Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How to Get a Summer Job: A Guide for Students of All Ages

Summer is almost here. That means it’s time to start planning trips, camps and summer jobs.

Though most school years won’t end for a few more months, it’s wise to start thinking about summer work now. The time frame for hiring can take up to a full month, so waiting until school is out can really shorten your working time. Try these four tips to jumpstart your job search.

1.) Ask friends and family 
Disrupt the lengthy hiring process of most big employers by going after small business. Where better to get your foot in the door than with someone you already know? Ask friends and family if they need help with their businesses.

Parents can also help in the search. They might ask about summer or seasonal positions at their own workplaces. But, even if your friends and family can’t connect you directly to employment, let them know you’re looking. If you’ve got a friend of the family you’re close to, ask if they’ll serve as a reference, because a good reference can really boost a short resume!

2.) Think seasonal 
If you only want to work during your vacation, look for a seasonal job. Fortunately, such jobs are common in the summertime. If you live near a major tourist attraction, or a traveling summer festival, they’ll likely be bringing in extra hands during these months, as will nearby restaurants and shopping centers.

Other businesses, like construction firms and lawn-care services, do booming trade during the summer and will also need extra hires. City park districts step up their programming to serve kids who are also out of school and may also be looking for extra workers.

3.) Hit the pavement 
It’s convenient to do your entire job searching from the computer, but it doesn’t do much to showcase you to potential employers. Remember that most employers are looking for someone who will show up regularly and be presentable. Putting on your dress clothes and hitting the streets with a resume shows responsibility and drive. That’s something no online resume can convey.

4.) Make a plan for the paychecks 
Getting that first paycheck can be an exhilarating experience – and a very short-lived one. It’s too easy for that hard-earned money to disappear. Making a plan can keep you on track. Decide how much you’ll save and for what purpose. How much will you save for new clothes in the fall? What will help cover college expenses? Don’t forget to leave yourself a little fun money, too.

Once you’ve made the plan, Community Financial can help you stick to it. Youth savings accounts are a perfect complement to having a summer job. They offer competitive dividend rates combined with other features that make them ideal for those summer checks. Plus, they’re only $5 to open!

If you haven't started looking for a job yet this summer, keep in mind that your job search is about more than earning some extra cash – it could give you the competitive edge you need to get more and better jobs in the future. Happy hunting!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

It Costs How Much to Get Married?

According to a new report by wedding magazine, The Knot, the average American wedding cost has eclipsed $35,000. That’s more than half of the yearly median income! Most of that spending isn’t on lavish luxuries for bride and groom – it comes from the guest list. Couples are inviting more people and doing more for them. If you’re tying the knot this year, read on for five ways to save on the cost of your big day!

1.) Schedule smart 
Saturday is the most common date for weddings, since everyone has the day off and most churches aren’t available on Sundays. Consequently, venues are often more expensive on Saturdays.

Instead, pick another date that offers those benefits. Your special day can be the day before a holiday, or on the Sunday of a long weekend, like Labor Day. Your guests will still have time to enjoy themselves, and you’ll save as much as 15% on the cost of your venue.

2.) Untether yourself 
When picking a venue, look for a place that allows outside vendors to handle food, music, and photography. Places that host weddings often may have existing relationships with businesses who can charge more because they’re not competing with anyone else.

If you can get this kind of flexibility, shop around for better prices on catering, music and flowers. You’ll also be able to get exactly what you want from these services, such as a signature cocktail instead of a full bar.

3.) Keep the “W” word to yourself 
Every vendor has a “special” wedding price. Often, this means they charge more for any wedding-related service. You can save as much as 30% by keeping the occasion to yourself. For example, when shopping for a dress, buying a formal gown that’s not labeled as a “wedding dress” can translate to savings. Getting a custom-decorated sheet cake can save a few hundred dollars, too.

4.) Put your guests to work 
The biggest cost in most wedding-related items is the cost of labor. When you pay for flower arrangements, you’re paying about 10% for the flowers and 90% for the florist’s time. Instead of hiring professionals, consider putting your guests to work.

Many wedding guests would love to contribute to your special day. They’ll be happy to participate in making your wedding beautiful, and you’ll be happy to save a few bucks!

5.) Spread out the cost with a savings account 
A tremendous challenge for newlyweds is coming up with all that money, because all the wedding bills come due at the same time. For many couples, that means using consumer debt to finance the whole cost of their wedding. The ensuing interest and financing charges can make your wedding even more unaffordable.

Instead, consider opening up a separate savings account. Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into an interest-bearing savings account. When the wedding bills come in, you’ll have money set aside to defray the costs and you’ll be able to borrow less.

