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*Annual Percentage Rates (APR) are subject to change. Rate, maximum term, maximum loan amount and advance amount are based on credit qualifications. Maximum terms vary based on loan amount. We reserve the right to determine collateral value based on industry recognized guidelines or full appraisal. Must be 18 years old or older to apply for a loan. Loans are subject to all Credit Union policies and procedures. Auto loan at 2.99% APR requires a minimum FICO® 680 Credit Score. 60 months term at 2.99% APR is $17.97 per $1,000.00 borrowed.
PresidentsCornerPresident's Corner
In the 1941 classic "Citizen Kane," Charles Foster Kane (played brilliantly by Orson Welles) describes business and entrepreneurship in his own way by remarking, "You're right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at a rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in...60 years."

Most small businesses, and even some large businesses, can't afford to lose a million dollars a year. I've been fortunate enough to meet some of the brightest entrepreneurs in the Bay Area. A few of them are tech whizzes at Silicon Valley startups, but most of them run companies we may take for granted, like office furniture installers, real estate development, and sporting goods.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers, don't always follow the status quo, and are willing to fail and start over again. In fact, most successful business owners have failed earlier in their careers. The lessons they learned in failure forced them to create something better than before.

As we have learned, entrepreneurs solve everyday problems. Alexander Graham Bell is credited with inventing the first practical telephone which revolutionized communication. Steve Jobs took the telephone to a whole new level by combining it with computer technology to create the hand-held marvels almost all of us walk around with these days.

The one thing that stops entrepreneurs in their tracks is government intervention. This is something that credit unions have to deal with on a daily basis and that stifles management from making the banking experience more relevant and easier for average consumers. In the last five years, over a thousand credit unions have either been acquired or have failed. Some of these institutions have disappeared due to excessive credit risk; in other words, making bad loans. But many of the smaller credit unions have faded away under the tremendous weight of rules and regulations.

The Great Recession earlier in the decade exposed the largest banks as taking excessive risk to appease their stockholders. Congress passed a series of laws to regulate these banks' activities, but those restrictions trickled down to credit unions that did not cause any of the problems the laws were intending to fix. This led to many credit unions becoming unprofitable, leading to either extinction or taking extreme steps to stay profitable, such as increasing fees or making riskier loans.

1st Nor Cal's management has always had an entrepreneurial bent so that our members can be better served. Government regulations inhibit those kinds of creative solutions to members with financial issues. I pledge we will continue to do our best to give 1st Nor Cal members products and services they want and need.

The fictional Charles Foster Kane, whom many believe was based on publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, was brought to life by Senator Everett Dirksen who famously said, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money." At the Credit Union, it will always be a dollar here and a dollar there.

David M. Green
(925) 335-3802

tipsforteensTips for Teens
The Benefit of Buying in Bulk

Lately I've been buying peanut trays at Costco. Basically, it's a bunch of different nuts and dried fruit in a tray and there are three trays per package, which costs about $6.00. It wasn't until I ran out that I realized I was getting ripped off. Instead of buying these trays, I could have bought $6.00 worth of nuts in bulk which would have given me more for the same amount of money. Even better, I could have chosen which nuts I wanted and how much I wanted of each. So it got me thinking, how could I quickly compare bulk items to standard sized items when I'm shopping?

The answer is actually really simple. Divide the price by the weight of the product to get the price per ounce and use that to compare similar items. For example, sometimes you can purchase two standard boxes of cereal (ex. 14 oz each) instead of the family size (ex. 20 oz), and it actually costs less per ounce for more product. The same can be true in reverse. If the family sized box of cereal is on sale, it may be cheaper per ounce than buying the standard size.

Quick Tip: Grocery stores usually list the price per ounce right on the price tag. You can really maximize your shopping budget when you pay attention to these numbers.

