Skip the waiting room

How do you fit a doctor’s appointment into your schedule when you’re getting sick, but can’t take time off work? If you’re an IHMVCU member, the answer is simple. Members now have access to a special new benefit: Telehealth.

Our Telehealth plan offers diagnosis and treatment for a variety of non-emergency health conditions anytime, anywhere. According to a recent study by the Affiliated Workers Association, as many as 70 percent of doctor visits can be handled over the phone, so there’s no need to drag yourself out of bed or take time off work to get treatment for most common health conditions.

With a just phone call or secure video chat, you can talk to a Board Certified doctor and receive prescriptions, if necessary. When your consultation is over, Telehealth will even inform your primary care physician of any prescriptions or medical advice you’re given.

Telehealth isn’t meant to replace your doctor, but it’s an easy way to save both time and money. It’s estimated that a Telehealth call can save you $100 or more compared to the cost of an in-person doctor visit. Not to mention users save two to three hours of time on average compared to a traditional doctor’s office.

Interested? IHMVCU members can enroll in Telehealth for only $9.99 a month for individuals, or $14.99 a month for families. To learn more or enroll, visit IHMVCUtelehealth.com.

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IHMVCU Newsletter – Summer 2015

Your copy of the Summer Newsletter will be arriving in mailboxes next week! cover

Featured articles:
Chip-enhanced cards: Coming to a Wallet Near You
CEO Announces Retirement
2015 Cash for Class Scholarship Winners

Click here to read the entire newsletter early.

ScholarshipsDennis

 

 

 

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Take the stress out of student loans

You just graduated from college. Now what?

Well, in addition to finding a job and a place to live, you can probably look forward to your student loans entering repayment in the next couple months.

Entering the “real world” after college can be stressful. The good news is that while paying back your loans isn’t going to be fun, it doesn’t have to be complicated. IHMVCU now offers private student loan consolidation. Students from 2 and 4 year private and public institutions whose loans have entered repayment can consolidate multiple private student loans (with one or more lenders) into a single new loan.

Consolidating with us means you can rest easy knowing you only have one monthly payment. Plus, our competitive rates could save you a lot of money in interest.

IHMVCU consolidation loans feature

  • No origination or pre-payment fees
  • Extremely competitive rates
  • Standard and graduated 15-year repayment terms
  • Online application and approval process

Federal student loans, like Stafford, Perkins and ParentPlus, are not eligible for consolidation through IHMVCU.

For full details, or to apply online, visit ihmvcu.org/studentloans.

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Last minute tips for a frugal Fourth

Throwing a party for the Fourth is a great way to get friends and family together, but if you’re not careful those party costs can stack up quickly. If you’re looking to have a festive bash without bashing your budget, we’re here to help. Check out our suggestions for frugal festivities, and share yours in the comments!

Skip expensive decorations
Fourth of July is all about outdoor fun, and usually the great outdoors is decoration enough. Instead of splurging on expensive décor that you’ll just throw away or forget about next year, get creative. Try hollowing out bell peppers as a colorful way to serve condiments, or arrange a tray of pineapple, watermelon cubes and blueberries in the shape of a flag. Edible décor is far more popular with hungry guests than fancy flag bunting.

If you absolutely must decorate, grab some miniature flags from the dollar store. You can get a flag for every guest and pay less than $20. If you’ve got some extra cardboard lying around, cut it into stars and cover it with aluminum foil. You can hang them around the yard or use them underneath bowls of fresh fruit for centerpieces.

Stick with solid-colors
It can be tempting to go crazy at the party store and buy all the star-spangled cups, plates and napkins. It’s also crazy expensive. Save some green and stick with solid red plastic plates and white napkins. It’s still patriotic, and any leftover plates can be used for Christmas or Valentine’s Day.

Make it a potluck
Having everybody bring a little something is the best way to cut costs. As the host, you should provide the bulk of the meal—like hotdogs and hamburgers to throw on the grill. Ask guests to bring buns, side dishes and desserts to round it out. It might feel like cheating, but chances are your guests will enjoy the opportunity to share their family’s top secret potato salad recipe.

Provide a cooler of waters or sodas, but ask guests to bring their own alcohol.