Your Turn: What are your best cost-saving wedding hacks? Share your wisdom in the comments!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Keeping Friends and Finances: How to Deal with Financially Challenging Friendships

Friends are the family we choose for ourselves. But some friends can be a serious drain on your savings. If you recognize these kinds of people in your life, it’s hard to know what to do. Here are several examples of financially dangerous friends and how to handle them.

1.) The Party Animal It’s great to blow off steam with friends at a happy hour every once in a while, but the key word here is “occasional.” Party animal friends want an “epic” night, every night, asking you to join them for dinner, drinks, movies, concerts, and other expensive outings. These happenings add up quickly; a nightly $20 bar bill can cost more than $5,000 in a year! Without being rude, what can you do?

First, try suggesting lower-cost alternatives. Instead of drinking at a bar, you and your friends could go running or play tennis at the gym. These options are cheaper – and of course, healthier! If you do go out for drinks, look for “BYOB” events that will let you have fun without breaking the bank. You can also volunteer to be the designated driver, keeping your friends safe while saving money.

Second, set firm limits. When going out with a “party animal” friend, develop an exit strategy in advance: after one drink, call it an early night.

2.) The Sales Friend This friend invites you over for a fun get-together, and before you know it, some stranger is selling you expensive Tupperware. There’s no official pressure to buy, but you want to be supportive of your friend’s new business.

Worse yet, some people get suckered into selling low-quality financial products like high-commission life insurance. They expect you to trust their financial wisdom because you’re friends. If you do, you could hurt your current finances and put your retirement at risk.

The best thing to do in these instances is just say “no.” Of course, “no” doesn’t have to be direct. You can be too busy to go to a product party, or too broke to buy anything once you’re there. Be proactive about financial services so you can say you’ve got those needs managed.

3.) The Borrower There’s nothing that jeopardizes a friendship faster than lending to a friend. Just say “no” to friends who ask you for a loan.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get paid back, and the debt will create an uncomfortable tension in your relationship. You might need the money suddenly, and not have access to it, forcing you to become the needy friend to someone else!

That doesn’t mean you have to leave them high and dry. You can tell them about personal loans from established lenders or credit unions. This way, you help get them out of a bind without harming your friendship.

Your Turn: Do you have any bad financial friends in your life? How do you deal with them? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lessons for Kids During Financial Literacy Month

April is Financial Literacy Month, and a great time to teach children about finances. Whether you’re a parent looking to teach your children about money management or a professional looking for a few tips, here are a few lessons you can teach kids to encourage them to be financially responsible adults:

1. How Money Works 
Now that most consumers use credit or debit cards for a majority of their purchases, children may not realize they are actually spending money. For this reason, encourage young children to handle cash to pay for items. Take time to explain to them that products and services have different prices. They also need to understand that money can be spent only once, and that after buying something, a person needs to earn more money in order to buy something else. Play “grocery store” and take turns being the cashier and the customer.

2. Saving for a Goal 
Teach your children about the importance of saving and putting some money aside a bit at a time until they have enough to buy what they want. Kids can learn to keep money in a safe place and practice their math skills by keeping track of the amount saved for future spending. Consider opening a savings account just for them to practice this habit, and take them to withdraw the money and purchase the item they have been saving for. Community Financial also offers a Youth Club for members 12 and under, where children earn special rewards when they make deposits.

3. The Importance of Self-Control and Making Smart Financial Decisions 
 Help your children learn the difference between needs and wants. Explain that although everyone really wants things like toys and electronics, you have to pay for needs – things like food, shelter and heat – before you can buy items that are wants. Help them develop a plan to save and spend their own money that takes into account their wants and needs. Also, the next time you need to make a big purchase, talk it through with your child. Show them how taking the time to ask questions and learn about different choices helps you reach smart financial decisions.

How will credit unions celebrate Financial Literacy Month this year? During the month of April the Credit Union National Association will celebrate Youth Month. This year’s theme is “Give a Hoot about Savings.” To celebrate, we invite our young members to come into the branches, grab a coloring sheet, and enter a raffle. This year, Student and Youth Club members can enter to win a gift card to the Detroit Zoo (south branches) or to Avalanche Bay (north branches).

Remember it’s never too early or too late to learn about managing your personal finances! Find out more about our youth services and Student-Run Credit Union program at cfcu.org/youth.

From April 22-29 Community Financial will celebrate Money Smart Week. Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign to promote financial education across all age groups. Launched in 2002 by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the program is now active in more than 45 states. Find local events by visiting moneysmartweek.org.

During Money Smart Week, student and youth club members will get double punches/prizes. So be sure to stop by any of our branches and make a deposit for 2 times the fun! Happy Financial Literacy Month!

Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
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Federally insured by NCUA.