Tuesday, July 17, 2018

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Large Purchase

You’re convinced: You really want that Coach handbag. Or maybe you just know that gigantic entertainment center will transform your weekends. So you swipe your card and the dream item becomes yours. You’re thrilled!

That is, until a few weeks later when the credit card bill comes, and buyer’s remorse hits. You can’t help wondering: Was it really worth the price? Before you say “yes” to a large purchase, ask yourself these 7 questions:

1. Do I have cash to pay for this item? 
This question will help you determine if you can really afford the purchase. You need to have liquid funds that can cover the cost of your item. Putting it on credit means you’ll be hiking up the price once interest is tacked on, and you’ll be reminded of a possibly regrettable purchase for a long time to come.

2. Is this the best price? 
When making a large purchase, it’s important to comparison-shop by checking several online listings and some brick-and-mortar shops as well. Visit coupon sites like CouponCabin.com for automatic savings. Also find out the best season for buying this particular item and wait for a sale if it makes sense to do so. Finally, consider purchasing a previously owned item for less.

3. How many hours of work will you need to do in order to pay for this purchase? 
Calculate the total number of hours you’ll need to work to pay for this “must-have” item. Is it really worth the price?

4. How else can I spend this money? 
Think about the money you’re about to spend on this single item. What else can that money buy? A few weeks’ worth of groceries or a year’s worth of monthly dinners out? Take some time to think of other ways you can spend this money before making a final decision.

5. Have you splurged recently? 
If you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional pricey indulgence. But, when luxury purchases become a habit, it can spell disaster for your finances. If you picked up a designer handbag just last week, you may be best off waiting a bit before buying the one that’s caught your eye today.

6. How often will I use this item? 
Yes, it seems essential today, but looking ahead, how often do you think you’ll really use this item? If you can see yourself only using this purchase a few times a year, you may want to re-think your decision.

7. How much will this money be worth if I put it into savings? 
You have the funds for this purchase, but how much would that money earn if you saved it? Check out this investment calculator to get that magic number. The results might leave you pleasantly surprised.

Here at Community Financial, we have several long-term savings accounts that can help your money grow. Give us a call at (877) 937-2328 or stop by, and we’ll help you choose one that’s perfect for you!

Your Turn: What’s your number one question before making a large purchase? Share it with us in the comments!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

5 Ways to Budget for Your Wedding

Ready to tie the knot, but don’t know if you can afford a wedding? You don’t need to skimp on the wedding of your dreams or go deeply into debt to pay for it. By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what’s truly important, you can say “I Do” without stressing over wedding costs. Here’s how:

1.) Start saving now 
Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now! The average age of marriage is 27 for men, and 26 for women. If you start saving for your wedding when you’re 20, you’ll only need to put away $333 a month. But, if you start at age 26, you’ll need to put away $2,333 a month!

2.) Time it right 
Think off-season and mid-week, and you’ll save a bundle! First, consider a winter wedding. You’ll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married. Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices drop dramatically with just a one-day switch. You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.

3.) Skip the cake 
A slice of cake for $2.50, that doesn’t even taste good? Here are some other ideas:
  • Fake your cake. If you can’t stomach the idea of a cake-less wedding, ask your baker to fake it for you by creating a false cardboard bottom for your cake and only baking a genuine top layer or two. You’ll get the same look without the huge cost. 
  • Set up a dessert bar. You can serve hot waffles, brownies or chocolate chip cookies with ice cream, caramel sauce and a selection of other fun toppings. You’ll pamper your guests at a fraction of the cost! 
  • Serve a sheet cake instead. Your guests will be happy to savor a slice – even without all that fondant and frosting.
4.) Save on your gown 
Save big on your gown by looking for a pre-owned gown on OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. You can often find a beautiful gown for under $100!

5.) Vary your venue 
Save a ton by choosing a venue that has no outside contracts. This way, you can shop around for the cheapest caterer, photographer and DJ. If you really dare to be different, have your wedding in one of these budget-friendly venues:
  • College campus. You might even be able to snag a student discount! 
  • Vacation home. Rent a vacation home and let it serve as your wedding venue, lodging for out-of-town guests and a honeymoon destination for after the wedding. 
Your Turn: Already married? Share your best wedding hacks with us in the comments!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How to Buy a Boat

Get ready to set sail this summer! Read on for the ultimate boat-buying guide.

