News

How Many?

Let’s crunch some numbers with this brainteaser…

Tim and Suzy Winkleman were dating. One day, Suzy asked Tim, “Would you like to meet my family?”
“Sure,” said Tim.
“We Winkleman’s are a big family,” she warned.
“I can handle it,” said Tim, “How many are you?”
Suzy said, “Well, Mr. and Mrs. Winkleman have six daughters and each daughter has one brother.”
How many people are in the Winkleman family?

Fridays-brainteaser

Answer: There are nine people in the Winkleman family. Each daughter shares the same brother. There are six girls, one boy and Mr. and Mrs.Winkleman.

Move in the Middle of the Winter

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There is a saying that – if you’re looking to change locations soon – do it when it’s still cold out and save 10-15% on the rental price. This is a well-known trick in NYC, but it holds true for smaller cities across the country. It’s simple deduction: When the demand for an item is low, prices will drop. Since most people prefer to move when it’s warmer out, apartment prices decrease in the middle of the winter. Turn your nose up at convention and choose to move in the middle of the winter. You’ll find great deals and enjoy the payoff throughout the year with your lower rent cost!

City CU's FAQ

Q: What is a “held funds fee?”

A: This has to do with how electronic payments (like using your debit card at a store) are processed. Say you have $100 in your account and you make a $70 purchase at Target. Target might not immediately withdraw the $70 from your account – but that $70 is theirs to “hold on to.” Then, you go to the grocery store and check your account through the mobile app; it still shows a $100 balance (because Target hasn’t taken their $70 yet). At the grocery store, you spend $50…and now your account is overdrawn by $20. When you view your transaction history, you’ll see the grocery store charge, along with a $30 held funds fee, because the funds Target was “holding on to” have been used. So, keep an eye on what you spend or, if you have a City CU savings account, sign up for overdraft protection transfer – that’s only $5 for each time you use it.

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Need overdraft protection? Contact a City CU Associate via Live Chat or call (214) 515-0100.
Click here for our Fee Schedule.

How to Shop Smarter at the Grocery Store

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Don’t: Leave the House Hungry
Only shop while on a full stomach. Then you won’t buy to satisfy your lingering hunger pangs.

Do: Check Your Pantry and Fridge Before You Leave
Make sure you know exactly what you have in the house before you head to the store.

Don’t: Buy into Every Bargain
Product discounts always look tempting – but you aren’t saving anything if you’ll never use the item.

Do: Stick to Your List
Shop only with a detailed list in hand – and stick to it! You’ll spend much less that way.

Don’t: Grab the Biggest Cart
Use a smaller cart or basket to be less tempted to throw another impulse purchase inside.

Do: Shop with a Budget in Mind
Determine how much you want to spend before you set out. This way, you’ll be motivated to keep your costs down.

Don’t: Forget Your Coupons
Before you head out, check the circulars or coupon apps like Couponcabin and Flipp for in-store discounts on regular items.

Do: Shop the Seasons
Cooking with seasonal produce is a lot cheaper than buying whatever suits your mood.

Save a Few Bucks and Stay Fit

Quinoa With Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts ($1.24 per serving)

Quinoa brussels

It’s quinoa and Brussels sprouts, practically synonyms for incredibly healthy. This meal has a grain, a vegetable and a protein, all in one dish.

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, stemmed and halved
  • 2 lemons
  • 6 strips bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion or 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • salt to taste

  1. Combine quinoa with 2 cups water. Bring to boil. Lower temperature and simmer until all water is absorbed (around 20 minutes).
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the Brussels sprouts, any stray leaves, the bacon and the onion.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice onto the vegetables and sauté for 5-7 minutes over medium-high heat unit the Brussels sprouts have turned bright green and begin to brown slightly. Remove from heat.
  4. Stir in pepper and salt to taste.
  5. Toss Brussels sprouts mixture with the quinoa. Serve warm.

Tax Form Secrets Revealed

Q: Tax forms have started coming and my mailbox looks like a can of alphabet soup exploded in it! What do I need and where do I start?

A: This is a tough time of year for people who hate paper. Sorting out what’s important is a big challenge, and it gets harder if you don’t know what’s what.


Fortunately, it’s easier to tell these forms apart than you think. Here are the four most common tax forms you’ll see and what to do with them!

1.) W-2
This is the most common tax form – a statement from your employer that contains your yearly wages, how much tax you’ve had withheld, and how much you’ve paid (pre-tax) for things like health care premiums. This may be the only major tax form you get.

It’s also one of the most important forms. Keep it with other tax documents until filing time.

2.) 1099
1099s identify income from sources other than contract jobs. Most common is the 1099-INT, which lists interest income. You may get a 1099-INT from any financial institution where you have an account.

If you freelance or work as a contractor, you’ll probably receive a 1099-MISC. There are several more 1099s, such as a 1099-G for unemployment or another source of government income and a 1099-C for canceled debt.

Hold on to these forms, too. You’ll need the amounts of untaxed income when you’re ready to file.

3.) 1095
1095s deal with health insurance. Form 1095-A is for insurance purchased through a marketplace exchange. 1095-B is for private health insurance. 1095-C is for employer-sponsored health-care coverage.

