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Money Matters Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Buy Local, Bank Local: Support Michigan’s Economy

By: Rick Schalkofski, Branch Manager Hillman

Summer is a great time to buy Michigan grown produce at your local Farmers Market. These products are fresh, inexpensive and support our local farmers.

The number of Farmers Markets have tripled in Michigan during the past decade, helping our economy grow. There are markets in many communities including Gaylord, Hillman and the well-known Eastern Market in Metro-Detroit. Visit this site to search for local Farmers Markets in your area.

Rick Schalkofski, at our Hillman Branch, was a professional cook for ten years before joining Community Financial Credit Union. Rick finds the best ingredients often come from local farmers.

“Not only are you supporting Michigan farmers, but also it is great place to get fresh produce at great prices. You can find anything you want from herbs to vegetables and more,” says Rick. “You can try new things too like spaghetti squash. It looks like spaghetti but has much more nutrition value.”

Click here for a recipe on spaghetti squash.

Farmers Markets in the Hillman area are a part of the region’s effort to build sustainable communities, where business are focused on keeping money local in the local economy.

Buying locally helps support your community, and banking locally does too. Unlike banks that profit from your money, Community Financial Credit Union is a not-for-profit institution. Community Financial gives back to our members through savings and low rates, and also to our community by sponsoring and donating to local programs.

Learn more about what Community Financial Credit Union can do for you by visiting one of our eight Michigan locations. To learn more about the differences between a bank and a credit union, visit our previous post.

Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Monday, August 22, 2011


 We often hear our members say that teaching children to manage their money helps them learn to be responsible. Experts also claim that financial literacy can help foster a financially responsible community, and in turn, may help prevent future economic recessions. 

Because financial literacy is important to our community, Community Financial Credit Union has partnered with local schools to create a variety of programs that we offer specifically for youths.

Our Youth Services include:

1.  Free savings accounts with no minimum balance requirements

2.  Special rewards for deposits

3.  Easy access to our School Credit Union Program 

Our “School Student Run Credit Union” program exposes thousands of students to money management skills. Students learn the credit union business by participating as tellers, branch managers, marketing representatives, computer operators, and bookkeepers.

Community Financial also works to bring Junior Achievement concepts to local elementary classrooms, teaching students age-appropriate banking concepts.

At Community Financial, we know that education is important. Helping establish financial literacy programs in schools will teach students important money management skills that they will carry with them as adults. If your school is interested in joining our program, please contact Natalie McLaughlin at 877-937-2328 or stop by any of our eight convenient locations.

Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Books, binders, dorm d├ęcor – we know you already have a lot on your list to prepare for college this fall.  One more important step is to prepare your financial checklist.

Heading to college may seem scary but you can prepare yourself financially for any situation that might occur.  Community Financial Credit Union recommends adding this financial checklist to your college preparations.

1.  Open a free student checking account. Our student checking accounts come with free online banking and eStatements, making transactions easy when you’re out of town.

2.  Get a Visa® Check Card attached to your bank account to make purchases while you’re away at school wherever Visa is accepted.  It also works as an ATM card so you can get cash at thousands for machine.  Community Financial does not charge you foreign ATM fees.

3.  Open a Visa® credit card. Credit cards can help you handle emergencies. Our Platinum Visa Card for students comes with a low fixed rate and a Points2U Reward Program.  Read our previous post on how to use a credit card for building your credit.

Here are some additional tips. When you’re on your own for your first time, take extra steps to protect your personal information. Make photocopies of all the cards and important data in your wallet and store the copies in a safe place.  If your wallet is lost or stolen, it will be handy to have these documents. 

Monitor your accounts online. This will help protect you from any unauthorized use of your personal financial information. offers useful tips for avoiding bad deals and scams aimed at college students.  Monitoring your accounts can also help you maintain a balanced budget.  For college budgeting tips visit Federal Student Aid.

Remember that preparation is the first step toward success in college. Prepare a thorough list that will enable you to feel satisfied as you check off your tasks and head to college financially equipped. 

For more information, please contact Community Financial at (877) 937-2328.  We will be happy to assist you.

Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Save Your Money: Tips from Community Financial

Fewer than half of Americans set aside money for savings on a regular basis. If you’re one of them, you’re headed in the right direction. Saving money is not only rewarding but also important to protect you in emergency situations and cover unforeseen expenses.

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Here are some tips to help you save your money.

Start now. Review your budget and make sure you are able to put away money at least once a month. Saving a little bit now will add up in the long run.

Use savings accounts. You’re better off saving your cash in a savings account rather than leaving it at home or in a deposit box. In an account your money will earn interest. To make saving easy, you can set up automated deposits into your savings account.

Look for good rates when borrowing money. If you’re looking for a loan, mortgage, or line of credit, first take the time to search for good rates. If your current loans or credit cards have high interest rates, try calling the lender to request a lower rate.

Avoid overdraft fees. Monitor your daily expenses to avoid overdraft fees on your bank accounts. Budgeting can help you save money by preventing overdrafts. Also, look for accounts that provide overdraft protection.

Community Financial Credit Union offers a variety of savings accounts to meet your needs and help you make the most of your money. Our accounts include important benefits such as overdraft protection. Click here for more information on these accounts. Stop by one of our branches or call Community Financial at (877) 937-2328 to find out which account is right for you.

Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fraud PART 2- What to do if you are a Victim of ID Theft

No matter how careful you are with your personal information, no one is immune to identity theft.  If you become a victim, there are important steps to take to help catch the thief and recover your good name. 

File a police report.  Report the crime immediately and keep a copy of the documentation.  Agencies that assist in detecting identity thieves will ask to see a police report.  It’s also important to contact the Federal Trade Commission to report fraud.

Contact credit card companies and banks. Call and notify your credit card companies and other institutions immediately.  Cancel any cards the thief might use in your name.  Also call the three major credit bureaus to prevent the thief from re-opening credit cards that you have canceled. The bureaus are TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and placing fraud alerts with them will help protect you.

Write letters to dispute charges.  Follow up your calls with creditors in writing, this may be part of their requirements and you will have documented your efforts. This will help you defend yourself against fraudulent charges so keep copies of all the documents you send.

Use online banking to monitor accounts. Monitor your accounts and check all balances.  Keep an eye on purchases made.  You should also check your credit report annually. If an identity thief opens a new line of credit in your name, you probably won’t find out about it unless you check your credit report.  Each year you’re entitled to a free copy of all three of your credit reports at

According to the FTC, identity theft involving credit cards may be easier to recover from than other forms of identity theft. Consumers can check their credit reports, review their purchase history, prove their innocence and even help apprehend the culprit.  Helping track your identity thief will also help prevent future attacks. 

“You may be able to show that the signature on an application is not yours," the FTC's website claims. "These documents also may contain information about the identity thief that is valuable to law enforcement.”

Taking steps to guard your good name and credit are important but are not guaranteed to protect you.  Stay alert, always treat your personal information as if it were cash and proceed carefully when detecting and reporting identity theft. 

Posted by: Community Financial
Community Financial Members Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, full-service financial institution owned and governed by its membership.