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.

19 Jan

What can $100 buy?

What if you had $100? What could you buy? Does it make sense to spend all your cash — or save some to buy something even better?

Here are 8 ways to spend $100.

1,296 bouncy balls

1,111 memories (in printed photos!)

40 pounds of gummy bears

50 $2 apps on your favorite mobile device

11 Movie tickets for you and friends

100 cheeseburgers from a fast-food dollar menu

1.4 to 4 shares of Facebook stock Remember: Stock prices change throughout the day.

1/6 of a fish tank You’d need to save close to $600 to start your own aquarium.

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

Money-smart movesA Year-end Financial Checklist

Use FSA dollars. If you have a calendar-year flexible spending account (FSA) or other health spending account through your employer, check the balance and use up the money in the account to avoid losing it.*

Save year-end bonuses. Rather than go on an impulsive spending spree, stash a year-end bonus or financial gift in your savings account, where it can grow.

Max out retirement plan contributions. If you have an employer-sponsored retirement plan, you may want to contribute up to the maximum before the end of the year. Or consider increasing your paycheck contribution a percentage point or two.

Make charitable donations. If you’re planning to itemize charitable gifts on your income tax form in 2015, donations made by the end of 2014 may lower your tax bill.

Making money-smart moves now can help you end this year on a high note and be in a good place to kick off the new year. Look to Navigator Credit Union for more helpful ways to save and manage money
wisely — now and all year long.

* Depending on the rules in your employer’s plan, you may be able to carry up to $500 forward to the following year.

Please note that neither this financial institution nor any of its affiliates give tax or legal advice. Consult your tax advisor regarding your individual circumstances.