[THEME MUSIC] [MUSIC PLAYING]
EMILY BIGHAM: Hi, and welcome to the podcast, MakingCents, brought to you by Navy Federal Credit Union. I'm your host, Emily Bigham. And each week, I'll be taking your questions to the experts to help you make sense of your money-- pun intended.
Hi, and welcome back to my conversation with Kevin Driscoll, Vice President of Advisory Services at Navy Federal Financial Group. In part one, we discussed retirement planning. And now, we'll get into investing in today's world.
Job security is a big deal because you can't even think about an investment until you've had job security.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah, I think you're exactly right on that. Job security during a pandemic, job security during any of the internet bubbles, or any-- the Great Recession, it's always a concern. Your employment-- you have to feel comfortable in your employment.
As a business owner, that's a double-edged sword because you're also a business owner, and you're an employee of that business as well. So you may have established a retirement plan for both you and your employees. And you're going to have to make some decisions in some tough markets. Maybe you forego-- No, I--
EMILY BIGHAM: Sorry.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: It's OK. Maybe forego a contributing--
EMILY BIGHAM: No, this is an emotional topic for people, so I'm really trying to-- I know that we do have a lot of military members. But for people who don't, this is probably even more important. And putting your eggs all in one basket, we were talking about this earlier, do not rely on your job as your only source of income and your only thing that you have going. Make sure that you diversify.
And if you don't have money besides your job, what are some steps that members can do? And I know that is a tough question. It's very situational, and that's why I'm kind of encouraging it. Because that's when you probably do need to go seek help the most, is when you're in that sort of--
People who already have the investments, already have the house, already have the stocks, I'm not sure that they need a ton of help. They definitely need guidance, and they're taking big risks. But what about for people who-- they lost their job, and they don't have the balanced portfolio?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: One of the very first things people should start doing when they get their first job, get employed is have an emergency fund. And the bigger you can build an emergency fund, the more you're able to react to events like the pandemic. You know--
EMILY BIGHAM: The rainy day fund sort of thing? Or is that a little bit different?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: That's a little bit different. The rainy day fund may be something that is used by many people during the Christmas time, you know? It's, OK, I'm going to-- people feel like they can jump into the rainy day fund and pull money out of it. But if you name it the emergency fund, that's a little different story.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right, it's like the happy cash fund.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: That's right. So just the terminology of what you're calling these accounts can make a difference in what you're going to use it for.
EMILY BIGHAM: Are they in different places? Because I would imagine that it's probably a good idea that when you're setting aside money, you don't necessarily have to set it aside in a Roth IRA. You can have different accounts where this is my rainy day fund, or my whatever, and this is my emergency fund.
Is there a difference between one that's just sitting there waiting for you and you don't get any penalties for when you actually take it out, versus I feel like an emergency fund? Is that almost like a-- You know, we have a lot of different accounts here at Navy Federal, and a lot of different things that you can put cash into.
So is an emergency fund maybe something that potentially, if you take anything out of it, you get docked for it? Is the difference just in the name, or is it in the place that you keep it?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: So there's a couple of rules of thumb. And many people don't like rules of thumb. I like rules of thumb.
EMILY BIGHAM: I like rules, makes it easy. I come from a military family, though, so I'm very-- I need rules.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: Tell me what to do.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Right. So the period of time that you might need that money, the shorter that period of time, the fewer penalties you want to erode that. As an example, if I put $1,000 into a savings account at Navy Federal, if I take that out, there are no penalties. If I put $1,000 into a five-year certificate of deposit, there is a penalty for taking that $1,000 out, but you're only going to lose some of the interest that had accrued. You're not going to be below your $1,000. So as you--
EMILY BIGHAM: But what does that mean?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: As you prioritize your buckets-- it's really good, actually, to have penalties on long-term money. So if you invested in Tesla--
EMILY BIGHAM: Whoa, whoa-- it's good to have penalties-- whoa, whoa, whoa. OK, so what does that mean?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: So you talked about Apple. You talked about Tesla. Some of those Google, Facebook-- if I'm invested in those for retirement, the penalty of taking money out is actually lack of growth. If I take money out of Apple today, 10 years from now, it may be worth twice what it is today. So the penalty on taking money out today is really hurting my future use of that money that I put into Apple.
