Credit Unions and Banks – The Difference and Why You Should Care

Credit Unions and Banks – The Difference and Why You Should Care

As a Credit Union, the number one question we often get from our community is what is a Credit Union? Before we can answer that, let’s start with some basics.

Credit Unions are not-for-profit financial cooperative organizations that serve their members and the community. While most Credit Unions provide the same products, services, and technology as banks, one of the main differences is that Credit Union’s focus on customer service excellence, while helping members borrow and save at reasonable rates.

Credit Unions are focused on giving back to the communities they serve, this is done through education, philanthropy, financial literacy programs, charitable donations, and volunteerism. Because Credit Unions tend to be smaller and more directly connected to the local community, we believe that our members’ success is directly connected our success. We believe that Credit Unions are for people and about “people helping people.” This is what we call the “Credit Union Difference.”

The Credit Union Difference

  • Member-Owned – Credit Unions are owned and operated by their members and managed by a volunteer board of directors elected by the members. They are cooperatives, or co-ops, where members come together for a shared purpose and act on behalf of a unified group to offer traditional banking services.
  • Not-for-Profit – Credit Unions reinvest the profits they earn to the benefit of its members and the community in the form of lower rates on loan products, reduced fees, shared services amongst other Credit Unions, and valuable promotions that help save members money.
  • Membership – Members of a Credit Union share a common bond, also known as a membership group. Members typically share a place of employment, live in the same region, or are part of the same university or place of worship. However, most Credit Unions don’t require such criteria to join! Anyone who is interested in joining a Credit Union can inquire about the specifics of becoming a member. It usually just requires an application!
  • Community Focus – Credit Unions support their communities in various ways, including philanthropy, supporting local and small businesses, charitable organizations, and financial wellness programs for children, teens, adults, and seniors. Free workshops for both members and community-based organizations often open the door to building better confidence in financial decision-making.

Banks are for-profit institutions owned by their investors that focus on making profits for their shareholders. For this reason, account fees and loan rates are generally higher. There are no membership qualifications, so anyone can open an account and will be considered a customer rather than a member, meaning they have no say in how the bank is managed or operated. Banks tend to be larger financial institutions, therefore, have more of a national presence whereas, Credit Unions tend to be local. However, Credit Unions are a part of a nationwide CO-OP network of shared branches that members can access across the country!

History Lesson:

Credit Unions started 200 years ago as a way for people to create financial pools, or cooperatives, that could provide credit to those who suffered temporary loss of income. The shared wealth created the ethos that Credit Unions live by today: to serve its members. As Credit Unions developed, they became known as financial institutions that served everyone, from the “common worker” to members in the military or a particular occupation, place of worship, or region. Thanks to the common bond of being a member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative, that same spirit remains unchanged.

So, when it comes to choosing a Credit Union or Bank, weigh what you expect from your financial institution, how you want to be treated, how these institutions are supporting your community, and how you value your financial well-being.

For more information on your local Credit Union, visit UMCU.org.

We're Here for Every (Financial) Milestone

JANUARY 2022

No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can always strive for financial well-being. Start on your path to financial wellness with UMCU.

From the basics of budgeting to tips that help you establish credit, pointers on how to correctly use a checking and savings account, and common mistakes to avoid along the way, our Financial Wellness program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized, so you stay on top of your money.

We break down the essentials of money management and help you create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate.

Start today at UMCU.org.

Have you ever thought about being your own boss?

NOVEMBER ARTICLE

Have you ever thought about being your own boss?

Have you ever thought about being your own boss? Hear from a local small business owner about the joys and challenges of working for yourself.

Emma Hess grew up in Chelsea, Michigan, and studied Sociology at the University of Michigan, graduating in May of 2020. She started BYOC Co. in August 2020 as a pop-up business and established her first brick and mortar location in April of this year in downtown Ann Arbor.

BYOC Co. [HYPERLINK: www.byocco.com] aims to reduce single-use plastic consumption by allowing people to bring their own containers (BYOC) from home to refill on eco-friendly, ethically produced home and body products.

Hear from Emma’s entrepreneurial journey as she went from student to small business owner.

