It's Time Blog

Spring Cleaning: Get Rid of Bad Financial Habits
18 Apr, 2014

By Kyle Brice
Greater Nevada Credit Union

With the economy bouncing back, so are many of our bad financial habits. According to an article posted by Nasdaq the number of Americans spending more and saving less has increased by 28 percent over the past five years. Since spring is a time of new beginning and growth, what better way to start fresh than by doing some spring cleaning for financial practices. This list includes some bad habits you may have been guilty of (I certainly have been). Break out your dusters and rubber gloves, and let's get started!

Spring Cleaning: Get Rid of Bad Financial Habits

1) Spending more than you make- When I was working in politics, one of my bosses told me he used to be a financial advisor. In questioning him about how that worked, I got the best financial advice of my life. He said, “It’s easy, all you have to do is tell people to spend less money than they make.” As we discussed in past blogs, having a large amount of credit available is a good thing but using that credit to live outside your means is not. If you have extra money after paying bills, buying essentials, contributing to your retirement, and putting away savings it’s okay to spend it, but don’t jeopardize your future financial security to maintain a standard of living you can't really afford.

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Ten Ways to Stay in Shape while Staying on Budget
11 Apr, 2014

By Kyle Brice,
Greater Nevada Credit Union

Beach season is right around the corner, and though lots of us are determined to get in better shape, gym memberships can be expensive (especially if you're like me, and signed up for your membership right before the gym slashed the prices in half, leaving me full of resentment and potato chips). So, I did a little research on ways we can all save money on getting in shape.

Get Fit Without Going Broke

1) Sign up for a race. Running is essentially free (wearing Nikes while you’re running isn’t); most of us just need the motivation to do it. So whether you sign up for a 5K celebrating your city’s  birthday or you go all out and become a tough mudder, having a goal can make all
the difference. And thanks to the wonders of the internet there are training plans for every level of athlete, so in just nine weeks you can go from a couch potato to a 5K runner.

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What is a First-Time Homebuyer Program and Is It Right for You?
04 Apr, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

First-Time HomebuyerMaking the leap from renter to homeowner is the experience of a lifetime. It runs the whole gamut of emotions from exciting (touring potential homes and decorating them in your mind) to exhausting (offers, counter-offers, escrows and  paperwork). Doing your homework ahead of time can make all the difference in your home buying experience, and it’s well worth the effort. If you’re about to start down that road, and this is your first time, there are plenty of resources to help guide you. Our Steps to Buying a Home blog, for instance, is a great place to start (and has a cool chart). Many  financial institutions also have programs in place designed to help first-time homebuyers overcome some of the obstacles they might face. There are also government programs created for the same purpose.

First-time homebuyer programs come in many shapes and sizes – let’s see if one works for you!

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9 Simple Ways to Save Money on Energy Costs
28 Mar, 2014

By Kyle Brice
Greater Nevada Credit Union

Energy Saving TipsUSA Today recently published an article saying winter energy bills have increased nationwide, anywhere from 5% up to 54% depending on the energy source. On top of that, natural gas, which heats about half of American homes, recently hit a five year high. If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait for warm weather so you can stop worrying about winter energy bills. But even though it can’t be summer all the time, some simple changes can still save you a lot of money:

1. Turn your heat down. No, I’m not saying you have to get used to being cold. But if you turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill -- a savings of as much as 1% for each degree if the setback period is eight hours long. So try just turning it down while you’re at work. If it’s hard to get into the habit, installing a programmable thermostat can save you the trouble of forgetting to change the temperature.

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Tax Fraud: How It Could Affect Your Tax Return
21 Mar, 2014

By Kyle Brice
Greater Nevada Credit Union

When I hear the term tax fraud I always think of illustrious criminal Al Capone and his eventual downfall caused by tax evasion. While Capone’s crime involved trying to avoid filing a tax return, modern day criminals are trying to do just the opposite. These fraudsters are filing a multitude of tax returns claiming false refund amounts. How does a criminal filing a false tax claim affects you? They might be doing it with your name.

Tax-Fraud-Blog

For the second year in a row identity theft is at the top of the IRS’ list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. While most people probably think of tax scams in terms of offshore accounts or laundering money (thank you "Breaking Bad" for teaching me what that actually means), people don’t realize there is another kind of tax scam costing them their tax refund and costing the government billions of dollars. Potentially worst of all, this crime can be committed by someone with a sixth-grade education.

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What You Need To Know About Taxes and Deposit Account Interest
14 Mar, 2014

By Patrick Russo
Depositaccounts.com

It may come as no surprise, but the IRS taxes the interest paid to you on your basic deposit accounts as taxable income. Financial institutions that pay you more than $10 in interest (or dividends as they are called at Greater Nevada Credit Union) on your deposits in a given year are required to report that amount by filing a Form 1099-INT. Even if you do not receive a copy of the 1099-INT filed by your financial institution, the IRS still expects you to report the interest income earned. If you have not yet filed your 2013 tax returns (and even if you have), it may help you cover your bases to be aware of some tax policies that affect your basic deposit accounts.

