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Money Matters Blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Mistakes First-Time Homeowners Make

Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make, and there are common mistakes that many first-time homeowners regret making. Here are some of those mistakes, and how you can avoid making them.

1.) Not Knowing Your Housing Budget 
Avoid buying a home that is out of your financial comfort zone. After all, you don’t want to wind up being “house poor.” You likely already have a budget and some idea of your expenses for running your current household. Now is the time to review that budget.

Some of your expenses are going to increase in a new home – like utilities and insurance. Add up all your expenses, but leave out rent or mortgage payments. When you subtract the total of this list from your take-home pay, you will have a good idea of how much you have left for mortgage payments. Check out Community Financial’s mortgage calculator and use it to calculate mortgage payments based on various available interest rates. Generally, housing costs should be 30% or less of your before-tax income.

2.) Looking Outside Your Housing Budget 
Don’t even look at houses that fall beyond your budget; it’ll only set you up for disappointment. Even if you manage to buy the home, you’ll find yourself with too much house and too little money. After doing your research, you’ll know how much house you can afford. You can then pinpoint properties in that price range. Most home purchases require compromise. Maybe you’ll decide on a smaller house in a neighborhood with the best schools. If space is your highest priority, though, you might choose a larger house in a less-exclusive neighborhood. Every house has advantages and disadvantages, but keep your search within your financial comfort zone.

3.) Purchasing Based on Future Budget Changes 
If you are having trouble finding a house in your price range, consider ways to reduce your current expenses. This will mean having more money available to make a larger monthly mortgage payment. Many people mistakenly assume they will make these changes once they own a house. Ideally, these budget changes should be in place before you buy a house, even if it means delaying the purchase. Give yourself at least six months to see if you can stick to your new budget.

4.) Treating Your Home as an Investment 
First-time homebuyers often anticipate selling their house for a large profit in 5 to 10 years. The last decade has brought major changes to every housing market. While a house in certain areas was usually guaranteed to appreciate in value, that’s not always a sure thing anymore. Buy a house to live in and enjoy, not necessarily to make a profit from. 

Your Turn: Do you have tips for avoiding house buying mistakes? Share them in the comments.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Presidents’ Day: Who’s on Your Money?

Since today is Presidents’ Day, we’d like to celebrate the work and accomplishments of the 45 men who have served as Commander in Chief. Each of them has left their mark on the United States, but only a select few have left their mark on our currency. Currently, there are six presidents featured on the U.S. currency in circulation and they are:
  1. George Washington- The 1st president of the United States has his face featured on both the dollar bill and the quarter. Washington was first put on the dollar bill in 1869, seven years after it was put into circulation. In 1924, Congress decided to put his face on the quarter to celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth.
  2. Thomas Jefferson- Our 3rd president is featured on both the nickel and the less popular two dollar bill. Jefferson’s image has been on the two dollar bill since 1869; failed attempts have been made to increase the bill’s popularity. In 1938, a competition was held for a drawing of Jefferson to be put on the nickel starting in 1943. The winner received $1,000.
  3. Abraham Lincoln- Our 16th president known as the “Great Emancipator," has his image on both the penny and the five dollar bill. In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned the penny to celebrate Lincoln’s 100th birthday. Lincoln has appeared on the five dollar bill since 1914.
  4. Andrew Jackson- Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the U.S., replaced Grover Cleveland on the twenty dollar bill in 1928. However, Jackson will not remain the face of the twenty dollar bill for long. In 2016, the U.S. Treasury announced that Harriet Tubman will replace Jackson on the front of the twenty. However, Jackson will remain on the back along with an image of the White House.
  5. Ulysses S. Grant- The 18th president and famous Civil War general had his face put on the fifty dollar bill in 1913. Attempts to replace him with Ronald Reagan in 2005 and 2010 were ultimately unsuccessful after the legislation was voted down in Congress.
  6. Franklin D. Roosevelt- Our 32nd president had his image put on the dime shortly after his death in 1945, in honor of his work founding the March of Dimes Foundation to fight polio. 
Celebrating Presidents’ Day at Community Financial 
Community Financial hosts an annual Presidents’ Day essay contest for 4th, 5th, and 7th graders at our partnering schools. This year’s question was: “If you were designing a new coin or bill, which U.S. President would you choose to be on it and why?”

