19 May

Budget Smudget Create a Spending Plan

If you’re not a fan of the word budget, you’re not alone. A lot of people don’t like it because it seems limiting. You’re making money and deserve to treat yourself once in a while, right? But you probably want to do so within reason. That’s where a spending plan (not a budget!) can help.

Strategies to Spend Smarter

  1. Figure your discretionary income. Calculate the costs you have each month that do not change: rent/mortgage payment, car payment, insurance, electricity and groceries (use an average cost). Subtract this amount from your monthly take home pay. What is left is your discretionary income — money to use at your discretion.
  2. Look to the future. Do you want to take a vacation this year? Buy new furniture? Pay off your student loans? Having big goals in mind will give you motivation to …
  3. … pay yourself first. With a spending plan, it’s true you have the choice on how to spend your money, but financial experts recommend “spending” some on yourself right away by putting money into your savings account each month. Have a certain amount automatically transferred from your checking to savings each month; it’s easy and painless.
  4. List your needs and wants. If your car is due for an oil change and it’s your child’s birthday, those expenses likely need to come ahead of purchasing the latest smartphone. Your goal should be to spend wisely each month without having to reach for a credit card. Credit card debt is not part of a spending plan, unless it’s something you can pay off in full the following month.
  5. Keep tabs on your spending. Part of spending wisely is tracking your expenses, and noticing if you have funds available for a special treat or for saving. You can monitor your Navigator checking, savings and loan accounts anytime with ‘N Touch Online Banking, and it’s easy to transfer funds. You can also sign up to receive e-Alerts by email or text to warn you if your checking account balance is getting low.

To learn more about how Navigator can help you manage your money wisely, set up an appointment today to meet with a Navigator Certified Financial Counselor. You can also visit the Learning page on https://navigatorcu.org for more information on our BALANCESM Financial Fitness Program.

19 May

Buttons and Bows Pasta

Try this light and refreshing bowtie pasta dish with peas and carrots.

Number of servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

2 cups dry whole-wheat bowtie pasta (farfalle) (8 ounces)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic, minced (about 1 clove)

1 bag (16 ounces) frozen peas and carrots

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, rinsed, dried and chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)

1 medium lemon, rinsed, for 1 teaspoon zest (use a grater to take a thin layer of skin off the lemon)

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. In a 4-quart saucepan, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.

2. Add pasta, and cook according to package directions. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat in a large sauté pan. Cook until soft, but not browned.

4. Add peas and carrots. Cook gently until the vegetables are heated through.

5. In a bowl, combine chicken broth and cornstarch. Mix well. Add to pan with vegetables, and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 1 minute.

6. Add parsley, pasta, lemon zest and pepper. Toss gently, and cook until the pasta is hot.

7. Serve 2 cups of pasta and vegetables per portion.

Per serving: 329 calories, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 127 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 13 g protein, 59 g carbohydrates, 331 mg potassium, 220 percent vitamin A, 25 percent vitamin C, 6 percent calcium, 10 percent iron.

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

19 May

How to Save Money when Dining In

If you’re among the 71 percent of Americans who are cooking at home more and eating out less to help cut costs,* then these tips may help you save even more.

Plan ahead. Cut coupons and review your grocery store’s weekly circular (often available online or via email), then create a menu for the week that takes advantage of the deals. Consider how you can use leftovers. And always shop with a grocery list.

Stick to the perimeter. You’ll find fresh produce, meats, dairy products and frozen foods along the outside of most supermarkets. Concentrate on this area for the healthiest and most reasonably priced items in the store.

Think value. Consider the nutritional value of food for the price and opt for nutrient-dense rather than calorie-dense items. A bag of carrots offers a lower price and higher nutrition than a bag of chips, for example.

Eat before you shop. A hungry shopper is an impulsive shopper .

Cook in bulk. Prepare more than you’ll eat, and freeze what’s left for an easy meal another day. Just be sure to keep a leftovers list so that you remember what’s in your freezer.

* Source: “Seven in Ten Americans Cooking More Instead of Going Out to Save Money,” Harris Interactive, May 2012.

19 May

Building a New Home? Be Prepared

Building your dream home is exciting! However, there are many unknowns, some of which are beyond your control. How long will construction take? Will the builder complete everything according to the plan? What will the final cost be? Securing financing for your construction project is a critical step in the process — and it’s something you can control.

New Construction Loans

Getting financing for new home construction is slightly different than getting a mortgage for an existing home. Here’s what you need to know:

  • A construction loan is typically set up as a variable-rate loan during the construction period.
  • Interest-only payments are made during the construction period, which can range up to six months.
  • A draw schedule for the loan is agreed on by the borrower, the contractor and the lender. This ensures funds will be available during each phase of construction.
  • If the borrower owns the land, the lot may be considered equity for the construction loan.
  • A certificate of occupancy is issued when the home has been inspected and meets certain building codes. At this stage the home is considered livable, which means financing can be obtained with a mortgage loan.

Construction-to-Permanent Financing

When the principal balance comes due at the end of the construction phase, a new mortgage pays off the existing construction loan. If you have construction-to-permanent financing in place, the construction loan converts to permanent financing after the construction period. You enjoy the convenience of one loan, one application and one closing
date. In addition, you have the flexibility to choose a mortgage program that fits your long-term needs. Doing so makes it possible to lock in a low, fixed rate for your permanent financing.

