Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Pros and Cons of Buying New Vs. Used Cars

When you’re ready to buy some new wheels, should you spring for a new vehicle or buy a pre-owned one? Choosing between new and used cars can be a complicated decision. To make your job a little easier, we’ve outlined the pros and cons of each purchase type below.

Pros of New Cars 

  • Status symbol. The allure of owning a new vehicle is obviously its attractiveness. 
  • Fewer repairs. You can assume you won’t be dealing with major repairs or maintenance issues for a while. 
  • Easier shopping. There’s no need to drag your prospective new car to the mechanic to check it out. 
  • More financing options. You’ll be offered attractive incentives, like cash rebates from the carmaker and better interest rates from the lender. 
  • Improved technology. Recent models have incredible technology, such as programmable settings, autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. 
  • Automaker’s guarantee. New cars come with warranty coverage for their first three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. 

Cons of New Cars 

  • Price. Of course a new car will cost more. But, what makes it more painful is the fact that you can get a comparable vehicle for much less. 
  • Depreciation. New cars go down in value as soon as they leave the lot, often by 20%. At the end of the first year of ownership, your new car can drop another 10%. 
  • Higher premiums. Insurance companies charge more for newer vehicles. 

Pros of Used Cars 

  • Price tag. It’s not unusual to find a used car in decent condition with a price tag that’s 30% lower than a similar brand-new model. 
  • Less depreciation. With the previous owner absorbing the initial depreciation on the car, your vehicle will only experience a minimal drop in price. 
  • Lower insurance. With your car weighing in at a lower value, your monthly insurance premiums will be lower. 
  • Lower interest. If you finance a used car, you’ll likely have a higher interest rate. However, since the loan amount is lower, you’ll save in total interest payments over the life of the loan. 
  • Predictability. When buying a model that’s been around for a few years, you’ll have a wealth of research available on your car and can know what to expect. 

Cons of Used Cars 

  • Complicated purchase. With a used vehicle, you’ll want to get a vehicle history report and bring it to a mechanic for an inspection. 
  • Fewer choices. When buying pre-owned, you don’t get to be picky about things like colors and features. 
  • Risk. Even if you do your homework well, you run the risk of walking out with a lemon when you buy a pre-owned car. 
Whether you choose to go with a new or previously-owned vehicle, don’t forget to check with Community Financial for your auto loan. Learn more and check today’s rates at cfcu.org/auto.

Your Turn: Did you buy your car new or pre-owned? Are you happy with your decision? Let us know in the comments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Foods that Improve Focus: College Edition

As a college student with dozens of courses to attend, papers to write and tests to cram for, your brain needs to be in full gear at all times. What happens, though, when you’re only 20 minutes into an intense study session and your brain is already fogging up? How can you boost your brain power when you need it most?

Of course, getting enough shut-eye and exercising regularly will help keep those gray cells in top form, but when you need an emergency brain boost, try one of these snacks. It’s all of the alertness of coffee without the energy crash three hours later. And best of all, you’ll get that studying done in no time!

1. Oatmeal obsession 
In a test conducted by Tufts University, children who had eaten sweetened oatmeal for breakfast performed 20% better at academic tasks, in comparison with children whose breakfast had been sweetened cereals! The next time your brain needs a lift, go for the oatmeal and watch those neurons wow you!

2. Eat more chocolate 
According to research done at Cornell University, chocolate can enhance your brain power and improve your overall brain health. The flavonoids found in chocolate increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain, allowing you to think more clearly and to focus on your current task. Next time your brain’s feeling sluggish during a study session, take a Hershey bar break!

3. Banana break 
How’s about a banana? This humble fruit is full of vitamin B6, which aids in the production of serotonin and dopamine, both of which support concentration. Now, back to that calculus!

4. Awesome avocado 
Lost your focus? Wandering mind? Spread some avocado on crackers, or have some tortilla chips dipped in guacamole. Avocado is more than just a versatile, delicious fruit. The healthful fats in avocados enhance communication between brain cells, allowing you to focus and function better. Just what you need for a six-hour cramming session!

5. Incredible apples 
Though the claim that apples have more caffeine than coffee is nothing but a widespread myth, the sugar boost you get from an apple will keep you going when you’re on empty. Because you’re eating it as part of a fruit and not as processed sugar, the sugar will digest slowly without the inevitable crash of unnatural sugar. Crunch away!

Your Turn: What’s your favorite study-time snack? Does it help you concentrate? Let us know!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Back to School for Our Student-Run Credit Union Team!

Education Partnership Coodinator, Amy Pashukewich, reads
to 1st graders at Farrand Elementary.
Back-to-school time means another busy year for our Education Partnership team! Each year, through our Student-Run Credit Union Program, we partner with Michigan school districts to help expose thousands of students to money management skills and financial wellness. Students run, or participate in school branches as members, credit union tellers, branch managers, marketing representatives, computer operators and accountants.

New Partnerships 
We are excited to announce our new partnerships with Grand River Academy in Livonia and Edison Elementary in Westland. Through our program, students at these schools will be able to experience financial education presentations from our team, as well as the opportunity to make a deposit into their credit union savings account at the school. With the addition of these two schools, we now have 52 school partnerships in Michigan!

Senior Education Partnership Coodinator, Jeremy Cybulski
conducts an interview with a student at Webster Elementary.
Team Member Involvement 
Community Financial team members deliver
school supplies to Wayne-Westland Community Schools.
Throughout the school year, team members at Community Financial help conduct student interviews. Even students that don’t want to participate in the Student-Run Credit Union get the opportunity to practice their interviewing skills with our team! This gives students a valuable real-world experience of dressing up for an interview, shaking hands with the interviewer, making eye contact, and answering job and skills-related questions.

To celebrate our new partnership with Wayne-Westland Schools, Community Financial team members participated in a school supply drive. Donations were collected and dropped off to the district’s Family Resource Center for students in need.

National Recognition 
Community Financial was also recently recognized at the National Youth Involvement Board (NYIB) annual conference for its financial education efforts.

For Presentations Given ($500-$999 million asset category) 
3rd Place – Erin Ilg (386 presentations)
4th Place – Kristen La Forest (195 presentations)

For Students Reached ($500-$999 million asset category) 
2nd Place – Erin Ilg (5,722 students)
3rd Place – Suzanne Sundberg (5,193 students)
5th Place – Jeremy Cybulski (4,090 students)

We’re proud to be leading the way regionally, and nationally in financial education! We wish all students their best in the 2018-2019 school year and we look forward to working with them during the year. You can learn more about our Student-Run Credit Union Program by visiting cfcu.org/SCU.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Community Financial Named "Best and Brightest" for 13th Year

We are thrilled to announce that for the 13th consecutive year, Community Financial Credit Union has been selected as one of “Metro Detroit’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For™!” This award recognizes companies for their excellence in human resources and practices which create exceptional work environments.

