It's Time Blog

Life Hacks for Parents: How to Afford Your Offspring
25 Jul, 2014

By Wende Dahlsten
Greater Nevada Credit Union

As my husband and I embark upon parenting a human, we did a little research and found that according the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost to raise a child born in 2013 to age 18 is expected to be $241,080.  We thought it would be smart to start learning from the experts and reach out to some friends who have kids to discuss their financial strategies.

Saving money on kids

Coupons and Deals

My friend Amy, mother of 3, is a coupon and wallet loyal. She tells me "I don't believe in paying full price for anything. But having this philosophy means I don't buy a certain brand on anything. I will also stock up on items when they are on sale". You can cut coupons from your local paper, or go online to get offers.  Many times local sites like Groupon or Living Social will have kid-related deals. Another friend, Susan, loves taking her son to the movies, so they cut costs by attending matinees only. Read More

Never Have Your Debit Card Declined Again
18 Jul, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

It’s happened to all of us. There’s a long line of people watching you swipe your debit card at the grocery store – our purchases are bagged and carted – and the cashier says, “I’m sorry ma’am, it says it’s declined.” If they’re nice, they don’t shout it. You make sure to state loudly that you have plenty of money in your account, and it must be a problem with the debit machine or the bank (which, to be fair, it sometimes is) but whether it’s true or not, you know everyone else in line is silently judging your poor money management skills.


Aside from the rare occasion when there’s a legitimate communication problem between the merchant and the financial institution, most of us can take the blame for at least one or two of these instances, as we’re getting toward the end of the pay period, trying to make those last few pennies stretch. In the interest of saving us all some money and embarrassment, here are some ways to avoid the dreaded “card declined” scenario.

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Self Employed? Save the Headache Later, Keep Great Tax Records Now
11 Jul, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

With tax season finally over, now seems like a good time to talk about how to make next year’s taxes go as smoothly as possible. I especially want to focus on the self-employed and contractors. While there are all kinds of variables that complicate tax-filing (owning a home, dependents, interest income, divorce, marriage, death), many of us still work for corporations where we file a W-2 and our withholdings become automatic. For entrepreneurs, or people in more less formal income situations, it can be a bit trickier.

Self-Employed Tax Records

You Might Not Know…

If you’re just starting your own business, there are a few important things you need to know. Carson City Certified Accountant Michael Bertrand of Bertrand and Associates, LLC, tells me that a lot of small businesses don’t understand that they have to pay a self-employment tax in addition to their income tax. This tax is 15.3%  of  your net income, although you are allowed a deduction for the tax which reduces the rate. You need to understand what your income tax is, as well as the self-employment tax, and set aside money all year long to pay these. 

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How to Steer Clear of the Dreaded ATM Fee
03 Jul, 2014

By Wende Dahlsten Greater Nevada Credit Union We’ve all been there: you need access to some quick cash and the only ATM around has a $4 fee. It’s the worst! Banks charge on average $2.60 for using an ATM out of your network. Sometimes even your own financial institution charges an additional fee, an average of $1.53. At $4.13 a pop, these little fees can become a monster headache in a big hurry. Don’t worry; there are some easy ways to avoid ATM Fees.


Failing to plan = planning to pay

The first step in attacking any problem is becoming aware and then taking action! With a little bit of homework, you can become familiar with the ATMs within your network as well as those that do not incur fees regardless of where you bank. Most financial institutions have an ATM Lookup feature where you can discover where your networked ATMs are located. Some even have smart phone apps, so you can search for the nearest fee-free ATM using your phone’s GPS. Many community banks and credit unions join forces with other financial institutions to extend ATM availability without charging surcharges. For instance, some smaller banks and online banks work with the Allpoint or STAR ATM networks to provide more surcharge-free access to ATMs. Some credit unions, like GNCU, partner with the CO-OP ATM network, which doesn’t impose surcharges for members of partnered credit unions. Check with your financial institution, and then look for ATMs with Allpoint, STAR, or CO-OP logos. I’m pretty sure every 7-Eleven has a CO-OP ATM, and there’s always a 7-Eleven nearby, so if you’re a credit union member, chances are you’re never far from a free ATM. Read More

How to Make Sure You Can Afford Your New Set of Wheels
30 Jun, 2014

By Wende Dahlsten Greater Nevada Credit Union Buying a new car can be stressful! For most people, their vehicles are their second most valuable possession after their homes. In order to make sure you buy the car that’s right for you and your family, you must consider many factors, but it is most important to find a vehicle you can realistically afford.


The Magic of Budgeting

The first step in knowing what you can afford, is making sure you have a good grasp on your monthly expenses. If you don’t already have a system down, now is the perfect time to put together a household budget. I am the official bill payer in my family, and I pay all of our bills through online banking. This makes it easy to get a snapshot of where our money is going because of all of our bill pay vendors are listed in one place. I can extract the data into a workable spreadsheet so that I can track expenses and make sure that we’re on track. This will help you get a birds-eye view of what your finances really look like and what kind of monthly payment you should be aiming for. Read More

Grocery Bills Bumming You Out? Start a Garden!
20 Jun, 2014

By Wende Dahlsten
Greater Nevada Credit Union

I’m the first person to admit that I have a brown thumb. I do however turn green with envy when I visit a friend of mine who has every variety of tomato known to man, growing in abundance all over her back yard. Luckily she shares her bounty with me, which is great because the cost of produce has skyrocketed due to the 3-year draught in California. The cost of lettuce is up 34%, grapes 21%, (wait did I just read that right? Grapes are up 21%....what is that doing to the wine market?). Before we panic…let’s take a look at some money saving ideas to calm our nerves.


