A Dickens Holiday

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					Rates / Member Profile / Smart Savings / Holiday Spending
December 2005 • Volume 4 • Issue 2

                                             The Monthly Financial Magazine for LGFCU Members

                                                             A Dickens
                                                             Credit Union Style!
                                     December 2005
                                     Volume 4
                                                           President’s Letter
                                     Issue 2               Maurice R. Smith         14-year member

                                                           Holiday seasons are not quite the same anymore.
    Dion L. Williams, MBA, CFP®
                                                           My wife and I have two teenage kids. When asked
  4 SMART SAVINGS                                          what they would like for gifts, they reply, "money."
    Cut your heating bills!                                Gone are the days when a toy truck or doll would
                                                           delight their hearts. Our children, like many of their
    Step back and think for a moment.                      peers, want to make their own choices for con-
                                                           sumer goods.
    Getting your holiday spending in line                  I’m told teenagers account for billions of dollars
                                                           of consumer purchases each year. Just a visit to
    LGFCU Scholarships                                     a shopping mall seems to validate the claim. This
                                                           new generation of consumers has different ideas
 10 MEMBER PROFILE                                         and priorities than their adult parents—I didn’t have
    Scott Hopkins, City of Albemarle                       to be told that. What is certain about teenagers,
                                                           without proper guidance, they will make the same
                                                           mistakes some adults make regarding money man-
                                                           agement choices.
 aim is a monthly publication of Local Government
 Federal Credit Union. The mission of this periodical is
 to provide financial education for Credit Union           To prepare our children for the holiday shopping
 members and their families.                               season, my wife and I have emphasized the need to
 Editor: Michael Spink (michael@lgfcu.org)                 be good consumers. Nothing complicated. Lessons
 Graphic Designers: Tyler Bergholz (tyler@lgfcu.org)
                    Lamar Heyward (lamar@lgfcu.org)        like shop and compare, budget your money care-
                                                           fully and wisely choose products that will bring a
 The Credit Union is a not-for-profit cooperative
 organized for the benefit of providing affordable         lasting return. The same can be said when shop-
 financial services to members.                            ping for financial services.
 Board of Directors:
 Lin Jones (Chairman)             Willie Best              Managing money does not have to be as compli-
 Jack Scoville (Vice-Chairman)    Paul Miller
 Frances Efird (Treasurer)        Al Richardson            cated as assembling a new toy. While money does
 Bill Coward (Secretary)          Ann R. Suggs             not come with instructions, the Credit Union offers
 Ruth Barnes
                                                           good advice for young and older consumers. Tips
 Credit Union financial services are provided through
 branch offices of the State Employees’ Credit Union.      for handling money can be found year-round at our
                                                           Web site or by simply calling LGFCU for help.
 Do you have comments or suggestions about Credit
 Union services?
 Write: Local Government Federal Credit Union              Holiday seasons don't remain the same. The gifts
        Administrative Office
        801 Hillsborough Street, Suite 401                 change as our children do. Helping our children
        Raleigh, North Carolina 27603                      become good consumers can be the best gift of all,
 Call:    919.755.0534 or 800.344.4846 (Toll Free)         and one that lasts a lifetime.

E-mail:   info@lgfcu.org
                          Ó         Expert Advice
                                     Dion L. Williams, MBA, CFP®                8-year member

Let’s look at some last-minute strategies to       related to investments and taxes, talk with a
help out on your 2005 tax bill.                    tax expert to discuss your specific situation.