Step 1: Choose your boat type 
Like automobiles, boats should be purchased with their intended uses in mind. Determine which water activities are most important to you. Also, research different boat types and ask your boat-owning friends to share their own impressions and tips. Also decide where you’ll keep your boat. If you’re choosing to self-store your boat, you’ll need to purchase a trailer-able boat.

Step 2: Decide if you want to buy a new or used boat 
Visit boating sites like Boats.com and Discoverboating.com to check out what kind of used boats are on the market. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Step 3: Start boat shopping! 
Start your browsing with online listings like Boats.com, YachtWorld.com and BoatTrader.com. You’ll be able to sift through hundreds of models and compare prices within minutes. Next, start making the rounds at local boat shows and dealers. Hop aboard as many boats as you can and ask lots of questions. Snap pictures and organize them by boat so you can look them over again when you get home.

Step 4: Narrow your choices 
Sit down and list your priorities. Include all boat categories you will consider and then narrow that by your must-have features, ones you’d like and ones you want to keep away from. Next, review the snapshots of the boats you’ve looked at, both in real life and online, and list those that fit all, or most, of your preferences. Now, let’s choose your boat!

Step 5: Inspect your boat 
Once you think you’ve found the boat of your dreams, conduct a walk around and a sea trial. Inspect the entire boat thoroughly, because you don’t want any unpleasant surprises once the deal is done. When you’ve finished your walk around, it’s time to take her offshore. Your sea trial will show you what the boat is like out on the water. After the sea trial, ask to have the boat hauled because it’s important for you to see the entire boat before you buy it.

Step 6: Find out what’s included 
Before you sign a contract, sit down with the seller to discuss exactly what’s included in the sale. Request a list of all equipment that comes with the boat so you can ensure you’ve got it all.

Step 7: Seal the deal 
You’re ready to make it happen! Assuming you’ll have the financial details worked out by now, all that’s left to do is sign the paperwork, and then the boat is yours. If you need help on financing, check out the latest rates at cfcu.org/RV.

Step 8: Purchase insurance and a trailer 
Before you set sail, make sure your boat is adequately insured against damage. If you’re self-storing, you’ll also need to buy a trailer. Finally! You’re ready to hit the water. Enjoy the ride!

Your Turn: Do you own a boat? Share your best boat-buying tips with us in the comments!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

6 Ways to Turn Your Dream Vacation Into a Reality

Everyone has their own version of a dream vacation. But, for most of us, it never becomes a reality. Read on for six ways to make that dream vacation come true.

1.) Start saving 
Give your getaway a jump start by planning for it all year long.
  • Set up a “Trip Jar.” Whenever you’ve got loose change, plunk it in a jar earmarked for your vacation. Use the money you’ve saved to fund one part of your vacation.
  • Brown-bag it. The average American buys lunch twice a week. By brown-bagging it just one more day a week, you can save hundreds of dollars a year for your vacation.
  • Open a Goal Setter Savings Account. Save up for your vacation by opening a Community Financial goal setter savings account. These accounts are only $5 to open and you earn higher dividends when you make automatic monthly deposits. 
2.) Time it right 
Choosing the perfect date for your vacation can save you thousands of dollars. Consider taking your trip just after peak season ends. You’ll still enjoy beautiful weather, but your airfare and lodging costs will see a significant drop. Experts also recommend booking your flight around 54 days before your departure date to get the best prices.

3.) Make the most of your dollar
When researching international vacation destinations, check out the local exchange rates ahead of time. Choose a place that will allow your dollar to go farther, and you’ll have more to spend with the same amount of cash!

4.) Let your loyalty pay off
Don’t book a flight, hotel stay or car rental without checking your credit card points first. You might have enough miles to pay for a large chunk of your trip. If you use a Community Financial Platinum Rewards MasterCard be sure to check your Choice Rewards account balance.

When booking hotel stays, do a quick search to determine if they offer a loyalty program for return customers. You might land yourself a good discount just for using the same hotel chain twice!

