02 Jul

6 Summer Activities to Enjoy

Fabulous and free!

Looking for fun activities to do this summer, but on a tight budget? Well, you can fill your calendar without spending a dime! Here are some fabulous — and free — ideas for you:

1.Check out community-sponsored events. Your town’s website (as well as those of communities and cities nearby) likely lists locations and dates of summer fairs, festivals, fireworks and farmers markets. Enjoying these events as a spectator usually doesn’t cost a thing.

2.Take in a sporting event. Many communities offer both adult and youth sports leagues throughout the summer. Most games or matches are free to watch. Or, you can check into joining as a participant or better yet — as a volunteer!

3. Play card or board games. Most households have a stockpile of board games from years of gift-giving. Pull out your old favorites and set up a weekly game night. Consider organizing tournaments with friends or neighbors, trading off hosting duties and game selections each week.

4. Visit your local library. Of course, a library card is your ticket to free reading all year long, but most libraries also sponsor free activities including story time for young children, film nights, book clubs, interesting lectures and more. In addition to books, libraries often lend music CDs and movie DVDs, too!

3. Organize a neighborhood potluck. Summertime brings people out into their yards and onto their porches. Invite everyone to a group potluck in a central location. Encourage food items to be made from whatever is already in the fridge or pantry. No additional grocery shopping allowed!

4. Lead a walking tour. With a little research, find out about interesting historical and cultural sites in your area. Organize a walking tour of the site with you as tour guide — complete with picnic lunch and lecture. Invite family or friend history buffs to join you!

02 Jul

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

When you’re ready to jet off on vacation, the last thing you need is an emergency or illness to thwart your plans, but it happens. Travel insurance can help protect your finances — at an additional cost. But is it worth it?

Travel insurance may help recoup some of your costs if your vacation is delayed, canceled, interrupted or negatively affected due to certain circumstances (defined in the policy). When you book a flight, a cruise voyage or vacation package, you may have the option to add trip cancellation protection or travel insurance for an additional cost. Or, you can purchase a separate policy from a travel insurance company, which allows you to select the level of coverage (and types of coverage) you want for the duration of your trip.

What if a tropical storm or natural disaster makes it impossible to travel? What if your luggage is lost or you get in a fender bender with a rental car? Before analyzing everything that could possibly go wrong, consider these factors to help decide if you need travel insurance:

1. Prepaid costs. Are you making a significant investment in a vacation with international airfare, hotels booked in advance for a group and/ or a lengthy trip that spans multiple weeks? Be sure to look closely at the cancellation policies for all flights, hotels and entertainment/excursions. How much money would you be out if you had to cancel?

2. Timing. You probably don’t need travel insurance for a last-minute trip, but you may consider it for a vacation that you’re planning far in advance. You may also want to factor in the potential for weather events if you plan to travel during hurricane season.

3. Health risks. If something goes wrong on your backcountry ski trip or rock climbing expedition, you may need a medical evacuation — which can be a huge expense if you’re far from home. Not a big risk-taker? A serious injury or illness can happen anytime, so check your health insurance policy before traveling. Find out if your health plan provides coverage in the area where you are traveling. If it doesn’t, you may want to consider travel insurance with medical coverage or a medical evacuation policy.

4. Peace of mind. Sometimes it comes down to how you feel. If having travel insurance helps relieve stress so you can relax and enjoy your trip, that’s worth something. If you want some protection without the extra costs, review the travel benefits included at no cost through your credit card.

Call us before you travel so we know to authorize your card purchases.

CREDIT CARD BENEFITS FOR TRAVELERS
Credit cards often include travel benefits at no cost to you. These benefits tend to be more limited than the coverage you’d get with a travel insurance policy. But it’s definitely worth reviewing the terms and conditions of travel benefits for cardholders, such as:

  • Trip cancellation/delay (for covered reasons)
  • Rental car insurance
  • Lost or destroyed baggage coverage
  • Accidental death or dismemberment

Looking for a credit card with valuable cardholder benefits and worldwide acceptance? Check out Navigator Credit Union’s VISA® credit cards. Visit www.navigatorcu.org to learn more or call 800-344-3281.

