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Money Matters Blog

Monday, August 24, 2015

Labor Day Party Ideas from Community Financial

The end of summer is quickly approaching, but with Labor Day just around the corner there is still time for one last summer celebration! We’ve compiled a list of Labor Day party ideas to make your end of summer celebration a hit:
Block Party
Consider getting together with the neighbors to plan an end of summer block party. Designate set areas of your neighborhood as “stations” for food, drinks, dessert, music and games! This is a great way to connect with your community and create summer memories to last a lifetime.

Potluck BBQ
What better way to celebrate Labor Day than with a BBQ! Gather your friends and family together for an end of the summer bash, potluck style. Potlucks are a great way to save money and cut additional expenses that can pile up with a traditional barbeque. Need an idea for a great recipe to bring with you? Amanda Madden, a MSR from our Call Center shared her favorite potluck recipe for Buffalo Chicken dip that is sure to be a crowd favorite:

FRANK’s RedHot Buffalo Chicken Dip
This robust creamy dip tastes like Buffalo Chicken Wings but without the mess! Serve hot with celery sticks or veggies
Makes: 4 cups of dip Prep Time: 5 min Cook Time: 20 min User Rating: 3 stars
·         2 cups shredded cooked chicken
·         1 (8 oz. pkg.) cream cheese, softened
·         ½ cup FRANK’S RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or FRANK’S RedHot Buffalo Wings Sauce
·         ½ cup blue cheese or ranch dressing
·         ½ cup crumbled bleu cheese or your favorite shredded cheese
·         PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F.
·         COMBINE all ingredients and spoon into a shallow 1-quart baking dish.
·         BAKE 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired.
·         Serve with crackers and/or vegetables.

Labor Day Luau
Didn’t get a chance to take a vacation this summer? Bring the tropical island life to your home! A Labor Day Luau is the perfect way to indulge in paradise with your closest family and friends in the comfort of your own backyard. Break out the leis, grass skirts, Hawaiian shirts and enjoy your favorite drink inside of a coconut cup. This is a great way to end summer on a relaxing note.

Enjoy the last major holiday of the summer with a bonfire. Bonfires are relaxing, tons of fun and easy to plan for! Be sure to check with your city or township first to see what regulations apply. Then gather your friends and family around the fire for roasted hot dogs and delicious s’mores while reminiscing over your favorite summer memories.

Whatever you decide to do to celebrate the end of summer, we hope that you enjoy a happy and safe holiday weekend! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Summer of Sharing Donation Helps Local Academy for Second Consecutive Year

Community Financial Credit Union has been actively involved in building stronger communities and enhancing the lives of its members for more than 64 years. When Starkweather Academy in Plymouth wanted to jumpstart a music program last year, Community Financial Credit Union was there to help the school afford musical instruments and a PA system.

For the second consecutive year, Starkweather Academy is one of the recipients of our Summer of Sharing program, which donates $1,000 a day for 60 days to local charities. This year the grant will be used to help buy around 100 books for the Academy that Starkweather teacher Emily Szachta says will help the students immensely.

“This year we identified the need for more contemporary reading material,” Szachta said. “I’m really looking forward to going on a shopping spree so that our students aren’t just reading books written long before they were born.”

Gaining community support for Starkweather Academy can be difficult, because the school is not as visible as the more traditional high schools in the area. Szachta says having partners like Community Financial is critical to the success of Starkweather Academy. “We couldn’t afford new supplies without the help of organizations like Community Financial,” said Szachta.

Community Financial has been actively involved at the school for the past three years through the Student-Run Credit Union Program and by providing financial presentations to students. Starkweather Academy Alternative High School promotes lifelong learning by offering a comprehensive educational program that addresses the individual goals of each student. The roughly 200 students that attend the school are mostly from the Plymouth-Canton and Livonia school districts.

Community Financial is proud to have donated $300,000 through our Summer of Sharing program since 2011. This year, the 2015 campaign runs through the end of August. To learn more about the Summer of Sharing and to see all of the organizations we’ve helped this summer visit

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Stuff You’ll Need if You’re Going Away for College

Well, you did it. You’ve graduated and been accepted to your dream college. So now what? Even though you have the whole summer ahead of you to get ready for this next chapter, getting ready to go away for school does require some planning ahead.

For me, living in a dorm was sort of like one awesome extended sleepover. Unfortunately, it also costs a heck of a lot more than I expected just to move into my dorm room in the first place. If you’re heading off to college for the first time, make sure to plan accordingly. You’ll need a bunch of new stuff, and it’s going to cost you some money.

Thinking of raiding your parents’ linen closet instead of buying new bedding? Think again. Most college dorm beds require extra-long sheets–the type your folks aren’t likely to have. Taking stuff like pillows and blankets from home isn’t a great idea either. If you haul it all away to college, it won’t be there when you come home to visit, and lugging a comforter back and forth just isn’t going to work. Your best bet is to buy new bedding, and you can expect to spend at least $75 for a basic set.