Why did you open your own business?

I was faced with a very difficult job market when I graduated from college. With all the extra time stuck at home during quarantine, I was taking zero waste a lot more seriously. I realized we didn’t have a place to refill household cleaning or personal care products, much less a place to purchase zero waste essentials within 60 miles of Ann Arbor. I deferred my acceptance to graduate school and started running pop-ups at small businesses in southeast Michigan with the concept that folks could bring their own container to refill directly on products they use on their bodies and around the home.

Have you always known that you wanted to work for yourself?

Absolutely not! At this moment in time, I thought I’d be finishing up my Master’s in Social Work and starting full-time at a non-profit organization. I only recently went full-time with BYOC, and it’s been the most rewarding experience of my life.

What do you find fulfilling and joyful about owning your own business?

I really enjoy the relationships I've developed as a small business owner. I’ve met a lot of other entrepreneurs in different industries and connected on this unique experience of owning your own business. Then there are the relationships with my customers. People are incredibly nice to me when they walk into my shop. We chat about their sustainable journey, their plants, their pets, really whatever is going on in our lives at that moment. It's very special that I can be on a first-name basis with my customers.

What challenges do you face as an entrepreneur?

A lot of the challenges I face at the moment come with being a young business. I'm not only the owner but the sales associate, social media manager, communications director, customer service rep, fulfillment specialist, and event coordinator. I play all the parts. We're open Wednesday through Sunday, which means my weekends are Monday and Tuesday. That took some adjusting!

What advice would you give your younger self or someone looking to be an entrepreneur?

Don't be discouraged when you get “noes”. I sent email after email to small businesses asking if BYOC Co. could pop up at their shop and for every ten I sent, I got nine noes. Just because those around you don't understand your vision at first doesn't mean it's not worth pursuing. Everything takes time. We all had one follower once.

Just like Emma, many of UMCU’s Shop Local Give Local participating vendors have similar stories about what makes their shop and small business journey unique. In their sixth annual year, UMCU’s Shop Local Give Local has partnered with more local businesses than ever before.

UMCU encourages our members to shop locally in our communities while we match their purchases donating up to $5,000 to SOS Community Services [HYPERLINK: https://soscs.org/]. UMCU Members who make purchases at participating local vendors are entered into a raffle to win $1,000 to reward our members for keeping it local.

To learn more about Shop Local Give Local, how you can participate, and a full list of Shop Local participating vendors, visit UMCU.org.

Are You Getting Your Financial Advice From an Expert?

OCTOBER ARTICLE

Are You Getting Your Financial Advice From an Expert?

It seems like everyone is an expert when it comes to finances. While these tips might work for some, are they actually helpful or even accurate? It’s time to get real and get your financial advice from a pro.

Here are your questions answered by an expert, UMCU’s Financial Education Manager, Mark Munzenberger.

College students often find themselves spending too much and saving too little, which is not a recipe for long-term financial success. The good news is that the solution is not complicated, while the execution isn’t always easy or fun, creating good spending habits is not hard.

So, how can college students manage their dollars better during the month?

Mark – Let’s start with the area which usually causes the most spending leaks during the month – FOOD and DRINK! I hear so often from students about how frustrated they get with how much they spend each week on food and drinks bought outside the home. Those $6 lattes, those $10 quick lunches, and those $15 late-night pizzas will add up – to the tune of over $500 per month. Stop ignoring how much you’re spending on the “small stuff” – it’s impacting your ability to build up any savings.

But students have to eat … what are the options?

Mark – Absolutely, but the key is to create and maintain smart spending habits. Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Don’t make impulse purchases on food and drinks – plan ahead. Eat at home more often or whenever you can – it’s simply a matter of time management and not always falling victim to the convenience of buying prepared fast food.
  2. Limit the number of times you eat out monthly. Eating out multiple times every week can add up quickly. Plan on ordering take-out or buying coffee a few times each week, not a few times each day.
  3. The grocery store is your friend – make sure you stop in once a week. For the cost of one fast-food lunch, you could buy an entire loaf of bread, a large bag of chips, and deli meat. And with an extra $3, you could purchase 24 bottles of water, which will last you weeks!

