We’re making your financial health our mission every week with our personal finance podcast, MakingCents. Join us as we explore ways to help you stay in control of your wallet and make sense of your money.
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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 cents of your money, pun intended.
On this first season of MakingCents, we're making your financial health our mission. So what does this mean? Well, as members of the military, veterans, and family members of those who serve, financial health can mean anything, from rethinking your budget as you transition from active duty to civilian life, or figuring out the right mortgage for you, or whether it's even the right time to buy a home. It can also be discussing how to have the money talk with your family. I'm a Navy brat from Coronado, California, and growing up, I experienced firsthand how the military lifestyle can make basic finance questions a bit more complicated.
On the podcast, we'll be giving tips and tricks, like what credit cards to use overseas to avoid extra fees. Is it the right time to buy a home? If so, which mortgage products should you choose? And as a service member, what are your special benefits, such as the VA loan?
And as your host, it's important to me that I'm asking the right questions on your behalf. So let me know, what topics should we cover? What keeps you up at night? Email me, Emily Bigham, at firstname.lastname@example.org. That's M-A-K-I-N-G C-E-N-T-S at navyfederal.org. And make sure to subscribe to MakingCents wherever 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.
Navy Federal Credit Union, our members are the mission.
Episode 0: Start MakingCents of Your Money
Navy Federal Credit Union is launching a new financial wellness podcast called MakingCents, where we’ll be making your financial health our mission. Every week, our host Emily Bigham will chat with personal finance experts to break down topics important to servicemembers and their families. We’ll provide you with actionable advice, tools, tricks and tips to set you up for financial success. The goal is simple: we want to help you make sense of your money. Join us by subscribing on Apple Podcasts®, Spotify or Google Podcasts™.
[MUSIC PLAYING] EMILY BIGHAM: Hi, and welcome to the podcast, "Making Cents," 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 cents of your money, pun intended. On this first season of "Making Cents," we're making your financial health our mission. So what does this mean? Well as members of the military, veterans, and family members of those who serve, financial help can mean anything from rethinking your budget as you transition from active duty to civilian life or figuring out the right mortgage for you or whether it's even the right time to buy a home. It can also be discussing how to have the money talk with your family.
I'm a Navy brat from Coronado, California. And growing up, I experienced firsthand how the military lifestyle can make basic finance questions a bit more complicated. On the podcast, we'll be giving tips and tricks like what credit cards to use overseas to avoid extra fees. Is that the right time to buy a home? If so, which mortgage product should you choose? And as a service member, what are your special benefits, such as the VA loan?
And as your host, it's important to me that I'm asking the right questions on your behalf. So let me know what topic should we cover? What keeps you up at night? Email me, Emily Bigham, at email@example.com. That's M-A-K-I-N-G-C-E-N-T-S @navyfederal.org. And make sure to subscribe to "Making Cents" wherever you get your podcasts.
Hello, and welcome back to "Making Cents," a podcast brought to you by Navy Federal. I'm your host, Emily Bigham, and today we're going to be talking about savings products, but specifically saving for the holidays. Today we have Jaspreet Chawla on the podcast. Welcome, Jaspreet.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Thank you, good morning.
EMILY BIGHAM: Thank you so much for being here. Good morning. Jaspreet is the head of our savings products department here at Navy Federal. So the perfect person to talk to you about this. Now I'm going to throw a little curveball at you, how has your morning routine changed since we've all been at home, working from home?
JASPREET CHAWLA: Oh, I am loving my morning routine. It's letting me sleep in. So I get about 30 to 40 minutes of extra sleep because I'm not sitting in traffic. And if I do end up waking up early still, I can go for a quick morning run. So I'm loving the change in the mornings. And it puts me in a really, really good mood.
EMILY BIGHAM: Good. Yeah, I can tell. Very cheery this morning.
And I love the 30 to 40 minutes. It's so specific, but it's so important. Just that little extra bit makes such a difference.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yeah, it makes a big difference. Yup.
EMILY BIGHAM: Awesome. All right. Well do you want to talk a little bit about what you do here at Navy Federal saving's department?
JASPREET CHAWLA: Sure. Absolutely. So as you mentioned, I'm managing the savings products division. With that comes all our deposit products. So checking accounts, savings, MMSA's, IRA's, certificate products, pricing of those products, and then the operations involved with it, and the data and the analytics. I've been with Navy Federal for 20 years. I know, it seems like such a long time, but time truly has gone by really, really fast. I am new to my role. I just moved over to savings products about a year ago.
EMILY BIGHAM: Congratulations.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Thank you.
EMILY BIGHAM: So before we get into the savings products, and I want to specifically talk about the holidays coming up, we're in an interesting time right now. There's some economic uncertainty. And do you have any tips for how consumers can, I guess, take advantage of the holiday season without having to spend too much money?
