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Money Matters Blog

Monday, June 25, 2012

When and How to Use Your Home’s Equity

For most of us, a home is the biggest investment we will make in our lifetime.  And building equity in that home can help stabilize ones financial position and allow you the financial flexibility to do any number of things in the future.

One of the ways to access your home’s equity and give you the funding needed to realize your dreams is through a home equity loan.  At Community Financial, we have some amazing home equity loans for our members with rates as low as 2.5%.

However, deciding if or when to take out a home equity loan is a major financial decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  Like any major purchase or financial move, take your time and research which plan is best for you.  To help, the United States Federal Reserve Board and Federal Trade Commission both published some advice on what you should look for when shopping for a home equity loan.

You should also evaluate what the loan will be used for. To help with that, consider the following tips on some of the best uses for a home equity loan:

    •            Consolidating Debt: One of the reasons to open a home equity loan or line of credit is to consolidate outstanding debt into one lump sum.  However, some financial advisors suggest this may be a risky unless the reason the debt was compiled in the first place has been rectified.  If you are consolidating debt, be sure that you’ve also addressed the behavior that got you into debt in the first place. 

    •            Increasing the value of your home:  By using the equity you have in your house to make major renovations you can actually increase the value of your home and add to the equity.  But be careful not to over-renovate and diminish your return.  Check out our Money Minute video by Eric Esser, VP/Mortgage Services for some home improvement suggestions.       

    •        Paying for the Future: Another option for a home equity loan is to fund you or your families’ college education.  By capitalizing on a low rate and a long draw period, you’ll have funds and the flexibility you’ll need.  But remember, just like a home improvement, do your homework so your investment in education yields a good return.

Whatever you decide to use your home equity for, remember that it is tied to your home, so be sure to understand the details of the loan and what it means for your financial future.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Student Savings Shouldn’t Stop in the Summer

School is out for the summer!  It’s a time for students to celebrate and many parents to start looking forward to the fall.

At Community Financial, we helped with the party last week by hosting two “School’s Out Celebrations” with radio station WYCD at our Canton Center and Plymouth branches, where we treated kids to pizza and all kinds of fun activities.

But just because school is out, it does not mean that the learning or saving has to stop.  The Community Financial School Credit Union Program remains open and active all summer long.  In fact, students can get double deposit punches every Tuesday in the summer at their nearest Community Financial branch location.

Over the course of the 2011-12 school year, the Student-Run Credit Unions successfully served 1,944 students.  .  And, over 800 students worked to learn about various banking careers and how to run a business. The students saved a total of nearly $870,000 this year.

“Our commitment to helping students learn goes beyond the school walls and beyond the school calendar,” said Natalie McLaughlin, Community Financial education partnership coordinator.  “Summer really is the time for students to save more of what they earn, a practice which will help them later in life.”

Operated in partnership with local elementary, middle and high schools in Plymouth, Canton, Novi, Northville, Gaylord, Hillman and Lewsiton, the credit unions provide students with a hands-on credit union experience emphasizing the importance of saving money and financial responsibility, as well as career skills. Community Financial staff assists with interviews and tours to cement these concepts with students. 

For more information on the Student-Run Credit Union Program, or our student savings programs, please visit

Monday, June 11, 2012

Community Financial Teams Raise $21,000 to Fighting Cancer

There are few community events that bring out as much emotion as the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, which celebrates the lives of people who are battling cancer, remembers loved ones lost, and raises funds to fight back against the disease.

There are few community events that we at Community Financial Credit Union are more proud to participate in than our area Relay Events.

This year, we were proud to host Community Financial teams at Relay for Life Events in both Canton and Gaylord.

Our two teams combined raised over $21,000 for the American Cancer Society this year.

“Participating in the Relay, and talking with survivors and family members of those who have battled various forms of cancer is a humbling experience for all of us,” said Sarah Cousineau, marketing manager for Community Financial.  “We are proud to support everyone who has been affected by this disease and work to help find a cure in the near future.”

According to Cousineau, who also served as the Relay for Life of Canton’s Event Chair, the 24-hour event included 65 teams, 861 Relayers and raised over $260,000.  The Otsego County Relay was made up of 37 teams, 142 participants and raised nearly $17,000.

Community Financial is dedicated to supporting the communities it serves.  The credit union does this by supporting community organizations and nonprofit groups, helping teach students and volunteering time at events like the Relay for Life.  The giving continues all year, currently Community Financial is awarding $1,000 a day during their Summer of Sharing Program.

For more information on Community Financial, please visit or visit one of our eight convenient locations.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Shred Confidential Documents and Keep the Environment Safe

Once again, Community Financial Credit Union is offering area residents the opportunity to protect their identities, and the environment, through its annual Shred Day.

On Saturday, June 9, from 2 to 4:30 p.m., everyone is invited to visit our Canton Center and Novi branches, to shred and recycle their confidential documents.  With the help of Iron Mountain, your personal information can be disposed of in a safe and environmentally responsible way.

Shredding personal documents continues to be an important issue for people across the country.  According to a recent U.S. Department of Justice report, incidents of identity theft continue to rise, including a nearly 8-percent jump from 2009 to 2010, the most recent year included in the report.

“It is vitally important for our members to know that not only is their money safe with Community Financial, but their identities are too,” said Diane Khezarjian, Deposit Risk Manager at the credit union.  “So we wanted to provide them, and the community as a whole, the opportunity to safely and securely dispose of their personal documents.”

Partnering with Iron Mountain provides another benefit – environmentally sound recycling – so there is no need to choose between shredding or recycling.  During the process, the paper is shredded beyond any possible reconstruction. Then it goes to a pulping mill for recycling.

Providing this kind of service around the country has continued to provide positive benefits.  According to the American Forest and Paper Association, paper recovery through recycling around the country reached a record-high of 66.8 percent last year. That, in turn, led to a record-low of 18.4 million tons of paper going to landfills – down from 36.6 million tons 10 years ago.

Community Financial Credit Union takes extra steps to protect your information.  So please, join us in Canton or Novi this Saturday for Shred Day!

For suggestions on what to shred, please see our previous post.

Shredding is limited to up to two shopping bags or the equivalent of two banker’s boxes per car.

If you have any questions feel free to visit one of our branch locations or call us at (877) 937-2328.