This recognition is awarded based on questionnaires completed by the employees of each nominated company. Companies give insight into their workplace environment by providing details on things like: work place communication, work-life balance, employee education, diversity, employee recognition, and retention. Employees then fill out an extensive survey, and winners are selected based on independent research on key measures in those various categories.

So what makes CFCU stand out among our peers? We strive to create a culture of teamwork and fun! Here are a few of the perks our team members receive:

  • Massage days 
  • Volunteer days off with pay 
  • Longevity program with rewards 
  • Community involvement opportunities 
  • Employee referral reward program 
  • College scholarships for team members and their children 
  • Tuition reimbursement 
  • Generous vacation time and 401k match 
  • Paid day off during birthday month 
  • Car detailing service days 
  • Fun activities/competitions throughout the year 

“Community Financial is a wonderful place to work,” said Natalie McLaughlin, Community Relations Manager.

Community Financial managers volunteer at
Maybury Farm in Northville.
“The credit union industry’s mission of ‘People Helping People’ is expressed in everything we do. From counseling members, to donating volunteer time and funds to community organizations, Community Financial strives every day to make a positive difference and that is reflected in our work environment.”

The credit union also conducts ongoing training and leadership development programs to maintain a talented and dedicated team. Team members and their families are provided with the resources they need to protect and enhance their financial security and to balance the priorities of work and personal life.

At Community Financial we recognize our employees as our greatest assets, and we are proud that they have chosen us once again as the “Best and Brightest.” To view current career opportunities please visit cfcu.org/career.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

How to Use Digital Wallets

Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and other mobile wallets are revolutionizing the checkout experience by blending two developments in payment infrastructure to save you time: near-field communication (NFC) and token encryption.

Using a Digital Wallet 
Approximately one-third of all payment terminals nationwide have been updated to accept Apple Pay. It works on phones equipped with the necessary NFC equipment. If you have an iPhone as recent as an iPhone 6 or newer, you can use the pre-installed Passport app. There are simple, on-screen instructions for adding a debit or credit card.

Samsung Pay is structured similarly and will work on select Samsung Android devices. However, Samsung has incorporated magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology, too. Hold a phone against a payment terminal and it emits a signal that simulates the magnetic strip on a debit or credit card. In terms of convenience, this means you can use Samsung Pay on almost any payment terminal. The only situation where Samsung Pay won’t work is when you need to insert your card into a slot.

Setting Up Your Community Financial MasterCard® in Your Phone 
Did you know you can set up your Community Financial debit and credit cards in your phone’s digital wallet? Visit cfcu.org/digitalwallet or Watch our “How To” Video to learn more!


Safety & Security 
Mobile wallets transfer money from customer to vendor via tokenization – the use of a non-secure piece of data to stand in place of a secure one. When you make a payment with one of these services, the app creates a token – a random series of numbers – corresponding to your account, along with a one-time security key. It transmits that data to the payment terminal, which sends that token to the “token vault,” a secure database linking these tokens to actual accounts.

If the security key is correct, the token vault transmits a charge directly to the linked cards and returns a verification of funds to the payment terminal. Since the token vault is hosted at the payment processor, the point-of-sale terminal never sees your card information. That’s fewer points of vulnerability for your data. This also means that Apple and Samsung have no idea what purchases you’re making. For fans of internet privacy, this is heartening news.

There are other layers of security involved in these services, too. To use Apple Pay, you’ll need to use TouchID, FaceID or input your PIN. For Samsung Pay, you’ll have to authenticate your fingerprint, input a PIN, or confirm an iris scan.

Whether you’re an Apple fan or an Android supporter, mobile wallets are an efficient, secure way to pay. Download the app, link your Community Financial MasterCard, and start leaving your wallet at home! Learn more at cfcu.org/digitalwallet.

Your Turn: Have you tried using a digital wallet instead of a regular credit card? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Back-To-School Shopping Hacks

Save big this season with our handy list of back-to-school shopping hacks!

1.) Plan to shop 5 times 
To take full advantage of sales and clearance events throughout the summer, plan on making 5 shopping trips this season so you can get the best prices when they are offered.

2.) Stock up 
While prices are low, buy enough school supplies to last through the first half of the year or more. You’ll save a ton and not have the hassle of buying more later.

3.) Take advantage of loss leaders 
Every week this season, retailers sell one product at a super-low price. This is their loss leader: an item priced so cheaply that retailers actually lose money on sales. Make sure you catch those deals!

4.) Shop the dollar store 
Before you hit the regular stores, shop for real bargains at dollar stores like Dollar Tree and Family Dollar.

5.) Buy designer backpacks online 
Check out sites like 6PM and eBags for fantastic deals on designer backpacks.

6.) Use manufacturer coupons 
Check out circulars, like RedPlum, and coupon sites, like Retailmenot.com, for manufacturer coupons from supply companies.

7.) Decode price tags 
Here’s how these popular stores mark their lowest prices:
The Gap: Ending in $.97
Target: Ending in an 8
Old Navy: Ending in $.47
TJMaxx: Yellow price tag

8.) Shop through Ebates 
Do all your online shopping through cash-back sites, like Ebates, and get 2-4% of every purchase back.

9.) Coordinate with other parents 
If you’re in Walmart when they have bargain-priced pencils, offer to buy a few boxes for your friend’s kids. And, when your friend finds the super-hot deal on crayons, he’ll pick up a few boxes for your kids.

10.) Check out gift-card sites 
Save big by buying discounted gift cards to stores like Michael’s and JCPenney on sites like GiftCardGranny and Raise.

11.) Use the Amazon App 
Have your phone handy when shopping so you can comparison-shop when buying your supplies. If an item is cheaper on Amazon, why buy it at a store?

12.) Sign up for promotional mail 
  • H&M: Save 20% on one item when you text your email address to 707-03 
  • Kohl’s: Save 15% off your entire order by texting SAVE15 to 564-57 
  • Old Navy: Sign up for a weekly text alert by texting 6046 to 653-689 and get a $5 coupon; and also sign up for promo emails on OldNavy.com to get a 30%-off coupon 
  • Crazy8: Sign up for emails and receive 18% off your next order plus free shipping 
  • The Children’s Place: Input your email address in the pop-up box on TheChildrensPlace.com and get a $10 coupon. 
13.) Take advantage of price-matching 
Lots of stores, like Office Depot, Staples and Target, offer to match any competitor’s price.

14.) Shop early in the week 
Weekly sales go live on Sundays and the best deals get grabbed first. Shop Sundays and Mondays, and never miss out on a great deal again.

Your Turn: What’s your secret back-to-school shopping hack? Share it with us in the comments!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Destroy Personal Documents at Community Financial’s Shred Day!

