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May 19


Kristin D., Vice President, Marketing

It’s my favorite time of year.  Summer vacation is on the way and I can almost smell the sunblock.  If you’re ready for a break without breaking the bank, now may be a good time to explore low-cost vacation options.


Instead of hopping on a jet, here are a couple ideas for going local and exploring the tourist spots in your neck of the woods.


A Day Trip
The day trip, more recently dubbed the “staycation,” makes for a great getaway.  Short getaways are affordable, fun and family friendly. Better yet, local attractions often offer a resident’s discount.


If you’re one of those bay area locals who has never been to a local tourist spot like Alcatraz – this is the time.  But don’t stop there – get creative!  Nearby aquariums, beaches, parks, farms, museums, the zoo or trails are inexpensive excursions.  Or, try a new mode of transportation, hop on a ferry boat, cable car or BART for a day of fun.


Walking is an ideal way to get you and the kids moving, but if you have young children, bring a stroller. They’ll have a place to rest when they start to slow down and you’ll have a great place to stash your things.


It’s easy to get started online.  Start with an Internet search with your city of choice, and “visitor’s guide.”  You’ll find a list of attractions out-of-town visitors like about your area.


Grab a few supplies like water, sunblock, a camera, and a sack lunch and you’re out the door.  It’s simple.


A Road Trip.
Airfare, transportation and hotel costs can be huge vacation expenses.  Instead, take to the road for a day trip or weekend getaway.


Family trips are hands-on learning experiences.  Get the kids involved by using a map, plotting your route and uncovering points of interest along the way.  Using an old pencil compass like the kind you used in school is a great way to start.  Simply put the pointer on your home city and the pencil on the farthest spot you’d like to drive in a day. Make a circle with the pencil and find new vacation spots inside your circle.


When you load the family in the car, they’ll be excited for their adventure and you’ll appreciate how much you saved in travel expenses.


Before hitting the road, though, research weather and map your drive.


Have fun and travel safely!

Mar 24


Kristin D., Vice President, Marketing

Kristin D., Vice President, Marketing

In fashion, every year designers come up with gimmicks to sell merchandise.  Writers refer to these basics as “the new black.”  With the recession touching everyone in some way, consumers have really returned to their financial roots.  Saving money is finally back.


If you’ve forgotten how to save, here’s the trick:  Set a goal and stick to it.


Here’s how I’m making it work.  There are approximately 35 weeks until holiday gifts need to be purchased.  No pressure.  :)  There is still time to put aside money weekly to avoid overspending and running up your credit cards.


Step 1:  Decide how much money you want to devote toward your holiday spending.  Setting a budget will help you stick to it.  For this example, I want to limit my holiday spending to $750.


Step 2:  Open a secondary savings account by logging into BranchLine at left.  To reach my $750 goal, I need to contribute $21.50 weekly.  Using BranchLine, I scheduled weekly automatic transfers to the account.  Set it and forget it.


Step 3:  Using BranchLine, I set up a cute nickname to motivate me, “Santa’s Savings.”  Go to “Personal Profile,” then “Edit Accounts” to change your account names.


Step 4:  Stick to my budget.  Before shopping, I make a list of people that I’m buying for and a budget amount for that person.  One tip that works for me is to start my shopping early to look for great deals and maximize my money.  I keep my eyes open for gift ideas starting in September.


It’s easy to get started.  Our friendly member service representatives are ready to help.  Simply call (888) 858-6878, ext. 6231.  Happy saving!

Feb 24


Jenna P., Vice President, Operations

Jenna P., Vice President, Operations

Beginning January 2010, the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limit and filing status requirements to convert a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA have been eliminated. Prior to 2010, consumers with an AGI above $100,000 did not have this option.  Now you do.  By converting this year, you can defer and break up the tax burden, paying half in 2011 and the other half in 2012.
So, what’s the difference?
Roth IRA funds can be withdrawn tax free at age 59½ or older if the funds have been in the account for at least 5 years. With a Traditional IRA, however, there are required minimum distributions starting at age 70½ and amounts withdrawn are taxable at the time of distribution.
Taxable Event.
Conversion from a Traditional to a Roth IRA is a taxable event. Contributions and earnings that have not already been taxed, will be taxed at your regular income tax rate. If you decide to convert this year and defer taxes to the following year(s), you should consider if your tax rate may be higher in 2011 and 2012.  You may not want to convert if you don’t have the money available to pay the taxes now.  If you pay the taxes with money from the Traditional IRA, you may lessen the value of the conversion.
Visit the IRS website for complete details. Pacific Service CU is not a qualified tax expert and does not provide tax advice.  We encourage you to contact your tax advisor for details and to see if the 2010 Roth conversion options can benefit you.

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