Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It Costs How Much to Get Married?

According to a new report by wedding magazine, The Knot, the average American wedding cost has eclipsed $35,000. That’s more than half of the yearly median income! Most of that spending isn’t on lavish luxuries for bride and groom – it comes from the guest list. Couples are inviting more people and doing more for them. If you’re tying the knot this year, read on for five ways to save on the cost of your big day!

1.) Schedule smart 
Saturday is the most common date for weddings, since everyone has the day off and most churches aren’t available on Sundays. Consequently, venues are often more expensive on Saturdays.

Instead, pick another date that offers those benefits. Your special day can be the day before a holiday, or on the Sunday of a long weekend, like Labor Day. Your guests will still have time to enjoy themselves, and you’ll save as much as 15% on the cost of your venue.

2.) Untether yourself 
When picking a venue, look for a place that allows outside vendors to handle food, music, and photography. Places that host weddings often may have existing relationships with businesses who can charge more because they’re not competing with anyone else.

If you can get this kind of flexibility, shop around for better prices on catering, music and flowers. You’ll also be able to get exactly what you want from these services, such as a signature cocktail instead of a full bar.

3.) Keep the “W” word to yourself 
Every vendor has a “special” wedding price. Often, this means they charge more for any wedding-related service. You can save as much as 30% by keeping the occasion to yourself. For example, when shopping for a dress, buying a formal gown that’s not labeled as a “wedding dress” can translate to savings. Getting a custom-decorated sheet cake can save a few hundred dollars, too.

4.) Put your guests to work 
The biggest cost in most wedding-related items is the cost of labor. When you pay for flower arrangements, you’re paying about 10% for the flowers and 90% for the florist’s time. Instead of hiring professionals, consider putting your guests to work.

Many wedding guests would love to contribute to your special day. They’ll be happy to participate in making your wedding beautiful, and you’ll be happy to save a few bucks!

5.) Spread out the cost with a savings account 
A tremendous challenge for newlyweds is coming up with all that money, because all the wedding bills come due at the same time. For many couples, that means using consumer debt to finance the whole cost of their wedding. The ensuing interest and financing charges can make your wedding even more unaffordable.

Instead, consider opening up a separate savings account. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into an interest-bearing savings account. When the wedding bills come in, you’ll have money set aside to defray the costs and you’ll be able to borrow less.

Your Turn: What are your best cost-saving wedding hacks? Share your wisdom in the comments!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Keeping Friends and Finances: How to Deal with Financially Challenging Friendships

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. But some friends can be a serious drain on your savings. If you recognize these kinds of people in your life, it’s hard to know what to do. Here are several examples of financially dangerous friends and how to handle them.

1.) The Party Animal It’s great to blow off steam with friends at a happy hour every once in a while, but the key word here is “occasional.” Party animal friends want an “epic” night, every night, asking you to join them for dinner, drinks, movies, concerts, and other expensive outings. These happenings add up quickly; a nightly $20 bar bill can cost more than $5,000 in a year! Without being rude, what can you do?

First, try suggesting lower-cost alternatives. Instead of drinking at a bar, you and your friends could go running or play tennis at the gym. These options are cheaper – and of course, healthier! If you do go out for drinks, look for “BYOB” events that will let you have fun without breaking the bank. You can also volunteer to be the designated driver, keeping your friends safe while saving money.

Second, set firm limits. When going out with a “party animal” friend, develop an exit strategy in advance: after one drink, call it an early night.

2.) The Sales Friend This friend invites you over for a fun get-together, and before you know it, some stranger is selling you expensive Tupperware. There’s no official pressure to buy, but you want to be supportive of your friend’s new business.

Worse yet, some people get suckered into selling low-quality financial products like high-commission life insurance. They expect you to trust their financial wisdom because you’re friends. If you do, you could hurt your current finances and put your retirement at risk.

The best thing to do in these instances is just say “no.” Of course, “no” doesn’t have to be direct. You can be too busy to go to a product party, or too broke to buy anything once you’re there. Be proactive about financial services so you can say you’ve got those needs managed.

3.) The Borrower There’s nothing that jeopardizes a friendship faster than lending to a friend. Just say “no” to friends who ask you for a loan.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get paid back, and the debt will create an uncomfortable tension in your relationship. You might need the money suddenly, and not have access to it, forcing you to become the needy friend to someone else!

That doesn’t mean you have to leave them high and dry. You can tell them about personal loans from established lenders or credit unions. This way, you help get them out of a bind without harming your friendship.

Your Turn: Do you have any bad financial friends in your life? How do you deal with them? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lessons for Kids During Financial Literacy Month

April is Financial Literacy Month, and a great time to teach children about finances. Whether you’re a parent looking to teach your children about money management or a professional looking for a few tips, here are a few lessons you can teach kids to encourage them to be financially responsible adults:

1. How Money Works 
Now that most consumers use credit or debit cards for a majority of their purchases, children may not realize they are actually spending money. For this reason, encourage young children to handle cash to pay for items. Take time to explain to them that products and services have different prices. They also need to understand that money can be spent only once, and that after buying something, a person needs to earn more money in order to buy something else. Play “grocery store” and take turns being the cashier and the customer.