Do something different
If your friends and family usually get together for the local parade, mix it up and have everyone over for brunch afterwards. Eggs and bacon are an inexpensive way to feed a crowd. Plus, you’re free for the rest of the day.

If you usually go to a local park to watch the fireworks display, why not host a picnic? Meet there early enough to get a good spot and enjoy some snacks in the grass. Bring sandwiches or other finger foods and ask guests to bring a dish to share.

. . . but don’t make your own fireworks display
Seriously. This can’t be stressed enough. Fireworks are expensive and more importantly, dangerous. Host your bash before or after your community’s annual extravaganza, or provide sparklers and check out your crazy neighbor’s display instead. When the day is done, your wallet will thank you and you’ll still have all the limbs you started with.

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How to save for college

Experts estimate that the average college tuition cost for the 2014-2015 school year was $31,321 at private colleges, $9,139 for students attending a public college in their home state, and $22,958 for out-of-state residents at public universities. That’s a big price tag, and it’s likely to go up every year. Creating a plan to pay for college ahead of time will save you time, money and a lot of stress. Check out these tips to make the most of your savings plan.

Don’t sacrifice your retirement
If you plan on footing the bill for your child’s college education, don’t do it at the expense of your own retirement. There are more sources of college funding available for your kids than you’ll have for your nest egg.

If you start early enough, however, the tax benefits and flexibility of a Roth IRA can help you hit both goals. Your money will grow tax free, and you can avoid a penalty fee if you use the money for educational expenses. The maximum annual contribution limit is $5,500 if you’re under 55. If you and your spouse contribute the max over 18 years, you’ll have $198,000 in contributions alone. Assuming an 8% annual return, you’ll have over $400,000—enough to fund a college education and still have a plan for retirement.

Sound like the right plan for you? IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union can help! Click here to learn about the benefits of an IRA, or visit us at any branch.

Explore investment opportunities*
The cost of college tuition goes up every year. So in addition to starting to save early, it’s a good idea to look for the highest rate of return. According to CNN, an investment portfolio tilted toward stocks could be a great way to build savings long-term. You can adjust your investments and shelter your returns as your child gets closer to college age by switching more money into bonds and other low-risk investments.

If you’re not one to watch the stock markets, investing in mutual funds will put a professional in charge of your savings.

Read CNN Money’s “Best investments for college savings” to learn more about educational investments.

Want to know more about your investment options? Our financial advisors at IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union Investment Services will help guide your management decisions. For more information, visit ihmvcu.org/invest.

Start saving now
A modest savings is better than no savings at all. Putting away just $100 a month for 18 years will yield more than $20,000, and that’s without calculating the added interest. It may not seem like much, but that’s enough to pay for two years of in-state tuition.

If you want more of a return than a simple savings account can offer, education savings accounts (ESA) offer tax-free earnings. The two most popular options are the Coverdell Savings ESA and the 529 College Savings plan.

Coverdell accounts are similar to IRAs, with the exception that the funds must be used for qualifying educational expenses. The funds can be used for education at any level (elementary through college), but contributions can only be made to the account until the beneficiary turns 18. Like a Roth IRA, Coverdell accounts have income and contribution requirements.

529 College Savings Funds can be opened for anyone regardless of annual income or age, and there’s no contribution limit. The funds in a 529 can only be used for college expenses. This account functions similar to a mutual fund—contributions are invested into many companies and its gains/losses fluctuate with market conditions. 529 College Savings Funds are best when you have plenty of time to save.

Other options
If you’re unable to save the entire cost of four years of college, federal, state and private grants and loans can bridge the gap between your savings and the cost of school. We recommend using the “free” money, like scholarships and grants, and “cheap” low-to-no interest Federal Direct loans before looking for other sources.

If you still have a gap after using your savings, grants and federal loans, consider a student loan from IHMVCU. We offer smart, responsible student loans that won’t leave you in a mountain of debt. For more information, visit ihmvcu.org/studentloans.

Saving for college is a big deal. Though it’s best to start early, it’s certainly never too late. Visit ihmvcu.org/calculator to see how you’ll need to save to reach your goals.

