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Money Matters Blog

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Growing to Serve You Better

If you are a credit union member, you already know the benefits that credit unions bring to their local communities. One of the greatest benefits is that the members of the credit union are also its owners.

By definition, credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives. In fact, years ago a common credit union tagline was, “not for profit, not for charity, but for service.” This still holds true today.

The more members a credit union has, the more value it can provide to its membership as a whole. As a credit union grows, it can offer better services at more competitive rates and with fewer or lower fees. That’s the power of community support.

With over $850 million in assets and over 65,000 members, Community Financial Credit Union continues to grow. We are committed to serving our members and making their communities better places to live. Last year, Community Financial donated over 4,400 hours and $450,000 to our local communities, and all of this was possible because of our members! We are able to grow and give back thanks to them!

This is why we are excited to announce that we will be expanding and opening a branch in the Westland community! 

The new credit union branch is being constructed on part of the former Quo Vadis Theater site across from Westland Mall. When complete, it will be a one-story 3,772-square-foot building on a 1.5-acre parcel and will be Community Financial’s 12th branch location.

The branch will be located on the east side of Wayne Road, just north of Warren Road, and is expected to be one of several changes in Westland's Shop and Dine District.

“Community Financial is very excited to become part of the Westland community,” said Community Financial SVP/Chief Sales & Marketing Officer Randy Penner.

“We already have many members who live in Westland, and our new branch will allow many more members of the community a more convenient opportunity to enjoy the benefits of membership.”

Our Westland branch is anticipating a January 2018 opening. Stay tuned for details on the grand opening! We can’t wait to show off the new location and meet with new and current members. Excited about the new location? Let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tips to Control Your Holiday Spending

The holidays are upon us, so it’s a great time to get a handle on how much you plan on spending. Between gift giving, holiday treats, and parties it’s easy to lose track of how much you are actually spending. Here are some tips to keep your finances in control.

Set a Budget 
Start by creating a budget that works with your plan and your wallet. Write a list of all the people you want to buy for and set a dollar amount for each person. Don’t forget smaller items such as stocking stuffers. If you think you will overspend with credit cards alone, consider using cash to stay within your budget.

Be Selective 
Once you have purchased a gift for someone, cross them off your list. You don’t have to buy for everyone you know! If your shopping list includes more than five people outside of your immediate family, cut down on the number of people on your present list. You can bake some cookies or make a small craft to give to others not on your original list.

Factor in Extras 
Beware of hidden holiday costs. Gift wrap and tags, holiday cards, wrapping supplies, taxes, and shipping costs all add to the price of your gifts.

Don’t Forget the Coupons 
Sales aren't the only way to get great deals on the gifts you want for your friends or family. Before you shop online, perform a quick web search for coupon codes for your favorite online stores. Before you shop in local stores, comb through the coupons you received in your mailbox before hitting the mall. While you search through the flyers, make sure to comparison shop for the item you're interested in.

Plan Ahead for Next Year 
Once this holiday season winds down, plan ahead for next year! Putting money aside each month will result in you having everything you need in time for next year’s festivities. A great way to do this is with a Holiday Savings Account from Community Financial. It’s only $5 to open, has no fees, and is a great way to establish your holiday spending goals for next year.

Want to start budgeting but unsure where to start? Why not try out our Money Matter$ eLearning Center? These free and self-paced modules cover key financial concepts like budgeting, saving, investing, and raising your credit score. Using these resources and helpful tips can help reduce stress for this season and beyond. Happy Shopping!

Friday, November 17, 2017

School Spotlight: Winchester Elementary Students Practice Leadership Skills

Education Partnership Coordinator, Julie Blaylock,
supervises the Student-Run Credit Union at Winchester. 
Here she is posing with a student volunteer. 

Student-Run Credit Union Volunteers are Leaders!

Community Financial’s Student-Run Credit Union program added Winchester Elementary School in Northville as a school partnership in 2007. Winchester’s fourth grade student credit union volunteers have been leading and assisting their schoolmates with saving their money ever since!

Here are some pictures of our Student-Run Credit Union volunteers from Winchester:

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thankful Thursdays are Back! What are You Thankful for?

Did you know that November is “National Gratitude Month?” With Thanksgiving almost here, it’s the perfect time of year to practice being grateful and appreciative for what we have.

At Community Financial we are so grateful for our members and the communities we serve. To help spread our gratitude this November, we are bringing back our #ThankfulThursdays program. Every Thursday through November 30 we will make a donation to local food initiatives in Michigan. In total, we will donate $50,000 to help feed our communities! Here’s a list of the organizations we will be donating to this November:

November 2 

November 9

November 16

November 23

November 30 

Be sure to check out our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) every Thursday, for updates on the program and photos/videos from the selected organizations. #ThankfulThursdays is just one way we can show our appreciation. What are you doing this November to show gratitude?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

7 Ways to Save On Thanksgiving Costs This Month

Between your turkey, ingredients for the holiday meal, and décor to set the ambiance, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is not cheap. If you’re looking for ways to cut back without compromising on quality, read on for seven easy ways to save on Thanksgiving costs this year.

