Tuesday, April 8, 2014


Hey everyone it’s Financial Fitness Phoebe here! Forget about those (possibly failed) New Year’s resolutions; it’s springtime, and a new chance for self-improvement. When it comes to spring-cleaning your finances, consider a host of paperless, earth-friendly account management programs. The days of printed and mailed bank statements, mailed account alerts and newsletters are quickly coming to an end, and more people are choosing to automate their finances with online, mobile and e-mail features. Here are four things I do to “go green” and these things might make you consider ditching the paper trail, too.


One pitfall of paper is that it’s not very speedy. So, most credit unions and banks now offer completely safe, reliable and free ways to keep tabs on your money, without ever opening an envelope.

Online statements: you can check up on your current account balances any time you like; it’s also a great daily tool for seeing where your money’s going, and using that info to build or maintain a responsible budget.

With electronic account alerts, you’ll hear via e-mail or phone about any transactions or other events attached to your accounts.

Scheduled transfers cut out the bill-paying middle man; just choose what day you need to have money leave your account in order to pay a recurring bill, and then forget about it. You can also hook up a series of money-management reminders - email or text - to keep you on your toes, too.


Apps. They’re not just before dinner anymore. They’re key pieces of keeping tabs on your finances and mobile deposits. Mobile banking allows any smartphone or tablet user can take their bank anywhere, and access their accounts anywhere, anytime.

Why choose mobile banking? It’s ultra current. By relying only on online statements, you are seeing just the transactions and balances as of a particular cut-off date. Through Online Banking or Mobile Banking, you will see your transactions reflected on your account as soon as they occur, which gives you the most recent balance available.

One of the newer mobile device features - mobile deposits. It’s pretty much exactly what you’re picturing; with the app, you can select “make a deposit,” enter the amount, and then use your device to take photos - front and back - of the check you wish to deposit and then send away.

And in case you were going to cheekily inquire, no - this deposit feature DOESN’T work with cash. :)

You can also take advantage of person-to-person transactions through the Online Banking login – for example, our members can send money electronically to people, even if they bank elsewhere.

Additionally, through an Account to Account payment system (also in Online Banking) members who have bank accounts elsewhere can access their money at those other financial institutions to - for example, make payments electronically on their credit union loans.

These two services traditionally would have required sending checks through the mail, paying cash in person, etc.


A good financial institution doesn’t have time to spam you with unnecessary information - they’ll simply keep you up to date on banking changes, security topics and other important information for members. And, you’ll get that information much more efficiently than through snail-mail.


Websites - like ours - are now quite intricate, and thanks to the juggernaut that is the world of social media, you have lots of ways to keep up with everything happening at your credit union. Check out the top of the home page to see how many platforms we’re using, and find the ones you’re most comfortable with.  Note: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is updating its website, and it should be completed by mid May.


Mother nature smiles every time a customer goes paperless. And, considering Earth Day is just a few weeks away, it’s a great time to make the leap.

Of course, a credit union’s website is always a great place to learn about paperless/mobile features - and we’re here to help you anytime you like!



Friday, March 21, 2014

Grocery Shopping Tips

Check out the tips below to help you on your next grocery shopping excursion:

Make a List and Stick to It!
  • Check your house for items that you need and write them down. Set up a meal plan for the week and buy only the items you need for your meals.
  • The second part is key, don’t stray from the list. If you tend to buy items that aren’t on your list, think about adding a “bonus” item. This way you can get something that catches your eye, but make sure to only add one bonus item so you don’t end up with a cart full of unneeded items.
Coupons, Coupons and Coupons!
  • We all know that coupons are good. However how many times do you throw out a .50 off or .20 off coupon, or just plain forget… Those small amounts can add up over a year. Check weekly ads for BOGO items too.
  • Attach your coupons to your grocery list, this way you will have them in hand when you go to check out.
  • Build your weekly meal plan around items that are on sale, you have coupons for or are BOGO. This can save you $$
Buy in Bulk (sometimes)!
  • Buy in bulk for items that won’t expire or you know you will use up quickly. Some good items are: canned foods, frozen food, meat (you can store these separate and freeze), spices, cereal, ketchup, canned sauces, noodles, nuts, paper towels, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
Lose the Brand Names!
  • Today you can find pretty much the same item in an off brand or generic brand. Although there are some items that are always better in the brand name, it doesn’t hurt to try something new. Why spend the extra cash on items if you can same thing cheaper with the same ingredients.
  • Most stores have the generic brands located right next to the brand name items, making it easier to compare ingredients and price.
Watch the Register!
  • Keep an eye out on when the items are being rung up, make sure your sale items and coupons are pricing correctly. Or check the receipt before you leave the store to make sure you got the correct prices.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