Picking the right veggies

One idea when you’re looking to save on your grocery bill is to start a garden. It’s important to be strategic in your planting, however. Some vegetables like onions and potatoes are not worth growing because they are so inexpensive in the store. Greens are where it’s at when looking to save money. A head of lettuce can cost up to $2.50 or a bag of spinach can cost $4-$5! For $2-$2.50 you can buy a package of seeds that will produce enough greens for daily salads starting 40-50 days after planting. Tomatoes seem outrageously priced these days. You can buy a pint of cherry tomatoes for $4-$5 at the farmer’s market. Or, you can buy starter plants for $2-$3 each that will yield 20 pints or more in favorable conditions. Another huge way to cut costs is to grow your own herbs. A small container of fresh herbs can cost $3-$4. For the same amount of money you can get a starter plant that will yield 50 times as much.

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Father’s Financial Wisdom: Things I Learned From Dad About Life
13 Jun, 2014

By Wende Dahlsten Greater Nevada Credit Union Father’s Day is around the corner. It’s a day to honor and celebrate the men who raised us – and for some of us it’s a bittersweet holiday. My dad left this earth 5 years ago this July, and I miss him every day. I was lucky to have such an amazing role model and confidant for 41 years. It’s never long enough; I never stop needing my father’s wisdom.

Father's Day 2014

My dad, Stuart Powell, was a business leader with impeccable morals and a great sense of humor. He managed multi-million dollar budgets in the television industry, and when it came to teaching us about finances, he brought it down to our level and kept it real. I’m eternally grateful and ask myself daily… What would dad do in this situation? And most of the time, I come up with a solid plan. Read More

Child Identity Theft: How to Protect Your Children from Fraud
06 Jun, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

We’ve talked quite a bit on this blog and on our website about safeguarding your financial and personal information to protect yourself from identity theft. By now, hopefully, you’re careful about web sites you shop on, shredding your bills, monitoring your accounts and all that. But today let’s discuss a type of fraud threat that may not even be on your radar: child identity theft.

Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft is an extremely common crime that creates lasting damage and does not get the attention it deserves. According to a 2012 Report by All Clear ID, children are targeted 35 times more often than adults in identity theft crimes. Children are an easy target for thieves because their credit histories are clean, and because in many cases the crime is not discovered for years.

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Preparing Your Home for Wildfire Season
30 May, 2014

By Wende Dahlsten
Greater Nevada Credit Union

My husband and I moved to Reno a little over a year and a half ago from Independence, Kentucky which is a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. Summertime in the Midwest is primarily hot with a side of humid, and the occasional thunderstorm and/or tornado. We didn’t really hear much about wild fires in our neck of the woods.

Last weekend, we could see the Hunter Falls fire from our back porch. During the day, we only could see billowing smoke. However, once the sun set the mountains behind our house sparkled with bright orange jewels and one huge ball of flames where the center of the blaze was condensed.  Seeing a wildfire up close and in person is quite unsettling.

Fire alarm

Spring Cleaning

Of course, being the worrier that I am, I began to look into ways we can protect our home and community from wild fires. Experts advise that your first step is to make sure your landscaping creates a barrier or defensible space between vegetation and your home.  Flammable vegetation needs to be limited and dead vegetation removed.  If this is done, if embers do reach vegetation near your house the spread of the fire will be slowed down.  This requires no special equipment, just sweat equity. Regular garden shears, rakes, garbage bags etc. do the trick.

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What is Home Equity and How Can You Make it Work For You?
23 May, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

The goal of this blog is to provide information that will help you Live Greater financially. Sometimes banks and credit unions take it for granted that consumers understand all of their financial lingo, but I know from personal experience that’s not always true. So this week I am going to address a question some of you may have about a commonly used term: home equity.


What is home equity?

Put simply, home equity means the value of your home beyond what you owe on it. So if you still owe $150,000 on your mortgage, but your home is worth $200,000, you have $50,000 in equity. A home equity line of credit is a product offered by financial institutions to help you use that equity to your advantage.

How do I know if I have equity in my home?

According to Greater Nevada’s Vice President of Lending, Marcus Wertz, many people are surprised to find that they do have equity in their homes. A simple way to find out is to just call a mortgage consultant, who will use the Automated Valuation Model (AVM) in lieu of a full appraisal to give you a starting point, based on your neighborhood. Typically the AVM is much less expensive than an appraisal – usually about $20. However, if you have a custom home in a neighborhood where custom homes aren’t common, or other unique circumstances, you may want to get a full appraisal to find out just how much your home is worth. If your mortgage is paid off entirely, you know you have equity to work with.

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