Friday, August 11, 2017

3 Budgeting Tips for Newly-Independent College Students

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College is expensive - this is well-known. The real price of college doesn’t really hit new students until they are in the middle of their first semester sitting in their dorm room eating ramen and selling old clothes and shoes to buy one last book.

The rising tuition costs, student loans, and the real world costs of living on your own can hit fast, so preparing yourself for college life will benefit you more than you realize. It may not seem like it, but the decisions you make with your finances while you are beginning and in college will have a significant effect on your financial future. Knowing how to budget your money wisely – especially if you are taking out student loans – will be very important in the long run.

AdobeStock_19674187.jpegLive Within Your Means

It’s okay to go out with your friends and to make late night runs to the grab-and-go now and then, but don’t make it a weekly event. Knowing how much extra spending money you have each week and not spending more than that said amount is vital to staying afloat financially. You don’t need to order Domino’s every week, no matter what your roommate tries to convince you. The Federal Student Aid website also lays out some guidelines about how to not get behind on your finances when you’re in college.

Don’t Overestimate Your Income

If you work a job where your paycheck is about the same every week, that can make budgeting a bit easier to determine. If you have a college job where you earn your wages on tips or commission, however, this can be tricky. Overestimating your income or your paycheck can really hurt you when you open the envelope and it isn’t what you expected. That is why underestimating your weekly income and spending less than what you think you have will help you save money in the long run.

Start a Budget That Works For You

Everyone has different priorities and everyone spends their money differently. If you are looking to start a budget that works for you, Pinterest has a ton of great ideas for college students from how to balance school, a job, and a social life to where to put your money and what to spend it on.

No matter what school you decide to attend or how you decide to spend your money while you’re there, putting money into savings for books, school supplies and other necessities is very important. Finding a bank that will help you save for your future is also something that can benefit you greatly. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is focused on your future, let us help you prepare for some of the greatest years of your life!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Named One of the 2017 Top 150 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune

Photo from left to right Sarah Mason (Chief Administrative Officer), Mark Douvier (Vice President of Lending, and Alyce Justin (Executive Vice President/COO)
St. Cloud, Minnesota: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is proud to announce they have been named one of the 2017 Top 150 Workplaces in Minnesota by the Star Tribune. With over 15,000 Minnesota companies, this prestigious award is a tremendous honor as it is won as a result of employee feedback. The announcement was made official at a statewide luncheon hosted in Minneapolis on June 21, and will also be published in the Star Tribune Top Workplaces special section on Sunday, June 25. 
The rankings in the Star Tribune Top 150 Workplaces are based on survey information collected by WorkplaceDynamics, an independent company specializing in employee engagement and retention. Top Workplaces recognizes the most progressive companies in Minnesota based on employee opinions measuring engagement, organizational health, and satisfaction. The analysis included responses from over 69,000 employees at Minnesota public, private, and nonprofit organizations. 
Jed A. Meyer, President and CEO, and Sarah Mason, Chief Administrative Officer from St. Cloud Federal Credit Union are honored to receive the award. “Employees are the heart and soul of our organization. As a credit union, how our employees feel is so important to helping us achieve our mission to make a meaningful difference. I could not be happier they know and feel we value them as one united team!” stated Meyer. 
“Passion Matters” is our number one core value because it unites us together in a shared mission with common values. I am so proud of the team we’ve built and want to thank every employee for their great feedback which led to this award!” stated Mason.
Star Tribune Publisher Michael J. Klingensmith said, “The companies in the
Star Tribune Top 150 Workplaces deserve high praise for creating the very best work environments in the state of Minnesota. My congratulations to each of these exceptional companies.”  

About St. Cloud Federal Credit Union: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative founded in 1930. Currently with over 19,000 members and over $160 million in assets, the credit union is proud to serve members in Central Minnesota with branches in St. Cloud and Sartell. The organization prides itself on making a meaningful difference for members and their local communities. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

What Does a Meaningful Difference Mean to Me?

