Empowering Members through Financial Literacy

National Police Credit Union is committed to providing our membership with as much financial information as we can. This section features a curated selection of financial news from our team and around the world covering various topics for informational purposes only. We believe that the more educated you are, the more empowered you become.

Financial News from Our Team

Published articles, original content, opinions and commentary by Scott Arney, CEO, Chicago Patrolmen's Federal Credit Union.

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Financial News from Around the World

The Patrolmen's Dispatch Financial News section features a curated selection of articles from around the world, covering various topics for information purposes only.

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#FinancialLiteracy

Financial Q & A

Submit your question* for the National Police Credit Union staff to answer. We will respond to your question and post our answer below within 48 business hours. 

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Answers

Question: 

How should I spend my tax refund?

Answer: 
Expecting a tax refund and need some advice on what to do with it?  Maybe you’d like to start a savings account or pay down some debt?  Give Gwen a call at (844) COP-SAVE and let her help you make the best decision!  

*Financial Q & A submissions must be relevant to the financial needs of our members.

Financial Planning and Living Within Your Means

“We buy things we don't need with money we don't have to impress people we don't like.”

-Dave Ramsey

I recently spoke to a friend who is a plumber. He talked about how he isn’t impressed with “things” people have today. He sees the headache of debt, which comes from expensive cars, houses or vacations homes. He stated, “I could drive a more expensive car.  I could buy a bigger house. I could take a lavish vacation or purchase expensive furniture”. He went on to say, “I find a significant amount of pleasure knowing, through financial planning, that my wife and I will be debt-free in a few years!.” He has four young kids and soon will have his house paid in full.  I kept thinking, I know maybe one or two people that actually have their house paid off.   

To "live within your means" is simple but complicated for so many law enforcement officers. This means spending less than the amount of money you bring in each month. For many people, it’s a lot easier said than done. Credit cards, loans, or little savings allows anyone to buy more things than your income would allow. Unfortunately, that kind of lifestyle isn’t sustainable for anyone, let along those in law enforcement. You have to ask yourself at some point, is this reckless spending catching up to me? Your savings and access to credit will run out and when that happens, you’ll be forced to make some important changes or face financial ruin. I know too well, I was in credit card debt in my early twenties; I spent money like a first-round draft pick.  I learned the hard way, paying for that debt took years, but I learned the answer is truly simple: spend less than you make. 

Pull into any police station parking lot and you will see a few cars that are out of the price range of an officer’s salary.  But the same officers believe that working countless hours of overtime to afford that car is in fact worth it.  Some officers can afford it, while others work tirelessly for “things”.  Their understanding is “I deserve it!”  Some officers are just used to debt being the norm since coming out of college broke.  Many officers are also in various kinds of bondage around money.  It’s easy to overspend, while under earning. 

Staying out of debt means not being hunted down by creditors. It means not carrying a financial burden from the past while also trying to provide for the present. It means having the freedom to make choices with excess income. It means I can save if I want, give if I want, or spend if I want. Because I live within my means, I enjoy a significant level of freedom that others do not.

Being out of debt has its benefits too!  It can help with sleep, carry less stress, and live a more calm, relaxed life.

Our world works hard to convince us to outspend our means and then provides a thousand ways for us to do it—even delivering pre-approved cards of plastic directly to our front doors. And from the outside, a life built on credit may appear the life we desire—with its bright lights, bold letters, and the flashy impressions we are able to make.

But for me, I’ll choose something different for my life. I’ll choose a simpler lifestyle; there is a wonderful joy to be found in it, which brings a feeling of inner peace and the knowledge that I have chosen responsibly.

I know there is any number of uncontrollable circumstances that may make this choice impossible for some—tragedy, medical emergencies, or unexpected career downsizing as examples. But for those who still have the choice, I don’t think you’ll ever regret spending less than you make.

A great many examples of living within our means can be found in the Bible.  The parable of the prodigal son. In this parable, the son took the inheritance of his father and squandered it. He soon found himself empty, out of money and food (Luke 15:11-16).

Ask yourself this question:

  • Are you a slave to debt?
  • Foolish debt hinders plans for our lives.
  • Foolish debt robs us of peace and produces stress.
  • Foolish debt is a contributing factor to many divorces.
  • Foolish debt kills our capability to give.
  • Working more to pay off Debt reduces family time.

The following are the important elements that will assist you in developing a financial plan for you and your family:

  1. Budget together as a family. If you are married, it is extremely important that you and your spouse plan the budget together. Imagine what a tremendous teaching example this can be for your children!
  2. List all of your expenses. In order to understand a budget, you must know exactly what you are spending. Sometimes a husband and wife can lead separate lives financially and have no idea what the other is doing. Take a sheet of paper out and list your expenses.
  3. Prioritize your needs. Deciding which expenses are the most important and the first to be paid. Food, shelter, utilities, clothing and transportation are the necessities that should be at the top of the priority list.
  4. Don't try to keep up with the Joneses or the Hiltons. Resist the pressure to have the same material things as the people around you and even the people on television. You may be able to use credit cards and loans to fake wealth for a short period of time, but you’ll pay for it later, and you’ll end up paying more.
  5. Learn to say “No”! If it isn’t in the budget, then it shouldn’t be purchased at this time. The tune of the current culture seems to be, “Why wait when you can have it now?” Advertisements scream: “Buy now—pay later!” “Easy credit terms!” “No interest, no payments.”  “Just say no” applies to more than illegal drugs!
  6. Increase your education -Take advantage of continuing education programs that may be offered by National Police Credit Union and your own police department.

To properly manage your families’ finances, National Police Credit Union offers free credit counseling and financial planning services.

National Police Credit Union provide you with the financial tools to create a budget and a goal to look forward. Resist the urge to buy those lottery tickets, pack more lunches than you buy, I promise you will see more money stay in your account which will bring you peace and happiness.

Author: Brian Mc Vey, MAP

Brian is a proud dad and former Chicago Police officer – injured in the line of duty in 2012.  Brian has a master’s degree in Police Psychology from Adler University in Chicago, IL.  Contact Brian.