JASPREET CHAWLA: Absolutely. I mean, sales is the number one thing that comes to mind, right? Shopping sales-- and you can do this online, a lot more folks are doing this online nowadays, is always a good idea. And then getting your shopping done. Cyber Monday's, a lot of the merchants are pushing for shopping prior to Black Friday. So you're going to see in the upcoming weeks a lot of activity online. So I would take advantage of that.
But just be careful to not use sales as an excuse or as a reason to make unnecessary purchases, right? As you mentioned, Emily, we're in a time of a lot of uncertainty. So we want to make sure that we are purchasing and enjoying the holidays within our means. Another good strategy, especially during this time is if money is tight for you and your loved ones, reach a consensus amongst your friends and family, right? Maybe do a budget allocation that all gifts must be purchased up to X tag amount, whether it's $35, $50, whatever your budget allows.
Or perhaps, you do a secret Santa and you only have to purchase one gift in a group of your friends or amongst your family members. So I'd say think about getting creative.
EMILY BIGHAM: I do love a good secret Santa. We've done that before here at Navy Federal and teams in the past year. And so, you did mention budget allocation. And on the podcast, we like to talk about how to make our money go further. Has there been a time when you went the homemade gift fruit?
JASPREET CHAWLA: Absolutely. And I'm actually doing that even this year. So I love drawing. So what I'm doing is for all my friends, I'm doing an art piece for all of their homes. So just something small that I will give to them. And then I also have taken up knitting. And I know a lot of folks are in a similar place like me because we have some time because we're not on the road getting frustrated with our commute. So we have some extra time, so I've taken to knitting. And I'm knitting scarves for a couple of friends.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's amazing. Next time you can bring me one.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Sure thing, sure thing.
EMILY BIGHAM: I'm just kidding.
JASPREET CHAWLA: So I would say, look at what you can do because people do appreciate those personalized gifts a lot. So you don't always have to spend the money.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's true. I love that. And it just reminds me of feeling cozy at home. And it's something that when people wear it, they think of you. And that sometimes just goes along a long way.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yup.
EMILY BIGHAM: So let's get into some savings products and some tips for holiday shopping. Recently, we were talking about savings products. And I mentioned a story about how my nanny used to get us different certificates or bonds when we were younger. And we would be like, oh, it's a piece of paper.
JASPREET CHAWLA: That's a smart nanny. Yes. Yes.
EMILY BIGHAM: I know. Now we thank her. So are there any other tips like that?
JASPREET CHAWLA: I would say-- right. So I've done the same route with a couple of my nieces and stuff who were younger. And so when you're thinking about giving gifts, think about something that can go a long ways for those folks as well. So I have done certificates for my nieces, and even my own kids.
EMILY BIGHAM: So how do those work exactly and where do they go? So, for example, if I'm a child and I open it up and I see this bond, like what happens? Is it in the ether? And then how do you take advantage of it and when can you take advantage of it?
JASPREET CHAWLA: So opening a certificate is as easy as going on your online or mobile application, going to Navy Federal and looking at how long do you want to save your money, right? So what's the time that you don't need to touch this money. And so for holiday spending, let's say if I was trying to save for the holidays, I would open a certificate, perhaps, springtime, right? And do a certificate for six months. Those six months, my money's working harder for me because it's earning interest. Instead of letting it sit-in a savings account or a checking account, which also earns interest, but certificates generally offer a higher interest. So your money is working harder for you.
And then when your term ends, you should think about liquidating it if you really need the funds. And if you don't, you can continue to roll them over into another certificate product. And so, I say certificates are the best way to kind of plan for the future. And you do a laddering of sorts. So if you're planning for the holidays and you start saving six months early, do a six month certificate. If you're planning for a vacation that you know you're going to be taking a year from now, you might want to do a 12 month certificate. Or do a six month and then roll it into a six month because you didn't need the funds. So there's a lot of opportunities to make your money work harder for you, I would say.
EMILY BIGHAM: And thinking about that time line, it almost sounds like right now when we think about saving for the holidays. It's almost like we should start saving for next year's holidays with the six month and the 12 month timeline.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yeah. Absolutely. The sooner you start, the better position you're going to be in.
EMILY BIGHAM: And then thinking about these holidays and just given the situation that we're all in, is there any spending habits or anything that you've changed to make your money work for you?
JASPREET CHAWLA: Absolutely. So I was where Stitch Fix fan. So I would get a monthly subscription of Stitch Fix. And so, that's a clothing package that I would get. It would have five things that I would get to pick and choose what I wanted to keep. Well since March since I've been working from home, I've kind of canceled all my Stitch Fix subscriptions, delayed them because I'm not in need for new clothes. I'm not coming into work every. So I would say that's a change I've made. Also, not going to Starbucks every day, right? And that $5 spent--
EMILY BIGHAM: I'm going every day. No, I'm kidding.
JASPREET CHAWLA: That $5 spent at Starbucks daily does add up if you think about it, right?
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah.