02 Jul

Volunteering: Good for the Heart and Soul

Great for college applications and résumés, too!

Want to really put a shine on your college application or work résumé? Consider volunteering!

A 2013 report by the federal agency Corporation for National and Community Service found that those jobless folks who put in volunteer hours had a 27 percent better chance of getting hired than those who didn’t. The reason was attributed to skills and knowledge acquired by volunteering, which can have the same benefit for college applicants looking to set themselves apart from their admissions competition.

Need more convincing? Consider the rewards:

  • You’ll gain invaluable experience and perhaps some new skills, such as fundraising or researching.
  • You may interact with new types of people or engage in a job you wouldn’t normally. Volunteering provides you with challenging new environments and situations, testing you on how you react to each and translating into some pretty impressive work skills.
  • Volunteering offers excellent networking opportunities, particularly if you’re volunteering in a field close to your chosen profession or interest. It’s a great chance to meet people and find out about any job opportunities. Put your heart and soul into volunteering and you’re paving the way for references or recommendations from a supervisor when applying for a job or to a college.
  • You can experiment with a different career without quitting your day job. Volunteering can allow you to dip your toes into the world of nonprofits, research or a host of other realms. You may get to take on different roles or even a leadership position. For college students, it allows you to better visualize whether this is the type of work you’d like to do after you graduate.
  • It can nicely round out a college application in an increasingly competitive admissions process. Give admissions officers a little more insight into who you are, beyond the GPA and test scores.
  • You’re the one getting the biggest payout. Simply put, you’re giving back to the community, helping the less fortunate, and you should feel an immense sense of accomplishment and pride in that alone!
02 Jul

Social Security Survivor Benefits

Three important factors when it comes to your financial life.

Provided by Jeffrey C. Hamm

About 5 million widowed Americans get Social Security survivor benefits. If your spouse has passed, you may be eligible to collect them. This means that you could receive as much as 100% of your late spouse’s Social Security income.1,2

Some widows and widowers aren’t aware of these additional retirement benefits. That’s a shame, because they can provide significant financial help during a period of uncertainty.

You can file for survivor benefits at age 60. In fact, you can claim them as early as age 50 if you are disabled (per Social Security’s definition of disability) and if the condition that left you disabled began before or within seven years of your husband’s or wife’s death. In contrast, you can’t put in a claim for spousal Social Security benefits until age 62.1,3

You have to call Social Security to apply for these benefits. Dial 800-772-1213 to do that (or 800-325-0778 if you are deaf or have trouble hearing). The SSA doesn’t yet permit widows and widowers to apply for survivor benefits online.1

You are actually calling to make an appointment at your local Social Security office, where you can file your survivor benefits application. The SSA says that the process will be faster if you complete its Adult Disability Report beforehand and bring it with you. You can download this form.

Are you eligible to receive all of your late spouse’s Social Security income, or less? That depends on a few factors. You can apply for the survivor benefits at full retirement age (66 or 67), and receive 100% of the monthly Social Security benefit of your late spouse. If you were to apply for survivor benefits somewhere between age 60 and full retirement age, you will receive between 71.5-99% of your late spouse’s monthly benefit.2

If you are disabled and file for survivor benefits in your 50s, then you will be poised to collect 71.5% of your late spouse’s monthly Social Security income.2

Are you caring for a child who is age 15 or younger? If so, you are eligible to collect a survivor benefit equaling 75% of your late spouse’s monthly Social Security income. In fact, that child is also in line to receive a 75% survivor benefit if he or she is a) younger than 18, b) a K-12 student younger than 19, or c) disabled. (In addition, it is also possible for a surviving spouse to collect a one-time $255 death payment if the spouse has already been getting benefits on the deceased worker’s Social Security record or became eligible for benefits upon that worker’s passing.)2,4

In rare cases, even parents of deceased Social Security recipients are eligible for survivor benefits. If a deceased worker has parents who qualify as his or her dependents, those parents may receive survivor benefits if they are age 62 or older. If there is a single surviving parent, he or she can collect an 82.5% survivor benefit; if the late Social Security recipient was caring for two dependent parents, they can each collect a 75% survivor benefit.2

