Spring break staycation ideas for the whole family

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While it might be nice to escape the cold and snow this month with a spring break getaway, the cost of hotel rooms and plane tickets for the whole family can quickly eat away at your budget.

If staying home is a more realistic option for you and your family, check out these tips for a fun spring break “staycation.” You’ll have so much fun you won’t even notice the cold.

…Okay maybe that’s a stretch, but it might take your mind off it for a while!

Be a tourist in your home town
Whether you’ve lived in your hometown your whole life or just moved in, you probably haven’t experienced all there is to do. Check out a new exhibit at a local museum, catch a local artist performing at your favorite coffee shop, or visit that new restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. Plan it the same way you would if you were out of town—learn as much as you can about what your city has to offer and have your family help plan the day. If your town doesn’t have much in the way of adventure, plan a day trip and discover a fun new place nearby.

Movie marathon
When’s the last time you watched the entire Star Wars saga? A movie marathon is the perfect staycation activity when it’s too cold outside. Spend the whole day (or evening) in your pajamas or comfy clothes, and relax at home. It’s a great way to share your favorite movies with your kids, or check out new releases. If your family is older, consider seeing all those Oscar movies you missed. Order pizza, pop some popcorn, and snuggle up.

Organize a scavenger hunt
Depending on how old your kids are and how many adult chaperones you have, a scavenger hunt can be as small as your own backyard, or as big as your entire town. Hide goodies for your family to find, then hand out clues and maps. Make the clues as hard or as easy as you want. You can even write them as poems or puzzles and make it a learning activity by including historical fiction and easy math problems.

Go geocaching
The official geocaching website describes this free activity as “a real-life treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices.” Use a specific set of GPS coordinates to find hidden objects in your area, and maybe see some cool new sights along the way. Geocaches are hidden world-wide, so there’s bound to be something for you and your family to find. Visit geocaching.com to learn more.

Have an outdoor adventure
If it’s not too cold, go hiking or exploring at a state park or forest preserve near you. Pack a lunch, bring the camera, and make a day of it. If there’s snow on the ground, try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. If you don’t own equipment, parks or local businesses may have equipment available for rent.

Take advantage of member discounts
IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union members get exclusive discounts to local events and attractions for the whole family. Use your staycation to take advantage of buy-one-get-one free admission to QC Mallards home games and the Putnam Museum and Science Center. Starting in April, your membership gets you buy-one-get-one free admission to the Family Museum, too. Visit ihmvcu.org/memberdiscounts to find out more.

No matter what you end up doing with your time, it will feel more like a vacation if you treat it like one. Block off your calendar like you would if you were going on a real vacation, avoid the urge to do housework, and enjoy time with your family.

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Know the difference between good and bad debt

Most of us can’t afford to live entirely debt free, but not all debt is the same. While some types of debt can actually be beneficial, others can be dangerous. Before you borrow money, it’s good to know the difference between “good” debt and “bad” debt. In general, “good” debt will create value over time. “Good” debt is often tax deductible, and your purchase should appreciate, or produce more wealth. Any debt that you accrue for things that have no potential to increase in value is “bad” debt.

Mortgages
It’s not likely that you can afford to purchase a home in cash, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t own a home. If you plan carefully and only borrow what you can afford to pay back, a home can be an excellent example of “good” debt. Your purchase will likely appreciate, especially if you make any renovations or improvements to the property. Plus, any interest paid may be tax deductible, talk to your tax advisor for details.

Student Loans
People with college degrees or education in a skilled trade tend to make more money in a lifetime than those who stop at high school. An investment in a college degree or skilled-trade school is likely to pay for itself within the first few years after a student enters the work force. As with all debt, it’s important that you don’t borrow more than you really need or student loans can quickly become “bad” debt. Experts recommend borrowing no more than what you expect to make in the first year of employment after graduation.

Business Loans
In this case the saying “it takes money to make money” is certainly true. You need a little capital to begin a new business or expand an already successful one. However, business loans are only “good” debt if you borrow reasonably and have a clear plan to generate more business or income.

