16 Apr

9 Signs You Need Life Insurance

If you think life insurance is only for people with kids, you may be missing out on an important financial planning tool. Ask yourself these questions to find out if you should take a closer look at your needs for life insurance.

1. Do you have a spouse or partner?

Anyone who depends on you may suffer a financial setback if something happens to you, and naming them as beneficiaries in your life insurance policy may give you peace of mind.

2. Do you have kids?

You want to do everything in your power to safeguard your child’s financial future. If you’re a single parent, you have even more responsibility resting on your shoulders. Life insurance can take care of their immediate expenses and provide funds for college and other future needs.

3. Do you provide financial help to parents, siblings, nieces and nephews or other loved ones?

Anyone who depends on you may suffer a financial setback if something happens to you, and naming them as beneficiaries in your life insurance policy may give you peace of mind.

4. Are you a caregiver for aging parents or family members with special needs?

The care you provide (including basic help with household or transportation needs) is important to your loved one’s quality of life. Life insurance can help cover the costs of their care if you’re not there.

5. Are you a stay-at-home parent?

You provide valuable support to the family, and it’s important to factor in the value that you bring to the family when considering life insurance needs.

6. Do you have grown children?

Even if your children are grown, there may be ups and downs as they find their way in the world. Life insurance may not be as critical at this stage as it was when they were small, but it can provide financial stability for your children if you die.

7. Do you own a small business?

A life insurance policy can be structured to protect your business and your family. For example, a policy could provide funds for a buy-sell agreement to sell your interest in the company and provide proceeds to your heirs.

8. Are you focused on charitable giving?

(And do you wish to name an organization as a life insurance beneficiary?) A life insurance payout can continue a legacy of donations to an organization you support financially.

9. Are you retired?

Life insurance may be instrumental in achieving your goals. For example, you may want to leave an inheritance for heirs or pay final expenses (funeral and burial costs) through life insurance.

Find out more about how life insurance can help protect your family’s future. Contact an insurance professional at Navigator Credit Union at (228) 474-3427 or at www.navigatorcu.org.
16 Apr

College Degrees Still Make the Grade

With the rising costs of attending college, much debate has occurred in recent years about the value of a college education. Yet, a recent examination by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that over the past decade, the rate of return on a college degree has remained fairly consistent at around 15 percent.* This rate of return is the difference between wages for individuals who have a college degree versus those with only a high school diploma after accounting for the cost of college. This return rate remained steady for both bachelor’s and associate degrees. The report found that despite changes in the economy, a college education continues to be a valuable asset in creating higher lifelong earnings. So how do you ensure your child is able to afford college once he or she is ready?

College Saving Strategies

While the advantage of a college degree is clear, the price of college continues to increase year-after-year, creating a challenge for many families. But, there are a number of ways, both traditional and creative, that you can use to help your child be financially prepared for college:

Open a college savings account for your child. Navigator Credit Union offers a variety of savings vehicles including Coverdell Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and 529 College Savings Plans. Both of these savings accounts are a great way to invest long-term in your child’s education. These tax-advantaged accounts allow anyone to contribute including parents, grandparents, other relatives or family friends. Which brings us
to our next tip:

Suggest relatives contribute. Many people, including grandparents and other relatives, want to see your child succeed. Consider asking them to contribute to your child’s savings in lieu of extravagant gifts during the holidays or for birthdays. While of course your child will enjoy some presents, think about giving smaller gifts and putting the difference into saving for their future.

Continue “paying” expenses you’re used to. As your child grows, there will be a number of expenses that arise and eventually are no longer needed — such as money for diapers, baby-sitting or braces. Instead of forgetting about these costs once your child outgrows them, start putting that money toward your child’s college savings.

Here For You and Your Child’s Future

Getting started on saving for your child’s educational future doesn’t have to be confusing or difficult. The investment professionals at Navigator Credit Union can help you decide the right strategy for your family. Contact us today by calling (228) 474-3427 or visiting us online at https://navigatorcu.org to help your child prepare for the rewards of a college degree.

* Source: Federal Reserve Bank of New York. www.newyorkfed.org.
Investment products:
Not federally insured
Not a deposit of this institution
May lose value

16 Apr

Diversification, Patience & ConsistencyThree important factors when it comes to your financial life.

Provided by Jeffrey C. Hamm

Regardless of how the markets may perform, consider making the following part of your investment philosophy:

Diversification.

The saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” has real value when it comes to investing. In a bear OR bull market, certain asset classes may perform better than others if your assets are mostly held in one kind of investment (say, mostly in mutual funds, or mostly in CDs or money market accounts), you could be hit hard by stock market losses, or alternately lose out on potential gains that other kinds of investments may be experiencing. So there is an opportunity cost as well as risk.

This is why asset allocation strategies are used in portfolio management. A financial professional can ask you about your goals, tolerance for risk, and assign percentages of your assets to different classes of investments. This diversification is designed to suit your preferred investment style and your objectives.

Patience.

Impatient investors obsess on the day-to-day doings of the stock market. Have you ever heard of “stock picking” or “market timing”? How about “day trading”? These are all attempts to exploit short-term fluctuations in value. These investing methods might seem fun and exciting if you like to micromanage, but they could add stress and anxiety to your life, and they may be a poor alternative to a long-range investment strategy built around your life goals.

Consistency.

Most people invest a little at a time, within their budget, and with regularity. They invest $50 or $100 or more per month in their 401(k) and similar investments through payroll deduction or automatic withdrawal. In essence, they are investing on “autopilot” to help themselves build wealth for retirement and for long-range goals. Investing regularly (and earlier in life) helps you to take advantage of the power of compounding as well.

If you don’t have a long-range investment strategy, talk to a qualified financial advisor today.

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. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

16 Apr

Free Stuff Online: Not Just a Myth

When you’re in need of a microwave, rocking chair or tennis racket, is your first instinct to head to the mall? You may be surprised to learn that you can actually use the Internet to find these types of items for cheap — or even free!

Sites like Craigslist, eBay and local exchange sites are increasingly being use to unload items people no longer need. Users may be moving or remodeling, want to avoid the hassle of selling, or be looking for a green way to recycle items they don’t need any more. Here are a few tips to score big and avoid pitfalls:

  • Take your time. If you don’t need an item right away, keep searching until you find the right one.
  • Don’t feel obligated. Often users will post items at flattering angles or omit details. Don’t take an item that you’ll just end up getting rid of yourself.
  • Stay safe. Never go alone to pick up an item. Try to meet in a neutral public place like a coffee shop.
16 Apr

How to Begin Building a Strong Credit History

There are many reasons why having a strong credit history is important. It can affect everything from your ability to rent an apartment to getting a good job.

Payment history and credit score are two of the most important factors contributing to a positive, healthy credit record. Individuals who demonstrate personal responsibility by paying back the money they borrow — on time, every time — are typically rewarded with higher credit scores. A high credit score, in turn, shows lenders that you are worthy of trust for even more credit. (Scores range from 300 to 850, the higher the better.) And, utilizing credit wisely opens the door to meeting your financial goals — both short- and long-term.

If you are just beginning to utilize credit, here are some tips for starting off on the right foot:

Use your credit card(s) wisely.

It’s true that you need to use credit to build credit and having a credit card is one way to start. But rather than using a credit card sporadically, consider charging small amounts regularly that you can afford to pay off every month. Also limit how many credit cards you apply for — two is a good number — with one of the cards being a VISA® from Navigator Credit Union.

Avoid using all your available credit.

Each credit card comes with a pre-established credit limit. Don’t top out your card by using all your available credit. It’s too easy to go over your credit limit and potential lenders don’t like to see maxed-out cards. Instead, use 10 percent to 30 percent of what’s available to you.

Apply for a car loan.

Making affordable, monthly car payments is an excellent way to build a healthy payment history. A car loan represents a different type of loan than a credit card. You are borrowing a fixed amount with a specific payment and repayment term. You may need a co-signer, such as a parent, for a car loan.

Keep track of your credit.

It’s a smart idea to check your credit report at least once a year for possible errors. There are three main credit-reporting companies: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and you are allowed a free credit report from each every 12 months. You can check your credit reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.

We Can Help

Whether it’s a credit card or an auto loan, Navigator Credit Union can help you on your way to building a strong credit history. Come in and meet with one of our representatives today.

A WORD TO THE WISE
While you can recover from credit missteps — such as missing a payment or going over your credit limit — it can take up to seven years for your credit score to recover after a significant drop.
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

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.

19 Jan

Millions … billions … trillions!Can you count that high?

Numbers help us learn about science and cool things in our world. Do you know how high numbers can go?

