Tuesday, April 24, 2018

How to Talk Money with Your Partner

What happens when you and your partner have different approaches toward money? How do you bring up this loaded topic without it spiraling into a heated argument? Read on for the ultimate guide to discussing finances with your partner.

1.) Dedicate a time 
Let your partner know you’d like to talk about money and, together, pick a time and place that works for both of you. Choose a time when both of you can completely focus without distraction.

2.) Prepare your thoughts 
Prepare a mental list of topics you’d like to discuss. Include the basics like budgeting, saving and sharing living expenses, along with any specific issues you’d like to change.

3.) Start with a vision 
Don’t jump start the discussion with accusatory statements. Instead, start with a goal. Here are a few to get you thinking:
  • Would you like to spend a month touring Europe? 
  • Wouldn’t it be amazing to move out of this apartment and buy a home of our own? 
  • I’d love to retire at 55. Would you? 
4.) Create a savings plan 
Now you can start talking numbers. How much would it cost to spend a month in Europe? How much would we need to save for a down payment? Together, create a savings plan that will help you reach your shared goal. Work out exactly how much money you’d need to put away each month, and how long it would take you to reach your goal.

5.) Build a budget 
Before you can start saving, you’ll both need to trim your spending. Without pointing fingers, discuss specific ways to cut back. Together, work out a monthly budget that accounts for all expenses and your new savings goal.

6.) Discuss money management 
If you aren’t already sharing expenses, now’s the time to bring it up. There are no hard rules here; every couple has their own system. But, if you’re living together, it makes sense to split some basic costs. You may want to go 50/50 on this or make another arrangement that better suits your individual incomes.

Be sure to keep at least one credit card open in your own name. It’s important to establish and maintain your own credit history independent of your partner’s.

7.) Recognize your partner’s strengths 
When dividing financial responsibilities, assign appropriate tasks that play to each partner’s strengths. Is your partner a stickler for dates and deadlines? Have them assume responsibility for paying the bills on time. Are you a numbers freak? You might want to be in charge of managing your joint investments. You’ve made it through the money talk. Now, go make those dreams happen!

Your Turn: How did you bring up the big money issue with your partner? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

Friday, April 20, 2018

School Spotlight: Thornton Creek Students Practice Professionalism

Thornton Creek Students Lead with Parent Support! 

Education Partnership Coordinator,
Karie Gonczy, poses with one
of her branch managers.
Community Financial has continued to grow its Student-Run Credit Union program since it began in 1990. Thornton Creek Elementary School, in Northville, was an added partnership in 2004. Since then, the Thornton Creek “Gators” have been expert savers!

Fourth grade volunteers run the Student Credit Union at Thornton Creek, and parents like to get involved too! With the high volume of student savers at Thornton Creek, parent helpers are a welcomed asset to the program. Parent helpers assist students in counting money, record keeping, and professionalism. Education Partnership Coordinator, Karie Gonczy, assists students and parent helpers in having an exceptional experience!
Check out these photos of some of our amazing parent helpers!



Powerful Professionalism at Thornton Creek 

Students who volunteer at our Student-Run Credit Unions learn about professionalism and its importance. Professionalism is how a person conducts themselves at their job. “Powerful professionalism” is taught and reinforced throughout the Student-Run Credit Union.
"Powerful professionalism" in action!
Volunteers are instructed to greet student members in a pleasant manner, to dress appropriately (each student receives a Community Financial t-shirt), and to keep conversations appropriate. Other aspects of professionalism reinforced are: punctuality, offering to help others, staying positive, and asking for help if a mistake is made.

A Student Credit Union member
waits for her deposit receipt.
Professionalism is noticed and makes a huge difference in any work environment. For many of our Student Credit Union volunteers, this is their first experience with professionalism. It is important for our Community Financial team members and parent helpers to assist whenever they can, to make it a positive experience for all involved. Take a look at these Thornton Creek spring volunteers displaying professionalism on the job!


Your turn:  What other aspects of professionalism do you find important? Tell us what you think in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Getting Your Home Ready for Spring

While most of us get excited for the spring, very few enjoy the task of spring cleaning and getting your home ready for the changing weather. Luckily, Community Financial is here to make your spring cleaning easier with a few tips and must-do tasks.

1. Make a list of all your tasks.
Spring cleaning can be a daunting task so make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Go through your list at your own pace. Do one or two tasks whenever you have the time.

2. Clean out your closet.
Go through your closet and switch out your winter wardrobe with your spring clothes. Let go of the shoes you never wear or the shirt you haven’t worn in six years. Donate anything you don’t need to your local collection center.

3. Declutter and organize.
Go through each room in your house and get rid of the excess clutter. Empty out your junk drawers and closets and sort through what you need to keep or not keep. Organize your remaining stuff in plastic bins or boxes for easier storage.

4. Rearrange your furniture.
Rearranging your furniture can give a new look to a room at no cost. Rearrange your tables and chairs to freshen up your living room for the spring.

5. Clean the gutters.
Over the winter, your gutters may be clogged with leaves. Combined with some spring showers, they could be blocked. Get out your ladder and work on cleaning them out or hire a professional to do it for you.

6. Replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
This is a small task that can be easily checked off your list. Making sure all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working will help keep your family safe. Making sure you test the batteries during your spring cleaning creates a consistent time to check them out each year.

7. Thoroughly clean and air-out your home.
We can all get a little lax in our cleaning during the winter. Pick a warm spring day and open all the windows as you clean your house. Your house will feel cleaner and smell fresher when you’re done.

