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How to fit your budget to your resolutions

Saving more money is consistently one of the top New Year’s resolutions. It’s all well and good to resolve to save more, buta resolution does little good without commitment and a plan of action. IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union is here to help you develop a solid game plan for keeping your resolution in 2015!

 

You need backup
Develop a savings for emergency situations to handle car trouble, job loss or unexpected medical bills. Ideally, this reserve should bebetween three and six months of net income. Start small, but choose an amount to set aside with each paycheck and start packing it into the bank until you reach your emergency fund goal. Then, life’s little surprises don’t become life’s huge tragedies. Consider opening a savings account with IHMVCU to hold your reserves!

Ditch the bad habits
Meet multiple resolutions in one fell swoop. Americans spend an incredibly high amount of money on healthcare every year, but exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating healthy are all viable ways to not only improve your health, but also make some room in your budget.

Opting for in-home exercises instead of a gym membership allows you to work out when it’s convenient for you, while saving you money. Quitting your smoking habit can save you thousands of dollars as well as lowering insurance rates and medical bills (and it makes it easier to exercise!). Eating healthier means more home-prepared meals, which in turn means eating out less, saving your family bundles.

Nominate a play maker
Choose someone to keep your family accountable for the budget you create. This means keeping the family updated each week on progress made toward savings goals, keeping tabs on the amount in each account and dispersing cash as necessary to each family member.

Deciding on a specific family member to keep everyone accountable not only keeps everyone motivated and informed, it also keeps the flow of money in and out of accounts in check. The tools available in IHMVCU’s Online Branch are indispensable to a family play maker, allowing for on-the-spot transfers, deposits, alerts and more!

 

IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union makes it easy to meet your goals! Check out all of our convenient services on our website, and start off a bright new year confidently!

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NYE Party

Breathe easier with these budget-friendly New Year’s Eve party tips

IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union knows that New Year’s Eve is one of the hottest nights of the year, but hosting a party ring in the new year can be costly. Trade in the party rentals and caviar for these money-savvy alternatives that’ll still have your guests toasting to you all night!

 

Food
A New Year’s Eve party is not the time to serve an entire meal. Choose three to four hors d’oeuvres, single portion side dishes or desserts and use your creative powers to display the food in a way that’ll really wow your guests. Be sure to choose at least one food item that would appeal to picky eaters or children.

Where drinks are concerned, choose a signature cocktail or a punch bowl to accompany limited wine and beer choices. Forget the full bar, and save the champagne for midnight!

For a super thrifty way to feed guests, have everyone bring their own side, dessert or drink. Not only will there be something appealing for everyone, it’ll also save you the strain of preparing the eats.

 

Decorations
Luckily, this is the age of Pinterest and an abundance of DIY ideas. If you can muster up some creativity for an hour or two, you can have party-worthy decorations with minimal costs. Invest in some spray glue and glitter, and you can make just about anything into a New Year’s Eve decoration.

Cover wine or champagne bottles in glitter and place them on the mantelpiece. Set tea lights in glass jars filled with glitter for extra sparkle. Drape white twinkle lights everywhere for magical mood lighting. Remember, if it glitters, it’s as good as gold for your party atmosphere!

For a digital party favor, design a photo backdrop using a white sheet, twinkle lights and 2015 signage (consider using free printables). If you have one, throw in an empty frame for cute posing ideas, and be sure to add balloons and glitter or confetti for extra flair.

 

Entertainment
If you don’t have time to create your own New Year’s Eve playlist on your iPod, find a playlist on Spotify or YouTube, or choose an appropriate Pandora station for a simple way to keep the beats going. Keep a space clear in the living room for dancing.

Pull out decks of cards and board games, or borrow them from friends and family for the night. Set a time for group games like charades, and don’t forget to count down to the ball drop!

Even a flashy party like a New Year’s Eve soiree can be done with minimal spending and still be fun for both the hosts and guests. However, be sure that when the reveling draws to a close you monitor attendees as they exit. Never let someone drive home impaired—have a sober driver on standby, call a cab or offer a place to sleep for those guests that partied a little too hard.

 

Cheers to throwing your elegant and inexpensive New Year’s Eve get-together! Clink.

Did this article help you breathe easier? Check out all the ways IHMVCU is making life simpler for you with our new Online Branch!

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moving from a saver to an investor

How to use savings accounts to get what you want and stop overspending

Your savings account is probably something you think about only when you have a little extra cash, but they actually work best when they’re used for unpredictable budget items and you contribute to them regularly. If set-up properly, your savings account will have funds for the things you want as well as the unexpected set-backs in life, and won’t wipe out your budget.

Recurring bills like utilities, rent or insurance can be easily budgeted for and paid for from a checking account, where money can come in and out easily. Savings accounts should be used for those things that happen once in a while or in an emergency.

