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Money Matters Blog

Monday, January 28, 2013

Homeowners look to make home improvements as home values rise

After several years of decline, it looks like home values in metro Detroit are finally heading in the right direction.  According to data released this month by the Realcomp listing service of Farmington Hills, the Metro Detroit home sales market saw a major rebound at the end of 2012, with December sales price increases of 26% reported compared to a year earlier.

The increase in home values means more home equity, which is good news for homeowners who have put off making home improvements due to the uncertain economy.  According to the Home Improvement Research Institute ( home improvement sales are projected to grow to $284.8 billion in 2013. 

Will you be part of the home renovation trend?
If so, the first step after determining your project is setting a realistic budget and securing financing. You’ll have a number of financing options depending on your situation.  Consider these options:

Whichever option works for you, you should shop around for the best rates.  Community Financial Credit Union offers great deals on all four options including home equity lines of credit as low as 2.50% APR*.

Community Financial can help you determine your home’s equity and the best plan of action to make your dream home a reality.  Simply visit any office or call our Member Service Center at (877) 937-2328 to get started on your 2013 home improvements.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Steps to Achieve Your Financial Dreams

Today we celebrate the life and teachings of the late Martin Luther King Jr. On August 28, 1963 he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in which he laid out the vision he had for America.  King believed that every one of us should be free to pursue our dreams and showed unbelievable strength, self-sacrifice, determination, and perseverance in that quest.

For many of us, the trail to realize our own dreams – especially financially - can also be a struggle. Whatever those dreams might be, it is important to keep your eyes on the prize.

King once wrote, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

If the dream is to a more stable financial footing, it will take work to achieve. However, there are some steps you can take along the way to make progress towards your goals.

Identify what you want and give it a deadline.
Each of us has things we aspire to, and as silly as it might seem, the first step to making any dream happen is to express it. Are you trying to obtain a house? A new car? A nest egg for retirement?  Ask yourself why you’re chasing this particular dream. The more reasons you identify the more motivated you will be.

Find out what it will cost.
Whatever the goal, discuss your dream with family or a financial counselor, set a timeline and a strategy to get there. Don’t be discouraged if the timeline is a long one, there are milestones you can celebrate along the way.

One good idea is a special savings account that you designate to put money aside for this dream. For example, there are a variety of savings accounts at Community Financial to help get you started.

Identify potential obstacles.
While obstacles may stand in the way, such as dealing with debt while trying to save, there is not much that cannot be overcome with advanced planning. Ask yourself: What are some of the things that will keep you from achieving your dream? Assess your financial needs, and get in help if need be.

Implement your plan. 
After all of the work and planning, just do it. King wrote that “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” With hard work and perseverance, like Dr. King preached, you can see your dreams become reality. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Scholarship Winners See the Benefit of Furthering Their Education

It’s true that a little help can go a long way, and Community Financial Credit Union is offering help to local, college-bound students.

2010 Scholarship winners
For 26 consecutive years, Community Financial Margaret Dunning and George Lawton scholarships have been available to Michigan students.  Community Financial Scholarship Fund, in collaboration with the Community Foundation of Plymouth (CFP) and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF), will award (12) $1,000 scholarships to college bound members in 2013.

“The scholarships from Community Financial really helped a lot,” said Michigan State University accounting major, Erin O’Connor. “When you are thinking about the cost of college, $1,000 might not seem like a lot, but every single dollar helps.”

“It’s been helpful to receive the Community Financial scholarship,” Ms. O’Connor said.  “I have an older sister in nursing school too and every scholarship we receive helps my parents finance our educations.”
Online applications are due on March 1, 2013. To qualify, you need to have an active Community Financial account open for a minimum of 6 months prior to the date your application is submitted.  Students should check the credit union website for complete rules, supplemental requirements, and online application link to the scholarships, click here.
Community Financial Dunning and Lawton Scholarships honor philanthropists Margaret Dunning and George Lawton, individuals who epitomize the credit union's "People Helping People" philosophy.  To support this philosophy, Community involvement is strongly considered by the scholarship committee.

For more information on Community Financial, including membership information, click here or visit one of our eight convenient locations.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Avoiding the Winter Blues

Michigan Winter means shorter days, and colder weather. As days get shorter and the temperature drops, it's not uncommon for the winter blues to set in, particularly after the holiday season. All you want to do is stay in, curl into a ball, and eat. It can be hard to stay motivated in the dead of winter, but there are things you can do to keep your eyes on the prize- Here are some quick tips.

Stay Focused and Positive - A big key to keeping up your spirits is staying focused, and understanding your priorities. Make a list of things you’d like to accomplish to get an overall picture of before starting to tackle any of it. Then, make a plan. Although it’s tempting to do the little things first, those that take more time and effort to accomplish are probably the ones that you’ll gain the most from.
Learn Something New - Start a hobby. Developing an interest in something new will make you feel good during the long winter months. Changing your approach to an existing pastime can also help you stay interested in what you’re doing.  Maybe you love to read- switch it up a bit! Try some new authors or types of books!
Set Attainable Goals- and Be Able to Visualize Them - You may have made New Year’s Resolutions such as losing weight, which might be a lofty goal if you’ve never left your couch. Instead of focusing on the large goals, break them down to more manageable ones.  Some examples of this might be just eating smaller portions, taking the stairs, or parking a little farther away from the door and walking in. The same holds true for your financial goals.  Don’t focus on the big, end number you’d like to have saved.  Focus on saving a little bit each week.  It will add up faster than you’d think.
Find a Support Network - If you’re suffering from winter blahs, chances are your friends are too. Develop a group of friends and peers who can motivate you, who will give you positive support  and who will listen and share ideas. Encourage their achievements too.  Seek out a mentor to guide you or bounce ideas off of.  Don’t listen to overly critical naysayers.
Acknowledge Your Accomplishments - Don’t be afraid to celebrate your accomplishments! There’s nothing wrong with going on Facebook and bragging about your good day. You’ll likely find unexpected encouragement from your circle of friends. Give yourself a quick reward when you complete a milestone.
Make the most of the Season - Instead of hiding from the bluster of the season, get bundled up, and enjoy the best that the season has to offer! Michigan offers a variety of activities for you to enjoy if you’re just willing to step outside. Whether you try Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, winter hiking, ice skating, sledding, tubing, winter photography, winter nature observation, or astronomy, all are good ways to meet the season head on.  Remember that comfy sofa, warm throw, hot chocolate and a roaring fire will be there when you get home!