Are there any other spending areas in which students commonly overspend?

Mark – There are. Based on my years of experience, here are a few other ideas:

  • Buy or rent used textbooks and sell last semester’s books back. Textbooks can be super expensive, and you may not need to keep them. Try renting textbooks from Amazon or buying used from your bookstore.
  • If you have a credit card, pay it off as quickly as possible. Credit cards are a great way to establish credit, but they can also provide a false sense of what you can and cannot afford. The Buy Now Pay Later habit will often result in high balances and added interest charges.
  • Cancel all the subscriptions and memberships that you don’t use or no longer need. As soon as you cancel, you’ll quickly discover how freeing it is to not waste money on services that add little value to your life.
  • Skip expensive spring break and summer trips. Travel is expensive – there is no other way to frame it. When money is tight, as it is for most college students, don’t let a one-week trip to Florida cause your entire semester to be stressful.

All in all, when it comes to your finances, listen to a professional so you can start owning your financial well-being early.

Mark Munzenberger is an Accredited Financial Counselor with over 18 years of experience as a financial counselor. On behalf of UMCU, Mark delivers over 150 financial education workshops each year to students and adults. He most recently was honored by the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) with 2021 MCUL and Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF) Awards for Michigan Credit Union Professionals.

THE FOUR THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW YOU’RE WASTING MONEY ON

September Article:

THE FOUR THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW YOU’RE WASTING MONEY ON

As a student-athlete, your days are packed with classes, practices, and then hopefully some much-needed time with friends and family. In your limited free time, you’re probably not focused on ways to establish healthy spending habits. And we get it - it’s not exciting. But, while it’s easy to pretend that your financial decisions don’t matter until after you finish college, being smart with your money as a student is a good habit to form now and will help avoid financial stress after you graduate.

Spending on things such as morning lattes, sandwiches for lunch, and late-night carry-out starts out as an occasional treat or convenience but quickly becomes a regular occurrence. And while these expenses may seem small at first, they really add up.

Here are four ways to curb your spending and stop wasting money:

  1. Food and Drinks

Spending $5, $10, or even $15 for each meal or cappuccino starts to add up pretty quickly. While fast food and takeout present themselves as reasonably convenient options, they truly aren’t worth the money (or your health). While it may seem like a hassle to cook your own meals or brew your own coffee, and sometimes the campus dining hall might not be the most appealing, choosing these options could save you hundreds each month. Consider the following example:

Tyler:

Purchases one Triple Mocha Frappuccino (Grande) per week - $5.45 plus tax. Orders Pizza on Sundays - $14.00 each. Buys lunch twice a week on campus - $10 each lunch. Total monthly spend is $158 per month.

Ashley:

Purchases four Triple Mocha Frappuccino (Grande) per week - $5.45 plus tax. Orders carry-out 3x per week for dinner - $14.00 each. Buys lunch 4x a week on campus - $10 each lunch. Total monthly spend is $415.20 per month.

As you can see, these daily purchases add up.

  1. Impulse Purchases

Have you ever made a purchase you didn’t intend to make? Maybe you saw a nice jacket online and thought to yourself – I need that! Or passed by a store, fell in love with a pair of designer shoes, charged them to your credit card, and then never wore them again. Well, you aren’t alone. This type of purchase is called an impulse purchase, and Americans are estimated to spend close to $200 per month on unplanned expenses.

Obviously, spending your dollars on unplanned expenses every month isn’t a good idea for your budget. How are you affording those purchases? Are these purchases not allowing you to put more towards your savings? Are you using credit cards and seeing rising debt balances and high-interest charges? Be very careful to avoid falling into the FOMO trap. Don’t put your financial health at risk with impulse spending decisions that will usually outlast your new purchase.

  1. New vs. Second-Hand

Be it books, clothes, or cars, pre-owned items are usually less expensive and provide you with the same essential need. Rent your textbooks, or buy pre-owned versions; thrift clothes and turn them into new finds; or if you need a car to get around, consider something pre-owned. Buying or renting second-hand items is one of the best ways to save money and stop overspending on new items. It's also great for the environment too!