JASPREET CHAWLA: My $0.50 coffee cup at home or $0.20 coffee cup at home compared to $5 a day, I'm saving $25 a week. And then what I've started with my husband lately is we used to order out twice a week for dinner. So I'm not ordering out because it's just easier for me to cook at home and I feel more safe cooking myself. And so, I'm taking that money that we would normally be paying for carry out and putting it to the side as well. And that's my spend bucket for holidays and things like that.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right. That makes a lot of sense. Something I've noticed, a lot of the subscriptions that I have, like gym subscriptions, or you mentioned Stitch Fix, those types of things, that's hundreds of dollars a month that I'm now saving.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: And so I've been setting up just monthly from my checking into my savings account. And a lot of the gyms pause the accounts, but I just ended up just canceling them because you just don't really know.
JASPREET CHAWLA: You don't know where we're going back. Yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: I think it's also important too, if you do see charges like that I think you can probably call the companies and see if there's anything that they can do. Because every dollar counts.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Every dollar counts. And then right, CD's you can usually open a certificate with $50. So take that $50 and open a certificate for your son. Take a $50 and open a certificate for your mom or your dad or your siblings.
EMILY BIGHAM: Or even cutting back. And it's funny because you mentioned Starbucks, and that really adds up. But for me, I went from maybe going out to dinner, and instead I'm going on morning walks with one of my friends who actually works here at Navy Federal. And then at the end, we get Starbucks. So instead of a $20, $30 dinner, we're just getting like a $3 or $5 Starbucks in the morning. And then you're also getting to spend quality time. So reallocating funds and being able to save money here and there, but still being able to spend time I think is really important. All right, great. So I know that you do have two boys at home.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yes, Ma'am.
EMILY BIGHAM: Any special plans for the holidays? Or have you guys thought about gifts or anything like that?
JASPREET CHAWLA: So my two boys are, I would say, grown men at this point. And they will be home. And I was just talking to the older one yesterday. And I said, hey, do you want to go somewhere? He's in med school so he only gets limited time off. And he said, no, Mom. I just want to be home. I just want some family time because he's had to go back to college for studies and stuff. So right, we're just going to be enjoying the holidays as much as we can and spending quality time together.
In terms of gifting, I think we're going to just-- gift is going to be they're going to make me breakfast one day. Or they'll make dinner one day. We'll do the best we can given current circumstances.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, that's great. I love that. So just to recap a few things that you mentioned, going into the holidays there are going to be a lot of great sales. And most of them are going to be online and digital.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: So make sure you have a plan.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Absolutely.
EMILY BIGHAM: Think about your budget. And then also make your money go further for you. So think about a secret Santa, or you mentioned that you're going to be drawing.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yup.
EMILY BIGHAM: Just so crafty. I love that, I wish I had that. And then we talked a little about the savings products. And given the timeline of six months or 12 months, start saving now for next year's big events. It doesn't just have to be the holidays, it can be any type of vacation or major purchase.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Especially given that we've all been in the pandemic environment. Most people haven't taken a vacation, right? So you know that when this is over and it's safe to get out, a lot of folks are going to want to take that vacation. So start putting away that money now and put in a certificate for six months, nine months, 12 months. There's so many different terms out there. And just let it sit there. It's in an account, you'll get a penalty fee, so there's a deterrent there and you won't likely go touch it because you don't want to pay a fee to take that money out. But set it aside, forget about it, leverage it when the pandemic is over as you need it.
EMILY BIGHAM: Is there a minimum amount?
JASPREET CHAWLA: For the certificates at Navy Federal?
EMILY BIGHAM: Mm-hmm. Start saving.
JASPREET CHAWLA: For certificates, you can start as low as $50 at Navy Federal.
EMILY BIGHAM: Wow, OK. So it sounds pretty doable for most people.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: Great. Well, thank you so much for coming in today.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Absolutely.
EMILY BIGHAM: And can't wait till next time when you bring me a scarf.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Yes, Ma'am."
EMILY BIGHAM: Just kidding.
JASPREET CHAWLA: Have a wonderful day.
EMILY BIGHAM: Thank. You too. Thanks again for tuning in to "Making Cents," and make sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.
VOICEOVER: 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 a equal housing lender.
VOICEOVER 2: Navy Federal Credit Union. Our members are the mission.
Episode 1: Saving for the Holiday Season
While you should always be focused on saving, with the holiday season right around the corner, Navy Federal's Senior Vice President of Savings Products, Jaspreet Chawla, gives us the lowdown on what you should be focused on right now.
- a discussion around short-term savings
- tips on best practices to save and spend reasonably around the holidays
GUEST: Jaspreet Chawla is Navy Federal's Senior Vice President of Savings Products. With over 15 years of experience at Navy Federal, she manages the strategy and performance of all savings and checking products.
[MUSIC PLAYING] EMILY BIGHAM: Hi and welcome to the podcast Making Cents 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.
