Leaders Series njBIZloan Connection's Murray Halperin

njBIZloan Connection’s Murray Halperin was interviewed by Bill Spadea on how njBIZloan helps businesses across NJ get funding they need from their local credit union. Halperin answered a series of questions about the program, which were recorded and will air on NJ 101.5 FM

Advanced Financial FCU Board Member Jim Bressi Speaks to the Family Atmosphere of the Credit Union that Once Served Employees of Bell Labs and Continues to Make Impact Today

The credit union movement was founded on the philosophy of “people helping people”, with many of these financial institutions founded by working class citizens who saw a need amongst their colleagues for fair, convenient financial services.

IMG 1393Advanced Financial Federal Credit Union not only exists to serve its members through that philosophy, but they were born out of one of the largest and most innovative corporations in America, which was also operated with the “people helping people” frame of mind: Bell Labs.

Jim Bressi, an employee of Bell Labs, became a member of the credit union, then called Bell Telephone Labs Credit Union, in 1966, over 50 years ago. He has been on the board of the credit union, now named Advanced Financial FCU, for over 30 years.

Now a retired Bell Labs employee, he still serves on the board of the credit union that used to serve him and his colleagues exclusively.

In this edition of the Service Series, Jim speaks to the family atmosphere of the labs and the credit union, and what has kept him serving for over 30 years…

What brought you to the credit union industry?
I joined the credit union in 1966. As do a lot of people that were there at Bell Labs, I had a soft spot for the credit union. When I got married, I had to borrow money to pay for my honeymoon and furniture, etc., so I went to the credit union. They were very easy to deal with. My friends and colleagues were on the board there. They were doing a great job. Then they asked me to join the board as well. So I decided, “let's be a part of it.”

Why have you stayed involved for so long?
I enjoyed the people that I have worked with on the board then and now. Back then, I had a number of instances where members of the credit union actually worked for me or around me in the laboratories. On the board, I could help out and make sure that we're doing the right stuff as far as all these employees of Bell Labs are concerned.

They’ve had some terrific people on the board. Everyone was interested in making the credit union better for its members, for the employees, which we have done over the years. It is a family. It was great to have the people that work for me know that someone's looking out for them.

How would you say credit unions are different, why should people care about credit unions?
I felt that we always did more than a bank would do. We were very accessible. As a board member, you’d run into people in the hallway, ask them how they’re doing, what’s going on in their life. And you could relate. Whereas when you go to a bank, you just stand in line to see the teller who maybe doesn’t know who you are or what’s going on in your life. As opposed to walking through the hallway and meeting a board member.


Advanced Financial Federal Credit Union membership is available to anyone who lives, works, goes to school or worships in Union or Essex County, NJ. It offers members a full range of financial services, similar to banks. It offers residents an alternative to the costly services of mega-banks, and the option of a financial institution under local ownership. For more information, visit www.advfinfcu.com.

It Runs in the Family: Service Series Spotlight on Bob Millard, President/CEO Thunderbolt Area FCU

Bob Millard has been working at Thunderbolt Area FCU for over 60 years, since the credit union was founded by his father back in 1951. The credit union is very active in serving its community, with food drives, Financial Reality Fairs for school, and more.

What brought you to the credit union industry?
My father was one of the seven founding members of Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union when it was called Airwork Employees Federal Credit Union. He and six other employees of Airwork Corporation put up five dollars each and were chartered effective May 1st, 1951 with the assistance of Jimmy “Shorty” Johnson from the New Jersey Credit Union League.

 Bob Millard sits down with a member to discuss financial options.
(Photo courtesy of Atlantic City Press)

I was always above average in mathematics and arithmetic, even at a young age. At the end of each year, I would help my dad calculate the dividends for each of the members--there were about 300 at the time. I ran the totals on the dividends using a hand crank adding machine. So, during my childhood, I spent my New Year's Eve and New Year's Day doing that so the credit union could open up on the first work day after the holiday. I liked that; it was kind of fun and I looked forward to doing it.

By the time I was in high school and taking Accounting classes, I became more involved. I helped them get their first electronic machine. At that time, my mom started working at the credit union as well.

It runs in the family, I guess you could say. There's always been somebody in my family at the helm of this place since 1951.

Why have you stayed involved for so long, over 60 years?
Once I got a little older and was eligible to serve on the board of directors, I started working directly with the members. I realized how sad it was in this area. It's a very depressed area. People would have their refrigerator go out and they didn't have $200 to buy another one, sometimes would get themselves into all kinds of financial trouble trying to make ends meet. I enjoyed working with them. I wouldn't call it official credit counseling because I hadn't really had any formal training in it, but I'd do it constantly. And that's what makes it rewarding, seeing somebody who thinks this is his last climb up out of the mud clean themselves off and have a future.

How would you describe credit unions as being different? Why should people care about credit unions and know about them?
If you're downtrodden and you make an attempt, this credit union will help you. I insist that that occur. In fact, I meet with every new member who joins and everyone who gets their first loan. We talk.

A couple months ago, for example, a member for 15 years or so was in trouble. She had gone through a divorce and her ex-husband took advantage of her. She had about 15 credit cards that were maxed out, and she was struggling to make payments. She was living in an apartment with her husband and three kids and needed to find a house. Nobody would lend her the money; both of them had low credit scores. She came to me as a last resort, we sat down, and I talked with her and her husband. I worked with her on her debt and in a couple months got two thirds of those cards paid down to zero and actually got some credit increases on the other one so she could build up credit.

We also found out that her husband was able to do construction. So, I encouraged them to find an affordable home in foreclosure that maybe needed some work that her husband could do himself. And they were able to do that. We were able to loan them the money for the home and for a few thousand dollars extra to fix it up. So, they got their first home. And their payments along with taxes and interest is about $400 a month less than what they were paying for an apartment that was falling down.

I had the cooperation of my board because this was extremely risky to lend to these members with a credit score just above 500. So, we took a chance, and they've been true. And excited that they’re moving ahead. That kind of stuff I enjoy most.


Thunderbolt Area FCU is a credit union chartered to serve the underserved in the southern part of New Jersey from Vineland to the Delaware Bay. For more information, visit the credit union at 1601 Cedar Street Millville, NJ 08332; call (856)-327-5755; or visit their Web site www.tbafcu.com.

Service Series: Spotlighting Margie Walker Horsch Keeping it All in the Family for Over 30 Years

Margie Walker Horsch became a member of Linden NJ Police & Firemen FCU as a child, when her father, a fireman, opened her an account. Since then, for over 30 years, Margie has helped her credit union - Linden NJ Police & Firemen FCU - as well as other credit unions across the country evolve with the times with technology solutions. She also serves on the board of a credit union here in New Jersey. Dedication to helping credit unions better serve their members is in her blood. Margie took some time recently to share her story and tell us why she’s continued to serve the credit union for over three decades…

MargieWhat brought you to the credit union industry?
My father was a big believer in credit unions and was a member of Linden NJ Police & Firemen FCU--he was a fireman. He spoke to me, my sister, and my entire family, and his fellow firemen, how important it was for them to be members of the credit union. He opened an account for me when I was born. I went there for my first loan.

Fast forward a few years, the Deputy Chief of Linden NJ Firemen, who was also the Treasurer of the credit union at the time, asked if I knew someone who wanted a part-time job. I raised my hand and said “Sure! I do.” And I haven't learned how to put that hand down since. That was back in 1981.

In the 80s, when everything was moving to computers, I went back to work in the “real world” for a software company that worked with credit unions.

Then, Raritan Bay FCU was looking for volunteers for its board of directors, so I’ve been on their board for almost six years now. 

Why have you stayed involved for so long, almost 30 years?
It's an industry I thoroughly believe in. They treat you like a person. It's about the relationships that are built; it's not about the profit. Credit unions exist for the people who, if they went anywhere else, they would be laughed at, turned away, and they would be stopped. You go to a bank and ask for a $2,000 loan…they're going to laugh at you.

Why is that? How would you say credit unions are different?
I’ve seen what difference credit unions make for members, not just here but across this country. In each case it's “people helping people.” You're not a number, you're a person. You walk in and I know you, I know your parents, your grandparents, especially those that have kids, because it is a close knit family. It is a family.

Sure, some of our members have become delinquent, but we will work with them to get them back on track. Even those who have low credit scores; if they’ve paid their loans back, we take that into consideration rather than writing them off. Linden NJ Police & Firemen FCU works with its members to ensure they get what they need and stay with them.

Credit union people, whether they're in New Jersey, South Dakota or Scotland, they're all about the people.


Linden NJ Police & Firemen FCU serves  Police and Firefighters in Union County and is located at 300 West Georges Ave in Linden, NJ. For more information, call 908-486-7249.

Local 1233 FCU: Serving Longshoremen of the Port of Newark for Almost 50 Years

Almost 50 years ago, Marvin Sykes decided that his fellow members of ILA Local 1233, Longshoremen of the Port of Newark, needed a safe, secure, and convenient way to manage their money, with an organization that understood their way of life.

Sykes, now a member of the credit union’s Credit Committee, spoke to Local 1233 FCU’s Manager, Khadjia Rover, about how the credit union got its start and how it has served longshoremen in the Newark area. Below, read Syke’s story as told by Rover…

 Odell Chisolm, Local 1233 FCU Vice President at the time (left)
with Marvin Sykes, Local 1233 FCU President at the time, one of the 
credit union's founders.

How did the credit union get its start?
The credit union got started in 1972 when the local union went on strike and there were no benefits and money for the workers. Marvin Sykes, who was the President of Local 1233 at the time, joined NJ Officers Credit Union to get a personal loan. When he joined, the Treasurer of NJ Officers CU, Mrs. Shugart, contacted the New Jersey Credit Union League to discuss with the Executive Board of Local 1233 how to form its own credit union.

Who were the key players?
Marvin Sykes, President, mentioned above, and Odell Chisolm were one of the first members to join the credit union. James Simmons, Vice President; Donald Yeldell, Credit Committee; Edgar Lee, Treasurer; and Charles Hill, Board of Directors, Education; also played a big role in the credit union’s start.

Why was the credit union formed, who was it established to serve?
The credit union was established to provide banking services for the members of ILA Local 1233 who were Longshoremen of the Port of Newark.

What was the need that the credit union was meeting that its members couldn’t find elsewhere?
Convenience, location, payroll deduction, and savings accounts.

Do you know how much the first deposit and/or loan was for?
The first loan with the credit union was $250.

What makes Local 1233 FCU different than other financial institutions?
Most loans are obtained without credit reports, and there’s the option of receiving different types of loans and competitive rates that you can’t find anywhere else.

Where was its first location?
The first and only location for the credit union was located at the ILA Local 1233 building located at, 731 South 10th street in Newark NJ.

How has the membership changed/grown over the years? What do you think was the cause for the membership growth?
More services were offered, and younger members in the industry joined to start saving. The membership of immediate families of Longshoremen and the growth of employment at the Port of Newark helped grow the credit union as well.

How did you become involved with the credit union?
Marvin Sykes’s father encouraged him to join NJ Officer’s Credit Union, which inspired Mr. Sykes to gain more interest in forming a credit union for his local union.

