Friday, March 3, 2017

Community Choice Credit Union Foundation awards capacity-building grant to Jackson-based NonProfit Network

Community Choice Credit Union Foundation announces that the Jackson-based Nonprofit Network will be awarded a $3,000 grant. The award was chosen ahead of Community Choice’s anticipated merger with Michigan Community Credit Union in order to honor the charitable relationships MCCU has developed in the Jackson community and its commitment to supporting local nonprofits and community needs. MCCU staff enthusiastically supported Nonprofit Network as the recipient of Community Choice Foundation’s Give Big Grant, which is awarded quarterly to Michigan nonprofits that are valuably influencing local communities.


Above (left to right): Crystal Lewis, Community Outreach & Financial Education Coordinator at Community Choice Credit Union, Cherie Good, Mortgage Loan Originator at Michigan Community Credit Union, Steven Hernandez, Foundation Development Coordinator at Community Choice Credit Union, Regina Pinney, Executive Director of Nonprofit Network, and Liz Hoffius, Marketing Manager at Michigan Community Credit Union.

Nonprofit Network strengthens local nonprofits and enhances their impact through workshops, trainings and capacity building, as well as helps organizations rethink how develop solutions. The organization works with community-based non-profits and their boards to improve their abilities to give-back in meaningful ways. Programs include Bridges Out of Poverty, Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, and cognitive coaching to train organizations to be resilient, adaptive and sustainable. With an eye toward strengthening bonds and engaging local people in giving activities, Nonprofit Network fits the long-standing giving culture of Community Choice and MCCU’s commitment to helping those in need.



“The NonProfit Network is a strong advocate with initiatives including Bridges Out of Poverty, a program which brings people together to build resources, improve outcomes, and support those who seek to move out of poverty,” explains Liz Hoffius, Marketing Manager, Michigan Community Credit Union. “They are a wonderful support presence within the Jackson community. We’re so pleased that our partner has chosen to support this important organization.”

The grant funding will assist Nonprofit Network in helping other organizations maximize their community outreach. 

“Nonprofits are in a landscape where things are constantly changing, and time and resources are in high demand. This gift and support from Community Choice Foundation and MCCU will make it possible for numerous nonprofit boards to grow in their ability to make a powerful difference in our Jackson community,” says Regina Pinney, Executive Director of Nonprofit Network.

Community Choice Foundation’s Give Big Grants program is made possible through the Credit Union’s payroll deduction program, in which more than half of Community Choice’s 244 employees have elected to donate a portion of their pay to fund the quarterly grants.



For more information on Nonprofit Network visit www.nonprofitnetwork.org, for Michigan Community Credit Union visit www.micommunitycu.com and for Community Choice Foundation visit CommunityChoiceFoundation.com.

About Community Choice Credit Union: Established in 1935, Community Choice Credit Union is a state-wide community-focused organization that offers a wide variety of financial products and services for both consumers and businesses. Any individual who lives, works, studies or worships in the following counties is eligible to become a member of Community Choice Credit Union: Allegan, Genesee, Kent, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Ottawa, St. Clair, Washtenaw or Wayne County, Michigan. Since 2008, Community Choice has invested more than $1 million and 20,156 volunteer hours into its charitable Give Big efforts throughout Michigan. If you’re looking for an experience that’s different from your current banking relationship, let’s get together. For more information, visit CommunityChoiceCU.com.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Spring Clean Your Finances

Warmer temperatures make it a good time to thaw out and soak up some much-needed vitamin D. Why not use the subsequent energy boost to tidy up your personal finances? Performing some financial spring cleaning can help you avoid making a mess of your fiscal affairs down the road. Here’s where to get started.





Revamp your budget

Living within your means is an integral part of a healthy financial lifestyle. But we’re all human, and those new kicks you spotted at the mall or that popular restaurant down the street can make it difficult to stay faithful to your budget.
“Everything in your financial life flows from your ability to effectively manage and allocate your income,” says Carrie Houchins-Witt, a financial advisor in Coralville, Iowa.
She recommends that you review last year’s spending transgressions. Then recalibrate your budget for this year.  That may mean zeroing in on and consequently reducing purchases in a given spending category, such as going out to eat.