ROBERT FRICK: Well I gave my usual commentary on GDP this morning and it was good, I thought. I worked on it sober and all. Then I just kind of unleashed. I tweeted on Twitter-- I unleashed a tweet and it's kind of taken off. And it's basically-- before everybody pats themselves on the back for having a great third quarter, it's because we spent trillions of dollars. And the Fed opened the spigots to all this money and that's how we made it back in the third quarter. So, you know--
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah and--
ROBERT FRICK: We're still not walking on our own yet.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right, it's so interesting too to read those reports and to think about it from a regular consumer reading it versus someone who's really plugged in and understands the why behind it. And by the way, for those of you who have tuned in to the Making Cents podcast, we are on with Robert Frick. He is our corporate economist here at Navy Federal. Bob, I'm not sure if you knew we were recording but I love the real time Twitter feed.
So, what was I reading the other day where it was so interesting how everyone who was reading it-- it was completely misconstrued. I think it had to do with spending and it might have been a monthly report, maybe Consumer Spend or Retail Spend.
ROBERT FRICK: Probably Retail Spending.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah and no one ever talked about the stimulus checks and the way that money just-- Also I think it was Consumer Credit and they were trying to say that that was an indicator that the economy is bouncing back. And I'm thinking, but it's all credit. No one's paid any money back.
ROBERT FRICK: Well, yeah, we got these trillions of dollars and a lot of people banked it. And a lot of people paid down their credit lines which is as good as cash. So they have more credit that they can use and then more money in the bank. And we're still coasting on that when it comes to retail spending at least. And once you factor that in things don't look nearly as rosy as the numbers would indicate.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right. And on that note, given the way that the economy has shifted this year a little unexpectedly, what can you tell us about-- can you give us an overview, I guess, about what you've seen happen due to the pandemic and what you're thinking is going to happen early next year?
ROBERT FRICK: Sure. Well, obviously the economy tanked in the second quarter when everything shut down. Some of it was the government said shut down. A lot of it, most of it, was people said, I don't want to go out with COVID raging. We bounced back in the third quarter, but as I said mainly because the government shot trillions of dollars to individuals and small businesses. And the Fed took interest rates down to zero so the third quarter was mostly a bounce back but it wouldn't have bounced back if the government hadn't weighed in so heavily. So we are still to some degree on life support. And even though spending's pretty good and consumer confidence is low but holding steady, we are still coasting on government programs. And the idea is we probably need more stimulus to get us to that promised land next year, second or third quarter, when we start getting vaccines and treatments and people can really breathe a sigh of relief. More jobs come back, more spending and we can really start walking on our own two feet instead of having the government assistance kind of prop us up.
EMILY BIGHAM: Bob, when would you say it's too late for the next stimulus? When would you say is the? Deadline
ROBERT FRICK: Well it looks like it won't happen until January at this point because the federal government has gone home until after the election and won't be back probably until January. So I don't think January is too late but if it goes much beyond January-- we're already seeing permanent damage done to the economy. Millions of people are going into long term unemployment and that's bad. The economy depends on people working. More people working, more paychecks, more spending-- that's just how it works. That's the bottom line. And the more people go into permanent unemployment, the longer it is for those people to get back to work. And we've proven that over and over again in the last 10 years. We really proved it in spades. It took a long, long time for a lot of people to come back after the Great Recession.
So, I think we're OK, January maybe February, but if somehow we don't get stimulus then we're going to have to crawl out of another pit
EMILY BIGHAM: Bob, what if we get a vaccine? What if we get a vaccine? Would we need a stimulus?
ROBERT FRICK: I'm counting on a vaccine. I'm saying that assuming we get a vaccine and it's well distributed in the second or third quarter. But we've been building this bridge, this $3 trillion bridge to get us to-- since apparently we can't control COVID on our own, we're going to need to get vaccines and other medications. But we've built 80% of a bridge. Now, 80% of a bridge only gets you so far and that means we're going to be falling off the edge for that last 20%, which is really again second and third quarter of next year. So I'm not the only one saying this. Most people are saying this. We need more stimulus I don't think it has to be a lot. But we certainly have to help lower income Americans, especially in small businesses, just to get them to a point where they don't declare personal bankruptcy, they don't fall into long term unemployment, they don't get so far behind on their bills they can't dig themselves out.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right. I guess that would be preventing the long term damage. And also I think just being able to give people some confidence and make them feel a little bit better. We're heading towards the winter. We live on the East Coast. You see how people's moods tend to drop when their not in the sunshine. And I think just knowing that there's something on the horizon is a positive sign. I haven't really been reading a lot about a potential stimulus in January and February and hearing that-- I'm optimistic. And I think that that's something that people should be talking about. Just because we're not going to get one right now or in November doesn't mean that we're not going to get one. Like you said, we're still on life support due to government funding. And if we can just get to January and February, things can turn around. So do you have any short term tips for people who are trying to stretch their finances as much as possible?
