Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Student-Run Credit Union Year-End Wrap Up

Allen Elementary 5th Grade Credit Union Workers
Community Financial is proud to partner with Michigan schools districts to help operate student-run school credit unions and expose thousands of students to money management skills. Selected students learn the banking business as credit union tellers, branch managers, marketing representatives, computer operators and accountants. As the school year comes to a close, over 30 schools are wrapping up and celebrating this year’s achievements.


The end of the year is marked by a trip to a Community Financial branch so students can see how the role they held in the student-run credit union program translates to that position in real life. The students are often excited to see that the tasks they completed at school are indeed the same types of tasks our team members complete in their jobs. Afterward, students head back to school where they enjoy cupcakes and are awarded certificates for participating in the credit unions throughout the year.

“The student-run credit unions give children valuable experiences they can use no matter what career path they choose in life,” said Senior Education Partnership Coordinator Natalie McLaughlin. “Students that participate in this program gain real world experience and build confidence in their abilities as future employees.”

The student-run credit union program is a practical and fun way for children to learn that a successful financial future is possible for anyone, and that proper money management is a skill they will need throughout their entire lives.

For the 2015 school year, we had over 1,500 student volunteers and over 2,000 student members making deposits. We look forward to another successful school year in 2016!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Honeymoon Trends for 2015

Vacations come and go, but one of the most memorable trips a married couple will ever take is their honeymoon. While some newlyweds are content with taking a “traditional” beach trip, many are looking for ways to make their honeymoon an adventure worth telling stories about. Here are some popular honeymoon trends for 2015:

Take Two
What’s better than a honeymoon? Two! Many couples are learning that taking a “mini-moon” directly after the wedding and waiting a few months before taking a longer trip can be beneficial in many ways. From a budgeting standpoint, taking a shorter trip directly after a wedding can offset the hit the wedding made on your bank account. It gives you a few days away to recuperate from the wedding festivities, but also provides something to look forward to after the wedding excitement has worn off.

Volunteer Trips
According to TheKnot.com, green trips have been trending for a while, and more newlyweds are carrying that same do-good attitude even further by adding volunteering to their itinerary. Sites like HoneymoonVolunteers.com give couples an opportunity to find a honeymoon based on more than just the location, but also on what type of “giving back” the couple wants to do. From building shelters for orphans in Belize, to feeding endangered iguanas, the memories that are made on these unique honeymoons will last a lifetime.
Glamorous Camping
Want the romance of gazing up into the stars, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city? Look no further than the middle of nowhere! Many people avoid camping because it seems like a lot of work, filled with bugs and leaky tents. However, with the help of sites like Glampinghub.com, it’s become easier than ever to find a destination with the right rustic to glamour ratio for your honeymoon. Some of these rentals feature raised beds, lockable doors and even electricity. Some might say that these luxuries take away from the allure of camping, but isn’t the point of a honeymoon to enjoy your time together? It’s likely that most couples would enjoy having a flat screen TV out in the middle of nowhere for when that rain hits!

Extreme Couponing
Sites like Groupon.com or LivingSocial.com offer deep discounts on vacation spots, and if you’re willing to monitor the sites, you can sometimes find discounts on fun activities nearby. The only catch is that you usually have to be flexible with the dates you’re willing to travel, meaning it could be the “off season” or mid-week. Sometimes deals are offered for lesser known resorts or places under new management, so be aware of the fact that you could be making reservations at a hotel or business that doesn’t have a very long track record.

Foodie Trips
Gourmet honeymoons are becoming increasingly more popular for the “foodie” couples among us. We're talking about a seriously memorable culinary experience -- with 12-course tasting menus, wine bars and street markets with the freshest local produce. For couples planning their honeymoon around where they'll have their next meal, destinations like France, Japan and New Zealand have increased in popularity.  

All-Inclusive
For many years people have been enjoying the benefits of all-inclusive vacations, at resorts like Sandals, and it continues to be a trend for this year’s newlyweds. After the overwhelming process of planning a wedding, many couples relish on being able to pay one lump sum for their accommodations, meals, drinks and activities. This way they don’t have to plan or budget for these expenses while on the trip. With these types of resorts all around the world, there’s bound to be one for any couple looking for a virtually worry-free honeymoon.

No matter what your vacation style is, a honeymoon is a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend time with the one you love most. You don’t have to break the bank to go on a honeymoon, just find what suits you most as a couple and enjoy your special time together!

*Community Financial does not endorse the information, content, presentation or accuracy, nor make any warranty, expressed or implied, regarding the websites and/or apps mentioned above.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Attention Millennials: Viewing Your Credit Report and Improving Your Score

If you feel like you're the only Millennial with financial problems, know you're not alone. In fact, 42 percent of Millennials say that debt is their "biggest financial concern". Additionally, half of college grads still rely on their family for financial support.

Not exactly a pretty set of numbers, huh?

Take a deep breath, and take a closer, more honest look at your finances. Let's start with your credit report.

What's a Credit Report?
 A credit report is a snapshot of your debt at a certain point in time. It states how much debt you have, how often you pay this debt on time, the names of the creditors collecting your debt, the amount of debt past due, etc. (See sample credit report here.) This report is compiled by the Big 3 credit bureaus, namely Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

To get a complete picture of your debt, it's best to get a credit report from all three. Each gathers credit information from different sources so they're bound to produce conflicting reports. You'd probably want to take the most conservative view on your report, because it's the basis for the number that'll make or break your credit standing: your credit score.

What's a Credit Score?
If a creditor wants to check whether you're "credit-worthy" or not, the first thing they'll look at is your credit score. This score is calculated from the following information on your credit report:

  • History of payments 
  • Type of credit 
  • Total money owed 
  • New credit 
  • Credit history length 

How Can I Improve My Credit Score? 
There's no magical trick that'll wipe out your debt overnight, but you can try these tips on for size:

  • Pay off your short-term debts first. These may seem small, but those nasty little buggers known as "interest" can pile up over time and do a number (no pun intended) on your bank account. If you can eliminate credit card debt -- or any short-term debts -- as soon as possible, you'll find it much easier to take on the long-term ones. 
  • Make an expense report. Take all your receipts, invoices and the like from previous months, and make a report. Tools like excel sheets or Google Docs help to organize your financial information. 
  • Create a budget. From your expense report, decide what you can cut or eliminate. To help you figure out an upper limit for your expenses, deduct your target monthly savings from your monthly income. If the resulting number is too low for you, you have two choices: lower your target monthly savings, or cut down your average monthly expenses. 
  • Lower monthly expenses. Managing debt when household expenses are through the roof can seem like an impossible task. Take a close look at your monthly bills and see what you can cut. Lose the cable and switch to Netflix. Check out what type of discounts you can apply to your car insurance. Many providers offer deep discounts for being a good driver or keeping your miles low. By keeping your monthly expenses as low as possible, you can apply those savings toward bringing down your debt. 
 
Keep at It 
Don't be discouraged if you're not seeing immediate, significant results to your efforts to improve your credit standing. Having a patient mindset and paying your debts on time is the key to turning your credit around.

Photo by 401(K) 2012 via cc. 

By Savannah Hemmings Copyright 2015 brass Media, Inc.
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