Tweak your investments

As important as it is to track current spending habits, make sure also to review the investment allocations in your retirement account and other long-term savings. This spring, adjust the mix if what you hold no longer gels with your overarching financial goals.
“We are all so busy and — especially for the index-fund investor who relies on the simplicity of this kind of strategy — it’s easy to forget that we need to perform periodic maintenance to ensure our investment allocations have not grown out of whack over the last year,” Houchins-Witt says.

Ramp up retirement contributions

Boost your retirement savings this spring by setting up a monthly transfer from your checking account into a retirement fund. Contributing to a traditional individual retirement arrangement, or IRA, before the tax filing deadline may reduce your previous year’s taxable income. But consider making regular contributions throughout the year — it can take some of the guesswork out of investing the money.
Such dollar-cost averaging — or contributing in smaller, regular amounts to minimize risk — “forces you to buy at all price points and, therefore, takes the guesswork out of trying to find the right time” to get in the market, says Johanna Fox Turner, a financial advisor in Mayfield, Kentucky. “This also gives your money more time to grow than the lump-sum deposit on April 15.”

Adjust your withholding

Receiving a big tax refund isn’t necessarily a good thing. The average federal refund of about $3,000 could, if eliminated, put $250 a month in a taxpayer’s savings account. If you received or are expecting a large check from the government in coming weeks, it may pay off to adjust your withholding on your W-4 form before next year’s tax season.
“While you might love getting a huge tax refund, you should consider the potential income you are losing by giving Uncle Sam that interest-free loan,” Houchins-Witt says. “If you decrease your withholding to the amount necessary to pay your tax bill, you won’t get a huge refund next year, but you’ll have immediate access to money that could be put toward your 401(k) or college savings accounts.”
Houchins-Witt recommends working with a tax preparer to help determine how to revise your withholding so you don’t have too little taken out of your paycheck for the rest of this year.
Still, many people appreciate the forced savings element of a bigger tax refund. If you’re one of them, have a plan for the refund money that gives you the greatest benefit in the long run. It’s not found money — it’s part of your paycheck and should be treated as such.

The takeaway
Be it tweaking your budget or adjusting your withholding amount, there are plenty of ways to get organized this spring. No matter how minor a certain tuneup item may seem – like cutting back on movies or brewing your own coffee – you’ll be doing yourself a favor by putting the savings toward your future.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Friday, February 17, 2017

Our Involvement with Cooper St. Correctional Facility’s Employment Readiness Program

Cooper St. Correctional Facility’s Employment Readiness Program prepares inmates for a successful re-entry into society by providing them information on finances, computer skills, resume writing and effective ways to help find employment upon release. The program has been available at the Cooper St. Correctional Facility for about two years. Corby DeForest, program facilitator for the prison, recognized the need to bring in an expert to discuss the financial aspect of the program. “To make the class more beneficial to the students, I needed to bring in someone who is very knowledgeable in the field of savings and understanding credit scores,” said DeForest.

Providing financial literacy tools and resources is an important value to us here at Michigan Community Credit Union. Because we want to see our members and community succeed financially, we readily agreed to partner with the prison on this initiative. With a degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice, Bridget Simone, Branch Manager at Michigan Community Credit Union, volunteers to provide financial education presentations to the inmates in the program. “We focus primarily on the importance of credit and how to repair it,” says Simone. “We have a presentation on credit scores and the inmates ask great questions. They are mostly concerned on how their credit is affected and what they need to do to rebuild their score.” In addition to credit score presentations, Simone provides best practices for credit cards, debit cards, and existing loans. Simone visits the facility about three times a year, and has noticed a gradual increase in attendance. “When I first started the class about a year ago, there were approximately 20 inmates in the group that attended the session. The interest has grown, and now there are about 50 inmates that attend,” says Simone. “Michigan Community Credit Union has a positive reputation in the community, and Ms. Simone has done an excellent job. She speaks to the class in a way that is affective to learning,” said Corby DeForest. According to Michigan Works! Association, the inmates who have attended this program have a better understanding of how to apply for jobs online and create resumes. The financial information has influenced the program attendees to utilize credit union services and guidance in rebuilding their credit scores.



“My hope for the inmates is that they are not as overwhelmed or intimidated by establishing or repairing credit. After my presentation, I want them to feel more confident in making financial decisions for themselves upon their release,” says Simone. The Cooper St. Correctional Facility continually strives to help inmates be productive citizens when they return to society. “Cooper Street Correctional facility wants to thank Michigan Community Credit Union for recognizing how they can contribute towards making our communities better,” said DeForest.





