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4 Habits of Well-Known People Who Followed Their Dreams
January 29, 2015
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178182379 DreamsThis article by Stephanie Vozza includes inspirational words from the following well-known people who followed their childhood dreams and developed helpful habits to keep them going along the way:
-  Stephen King
-  Steven Spielberg
-  Tony Hawk
-  Amy Tan

Read on to learn how they became so successful.

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Answering Behavioral Questions in a Job Interview
January 22, 2015
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451846939 Job InterviewIn this article by Joe Konop, he discusses using a very helpful interview technique know as STAR.

STAR is an acronym that stands for:
Situation
Task
Action
Result

Used correctly and STAR can help you answer a potentially complex behavioral question in an organized and complete manner.

Read on to learn more.

 

 

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4 Strategies for Filing for FAFSA
January 15, 2015
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86810455With the start of the New Year, every college student knows it is FAFSA time (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Whether you’re entering college in the fall, or entering your sophomore, junior or senior year, the goal is to minimize the costs of school. With the help of these 4 strategies, you can receive the most from FAFSA.

1. File Early.  The closer your file to January 1st, the more financial aid you’ll receive. All schools and grant programs have financial aid deadlines as well as an established budget to distribute per year. Therefore, students who file early are more generously rewarded than those filing towards the deadline. According to Mark Kantroqitz, publisher for Edvisors.com, “Families that submit their forms before March receive an average of double the grants than people who file later do.” If you or your parents haven’t received a tax return yet, you can fill out a 1040 Form, which will estimate your family’s income for the past year.

2. Fill Out the Form Completely.   This sounds like common sense, but it happens often. Many students submit incomplete  FAFSA applications, which in turn delays processing. One minor error can cost you hundreds or thousands. Before submitting your application, make sure you’ve filled out all fields with the correct information.

3. Disappointed in Your Aid Package?  Make an Appeal.  You have an opportunity to negotiate for better aid – even after your college sends you a financial aid package. If your family is dealing with substantial changes and your financial circumstances have changed, call or visit the financial aid office. When my house was damaged by Sandy, I visited the financial aid office to explain my circumstances. As a result, I was awarded a $500 scholarship. The key is to be polite and grateful for the money you’ve been awarded, but also explain your situation honestly. Providing proof of your situation, such as documentation of unemployment, medical bills or a layoff notice from your parent’s employer, will help significantly.

4.  Be Honest, Always When it comes to filling out FAFSA, always be honest.  College is expensive and every student wants the best financial aid package, but through employing these tips, you can receive the best aid possible. Falsifying income or assets on FAFSA can result in up to a $20,000 fine and potential prison time.

Created by: Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

 

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Five Saving Tips for Savers Under 30
January 8, 2015
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178098337[1]What if the actions you took in your twenties could make saving for retirement easier for the rest of your life? Well – believe it or not – they can! Especially when you consider that life doesn’t get any less expensive as you get older.

When deciding how much attention to give your retirement at an early age, here are five important considerations.

1. Take responsibility now for how your retirment will be funded. Common sources of income for retired people include personal savings, Social Security benefits, part-time or continued employment, and a work pension, although this is less frequently offered by employers. What among these sources of income do you think you’ll be able to count on in your retirement to provide for your basic needs, your lifestyle and perhaps family?

It comes down to this: Funding your retirement is your responsibility. It will be important to plan for it, so that when it does happen, you’re not sorry you didn’t save more. In the University of Michigan’s 2012 Income and Wealth Study, 75% of retirees surveyed reported that they would save more if they could do it over.

2. Start early. Getting started early in your working years is a great way to make sure you’re not in financial trouble in retirement. Even if you don’t have large sums of money to invest, by starting now, you’ll reap the benefits of compounding interest over the years. Your balance will grow as you earn income and make contributions with each paycheck throughout your career. It’s also nice to get started early before increasing financial obligations - including mortgages and family expenses like saving for college – make prioritizing retirement even harder.

