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

Spotlight on … Gardens

Are you a garden guru? These fun flora facts will help your knowledge of plants grow.

Carrots aren’t always orange. They come in shades of yellow, white, red, black or green. Evidence even suggests that the first domesticated carrots may have been purple!

Roses are closely related to apples, raspberries, cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, pears and almonds.

The pecan is the only tree nut indigenous to North America. Lettuce is actually a member of the sunflower family.

The strawberry is the only fruit with its seeds on the outside. Watermelon is closely related to squash and cucumbers and is 92 percent water.

Peanuts are not actually nuts, they are legumes, like peas and beans.

Whether fruit or vegetable, native plant or weed, all it takes is some digging to uncover interesting facts about even the most ordinary plants.

Sources: United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), www.usda.gov; Forest Preserve District of Cook County, www.newton.dep.anl.gov.

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

IRA Deadlines Are Approaching

Many of us associate April with taxes. We should also associate it with IRAs, because April 15 is also the deadline for IRA contributions and mandatory IRA withdrawals.

The deadline for your 2012 IRA contribution is April 15, 2013. For tax year 2012, you can contribute up to $5,000 to your Roth or traditional IRA. One exception: If you turned 50 or older in 2012, your Roth or traditional IRA contribution limit
for 2012 is $6,000. You get 15½ months to make your IRA contribution for a given tax year. You can make your 2013 IRA contribution at any time until April 15, 2014.1

Have you already made your IRA contributions? Hopefully, you contribute the maximum annually and make your contribution soon; the earlier that money is invested, the longer it can work for you.

Be sure to indicate the year of the IRA contribution on the check. This seems pretty basic, yet is too often overlooked. Write “2012 IRA contribution” or “2013 IRA contribution” or something equally simple and clear on your check (and include your account number on the check to help your IRA custodian). If you’re making your contribution electronically, be sure this gets communicated. If you don’t tell your IRA custodian what year the contribution is for, it will be accepted as an IRA contribution for the current year per IRS guidelines.2

Avoid racing against the clock. If you wait until the last minute, you may feel safe mailing your 2012 IRA contribution check to your IRA custodian with an April 15, 2013, postmark. That feeling might be unwarranted. Postmark deadlines for prior-year contributions vary among IRA custodians, and sometimes checks that arrive after the deadline count as current-year contributions regardless of postmark. Why not save yourself the risk and mail your 2012 contribution with
plenty of time to spare?2

The recharacterization deadline for 2012 Roth IRA conversions is Oct. 15. If you converted a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA last year and need to undo it for tax purposes, Oct. 15 is the absolute deadline to “recharacterize” the Roth account. If you need to do this, please request a recharacterization with your IRA custodian well before Oct. 15.3

The RMD deadline is April 1. If you turned 70½ in 2012, you have until April 1 of this year to take your first Required Minimum Distribution from your traditional IRA; that is, your first mandatory income withdrawal. Your IRA custodian should have notified you of this deadline at the end of January, and many IRA custodians will typically calculate your annual RMD for you and offer to send you a check for the amount. (If not, many of them have online calculators or similar tools that will help you figure out your RMD amount.) If you have a Roth IRA, you are never required to take an RMD (during your lifetime) and you can still keep contributing to it after age 70½ if you still have earned income. Keep the deadlines in mind; April will be here before you know it.4

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. Marketing Library.Net Inc.
is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no
representation as to its completeness or accuracy. 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 not a solicitation or a
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.

19 May

Prepare an Ethical Will Share Your Values with Heirs

A legal will spells out the important and necessary details of your last wishes, including who should inherit and what assets or possessions will be passed on. However, heirs may be left wondering why and wishing for a more personal reflection or explanation of your purpose. An ethical will — in addition to your legal will — can express your values and clarify meaning.

Passing on Valuables and Values

What is an ethical will? An ethical will is a letter or message that you prepare for your heirs. It can be as long or short as you wish; it can be written as a letter or recorded on video. It should be kept in a secure location along with your will and other important documents. You may decide to share it with loved ones while you are living or have it released after
your death.

Why should I write it? For many, imparting values is just as important as passing on valuables. Ethical wills shed light on the part of your legacy that is not material, such as beliefs, values and family history. For example, if you support charitable organizations for disabled veterans, you may wish to write about your reasons for doing so — including personal experiences and how they shaped you.

When should I write it? Creating an ethical will is a very personal process that involves reflecting on the past and perhaps imagining what the future may hold for your loved ones. It is common to go through this process in later life. However it is also valuable to write an ethical will in early adulthood and update it upon reaching major milestones in life.

How can it help? An ethical will may benefit you and your heirs in a number of ways, including:

  • Heirs have a better understanding of their inheritance and what is important to you.
  • Tension among heirs may be alleviated by clarifying why you made certain decisions in your will.
  • Heirs may find comfort and closure in a personal message (or love letter) describing your feelings for them.
  • You learn a lot about yourself in the process, and as a result you may focus on what’s most important in life — while
    you’re still living.
  • You may feel better knowing that your life lessons and personal reflections will be remembered.
  • Articulating your values may inspire your heirs to follow your lead and learn from your experiences.

Update Your Will

Remember: An ethical will is not a legally binding document and is not intended for distributing money or property. As years
go by and life circumstances change, it’s important to keep your legal will up to date with any beneficiary changes.

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 wellinformed 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 muchyou 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

Teach Kids to Say “No” to the Pressure to Buy

Children and teens are targeted with advertising just about everywhere they go. These messages try to convince kids that buying lots of stuff is the key to having fun and being popular. Ads use trendy music, movies and TV characters to sell everything from toothpaste and breakfast cereals to clothing and sports gear.

Kids can get carried away wanting to buy all the latest brand-name stuff, so how can parents manage their expectations? Turn this into a teachable moment. Help your child understand the value of a dollar so they can tune out the pressure to buy.

Avoid impulse buying. From an early age, let your child know that they can’t buy everything they want in a store. Help children control the urge for instant gratification and build patience by letting them know you will discuss it later — at
home. Children may realize, after leaving the store, that the thing they wanted so badly is not really needed after all.

Have an open discussion. If your child wants to buy an outrageously expensive pair of athletic shoes, for example, listen to his or her side of the story. Help your child understand the cost difference of buying apparel that’s endorsed by a superstar athlete and good quality gear that’s not. You might decide to chip in for the price of a regular pair of shoes, giving your child the option to pay the difference for a more expensive pair.

Let mistakes happen. Every kid is bound to make money mistakes, and that’s OK. The key is to give them the opportunity to learn from mistakes and build better financial habits. Avoid swooping in to fix every mishap by handing out more cash.

Make saving a priority. Open a savings account for your child if he or she doesn’t have one already. Remind kids that saving money today can help them pay for really important and meaningful things down the road.

It’s not always easy, but talking to kids about money can give them the tools to make smarter decisions later in life. Visit https://navigatorcu.org to learn more about savings accounts at Navigator.