Archive for July, 2009

Use direct deposit to avoid lost/stolen checks

Columnist Terry Savage shares some sobering statistics:

It seems a point almost too obvious to make. Yet, last year, more than 480,000 Social Security checks were reported lost or stolen and had to be reissued. And $64 million in Treasury-issued checks were fraudulently endorsed.

Savage recommends that SS benefit recipients enroll in direct deposit, ensuring that payments will go directly to their account.

Savage says can give more information and guidance on the benefits of direct deposit. We feel that, once you have direct deposit, you’ll never go back to regular paper checks. It cuts a lot of hassle out of the whole process.

A special visitor to our Home Office

Princess Bella, with Shandi

Over the years, plenty of special guests have paid a visit to our Home Office: Santa, Paws from the Detroit Tigers, and now…a goat.

With a diaper on.

Princess Bella (above, with Shandi) stopped by American 1’s Home Office on Friday. Maybe to drop off her paycheck?

No deposits for Princess Bella

Bella certainly has good fashion sense. Her rhinestone collar was a hit. We wonder if she has a savings account, however. Maybe pet insurance?

Other pets have stopped by our Home Office, usually with their owners, but “goats with diapers on” has been, so far, missing from the VIP list.

Thanks for stopping by, Princess.

Video: 2009 Chelsea Supermarket Sweep

For your entertainment, here’s a short video on this year’s Supermarket Sweep at Chelsea’s Country Market.

We kicked the event off last year to celebrate the grand opening of our Chelsea Branch. We invite local businesses to race through the supermarket, collecting specially-marked items, and donating everything to Faith In Action.

This year, the teams collected 369 items worth $1,000 – and had a bunch of fun doing it.

And hey, our American 1 team (Janelle, Kari, and Lynn) didn’t get last place. Always a bonus.

See you next year!

Americans keeping their cars longer


A bunch of new surveys help explain how the Great Recession is affecting car-buying behavior: Americans are now keeping their vehicles longer to save money.

Here’s what an AutoPacific study found:

An annual survey of new vehicle buyers shows a significant increase in the number of people planning to hold onto their cars and trucks. In 2005, just over 46 percent of new car acquirers indicated they would not be shopping for a new vehicle for four years or more; in the just completed survey that number has risen to about 59 percent – an increase of almost 13 percent. At the same time, the number of people intending to replace their vehicle within the next 2 years has fallen.

“Rapid replacers,” people who get a new car every one or two years or less, are apparently on the decline.

An ExxonMobile study found 40 percent of survey participants want to keep their vehicles for 150,000 miles or more. Keeping a car longer involves a different maintenance strategy, however.

The result? A boom in the auto repair business.

To keep your vehicle in better condition, be sure to make scheduled maintenance trips, and don’t be shy about getting under the hood once a while – just to see how things are running first-hand.

Disaster planning: organize your info

Trent at The Simple Dollar blog brings up a point we’ve made before: it’s good to prepare for the worst.

He recommends having a binder with documents listing all your financial, insurance, and legal information:

Even aside from the peace of mind that will come from having this document, there will come some point in your life where having all of this information at hand will come in handy – your house burns down, or your spouse passes away suddenly. During those times of crisis, having all of this data available easily to you will make all the difference in the world, taking a healthy dose of stress away from that painful and challenging moment.

While it takes some time and effort to prepare a “just in case” file, the time and effort saved if something happens is more than worth it.

How do you prepare for the theoretical worst case scenerio?

Auto loans: fulfilling one guy’s dream

Frances, one of the Member Service Specialists at our Home Office in Jackson, had this story to share about a recent loan closing:

I did a loan for a teenaged guy yesterday who brought his grandpa in as co-signer.

This guy was just so stoked about the 2000 Ford Mustang he was buying; he was overflowing with that unmistakable first-car enthusiasm that seemed to be contagious enough to sufficiently ward off the grandpa’s supposed orneriness. Not even the fact that Secretary of State wasn’t open yesterday [July 6] and he’d only be able to pick up the car today could dampen his fervor. Nor did his grandpa’s explicit threat to twist his arm off and beat him with the bloody stump if he didn’t make his payments put a dent in his mood (“I know where you live, boy! Remember that!”).

He left a happy guy with his check and I thought that was the end of it.

Well, little did I know that one of the first stops he’d be making after picking up his car today was Home Office, with the sole purpose of showing me his shiny new ride. It was fantastic to be able to share in his enthusiasm as we exchanged excited remarks about what a deal it was and how shiny and red she was, glistening there in the parking lot.

He thanked me again for all I’d done and took off, but left me with a warm fuzzy feeling of satisfaction for having had a part to play in this 18 year old fulfilling one of his greatest dreams.

Since we do a lot of auto loans, this kind of thing probably happens more often than we think. What about you: what was your first car or truck? And how did you get it?

Let us know in the comments!

About our new North St. Branch

North St. - North St. and Wisner

If you read the Jackson Citizen Patriot last weekend, you probably saw our exciting announcement: we’re building a new, 4,500 square foot branch on North St. in Jackson.

This new branch will replace our Argyle Branch, and will feature more drive-through lanes, more parking, and more space.

The lot is on West North St., next to the Aldi store on the corner of North and Wisner St., as you head down the hill.

We’re very excited about this new, bigger, better branch, which is scheduled to open by this winter. Look for more news on our groundbreaking and construction efforts, coming soon. In the meantime, check out how the lot looks now on our Flickr page.

Pictures from American 1 Teen Idol 2009

Teen Idol - Singing her heart out

Sure, it didn’t rain, but the Middle School at Parkside autorium provided a great venue for this year’s Teen Idol singing competition.

Check out pictures from the event on our Flickr page.

Congratulations to Bridgette Powell (above) of Jackson, this year’s Teen Idol champion. Bridgette returned from a third-place finish at the 2008 Teen Idol event.

Olivia Hale was our runner-up, and Taylor Hawkins took third place.

Keeping your car maintained: a schedule

With our Auto Loan Expert packets, we’re passing out a short guide of maintenance tasks to do the first year you own your vehicle. Far from comprehensive, our list is a short overview of recommended items.

We assembled a lot of that information from several sources, which are listed below. Browse through each one and get a good idea of recommended to-dos to keep your vehicle in tip-top shape. also provides a vehicle-specific maintenance recommendation guide. Enter in your car’s make and model and it will show you what to check on at regular mileage intervals.

As with everything auto-related, refer to your specific vehicle’s owner’s manual for detailed instructions and tips.

Auto loan experts: Cars for Girls blog gives good advice

The conventional wisdom is that women aren’t as familiar with auto care as men. True or not, the Cars for Girls blog tries to upset that stereotype with advice for gears-and-grease-phobic ladies.

Of particular use are the car care guides, listed as a FAQ, that offer advice like “How to change an air filter” and “How to exit a sinking or flooding vehicle.”

Cars for Girls offers pretty straight-forward tips, but with a feminine twist.

But even the gentlemen can benefit from the blog’s handy guides and simple how-tos.

American 1 Federal Credit Union