Not sure what’s best for you? Visit any branch today and speak with a member of our financial services team to help you weigh your options.

 

*Our advisors are securities licensed in IA, IL, and WI. Securities offered through Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp., Member FINRA & SIPC. Securities are not are not federally-insured; are not obligations of the credit union; are not guaranteed by the credit union; involve investment risk, the value of the investment may fluctuate, the return on the investment is not guaranteed and loss of principal is possible; may be offered by a dual employee who may accept deposits on behalf of the credit union and may sell non-deposit investment products on behalf of a third-party securities broker-dealer.

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IHMVCU CEO Announces Retirement

Hall_Dennis_1214 croppedDennis Hall, President and CEO of IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union, announced his retirement today. Hall has been with the credit union for 28 years, serving as President for the past 18 years.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with a talented group of colleagues throughout my career,” said Hall. “Together, we’ve built an institution that’s improving the financial well-being of our members and returning value to those who need it most.”

During his tenure, the credit union grew from $200 million in assets and 25,000 members to nearly $1 billion in assets, more than 110,000 members, and 17 locations. Hall was recently inducted into the CEO Hall of Fame by the Illinois Credit Union League.

Hall was also named Executive of the Year in 2005 by the CUES (Credit Union Executive Society) Illinois Council. He served as League President from 2010-2012, and has been active in legislative committees, the Illinois Quad Cities Chapter of Credit Unions, Junior Achievement and United Way. In 2013, IHMVCU and Hall were awarded the Better Business Bureau Integrity Award.

“Credit Unions were founded on the philosophy of ‘People helping People’. Throughout his career, Dennis has lived that motto. He has shared his knowledge and expertise with credit unions throughout the region, regardless of their asset size,” said Connie Adkison, President of Moline Municipal Credit Union. “It’s been my pleasure to know and work with him. I look forward to the next chapter at IHMVCU.”

Moving Forward
Laufenberg_Brian 0415IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union Board of Directors elected Brian Laufenberg as the new CEO. He will continue to serve as Executive Vice President of Support and COO in the interim.

“On behalf of the board of directors, we’d like to congratulate Dennis on his retirement and recognize his many contributions to the credit union. When we started the search for his successor, we didn’t need to go far. The board feels that Brian will continue to lead the credit union in fulfilling our mission,” said Megan Early, Chairperson of IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union.

Laufenberg has been with IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union for 10 years, and has worked in the financial industry for 32 years. He’s a Certified Credit Union Executive (CCUE) and recently completed the CUES CEO Institute. Previously he served as Vice President of Finance for Ascentra Credit Union.

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Checklist for first time home buyers

family_new_home_smallSpring is here and home buying season is in full bloom. If you’re planning to buy a new home this year, it’s important to get your finances organized and know what you can afford. Here’s a checklist to get you started:

Pay down your debt. Check your credit score and look over your credit report. You’ll have trouble getting a loan with a good interest rate if you have a bad credit score or a loan period if your debt-to-income ratio is too high. Before you do anything else, focus on paying down your credit cards and paying your bills on time.

Save a down payment. Most lenders prefer a down payment of at least 20 percent of a home’s total purchase price. While it’s possible to get a loan with a more modest down payment, anything less than 20 percent usually requires private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI is usually about 1 to 2 percent of the loan value split over monthly payments. For example, on a $100,000 home, that equates to almost $1,000 a year or $83.33 a month—assuming a 1 percent PMI fee. Moreover, PMI only protects the lender if the loan goes into default and has no benefit for the borrower. So while saving 20 percent may seem cumbersome, there are plenty of reasons to avoid paying PMI if you can.

Fine-tune your budget. There are more expenses involved with homeownership than just mortgage and insurance. What about home owner’s association fees or property taxes? If you’re renting now and your new home is going to be bigger, your utility expense will likely be bigger too. Don’t forget about maintenance and upkeep! Do you own a mower and other yard equipment? What if your water heater or furnace breaks? These other expenses can add up pretty quickly.

Calculate your existing expenses, and then find an amount you’ll be comfortable paying each month that won’t put you under too much strain. If you plan on living in this house long term, it’s important to consider an amount you can afford to pay should you be unable to work for any reason in the future. Visit ihmvcu.org/calculator to see how much your monthly payment might be including expenses like taxes, HOA and more.