What keeps you involved in the industry?
Longevity on the job as a Longshoreman, dedication to the local as a longtime member, and being one of the first members to join the credit union since the beginning.

For more information on Local 1233 FCU, call 973-824-7246.

Looking Back: Members 1st of NJ FCU Chairman John Henderson Looks Back at CU’s 80-Year Legacy
By: Marissa Anema, VP, Marketing & Communications, NJCUL

As Members 1st of NJ FCU celebrates its 80th year of service to its community, Board Chair John Henderson, whose father was one of the original members back when it was Cumberland Teachers FCU, looks back for the League’s Legacy Series on the credit union’s founding and how its grown to be what it is today. He recently gave Marissa Anema some insight into the credit union’s humble beginnings as a teacher’s credit union…

Anema: Tell me how the credit union got its start?

Henderson: A group of like-minded teachers consisting of seven men and women from around Cumberland County organized what became in 1938 as the Cumberland Teachers FCU.

Anema: Who were the key players and founders?

Pictured clockwise from top left: Members 1st of NJ FCU Chairman
John Henderson's father, Laurence Henderson; 
John Henderson at the credit union's 80th anniversary celebration; 
Laurence Henderson's credit union passbook;
the credit union's 80th anniversary logo. 

Henderson: The initial founders appointed officers were Ralph Robinson – President 1938-1940; Laurence Henderson (my father) – Vice President 1938-1967; Robert Craig – Secretary 1938-1948; H. W. Letts – Board Member 1938; Mary E Rossi – Board Member 1938; J. Albert Starkey – Board Member 1938; and Carrie R. Schureman – Board Member 1938.

Anema: Why was the credit union formed, who was it established to serve?

Henderson: Our founders formed the credit union to help fellow teachers as a means to make loans more affordable.

Anema: What was the need that the credit union was meeting that the teachers couldn’t find elsewhere?

Henderson: In 1938, America was slowly pulling out of the throws of Depression and the economy was beginning to see signs of improvement. The "war drums" were sounding off in Europe and the turmoil which followed resulted in people looking for safe and secure places to handle their financial transactions. Our credit union built that trust and security amongst the teaching profession. I believe if you searched through other credit union originations you would find that workers were looking for like-minded interest.

Anema: Do you know how much the first deposit and/or loan was for?

Henderson: I am not sure if it was the first however my father, Laurence Henderson, made a $5 deposit on February 24, 1938. He was assigned the account #4. His booklet reflects his account activity for the year and shows he earned 25 cent dividend! I understand that the first loan was for $100 and all seven original members cosigned the loan! In 1942, our budget was $342.20. It also shows that we paid a state league dues of $25 and a convention fee of $8.

Anema: Where was the credit union’s first location?

Henderson: Individual homes were the center of the credit union including the homes of: Ralph Robinson, Rose Sternberg, Mary Doerr, and Beverly Brown. As we grew we continued operations out of a building on South Delsea Drive in Vineland; Landis Ave. in Vineland; and then we added a Bridgeton Branch, and after a merger with Salem Teachers Credit Union a branch in Woodstown.

Anema: What makes the credit union different than other financial institutions?

Henderson: I think the two most important are the “people helping people” philosophy and the not-for-profit structure!

Anema: How has the membership changed/grown over the years?

Henderson: During the course of 80 years, we have served teachers, school employees, staff from the City of Vineland, and various other select employer groups (SEGs).

Anema: What do you think was the cause for the membership growth?

Henderson: We provide a safe, secure, and trustworthy financial services while maintaining convenient and up to date services for our members.

Anema: How did you become involved with the credit union?

Henderson: My mother and father started an account for me when I was 3 months old in 1945. The day I was born, my mother was helping my grandmother pick strawberries for the market that morning. I presume that mother made the first deposit from her strawberry pickings. It has been my source for financial services ever since.

Anema: What keeps you involved in the industry?

Henderson: I still make use of the financial services; however, I still enjoy helping others and I believe that the words my father had carved in a piece of walnut over his fireplace hold the best reason: "Be thyself, and be worthy to be thyself"!

Based in Vineland, N.J., Members 1st of NJ FCU now serves over 8,000 members from 100 select employer groups. For more information on Members of 1st of NJ FCU, visit www.membersonenj.org

Service Series: Spotlighting Pam Elliott, Chairman of the Board, Lakehurst Naval FCU

Pam Elliott has been on the board of directors in various capacities for Lakehurst Naval FCU for almost 30 years. She’s involved in the Financial Reality Fair program for schools throughout the area and was the recipient of the 2016 Calvin Jackson Memorial Volunteer of the Year Award from the New Jersey Credit Union League. Pam took some time recently to share her story and tell us why she’s continued to serve the credit union for almost three decades…

Pam Elliott helping Ocean County College students
learn about budgeting at a Reality Fair.

What brought you to the credit union industry?
In 1965, my husband Rod and I needed a car. Rod was in the Navy at Lakehurst Naval Base, was teaching at the school there. Rod’s coworker, who was on the Supervisory Committee at the credit union right up the road, said, “For goodness sakes, don’t get the loan from the car dealership! Go down to credit union and join. That’s the only way.” And we did.

Over the years since, we continued to go to the credit union’s annual meetings and I realized the credit union really interested me. I don’t how long it or exactly how it happened, but here I am 27 years later, the Chairman of the Board of Lakehurst Naval FCU.

Why have you stayed involved for so long, almost 30 years?
I think what really has kept me in it is I believe in it. I don’t get along with banks; we don’t have any money in the bank. We don’t have any bank accounts. We did, but when I first came on the board of the credit union, I made the switch. I’m a member of four credit unions, but I only deal with credit unions. The more I became involved, the deeper the concept has sunk into me, and I believe that it is the only way to go.

Why is that? How would you say credit unions are different? And why should people care about credit unions? Why should people know about these differences?
When asked about the difference, the first thing we say--me and Rod--is credit unions are member-owned. They don’t pay their board, keep lower fees, and better interest. And the friendliness. Credit unions are friendly; they care about you as a member.


Lakehurst Naval FCU serves the military and civil service employees (active or retired) of Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst - Lakehurst area - and their families. It is located on the Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst at 60 Lansdowne Road JBMDL, Lakehurst, NJ 08733. For more information, call  732-323-1194; or visit their Web site www.lnfcu.net.

Service Series: Spotlighting Walter Tanalski, Chairman of the Board, Manville Area FCU

Since its founding in May of 1937, Manville Area Federal Credit Union has strived to offer convenient and affordable products and services to meet the financial needs of its members and their families. Walter Tanalski has been a credit union member for over 30 years and on the board of directors of Manville Area FCU in various capacities since 2014. Read on to hear from Walt about how he got started and why he’s continued to support the credit union movement for close to three decades. 

What brought you to the credit union industry?
The United States Army. When I went in the service, I went in June of 1964. We got paid on the 30th. I got paid $31.60, but I never got the 60 cents that came in July’s paycheck. You never got the pennies; it was always rounded down to the whole dollar. So, I got 31 dollars, and we were marched to the credit union, Army Federal Credit Union, and I had to save $3 into my credit union account; 10% of my paycheck. So, I opened an account and put 3 dollars in it. When left the tailor shop (because that’s where the credit union was at the time) to the government office and bought a bond for $6.25--a third of the total cost of $18.75. Then they took us up to the PX to buy the rest of our things. I think when we got all done with that I had something like $9 and something left out of my paycheck. That had to last me the whole month of July! I didn’t eat nothing! I think I spent 15 cents on a Coke, got caught, and I had to do 150 push-ups! So that’s why I hate Coke. I don’t drink Coke to this day!

How did you get involved with Manville Federal Credit Union?
When I left the Army, I couldn’t find another credit union to join through the VFW. So, I pushed for the credit union in Manville, N.J. to add the VFW to its membership because we had the biggest VFW in the state of New Jersey--when I joined we had 1,876 members --and we needed a credit union. When Manville Area FCU added the VFW to its membership, that’s when I became a part of the credit union. I joined the Supervisory Committee then eventually was voted in as Chairman.

Why have you stayed involved for so long, almost 30 years?
Because I think it’s one of the greatest things since sliced bread. You have better interest for both sides--lower rates on loans and higher rates on savings. You pay less for a loan and you get more for your money most of the time.

We can save you money. We can help you manage your money. If you don’t know how to budget, I can get you someone to do that for you.

We helped one of the members of our community keep his house and truck after declaring bankruptcy due to his wife passing away and being stuck with huge medical bills. He was qualified to be a member of the credit union; so I told him to come down and apply for a loan, but you will probably get denied--but I review all the refused loans. We approved the loan at a certain interest rate, but if he made 10 payments on time, we dropped down the interest rate, and if he made 10 more payments, we dropped it down again; 10 more payments, we dropped it down again. After he did that, we’d lock in the final interest rate on the loan until it was paid off. He requested that he was allowed to pay it off early. This allowed him to pay off his credit cards, keep his house, and his truck. We also set him up with a list of creditors to call to write off some of the medical debt. Three of five companies wrote it off and the others waived the interest fees.

That must be a big risk for the credit union…
Oh yeah, but he’s the type of guy who’ll walk 20 miles to pay back a penny. I knew that about him, so I took a chance on him when he needed it. Now his two kids joined the credit union as well.


Originally chartered in 1937 as the J-M Employees Federal Credit Union for employees of Johns-Manville, the Board of Directors changed the name to Manville Area Federal Credit Union in 1986. Now, anyone who lives, works or worships in the borough of Manville, N.J. is able to become a member and enjoy the benefits of Manville Area FCU. The credit union, which celebrated its 80th anniversary earlier this year, exists today, just as it did in 1937, to provide affordable services to help improve our members’ financial well-being. For more information, visit www.manville.org or call 908-526-8844. 

Advanced Financial Federal Credit Union: Innovation at Bell Labs Drives Credit Union Success in Local Communities

The credit union movement was founded on the philosophy of “people helping people”, with many of these financial institutions founded by working class citizens who saw a need amongst their colleagues for fair, convenient financial services.

Advanced Financial Federal Credit Union not only exists to serve its members through that philosophy, but they were born out of one of the largest and most innovative corporations in America, which was also operated with the “people helping people” frame of mind: Bell Labs.

It is not an overstatement to say that Bell Labs, a historic research facility based in New Jersey, had more to do with changing the lives of billions of people around the world: it was the birthplace of inventions as diverse as cellular phones, the laser, the transistor, and more.

From the start of Bell Telephone Labs Credit Union to now, the history and impact Bell Labs had on society left a mark on the credit union world as well. “When you talk about the credit union and where it comes from, you must highlight the amazing contribution of inventions that Bell Labs has produced, too,” said Alan Feigenbaum. “Without them, we wouldn’t have many of our modern products that we all take for granted.”

