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EMILY BIGHAM: Welcome back to MakingCents, the podcast brought to you by Navy Federal Credit Union. I'm Emily Bigham. Thank you again for tuning in, and remember that you can subscribe to this podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
This week, we're going to be talking about mortgages, specifically VA loans. Service members and veterans often hear about VA loans, but they can be pretty difficult to grasp. And so today, we're going to try to simplify those for you so you can understand and also take advantage of their true value.
So today, we have an expert on VA loans, Kevin Parker. Kevin is the VP of field mortgage here and Navy Federal, which means that he manages the team of loan officers. They're member-facing, they're actually on the ground talking to members and, I guess, get a lot of these hard questions. Welcome, Kevin. Thanks for being here.
KEVIN PARKER: Thanks, good to be here.
EMILY BIGHAM: So I have a little bit of a question to throw you off today, just to start the day. Now that we've been working from home for a little over seven months, how was your morning routine changed?
KEVIN PARKER: Much different. So, I do not have the hour and 50 minute commute that I used to have. So that time, I found that I was spending a lot more time laying in bed.
I also have two little girls, a 9 and 12-year-old. So they're in school. So I'm finding myself to be a breakfast chef, and--
EMILY BIGHAM: Nice.
KEVIN PARKER: --trying to get them ready for school as well too. So it's definite changed a bit, but, you know, we've all been able to basically manage through and still add value. Whether it's being a part time father or a professional or working in my pajamas at home.
EMILY BIGHAM: Nice. Well, next time I'll have to have you bring me breakfast.
KEVIN PARKER: Ah, sounds good.
EMILY BIGHAM: [LAUGHS]
KEVIN PARKER: Sounds good.
EMILY BIGHAM: So VA loans. I hear a lot about VA loans. In fact, my mother-- shout out to Patty Bigham-- she texted me the other day and she was asking me questions about VA loans. And I was like, first of all, mom, that's not my area of expertise. I'm going to kick you over to the experts in Kevin's department. But, you know, it led me to realize just how complicated they can be. Because my parents have had a few mortgages in their lifetime, and to still be asking questions about VA loans and their benefits just made me realize how confusing they are. So why do you think that there's this perception?
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah, it's a great question. And I think that's a great topic because we're always out there trying to dispel the myth of VA loans and them being confusing or harder and the perception. The reason the perception is out there is because the purpose of a VA loan is to help members get into a property that's viable, a property that's going to hold value. But also, a product that's going to be beneficial to their specific needs.
And by specific needs, I mean more times than not, a lot of our military members maybe can take advantage of not putting down as much money as what a typical non-service member. And by that, we mean, there are a lot more low down payment options when getting a VA loan. So that right there is an instant benefit, meaning more cash. That's cash that you can use towards buying furniture or fixing up the property, things of that sort.
But the overarching point of VA loan is, that loan is there to protect service members and make sure that they're getting into a financial product that can be beneficial to them, specifically.
EMILY BIGHAM: So when you talk about less of a down payment, you know, there are a lot of mortgages out there that don't require a down payment or a large payment. And so if you had to boil it down to the best benefit of a VA loan, what would that be?
KEVIN PARKER: The interest rate.
EMILY BIGHAM: The interest rate. OK.
KEVIN PARKER: Right.
EMILY BIGHAM: Even in a low rate environment like we're in today?
KEVIN PARKER: Even at the low rate. So I should say, lower interest rate.
EMILY BIGHAM: OK.
KEVIN PARKER: Lower than typically your conventional loan, which in layman's terms means, less money, meaning your monthly mortgage payment is going to be a little bit lower than it typically would for other products. So that's a huge benefit.
Two, right behind it, as I just mentioned, the low down payment, meaning that's a lot less cash that you have to put down. And let's kind of touch on that for a moment, just in terms of just the cash aspect of it. When we provide loans to consumers, the more equity you have in the home, the less risk it is for the institution.
EMILY BIGHAM: The more equity.
KEVIN PARKER: Right. And by that I mean, let's say the home was worth $100,000. And you do a loan for $80,000. So the difference of $80 to the $100, that's the equity in the home, meaning cash, liquid in the home. Worst case scenario, that extra $20,000 is there as a cushion in case the lender has to get their money back. So that's the whole thing about why is it such a big deal putting down cash versus not? And for a VA loan, the VA comes in and helps us, basically securitize our loans. Which means that, if anything goes wrong, the VA is going to be there to back up that loan. That's really the benefit of where the Veterans Administration comes into place.
EMILY BIGHAM: And so that's why the lender is able to give a lower interest rate?
KEVIN PARKER: Correct.
EMILY BIGHAM: Got it. OK.
KEVIN PARKER: Because the VA is backing half that loan for us.
EMILY BIGHAM: So is it more difficult to get a VA loan then because you're going through the lender and then also the VA?
KEVIN PARKER: So ironically, it's not. So you would think so. That's a great question. But that's where the benefit of the Veterans Administration comes into place-- that, not only will we secure half that loan for you, but they're also going to give you a better interest rate. So you're kind of get a double benefit of being able to not put down as much money, keep more cash, and have a lower interest rate, keep even more cash.
EMILY BIGHAM: Sounds good to me.
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: So then, I guess my question goes back to, then why is there such a perception that they're so difficult to understand? Is that where the eligibility question comes in or what's that perception?
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah, eligibility. And then also, one of the main purpose for the VA loan, once again, is to make sure that we are lending a house that's viable. And by viable, I mean, it's structurally sound, it's not a lemon, you're going to keep that property for a long term.
And so by that specifically, the VA has very specific requirements when they do appraisals, when they do home inspections. And so that's why you're going to get maybe some of the more-- what seemingly can be restrictions around VA loan is because sometimes the VA might require some additional inspections. Or not inspections, but some additional improvements done to the home based off the home inspection. That's where the perception comes from that it may be a little bit harder. But the key--
EMILY BIGHAM: Just because the--
KEVIN PARKER: --thing is--
EMILY BIGHAM: I'm sorry to interrupt.
KEVIN PARKER: No, no. No, no. Not at all. I'll say, but the key thing is working with the lender that's very familiar with the type of appraisals, type of home inspections. Because for us, like Navy Federal, we're specialists when it comes to VA. So we're very used to working with our members and working with the appraisers if anything needs to be done on a property. But more times than not, it's a common appraisal like any other conventional product.
EMILY BIGHAM: So how many times can you take advantage of the VA loan?
KEVIN PARKER: Great question. So the VA allows some flexibility in terms of what you call VA eligibility and we also call subsequent use, meaning you can use it multiple times. But it's really based upon your specific situation.
For example, some will want to get a VA loan for the purpose of an investment property or for a second home. Some would want to get a VA loan-- most want to get it for the purpose of a primary property. And so it really depends upon that person's unique needs, which is why they make you go through the Veterans Administration to actually find out what your eligibility is. And we help our members with that process early, before they even apply.
EMILY BIGHAM: So even if you're eligible for a VA loan, is there ever a right or a wrong time?
KEVIN PARKER: No, I wouldn't say they're the wrong time, because the VA is such a good product. I mean, we really believe in it and think it's a very, very beneficial product. So I wouldn't say there's a wrong time. More times than not, more veterans are going to use it for primary purpose. So that's your overwhelming, I would say, the purpose of getting a VA loan, for primary resident.
EMILY BIGHAM: What are some of the other options that you guys recommend if they're not going to take advantage of the VA loan?
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah, so--
Now fortunately, we're lucky. From the standpoint of, we are a portfolio lender, which means that we keep some of the loans that we issue on our books, meaning we don't sell them to Fannie Mae. And what I mean sell them, Fannie Mae buys loans to help securitize loans. Well, for Navy Federal, we keep some of our loans on books, which means that we have a bit more flexibility, which means that we can create products very specific for unique needs.
For example, we have a program called Military Choice. It's almost very close to what a VA loan is. The only difference is you're not using your VA eligibility. So if we have a member who does not want to use their eligibility for whatever reason, well, we have a different option of our Military Choice program in which the rates-- almost just as good, it's not quite the same. But it's almost just as good as a VA loan.
EMILY BIGHAM: So to me, that kind of makes sense. You know, you want to have options, especially because military members are moving quite often. And sometimes they don't know if they're going to relocate or if they're going to go overseas. Does going overseas or being here in the United States, does that change anything about the VA loans or eligibility?
KEVIN PARKER: No, because it's based off what the property is. So we lend in all 50 states. So regardless of where the member is, the reasons for their mortgage could change. But as long as it's in the 50 states, it doesn't matter where they are.
EMILY BIGHAM: And can you refinance a VA loan?
KEVIN PARKER: Absolutely. So that's was a great question. So there's a pro product called Interest Rate Reduction Loan, and that's a special program. Because every time you do financing, it cost money. All right? There is an appraisal fee, you have to do title, you have to do title work. And all those are different fees of cost associate with the loan. Well, with the Interest Rate Reduction Loan, those costs are reduced because you're not going to have to do an appraisal, in essence, we're saving money on the expense to do your loan. And it's a much faster process. And so we actually have a dedicated channel just to handle our Interest Rate Reduction Loan for our members.
EMILY BIGHAM: So I'm going to switch gears a little bit and kind of talk about what's going on right now. We're in a recession, but the environment's very different from that 2008 housing bubble recession. Have you seen any change in consumer, I guess, member behavior when it comes to home buying?
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah. So ironically, not as much as you would think. So right around March when COVID really hit, we did see a touch of a decline in terms of homes listed for sale. If you think about it, people didn't necessarily want to sell their-- list their home because they didn't want people maybe walking through and doing inspections. And on the other side as well, people buy homes-- they're a bit hesitant of going out there and shopping for new homes, et cetera.
