College by the Numbers: The High Cost of Higher Education

A lot of people these days will tell you that a college degree is no longer optional—it’s a must have to find a job. In fact, a four-year degree is often touted as having the same significance as a high school diploma in decades past.

Though there’s not much data to back up those assertions, research by the National Center for Education Statistics shows that in 2014, young adults age 20-24 with a Bachelor’s degree had an 88.1% employment rate, compared to just 63.7% for those with a high school level education.

The prospect of a better job and better income is one major driver for those seeking higher education, but the results aren’t always cut and dry. If you’re one of the many students impatiently waiting at your mailbox for a college acceptance letter, here are the numbers you should know before you enroll.

According to Princeton Review, the overwhelming majority of students & parents feel that financial aid (education loans, scholarships or grants) will be necessary to pay for higher education. Ninety percent of students said financial aid would be “extremely” or “very” necessary.

The cost of higher education is constantly on the rise. According to the Wall Street Journal, the class of 2015 graduated with an average student loan debt of $35,000, making them the most indebted class ever.

The average cost of a degree for those attending a public, in-state college or university is $79,250.45. While that may seem steep, those attending a private school can look forward to a bill closer to $177,000 for a four-year degree.

Though plenty of students are afraid they won’t get into their college of choice, 35% are concerned they’ll get into their first-choice college, but won’t be able to attend due to the high cost or insufficient financial aid.

In 2015, it’s estimated that students at four-year colleges and universities spent an average of $1,298 on books and supplies, according to College Board.

The average starting salary for bachelor’s degree holders is $48,000, versus $30,000 for those who stopped after high school. Keep in mind that your starting salary is largely dependent upon your major—Engineering majors earn the most with a median starting salary of $64,367, and Liberal arts and Humanities majors earn the least at $36,237.

Every year IHMVCU awards $26,000 in scholarships to students who excel in the classroom and their communities. Interested? Learn more and apply online at

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IHMVCU Newsletter – Winter 2016

Your copy of the fall newsletter is hitting mailboxes next week!Cover

Featured articles:
Q&A with the New CEO
How to get the Most of Your Refund
Buy a Home Without Going Broke
Keeping Your Information Safe

Click here to read the entire newsletter early.


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3 Ways to Get Your Budget Back After the Holidays

If holiday spending left you dreading the mailman, you’re not alone. According to a survey conducted by American Research Group Inc., Americans plan to spend an average of $882 this year on Christmas gifts alone. Add in the cost of family dinners, decorations and other holiday events and your average American household is spending well over $1000 during the holiday season.

If you’re one of the many Americans who to plan to make all their holiday purchases with a credit card, or you just totally overshot your budget, you may find yourself carrying a mountain of new debt into the New Year.

Here are some suggestions to get your budget back on track before the temperatures start rising again.

Know what you spent.
Don’t be surprised by your bill in January. Save your receipts from any holiday related credit card purchases and immediately make a mental subtraction from your checking account. You’ll know what to expect when the holidays are over, and you’ll have enough to pay for it.

Make a repayment resolution.
Many Americans add holiday purchases to existing credit card debt. If this sounds like you, separate the total you spent on holiday purchases and make a plan to pay off that amount by the end of the first quarter of the year. You’ll be back to making pre-holiday payments by April.

Save your bonus.
While it can be tempting to use that year-end bonus or money you got has holiday gifts to just pay off your credit card debt, it’s probably only a temporary solution. According to Nancy Anderson, a financial planner and contributor, it’s often better to develop a realistic repayment plan and save your hard earned bonus to prevent the same debt-accumulation problem in the coming year. To find out if this is the best plan for you, read her article “When Not to Pay off Your High-Interest Credit Card Debt.”

For more help rebooting your budget, check out our easy savings, debt and budget calculators at See what it will take to pay off your debt, calculate your household cash flow or even see the impact of setting a savings goal.

What’s your best holiday budget advice? Share in the comments, on Facebook or Tweet us!

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5 Tips For Hosting Your First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving DaySo you’re hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. The big day is only two weeks away, and if you’re freaking out—don’t worry. IHMVCU has taken the time to round up the best advice for first time hosts and hostesses.

Don’t forget to thaw the turkey.
If you’re using a frozen bird, know that depending on the size it can take up to a week to thaw entirely. If you’re feeding a large crowd, you definitely need to plan ahead—so buying the turkey the night before is probably not a good bet. According to the USDA, it takes about 24 hours in the fridge for each 4-5 pounds of turkey.