Do I Have to Report Interest Earned on Deposit Accounts to the IRS?

Checking, Savings, and Money Market Account Dividends 

Dividends earned on your Checking, Savings, and Money Market accounts at a credit union are considered ordinary income, as would interest earned on those same accounts at a standard bank. (Dividends paid by credit unions on deposits can be confused with dividends paid at the end of the year by a mutual fund or corporation, for example. If a credit union issues the latter type of dividend, you should receive a Form 1099-DIV, which treats those dividends differently than interest income. For the purposes of this article, we are only using the term ‘dividends’ to describe interest income).

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What is an IRA Anyway?
28 Feb, 2014

By Kyle Brice
Greater Nevada Credit Union

Since we’re deep into tax season, the one time of year when people think about their retirement accounts and investments, we thought we’d try to shed some light on one of the least understood types of investment products – the IRA. For many folks, the IRA is a vague “way to save money”, complicated, misunderstood and overwhelming. So let’s take some of the mystery out of it. The basics:

  • Bullet2 IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account
  • Bullet2 The  IRS says they are designed as a way to make tax-deferred investments to provide financial security when you retire
  • Bullet2 You can contribute $5,500 a year to your IRA ($6,500 if you’re over 50)
  • Bullet2 There are two types of common IRAs, a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA
  • Bullet2 Traditional means you usually get a tax deduction when you put money in, but are taxed when you take your money out of the IRA
  • Bullet2 Roth means you get no tax break up front but don’t have to pay taxes when withdraw your money .

What is an IRA?

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7 Tips for Buying Your Next New Car
21 Feb, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

It might start with something falling off your car… maybe something small like the handle to control the seat tilt. You may start noticing worn through spots in the carpet or upholstery, or it may just be that a newer, shinier model catches your eye. Whatever it is, once you get the “new car” itch, it’s only a matter of time before you’re kicking tires at the local dealership, looking for your upgrade.
Before you do, let’s talk about a few ways you can get the most out of the car-buying experience. You want to make sure you feel great about the deal you get when you walk off the lot. These seven tips should help you do just that.Taking a look at their dream car

1. Research the car. Don’t let the stars in your eyes blind you as to the real value of the car. It’s shiny and it’s got heated seats but what is it really worth? What will it cost you in gas? Does it fit your daily activities? Does it have a reputation online for needing constant repair? My truck, for instance, needs brake jobs unrealistically often and has experienced a variety of strange defects. I have a friend who has the same exact truck and we have both experienced all the same exact mechanical and cosmetic issues in our respective trucks. A little Googling reveals we aren’t the only ones. I like my truck, but if I’d known about all these things ahead of time, I might have looked around a bit longer before signing the papers. Start somewhere like http://www.carcomplaints.com/ to find common complaints, recalls, government safety warnings and more.

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Five Types of Debit Fraud and How to Protect Yourself from Them
15 Feb, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

The recent Target card breach, has, like famous card breaches before it, shone a spotlight on the possibility of debit card fraud for many Americans.

While credit and debit cards are praised for many reasons, criminal activity is getting more sophisticated, while technology used for making purchases continues to evolve. For those reasons, it’s more important than ever to be aware of possible scams and use caution with your cards.

Debit Fraud Protection

Below is a list of the most common forms of debit card fraud, along with some helpful tips for protecting yourself from each one.

1. Good old-fashioned wallet theft: I know I just said that criminals were getting more sophisticated, but I’d be remiss to overlook the most basic form of theft: pickpocketing. This crime is one of the easiest to pull off, and probably the most rewarding. Your wallet or purse is like a little hub of personal information, often containing your ID, credit and debit cards, social security cards, medical insurance cards and all kinds of other valuable stuff. ProtectmyID.com has some great information on protecting yourself before and after a theft, which I will summarize briefly here:

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Talking With Your Kids About Finances: It’s Never Too Early
03 Feb, 2014

By Kate Robinson
Greater Nevada Credit Union

When I graduated High School, I didn’t wait long to start making my own way in the world. I’d always been driven and independent, so rather than making the most of my parents’ free room and board, I immediately joined the military, moved across the country and began earning paychecks. My parents raised me with a solid foundation in nearly everything, but if they fell short anywhere it was in preparing me for financial success. We’d struggled to make ends meet for much of my life, and I had no idea what I was doing, or how to implement good financial habits, until years later when I began working for Greater Nevada, where I now teach financial literacy to youth and adults.

Child Listening

Like many topics parents face, financial responsibility may seem too complicated and overwhelming, but like many topics, it’s never too early to start instilling good values. No matter how old your children are, little things you teach them now can help them avoid the situation I found myself in upon entering adulthood. Plus, good financial habits are easy to tie into other values most of us want our children to learn. For instance:
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