Wednesday, October 19, 2016

International Credit Union Day

This Thursday, October 20th, is International Credit Union Day! This exciting day aims to raise awareness about the importance of credit unions and the many benefits they offer to members. This annual day is to embrace the features that make Credit Unions unique and to express gratitude to its members. Credit unions differ from other financial institutions based on the structure and principles they have and are recognized for being more community and member focused. Although both offer similar products and services Credit Unions are able to offer better rates and fewer fees due to them being not for profit.


St. Cloud Federal Credit Union set itself apart from other financial institutions by the member experience it provides and the commitment it makes to make a positive impact in the community. Our mission is to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our members and our communities. SCFCU is committed to providing its members with the best products and services to make saving easier and our rates are consistently ranked top 5 in the industry.

International Credit Union day is a special day to us and we want to thank all of our members for their loyalty. We want to celebrate our members on our upcoming “Member Appreciation Day” on October 28th. Join us as we celebrate YOU, with refreshments, lunch, and fun games!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Being a Member From Abroad—Ashley’s SCFCU Experience

At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we pride ourselves in taking care of our members. Whatever your current situation, wherever life takes you, we want to be there to help. One member, Ashley, tells us about her experience with SCFCU while she traveled abroad in her own words:

Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 2.20.06 PM.pngSt. Cloud Federal Credit Union is a place that has always been familiar to me growing up, as it still is today- with both of my parents being members there for over 20 years. When I decided to travel to Europe, I turned to my parents for advice on where I should set up my accounts before I leave. I needed a bank account and a debit card that would work for overseas for 3 months, have the features I desired and still be convenient for my family to make deposits. After discussing this with my parents, they suggested I stop into their credit union to learn more.

The next day I went to the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union to discuss my Europe trip and my plans for gaining access to my money while abroad. The staff at SCFCU made me feel valued and respected during all stages of my visit—from inquiry to new membership. They eagerly helped find the best product for me and also took the time to set everything up. I was surprised by all the benefits and features of their accounts—all of which fulfilled my financial needs abroad.

The employees at the SCFCU understood that I would be away for several months and wanted to make my experience with them as smooth as possible. The staff showed me how to utilize my online banking account and even helped me download and sign into the SCFCU mobile banking apps. I realized that, to SCFCU, it was more than just setting up another checking and savings account, rather it was a new relationship being established with a valued member. This made me realize the clear difference between banks and credit unions.

Throughout my trip,I had no troubles with my checking or savings account, and my parents were able to deposit money into my accounts, which saved me in a couple emergency situations. I knew that if something did occur with my accounts while abroad that the staff at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union would take good care of me. As I am a member now, I see how the staff go the extra mile to ensure their members are taken care of and feel valued.

Thank you for the kind words, Ashley. We are happy to help. If you are heading overseas on vacation, on a study abroad program, or for any other reason and are curious about finances, contact St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

Friday, August 12, 2016

When Should You Refinance Your Mortgage

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When it comes to refinancing your mortgage, you need to determine the best possible plan and method of refinancing. At the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we can help you determine the most beneficial mortgage plan for you and your family.

What is Refinancing?

Refinancing a mortgage means paying off an existing loan and replacing it with a new one. Dependent on your financial situation, refinancing can save you money and give you flexibility. It can help shorten the term of your loan or help you build equity more efficiently.

When is the Best Time to Refinance?

People refinance their mortgage when you are buying a new home or property, financing a home addition, constructing a new home, or buying an investment property. People who wish to refinance their mortgages may also be looking for a lower interest rate, a shorter mortgage term, a fixed-rate mortgage (instead of an adjustable-rate mortgage), or debt consolidation.

The two most common types of refinancing include rate-and-term refinancing and cash-out financing. Understanding these two types of refinancing can help you determine if this is the best possible option for your finances. Learn more about the two most common types of refinancing in a blog by

How Can I Get More Answers about Refinancing? Is it the Best Option for Me?

The New Vanishing Mortgage program offered by the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union was established to benefit members who are approaching the completion of their mortgage and for those who may not have taken advantage of historically low rates due to fees and the hassle of applying. The Vanishing Mortgage program is also open to those who have refinanced but want even lower rates.