Your valuable personal information is often buried throughout your paperwork and mail, leaving you and your finances vulnerable. One search through your mailbox or trash could garner enough evidence for a thief to take control of your identity — and your finances.

Thieves can use credit cards, financial statements, or utility bills to obtain and exploit your personal information. That’s why it’s important to take actions to prevent theft of this kind from happening in the first place. Your first line of defense is to destroy documents containing your personal information before anyone can access it. Private documents and credit/debit cards, which contain sensitive information, should be destroyed as soon as you no longer need them.

Join Us for Shred Day!

If you are looking for a way to securely shred and destroy your old documents, bring them to our Shred Day events this September!

We will have trucks on site to securely shred documents at 3 of our branch locations:

Saturday, September 8th- South District

2:00– 4:30 p.m. 
Canton Branch - 6355 N. Canton Center Road 
Westland Branch - 7420 N. Wayne Road 

Saturday, September 15th- North District

2:00 – 4:30 p.m. 
Gaylord Branch- 1360 W. Main Street 

Shredding is an excellent way to destroy your documents to ensure the safety of your sensitive information and finances. As a general rule, it’s better to have as few physical documents on file as possible. Switching to online banking and opting-out of paper statements can also help keep your financial information more secure.

Hosting Shred Day is just one way we try to help our members and communities, and make their lives easier. If you have questions about our Shred Day event please call us at (877) 937-2328.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

What Can I Do About Robocalls?

Are you sick of grabbing your ringing phone only to find a robocaller on the other end? Those automatic calls are enough to make anyone go bonkers. Read on for the inside scoop on robocalls and what you can do about them.

How Do They Have My Number? 
Thanks to the internet, scammers and telemarketers can find almost anyone’s phone numbers. Robocallers also buy numbers from companies or websites that require visitors to submit basic information that includes phone numbers. Other times, robocallers simply dial thousands of numbers at random.

Who’s on the Other End of the Line? 
Robocalls might try to sell you a product or urge you into signing up for services. Other times, they’ll try to scam you by appearing to represent a government agency. Even if just a few people are taken in by the scam, the minimal cost of running the calls is more than worth it for the person behind the calls. Here’s how the robocalls take a stab at appearing authentic:
  • Spoofing. Using software, the robocaller tweaks the way their number shows up on caller ID. They can make it look like the IRS is on the phone, your electric service company is calling, or like a representative from Apple is trying to reach you.
  • Disguised identity. Robocallers may also choose to show up on your caller ID as “private number,” “unavailable,” or “unknown.” 
How to Block Robocalls 
  1. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers – If you don’t recognize the number on your caller ID, let it go to voicemail. Ignore all calls from recognized companies you have no reason to believe are calling you as well.
  2. Block unwanted numbers – If there’s a specific number that calls you persistently, use your phone to block it from reaching you again. Check with your phone service provider about possible technologies you can download to block anonymous calls or those from specific area codes. Consider downloading a robocall-blocking app, such as Nomorobo, RoboKiller, Hiya or TrueCaller for a stronger defense against unwanted calls.
  3. Require caller input – Consider setting up a call-blocking technology, such as the Sentry Active Call Blocker, to greet callers with a message requiring them to enter a number before the call can proceed. That’s something robots can’t yet do.
  4. Don’t share your number – Never share your phone number with a company unless you absolutely must.
  5. Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry – Visit donotcall.gov to add your number to the list of registered callers who don’t want to be bothered by telemarketers.
  6. File a complaint – If you’ve signed up for the Do Not Call Registry and, after a month, are still receiving robocalls from certain companies, file a complaint at ftc.gov
Take action against robocalls today and reclaim your peace!

Your Turn: What’s your best defense against robocalls? Share your favorite tip with us in the comments.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer of Sharing Donation Provides Skills to Teens with Special Needs

Students and counselors at the Living & Learning Center in
Northville are excited to put their donations to good use!
Community Financial’s 8th annual Summer of Sharing campaign is under way and thousands of dollars have already been donated to local charitable organizations throughout Michigan!

Running through August 31st, Community Financial will donate $60,000 to organizations that make your community better. Recipients are chosen based on nominations submitted at SummerofSharing.org, where we ask you to consider, “What GOOD could you do with $1,000?”

One of the 2018 recipients, the Living & Learning Enrichment Center in Northville, MI, is changing the lives of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other similar special needs. This 501(c)(3) non-profit organization has a mission to assist teens and adults in achieving their full potential, while overcoming the obstacles that come with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The Living & Learning Enrichment Center provides a safe space for developing new skills, whether social or career-based. The center pairs exciting social activities with job skills training, to create a well-rounded learning environment that gives teens new, game-changing capabilities.

Northville Branch Manager, Andrea Hacker, and
Manager/Community Relations, Natalie McLaughlin,
present a $1,000 check to staff and students.
“Having a child that has a special need can be extremely expensive,” said Founder and President of the Living & Learning Enrichment Center, Rachelle Vartanian.

“Programs that offer social skills are essential, yet they are not covered by health insurance. The generous donation that was made by Community Financial will be used to help more families access our programs. We want to be able to help families by offering scholarships to people who need financial assistance. The money Community Financial has donated to Living & Learning will allow us to provide this.”

To learn more about the Living & Learning Enrichment Center, the good that they are doing in the community, and the services they offer please visit livingandlearningcenter.org.

You are invited to visit SummerOfSharing.org to learn more about how you can share your story and nominate a charity, community group, or school program that deserves a $1,000 donation. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to make a difference in your community!

Friday, July 20, 2018

School Spotlight: P-CEP Seniors Get Financially Ready for Real World

The Senior Checklist
Kristen La Forest, our high school Education Partnership Coordinator, created a “Senior Checklist” for 12th grade Advanced Marketing students this past school year at the Plymouth-Canton Educational Park.  She interacted with these students as they ran our credit unions at P-CEP.  This checklist ensured students were financially ready for the world of credit cards, credit scores, savings and checking accounts.

Mrs. La Forest asked questions like “What are the five factors that determine a person’s credit score?” and “What is the difference between using the credit option on a debit card vs. using a ‘real’ credit card?”  Here are some pictures of Mrs. La Forest and two of her students in May with their completed “Senior Checklist!”


Are You Financially Ready? 
This is an exciting time of year for graduated high school seniors.  Many are ready to begin a new chapter in their lives.  It is important that students entering colleges and universities have a basic understanding of credit scores, checking accounts, and credit cards.  During their college or early working years, young adults must learn to choose the right kind of credit card for their needs, to build and maintain a healthy credit score, and to track/balance their checking and savings accounts on their own.