Through this essay contest, we hope to encourage students to think about Presidents’ Day and learn how to combine research skills with their creativity. The first place winner will receive $50 and a classroom pizza lunch with our president, Bill Lawton. The second and third place winners will receive $25 each. We look forward to seeing which presidents our participating students think should be on a new bill or coin!

Friday, February 16, 2018

School Spotlight: Orchard Hills Student-Run Credit Union Volunteers Excel at Organization!

Organization is one of the skills Education Partnership Coordinators strive for at our Student-Run Credit Union branches. It is important for students to understand the value of organization, especially when handling cash.

Organization is the key to success
at the Student-Run Credit Union!
Fourth grade students at Orchard Hills Elementary in Novi are exceptional at this skill. Student tellers are taught to count cash and coins in ways that ensure accuracy. The tellers also rely on accountants and computer operators at our student branches to make sure their totals are correct. Dual control is the term we use when students are checking with one another to ensure absolute accuracy. This task is easier with a lot of organization.

Here are some pictures of Orchard Hills students ensuring accuracy at their Student-Run Credit Union branch.

Senior Education Partnership Coordinator, Jeremy Cybulski,
instructs students on how to perform their jobs.  

Student tellers record each deposit made, making
sure mistakes are minimal. 
Student volunteers work together to ensure organization
and therefore accuracy with members’ deposits. 
Student accountants ready to write receipts for members. 
Just another way to make sure that the team is organized and accurate!
The Importance of Organizational Skills in the Workplace 
Good organizational skills are an asset to any job. People who are organized are accurate, on-time, successful individuals! One of the key components to organization is having a to-do list. Student-Run credit union volunteers have detailed lists to help them perform their specific jobs. Our student branch managers, for example, are given a precise list of times to pick up student members from class to make their deposits. They are also trained in organizing the member line, making sure the line is not too long, and that volunteers are consistent in the service given.

At the end of our Student-Run Credit Union deposit day, volunteers organize cash, coins, and checks in a systematic way to ensure accuracy and to account for any mistakes. Believe it or not, part of having good organizational skills is to understand that you are NOT perfect! Preparing for mistakes is an excellent way to ensure habits to fix them!

All of these skills are part of the learning process at our Student-Run Credit Union branches. Orchard Hills students, shown below, are learning valuable organizational skills that will benefit them in their future!
Orchard Hills Student-Run Credit Union winter volunteers 
Your Turn: What types of organizational skills do you use on a daily basis? In what ways does keeping your money organized help you? Tell us some of your organizational successes!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Celebrating Westland’s Grand Opening with Guest Blogger Shawn

In honor of Community Financial’s Westland branch opening this month, we asked its new Branch Manager, Shawn Campion, to be our guest blogger. Shawn talks about the Westland team, his excitement for the Grand Opening, and what the new branch will bring to the community. 

About Me 
Shawn Campion,
Westland Branch Manager
I have worked for CFCU for nearly 11 years. I started in 2007 and spent 2 years as a Member Service Representative for what was, at the time, our new Michigan Ave. location. I moved back to the Plymouth location for 5 years as a Financial Sales Representative where I really found a passion for the job I get to do every day.

For the last 4 years, I’ve been the Assistant Branch Manager at our Canton Center and Hanford location. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance from Eastern Michigan University, and my wife and I just welcomed our first child, a daughter, in April last year.

About the Branch 
The Westland branch is located at 7440 N. Wayne Rd., Westland MI 48185. It is just north of Warren Rd. We are located on the site of what used to be the Quo Vadis Movie Theater that was pretty iconic to the city for 45 years until it was demolished in 2011. We are open from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m.- 1 p.m. on Saturday.

The Westland Team 
Our Assistant Manager Ashley has been with CFCU for a year and a half working as a Financial Sales Representative. She also has a business degree in Business Administration and a background in the mortgage industry.

