NFEN Blog: News & Updates

So, you’re out in the world, adulting like crazy, making grownup money and choices — but maybe you’re also facing some grownup debt. One of the decisions you’ll be faced with is when to begin investing. Do you pay off that debt first?

Education-related debt such as student loans and credit cards, coupled with post-college expenses such as a car loan, living expenses, rent, or maybe even a mortgage (congrats!), doesn’t leave much for saving, let alone investing. A sense of debt-related guilt or obligation can discourage folks from starting to invest, funding their retirement portfolio, or even setting up an emergency fund before these debts are paid off. Here, we’ll explore the case for each — and perhaps inspire you to find a way to do both.


The case for paying down debt

Debt is money you've already spent and are being charged interest on. And investing is a way to set money aside for your future, in an account or investment vehicle whose value may increase over time. (That’s why it’s a good idea to start early!) And that emergency fund? Well, that one is self-explanatory.

A great reason to pay down debt is to improve your credit score, which is so important in the future. Having a low credit score can mean paying higher interest rates — if you can get a loan at all. Your credit score can even affect other aspects of your life, such as the premiums you'll pay for insurance, whether a landlord will rent to you, and whether an employer will hire you.

Another good argument for addressing your debt promptly is interest rates, particularly if we’re talking high-interest credit card debt. Your interest charges are incurring interest charges of their own, creating a sense of urgency.


The argument for investing

If your debt is student loan debt, and your interest rates are less than 6%, putting extra money in your investment account could be a better bet. Over the long term, your investments will probably earn more compared to the savings from paying off those loans. After all, if those student loans are looming large, you’re likely at a prime investment age, giving your money more time to grow. And don’t forget the tax advantages associated with your education debt (but don’t take our word for it; check with your tax professional to discuss your unique situation).

As a general rule, if you can earn more interest on your money by investing it than your debts are costing you, it makes sense to invest. For example: If you have a $5,000 loan at a 6% APR but could invest somewhere else and get an 8% rate of return, it would make more sense to invest that money instead of paying off the loan. (Keep in mind, market volatility is a real thing; that’s why it’s important to consider your risk tolerance when investing.)

Paying down debt vs. investing doesn't have to be an either/or situation. In fact, try to consistently contribute to three buckets: debt payoff, retirement, and an emergency fund. If you don't already have an emergency fund, you might want to use some of your money to create one while using the rest to pay down your debts. A great place to start — and grow — that safety cushion is an investment account.

Once your emergency fund of three to six months’ worth of expenses is established, you can continue investing toward significant life goals — an important step in your financial future. Debt shouldn’t stand in the way of your ability to start a family or buy a home.

There is one more “bucket” to consider, if you will: If you have a retirement savings account at work and your employer matches your contributions, try to contribute at least up to your employer’s match.

There’s definite benefit in knowing that you’ve started investing, and even in instances where debt exists, it’s good to set up an investment account to get things started. Even if you can only contribute $10 or $20 per paycheck per month to your emergency investment fund in addition to your debt payoff, it’s worth doing.

We hope we’ve given you some food for thought regarding debt and investments. It’s a lot to navigate, and you’re doing great. To get started at self-driven investing, with top resources at the ready, check out UBT’s Online Investing.


Craig Pytleski

March 11, 2021

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Get ready for an authentic conversation about how to do Money Better by making financial decisions that are right for you. Through discussions with community members, bank experts, and local business owners, Caitlin Moore from Union Bank and Trust will dig in to the lessons others learned about money — and how listeners can use those experiences to do Money Better.


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If you are reusing the same username and password for multiple apps and websites—you may be at risk of a potential cyber threat called credential stuffing.

What is credential stuffing?

Credential stuffing occurs when hackers use stolen information, such as usernames and passwords from database breaches or phishing software from one account, and attempt to gain access to another. The hackers prey on people’s habit of using the same usernames and passwords for multiple sites. Using automated tools, they run large amounts of stolen information across multiple sites looking to find the same usernames and passwords being used elsewhere. Once they find a match, they can monetize the personal and financial information they gather.

Credential stuffing attacks are on the rise and it’s important for you to know how to protect your information online.

​Choose a unique username and password for your Centris accounts.

Do not be tempted to reuse a login and password from another account. Because data breaches are so common, it makes it easy for fraudsters to run automated scripts with this information to try to crack other sites. If you’re currently using a username and password you use elsewhere, consider changing it now. And even if you’re not and you notice your login and password aren’t that creative, think about making a change to something more complex. Log into Centris online or mobile banking and select Security Preferences from the Settings menu to do so.

**While no breaches have happened at Centris, attackers may try to use data from other breaches to gain access to your online banking. If you received a security alert regarding an invalid login attempt to your Centris account and it was not you, please change your username and password as soon as possible. This may indicate that a fraudster is trying to access your account.

Security Tip Centris has set up secure access codes that get emailed or texted to you to help prevent against fraudsters that may have your username and/or password. Please NEVER give this code to anyone. Fraudsters will sometimes spoof Centris’ phone number so it may appear like it is a Centris representative asking for this code. We will NEVER ask you for this code.


Use complex usernames.

Members who have easy-to-guess usernames may be vulnerable with this scam. Using an email address or just your first and last names is easy for someone to guess. Let your creativity shine and make your login name a phrase only you would know, but easy enough for you to remember.

Change passwords frequently.

Even if you have complicated, hard-to-guess passwords, it is a best practice to change them regularly. This is especially important for sites where the loss would be personally and/or financially devastating.

Consider using a password manager.

We get it. With so many sites out there, how can anyone remember a fresh login and password every time? A password manager can make it easier. Just remember one login and one password and let the manager be your brain. It’s important, however, that if you use a password manager you use a complex username and password, a duo you’ve not used elsewhere.

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