Here are some of the questions from our “Senior Checklist” that students should be able to answer before entering college or the workforce.
  1. Is there a minimum balance that I have to maintain on my checking account to avoid a fee? What is the fee?
  2. Am I able to set up an alert through my mobile/online banking to let me know when I am getting close to this minimum balance?
  3. What is the difference between a debit card and a credit card?
  4. What are four things you should consider when choosing a credit card?
  5. What is a credit score?
  6. What are the five factors that determine a person’s credit score?
  7. How many days should you keep a check after making a mobile deposit?
  8. What are two fraud scams that target teens today?
  9. Do you know what electronic services are available to you?
  10. How do you find a fee-free ATM
For help answering the questions above, please visit our Money Matter$ eLearning Center or cfcu.org to learn more.

Your Turn:  How did you do? If you would like a copy of our “Senior Checklist,” please comment below. We will send you one (with the answers)!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making a Large Purchase

You’re convinced: You really want that Coach handbag. Or maybe you just know that gigantic entertainment center will transform your weekends. So you swipe your card and the dream item becomes yours. You’re thrilled!

That is, until a few weeks later when the credit card bill comes, and buyer’s remorse hits. You can’t help wondering: Was it really worth the price? Before you say “yes” to a large purchase, ask yourself these 7 questions:

1. Do I have cash to pay for this item? 
This question will help you determine if you can really afford the purchase. You need to have liquid funds that can cover the cost of your item. Putting it on credit means you’ll be hiking up the price once interest is tacked on, and you’ll be reminded of a possibly regrettable purchase for a long time to come.

2. Is this the best price? 
When making a large purchase, it’s important to comparison-shop by checking several online listings and some brick-and-mortar shops as well. Visit coupon sites like CouponCabin.com for automatic savings. Also find out the best season for buying this particular item and wait for a sale if it makes sense to do so. Finally, consider purchasing a previously owned item for less.

3. How many hours of work will you need to do in order to pay for this purchase? 
Calculate the total number of hours you’ll need to work to pay for this “must-have” item. Is it really worth the price?

4. How else can I spend this money? 
Think about the money you’re about to spend on this single item. What else can that money buy? A few weeks’ worth of groceries or a year’s worth of monthly dinners out? Take some time to think of other ways you can spend this money before making a final decision.

5. Have you splurged recently? 
If you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional pricey indulgence. But, when luxury purchases become a habit, it can spell disaster for your finances. If you picked up a designer handbag just last week, you may be best off waiting a bit before buying the one that’s caught your eye today.

6. How often will I use this item? 
Yes, it seems essential today, but looking ahead, how often do you think you’ll really use this item? If you can see yourself only using this purchase a few times a year, you may want to re-think your decision.

7. How much will this money be worth if I put it into savings? 
You have the funds for this purchase, but how much would that money earn if you saved it? Check out this investment calculator to get that magic number. The results might leave you pleasantly surprised.

Here at Community Financial, we have several long-term savings accounts that can help your money grow. Give us a call at (877) 937-2328 or stop by, and we’ll help you choose one that’s perfect for you!

Your Turn: What’s your number one question before making a large purchase? Share it with us in the comments!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

5 Ways to Budget for Your Wedding

Ready to tie the knot, but don’t know if you can afford a wedding? You don’t need to skimp on the wedding of your dreams or go deeply into debt to pay for it. By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what’s truly important, you can say “I Do” without stressing over wedding costs. Here’s how:

1.) Start saving now 
Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now! The average age of marriage is 27 for men, and 26 for women. If you start saving for your wedding when you’re 20, you’ll only need to put away $333 a month. But, if you start at age 26, you’ll need to put away $2,333 a month!

2.) Time it right 
Think off-season and mid-week, and you’ll save a bundle! First, consider a winter wedding. You’ll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married. Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices drop dramatically with just a one-day switch. You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.

3.) Skip the cake 
A slice of cake for $2.50, that doesn’t even taste good? Here are some other ideas:
  • Fake your cake. If you can’t stomach the idea of a cake-less wedding, ask your baker to fake it for you by creating a false cardboard bottom for your cake and only baking a genuine top layer or two. You’ll get the same look without the huge cost. 
  • Set up a dessert bar. You can serve hot waffles, brownies or chocolate chip cookies with ice cream, caramel sauce and a selection of other fun toppings. You’ll pamper your guests at a fraction of the cost! 
  • Serve a sheet cake instead. Your guests will be happy to savor a slice – even without all that fondant and frosting.
4.) Save on your gown 
Save big on your gown by looking for a pre-owned gown on OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. You can often find a beautiful gown for under $100!

5.) Vary your venue 
Save a ton by choosing a venue that has no outside contracts. This way, you can shop around for the cheapest caterer, photographer and DJ. If you really dare to be different, have your wedding in one of these budget-friendly venues:
  • College campus. You might even be able to snag a student discount! 
  • Vacation home. Rent a vacation home and let it serve as your wedding venue, lodging for out-of-town guests and a honeymoon destination for after the wedding. 
Your Turn: Already married? Share your best wedding hacks with us in the comments!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

How to Buy a Boat

Get ready to set sail this summer! Read on for the ultimate boat-buying guide.

Step 1: Choose your boat type 
Like automobiles, boats should be purchased with their intended uses in mind. Determine which water activities are most important to you. Also, research different boat types and ask your boat-owning friends to share their own impressions and tips. Also decide where you’ll keep your boat. If you’re choosing to self-store your boat, you’ll need to purchase a trailer-able boat.

Step 2: Decide if you want to buy a new or used boat 
Visit boating sites like Boats.com and Discoverboating.com to check out what kind of used boats are on the market. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Step 3: Start boat shopping! 
Start your browsing with online listings like Boats.com, YachtWorld.com and BoatTrader.com. You’ll be able to sift through hundreds of models and compare prices within minutes. Next, start making the rounds at local boat shows and dealers. Hop aboard as many boats as you can and ask lots of questions. Snap pictures and organize them by boat so you can look them over again when you get home.

Step 4: Narrow your choices 
Sit down and list your priorities. Include all boat categories you will consider and then narrow that by your must-have features, ones you’d like and ones you want to keep away from. Next, review the snapshots of the boats you’ve looked at, both in real life and online, and list those that fit all, or most, of your preferences. Now, let’s choose your boat!

Step 5: Inspect your boat 
Once you think you’ve found the boat of your dreams, conduct a walk around and a sea trial. Inspect the entire boat thoroughly, because you don’t want any unpleasant surprises once the deal is done. When you’ve finished your walk around, it’s time to take her offshore. Your sea trial will show you what the boat is like out on the water. After the sea trial, ask to have the boat hauled because it’s important for you to see the entire boat before you buy it.

Step 6: Find out what’s included 
Before you sign a contract, sit down with the seller to discuss exactly what’s included in the sale. Request a list of all equipment that comes with the boat so you can ensure you’ve got it all.

