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.


Friday, April 8, 2016

We Asked Employees Their Tips and Tricks For Saving Money..... This is What They Have to hare:

Looking for ways to SAVE MONEY??? 

We asked employees their tips and tricks...this is what they have to share:

"I shop at Aldi! The produce is excellent and so cheap! We are staying in our budget, spending less than we ever have at the grocery store, and eating healthier than we ever have before. Win-win-win! I try to avoid going to the store. I use as much as I can of what is already in my cupboard/closets before going out and buying more. Then I buy what is on sale when I need it."

"I shop the clearance aisles. I generally don’t buy clothes unless they’re 50-75% off. A good trick for kids is to buy at the end of the season for the following year. The Children’s Place will have their t-shirts on clearance for $1.99 and then they generally have 25%-30% off coupon plus an additional 5% off for using their store card. This brings the price of a brand new shirt down to less than $1.50! That’s less than what it would cost at a used clothing store."

"I share my kids’ clothes with friends and family. Kids outgrow clothes very quickly and generally they’re in excellent condition. I have a network of people who pass clothing to me and I continue passing clothes along the line. This takes some organization, but it’s amazing how old nuisance clothes can be an amazing help to the other families. This is a HUGE money saver!"

"I use my credit card! I buy most things using my credit card and write each purchase down in my check book register, just like as if I were using my debit card. When the statement comes at the end of the month, I have all of the money sitting in my checking account and pay the bill in full. Once I reach 10,000 points on my credit card, I get a $100 statement credit. That is FREE money! I don’t pay interest on the balance on the credit card and you don’t have to pay taxes on the statement credit. I call it taking advantage of the credit card companies and not letting them take advantage of me! This also lets money sit longer in my checking account accruing interest, so I am making money on both sides of the equation."

"I am a super planner. I plan my bills/shopping/entertainment/groceries out in advance to make sure I am saving as much as I can. I keep what I need in checking and the rest goes to savings—I have specific sub savings to organize my funds for future bills, vacations, and long term. Out of sight, out of mind! When I run out in checking, I try my best to wait until my next paycheck."

"I have another savings elsewhere that comes out the day after I get paid- out of sight, out of mind! I also did our WINcentive account for us and both kids and club savings accounts here.. And one other thing I did was start saving for both my kids when I found out I was pregnant with them and continue to put money in each of their accounts with my payroll checks. This way when we have big expenses- vehicles, insurance, college or whatever- we have funds tucked away. The other thing, it pushes my kids to put money in their savings- what’s not to like about that!"

"My money saving tip is.... Shop at ALDI!! I love that place and it's amazing the price difference there really is between other grocery stores! If you haven't been there... Check it out!"

"Use the Club Savings accounts to save for specific, individual goals or sporadic expenses. It makes it easier to see your progress for each goal. If all your savings is lumped into one savings account, it seems like your balance is high, but you’re actually falling short of your needs for each individual expense."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Is Debt Consolidation the Best Choice for My Finances?

For many, debt consolidation can be beneficial when it comes to refinancing loans and paying out debt. For others, debt consolidation can help very little in their goals of becoming free of the financial and emotional burdens of debt.

While it may sound tantalizing to consolidate all of your loans into one place, there’s much more to consider when choosing to consolidate your loans. It may be true that consolidating multiple credit accounts into one principle loan with a single payment can help lower your overall monthly expenses and eliminate the stress of multiple payments each month, but it could be possible that you would lose certain benefits, increase your time spent in debt, face higher interest, and more.

Remember that consolidation works best as part of a larger plan to become free of debt, not as a way to postpone repayment. Before you seriously consider consolidating your loans, ask yourself the following questions:
  • Is my debt load manageable?
  • Is my credit level advantageous for debt consolidation?
  • Am I serious about becoming debt-free?
  • Is a personal loan the best option for my finances?
  • Will it help me face my student loans more efficiently?
  • Once I am debt-free, will I be able to stay debt-free?
It may be to your benefit to talk to a Member Advisor at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union to answer the questions above and more to help you determine if debt consolidation is best for you.

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union offers another easy way to help determine whether debt consolidation is right for you. The St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Personal Debt Consolidation Calculator offers a simple method of self-calculating your credit cards, auto loans, and other loans and installment debt. The St. Cloud Federal Credit Union also offers a comprehensive glossary of loans terms for transparency and for those new to the process. To learn more, check out our Personal Debt Consolidation Calculator.

Debt repayment and credit counseling programs can further help you repay your loans more efficiently. Whichever method you pursue in consolidating your debts, know that the experts at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union can help you get your finances in order and can help you on your way to becoming debt-free.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Join the WINcentive Savings Program at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is offering an opportunity for our members to win free cash prizes while developing smart saving habits. Fourteen credit unions across the state are already participating in the WINcentive Savings Program.

What is WINcentive?The WINcentive Savings Program is just another way that Minnesota credit unions reward their members and encourage healthy and stable savings planning in a fun and productive way. WINcentive is a prize-linked savings accounts that gives you the opportunity to win up to $5,000 in cash prizes.

What can I win?
50 members will win $100 each month, five members will win $1,000 each quarter and one member will win $5,000 each year. Winners will be announced on the Prize Winners page on the WINcentive Savings website.

How does it work?
For every $25 monthly increase in your savings account balance, you earn an entry into the monthly, quarterly, and annual state prize drawings with a maximum of four entries per month per member per participating credit union. All you need to do to maximize your monthly raffle entries is to deposit $100 into your savings account each month.