Gather paperwork. There’s quite a bit of paperwork your future mortgage lender may want to see once you start your funding process. Get ready by gathering together your federal income tax records, recent paycheck stubs, copies of checks for rent or utility payments, credit card and student loan information. Save yourself some time and stress by going into the process well organized and prepared.

Not sure what documents you need? Check out our Mortgage Document Checklist.

Get preapproved. Preliminary mortgage approval is an essential step in the home buying process. Real estate agents and sellers want proof that you’ll be able to secure a mortgage before you start viewing properties. As a buyer, preapproval lets you know your buying power and calculate potential costs and payments. While preapproval is a good guideline, remember that just because you’re preapproved for a large amount doesn’t mean it will fit into your budget. Use our home affordability calculator to see how much home you can afford.

Find your neighborhood. You may know the general area you want to live in, like the north side or close to the river, but it helps to really drill into a neighborhood. Home prices vary based on proximity to schools, shopping and other amenities. Make sure you’re aware how much house your money will get you in your favorite neighborhood.

Ready to get started? Visit ihmvcu.org/starthere to fill out an application, contact a mortgage loan officer, and find out why IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union is a smart choice for your mortgage loan. Start with us and we’ll be with you every step of the way, because at You’re Worth More at IH Mississippi Valley Credit Union.

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IHMVCU Newsletter – Spring 2015

Your copy of Newsletter_Coverthe Spring Newsletter will be arriving in your mailbox next week!

Featured Articles:
Now Open in Kewanee
Are Your Ducks in a Row?
Your 2015 Member Advantages

Click here to read the entire newsletter early.

Newsletter_Kewanee Newsletter_Bob Newsletter_MA

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Tax tips for the eleventh hour

Close up of tax form on desktopTaxes are due Wed., April 15. For those of you who just double checked your calendar—yes, that’s next week. If you haven’t filed your taxes, here are some last minute dos and don’ts to help you get the most out of your refund.

DO: Plan your time wisely. You only have a week left, and rushing through the process will make it easier to overlook important elements of your return. Pick a day and time to get your taxes done and stick to it. Get all your essential tax documents together, like W-2s and 1099s. Best practice is to use a copy of last year’s return to help you get your records together.

Lower your tax liability. There’s still time to reduce your tax liability for 2014, albeit not much. Making a contribution to a traditional IRA will reduce your gross income, potentially lower the amount you owe the IRS and increase your refund. Plus, you’re putting money away for retirement, and that’s never a bad thing.

Be on the lookout for life changes. Make the most of tax time by being aware of life changes that will drive new tax benefits, like marriage, divorce, adopting a child or taking care of a dependent parent. There are plenty more, too. So take some time to figure out what changes have happened in your life that may reduce your tax burden.

File electronically. E-filing is the fastest, safest and most accurate way to file your taxes. It’s free with IRS free-file system, a tax software purchase, or with most professionals.

Don’t:

Overlook income. Even if you didn’t get a W-2 or 1099 from an employer, you’re still required to claim that income. Last-minute filers often forget to claim some type of income, and the IRS can catch it pretty easily.

Forget to double check numbers and sign. According to the IRS, one of the most common tax mistakes is an incorrect Social Security number. Before you file, double check you haven’t transposed any numbers. Make sure you’ve entered bank account information accurately if you’re opting to receive your refund as a direct deposit.

Your return isn’t valid if it isn’t signed, so make sure you and your spouse have signed if you’re filing jointly.

Get a pre-paid debit card. If you qualify for a refund, opt for direct deposit. Pre-paid debit cards often come with a lot of unexpected fees for things like activation, transactions, and customer service. Some national tax preparation companies may offer an option to receive your refund faster with a prepaid card, but you’ll get more in the long run by waiting.

If you waited to file your taxes because you have no idea what to do, or you’re truly overwhelmed, you’ll benefit from finding a good preparer. It’s better to get help than get audited. If you’ve already filed and you’re afraid you may have missed something, many tax preparers will review your return for free.

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