ROBERT FRICK: Sure. I always do. As a former personal finance journalist spending years doing that, I always have advice to give. But I think the advice right now comes with an interesting preface and that's that people are doing great right now. There's nothing that focuses people's attention like crisis. So you see people saving a lot, not spending as much, paying down their credit lines. People behave very rationally when money is tight. On the other hand, when things are booming, like you said, with the credit bubbles, and the housing bubble, and the internet bubble people then spent like crazy. People aren't doing that now. So that's great. But people still react in bad ways during times of crisis because anxiety makes us behave emotionally.
So my number one piece of advice is make a list. Make a list of all the things you're paying now that you really don't need and stop paying them. My wife and I went through and just cut a number of things off of our-- things that are deducted out of our checking account. We redid our cable and got a service which is saving us hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year. We cancelled two trips. Not that we were going to take those trips anyway-- one of them was to England. We typically rent a house on one of the Finger Lakes every year for our family get together-- that's gone. So when you make a list, a lot of good things happen. One, you look at things that you might not have looked at anyway. Two, you tend to prioritize things which we don't do if we're just trying to fix things in our head. And three, and most importantly, once you make a list you can start checking things off the list. That gives us a sense of accomplishment, that makes us feel better about ourselves, and It shows we're making progress. So don't rely on all the things churning in your brain right now to make financial decisions. Write it down.
EMILY BIGHAM: Those are some great tips, especially as we approach the holidays too. I think it's really important for people to think about what's important to them. There is a lot of gift giving and there's a lot of shopping but there's also a lot of sales. If you make your list and prioritize and there are things you absolutely need, you can probably find them at a cheaper price just given the shopping season.
I want to go back to what you said about the housing market, though, because earlier we were talking about the 2008 financial crisis. That was more of a housing market catastrophe. I think it's really difficult to try to compare what's happening now with previous recessions because you're seeing-- people are looking to buy homes now. They're moving out of cities. They're buying homes. Rates are really low. So for certain people who are in a good financial situation, it's probably a good time for them to start making those big purchases that they've been saving up for. Could you talk a little bit about how this potential recession is different from previous recessions?
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah and that's really interesting. When it comes to home building, home buying, that is one of the few bright spots in the recovery right now. People talk about a V-shape recovery in which we went way down and we spring back up. Housing is probably the only clear spot in the recovery in which things are going so well. Part of that is you have a lot of millennials that are becoming of home buying age. Part of it is interest rates are at historically low levels. Part of it is because there's been a tremendous backlog of home buying and now we're finally being able to get out of our houses. The whole real estate community has made it easier to buy a house. My family just sold two properties and they go to great lengths and do interesting things to allow kind of contactless buying. And it went very smoothly and the two townhouses we sold went very quickly. So housing is a big bright spot, if you're selling. If you're buying, it's very tough because there is so much competition.
One of the things that I was holding back on is committing to this idea that there's a lot more home buying now because people are moving out of urban areas and moving to homes where they can establish home offices, rooms where their kids can essentially go to school remotely. Just in the last couple weeks there's been enough data to come out that I finally buy into that idea. It's been anecdotal but now I think we have the numbers to go with it.
EMILY BIGHAM: So you do buy into it?
ROBERT FRICK: I do buy into it, yes. So COVID-- I heard this great quote, COVID is reconfiguring us, not just how we spend money, but how we look at our lives and our lifestyles. And this is one of the big ways that we're doing it is we figured this is going to be a long term situation. I'm not pessimistic about that. I think certainly a year from now there's going to be a lot more travel, a lot more restaurants, a lot more jobs. I think we're going to bounce back but I think we're finding that we can work from home efficiently. I think that COVID will be with us to some extent for a long time. And people say, OK, I'm not going to fight it. I'm not going to hold my breath. I'm going to change my life to basically make allowances for a long term situation.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right It's been long enough now that I think people are beginning to understand that this could be a longer term and you can't fight it. I mean you kind of just have to figure out what works for you and your family. I want to go back to travel for a minute because you said that you expect when this is over that travel will bounce back. Due to the fact that so much airline travel was for business and now it's very unclear whether companies are going to be sending people-- Now that we can work from home efficiently, what is your outlook there for travel, as far as business impact on travel?
ROBERT FRICK: Right. Well, a good friend of mine works for a travel trade publication and I follow what he says. Business travel is never going to come back, at least not in the foreseeable years, to what it was before. And that's disappointing for me because I go to one conference a year and it looks like that's going to be-- it was canceled this year and be canceled next year. I really enjoy that conference but there's been a lot of superfluous business travel, which I think everybody is recognizing. And it's just cheaper not to do it. And so airlines are recognizing that. Now leisure travel is something else again. And I think as COVID levels come down, come way down, we're going to see leisure travel pick way up. That might not be until 2022. Who knows. But people need to travel. People want to see other places. People want to visit their friends and relatives. That's going to come back 100%. I'm positive.
