20 Jan

Ready to Retire? Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

For most people retirement is something that happens only once in a lifetime. So it’s no surprise that many people make mistakes when first starting out. Luckily, there are ways to avoid some of these universal mistakes if you know what to watch out for. Here are some of the most common mishaps and how to avoid them.

  1. Lacking a life plan. Retirement is a difficult journey to travel without a map. Failure to plan properly for your retirement is almost certain to cause problems — and not just financially. Entering retirement involves a drastic change in lifestyle, and those that fail to plan for this new phase in their lives may be lost with all the changes. Be sure that you have a definitive plan for how you will spend your time and your money in retirement.
  2. Overspending. At first glance, retirement may seem like a time when you can get by on less, being without the costs associated with a job. However, retirement leaves you with a great deal of time on your hands — time that many people fill by shopping or taking lavish vacations. These splurges can add up quickly, derailing retirement goals fast. Watch your spending, especially in the first years of retirement, to be sure you are left with sustainable income for the years ahead.
  3. Claiming Social Security too early. Deciding when to claim Social Security can have a big impact on monthly benefits. Unfortunately, most people claim Social Security as early as they are able, regardless of whether the income is needed. Consider waiting until you can receive maximum benefits from Social Security if your retirement income can sustain you in the meantime.
  4. Being overly conservative with investments. There was a time when investing in low-risk options such as CDs and bonds could sustain a comfortable retirement. But in today’s world, the returns on these vehicles often don’t outpace inflation, and with retirees living longer than ever, this approach is doubly dangerous. Be sure your retirement investments allow room for growth to create income throughout your retirement.
  5. Retiring too early. The good news is — we are living longer than ever. The bad news is — we are living longer than ever. Individuals must plan for retirements that are much longer than generations past, meaning more savings are needed to last for a longer time. But, many people nearing retirement age are also in good health and very capable of continuing to work. Putting off retirement for a few years, if you are able, is a great way to give a last minute boost to savings that can make a big difference in your retirement income.

We’ve Been There Before

While it may be your first time dealing with the new world of retirement, our investment professionals at Navigator Credit Union have years of experience in helping individuals avoid these and other retirement mistakes. Schedule a consultation today to get expert guidance. Call (228) 474-3427 for more information.

20 Jan

Slow Cooker Vegetable Lentil Stew

Number of servings: 8

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt (optional)
1 cup carrots, chopped
2 cups kale, chopped
2 cups chard, chopped
2 cups dried lentils
8 cups vegetable broth (or stock)
1 can chopped tomatoes (16 ounces)
Fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt (optional)

Directions

1. Sauté onion and garlic with olive oil.
2. Combine sauté mix with the rest of the ingredients (except yogurt) in a slow cooker.
3. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.
4. Spoon stew in bowls to serve and top with a dollop of fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt (optional).

20 Jan

Attention Millennials! Start a 401(k) in Your Twenties

Jessie recently landed her first “real” job after graduating from college. She couldn’t wait to start. Her excitement turned to anxiety, however, during the human resources orientation. Talk of saving for retirement through participation in the company’s 401(k) plan sounded like a foreign language to her. “I’m only 22,” she thought. “Do I really need to be saving for retirement already?”

If you’re like Jessie — in your 20s and just starting out — you may also struggle with socking away money for a retirement decades away. After all, there are so many other things to be paying for! A place to live, transportation, gas, food, clothing, Internet and a smartphone likely take the lion’s share of your paycheck.

Don’t Shortchange Your Future Well-being

But starting now may make all the difference in retiring when you’re ready. Why work more years than you need to, just because you didn’t plan for retirement when you were young? For example, if Jessie starts contributing $200 a month at age 22 and earns an average annual return of 7 percent, she will have accumulated $758,518 when she is ready to retire at age 67. However, if she waits to start saving for retirement until she is 42 and earns the same return, she will need to contribute $936 monthly to reach the same nest egg by age 67.*

Regular saving started early can go a long way over time. That’s why it makes sense to take advantage of a 401(k) — if offered at your place of employment — when you start your first job. Many companies offer automatic enrollment and automatic contribution increase features that make participation easy. Be sure to contribute at least enough to your retirement account to get any matching contributions your employer may offer, essentially free money to you.