  1. Use Your Campus Resources

Beyond just providing classes and living spaces, colleges and universities often provide a wide variety of specific services and resources on campus. Most of these services are provided for free and should be taken advantage of. Examples include university health services, the campus technology center for IT needs, fitness and recreation facilities, libraries, career center, food and dining services, and campus transportation such as on-campus busing. These services are meant to support the academic and social environment on campus and can provide value to you. Take advantage of these services that are available to you, and avoid paying extra money for services that you can obtain for free.

Try this: Set yourself a modest weekly budget for non-essential expenses like coffee or takeout. Keep this amount in cash so as you make purchases throughout the week, you can SEE how you’re spending and quickly your money really goes. It’s a great physical reminder to assess your actual spending habits.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can always strive for financial well-being. To help you on your path to understanding finances, UMCU offers multiple workshops that start with the basics of budgeting, tips that help you establish credit, pointers on how to use a checking and savings account correctly, and common mistakes to avoid along the way. Our Financial Wellness Program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized, so you stay on top of your money.

Together, we can help you break down the essentials of money management and create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate. Visit UMCU.org today!

AUGUST ARTICLE:

Money Myths: Fact or Fiction

Topic #4 – Planning

Test your knowledge on these common money myths. This article will help you understand fact from fiction when it comes to planning.                               

Fact or Fiction – It is important for you to be thoughtful of where, when, and why you are spending money to create a healthy spending plan.

This is Fact! Now that you are living on your own and making financial decisions, it is important to be conscious of how you are spending your money. Start by tracking your purchases, rent, groceries, and insurance, and try to avoid lots of impulse buys. Small purchases on coffee and snacks may seem insignificant, but can add up quickly in your budget. Plan ahead! Starting your spending plan now leads to healthy spending habits and less stress later on – creating a healthier and wealthier future.

 

Fact or Fiction – Whether you live in an apartment or house off-campus, your personal belongings are fully covered by your landlord’s homeowner’s insurance in the event of an accident or theft.

That is FICTION! The policy held by the landlord only covers the structure or building you are living in, not any of your personal belongings inside. So, if your TV were to be stolen or your clothes are damaged in a fire, your landlord’s insurance won’t pay to replace them. However, a renter’s insurance policy most likely will. Renter’s insurance will defend and protect all of the personal belongings within your new home. Your best advice for your home away from home: consider getting an affordable renter’s insurance policy!

 

Fact or Fiction – Once you graduate or leave school, you will have up to twelve months before you will be required to start making payments on federal student loans.

That is FICTION!  When you either graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment, for most federal student loans you have a six-month grace period before the loan servicer will require you to begin making payments. This grace period is designed for you to have time to take your next step into adulthood, get financially settled, and find a repayment plan that works best for you. Once the loan enters repayment, your servicer will automatically place you on the Standard Repayment Plan, which is full repayment over 120 months or 10 years. However, you can request a different repayment plan at any time to find the one that fits you best.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can always strive for financial well-being. To help you on your path to understanding finances, UMCU offers multiple workshops that start with the basics of budgeting, tips that help you establish credit, pointers on how to use a checking and savings account correctly, and common mistakes to avoid along the way. Our Financial Wellness Program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized so you stay on top of your money.

Together, we can help you break down the essentials of money management and create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate. Visit UMCU.org today!

 

JULY ARTICLE:

Money Myths: Fact or Fiction

Test your knowledge on these common money myths. This article will help you understand the facts from fiction when it comes to borrowing money and help you tackle ways to keep your credit score healthy.

Fact or Fiction – Establishing a credit score as a young adult can take you up to 12 months or longer, depending on your age and income.

That is FICTION! A credit score is generated from two things: activity and payments. To build a credit score from scratch, you first need to use credit. Using credit can done by opening and using a credit card or paying back a loan. It will take about six months of credit activity to establish enough history for you to receive a credit score. Scores can range from 300-850, and most individuals will start with a midrange score of 650. From there, scores can either increase or decrease depending upon your overall usage and payment history.

Fact or Fiction – Individuals who carefully keep credit card balances low and make timely payments will generally see higher scores.

