Tuesday, April 30, 2013

We “Moustache” You a Question


By Precious A. Earley

How do you “stash” your cash?

Community Financial recently celebrated National Credit Union Youth Week by asking this question to our team members and they offered some helpful tips to kids about saving money. 

Randy Penner, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Community Financial, says, “Don’t spend your change.  Each night, I put the coins in my pocket into a coin bank.  Those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters can add up quickly.” 

According to a 2012 national phone survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, a large number of kids are allowed to choose what they want to do with their money.  The majority of the parents surveyed reported that their children, most often, used their money to purchase toys or to hang out with friends, while the parents paid for necessities and additional indulgences such as video game rentals and movies. 

Mortgage Underwriter, Michelle Van Dam encourages kids to get two jars:  a “want” jar and a savings jar.  She says kids should put part of their money in the “want” jar and the rest in the savings jar.
“Once you have enough money in the “want” jar, you can buy what your eyes were set on,” said Van Dam. “This allows a child to set a goal, achieve a goal, and be rewarded, without tapping into their savings.”

What a great idea, right?

At Community Financial, our commitment to educating the community is rooted in our belief that there are rewards in teaching children early about best practices to manage their money and make good financial decisions. We believe saving is a choice that builds character.  While most people have no problem spending money, it takes discipline and commitment to save money.­
Michelle Van Dam
Randy Penner

So, now we’re asking you, “How do you stash your cash?”  We’d love to hear your tips.  Visit us on Facebook or Twitter and let us know what you are doing.­­­

Precious A. Earley is a Marketing Representative with Community Financial. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrate Earth Day by committing to make one eco-friendly change


April 22, 2013 is Earth Day, one of our favorite holidays in Michigan.  It means that the birds are back, spring buds are on the trees and we can pack away the gloves and scarves and get outside to enjoy the warmer weather.

Celebrating and observing Earth Day can be as large-scale as installing solar panels on your roof or as simple as planting a tree,  or helping to clean up your neighborhood. Even the smallest gestures count toward the health of our beautiful planet. Small gestures added together, can make a big difference over time.

Banking in an environmentally responsible way definitely falls into that category, considering the sheer volume of transactions that take place over the days, months, weeks and years.

That’s why Community Financial is proud to offer several options for more eco-friendly and sustainable banking that help reduce paper waste, fuel consumption and other resource usage.

Those options include:

·eReceipts delivered to your via email instead of on paper when you visit a branch
·Online and mobile banking transactions save you a trip to the credit union
·ePay allows you to pay bills without writing checks or driving to the post office for stamps
·eStatements are delivered through email instead of on paper through traditional mail
·Direct Deposit saves you gas and time by automatically depositing your check into your accounts each payday
·eClub puts all these green services together so you make all your transactions electronically, saving time, money and the environment

“When people think of banking, they often picture stacks of paper, but that’s not the case anymore, thanks to investments in online and mobile technology,” said Sarah Cousineau, marketing manager for Community Financial.  “By providing mobile and online alternatives, not only is banking becoming more convenient, but it is also becoming more environmentally sound.”

For more information on how Community Financial support environmentally friendly banking solutions, visit www.cfcu.org.




Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Median prices, demand for homes rising in Michigan communities


According to an April 15, 2013 Detroit News report, the housing market is officially “back” in Metro Detroit, which is good news for sellers, who are benefiting from market conditions across the region. According to the report, prices in Wayne County rose by 43 percent compared with March 2012, and the inventory of existing homes is down considerably. 

In many Community Financial communities, there is no question that the real estate landscape has turned the corner. For example, in Northville, a hub for high-priced homes, the median sale price has actually risen to a higher level than 2003, $410,000, according to a recent article from Crain’s Detroit Business.

In other communities, the average number of days on the market for properties dropped sharply and if trends continue, 2013 could be the biggest drop in that department yet.

Nicolle Sherman, a senior mortgage specialist at Community Financial, has seen the shift to a seller’s market first-hand.

“In our communities of Plymouth, Northville and Novi, houses are selling very quickly and there’s a lot of competition,” Sherman said.  “Because of limited supply buyers are finding themselves in a lot of multiple-bid situations. Buyers are trying to gobble up the few houses that are out there.”

Sherman also has an important piece of advice for prospective homebuyers - work with a realtor who knows the area. A professional can help you structure your offer so it is attractive to sellers who are evaluating multiple offers, she said.

“I always encourage buyers to work with an agent as opposed to trying to do the negotiations themselves.  It makes sense because in most instances there’s very little cost to the buyer to utilize their services,” said Sherman.

In a tight, high-demand housing market, homebuyers should also be prepared to make their best offer for properties they really want right up front, according to local realtor Deborah Ronayne.