What Does a Meaningful Difference Mean to Me?
At St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, a part of our philosophy is to create a meaningful difference for our members and our community. One SCFCU employee – Kjersten Fisher – sought to answer the question, “What does a meaningful difference mean to me?” This is what she came up with:


When I first started at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union, I was asked to make a meaningful difference for at least two people. I was a little hesitant, what does that look like? How will I know who to choose? To me, good customer service was doing what the member asked, with a smile & maybe a little small talk.
I came across one member who was depositing some money into her sister’s account. Her sister was a little low that month and she was helping her out. In her words, “Because that’s what sister’s do.” I come from a background of 3 sisters, and while in college, we always helped the others out – whether getting lunch or spotting for a new item of clothing. I really connected with what this member was doing. So I decided I wanted to do something for her. I mailed her a gift card to the new Hobby Lobby store with a little note about how I related to her.

A couple weeks went by and then my boss called me into her office. “I want you to listen to this, as she played me a voicemail from the member. On the voicemail, the member was near tears saying how much she needed something like that and thanked me for my kindness.

It was at that moment that it hit me; it wasn’t because I had given her gift card or even the amount. It was the meaning behind it. She does so much for others that it surprised her when the favor was returned.
Working here is unlike any company I have worked under. We want to do better for our members; not just in product or services, but in life. Making a meaningful difference means going beyond “good customer service.” It is more, “How can I make sure you know you are valued as a member and a human being?”

I have done a couple of meaningful differences since then, but the impact my first one had on me is one that will always stick with me.

– Kjersten Fisher, Marketing Specialist

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is owned and operated by our members. Our board of directors is made up of volunteers, not industry big-wigs. We want to focus on helping our members enjoy the banking experience in more than the traditional ways. That’s what making a meaningful difference means to us.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Celebrating National Bring Your Kids to Work Day with St. Cloud Federal Credit Union

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This past April, St.Cloud Federal Credit Union celebrated National Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. As part of an activity, Sarah Mason gave each child $10 to make a difference in someone's life. We got some interesting stories back from the kids’ experiences, and we’d like to share a few with you.


I took my kids out to eat for lunch at Waffle It. I was sitting at the table waiting for our food while the kids were playing at the play area and my daughter Jayla comes up to me to tell me she wants to give away her $10 to the elderly couple sitting in the other room. I told her she doesn't have to do it right away and it can be another day if she wants to wait. She insisted she wanted to make a difference right now. Then I asked her why she's choosing them, she just said, “Because, I just want to make a difference in their day today.”

We went over to the couple and I introduced us and explained that it was Take Your Kids to Work Day today & SCFCU wanted the kids to make a difference and that my daughter wanted to give them something.

Jayla laid the $10 on their table and it was THE BEST MOMENT for all of us. The couple's eyes started watering; the husband's lips were trembling and he was speechless. His wife put her fork down to touch her heart and Jayla's face was beaming with happiness! The wife asked, "What do we owe you?" I said, "Nothing. My daughter wanted you guys to have this so you can enjoy your next meal or outing."The wife was shocked and touched.

The husband came to our table before he left and said to Jayla, "I just wanted you to know how deeply touched we are by what you just did. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness. From a Marine, you are a princess."She just smiled the whole time and said, "You're Welcome."

After he left, she said to me "I wish I could make a difference every day; it makes me feel happier." Of course, I told her she can make a difference as many times a day she wants and as long as she wants.

Thank you SCFCU for giving us the opportunity to show my daughter her new passion.


As we were pulling into Red Robin, we saw an older gentleman. We pulled up alongside him while he was on the sidewalk. Bethany started a conversation, explaining who we were and what we were doing. Nicholas happened to be on the passenger side of the car, and gave the man his $10. He was speechless, he could not believe it. He even asked a few times, is this for real? He was so grateful, and surprised. He thanked us several times, and said “God Bless You” to us. As we drove away, he just stood there watching in disbelief.


There was such an amazing, wonderful and warm feeling inside the vehicle of happiness, excitement, and pride. I just want to say a HUGE thank you Jed, Sarah, Alyce, Jordan, Rebekah and everyone who had helped to make this wonderful day happen. It meant so much to myself, and my son Brent, to share the day and the experience together. I asked Brent if there was anything he would change, and the last 2 years, he has the same answer, “I wish it was more than once a year!"