Charitable Giving                                  Benefits in the Home
I frequently point out that charitable giving      If you bought a home, refinanced a home, or
can take the form of time or money and you         write off mortgage interest on your taxes, start
do not have to do all of your giving during the    going through your records for 2005 deduct-
holiday season. If you want to donate money        ibles. Your list should include property taxes,
or specific items and haven’t done so yet, this    mortgage interest on first and second mort-
is your last chance to do so for credit this tax   gages (up to 100 percent of the home’s value),
year! As always, do your homework on orga-         points and other home-related items you have
nizations to which you give and keep good          claimed in the past.
records in case an audit occurs.
IRAs                                               Take advantage of everything available to help
You can actually make IRA contributions until      lower your tax bill in the New Year. Set aside
April 15, 2006, and get credit on your 2005        more money in your 401(k) to lower your tax-
taxes. However, now is the time to determine       able income; at least set aside enough to get
if your contributions are deductible and if        your employer’s matching contribution, if any.
there are tax-related gains for making a contri-   Take advantage of flexible spending plans to
bution for 2005. Setting aside money for your      pay for child care and medical expenses with
retirement is always a plus...tax benefits are     pre-tax dollars. And, when your 2005 taxes are
an added bonus!                                    prepared, project your 2006 taxes so you can
                                                   adjust withholdings accordingly.
Taking Losses
In our seminars on retirement planning, we
identify fear of selling as an obstacle to being    Send me your financial questions
a successful investor. If you have been con-
templating selling an investment that has not
                                                     e-mail: financialplanner@lgfcu.org
worked out for you and taking the loss on
your taxes, now is the time to decide if you         mail:   LGFCU
want to do so for 2005. As with any matter                   Attention: Expert Advice
                                                             801 Hillsborough St., Suite 401
                                                             Raleigh, NC 27603                      3
                    Ó           Smart Savings
                                Cut your heating bills!

The rise in energy costs may have already            Turn down the water heater. If you lower the
affected you this winter. But, there is still time   temperature of the water in your water heater
to save. Here are a few simple steps that cost       to somewhere between 115 and 120 degrees,
nothing or very little to help reduce heating        you will reduce power usage and reduce the
bills by 20 percent—or more.                         risk of an accidental scalding.

Turn down the thermostat. Most heating               Keep your heating vents clear of obstacles.
experts agree you can save approximately             Simply rearranging some furniture or moving
three percent on your heating bill for every         a rug that blocks a vent can help keep your
degree you turn down the thermostat. The             home warmer in the winter—this is also a
best times to do this are in the morning when        safety consideration.
you leave the house, and again when you go
to bed. Putting an extra blanket on the bed          Use window treatments effectively. If you
doesn’t really cost anything, so maybe lower         open south-facing curtains/shades/blinds
that thermostat a couple more degrees!               during the day, the sun will heat a primary
                                                     living area. Conversely, closing curtains at
Keep the fireplace damper closed. Leaving            night helps retain the heat that’s been built up
your damper open, since heat rises, is just like     through the daylight hours.
having a hole in your roof. Placing some kind
of reminder note for you to see in the morning       Try these tips and enjoy the savings!
might be helpful if you’ve used your fireplace
the night before.

                        Ó          Extra Credit
                                   Step back and think for a moment.

Companies want your money.                         Maybe you do want, or actually need, some of
                                                   these things, but a few flags may go up that
They spend more than $12 billion dollars per
                                                   signal it’s time to step back and think for a
year advertising directly to the youth market
to get it—and it works. These youth, eight–19-
year-olds, spend more than $112 billion per
year on consumer products. Conservatively
                                                   You’re picking up the phone and trying to get
speaking, you’ll be hit with about 300 actual
                                                   Mom's credit card before the ad is over...
advertising messages today.

Between the contemporary music, the celeb-
                                                   You’re thinking “I gotta’ get one...Jimmy (or
rity endorsements and simply incredible
                                                   Janey) has one and says it’s really cool...”
computer animation, these ads will get your
attention (some are plain old awesome) and
may entice you to buy. The question that begs
                                                   Your mom or dad (or both) have already said,
to be answered is; are these products things
                                                   “forget it” more than once...
you actually want or need? (see Extra Credit,
Sept. 2005)

                                                   The ad is over and you’re thinking more about
                                                   the cool graphics than the item...

                                                   You can picture this thing sitting in the cor-
                                                   ner of your closet in six months—unless it’s
                                                   a shoe organizer...

                                                     it’s time to step back and think for a moment.
                                                 it’s time to step backand think for a moment.