But after March, we started to see home purchases kind of trend back up to normal levels. If you look today, even the same purchase trend is about the same that historically has been. So we haven't seen a huge shift in behavior. Our production from a Navy Federal perspective, still gonna be on target pre-COVID that what we thought. So no, I mean, honestly you haven't seen a big change.
EMILY BIGHAM: So I assume probably with the low interest rates, you guys are getting a lot of refinancing applications.
KEVIN PARKER: Absolutely.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah.
Well, that's good.
KEVIN PARKER: A huge number.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's smart, right? That's what you want members and consumers to do.
KEVIN PARKER: Absolutely.
EMILY BIGHAM: Is take advantage, when they can, of what's happening. And so tell me about your first home.
KEVIN PARKER: Great question. So my first home was actually right out of college. So I went to Hampton University down in Virginia in the Tidewater areas. So as you can imagine, it's a lot of military members in that particular area. And at 23 years old, a buddy of mine, we wanted to buy an investment property.
And ironically, the person buying that property was a veteran. And they actually did a VA loan on their side. So I got to experience a VA loan as a seller, in which talking about the appraisal and talking about the inspection on the seller perspective. And so that was my very first opportunity of basically buying a home as an investor and then selling it to a VA member.
EMILY BIGHAM: So, you know, from a seller perspective, I assume that's a lot different from being a buyer. What are maybe some, like, old tips that you can-- or I guess things to know about being a seller on the VA side that members should be aware of.
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah. I think that's a great question. I think one of them is understanding, maybe, what some of the red flags might be for the property type or the type of property or just inspections in general, improvement just in general. More times than not, if the home is viable, once again, structurally sound you're gonna be able to sell it regardless of what type of loan that you do.
But there is some in regards to painting and plumbing that, I think, maybe if you're selling it to a VA buyer, it might be helpful to know. But in more times than not, that's going to be on the realtor. The realtors, that's what they there for. We work very closely with our realtors. A lot of voters are very experienced and they're familiar with VA loans.
But one thing we do recommend for our members, our buyers in general is, you want to work with professionals who are familiar with that specialty. And by that I mean, I use the analogy of, when I want a steak, I'm going to go to a steakhouse.
Same thing for if I want seafood, I'm going to go to the restaurant that specializes in seafood.
EMILY BIGHAM: [LAUGHS]
KEVIN PARKER: Certain lenders specialize in VA loans versus others. I think we take a lot of pride, Navy Federal, working very closely with our military members and their families that we are a VA specialists. More than half the loans that we originate are VA loan. So we're very experienced and we're very comfortable in helping our buyers, helping our members. But also, working with realtors, and working with title companies, working with appraisers and working with homes inspectors.
EMILY BIGHAM: There's a lot that goes into the mix.
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah. It's its own ecosystem. And so that's something that we're very comfortable and confident in working through that process for our members.
EMILY BIGHAM: And your loan officers are across the country, right? I mean, I assume everywhere there's Navy Federal branch, that you probably have loan officers. And does that get a little bit complicated, especially in this current environment, do you see the different markets kind of acting differently or do you feel like across the board things are shifting and trending in the same direction?
KEVIN PARKER: That's a great question. Yes, we do see things typically trend differently, different parts of the country. Whether it's the inclement weather, whether it's the market, whether it's the market prices in that area.
For example, in our San Diego market, we tend to see home values--
EMILY BIGHAM: Patty Bigham, are you listening?
KEVIN PARKER: [LAUGHS] There you go. We tend to see home value is a lot higher in that market versus other parts of the country, whether it's southern Texas or parts of the Carolina's in which the bang that you can get for your buck is actually phenomenal. And so, the trends are a lot different for us, because we also have to go by state laws and all of our loan officers have National Mortgage Listing Registration, meaning they have to be certified to be able to talk mortgages to members. And that's something that we do manage and we take very seriously in making sure that our loan officers are very skilled at really helping our members.
And the great thing about offering mortgages, every mortgage is not for every person. And for us, it's about teaching our members and educating our members. This is a personal finance product. And for us, that's about financial literacy. It's about making sure our members understand because we know at Navy Federal, this is a relationship. And we want them to come back in five years or 15 years and we want to be able to help them for whatever need that they have. And so we take a lot of pride in making sure our loan officers are very comfortable in understanding each member is very specific need.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah, and so, if a member moves from market to market, do they stay with the same loan officer or is it typically, you know, you want to talk to the expert in the area?
KEVIN PARKER: So they can. So we actually to give them a choice. We try to let our members interact with us. However they want. So if they want to do it digitally, we have what we call a Home Squad System in which they can apply online. If they want to call on the telephone, if they want to walk into a branch. We want to let them interact how they want interact. And if they want to stay with a loan officer from a different part of country, they can.
A lot of times they might want to work with a loan officer or see a loan officer in person in that market. And we can do it as well too.
EMILY BIGHAM: I'm sure that's shifted a lot too, just given current situation. [LAUGHS]
KEVIN PARKER: Very true. Very true.
EMILY BIGHAM: I don't even want to get into that because I don't even-- that's just a lot.
KEVIN PARKER: Well, the good thing about loan officers too, our loan officers, they'll FaceTime.
EMILY BIGHAM: Oh.
KEVIN PARKER: They'll text members. However members want to interact.
EMILY BIGHAM: Digital?
KEVIN PARKER: Digital, yeah. So we try to make it easy, because we realize we have our loan officers who are part-time teachers and part-time cooks, just as we are. So we try to make sure that we give them the flexibility, and they're able to work with our members, based on what their needs are.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's great. So I have a question back on eligibility. You know, military spouses, would they be in the mix for being eligible? Or how would that happen? Do they have to be on a mortgage with their spouse who is active duty or a veteran? Or can you get into a little bit about eligibility?
KEVIN PARKER: Yeah, so there's two ways to answer that. One, the eligibility is based off the military member, not the spouse, so the military member does need to be on the loan. And certain states require that the spouse is actually on the application. For example, California is a state that if you apply, even in your own name, that military spouse has to be on a loan.
And so it's really state-specific, so that's why it goes back to-- we like having loan officers in different parts of the country, who understand those state-specific requirements, and we can help our members walk through whatever their needs are in their specific state.
EMILY BIGHAM: All right, so we're about to wrap it up here. And I think we've given-- I mean, you've given me, at least, a lot of great information. Do you have any last tips or tricks you'd like to give the audience about VA loans?
KEVIN PARKER: Sure. One, your mom better call us.
Two, once again, go onto our website, whether it's our website, or you have other websites like the VA. You have the CFPB website. There's a lot of information out there to just help people consume and understand.
We realize that buying a home, refinancing a home, is a really, really big, probably one of the most, important transactions, and so for us, we try to be teachers. And there are a lot of calculators on our website, a lot of great tools that members can take advantage of to make sure that they learn as much as possible about the VA loan.
So when they do find their home, we're going to try to make it as frictionless as possible, so that they can enjoy the concept of, what school are their kids going to go to, and the new furniture.
EMILY BIGHAM: There's so many other things to worry about, too, when you're in the military and you're moving from state to state. I mean, I grew up as a Navy brat and even moving overseas, you have to send half of everything you own six months before you get there. The anxiety I felt as an 8-year-old. I can't imagine how would parents feel.
So I think you cleared up a lot of the perceptions, and, to me, I think action relieves anxiety, so I would say just call. Whatever lender you're working with, just call and talk to them about your options. And a VA loan sounds like a great benefit that everyone should be taking advantage of.
So thank you, Kevin, again, for being on today's podcast. And, for the listeners, please feel free to call if you have any questions, and, of course, subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. And thanks again for tuning into Making Cents.
NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION REPRESENTATIVE: 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, or 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 3: Understanding the Value of VA Loans
VA loans are a great perk for servicemembers to take advantage of when buying or refinancing homes. In this episode, Navy Federal's Vice President of Field Mortgage, Kevin Parker, makes it clear what to expect when getting a VA loan, including understanding funding fees and navigating eligibility confirmation.
- a discussion of VA loans, funding fees and obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility
- tips on what you should be doing to make the most of a VA loan
GUEST: Kevin Parker is Navy Federal's Vice President of Field Mortgage. A long-time mortgage professional, he has helped Navy Federal members become homeowners for the last 7 years.
[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 MakingCents. Today on the show we have Robert Frick. He is our corporate economist here at Navy Federal. Bob, how are you?
ROBERT FRICK: I'm having a good day. How about you?
EMILY BIGHAM: Oh, I'm having a good day as well. The sun is shining. Weather's turning around. I feel like people's attitudes are turning around. And feeling good.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah, good. We just had our driveway topped. It's nice and black and perfect and smooth. And when you live in upstate New York as long as I do it, that's like the epitome of home remodeling is having a nice driveway. So I am unnaturally happy about my new driveway.
EMILY BIGHAM: Nice. That's awesome. Yeah and I wonder how long it's going to take until the pollen starts to coat it because I was feeling really good about my very crisp clean new car and then two days later it was covered in pollen. But I did just get it washed so it was kind of like you just feel so good about having something just redone or washed or taken away and you can start fresh, I kind of feel like that's the attitude of the United States right now.
