Congratulations! Judy Rushe on 40 years of Service at Mutual Credit Union

Press Release

Thursday, September 26, 2019

(Vicksburg, MS): Mutual Credit Union is thrilled to celebrate today with Judy Rusche as she celebrates 40 years working and serving the members of Mutual Credit Union. Judy started with Mutual on September 26, 1979 as a teller when Mutual was located at 1411 Cherry Street in Vicksburg, MS. Since, 1980, Judy has offered support to both members and fellow employees in the operations center of the accounting department. Judy moved to the 1604 Cherry Street location in 1984 and has worked tirelessly to serve our membership through numerous changes to services, products, systems, mergers, branch additions and many more areas of progression and change including  renovations and expansions to the 1604 Cherry Street building both in 1998-1999 and the most recent in 2018-2019. President of Mutual Credit Union, Michael Mathews stated, “It is a true honor to work with someone as dedicated to Mutual as Judy.”

Congratulations, Judy Rusche on 40 wonderful years of a Job Well Done here at Mutual Credit Union!

Insta Judy

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our webpage. For additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

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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?

How To Talk Money With Your Partner

CU_TalkingMoneyPartner_IG

Dedicate a time

Together, choose a time when both of you can focus without distractions.

Prepare your thoughts

Prepare a mental list of topics you’d like to discuss. Include the basics along with any specific issues that you’d like to see change.

Start with a vision

Here are some to get you thinking:

·         Wouldn’t it be amazing to buy a home of our own?
·         I’d love to retire at 55. Wouldn’t you?

Create a savings plan

Start talking numbers. How much would we need to make a financial dream come true? Together, create a savings plan that will help you achieve your shared goals.

Build a budget

Work out a monthly budget that accounts for all expenses and your new savings goals.

Discuss money management

If you aren’t already sharing expenses, talk about it now. Also, consider linking one of your accounts or opening a shared account at the credit union.

You’ve made it through the money talk. Now, go and make those dreams happen!

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.

V.P. OF MARKETING, SUSAN MANDARINO PRESENTER AT DIGITAL MARKETING FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES MIDWEST SUMMIT SEPT.18-19 IN CHICAGO, IL

Press Release

Monday, September 9, 2019

Vicksburg, Miss. – – Mutual Credit Union is excited to recognize our V.P. of Marketing, Susan Mandarino who will be a guest presenter at the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Midwest Summit September 18-19 in Chicago, IL. Susan is the 18th presenter in the lineup on Day One, Wednesday, September 18th to present her case study, “Humanizing Data & Segmentation for Genuine Results: Going Beyond Digital for Increased Profitability.”

Digital Marketing for Financial Services Midwest Summit was ranked 6th out of 50 by NGData.com on their list of the “Top Digital Marketing Conferences: 50 Must-Attend Events to Learn the Latest in Data Analytics, Marketing Tech, Trends, & More in 2018.” It is the largest and longest-running digital marketing event in financial services. President of Mutual Credit Union, Michael Mathews stated, “We are proud of Susan’s selection to present at this year’s summit in Chicago, IL.”

Susan Mandarino

Susan left the “big city life” behind and relocated to Vicksburg in 2010. She joined the Mutual Credit Union team in 2013 as the VP of Marketing. With more years than she cares to admit in marketing, she states that she “loves that it is always changing and providing new challenges.” Susan in her own words is a “perpetual student” and has received degrees from both Tulane University and Arizona State University. She has also received certifications as both a Credit Union Compliance Expert (CUCE) and as a Certified Credit Union Financial Counselor (CCUFC).

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our webpage. For additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

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Full Press Release

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: 

Vice President of Compliance, Katie Ferrell Receives CAMS Certification

PRESS RELEASE

Friday, August 16, 2019

Vicksburg, Miss. – – Mutual Credit Union is pleased to recognize Katie Ferrell, V.P. of Compliance for her recent achievement. In July of 2019, Katie received her CAMS (Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist) Certification which is considered the gold standard in AML (Anti-Money Laundering) certifications. President of Mutual Credit Union, Michael Mathews said this of Katie, “Katie works diligently to ensure Mutual meets and exceeds the standards of our industry. I am proud of Katie and her achievement receiving the CAMS Certification.”

Katie-Ferrell.jpg

Katie joined the Mutual Credit Union team in 2017 as the VP of Compliance. She is a Vicksburg native who received her Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2003 and received a graduate certificate from Paul W. Barret, Jr. Graduate School of Banking at Christian Brothers University in 2014. Katie has worked in the Financial Services industry since 2003 and has served in many roles throughout her career including commercial and small business lending, mortgage origination, consumer lending, branch management, and other various lending and operational support roles. Since joining Mutual, Katie has achieved designations as a Bank Secrecy Act Compliance Specialist, a Certified Regulatory Vendor Program Manager and as a National Certified Compliance Officer.

For more information about Mutual Credit Union please follow this link to our webpage. For additional questions, please contact the marketing department at marketing@mutualcu.org or by calling (601) 636-7523 ext. 1226.

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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

Do My Child’s Activities Really Need to Make Me Go Broke?

little girls playing soccer with coach.jpg

Extracurricular activities are an important part of a child’s development. They allow students to shine in ways that may not be possible in the classroom. It also helps kids step out of their social circles to forge new friendships. They may even be your child’s gateway to a college scholarship and possibly a lucrative career. 

But extracurricular activities are expensive. If you’ve got several school-aged children and each wants to participate in two activities, you can be looking at an investment as high as $10,000 or more for fees, equipment, uniforms, instruments and supplies. 