Remove the giblets.
If you’ve never roasted a bird before, you may not know that there’s a little bag of giblets (i.e. raw organs) inside your turkey. The good news is that your turkey may not be ruined if you forget to remove it. Again, the USDA has some great food-safety advice when it comes to giblets. If you do forget to remove them, giblets packed in paper are no concern if accidentally cooked in the turkey. Giblets packed in plastic are a different story. If the plastic bag comes out of the turkey unaltered, the giblets and poultry are safe to eat. If the bag is melted or altered at all, it’s best to trash the whole bird.

Use a turkey bag.
The internet and IHMVCU staff agree—when cooking a turkey, using an oven bag is a no-brainer. You get moist, juicy turkey inside and crispy skin outside. The bag method doesn’t allow the juices to evaporate though, so there’s no fond for gravy (aka brown bits at the bottom of the pan). If you want gravy, poke a hole in the bottom of the bag during the last hour of cooking, allowing the juices to drain into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Do as much as you can the night before.
Most side dishes can be prepared the night before and reheated before dinner. Our very own VP of Marketing, Amy Orr, even roasts her turkey the night before. Think it can’t be done? Think again. Roast and carve your turkey as usual, then put the meat in a storage container with a little juice, and store the rest of the drippings separately. On the big day, transfer your meat and the juice you stored it with to a glass or metal container, cover it with foil and throw it in the oven with one of your sides until warm. Amy says you’d never know it was cooked the night before, and we trust her.

You don’t have to do it all.
Asking around the IHMVCU corporate office, most people agreed it’s perfectly acceptable to ask your guests to bring a dish. Rather than just asking everyone to bring something, give everyone a specific dish to bring. You don’t want to have four bowls of mashed potatoes and no green bean casserole.

What’s your advice for first time hosts and hostesses? If you’ve never hosted before, what’s your biggest worry for the big day?

Share with us in the comments, or start a conversation on Facebook or Twitter!

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4 Last Minute Halloween Costumes From Things You Already Own

Coming up with a witty and original Halloween costume can be hard. Sometimes putting it off so you can give it more thought helps, and other times that leaves you without a costume in the eleventh hour.

Don’t worry—IHMVCU is here to help. These costumes aren’t witty or original, but you can make them with things you probably already have around the house. The fact that you already have most of the supplies makes them super budget friendly, too.

What you’ll need:
A sheet

You can probably figure this one out. Extra points if you use a patterned sheet (like the ghosts in Beetlejuice).



What you’ll need:
Several t-shirts in different colors
White fabric paint

This one requires a little time for the paint to dry, so you’ll need to start it the night before you plan to wear it. Gather a group of friends and have everyone paint a lowercase “m” on a colored t-shirt, then move as a group for the night.



Photo credit:

Photo credit:

What you’ll need:
Box cutter
Hot Glue Gun
Round laundry basket
White suspenders
2 pairs adult white tights
Wrapping paper
Multi-colored straws
Red Cap
White sweatshirt
White or silver shoes

This one is a little more in-depth but guaranteed to be super cute. Check out this easy tutorial from Woman’s Day for instructions.

Gum Stuck to a Shoe
What you’ll need:
A pink hooded sweatshirt
A shoe

Wear the sweatshirt with the hood up and glue the shoe to the hood.

Now you’re sure to get into even the most exclusive Halloween parties (if the only requirement is a costume, that is). Trying one of these out? Have one that’s even better? Share you photos with us on Facebook or Twitter!

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The Credit Union Difference

If you’re in the market for a financial institution, it pays to learn more about the credit union difference.

You might think it’s hard to join a credit union, like it’s an exclusive club with a lot of weird requirements. The truth is credit unions are for everyone! Credit unions, like IHMVCU, serve a common field of membership based on things like geographical area, employer or membership in an organization. No matter who you are there’s a credit union for you, and joining is easy!

Credit Unions even offer all the same services as banks—a worldwide ATM network, online banking, mobile deposit, loans, mortgages and checking accounts. Banks and credit unions might look pretty similar on the surface, but many credit union members claim to feel a stronger sense of loyalty and familiarity with credit unions. But why? What’s the credit union difference?

Credit unions are member-owned financial cooperatives.
That means every member is an owner. What does that mean for you? Credit Unions work for your best interest—not stockholder profits. You can’t buy stock in credit unions and we don’t issue payouts to stockholders. Credit union earnings are returned to members in the form of lower loan rates, higher deposit yields and lower fees.

Credit unions care about your financial well-being.
We want our members to live their best financial lives and feel informed and empowered in their financial decisions.