ROBERT FRICK: Now you totally ruined my good feeling because I realize I'm going to have a yellowish green driveway now probably for the next three years. So thanks.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, you know what, I mean, hey. We also have those afternoon thunderstorms. It is the spring on the East Coast. So every day it'll clear it up. But so I do have a little bit of an agenda for us today. Typically Bob I like to just kind of chat with you because I feel like you and I just have so much to talk about and I love all of the topics that you cover here at Navy Federal. And before I kind of go over the agenda, do you want to for the listeners who are maybe first time listeners or we haven't spoken in a very long time, do you want to talk a little bit about what your role is at Navy Federal?
ROBERT FRICK: Sure. So I mean corporate economist. And I talk a lot to the media about our view of all things that we do. Auto loans, mortgages, interest rates, all that stuff. I also do a lot of internal reporting and I speak to people around the company about the one specific to their particular businesses. I was a business journalists for 30 years and that's my background. And kind of how I got into this role is I used to cover all of these things that we do home, auto, credit cards.
EMILY BIGHAM: I was thinking about why I have so many topics that I want to cover when I talk to you and I think it's because you take on so many different perspectives when you're pulling together the various reports or just the different things that you do. Because not only are you covering what's going on in the economy at a high level so we can make sure that our lending products are gauged in the right direction, but also you think about the consumer. And in the past year consumer sentiment has probably been all over the place a little bit. Can you talk a little bit about what you've seen there on the consumer side?
ROBERT FRICK: Oh yeah.
EMILY BIGHAM: Economics?
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah. Well, consumers were very depressed for a long time. We actually never hit the bottom that we did right after the housing bubble because that crash actually affected many more Americans it just wasn't as steep as the COVID crash. But just in the last month and I'm sure we're going to get back to this theme over and over again, consumer sentiment is way up. It isn't back quite to pre-COVID levels, but it's going to get there in the next couple of months I feel sure. Because vaccines are out, the weather's warmer, people have an incredible amount of money. Not everyone, but most Americans are in good financial shape right now because of all the stimulus.
EMILY BIGHAM: I've done a lot of research on this lately and I've been listening to other economists as well talk about this and it's a little bit confusing to me the consumer sentiment. I mean, it makes sense that given all of the cash that the government's been handing out consumers are happy. They do have a lot of money like you said. But is that almost a false sense of security because that is money that is just being printed by the government?
ROBERT FRICK: Well, that gets into the whole idea of deficit spending. All this is going to come out to bite us that we're another $5 trillion in debt. And I actually just did a very short position paper, white paper, on that. And it is true that our level of debt has only been this high right after World War II when we went into debt to pay for the war. But there's a huge difference because interest rates are so low now the US government is actually paying less on its debt than it was five years ago even though we've added trillions. So you have to balance those two things.
Yeah, our actual level of debt is higher, but what really counts is how much do we have to pay in interest? And that's relatively low. So the future is uncertain. So I'm not going to say it's never going to be a concern, it probably will be a concern, but not in the next few years at least.
EMILY BIGHAM: Right. So I was thinking about that as well because it seems like short term things seem really good. But when you are a consumer or a small business owner and you're trying to plan strategically maybe five years, 10 years, is that a cause for concern? Like how are you supposed to make large financial decisions like a mortgage that's going to be a 30 year mortgage, how can you feel secure in those big financial decisions? Or for instance my parents are thinking about selling their small business. My dad's a physician and they've been going back and forth on this. And I think they're just a little bit reluctant to make a big decision either way because they're not sure again what's going to happen in the next three years, five years. Do you have any advice for people in that topic?
ROBERT FRICK: Well, we are at a time right now in which there's a lot of uncertainty because we've never been in a time like this. We've never had to recover from such a deep depression. We've never been coming back from a pandemic and we're not out of that yet, although we're making good progress. So there's a lot of uncertainty. I get that. What does the next three years look like? In the next three years looks good. For one thing, we're going to be getting jobs back although it's probably going to take a couple of years until we get back to pre-pandemic levels.
For another thing, yeah, we went into a lot of debt. But that's not going to bite us in the next few years. And that means that people are going to have a lot of money. The things I worry about is how is the economy going to restructure? So if I, for example, own commercial real estate that wasn't retail at least I'd be pretty concerned right now because a lot of people have left their offices never to return. On the other hand, there's a lot of great opportunities right now. You mention small business. There have been more small business filings, filings to open small businesses, in the last six months than at any time in recorded history. So a lot of people see that they're going to be able to rebuild. And that's America, right? That's the entrepreneurial spirit.
A lot of people see that they're going to either be able to restart their own business, start a slightly different business, or start a new business to take advantage of all this money and all the boom times. Which are certainly going to be this year where we're going to have at least a 6% GDP, which is historically high, and into next year. So if I were making decisions right now I would wait two years and then after that who knows. But we never know what's going to be three years out. I mean, a year and a half ago we had no idea there's was going to be a pandemic. So good things can happen, bad things can happen. But we know the next few years are going to be good.
EMILY BIGHAM: So back to the topic of new businesses. The amount of new businesses that were started I guess during the pandemic, was that a direct reaction to the PPP loans?
ROBERT FRICK: No actually that was something different. Really what it was was people recognizing-- now this is America's entrepreneurial spirit that businesses have to change. They're going to be new business opportunities. I may have closed my business, but I'm going to reopen it again in a different guise. Yes, there are certain segments of small business which are really been hammered. Restaurants, for example. But there are other aspects of small business. I mean, internet commerce which are absolutely booming. And if you're in one of those businesses or if you're starting one of those businesses, the next few years are going to be a great time to launch a new venture.
EMILY BIGHAM: Is that kind of what you mean when you say economic restructuring? So for example, if you have a small business that you started 20 years ago and maybe now is a good time or the opportunity to pivot into something that's a little bit more relevant.
ROBERT FRICK: You should at least retool. I have a couple of friends who are small business consultants, small to medium sized business consultants. And what they've been counseling their people to do is take a breather. Get your PPP loans if you need them just so you can kind of tread water for a while. But think about what the new economy is going to look like. And for a lot of them that means their whole sales function is going to change. It's going to move to the internet. So they're going to be hiring a lot of programmers.
A lot of them, if they can, are thinking about if they make a product which is used in the home or might be used in the home really play that up because people not only have been nesting while they've been at home during COVID, there is going to be I think and a lot of people think it's going to be much more focused on the home, where you live, how your home is. I have a cousin who owns a hot tub business. And they are booming right now. They can't be doing more business. And you'd think that would be letting up now, but it's not.
EMILY BIGHAM: I wish I had space for a hot tub. Let me tell you.
ROBERT FRICK: I wish I had a wife who wanted a hot tub.
EMILY BIGHAM: [LAUGHS]
ROBERT FRICK: We have the space.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's funny.
ROBERT FRICK: But not the will.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, I think people just spend so much time at home. Like I'm sitting we're at home right now and I'm recording this podcast. And I'm kind of looking around like, god, I've been looking at that couch for like 13 months now. And it's a nice couch, I'm kind of sick of looking at it. So I wonder if that's part of it. But then also what's going to happen when people start going back to work? How is that going to impact the economy? The price of oil is going up. There's a lot of things that I want to be really positive about, but at the same time there are some concerning reports that are coming out. I mean, first of all, we have the rising cost of goods. But then also if it's transitory and it's coronavirus and we're kind of a global economy at this point imports, exports, the rising cost of oil. If there are other countries who are impacted by a second wave or if they take stricter measures than the United States, doesn't that impact us also? So how much control do we even have over inflation and rates at that point?
ROBERT FRICK: That's a really good question. And the answer is not much. And the Fed for years was trying to get inflation up to 2% and they just couldn't do it. They kept rates low. They kept shoveling money in. And they couldn't get inflation up to their target. And 2% is kind of like a really good pulse. That's like 60 beats a minute, right? It's not too high, it's not too low. It shows the economy is on an even keel.
So the Fed really can't control inflation that much. They can use kind of these rules like inflation goes up, they jack up interest rates and that slows down the economy. And that's kind of like giving medicine to a patient. The medicine works but the patient dies. It's just not a good strategy. So the Fed is changing that strategy.
But you mentioned just speaking about inflation. It's not high yet. We just had an inflation rat this month or this week rather. It's not up. It's low. It's not even 2% yet on an annualized basis. So the inflation barons are saying all this bad hyperinflation is coming. There's no evidence that's going to happen. And you mentioned international. Globalization keeps our prices low. Think about this. When we import goods from India, China, Mexico, Vietnam, those are cheap goods. And that essentially means we're importing deflation.
Above and beyond that, we're exporting jobs which is not good. Right? We're exporting jobs to places like India. I happen to know someone who is in charge of essentially collapsing a back office unit of 40 people in Virginia and opening a unit of 40 people in India working at 1/10 of salary. So not only are we importing cheap goods which keeps inflation low, we're exporting higher wages which keeps inflation low. Again, that's not good for the people lose their jobs.
But if we're just talking about inflation, I'm not worried about inflation. It may spike. It may go up to 3% for a couple of quarters. Fed's going to hold firm. And then when the economy boots up, there's always inflation because there's shortages and prices get bid up. Rental car prices are going through the roof. When airlines really start flying again, airline tickets are going to be fabulously expensive.
EMILY BIGHAM: Oh, they already are. Let me tell you.
ROBERT FRICK: Are they? OK.
EMILY BIGHAM: I just flew back from San Diego and the price of my ticket, I was like, I am upset. The last time I came here it was so cheap and there was no one on my flight.
ROBERT FRICK: Right.
EMILY BIGHAM: This time it was way more expensive and there were people on my flight. Which, you know, it's a good sign that people are out and about and like you said spending money. But it was just so funny. I was like, yeah, people probably forgot what normal life was like and now you're going to be seeing-- I mean, the line at Trader Joe's the other day was like wrapped around. It was shocking.