EMILY BIGHAM: So if you own stock right now and you sell it later, it doesn't really matter-- so OK, hold on. I'm trying to think about it at a really, really high level. So if you own stock today and then it grows, if you take the money out now, then when you say penalty, you mean the amount that you get taxed on it? Sorry, I'm--
KEVIN DRISCOLL: So from a investment perspective, you can use the word penalty and attribute it to many things. There could be literally-- you look up in the conditions and terms of the account, and it says penalty, $50 for transferring your account. That's a penalty.
But you can also say that a penalty is by taking money out prematurely, because then it's not growing. So you're penalizing yourself from not keeping it in there and allowing it to grow. So if I put $5,000 away for my retirement that will double to $10,000, will double to $20,000, $40,000, $80,000, if I take that money out before it has a chance to double and double, I just penalized myself.
EMILY BIGHAM: So you have to wait-- OK, I know I have so many questions about this. But I have kind of been trying to balance my portfolio. And so you know, I have a little money in stocks, and I have a certificate that I actually got here at Navy Federal-- I think, actually, Martin, I think it was a project you worked on. It was the 10 year, 3%-- whatever, I don't even know.
See, that's the problem-- I don't even know. I just put money there. And you know, when somebody gets a marketing promotion and it seems like a really good deal, how do you know if it's a good deal? And then to your point-- I promise it does connect back to what you were talking about.
But when we talk about penalties and all of those types of-- the language that we use here when we're working versus people who are reading about it, what are the keywords to look for, and where can you go to-- do you have to go to a disclosure or disclaimer? Or how-- is it going to be very obvious? And is this specific to Navy Federal, or anywhere that you get a product? That was like, 50 questions. If you want to read the fine print, where can you go?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: I think today, that there's more transparency today than there's ever been. You think about your 401(k)s and the fees that are paid on 401(k), that the transparency of those fees is far greater today than it's ever been. The transparency of what are the penalties if you were to-- have to break your certificate before maturity, that's right on the credit union's website.
Everything is there for the consumer today to find out if there is a penalty to that investment imposed by the financial institution. So don't hesitate to look for it if you're thinking about money for a rainy day, if you're thinking about money for an emergency, if you're thinking about taking money out to help put kids through college, or whatever it may be. You really need to go to that website of that financial institution. And nine times out of 10, it's going to be easy to find. Transparency is really important in today's market.
EMILY BIGHAM: All right, yeah-- that was a good answer to my 50 questions about what if you're confused, and you don't know. But I do want to go back to the question about a credit union versus a bank. Are there differences in the products that are available and the penalties? Or is the penalties specific to what type of investment regardless of where you get?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Well, the huge difference, I think, from a credit union to a bank is member first. For the credit union, it's always thinking about the member-- you know, how will this affect the member? Versus the bank, its shareholders. So we always have to improve the share price of the stock. We have to make sure that the investors of that bank are taken care of.
So it's really important from a credit union's perspective, especially Navy Federal, when we talk about specials, certificate specials that you may have taken advantage of that Martin told you about--
EMILY BIGHAM: Yes, thank you, thank you to both of you.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah, it's really--
EMILY BIGHAM: I don't know what they do, but I trust you guys, so. I guess that's the point, right-- trust?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Exactly. So the credit union really is giving back to the member. They're giving back to the member in higher certificate rates and lower lending rates. So if you have to use a credit card, chances are the interest rates that you're paying on revolving balances are lower at a credit union than they are at a bank. May not be true 100% of the time, but as a guide, that's what I believe, is that you'll find member-centric products at Navy Federal Credit Union.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah, I mean-- and this has been a really great conversation for me personally. I really try to put myself in the member's shoes. And sometimes, when we're talking about all these really big-picture things, it's good for a certain audience. And then I have to remember like, wait, but I have questions. And I'm sure other people have these questions.
So I really appreciate you coming online today and chatting with me. And is there anything else that you want to talk about? I'm here.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: I do want to go back to a comment you made, because I think that's a misnomer, kind of what people think. Have I accumulated enough money to go talk to somebody? And I think that's-- I think you need to talk to anybody, whatever situation you're in. Having a financial advisor, having that conversation with a financial advisor just because you just got started, or you're 10 years from retirement, don't think about the amount of money you've accumulated.