Social Security does cap the benefit amount that a family can receive. A household can’t get survivor benefits exceeding 150-180% of those received by the late Social Security recipient.2

Divorce is no barrier to survivor benefits. Divorced widows and widowers are eligible for them as well.2

What if you marry again? If you have been widowed and marry again after age 60 (or age 50 if you are disabled), you will still qualify for Social Security survivor benefits. If you remarry prior to age 60, however, you can’t receive survivor benefits while married.2

In certain circumstances, you can “switch out” of survivor benefits. If you remarry and your new spouse gets Social Security, you can apply for spousal benefits based on his or her earnings. If the amount of the spousal benefit would be greater than your survivor benefit, you will get benefits equal to the higher amount.2

Also, you can switch from collecting a survivor benefit to your own retirement benefit starting at age 62 (if you are eligible to collect Social Security at that time and your own benefit would be greater than the survivor benefit).2

Could a pension reduce your survivor benefits? Yes, it could. If you worked at a federal, state or local government job at which you didn’t pay Social Security taxes, the Government Pension Offset, or GPO, kicks in (with rare exemptions). Any pension you receive as a byproduct of that job will lower the amount of your survivor benefit by two-thirds of the amount of your pension. As an example, if you get $600 a month from your state government retirement fund, your $500 monthly survivor benefit would thereby be reduced by $400, or cut to $100 a month.5

For more information, contact Jeff Hamm, the NCU Wealth Management Representative located at Navigator Credit Union 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. 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 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 – ssa.gov/survivorplan/onyourown2.htm [2/4/15]

 

2 – ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou5.htm [2/3/15]

 

3 – time.com/money/3638427/social-security-survivors-benefits-details/ [12/18/14]

 

4 – ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou7.htm [2/4/15]

 

5 – ssa.gov/retire2/gpo.htm [2/4/15]
02 Jul

Are You a Savvy Shopper? Take This Quiz!

Being a smart shopper means keeping an eye on prices, certainly, but it also entails understanding the products you buy so you can choose what’s best for you. See how your consumer knowledge stacks up with this short, fun quiz.

1. How long can luncheon meats and egg, tuna and macaroni salads be safely stored in the refrigerator?

a. one to two days
b. three to five days
c. six to seven days

2. Fresh fruits and vegetables always have higher nutritional value than canned or frozen.

a. True
b. False

3. Which costs less for a baby’s first year — cloth diapers or disposables?

a. cloth
b. disposable

4. Which type of light bulb lasts longest?

a. LED (light-emitting diode)
b. CFL (compact fluorescent lamps)
c. halogen incandescent

5. When buying sunscreen, a higher SPF always offers better protection.

a. True
b. False

6. Using your Navigator Debit Card at the checkout:

a. is fast and convenient
b. helps keep your private information secure
c. allows you to easily track your spending
d. all of the above

ANSWERS

1. b. Refrigerated foods should be stored at 40 degrees F or below.

2. b. False. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are packed at the peak of their freshness. Some fresh produce loses significant nutritional value if not eaten within a few days of harvest.

3. a. A comparison done by Mint.com determined costs for disposable diapers were $800 compared to $584 for reusable diapers in a baby’s first year.

4. a. LED bulbs last 25 times as long as traditional incandescent bulbs. CFLs last about 10 times longer, and halogen bulbs last up to three times longer. Of the three, LEDs use the least electricity.

5. b. False. Products with sky-high SPFs may protect against sunburn but could leave your skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. SPF stands for “sun protection factor,” and refers only to protection against UVB radiation, which burns the skin. It has little to do with protection from sun’s UVA rays, which penetrate deep into the skin, suppress the immune system, accelerate skin aging and may cause skin cancer. Products labeled “Broad Spectrum SPF” provide protection against UVA as well as UVB.

6. d. A Visa® Debit Card comes with our free checking account. It’s the choice for savvy shoppers! Don’t have one? Apply today at www.navigatorcu.org.

SCORING

0 to 1 correct: Your shopping habits may be costing you! Some research before you buy can help you make better decisions.