At its Murray Hill, N.J., location, three of its researchers—Harry Noll, Ellsworth Rand, and George Ehrhart—established what would become known as Bell Telephone Labs Credit Union in April of 1965. At the time, Bell Labs was a very large organization, with over 14,000 employees; about 6 percent were in the formal Research Area, where Noll, Rand, and Ehrhart worked. Taking responsibility for the credit union’s main operations, Noll carried everything in a briefcase and would go from member to member in the Research Area during lunchtime and take their deposits.

At first, the credit union did not provide any loans, just offered deposits and withdrawals. But as time went on, members turned to the credit union primarily for their lending needs, which weren’t being met by any other financial institution. Among its first members were part of the Communication Members of America, a union that represents workers in the fields of telecommunications, information technology, media, education, healthcare, and more.

In the early 1970s, the credit union opened up to other parts of the lab beyond the Research Area, which drew great interest from other Bell Labs employees. But it was when the credit union decided to move from the labs and become more independent—and renamed itself Advanced Financial Federal Credit Union in 1984—that business really expanded.

A key contributor to the success of Advanced Financial FCU is Bob McAnally, one of the credit union’s very first members and who is still involved with the credit union to this day. McAnally started at the credit union as a Credit Committee Member because it gave him the opportunity to work with people he knew and he found it “interesting.” He served as a board member for 25 years. He now serves as Chairman of the Nomination Committee.

Bob McAnally, Advanced Financial FCU Nomination Committee Chairman (left)
and David Frankil, President/CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League.

“Bob is very importance to us at the credit union because he's always been involved and has been a member since we were formed,” said Advanced Financial FCU President/CEO Alan Feigenbaum. “He's a positive, pleasant person with a good understanding of the credit union movement.”

The credit union has grown to make an impact beyond its original field of membership as well, expanding to serve its local communities. In 2002, the credit union obtained a community charter, allowing it serve to all of Union County, and the in 2017, expanded further to include neighboring Essex County, N.J. The credit union now serves those who live, work, worship and/or attend school in, and businesses and other legal entities in, both Union County and Essex County, New Jersey.

“We are now able to bring community-focused financial services to neighboring Essex County,” Feigenbaum said of the expansion. “We already serve Blue Cross Blue Shield employees who work in Newark, N.J. This most recent expansion will allow us to bring more services to existing members, as well as to expand services to the entire Essex County community.”

For more information: https://www.advfinfcu.com/

To learn more about the benefits of credit unions and to find one near you, go to www.bankingyoucantrust.com

Fort Dix Federal Credit Union, Standing with Our Nation's Military for Over 50 Years

Commanding generals, sergeant majors, and other officers
of Fort Dix in front of the credit union in the 1960s.

FT. DIX, N.J. – The philosophy that credit unions were built on is “people helping people.” Credit unions were formed by those who had a common bond—workers, friends, neighbors, family members, for example—who sought to fill a need for financial support. The story of how Fort Dix Federal Credit Union came to be is one of family: both the brotherhood of men in the service and the daughter of one its founders, who runs the credit union to this day.

First called Camp 13 (and then Camp Dix), Fort Dix was built in 1917 as a training and staging area for troops headed to Europe to fight in World War I. The name was changed when the facility was significantly expanded in 1939, to serve the same purpose for troops headed to fight in World War II.

The mission continued after each of those wars, helping de-mobilize returning troops and eventually transitioning to mobilizing, training, deploying, and demobilizing Army Reserve and National Guard units. One of the largest sites in the country, some weekends see as many as 15,000 reservists on the base.

Fort Dix FCU was founded by men in the military to serve the unique needs of active and retired military members, along with civil service members and their families, which sets it apart from other financial institutions who have a one-size-fits-all approach to banking products and services.

Under the direction of Chief Warrant Officer Clarence P. Lines, Fort Dix FCU was founded on May 1, 1963 by Sergeant Major Max D. Martin and Post Sergeant Major John E. Kerner, whose daughter Janet Sperling runs the credit union today.

In the early 1960s, Kerner was assigned to Fort Dix as Post Sergeant Major and, at the time, there was no credit union that served the Army assigned to Fort Dix. This was especially problematic for the younger soldiers, many of whom did not have cars, and had a difficult time cashing checks and applying for loans without having to go off-base.

John and Bertha Kerner

Kerner was tasked alongside Sergeant Major Max Martin by Chief Warrant Officer Clarence Lines to do the research and establish a Fort Dix credit union to help these soldiers in need. The credit union opened the doors of its first location, a trailer, on May 1, 1963 with the first deposit of about six dollars. At that time, the maximum loan amount was set at $150.00. The original group of members was made up of 12 soldiers. After just eight months of service, the institution had welcomed more than 700 members.

During the summers of 1977 and 1978, the operations of the credit union became a family affair as the daughter of John and Bertha Kerner, Janet Sperling, began working part-time at the credit union. During that time, Sergeant Major Martin, at that point retired from the military, was the designated manager and also held a seat on the board. Bertha Kerner was the assistant manager and treasurer on the board, and John Kerner was the chairman of the board. Shortly after graduating from high school, Sperling became a full-time employee due to the unexpected passing of Sergeant Major Martin. Since then, Sperling has climbed the ranks, to become the CEO of Fort Dix FCU.

Sperling has seen the base and the credit union’s members change over the course of her 40 years with the credit union, especially after the merging of McGuire Air Force Base, United States Army Fort Dix, and Navy’s Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst in 2009. “With each war and each conflict, something has been different,” she explains. “There is no draft anymore, so you have less of the constant flux of younger people. We have more retired people, who have settled in this area, now than there were before because you had your boom of soldiers after World War II and after Vietnam who had to make a decision when they got out. What were they going to do? Where were they going to go?”

Despite the changes, the members of the Fort Dix FCU are here to stay because of the consistent, personalized service they receive. Sperling shares one of her favorite memories of her mother helping a member, which exemplifies the values Fort Dix FCU continues to provide to the their community. Bertha Kerner received a call from a member, an older gentleman that had just gotten out of the military, who had gotten into some trouble with the law and was going to face jail time if he didn’t post bail. After his arrest, he asked for a phonebook, looked up Bertha Kerner, called her, and explained the situation. Bertha Kerner drove down and posted bail for him, on the grounds that he would come into the credit union the next day to make arrangements to pay her back. He agreed. And after she posted bail for him and drove him home, the very next day, he went into the credit union and applied for a loan to pay off his debt. Since then, the gentleman has passed on, but his son is still a member of the credit union. “Even though we’re all the same, we’re all so very different,” says Sperling, “We all have that member focus that makes a difference.”

Pictured from left to right: Debbie Regi, Lisa Tuliano,
and CEO Janet Sperling.

Sperling and her staff carry on the legacy of her parents, who have since passed, by carrying on their dedication to the “people helping people” philosophy. “We’re all a nice little family,” says Sperling of her staff and members. “We know sometimes more things about the members than we need to know. We like our people.” And their people like them. Sperling says their members like speaking with their main teller, Lisa Tuliano, so much that when she’s on vacation, they’ll wait for her to come back before getting what they need. “Everybody loves Lisa,” says Sperling. “Because we’re so small, we can have that intimate relationship with people. It’s the people connection.”

Though the environment is ever-changing with the times on the Fort Dix base, its credit union still provides the same personalized service and care to their members—and is right there whenever they need it. Their primary focus is not on the numbers, but on the people that walk through their doors. Sperling continues the legacy that her parents left behind and remains focused on their mission to serve and stand with the United States military forces.

For more information, visit www.ftdixfcu.com.  

To learn more about the benefits of credit unions and to find one near you, go to www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.

Raritan Bay FCU, Serving the Hardworking Middle Class for Over 75 Years

Many credit unions were founded by groups of workers in areas where traditional banking services were either unavailable or beyond their means. Such is the case with Raritan Bay Federal Credit Union, which was founded in 1941 to serve workers of National Lead.

Founding members of Titanox FCU (what is now known as
Raritan Bay FCU). From left to right: Steve Stankovitz, Mitch La’Voie,
John F. Kroeger, John Andrejewski, and Rocco Fazari.

Not only does Raritan Bay FCU have deep roots, but the original founders exhibited an amazing devotion to their fellow members that is a hallmark of the cooperative credit union business model. During its 75th anniversary celebration last year, Raritan Bay FCU honored one of its original members, John Andrejewski, in recognition of his 75 years as a member and 41 years of service as an official to the credit union.

Andrejewski, now 97 years old, recently took the time to reflect on the early days of the credit union, its humble beginnings in a single room at the lead plant, and how its blue-collar start has defined its mission to this day.

It all began in 1941 when five National Lead workers on the management team began the credit union with the approval of the plant manager, who gave them a room to start the operations right in the plant. As new employees joined the ranks at the plant, they became members of the credit union. Andrejewski joined as soon as he became a maintenance worker for National Lead in 1941. His member number was, and still is to this day, one of the very first account numbers of what has now become almost 11,000 members. And he has been involved in the credit union’s growth every step of the way.

“The credit union was for the people. For the working man. For the blue-collar worker,” he explains while reminiscing about the credit union’s humble beginnings at the plant. The credit union, named Titanox Federal Credit Union at the time, was there for the workers who needed loans. The plant workers very seldom defaulted on them, says Andrejewski, because they had a steady stream of income from the plant, but also because they had a loyalty to their fellow workers, including Andrejewski, who served on multiple committees for the credit union over the years.

The credit union moved to several locations after it left the National Lead building in the late 1950s, including a space it rented from the South Amboy First Aid Squad, until it finally found its home in 1993 at 491 Raritan Street on the border of Sayreville and South Amboy, where it still remains today. Andrejewski oversaw the plans for the building, which serves as the credit union’s headquarters, and is playfully teased to this day for some of the out-turned bricks on the corner of the building he chose to make it look “a little bit different.”

As membership expanded, Raritan Bay FCU went through a few name changes. After including the communities surrounding the plant—Sayreville and South Amboy—in 1982, the credit union’s name was changed to Titanox-Community Federal Credit Union, then to Raritan Bay FCU on April 21, 1988. In 1997, it opened a second location on Main Street in South River.

Andrejewski (left) celebrating the credit union’s 75th anniversary
with Board Chair Elsie Mroczkowski (center)
and President/CEO Ron Behrens (right).

In 1999, Raritan Bay FCU became the first credit union in New Jersey to open a Student-Run Credit Union Branch, which was located in South Amboy Middle/High School. Students were given the opportunity to volunteer at the high school branch where they learned the basic principles and practices of the financial services industry and the operation of a small business. High School seniors are also offered the opportunity to apply for a scholarship through the credit union to help off-set the cost of college.

Current President/CEO, Ronald Behrens, noted that Raritan Bay FCU stays involved in its community by supporting many events throughout the year and paying homage to its roots in the area surrounding the plant, including Sayreville Day, South River's National Night Out, South Amboy's Raritan Bay Festival of the Arts, Sayreville Police Annual Torch Run to benefit local Special Olympics, and The Breast Cancer Walk in Edison. They even devote revenue from ATM usage to Toys-for-Tots and other local charities, collect non-perishable foods for over 80 local food pantries, soup kitchens and 25 other community social service agencies, and provide scholarship awards to high school seniors for college education.