This is a FACT!  The most crucial factor in your credit score is whether or not you pay your bills on time. Payment history accounts for approximately 35% of your score, which is why it's so important to not miss a payment. Another important factor is how much of your available credit you are using.  When using your credit card, monitor your spending and avoid getting too close to your credit limit. The best rule to follow is to keep your spending under 30% of your limit, and your score will stay in a good spot. In the case where you do have a few large purchases, focus on paying them off in a timely manner, and you will see your credit score will improve.  This concept is called credit utilization.

Fact or Fiction – Accessing your credit report and score regularly is not recommended because it lowers your score.

This is FICTION. When you request a copy of your credit report or check credit scores on an app such as CreditKarma, that’s known as a “soft” inquiry. Soft inquiries do not affect credit scores and are not visible to potential lenders that may review your credit reports. They are visible to you and will stay on your credit reports for 12 to 24 months. In fact, it is very valuable for you to check your credit score on a regular basis. The other type of inquiry is a “hard” inquiry. Those occur only after you have applied for a loan or a credit card and the potential lender reviews your credit history. Hard inquiries can lower credit scores, but it’s usually minimal and temporary.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can always strive for financial well-being. To help you on your path to understanding finances, UMCU offers multiple workshops that start with the basics of budgeting, tips that help you establish credit, pointers on how to use a checking and savings account correctly, and common mistakes to avoid along the way. Our Financial Wellness Program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized so you stay on top of your money.

Together, we can help you break down the essentials of money management and create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate. Visit UMCU.org today!

JUNE ARTICLE:

Money Myths: Fact or Fiction

Test your knowledge on these common money myths. This article will help you understand the facts from fiction with saving money.

Fact or Fiction – The terms “saving” money and “investing” money is one and the same, with the same objectives and same purpose.

That is FICTION!  First and foremost, saving money is essential to helping protect yourself in event of a financial emergency. Additionally, saving money can help you pay for large purchases, avoid debt, reduce your financial stress, and provide you with a greater sense of financial freedom. The objective of investing is to grow your money. We invest money to help us build wealth and prepare for the future. Investing typically involves options such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Investing does come with some risk, so it is important to make sure you have a diverse selection of investments. Saving money is a short-term game while investing money is long-term.

Fact or Fiction – An emergency fund serves as a valuable safety net for your finances and should be equal to 2-3 months of essential living expenses.

This is a FACT! An emergency fund is a cash reserve housed in a savings account, specifically set aside for life’s unplanned expenses or financial emergencies. Some common examples include car repairs, unplanned travel, medical bills, or loss of income. In general, an emergency fund can be used for large or small unexpected bills or payments that are not part of your routine monthly expenses and spending. Without emergency savings, a financial shock, even minor, could set you back and potentially have a lasting impact.

Fact or Fiction – The best way to save money is by committing to save at least a portion of your annual tax refund.

This is FICTION. While saving some or all of a tax refund is good, the most reliable way to experience sustainable success is by making savings a habit, not an annual event. Simplify your life by making savings automatic. Set up automatic transfers to move a dedicated amount of money from your checking to savings each month. Ask your employer to split your direct deposit into both checking and savings. And finally, participate in your workplace retirement program by automatically contributing a portion of each paycheck on a pre-tax basis.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can always strive for financial well-being. To help you on your path to understanding finances, UMCU offers workshops that start with the basics of budgeting, tips that help you establish credit, pointers on how to correctly use a checking and savings account, and common mistakes to avoid along the way. Our Financial Wellness Program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized so you stay on top of your money.

Together, we can help you break down the essentials of money management and create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate. Visit UMCU.org today!

MAY ARTICLE:

Money Myths: Fact or Fiction

Test your knowledge of these common money myths. This article will help you understand fact from fiction when it comes to spending.

Fact or Fiction – Budgeting is a time-consuming, labor-intensive process that is only needed if you are really struggling with your finances.

That is FICTION! First, using a budget is most often associated with people who are actually doing very well month to month with their finances. Second, once you establish your core budget and commit to reviewing it each month, the time involved is way less than you think – maybe one hour every 30 days. Last, a budget is not complex or complicated – it’s simply a summary of your net (take-home) income and your anticipated expenses. Use a spreadsheet or free budgeting app to make the process easy.

