Waging War Against Porch Pirates

front door with christmas wreath and packages

Ahoy, mateys!

Holiday shopping season is upon us and your (not-so) friendly neighborhood porch pirates are gearing up to pilfer the holiday treasures being delivered to your doorstep.

We’ve all seen the familiar footage from a home security camera: a fish-eye view of a home’s front porch sporting a stack of smiling Amazon Prime boxes. An unexpected car pulls up. A stranger approaches the cardboard booty. He or she looks to the left, looks to the right, scoops up the bounty and runs back to the car, ruining the holidays for everyone.

The holiday season can be stressful enough with arranging travel or hosting overnight guests; baking; cleaning; shopping and wrapping gifts. You don’t need the extra burden of some crooks stealing your joy and peace of mind.

Here are some ways you can conquer the porch pirates and lay claim to the best holiday ever.

Have your packages delivered elsewhere

If you have the luxury of being able to have your packages delivered to your office, this is one of the best options. As a bonus, you can easily hide the gifts from your family.

If this isn’t an option, have your orders shipped to a neighbor or family member who is home during the day.

FedEx packages can be picked up at one of their offices or a local participating Walgreens location.

UPS packages can be received at a local UPS Store, CVS or Michael’s stores or you can arrange to have them delivered on a day when you are home.

Let the delivery person in

Most respondents to a recent PCMag survey of 1,500 people said they are willing to spend an average of $110.86 on home protection gadgets. A total of 28 percent said they have a security camera, 25 percent have a video doorbell,and 17 percent have a smart lock.

Smart locks allow you to unlock your door from your smartphone or computer. Video allows you to see who is at your door. You can instruct delivery people on where to drop the packages and then lock up after they leave.

Smart locks range in price from $100-$300, which is worth it if your family is safe and happy.

Have packages delivered to your car

Key by Amazon allows Amazon Prime members to have their packages left in their home, garage or even their cars.

Download the app to have your items shipped to your car within hours. Check the app or website to see if your product, vehicle and address of the vehicle are eligible for delivery. Pick a delivery time and you’re set. You will receive notification of when your package is out for delivery and when the driver is en route.

According to the Amazon website, “Key In-Car Delivery is available with select makes and models. It is available with model year 2015 and newer Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC and Volvo vehicles and requires an active connected car service plan, such as OnStar and On Call.”

Key In-Car Delivery is available on tens of millions of Amazon items and works with Same-Day, One-Day, Two-Day and Standard Shipping. They cannot deliver heavy or bulky items weighing more than 50 pounds.

Track your packages

If high-tech gadgets aren’t your thing, simply use your low-tech skills to track your packages. UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, Amazon and FedEx all offer tracking online.

Sign up for USPS Informed Delivery to automatically get a daily email containing scans of the mail being delivered and tracking numbers of expected packages.

UPS offers the My Choice program. and FedEx’s Delivery Manager also helps keep track of deliveries.

Tracking information for Amazon packages can be found in your order details.

Your special deliveries are at risk, and the porch pirates are sure to be marking their spots of opportunity this holiday season. Use these tips from Mutual Credit Union, and ensure your gifts are received by those you intend.

Your turn: How do you do battle with the scourge of porch piracy? Let us know in the comments.

5 Ways To Save On Winter Heating Costs

thermostat

 

  1. Heat Selectively – To avoid paying for unused heat in rooms that aren’t regularly used, shut the doors and close the vents in those rooms.
  2. Trap the Sunlight – Open your curtains when you’ve got sunlight exposure, and then close them when the angle of the sun changes. This allows you to trap the solar heat inside your home.
  3. Plug up Holes – Seal up all holes near windows, doors and the chimney to help keep the heat in and the cold out.
  4. Digitize Your Heating System – Use a programmable digital thermostat to automatically adjust the temperature in your home according to your family’s schedule and habits.
  5. Maintain Your Heating System – Check for proper airflow throughout your heating system and clear any blockages that you find.