Warden Joseph Barret recently awarded Simone with a symbol of Customer Service. This token recognizes individuals who go above and beyond normal expectations in the spirit of reinvention. “I am very humbled and honored to be recognized for doing something that I truly love to do; financial education is so important for everyone, and I truly enjoy teaching the topic,” said Simone.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Forward Thinking Grant Goes to Northwest Elementary School!

We are very excited to announce that our quarterly Forward Thinking Grant has been awarded to the Third Grade Team at Northwest Elementary School! We have awarded them $1,500.00 to help fund a Google Expeditions Kit in order to utilize the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program. The Google Expeditions Pioneer Program will allow the students to virtually visit over 200 locations worldwide, as well as colleges, universities, and even experience a variety of careers. This kit consists of a device for the students to experience the Expeditions software simultaneously as a group. According to Paul Smith, a teacher at Northwest Elementary School, students will have opportunities to visit and explore places like The White House, The Great Wall of China, The Great Barrier Reef, Mars, and hundreds of other places. Students can also visit and learn about new careers as part of the program. They can learn what it’s like to be a veterinarian, engineer, or many other careers. Smith is excited to bring this opportunity to the third grade students. “These experiences allow our students to explore places outside of the Jackson area. Many of our students have never had the opportunity to visit places outside of our town, state, or country. Imagine students being able to visit the Grand Canyon in the morning and Buckingham Palace in the afternoon,” said Smith.

Students using Google Expeditions, via a cardboard viewer and a smartphone, at Bronx Latin High School in New York. Photo Credit to NY Times. 

The school has already raised $1,146.00 from their fundraising efforts. The teachers and students of Northwest Elementary School will continue to work hard in raising money for this program. With the help from the Forward Thinking Grant, they are closer to reaching their goal of providing immersive experiences to their students. “Being able to travel together as a classroom group to experience, discuss, and explore our curriculum would be the most beneficial to our students,” said Smith.

The Forward Thinking Grant awards quarterly. The amount disbursed per request is flexible and will be dependent upon the individual request, the number of requests overall, and the funds available. More information and the application are available at our website, www.micommunitycu.com.

Michigan Community Credit Union employee Jessica Webb (left side of check) presents the check for $1,500.00 to the third grade teachers and students of Northwest Elementary School. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

6 Ways to Save More Money in the New Year

Even if saving has never been your thing and money is tight, the coming of a new year is an opportunity to change old financial habits. Here are some ways to become a more efficient saver.


1. Budget

Budgeting helps you organize your finances so you have money left over to save each month. It may seem laborious, but budgeting doesn't have to be hard. Mobile apps cut a lot of the work and can help you track spending throughout the month.


2. Pay yourself first

Firmly commit to making a savings deposit monthly, even if you can only afford a small amount. Do this before paying your other bills.


3. Automate

If you're not confident your resolution will stick or you want to simplify the process, automate your savings deposits. That way, a portion of your paycheck will automatically go to your savings account, or an amount you choose will be transferred from your checking to savings account each month. You won't miss money that was never in your hands in the first place.


4. Make your money work harder

Compound interest is the interest paid on the interest your money earns in an account, and it allows your principal balance to grow faster. To fully benefit from compound interest, consider opening a high-yield savings account or a certificate of deposit that offers higher rates than the average savings account.


5. Plug up cash drains

It's not always the big expenses that sabotage saving efforts; small expenses can add up and be a huge cash drain. To rein in spending and increase your cash surplus:
  • Shop around for the lowest possible rates on utilities, insurance, TV, internet and mobile plans. Also, make sure you get discounts you may be entitled to.
  • Check bank account statements for less obvious fees such as those for account maintenance, ATM use or having a low balance. If your accounts come with several fees, it may be time to find a financial institution that costs less.
  • Monitor daily spending and cut back on extras like lunches out, donut runs or fancy coffee.
  • Explore free and low-cost entertainment options, including parks, beaches and hiking trails, as well as local concerts, theater and sporting events.

6. Bring in extra bucks

When trimming expenses doesn't do the trick, the only way to create enough free cash for saving is to increase what's coming in. You can:
  • Sell unwanted items online or at a yard sale.
  • Cash in credit or debit card reward points.
  • Ask for a raise or for extra hours at work.
  • Take on an additional part-time job or turn your hobbies or skills into dollars through tutoring, yard maintenance, dog walking, writing, crafting, musical performance or handyman work.
The benefits of saving kick in very quickly and only get better with time. A solid cushion in the bank protects you during emergencies and provides the means to travel, buy a home, get an advanced degree, or pursue whatever other dreams you may have.




© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

How to Avoid the Busy Holiday Scamming Season

You're not the only one joyfully anticipating the holiday season. Cyber criminals are all aflutter, too, as they look forward to the killing they'll make ripping off innocent shoppers like you. Here are some of the most common ways these thieves operate, because awareness can help you avoid becoming yet another victim.

Antisocial media

Beware those enticing ads that turn up on Facebook and other social media sites offering vouchers, gift cards and deep discounts, as well as the online surveys these ads often link to. These offers are often only empty promises designed to steal your personal information.

Additionally, if you receive concert, theater or sporting event tickets as a gift, never post pictures of them online. Cyber thieves spend lots of time monitoring social media, just waiting for the opportunity to create phony tickets they can resell from your barcode image. If your ticket is resold, you might just find yourself out of a seat on the night of your event. It's also unwise to post live from an event that gives criminals a heads-up that your home is empty and ripe for picking. Better to wait until the next day to post about the wonderful time you had.


Pandora's inbox

It may be a mystery to you how cyber thieves got your private email address, but it's chillingly clear they're up to no good. Your inbox may fill up with all kinds of legitimate-looking product offers and delivery notices this holiday season, but clicking on links of bogus ones or entering personal information on the linked sites can provide criminals with the opportunity to steal your identity.

Apps are far from immune

With mobile apps available for just about everything, it's a sad sign of the times that certain free mobile apps (often disguised as games) have been specifically designed to steal personal information from your phone. This is a particularly scary development since many people use their phones to secure their cars and homes. For this reason, only install apps from familiar companies and, at the very least, find a third-party review from a trusted site if you're interested in an app from an unfamiliar source.


USB Trojan horses

Lots of people use portable USB drives, which makes it all the more important to avoid those being distributed as giveaways this holiday season unless they're from a trusted source. These innocent-looking devices are often used as a method of introducing malware to computers.

Gifts that keep on giving ... to criminals

A spirit of generosity is traditional at holiday time, but if you're not careful, your donations may never make it to the needy. Fake charities that skillfully tug at your heartstrings abound at this time of year, just waiting for you to willingly give your hard-earned cash to scammers. Before donating, be sure to check out charities thoroughly, to make sure that they're not only legitimate, but also that they allocate the bulk of funds toward their causes rather than “administrative costs.”


Tips to avoid holiday scams

These strategies will also help keep you a step ahead of scammers:
  • Only shop online with reputable businesses you trust, using secure websites with an address that begins with https.
  • Don't shop or bank over public Wi-Fi.
  • Protect your credit card privacy by covering your account number with your hand when shopping in public.
  • Don't respond to suspicious unsolicited calls or emails. Only open email attachments from senders you trust, and contact businesses only through their official websites, phone numbers or email addresses.
  • Monitor your credit to catch fraud at its earliest stages.
Scammers may be smart, but you can still outsmart them. A little foreknowledge and caution go a long way toward ensuring you'll enjoy a safe and memorable holiday season.

© Copyright 2016 NerdWallet, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Michigan Community Credit Union Named Member Service High Performer

MemberView, a credit union-specific member experience measurement system, has recognized us, Michigan Community Credit Union, as a 2016 third quarter top performer by outperforming its peers and earning among the highest scores in total member service experience!

We led a group of 40 high performing credit unions across the United States in providing an extraordinary member experience based on direct member feedback.

MemberView is a customizable system that allows credit union members a way to provide immediate feedback on the service they receive. Going beyond traditional transaction-based analysis, MemberView helps credit unions identify specific strengths and weaknesses in the service they deliver across all experiences and all channels.

“Here at Michigan Community Credit Union,” said Pam Thompson, Director of Operations, “one of our missions is to provide extraordinary member service. I am very proud of our staff here at the credit union for providing ‘stellar’ service to our members. Receiving the ‘best of the best’ award from MemberXP reflects our dedication and commitment to empower our members’ financial success.”


“Michigan Community Credit Union’s top scores show a real commitment to listening to members and improving the member experience based on that feedback,” said Constance Anderson, founder of MemberXP, the company that administers the MemberView program.