Fact or Fiction – One of the keys to creating a healthy monthly spending plan is to consider savings as an expense; in other words, as a bill, you pay to yourself.

This is a FACT! One of the golden rules of finance is to “pay yourself first.” That means you get into the habit of setting aside a small portion of your net income at the beginning (not end) of each month before paying bills or spending it on miscellaneous items. That savings will serve as your safety net when unexpected or unplanned expenses arise.

Fact or Fiction – When creating your monthly budget, you’ll need to include two types of expenses: fixed expenses and variable expenses.

This is FICTION. When populating your budget, always begin with your fixed expenses, such as your rent payment, utilities, and cell phone usage. Continue on with variable expenses, such as groceries, clothes, entertainment, and gasoline. Finally, don’t forget about any periodic expenses, such as insurance, tuition, or vacations. Periodic expenses are those which occur infrequently – maybe 2-3 times per year, but that you must budget for regularly to account for the cost.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can always strive for financial well-being. To help you on your path to understanding finances, UMCU offers workshops that start with the basics of budgeting, to tips that help you establish credit, pointers on how to correctly use a checking and savings account, and common mistakes to avoid along the way. Our Financial Wellness Program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized, so you stay on top of your money.

Together, we can help you break down the essentials of money management and create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate. Visit UMCU.org today!

APRIL ARTICLE:

Virtual Interview Tips to Land the Job

By Erica Botka, UMCU’s Talent Development Manager

While virtual career fairs and virtual interviews have become necessary during the pandemic, many employers and candidates alike have found this new format to be not only safe but beneficial. Because of its accessibility and ease, we will likely see virtual career fairs continue in some capacity after the pandemic.

As UMCU’s Talent Development Manager, I’ve interviewed hundreds of applicants and want to share my expert advice for what hiring managers are looking for in a candidate.

Here are my tips to help you stand out (and the mistakes to avoid!) during a virtual interview or at a virtual career fair:

Get to Know the Company

  • Get to know the organizations attending the event and decide which you are most interested in pursuing. Research the current roles open, history of the organization, their purpose, values, and culture. Consider preparing a list of questions for each organization based on your research. This shows you took the initiative to learn more about their organization and that you are well-prepared.

Practice Your Elevator Pitch

  • Just like an in-person event, you’ll want to prepare and rehearse a brief statement about yourself, your skills, and what you bring to the organization. Being virtual can throw off some candidates so jump on a Zoom with a friend and run through your pitch a few times!

Update Your Resume

  • Your professional resume should reflect your work history and educational achievements. It’s important that your resume is up-to-date, highlights your accomplishments, and lists your roles and responsibilities succinctly. If a cover letter is required, always include relevant skills and projects that demonstrate that you can meet all the required and desired qualifications of the position. Plus, having your resume on hand at a virtual career fair will help you quickly reference specific accomplishments.

Prepare Your Space

  • You’ll want to make sure you have a quiet and professional space to attend the virtual career fair or interview. Make sure you have good lighting and your background is neat and not distracting. It is also a great idea to do a quick test of your technology ahead of time to ensure a strong and clear connection.

Dress to Impress

  • While some candidates may think a virtual career fair is a reason to dress casual, you’re sure to stand out from the other candidates if you dress in business attire. Being mindful of your dress and background can go a very long way in a virtual setting!

Professional Communication

  • Some online career fairs rely on chat functions for some of the interactions. Be sure to avoid using emoticons, shorthand, and acronyms (LOL, THX) in chat. This is one area in particular where I’ve seen even experienced candidates’ misstep. By having your questions typed up ahead of time you can demonstrate strong communication skills, correct spelling, and proper grammar.

Follow-Through by Following Up!

  • At the end of the chat or virtual interview, ask the company representatives for their contact information. You can follow up with an email, LinkedIn message, or even a handwritten note.  Following up after an in-person interview is a must and reaching out after a career fair will help set you apart and keep you top of mind!

With these tips, you can begin conquering the virtual job hunt in no time!