At IHMVCU it’s easy to set-up additional savings accounts, including but not limited to:

Christmas shopping
Healthcare
Vacation
Car and home maintenance
Taxes

For savings accounts to work for you, you’ll need to contribute to them on a regular basis. One of the easiest ways is to set aside a percentage of each paycheck and distribute it among your savings accounts. Another way is to budget high for recurring expenses, like a utility bill, and putting what you don’t use into savings.

Let’s say you budget $200 for energy every month, and your next bill is only $130 (hurray for open windows!). Using this system of saving, you would take the “extra” $70 and put it in a savings account, like one for home maintenance, so it’s there when your bills are higher than $200 in the winter. You may put your tax return into next year’s savings account for taxes, or the leftover cash from a lower-than-usual grocery trip into a vacation fund.

At IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, you can open a savings account for a minimum deposit as low as $5 and NO monthly fees. Check out our website to find out more about IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union savings accounts and how you can open one today.

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Saving for retirement: IHMVCU makes investment services easy

It doesn’t matter if retirement is years away or just around the corner, it’s important to know that stocks and bonds shouldn’t be your sole saving strategy for retirement. Saving accounts, money market accounts and CDs are great investments that keep your money liquid.

What does it mean to keep your money liquid?
Liquid assets are those that can easily and quickly be converted to cash through sale or withdrawal. Keeping some of your money liquid ensures it’s accessible when you need it.

Savings and money market accounts
Savings accounts are the tried-and-true way to store your retirement funds in with easy access when you need it. Similarly, money market accounts (MMAs) are savings accounts that require a higher minimum balance to earn higher interest.

CDs
CDs allow you to invest large amounts of money to accrue interest for a set amount of time – anywhere from a couple months to five years. While CDs typically make more money in the long run, early withdrawal of assets in CDs may result in penalty fees, so investors will often put money into a CD and forget about it until it matures.

Shop around
Life is unpredictable and plans change, so don’t be afraid of penalty fees – depending on the terms they can be as little as $4 on a $10,000 CD. It all depends on your plan and the last quarter earnings of the institution. Often, penalties for withdrawal from a 401(k) or stock purchase plan can be much higher than CD withdrawals.

 

Be sure to do the calculations for what your early withdrawal fees may be—it might be worth it to jump ship for a better deal on CDs or to place your assets in a high-interest MMA.

You can set up savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs through IHMVCU to put you in the right place financially for your retirement.

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DIY Halloween costumes are an easy, creative way to save money

Halloween is right around the corner, and it’s crunch time when it comes to costumes. Store-bought costumes can cost more than $30 each, and the shelves are bound to be picked over at this point. There’s no question—this is the year to look into homemade costumes. Here are five creative costumes that are cheaper and easier to make than you might think!

Pinata

Photo: costume-works.com


Piñata
Cost: < $10
Materials needed:

  • Scissors
  • Colorful streamers or crepe paper
  • Party hats
  • An old t-shirt
  • Hot glue gun

Cut small strips of colorful streamers or crepe paper and use a hot glue gun to attach them to a thrift store shirt and dollar store party hats. Get a long shirt, and all you need is leggings and shoes to complete the outfit! Benefits include points for creativity and the ability to layer up and stay warm if the weather is cold!

Photo: marthastewart.com

Photo: marthastewart.com


Jellyfish
Cost: $5 – $15
Materials:

  • An umbrella
  • Scissors
  • White crepe paper, streamers or bubble wrap
  • Hot glue or packing tape
  • A white and grey outfit

Cut long strips of crepe paper or bubble wrap and attach them to an umbrella with hot glue or packing tape so they drift down to the feet of whoever is wearing the costume. (If you can’t find an umbrella at the thrift store, they are usually cheap at Walmart or on Amazon, if you have the time to order one.) Bonus points: tie glow sticks into the tentacles for an eerie phosphorescent effect!

 

Photo: thedragonsfairytail.blogspot.com

Photo: thedragonsfairytail.blogspot.com

Moose
Cost: < $5
Materials:

  • Brown outfit
  • Light colored gloves
  • Packing material
  • Hot glue
  • Headband

Fill gloves with packing material so they won’t be limp. Using hot glue or staples, attach them to the sides of a headband that will fit the wearer’s head. Wear brown sweatpants and a brown hoodie for fur, and add black shoes and gloves for hooves. Put on the antler headband and ta-da! You’re a moose! Tip: moose have very short tails, so you don’t have to worry about making one!