The credit union’s dedication to its community, especially its younger generations, earned it recognition over the years; the credit union was awarded the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award for New Jersey in 2013 and 2014.

The credit union now serves almost 11,000 members in all of Middlesex County and along the Raritan Bay.

Credit Unions: More Convenient Than You Think They Were

How many times have you heard cons that seem to outweigh the pros of becoming a credit union member? You may have heard that free ATMs for are scarce. You may think that a credit union is too local, that you can’t get branch services nationwide. You may also think, “How could a credit union compete with my big bank that offers a vast number of services?”

Credit unions have often been labeled as inconvenient and low-tech. But that isn’t all necessarily true. What you may not know is that credit unions are financial cooperatives. They work together on one sole purpose–benefitting their members. It’s what credit unions believe in. It’s what they were founded on, the “People Helping People,” mantra. That’s why credit unions nationwide have established a network through CO-OP Financial Services that challenges the “inconvenient” and “low-tech” labels.

The Shared Branching network through CO-OP Financial Services has over 5,400 branches nationwide that provide full-branch services to you–the member. This cooperation places credit unions as the 3rd largest in branch locations nationwide, ahead of competitive opposition like Bank of America and PNC Bank. If you’re a member of credit union that is part of that network, you can find Shared Branching locations where you can conveniently do your banking by using the online locator. There are also apps for both iPhone and Android phones where you can quickly and easily find branches and free ATMs.

Speaking of ATMs…there are nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs in the network that provide convenient account access at locations including 7-Eleven, retail locations, and more!

In addition to being convenient, credit unions are also personal. They treat you like a member, not just a number. As a credit union member, you have a voice in the fate of the credit union’s future thanks to their democratically-controlled structure.

New Jersey’s credit unions provide banking you can trust! They have the banking services you need, with  little to no fees for accounts, low loan rates, and higher deposit rates. To find one near you check out this locator here!

Credit Unions: Reaching New Parents at the Right Time

Life is full of changes. Some you expect. Some you don't. When life took an unexpected turn for Bryan Dowd,
he turned to his local credit union. And, life for this new Millennial dad has been a little brighter ever since.
Bryan's story is a great example of how we work with credit unions to help them connect when the time
is right. Why do we do it?

Credit Unions: Focused on Your Needs First

All Leslie Finklea wanted was to build a home for her family. So, when her bank declined her mortgage
application, she was lost. After advice from a family member, she turned to her local credit union.
They want to #CU_Thrive and can do what banks simply can't: focus on your needs first.

Something Old and Something New: Central Jersey Police & Fire FCU Reflects on its Rich History and Celebrates a New Name

Pictured from left to right: Trenton NJ Police Federal Credit Union
founders Joseph Siefert,
Victor Babecki, Thomas Bruthers,
and Pasquale Narelli pose with the credit union’s first deposit.

As it celebrates its 77th anniversary and a new name that signifies its growth over the years, Central Jersey Police & Fire FCU proudly reflects on its heritage of being founded by—and continuing to serve—those in uniform protecting and serving the local communities surrounding the state capitol.

It all began back in 1939, when a group of Trenton, N.J. police officers saw a need amongst their tight-knit law enforcement community for affordable and reliable financial services that they couldn’t find at any of the local banks.

Joseph Siefert, Victor Babecki, Thomas Bruthers, and Pasquale Narelli came together to form Trenton NJ Police Federal Credit Union, which, at the time, only offered deposit accounts and loans—a service that was hard to come by elsewhere. The cooperative credit union structure allowed them to pool their deposits to loan funds to one another when needed in a safe and trust-worthy process.

When the Hamilton Police Department caught wind of the cooperative financial institution being run by and for law enforcement, the credit union opened its membership to include them.

One door down from the credit union’s branch in Hamilton is Mercerville Fire Company. When firemen began expressing interest in joining their brothers and sisters in uniform as members in 2012, the credit union opened its membership to include them. The credit union continued to grow and expand services, becoming a staple in the Trenton-area community of first responders, serving Bordentown, East Windsor, Ewing, Lawrence, and numerous other law enforcement agencies and fire departments.

The true test of any organization is how it faces a crisis. In this case, the state was forced to lay off 109 police officers, and those officers and their families were faced with the reality of significant financial uncertainty in a very bad economy.

The credit union didn’t hesitate, working with every single one of the affected officers to keep them financially sound in this time of transition. Credit union employees did anything and everything they could to help, from refinancing loans to extending the terms of loans and much more. For two police officers that were struggling to make their mortgage payments, the credit union went so far as to find them cheaper mortgage rates elsewhere to make sure they didn’t go under or lose their homes. “We did whatever we could do to help them,” said credit union CEO Barbara Rios. “That’s how we were founded; that’s what we do.”

As a result, not one of the police officers who lost their job defaulted on any of their loans.

It would be hard to think of a better example of the true “people helping people” philosophy of the industry. And it didn’t go unnoticed. The credit union’s efforts were recognized nationally by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), with a 2014 Louise Herring Philosophy-in-Action Award for its practical application of the credit union philosophy for internal programs and services that benefit membership.

With the credit union’s charter expanded to include police officers living within 25 miles of the credit union, in September 2016, the name of the cooperative was changed from Trenton NJ Police FCU to Central Jersey Police & Fire FCU to better reflect its new membership. Now, even very small police departments in the area have the opportunity to join Central Jersey Police & Fire FCU and enjoy the benefits of membership experienced by over 2,000 police officers and firemen.

The staff and board of directors also live and breathe the credit union’s mission. All of the employees are retired from law enforcement and the board of directors includes both active and retired law enforcement professionals from Trenton, Hamilton, and Mercer.

Rios herself has been involved in the credit union since 1985, when she became a member at the same time she was joining the Trenton Police Department. In 1993, Rios began working at the credit union part-time in between working shifts with the police department along with her colleagues. When she and her credit union coworkers retired in the early 2000s after 25 years of service, they became full-time employees and have been growing the credit union and serving their beloved police department (and many more) ever since.

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Central Jersey Police & Fire FCU, including how to join, visit www.cjpolicefirefcu.org or find another credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.

Jersey Shore FCU: A Tale of Two Credit Unions and One Dedicated Founder

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one founded on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers, and people who worship together. Such is the case for Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union, which was founded by John DiNofrio, who now serves as the credit union’s chairman.

The tale of how Jersey Shore FCU was founded has nothing to do with the famous (or infamous) TV series, and certainly involved far less drama. It actually begins with the founding of another credit union: the FAA Pomona Federal Credit Union. In 1963, James John Benson, an assistant chief air traffic controller at the Federal Aviation Administration William J. Hughes Technical Center at the Atlantic City Airport, saw a need amongst the workers for financial assistance that was not being met by any other local financial institution. Focused on the Technical Center’s federal employees, Benson started the financial cooperative with just $25 for the charter and $40 for supplies.

Around that same time, John DiNofrio, a young employee of the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center and a board member of FAA Pomona FCU, fell in love with the “people helping people” philosophy of the credit union. He wanted to bring the cooperative benefits of credit union membership more broadly to the public, to help more than just federal employees meet their financial goals.

So in 1979 John, his wife Marianne, and six of their closest friends joined together to found Linwood Community Federal Credit Union to serve their hometown of Linwood, N.J. DiNofrio had members contribute just $2 to join, and set the minimum deposit amount at $50. The first loan the credit union gave out was just $300 to a Linwood City employee.

The credit union began operations in the Mayor’s office in City Hall —he was a friend of the DiNofrio’s—just one night a week. As the credit union grew, and began to operate a few more nights a week, the Mayor moved the credit union to the office of taxation to give them more room. All the while John and Marianne volunteered their time to the credit union, never getting paid for their service, until they hired an assistant. They began paying the assistant and Marianne a modest stipend of $1.50 an hour, preferring to provide maximum benefits to their members.

The fate of the FAA Pomona Federal Credit Union and Linwood Community FCU converged when the two merged in 1994 and the organization continued to grow to serve more and more members in its local community. In 2005, it was officially named Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union to better reflect the more than 200 area businesses and organizations it had grown to serve in the Jersey Shore area. It also modified its charter, allowing the credit union to provide complete financial services to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Atlantic and Cape May counties. The credit union now touches the lives of 12,000 members with its “people helping people” philosophy.

“John has successfully piloted the credit union in his role as Chairman,” said Jersey Shore FCUPresident/CEO Jim Burns. “He helped foster membership growth, expand its branch footprint and provided valuable guidance to both the Board and the executive management team. John promotes the people helping people philosophy in not only his dealings with the credit union but the way he carries himself in everyday life.”This October, the man that had a hand in leading both credit unions that became Jersey Shore FCU, John DiNofrio, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the New Jersey Credit Union League at its Annual Meeting and Convention for his life-long dedication to the credit union movement here in New Jersey.

DiNofrio is a true example of how the cooperative spirit is ingrained in credit union leaders from the very beginning. When asked about his continued commitment to the cooperative credit union movement, DiNofrio says it’s not just a philosophy. He says, “People helping people is a way of life for me.”

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union, including how to join, visit www.jerseyshorefcu.org or find another credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com

Credit Unions Around the World Celebrate 'The Authentic Difference' on International Credit Union Day

Celebrated every third Thursday of October since 1948, International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) is a day dedicated to recognizing the credit union movement throughout history, honor those who dedicate their lives to the movement, recognize the hard work of industry employees, and to show CU members appreciation.

This year, ICU Day was celebrated on October 20th with the theme of ‘The Authentic Difference.” It was dedicated to communicating the unique qualities that make credit unions special. Credit unions celebrate this day by spreading credit union awareness in the form of sharing goodies, giveaways, and specials with their membership. Read on to see how credit unions around the world celebrated International Credit Union Day.

British Colombia, Canada

Canada’s largest credit union by membership, Coast Capital Savings, celebrated International Credit Union Day by reflecting on its commitment to the principles and values that continue to drive its success. "All that we are today and all that we will become in the future is inspired by our roots and our continued commitment to helping our members achieve financial well-being and supporting the enrichment of our local communities," said Coast Capital Savings President and CEO Don Coulter.

New Jersey, United States

Bay Atlantic FCU had free giveaways at their branches that were given to members that stopped by in celebration of “The Authentic Difference”.

Credit Union of New Jersey (CUNJ) celebrated ICU Day with goodies for both their staff and their members. Staff members were provided with international snacks and were able to wear jeans. CUNJ members had several goodies, such as snacks and giveaways, at all branches. At the Ewing branch, an NJ 101.5 radio station van was on-site playing music and giving away prizes from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Deepwater Industries FCU served delicious snacks to their members that included coffee, doughnuts, and cookies in the morning and hot dogs, chips, and drinks in the afternoon.

First Financial FCU (FFFCU) held a social media contest on their Facebook and Instagram pages asking members to comment with why they love being an FFFCU member. A winner was pulled out of a drawing for a $20 Visa gift card for that lucky member.

Garden Savings FCU set up tables at all four of its branches to celebrate ICU Day and handed out pens, key chains, and snacks. Each branch offered members the opportunity to win a $50 Visa gift card by verifying or updating their email address.