The only downside to buying in bulk is that you have to spend more upfront for your "little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners" (guess who said that). But I argue that it's a good trade off since you don't have to shop as often, and you're going to eventually consume all of the cereal. Plus, you'll have extra money for, oh... maybe a chocolate bar.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

By Jason Vitucci, CFP & Gene A. Schnabel
Key Tax Facts for 2017
  • Highest marginal tax rates: 39.6% on ordinary income, 20% on capital gains and dividends applied on taxable income exceeding $418,400 ($470,700 for couples)
  • Medicare investment income surtax: 3.8% surtax on net investment income affecting taxpayers with more than $200,000 in modified adjusted gross income ($250,000 for couples)
  • Additional Medicare payroll tax: Extra tax of 0.9% on salary and wages as Medicare payroll tax increases from 1.45% to 2.35% on earnings above $200,000 ($250,000 for couples)
  • AGI phaseouts for itemized deductions and personal exemptions: $261,500 ($313,800 for couples)
  • Estate/gift tax exemption: $5.49 million
  • Annual gift tax exclusion amount: $14,000
Six Tax-Smart Strategies to Consider in 2017: 
  1. Utilize strategies to reduce or avoid taxable income: Contributing to a retirement plan or IRA, funding a flexible spending account (FSA), or deferring compensation income can reduce adjusted gross income (AGI) and prevent a taxpayer from reaching key income thresholds that may result in a higher tax bill. Maximizing use of tax deductions such as charitable contributions or mortgage interest can offset income as well. Conversely, be mindful of transactions, such as the sale of a highly appreciated asset, which may increase your overall income above thresholds for the 3.8% surtax, the income phaseout of itemized deductions, or the highest marginal tax rates.
  2. Consider Roth IRA/401(k) contributions or conversions: A thoughtful strategy utilizing Roth accounts can be an effective way to hedge against the direction of future tax rates in light of the longer-term federal budget deficit challenge. Younger investors or taxpayers in lower tax brackets should consider using Roth accounts to create a source of tax-free income in retirement. It is virtually impossible to predict tax rates in the future or to have a good idea of what your personal tax circumstances will look like years from now. Like all income from retirement accounts, Roth income is not subject to the new 3.8% surtax and is also not included in the calculation for the $200,000 income threshold ($250,000 for couples) to determine if the surtax applies. To qualify for the tax free penalty free withdrawal of earnings, a Roth IRA must be in place for at least five tax years, and the distribution must take place after age 59 1/2 or due to a qualified distribution.
  3. Asset "location" - Allocate assets by tax status: In general, consider placing a larger percentage of your stock holdings outside of retirement accounts and a larger percentage of your fixed-income holdings inside retirement accounts. With respect to stock investments, allocating a greater proportion of your buy-and-hold or dividend-paying investments to taxable (i.e., non-retirement) accounts may increase your ability to benefit from a lower tax rate on qualified dividends and long-term capital gains.
  4. Be mindful of irrevocable trusts and taxes: Because of the low income threshold ($12,500 for 2017), which will subject income retained within an irrevocable trust to the highest marginal tax rates and the 3.8% Medicare surtax, trustees may want to reconsider investment choices inside of the trust (municipal bonds, life insurance, etc.). Or, maybe trustees should consider (if possible) distributing more income out of the trust to beneficiaries who may be in lower income tax brackets.
  5. Review estate planning documents and strategies: The permanency of the historically high $5,000,000 exemption (indexed for inflation) amount may have unintended consequences for some individuals and families with wealth under that threshold. They may think that they do not have to plan for their estate. However, the taxes are just one facet of estate planning. It is still critical to plan for an orderly transfer of assets or for unforeseen circumstances such as incapacitation. Strategies to consider include proper beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and insurance contracts, wills, powers of attorney, health-care directives, and revocable trusts.
  6. Evaluate whether to transfer wealth during lifetime or at death: The unified lifetime exemption amount ($5,490,000 for 2017) for gifts and estates provides flexibility for taxpayers to decide whether to transfer wealth while living or at death. Lifetime gifting shelters appreciation of assets post-gift from potential estate taxes, helps heirs now, and utilizes certain valuation discounts available through strategies such as family limited partnerships. Transferring assets at death allows individuals to maintain full control of property while living and benefit from step-up in cost basis at death.
At Vitucci Integrated Planning, we would love the opportunity to take a look at your current retirement plan as it relates to your tax situation. If you are yet to formulate a plan, we would love to help you do just that. As a valued 1st Nor Cal member, we invite you to contact us for a complimentary financial planning meeting. We also invite you to attend any of our Retirement Planning workshops that we hold. For more information about our practice, our workshops, or to make an appointment, please call us at (925) 370-3750 or visit our website at