5.) Research, research, research
Don’t make any vacation decisions without first doing careful research. If you found a resort you love, check out their online presence to see if they offer airline discounts or credits. Check sites like Groupon for instant discounts on attractions and restaurants in the area.

6.) Live in the moment
Don’t forget to enjoy your vacation! If something doesn’t go according to plan, let it slide. Leave the everyday pressure at home and just relax. It’s also important to unplug. Stop snapping pictures and take the earbuds out. Let go of the need to capture every moment on camera and take the time to just be. You deserve to enjoy every bit of your vacation!

Your Turn: How do you save big on vacation without compromising on the fun factor or on your comfort? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Family-Friendly Summer Events in Your Community

Summer is here, which means Michigan will come alive with fun events to attend. From outdoor concerts and farmers markets, to movies in the park, there are tons of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Here’s your guide to some of the events Community Financial will be sponsoring this summer in your community!

SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN 
Plymouth 
Music in the Air – Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to Plymouth’s Kellogg Park and enjoy the free concerts on Friday nights, June 22nd – July 6th and July 20th - August 31st, at 7 pm!

Music in the Park Children’s Concerts –Enjoy free children’s concerts in Kellogg Park on Wednesdays at 12 pm, Jun 20th – June 27th and July 11th – August 29th

Summer Drive-in at USA Hockey Arena –Enjoy newly released movies with the whole family. Each ticket allows you to enjoy TWO movies for the price of one! The Summer Drive-In is open all summer from June 8th-September 2nd. See times and prices at summerdrivein.com. 

Canton 
Tuesday’s are Terrific - Come out for some good food and great music in Heritage Park on Tuesdays, July 17th - August 14th at 11:30 am!

Thursday Night Concert Series – Partake in Canton’s 20 year tradition and enjoy the live bands with the whole family on Thursdays, June 28th and July 12th – Aug 16th at 7:30 pm!

Northville
Friday Night Concerts – Come enjoy a new live band every week in the Northville Town Square Friday nights, June 22nd – August 24th, from 7 pm - 9 pm!

Tunes on Tuesday – Have some free kid-friendly fun at the Tunes on Tuesday concert series on Tuesday mornings, June 19th– August 28th, at 10:30 am in Northville Town Square!

Novi 
Family Fun Fridays – Watch fun, kid-friendly movies in the park, on June 22nd at 6 pm and July 13th and August 17th at 7 pm!

Wonderful Wednesdays – Bring the kids out for some free tunes and enjoy beautiful Fuerst Park on June 20th – June 27th and July 11th – August 15th at 10:30 am.

Livonia 
Livonia Spree- Bring the family out for delicious food, great music, carnival games and rides on June 19-24th to celebrate the birthday of the city of Livonia. And don’t forget the fireworks on Sunday night!

Westland 
Blues, Brews & BBQ- Enjoy some blues music from some of Detroit favorites on August 3-4th. Choose from a collection of Michigan's own hand crafted beers and have a brew, or two. And don't forget about the barbecue!

NORTHERN MICHIGAN
Gaylord 
Alpenfest- Gaylord will be hosting its’ 54th Annual Alpenfest on July 10th – 14th, 2018. Expect five days of festivities including a parade, carnival, kids games and contests, pancake breakfast, live entertainment and the World’s Largest Coffee Break.

Lewiston 
Timberfest- Lewiston is hosting this fun filled weekend from August 3-4th that includes carnival games, a beer tent, kid’s inflatables, and more!

Concerts in Village Park- Albert Township Parks and Recreation is hosting a series of Movies and Concerts at Village Park this summer. Check with the Lewiston Chamber for more info.

Hillman 
Mill River Days at Brush Creek Mill – From June 30- July 7 Brush Creek Mill is hosting its Mill River Days, with free musical entertainment and an arts & crafts show.

We hope to see you this summer at one of these fun events. If you see us in our orange Summer of Sharing shirts passing out goodies to the crowd, be sure to say hello! For more information on the events Community Financial sponsors, check out our community calendar at cfcu.org/calendar.

Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
© Community Financial 2013
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Federally insured by NCUA.