 

Beanie baby
Cost: $5 – $10
Materials:

  • Animal print outfit
  • Animal ears
  • Red posterboard

Photo: sororitystylista.com

Photo: sororitystylista.com

Choose an animal, and visit your closet or a thrift store to find a suitable shirt to match your idea (think animal print!). Buy a pair of animal ears or create your own with a headband and fabric. Cut the red poster board into a heart, and cut the “ty” letters out of white printer paper to glue onto the poster board. If you want, use eyeliner or facepaint to add a nose or whiskers as needed! Bonus: Make a “ty” tag for all of your pets, as well, to expand your collection and include your pets in the fun!

 

Scuba diver
Cost:  $5 – $10
Materials:

  • Two-liter bottles
  • Duct tape
  • Black ribbon
  • All-black outfit
  • Swim or safety goggles
  • Brightly-colored paper

Scuba Diver

howwelearn.com

Wrap two empty two-liter bottles in duct tape (individually) to give them a metallic look. Then, secure the bottles to each other with duct tape on part of the bottles that will rest against the back. Measure out enough ribbon to create two straps, and use the duct tape to attach the ribbon to the backs of the bottles. The bottles should sit on the wearer like a backpack! Cut flipper shapes out of the paper and attach them to the wearer’s shoes (you can use duct tape for this, too). Add the goggles, and your costume is complete! Bonus: use one standard water bottle and attach tubing to a pacifier for a
super-easy baby version!

 

For more ways to save, become a member at IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union! Members can take advantage of a variety of discounts. Visit our website to see how YOU can save.

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IHMVCU Newsletter – Fall 2014

Your copy of the Summer Newsletter will be arriving in your mailbox this week!

Featured Articles:
Online Branch: Money Management Made Easy
80th Anniversary Celebration
Estate Planning Seminar
Short Takes | Member Advantages

Click here to read the entire newsletter early.

 

                

 

 

 

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DIY home projects for fall

This week marks the official beginning of fall and many homeowners have home improvement projects on their mind. Have you thought of accomplishing some easy, DIY projects this fall to improve the value of your home?

IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union is here to help! We’ve compiled a list of four weekend projects to tackle this fall that could add curb appeal to your humble abode.

Add a backyard fire pit
Fall marks a season filled with high school football, hoodies and bonfires. Make your place the spot to be after games by installing a fire pit with just a few materials. Stop by your local hardware store to stock up on gravel and stones and then start digging. Next thing you know, your friends and family will be over enjoying time around the fire. Here’s an easy diagram to get you started.

Face lift your windows
Create an elegant update by adding some DIY crown molding to your window frames or by sewing new drapes. A one-day project can completely change the look of your living room, bedroom or kitchen!

Create smart storage spaces
Smart storage spaces always start with some creativity! Use a combination of pallet boards and plastic containers to build a unit to store non-seasonal holiday decorations in the garage. Or, stop by the hardware store to pick up some wooden boards and brackets and create your own storage bench – both useful and decorative!

Spice up the kitchen
A fresh coat of paint can add flavor to an otherwise drab kitchen. Consider utilizing wall space as a family memo board to list weekly dinners and activities with a simple coat of chalkboard paint! You could even spend a weekend refinishing the cabinets to bring them up to 2014 elegance.

 

These are all small projects that you can tackle in a weekend, but larger home improvement projects may need some additional funding. IHMVCU has you covered with home equity loans to help you finance that next big update. Visit our website to check out our home equity loans, home improvement loans and home equity line of credit.

No matter the project, IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union is here for you.

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Tailgating

Tightening the belt on your tailgate

Football season has arrived with tailgate parties in tow, and IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union has some advice to keep your wallet out of the red zone while getting your tailgate on.

First, plan ahead. Scout out your parking spot early, and know what it costs to park there. (Pro tip: parking closer to the stadium usually costs more!) Be sure to take a head count of expected guests so you can buy food accordingly, and then make a list of essentials to avoid last-minute expenses.

When you do buy food, keep it simple. There are hundreds of tailgate recipes available online to make sides, dips and treats for less than $1 a serving. Avoid pre-made platters; the convenience will cost you!

Providing plenty of sides will reduce the amount of meat you have to grill, which is likely the most expensive item on your menu. To be really money-savvy, turn the tailgate meal into a potluck by asking guests to bring a dish. (Pro tip: avoid the hassle of grilling with a crockpot of pulled pork for sandwiches.)

Use alternatives to the university-sold versions of tents and decorations. Using solid prints in your team’s colors can be just as spirited without the logo. If you can borrow the more expensive additions, like the tent or a fold-up table—even better!

Have your friends pitch in on gas, food and décor. The more people that chip in, the less expensive it becomes for you! Plus, the more the merrier when it comes to celebrating your team spirit. Bring a ball, a Frisbee and battery-operated speakers for entertainment, and you’ll be set for a tailgate that scores points with both your friends and your budget spreadsheet.

Keep in touch with IHMVCU for more easy ways to stay budget-savvy!

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