Tax day

If you have a job, then you probably feel like every payday is Tax Day. After all, out of every paycheck you pay money to the federal government in the form of income taxes.

If you’ve ever landed a job by filling out one of these, a job application, you’ve probably paid taxes.

But April 15 is the real Tax Day – the deadline for filling out the paperwork showing exactly how much was withheld from all your paychecks last year, and whether it was too much or too little.

If you paid too much, then you’ll get a check for the difference. Yippee! But if you paid too little, then you’ll owe more money to the government.

Americans are famous for complaining about taxes – in fact, unfair taxation was a prime reason we fought the Revolutionary War. And nearly everyone agrees that the way we pay taxes today is too complicated. Many also say our tax system is unfair.

So, why pay taxes if the system is complicated and unfair? Here are five reasons:

  1. Taxes help pay for things you like, such as highways and national parks.
  2. Taxes support our servicemen and women.
  3. Without taxes, our nation would be even deeper in debt.
  4. It’s one way of paying for the opportunities you enjoy as an American.
  5. You don’t want to go to jail.
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The power of compound interest

By: Marya

In my junior year of high school, my government teacher told us about the power of compound interest. While I didn’t necessarily have the money to start investing at the time, that lesson stuck with me. I’m hoping it will do the same with you.

Compound interest is free money, just for keeping your money in an account.

Compound interest is free money, just for keeping your money in an account.

You can put your money in a savings account at a financial institution and earn interest. Interest is money that is paid regularly to the account holder at a specific percentage rate. Basically, it’s free money for keeping your money in an account. Compound interest is interest that has been paid on the principal investment, which becomes a part of the principal and begins earning its own interest.  It’s not as complicated as it looks. Let’s break it down some.

Say that you invest $1,000 in an account that earns a 10 percent annual interest rate, and that the interest is paid each month. Let’s also assume that you don’t take any money out over the course of the first year. When your interest is paid at the end of the first month, you’ll earn $8.33. Your principal balance then becomes $1008.33. So the second time your interest is paid, it will be paid off of the new principal balance. At the end of the second month, you’ll earn $8.40 in interest. Now, your principal balance will be $1,016.74. Believe it or not, when your interest is paid in the twelfth month, your principal balance will be $1,095.58, and you’ll earn $9.13 in interest. That makes your grand total at the end of the year $1,104.71! That’s over a hundred bucks, free, just for keeping your money in that account.

Now, just imagine these financial mathematics over the long haul. If you left that same $1,000 in that same account for thirty years, you’d have $18,837.40. If you invested $1,000 additional each of those years, you’d have over $200,000 with only $30,000 invested. That’s a nice start on retirement.

The longer you wait to start investing, the less money you’ll make. So while retirement seems too far away to even think about, your 60-year old self will be thanking your teen self if you start investing when you’re young.

Learn more about compound interest, and do some calculations of your own, by visiting these sites, which I also found helpful.

How compound interest grows (

Compound interest calculator (

Compound interest (

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Finding your fortune

By: Dan

The “Saddle Ridge Hoard”


A pot of gold is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition. But you might be better off digging up buried trash than chasing rainbows.

As Coin World magazine reported, a California couple dug up eight rusty cans filled with 1,427 gold coins. The treasure is worth $10 million – more than 23 times the value of a pot of gold! ( estimates that a standard clay pot filled with gold would be worth $427,000.)

We don’t know anything about the person who buried those coffee cans more than 100 years ago. But if he (or she) had kids, and they had kids and they had kids, there could be hundreds of Americans whose lives would be different if the money had been invested wisely instead of buried in the woods. Maybe there’s a disease that didn’t get cured because someone in the family couldn’t afford college.

Most of us will never find valuable coins in the woods, and it’s rare to meet a leprechaun who will take you to his pot of gold. So working hard and being smart with your money is the surest way to have a fortune. Free STCU events like Money Camp and Money Live can help get you started.

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What do you do, STCU?

By: Keith

Enterprise Communications Administrator, STCU

What do you do at STCU?
I help with communication. My responsibilities are in the management and programming of STCU’s phone system. I also help with the planning and implementation of phone system upgrades.

Here's Adam on a recent backpacking trip near Leavenworth, WA.

Here’s a picture of me taken on a recent
backpacking trip near Leavenworth, WA.

I am also responsible for our video conferencing system and mobile tools, such as tablets and smart phones, which allow STCU employees to securely communicate from many different locations, even while away from a branch and in the community.

I also help run the STCU fax server (for sending and receiving documents) and STCU’s website LiveChat feature, which lets us chat with our members online.

Simply put, if something is used for communication, either among STCU employees or with our members, there is a pretty good chance I am involved.

What is your favorite denomination of money?
On the rare occasion that I have money in my wallet, I am a fan of the $20 bill.

Twenty dollars is usually enough to pay for whatever I am buying, and most of the time results in my getting change back. Of course, my change usually gets shoved into my pocket only to be discovered when I pull it out of the washing machine.

