Thursday, January 30, 2014

Be Financially Fit This Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day isn’t always about lavish and expensive gifts. It’s about taking a day to show your loved ones how much you appreciate them! Celebrating Valentine’s Day doesn’t need to put a dent in your wallet; there are many fun, affordable Valentine’s Day activities.

Affordable Valentine’s Day Ideas for Your Sweetie 

Watch a Movie Together
If ice-skating is too much of a slippery slope for you, consider spending the night at home. Make your favorite movie snack, relax on your couch and watch a movie together! Romantic movies are popular on Valentine’s Day but if that is not “your thing”, choose a movie you both will enjoy no matter the genre.

Ice Skating
The MAC has open skating both on Valentine’s Day and Sunday February 16th. Adults are only $6 each and skate rentals are only $3.00 per pair.  Whether you’re a pro at skating or someone who is a board hugger, skating with your sweetie will be a blast! After you make a few laps around the rink, take a break with a cup of Hot Chocolate.

Share a Present
Think of one gift you both want and can enjoy together. It could be a practical item like an appliance or it could be something as simple as a fancy bottle of wine. Whatever it is make sure it is something you both want!

Make Handmade Vouchers
This is a gift you can really get creative with! Here are some examples: half hour massage, make dinner for you, do your least favorite chore.

Make “54 things I love about you” gift
It’s an affordable and thoughtful gift. All you need is a deck of cards, paper and a printer (or marker).

Affordable Valentine’s Ideas for Kids

Valentine’s seem to be getting more and more expensive and class sizes aren’t getting any smaller. Below are examples of DIY Valentines you can make at an affordable price with out looking cheap:

Pipe Cleaner Rings:  All you need to buy is a bag of Hersey’s Kiss, and pipe cleaners. Use paper that you have around your house to write the Valentines Day message. (Cost for 30 of these: $6 to $8)

Super Hero lollipop: All you need to buy is a lollipop and use any paper, and crayons you have around the house to decorate your super hero! (Cost for 30 of these: $4 to $6)

Mad Lib Valentine: Instead of getting candy, print off a Valentine’s Day Mad Lib and roll it up and tie a paper heart around it. Add decorative paper if you have some lying around the house. If you need paper, Crafts Directs Discount store has scrapbook paper for 10 to 25 cents a paper (three sheets should be enough). (Cost for 30 of these: $4 to $5)

These ideas are sure to make your Valentine’s Day special. You don’t have to break the piggy bank to celebrate. All that matters is that you are spending the day with the ones you love!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Meet Faye!

Hi all, Phoebs here…as many of you recall, I work with the folks at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union to educate, support, and encourage our Members to become Financially Fit. More recently, I’ve been helping my friend Frank look at his financial choices and help him find ways to make healthier decisions that can impact his overall Financial Fitness, which as many of us know – effects our overall well‐being.

Now I’d like to introduce you to my good friend Faye. I met Faye in college, and even though she’s a few years older than me, we’ve been great friends ever since. Faye is very intelligent and has been very successful over the years. After college she landed her ‘dream job’… which in her words, came with ‘a dream salary’. Because Faye makes a good deal of money, she doesn’t feel the need to budget and likes to ‘spoil’ herself and others from time to time – which isn’t a bad thing, but when it comes to working on Financial Fitness, I could tell Faye was struggling.

As I mentioned, Faye is extremely smart and savvy, so the conversation about Financial Fitness goals wasn’t an easy one; she tends to get embarrassed when talk of retirement plans, credit scores, and savings accounts are part of the conversation because it’s not something she’s familiar with. I explained to Faye that you should never be embarrassed to talk to someone about your finances – and many of us don’t understand some of those intimidating terms! A few years back when I struggled with my own Financial Fitness, it felt great to talk with the my friends at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union – they’re supportive, approachable, and very understanding…I assured Faye that it’s OK (and healthy!) to ask for a little help sometimes!

Long story short, after a great chat (and, ok, a little coaxing and encouragement), Faye has agreed that together we can get her on the track to Financial Fitness, and make her feel better about where her hard‐earned money is going (and not going).

Faye has been such a great friend to me, and I can’t wait to help her with Financial Fitness goals in any way I can. I’m sure I’ll be writing again soon to discuss our progress and/or road blocks. I’m excited to introduce her to all of you, and the friendly faces at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union – together we can make our financial dreams a reality!



Friday, January 24, 2014

Student Loan Program through Lendkey Testimonial

"I just wanted to tell you about my GREAT experience with the Student Loan Program through Lendkey. My son applied the other day and added me as a co-signer. LendKey is VERY QUICK with their correspondence. Both my son and I had to download documents for them and it was very easy. One of my son's docs had to be resubmitted as a PDF and it took maybe 5 minutes before they responded, saying that they had received everything and that we should hear soon whether or not our loan was approved. THEN, just this morning, I learned that the loan was approved. I soon received an email containing a link to sign the loan documents online thru the Docusign service! Super easy!

This loan is to be applied for AFTER you have exhausted all other avenues such as government loans,both subsidized and unsubsidized; scholarships, etc. It's like the Parent Plus loan that the schools offer. My son is attending the U of M in the Twin Cities and their Parent loan offer to us was a higher rate of 6.9% AND for every advance, they charge a 4% origination fee...the LendKey program through the credit union has NO ORIGINATION FEE! (Interest rates are based on your credit.)
I can't say enough good things about this program." - Tammy B.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Be Financially Fit in 2014

Hi everyone, its Financially Fit Phoebe here! The New Year is here and it’s the perfect time to take control of your finances! Here are four things that I plan on focusing on to be financially fit and so can you!


Create a monthly budget. I know this is easier said than done, there have been times that even I’m temped to break my budget! The key to having a successful budget is to have “fun money” set aside each month for you to spend. As long as you don’t go over your “fun money” limit, you can still have fun and stay on budget. When creating your budget it is important to include EVERYTHING: such as grocery, utilities, mortgage/rent, debt, clothing, transportation, phone/cable bills, “fun money”, insurance, and other bills you may have. Your budget should also include savings goals.

Set Savings Goals

It is important to think “spend what is left after saving” rather than “saving what is left over from spending”. Each month you should have a set amount of what you will put into your savings. I recommend starting out by putting 10% of your income to savings. If that seems like too much for you right now, start by putting $20 in your savings a month. Any little bit will help. Once you have a handle on saving, start setting monthly and yearly savings goals.

Get out of Debt

Write down all of your debts from highest annual interest rate to the lowest annual interest rate. Debt with the highest interest rate should be what you begin to pay off first. One way to pay off debt faster is by reducing your monthly expenses.

Take Control of Your Spending

What I recommend doing is writing down what you spent your money on for the last two months. I mean everything… down to the penny! This will help you determine what you can cut back on. Some ways that I cut down on my spending include: not buying name brands, looking for the best sale price, bringing a lunch from home, upcycling, and using coupons.


There are many finance and budgeting apps out there. Some of my favorites include iReconcile, Expenditure, MoneyBook, Toshl, and Mint. Our SCFCU Banking app helps you keep track of what you are spending and how much money you have in your account at all times (it can help you spot any potential theft).

Finance Calculators

We have many calculators you can use to help reach your goals!
All Calculators
Household Budget Calculator
“Benefit of Spending Less” Calculators
“Savings Goals” Calculators

It’s never too late to become financially fit. The St. Cloud Federal Credit Union team and I are here to help you gain control of your finances and to help you embrace the “financially fit” lifestyle!