 

Your Turn: How do you keep warm when the weather’s cold? Ugly sweaters? Visualizing a beach? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

8 Ways To Beat Holiday Stress

holiday-stress

‘Tis the season to be merry-except sometimes, it’s not.

If you tend to feel stressed when the holidays roll around, here are eight tips to help turn that frown upside down.

1. Watch the buck

Nothing kills holiday cheer like a mountain of debt. Stick to a budget when doing your holiday shopping, and only spend what you can afford. Be extra careful not to overspend as the holidays draw near, and you’re feeling the pressure to finish your shopping in time.

2. Give back

According to the American Psychological Association, one of the best ways to reduce stress is to give back to the community.

Beat the stress by sharing holiday cheer with those who are less fortunate. You can bring some toys to the local hospital to brighten up a sick child’s holiday, volunteer at a soup kitchen or visit a nursing home and put a smile on the residents’ faces.

3. Stick to a schedule

Lack of quality sleep can make stress levels soar. You don’t need to follow your regular routine over the holidays, but it’s a good idea to keep some sort of schedule. Make sure you’re getting enough shut-eye, and if a physical workout is part of your daily routine, don’t neglect it over the holidays.

4. Party smart

If you like to party, you can end up getting sick over the holidays. Do yourself a favor this year and watch what you imbibe. Enjoy a glass or two of your favorite alcoholic beverage, but try to keep the drinking to a minimum. Similarly, it’s OK to break your diet over Christmas, but it’s best not to go overboard.

5. Delegate

If you’re hosting a large crowd this Christmas, all the extra work can bring your stress levels through the roof. Here’s the good news: You don’t have to do it all! There’s nothing wrong and there’s everything right with asking for help.

6. Take some “me” time

“Me” time is important, and in the chaos of the holidays, this need is often neglected. Consider getting a manicure, taking a solitary half-hour walk, or just locking yourself in your room for some peace and quiet. You’re not being an antisocial snob if you need your “me” time; you’re just being human.

7. Give up the guilt

If you tend to overanalyze every interaction you have with family and friends, you can really beat yourself up over the holidays, questioning everything you’ve said. Try to let go this season and give yourself a break.

8. Lower your expectations

A common cause for holiday stress is unrealistic expectations. It’s best not to build huge castles in the air and to keep your expectations to a minimum. If you don’t expect perfection, you won’t be struggling with mountains of disappointment this holiday.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful holiday season stress-free from all of us here at Mutual Credit Union!

 

Your Turn: How do you beat the holiday stress? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

What Is The Prime Rate And Why Does It Matter?

A bank manager and customer look at interest rates

Q: What is the prime rate and why does it matter?

A: The prime rate, or prime, is the current interest rate that financial institutions in the U.S. charge their best customers.

We have answers for all your questions on the prime rate.

How is the prime rate determined?

First, the Federal Reserve System, which is the central bank of the United States, sets the federal funds target rate, or the interest rate, it thinks is best for financial institutions to use when lending each other money. When financial institutions lend each other money, they base their interest rates on the federal funds target rate. The Wall Street Journal then surveys the country’s largest financial institutions to determine the rate they are using and then publishes it as the prime rate. This number is generally 3 percent higher than the federal funds target rate.

The fed’s target rate, and consequently prime, changes often. The committee who sets the federal funds target rate meets a minimum of eight times a year to discuss possibly changing the rate. You can check out the changes in the prime rate at Federalreserve.gov.

How does the prime rate affect the individual?

First, the interest rate on nearly every loan is affected by the prime rate. Financial institutions and large lenders will base their interest rates on the prime rate, generally establishing their current rates at an amount that is higher than the prime. If the prime rises, the interest rate on your loans and adjustable-rate credit cards rises as well.

Second, the prime rate affects liquidity in the financial markets. When the rate is low, liquidity increases. This means funds are more readily available because loans are less expensive and easier to qualify for. This, in turn, generates a growing economy as businesses expand.