                                                    You get the idea. It’s your money. You earned
                                                     it. Spend it after you’ve taken the time to
                                                       “step back and think for a moment.”

                                                         Jeremiah of Raleigh, new member

Clink-cachink, clink-cachink, clink-cachink...the ole’ ghost of Jacob
Marley is out and about, warning of the perils of the past and advising
us to change our ways!

We know you’re not a bunch of Scrooges out there, but some of those
holiday spending habits might be worth reviewing, so join us on our
holiday journey...hold on!

Don’t be Fettered by Habits of the Past
The average American spends between a few hundred to more than a thousand dollars on
holiday gifts—and takes about six months to pay it off. Entertaining, seasonal food and bever-
age items, maybe a tree and trimmings and more can push that figure much higher. It’s cal-
culated that the average individual with a credit card will spend about $1,000 more than usual
during the holidays. Some estimates on holiday spending are twice as high and involve even
more credit card debt.
Just because you have always bought gifts at the mall for 14 people
and gave the children as much as you “could afford,” doesn’t mean you
have to do it again this year. Oh, you can still spread the joy, but just
take a different approach. Spend a little more time thinking about those
you buy for and substitute thoughtful niceties or small, personal pres-
ents to take the place of more extravagant items. They’ll really see you
spent the time and thought about them. Does giving this season’s hot
item or gadget really show you care? It’s become a cliché, but it is the
thought that counts. Take the time to find out what someone really likes
or needs; they’ll appreciate the extra effort!

          You’ve Never Seen the Likes of This!
             This year’s holiday season is well underway and many people might
               already be in over their heads. It’s easy to do, but if you need it, there’s
                still some time to tighten the reins on spending.

                  If you've already overspent, make some returns! If you want to
                  impress upon someone his or her importance to you, spending a
                          bunch of money might not be necessary. A book they men-
                               tioned or a recipe of yours they’ve commented on—with
                                  the ingredients—could be a creative and considerate
                                    gift. Your imagination can work wonders and you’ll
                                     give a gift that will be remembered for years. If a
                                      friend gave you a book you mentioned six months
                                      ago or a treasured family recipe, wouldn’t you feel

    Behold What Can Be Done in Days to Come
    Cutting back a bit and using some creativity can save a considerable amount of money
    during the holidays, but there are other things to help you save for the holidays yet to
    come. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

    ¨ Budget; make a list, determine what you’ll spend and STICK TO IT! Impulse buying is
      tempting, and stores are designed for it. Remember your mission.
    ¨ Open a Holiday Cash Club account right after the New Year and get a head start on
      saving for the holiday. Even a few bucks a month will ease the holiday hit.
    ¨ Pay cash when you can. You’ll likely be more reasonable and stick to both your list
      and budget.
    ¨ Look for sales and shop around. With gas prices the way they are, use common
      sense, but know what you’re looking for (again, the list) and peruse sales papers.
    ¨ Keep receipts/give gift receipts. No receipt and a wrong size/item/etc. can mean wast-
      ed money.
    ¨ After-holiday sales are a great place to get a head start on next year (even if for deco-
      rations/wrapping material)—think about birthdays too!
    ¨ Interest-free deals are great IF YOU PAY ON TIME. If you end up making even one
      payment after the interest-free period, you’ll pay interest on the whole thing—and the
      rate is likely more than 20 percent. Be careful and study the terms before you choose
      this type of plan.

