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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 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 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

Education Partnership Coordinator, Angela Corbin,
posing with her Lewiston Elementary Spring Volunteers.

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!

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!