ROBERT FRICK: Well, if you drive south as often as we do we have two of our three daughters now live in Wilmington, North Carolina. And my wife just took a trip down to see our daughters because she's vaccinated. I am not so I had to stay home. And she got caught up in an hour and a half gridlock. And she was complaining about it and I said, yeah, but you know that means the economy's coming back. So it's a double edged sword.
EMILY BIGHAM: It is. It is a double edged sword. But it is really nice to see that people are out and about and spending money and going to restaurants. And that's how it's supposed to be. That kind of environment and atmosphere is what makes people happy.
ROBERT FRICK: And there's so much pent up demand for that stuff. They call it revenge spending. And I'm not sure that's a good term, but the idea is people who are so hungry for services travel, restaurants, et cetera, et cetera, in-person commerce basically face-to-face commerce and travel, they're just ready to spend. The issue is they're not going to be able to spend because a lot of those services aren't going to be quickly available. Or as with airfares, when they do come back they're going to be so high that people aren't going to want to spend on them. And obviously they'll come down in time. So there's a lot of things that are going to keep-- this gets back to your inflation question. There's a lot of things that are going to keep people from spending as much as they want and that's also going to keep inflation low.
EMILY BIGHAM: So I understand the part about different services not coming back. And I mean, that makes sense to take time to hire. And I think I saw that the job openings number is at a record level as well. So to me that means that businesses are coming back and they're posting jobs. But people are not taking those jobs. I do think that that's going to become a competitive market.
ROBERT FRICK: I think people look at the the JOLTS number, those job openings numbers and read them wrong. And you can have crazy high and crazy low job openings numbers and they don't really mean much of anything. You have to really parse those numbers. So the fact that there's a lot of openings out there and people say, oh well, there's no one there to get them. There's no one there to take them. Well, by in large that's not true. A lot of times people just post a job and they're just fishing for someone to hire. And they don't even expect to hire them or they have to post it because HR says they have to post it.
So I don't look at those JOLTS numbers now and think people don't want to work or people don't have the skills. It's not an epidemic of problem. It's not an epidemic kind of problem. It's just what happens when an economy boots up again. It solves itself in time, it always does. The thing I worry about as far as jobs goes is there's a certain number of people, 70% of workers, who have good jobs. Remember my example people work in back office operations. This is for a big consulting accounting firm. Those are gone. Office worker jobs are gone and [AUDIO OUT] because only a portion of the people who don't work in offices anymore are going to go back. People are going to need to be retrained, education and training. And that takes time.
Also, there's a lag between when people realize their job is gone for good and when they really get on their horse and start looking for a different job and get new training. That takes time. So that's why it's going to take at least a couple of years for us to get the jobs back that we lost. Not because the economy isn't reopening fast enough, it's because the nature of work has changed for many Americans.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, you bring up a really good point. Well, first of all, I would like to say that you are definitely calming my nerves because a lot of the things I've asked you about you don't seem to be very worried about so that makes me really happy. And I need to find similar I guess resources or sources to read. I need to read what you're reading so I can sleep at night. But as far as the different jobs that are coming back, have we seen a rise in automation in the past year just because of the fact that human beings weren't necessarily able to do certain jobs because of the restrictions? Have they found ways to use technology instead? And is that replacing human beings in that?
ROBERT FRICK: That's common. And you go to CVS or even a lot of grocery stores and there's self checkout.
EMILY BIGHAM: It's good too. I mean, the self checkout has really improved.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah. I have to agree. Self checkout and Apple Pay, man, that is wonderful. And there's a lot of automation. And industrial automation, that started years ago. And that's going to continue. It's not going to accelerate particularly. I have a lot of contacts all across the country in different forms of commerce. And I talk to people in manufacturing. One of them is my old roommate from college. And I asked him about how's their automation going? And they're pretty much fully automated by now. And the people they hire have computer skills to set up the machinery that's going to do the work. And they have quality control experts. So you have statisticians.
So the days of them hiring someone to slap a weld on a pipe or bend a pipe or fabricate something, those days are gone. But the employment level is gone. But the people who work there now have high skills which are transferable and they're constantly getting upgraded. And that's a much better job. I mean, I used to work in Rochester, New York and there was two big automotive parts manufacturing plants there. And I'd go there and I'd interview guys and women there and they just were miserable. And their jobs seemed miserable to me. And when their jobs started changing and becoming more technical and a lot of them would get say associate engineering degrees, two year engineering degrees, which allowed them to do higher skilled technical work within manufacturing plants, much happier. Much more money. And those who didn't want to do that, they had to go on to other jobs. Sometimes lesser jobs, sometimes different jobs.
So I'm not worried about automation so much as I am just these huge changes in how people are going to be working. Again, office workers going to be way down. Big shifts in health care workers. You can pretty much go down the line and you can see which occupations are going to be most affected by COVID. And my back of the envelope calculation is probably about three or four million Americans up the back who aren't going to have those jobs. I mean, restaurant workers. There aren't going to be as many restaurants because we've gotten used to take out.
I don't know about you, but now that we've spent a lot of time and money in our house, I'd much rather get good take it out and sit out on our deck and have a couple of friends over than go through the restaurant experience which is hit or miss. Right? I mean, I love a good restaurant.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, I mean for me it's less about my wanting to stay at my house it's so nice, it's more about my not so great cooking skills and the fact that I'm sick of cooking for myself to be honest. I've tried. I've tried to make that one of the things that I improve while I'm at home and spending all this time at home, but I just have the same things that I go to. And it is really nice to have different cuisine. So I mean, that is good news about the jobs. But if I were in someone's shoes who lost their job due to COVID and then let's say I'm not going to get it back because of technological advances, but what should I be doing? I mean, yeah, you can say, oh, well, just go and learn some new skills or up your skill sets. Well, how? How do you do that and where do you start? And do you have to go through formal training?
ROBERT FRICK: The first thing and this is a behavior problem, especially if you have a passion for certain kind of work, you have to get over the fact that you love your job but your job or your industry no longer loves you. And so you've got to move on. You've got to do something different. I was in the newspaper business in the 1990s. And the newspaper business was collapsing as the internet was rising. And I got the best piece of advice I ever wanted to get I could ever have hoped for. Because an analyst said, look, you can get another job. You can go be a business editor somewhere else. But then that job's going to disappear unless you move up to the New York Times, which I didn't want to do. You're always going to be sitting on a shrinking iceberg. It's time for you to get out.
And I went into magazines after that. And that lasted for about 15 years and then that iceberg started to shrink. But if you can't find a job or the job you find doesn't pay as much as it did before COVID, don't expect that's going to get any better at least no time quickly. The thing to do is just get online and Google where the jobs are. And start at your local community college or see if there is a course you can take online and reskill. But make sure when you reskill that once you get that skill, there's going to be job ready for you when you get out in six months or a year or a few years.
I've been giving that advice for many, many years. There comes a point in which you're basically in a situation that is not going to work for your personal prosperity. Sometimes it's where you live. Again, I was in upstate New York in Rochester. And tens of thousands of Kodak jobs disappeared and were never going to come back. And tens of thousands of Kodak workers wished they would and sat around and collected unemployment. And then finally either moved out took lesser service jobs or reskilled. And the ones who reskilled were definitely the happiest. I've had to move many of them and I know a lot of them. But they made that decision.
Sometimes you can't make incremental changes and expect to have a big improvement in your life. Sometimes you have to make big improvements in your life to expect big changes. And a lot of Americans are going to be facing [AUDIO OUT]. In fact, I tweeted the other day, Robert Frick NFCU, that I wished journalists, again, I used to be one, I wish business journalists would start doing stories on people who have essentially been COVIDed out of a job and what they're doing to change professions. So I'm right there with you. That's a really good question. And that's the best answer I can give. And the answer, there's no easy solution. Play the lottery. Win the megamillions. But there's no easy solution. Sometimes you have to make a big change and even take some risk in order to improve your situation.
EMILY BIGHAM: I think part of it too is that people are used to getting things immediately.
ROBERT FRICK: Yes.
EMILY BIGHAM: And that kind of goes back to automation, technology, take out. I mean, you can see where the driver is on the app delivering your food. So people are used to just immediacy. And I know I tend to be a little bit impatient. But I do know that when it comes to my job and skill sets and things like that, I'm always looking for ways to pivot. And I know small incremental changes or improvements will eventually get you to where you need to be. I think people expect immediacy. Even with things like the stimulus checks, that was a direct deposit into your bank account for most people. And it's passed and all of a sudden see a ton of money in your account.
I mean, how are you supposed to go-- and that also goes back to the psychology behind it. Right? I mean, you get that immediate feeling and the dopamine and the serotonin and all of that. And then you have to think about, OK, well now I'm looking for a job. And I've had to do this many interviews and these people didn't call me back. And that's just something that you have to do. That everyone has to do. So I'm going to switch topics from that. I'm staring at this whiteboard that I have where I have all of these things I want to talk about. But I do want to pivot a little bit to housing because this whole renting versus buying, the housing market, the soaring price of houses, rates are still low. What's going on there?
ROBERT FRICK: Well, the bottom line is after the housing crash 2008, 2009 a lot of home builders went out of business. In the decades of the 2010s, so basically the last 10 years, fewer houses were built in the US than were built during the worst decade to that point, which was the 1940s when everybody was building stuff for the war effort. So there's a tremendous dearth of homes in America right now. And people want homes. There's still millions of Americans who are really in tough shape. And we have done I think as an institution everything we can to help our members who are down on their luck financially. But there's still millions of Americans who are down on their luck, but most Americans aren't.