For more information on the benefits and options of your employer-sponsored retirement plan, talk to your plan’s administrator. To learn more about other retirement savings options, call 228-474-3427 to schedule an appointment with an NCU Wealth Management investment professional.

20 Jan

Teach Your Kids Money Management

Have you had a talk about money management with your children? Learning about saving, careful spending and responsibility before they’re off on their own is vital. Here are some ways you can teach your kids money management lessons that are appropriate for their age.

Children Under 5

Include your children in financial talk. Young children love to emulate their parents, so this age is a great time to start a dialogue about the financial choices your family makes. If your family is planning a trip, talk to your children about how you are saving money to prepare. Point out some of the things you are sacrificing in the short term to afford a fun vacation. This is also a great time to reinforce the difference between needs and wants. Explain some of your choices while shopping to show your child that you can’t have everything you want.

Ages 6-12

Have your kids help with shopping. With your child, specify how much you have to spend on groceries on your next trip, and together create a shopping list. Plan a few meals to include as essentials, and allow some items on the list that are special treats. Once you hit the store, let your child take the lead in selecting items — but don’t let them go crazy. Once you get home, look at the receipt and talk over whether you hit your budget. Point out the importance of getting the essentials and how extras can add up quickly.

Teenagers

Prepare them for the real world. Consider giving younger teens an allowance and insist that they use part of it to pay for a monthly expense, such as their portion of a cell phone bill. Be sure that the expense is larger than a single allowance payment, which will help teach them to save a portion every time they get paid. For older teens, it’s time to learn the necessity of a budget. Spend an evening showing your teen how you balance the monthly income and expenses of your household. Then have them create a budget for their own expenses, including the ones you currently pay.

Start Them Saving

Learning to save is a great lesson for any age. Open a savings account with your child at Navigator Credit Union where they can watch their savings grow.

20 Jan

When will your money double?The Rule of 72

Need an easy way to determine how long it will take to double your investment? The rule of 72 provides a simple estimate of the number of years it will take an investment to double given a fixed rate of return.

To use the rule, divide 72 by your annual estimated rate of return. The result is the number of years it will take for your money to double.

As with most tools, however, the rule of 72 has its limitations. It’s an approximate result that becomes less accurate as the rate of return increases.

20 Jan

Traveling on a Budget

Travel can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life, but often the costs can be prohibitive. Here are some tips to cut travel costs so you can afford to see the world while on a fixed budget.

Skip the hotel, get a rental. Hotel costs and taxes add up quickly. Staying at a rental vacation home can be more affordable and let you feel like more of a local. For weekend trips, stay in a business hotel. Hotels in the business district of a city are often less expensive on the weekends, unlike hotels in most other areas.

Avoid visiting during conventions. Big cities often host conventions that can cause prices to go sky-high. Check your destination city’s official tourism website for a convention calendar to find the best travel dates.

Take advantage of your age. Look for special deals and amenities offered to seniors wherever you go — from trains to hotels to restaurants. Make a quick phone call before booking or planning a destination so you don’t miss out.

Use your Navigator Credit Union credit or debit card. Carrying a lot of cash can be dangerous while traveling. Instead, use your Navigator card to make purchases and keep track of your expenses online to ensure you’re staying within your budget and preventing fraud.

20 Jan

Housing OutlookWill 2015 Be a Good Year to Buy a Home?

As the economy has gradually improved coming out of the Great Recession, home sales have picked up too. In mid-2014, sales of existing homes were on pace to top 5 million for the year, and the figure should top 5.2 million in 2015, according to a forecast from the National Association of Realtors®.

