Archive for November, 2009

Finances 101 at

With the credit/financial/economic crisis, Americans started paying more attention to their financial health.

When you’re losing your home, income, or investments, it tends to get your attention, right?

These kinds of issues can lead to a lot of questions, and we heard about from some smart folks in the credit union world. offers a great Knowledge Base section that serves as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about financial topics.
Topics are arranged by categories like “identity theft,” “auto loans,” and “credit cards” – making it easy to find what you’re looking for. also features certain questions/answers, and shoots the most popular up to the top for easy reading.

Some of the posts are super handy, like how to increase your credit score and how bankruptcy affects your tax issues.

The San Francisco-based site was established by the former director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs, and runs a blog and a forum where users can ask detailed questions.

Credit card annual fee? Not at a credit union

USA Today reports that many banks are bringing back the ol’ annual fee dinosaur in response to the Credit CARD Act.

If you don’t want an annual fee on your card, writes Sandra Block, go with the not-for-profit option:

If you don’t care about rewards and just want a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee, consider applying for a card through a credit union. Many credit union cards charge no annual fee and offer below-average interest rates.

Block has just one thing wrong: American 1 offers ScoreCard rewards, which can earn you travel and gift rewards.

Through the rest of the article, however, Block gives options if your big bank credit card starts charging an annual fee or reducing reward programs.

Closed for Thanksgiving

American 1 branches will be closed this Thursday, Nov. 26 to celebrate Thanksgiving. Our branches will reopen on Friday, Nov. 27 at our normal hours.

Check out our What’s New page for a full list of holiday hours.

American 1 helps replace ash trees in Jackson

American 1 Federal Credit Union is helping to replace city trees with a hefty donation, covering the remainder of the balance left by a Consumers Energy donation.

American 1 is donating $1,947, the balance remaining from the city’s $4,445 cost of replacing ash trees struck down by the emerald ash borer. Consumers Energy gave the city a $2,498 grant to help replace 50 trees, the Jackson Citizen Patriot announced last week.

Hundreds of ash trees had to be removed from the city in recent years because of the invasive ash borer. Tom Steiger, superintendent of cemeteries, parks and forestry for the city of Jackson, is replacing the ash trees with a variety of other native trees.

Without the donations from Consumers Energy and American 1, the funds to plant the replacement trees would have come out of budgeted tax dollars.

“We have had budget cuts,” Steiger said, “so every little extra bit helps.”

Steiger will probably redirect the budgeted funds to cut down a few more ash trees and plant replacements.

“It frees up a few thousand dollars so I can do more things for the city,” he says.

So long, Felpausch

Yesterday was the final day of business at our Felpausch Branch.

The Felpausch grocery store, however, has been closed for some time now. So before we packed up and left, I grabbed a few pictures (above) of the empty store.

Pretty sad. Now that giant building will stand vacant until someone comes up with a better idea for it.

So long, Felpausch. It’s been a good run.

Winter car care & driving tips

The past few winters have come earlier and earlier, at least here in Michigan, even thought this winter it’s taking its time. Either way, winters in Michigan mean keeping your gloved hand on the wheel and keeping some winter driving tips in mind.

Mother Proof recommends keeping an eye on the side of the road for “phantom shoulders”: “Snowplows can create a deceiving shoulder made of snow that’s level with the road surface. Going off would mean sinking into the snow.”

Leave it to Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers of NPR’s Car Talk, to have some fun with a block heater, a device that keeps your engine warm all night long: “If you do get a block heater, try to remember not to drive off with your car still plugged into your house.”

Dumb Little Man advises keeping a roadside emergency kit, “including a flashlight with fresh batteries, a blanket, food bars, water bottles, cell phone, jumper cables, flares, Fix-a-Flat, HELP Sign, and a first aid kit.” An extra pair of gloves and a hat to cover your head wouldn’t hurt either.

As MSN Autos suggests, your tires can be key in winter driving conditions. Make sure to check for the appropriate tire pressure and tread depth:

Tread depth is critical to controlling a car at all times, especially in snow or heavy rain. A simple way to check tread depth requires only a penny. Insert a penny in between the tread blocks of your car’s tire, making sure Abe Lincoln’s head goes in first and is facing toward you; once the penny touches the bottom of the groove, note if you can see the top of Abe’s head with the tire’s surface at eye level. If the tread doesn’t reach the top of Abe’s head, too much has been worn off and the tire definitely needs to be replaced.

And then there are the fluids, says brake fluid, oil grade, antifreeze, and be sure to have plenty of gas in your tank. They also suggest checking your battery’s strength in cold weather starting conditions.

You can browse for the best cold weather car options over at As for the best winter-ready vehicle on the road? What’s your experience? Let us know what car or truck makes the best-driving, winter-ready vehicle in the comments.

Don’t forget about our upcoming Winter Weather Vehicle Sale, offering many vehicles to prepare you for cold-weather driving.

North St.: A peek inside

North St. - Windows

Some exciting new pictures from our North St. Branch construction site – this time with shots of the inside.

It’s coming along. And the inside? It’s huge.

Stay tuned for more!

American 1 Federal Credit Union