Has anyone ever mistaken you for a celebrity?
Oddly enough, they haven’t.

More than one person has said I look like Jon Favreau, but only from a specific episode of the television show, “Friends.” I am not sure how I should feel about that.

How long have you worked for the credit union?
The calendar shows that I have been with STCU for two years. But I swear it only feels like it has only been 1 year and 273 days.

It’s amazing how quickly the last two years have gone.  It really does seem like yesterday that I was a new face at STCU. You know what they say, “Time flies when you are having fun.” I certainly have had fun during my time working for STCU.

What’s your dream car?
Atop my dream car list is the McLaren P1. The P1 is a sophisticated and eco-friendly gas/electric hybrid, just like a Toyota Prius.

But unlike a Prius, the P1 can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and has a top speed of 217 mph.

However, the McLaren P1 costs over a million dollars, so maybe it’s really not like a Prius after all.

What do you like best about your job?
It’s the people!

I occupy a somewhat unique role in the credit union. My responsibilities tend to be very visible and focused directly on people and how they use communication tools.

I have opportunities to work with people from all areas of STCU, from frontline branch staff, to folks working behind the scenes at our Headquarters in Liberty Lake, even to our President/CEO, Tom Johnson.

Having the opportunity to see so much of the credit union and meet so many people is a huge plus in my book.

Meet Gus and Ole. It seems that when I need them to look direction, they each have a different direction in mind.

Meet Gus and Ole. When I need them to look one direction, they each have a different direction in mind.

Dogs or cats?
I have always been a K9 over feline kind of guy.

I am a firm believer that the only thing better than four paws and a wagging tail is eight paws and two wagging tails.

I am the proud owner of two dogs, Gus and Ole (Oh-lee). They are brothers and are a mixed breed. I rescued them four years ago from the Spokane Humane Society.

Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?
These days, neither.

While in the past I would have claimed to be a mayonnaise guy, I am trying hard to avoid it in an attempt to fit into my shirts a little better.

Plus, bathing suit season is just around the corner.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that I find myself a part of the STCU team. Eventually, I would like to have the opportunity to pursue leadership opportunities within the organization. But, I can safely say that I would be happy continuing to bring new and exciting communications technology solutions to my STCU colleagues and our members.

But, one day, a nice vice president office would be ok with me, too.

Where’s the furthest place you’ve been from Spokane?
The furthest away I have been geographically from Spokane is San Diego, CA.

But, I have plans to be lounging on a beach in Hawaii this spring, which is further away than San Diego.

Any advice for someone looking to do your job?
I think the best advice I can offer anyone looking for any type job is to make sure that they keep an eye out for open doors and do their best to be flexible.

My personal motto is: “Semper Gumby”, which translates to me as, “Always flexible”.

The road that led me to my current role was very windy. By adapting to the opportunities that developed for me, I managed to get my foot in the door at STCU, which is a fantastic place to work!

Why do our members love us?
I think it’s the consistent, friendly, professional, and over-the-top positive and enthusiastic service we provide.

Maybe it can be traced to the active role that we try to play in the communities we serve.

I also think it has something to do with our employees genuinely caring about our members and the fact that we always try to do what is right.

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Money Camp for money champs!

It’s not too late to join STCU for Money Camp, a high-energy, snack-packed gathering of teens who want to learn how to:

  • Use a debit card.
  • Amass piles of money.
  • Build your credit.

And other financial stuff you may not get in school.

Money Camp is free and open to students grades 6–8 or ages 11-14.

Thursday, March 27
9 a.m. to noon
Coeur d’Alene Library
702 E Front Ave

Wednesday, April 9

1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
North Spokane Library
44 E. Hawthorne Road

Parents: Click here for more information and to register.


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The value of a medal

By Dan

You’d be awfully proud if you won a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. And you might be able to make a lot of money appearing in television commercials and on cereal boxes.

But the medal alone probably wouldn’t make you rich.

If this year’s medal were pure gold, it’d be worth about $21,000, according to Forbes magazine. Instead, it’s just plated with a little gold, for a total value of about $566, the magazine reports. Second-place finishers get a silver medal that’s worth about $323. For third place, athletes get a bronze medal worth about $3.25.

Of course, the real value of any object depends on how difficult it is to obtain and how badly it’s desired. Considering the years of work, sacrifice and pain to become the world’s best at any sport, most athletes would probably say that an Olympic medal is priceless!

Yet, from time to time an Olympian does sell a hard-won medal.

Any sports fan who was around in 1980 remembers the excitement when the American hockey team unexpectedly won the Olympics. It was called “the miracle on ice.” So, when one member of that team auctioned his medal four years ago to pay for medical treatments, the winning bidder paid $370,000!

Yet, an American swimmer received just $17,000 when he sold the gold medal he won in a 2000 race very few people remember. He used the money to help families whose homes were destroyed by a tsunami (tidal wave).

