These are challenging economic times. Record high gas prices here in New Hampshire. Energy costs soaring as inventories shrink. Retail prices for food and basic goods have jumped. Recently, the Federal Reserve announced it will begin a series of interest rate hikes designed to stem the rise of inflation in the US. That decision means it will cost more to borrow money for a home or a car or other major purchases. The cost of living is going up substantially.
The truth is nobody’s wallets, budgets or bank accounts are immune to current events… but you are not helpless, and there are experts in finance who can offer advice to help all of us navigate these unpredictable times.
Introducing Gordon Simmons Service Credit Union Retired CEO
Gordon Simmons served as President & CEO, and previously served as Treasurer/Secretary of the Board of Directors of Service Credit Union from 1995 – 2015. Simmons’ 41-year tenure as Service Credit Union’s leader meant he had to navigate the financial world for the business and for its many members.
His track record is strong. Service Credit Union had more than $2.7 billion in assets upon his retirement in 2015 and was the largest New Hampshire based credit union, the largest state chartered financial institution in New Hampshire and the 60th largest in the United States out of more than 6,000 credit unions.
Upon his becoming President/CEO in January 1995, Service Credit Union offered basically savings, checking and loans. Simmons revolutionized the traditional model and used advances in the industry to better connect members to their finances. Through the introduction of technology driven products and services, Gordon led improvements that afforded Service Credit Union’s vast membership, spread around the world, 24/7 continual service and access to their financial accounts. His product additions and accomplishments made the credit union relevant and viable, and a stiff competitor in the financial industry.
What’s his advice for current times? Here are some of Gordon Simmons top tips:
“If you are already getting ready to make a major purchase, the sooner the better,” says Simmons. “Inflation rises both prices and the cost of taking loans, so set your rate before they climb again and make your money work more for you.”
“In the meantime, be smart. Focus more on needs instead of wants. It’s best to invest in your necessities and keep the wish list on the table for when the current economic climate shifts. And by the way, what goes up, must come down. Don’t panic.”
As a career service credit union CEO, Simmons spent years helping families and businesses find ways to save their resources while achieving their short and long-term goals.
“Make a budget and stick to your plan. Uncertainty breeds ill-informed decisions. Pay attention to the economy, determine what your basic and bottom-line expenses are and cut the fat. Excess spending during uncertain times is a little like throwing dollar bills into a hurricane. Don’t do it.”
“Stay in touch with money managers. For those of you who have money invested in markets, stay in touch with your money managers, and consider shifts into safer bond-related financing options for savings. Sometimes it’s best to steer the boat to a safe harbor while the storm passes through. It may extend your timeline for the retirement finish line, but a few small adjustments can also steel yourself against sudden jerks in the market. Just remember, invest thinking about the long-term, not what’s going to happen next week or next month.”
“If you are looking for good news, there’s plenty to find. Unemployment remains low. Wages are competitively higher than they have been in many sectors. Demand for goods and services remains as well.”
Here are a few other ideas for how to boost savings, reduce expenses and your return as interest rates rise:
- Record your expenses. The first step is to start saving money is figuring out how much you spend.
- Prepare a budget to include a savings plan. Eliminate unnecessary expense and reduce other expenses where possible.
- Reduce your energy costs such as on your electric usage and reducing gas usage by changing your driving habits.
- Establish a general savings plan. Put away a certain percentage of your earnings on a regular basis, perhaps via automatic deposit to your bank account.
- Build a CD ladder. CD ladders combine the higher rates of CD’s with some of the flexibility of savings accounts.
- Invest in short term Certificates of Deposit (CD’s) at your financial institution. Remember, interest rates will still be rising and you do not want to be caught holding long term CD’s while they do.
- Try a Money Market Account that offers higher interest. Beware that some MMA’s have higher fees and/or minimum balance requirements, but do offer a higher return than savings and checking accounts.
- Check with your local credit union. Unlike banks, they are member-owned (you) who work for the benefit of each other rather than bank shareholders.
“The economy is going through change, but that doesn’t mean the nation is headed into prolonged dark times,” says Simmons. “Keep your head and the inflation we see will begin to ease back.”
About Gordon Simmons Service Credit Union Leader For 41 years:
Gordon Simmons graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in Business and the University of Utah with a Master’s in Business Administration (M.B.A.) in Quantitative Analysis. He spent many years overseas in direct contact with Air Force and Army command headquarters, military community leaders and commanders as well as Department of Defense liaisons in Washington, D.C.
He was a founding member and served on the European Credit Union Coordination Committee [ECUCC] and was a member of the American Society of Military Comptrollers [ASMC] as well as the Association of the United States Army [AUSA].
Gordon has served as Director and Chairman of the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC); Chairman of the America’s Credit Union Museum Foundation; Board Chairman of the New Hampshire Credit Union League (NHCUL); and Chairman of the Armed Forces Financial Network, LLC. (AFFN). He also served as Chairman of the New Hampshire Credit Union League’s Marketing and Shared Branching committees, Chairman of the league’s Federal Legislative and Audit Committees and has also served on the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) Region I Advisory Committee.
Learn more about Gordon Simmons and see his recent blog posts at https://gordonsimmonsceo.com
You can also find more about Gordon Simmons at LinkedIn.
Here is an article from Gordon on the current economic times in NH.