Step 7: Seal the deal 
You’re ready to make it happen! Assuming you’ll have the financial details worked out by now, all that’s left to do is sign the paperwork, and then the boat is yours. If you need help on financing, check out the latest rates at cfcu.org/RV.

Step 8: Purchase insurance and a trailer 
Before you set sail, make sure your boat is adequately insured against damage. If you’re self-storing, you’ll also need to buy a trailer. Finally! You’re ready to hit the water. Enjoy the ride!

Your Turn: Do you own a boat? Share your best boat-buying tips with us in the comments!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

6 Ways to Turn Your Dream Vacation Into a Reality

Everyone has their own version of a dream vacation. But, for most of us, it never becomes a reality. Read on for six ways to make that dream vacation come true.

1.) Start saving 
Give your getaway a jump start by planning for it all year long.
  • Set up a “Trip Jar.” Whenever you’ve got loose change, plunk it in a jar earmarked for your vacation. Use the money you’ve saved to fund one part of your vacation.
  • Brown-bag it. The average American buys lunch twice a week. By brown-bagging it just one more day a week, you can save hundreds of dollars a year for your vacation.
  • Open a Goal Setter Savings Account. Save up for your vacation by opening a Community Financial goal setter savings account. These accounts are only $5 to open and you earn higher dividends when you make automatic monthly deposits. 
2.) Time it right 
Choosing the perfect date for your vacation can save you thousands of dollars. Consider taking your trip just after peak season ends. You’ll still enjoy beautiful weather, but your airfare and lodging costs will see a significant drop. Experts also recommend booking your flight around 54 days before your departure date to get the best prices.

3.) Make the most of your dollar
When researching international vacation destinations, check out the local exchange rates ahead of time. Choose a place that will allow your dollar to go farther, and you’ll have more to spend with the same amount of cash!

4.) Let your loyalty pay off
Don’t book a flight, hotel stay or car rental without checking your credit card points first. You might have enough miles to pay for a large chunk of your trip. If you use a Community Financial Platinum Rewards MasterCard be sure to check your Choice Rewards account balance.

When booking hotel stays, do a quick search to determine if they offer a loyalty program for return customers. You might land yourself a good discount just for using the same hotel chain twice!

5.) Research, research, research
Don’t make any vacation decisions without first doing careful research. If you found a resort you love, check out their online presence to see if they offer airline discounts or credits. Check sites like Groupon for instant discounts on attractions and restaurants in the area.

6.) Live in the moment
Don’t forget to enjoy your vacation! If something doesn’t go according to plan, let it slide. Leave the everyday pressure at home and just relax. It’s also important to unplug. Stop snapping pictures and take the earbuds out. Let go of the need to capture every moment on camera and take the time to just be. You deserve to enjoy every bit of your vacation!

Your Turn: How do you save big on vacation without compromising on the fun factor or on your comfort? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Family-Friendly Summer Events in Your Community

Summer is here, which means Michigan will come alive with fun events to attend. From outdoor concerts and farmers markets, to movies in the park, there are tons of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Here’s your guide to some of the events Community Financial will be sponsoring this summer in your community!

SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN 
Plymouth 
Music in the Air – Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to Plymouth’s Kellogg Park and enjoy the free concerts on Friday nights, June 22nd – July 6th and July 20th - August 31st, at 7 pm!

Music in the Park Children’s Concerts –Enjoy free children’s concerts in Kellogg Park on Wednesdays at 12 pm, Jun 20th – June 27th and July 11th – August 29th

Summer Drive-in at USA Hockey Arena –Enjoy newly released movies with the whole family. Each ticket allows you to enjoy TWO movies for the price of one! The Summer Drive-In is open all summer from June 8th-September 2nd. See times and prices at summerdrivein.com. 

Wednesday Night Workouts- Break a sweat in Kellogg Park on Wednesday nights at 6:30 pm from May 30th-August 29th. Sessions are beginner friendly and designed for all ages!

Canton 
Tuesday’s are Terrific - Come out for some good food and great music in Heritage Park on Tuesdays, July 17th - August 14th at 11:30 am!

Thursday Night Concert Series – Partake in Canton’s 20 year tradition and enjoy the live bands with the whole family on Thursdays, June 28th and July 12th – Aug 16th at 7:30 pm!

Northville
Friday Night Concerts – Come enjoy a new live band every week in the Northville Town Square Friday nights, June 22nd – August 24th, from 7 pm - 9 pm!

Tunes on Tuesday – Have some free kid-friendly fun at the Tunes on Tuesday concert series on Tuesday mornings, June 19th– August 28th, at 10:30 am in Northville Town Square!

Novi 
Family Fun Fridays – Watch fun, kid-friendly movies in the park, on June 22nd at 6 pm and July 13th and August 17th at 7 pm!

Wonderful Wednesdays – Bring the kids out for some free tunes and enjoy beautiful Fuerst Park on June 20th – June 27th and July 11th – August 15th at 10:30 am.

Livonia 
Livonia Spree- Bring the family out for delicious food, great music, carnival games and rides on June 19-24th to celebrate the birthday of the city of Livonia. And don’t forget the fireworks on Sunday night!

Westland 
Blues, Brews & BBQ- Enjoy some blues music from some of Detroit favorites on August 3-4th. Choose from a collection of Michigan's own hand crafted beers and have a brew, or two. And don't forget about the barbecue!

NORTHERN MICHIGAN
Gaylord 
Alpenfest- Gaylord will be hosting its’ 54th Annual Alpenfest on July 10th – 14th, 2018. Expect five days of festivities including a parade, carnival, kids games and contests, pancake breakfast, live entertainment and the World’s Largest Coffee Break.

Lewiston 
Timberfest- Lewiston is hosting this fun filled weekend from August 3-4th that includes carnival games, a beer tent, kid’s inflatables, and more!

Concerts in Village Park- Albert Township Parks and Recreation is hosting a series of Movies and Concerts at Village Park this summer. Check with the Lewiston Chamber for more info.

Hillman 
Mill River Days at Brush Creek Mill – From June 30- July 7 Brush Creek Mill is hosting its Mill River Days, with free musical entertainment and an arts & crafts show.

We hope to see you this summer at one of these fun events. If you see us in our orange Summer of Sharing shirts passing out goodies to the crowd, be sure to say hello! For more information on the events Community Financial sponsors, check out our community calendar at cfcu.org/calendar.

Friday, June 15, 2018

School Spotlight: Local High Schools Learn About Fraud

High School Partnerships Lead Teens to Financial Success and Away From Fraud! 
Community Financial has exceptional partnerships with high schools in the Plymouth-Canton area. We are partners with P-CEP, Starkweather Academy, Canton Preparatory High School, and New School High. We have also conducted presentations at Northville High School and Clarenceville High School.