3. Invest enough. Don’t just go with the minimum. Use planning tools to know how much to put away today to reach your goals.

If your plan offers a matching contribution, consider deferring the fullest amount possible from your paychecks to maximize the match. Or even better, set your deferral percentage to 10 percent or higher, in addition to the employer match. The amount you defer into your plan is the top factor you can control in your retirement plan.

4. Invest well. Ideally your plan’s resources can help you determine how to invest your money, in addition to determining how much to contribute to your retirement account. Many people choose target date funds, which are low-cost options providing an investment allocation based on your projected years to retirement. This means that your investment mix will automatically become more conservative as you approach retirement and have less time to recover from market ups and downs. If you don’t choose a target date fund, make sure that the investments you choose in your plan are diversified among stocks, bonds, cash equivalents, as well as among asset classes.

Once you select your strategy, stick with it over time. During market ups and downs, avoid letting your emotions lead to decisions to move funds that you might be sorrry about later.

5. Don’t be ruled by debt. Do your best to not over-extend yourself in terms of debts. Auto loans and home mortgages are necessary for most people. Shop wisely for loan products and be careful to not obligate too much of your monthly income, which could put your budget in jeopardy. Minimize credit card debt so that it doesn’t build up and become difficult to manage. Budgeting and tracking your expenses is also helpful.

At this time and throughout your life, take advantage of the resources available to you.

 

 

 

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4 Tips to Starting a Business in College
December 18, 2014
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What do Google, Pizza Hut, FedEx, and Facebook have in common? They were all launched by college students! That’s right! If they could do it, so can you. Here are 4 key tips to bringing your business idea to fruition while in college.

Create a Business Plan. Seems self-explanatory, but many entrepreneurial spirits forget this key tip! Without a clear roadmap, where exactly are you heading? Once you get the idea for your business, begin writing down the details. The more you flush out your ideas, the clearer your vision will become. Once you clearly define your business idea, work to determine your short- and long-term goals, marketing strategies, financial necessities and target audience.
 
Know Your Target Audience. Who is your target audience? Where are they located? What is their age range and gender? Income level? Relationship status? Identify your market. If you’re looking to sell bubble-gum scented lip gloss incased in a Cinderella shaped bottle, it’s safe to say your target audience is young girls between the ages of 9 and 12 years old, not single men between the ages of 25 and 30. Determining your market means being able to effectively market your business. 

Utilize Your Network. Starting a business while in college gives you instant access to the knowledge base of the entire university – use it! Build connections with faculty members who can offer you great advice and perspective when it comes to your business. Alexis Ohanian, creator of Reddit.com, decided to team up with a fellow student to launch what has become one of the leading social news websites at the moment. If there’s someone in your network who shares the same vision as you, it’s okay to consider building the empire together.
 
Time Management is Key. The thing that will sustain you over time is this – your time management skills. Do you know how many people have said they had the idea for Starbucks way before it was created? What separates those people from Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker and Zev Siegl is this – they had the idea, but Starbucks’ founders brought the idea to life! It’s going to take hard-work, commitment and time management to make your business idea a success. Remain steadfast and focused on your mission and you will become the next business mogul.

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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Time Management Tips for College Students
December 11, 2014
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One of the biggest challenges all college students face is time management. Between the classes, sports practices, study groups, honor society formals, and extracurricular activities, how exactly do we manage additional school work? Check out these 4 time management tips to get and keep you on track.

Use a Daily Checklist. Whether you make it a day in advance or that very morning, keeping a clearly defined schedule will keep you on track. If you don’t determine what your goals are, how will you know when you’ve achieved them? Start each day by reviewing the tasks on your list. This will help you understand how much you can get done.