    Avoid the specters of the past, think about what you’re doing today and embrace the
    unforeseen future. The holidays can be a whole lot of fun, but they can be more fun and
    have more meaning when you take the time to think about why and what you're cel-

                                                         From everyone at LGFCU

                         Ó           In Focus
                                     LGFCU Scholarships

Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU) congratulates the following
recipients of 2005 Institute Of Government scholarships. Awards totaling
more than $8,000 have been distributed to:

Fred C. Reynolds                   Glenn Bratton
GASTON COUNTY                      GASTON COUNTY
Russell Scherer                    Cynthia Coker
Marina Williams                    Edward Lilley
Jacentia Jones                     Robert Parrish
                                                                  Crystal o
Gayle Hudson                       Danté Patterson                          f Lenoir
                                                                  6-year m

LGFCU offers approximately $30,000 a year in Institute Of Government
and LGFCU Scholarship Awards. LGFCU fully supports local govern-
ment and believes education builds a foundation for strong community

For more information on LGFCU scholarships, other LGFCU ser-
vices or to get a scholarship application, visit www.lgfcu.org or call

apply for your scholarship
                                                                                                       d City
The deadline for our LGFCU Scholarship Award for postseconda-                                f Morehea
                                                                                   Deborah o
ry education, administered through the Carolinas Credit Union                                ember
                                                                                   19-year m
Foundation, is February 8.

Member Profile                                                                                      vices, our online member access helps fill that
                                                                                                    bill. As Scott says, “...online services...you can
                                                                                                    move money, make payments on loans, check
                                                                                                    balances, whatever—you can do it all online.”

                                                                                                    But many people, like Scott, enjoy the human
                                                                                                    contact at a branch when it comes to loan
                                                                                                    applications—or maybe just a friendly chat
                                                                                                    while cashing a check. “In my opinion, it’s
                                                                                                    the best place to go for one-to-one customer
                                                                                                    service and there are always the great rates.
                                                                                                    It’s an easy-going atmosphere and very user-

Ó                                                                                                   friendly,” says Scott.

                                                                                                       Online services...you can
   Scott Hopkins                                                                                    move money, make pay-
   Customer Service Coordinator
   City of Albemarle
                                                                                                    ments on loans, check bal-
   1-year member                                                                                   ances, whatever—you can
                                                                                                    do it all online.
   Delivering top-notch customer service to the
   people of Albemarle has been the priority of
                                                                                                    When Scott is not making life a little easier for
   Scott Hopkins, Customer Service Coordinator
                                                                                                    the folks in Albemarle, he can be found on the
   for the city, for the past ten years. He oversees
                                                                                                    tennis court or playing other sports. There’s
   all the customer service activity for the city.
                                                                                                    also a real good chance he’ll be spending time
                                                                                                    with his wife and two daughters.
   From credit checks and helping folks work
   out payment plans, to answering questions
                                                                                                    Thanks for making life a little easier in the City
   and addressing concerns on countless topics,
                                                                                                    of Albemarle!
   Scott strives to be “delivering excellent cus-
   tomer service” all the time. As Scott is a new
   LGFCU Advisory Council member, we look
   forward to his input!
                                                                                                     Would you like to see a friend or
   Just as Scott makes service a priority, we                                                        family member featured here?
   work to do the same at your Credit Union.
   With 24-hour access and a wide array of ser-
                                                                                                      Phone: 800.344.4846
                                                                                                      e-mail: michael@lgfcu.org
This publication is printed on recycled paper with vegetable-based inks for environmental safety.     We’d love to hear your Credit Union story!
                                                Ó              First Rates
                                                               LGFCU rates as of November 18, 005
Deposit services

                                                                                                                    Dividend rates on shares and
                   Products                                            Min. balance        Rate          APY        IRAs have been set subject
                   Regular Shares                                       $25.00             1.50%         1.51%      to the availability of funds.
                   Fat Cat Shares                                         $5.00            1.50%         1.51%      Dividends are paid from
                                                                                                                    current income and available
                   Zard Shares                                            $5.00            1.50%         1.51%      earnings, after required
                   Holiday Shares                                         $5.00            1.50%         1.51%      transfers to reserves at the
                   IRAs                                                 $25.00             4.25%         4.34%      end of a dividend period.
                   Interest Checking                                      $0.00            0.75%         0.75%      Depending on options chosen,
                                                                                                                    most accounts have modest
                   Money Market Shares                                 $250.00             3.25%         3.30%
                                                                                                                    service charges that could
                   6-Month Share Certificate                           $250.00             4.00%         4.00%      reduce net earnings. There is
                   12-Month Share Certificate                          $250.00             4.25%         4.25%      a penalty for early withdrawal
                   18-Month Share Certificate                          $250.00             4.25%         4.25%      from Certificates. The divi-
                   24-Month Share Certificate                          $250.00             4.25%         4.25%      dends on all accounts except
                                                                                                                    Certificates are variable and
                   30-Month Share Certificate                          $250.00             4.50%         4.50%      may change at preset intervals
                   36-Month Share Certificate                          $250.00             4.50%         4.50%      after the account is opened. All
                   48-Month Share Certificate                          $250.00             4.75%         4.75%      depository services compound
                   60-Month Share Certificate                          $250.00             5.00%         5.00%      dividends daily, except Share
                                                                                                                    Certificates. LGFCU also offers
                                                                                                                    fixed rate mortgages.
Loan services