And most Americans are making more money now than they did before the pandemic. So there are a lot of people with a lot of money. They're buying what houses there are. Those can't build them fast enough. They're restricted because lumber, land zoned for building, and labor, the three L's we call it, are all working against building houses more quickly. So we're not going to build ourselves out of this anytime soon. So the housing situation is not good.
I saw an amazing statistic, which I should have known because I talked to our mortgage people, but it's something like a third of houses bought haven't even been built yet. People have bought the land and contracted with a builder. Like my oldest daughter, she and her husband essentially became their own general contractor. They bought a lot from someone who couldn't afford the payments anymore and they hired a builder and they built this beautiful house. That's getting harder and harder to do.
So I don't have any good news when it comes to housing. There's been a lot of forbearance's, people don't have to pay the rents. That's going to end. If you want a house, you have to be incredibly aggressive. And the thing I tell people is if you can't afford the house you want, buy a house with potential. The house I'm standing in right now, it wasn't nearly as nice as the house we left in upstate New York because housing in the D.C. area is so expensive. There are a lot of things we looked at and cringed.
Well, over the years we've redone everything. And it's a nice house now. And we didn't have the money at first and we just had to save, but we got into a house and now our house has tripled in value as all houses around here have done in the last 20 years, 25 years. So mortgage rates are not going to get any lower, but mortgage rates aren't the biggest thing you need to be thinking about right now. You need to be thinking about a house you can afford and buying it before prices go up even more. Prices were up 15% in the last year. That's incredible. I mean, that is housing bubble rates.
EMILY BIGHAM: Is it bubbled or is it demand?
ROBERT FRICK: Well, yeah, that's a good question. And I was just going to say there's a scarcity and that's supply and demand. So the supply is low. And the demand is strong, but it's not crazy like people flipping houses and stuff in the 2002 through 2005. So it's not crazy bubble stuff. If there were more houses on the market, I'd say we were in a housing bubble right now. And there may be some contraction.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, so is it also potentially like a shift of-- and I have no idea there's even a way to measure this, but it could be there are people who are in their current home and they've also purchased a new home and they're waiting to move in. But then how do I even phrase this question? The percentage of I guess the rate of people who are looking to buy or have bought a new home and are moving, is that just really, really high abnormally high?
ROBERT FRICK: That really isn't a factor. Americans are moving at the lowest rate in history right now.
EMILY BIGHAM: OK, never mind.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah and there are a lot of reasons for that. A lot of baby boomers are retiring, they'd like to move but they can't because the place where they wanted to move, the housing prices have gone up. But also COVID has had a real-- I believe, and there's scant evidence to support this point of view, but I just have some anecdotal evidence. People around my age, I'm in my 60s so, have been super paranoid about COVID and rightfully so. And so they've been sheltering in place and not even thinking about moving.
We have neighbors across the street two doors down good friends of ours who've been planning their move forever and they're moving to North Carolina the Raleigh area and they are finally moving in a couple of months. But what they had to go through, they bought a house that was still under construction. They sold their house here. There going to be kind of living I think in one of their sisters homes for a while. But they've had to jump through all these hoops just to make this work because they've delayed because of COVID. And both of them are older than I am in their later 60s. So they got their shots and now they feel safe to move.
I have a feeling and we'll see if it's true or not that we're going to see a lot of existing homes come on the market this spring with vaccinations. I wish I could say that because COVID levels were so plummeting, but they're not unfortunately. COVID levels are actually up and COVID deaths are actually up. Obviously not at levels we've seen before, but that's worrisome. There are a lot of reasons for that but I think we'll get licked by the end of the year but COVID's still an issue.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, and that's another thing that is again, something I think that might be in the back of people's minds. Is like, OK, well, I want to take this big step to finding a new job and learning new skills. But that uncertainty part of it, I mean, that's just killer for a lot of people.
ROBERT FRICK: I think COVID is an uncertainty for some people. I really think we're going to see, I know we're going to see a boom 2021 and I bet it extends into 2022. It depends on what industry you're in. It depends on if you have a job or not. It depends if you're one of those people with more savings as opposed to people who have exhausted their savings and have run up debt. It depends on your individual situation. But I would not let if you have a job and you're in a fairly stable industry, I wouldn't worry. If you don't have a job and are worried that your job is gone for good, I'd start looking for a new profession.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, Bob, you've made me feel a lot better today just let me tell you. So we should have these conversations more often.
ROBERT FRICK: I can't believe it because usually the roles are reversed. I'm the doomsayer and you're saying, why are things so bad, Bob? But no, things are good. Six months ago I predicted that we'd have fewer jobs in December and everybody thought I was crazy. And we did it. And I predicted that along with the third COVID wave we were going to see a tremendous spike in people losing their jobs and we did. But now everything has changed. We've seen a real sea change in the economy. And that's going to continue for at least a year.
EMILY BIGHAM: Another thing that you predicted on the last podcast was well, I think you did mention the fact that in 2021 we would see the economy bounce back and it has. We were talking about the third stimulus and we did get that. Do you think there's going to be another stimulus? Do you think it's going to be necessary to get us to whatever that next step is in this proposed economic boom?
ROBERT FRICK: I don't think we need a third stimulus. Though I do think we need to probably extend unemployment benefits to millions of Americans who are going to run out of them in August and September. But I do hope that the parties get together and fund, not go into debt, but fund an infrastructure plan or plant because the US is a C minus country as far as infrastructure goes. And it really hurts us. Plus the jobs that we create that will be created are good trade jobs. We need carpenters, pipe fitters, we need our manufacturing companies to make heavy equipment get a big boost. All that's going to be terrific for the economy is going to build good blue collar, middle class jobs. And we need many more trades workers in the middle class. We've lost so many of them. And that isn't good for the economy in general.
And broadband is something that we should be ashamed about. The fact that we don't have broadband in a lot of rural areas when pretty much every other developed country does. Why do people who live in a rural area get second rate internet? That's really harmful to them in so many ways, including education.
EMILY BIGHAM: You make a really good point. And I do look forward to seeing that type of stuff, the infrastructure. I was reading something about and I don't even know if this is relevant, but water shortages in California and Oregon. And I just couldn't believe it. I think there's a lot of things that have been overlooked that we haven't been taking care of necessarily and it looks like maybe we are now putting more of an emphasis on just doing the basics the correct way.
ROBERT FRICK: Right. Well, in California the infrastructure would be to build snow machines because your folks don't have enough snow out there which is why water is so low. And I don't know the reason for that, climate change or whatever. But we have to build infrastructure that addresses that. How can we have the same cities, the same quality of life using fewer resources? Those are infrastructure questions. And water is one of those things where you have it or you don't. And the only thing you can do is just build more efficient systems.
EMILY BIGHAM: And sometimes you have to pause in order to fix things. I think we're always like rush, rush, rush. And talking about the impatience of people because some things are automated and some things are so fast that the minute that you don't get a response right away or get what you want right away, everyone's in a tizzy. And I'm glad that we're looking towards doing those things those basics in the correct way.
ROBERT FRICK: I hope the two sides get together and we can pull it off. I really do. I don't think people understand that for every dollar you spend on infrastructure and I mean traditional infrastructure, you're going to get at least a dollar and a half back in the economy. And people are critical of-- I won't put my thumbs up on every type of infrastructure. But Pre-K-- my wife is just leaving a multi-year job as director of a preschool. The kids get and so the benefits the economy gets through pre-K education is been documented over and over again.
And we're one of the worst countries when it comes to having mandatory pre-K programs available. You don't have to send your kids, but most people do. And that means their kids start first grade just right out of the gate and become great learners. And don't we want that for our kids? And don't we want that for the economy?
EMILY BIGHAM: That's a good point too. And then the impact, we won't know the impact of this past year on kids who have been schools. But I haven't heard of such wonderful things across the board.
ROBERT FRICK: I know. And it really depends on your kid. I have a granddaughter and this kid is like up at dawn. She actually wears her school uniform to go in front of her computer and be in her virtual classroom all day. If I had to do that at her age, she's nine, I would have flunked out. I would have been selling newspapers or apples on the corner because I don't have the kind of discipline she has. I was a pretty lousy student in general at her age. But some kids are going to do fine, some kids are going to excel, but many, many kids have lost a year. And that's tragic.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah. I guess it does depend on and also depends on your home environment. I can't imagine people who their mom and dad are both working from home and the kids are also trying to do online schooling. I just I really cannot imagine that scenario. And so I think that that's probably another reason why we're seeing such optimism is because we are heading into summer. It just feels like everyone's going to get a break.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah. One of the great things in the last jobs report was all the teacher jobs have come back. I mean, state, local teacher jobs. You know 50,000, 100,000, 150,000. And that's just the beginning. And so by certainly the fall all the teachers are going to be back and we'll be back at full staff. And both my parents were teachers so I have a soft spot for teaching, but man, we don't pay teachers enough. And the fact that so many of them have lost their jobs and have been on assistance for all these months I feel real badly. I'm grateful that they're going to be coming back.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah. I think that everyone is going to be grateful come fall. I mean, it seems like the summer kids will get a break from school and then a lot of the larger companies have been saying that they're going to have workers coming back into the office. So that gives people a bit of time to plan which I think is good. I think announcing that early is probably a really smart move so people can get their home life situated.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah. Well at Navy Federal, many of us will be returning. Some of us will probably be only going in a couple, three days a week. And I think that's great because I think we found efficiencies. I know with what I do, I miss going into work but I also if I couldn't stay home two or three days a week, I'd miss kind of the efficiency of rolling out of bed and just working like 7 to 5. And just really crushing it. You can't do that when you're in the office. You really can't.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah. I think it's also the balance though. I find myself doing really crazy hour. I mean, I wanted to though. Everyone was working crazy hours to try to help everyone and help members. And then I think teams are really good at helping out when one team member couldn't necessarily be online certain hours and because of kids or whatever. I think everyone at Navy Federal really stepped up in that way. But it was hard to find a balance. It really was. Especially for someone like me where I really truly, I really do love my job and I learn something every day so I'm very engaged. And if something comes up and it's 6:00 PM, I don't care I want to work on it because I just I want to and it helps members. And it sound so cheesy but that's a really big deal.