In addition to helping you land the job of your dreams, UMCU’s Financial Wellness Program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized so you stay on top of your money through every stage of life.

Together, we can help you break down the essentials of money management and create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate. Visit UMCU.org today!

MARCH ARTICLE:

  1. Create a budget – It takes time to make one, but it’s a great way to visualize where your money is going throughout the month. I did this after I started living off-campus and wanted to make sure I always had a month’s worth of rent available, in case of emergencies. By listing out expenses and sources of income it helped me establish what my financial priorities were.
  2. Read your rental lease – I’ve paid so many unexpected costs and fees because I didn’t read the rental lease thoroughly. I once had to pay for a pest control service, because the landlord argued that the issue wasn’t specified in the lease and therefore not his responsibility. So, it’s also important to make sure all potential problems that could arise during the lease are explained and accounted for in writing.
  3. Try not to spend more than 30% of your credit limit* – I didn’t know this until I started working at UMCU and I notice this fact also surprises members! Typically, people who use 30% or higher of their available credit have less than favorable credit scores.
  4. Ask questions – I thought that because I was an adult and independent for the first time, I was supposed to know all the answers to financial questions or concerns: what benefit packages to look for in prospective jobs, how APR works, how to start investing, what a good loan rate is, how to read my credit report, etc. This made me nervous to ask for help, but there are so many resources to better inform you about your financial future.
  5. Set up text notifications for your account – Once I had fraudulent activity in my checking account and didn’t realize my debit card was blocked until I went to use it. Now I receive a text message every morning with my current balances and notifications for any transactions over a certain amount, so I am up-to-date.
  6. Create subaccounts – This goes with budgeting, but I created subaccounts for my financial priorities: rent, car insurance, a planned trip, etc. It was an easy way to organize my funds and ensure I never spent money that was designated for something important.
  7. Look for student discounts – I bundled many of my subscriptions and received a discount on websites, just by verifying I was a student. I also carried my MCard with me and was not afraid to ask at local shops. The worst thing they could say was, no!
  8. Don’t spend money on books – I spent so much money on books that I will probably never read again. The University of Michigan’s library is extensive and as a student, you can request pages of a book to be scanned and sent to you, and loan materials from other libraries if U of M doesn’t have it. Local libraries and online databases also have free resources.
  9. Research before opening up a store credit card – I learned this from watching a lot of my friends get credit cards at clothing/department stores. Each credit card application is a hard pull on your credit, the interest rates are extremely high, the cards often require minimum balances, and you can only use the card at that specific store.
  10. Your financial journey is your own – It took a couple of years for me to figure out that everyone has a different financial situation. My financial priorities differed from my friends because we all had varying levels of familial support, financial responsibility, and income. For example, if we planned to go somewhere for spring break, I would have to make sacrifices throughout the school year that looked different from others (working extra shifts or skipping a night out). The most important thing I wish I knew is that financial security is more important than attending every event or trying to keep up with the trends.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, you can always strive for financial well-being. To help you on your path to understanding finances, UMCU offers workshops that start with the basics of budgeting, to tips that help you establish credit, pointers on how to correctly use a checking and savings account and common mistakes to avoid along the way. Our Financial Wellness Program is designed to teach you how to keep your finances organized so you stay on top of your money.

Together, we can help you break down the essentials of money management and create a plan so you can build a solid financial foundation that pays dividends long after you graduate. Visit UMCU.org today!

*30% of your credit score is derived from your credit utilization ratio. Essentially, it’s a comparison between your credit balance vs. your credit limit. For example, if your credit limit on your credit card is $1,000, and your balance as reported to the credit reporting bureaus is $600, your utilization ratio is 60%. The scoring formula will deduct points in situations where the ratio is greater than 30%. The rationale is that history has shown that people who use 30% or higher of their credit lines are more likely to be in danger of overextending themselves. In other words, there is too much use of credit going on and not enough use of cash and debit (which is not borrowed funds).

 

FEBRUARY ARTICLE:

From Linebacker to VP: Q&A with Marcus English

What will I do after I graduate from college? Will I pursue a career in my area of study? Or take my passion for my sport to the next level?