March Madness Wellness Style Week #3

We are entering the final week of March Madness Wellness Style!

Week 3 Challenges

One Point =
  • Drink 2 Glasses of Milk
  • Eat 2 Servings, Your Choice of: Orange, Strawberries
  • Eat 2 Servings, Your Choice of: Peas, Cucumber
  • 10 Minutes of Leisure (relaxing) Time (LIMIT ONE PER DAY)
  • Save $3.00

Two Points=
  • Eat Breakfast (LIMIT ONE PER DAY)
  • Eat 3 Servings, Your Choice of: Peach, Kiwi
  • Eat 3 Servings, Your Choice of: Bell Pepper, Cauliflower
  • 10 Minutes of Quiet Time (LIMIT ONE PER DAY)
  • 15 Minutes of Stretching (LIMIT TWO PER DAY)
  • 20 Minutes of Reading (LIMIT TWO PER DAY)
Three Points=
  • Drink 3 Glasses of Water
  • Eat 1 Serving, Your Choice of: Kumquat, Mango
  • Eat 1 Serving, Your Choice of: Radish, Eggplant
  • 30 Minutes of Physical Activity (walking, running, biking, lifting, etc…)

Financial Fitness Workshop Series

We will be conducting a "Financial Fitness Workshop Series" of financial literacy programs on April 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Great River Regional Library in downtown St. Cloud.

Week 1 – April 1st, 2014 Don’t Be An April Fool! Attend Financial Fitness!

Presenter: St. Cloud State University’s Center for Economic Education
  • Intro Quiz- What is your Money Personality? 
  • Budgeting Project- How should you allocate your income (activity)? 
  • Mending Your Spending 

Week 2 – April 8th, 2014 Your Credit: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Presenter: St. Cloud State University’s Center for Economic Education and St. Cloud Federal Credit Union

  • How it works 
  • How to build it 
  • How to talk to your kids about it 

Week 3 – April 15th, 2014 Home Buying 101

Presenter: Jim Arnold – St. Cloud Federal Credit Union
  • Buying vs Renting 
  • Analyzing income and expenses 
  • Credit Scores 
  • Different Loan Types 
  • Money needed to purchase 

Week 4 – April 22nd , 2014 Drafting Your Financial Blueprint

Presenter: Jackie Evavold – St Cloud Federal Credit Union
  • Funding college education 
  • Minimizing taxes by allocating your resources 
  • Consider the benefits of a Roth IRA 
  • Planning for income in retirement 
  • Do you need an estate plan? 

Week 5 – April 29th, 2014 Protecting Your Good Name

Presenter: St Cloud Federal Credit Union
  • Credit Monitoring 
  • Identity theft 
  • Payday loans, credit cards and other products 
  • Credit Awareness 
  • Program Evaluation & Wrap Up

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

FRAUD ALERT: Reported Phishing Calls to ATIRAcredit™ Cardmembers

TMG Financial Services was recently notified that some ATIRAcredit cardmembers have been receiving calls from an automated dialer notifying them their ATIRAcredit MasterCard account is being closed. They are then prompted to press "1" for more information, and then to enter their 16-digit account number. This is a fraud attempt to obtain cardmember information; these calls are not coming from ATIRAcredit.

Cardmembers should not respond to these attempts or provide account information. However, if you have a cardmember who did provide information through this scam, please have them complete a lost/stolen report as soon as possible by calling 888.4.ATIRA.1(888.428.4721).

Reminders for Cardmembers:

  • Neither ATIRAcredit or St. Cloud Federal Credit Union will ever call and ask for your 16-digit account number.