ROBERT FRICK: No. It doesn't sound cheesy to me at least, it doesn't sound cheesy at all. But if you're in a company that is always looking for new business and if your real estate has changed and if your client needs a change, it's been a real struggle. And I think that's something that has been hurting the economy in the last year.
EMILY BIGHAM: Well, Bob, this has been a lovely conversation. I have kept you way too long. But I want to kind of end it on a positive note, not that this hasn't been truly positive, but I want to bring it back to your outlook for the next few years and some of the optimism that you had. The fact that existing home sales this spring is going to pop, some of those other, give me some of your natural optimism for the next few years.
ROBERT FRICK: Well, I'm neither optimistic or pessimistic. I'm sarcastic.
EMILY BIGHAM: So you're dramatic.
ROBERT FRICK: Right. I'm dramatic. No, I'm realistic, Emily. I'm a realist.
EMILY BIGHAM: OK. Well, that's what people say about me too, dramatic and I'm a realist.
ROBERT FRICK: You say it better than I do. So I'm a realist. A year ago I was pointing at the economy and saying, man, things are really going to get bad. A lot of people were saying, oh, you're exaggerating. I wasn't exaggerating. And then last time we spoke I said, it's going to come back but we hadn't seen any signs of it yet. The first quarter is going to be the quarter in which we turn the quarter. And that's exactly what happened.
Unfortunately, I wasn't the only person saying that. Many people were saying that. But we were all right. When you look at all the January numbers that are coming in, retail sales, jobs, even consumer price index, it's all up. It's all positive. It all shows that the service sector is coming back. And the service sector consumer spending on services is the biggest part of the economy. It's like 45% of the economy. Goods says another 25% that you have manufacturing, imports, exports. Blah, blah, blah.
But all these things are what actually happens in the business cycle and people shouldn't be alarmed by it. People should be grateful that we're finally out of this quagmire that we've been in for so long.
EMILY BIGHAM: Yeah. For a while it felt like phew, was it ever going to end? Well, Bob, it was so great talking to you today. And for listeners who want to find more about your insights, where can they read your stuff? Where can they find you?
ROBERT FRICK: I've really got into Twitter. So Robert Frick NFCU. I generally tweet-- today I had five tweets. There's some of them about the economy, there's a lot of news today, some of them are just snarky. But all my snark has a purpose because for example I poked fun at people who are worried about high inflation today. And I got kind of a rise. I wasn't trying to troll anyone, but I got a rise out of it. So I would say please follow me on Twitter especially if you remember I guarantee I'll follow you back. I have a lot of great conversations with members in messaging on Twitter. That gives me a lot of great insights. And that would be my number one thing. And if you really want my feed, the best way to do it is through Twitter.
EMILY BIGHAM: OK. So @RobertFrickNFCU. So it's R-O-B-E-R-T F-R-I-C-K N-F-C-U. Well, now you're probably going to be tweeting and trolling me because I was being so dramatic about inflation. But I was just confused. And I think the short term long term gives a lot of really good perspective. So Bob, thank you so much. Is there anything else that you would like to say before we wrap this up?
ROBERT FRICK: I think you have completely vacated everything in my brain, Emily.
EMILY BIGHAM: Me too. I'm exhausted.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah, I'm exhausted. So thank you very much. This has been great as always.
EMILY BIGHAM: All right. Go drive down your driveway.
ROBERT FRICK: OK.
EMILY BIGHAM: All right. It was good to talk to you, Bob.
ROBERT FRICK: Yeah, see you later.
- 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 8: Navigating the Economy in 2021
In this episode, we welcome back our corporate economist Robert Frick, an expert in behavioral economics and former journalist. Join us as Robert and Emily chat through the current economic climate, COVID-19’s impact on travel and small businesses, what we can expect going forward for our own finances and investments, and more.
[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.
Hello and welcome to the podcast. Today's guest is Angela Caban. She is the Director of Military Saves. April is a very special month for Angela and her organization. It's the month of Military Saves. And Angela, first of all, I want to welcome you to the podcast. Thanks so much for joining.
ANGELA CABAN: Hi, Emily. Thank you so much for having me.
EMILY BIGHAM: So I'm really excited about this topic and I love that you have extended your themes for Military Saves from four themes to five themes, and I want to get into that later. But first of all, can you tell me a little bit about your organization and what you do specifically for Military Saves?
ANGELA CABAN: Sure. So here as a director of Military Saves, I feel like I have my hands in everything that's going on. So more than just a month, we are a year round campaign. However, Military Saves Month is really important because it's a nationwide savings campaign that's recognized annually during the month of April and that aligns with Financial Capability Month.
So why have a whole entire month dedicated to savings is really important to us because we want to continue to motivate and to encourage the entire military community to use this as an opportunity to check in with their finances. So we always use the example of yearly-- one does go for their health check, so why not do a financial health check annually? Things are constantly changing in the military community, so it's really important to put some focus on that.
So a little bit about what we do during the month. We provide some resources, tools, and some really cool online events for savers to help them think more about their savings as well as their spending habits, which I know is a really big one for most of us.
And something that's really unique to our program is that we use the principles of behavioral economics, and a little bit about that is it really just makes you stop and think about what you do and why you're doing it when it comes to motivating that action for your savings and your spending behaviors, which could be a little scary for most with not realizing why.
So the very first step during Military Saves Month, we encourage everyone to please take the Military Saves pledge. And this really is that foundation and the start of making a promise to yourself, and that is to create and adjust a simple savings plan.
And once you're opted into the program, you're able to gain access to all of those tools and the resources, but also have us as an accountability check in, which is really great because I feel like everybody needs a reminder or a prompt every now and then to help stay on track and focus on their savings goals.
EMILY BIGHAM: Awesome. So I have two questions for you off the bat. Why April, and what is the end goal at the end of this campaign for the individual participants?
ANGELA CABAN: Sure. Great question. So April, for us, it's mainly because it is Financial Capability Month and that is something that is being recognized, I think, by the entire country. Specifically for the military community, it's really important to be able to have the opportunity to engage with some fantastic organizations, nonprofits, for-profits, government entities that are already hosting events and just really having this broader conversation about what is financial capability and how can we, together as a community, really support the military service member, the military spouse, the veteran. It's for everyone.
So that's why we decided to transition away from Military Saves Week. Not sure if you remember that. That's a couple of years ago. Into now what we call Military Saves Month. So I think the importance of participating in the month and what I would love everybody to take away from this program and this event, this month long campaign, is that it doesn't matter where you are in your savings journey.
You might have not even started or you might be ready to retire and you're set for the rest of your life, which is great. However, everybody's savings journey looks differently. We always say here that savings is a journey, not a destination. So it's never too late to start.
Little amounts do add up, so we really do hope that by engaging and encouraging those to take the pledge, you could really just take a step back and see where you are, whether you feel comfortable with it or not. We're going to be able to provide the resources for you and to help you on that navigating to the next step of your savings journey. So I think there's always something, no matter where you are in that savings journey.
EMILY BIGHAM: So you mentioned that a couple of years ago this was a savings week, right? You had one week dedicated to this campaign and then it grew to four, and now you're at five. From your perspective, obviously, this is a very important topic and it's grown so much that now you're able to fill five weeks with these themes. What have you seen over the years? Why did you decide to branch out into these five themes? And also, what are those five themes and what's the significance?
ANGELA CABAN: Yeah. So that's a great question because I think that having one day talking about this one theme, at least in my opinion, wasn't enough time. And what we've been able to do with these different five themes, being able to stretch them out into one entire week is not only just talk about that specific theme, but all the other underlying issues or components of that, which can be a lot.
So for each week of Military Saves Month, there is that theme. So, for instance, week one was save automatically, and that's our launch, which is really kind of like our overarching theme for the month because at Military Saves, we do believe that the most effective way of saving is by saving automatically, setting and forget it. It's through automatic allotments, through either your employer, or even your financial institution. There's some wonderful opportunity for you to start saving in that way.
And then we have week two, which is focused on saving for the unexpected. And in the military community, that's just a given. There's always something that's going to come up and I think especially with this past year with the pandemic, that was something that many of us were not expecting for all of us to be going through. So we touched on a lot of those different circumstances and the importance of having an emergency savings. And again, tying back in, saving automatically.
One that's one of my favorites is week three. It's save to retire. And I think this conversation-- and I almost feel like it's not even enough. I feel like we need more time than a week. But this conversation is something that needs to be had within all of the components in the military, and most importantly for us this year, because we are touching on military spouses, one thing we've been hearing when we're talking to a lot of our community members is spouses are relying on their service members TSP, or their retirement savings.
But it's important for us to explain that that is simply meant for the service member and it's most likely not going to be enough for two people to retire on. So we want to be having more conversations about what are some tools and resources that military spouses themselves can use and to ensure their own financial well-being later on in life.