                   Variable Rate
                   Mortgage Loans                    Description                      Rate             APR          All rates, terms and conditions
                                                                                                                    can vary and are subject to
                   2-Yr ARM (First Time Homebuyer)   100% LTV                         5.75%            6.95%        change.
                   2-Yr ARM                          90.1–100% LTV                    5.75%            6.70%
                   2-Yr ARM                          90% LTV                          5.25%            6.50%        Contact a local branch or the
                                                                                                                    Call Center at 888.3.856
                                                                                                                    for current fixed rates for
                   Manufactured Home w/DOT           Singlewide—15-Yr max. term       See ARM Products for Rates
                                                                                                                    purchasing or refinancing
                                                                                                                    a home.

                                                                                    PayD Rate          Direct Pay
                   Home Equity                       Up to 90% LTV                   6.75%              7.25%       APY    =   Annual Percentage Yield
                   Improved Property                 10-Yr max. term                 9.75%             10.25%       APR    =   Annual Percentage Rate
                   Unimproved Property               10-Yr max. term                 9.75%             10.25%       PayD   =   Payroll Deduction
                   Personal                          Unsec./Sec., Open/Closed-end   10.75%             11.25%              =   Loan To Value
                   Pay Day                           Open-end, $500 max.            11.75%             —                   =
                                                                                                                    ARM        Adjustable Rate Mortgage
                   Share Secured                     49–120-mos. max. term           8.75%              9.25%
                                                                                                                    DOT    =   Deed of Trust
                   VISA                              No interest grace period        —                  9.75%

                   Fixed-Rate Loans
                   Computer                          —                              6.50%               7.00%
                   Second Mortgage                   Up to 120 mos., $50K max.      8.75%               9.25%
                   Share Secured                     Up to 24 mos.                  5.00%               5.00%
                   Share Secured                     25–48 mos.                     5.50%               5.50%
                   Share Secured Term Note                                          —                   6.50%
                   Vehicle Secured Term Note         DOT/vehicle                    —                  10.75%
                   Unsecured Term Note                                              —                  11.75%
                   New Vehicle                       Up to 60 mos.                  6.25%               6.75%
                   New Vehicle                       Up to 72 mos.                  6.50%               7.00%
                   Used Vehicle                      Up to 60 mos.                  6.25%               6.75%
                   New and Used Motorcycle           Up to 72 mos.                  8.25%               8.75%
                   New and Used Boat                 Up to 72 mos.                  8.25%               8.75%
                   Recreational Vehicle (RV)         See www.lgfcu.org for terms    7.75%               8.25%
                                                                     The most
                                                                     time of
                                                                     the year?

LGFCU Checking Account
Overdraft protection available
Just a reminder — there are some safety nets for your spending in case the spirit of the season gets the
best of you (and your account balance). Simply equip your checking account with overdraft protection
from a share account, another checking account or even your Visa credit card, and rest a little easier.
Other checking account features include: earns dividends • 50 free check transactions/month • unlimited
ATM transactions • 20 free BillPay transactions/month • no minimum balance.

To open an account or for more info, call us at 888.732.8562 or visit your local branch.