How can I participate?
In order to participate in the WINcentive program and be eligible to win prizes, you must open or have an eligible account. You must also be a resident of Minnesota and be a member with a regular share account in good standing with a participating credit union. If you fail to meet the account eligibility requirements, then you will no longer be eligible to participate.

When will it start?
The first WINcentive Savings Drawings will occur in February 2016 for January deposits. For a schedule of future drawings, visit the 2016 Statewide Prize Drawing Schedule.

Where do I go for more information?Visit the Minnesota Credit Union Network for more information about the WINcentive Savings program, as well for savings resources and the prize schedule.

The best part of this program? You can’t lose! Even if you do not win one of the drawings throughout the year, you’ll still have a hefty savings account by the end of 2016. Stop in to St. Cloud Federal Credit Union today to open your savings account. Good luck - and happy saving!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Protect Yourself When Shopping Online

With the amount of online shoppers drastically growing each year, ecommerce is here to stay. With the ease of price comparison, wider variety of products, and the ability to shop from virtually anywhere, no wonder consumers are increasingly opting to shop the web compared to brick-and-mortar stores.

While there are many benefits to shopping online, it also comes with some hassles (no we are not talking about shipping). When making online purchases, you have to give out your credit card information, shipping address, and other personal information that can be used for identity theft and credit card fraud.

When shopping online:
Look at Reviews: Shopping on a new website for the first time? Look at reviews of the website. Oftentimes by doing a simple web search, you can find out if they are a trusted online retailer. This is especially true for products you find on social media. Sometimes products advertised on social media lead to undependable offshore retailers.

Use your common sense: If the website looks out-of-date, the company is outside the United States, or something doesn’t feel right, don’t purchase anything. Find a more trusted online retailer for your purchase.

Use a Trusted Computer and Wi-fi: You can help keep your credit card numbers and other personal information protected by using a computer with up-to-date antivirus, firewalls, and antispy software. When using public computers, consider if it's an updated computer. Oftentimes, web browsers automatically save information submitted into text boxes. Make sure that the web browser does not save any of your information.

Don’t use your debit card online: Because your debit card is linked to your entire bank account, you are subject to much more vulnerability if a thief were to access your card. Credit cards offer more protection for online purchases. Credit cards also allow buyers to seek credit from the issuer if your order isn’t delivered or it wasn’t what you ordered.

Look for HTTPS: Trusted websites will have a SSL (secure socket layer) encryption installed to protect your data. You’ll know if it has an SSL if the URL starts with HTTPS:// instead of just HTTP://. A padlock image will also appear in either the browser or the bottom of the page.

Never give out your social security number or bithdate: Online retailers never should need your SSN or birthdate to complete a transaction.

How St. Cloud Federal Credit Union services can help:
Keep track of your purchases: Access your account from anywhere at any time from your computer, tablet, or smartphone. Track your spending on the go.

Regularly monitor your credit score: Checking your credit score on a monthly basis will help you spot mistakes that you can address immediately. Visit our credit monitoring page for more information.

Safeguard yourself with knowledge: When spending money online, you want to take every precaution to protect your finances. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union offers information on general security education to help you protect your accounts and identity when making transactions online.

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Look, Same Great Credit Union

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union was founded in 1930 by St. Cloud postal employees, with the first department inside a post office. Over the years, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union has grown in members and services, but our purpose has stayed the same: “We exist for people, not for profit”.

In late September, we unveiled our new modern, streamlined logo. It features an intertwined ‘S’ and ‘C’ over a diamond in two solid versions — black and burgundy. The new and personalized look is more representative of the character and culture of a credit union’s value, and the logo has been received positively by the community.

“The challenge- and much of the fun- of writing an established future history lies in incorporating new knowledge while remaining true to what has gone before. Expanding and enriching, not contradicting.” - Edward M. Lerner

Despite the new look, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union will continue to be a premier financial institution of choice by making a meaningful difference in people’s lives. We will always advocate for people through a member-focused culture, an enthusiastic employee environment, and purposeful action within our community.

“The best way to predict your future is to create it.”- Abraham Lincoln”

Be on the lookout for our new St. Cloud Federal Credit Union logo. Together, our future will be amazing!

Bank on a Meaningful Difference: A Commitment to Community

On October 12th, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union participated in the first annual Community Day, a day in which St. Cloud Federal Credit Union employees volunteered their time to make a substantial and meaningful difference in the lives of the St. Cloud area community.

Looking for a project to make an impact, we reached out to St. Cloud Federal Credit Union members on how we could leverage over 50 employees’ volunteer time. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Member, Pastor Carol Jean, responded that Place of Hope Ministries had a need.

“When we heard that Place of Hope needed to update their second floor wing for women and children, we knew it would be a great match for our Community Day,” stated Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

Place of Hope Ministries is a St. Cloud organization that has provided assistance, care, and shelter to the homeless population of the city for generations. They provide over 7,000 meals per month, as well as housing and shelter services to nearly 100 people each night. Place of Hope also covers services from counseling, ministry, and outreach service, and even provides an Expressions of Hope Thrift and Distribution Center.

Donning shirts emblazoned with the message of, “Bank on a Meaningful Difference,” St. Cloud Federal Credit Union volunteers were able to redesign and refresh the second wing at Place of Hope, a space designated for women and children in need. Volunteers focused on repainting gathering spaces, bathrooms, and hallways.

In addition to volunteering time and energy, the St. Cloud Federal Credit Union also donated $500 and provided lunch for the community at Place of Hope.

With service and community as core values for St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, we will continue to look for volunteering and giving opportunities. Where do you think we should volunteer next?