Westland Branch Team (left to right):
Nicole, Anne, Shawn, Ashley, and Rachel
Our Member Service Representatives Rachel, Anne, and Nicole have a combined eight years of credit union experience here at CFCU. Rachel and Nicole have degrees in Communications and Business Management respectively, and Anne comes from a previous banking and management background.

Above all else, our team focuses on member service. After all, a passion for service is our commitment to you – our members. If we consistently deliver that personalized, high level of service we will continue to grow based on reputation, which is what we love most.

Being in a New Community 
Community Financial already has a solid member base that lives in Westland, but bringing a branch to the community will hopefully expand on that. We have heard from members who reside in Westland and visit our other locations about how excited they are to have a branch closer to them and we are happy to be here.

Even more importantly, though, is to expand our reach to even more people who have not experienced banking this way. We are a full service financial institution, but one thing we do that really helps us stand out from the crowd is our relationship-based lending philosophy. Those with strong credit will appreciate our incredibly low rates, while those who may have fallen on hard times and have challenges with their credit could benefit from talking to us. We look at the whole picture, not just a member’s credit score.

We also look forward to being able to expand our Student-Run Credit Union program into the community. The program is in 49 schools currently, and we have great potential to introduce our way of teaching financial literacy to the youth of Westland as well.

Celebrating Westland’s Grand Opening
I’m looking forward to the celebration of hard work coming from so many people to make this branch a reality. The Westland Branch took contractors, builders, vendors, and team members from many departments within Community Financial months upon months to get to this moment. To celebrate our Grand Opening, the public is invited to stop by our new branch from February 19-March 10, where they can enter to win an iPad Mini. 

We invite current and potential members to come and see the new location and see how we can make banking easier for them. We are looking forward to seeing everyone soon!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

What to Look For In Your First Job After College

If you’re in your last year at college, you likely spend lots of time thinking about that first, after-college job.
  • What will your job be like? 
  • What kind of company will you work for? 
  • How big will your starting salary be? 
  • Will you get along with your co-workers? 
There are so many variables to think about when looking for that first job! Whether you’ve already started sending out resumes or you haven’t taken the first step, we’ve got you covered. Read on for a list of the most important factors to consider when looking for your post-college job:

1.) Room for growth 
You’re at the starting point of your earning potential and can’t be too hung up on salary. A respectable paycheck is nice and you definitely shouldn’t be working for pennies, but it’s more important to consider whether a position will offer you room for growth. After all, you don’t want the first few years of your career path to be stagnant. 

2.) Exposure to new skills and knowledge 
Experience is truly the best teacher. When looking for a job, be sure to choose one that will help you acquire new skills and broaden your knowledge base. This way, even if the job doesn’t end up being a keeper, you’ll be more marketable for future positions. 

3.) Varied responsibilities 
A first job will not necessarily match your skill set. You might find yourself being asked to assume responsibilities you’d never thought you could handle. Instead of stressing about this possibility, if it comes up at an interview, look at it as a positive factor. You still don’t know the extent of your capabilities. The opportunity to explore new tasks will help you tap into your true potential. 

4.) Benefits 
When considering your take-home pay, find out which – if any – benefits are offered. Standard employee benefits include health insurance, a 401K, paid time off and sick leave. Accepting a job with a higher salary but no benefits can actually leave you with less money in your checking account at the end of the month. 

5.) Company history 
No matter how exciting a position sounds, it’s crucial to find out all you can about the company itself. How long has the company been in business? Is there a high turnover among employees? Have they recently gone through a management shakeup? 

While you might be drawn to a young startup that promises tremendous room for advancement, a well-established company with a proven success track is less chancy and offers more stability. 

6.) Don’t expect perfection 
You likely have a list of everything that’s important to you in a job. Lots of these factors may be important, and you might even consider them deal-breakers at a prospective job. 

It’s important to remember, though, that no job is perfect. You certainly won’t find perfection at your first real job! Scan your list to determine what is truly a non-negotiable to you and what you would consider dropping if everything else fits well. 

Your Turn: Are you job-hunting now? Share your tips and thoughts with us in the comments!