Education Partnership Coordinator, Kristen La Forest, runs our high school partnerships and prepares high school students for financial success. Mrs. La Forest creates and gives presentations to high school students on topics such as fraud, credit, credit scores, checking accounts, interviewing techniques, financial aid, etc. She is a wonderful resource for high school students just beginning to explore and navigate the financial world! Here are some pictures of Mrs. La Forest presenting the topic “Teens and Fraud” to students at Starkweather High School.

Education Partnership Coordinator, Kristen La Forest, instructs teens at Starkweather Academy
about the different types of fraud that specifically target their age group.

Teens learn important tips on how to avoid becoming a victim of fraud.
Hand-outs given to teens to reinforce the importance of keeping your information safe.

Teens and Fraud Prevention 
Teens are a common target group for fraud since it is easy for scam artists to take advantage of teens who are just learning to navigate the world on their own. Teens should be leery of “too good to be true” deals that offer lower cost items on name-brand electronics, as well as designer and luxury goods. Scam artists also target teens and adolescents with emails and pop-ups that ask them to verify their social security number and/or account information. These scams often look legit and professional, so it is easy to be tricked into giving out personal information.

Two other scams that teens fall victim to are scholarship scams and contests. Teens should be suspicious when being charged money for scholarship searches or contests asking for personal information or fees for submissions.

For more information on how to prevent fraud and identity theft, visit cfcu.org/identitytheft. You can also visit our Money Matter$ eLearning Center and complete the Money Basics module on “Identity Protection.”

Your Turn: What recent scams targeting teens have you seen or experienced?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The 20% Down Myth

If your goal is to own a home of your own, you are likely saving up until you have 20% of your dream home’s total value. All that’s great, but the fact is you don’t need to put down 20%.

The 20% myth is left over from the era after the housing crisis, when many lenders tightened their lending parameters for a while. In fact, since FHA loans were introduced in 1934, many mortgages have not required putting 20% down.

Let’s explore loan options that don’t require 20% down and take a deeper look at the pros and cons of making a smaller down payment.

These are your government-backed loan options: 

1.) FHA mortgage: This loan is aimed at helping first-time home buyers and requires as little as 3.5% down. If that number is still too high, the down payment can be sourced from a financial gift or via a Down Payment Assistance program.

2.) VA mortgage: VA mortgages are the most forgiving, but they are strictly for current and former military members. They require zero down, don’t require mortgage insurance and they allow for all closing costs to come from a seller concession or gift funds.

3.) USDA home loan: These loans, backed by the United States Department of Agriculture, also require zero down, but eligibility is location-based. Qualifying homes need not be situated on farmlands, but they must be in sparsely populated areas. USDA loans are available in all 50 states and are offered by most lenders.

For those looking for a more conventional loan, Community Financial might have the perfect program for you:

0% Down Program: This program is available to those with a Good credit score (720+). There are no income limits and the program is available for 15, 20, and 30-year Fixed Rate Terms and ARMs. This program is only available on owner-occupied properties and for loan amounts up to $424,100. Learn more about this program at cfcu.org/firsthome.

Why make a smaller down payment? You may want to reconsider waiting until you’ve saved that 20% down payment? In the time it takes you to save, home prices may rise significantly. Rates may go up as well.

Other benefits of a smaller down payment include: 
  • Conserve cash: You’ll have more money available to invest and save. 
  • Pay off debt: Many lenders recommend paying down credit card debt before purchasing a home. This will improve your credit score and help you land a better mortgage rate. 
  • Build an emergency fund: As a homeowner, having a well-stocked emergency fund is crucial. 
Cons of smaller down payments:
  • Mortgage insurance: PMI is an extra monthly expense. 
  • Potentially higher mortgage rates: If you’re taking out a conventional loan with a smaller down payment, you’ll have a higher mortgage rate. 
  • Less equity: A smaller down payment means having less equity in your home. 
Before house-hunting, be sure you can afford to own a home. Ideally, your total monthly housing costs should amount to less than 28% of your monthly gross income. Ready to buy your dream home? Contact one of Community Financial’s mortgage specialists at (877) 937-2328 ext. 8500.

Your Turn: Have you purchased a home with less than 20% down? Share your experience with us in the comments!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Beware of Social Media Scams

Over the last few years, social media scams have exploded, with fake Twitter and Facebook profiles increasing by 100% in just one year. That also means there are several types of social media scams, most which involve a phishing scheme component.

Here’s how it happens: Scammers try to “friend” you by creating a bogus profile or cloning the profile of someone you know. Then, they’ll get you to share personal information by asking you random questions. Meanwhile, you’re unknowingly giving away the security questions for your personal passwords. By the time you realize what’s happened, it’s too late.

Other social media scams involve fake offers and promotions. To get your hands on the goods, though, you’ll first need to share your personal information. In another scam, fraudsters reach out to you while impersonating a credit union or other financial institution. They’ll claim to have incredible rates on loans. And, if you apply for this “loan,” the scammers might empty your accounts or trick you into making upfront payments to qualify. Here’s how to spot, prevent, and react to social media scams:

HOW TO SPOT A SCAM

Watch for these red flags:
  • The posted offer sounds too good to be true. 
  • You’re asked to make an upfront payment for a loan application. 
  • You’re urged to act immediately or risk missing the offer. 
  • The scammer claims to represent a financial institution, but when you call to discuss the offer, no one knows what you’re talking about. 
  • You’re asked to share sensitive information in the initial stages of the application.
  • A social media “friend” keeps asking you random questions.

PREVENTING SOCIAL MEDIA SCAMS

Preventing social media scams isn’t too difficult. All it takes is some common sense and practical steps:
  • Think before you click. Ignore anything suspicious or intrusive. 
  • If a lender has contacted you, check their legitimacy with the BBB at bbb.org
  • If you need to take out a personal loan, contact us directly at 877-937-2328 or visit cfcu.org.
  • Never share personal information online with someone you don’t know. 
  • Look for a publicly listed phone number that corresponds with the name of any “company” that has contacted you. 
  • Never agree to pay for a product upfront without being certain of its legitimacy.
  • Check your social media privacy settings on a regular basis.
  • Never post anything that can be used to steal your identity.

STEPS TO TAKE IF YOU ARE A VICTIM OF A SCAM

If you’ve been victimized, here’s how to minimize the damage:
  • Shut your computer and use another device to change your passwords.
  • Put a fraud alert on your credit. 
  • Let Community Financial know. We’ll watch your accounts and refuse to honor sketchy charges.
  • Alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Tell your friends to be aware of any random requests that may come from you. 
Your Turn: What social media scams have you noticed lately? What steps have you taken to protect yourself?

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

It’s Time to Give Back with the Summer of Sharing!