I just received a call from a member asking if we were the credit union giving away $10.00 dollars. I told him yes and explained that it was take your kids to work day and that we wanted each child to make a difference with the money they were given.

He continued to say that he was surprised and wanted to say thank you so much, that was the nicest thing to receive and very proud of what we were teaching the younger generation.

He said “You are my Credit Union too”!!"


Beckett had waited to give away her $10 and she did it this morning at Coborns. She gave it an older gentleman that was waiting in line to pay. He was almost to tears and first tried to give it back to her and she said he couldn’t. Then he asked if he could give her a hug and she did. The cutest thing was when we got in the car, I asked her how that felt. She said at first she wanted to keep the money but after she gave it away she felt “gooder”!

Thanks for the opportunity to have our kids experience that feeling!"

As a company, it feels great to get to know one another better though our children, it also feels great to teach our children about the effects of helping others and share our stories with one another. That is also why we would like to share our experiences with our members! If you’re looking to start teaching your children about saving money, doing the right thing, and giving back to others, let the experts at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union help get you started!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Grey Face Rescue Drive

We are having a supply drive for Grey Face Rescue & Retirement from May 16th-29th! Listed below are the supplies needed during the drive. We appreciate any all the contributions. All three branches will be excepting donations.

  • Grooming supplies (brushes, combs, shampoo) 
  • A variety of dog tags with "Grey Face Foster -" on them 
  • A variety of dog tags with "Adopted from Grey Face Rescue" on them 
  • Flea & Tick and Heartworm Preventative (All Sizes) 
  • Ink (HP 62) 
  • Plastic Storage Tubs 
  • Gas Gift Cards 
  • Fast Food Gift Cards ($5 increments for Hospice Dogs) 
  • Incentive Gift Cards ($15 increments, Target, Walmart, etc.) 
  • Stamps 
  • Self-Seal Envelopes 
  • Shipping Tape 
  • Senior Dog Food (including Hills J/D Joint Care or sensitive skin formulas) 
  • Senior Wet Dog Food 
  • Orthopedic Dog Beds (All Sizes) 
  • Multi-Vitamins and Supplements 
  • Dental Bones 
  • Toys, Kongs 
  • Treats 
  • Kennels (All Sizes) 
  • Leashes

Thursday, May 4, 2017

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union Launches Second Annual Community Recognition Program

ChangeMakers: Giving back to those who make a difference. 

St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is proud to announce the second annual launch of a community recognition program: ChangeMakers: Giving back to those who make a difference. This partnership with St. Cloud Times Media is intended to highlight people who may get little recognition while doing great things in the community. 

For 6 weeks, one person will be selected to receive the recognition which includes a news story and $500. This program was created for people who help to improve the local community on their own initiative, demonstrating they put others before themselves while showing service efforts are ongoing.

“Our second year is off to another great start in finding people in our community who don’t even know the difference they make on others. We have the unique opportunity to recognize them and I am proud we sponsor such a meaningful program!” stated Alyce Justin, Chief Operation Officer/Executive Vice President of St. Cloud Federal Credit Union. The credit union is funding the program and was proud to award the first winner, Ray Tuholsky of St. Anna, MN. Mr. Tuholsky has spent years making and donating various items while befriending the many people he comes into contact with. 

“The people who work to make changes for the better in our community are sometimes locally famous, but just as often do their work humbly in the background. So, it’s an honor to shine a light on the great people who are doing noteworthy work for their neighbors, without widespread notice. It’s even better knowing they’re getting some financial help for their cause from St. Cloud Federal Credit Union,” stated Lisa Schwarz, News Director for St. Cloud Times Media. 

More information with video of the first winner can be found here.
Nomination forms can be found here.

About St. Cloud Federal Credit Union: St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial cooperative founded in 1930. Currently with over 19,000 members and over $160 million in assets, the credit union is proud to serve members in Central Minnesota with branches in St. Cloud and Sartell. The organization prides itself on making a meaningful difference for members and their local communities.  