Then we have week four. Again, another personal favorite of mine. It's the save by reducing debt. And I think that this concept is not really thought of that when you're saving-- not saving, but when you're reducing that debt, you are saving money. I think a lot of people get overwhelmed with either not being able to do both at the same time, and that's OK. You can focus on paying down that debt.
When you pay your debt down, you're saving yourself on interest, you're improving your credit score, which will then, again, in the future, help you by getting better rates when you're applying for certain things. So it's really important to, again, loop in some subject matter experts throughout all these different weeks to talk on these topics.
And then the very last theme for week five is save as a family. And this is brand new for this year's campaign, and again, a really important topic because when we're talking about finances, I think there's a taboo where you just don't talk about it with your family. It's nobody's business. It's very personal.
However, there are certain things that you should be engaging the entire family with when it comes to basic financial skills and savings. And this includes our children as well, our military children. It's Month of the Military Child as well in April, so it's going to be a really good opportunity for us to incorporate that messaging as well as providing some great tactics for those family members that might be a little bit uncomfortable talking about money.
EMILY BIGHAM: So I can tell that this is something that's very passionate for you, and me as well. I mean, the whole reason why I work at Navy Federal is because I love giving back to the military community, and this is just one way that you can do it without necessarily being in the military. So what is your relationship to the military?
ANGELA CABAN: So I am an Army National Guard spouse of 15 years. My husband recently transitioned a couple of years ago, so it's always been really interesting for my family specifically, because he's been both Army Active Duty, Army Reserve, and then Army National Guard is how he ended out his service. And we've seen a little bit of everything throughout each component.
And even though we haven't moved as a family in the military, we've seen a lot of different-- I should say different circumstances that affected us both personally as well as financially. We've lived the majority of our life together in a military-- I should say a nonmilitary community with lots of support from the civilian community.
However, we've had to find our own ways to navigate through a lot of those challenges. So as a military spouse, I really took it for myself, like, just jumping into a lot of resources within the military community. And part of my work here with Military Saves is to be able to support others who might have gone through similar situations that I had gone through in the past.
When my husband deployed for the very first time, we were not financially ready for that. We didn't have a savings account. We didn't have emergency savings. And we didn't realize that that was going to impact our finances. My husband took a $40,000 pay cut from his civilian job in order to deploy with the Army National Guard, and that really impacted our family.
So I think using a lot of those situations I personally went through in the work that I do through Military Saves is very personal and it's why I really love this campaign and the work that we're doing because it really does impact so many military families.
EMILY BIGHAM: Like, you said, each of these weeks, you could really break it down. I mean, you could have a whole year that could be dedicated to all the individual topics. But from your perspective, what are the big saving struggles or pitfalls that you're typically seeing from the military community?
ANGELA CABAN: Unfortunately, there's many, these pitfalls. A lot of the times what we'll see-- and from the perspective of the younger service member enlisting in the military, this is their first job. It's more money than they've ever had in their entire life, and at this point, they're not realizing how the decisions that they're making now are going to affect them later down when they're getting ready to either transition out of the military or, if they're staying in for a career, retire out.
So one of the things that we really focus on here having these conversations is putting the picture behind, well, what would it look like if you start investing now or if you started saving just a little bit of that pay each cycle, and what would that look like in five, 10, 20 years.
And you'd be surprised at, when you're making that visualization, that picture of what that looks like, how it hits them a little bit harder than them just sitting there talking and getting a briefing from their financial counselor, which is also very helpful.
However, if we could just take that and show them how it can affect them, to help them throughout their military career, it'll make such a big difference, especially for the military family when you now are married, whether you're young or you're a little bit older, because again, you can have money and just not know how to manage it and still be in the same situation of someone who's a really good saver, but doesn't make a whole lot of money. So we always like to mention that.
So it's really unfortunate that a lot of these situations could be something that they can prevent. However, it's OK. Part of the program is to talk to them about assessing where you are and not really dwelling on what you could have done in the past. Unfortunately, we can't go back and make things better for ourselves.
I've made plenty of those mistakes throughout my almost 17 years of marriage and we've learned from them. So it's about focusing on what you're doing now. So I think taking a lot of the negative and trying to put a positive spin on it is extremely helpful, and that goes back to the behavioral economics piece of our program as well.
EMILY BIGHAM: So going back to the transition from military to civilian. You guys-- there's a lot of different stages that you probably have to work through with these various military, active duty, or civilian people come to help with you.
And I'm trying to wrap my head around the question that I want to ask because I have, like, 50 on this topic. But number one, I mean, you've covered so much right now. How big is your organization? Do you have partnerships with other organizations that help you? What kind of stuff you guys do during the month to really-- what's the outreach look like or how can people find you? Like, what's that engagement with the military community and other supporting organizations?
ANGELA CABAN: Yeah. No, and that's a really great question because I don't think people realize that just aside from working directly with that saver community, and I use that word because that is someone who has taken the Military Saves pledge, we have an entire support network.
For Military Saves Month alone this year, we have over 500 participants, and that includes partnerships with Navy Federal, nonprofits, military installations, government entities. I always like to bring it back to the old saying, it takes a village, because that applies to a lot in our lives, especially when we're talking about financial readiness.
So in this space, we do rely on organizations to help spread the word about the campaign. And not just for Military Saves Month, but for 365 days of the year because that's something we should be talking about all the time, right?
But, however, with Military Saves Month, it is that opportunity to closely engage with these organizations that are already doing so much for the military. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We're just really trying to align our mission and what we want to do with all the great work that others are already doing, you know?
Again, with Navy Federal, you guys have this podcast. You're reaching so many members within your community that perhaps have never heard of Military Saves. And it's all about just really being able to join the forces together because if I think of myself as, you know, recently married, 20 years old, my husband slapping deployment orders down on the table and me thinking, like, what does this mean for us?
You know, back then, I didn't think of the financial implications, what that strain would look like for my family. I'm much older now, so I'm a little bit more experienced. So knowing back then that these programs, and organizations, and the support, even from your financial institution, are there.
Back in 2019, our Military Saves Saver Survey did show that our savers go to their financial institutions for information and for that support and that guidance. So I think it's a lot about trusting that mission. So for us at Military Saves, it's very similar that we really do have to just work together as a military support community.
EMILY BIGHAM: So the military does a really wonderful job of taking care of service members and their families. I mean, they do. There are so many benefits. I've said this a million times, but my dad was in the military for 27 years. We've lived overseas on bases.
And what you mentioned at the beginning of the podcast was how you personally have never had to move overseas, but I'm sure you notice the difference between when you go on a military base and you know the community on there when you live on base. There are schools on base.
I went to an elementary school in Japan on base there and it was almost like it was our own little special community, and they really do take care of you and they teach you about the different currencies. And I wonder if-- there are so many benefits.
Like, do you see that when people come to you and they ask the questions, like, you really need to start with the basics because when your benefits are taken care of, when schools are taken care of, when your spouses are taken care of, all of those things are just-- you're able to kind of relax and focus on your job because those other things, mostly finances, are all kind of taken care of, like the set it and forget it benefits.
Do you see that people are coming to you for the most basic savings questions and what are those? Like, I'm kind of-- I want to be in the mindset of, like, who is the person who approaches you? Like, what was that person?
ANGELA CABAN: Yeah, so that's a couple different things there. Obviously, as a program, we're always using-- tapping into those resources and benefits that are already there, as you had said. You know, the military does such a great job at providing these resources for the service member and their families.
A lot of it is just knowing about it. You'd be surprised how many people will come to us and don't even realize that there's free financial counseling on their installation. Whether or not they want to utilize that, that's obviously a personal choice that they have to make for their family.
However, it's there and those counselors are more than happy to sit down, and they actually use the Military Saves program, so part of that is incorporating that messaging of savings, but it starts for them just really understanding basic savings and spending habits.
They don't even realize that just because they're making x amount of money, what is the appropriate amount to put towards savings or towards that debt for their monthly expenses. They're noticing that a lot more is going out than is coming in.
There's lots of different struggles and if we can touch just on the COVID-19 piece as well, because I think we've all, as a community, have seen the stress that COVID-19 has had, not even just on the military, but the entire community, but the military being a very vulnerable population because before COVID-19, as you mentioned, there's a lot of different challenges that we face.
Unfortunately, a lot of times when military families are PCSing, a lot of those expenses are not covered or it takes a really long time to get reimbursed. And if they don't have that money saved, they're looking elsewhere to help them with those expenses. So we also see military spouse unemployment, underemployment. We see education, child care, and most recently, food insecurity. That's a really big issue in the military community.
So I think COVID-19 has complicated these issues. But then there's this other side that we're seeing as an organization. So when you're asking me what we're hearing, we're hearing either the most basic not knowing what to do, where to start, but then we have what we call these super savers that, because of COVID-19, they've seen it as an opportunity to save more money than they have ever been able to save.
Like, almost actually hoarding it into savings accounts and then asking the questions of, well, what are the right ways of saving this? We don't really get into the specifics of investing and things like that. We have a lot of really great partnerships and subject matter experts that can give them that advice.
However, it's amazing to see this new community almost where they're taking the opportunity to pay off years and years of debt that they never thought they would get cleared off or just actually being able to put in a couple thousand dollars into a savings account. So that's us hearing that is amazing.
And we're getting ready to launch a survey after Military Saves Month in May. It's called the Military Saves Saver Survey. And we launch this every other year and one of the things that we're going to be analyzing other than the normal savings and spending behaviors that we normally would ask are some COVID-19-specific questions on how it's impacted their savings.