Is the prime rate the only factor used to determine individual interest rates?

While the prime is the starting point used to determine an interest rate on a loan, it is by no means the only factor considered.

Your credit score plays a vital role in the interest rate you’ll be granted for a loan. The higher your score, the lower the interest rate you’ll earn. Keep your score high by using your cards sparingly and paying your credit card bills on time.

Here at Mutual Credit Union, we also consider the general state of your finances when determining your interest rate on a loan. If we see that you’re working toward paying down your debts, we’ll be more likely to grant you a favorable interest rate.

Also, as an institution devoted to your success, we are always striving to help you maintain financial wellness.

Your Turn: How do you keep your credit score high and your interest rates low? Share your best tips with us in the comments.

6 Misleading Advertising Ploys To Beware Of This Black Friday

ARTICLE-misleading-advertising

Here at Mutual Credit Union, we hate seeing your money go to waste, so we’ve put together a list of misleading advertising you may encounter when hunting for deals this Black Friday.
1. Very limited quantities
That $200-off supersized TV on the front page of the big-box circular that landed in your mailbox looks like an incredible deal-until you show up at the store on Black Friday and find it’s sold out. Of course, no deal lasts forever, but when a store that’s only been open for the day a few hours, claims it’s run out of an item, you can assume it only stocked a limited quantity.
When checking out the ads for Black Friday, look for an “In-Stock Guarantee” or a “1-hour In-Stock Guarantee.” This will allow you to get a rain check for a sold-out item as long as you show up on Black Friday, or in the case of the 1-hour guarantee, as long as you show up within the first hour of opening.
2. No discount
In this ploy, retailers deceive shoppers into thinking a product is on sale. They’ll list an item in a Black Friday circular so you’ll assume it’s being offered at a discount when it’s actually being sold at regular price. Do a quick check of an item’s standard selling price before running out to buy it on Black Friday.
3. Full price with a store gift card
At first glance, a regular-priced item that comes with a store gift card can seem like a fantastic deal; however, some research might reveal this product is being sold elsewhere on Black Friday for less. Also, if you’re not a regular customer at this store, you may end up blowing that gift card on stuff you don’t need.
4. Sales based on a dishonest manufacturer’s price
When retailers advertise their sales, they’ll often post the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, or MSRP, for customers to compare. However, this value can be theoretical at best and simply dishonest at worst. If the item was never actually sold at the listed MSRP, the number is essentially meaningless.
Avoid getting pulled in by this deceptive advertising ploy by checking out an item’s retail price online.
5. Stripped-down or downgraded versions
When shopping for computers and TVs, read up on every feature offered with the product. A common Black Friday ruse is to advertise a discounted item, which offers the very minimum in features and accessories. These “add-ons” are often essential features whose lack can make the device almost useless until you buy them.
Your Turn: Have you ever been taken in by a misleading ad? Tell us about it in the comments.

Word of the Month: Interest

boat ride with godparents

“Wow, Grandma! This is awesome!” Sean exclaimed as he toured his grandmother’s new boat.

With delight in his eyes, he admired what he was seeing. It was big. And it was beautiful.

Sean and Grandma sat down on the upholstered bench at the back of the boat and watched the passing waves.

“You know, Grandma,” Sean said after a while, “this must have cost a whole lot of money.”

Grandma laughed. “Well, yes and no,” she said.

“What does that mean?” asked Sean.

“Well, it did cost a lot of money, but because I saved up for it over time it wasn’t so hard. It was just a little bit at a time.”

Sean thought about this. It still sounded tough to save up so much money.

“Plus,” Grandma went on, “my saved money also earned interest, so it took even less time than I expected.”

“Interest?” asked Sean. “What’s interest?”

“Interest,” Grandma said, “which is actually referred to as ‘dividends’ by the credit union, is money that my savings earns while it’s in the account. It’s what helps my savings grow without any extra work on my part.”

“The money earns? For doing what?”