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Teaching Your Children to Control Their Finances

April is National Youth Savings Month, which is a good time to show that we value each of our members–especially the children! If you haven’t already, now is a good time to teach your kids about the value of a dollar and the power of financial control. Show them that they can invest, manage and grow their money as they grow, too. We’ve gathered easy ways children can build their savings and learn to be financially secure.

Set Up a Savings Account

To get started, set up a Youth Savings Account at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union. We provide youth savings accounts from birth to age 16. Valuable benefits come along with all youth accounts. Special incentives are given to children who make a deposit and prizes are awarded when a new youth account is opened! Our savings accounts are designed to make financial sense to youth and young teens–not just their parents.

Use Birthdays and Special Occasions as a Learning Opportunity

Children are given a number of gifts every year for their birthdays and holidays. Most of the gifts and cash they receive gets forgotten and rarely makes an impact on the child’s future. Next time your child receives cash for a gift, teach them that setting aside a percentage for later will be valuable for their future. Encourage them to save up for a big-ticket item instead of asking for one for gifts. This way, not only will your child get what they want, but they will understand the means it takes to get it.
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Set Chores Around the House

According to The Center for Parenting Education, “Research indicates that those children who have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification...” Not only can your children earn small rewards for doing their chores, they are becoming financially fit without realizing it!

Encourage Your Kids to Become Mini Entrepreneurs

The next sunny summer day, make some lemonade with your children and help them set up a stand. They will begin to understand the value of working for the money you earn and exposes them to the idea of success. They’ll better understand finance by making change and saving their profits.


Babysitting teaches responsibility and will help young teens prepare for the future. Babysitting is common for young kids to put on their first job applications. The quality lessons they’ve learned will better prepare them for future jobs. The cash they earned can be put into savings for the future, too!

These are just a few of the ways you can get your kids involved in saving and becoming more financially savvy. For more ideas, follow St. Cloud Federal Credit Union on Facebook, or visit our website.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Planning for a Spring Home Project Without Going into Debt

If you haven’t already begun, now is the perfect time to begin planning for your spring home projects! Whether you are looking to tackle an expansion or to update your furniture, you will have to face the question of “how am I going to pay for this?” With careful planning, a spring home project should not put you into significant debt. Take a look at our best tips on budgeting for a home project.

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1. Have a Realistic Vision

Will that new home trend you have your eye on stand the test of time? Can you justify spending thousands of dollars on an outdoor kitchen if you only grill once or twice a summer? Set realistic expectations for your design to stay on budget.

2. Shop Around and Do Your Research

When you are hiring professionals, consider a few factors. Take a look at certifications, licensing, pricing, reputation, and customer testimonials. Get advice from experts and referrals from friends who have gone through home renovation experiences. Be thorough in your research in order to get an idea of the scope, price, return on investment, and how your renovations would contribute to the property value of your home.

If you are looking for projects to get the most bang for your buck, choose projects that are simple, energy-efficient, and low-maintenance as well as fitting in with the property value of similar homes in your neighborhood. Find inspiration in the following popular home improvement projects:
  • Wood deck upgrades
  • Re-roofing the house
  • Vinyl or foam-backed vinyl siding replacement
  • Adding an extension
  • Kitchen updates
  • Bathroom remodel
  • Basement remodel
  • Energy-efficient lighting and appliance upgrades
  • Landscaping the front yard

3. Plan it Out

Every successful project starts with a considerable amount of planning. Be sure to map out the details of your project in order to maximize efficiency and minimize stress. Organize a timeline and budget for your project. This planning phase of your project could potentially save you tons of money.


4. Seek the Help of a Professional

DIY home improvements can feel rewarding, but if done poorly, it could cost you even more in time and money to have work redone. Consider if the project is worth your time and effort. Do you have the necessary equipment and expertise to complete the project properly? Additionally, there are projects that should definitely be left to professionals, such as electrical, plumbing, and gas work. If you decide to seek the help of a professional, read these tips for hiring a home improvement contractor.