Were they able to save more? Did they have to deplete their savings? Just really get a little bit into what that look like for them. And I think we're going to be really impressed with the results that we see. Because again, we're just really seeing a lot of the community saying that they have more opportunities because of the stimulus checks, or we always say save the extra here at Military Saves, whether it's your tax refund, any money that you weren't expecting. If you don't have any debt or any immediate need or expenses, save it. It's an opportunity to really get that savings going.
EMILY BIGHAM: Do you think that there are any misconceptions about financial security?
ANGELA CABAN: No, I'm sure that there are. I mean, me personally, for my experience as a military spouse, I would say, yes, there are misconceptions. I think-- just a little personal story. Like, when I married my husband, for some reason, my family thought we had it all together.
You know, we're military. You put that uniform on and my husband's proudly serving his country. We shouldn't be struggling. I think that's a misconception a lot of America has with the military and I always like to say, you know, we're people just like everybody else and my husband said, I made this choice to put this uniform on and serve my country, and this is my job.
Just because we're military doesn't mean we're smart with money. Doesn't mean we're set for life. I think there's definitely a learning curve, especially when you're not used to the everyday active duty lifestyle. So for us as a National Guard family, we had to learn the hard way about how to prepare for those next life cycles, whether it's a deployment or whether my husband's on TDY, away for training.
What about me? I had to quit my full time corporate America job to stay home and find the work from home hustle's, and side gigs, and all these things that would bring some income into the house because he was always gone and child care was too expensive.
So yeah, I think there's definitely a lot of misconceptions and I hope that through the Military Saves program and my work here and my team, which I should mention, we're all military spouses and our senior program manager is not only an accredited financial counselor, but she's also a veteran. She has a lot of insight and personal perspective on what that looks like. So yeah, I hope that the messaging and the work that we do here really can resonate with that military service member no matter where they are currently.
EMILY BIGHAM: OK. So tell me about the fun stuff. So what are you guys doing this month that-- tell me about all of the fun things that you have going on because I know that they're there, and you and I got really serious because that's always kind of how I-- I love to dig into this stuff and you've been so wonderful talking about all the different things that you guys do and the struggles and pitfalls that you help with. But what's the fun stuff?
ANGELA CABAN: Yeah. So with the themes that I had mentioned earlier, we have a Facebook Live event every week that will have those subject matter experts from different organizations come on and touch on the different themes.
Really fun for us is some Facebook giveaways, which is new again for us this year. So if you tune in and you just mention your favorite takeaway from that event, take the Military Saves pledge, of course, you are entered into a $50 gift card giveaway and that's a gift card to anywhere that you want. You just tell us where you want it and we'll purchase it for you.
So that's really fun for us this year. We have a couple of different guests this year, which we're really excited, from different organizations, touching on different topics that, perhaps, we as an organization have never spoken on. One of them is Wounded Warrior Project, because there's a lot of unexpected expenses that come with that lifestyle, which we're really excited to be able to talk about.
Another thing that we're doing too, working closely with other organizations, for instance, Navy Fed. You have an embeddable pledge form over on your website, which is really great to be able to reach members as well as those who might not really be familiar with the Military Saves the program and everything that we're really featuring.
Something else that we do is our text messaging platform. And we've noticed that everybody has their phone on them, right? What is the preferred method of receiving information? It's usually your cell phone. We do have email marketing, which works fantastic, and our social media. But we've noticed that military spouses specifically really love getting those tips, and those prompts, and those reminders. And we usually send those a couple days before payday. We have some really fun polls on there.
And then another really fun thing for this year is we're doing a $500 sweepstakes at the end of the month, and there's three ways to enter that. You take the Military Saves pledge, you join our Facebook group, and then you share your savings goal with us to let us know what you're saving for, why you took the Military Saves pledge, and then you're entered into this $500 giveaway which could be a great jumpstart to someone's savings.
EMILY BIGHAM: Absolutely. So the text message platform, how do you get enrolled in it? Do you guys have a specific number that we would text or--
ANGELA CABAN: Yeah, absolutely. So Navy Fed actually has its own keyword. So if you're a Navy Fed member, you would text the keyword power up savings to 877877. And that's a really great way to not only opt into the Military Saves program, but again, it's kind of like an accountability buddy. Everybody kind of needs that person to remind them of their goals.
And I should mention too that, based on the pledge that you're taking to yourself, we have different goals that you can sign up for. So one person might need to be saving up for retirement while another person wants to save up for that vacation that they probably haven't been able to go on in quite some time.
So there's different goals on there. There's also general savings if you just want to learn some really simple strategies to get that started. So yeah, I think that that's definitely-- one of my preferred methods of receiving communications is that texting.
EMILY BIGHAM: So the text message platform, just to reiterate, to join in on all the fun, you would text power up savings to 877877, just right from your phone?
ANGELA CABAN: Correct.
EMILY BIGHAM: That's awesome. And then to get involved in the Facebook Live, would you just go on Facebook, search Military Saves, like the page, and do you have a schedule of the different live events or--
ANGELA CABAN: Yeah. If you head on over to militarysaves.org, you'll see it right there on our homepage. It's our featured blog post and we have every single event for the entire month. We also are trying to feature some of the different events that our partners and organizations are featuring as well. So any time that we have that, we'll be sure to share it over on our Facebook page, which is Military Saves, or you can join our Facebook group called Military Savers.
EMILY BIGHAM: Great. So militarysaves.org for more information and also to take the pledge. For the Facebook Live program, what are some of the top things that you guys will be discussing?
ANGELA CABAN: So for Facebook Live, for instance, this next one that we're doing this week, actually, since it's week two, save for the unexpected, we're going to be talking about some of those unexpected circumstances in the military.
And I had mentioned Wounded Warrior Project is going to be one of our guests and we're also going to have FEMA come on and talk about some of the emergencies that a military family member might experience. They sound like really heavy, heavy topics, but we do add some fun twists to that because, again, we know that in the military, we're always just kind of waiting for that next something to happen.
So we're definitely going to be talking about the pandemic, how it's affected us, but also some different situations that, whether you're currently serving or maybe you've transitioned out, and how we could really put the emphasis of emergency savings on that because I think that always ties back to if you're prepared for that emergency, and unfortunately, a lot of the community is not. So we're going to definitely be talking about some really great strategies to help them get prepared for that.
EMILY BIGHAM: You mentioned that these are kind of heavy topics, but they're really important topics. And these are a lot of topics that add a lot of stress and strain and potentially unnecessary stress and strain. And so you guys are creating a community where people feel safe to talk about these kinds of problems and ask for advice, and they know that they can trust you and the organizations you partner with, so I think it's absolutely wonderful.
And I love that there are a million different ways that the community can reach you guys and I assume that, on these Facebook Live events, you can also ask questions and kind of engage more with what's actually happening on the Facebook Live event, right? Is that kind of the purpose of the events?
ANGELA CABAN: Absolutely. And that's-- they're very laid back, conversational. It's not-- while we have these subject matter experts, they're also a part of the military community, so they're going to be sharing their personal experiences. And we encourage engagement on there. We'll be answering questions. That's also kind of part of our give away.
But please engage. Let us know what your thoughts are, your experiences are. We would love to feature those stories too. So I should also mention that when you do come over to Military Saves and you share your savings journey or your saver story with us, you have an opportunity to also get $50 for your savings account and we will feature you on our website, militarysaves.org.
So it's also a really good way to share with the community, right? Your experiences and what you've been through as a military family, which I think is-- like you said, it's important to have those conversations knowing that you're not alone, and we're all human and we make those money mistakes, you know?
EMILY BIGHAM: Right. Absolutely. And that there's always a light at the end of the tunnel. And so if you happen to miss the Facebook Live event, will you be sharing the recordings on your website?
ANGELA CABAN: Absolutely. Another thing too, when you are opted into Military Saves with the Military Saves pledge, you're going to receive a recap of all of the events for the entire month. I know a lot of people are busy. It's usually during the workday, so everything will also be on our YouTube channel, which is Military Saves. So feel free to check it out after the event.
EMILY BIGHAM: Awesome. Well, this has been just a spectacular conversation and I can honestly go on forever talking to you about this because I'm passionate about military and I'm passionate about savings and all the different things that you guys are doing. I just-- I think it's wonderful. But before we wrap up here, is there anything else that you want to mention that we haven't talked about?
ANGELA CABAN: No. I mean, just a really big thanks to Navy Federal. You guys have been a really great supporter of the Military Saves program, so we're just so excited for this podcast. And to get more information about Military Saves and the work, as well as any events that we have going on, just please visit militarysaves.org and feel free to check out our social channels as well.
EMILY BIGHAM: Great. Well, I will let you get back to your probably very, very busy day, seeing as though it is the month of Military Saves. But I just want to thank you again, not only for coming on today, but also for all of the work that you do for the military. It is such a special thing that you do, honestly.
I mean, you've sacrificed a lot. Your husband as well. Thank him for serving, but our military spouses also sacrifice a lot and it's great that you guys are providing support for them as well. So thank you again and good luck with the rest of the month, and I look forward to talking and seeing you again.
ANGELA CABAN: Thank you, Emily. I appreciate it.
NARRATOR: 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 7: Military Saves: The Month, the Pledge and Super Savers
In this episode, we’re joined by Angela Caban, Director of Military Saves at the Consumer Federation of America, and a military spouse herself. She shares info about Military Saves Month, including what the month means, how to take the pledge and how the organization partners with Navy Federal. Expect conversation around the work Military Saves does to help servicemembers and vets commit to better savings habits, savings misconceptions in the military, and more.