Many young adults — some of whom have lived with their parents to save money — may be ready for a home of their own. However, many of them mistakenly believe that they don’t have enough saved for a down payment to buy a house. But in 2014, one in five homebuyers who took out a conforming, conventional mortgage put down less than 10 percent.* Some potential buyers are also unduly pessimistic about their chances of qualifying for a mortgage.

With a good supply of homes for sale, mortgage rates that are still low and a variety of mortgage options so you can select one that fits your plans and budget, 2015 could be a great time to buy a home.

We Can Help

Don’t assume you can’t buy a home! The home loan experts at Navigator Credit Union can help you find a mortgage that fits your budget. And they’ll explain how the process works so you’re comfortable with your decision. Let us help you cross the threshold to homeownership. Call (228) 474-3449 to get started.

* Source: Freddie Mac.

20 Jan

Saving For the Unexpected The Importance of Emergency Savings Accounts

Katie and James were thrilled to be first-time homeowners. They couldn’t wait to tackle their list of improvement projects to put their very own stamp on the older home. Before they could start, however, the water heater went cold and the refrigerator went hot. Their home improvement stash of cash quickly became their emergency repairs account.

Theresa, an up-and-coming marketing executive, was surprised to learn the company she worked for had been sold — with a reorganization plan that left her without a position. On a positive note, she viewed this as an opportunity to discover her next career move. At the same time, she was relieved she had six months’ worth of living expenses already saved.

Emergencies often happen when you least expect them, and sometimes when you cannot afford them to happen. It’s important to be prepared for any financial emergency with a savings account just for this purpose. Experts recommend three to six months’ worth of living expenses tucked away in an easily accessible account.

Unexpected emergencies could include:

  • Home repairs
  • Car issues or vehicle replacement
  • Job loss
  • Health issues

Ready to Build Your Emergency Fund?

Make saving a top priority by choosing the right savings account for you from Navigator Credit Union. We have a number of accounts to choose from for building your emergency fund.

Savings account — Use direct deposit or automatic transfers from your checking account to stash cash little by little in an interest-earning savings account.

Money Market account — One of these higher-interest-earning accounts will help your savings add up quickly. View our current rates at www.navigatorcu.org.

Certificates of Deposit (CDs) — We offer a number of CDs with varying minimum balances and terms.

To get started, call one of our member service representatives today at (228) 475-7300 or (800) 344-3281.

20 Jan

Share Credit Union BenefitsCelebrating 100 Million Memberships Nationwide

As a credit union member, you’re in good company. Nearly 100 million people in the United States, or one in three Americans, are also members of a credit union. As credit union membership continues to grow to exceed the 100 million members milestone, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and America’s Credit Unions® are celebrating, and you can join the fun.

Send a Selfie, Share Your Story

Credit union members are also owners of their financial institutions, and that’s a great reason to feature faces and personal stories to show what 100 million credit union members look like. View the diverse gallery of credit union members at www.americascreditunions.org and the reasons why they are proud to belong to a credit union. Then, check out the instructions to send a selfie and share your story too!

There’s also an interactive Membership Map on the America’s Credit Unions website with interesting facts from each state. Did you know 100 million people, hand to hand, forming a chain, would stretch more than three times around the earth?

Spread the Word to Family and Friends

If your family and friends are still using a bank, let them know why credit union membership is so popular and about the benefits they can enjoy if they make the switch, such as:

  • Higher rates on savings
  • Lower rates on loans
  • Fewer and lower fees
  • Member education
  • Volunteer leadership
  • Personalized service

Growing Together

The growing strength of credit unions is a testament to our business structure and philosophy of people helping people. Navigator Credit Union is proud to make a difference in the financial lives of our members as well as our community. To learn more about the benefits of membership and how to join Navigator Credit Union, visit us online, give us a call or stop by any location today!