The numbers go higher but, we can’t show them all. Some wouldn’t fit on a page! One centillion has 303 zeroes! Something that is too big to count in numbers = infinity.

HOW BIG? HOW MUCH? HOW MANY?

Here are some fun facts about really big numbers.

How much could $1 million buy? About 400,000 school lunches. Or 3 million pieces of string cheese. That’s more than anyone could eat in a lifetime!

How long would it take to count to 1 billion? Too long! Counting to 1 billion nonstop would take almost 32 years.

How many people live on planet Earth? There are 7 billion people on the planet … and they do a lot of talking! More than 4 billion people use mobile phones worldwide.

What would 1 trillion pennies look like? One trillion pennies stacked in a tower would be 870,000 miles high. That’s farther than the moon!

04 Nov

Build the Foundation: 6 Steps for Financial Success in Your 20s

Your 20s is a time to enjoy your freedom and learn new life lessons. Often a decade of important decisions (career, marriage, home), it can also be a time for big financial mistakes if you’re not careful.

Making smart financial decisions now could lead to financial freedom in the future. It could mean the difference between retiring early or late, or whether you can afford the vacation home you’ve always dreamed about. Here are a few steps to build a solid financial foundation in your 20s.

1. Develop a marketable skill. Income is your wealth builder, and your 20s is a time to learn what you love – if you’re lucky, it will be what you went to school for. Find a skill that could translate into a career.

2. Make a simple budget. Sound easy? It is. By learning to create a budget now and sticking to it, you’ll also be able to apply that principle later in life.

3. Create a debt-repayment plan. Yes, you aren’t the only one who has enormous amounts of student debt. And waiting to pay it off until you’re more established in your career could have negative effects on your financial stability. Start paying it back now. It’s easy to set up automatic payments online so you aren’t tempted to skip a month.

4. Build an emergency fund. Even though you may live on little these days, it’s smart to have at least $1,000 set aside for emergencies. After all, it’s inevitable that your clunker car will break down eventually.

5. Start your retirement saving. Don’t stop reading now! This might be the hardest one to put into action, but completely worth it. The key to long-term compounding is to start early. If a 25-year-old invests just $100 a month, assuming an 8% average annual return, it totals to more than $300,000 by the age of 65.*

6. Start building your credit. Make sure to keep up with monthly payments on your loans and credit cards because that will be beneficial for your credit score. If you are considering opening a credit card, Navigator Credit Union has competitive interest rates and can help you manage payments.

* Rate of return is for illustration only and does not represent the return of any specific investment. Your returns will vary. Depending on the type of account, taxes may be due upon withdrawal.

Investment (and/or insurance) products:
Not federally insured
Not a deposit of this institution
May lose value

04 Nov

Don’t Be an Easy Target: How to Protect Your Smartphone

Smartphones and other mobile devices have made our lives easier in many ways. But, their allure and high resale value has also made them a prime target for thieves. While there’s no way to completely eliminate risk when owning one, there are ways you can protect yourself, your device and all the important data it contains.

Keeping Your Device Safe

When out and about, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings. If an area feels unsafe it may be best not to use your device, or to use it discreetly. Never leave your device visible in an unattended vehicle. Take it with you or lock it in the glove compartment or trunk.

Write down your device’s make, model number, serial code and unique device identification number. This information can be given to the police in the event that your device is stolen.

Protecting Your Data

The first step in protecting your data is to establish a password to restrict access to your device. This can help prevent unwanted usage charges or use of your personal information if the device is stolen. Keep up-to-date with updates and patches to your devices’ operating system. These updates often include new protections when vulnerabilities in software arise. Also be sure to back up vital data to a trusted computer.

Installing anti-theft software on your phone can help in the event that it is lost or stolen as well. These apps are able to locate your device, lock your device remotely or even wipe sensitive data from your device using any computer. Legislation has been introduced in some states and nationally to require new smartphones to be sold with a preloaded “kill switch.”

In the Event of Theft

If your device is lost or stolen there are some steps you can take. First, change the login credentials to any online accounts you have access to through your mobile device. If your device is used to access Navigator Credit Union’s online or mobile banking you can visit https://navigatorcu.org to change your password. If you have installed anti-theft software on your device, you may be able to use it to locate your phone or wipe the data remotely. Do not attempt to retrieve a stolen phone yourself. Always report the theft to your local authorities as well as your wireless carrier. Finally, if you’ve purchased insurance on your mobile device find out what your plan covers in case a replacement is necessary.