Jersey Shore FCU held an open house from October 17th to October 22nd in celebration of ICU Week. Refreshments, giveaways, and loan and credit card specials were offered to members. Members were also given a chance to win $2,500 with a Refer-A-Member promotion.

Members 1st of NJ FCU hosted an open house throughout October in celebration of International Credit Union Day encouraging anyone in the community to visit the credit union and receive a gift. On ICU Day, Members 1st of NJ FCU provided refreshments, handed out giveaways, and held a drawing for a chance to win an Amazon Echo. For children under 10 years old, a coloring contest was held.

Newark Board of Education Employees FCU set up tables in their branch’s lobby with materials to hand out, along with candies and other goodies.

Rutgers FCU shared refreshments at their Busch, Camden, College Avenue, and Newark branches in celebration of International Credit Union Day.

New Zealand

Co-op Money NZ, the trading name for the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions, celebrated ICU Day this year by working with Pacific Island banks to strengthen their identity theft protection for members banking with them through Co-op Money NZ’s AccessDebit Scheme. Co-op Money NZ is a co-operative representing member credit unions and building societies in New Zealand.

For pictures of New Jersey credit union celebrations please click here.

How to Create a Holiday Budget and Avoid Post-Holiday Stress

The kids are back to school, temperatures are getting chilly, and store shelves are filled with pumpkin-spiced everything marked down on clearance…these are all symptoms of Autumn falling upon us. Before you know it, the holiday shopping season will be here—and immediately after—the post-holiday season that’ll leave you feeling broke.

Fear not holiday shoppers, you can remedy that holiday hangover and keep from feeling like you only have lumps of coal. Follow these steps to keep your wallet in check after the holiday shopping season.

Create a Gift List

Decide whom you’ll be buying gifts for this season, ask them for gift ideas, and come up with a number of how much you can spend. Create a list and stick to it.

Start Saving ASAP

Once you’ve created a gift list and a budget, open a savings account at a credit union and start depositing small amounts of money. This will keep your spending on track.

Many credit unions require a minimum balance on a savings account of at least $5, which is doable to keep the account active for next year’s holiday shopping. To find a credit union near you to open up your holiday savings account check out our credit union search engine here.

If you need to save more try selling unwanted items online on sites like eBay or on your mobile device on the Let Go app.

Shop Early and Before Black Friday

The best time to shop is right now before the Black Friday mess. The deals offered may run a week prior to Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals. Having worked at a retailer before, I’ve seen pre-Black Friday sales that were the same as the Black Friday sales.

The deals you typically find may not actually even be the best ones, at least compared to sales offered throughout the year.  They may even be the same ones from recent years. A Nerdwallet.com study surveying Black Friday deals in 2013 comparison to 2014 at 27 stores found that 93% of the ads contained at least one repeated deal.

O.K., smart holiday shopper. Now that you’ve got the remedy to your post-holiday stress you can start planning that tropical vacation you’ve been dreaming about…or building up your savings for a rainy (or snowy) day.

Carrying on its Heritage and Traditions: United Poles FCU is Still Going Strong

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one founded on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers, and people who worship together. Such is the case for United Poles Federal Credit Union. Thirteen Polish community members in Perth Amboy, N.J., founded the credit union, which to this day, is an integral part of that community’s identity.

In the 1950s, the Polish community in Perth Amboy was a tight-knit one, gathering at one local banquet hall for all of their celebrations, from weddings to christenings to graduations.

When Polish immigrants were having trouble getting loans and other banking services due to the language barrier and other challenges, the community came together once again for a very different purpose than celebrations. Hearing about the cooperative concept of credit unions, 13 members of that community saw a solution, and formed their own credit union in 1965—United Poles Federal Credit Union. Their start was modest, with an initial deposit of just $3,200 contributed by its members. United Poles FCU wasn’t anything like a typical bank start-up in other ways too, lacking plush offices and expensive furniture—the credit union’s official headquarters was a room it rented above a local bar.

United Poles FCU grew to include 400 members of the community within ten years, and it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the credit union hired a full-time manager. By the 1980s they had grown enough to open their first brick and mortar branch, the same building that is its headquarters today in Perth Amboy. Over the past few decades, the credit union has grown to include another branch location in Linden, with a total of 2,200 community members, and $38 million in assets.

The credit union’s current CEO, Iwona Karpeta, came to work at the credit union in 1996 as a college student. She traveled to the U.S. from Poland for an internship, working on a thesis on the credit union movement. She stayed, moving up the ladder to a teller, loan officer, loan supervisor, and so on, eventually becoming CEO in 2005. She is only the fourth leader of the credit union in it’s over 50 years of service.

“I’ve worked here for 20 years and it’s more than just a job,” says Karpeta. “At the end of the day, it’s about helping people. And that’s exactly how the credit union started over 50 years ago. People saw a need to help each other, and today we’re trying to do the same.”

You can feel the sense of community at the credit union. All five staff members, including Karpeta, speak the language. Each of them has been with the credit union for at least 10 years or more. They know most of their members by their first names and even know their voices when they call. They now serve the great grandchildren of some of the credit union’s original members and have watched them grow over the years.

“We know our members,” says Karpeta. “We know every wedding, funeral, birth…you name it. It’s a small community, and even though it has spread out across the state, it is still very tight.”

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on United Poles Federal Credit Union, including how to join, visit www.unitedpolesfcu.com or find another credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.

Founded by Kimble Glass Factory Workers Over 75 Years Ago, Bay Atlantic FCU has Provided Generations of Family Friendly Service to its Community

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one based on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers and people who worship together. In our latest installment of the Legacy Series, we’re featuring a credit union founded by nine factory workers, one of which is a relative of the credit union’s current CEO.

“Generations of Family Friendly Service.” That’s Bay Atlantic FCU’s tagline, which was inspired and voted on by its members. The credit union’s legacy drives this motto; the not-for-profit was founded over 75 years ago in 1939 by nine Kimble Glass factory workers who decided to join together for the mutual benefit of the group.

We often see credit unions with deep roots in a community – Bay Atlantic takes that concept to a whole new level. One of those nine founding workers, Lillian Steelman, is the great aunt of Gail Marino, Bay Atlantic’s current President & CEO. “You can say that the credit union is my blood,” Marino said. Marino has carried on that tradition of long-standing ties to the credit union, having begun working at the credit union (named Kimble Federal Credit Union at the time) in 1977 as a teller.

Over the years, Bay Atlantic FCU has grown to serve many other organizations, including Progresso and General Mills. But the credit union always stayed true to its primarily blue color legacy of meeting the needs of workers and their families. With expansion, the credit union changed its name in 2002 to Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union to better represent the area it serves: the section of southern New Jersey between the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Bay Atlantic FCU now has two branches in that area: its main office on Elmer Road in Vineland and a branch in Millville. When the credit union decided to close a third branch on Crystal Avenue in Vineland, it chose to give back to the community by donating the building and land to the Boys and Girls Club of Vineland for their new Teen Center.

When she handed over the keys to the local nonprofit, Marino noted, "It is our intention to restore the chance for this facility to once again be an active location and, if possible, benefit the entire area."

Actions speak louder than words, and for Bay Atlantic, “Our history proves that our institution is based on the principle of ‘people helping people’,” said Marino.

Bay Atlantic FCU also continues to honor its past, recognizing the generations of members who have built the credit union into what it is today. For example, the credit union sends birthday cards to the senior citizens that have continued their membership into their golden years. “Sometimes it’s the only card they get,” Marino noted. “It’s the little things. It’s all about relationships.”

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union, including how to join, visit www.bayatlanticfcu.org or find one near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com

10 Back-to-School Money Saving Tips

Crowded stores, long lines, empty shelves…this all sounds kind of like the holiday shopping season when it isn’t! It’s the second largest consumer-spending season according to the National Retail Federation: back-to-school shopping. And it has gotten expensive!

The National Retail Federation foresees households of K-12 graders will spend an average of nearly $700 on clothes and accessories, electronics, shoes, and school supplies. For college students it’s closer to $900 when factoring in electronics.

This all sounds like a lot doesn’t it? That $700-$900 may not always be at your disposal and charging the credit card or taking out a small loan wouldn’t be the wisest idea either.

Below are 10 back-to-school money saving tips mentioned on MoneyTalksNews.com that may help you and your family save some cash in the coming month:

1. Make a List
Some schools and colleges are good at giving students a list of necessary school supplies. Use those lists to stay on-track when shopping and avoid unnecessary purchases.

2. Check Closets and Drawers
Before you go shopping, take stock of what you already have! Look in your kids’ closets for wardrobes that still fit and sell any that don’t to make a quick buck. It’s also a good way to remove clutter from your home!

Don’t forget to check desk drawers. You may find pens, pencils, notebooks, erasers, and more lurking around in your home.

3. Look for ‘Like New’ Supplies
With all the garage sales going on in the summer, you’re bound to find supplies at even cheaper prices. One student’s trash is another student’s treasure!

4. Clip Coupons
Check out coupons from retailers. Target is one retailer that offers their own store coupons and promotions for school supplies.

5. For College Students: Cheaper Textbooks
Don’t wait on that bookstore line to purchase overpriced books with little re-sell value. Rent books online on sites like www.chegg.com or www.skyo.com for over half the price of buying.

6. Bulk Up!
Got a big family or friends to share a jumbo size purchase with? Find great value at a warehouse club on school supplies.

7. Shop at Discount Stores
Have you shopped at discount stores like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx? Find good quality clothing and book bags for your child at great prices. College students can find discounted bedding and kitchen supplies.

8. Search for the Best Deal on Big-Ticket Items
Need to buy a big-ticket item like a computer? Check out sites like PriceGrabber and Nextag to find the best price. If you’re going to buy online check out RetailMeNot for coupon codes before checkout.

9. Wait Until September Clearance Sales
If you have enough to hold you over until the fall, do so. You’ll find amazing deals on clothing, book bags, and lunch bags after the first few weeks of the school year.

10. Just Say “No” to the Unnecessary
We’re all guilty of being caught by good in-store marketing that’ll get us to buy something we don’t need. This is why you should create a list to begin with to keep you on task! Don’t buy the fancy overpriced pencils, pens, folders, etc.

Also, don’t be influenced by your kids to get something that is also unnecessary. Stay on task!

Founded by School Teachers; First Financial FCU Stays True to its Roots and its Community

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one based on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers and people who worship together. In our third installment of the Legacy Series, we’re featuring a credit union founded during the Depression by a group of teachers in Asbury Park, N.J.

The Great Depression started in 1929, and continued for more than a decade. During that time, the economy came to a standstill, banks were failing left and right, and many people were resorting to the only safe haven they knew for their money – under the mattress. In 1936, a group of Asbury Park, N.J. schoolteachers decided there was another way to provide essential banking services to themselves and others, all while protecting their savings. 

In true cooperative spirit, this group came together to help each other in a time of need and organized themselves into one of the earliest credit unions in America: Monmouth County, NJ Teachers Federal Credit Union. Today, 80 years later, that credit union still exists, much larger and now known as First Financial Federal Credit Union. 