Personalized assistance from the Mortgage Department can help you build confidence in your mortgage and loan terms. For more information on refinancing your mortgage and the Vanishing Mortgage program, reach out to representatives from the Mortgage Department at the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union to see if you qualify and to see if you will benefit from refinancing.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Purchasing a Home: Financial Preparation Planning

According to Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, 56 percent of Americans own a home and 25 percent plan to purchase one in the next 10 years. Experts say you should begin planning to buy your home a year before actually making the purchase. Having a game plan set up ahead of time may save you tons of extra time and money. Here's how you can prepare your credit and finances for your future home investment:
Start with Your Credit Score
accounting-761599_640.jpgStart with knowing where you stand and how lenders will look at you financially. Credit reports will show lenders whether you are routinely late with payments and whether you have run into serious credit problems in the past. Doing this first will give you time to work on building your credit score if necessary. Make sure you use an actual FICO score, as this is what most lenders see. Credit reports are kept by the three major agencies; Experian, Equifax, and the TransUnion. You can get a free copy of your credit reports annually from

Convert to a Conservative Budget
Downsize your current living expenses to put towards your new home purchase. Determine your budget with the amount you can afford to repay now in mind, not the maximum you're allowed to borrow. Keep in mind that life changes may come and careers might change down the road. Children, cars, and travel plans are just a few additional costs that can cut into savings, so make sure you have room for these costs in your budget.
debt-1157824_640.jpgCrush Your Debt
It breaks down to this: when you owe less money, you have more disposable income. As you begin to think about shopping for a house, think about other potential debts you have accumulated. Take the added income you have from budgeting and put it toward paying off your debt. Once you owe less on other debts, you’ll have more money to put toward your home (not to mention the boost you’ll see in your credit score). Another piece of advice while you’re getting ready for a mortgage is staying away from new debts, such as car loans or anything larger than $10,000.
Getting prepared to take out a mortgage may seem like a lot of work, but early preparation makes the entire process run much more smoothly. The American dream of owning your own home can turn into a nightmare quick if you aren’t prepared.

At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we can help you get that dream house and a real estate investment. Contact us today to talk with our mortgage department and find an approach that works with your lifestyle.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Preparing Your Finances for College

A college education can be one of life’s biggest expenses, but an education is one of life’s most rewarding experiences. Don’t let the financial burden of school deter your child. Help them learn to be financially conscious and prepared for college. Learn how you can help below:

1. Be Financially ConsciousIf you haven’t had much education in saving and spending money, now is the time to start. There are online courses, community courses, and a wealth of resources online available. This article from can help you learn to be financially savvy. Learn how to budget, how to prioritize expenses, how to save, how to use debit and credit cards, how to use online transactions safely, and more. This can be overwhelming to the student learning to budget money for the first time, but laying down the groundwork will make the transition to college and adulthood that much easier. There are also tons of excellent phone apps to help you keep track of your spending and saving habits.

2. Save Early
Have a serious conversation about who is paying for college. Make it an expectation for your child to contribute to their education. Encourage them to get a part-time job throughout high school and college to help contribute to the cost. This can help your child develop a strong work ethic, become more disciplined with their finances, as well as help them gain professional experience and develop skills.

3. Learn How to Open and Use A Bank AccountIf your child doesn’t have a checking and savings account, teach them how to open and use each one. Learn how to use ATMs associated with your credit union or bank in order to withdraw fee-free.

4. Credit Card or No Credit Card?
It seems like the second students graduate high school, your mailbox gets inundated with credit card offers. If your child chooses to get a credit card, help them look for the best possible offer. Encourage them to sign up for a secured credit card, which helps establish a credit limit. Remind your child to use a credit card as a way of building credit, not as a way of spending money. Teach them to live within their means and use a credit card for expenses like gas or groceries - expenses which they can easily pay back each month.

5. Learn About the Financial Aid Process

Help your student complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible to help you and your child make financial decisions for college. Once completed, your family will receive information in the form of a Student Aid Report (SAR), an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and a Data Release Number (DRN).

6. Research and Apply for Grants and Scholarships
Based on financial aid and/or merit scholarships, grants and scholarships are widely available and can help fund a major part of the college cost. Look for them at the national and state level in your community, through your high school, and more. There’s a treasure trove of money for higher education, you just have to put in a little elbow grease to find it.

7. Apply for Loans
The loan process can be tricky to navigate, but learn about the two federal student loan programs, the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan program which offers four types of loans, and the Federal Perkins Loan Program, a school-based program for students with “exceptional financial need.” Although they are often associated with higher interest rates, explore the options of private student loans. Many institutions offer them, but explore your options carefully before choosing.

Picking a loan from a credit union rather than a major institution has many benefits. With a loan from a credit union, you can enjoy lower interest rates, flexible payment plans, and much more. Visit our student loan page to learn more and to get started.

A college education can be expensive, but far from impossible, and St. Cloud Federal Credit Union can help along the way. Plan accordingly and learn early on about how your family can best prepare for the financial expenses of college.

