching retirement with an inadequate cash position. Rebalancing a portfolio restores the original asset allocation, realigning it with your long-term risk tolerance and investment strategy. It may seem counterproductive to sell “winners” and buy “losers” as an effect of rebalancing, but as you do so, remember that you are also saying goodbye to some assets that may have peaked while saying hello to others that you may be buying at the right time.

You learn not to get too attached to certain types of investments. Sometimes an investor will succumb to familiarity bias, which is the rejection of diversification for familiar investments. Why does he or she have 13% of the portfolio invested in just two Dow components? The investor just likes what those firms stand for, or has worked for them. The inherent problem is that the performance of those companies exerts a measurable influence on the overall portfolio performance.

Sometimes you see people invest heavily in sectors that include their own industry or career field. An investor works for an oil company, so he or she gets heavily into the energy sector. When energy companies go through a rough patch, that investor’s portfolio may be in for a rough ride. Correspondingly, that investor has less capacity to tolerate stock market risk than a faculty surgeon at a university hospital, a federal prosecutor or someone else whose career field or industry will be less buffeted by the winds of economic change.

You learn to be patient. Even if you prefer a tactical asset allocation strategy over the standard buy-and-hold approach, time teaches you how quickly the markets rebound from downturns and why you should stay invested even through systemic shocks. The pursuit of your long-term financial objectives should not falter — your future and your quality of life may depend on realizing them.

Jeffrey Hamm may be reached at 228-474-3427.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – fc.standardandpoors.com/sites/client/generic/axa/axa4/Article. vm?topic=5991&siteContent=8088 [6/4/15]

22 Sep

Going Green: Compost for a Healthy Garden

Want to reuse, reduce and recycle? You can do all these things if you start a compost pile this fall.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, we throw out a quarter of the food and beverages we buy, so by starting a compost pile, you can put that waste to good use in the spring.

In addition to the benefits of going green, your garden and your wallet will benefit. Compost improves the quality of your soil, bringing more nutrients to flowers and vegetables, and is a great (and cheaper) alternative to chemical fertilizers. Ready to start your own compost pile?

Here’s how:

1. Find a spot in your yard that’s at least 3 feet by 3 feet, which is a sufficient size for yard and kitchen waste to decompose without a bin. Or you can simply buy a compost bin.

2. Begin with a thick layer of carbon-rich brown materials, such as yard waste (dead flowers, straw, leaves) and shredded newspaper.

3. Layer several more inches of nitrogen-rich green materials, such as grass and leftover food (no meat, fish or dairy waste).

4. Add a thin layer of garden soil and moisten it all.

5. That’s it! Keep adding to these layers as you generate more waste.

After a while you should see steam emanating from the pile, which is a good sign that it’s healthy, and earthworms should be visible. Once your pile is up and running remember to add to it regularly, and try to have a good mix of brown and green material. Using a shovel or pitchfork, turn your pile every week or two to mix it up, and add some water if it isn’t moist; if your pile is too dry, decomposition will be slow (but too much water will give you a slimy pile).

When your compost pile is dark and rich in color, it’s ready to use, in two to five weeks.

22 Sep

Autumn Salad Recipe

Crisp apples, nuts and seeds give this salad a nutritious crunch.

Number of servings: 6

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 Granny Smith apple, rinsed and sliced thinly (with skin)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 bag mixed lettuce greens (or your favorite lettuce, about 5 cups), rinsed
  • ½ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ¹⁄3 cup low-fat raspberry vinaigrette dressing

DIRECTIONS

1. Sprinkle lemon juice on the apple slices.

2. Mix the apple, lettuce, cranberries, walnuts and sunflower seeds in a bowl.

3. Toss with raspberry vinaigrette dressing to lightly cover the salad, and serve.

Per serving: 138 calories, 7 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 41 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 3 g protein, 19 g carbohydrates, 230 mg potassium.

Recipe courtesy of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Snippets
SPOTLIGHT ON… APPLES

  • Apple cider, apple crisp, apple pie … autumn is for apples! Many popular U.S. apple varieties are available starting in September. October is National Apple Month.Pilgrims planted the first U.S. apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • Comparing apples to oranges: Both fruits are a-peel-ing to consumers. In the United States, orange juice is more popular than apple juice. However, fresh apples are consumed more than fresh oranges.
  • Why bobbing for apples works: 25 percent of an apple’s volume is air, which allows them to float.
  • A fruit grown coast to coast: Apples are grown in every state in the continental United States. Top producing states include Washington, New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California and Virginia.
  • The science of apple growing is called pomology. Honeycrisp apples have a higher education heritage — they were developed by the University of Minnesota.

Sources: U.S. Apple Association, usapple.org; New York Apple Association, nyapplecountry.com; United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, www.ers.usda.gov.