At IHMVCU, we’re using our CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) designation to address rising poverty while fulfilling our mission to improve the financial well-being of our members. In the coming year, we’re rolling out new programs designed to address poverty drivers and educate members on available resources and programs to help them achieve financial success.

Credit unions are people helping people.
Credit unions exist to help people achieve financial success, not to make shareholders wealthy. At IHMVCU, we make our members feel like they’re worth more by giving back to the communities we serve. Last year our employees raised nearly $15,000 for Family Resources, Race for the Cure, Toys for Tots, City of Moline Police Department, Angel Tree and QC Paws through casual days, bake sales, raffles and personal contributions.

We’re committed to serving area youth with our support of Big Brother Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club and our Cash for Class scholarship program. We offer $26,000 in scholarships, paving the way for educational opportunities that won’t leave students with a mountain of debt.

People helping people isn’t just a motto to credit unions, it’s a way of life. And it’s how IHMVCU tells members You’re Worth More.


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IHMVCU Newsletter – Fall 2015

Your copy of the Fall Newsletter is hitting mailboxes this week! Cover

Featured articles:
People Helping People
A New Benefit for Members
Burlington Expansion
New Statements Are Coming

Click here to read it early!


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Why Your Budget Isn’t Working

Creating a budget that works for you and your family is the first step in living a financially healthy life. We talk a lot about budgets. If you’re a regular reader of our MoneySmarts blog, you know we frequently offer “budget friendly” tips  and easy ways to “stick to the budget.” But what does all that mean if you don’t know anything about the way you or your family spends money?

Odds are you probably have at least some kind of budget for your family—whether it’s just monitoring your accounts and keeping a general idea of how much money goes in and out, or a totally itemized spreadsheet. Is how much you spend each month reasonable while leaving room to save or invest? How do you find out?

While there’s no perfect budget that will work for every family every month, experts agree that the best way to ensure you live within your means is to follow a percentage based plan. The most common suggestion is the 50/30/20 plan:

50% of your income should go towards required expenses. This includes housing, food, utilities, transportation (including car payments), insurance, etc. These are NEEDS.

30% of your income goes towards optional expenses like clothing, vacations and gifts–the little things that help you enjoy life. These are WANTS.

20% of your income should be allocated for paying off debts (like student loans and credit cards) and saving/investing.

These guidelines are helpful, but keep in mind that they’re not the end-all-be-all of budgeting. You’ll have to make adjustments based on your family’s needs. A recent college grad living at home is going to have a wildly different budget than a family of five with a mortgage and a baby on the way. Where you live, how far you commute, the size of your family, etc. will all play a role in how you make the budget work for you. Whatever adjustments you make, just make sure it all adds up to 100%.

If you’re not the spreadsheet type, you may benefit from online services that make keeping a budget less tedious. Try IHMVCU’s budgeting and saving calculators to find out what would happen if you changed your money habits. IHMVCU members also get free access to FinanceWorks, a budgeting tool within Online Branch. FinanceWorks tracks your income and expenses, allows you to set realistic spending goals, and even alerts you when you meet or exceed your spending limits.

Now that you have a place to start, calculate your current spending and see how it compares to the recommended percentages. No matter what adjustments you need to make, keep in mind that every month will be different. The most important thing is to be diligent.

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5 Ways to save money on your first apartment or dorm

Skip paying for movers--have your friends move your stuff.

Skip paying for movers–have your friends move your stuff.

Venturing out on your own for the first time? Whether you’ve just signed the lease for your first apartment or you’re heading off for your freshman year in a college dorm, the prospect of moving into your own place can be overwhelming.

Moving into your first place means starting from scratch, and that can be expensive! There’s a lot to buy, and a lot of expenses you’ve probably never considered before (like a shower curtain and cleaning supplies). Never fear—there are plenty of ways you can make it on your own and save some dough.

1. Don’t do it all at once.
There are a few things you’ll definitely need to get through your first night in your new place—like a shower curtain and a mattress (or at least something soft to sleep on). But you don’t have to move in with everything you’ll ever need.

After spending some time in your place, you may realize that you have no need for things other people claim they can’t live without. This rule is especially true when it comes to décor. Your place doesn’t have to be fully decorated on day one, and will have a more authentic feel if you take time finding the perfect pieces to complement your space and your stuff.

You might get there and realize you already have way too much stuff, especially if you’re in a dorm. Save your parents the trouble of hauling your excess stuff back home and wait to buy furniture and other big stuff until you’ve spent some time inside the apartment or dorm you’ll actually be living in.

