Archive for June, 2009

Branches closed for Independence Day

All American 1 branch locations will be closed Saturday, July 4 for Independence Day.

Our branches will be open during normal hours on Friday, July 3 and Monday, July 6 to serve you better.

Have a safe holiday weekend!

MSN: GAP coverage is a good idea

MSN Money’s Liz Pulliam Weston, in “Why a wrecked car could cost you,” lays out why it’s good to have Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) coverage on your auto loan.

Because of dropping vehicle values, what you owe on your car could be more than what an insurance company will pay you for a wrecked or stolen vehicle:

Even if you made a big down payment, you still could be upside down on your loan or lease because resale values have plummeted so quickly.

Volatility in resale prices started last year, when gas prices spiked, hurting sales and values of bigger, gas-guzzling cars, said James Clark, the general manager for ALG, which publishes the Automotive Lease Guide.

Weston also notes that getting GAP from the dealership is “probably the most expensive choice.”

We have numerous stories about how GAP has helped members regain their vehicle investment. In the end, it’s affordable protection that can help cover the cost of your auto loan if the unthinkable happens.

NYT: Credit Unions less likely to charge extra credit card fees

Wondering how the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act – signed into law last month – will affect your American 1 Visa card?

Hardly at all.

That’s in line with what the New York Times found in its own study. The newspaper found that the outrageous fees banks charge on their credit cards, the same fees that the new act combats, aren’t an issue with credit union-issued credit cards:

Credit union cards demonstrate that punishing fees are not an essential ingredient of profitable lending. This should help assuage fears that the credit card act will bring disaster for credit cards. Rather, it should nudge them toward the gentler credit union model that many Americans already enjoy.

As we update our disclosures and Visa card brochures, we’ve already noticed that little will have to be changed on American 1’s end. That’s good for us and good for you, and that’s just the way we like it.

Head to our Operation: Your Best Interest site to learn more about deceptive big bank credit card practices.

Heads-up: Facebook page maintenance

For those looking for American 1’s new Facebook page, hang tight: we’re doing some maintenance.

Our credit union page will be back, though. Stay tuned!

Grow your own veggies to help your budget

The Washington Post reports on the growing demand for vegetable, fruit, and bean seeds as a way to save money on groceries:

Seed producers and merchants across the United States are reporting the same phenomenon of crazy demand and even some shortages, especially of staples like beans, potatoes and lettuces. Sales of seed packets picked up last year and have grown significantly again this season, which runs from January to June.

Industry observers attribute the boost in sales to a concern for food safety following outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella poisonings and a desire by consumers to be a part of the local food movement. Michelle Obama’s new vegetable garden at the White House may also be inspiring people, they said.

But the primary reasons, they speculate, are the recession, income loss and the need for people to lower their grocery bills by growing their own.

Here around the American 1 branches, many employees grow their own vegetables and bring in the extras to share. They’re helping themselves and their co-workers. If you’re growing your own garden and have a surplus of veggies, share the wealth.

Have your own garden story or tips to share? Tell us in the comments!

Haggling helps save money

Amy Reiter at shares her experiences learning how to haggle – the resurfaced art of dickering for a better deal.

After a few financial setbacks, Reiter started to look for ways to save money around the house:

And so, a few months back, I got on the horn to the cable company and sheepishly asked if there was a way to lower my monthly payments without sacrificing the children’s TV programming on which my early-morning sleep depends: To my surprise, the customer-service representative instantly slashed my monthly bill in half by cutting some feature I didn’t even know I had. Emboldened, I dialed up the New York Times, my long-distance phone carrier and anyone else I could think of, whittling down my standing monthly charges until they were as slim as a post-NutriSystem Marie Osmond, or — more aptly — as slim as my wallet these days.

The key, say the experts Reiter talks to, is practice. Haggle often enough, and you get comfortable at it.

Rose Parade pictures posted

Rose Parade - Civil War troups

Head over to our Flickr account to see pictures from this past weekend’s super-successful Rose Parade and Party in the Park.

Luckily the weather held out for us, and thousands of Jackson residents watched the parade and joined us for the party afterward at Ella Sharp Park.

JTV also has a nice photo gallery (here’s part two) of pictures they took at the parade.

Let us know what you thought of the parade in the comments!

American 1 gives $19,000 in scholarships

American 1 scholarship winners

We were proud to hand out 19 $1,000 scholarships to deserving, altruistic high school graduates yesterday.

These students embody what it means to give back to the community in a selfless way, and we salute all the winners from the counties that American 1 serves.

The 2009 Community Involvement Award winners are:

  • Samantha Allen (Leslie High School)
  • Samuel Eder (Lumen Christi High School)
  • Veronica Clayton (Homer High School)
  • Lindsay Youngren (Columbia Central High School)
  • Dylan Combs (Hanover-Horton High School)
  • Cyle Rigotzke (Hanover-Horton High School)
  • Ashley Clemons-Sanford (Napoleon High School)
  • Robert Cooley (Hillsdale High School)
  • Julie Lenardson (Western High School)
  • Amanda Weaver (Marshall High School)
  • Janelle Fraley (Bellevue High School)
  • Elizabeth Hayes (Lumen Christi High School)
  • Andrea Farmer (Springport High School)
  • Brian Edwards II (Homer High School)
  • Kylie Boehlke (Concord High School)
  • Rico Bailey (Battle Creek Central High School)
  • Robin Kocher (Lumen Christi High School)
  • Crystal Kotowicz (Michigan Center High School)
  • Amanda Bittle (Jonesville High School)

Congratulations, and thanks to Sam, Dylan, Brian, Julie, Andrea, Samantha, Crystal, Amanda, Robin, and Kylie (above) for attending our scholarship banquet yesterday morning.

Stay tuned next January for another opportunity to apply for our community involvement scholarship. In the meantime, give back to your community in ways that mean something to you.

American 1 is on Twitter

American 1 is on Twitter

American 1 joined the Twitter revolution – a movement that is growing by leaps and bounds.

You can catch event updates, breaking news, auto-buying tips, and random banking quips from the same author that writes this blog.

Be sure to follow us, and we’ll follow right back.

Meet Sharon, our May Lugnuts tickets winner

Sharon wins Lugnuts tickets

Congratulations to Sharon Furman of Grass Lake. She’s our May 2009 membership drawing winner, earning four Lansing Lugnuts box seats and a few food vouchers.

Sharon referred her son, Michael, to American 1 after he quit his former bank.

“I told him, ‘It’s great – it’s where I like to go,'” Sharon said of American 1.

There’s one more month left in our Lugnuts referral prize drawing. Earn your chance to win Lugnuts tickets when you refer a new member in June.

American 1 Federal Credit Union