“For doing nothing!” Grandma laughed. “My credit union uses my money to loan money to my fellow members of the credit union so they can buy cars, homes and cover expenses for many other needs. Then, the credit union pays me some of those earnings since the money in my account allowed them to do that. It’s sort of a reward for saving money. You get it?”

“I’m not sure,” Sean said slowly. “Would this work for me, too? How much money do I need to save in order to earn interest?”

“Not a lot at all,” said Grandma. She sat quietly, looking out into the ocean. “I’ll tell you what,” she said after a minute. “How about I teach you about savings and interest by acting like your credit union?”

“What do you mean?” Sean asked.

“I’ll give you an extra dollar for every $10 you save over the next six months,” said Grandma. “That’s a great interest rate-10 percent! Do we have a deal?”

Sean smiled. This sounded cool. “Deal!” he said.

He was excited for the challenge. How much would he be able to save?

***

At first, saving some of his allowance money was easy for Sean. He put away a little at a time, a dollar here, two dollars there. It was just like Grandma had said she had done when saving up for her boat. This way, it wasn’t too hard for Sean to reach his first $10, and then his second and third. Soon, Sean had $40 saved up in a little glass jar at the edge of his desk.

But then came Sean’s birthday. His parents threw him an awesome Star Wars-themed party and all his friends and relatives came to celebrate along with him. His friends gave him presents, but most of his relatives gave him cash gifts.

When the party was over and everyone had gone home, Sean counted up his birthday money. He had gotten $250 in cash! Sean had never had so much of his own money in his life. He was thrilled! Now he’d be able to buy a few new Wii games, a new football and all the pizza he wanted. This was the best birthday ever!

But then Sean saw the little glass jar on the edge of his desk and the pile of money inside. He remembered Grandma’s boat and all she’d said about earning interest. He had $290 saved up already. With Grandma’s interest, that would be $329! And he would be making all of that money, just for holding onto his birthday money a little bit longer.

There were still five full weeks until the six months would be up and Grandma would pay him the interest he’d earned. But he really wanted to buy something with his birthday money. Could he wait that long?

After thinking about it, Sean decided to buy a new football for $25 and put the rest of his money away until the six months were up. He’d also continue saving as much money as he could.

It wasn’t easy to hold onto that money, but Sean knew it would all be worth it in the end.

And it was. When Grandma came to visit after the six months were up, she asked Sean how much money he’d managed to save. Sean told her he had $270. When Grandma handed over the $27 he’d earned, he knew he had made the right choice.

Talking points:

  • Why do you think Grandma offered to reward Sean for his savings?
  • Why do credit unions offer interest/dividends on savings?
  • In your opinion, is it more important to have an account that offers greater convenience or a higher rate?

Word Of The Month: HELOC

People painting house

Life at the Richards’ house had gotten really busy since the twins’ arrival-and really noisy. At first, Trish and Adam were delighted with the action. They loved their twin baby siblings and each day, they snapped dozens of pictures of the tiny infants to post on their Facebook and Instagram pages and show to their friends. They were the proudest older siblings ever.

But after a few weeks, the constant crying and the baby paraphernalia scattered all over the house began getting on their nerves.

One day, Adam stumbled down to the kitchen for breakfast, bleary-eyed and grumpy.

“Those twins,” he groaned. “They kept me up all night!”

Mrs. Richards looked at him while rocking one of the twins. “They kept you up?” she laughed. “I didn’t see you getting up for the four o’clock feeding!”

“Or the two o’clock feeding, for that matter,” a tired-looking Mr. Richards chimed in. “Come to think of it, I didn’t see you at the six o’clock feeding either.”

Adam fell into a seat and flung his head down on the table. “Well, they woke me up. Again and again and again. Why do they need to cry every time they eat? And so loudly!”

“You’re complaining? I didn’t sleep a wink!” Trish announced, shuffling into the kitchen. “I heard them crying all night long!”

“I don’t know how I’m going to stay awake in class today,” Adam grumbled.