Sure, you’ll probably spend a fair amount of time studying and going out with friends, but you’ll still want some basic entertainment in the comfort of your dorm room. This means there’s a good chance you’ll need to buy a TV, and probably a DVD player to go along with it. These days, you can score a DVD player for as little as $30-40, but a decent TV might cost you $400 or more.

Your room and board fees should cover a basic meal plan, but what happens when you get hungry at 3:00 in the morning during an all-night study session? Midnight (or post-midnight) munchies are common among college students, and to indulge your craving, you’ll need to invest in a mini fridge. Some schools have these available for rent, but that might cost you almost as much as buying your own. Most models start around $65. Throw in a microwave, and you’re looking at over $100 to ensure a steady supply of food and snacks.

A New Laptop
The laptop you used throughout high school–you know, the one whose battery dies after 12 minutes–probably isn’t going to cut it once you get to college. You’re going to have notes to type up during class and papers to write, so you’ll need a reliable laptop from the start. While you can go cheaper, the average laptop will run you about $600. Throw in a printer, and you’re looking at another $100.

New Clothing
You’ll need to invest in a new wardrobe if you’re going away to school in a different area of the country. If you’re headed for a warmer climate, you’ll need to stock up on shorts and, if you’re lucky, beachwear. On the other hand, if your school is known for its harsh (or in my case, extended) winters, you’ll need to purchase snow boots, warm clothing and a serious supply of gloves.

A Car
Some colleges don’t allow freshmen to have cars on campus, but if yours does, and there’s no public transportation in town, you may be tempted to buy one. Even a used vehicle can cost several thousand dollars, so be sure to have a decent chunk of money on hand before you go car shopping. Preparing for college can be stressful on many levels, but try not to let the cost of everything wreck what should otherwise be an exciting summer. Budget accordingly, and with any luck, you’ll get all the stuff you need to start off on the right foot.

Photo by Yujean Park via cc.
By Maurie Backman Copyright 2015 brass Media, Inc.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Have You Made Your Back to School Budget Yet?

Everyone knows that the month of August brings the end of summer and the inevitable start of a new school year. Many parents dread the annual back to school shopping trip, but it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Arming yourself with these few tips can keep you from feeling overwhelmed and help you avoid unnecessary spending.  

Don’t Delay
Even though the start of school is a whole month away, it’s important to start planning now. This can mean setting money aside for the big shopping trip, spacing the kids shopping trips over the span of a few weeks or planning ahead for your own monthly expenses. That way you aren’t hit with unexpected costs right before the start of school. If you want to get ahead of the curve for next year, keep an eye out for clearance specials once 2015’s back to school rush ends. You can stock up on all the basic supplies (pencils, folders, paper etc.) so you only have to buy a few things the following year.

Be Practical
According to the National Retail Federation, the average family with school-aged kids expects it will spend $630.36 this year on back to school needs. College age kids are expected to spend an average of $899.18. Across all shoppers, clothing and electronics account for more than $400 of the average family’s back-to-school outlay. Avoid expensive “luxury” school supplies that aren’t necessary. Glitter pens and a brand new pair of scissors every year might be an area where you could cut frivolous spending. Prioritize which items you need right away at the start of the school year and which ones you can price watch throughout the year.  

Involve the Student
Do your kids want a new iPad so badly that they just simply cannot live without it? Encourage them to save their summer spending money, take on additional chores or find other ways to make some extra cash so when fall time comes, they can buy those hot ticket items. The fact that they bought the special school supplies or electronics with their own money will teach them the value of hard work and to take care of the things they work hard for. Prepare your kids for the fact that they may not be able to pick and choose every item on the list, and that some supplies are more important than others.   

Age Matters When Making Your List 
Checking your student’s specific classroom supply list will help determine what items you need to buy, but it’s important to remember that every age is different and may require specific supplies. It may also be the school (or teacher’s) rules that certain items aren’t allowed. Tots and teens may require more supplies to start a school year, but it’s the college age shoppers that bring in the most business for retailers. From dorm room furnishings to cleaning supplies, the expenses can really add up for those leaving home for the first time. Use this sample Back to School Shopping List to give you an idea of what you need to purchase this year.  

Online Shop Before You Drop That Cash
Don’t be afraid to buy school supplies online, where you can take advantage of comparison shopping and free shipping offers. Websites such as and have convenient age group and local school-specific shopping lists available to help you quickly find and buy the required supplies. Busy parents can also take advantage of perks like reserving online and same day delivery, avoiding the stress of dragging their kids to the office supply store.

Lastly, when in doubt, ask the teachers! You may think that you’re bothering them, but they will likely be much happier that you checked beforehand to avoid the hassle of requesting replacement school supplies at the beginning of the year. Keep in mind that these supplies may not last the entire year, so set aside an inventory of pens and other basics to have on hand, and be prepared for new “necessary” supplies to pop up throughout the year. With a little preparation you can be on your way to a successful school year!