No worries though; you don’t have to choose between your budget and your children’s happiness. Here are some ways to save on your kids’ extracurricular activities: 

1. Limit the number of after-school activities you allow for each child 

If you’ve got several over-ambitious young ones at home, consider limiting extracurricular activities to just one per child. You’ll be doing your children a favor by forcing them to pick an area of focus, allowing them to channel all their energy in one direction. Plus, it’ll be easier for them to keep track of just one schedule — and it’s a lot easier on your carpool calendar, too! 

2. Register early 

Lots of children’s’ sports programs offer discounts of up to 30 percent just for signing up early. Speak to your children about after-school programs and sports teams well before the season so you can register early and snag those early-bird specials. 

3Purchase used equipment 

Save big on sports gear by purchasing gently used equipment from sites like PlayItAgainSports and SidelineSwap. Some of these sites also allow you to sell your own used equipment. 

4. Swap equipment 

If you have friends with kids who are also into sports and music, see if you can swap equipment and instruments from year to year. 

5.  Rent musical instruments 

If you’ve got budding musicians at home, consider renting the instrument they’ve taken up this year. There’s no way to tell if that burst of passion they’re currently nursing for the oboe is just a passing phase or the beginning of a lifelong hobby. Some instruments, like the French horn, can cost as much as $1,000 but can be rented for as little as $50 a month. 

If your child is convinced they’ve found their instrument of choice, you can purchase gently used musical instruments from resale sites like Craigslist, eBay or Reverb. 

6. Volunteer your time 

If you’ve got the time to coach a team or to walk around selling refreshments during games, you might be able to nab a discount on the program’s fees and equipment. 

By making smart, frugal choices, you can turn your children’s dreams into reality without draining your wallet. 

Your Turn: How do you save on your children’s extracurricular activities? Share your own tips with us in the comments.

 

SOURCES:

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/g27678115/back-to-school-hacks/

https://www.moneycrashers.com/save-extracurricular-activities-kids-after-school/

https://www.parents.com/parenting/money/saving/11-ways-to-save-on-after-school-activities/

Word of the Month: Credit Card

Father and son using laptop together, online shopping

Kate and her mom were going shopping for school supplies. Kate had her mind set on exactly what she wanted. She’d even scribbled a list of all the things she was going to buy at the store.

“And can’t I get that?” she asked, pointing at the sequined pencil case her best friend Lori had told her about.

“Oh, Kate,” her mom groaned. “We can’t buy the most expensive of every supply on your list!”

Kate was stumped. “But why not?” she asked. “If it’s too much money, you can just put it on your credit card!”

Mom gave her a look, and then said under her breath, “Let’s talk about this a little later, at home. Meanwhile, let’s try to find all of your supplies at decent prices.”

Kate agreed and they finished shopping without any more arguments.

After they’d gone home and put away all of Kate’s supplies, Mom prepared two tall glasses of lemonade. She sat down at the kitchen table, across from Kate.

“Let me explain how it works, Kate,” she said. “A credit card isn’t ‘free money.’”

Kate yawned. “I know, I know—you get a bill at the end of the month and you need to pay it all back.”

Mom nodded. “Exactly. But there’s a few things you don’t know about credit cards.”

“Like what?”

“First of all,” said Mom, “lots of credit cards cost money just to have. It’s called an ‘annual fee.’ Also, credit cards don’t lend you that money for free. They charge you interest on every purchase you make.”

“Interest?”

“That means extra money, a certain percentage of the purchase that you need to pay to the credit card company.”

“So it really costs you more than the price!” Kate broke in.

“Exactly,” Mom smiled. “You won’t have to pay the interest if you pay the full amount on your bill on time, but most people don’t. And then they end up paying for that one little purchase for months—or even years and years!”

“So, if the best way to use a credit card is to pay up your full bill each month, why have one at all?” Kate asked. “Why not just use cash?”

“That’s a great question,” Mom said. “There are two main reasons people have credit cards other than to help them pay for stuff they can’t really afford,” she explained. “One is to get the rewards. Lots of credit cards offer points and money back for specific purchases you make on the card.”

“Cool!” said Kate. “Like a bonus for spending money?”

“Right,” said mom. “But it sometimes can get out of control and people spend more than they planned just because they’re getting some points out of the deal. So it doesn’t quite work out as planned. Plus, lots of rewards cards have an annual fee, so they’re expensive just to have.”

“Wow,” Kate said. “And what’s the second reason?”

Mom reached into her wallet and pulled out her MasterCard. “You see this?” she asked. “This helped me buy our house!”

Kate’s eyed bulged. “You can buy a house on a credit card?”

Mom threw back her head and laughed. “No, Kate,” she said. “Let me explain. Let’s say someone has a bunch of open credit cards but they’re super-careful with how they use them. They’re always careful about paying their balance on time and they never rack up huge bills. What does that say about them?”

“They’re responsible!” Kate said. “They know how to pay back what they borrow and they don’t spend too much money.”

“Exactly!” Mom smiled. “So when someone wants to take out a huge loan—like a loan that will help them buy a house, the people lending them that money will look at the way they use their credit cards. It’s called their credit history and credit score. The person’s credit history will tell the borrower about their credit card use in the past, and their credit score is like a grade which shows how responsible they’ve been with their credit. Are you following?

Kate nodded. “I think so.”

“So, why do you think the lender will look at their credit history and credit score when deciding if they will lend this person money to buy a house?”

“Because they want to make sure the person will pay them back!” Kate exclaimed.

“You’re catching on really quickly,” Mom grinned. “I was always very careful with my credit cards, and that helped us get a mortgage for this house!”

“Wow,” Kate said. She had a lot to think about. “What do you say we open a credit card for me, Mom?” She asked. “I want to start building my credit score right now!”

Talking points:

  • Can you explain the way a credit card works?
  • Why do you think credit card companies let people borrow so much money from them?
  • Are credit cards a good way to purchase something you can’t afford? Why, or why not?