“Me neither,” Trish said. “Can’t me and Adam move to the basement?”

Adam brightened. “Yeah. Then we won’t hear those annoying babies all night!”

Right on cue, the baby in Mrs. Richards’ arms started howling. Adam and Trish covered their ears and winced. Mrs. Richards stuck the baby’s pacifier into her mouth and rocked her.

“You know, we’d need to finish fixing up the basement if you guys want to sleep there,” Mr. Richards said thoughtfully.

“Oh, can we? Can we please?” Trish and Adam begged.

Mr. and Mrs. Richards shared a long look.

“We’ll see,” Mrs. Richards said after a while. “It isn’t fair for the two of you to be woken up by the twins night after night.And the basement may be the perfect solution. But it’s going to cost a lot of money to finish it, so we need to figure out if we can swing it.”

“It would be nice to have a little more living space around here.” Mr. Richards said thoughtfully. “You know what? Today’s my last day of paternity leave-maybe Mom and I can work something out while you two are at school,” Mr. Richards said. “We’ll talk about this later.”

***

When Adam and Trish came home that afternoon, their parents were waiting for them at the kitchen table with big smiles on their faces.

“Guess what?” Mrs. Richards said. “We’re going to be fixing up the basement soon and you guys can both move down there!”

Adam and Trish whooped and shared high-fives.

“When can we move?”

“Can I paint my new room with chalkboard paint?”

“Can I have a sleepover next weekend?”

Mr. Richards held up his hands. “Hey, slow down there! Nothing’s happening just yet! We’ll discuss all the details when they become relevant.”

“What happened today, Mom? Dad?” Trish asked curiously.

“Yeah, did you guys win the lottery?” Adam grinned.

“Not quite,” said Mr. Richards. “We actually took a trip to the credit union today.”

“That’s right,” said Mrs. Richards. “And we opened up a HELOC.”

“A what?” Adam and Trish chorused.

“A HELOC,” Mr. Richards said calmly. “Or a home equity line of credit. It’s an open line of credit we now have against our house’s equity.”

“Can you say that again in English?” Adam asked.

Mrs. Richards laughed. “Sure. That means the credit union allows us to borrow money we need for renovations. This is called a line of credit, meaning we can withdraw the money we need, when we need it. And then we pay it back, just a little bit at a time.”

“And it’s against-what was that you said?” Trish wrinkled her eyebrows.

“Our home’s equity,” Mr. Richards explained. “That means the credit is secured by the value of our home. It’s serving as collateral, or a guarantee, that we won’t default on the loan and neglect to pay it back.”

Adam and Trish were quiet as they processed this information.

“Cool,” Trish said after a while. “Now we can afford to finish the basement.”

“Yeah!” Adam cheered. “And we get to sleep without the twins screaming their heads off right near our rooms!”

The baby monitor chose that moment to start crackling-and soon the sound of an infant’s howling shattered the calm in the kitchen.

Mr. Richards stood up to go fetch the crying baby from upstairs, but before he went, Adam and Trish stopped him.

“Thank you, Mom and Dad,” they said together. “This is awesome news!”

“Don’t thank us,” Mrs. Richards smiled. “Thank the credit union!”

Talking points:

  • A HELOC is an open line of credit that allows the borrower to withdraw money as needed, and a HEL (home equity loan) is a loan that the borrower receives in one lump sum. Which do you think is the smarter choice when funding a home renovation?
  • How is taking out a HELOC different than using a credit card?
  • Why do you think some people make improvements on their home before they sell their house?

Why You Should Finance Your Next Car Loan At Your Credit Union

new car loan

When shopping for a new set of wheels, your first stop should be right here, at Mutual Credit Union. Though many people start their process on the dealer’s lot, you’ll enjoy a lower rate, a simpler loan application and other benefits by choosing to finance your car with your credit union.

This is why people are increasingly choosing to finance their cars directly through credit unions. In fact, auto loans comprise more than a third of all the active loans across the 5,600 credit unions in the U.S.