EMILY BIGHAM: Personally, I'm still traveling for personal reasons. I live on the East Coast, as you know, but I'm from the West Coast and I've gone back a few times. I think it really just depends on comfort level because the airlines, I think, have been doing a good job. But, also on travel, you mentioned superfluous traveling for business and how that's probably not going to come back. I tend to think-- me personally, having part of my team up here at headquarters in Virginia and then part of the team down in Pensacola, it's really important to me to go down to Pensacola and see the people on my team and connect in that way. I think there is something about being with people in person. And with you at your conferences, I'm sure part of that is networking with people who are in your circle. We need the human connection. I don't want to be constantly through a computer, through the phone. I think it's really important for business.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah, I agree with you. I don't consider that superfluous. As a matter of fact, just in a meeting we had yesterday one of our executives said, you know how do you think things are going? And I said, well you know we're very productive right now. And in fact more productive in some of the things we do. However, I really miss that personal contact. I was in our headquarters building earlier this week to drop off some things and I really miss wandering around talking to people, talking to you in now credit cards, talking to people in savings, talking to my risk management colleagues. I get a lot of good ideas. And in some of the projects I work on, the projects which take innovation, which takes new thinking, you need to be face to face to do those. I don't think you can do those nearly as well via Zoom. So I'm agreeing with you. I think we do need that to an extent. But I think a lot of times people were traveling for really no good reason. In a previous job, I was traveled to the West Coast a lot into Southern California and sometimes I'd just go there overnight, or for two nights, just to meet with a couple of people. There was no reason I had to do that and take a red eye. Now, I love Santa Monica and I love meeting with the people I met with, but I could have just as easily done that via Zoom and saved the company I worked for then thousands of dollars.
EMILY BIGHAM: It goes back to trusting your employees and making sure that when they do travel it's for a reason. Bobby and I used to work together very closely when I was in PR and now that I'm in credit cards we'll kind of talk about what's going on. And of course I get my personal finance tips from you. I miss that. But it's really difficult to do research for a project when you have to set up a call with everyone. I think we're probably learning what roles are good at home, what teams can function well working from home and then who needs to be in the office face to face. So I think that's another positive thing that people can do while we're in this situation. Start thinking about your business and how the working from home situation works or doesn't work, and where you can save money or where you're spending more money because of the situation and kind of restrategize.
ROBERT FRICK: Exactly. And come up with a new strategy. I mean, as you know, I work on various behavioral finance projects and it was much easier to do those when I could sit in a room with people and explain to them these new concepts. It's harder to do that if I do it in a paper or even if I do it in a Zoom meeting because, as you know, I get excited about it. I try and motivate people. I can answer a lot of questions. I can read their body language. You can't do that. So now we have to find kind of new ways to push the envelope. I think, for Navy Federal-- I'm kind of astounded that every month people are finding new ways of doing that and we are coming up with new products and finding new ways to help our members and that sort of thing. So it can be done but I think it takes more effort.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well I think part of that, too, is because at Navy Federal our strategy really hasn't changed. It's always serving members. And I know, for example, in credit cards some of the changes we made to our products a couple of years ago are doing really well right now because we have always been thinking about-- no matter what happens, how are we just going to best serve our members' needs? I want to get a little bit into that. So the military and veterans-- how has this impacted the military? And have you seen anything change with employment with veterans?
ROBERT FRICK: Well the good news for veterans employment, which just in the last few months I've really started looking at under a microscope, is that veterans employment is always low. Veterans unemployment is always at a very low level. When the pandemic hit, veterans did lose jobs but not nearly at the rate of the general population. And veterans gain their jobs back more quickly. That's because veterans tend to be better trained, better educated. If you're a veteran, you've shown that you really know how to get a job done. So veterans are great employees. I think everyone knows that. So veterans are doing well.
EMILY BIGHAM: Good with crisis, too.
ROBERT FRICK: Exactly. Right. They know how to handle a crisis. So what's been interesting, especially for me, is people have been asking me what's a good strategy for veterans? Should they extend, if they're offered, should they extend their hedge? And given a choice between coming out of the military into this environment and coming out six months or a year from now, I think, unless a veteran has a great job or a soon to be veteran has a great job lined up, I don't see any problem with staying in the service, getting more skills, kind of riding out these rocky times. So I know a lot of people have been preparing-- a lot of our military members have been preparing for their careers, sometimes for years. They've gotten degrees in the military, they've gotten special training and lined up jobs. And if they're ready to get out, great. But if they're not ready and they expect that they're going to come out into this great environment, they're going to be sadly disappointed and it's better to wait. So that's what I've been advising some people who are still in.
EMILY BIGHAM: So the military community is definitely faring better than the civilian population?