1.) Verify your guests’ attendance 
Get an accurate head count of your dinner guests. Verify that all who are invited are indeed planning on showing, and only then begin planning your menu.

2.) Find out what your guests like 
While doing your inviting, find out your guests’ individual tastes and diets. Be sure to ask about particular foods your guests like to eat and those they won’t touch. If something on your menu isn’t very popular with your guests, skip it – even if you think it’s “obligatory” for a Thanksgiving table.

3.) Make it a potluck 
Slash your spending and your stress in one step by answering an enthusiastic “yes!” to every guest who asks if they can bring something. Don’t just say “anything’s fine,” though, or you might have seven desserts. Instead, create a Google Sheet with your planned menu and let your guests input what they’d like to contribute to the meal.

4.) Serve on smaller plates 
Most people will load up their plates to capacity, regardless of the plate’s size. Curb the wasting at your table by using smaller dinnerware. They can always take seconds later.

5.) DIY décor 
You can set a beautiful holiday table without blowing your budget with a little imagination. Shop the local dollar store for discounted décor that still packs a punch, like colored vases, fake flower arrangements and other centerpieces. Look for easy, inexpensive DIY ideas online. Finally, get creative by using things around the house – or yard – as your décor.

6.) Shop the sales 
Supermarkets tend to run specials on Thanksgiving staples starting as early as Halloween. Plan your menu in advance so you can take advantage. You can also keep your menu flexible until you see the circulars and then base your dishes on the ingredients and produce that’s cheapest. Also, be sure to shop around for your turkey! Grocery stores tend to have the best deals on the birds, with some even running free turkey deals when you spend a specific amount on other groceries.

7.) Cook from scratch 
Most everything is less expensive – and tastes better – when it’s homemade. Start your cooking well enough in advance so you don’t find yourself relying on too many convenience foods.

You don’t need to spend a fortune in order to create the perfect Thanksgiving dinner. All it takes is a little planning!

Your Turn: What are your best Thanksgiving dinner hacks? Share them with us in the comments!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Steps to Take When Getting a Car Loan

Ready for a new car but not sure what steps you need to take? Getting a loan can seem daunting if you’ve never done it before, which is why Community Financial aims to make auto loans easy. Here are four steps you can take when applying for an auto loan.

1. Check Your Credit 
Before shopping around for loans be sure to check your credit report. The better your credit, the cheaper it is to borrow money. With a higher credit score, you may be entitled to lower loan interest rates, and you may also qualify for lower auto insurance premiums. If you have a lower credit score and would like to give it a bit of a boost before car shopping, pay off any credit card balances or smaller loans. Take some time to improve your credit score before you apply for loans.

2. Determine How Much You Can Afford 
Know what you can afford before visiting the dealership. If you don’t already have a budget, start with your monthly income after taxes and subtract your monthly expenses and how much you plan to put in savings each month. You’ll also want to plan ahead for new car costs, such as vehicle registration and auto insurance, and regular car maintenance, such as oil changes and basic repairs. Once you understand where you are financially, you can decide on a reasonable monthly car payment. For many, a good rule of thumb is to not spend more than 10% of your take-home income on a vehicle.

3. Get Preapproved 
Before you visit the dealership you might want to consider getting preapproved first. Research potential loans and then compare the terms, lengths of time, and interest rates to find the best deal. When you’re preapproved, the lender decides if you’re eligible and how much you’re eligible for. They’ll also tell you what interest rate you qualify for, so you’ll know what you have to work with before you even walk into a dealership. But keep in mind that preapproved loans aren’t the same as final auto loans. Depending on the car you buy, your final loan could be less than what you were preapproved for.

A great place to shop for a car loan is at your local credit union. For instance, Community Financial auto loans offer: competitive rates as low as 1.74% APR*, no application fees, and flexible terms.

4. Go Shopping for Your New Car! 
Now you’re ready to look for a new ride. Put in a little time for research, and find cars that are known to be reliable and fit into your budget. You’ll also want to consider size, color, gas mileage, and extra features. Use the Community Financial Auto Resource Center to start the shopping process. You’ll be able to research dealer inventory and car options, learn the market value of your trade-in vehicle, and calculate a monthly payment you can afford.

By following these steps, you’ll be ready to make the best financial decision when getting a car loan. Still have questions about acquiring an auto loan? Visit a branch or call us at (877) 937-2328 to learn more.

*Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of 1.74% is as of October 25, 2017 and is only available on 2017 or newer models. The stated 1.74% APR includes a 0.25% discount for automatic payments from your Community Financial checking account. Rates vary and are dependent on individual credit history and other factors including LTV and term. Visit Community Financial’s Auto Loans webpage for more details or see a Community Financial team member.