Because you're 100% right, that is going to-- say, you know what, I really haven't accumulated enough. I'm going to go talk to somebody. And it's going to look like I don't have a lot of money.
And in your situation, it may be that you have a lot of money because you want to retire at a different level than your neighbor. You want to retire differently. You want to have priorities of travel. You want to have priorities of visiting grandkids. So don't think about the money.
Don't think about, do I have enough money? If you have any amount of money that you've accumulated, it's a good time to go talk to a financial advisor.
EMILY BIGHAM: Mm-hmm. Well, it's always a good time, right?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Absolutely, don't be intimidated by others.
EMILY BIGHAM: A strategy that I've used, or something that I've kind of realized is if you feel like you're wasting money, and you're like, you know, I really don't need-- But then again, you don't really have anything else to spend the money on. so you're just kind of like, eh, you don't have to think about it too hard-- that's when I feel like it's really good to have one of those set-it-and-forget-it type of accounts, or where part of your paycheck goes in.
When you think about an investment, sometimes, I think people think saving, which means holding on to money. But it could also mean going and purchasing that car that you want, and that you've been waiting for. But you know what, just go ahead and do it if you have the money. And then you'll be more concerned about the money that you have left. And it will help you think more about what are you spending this money on.
Does that make sense? I don't know--
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Absolutely.
EMILY BIGHAM: I feel like that's probably a mid-career--
KEVIN DRISCOLL: I think-- and I talk to my kids. I have grown children, and--
EMILY BIGHAM: What does that mean? Am I grown? Am I a grown child?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: They're in their 30s, and are married, and have families. I talk to them about the pressures, just like you talked about. Sometimes, it's good to have pressures of a loan, pressures of how much money I have left in the account. Because you're not willy-nilly spending money because I don't have anything else to spend it on.
So having pressures of I have a loan payment coming due next week-- well, I can make coffee at home today. I really don't need to go to a coffee house and spend $5 on a cup of coffee. I can make it myself.
So I don't think that those pressures you talked about are bad. Because they keep us in check.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: They keep us financially sound.
EMILY BIGHAM: I'm going to go back to another military child haunting thing. So I had that wake-up call when it came to car payments. So I was living in California, and I'd moved out to the East Coast. And my dad had helped me buy a car.
And for a while, we were both paying for it, but it was like a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing. And then he did warn me. He was like, one day, this is going to be cut, and you're going to have to pay for the rest, and you need to be managing it.
And I was like, OK-- completely forgot. Well, I didn't forget. But then when the time came, I hadn't planned for when I had to start making those payments. And that was a wake-up call. And that was like, all right--
And thankfully, you know, I was managing the rest of my money fine, and wasn't going nuts. But I didn't realize how much I needed to think about it until I was almost at that little brink. So it's probably better to wait for those types of wake-up calls than the big wake-up calls.
And it's maybe going to practice a little bit with that, too-- like, set aside money and be like, OK, can I budget with this amount of money this week? Like, what is my threshold?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah, it's funny you mention that, because as we get a little bit older, those wake-up calls we had earlier in life help us avoid wake-up calls later in life. And so those are good scars. Those are really good situations that will develop some of your later decision-making.
EMILY BIGHAM: Kind of like the app, the Digital Investor app, right?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: That's right.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's kind of like-- it's almost like training wheels. And you can kind of play with that a little bit and see like, OK, where were the smart decisions, the not smart decisions based on how well you're doing, or--
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah, I think you're right. But I also think that as people put money into an application like Digital Investor, it's not something that you should go into-- I have $1,000, and I don't care if I lose 20%. I don't care if I lose 200 bucks.
It's something that may turn into future success for you. It may create enough revenue, it may create enough of an asset to help you meet a goal. You may be saving for sending the kids to college in five years or 10 years.
And if you have less money because you're just playing around with it, it's hard to tell your child, well, you can only go to school for three years. I know I told you four, but you can only go to three because I lost your money just playing around. So it's really important to take your investments very seriously, even on an app like Digital Investor.
It's a learning tool. It's something that-- it is learning with training wheels on. But it's not something that-- We work too hard for our money, I guess is what I'm saying, Emily.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: [? I worked ?] too hard for my money to throw 20% of it away because ah, it was just learning.
