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Money Matters Blog

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gaining Financial Flexibility for College with Private Student Loans

For millions of students across the country, the dawn of a new school year comes with the usual excitement and apprehension, as well as a whole lot of errand running and preparation.

Parents have tons of items to cross off their checklists before sending their young scholars off to school for the first day of class, but for college students, it’s a whole different ballgame. From purchasing school books and supplies to finding their way around campus, college students have quite a few things to accomplish before settling down to study.

As if that isn’t enough, many students are also left pondering the question, “How am I going to pay for all of this?”

With the cost of tuition rising and numerous expenses to cover, private student loans are becoming a popular option for college students of all ages to supplement any federal loans they may have.

Private student loans offer financial flexibility with more repayment options.  Additionally, more people are eligible for private student loans, including students who aren’t enrolled full-time. Private student loans also are available year-round, so if you aren’t ready to apply now or if you prefer to get one later if expenses become a little too much to bear, private student loans are accessible.

These particular loans give the recipient the option to pay for most everything they need including books, computers and room and board.

At Community Financial, our private student loans are offered at low rates with great benefits, and we excel in making sure we match the right type of loan with the right student.

Private student loan recipients must meet these qualifications:

-Must attend an accredited school or be at least half-time
-Must be or become a credit union member
-Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
-Must meet the minimum credit requirements

Our private student loans also come with a 30-day no fee return policy that allows you to cancel the loan without any fees or interest should the need arise.

For more information private student loans, visit or call 888-549-9050 to speak with one of our friendly representatives about whether a loan is right for you.

^Rates vary and are dependent on individual credit history. All loans subject to Credit Union approval and require a cosigner.

Monday, August 19, 2013

School Fundraising: The Alternative Method

Fundraisers are a common part of the school experience and an important part of making your school the best it can be.  It’s not uncommon to find student athletes selling coupon books for their team or cheerleaders selling candy bars for new uniforms.

Now, new solutions that integrate social media and websites have arrived for groups to raise money to support their school programs. The popularity of online fundraising has exploded in recent years, with people raising money for everything from movie projects to new business ideas to helping neighbors in need. has been the leader for many years in online fundraising, and it was even used locally by five sisters to bring their popular Drought organic juice bar to downtown Plymouth.

People looking to get involved and raise money for school causes might want to give sites such as and a try. Both are geared toward helping school groups obtain the funding they need to allow students to shine. gives school groups the ability to team up with local merchants to create special deals for the community, which are then sold to raise funds. Schoola takes a cut of the funds raised but it handles many of the logistics of the campaigns at no extra charge, such as check writing and fulfillment, according to, another platform that has been featured by major media outlets, also allows people to centralize their fundraising campaigns, easily bringing in donations from the comfort of home.

Another potential resource is, where teachers can request funding for specific projects directly.  And, rewards programs through Amazon and Target have also become popular ways to raise money for schools.

As with any fundraising endeavor, be sure to do your research and check references to make sure you don’t fall victim to scams.

Candy bars and coupon books will likely always have a place but websites like these can be complementary funding alternatives to giving our kids the resources they need to excel this fall.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tips for Hiring a Contractor for Home Improvement Projects

It’s always fun to play the role of handy man (or woman) when it comes to making the home improvements you have always dreamed of, but there are times when hiring a professional just makes more sense. 

Skilled professional contractors do amazing work, but their work can come with a surprisingly hefty price tag if you’re not careful.

With more and more people tapping into home equity loans for the purposes of making home improvements, it’s important to know how to get a fair (or better) deal from professional contractors before you put them to work. 

Here are some tips for making sure you’re getting a good value:

Pick the right specialist- With a range of evolving construction codes and regulations; it’s important to pick a contractor who is experienced in doing the exact type of job you’re asking for. Inexperienced contractors don’t work as efficiently, which can add up to extra costs down the line. 

It's important to check your references and ask questions
 before hiring a contractor. 
Ask plenty of questions- Taking the time to interview potential contractors with a few quick phone calls could save you plenty of cash.  Inquire about their current schedule of jobs and work load, what work they have previously completed and how often they take on projects that are similar to yours.

Check References-Take time to call references.  Ask not only if they were happy with the quality of work, but if the contractor did the work on time and on budget.

Create a payment schedule- Contractors will feel more inclined to deliver top-quality work if they are paid as they go. Some may request majority amounts of the bid up front for long-term work, which could be a red flag that they may not feel comfortable with you paying the whole amount after seeing their completed work.

Consider choosing a local contractor- Local companies may be more motivated to do the best work in their area, since they have a reputation to protect. You’ll also be supporting your community’s economy by “going local."

Home improvements can add serious value to your home, but they can also be expensive. Home equity loans are available at a great rate at Community Financial. Visit this link to find out more.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Save Money With Recipes From Your Backyard Garden

Cooking from your garden is valuable in many ways.  For one, it is convenient and less expensive.  

When the produce you need is right in your own backyard, you save time and money on the cost of gas and the cost of produce.  For example, the average cost of a bell pepper this summer has been about $.70.  Earlier this year, packs of bell pepper seeds could be purchased for as low as $.29 in some areas.  

Second is the benefit to your health.  Having your own vegetable garden gives you the ability to grow vegetables organically and free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals.  The simple peace of mind of knowing exactly what you are feeding yourself and others is an invaluable benefit.

In case you have more fresh produce than you know what to do with right about now, here are 2 recipes with common garden ingredients to help you make use of your harvest:

Classic Salsa: This simple recipe uses three late-summer garden favorites:  tomatoes, cilantro and onion, to create this signature dish.  


-2 cups chopped tomatoes
-1 small white onion, diced finely 
-3 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped
-Salt to taste 

Directions: Simply mix all of the ingredients together and serve with chips and guacamole (optional). 
Serves 4-6.


Herby Cucumber Salad: Harvest these items from your garden for this recipe:  dill, parsley, mint, garlic, red onion and cucumber. 

-2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill
-1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt 
-1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh parsley 
-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 
-1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
-1 1/2 tablespoon coarsely chopped mint 
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard 
-1/4 teaspoon sugar 
-1/4 teaspoon salt 
-1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
-1 garlic clove 
-5 1/2 cups thinly sliced cucumber (about 2 large) 
-2 1/2 cups thinly sliced red onion 

Directions:  Combine the first 11 ingredients in a food processor or a blender, and process until well blended. Combine the cucumber and onion in a large bowl.  Drizzle with yogurt mixture, and toss to coat. Serves 6.


Find more recipes using the ingredients you have on hand by visiting the site