Let’s take a look at the differences in the auto loan process at a car dealership versus Mutual Credit Union.

Financing an auto purchase at a car dealership

When you visit a dealer’s lot with the intention of purchasing a car, the dealer will likely ask you how much you’re willing to spend on your vehicle of choice. You may have already worked out your numbers, or, you may just have a vague idea of how much you can realistically afford. Either way, the dealer will probably try persuading you to push your self-imposed limits to the max or even to go over your ceiling price.

But, if you’re financing your car through the dealer, that’s only the beginning. Once you’ve chosen the car you’d like to buy, you’ll need to submit a complicated auto loan application form, which the dealer will send to the finance companies it partners with. This can include lenders and financial institutions – even Mutual Credit Union! The dealer will then share the lenders’ offers with you and ask you to make your choice.

However, in most cases, the dealer is only the middleman. This means they are going to present your options in a way that most benefits them – and not you. Thanks to this practice, even a fantastic offer from Mutual Credit Union will be presented as higher than it actually is, or may not be presented at all.

For example, say your dealer contacts three lenders: Lender A, Lender B and Lender C. Lender A agrees to offer you a 5% Annual Percentage Rate (APR), Lender B offers a 6% APR, and Lender C offers a 7% APR. But the lender will not automatically present you with Lender A’s offer. Instead, they will first determine which lender would afford them the greatest profit.

The rates presented by the above lenders are known as the “buy rates,” or the lowest possible rate the lenders will grant the borrower.  Lender A might offer the dealer a flat fee for each new loan the dealer nets them at the buy rate, with more profit granted for each new tier of a car price, such as $10,000. Lender B, on the other hand, allows the dealer to increase the buy rate by 3% to a new “contract rate.” The dealer then pockets the difference as his own profit. Lender C allows the dealer to offer a contract rate at 2% higher than the buy rate.

In the above scenario, it isn’t hard to picture the dealer pushing you to accept an offer from Lender B or Lender C at the new contract rate of 9%. If you complain that this rate is too high, the dealer may then suddenly “remember” that Lender B is willing to finance the loan at a 7% APR. In either case, there’s very little chance you’ll end up being presented with the offer that is truly in your best interest. And you’ll never even know you’ve been duped!

Financing an auto purchase at a credit union

Getting an auto loan with your credit union is a completely different experience. Why? Because we exist to serve your best interest.

When you walk into Mutual Credit Union with the intention of taking out an auto loan, you’ll be dealing with people who know who you are and what your financial reality is like. No one will try to push you into a loan you can’t afford.

The process of applying for a Mutual Credit Union Auto Loan is simple, quick, and easy. You can even apply for a loan online. Also, as a member of Mutual Credit Union,you already have a headstart on getting that pre-approval.

One of the biggest advantages you’ll have when financing an auto loan through your credit union, though, is a lower APR. Because you’re working directly with the lender, you’ll only hear the actual rate we offer instead of a marked-up rate the car dealer presents to you.

Also, as member-owned and operated institutions, credit unions famously offer loan rates that are consistently lower than those offered by large lenders and banks. In fact, according to Bankrate, the average APR on a credit union auto loan in the beginning of 2019 was a full point lower than the rates offered by banks.

Another key advantage you’ll enjoy from a credit union-financed auto loan is a more relaxed setting when determining how much you can afford to pay each month toward your new car. There’s no rush and no pressure when you’re sitting at Mutual Credit Union and working out your budget. In contrast, when you’re standing in the dealer’s lot surrounded by cars you wish you could afford, you’re far more likely to make a decision you’ll later come to regret.

If you’re in the market for an auto loan, make your credit union your first stop. You’ll enjoy a lower rate and the friendly, professional service you’ve come to expect at Mutual Credit Union.