2. Saving for a Goal 
Teach your children about the importance of saving and putting some money aside a bit at a time until they have enough to buy what they want. Kids can learn to keep money in a safe place and practice their math skills by keeping track of the amount saved for future spending. Consider opening a savings account just for them to practice this habit, and take them to withdraw the money and purchase the item they have been saving for. Community Financial also offers a Youth Club for members 12 and under, where children earn special rewards when they make deposits.

3. The Importance of Self-Control and Making Smart Financial Decisions 
 Help your children learn the difference between needs and wants. Explain that although everyone really wants things like toys and electronics, you have to pay for needs – things like food, shelter and heat – before you can buy items that are wants. Help them develop a plan to save and spend their own money that takes into account their wants and needs. Also, the next time you need to make a big purchase, talk it through with your child. Show them how taking the time to ask questions and learn about different choices helps you reach smart financial decisions.

How will credit unions celebrate Financial Literacy Month this year? During the month of April the Credit Union National Association will celebrate Youth Month. This year’s theme is “Give a Hoot about Savings.” To celebrate, we invite our young members to come into the branches, grab a coloring sheet, and enter a raffle. This year, Student and Youth Club members can enter to win a gift card to the Detroit Zoo (south branches) or to Avalanche Bay (north branches).

Remember it’s never too early or too late to learn about managing your personal finances! Find out more about our youth services and Student-Run Credit Union program at cfcu.org/youth.

From April 22-29 Community Financial will celebrate Money Smart Week. Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign to promote financial education across all age groups. Launched in 2002 by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the program is now active in more than 45 states. Find local events by visiting moneysmartweek.org.

During Money Smart Week, student and youth club members will get double punches/prizes. So be sure to stop by any of our branches and make a deposit for 2 times the fun! Happy Financial Literacy Month!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spring Cleaning Your Finances

Springtime is about more than just cleaning out the attic and sprucing up your home. It’s about cleaning up and clearing out your finances as well. Here are some ways you can get your financial information in tip-top shape this spring.

1. Sort Through Paperwork. 
Tax season is the perfect time to go through all of your financial records since you have already gathered a great deal of paperwork to file your taxes. A number of experts advise keeping all returns and documentation related to your filing at least seven years. Discard papers if you have stored electronic copies. Download electronic copies of bank and insurance records and other important documents to your computer and back them up onto a separate hard drive or cloud storage.

2. Revamp Your Budget. 
Living within your means is an integral part of a healthy financial lifestyle. But we’re all human, and sometimes our wants overcome our needs or something unexpected comes along. Review last year’s budget and then recalibrate for this year. That may mean zeroing in on and consequently reducing purchases in a given spending category, such as eating out at restaurants.

3. Check in on Investments. 
If you have multiple 401(k) accounts leftover from various employers, take the opportunity to roll them over into one account or with one investment company where your money is. This will usually give you more flexibility when it comes time for withdrawals. Also, if you haven’t upped your retirement savings in a while, spring is a great time to check in and increase your contributions.

4. Consolidate Banking Accounts. 
Many families have multiple bank accounts – checking, savings, CDs, money market accounts, etc. You can often earn higher interest rates or qualify for loan discounts by moving all those accounts to a credit union. Spring is a great time to take a yearly look at all of those bank accounts. If you have too many, close the inactive ones. Shred any unused checks or registers from old accounts.

5. Create a Financial Calendar. 
It’s often too easy to ignore financial tasks right up until the last minute. That’s why it’s a great idea to setup a financial calendar. It’s simple: set reminders throughout the year to do things like review insurance policies, get a credit report or re-balance investments.

Whether it’s tweaking your budget or adjusting your withholding amount, there are plenty of ways to get organized this spring. Do yourself a favor by getting organized and saving for your future.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

2016 Community Matters Annual Report Available

A Message from CEO Bill Lawton 


During 2016, Community Financial proudly celebrated our 65th anniversary. Throughout the year we celebrated our members, with appreciation days, service focused on their specific needs and special rate bonuses. We celebrated our communities, by donating both volunteers and dollars to help enrich the lives of the people living around us.

We continued our support of local nonprofits through Summer of Sharing, Warming Hearts & Homes, Thumbs Up For Charity, Community Shares, and a new campaign called Thankful Thursdays. Our award winning Student-Run Credit Union program helped educate thousands of youth through our partnerships with local schools.

I am proud of the work we do and as a not-for profit financial cooperative, Community Financial has made a significant impact on the areas we serve. Our volunteer board of directors understands the importance of having healthy communities for our members to live and work in. They want local consumers and businesses to enjoy sound financial health, and for our communities to be enriched through our existence.

As we move into 2017, our focus will remain the same. We will continue to stand strong on our commitment to outstanding service and the financial well-being of our members. Together with the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), we will be conducting a consumer financial health assessment, funded in part by The National Credit Union Foundation. This assessment will help us better understand our members’ and employees’ financial health and provide insights to help improve their financial well-being. You make this all possible as a member-owner of Community Financial Credit Union. I hope you feel a sense of pride in being a part of a cooperative that is making a difference for our members and our communities.

We are proud to present Community Matters, our Annual Community Report for 2016.


Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
© Community Financial 2013
Federally insured by NCUA.
Equal Housing Lender
Additional coverage provided by ESI.
Federally insured by NCUA.