2. Ask for help.
Chances are your parents, grandparents or other relatives have a basement or attic full of stuff that’s perfect for your new place. Even if it’s not perfect, it’s probably going to be free (and that’s hard to beat). Most people have too much stuff, but don’t want the hassle of selling it. Let everyone know you’re moving and you’ll be amazed at how much stuff people are willing to give away to a good home..

3. Buy used.
While we don’t recommend you thrift your mattress or bath towels, not everything in your apartment needs to be brand new. Thrift stores, garage sales, and Craigslist are all excellent places to find gently used electronics, lamps, dishes and furniture.

True story: I once bought the exact same juice glasses used on Seinfeld for $10 at a thrift store. I saved money, and I have an (almost) interesting story.

If you really want to save some dough, try FreeCycle or the free section on Craigslist. People are giving away all kinds of things, and usually all you have to do is haul it.

4. Master the art of spray paint
Ok, so maybe that dresser Grandma gave you is a little ugly or it just doesn’t match the rest of your stuff. With a little colorful spray paint even the grungiest thrift store find or hand-me-down can look fabulous. If you’ve never refinished furniture before, this tutorial from Centsational Girl is perfect for beginners.

5. Do it yourself
Anything someone else can do, you can probably do for less money. Even if you’re not handy, there’s plenty you can do yourself to save some cash. Make your own coffee, cook your own food, clean your own house, bag your lunch and (gasp!) drink tap water. Make your own budget (try FinanceWorks, a free budgeting tool in Online Branch) and measure your spending before and after you start doing things for yourself. Try not to faint when you see how much money you’ve saved.

Have some other great ways to save money on the big move? Share them in the comments!

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4 fall projects to get your home ready for winter

house_fallSummer is coming to an end and it won’t be long until temperatures start to drop. Winter may still be a few months away, but it’s never too early to start preparing. The best way to have a warm and cozy winter is to start winterizing your home while the weather is still nice. These fall home-improvement projects will get you outside on the last warm days of the year, and help keep you toasty when winter finally rolls around.

$ = inexpensive
$$ = moderate
$$$ = expensive

1. Replace or seal old and drafty windows
Are there windows in your home you avoid sitting by in the winter? Do they let air in or even get frosty when the temperatures are low? If you said yes, you just found your first project. Installing new windows with multiple panes, spacers or filler gasses like argon or krypton can help keep the cold air out. If you aren’t ready to take on the cost of total window replacement, take care of just the problem areas first. Before you buy new windows, check with your energy company to see if purchasing certified energy-efficient windows will qualify for a rebate or financing assistance.
Estimated Cost: $$ – $$$

Looking for something a little easier, and a lot less expensive? Caulking and weather stripping is a good, temporary solution. Caulk any visible cracks around windows and doors and add new weather stripping. If you really want to keep the air in, seal your windows with plastic for the winter to lower energy costs and prevent drafts.
Estimated Cost: $

2.Fix exterior paint
Peeling or bubbling exterior paint is the first sign that the paint film is compromised and it can no longer protect the siding underneath. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to look into repainting the outside of your home before snow and wind damage the siding. You can do this yourself, but a professional will have all the appropriate tools and knowledge to get it done quickly and correctly.
Estimated Cost: $$$

If there are only a few trouble spots, you can do touch-ups yourself. Resealing those spots will help keep the winter weather from eating away at your paint and making the problem worse.
Estimated Cost: $$

3. Install or maintain exterior walkways
If you’ve been walking through the grass and mud all summer to get from your car to your house, now may be a good time to install a safer walkway before the snow and ice comes. Use one of the last nice weekends to install a brick walkway. It will be easier to keep snow-free come winter, and any holiday guests you might have will appreciate a safe path.
Estimated Cost: $$

Check your driveway and any existing paths or sidewalks for cracks. Filling them now will prevent the winter freeze from making them any larger.
Estimated Cost: $

4. Tune-up your furnace
Living in the Midwest, your furnace is one of the most important parts of your home come November. It’s worth the occasional visit from a professional to keep it running efficiently and prevent any catastrophic damage down the road.

Check with your energy company to see if they offer rebates for HVAC tune-ups and repairs. If your furnace needs to be replaced, you may even qualify for a significant rebate when you purchase certified energy-efficient models. Most energy companies offer free home assessments and will let you know exactly what to replace or repair, and how you can save money doing it.
Estimated Cost: $$

If you have a forced air system, changing the air filter will create a noticeable difference in air quality and will keep your furnace from overworking to push air through.
Estimated Cost: $

If your home needs a little more work than a fresh coat of paint and caulk can cover, consider a home equity loan from IHMVCU. Visit us at any branch or online at to get started.

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