Your Turn: Have you financed a car purchase through your credit union? Tell us about it in the comments.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Millionaire?

article-how-long-does-it-take-to-become-a-millionaire
A million dollars. For many people, it’s the pinnacle of financial success. For others, it’s just the first stepping stone toward their outrageous dreams. But how long does it take to actually reach that goal? How much would you need to save on a monthly basis to net a cool million? And, most importantly, is achieving millionaire status even within the realm of possibility for most Americans?
If you’ve ever seriously considered these questions with the intention of implementing the answers in your own life, or you’re simply curious, we’ve got the inside scoop. We’ve crunched the numbers and worked out the math to help you find out exactly how long it takes to become a millionaire.
Who wants to be a millionaire?
Believe it or not, a million dollars is approximately four times the median net worth of retirement-aged people in the U.S. Even more incredible, a net worth of a million dollars is well within the reach of most Americans. You don’t need a six-digit salary to make it to the millionaires’ list; all you need is enough time and a sound investment strategy.
 
How long does it take?
There is no pat answer to this literal million-dollar question. The amount of time it will take you to become a millionaire depends on the following factors:
1.   The amount of money you invest
2.   The rate of return on your investment
The table provided here gives you an idea of how much you’d need to save, and how many years it would take you to reach $1 million, at various rates of return.
Monthly Savings
Years to $1 million with 10% annual returns
Years to $1 million with 8% annual returns
Years to $1 million with 6% annual returns
Years to $1 million with 4% annual returns
$100
44.5
52.9
65.7
88.6
$500
28.8
33.4
40.1
51
$1,000
22.4
25.5
29.9
36.7
$1,583
18.4
20.7
23.8
28.4
$2,083
16.2
18
20.4
23.9
$3,166
13
14.2
15.8
18
$4,166
11
12
13.2
16.8
The amounts used after the $1,000 mark in this table represent the numbers that single and married employees can contribute to their IRAs and 401(k) plans, with $4,166 representing the collective maximum monthly contributions for a married couple. Note: Maximum contributions, as of 2019, are set at $19,000 a year for 401(k)s and $6,000 a year for traditional IRAs.
If you already have a tidy sum saved up, and/or you’d like to see how long it would take you to reach a million by socking away a monthly amount that is different than any amounts shown on this table, you can input your own formula into this calculator to get the answers you need.
Getting started
Now that you’ve determined how long it will take you to reach your first million, don’t waste any time getting started. If you’ve made this your goal, the sooner you begin investing, the less money you’ll have to put away each month, and the sooner you’ll reach $1 million.
The easiest and most basic starting point for your million-dollar prize is to maximize your contributions to your employer’s 401(k) and your own IRAs and HSAs. Next, look into investing with a low-cost index fund, mutual fund or lifecycle fund.
If you can’t spare the money you’d need for investing enough funds to achieve your goal, take some time to review your budget and to plug up any expensive holes. Look for pricey habits you’d be better off giving up, subscriptions you can do without and entertainment costs you can trim without feeling the pinch. It might not be easy to make all those changes, but with a million-dollar finish line in sight, you should have all the motivation you need to start living a financially responsible life today.
Two neglected factors
One crucial factor most people forget about when trying to invest their way toward a million dollars is the rule of inflation. Simply put, a million dollars today does not have the same value as a million dollars 30 years from now. When you adjust for inflation at 3 percent a year, $1 million in 2020 would need to grow to $2,427,262 to have the same purchasing power in 2050. For this reason, you may want to tweak the amount you invest as a way of accounting for inflation. This way, you can be sure you have a true $1 million at the end of your investment timeline.
Another point that is often overlooked is the fact that no one can accurately predict the future. There’s no way to know what life events you’ll experience over the next three decades. Some of those can significantly affect your finances in either direction, such as windfalls, expensive medical emergencies, market crashes and the like. It may end up taking you a lot less time than you’d anticipated to reach $1 million, or you may never get there at all.
Are you ready to start investing your way toward one million dollars? Speak to a representative at Mutual Credit Union today to discuss our investment and savings products, as well as get some beginner investment advice. You can be a millionaire!
Your Turn: Do you dream of being a millionaire or did that goal never make it on to your bucket list? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Learn More: 

Back – to – School Budgeting Surprises

young boy child with Abacus

And How To Get Ahead Of Them

Ah, back-to-school season. Your child is anticipating the academic year ahead of them, and for parents, too, this can be an exciting time. But it can also be an expensive one — especially when you get blindsided by costs you weren’t expecting. Here’s your guide for how to handle unexpected back to school expenses.