Save for the Future: High School to College

While in high school, saving money is not the top concern for many students. High school students don’t have to worry about bills, tuition, or other expenses that are sprung upon them once they enter college. Learning about financing and budgeting at an early age will come in handy when you are advancing in your life and career. Even if you are starting late, it is a good idea to make a budget and keep track of your finances, even if you are still in high school.

Get The App
A good budgeting app can help you keep track of finances and help find areas where you can cut back. Some of the most popular apps include:
  • Mint - Mint connects your bank account and automatically inputs purchases. This feature helps you spend less time entering every purchase, which is one of the hardest parts of keeping a budget.
  • Toshl - Toshl Finance is an app that makes banking simple with setting up a monthly budget. Toshl’s budgeting section has you set a max line for the month, that will give you a great view of how close you are coming to going over your set budget for the month.
  • Left to Spend - Left to Spend is as simple as it gets when it comes to a budget for the month. All you need to do is set a budget and then simply subtract from there.

Learn the Tricks
College is all about adapting to your new surroundings, learning on the fly, and stretching your budget. To stretch your dollar a little further, try some of these simple tricks:
  • Rent textbooks or sell them back at the end of the semester
  • Walk, use public transportation or ride a bike instead of using your car. Protip: Many college students ride public transportation for free with their student ID cards
  • Check your favorite stores for student discounts - many offer them
  • Look into a campus gym versus a gym in town
  • When planning meals, make dinner with friends and split the cost of groceries
  • Don’t buy unnecessary school supplies. Why buy notebooks when you can type on your laptop
  • Wait to get a pet until after college – a pet can become very expensive
  • Don’t borrow more than you need. Most often, the amount you qualify for is more than you will spend in a semester - if you’re responsible
Invest Wisely
Even the best budgeting habits sometimes aren’t enough to pay for the mountain of expenses that come with attending college, and many need to take out student loans. A good choice for students is St. Cloud Federal Credit Union’s student loans. Loans from a credit union like St. Cloud Federal offer students lower interest rates, flexible payment plans, no organization fees, more. Students can qualify for lower rates based on their grades - the better the grades the lower the rate! And if ten percent of the loan is repaid within the repayment period, the interest rate will be reduced by one percent.

Need a cosigner? Most students do. But once you graduate and make 24 consecutive payments on the principle balance, you have the option to release your cosigner, which is good news for them and helps you build your credit. You can borrow as little $2,000, or up to $120,000 for undergraduate loans - up to $160,000 for graduate loans.

Check out our Q&A page for more information, or get started on the loan process through St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

Saving or your college career might seem like an impossible feat. It’s not impossible, you just might need a little help to get you started. That’s exactly what we like to do - help people realize their dreams.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Teaching Your Child About Banking and Saving

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April is National Youth Credit Union Month, making this is an excellent time to teach your child about personal banking and the importance of savings. This could mean walking a child through their first steps of personal financial awareness or it could mean reiterating the importance of savings habits with teens. Here are some tips to teach your child about banking and savings:

Help Them Practice Safe Money Habits
Teaching kids how to budget at a young age can mean a great deal of difference in their personal financial habits. Encourage younger children to make a list of things they want in the order of how badly they want each item. This way they can learn to prioritize and save. Let them help budget for a grocery trip or an upcoming trip. Modeling excellent financial habits can be the most effective way to teach your kids how to practice safe money habits.

Create a Budget Together
Since your child has now identified what they want to save their money for, create a budget with how much they will have to save each week or month to achieve their goals. Using envelopes or jars to separate allowances or earnings into different categories of savings is a great way for young children to understand budgeting. Have your child draw on each envelope or jar the item that they are saving for. Create long-term and short-term saving containers to help your children understand that some things take longer to save for than others.

Set up a Youth Checking Account.
Setting up a youth checking account helps teens learn financial concepts and gives them the opportunity to practice responsible financial habits in a safe environment. Parents can also view the account, set up limits and restrictions, and monitor account activity. Encourage your child to deposit money from their allowances, birthday, holidays, and part-time jobs. At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we will deposit the first five dollars as an added bonus to young savers!

Use Tech-savviness to Their Advantage
It’s a simple fact that teens spend nearly 24/7 on their phones. Teach them to use their phones, tablets, and laptops for financial good. They can benefit greatly from online services such as free direct deposit, mobile banking, e-statements, and more.

Address Privacy and Security
With so many modern features and advantages, remind them to be mindful of financial privacy and security. Teach them the importance of never sharing information pertaining to passwords and financial privacy with others. Reiterate the importance of using privacy measures when shopping and with online transactions to prevent identity theft.

Teaching and reiterating to your children about the importance of safe banking and savings habits can set them up for financial success down the road.

For more information, read Teaching Your Child Money Habits for Life, and talk to a Member Advisor at the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union for more information on youth checking and savings.