One of the most famous Olympians of all time was American track star Jesse Owens, who won four gold medals in 1936. One of those medals recently sold at auction for nearly $1.5 million!





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Money saving tips for Valentine’s Day

STCU Valentines Day

In 2013, the average couple was projected to spend over $250 celebrating Valentine’s Day. That buys a whole lot of chocolate, cards, teddy bears, and flowers. But as The Beatles famously said, money doesn’t buy love. So if you’re looking to save a few bucks and still “Wow!” that special someone, here are a few ways to save money on Valentine’s Day.

Don’t go out to an expensive restaurant for dinner.
Cook a new and exciting meal at home, or make your favorite foods together. Put a nice table cloth down, light some unscented candles, and ask a sibling or parent to be your server for the evening. Voila!: a cheap, at home romantic dinner.

Don’t buy expensive boxed chocolates.
Skip the cliche. Instead, buy your sweetheart’s favorite candy and dress it up in a fancy bow.

Trade dresses or outfits with a friend.
Rather than running to the mall and buying something new to wear, try asking a friend first. The look will be new to you and your special someone, but won’t cost you a dime.

Buy cut flowers and design the arrangement yourself.
Better yet, buy a plant or paper flowers. They’ll last much longer than those expensive stems.

Start a new tradition.
On our first Valentine’s Day together, my husband and I went out to pizza. And that’s how we’ve celebrated for the last eight years. It was simple, but those are great memories, and those memories weren’t expensive.

Send a love letter.
Instead of buying a Valentine’s Day card, hand-write a letter and mail it in time to arrive on the special day.

Leave a special note in an unexpected place.
Get creative, like the mirror of their car, their wallet, or inside their locker.

These romantic Valentine’s Day budget tips were compiled by Marya.
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Sochi or bust

Winter Olympic GamesBy: Keith

The XXII Olympic Winter Games have arrived. People around the world will be tuning in to watch athletes compete for gold medals in Sochi, Russia. Sure, the events are fun to watch on television, but what if you wanted to watch the competition live? How much would it cost and how long would it take to fly to Sochi?

After a quick search online at, I found that the lowest price of a round trip airline ticket from Spokane to Sochi during the games was $5,766. Wow!

What’s just as surprising is that it would take about 36 hours of travel time to get there. So if you left Spokane on Tuesday at noon, you would arrive to Sochi on Thursday at noon (you lose 12 hours due to changing time zones).

I don’t know about you, but just after seeing the cost and time of travel, I’ll be sticking to watching the games from my home on television.

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A New Year

It’s January and many people are thinking about New Year resolutions. Some of the most common resolutions among Americans have to do with becoming healthier, both physically and financially.

Have you ever considered setting a resolution to become a better money manager?

blank list of resolutions on blackboardIf you have, then start this year by setting a few simple financial goals. It could be as simple as saving some money for a special occasion or a camping trip when the weather gets warmer.

Make sure your goal is achievable within a reasonable amount of time. And make it something that’s easily tracked, so you can see whether you’re making progress and will know whether you’ve completed your goal.

For example, save $500 for a new laptop by the end of the school year or $5,000 to buy a used car by your 17th birthday.

Now that you have a goal, how do you get there?

That leads us to another good money habit for 2014: keeping a spending diary.

The purpose of a spending diary is to keep a record of your daily actions so that you can look back and remember what your money was spent. For two weeks, a month, two months, or for the rest of your life, write down every penny you spend, what it was for, and how much it was.

Break your spending into categories: needs (food, shelter, comfort, all the necessary things) and wants (things like entertainment or cell phone data charges).

Total what you have spent and ask yourself this question: “Do I want any of that money back?”

If you find that you regret some of your purchases, then it’s time to start thinking more deliberately about your spending.

For example: I found myself spending about $4 a (work) day at a shall-not-be-named coffee shop for my favorite drink. This cost me $20 a week and $80 a month! Spending $4 at a time was nothing, but when I looked at the total, I started to think about all the other things that I might have been able to do with that $80.

Your challenge is to track your spending. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Use a notebook, a spreadsheet, a napkin, or text it to yourself. Just KEEP A RECORD. Then start thinking about all the ways you want to make your money work for you and see if your spending is helping you achieve your goals, or taking you further and further away.

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Planning your purchases – December

By: Marya

The upcoming Christmas holiday means lots of stuff is on sale Christmas decorationsin December. But don’t forget that you can catch some great deals after Christmas as well. Here are a few things you might be able to snag a good deal on during the month of December.




Some stores and restaurants offer gift card freebies (buy $20 get $5 free). This is a great way to buy your Christmas presents while saving money.

Holiday décor will be deeply discounted after Christmas.

You should think twice before buying winter sports clothing and accessories right now. These prices are likely to drop lower as the season progresses.

This list was compiled with help from the following websites.

Bankrate frugal living

Deal news

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