Where To Start

A new school year can mean new activities and interests — many of which demand dollars. Talk to your child in advance about what they think they might be interested in, says Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at truetrae.com. “Especially as they get older, they might not be talking to you as much about things they deem important,” she says. “Keeping those lines of communication really open can help you as a parent anticipate what the costs might be.”

The school will likely provide a list of necessary supplies. But there’s nothing wrong with writing to your kid’s teacher — even during the summer — and inquiring about needs, especially for items that are generally more expensive, like field trips and technology.

Also, keep in mind that when you’re trying to anticipate costs, one of your best sources of wisdom is your spending history. “I would look at your back-to-school shopping costs from last year. See what you spent on that you didn’t anticipate, and factor those items into your budget if you need them again,” says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert at andreaworoch.com.

Extracurriculars = Extra Costs

Your kid’s extracurricular activities always seem to inspire activity in your wallet. For activities like dance and gymnastics, you may have to purchase costumes for performances. And for things like Model UN, your child will need business attire. Also, if your child is an athlete, you’ll likely have to pay for equipment. “Nowadays, especially since the recession, a lot of schools can’t cover the cost of uniforms, and in some cases even basketballs and footballs,” says Bodge. And if you’re buying something like cleats, it can cost you again later in the year when your child grows out of them. “Don’t overspend now, assuming that these supplies are going to carry you through the year,” Woroch warns. Activities often require ongoing expenditures. Instead, keep an eye open for neighborhood sales and swaps where you may be able to use last year’s equipment to give you a leg up on this years, financially.

Clothing: At First, Less Is More

Even though you may be tempted to snap up every possible outfit your child may need for the year while the summer sales tax holidays are in full swing, hang onto a portion of your budget for later in the year, advises Bodge. Why? If you live in an area with regular seasons, better deals on cold weather clothing happen later — in late September and October. Plus, if you wait, your kids have an opportunity to go to school, check out what everybody else is wearing, and see if they want to hop on a trend. You can ensure you’re spending money on things they like wearing and will actually wear.

Technology

Technology is likely an integral part of your child’s educational experience — especially if they’re in grades five or above. It’s quite possible they’ll have homework requiring a computer and assignments to print out at home. In other words, if you realize in October that you’ll need to purchase a laptop you hadn’t planned on, that can be a major hit to your budget. To prevent a possibly stressful surprise like this, make sure you reach out to your childs’ teachers or school in advance.

Avoid The Big Shopping Spree Before September

These next few weeks as you’re strolling through the mall, you’re likely to be bombarded with colorful back to school sales. You may be tempted to start shopping for everything on your list right then and there, but prices are expected to drop throughout the month of August, reaching a low in early September, says Bodge. And even once you think prices can’t get any lower and you’re ready to shop, make sure you compare prices online before making a purchase — especially with big ticket items like a laptop or phone.

Also, if you want to minimize the hassle of returns and items that don’t fit, try to shop with your child. “Bringing your kids shopping with you — even if it seems like a pain — is good bonding time. And it shows them what shopping is,” Woroch says. Giving them a budget will instill in them the idea that money is a limited resource. Plus, if your child can watch you in action making efforts to save (using a coupon, buying on sale), that will give them an appreciation for the value of money — something that not nearly enough kids will be taught in schools.

 

Sources: 

https://www.savvymoney.com/blog/spending/back-to-school-budgeting-surprises/

Contributing Editor: Jean Chatzky with Molly Povich