Archive for November, 2009

Finances 101 at Credit.com

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 Credit.com from some smart folks in the credit union world. Credit.com offers a great Knowledge Base section that serves as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about financial topics.
credit.com
Topics are arranged by categories like “identity theft,” “auto loans,” and “credit cards” – making it easy to find what you’re looking for. Credit.com 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 CarJunky.com: 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 Cars.com. 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!

Felpausch Branch closing Thursday

goodbyefelpausch

American 1 Federal Credit Union will be closing our Felpausch Branch doors forever on Thursday, Nov. 19 at the end of business hours.

Over the years, the Felpausch location has served us well, and we hate to see it go.

Our new North St. Branch, however, is on schedule to open its doors in December 2009, and will replace both the Felpausch Branch and the Argyle Branch. This new branch will provide more lobby space, more parking, and more drive thru lanes.

In the meantime, please use our Home Office at 718 E. Michigan Ave in downtown Jackson – a short 2 mile drive East from Felpausch. The Home Office is also open until 7 p.m. Monday-Friday and until 3 p.m. on Saturdays. There are several nearby ATMs, including Super Liquor at 1200 West Michigan Ave. and Kelly’s Quick Stop at 3797 West Michigan Ave.

Look for more details on our North St. Branch grand opening in the weeks to come.

Save money by changing your own oil

Change your own oil

Looking to save money on auto maintenance, and happen to be in a do-it-yourself (DIY) mood?

Try changing your own oil. That’s the advice from the Art of Manliness blog.

Changing your own oil will do three things, Brett & Kate McKay say: save money, prevent theft, and feed the inner hobbyist in you.

The materials, like the oil filter and wrench set, are important, as is safety. But if you have the space, time, and inclination, changing your own oil is a good way to beat those instant lube $30 jobs.

Introducing: Receipts on demand

Receipts On Demand

Like many other businesses, American 1 is always looking to cut costs for our members, reduce waste, and leave less of an impact on the environment.

That’s why we’re excited to announce Receipts On Demand, a program that introduces both a new receipt and a new way of doing things.

For one, we’re no longer automatically printing receipts for our members for each transaction. If you come into a branch to manage your account, and you want a paper receipt, you will ask for one. Otherwise, we won’t print a receipt. Ask yourself: do you really need a printed receipt for your transaction? Sometimes you will, sometimes you won’t. We’ll assume, in most cases, that you won’t need a receipt.

Second, we’re launching new thermal receipts and printers at three of our branches – Home Office, Argyle, and Parnall – starting Monday. Those receipts you get when you pay for gas at the pump? They’re kind of like those. They’re smaller, lighter, and only one sheet – instead of the yellow-and-white sheets we used to have.

This new on-demand receipt system does many things, all of them good, including:

  • Save money on paper costs and waste
  • Reduce our environmental impact with smaller receipts AND less of them
  • Make most transactions faster, saving time
  • Reducing identity theft, since there’s less of a paper trail

While this on-demand receipt system is kicking off at three of our branches, we plan to install it credit-union-wide over the next few months.

So when you make a transaction at an American 1 branch, and we ask if you want a receipt, make sure you really think about it. For some members, a printed receipt helps them manage their money better.

But if it’s just going to end up in the trash, say “no thanks.”


American 1 Federal Credit Union