Summer will be here soon, and with it comes sunny days, flip-flops, and the return of Community Financial Credit Union’s Summer of Sharing program! During our 8th annual Summer of Sharing campaign we want to know, “What GOOD could you do with $1,000?”

This summer, Community Financial will donate $1,000 a day to nonprofit, educational, and community organizations throughout Michigan from June 11, 2018 to August 31, 2018. In total, Community Financial will donate $60,000 to local organizations this summer!

This program is just one of the ways we give back to the communities we serve, but we can’t do it without your help! We need your input to let us know which groups are making the greatest impact in our communities.

Starting June 1st, you are invited to visit SummerOfSharing.org to submit an essay-style nomination explaining how your favorite nonprofit helps the community. These essays will stay live on the site for others to learn about how the nominated organizations are making a difference.

Our Summer of Sharing program has assisted schools, arts organizations, senior centers, youth programs, animal organizations and much more! Two of last year’s recipients included the e-Nable Novi Public Library Chapter and the Otsego County Child Welfare Alliance.

The e-NABLE community is an amazing group of individuals from all over the world who are using their 3D printers to create free 3D printed prosthetic hands and arms for those in need. The Novi Public Library, Novi Community School District and FRC 503, Frog Force have joined together to make an impact in people’s lives by helping those who can’t afford a prosthetic. Our Summer of Sharing donation helped provide funding for this exciting program.

We were also able to help the Otsego County Child Welfare Alliance, which is a small nonprofit that serves children and their families in Otsego County. This group provides every new mom with a safety sleep packet and basic supplies. They also provide families in need with necessary items like safety gates, first aid kits, and whatever else they need to keep their babies safe.

President/CEO Bill Lawton is excited to keep this tradition of sharing alive in 2018.

“We are inviting the community to tell us which organizations are doing great work and deserve additional financial support,” Lawton said. “It is part of our culture to give back to our communities, and we are proud to bring the Summer of Sharing back once again.”

Since 2011, Community Financial has donated over $428,600 through the Summer of Sharing program. Throughout the next three months, we will choose a winner each day on SummerOfSharing.org starting June 11th. So check back often to see this year's recipients and make sure you let us know “What GOOD you could do with $1,000!”

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

13 Incredible Grilling Hacks

Whether you use a modest charcoal grill or an upscale Weber, we’ve got your BBQ success covered! Here’s 13 genius grilling hacks that will take your barbecue to the next level.

1. Use a muffin tray for condiments 
Keep all of your barbecue trimmings in one convenient place: a muffin tray! The 12 sections are perfectly suited for housing your condiments.

2. Clean with an onion 
The next time you use your grill, clean it while it’s still hot. Slice an onion in half, and use it to scrub the drippings and other gunk off your grill. It should come off easily.

3. Layer your grate for veggies 
Place an old barbecue grate across your existing one before grilling vegetables. The grid should keep your veggies from slipping through, while giving you the flame-licked taste you savor.

4. Vegetable parcels 
If you like chunkier vegetables, wrap spiced sweet potato, potato or zucchini squares in foil and throw it on the grill. After 10 minutes, you’ll have a delicious, healthful side dish!

5. Use two skewers 
Double your skewers per kebab so individual pieces of meat or chicken don’t rotate on their own as you flip the kebab.

6. Add a smoker to an electric grill 
Wrap some wood chips in foil, poke holes in the parcel and toss it on top of the grill’s burner below your grate. Keep your grill on medium-low. Your parcel will lend your food a hint of sensational smokiness!

7. Check your propane level 
To check the propane level in your tank before you start, tilt it a bit and pour boiling water on its side – but not its top. Now feel your tank. Wherever there is propane inside, it will feel cool to the touch.

8. Smoke lemons 
For an easy burst of flavor for your grate, halve some lemons and grill them on low heat for a few minutes, peel-side down.

9. Spiral your hot dogs 
Skewer a hot dog and rotate it slowly as you cut it along its length for a spiraled look. It will cook more evenly, give you places for holding condiments, and look super cool!

10. Short on time? Nuke it! 
Cook your chicken in the microwave until it’s nearly ready. Then, throw it on the grill to give it a flaming finish!

11. Use a foil tent 
To help your cooked meat retain moisture and to distribute its juices evenly, let it rest under a loose foil tent for ten minutes before serving.

12. Try some grilled cheese – literally 
Throw a wheel of cheese directly on the grill and let it melt a bit. Scoop it off the flames before it completely liquefies and then serve up the most delicious, gooey spread!

13. Use all the heat! 
When you’ve finished cooking, pile your still-warm grill with any foods that need to stay warm, your buns, or some foil-wrapped s’mores for a delectable dessert!

Your Turn: Got your own grilling hack? Share it with us in the comments!

Friday, May 18, 2018

School Spotlight in the North: Students Take the $5 Bill Quiz

Student-Run Credit Unions in the North! 

Community Financial has school partnerships in five schools near our northern branches. Students in Gaylord Intermediate, Lewiston Elementary, Atlanta, Gaylord St. Mary’s, and Hillman Intermediate schools participate in our Student-Run Credit Union program. Our Education Partnership Coordinator, Angela Corbin, works with schools in these areas to help educate the youth in northern Michigan. Here are some pictures of Angela with her student volunteers at Lewiston Elementary School!

Education Partnership Coordinator, Angela Corbin,
posing with her Lewiston Elementary Spring Volunteers.
Lewiston Student-Run Credit Union
volunteers assisting student members.

$5 Bill Money Fun Facts 
Students involved in our Student-Run Credit Unions learn important money management and work-readiness skills, but they also have fun too! Angela recently “quizzed” her students on certain fun facts about the $5 bill during one of her school credit unions. Take the quiz below to see how YOU do!

The $5 Bill Quiz: 
1. Who is the president on the $5 bill?
2. What number was his presidency?
3. What is the life expectancy of the $5 bill?
4. What is the $5 bill made out of?
5. What percent is the $5 bill in circulation?
6. What words are micro-printed on the top of the Great Seal (get out your magnifying glasses!)?
7. How many states are written on the top of the Lincoln Memorial?
8. Two states are named differently, which are they?
9. What words are micro-printed on the large purple “5?”
10. What is the eagle holding on the front of the $5 bill?

Student volunteers working
on their “$5 Bill Quiz.”
Success!  Student volunteers holding
up their completed quizzes.  


Your Turn: How did you do? Check out the answers below and tell us your score!
1. Abraham Lincoln
2. 16
3. About 4 years
4. ¾ cotton, ¼ linen
5. 6%
6. E. Pluribus Unum
7. 26
8. “Hampshire and Carolina”
9. USA Five 10. Olive branch and arrows

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Ready, Set, Go… to College

It may seem like yesterday when you were sending your child off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him/her for college! Having your son or daughter attend college or trade school is a major milestone, but it can also bring on a lot of stress if you’re feeling unprepared! There are some things your student can do to help smooth the transition.