ROBERT FRICK: Oh yeah. And military spending-- if you're still within the military, military spending is still strong. When you leave the military, employment for veterans is still good but, all things being equal, this is not a great time to be launching yourself into this kind of chaotic economy.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yes. So what should you not do? We talk a lot about tips and tricks but what should people not be doing?
ROBERT FRICK: Well, one of the things that-- when we did our best careers after service project last year, which was terrific, and one of the things that I discovered in my research, and talking to people who employ a lot of veterans and to people who counsel veterans, is veterans need to not make going back to their hometown their first choice. Maybe there's a job for them in their hometown but everyone who I spoke to said, broaden your horizons. Look at other cities, other places, other regions of the country. Now I've worked at several places throughout my career and I know it's hard to start over. But especially these days where employment opportunities aren't that great, you've got to really look at cities, regions, companies which may be in another state, maybe on the other side of the country, where you can get a great job, restart a career, start a new career. Do not hold yourself to your hometown or even to your home state.
The other thing that we're seeing, which is true every time we have a recession, is that people with lower educational attainment-- high school degrees and less especially-- their unemployment rate is so much higher than people with college degrees or people with good training in the trades or vocational training. So use that GI Bill. Now is a good time if you want to get out of the service-- is put yourself in a program where you know there's going to be a demand, whether it's college degrees-- which a surprising number of veterans are getting college degrees now, although it's down a little bit from previous years. But if you can get into college or a trade program, use that GI Bill. That's the thing, especially in a dicey economy like this one where it may take several years for us to get back to a vigorous economy again. Get that education. Now's a great time to do it.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's very interesting about looking at job markets and taking a closer look at that because things are shifting. And, like you said, you thought it was just anecdotes you were hearing about people moving out of cities, but there are shifts. And it does seem to be state by state depending on where this pandemic is hitting hardest and what restrictions there are. So I think that's a really great tip. When I was getting out of college and trying to think about what I wanted to do and where I wanted to move to, I heard people say, be picky don't take the first job that you get. I don't know if people can be very choosy these days. I guess it just depends on, again, you're list and what you're prioritizing. But these are all really great tips, Bob.
ROBERT FRICK: That's a really good point, though, because when I got out of college-- back in the dark ages-- the economy was in bad shape and we were told, just take whatever job you can get. And I was a journalist. I had just gotten out of journalism school and there weren't many great opportunities. And I sucked it up. I took a job and I put in my two years and the economy had gotten better and then I could move up from there. It wasn't a great start but it was the only start I could get. So there's something to be said for just getting started. That's why I like the idea of waiting and getting more education because you'll be able to launch yourself into a better job with more money at a higher level than perhaps, probably, if you enter the job market right now.
EMILY BIGHAM: But Bob when you and I were talking earlier-- I want to make this important distinction because when we're talking about education and training, you're not necessarily talking about the four-year typical American college.
ROBERT FRICK: Exactly.
EMILY BIGHAM: So can you get into the differences there?
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah. Yes, sure. I think especially with the whole idea of four-year college in some respects coming into question right now because of COVID, but also because of the high cost, there's a lot more thought being given to getting a two-year degree, getting an associate's degree or getting training in a technical field or even a non-technical field such as IT or something like that.
A good friend of mine was a guidance counselor for a number of years at a high school here in Vienna. And he's retired now but he is keeping me apprised of what he would be advising students to do today. And in a lot of cases it's don't go and get that four-year degree or go to a community college for a couple years and then go on and get your four-year degree. So it's not an either-or proposition. There are a lot of gradations between a four-year degree and no education. No education is a non-starter. You're never going to do well with no education. But there are a lot of intermediate steps that people should really think about. Again, a two-year degree-- great, technical training-- great. Sometimes your two-year degree will lead to a four-year degree. I know there are some great nursing programs in which you start as kind of a base nurse, like a nursing assistant, and then you work yourself up and finally get your master's degree in nursing. All along the way you get paid. So there's a lot of paths to success which are not a four-year degree.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah. That's true. And I think it's probably time to break that mold and start thinking about some other things and become a more well-rounded economy so that these types of things don't completely take us down the wrong path.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah. When I got out, and probably when you got out, that was your choice. And now I got my three daughters through college and one of them through a master's degree, and it was a struggle. It was a financial struggle. And now I would probably think that it would have been better to start out in community college or focus on, only in our case, Virginia schools. They all went out of state which was a killer to the budget. Now I'd probably say, you know honey-- again three girls-- you know, yeah, you could go to the University of South Carolina, but University of Virginia is pretty nice too.