2 to 4 correct: You like to compare prices and shop smart, but also know when a convenient purchase makes sense (even if more cents!) for you.

5 to 6 correct: The price is right for you! You’re a super savvy shopper.

01 Jul

Open the Door to a Remodel Plan that Pays Off

Trying to sell or thinking about it?

Home prices may be up in your neighborhood — more reason to invest in your home to get the best price if you’re planning to sell. Despite what conventional wisdom says, most of the home improvement projects with the greatest return on investment are not so glamorous. Did you know a new front door ranks at the top of the list? According to a recent report from Remodeling magazine, sellers recoup 66 cents of every $1 they spend on the average remodeling project.

Before you splurge, consider these three upgrades and fixes. They won’t break the bank, but could pay off and help you clinch a deal if you’re serious about selling:

1. Create space. Knock out a non-structural wall, or remove that kitchen island. Anything that opens space and creates a sense of flow is advantageous.

2. Prune and landscape. Tangled trees and unkempt bushes can obscure views and darken interiors.

3. Address the basics. Insulate the attic, repair plumbing leaks or replace rusty rain gutters. These fixes can go a long way toward boosting value.

If improving resale value and recovering remodeling costs are important to you, consult with a real estate agent first, then make it happen with a home equity loan from Navigator Credit Union. Learn more here. 

RENOVATIONS WITH THE GREATEST RETURN ON INVESTMENT

If you’re considering a home improvement project to boost the quality and appeal of your home, here are some ideas that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.*

97%
Entry door replacement: 96.6%
87%
Deck addition (wood): 87.4%
84%
Attic bedroom: 84.3%
84%
Garage door replacement: 83.7%
83%
Minor kitchen remodel: 82.7%

* Source: Remodeling magazine 2014 Cost vs. Value report, www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value/2014/

01 Jul

Credit unions are the No. 1 trusted financial institution

Place Your Trust in Us

A recent Harris Interactive poll revealed what we already know — credit unions have worked hard to earn your trust! Local credit unions are the most trusted financial institutions, with 77 percent of Americans having “some” or “a great deal” of trust in them.

Here’s how other financial institutions fared in the poll:

  • Community banks also scored high, with 76 percent of Americans placing trust in them.
  • 70 percent of Americans have at least some trust in local branches of regional banks.
  • Only 50 percent of Americans have trust in big national banks.

Influencing Factors

Many factors come into play when a financial institution is chosen as the place you trust with your money. According to the poll, among those influencing factors are:

  • Personal experience
  • Quality of products and services
  • Quality of customer care
  • Amount charged in fees

Respondents age 69+, baby boomers and Gen Xers all rated personal experience higher than millennials as an important trust influencing factor. Social media played a minor role in influencing millennials and Gen Xers on their level of trust, but had less influence on baby boomers and those 69+.

The size of area the financial institution served also proved to be a key factor in earning trust. Interestingly, in the Harris survey, the smaller the area of influence of the financial institution, the higher the amount of trust placed in it. This contributed to local credit unions and local community banks being ranked as the most trusted institutions.

How We Earn Your Trust

Day by day, we strive to earn your trust. We do not take it for granted. At Navigator Credit Union, we know you have a lot of banking options. That’s why we put our members first each and every day. Our success is largely determined by our members’ success, so you can rest assured we have your best interests in mind.

Here are some of the many benefits we deliver to our members to show you your trust is well-placed in us:

  • Lower rates on loans — potentially saving you thousands of dollars
  • Higher rates on savings — encouraging you to save with us
  • Fewer and lower fees — we won’t nickel and dime you
  • The latest in technology and convenience services — just like the big guys
  • Education — to help you and your family manage your finances effectively
  • Volunteer and community opportunities — we believe in helping others

Whether you prefer doing your banking online, from your mobile device or by walking into a convenient branch, we are here to keep you front and center — in our trusted sphere of influence.

To learn more about the benefits of membership and how to join Navigator Credit Union, give us a call at 800-344-3281, visit us online, or simply stop by.

Respectfully,
Robert A. Fertitta
President & CEO