Getting from Monmouth County Teachers FCU to First Financial FCU took more than a few years of growth and expansion, cooperative efforts, and dedication to specific communities. Under the leadership of Harold “Pop” Shannon, the credit union grew to serve other teacher-related populations: employees of both the Monmouth and Ocean County Boards of Education. The small shop went through a name change to reflect the groups it served: Mon-Oc Teachers Federal Credit Union.

From that small office in Asbury Park (pictured), over the years the credit union expanded again to serve municipal employees (followed by another name change, to Mon-Oc Public Employees Federal Credit Union), employees of some local hospitals and nursing facilities, and several small businesses (when the name then became simply Mon-Oc Federal Credit Union).

In April 2003, Mon-Oc FCU became a community credit union, serving anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. With this expansion, the credit union became First Financial Federal Credit Union in July 2006.

Celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, the credit union stays true to its roots as an organization founded by teachers. “Education has and always will be a pivotal piece of our organization, and we have stayed true to our educational roots by continuing to support our members and the local community through financial education,” says First Financial FCU President/CEO, Issa Stephan. “We hold free monthly seminars on various important topics such as budgeting, credit management, debt reduction, how to buy a home or car, and more. Our Foundation provides annual college scholarships to Monmouth and Ocean County students, as well as classroom grants to teachers within our community. We are proud to support our local teachers, students, and educate as many members of our community as we can.”

First Financial FCU may have grown and seen some changes in its 80 years, but it has stayed true to its early years as a dedicated source for financial education and services for its community.

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on First Financial Federal Credit Union, including how to join, visit www.firstffcu.com or find one near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.

New Jersey CUs Display Credit Union Difference During National Night Out

Credit unions live by the philosophy of “people helping people”. To do their part, credit unions around the world contribute to local communities and demonstrate the “credit union difference”, meaning what sets them apart from other traditional financial institutions. Several credit unions across the country went to the next level by partaking in National Night Out this August 2nd.

What is National Night Out?
National Night Out (NNO) serves as a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, making our neighborhoods a safer and better place to live. National Night Out unites law enforcement and neighbors to create a true sense of community. Neighborhoods across the nation host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, and exhibits.


The National Association of Town Watch (NATW) is the nation’s premiere non-profit crime prevention organization dedicated to the development and promotion of crime prevention in communities across the country. NATW is a network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and concerned citizens. Through this network the NNO campaign was launched.

New Jersey Credit Unions/CU Leagues at NNO

Andrews Federal Credit Union – Washington D.C. & New Jersey
Andrews FCU participated in the festivities in eight of the communities it serves in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan and New Jersey regions respectively. Staff members shared the benefits of credit union membership to all in attendance.

Find Andrews Federal on FacebookTwitter, and Google +.


Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union – Vineland, N.J.
Vineland Police hosted the eighth annual National Night Out in Vineland, N.J. where Bay Atlantic FCU participated in the festivities with the community for the second year in a row. Volunteers from the credit union handed out goodies, valuable identity theft information, and shared the credit union difference. NNOgoers of all ages got a chance to spin the Bay Atlantic FCU wheel to win fun prizes.

Find Bay Atlantic FCU on Facebook and view their NNO photos.

Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union – Southern New Jersey
Jersey Shore FCU participated in National Night Out in a total of five communities in southern New Jersey. BrigantineGallowayHamilton Mall in Mays LandingHammonton, and Middle Township National Night Outs all welcomed Jersey Shore FCU representatives to distribute giveaways and play games. Click on the above communities to see pictures and festivities.

Find Jersey Shore FCU on Facebook and Twitter to see more photos of NNO festivities.


Members 1st of New Jersey Federal Credit Union – Vineland, N.J.
Members 1st of New Jersey FCU participated in their first National Night Out festivities in Vineland, N.J. Volunteers from the credit union handed out giveaways to the National Night Out goers.

View more pictures of their festivities on their Twitter page.

MidState Federal Credit Union – Carteret, N.J.
MidState FCU held its own National Night Out celebration at its branch location August 2nd as part of the community of Carteret’s participation. The credit union had visits from the police department (the chief included), the fire department, and a councilwoman. The credit union manned a table from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. giving out brochures and fun giveaways.

Check out MidState FCU on Facebook for pictures.


New Jersey Credit Union League – Hightstown, N.J.
The New Jersey Credit Union League represented New Jersey credit unions and interacted with its local community of East Windsor, N.J. for the second consecutive year during NNO. League staff members shared the benefits of credit union membership as well as identity theft prevention tips with National Night Out goers.

National Night Out attendees were encouraged to take a spin on the ID theft trivia wheel to test their knowledge and win several prizes. Adults and children, some even toddlers, took a shot at ID theft questions, though everyone was a winner. Attendees won beach balls, glow sticks, and temporary tattoos as well as brochures on the credit union difference and tips for preventing identity theft.

More photos are available on the New Jersey Credit Union League Facebookpage. Also, check out the Banking You Can Trust campaign on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Founded by Dedicated Educators, Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union Invites You to Join its Extended Family

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one based on the philosophy of “people helping people”. Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers and people who worship together. Today, we’re featuring a credit union that got its start in Hackensack High School, which has now grown into a 19,000-member family that serves the entire surrounding area.

In 1937 five dedicated educators founded a credit union in Hackensack High School, established primarily for the purpose of serving teachers and their immediate families. One can only presume that at least one of the founders was a math or home economics teacher. From those humble beginnings sprang a tradition of more than 75 years of commitment to members, community, and service.

As it grew, membership was expanded to include a diverse mix of communities, employee groups, and associations in Bergen and Passaic Counties. Eventually the name was changed to reflect the broader membership, becoming Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union (GAFCU).

But despite its growth and expansion, one thing never changed – GAFCU has stayed true to its family-focused roots. The credit union itself is a family, and this may be one of the reasons for their enviable record of employee retention. Almost half (around 43%) of their employees have been with the credit union for 10 years or more, and more than two-thirds have been there for at least five years or more. The credit union has had only three CEOs since the 30’s—an unbelievable rarity in the financial services industry.

Its current CEO, Glenn Guinto, also has deep roots in the Greater Alliance family, having begun his career there as a part-time teller. His assistant, Antonietta “Tony” Tartaglione, has worked at the credit union for over 30 years, starting when she was in high school in 1978, when there were only two other employees other than herself.

“Our employee tenure is what makes us an institution in the truest sense of the word,” says Guinto. “Our members have been with us for many generations and we can attribute our tenure as one of the main reasons that we’ve developed their trust in us.”

In his free time, Guinto still enjoys visiting the credit union’s branch lobbies and saying hello to members that he used to wait on as a teller. “I enjoy talking to our members—and sometimes their children. Most of them still remember when I was waiting on them from over the counter,” adds Guinto.

From those five educators in 1937,  Greater Alliance has grown into a community credit union, owned by its over 19,000 members. If you live, work, worship,  go to school in, or if you belong to a business or any legal entity within Bergen or Passaic County, you are invited to join the rest of the family at Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union.

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Greater Alliance FCU, including how to join, visit www.greateralliance.org or find a credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com.

Thunderbolt Area FCU's Rich History: Keeping it in the Family

Although they offer many of the same services, credit unions operate in a fundamentally different way than banks, one based on the philosophy of “people helping people”.  Credit unions were typically founded by friends, like neighbors, workers and people who worship together. Today we’re featuring a credit union founded by eight toolmakers who worked in America’s first Defense Airport.

The South Jersey town of Millville is rich in history, most famously known as the home of the Millville Municipal Airport, the first training ground in the country for pilots during World War II. Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union, located at the airport entrance, is a part of that history and holds quite a story of its own.

Its president, Bob Millard, is the son of the credit union’s founder, Asher K. Millard. Asher worked for Airwork Corporation, the engine overhaul shop located in Millville, as a toolmaker. He and seven other Airwork employees began Airwork Employees Federal Credit Union – later to become Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union – by pooling together their money, $5 each at the time. Until then, Asher had kept his money in a safe at home, lending to friends in need when he could. Laying the foundation for the credit union came as a natural next step for him.

The credit union gained its federal charter on May 1, 1951 and was located on the premises of its original sponsor company, Airwork Corp. Asher, however, couldn’t take off work from his position as a toolmaker to operate the credit union. So, his wife, Helen K. Millard, worked there part-time, for no pay, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Their son, current Thunderbolt Area Federal Credit Union president Bob Millard, at the ripe age of 8, began helping his parents with calculations. “Effectively I have been involved in some way for nearly 65 years,” says Millard. He was then elected to the board of directors in 1968 and eventually took over as president when his father retired in 1985.

When asked why he began working at the credit union, and continued for as long as he has, Millard says it’s the philosophy of “people helping people” that brought him there and kept him there. “I liked the concept,” he explains, “To help an individual, someone who just walks in, needs help, that’s where it counts.”

Where does the name Thunderbolt Area come from? It was also taken from the pages of the history of Millville. The Thunderbolt P-47 was a plane flown in World War II, and pilots of these planes were trained at the nation’s first Army airfield: Millville Municipal Airport. “Area” comes from the credit union’s change in charter to serve the surrounding area.

Through the years, Thunderbolt Area FCU has stayed true to its roots—its community and its humble beginnings—due to its founding family.

At a credit union, you’re much more than just a customer. For more information on Thunderbolt Area FCU, including how to join, visit www.tbafcu.com or find a credit union near you at www.BankingYouCanTrust.com

But, How Much Debt is TOO Much Debt?

Thinking of taking on debt? For example, opening a credit card or purchasing a car or home? Unsure how much of it is too much? This is quite an ambiguous question because many have different opinions on debt. Some believe having it is taboo, even when it comes to buying a house. Others believe it’s fine to have debt as long as you can afford the payments.

Credit and debt go hand-in-hand. Credit is a financial device such as a car loan, mortgage, or credit card that people can get from a credit union or other financial institution. Credit serves as a source of funding when you don't have enough cash or assets to pay for things you want or need. (a car, a home, college education, etc.). Debt is what you owe after obtaining credit.

The amount of debt you can and should take on depends on your situation. Current living arrangements, current debt, your spending and saving habits, and how much you’re getting paid are some factors that go into deciding how much debt is too much for you.

According to CFA Elvis Picardo, a good rule-of-thumb to calculate a reasonable amount of debt would be to use the 28/36 Rule. This rule suggests that households shouldn’t spend more than 28% of their gross income on housing expenses (including mortgage payments, home insurance, property taxes, and condo fees), and a maximum of 36% on total debt service (housing expenses + other debt). For example, on a $40,000 salary following the 28/36 Rule, housing expenses should not exceed $11,200 for the year or about $933 monthly. Other personal debt should not exceed $3,200 annually or $267 monthly. Use this rule as a starting point to calculate your reasonable debt load.

Now that we’ve covered one big purchase let’s focus on another: your car. When deciding how much car you can afford (not how much you should spend on a car) it all depends on your needs, lifestyle, and how much you take home. According to www.moneyunder30.com, there are three answers to the question of how much car you can afford: the frugal answer (10% of income), the compromise (20% of income), and car lover (spending more than typically recommended for most people, perhaps up to 50% percent of your income).