Credit Cards
Credit cards are often used to purchase wants rather than needs, and the ease of use can have debt piling up faster than we realize. If you’re purchasing things like clothing, food or vacations with a credit card and not paying off the balance in full each month, you’re looking at “bad” debt. You’re charged interest every time you make a partial payment. The items you purchased are likely continuing to lose value, but the price you paid for them keeps increasing. Beware of credit card gimmicks that lure you in with introductory rates that will likely skyrocket later.

Car loans
While you probably need a car to get to work and run all of life’s other errands, you don’t have to go broke to get one. Most new cars depreciate quickly, sometimes as much as 20% in the first year. If you buy more car than you can afford, you may end up with a loan balance higher than what your car is actually worth. If you take out a loan, think about purchasing a pre-owned car. Look for a loan with a competitive interest rate and consider paying an extra $25-50 per month so you can pay it off more quickly.

Are you struggling with some bad debt? IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union offers smart student loans, competitive auto and mortgage rates, and gimmick-free credit cards to help keep you on the right track. Visit us at any branch today! We’re here to help.

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Supercharge Your Retirement: Fees and Rollovers

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If you’re nearing retirement or switching jobs, you may be faced with the decision to leave your nest egg in your employer provided retirement plan, take a distribution, or roll it over to an IRA.

If you plan to leave your money in your employer plan, it might cost you. Fees for record keeping and plan management are often subtracted before your annual return is calculated, or even not explicitly listed. Experts say about 1% is reasonable, so check with your plan administrator to find out exactly how much you’re paying.

Rolling over to an IRA certificate is a great way to keep your tax benefits intact without the added fees associated with some plans. Whether you choose the upfront tax advantages of a traditional IRA or the tax-free growth of a Roth IRA, you’ll be keeping more of your money.

IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union wants to help supercharge your retirement with special rates on IRA certificates. For a limited time, you can earn 0.90% APY on a nine-month IRA certificate, or 1.46% APY on a 26 month IRA certificate*.

If you’re ready to roll your accounts over or need more information, visit us at any branch. We’ll help you get the most out of your retirement, because You’re Worth More at IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union.

*APY = Annual Percentage Yield. Rates accurate as of 01/21/15. $500 min. balance. Early withdrawal penalties apply. Rate does not apply to existing IHMVCU certificates or IRA certificates. Other rates and terms available. Federally Insured by NCUA.

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Host a winning Super Bowl party without losing your budget

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If you’re anything like us, you probably aren’t traveling to Phoenix for the big game this Sunday. Though watching the game from home is cheaper than being in the stands, hosting a party can still be pretty pricey—it’s estimated that Americans spend around $11 billion dollars on Super Bowl Sunday. IHMVCU wants to help keep your party from breaking the bank. Here are some tips to throw a party that’s fun for your friends and friendly for your wallet!

Food
Super Bowl parties are casual by nature, so it’s okay to ask guests to contribute to the spread. If you’re tired of the usual potluck, consider a baked potato bar. A big bag of potatoes costs around $4 and you can easily prepare enough for a crowd in the slow cooker. Just wrap the potatoes in foil and cook on low for 8 – 10 hours. Have guests bring their favorite potato toppings, like cheese, broccoli, and crumbled bacon. Spice it up by making a large batch of chili for around $1 per serving.

Save even more by using any leftovers in your menu for the next week. Strip the meat from chicken wings to make tacos or enchiladas. You can even crush leftover potato chips to make a crunchy coating for fried chicken. If your guests left a few unopened beers lying around, try using it to braise a roast. Craft beers especially have enough flavor to liven up even the cheapest cuts of meat.

Drinks
If you’re asking your guests to bring food, you may want to provide some of the drinks. Use coupons to buy two-liter bottles of soda and mixers if your guests might need them. Instead of shelling out cash on bottled waters, make your own flavored waters. Try adding sliced cucumber, lime, and mint leaves to a large pitcher of water. It’s easy and refreshing.