Vitucci Integrated Planning  
1330 Arnold Drive, Suite 249
Martinez, CA 94553 

Securities through First Allied Securities, a registered broker dealer, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through First Allied Advisory Services, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor. Investments not FDIC or NCUA/NCUSIF insured, not insured by Credit Union, may lose value. Products offered are not guarantees or obligations of the Credit Union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. 1st Nor Cal CU, Bay Area Retirement Solutions and First Allied are all separate entities. Jason Vitucci CA Insurance Lic.: 0F59894, Gene A. Schnabel CA Insurance Lic.: 0663016
Consult a qualified tax or legal professional and your financial advisor to discuss these types of strategies to prepare for the risk of higher taxes in the future. Personal circumstances vary widely so it is critical to work with a professional who has knowledge of your specific goals and situation. This information is not meant as tax or legal advice. Please consult with the appropriate tax or legal professional regarding your particular circumstances before making any investment decisions. 
insuranceDo You Need an Umbrella? 
The purpose of a Personal Umbrella is to provide Liability coverage over and above your Auto, Home, Boat, Rental Property and any other Personal Liability coverage you have already.  Many financial planners recommend that everyone have at least a $1 Million Personal Umbrella policy, even if they have less than $1M in assets. The reason being that in the rare event that you are sued, you could be forced to pay a legal judgement from not only your current assets but also your future earnings. This policy can also pay for defense costs which add up very quickly, even if you win your case.

Umbrella policies come in increments of $1,000,000. and policies start at around $200.per year. This goes a long way to protect your personal finances against judgments from a devastating lawsuit. When deciding on a limit, it should exceed your net worth.

As an added benefit of your 1st Nor Cal membership, we at Lou Aggetta Insurance will help you review the things that are important to you and provide you with options for reducing risk in your life. We are an independent insurance agent and can provide you with home, auto, life, health, business and many other types of insurance coverage.

Contact me today to schedule your free review.

Denia Aggetta Shields
Lou Aggetta Insurance, Inc.
2637 Pleasant Hill Road
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
(925) 945-6161
License #OK22281

Like us on Facebook at Lou Aggetta Insurance
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creditcornerCredit Corner
The other day, I got a call on my cell phone at 6:00am from 111-526-3987 (an international number). A man with a heavy accent asked for me by name and I identified myself and asked what this call was about? He stated that he was from the U.S. Government and I had been awarded $9,700.00. 
For a second, I thought, "Is this real?" because I could hear other callers in the background. Then my non-greedy, rational mind kicked in. I started laughing, asking why the U.S. Government would call me at 6:00am from an international line? I then hung up.
There is no such thing as "free money." Always ask yourself, "Why would someone call to give me money (unless it's your grandma)?" If you get a call or email stating "You have won," "We will pay for your help," or "You have been chosen," hang up or delete it!

Shelley Murphy
Senior Vice President of Lending & Collections
(925) 228-7550 Ext.824 
FinancialCounselingFREE Financial Counseling
Are you in need of financial counseling?
1st Nor Cal is here to help. Timely and honest debt advice is available to our members at no cost or obligation. Learn how to manage your finances.

Make your appointment TODAY!

Just a reminder, you can annually request FREE Credit Reports from all 3 credit reporting agencies online by going to:
For FREE Financial Counseling, don't hesitate to contact:

Shelley Murphy
Senior Vice President of Lending & Collections
(925) 228-7550 Ext.824

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