1. Medical Preparation 
Have your child schedule any necessary doctors’ appointments now. Check that all immunizations are current and ask the doctor to fill out college medical forms and to write prescriptions for ongoing medications. Make sure your son or daughter has easy access to their medical insurance information and that it’s in place before they leave. You’ll also want to discuss HIPAA authorization forms, in case your student is hospitalized due to an accident or health emergency while away. Medical personnel will not be able to consult with you without your student’s consent through this form.

2. Resolve Any High School Issues
Double check with the high school that the latest transcripts have been sent to the college. Request all high school records, including testing results.

3. Ease the Transition
Spend some time looking at the course catalog with your child, discussing classes of interest and guiding them through their course selection. Look at a campus map together to identify important locations they will need to visit throughout their college years.

4. Pack Up 
Have your future college student make a list of things they need to pack during the summer. Check off each item as you purchase and pack it. Labeling items may also help prevent loss.

5. Techie Stuff 
Make sure your student’s technology is up-to-date. Does she need a new computer or a used upgrade? It’s easier to take care of this while at home. Have your son or daughter login to their college’s online portal to get familiar with it and the information that is available.

6. Finances 
If your child does not have one yet, you may want to open an account that includes a debit card. Discuss how much money will be available to them. All Community Financial members ages 13 to 23 are also automatically enrolled in our Student Club which offers them:


7. Thinking Ahead 
Talk about how you will keep in touch with each other. Are you comfortable with email only? Do you want a phone call or video call once a week? Clarify this before the big day to avoid misunderstandings. You can also talk about ways to combat stress at school.

Your turn: Do you have a child leaving for college soon? How are you both preparing for this major milestone? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

12 Tips to Sell Your Home Quickly

Spring is in the air! And aside from the hum of lawnmowers, spring means the chance at a fresh start in a new home. If you’re looking to sell your home and start over elsewhere, you likely want that sale to happen as quickly as possible. Read on for 12 tips to sell your home fast:

1.) Price it right 
Find out the true worth of your home, and then lower it 20%. You’ll have buyers rushing – and then bidding up the price to what you really wanted.

 2.) Choose the right agent
Do your research before hiring a realtor. Your broker should have an excellent track record that includes recent sales and being updated on market trends. Be sure to ask for references and credentials, too.

3.) Let the light shine
Change your lampshades and use the maximum possible wattage for every light fixture in your home. You can also scrub your windows, remove the drapes and let the sunshine in.

4.) Rent a storage unit
You want your house to be clutter-free and your closets to look as spacious as possible. To do this, you’ll probably need to get rid of half the stuff around your home and in your closets. Consider renting a mini storage unit to store your extra stuff until your house sells.

5.) Amp up your curb appeal
Attract buyers by sprucing up the exterior of your home. Splurge on a striking patio set, trim your shrubs and plant some pretty flowers along your walkway.

6.) Focus on the kitchen
The kitchen is where it’s at. Depending on the state of your kitchen, you might want to do a quick remodel, including a fresh coat of paint, new cabinets and more. Remember: A buyer can easily shave $10,000 off the asking price by claiming your kitchen is outdated.

7.) Upgrade – but don’t go overboard 
It’s OK to do some light remodeling throughout your home, but don’t go overboard. A paint job, new light fixtures, door handles and rugs can do the trick.

8.) Make it impersonal 
Get rid of your personal items before showing your home. You want visitors to envision their own belongings here – not yours.

9.) Market it yourself 
Be your own best agent. Let everyone and their neighbor know you’re selling your home and be sure to speak in glowing terms about your house to anyone who asks for details. 10.) Make it sparkle Don’t skimp on this one! Give your entire home a deep cleaning before showing it to buyers.

11.) Hide your pets 
 Not everyone is an animal lover. If you’ve got some furry critters at home, hide the evidence! If you’re hosting an open house, send your pets to a friend’s place for the day.

12.) Hire a professional 
Consider hiring professional help for staging and photographing your home. You’re all set! Now get out there and put your home’s best face forward!

Your Turn: Have you recently sold your home? Tell us how you made it happen! Share your best tips and tricks with us in the comments!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

How Should I Use My Tax Refund?

When you receive an unexpected windfall, whether it’s from a tax refund, work bonus or a cash gift, it’s always a good idea to be proactive about how you’ll spend it instead of letting it just blow through your checking account. Below, we’ve listed some dos and don’ts for you to consider.

Do: Pay down debt 
Consider earmarking 20% or more of your windfall toward paying down high-interest debt you may be carrying. You’ll save a ton on interest and you’ll be finished with this debt sooner than you’d planned.

Don’t: Lend out your refund money 
Lending all of your refund money is not the best idea. You might not see that money for a while. And, if you do, it’ll likely be in small repayments instead of the large chunk of cash you have now. That severely limits what you can do with it.

Do: Start saving or investing 
Take $1,000 out of your refund and use it to start a savings account. You can set up an automatic transfer from your checking account each month to help it grow, even if you can only afford as little as $10. You can also use this opportunity to start investing. Say you receive an annual refund of $2,800 and invest this money at 6% interest. If you continue investing this amount each year, you’ll find yourself with approximately $250,727 in 30 years’ time. That’s making your refund work for you!

Don’t: Invest in a low-interest account 
Don’t be lazy about saving your money. Keeping all that cash in a low-interest savings account or an ordinary checking account with little to no interest will dramatically decrease its growing power. If you need help deciding where to invest or save your refund, speak to one of our Investments & Insurance representatives.

Do: Invest in yourself 
Advance your career and increase your earning power by using your tax refund to pay for a work-related conference, additional training in your field, or for learning an entirely new skill.

Don’t: Blow it all on impulse buys 
Don’t spend your entire refund without planning or you’ll be setting yourself up for disappointment later.

Do: Reward yourself 
It’s OK to celebrate with one or two bigger purchases you’ve been eyeing throughout the year.

Don’t: Receive your refund on a gift card 
Many tax software programs offer the opportunity to get refunds via gift card. If you’re offered this choice, opt out. You always stand the chance of losing the card, and it limits the ways you can spend your refund money.

Do: Donate to charitable causes 
The bonus cash in your pocket gives you the opportunity to give back to the community in ways you might not be able to afford throughout the year.

Your Turn: How are you going to spend your refund this year? Share your plans with us in the comments!

Community Financial Credit Union, P.O. Box 8050, Plymouth, Michigan 48170-8050;
© Community Financial 2013
Federally insured by NCUA.
Equal Housing Lender
Additional coverage provided by ESI.
Federally insured by NCUA.