EMILY BIGHAM: I think we all got caught up in-- Yeah, you always want to do the best for your kids so no regrets there. But I have three other siblings and we all went to schools in California. Three of us went to UC schools, University of California, so it's a little bit better-- not great as far as money-- but better. And the best piece of advice that I ever got was from my uncle who's a very successful business man and he just said, whatever job you're doing do the best that you can. And I think that that's really served me because the thinking back since I've been in the workforce have gone from communications and PR over to lending and then-- it's been all over the place. But I really like it and I enjoy it. And I feel like the experience that you get is just as good, if not better, than some of the education or classes that you can be taking. So really just depends on whether you need specific training, like if you're a doctor or a surgeon, That's not going to be my next move. There are things where experience is definitely more important than going to school. So, like you said, you got to stay calm, make a list, prioritize, and then start doing some research. In the meantime, just do the best that you can with what you've been given and I feel like that's all that we can really do
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah and I think that's great advice. Do the best wherever you are. Another good friend of mine says, whenever you take a job, from the first day on that job, be thinking about what your next move-- it may be internally, it maybe externally. And I've been blessed to land at some really great places and I've been able to stay a long time. But I've also been a newspaper journalist, I've moved to magazines, I've worked for a big financial company, I worked in publishing for a while and now, through tremendous luck, I'm in Navy Federal and I'm an economist. And it's always been that great advice which is, do the best you can but always be looking to what really interests you and follow your interests, pursue your interests, and that will pay off for you. Don't think that once you choose a career, that's the end of it.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right. Well, and getting that experience-- say you just take a job that you're not exactly super interested in, you might get exposed to something that sparks your interest and then you kind of follow that path. So I think that even though we've been talking about the economy and the pandemic, which isn't necessarily the happiest topic, I think there are a lot of really positive things and tips that you talked about here. You think that if we have a stimulus next year, early next year, that's going to be great. We're still kind of riding the high of the previous stimulus so people just need to keep their spirits high and, like you said, make a list, prioritize. And the housing market is the one area also that seems to be going well so it's not like everything has taint.
ROBERT FRICK: Right
EMILY BIGHAM: And I'm interested to see what happens with travel. It's going to be good. And people can take this time to think about their current businesses and make some cuts in some places and think about growth in other areas. And I think it's a really interesting time. And Bob I hope that we can chat again, maybe in a few weeks or months, or maybe I'll actually see you in person. Miss you.
ROBERT FRICK: Wouldn't that be nice?
EMILY BIGHAM: Wouldn't that be great?
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah. Well, I think certainly in three or four months we'll be doing that. And I think in four months from now I think the economy will have taken a turn for the better. The degree, the extent to which it's better, is an open question. But people have a hard time imagining a year from now how things are going to be because we've been hit with one blow after another. A year from now things are going to be much better than they are today. And people need to start thinking about that and envisioning a better future because if you only focus on the negatives today you're going to be missing a lot of opportunities
EMILY BIGHAM: Right. Look for the bright lights. So Bob, four months from now having you back on the podcast and we're going to see if your prediction is correct. I'm penciling you in now. No, but where can listeners find your ongoing insights?
ROBERT FRICK: Well I tweet a lot these days, RobertFrickNFCU and I really like people to follow me, especially members. I talk about the economy, yeah, but I will also talk about my dog and recipes. I'm also kind of snarky at times because I think you need to poke fun at some of the things that make no sense, especially in the media and the economy. I did that today and I got a lot of good reactions from it. I think you need to really keep things in perspective and that's what I try to do. So please follow me there. I will do write occasionally for our website, but Twitter is really my main outlet. And I have a lot of members that follow me. We have great conversations. So if you follow me and you're a member, I will promise to follow you back and I will respond to every comment you make.
EMILY BIGHAM: Bob, what if this podcast blows up and millions of people start following you? What are we going to do?
ROBERT FRICK: I would love it. I can hire people. I could hire people to manage my Twitter feed.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well you said you like to poke fun at people that don't make sense. And on this podcast all we do is make sense because it's Making Cents.
ROBERT FRICK: I won't make fun of you, Emily.
EMILY BIGHAM: Time for me to go home. Bob, it was so good to talk to you. I miss these conversations. Maybe I'll start following you on Twitter.
ROBERT FRICK: Oh boy, what a treat that would be. But yeah, certainly a year from now we'll all be getting together and I think we'll be wiser for it. I really do.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yes, absolutely. Well thank you for ending on a positive note. And to all of you Navy Federal members or listeners out there please feel free to send us any questions that you might have for Bob or anything that you would like to talk about on the podcast. And follow us wherever you get your podcasts Bob, have a great rest of your day.
ROBERT FRICK: You too, Emily. Thank you so much.
EMILY BIGHAM: Bye.
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. Navy Federal Credit Union. Our members are the mission.
Episode 2: How to Make Your Money Go Further in 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the economy and left many Americans concerned. In this episode, we bring on Navy Federal's economist, Robert Frick, to discuss how the economy has shifted in 2020 and offer tips and tricks to make your money go further in this uncertain moment.
- a discussion on how the economy has shifted in 2020
- tips and tricks to make your money go further
- veteran employment numbers
GUEST: Robert Frick is Navy Federal's corporate economist. An expert in behavioral economics, Robert was a local and national business journalist for 3 decades before joining Navy Federal.