EMILY BIGHAM: So going back to my question about the risks, and what are the big risks, it's almost like, as long as you're paying attention and you feel like you're-- you feel comfortable with it, and you've talked to people, and you've done your own research, you understand what's important to you, you can sleep at night, you've talked to [? someone at ?] NFFG and you have a balanced portfolio, then I think as long as you have-- It's almost-- what do they call it-- almost like a planned risk, or-- is there a word for it, when you think about-- you're taking a risk, but you're almost-- Like, people who take big risks, they always say like, well, I didn't really take a big risk because I did so much--
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Educating.
EMILY BIGHAM: --planning and prep for it.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah, educated risk.
EMILY BIGHAM: I guess-- yeah, that's I guess what I'm trying to say.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we talk about that with members all the time. What is an educated risk, and what is an uneducated risk, you know? And so if you want to put money, for example, into a certificate that pays 1%, and inflation is 2%, your risk is that that money is not going to keep up with inflation. It's not going to buy as much tomorrow as it did today.
If you're comfortable with that risk, it's an educated risk. Go ahead, take it. If you want to put it into a balanced portfolio, and you know it may go down, it may go up, I'm comfortable with that risk. So an educated risk is really what you want to do as you move into retirement. Take educated risk versus uneducated risk, because the uneducated risk is-- that's tough.
EMILY BIGHAM: That'll keep you up at night, for sure.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Yeah, that's tough to bounce back from, yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, I've definitely kept you too long. But I've really been enjoying this conversation. I've learned so much.
And it's funny, thinking back to an hour and a half ago, and I was like, how are we even going to talk about a plan for retirement during a pandemic? Like, every word in there-- plan, retirement, pandemic-- all those words are scary to people. So I really appreciate the fact that you've been able to kind of help me understand and make sense of all of it.
And just to make sure, is there anything else, any last words that you want to get in there or say? Where can they find you? Where can the people find you?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: People can find-- NFFG through--
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, yeah.
KEVIN DRISCOLL: --through the credit union's website. We are available simply by typing in NFFG into the search within the credit union's website, and our pages will come up. But NFFG, like you said earlier in the conversation, is a wholly owned subsidiary to the credit union. And we--
EMILY BIGHAM: What does that mean?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: That means that because many of the products that we offer for our members involve risk, they're not protected by NCUA. The risk that you may have less money is real if you make an investment in Apple. It may go down.
EMILY BIGHAM: Do you have to apply for a Navy Federal membership and an NFFG membership, or one comes with the other?
KEVIN DRISCOLL: You do not. So you don't necessarily have to be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union to work with NFFG, although probably 99% of our clients that we work with are Navy Federal Credit Union members. Being a wholly owned subsidiary, we are a CUSO, a Credit Union Service Organization. So we benefit the members of the credit union.
EMILY BIGHAM: So you operate a little bit differently, which is why you're separate from Navy Federal, and why you don't have to be a member? And I only ask that question because I know that there's a lot of questions about the business side of Navy Federal, the business solutions. And you do have to apply for Navy Federal membership, and then you have to become a business member.
So just wanted to make that distinction in case that was a question. But that's great. Well, thank you Kevin so much for again, joining me in this. I know this went way longer than it was supposed to. But that's great, because there are so many interesting things to think about and questions, even though retirement's an interesting word.
And a couple of things that we talked about-- so we talked about some of the products. But I think rather than getting really into the products, you'd mentioned the Roth IRA is one of the most popular. And then also Digital Investor, if you're kind of looking to play in the stock market a little bit. But what it really comes down to is managing stress, and also just making sure that you have a plan. And there's no better way to do that than to talk to someone who's an expert, and someone who knows you, which is--
This has been a really great conversation. And thank you so much. I hope you have a wonderful rest of your day, and--
KEVIN DRISCOLL: Thanks for having me.
EMILY BIGHAM: --and thank you everyone, for tuning in. This is Emily Bigham. I'm your podcast host for MakingCents. And you can download and subscribe to MakingCents anywhere you get your podcasts.
ANNOUNCER: Navy Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration. This podcast is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax, or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial professional for specific information on how certain laws may apply to your individual financial situation. References to and participation with the military community does not constitute organizational endorsement. Navy Federal is an Equal Housing Lender.
ANNOUNCER: Navy Federal Credit Union-- our members are the mission.