Friday, April 10, 2015

Could Spring Be the Right Time for a New Car?

As the long anticipated summer approaches, you’re probably looking forward to driving your car with the top down or the windows open. For the past few years, there has been an increase of vehicle sales during the warm weather months. Chances are that you or someone you know might be in the market for a new or used vehicle purchase or lease soon!

According to a recent Automotive News article, auto sales are expected to increase slightly around the U.S. in 2015. One main reason for this is that interest rates are expected to remain relatively low for the rest of 2015. Low interest rates and longer auto-loan terms have largely offset higher vehicle prices over the past few years, keeping increases in monthly payments to a minimum.

Our friendly representatives at Community Financial can help answer any questions you have about the vehicle loan process. To help you be as prepared as possible, here are a few things you might want to do before you visit the dealership:
  1. Visit our Auto Resource Center – Use Community Financial’s Auto Resource Center to research vehicle pricing, compare models, view dealer inventory and estimate your payments. 
  2. Know your credit score – Knowing your credit history will give you a better idea what to expect from lenders. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACTA) allows every consumer to get a free copy of his or her credit report once a year from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). 
  3. Know the invoice price – Once you’ve settled on the right car for you, look up the invoice price for that car in a Buyer’s Guide. Invoice price is what the dealer pays the manufacturer for the car; the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP, or “sticker price”) includes hundreds—usually thousands—of dollars of profit for the dealer. With the exception of all-new or very popular models, you should be able to get a new car for closer to invoice than MSRP. 
  4. Get pre-approved before negotiating a price – When you are ready, get pre-approved for a low-cost auto loan and know your budget before you shop. This will help the process run smoother when you find the right deal. You don’t need to know the exact price or make and model you plan to purchase, but having a pre-approved loan will make the negotiating process much easier. 
  5. Don’t forget insurance – you will also want to contact your insurer to price out insurance costs for your vehicle. This will not affect the loan process directly, but will help you better manage your budget for a purchase. Some insurers offer discounts for annual or bi-annual payments, which could make your insurance more affordable. 
Buying a vehicle doesn’t have to be an intimidating or overwhelming process. Community Financial can help ensure that the loan process is as smooth as possible. That way you can start enjoying your new vehicle sooner! Visit our Auto Loan webpage for more details on how to apply for an auto loan at our low rates.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Together We Are Stronger

A message from CEO Bill Lawton 

We have a lot to be proud of as member-owners of Community Financial Credit Union. As a not-for-profit financial cooperative, we have a significant impact on our communities. Our volunteer board of directors, elected by our membership, makes sure that “Community Financial exists so consumers and businesses in our field of membership can enjoy sound financial health, and our communities
are enriched.”
Our 2014 results showed that we once again successfully fulfilled our board’s promise. Thanks to the efforts of our team members, we received high service level ratings based on feedback from our members. The dedication our team members have on making our members' lives better, making our communities better, and making work fun, resulted in a fantastic 2014.

Community Financial Credit Union continued its growth in 2014 by adding new branches in Atlanta, Livonia, and Gaylord. This expansion allows us to better serve our current members and serve new communities as well. We continue to help more and more members in our communities save and borrow together.

Our board understands the importance of having healthy communities for our members to live in and for Community Financial to do business in. In 2014, we supported local nonprofits through our Summer of Sharing and Warming Hearts & Homes programs. We also partnered with 42 schools to help youth understand basic financial concepts through our student-run credit union program, classroom presentations and the junior achievement program.

We have a lot of work in front of us for 2015 as we have set new goals and taken on new projects to continue our success. That's what great teams do, no matter how good they are; they work hard to get even better. Our members make all of this all possible and I hope they feel the same sense of pride in being part of a very special cooperative that is changing lives and building stronger communities.

We are proud to present Community Matters, our Annual Community Report for 2014. Read more here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Help us Donate $25,000 with Thumbs Up For Charity!