Alcohol is arguably the most expensive part of any party. Since people’s tastes and drinking habits vary, have guests bring their own alcohol. Have some fun by asking beer drinkers to bring enough of their favorite brew to share and do a swap.

Decorations
Your guests are probably more concerned with the score than your décor, so don’t go all out. Instead of decking out the living room, try decking out your friends. Ask guests wear their team’s colors and make face paint with stuff from your pantry. All you need is cold cream, corn starch, and food coloring. Easy directions here.

What are some of your favorite money-saving party tips?

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Supercharge Your Retirement

IRA_headerWhether you plan to work for three more years or 30, it’s important to have a plan for your future. Even if you have a 401(k) or another tax-advantaged savings plan through work, IRA certificates can benefit your retirement portfolio. They combine the fixed-rate of traditional certificates with the tax benefits of an IRA. Whether you go with a Roth IRA that provides tax-free growth or the upfront advantages of a traditional IRA, you keep more of your retirement money and put less into Uncle Sam’s pocket.

IRA certificates are low risk when compared to other retirement investments. Unlike stocks and bonds, your deposit is federally insured so it grows safely no matter what happens in the market. Plus, your rate of return is guaranteed over the term of your deposit, making it easy to plan around your income.

You work hard for your money, and you deserve to enjoy it. IHMVCU wants to supercharge your retirement by offering special rates on IRA certificates. For a limited time, you can earn 0.90% APY on a nine month IRA certificate, or 1.46% APY on a 26 month IRA certificate*.

If you’re ready to open an IRA or need more information, come visit us at any branch. No matter where you are on your financial journey – You’re Worth More at IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union.

*APY = Annual Percentage Yield. Rates accurate as of 01/21/15. $500 min. balance. Early withdrawal penalties apply. Rate does not apply to existing IHMVCU certificates or IRA certificates. Other rates and terms available. Federally Insured by NCUA.
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IHMVCU Newsletter – Winter 2015

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

Featured Articles:cover
Estate Planning Seminar
Tax Tips
Cash for Class Scholarship
Supercharge your Retirement

Click here to read the entire newsletter early.

 

 

 

FCT_seminar  tax_tips scholarship  IRA

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IHMVCU wants to give you Cash for Class

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Overwhelmed by the idea of paying for you or your family’s college education? Don’t panic! Let IHMVCU help.

We recommend the “Free, Cheap, Gap” approach to paying for college. Utilize free student aid, like scholarships and grants, and cheap low-to-no interest Federal Direct Loans before looking for other sources. The gap is what’s left once scholarships, grants, and government loans have been awarded.

Free Money
Need help finding scholarships? IHMVCU is giving away $26,000 in Cash for Class scholarships to members who excel in school and their communities. Members in every area we serve are eligible to apply. We award $1,000 scholarships to nine students in the Quad Cities area, and two each in Galesburg, Monmouth, Prophetstown and Kewanee, Ill., and Burlington and DeWitt, Iowa.

We also offer two scholarships for family members of IHMVCU employees and board members, two for members and/or employees of the Boys and Girls Club of the Mississippi Valley, and one to a current or incoming student at Carl Sandburg College in Galesburg.

We’re accepting applications now through Feb 27!

To find out more about how IHMVCU can help pay for your family’s education or to apply for the Cash for Class scholarship visit ihmvcu.org/scholarships.

Filling the Gap
After the free and cheap money is used, consider a student loan from IHMVCU to help pay for the rest. Our student loans are different than other private loans because they’re based on a line of credit, allowing members to apply once for their entire undergraduate career at a four-year institution. Loan amounts are certified by the school and limited to your cost of attendance after other aid is applied, so you’ll never borrow more than you need.

Plus, with no origination fees or prepayment penalties, you get a smart, responsible student loan that won’t leave you in a mountain of debt.

For more information about how we can help you fill the gap visit ihmvcu.org/studentloans.

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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, but a 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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