If your car needs aren’t excessive and you just need a “beater” that goes from point A to B, then the frugal approach suggests between 10-15% of your salary should be how much you spend on a car. For example, if your income were $30,000/year, a good rule-of-thumb would be to purchase a car that’s between $3,000-$4,500 likely with high mileage.

This must all sound really conservative to you right now, but let’s compromise. What if you’re looking for something a little bit more reliable and safer to accommodate family needs? You’d probably want something newer that’ll last longer, right? For a more reliable, newer car, 20-25% of your income would be a good benchmark. If you make $30,000 a year, you’d be spending between $6,000-$7,500.

I know there are some readers still thinking even that is too strict and unrealistic for their car needs. Well, if you have a passion for cars and value cars more than other items, you may fall under the “car lover” category. The www.moneyunder30.com blog gives the OK to spend up to 50% of your income on your car, but only if you can afford it along with your other expenses. Just be cautious. If your car is your largest expense, be weary of other expenses.

Be mindful of your financial situation as a whole before you apply for a loan and go into debt. If you’re able to afford the payments, are confident you’ll get a return on your investment, and qualify for a good interest rate, then debt is very much a tool at your disposal. Great interest rates on mortgages can land you a profitable home if it appreciates in value over the long term. Getting a student loan to beef up your knowledge and can earn you more income over your lifetime.

Most credit unions have competitive interest rates on mortgages, student loans, car loans, credit cards, and more. Find a credit union that can provide you with the tools to grow your worth over your lifetime at www.bankingyoucantrust.com.

Push 'Start' on leveling-Up Your Child's Financial Skills

According to www.FinancialLiteracyMonth.com, Americans are over $2 trillion in consumer debt and 30% of consumers report not having extra money; thus making it impossible to avoid living paycheck to paycheck for some Americans. Some of these families living paycheck to paycheck have children that will see their financial struggle and may miss out on crucial financial skills they’ll need for their future.

Too many Americans are also insufficiently educated about personal finance. The National Financial Educators Councilissued a 30-question National Financial Literacy Test designed to measure young participants’ ability to earn, save and grow their money. Fifteen- to eighteen-year-olds scored 61.24% out of 100% nationally on this financial literacy testin 2015. These results show the American youth is lacking basic financial skills and education.

As part of National Financial Literacy Month and National Credit Union Youth Month, celebrated in April, we’re sharing great ways to engage your child in developing their financial skills that are both educational and fun! Be your child’s “player two” in these financial games and help them level-up their financial literacy in a fun way your child can relate to.

Financial Football. Test your financial knowledge in this fast-paced, NFL-themed game developed by Visa. Answer a series of financial questions that will allow your team to move down the field to score touchdowns. This game is for ages 11 and up and parents may even learn a thing or two from it! Visa put together a handful of financial games available on their Practical Money Skills for Life Web site.

Celebrity Calamity. Help celebrities manage their financial life as they hire you to keep their budget on track. The goal is to keep the celebrity happy by making any required purchases on their behalf and maintaining a budget. Players will decide how purchases will be charged (via debit or credit card). Players will learn about credit card balances, interest rates, and minimum payments.

Hit the Road: A Financial AdventureChoose your own character and career as well as two other friends and go on a journey to Colorado from Washington, D.C. In this game, players will learn to manage a budget by saving and spending their money wisely to complete several challenges along the way to Colorado for a ski trip.

Games and Activities from MyCreditUnion.gov. Choose from several financial games on www.mycreditunion.gov for ages 5 and up brought to you by the National Credit Union Administration. Match coins to earn money and decide how to spend it in building your own magical world in World of Cents. Fill-up your own piggy bank after answering coin trivia correctly in Break the Bank.

Financial Reality Fairs. Many of New Jersey’s school districts have partnered with local credit unions, the New Jersey Credit Union League, and the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation to bring financial Reality Fairs to students from 8th grade, through high school and into the first year of college. A Financial Reality Fair is a hands-on “game of life” that give students a real perspective of how much life can cost and a taste of how to budget within their means. Over 5,600 students in the state have benefitted from this program in the last 5 years. Has your child’s school district hosted a financial Reality Fair?

Your local credit union may provide financial education seminars teaching budgeting, saving, and other important financial literacy topics for FREE! Find a credit union near you by visiting www.bankingyoucantrust.com.

How to Cope with Daylight Savings Time

It’s that time of year again where the temperature warms up and the huge snow mounds left over from worse days are all or nearly melted. It’s also that time to spring forward! The clocks will change for Daylight Savings Time (DST) on March 13th this year at 2 a.m. The effects of this one-hour change will give you an extra hour of sunlight at the expense of one hour of glorious beauty sleep.

How can you cope with the change and avoid the grogginess when you lose your hour of sleep when the time changes? Here are a few tips to help with the adjustment:

Go to bed a little earlier the night before.

It’ll help you feel completely recharged the next morning! It’ll probably make it easy to not crush your snooze button first thing in the morning or snooze your various alarm clocks set up on your smartphone. Disclaimer: This is providing you aren’t already sleep deprived or consuming alcohol or caffeine before bedtime. But really, who isn’t already sleep deprived or with a nightcap before bedtime?

Reset your internal clock.

Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. It’s important to spend as many hours in light during the day and limit your exposure to light in dark hours. Another added plus, a lower energy bill! WARNING: DO NOT live in complete pitch black darkness in your house. You might knock over your favorite coffee mug walking through the halls and ruin your Monday morning before it even starts. Please do have a night-light installed so you can see where you are going in your home.

Practice good sleep hygiene and create a sleep-friendly environment.

If you need to wake up early, don’t pick up your favorite alcoholic drink right before bed! I know it’s tempting, but Mondays are already difficult to take. Don’t make it worse. Also, don’t drink any caffeinated beverages right before bed. Why wake yourself up before getting ready to go to bed?

Practice some calming rituals before going to bed. Take a hot bath or wear (comfortable) earplugs and eye masks. It’s crucial you wake up at the same time every day as well.

So there you have it. Some easy ideas (I hope) to help your Monday morning after you spring forward!

7 Thoughtful Gifts for Your Valentine Without Breaking the Bank

The romantic day of the year is upon us! As most other holiday gifts, Valentine’s Day gifts can be pricey… but you can impress your sweetheart this year and still leave your budget intact. Remember what mom and dad used to say? “It’s the thought that counts.” You just have to use some creativity (and lots and lots of love) to come up with one of the most thoughtful gifts for your Valentine.

Let the creativity begin! Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Order a Customized Jigsaw Puzzle
Shutterfly.com lets you create a jigsaw puzzle out of a photo of you and your sweetheart. 

2. Cook a Romantic Dinner
Home-cooked, candle-lit dinner for two? This is surely a romantic way to tell your sweetheart how much they mean to you. Pick up the ingredients for your loved one’s favorite meal and prepare it for a romantic evening.

3. Put Together a Bag of Your Partner’s Favorite Sweets
Charm a loved one with a bag of their favorite candies. Find a decorative bag at grocery store and fill it with sweets you know your love craves. Tie a big red bow and voila!

4. Breakfast in Bed
Cook up your sweetheart’s favorite breakfast and present it with some flowers and a card bedside.

5. Handmade Romantic Card
Let your artistic side flow! Even if you aren’t Michelangelo himself you can certainly create a masterpiece card that your love will adore. Create a sweet or silly card and fill it with love.

6. Make a Printed Photo Book
Create a small photo book with a couple of pictures highlighting special experiences together. There are sites online that let you upload photos and construct a photo book. Here are just a couple mentioned in The Washington Post.

7. Create a Video Collage
For the more tech-savvy, create a video montage with photos of you and your sweetheart with their favorite song in the background. Most computers nowadays come pre-installed with free easy-to-use video editing software.

4 Reasons You Should Join a Credit Union Today!

Ever wanted to join a credit union? Don’t know what a credit union can do for you?
Let’s start with a brief overview…

Credit unions are the financial world’s best-kept secret. There are 217 million credit union members spread out over 57 thousand credit unions in 105 countries.

These member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperatives provide a number of financial services to members. Credit union membership is based on commonality. Members belonging to a specific, community, organization, religion or employer are able to join a credit union.

Read on for four reasons to join today!

Member-Owned, Not-for-Profit Financial Institution
The not-for-profit structure of these cooperatives means that any net income is used to benefit the credit union member. Members will see lower interest rates on loans, higher interest rates on savings accounts, dividends, or new product and service development at the credit union.

And, almost all credit unions have unpaid, volunteers as that make up their board of directors, unlike other financial institutions whose directors and shareholders benefit from the profits made.

Low Rates on Loans
Credit unions offer substantially lower loan rates compared to banks,especially when it comes to car loans. According to an SNL Financial, Inc. December 2015 study, the interest rate for a new car loan (48 months) at a credit union is 2.58% in contrast to 4.62% at a bank. For used car loans (48 months) credit unions offer 2.78% interest in comparison to 5.16% with banks.

Little to No Banking Fees
In terms of banking fees, you’ll probably find little to no fees at credit unions in contrast to their counterparts. Whether it’s checking account fees, foreign ATM fees, or penalty fees, at a credit union they will likely be lower or not there at all.

Highly Rated Member Service
Credit unions are known for their member service. “Credit unions are among the highest-rated services we’ve ever evaluated, with 93% of their customers highly satisfied, on average, vs. 69% for the four biggest national banks,” said Jeff Blyskal of Consumer Reports.

Credit unions are also highly rated in terms of trust in comparison to big banks. According to Temkin’s Trust Rating Scale, credit unions scored 80%, while the highest rated bank (TD Bank) only scored 66%.

How can you join a credit union?
Find a credit union near you that can offer you these perks and more by visiting www.bankingyoucantrust.com and search for one by zip code.

Credit Unions Across the World Celebrate the "People Helping People" Philosophy on International Credit Union Day

International Credit Union Day (ICU Day) is a day dedicated to recognizing the credit union movement throughout history, honor those who dedicate their lives to the movement, recognize the hard work of industry employees, and to show CU members appreciation.

ICU Day has been celebrated every third Thursday of October since 1948. This year’s theme, celebrated on October 15th, was “People Helping People,” a philosophy mended into credit unions’ hearts. Read on to see how credit unions around the world celebrated International Credit Union Day.

The National Association of Co-operative Credit Unions of The Gambia (NACCUG), the umbrella-body of credit unions in the country, commemorated the ICU Day at the Fatima Senior Secondary School in Bwiam, Foni Kansala District in the West Coast Region. The celebration brought together representatives of various credit unions, government officials, private sector operators and a cross-section of the society of Gambia.

New Jersey, United States
XCEL FCU used ICU Day as a chance to thank members for their support. All employees wore a special t-shirt to initiate the conversation. A special 1.52% 2-year certificate (the highest in the United States) was offered.

Members 1st of NJ FCU had goodies such as coffee and cookies for their members.

North Jersey FCU celebrated ICU Day by having a snack table at all their branches with great giveaways. See more of their ICU Day celebration here.