Community Financial is once again giving residents in the communities it serves the opportunity to reward their favorite charities through its Thumbs Up for Charity program. Throughout March and the beginning of April, the public is encouraged to nominate charities they think deserve a donation for the work they do in their community. They will then be able to vote on which charity deserves the top prize and help Community Financial award $25,000!

The charity that receives the most online votes will receive the grand prize of $10,000. Second and third place winners will receive $5,000 each, and the fourth and fifth runners-up will each receive $2,500.

Nominations have already begun at and will continue until April 3rd. Voting on the top five nominees will then run April 13th- May 1st, so don’t miss this chance to give recognition to the group you think deserves it most!

Thumbs Up for Charity gives residents the chance to be a part of giving back to local nonprofits that have already given so much to the communities where they live, work and play.

“The nonprofit groups in our communities do an amazing job and we are proud to support them throughout the year,” said Community Financial marketing manager Sarah Cousineau. “We wanted to provide the residents of our communities a chance to tell us which groups they think deserve recognition, and ‘Thumbs Up for Charity’ gives them that opportunity.”

If you would like to nominate a charity, please make sure that it is a registered 501(c)(3) organization or associated with an accredited educational institution serving southeast or northern Michigan.

For complete rules and more information about the Thumbs Up For Charity program visit or

Now is your chance to make a difference in your community!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Gardening Trends in Michigan

As the long winter begins to break and the snow melts away, Michiganders are more than ready for warmer weather and sunshine. With the spring season on the horizon, now is a good time to develop a gardening plan. Here are a few popular gardening trends this year to help get you inspired. 

  • Low maintenance. Busy home owners want to enjoy yards that don’t require a lot of time and effort to maintain. This trend is translating into more low-maintenance, carefree choices for outdoor spaces. This includes things like: materials for decks, patios and columns that don’t require repainting or replacing, furnishings that can be left outdoors throughout the year, and plants that don’t have to be constantly watered, fertilized, or pruned. This leads to a greater use of perennials instead of annuals in gardening, since annuals require yearly replacement.
  • Containers/raised bed gardening. Another trend in gardening is the use of raised beds and containers. Many would-be gardeners decide against growing things because they lack the property to accommodate a garden. Raised garden beds and containers, such as pots and planters, provide a way for people to grow pretty much everywhere and even make it possible to take your garden with you when you move! Individual containers for each plant can also make it easier to gauge how much water is needed for any particular plant, and possible to optimize sunlight absorption on a plant-by-plant basis.
  • Edible gardening. Growing fruits, vegetables and herbs at home is becoming increasingly popular as people want to live healthier lifestyles. People are also starting to see the value of urban farming and how it can benefit communities. Urban farms are a great way to teach future generations about healthier living and giving back to the communities where they live, work and play.
  • Rain barrels. With the melting snow and unpredictable weather patterns of our beloved Mitten state, it can be hard to be prepared to keep up a garden. A proper amount of water is necessary for the success of any plant, so it’s important that there is a source readily available. Rain barrels provide a way to collect water that would otherwise run off the roof and down into the sewers. The collected water can then be “portioned” out in the proper amounts, over the suitable time period. Using rain barrels not only gives gardeners more control over their plants hydration, but also saves money by decreasing their water bill!
  • Animal or bee gardens. Another trend worth mentioning is the growing amount of animal gardens, or homesteading. Animals can improve the health of almost any garden in a variety of ways. For a relatively small amount of money, a beehive can be started and maintained, and provide not only delicious honey, but help keep plants and gardens in the vicinity thriving. Honey can also be a great secondary source of income. A chicken coop is generally more expensive to start up, but many people find it more appealing to keep chickens instead of bees. Chickens also help fertilize and eat bugs that might ruin a garden. Be sure to check your city ordinances regarding “live” gardens before you buy your chickens.
Careful planning and timing are important for the success of any garden, so start researching ideas on the type of garden you want to have this summer. The MSU Smart Gardening website is a great place to start to get an idea on how to start gardening and what types of plants will thrive in Michigan. Have any Michigan gardening tips of your own? Share them in the comments section below.
Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
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Federally insured by NCUA.