If you suspect the call is fraudulent, please hang up and dial the number on the back of your card directly (888.4.ATIRA.1).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

March Madness Wellness Challenge #2

Week Two: 03/09---03/13 

One Point = 
  • Drink 2 Glass of Milk 
  • Eat 1 Serving, Your Choice of: Grapes, Pear 
  • Eat 1 Serving, Your Choice of: Carrots, Potato 
  • 10 Minutes of Leisure (relaxing) Time (LIMIT ONE PER DAY) 
  • Save $2.00 

Two Point = 
Eat Breakfast (LIMIT ONE PER DAY) 
  • Eat 2 Servings, Your Choice of: Grapefruit, Plum 
  • Eat 2 Servings, Your Choice of: Asparagus, Broccoli 
  • 10 Minutes of Quiet Time (LIMIT ONE PER DAY) 
  • 15 Minutes of Stretching (LIMIT TWO PER DAY) 
  • 20 Minutes of Reading (LIMIT TWO PER DAY) 

Three Point = Drink 3 Glasses of Water 
  • Eat 1 Serving, Your Choice of: Star Fruit, Pineapple 
  • Eat 1 Serving, Your Choice of: Beet, Avocado 
  • 25 Minutes of Physical Activity (walking, running, biking, lifting, etc…) 

**Total Savings Points Capped at 200

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Madness Wellness Tip Week #1

March Madness Wellness Tip

There are many preservatives in foods that we don’t know are bad for us. Some of these preservatives are BANNED in other countries but still allowed in US food products. Below is a list of what preservatives to watch for and a list of healthy alternatives.

  • Brominated Vegetable Oil & Potassium Bromate 
    • Banned in Europe, China, Canada and over 100 other Countries. 
    • Bromine is a chemical that makes dye stick to liquid. It is also added to carpet as a flame retardant. It is linked to birth defects, organ damage, kidney and nervous system damage, thyroid problems. 
    • Brominated Vegetable Oil is found in soda and Potassium Bromate is found in certain breads. 
  • Food Dye: 
    • Banned in Norway, Austria, UK and other Countries require a warning label when using certain food dye. 
    • Red#40, Blue#1, Blue#2, FD&C, Yellow#5 are a just a few made with petroleum. Petroleum is also used to make gas for our car, asphalt and tar. It has been linked to brain cancer, hyperactivity and nerve cell deterioration. 
  • BHA & BHT: 
    • Banned in Japan, UK and over 100 other Countries. 
    • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) are waxy preservatives added to foods to prevent from spoiling. They have been linked to cancer. 
    • BHA and BHT can be found in butter, meat, dehydrated potatoes, gum, nut mixtures and cereal to name a few. 
  • Potassium Sorbate: 
    • Used to prevent mold in products such as cheese, yogurt, wine, pickles, dried meat, apple cider and certain dips. 
  • Benzoate: 
    • Used in carbonated drinks, pickles, fish, salad dressings and fruit juices to enhance flavor. 
  • Sulphur Dioxide & Sulphites: 
    • Used to preserve flavor and color in fruits, dried fruits, vinegar, juices, soda, sauces, beers and wines. 
  • Propionates: 
    • Used to prevent mold in bakery items. 
  • Sodium Nitrate & Sodium Nitrite: 
    • Used in processed meat such as bacon, ham, sausages, hot docs, luncheon meats, cured meats and smoked fish to preserve the meat.


Read the labels carefully and look for the use of natural preservatives.
  • Fresh Fruit 
  • Fresh Vegetables 
  • Natural Almonds 
  • Natural Hummus & Preservative Free Crackers 
  • Organic Snack Bars 
  • Pretzels (preservative free) 
  • Popcorn (popped from the kernel) 
  • Natural Flavored Water (take water and add in fresh fruit or vegetables to get flavor) 
  • Fresh Bread (preservative free) 

REMEMBER: It is very hard to cut all preservatives out of our diet and in small amounts the preservatives are normally okay to consume. Just think about what you eat on a daily basis and how it could all add up… Instead of a bag of chips or cookie swap it out for an apple or carrot sticks.