Slow Down on Social Media Consumption. It’s time that we put up the “Do not disturb” sign. 2 minutes on Instagram, Twitter or Tumblr turns into 2 hours so quickly, right? When you are completing an assignment or studying for an exam, dedicate your time to solely focus on the tasks at hand. This may be hard at first, but it gets easier over time. When we use our phones while we’re doing homework, a 30 minute assignment ends up taking 2 hours. Why? Because it’s difficult to get back on task each time we get distracted. Work hard and play hard. Dedicate a solid 30 minutes to your homework assignment, so that you can enjoy the rest of the time doing other stuff – like surfing the web.

Make Room for a Break – and Rest. Too often, the value of rest is underestimated. But sooner or later, our mind and body reminds us that we are not superhuman. When we make room for a break, we make room for our success.  That’s because balance is essential. We can’t perform at our best without breaks in between our tightly bound schedule. As energy levels decrease, so does our attention span, memory retention and ability to make good judgment. P.S.: Studies show that the GPAs of students who are regularly sleep deprived are significantly lower than those who get enough sleep – so get some rest!

Allow for Flexibility. Samantha plans to complete her homework assignment at 7:00 pm. However, she gets home at 6:30 pm completely exhausted from soccer practice. As she starts her homework, she realizes 20 minutes later that she’s having a hard time concentrating. What should Samantha do? Samantha should give herself permission to rest before jumping in on the homework.

It’s important to be flexible when the unexpected happens. Whether it’s exhaustion from a long day or an unexpected visit to the hospital, practice flexibility, and frankly, understanding.  Logically, if you can’t focus on your homework after 20 minutes, you should step away from the task and rejuvenate yourself, whether it’s getting something to eat or taking a quick nap. (20 minutes can work wonders!) Sometimes we have to deviate from the plan to execute the plan.

In this case, I would recommend Samantha head off to sleep early so she can get up an hour early to complete her homework assignment fully refreshed and ready to focus.

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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Seeking Scholarship Opportunities?
December 4, 2014
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86810455NEFCU, Long Island’s leading credit union, is proud to offer its Making a Difference College and Community College Scholarships! Up to five $1,500 and five $1,000 grants will be awarded respectively to students enrolled at an accredited college/university or community college who are either members, or have a parent or guardian who is a member of NEFCU.

It’s easy to apply! Students should review the eligibility requirements and complete the online application at www.myNEFCU.org/scholarships by Thursday, Januray 15, 2015. To learn about NEFCU’s scholarship programs call 1-888-773-1457 or visit www.myNEFCU.org.

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4 Habits of Self-Made Millionaires
November 20, 2014
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Do you want to achieve financial freedom? Do you want to become a millionaire in this lifetime? If your answer is “Yes!” to the questions above, these habits will you get you on your way to financial security.

1. Establish and Work Towards Your Plan Patiently: Self-made millionaires don’t become wealthy by accident or overnight. It takes a well-researched and well-thought out plan to get them on their way. Setting the intention is important. If you’re serious about heading into millionaire-hood at some point in your life, you have to set a clear intention and shift your lifestyle choices to mirror your goal. Consistent investment effort turns into millionaire success. 

2. Be Proactive: You don’t need an Ivy League education to become a millionaire. What you need is a strong commitment to learning. Whether you’re starting a business or working hard at a job, make the commitment to learn everything you need to know. Self-made millionaires are actively involved in creating their own wealth. This includes: learning the ins and outs of finance, paying attention to what’s happening in their industry and making wise decisions with their money.
 
3. Save and Invest: Self-made millionaires are focused on saving and investing their money, instead of making and spending their money. As a result, they are constantly seeking ways to generate more income. For starters, you should already be saving at least 10% of your pay checks. Create a budget and stick to it. Consider ways to make more money. This may be creating a stellar app, building a powerful website that draws in investors or starting your own business selling unique apparel. Whatever the focus is, self-made millionaires are flexible enough to take measured risks. Without risks your money never has the opportunity to grow.