1st Bergen FCU hung international flags outside their branch location and offered cookies to their members on ICU Day. 1st Bergen also participated in Shop for Miracles; each time their members used their 1st Bergen-issued debit card, 1st Bergen donated $1 to Children’s Miracle Network, which helps provide critical treatments, equipment, and charitable care for kids in local communities and around the world.

Picatinny FCU handed out fortune cookies to their members at all of their branches on International Credit Union Day. Members were excited to read special ICU Day messaging as well as Picatinny FCU themed product and service offers! The cookies captured ICU Day’s theme this year of “People Helping People” and supporting the community!

Liberty Savings FCU celebrated ICU Day by throwing it back to 1960 and commemorating International Credit Union Day in October of 1960. See more pictures of their celebration here.

United Kingdom
International Credit Union Day this year was a special celebration for the Association of British Credit Unions Limited (ABCUL). This past ICU Day marked 50 years of credit unions in Britain. A number of credit unions in Britain celebrated with special promotions. Blues and Twos Credit Union ran an “Introduce a Friend/Colleague” promotion to reward members that referred new members to the credit union. The Co-operative Credit Union made donations to charity for every new member that joined the credit union throughout the week of ICU Day.

Illinois, United States
An employee from Staley Credit Union stood by an order counter for a half hour offering to pay lunch for unsuspecting diners on International Credit Union Day at a local restaurant. This was part of Greater Decatur Chapter of Credit Unions’ ICU Day celebrations.

America's Credit Unions Connect with Communities at National Night Out

Credit unions run on the philosophy of “People Helping People” and with this, credit unions around the world contribute to and support their local communities as not-for-profit financial institutions that give back in the form of low fees and interest rates, financial literacy, and more. Credit unions across the nation “walked the walk” across the country on August 4th by partaking in National Night Out in their communities.

What is National Night Out? National Night Out (aka NNO) is a community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie with the goal of making our neighborhoods more united and, as a result, safer and better places to live. On this night, neighborhoods across the nation host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, and exhibits. The campaign was launched in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW), the nation’s premiere non-profit crime prevention organization dedicated to the development and promotion of crime prevention in communities across the country.

Being that credit unions are dedicated to serving their communities, supporting their financial wellbeing, and assisting small businesses (that’s where that  “People Helping People” philosophy comes into play), the National Night Out initiative was a perfect fit.

Credit unions across the country, and some right here in the Garden State, participated this year…

Bay Atlantic FCU – Vineland, N.J.Vineland Police hosted the seventh annual National Night Out in Vineland, N.J. where Bay Atlantic Federal Credit Union participated in the festivities with the community. Volunteers from the credit union handed out goodies as well as valuable identity theft information, and shared the credit union difference. NNO goers of all ages got a chance to spin the Bay Atlantic FCU wheel to win fun prizes.

Find Bay Atlantic FCU on Facebook to view their NNO photos.

Jersey Shore FCU – Southern New Jersey
Jersey Shore Federal Credit Union participated in National Night Out in three communities in Southern New Jersey. Egg Harbor Township, Galloway Township, and Middle Township National Night Out events included Jersey Shore FCU representatives who distributed giveaways and had fun games for members of the community to play.

Find Jersey Shore FCU on Facebook and Twitter to see more of their NNO pictures.

New Jersey Credit Union League – East Windsor, N.J.
The New Jersey Credit Union League, the state association for New Jersey’s credit unions, represented N.J. credit unions and interacted with its local community of East Windsor, N.J. for NNO. League staff members shared the benefits of credit union membership as well as identity theft prevention tips with NNO goers.

National Night Out attendees were encouraged to take a spin on the ID theft trivia wheel to test their knowledge and win several prizes. Adults and children, some even toddlers, took a shot at ID theft questions, though everyone was a winner. Attendees won beach balls, glow sticks, and temporary tattoos as well as brochures on the credit union difference and tips for preventing identity theft.

More photos are available on the Banking You Can Trust Facebook page. Also, check out the Banking You Can Trust campaign on Twitter.

And in other areas of the country…

Downey FCU – Downey, CA
Downey, CA held its 3rd annual National Night Out this year and among the various supporters was Downey Federal Credit Union (DFCU). DFCU attends NNO every year in their local community to educate the community about financial topics, such as credit card fraud, predatory lending, how to build credit, good savings habits, the credit union difference, and more.

Click here for more about DFCU at NNO. Find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Point West CU – Portland, Oregon
Point West CU hosted their member appreciation day in conjunction on August 4th giving out goodies, grilling up a free BBQ, and handing out popcorn. The member appreciation day festivities continued on into the Lloyd District in Portland, Oregon National Night Out, where the Point West CU booth had some goodies.

Find Point West Credit Union on Facebook and take a look at their photos from the event.

How to Stand Out and Land a Job After Graduation

The day all college students work hard for is quickly approaching for some like myself. Between hustling and bustling through the last few classes you have, signing graduation forms, and ordering the cap and gown, this big moment in your life just passes by and leaves you with one mission…to find a job.

In this economy, jobs are still hard to find, but not impossible for a recent college grad. There’s a lot you can do to simplify the job hunt and make yourself stand out as a candidate for the job. I’ll be sharing with you some tips and ideas that will help you stand out when on the job hunt.

Don’t wait – begin your search right after you graduate.
I don’t mean literally beginning your search right after you graduate. Take the time to celebrate a great accomplishment in your life and then switch the focus to finding your ideal job.

Be proactive.
Create great résumés with all of your work experience, yes, even the one at McDonald’s. Jobs like those teach valuable customer service and multitasking skills, two great skills that many professions require. Be sure to also create a cover letter. Don’t forget to follow-up on the application a week or two after applying!

(Note: When creating a cover letter and résumé make sure to have them all tailored to the specific position you are applying for. DO NOT send out a general copy to every position you apply for.)

Check out some example résumés for any industry here. Click here for some cover letter examples.

If you’re the tech-savvy or artsy type, create a professional Web site! Creating a Web site for yourself is a great way to express yourself, makes it look like you keep yourself busy, and makes it easy for job hirers to get to know more about you…and it isn’t expensive! Domain names for your Web site are very cheap and easy to find with a quick search. There are also Web site builders online such as www.wix.com that make creating a Web site seamless, and the best part is that they are FREE. Some Web site builders include a domain name with their “build-your-own-Web-site” service (www.1and1.com) for a great price.

On your Web site, you can display any of your professional work, an online résumé, some video content, and an “About Me” page. If you’re a writer, you may want to include a blog section on your Web site or create your own blog on www.wordpress.com.

Be sure to create a professional e-mail address, of which you can create for free on either Google, Yahoo, etc. Make sure your voicemail message is professional, too.

Create Networks
Create professional social media accounts and make sure that there aren’t pictures of you from Spring Break three years ago. LinkedIn is a great social media platform that allows you to follow and network with leaders.

Attend networking events, whether they are at your college campus or in your town. Create business cards for these events that include your social media pages, Web site, and of course, contact information.

Having a hard time networking? Try contacting any of your past internships or jobs and see if there are any places they can lead you to start networking. Don’t be afraid to use your college career center also; it’s what they are there for!

Time For The Interview
Once you get the e-mail or phone call back with the good news after applying for a position it’s time to prepare for the interview!

“Practice makes perfect.” We all know that. But it is essential when preparing for the big moment that is the interview. You should practice some common interview questions found here. Be honest in your responses and make them concise! Be calm, cool, and collected when on the interview and you will do well!

While you practice, you also want to educate yourself on the company. Browse their Web site, social media pages, online news, and online videos. Be sure to familiarize with some of the notable people at the company through their Web site.

Pick out yourself a nice professional looking outfit. Also bring a portfolio of any work you may have, especially your best. Your self-presentation is very important; you’ll need to make yourself a memorable candidate for the employer.

Finally, you’ll want to think of some questions of your own to ask the interviewer. Questions that came to mind while you were researching the company applied for, or just specific questions about the job at hand. Click here for some example questions.

Alright…now that that’s over, it’s time to reinforce your candidacy for the position. To do this you should send a follow-up e-mail once you get home from the interview. You should thank the interviewer for his/her time and tie what was discussed into something that you can bring as a benefit to the company. Use this example as a guide to the follow-up e-mail.

Follow-up on the e-mail (if you didn’t receive a response) with a phone call a week or two later to check on the status of the position. If you are persistent, yet patient in your efforts, employers may decide on you as the right candidate. So… be patient, it takes time…decisions like these aren’t made in an instant.

“I didn’t get the job.”
If you did get the job, congratulations! (But if you didn’t) Unfortunately, sometimes it may not work out the way you want it to. But that’s okay. While on the job hunt, you should be sending out various applications for positions elsewhere instead of hoping on one to hire you. Take this moment to ask for some feedback and reflect on it. Never give up!

If you don’t have much experience in the industry you are entering, try looking for some internship opportunities. Just because you are a college grad does not mean you can’t apply for internships. Internships are a great way to get your feet wet and may even land you a full-time job if the company is interested in you. There are even internships that give you a short spell as an intern and hire you upon completion of the program.

About me
My name is Daniel Jacinto, I’m a senior at Kean University (Ocean Campus). I’ll be graduating Spring 2015 with a Bachelors Degree in Marketing. To see my own professional website check out my website by clicking here built using www.wix.com.

"Can I Still Go to Cancun?"

Ahhh…the beloved spring semester at college, you know, the one that straggles along at a slow pace? For the five years I’ve been in college, I’ve noticed that the spring semester drags on much longer than the fall semester. This is mostly true because during the Fall semester there are many holidays to look forward to that make it seem like it breezes by. But what do college students look forward to during the spring semester?

SPRING BREAK! This joyous time-off from school typically accompanies Easter at most universities and colleges. Through my experience, students either use Spring Break as a time to catch up on their coursework or party (wherever that may be). Robin Williams couldn’t say it any better, “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!’”

But being that the national student loan debt grew to $1.2 trillion, how are students partying? (At least, guilt-free)! I don’t want to be a buzz-kill considering many of us are fed up with winter and are dying to give up shoveling for spring weather.  With this in mind, there are ways to still enjoy your Spring Break without “breaking” the bank.

1.Take a Road Trip
It’s as easy as getting into your car and just driving. All you need are friends, a reliable car, and your high-tech smartphone map! Head towards famous national monuments or visit friends and family in different states. Is your GPS sending you through only toll roads? Take the scenic routes to your destination to really enjoy the adventure.

2.Go Camping!
Perfect for the outdoorsy type, camping brings a lot of quality time with your friends…and of course…s’mores. Pitch a tent, start a campfire, bring the friend with the band, and don’t forget the fishing poles! Many states have campgrounds that aren’t expensive to go camp on.

3.Visit a Major City
There’s much to see in the metropolitan areas of all states. You can learn about their history and see their modern sites. It’s not all about just museums and parks; these major cities also have a great nightlife. Some cities to consider are: New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, and San Diego.

See? Now you don’t have to cut your Ramen noodle spending with the money you’ll be saving to enjoy your Spring Break!

Oh…and…just make sure you did your homework and studied for that mid-term coming up next week.