5. Search for Financing Options

To help keep your budget under control, seek out financing options. St. Cloud Federal Credit Union offers a Home Equity Line of Credit. The Home Equity Line of Credit is a form of revolving credit that allows you to withdraw money when you need it using the equity of your home as collateral. Currently, St. Cloud Federal Credit Union is offering an introductory rate of 2.99% and no closing costs.

*2.99% is an introductory rate for 24 months. After the introductory period, rates will go into standard pricing (Prime Rate + 1%). Available for a limited time only to qualified borrowers on approved credit.

Whether making spring cleaning changes or complete renovations, get started with a realistic goal, plenty of research, a well-thought plan, professional assistance, and financial help from St. Cloud Federal Credit Union.

Friday, January 13, 2017

New Year’s Resolutions for Financial Health

Next to physical health, financial health is at the center of many Americans’ New Year’s resolutions. If you’ve resolved to finally get your finances in check this year, use these tips to save more, spend less, and make this your year!

Like other lofty goals, taking small, manageable steps in the right direction is going to be the key to actually succeeding. And just like other improvements in one’s life, deciding to make a change is the biggest hurdle to making a difference.

1. Save Wherever You Can

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 2.38.56 PM.pngA person’s financial health depends on many factors, not the least of which is their ability to pay for emergencies out of savings rather than cash flow. So how do you boost your savings on regular basis?
First, decide on the portion of your tax return, bonus, or financial windfall that will go to your savings account and what will go toward paying off any debt you may be carrying. Second, slide some of your income into savings before it even gets into your hands. Use payroll deductions from St. Cloud Federal Credit Union to put a portion of your paycheck directly into savings.

2. Get on the Same Page as Your Spouse

According to a study by SunTrust banks, nearly half of all respondents have different spending habits than their partners, which is why this made our list. It is difficult to reach financial goals as a couple if you don’t agree on the goals or how to get there. Not to mention that financial stress is the number one cause of marital stress for those who indicated stress in their relationship.


Sit down together and take stock of where your finances are. Make the following decisions together:
  • Decide what you’d like to accomplish in the next year, whether it’s paying down debt, opening a college savings fund, or just keeping monthly spending to a specific and firm budget. 
  • Decide who is best to manage your finances. If the current arrangement isn’t working, think about having the other person step in.
  • Set your budget and make a plan to stick to it. That brings us to the next suggestion.

3. Watch Those Little Purchases

Whether you’re single or attached, make a budget. Look carefully at your monthly and yearly income, and where it was spent last year. Are you happy with what you see? Is it what you expected?

Setting a weekly and monthly budget with spending caps can help you reach your year-end goals. Watch those little purchases that may have made up more of your spending than you thought, such a parking, eating out, coffeehouse visits, or traffic tickets. Although they seem small at the time, adding these small tickets to your burden every single week or month will end up creating a big hole in your financial plan.

4. Watch Those Big Purchases

Ah, the splurge. Whether it was a Christmas gift or a mid-winter vacation, one large purchase outside the scope of your budget can throw things off for months. Discuss these big ticket items with a financial advisor to proactively set a plan for achieving it. Americans often have a habit of buying first and thinking about it later, which is a sure way to rack up debt. Shop around, compare prices, check your impulses, and remember that it’s ok to say no to yourself in favor of your greater goals of financial freedom.


5. Check Interest Rates

If reducing your debt is one of your goals—and if you have debt, it should be—look at the interest rates you’re paying. Get rid of the balances that carry the highest rate, and work down from there. If you’re not sure where to start, this is one strategy for tackling debt.

Similarly, compare interest rates for savings accounts and money market accounts. Talk with a representative at St. Cloud Federal Credit Union to determine if the money you’re saving could be earning you more.

6. Plan for Retirement

According to the 2016 Financial Literacy Survey, one-quarter of Americans don’t save any of their annual income toward retirement. Lauren Brouhard, Senior Vice President of Retirement at Fidelity Investments, recommends saving 15% of your income to ensure a comfortable retirement.

If you haven’t opened your 401k retirement plan or checked in on its performance, do that immediately. If your employer offers a matching contribution to your 401k, be sure to take advantage.

For assistance with any of these tactics, we encourage you to let St. Cloud Federal Credit Union help you maintain this year’s New Year’s resolutions!