8. Organize your pantry.
Holiday meals often result in an accumulation of extra cans and boxes in your pantry. Sort through your pantry and box up whatever you don’t need or use. Donate these items to a local food pantry.

Your turn: What are your priorities in getting your home ready for spring? Share your tips with us in the comments section!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Celebrate Financial Literacy Month

Did you know that April is Financial Literacy Month? Nationally established in 2000, Financial Literacy Month focuses on raising public awareness about financial literacy and the need for financial education. It also celebrates achievements in financial education and addresses new issues in the field.

Financial literacy is an ongoing issue for a majority of Americans. According to Money Management International, Americans carry more than $2 trillion in consumer debt. Additionally, 30% of consumers report having no extra cash, which means they cannot save and are living paycheck-to-paycheck. 

Check out these helpful resources and celebrate Financial Literacy Month along with us!

Money Matter$ eLearning Center 
Our Money Matter$ eLearning Center contains free and self-paced modules that cover key financial concepts like: saving, investments, credit scores, identity theft protection, etc. The goal is to help you improve your financial well-being with programs that assist you in making smart financial decisions. 

Financial Resource Center 
In our Financial Resource Center, you can browse through channels on a range of different financial topics including: auto buying, career planning, loan & credit management, saving & investments, tax planning, etc. Click on each channel to see more information and resources on the various topics. 

Financial Calculators 
Our Financial Calculators can be used to calculate monthly payments on an auto loan, mortgage, or credit cards, or help you plan out your budget or retirement savings. Just enter in some basic data, and the calculator will help you figure out how much you can afford to pay or what you can save.

Auto Resource Center
Our Auto Resource Center offers a free, online auto shopping site.. Get a quote on a vehicle, search for new or used cars, as well as car buying tips & advice. The Auto Resource Center also offers a car loan calculator to figure out what monthly payment you can afford before you go to the dealership. 

Money Matter$ Blog 
Our Money Matter$ Blog that you are reading right now offers insight on a variety of financial topics. You can browse our current and past blogs for financial tips, news and events going on at the credit union. There is a new blog post every week, so check back regularly or subscribe to our blog emails to stay up to date.

Money Matter$ Podcast
Available on both iTunes and cfcu.org, our Money Matter$ Podcast has a library of short, easy to listen to episodes covering financial topics such as: how to budget for the holidays and back to school shopping tips.

Free Credit Review
Community Financial also offers a Free Credit Review to help you understand your credit score. Our website offers a breakdown of what makes up a credit score, but if you need more guidance on how to manage your credit, simply visit a branch near you or call (877) 937-2328.

For more information on financial literacy and the resources Community Financial has to offer, visit cfcu.org.

Your turn: How do you plan on celebrating Financial Literacy Month? What financial resources to do you find helpful?

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Saving on Home Renovations

Is your home in desperate need of a facelift? As you probably know, renovations don’t come cheap. In fact, the average kitchen remodel can top $60,000 and bathroom overhauls can cost as much as $18,000!

With some careful planning, you can shave thousands of dollars off these price tags. Here are 7 ways to save:

1.) Don’t do a complete remodel 
Instead of knocking down walls, give the outdated area a fresh coat of paint, new light fixtures and some minor décor upgrades.

Potential money saved: $30,000.

2.) Shop around for a contractor 
Find someone professional, reliable and willing to give you a decent price. Check out at least three different contractors before making your decision. Ask for references and meet with each contractor in person to get a feel for their professional conduct and character. Also, be sure to sign a detailed contract.

Potential money saved: several thousand dollars.

3.) Consider long–term benefits 
It often makes sense to pay more now if it’ll save you big down the line. For example, if you’re installing clapboard siding, you’ll save in the long run by paying more for pre-primed and pre-painted boards. Using the prefinished claps means you’ll need half as many paint jobs in the future.

Money saved: $1,250 (for a 10×40 area).

4.) Pick decent, but mid-grade materials 
When long-term functionality is not a criterion, choose the mid-grade option. One area where you’ll see this at play is in carpeting. Olefin and polyester carpeting will run you $1 to $2 per square foot, while wool costs upward of $9 to $11 per square foot.

Money saved: $400 (for a 40-square-feet area).

5.) Bring in natural light without windows 
Looking to bring a splash of sunshine into your kitchen? Instead of adding a window, consider installing a “light tube.” It slips between the rafters on your roof and works to funnel sunshine down into the living space below. Adding a double-pane window can run you $1,500; a light tube costs $500.

Money saved: $1,000.

6.) Lend a hand 
Save big by doing some of the demolition work yourself, painting some walls, or even sanding walls to prep them for painting. You can also lend a hand with the cleanup instead of hiring a crew.

Money saved: $200 or more.

7.) Increase efficiency, not size 
Cramped kitchen? Don’t assume you need to push out walls to make it work. Instead, reorganize your kitchen for optimal efficiency and save tens of thousands of dollars. Upgrade your cabinets with lazy susans, pullout drawers, dividers and more. Consider hiring a professional organizer to show you how to maximize your space – you’ll still save big overall.

Money saved: up to $60,000.

Before making any decisions, be sure to call, click or stop by your local branch to learn about our low rates on Fixed Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit (HELOC)! You can learn more by visiting cfcu.org/homeloan.

Your Turn: Have you recently remodeled? How did you save money? Share your best hacks 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.