At Navigator, our mortgage experts can help you explore financing options carefully so you can begin the construction phase with confidence.

19 May

Use Financial Calculators at https://navigatorcu.org

When making financial decisions, you can cross your fingers and hope for the best, or you can use our financial calculators at https://navigatorcu.org to make a well-informed financial decision. Simply plug in the information you know, and let the calculator do the work to show you the big picture. We have calculators to help with almost any financial decision such as:

  • Retirement savings. Determine how much you need to save for a comfortable nest egg to sustain you during retirement. Use retirement calculators to compare retirement savings plans or find out how much you may receive in Social Security.
  • Debt elimination. Figure out how long it will take to pay off your credit card or loan. Credit calculators will also help you determine if consolidating your debt would be beneficial to you.
  • Savings planning. Calculate how much you need to save — and how long — for your goals, from long-term goals such as homeownership to shorter term goals like a family vacation. Have you ever wondered how long it will take to become a millionaire? Our savings calculators will tell you this — and so much more!
  • Mortgage payments. Determine what your mortgage payments would be based on purchase price and interest rates. Look to our home calculators to determine how much home you can afford.
  • Car affordability. Use factors such as interest rates, trade-in value and down payment to discover how much you can afford to spend on a car. Auto calculators can help you determine financing options that work best within your budget.

Check out these calculators and more at www.navigatorcu.org. Meet with a Navigator Certified Financial Counselor to help you fine tune your finances and turn those numbers into real savings and a bright future. Call 228-475-7300 to make an appointment today.

19 May

Are You Making the Most of ’N Touch Online Banking?

You may know Online Banking from the convenience of your own home saves time and is especially helpful for those with mobility issues. In addition, using your computer may feel safer than visiting an ATM late at night, and ’N Touch Online Banking is a secure site so your information remains confidential.

Perhaps you’ve started using ’N Touch to check the balances on your accounts or see a record of your transactions. But you may not be aware of all the ways that ’N make your life easier. Here are a few additional features you can use to take full advantage.

  • e-Statements. If you’ve ever wished for a way to reduce your stack of mail, sign up for e-Statements to view bank statements online. e-Statements are stored electronically (up to 18 months) so you can look back at previous statements easily — no more searching through stacks of papers.
  • Online Bill Pay. Use Online Bill Pay to pay your bills from the convenience of your home. This can remove the need to physically write checks and mail out your bills, saving paper, stamps and time.
  • e-Alerts. Sign up for alerts based on your preferences and receive messages straight to your phone or email letting you know about ATM withdrawals, spending that exceeds your limits or
    when your online ID or password is changed, and so much more.
  • Message Center. Send a secure message via the ‘N Touch message center and receive a prompt reply from a ‘N Touch Specialist.
  • Mobile Banking. Download Navigator’s Mobile Banking App to safely and securely access your finances from your BlackBerry, Android or iPhone.®

If you would like to learn more about using online banking to its full potential, email ntouch@navigatorcu.org and a specialist will be happy to offer a demonstration and answer all your questions. You can also visit our website at https://navigatorcu.org to explore our Online Banking features.

19 May

A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned How to Cut Costs on Everyday Expenses

From groceries to gas, the basics are getting more and more expensive. That’s why it is important to save money where you can, now more than ever. The following are some quick tips on how to cut everyday expenses.

Start couponing. Don’t underestimate the cost-saving benefits of couponing. Though the savings provided may only be a few cents, it can add up to be a lot in the long run. Take a few minutes before you run to the store and check out the local coupons available both in newspapers and online. Better yet, make time for couponing on a weekly basis and watch your savings grow.

Buy used. For everything from clothes to kitchen utensils, thrift stores are definitely worth a look. While it may take a little more time to find exactly what you’re looking for, you’ll save money and have the comfort of knowing you’re helping our environment at the same time.

Buy in bulk. Buying in bulk from warehouse stores can help you save money on everyday food items. If you’re worried that the bulk amounts will be too much for you, try splitting the goods (and the bill) with family or friends for an even lower price.

Look for discount days. Certain places, like grocery stores or movie theaters, may have certain days of the week or month when prices are discounted. For example, grocery stores may offer double coupon rewards to seniors who go grocery shopping on specific days and times. Look in your local newspaper and online to see if any stores near you have such days.

Maintain to save. Keep your car in tiptop shape to help cut your gas expenses. Paying special attention to your engine and making sure your tires are properly inflated can help you get more miles out of a tank.

Make the most of low rates. Mortgage rates are at historic lows, so if you are considering refinancing, the time has never been better. With a lower interest rate your monthly payments could decrease, so contact a mortgage representative at Navigator today.

Use online bill pay. Sign up for online bill pay at Navigator. Opting in to online bill pay will not only save you money on postage, it can ensure that your bills are paid on time and could prevent you from incurring late fees.

Think Small to Save Big

Saving money starts with small everyday actions. Though cutting coupons or buying in bulk may not seem to save you a lot of money, remember that a penny saved is a penny earned. And when you save a lot of pennies, you can start saving big.