“Most everything in Novi and Northville has multiple offers and the highest and best structured offer typically is called,” Ronayne said. “The only ways to win these battles is by offering more than the list price and typically include a clause in the agreement to cover the difference, up to a point, if the appraisal comes in low.”

The edge often goes to conventional buyers with flexibility and extra cash to spend, which is part of the reason why Sherman recommends getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan before hitting the market.

“With all these multiple bid situations, if you don’t have a pre-approval letter with your offer you’re not even going to be considered. Things are moving so quickly,” she said.

Sherman adds, “Really, you shouldn’t even look before you have a pre-approval in hand…You need to be ready to make your highest and best offers when you find something you really like.”

Click here for more information about mortgage loans or stop into one of our eight convenient Michigan locations.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130415/BIZ/304150407#ixzz2QYmhiIzt

Monday, April 8, 2013

Five Things Every Last Minute Tax Filer Should Know

Recently the IRS reported the number of tax returns filed during the last half of March has dropped from 2012’s numbers, meaning more people will likely be sweating it out as the April 15 deadline approaches.

According to an article from ABCNews.com, 80.5 million individual tax returns had been filed as of March 22, compared with 84.9 million by March 23 of last year.
Last minute tax filing can be stressful, but there are ways to smooth out the process.

So if you haven’t filed yet, here’s what you should know as the deadline draws near:

Be aware of online options- The IRS now offers a Free File program to file electronically and get your refund back in a flash. Special tracking options allow you to keep an eye on when your return will be coming back in the mail as well. Filing online is now recommended by the IRS and is becoming mainstream.

Be aware of suspicious emails – Online criminals may see tax time as an opportunity to steal one’s identity.  Be aware of emails coming from an IRS email account seeking personal information as they are likely bogus.  The IRS has already issued 770,000 special numbers for potential victims, a huge increase from last year according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. Protecting yourself consists of covering all the bases such as ignoring suspicious emails and safeguarding your personal information in general.

It’s important to double check your information- In the scramble to file last minute taxes, mistakes are often made. If you submit a Social Security number for a dependent that is incorrect, for example, you won’t receive those tax deductions. Make sure to double check everything to avoid potential problems down the line.


When to seek professional assistance- It may be tempting to file your own taxes, especially with the proliferation of affordable filing programs, but certain people benefit more from professional assistance than others. Business owners, stock traders, freelancers and others are among those who benefit most according to a recent article from Yahoo! Finance.

You can always ask for more time- A six-month extension is far easier to receive than most people think; automatic to be more specific. The form can be found at www.IRS.gov and can allow an extension all the way into mid-October if needed. Keep in mind that if you owe money, you’ll still have to pay up by April 15, however. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Saving for Your Retirement Requires Committing to a Plan



With so many people saving money for everyday living expenses, education and home improvement, saving for retirement is often neglected.

Overall savings are down, according to survey results released in March 2013 by the Employee Benefit Research Institute. The same survey, which has been conducted for 23 years, also noted a new record low regarding retirement confidence, according to an article from the Wall Street Journal.

According to the EBR survey, 28% of Americans responded that they have no confidence they will have enough money to retire comfortably. Also, the percentage of workers who said they have saved for retirement also dropped to just 66%, down from a 75% in 2009.

Saving for retirement is becoming difficult for many people, which is why it’s so important to make it a priority and create a plan for the future.

“The time to start saving for retirement is always now. Regardless of your age, building a savings habit is critical and requires a detailed plan,” said Randy Penner, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Community Financial.

Many financial experts agree that saving as soon as possible is the best first step, so that the cumulative benefits will begin to add up over time. Other tips include:

        -Saving extra money after receiving a raise by opening an IRA
        -Contribute enough to your 401(k) to trigger the employer match, if offere
        -Save between 10-15% of your income for retirement, or slowly build to that     percentage as your career goes on and your salary increase. 
        -Don’t be tempted to use your retirement savings for anything but retirement when the time comes.

Planning and making the commitment early is also crucial to make sure you have the confidence to stay the course.  As Penner notes, “Those who got scared and left the market during the recession are now missing the market’s recovery.”

It’s never too late to plan and Community Financial is available to help.

“A financial professional can be a critical coach at any time of your life,” said Penner. “At Community Financial we have dedicated financial professionals who will focus on your specific retirement planning needs."

To get started planning your future, contact a Financial Consultant  (877) 937-2328 for a no-cost, no-obligation appointment. Our Representatives will meet you at your local Community Financial office.

Source: http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/the-smarter-mutual-fund-investor/2012/12/04/7-must-do-tips-for-retirement-saving
Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
© Community Financial 2013
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Federally insured by NCUA.