4. Live Below Your Means: After some extensive research, I’ve learned that the wealthiest people are also the most frugal people. Just pick up the book The Millionaire Next Door. The number one car brand among millionaires is not BMW or Porsche or even Mercedes – it’s Toyota! Just ask Mark Zuckerberg who drives a $30,000 Volkswagen. Self-made millionaires understand that if you’re too busy spending money on objects you don’t specifically need, you’ll never have money to effectively save or invest in something better. Consequently, a healthy relationship with money matters. Self-made millionaires pack their lunches, drive reliable, low maintenance cars and spend below-to-within their means.  

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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4 Apps You Should Have on Your iPhone
November 6, 2014
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Nowadays you can do just about anything on your phone – including save money! Check out these 4 incredible financial resources and start managing your money today!

1. Mint —User-friendly and efficient, this application brings all of your financial information to your desktop and mobile device. If you have difficulty figuring out where all your money’s going, Mint will be a lifesaver. Securely connecting to your checking, savings and credit card accounts, Mint automatically organizes your various purchases into categories to display exactly where you spend your money. It also offers a budgeting program that allows you to create budgets and savings goals to keep you on track for financial success. Whether you’re establishing your food expenses for the month or planning for a successful retirement, Mint is a one-stop shop for personal finance management and it’s FREE.

2. Bill Tracker – With this useful tool, you will never pay a bill late again! Bill Tracker is a simple, straight-forward app for keeping track of bills. It records due dates, amounts owed and confirmation numbers for payment. With the click of a button, you can set reminder alerts for upcoming and overdue payments. From student loans to cellphone bells, you can keep track of all of your payments for a low-cost price of $1.99.

3. Gas Cubby – Are you tired of spending tons of money on gas? Then Gas Cubby is for you! With this app you can save money and keep your car up to speed. Using your phone’s GPS to chart car mileage, the app tells you how much gas you’re using.  Also, it tracks gas prices at various locations to find you the best local deals. Use this FREE app to get reminders about when to change your car’s oil and other maintenance needs.

4. Retail Me Not – Whether you’re at the store or shopping online, Retail Me Not shares up-to-date coupons and promo codes for thousands of your favorite stores. At Target? Simply search Target on the search box and receive the latest Target coupons applicable towards your purchase.  Whether you’re looking for a deal on apparel, electronics, phone bills or flight tickets, Retail Me Not has a deal for that. Not to mention, the application posts the latest and greatest deals on its home page to keep you in the loop about the best deals of the moment. Go download this FREE app and never miss out on a deal!

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3 Tips on Writing a Stellar Scholarship Essay
October 23, 2014
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scolarship applicant

Whether it’s fall, winter, spring or summer, it’s scholarship season for college students. Read the following tips for pointers on writing a stellar scholarship essay!

1. Answer the Question – You can follow the next 2 tips, but without this one, you will be missing a significant piece – the essay question. Read the instructions and make sure you understand what the question is asking you before you start writing. Once you clearly understand what you’re being asked, create an outline to help organize your thoughts. Ask yourself, “What do I want to say?” and “What story do I want to tell?” Focus on developing a strong introduction, supporting evidence and an appropriate conclusion. Whether the essay calls for structure or creativity, make sure you have a beginning, middle and end that flows. 

2. Add Your Personal Touch – Don’t be afraid to include a dash of personality to your piece! Remember, scholarship applications ask for GPAs, extracurricular and community service activities – all things you and other applicants may have in common. What will make you stand out is your essay.  Be descriptive, but make sure you share information that bolsters and not inhibits your essay.  

3. Proofread – We all know the importance of putting our best foot forward, that’s why grammatical and spelling errors are frowned upon. Scholarship judges see your essays as a reflection of you. As writers, sometimes we overlook silly grammatical mistakes, but it makes us appear negligent in the eyes of the judges. To ensure your essay is in tip-top shape, have at least one person proofread it for clarity and grammatical soundness. The goal is to have your essay stand out for its excellence and not its errors.

At NEFCU, we offer excellent scholarship opportunities for all college students!  To learn more about NEFCU’s scholarship grants, visit www.myNEFCU.org/scholarships

Created by Brittany Spell/St John’s University – Major: Psychology

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