These forms are important if you get a health insurance subsidy through the Affordable Care Act. If not, you can file this form away; you’ll only need it if issues arise regarding your coverage.

4.) 1098
The 1098 and the 1098-T, report tax deductible expenses. The 1098 lists mortgage interest and points on your primary residence, while the 1098-T itemizes tuition and other expenses paid to institutions of higher learning. The 1098-T is used in several places, including claiming the Hope Credit.

To claim mortgage-related deductions, you’ll need to itemize them. Claiming the deductions on the 1098 requires forgoing the standard deduction, which is usually a bad idea. Unless you have a host of other deductions, or you bought or refinanced your home this year, it’s best to claim the standard deduction and file away the 1098.

Unfortunately, you can’t file your taxes and be rid of those papers until you get all your forms together. Keep all necessary forms together until all of them arrive. Get a manila folder to keep them all in one place. Keep that folder somewhere safe, and as soon as possible, file your taxes so you can put it into storage. Keep your returns for at least 3 years after you file.

Will the New Tax Code Destroy Medicare?

Everyone and their next-door-neighbor has an opinion on the revised tax code. But whether or not you think the simplified tax brackets and the cuts to small businesses are brilliant, all agree that slashing taxes translates into budget cuts across government programs. This is due to the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO) Act that Congress passed in 2010 to keep the national deficit in check.

Unfortunately, the program that’s expected to take the biggest hit is also one that millions of Americans rely on: Medicare.

Medicare is what funds health insurance coverage for senior citizens and much of the disabled population. According to the law, only 4% of the Medicare budget can be trimmed. However, financial experts predict that the tax code that is now on the table could clean out the Medicare funds completely by 2029.

Why does the new tax code pose such an extreme threat to Medicare? Are any other programs under similar threat? Can individuals protect themselves? There are so many questions – here’s all you need to know about the new tax code and its proposed impact on Medicare.

The actual cuts
Here’s the real deal: The tax bill will increase the federal deficit by approximately $1.5 trillion over the next decade. It’s important to note that the tax code was created with the primary goal of increasing economic growth.

Since the government has to fund this deficit, many programs are expected to suffer from budget cuts over the next few years. It is anticipated that Medicare will be subjected to automatic cuts to the tune of $25 billion – as early as next year.

Which other programs will be affected?
Many social insurance programs will likely be subjected to cuts, including food stamps, WIC, unemployment benefits and Social Security. However, most of these programs receive their funding from a mix of mandatory and appropriated funds, so the expected cuts will not eliminate them completely.

Unfortunately, the two programs expected to be hit the hardest, Social Security and Medicare, are already struggling mightily to remain solvent. Both programs are currently running at deficits. Even if they weren’t already battling a deficit, these programs are the ones that need the most funding. If this indeed comes to pass, it can mean almost instantaneous poverty to millions of aging Americans.

Will those who are losing benefits receive a tax cut?
Ironically, the financial class that will be hit the hardest by the loss of funding for these programs will also be hit with a higher tax rate. Most middle-class Americans will be paying more in taxes under the new code, and the AARP has estimated that 1.2 million taxpayers age 65 and older will be paying higher taxes as well by 2019. By 2027, that number is expected to increase to 5.2 million.

What can you do about the impending change to the tax code?
Unfortunately, the average American can’t do anything about these imminent changes. You can hope that the code will change again and the damage done to these programs will reverse itself before any lasting harm is done, but that’s essentially out of your hands.

What you can do, though, is double down on all your retirement investments and try to put away a little more than you already are for your golden years. Call or email our financial advisor and ask how we can help. We’ll assist you today so that you’re ensured a financially secure tomorrow.

Friday's Funny

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Dependent: An individual that a taxpayer can claim for tax credits or exemptions.

Thursday Thought

Approximately How Much Do You Spend on Food Every Month?

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You may not know exactly, but food is one of the biggest monthly expenses in many households. By knowing how much you spend, you’ll be able to evaluate if this is an area you can cut back on…or not. It helps to split food expenses into two categories: groceries and eating out.

Can Living Frugally Make You Happier Than Living Lavishly?

We all know that money can’t buy happiness. And yet, many people overspend on a lifestyle they believe will make them happy – only to rack up thousands of dollars in debt…which leads to stress, worry and unhappiness. Maybe living frugally can make you happier than living lavishly?

Frugal-living

Living frugal doesn’t mean going without — it’s more about using your money wisely. It can be really easy to forego the monthly cable subscription knowing that $200 goes toward saving for a dream vacation or a new home.

Here’s how to get started:

Start small
Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish, how much money you’ll need to achieve it and make a plan. Determine which expenses you can live without. Instead of buying gourmet drive-thru coffee, brew your own at home. Take your lunch to work more than you eat out. Make a weekly meal plan and cook your meals at home. Then watch the savings add up.

Consolidate debt
If you owe on multiple credit cards, consider consolidating them into one loan or into a single, lower-interest credit card to save on interest charges. Check out City CU’s low-interest credit card with no balance transfer fee. After you consolidate your credit card debt, keep your your oldest card, use it infrequently and close all others.

Stretch your money
Use your grocery store’s app to find coupons and sales. Buy in bulk at warehouse stores. Shop sales and discount stores.

Give frugal living a try! You have nothing to lose but debt – and only happiness to gain!