These questions are on the minds of student-athletes before they embark on the inevitable next step after college: starting their career.

Marcus English knows this all too well.

As an undergraduate studying business administration, while playing football for Eastern Michigan University (EMU), English had to find the balance of being both a student and an athlete.

Playing football throughout his academic career, first at Trotwood-Madison High School in Trotwood, Ohio, where he was an honor roll student, then at EMU, where he was earning his bachelor’s degree, English’s goal was to pursue a professional football career in the NFL. When he realized that he wouldn’t play at the next level, English knew he had to shift focus and represent his personal brand in the job market.

After graduating from EMU in 2012 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree, English worked at Citibank as a Mortgage Loan Coordinator and Processor. Two years later, he started at the University of Michigan Credit Union (UMCU).

Applying the skills he learned as a student-athlete, English quickly rose through the ranks of UMCU to the position of Vice President of EBranch.

As VP of EBranch at UMCU, English is responsible for leading the UMCU Contact Center, Payments, and EServices teams. The primary goal of his role is to foster a great member experience in all of UMCU’s digital service channels over the phone, in written messages, remote loan applications, new accounts, video calls, electronic transfers, card services, and more.

See Marcus English’s full Q+A below.

Q1: You were a student-athlete, playing football while studying Business Administration. How did you find a balance between practice, matches, training, studying, and attending class?

This is likely at the top of the list of challenges for most student-athletes, and I was no different. In order to be successful at both school and my sport, I had to prioritize my time and be diligent with sticking to my plan. Even though study halls were voluntary, I took advantage of that structure to keep me on track.  Surprisingly another thing that helped me balance school and football was spending as much time at the athletic facility as possible. If meetings and practice started at 3 every day, I would grab food and head to the facilities immediately after class, no matter how much time was in between. This allowed me to get settled early, start my school work, and easily transition into watching film or seeing the trainers before practice. I found that I was distracted much less with this approach as opposed to heading back to my dorm or eating in the common areas.

Q2: As a former student-athlete, what skills do you believe are transferrable to a career off the field?

    1. Teamwork
    2. Resilience
    3. Critical thinking

Q3: What was one thing you wish you knew while you were a student-athlete that would have better prepared you for a career after college?

The need to create a professional identity and brand while also striving for your goals as an athlete. We know that most student-athletes don’t get the opportunity to play at the next level. With that said, my learning and development as a student first should have been more of a priority in order to be ready for the job market or to start my own business.

Being prepared to represent my professional brand was a challenge mentally, especially when high school and college was spent striving to make it to the NFL. For others, it may be that you had your heart set on making it pro, being invited to the Olympic team, playing overseas, etc. Whatever your athletic goals are, commit to it 100% but also don’t trap yourself in a box and also prepare yourself academically and professionally.  

Q4: Do you utilize what you learned as a student-athlete in your everyday life? What specifically?

The most valuable lesson learned as a student-athlete that I utilize today would pertain to resilience. In a lot of cases, an athlete’s resilience will drive how successful they will be. The lessons that I learned pushing through a difficult play, class, or entire season, taught me how to be resilient and how to learn from both successes and failures.

Q5: What piece of advice would you give to a student-athlete as they prepare to enter the job market after graduation?

Don’t settle and be patient. Employers don’t settle for a candidate that doesn’t meet the needs of their organization. There is no reason you should settle long term for a situation that you are not passionate about. Understand that you may start entry level but you should still be able to draw the line of sight to a purpose that makes sense for you as an individual. We all need to make a living and if you need to take a job that isn’t ideal for you, my advice would be to not become complacent in that job for too long and continue to look for opportunities that you are passionate about.

Q6: What was your career journey after you graduated from college? Did you find your background as a student-athlete helped you find success in your career?

After graduating from EMU, I found my way into banking where I worked at Citi bank processing mortgage applications for two years. Immediately after my time at Citi, I started working for the University of Michigan Credit Union where I have had the pleasure of spending the last 6 years in various roles.  My experience as an athlete made the transition of working on a team in a professional environment easy. As an athlete, we were individuals working together for a shared goal and the same applies to working on a team in a work environment.

 

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