Volunteering: Are U involved?

HandsPart of the credit union philosophy is “people helping people.” Throughout the year you’ll find members of the Unison family volunteering at various community events. Volunteering is about giving your time, talent and energy…for free. It can have a positive impact on where you live as well as your mental and physical health!

Yes, we all have busy lives and our time may be limited to devote to volunteering. However, the benefits of it will be so rewarding to you, your family and your community that you’ll start making room in your schedule. It is a fantastic way to discover a new skill or interest. Boost your life experiences and career – surveys show nearly 75% of employers would hire a candidate with volunteering experience over one without! Volunteering is also great way to be social, meet people and make new friends.

There are numerous volunteer opportunities available in our area. Your workplace, church, kids sporting or school events are all great places to begin. Another great resource that connects volunteers with organizations in need is The Volunteer Center of East Central Wisconsin http://www.volunteercenter.net/.

Make sure to have some fun while volunteering! The best experiences benefit both you and the organization. Unison had fun on May 4th when we once again proudly sponsored a house for the 12th annual Rebuilding Together Project Day. Check out the U-Crew volunteers helping our homeowner, Emma, spruce up her space!

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Why Do Credit Unions Talk Funny?

UnisonCircleCredit unions offer many of the same services you find at other financial institutions, but sometimes use different words to describe familiar activities. It’s all part of what makes credit unions significantly different from other financial service providers.

Your credit union savings represent your “share” in the financial cooperative, which is what a credit union is. Thus, you have a share savings account, or, for a fixed-term account, a share certificate account. And if you have an account you use, for example, to pay bills and finance daily purchases, you have a share draft account, so named because you’re able to draw on your shares. In all respects, these accounts work the same way savings, certificate of deposit, and checking accounts work at other institutions.

Dividends are the share of earnings Unison distributes to shareholders – our members.

Fees and borrowing rates are lower, and savings rates higher, because credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. Profit-driven financial institutions, like banks, must make money to pay stockholders in proportion to their holdings. All credit union members benefit from the credit union’s financial success, but bank income bypasses customers to pay a limited number of stockholders.

Your credit union shares are backed by share insurance up to $250,000. And Unison undergoes rigorous examination by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) to assure sound operation and management. Unison Credit Union (began as Thilmany Credit Union) received its operating charter – permission to do business and the rules it must observe – from the state of Wisconsin in 1932.

The board of directors and management comply with the charter and also with the credit union’s own bylaws. These are rules that members and directors adopt to define the credit union’s field of membership (who’s eligible to join), set the par value of shares (in other words, each share is a minimum of $5) and describe common credit union functions.

Thank you for choosing a credit union to fulfill your financial needs and, thank you for choosing Unison!

 
Copyright 2011-2013 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.
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Remodel Today and Enjoy Your Improvements for Years to Come.

Remodeling SamplesIf you’re like many Unison Credit Union members, you really like your home and your neighborhood but wish your house had many features you’d look for in a newer structure. Maybe you’d like a laundry on the main floor, a master suite with walk-in shower and maybe better energy efficiency.

You don’t have to move! You can remodel your way into the home you’ll be able to stay in and enjoy for decades. Many remodeling homeowners build in “aging-in-place” features that enable a more convenient future for residents of all ages.

Your aging-in-place home modifications should address these features:

* Accessibility. Improving accessibility includes making doorways wider, widening hallways, lowering countertop heights for sinks and kitchen cabinets, installing grab bars and placing light switches and electrical outlets at accessible heights.

* Adaptability. Adaptability features are changes you can make quickly to accommodate the needs of seniors or disabled individuals without having to completely redesign the home or use different materials for essential fixtures. For example, consider installing grab bars on bathroom walls and movable cabinets under a sink so someone in a wheelchair can use the space.

* Universal design. Universal design features are usually built into a home when the first blueprints or architectural plans are drawn and also can be added to future upgrades. These features include appliances, fixtures and floor plans that are easy for all people to use, flexible enough so that they can be adapted for special needs, sturdy and reliable and functional with a minimum of effort and understanding of the mechanisms involved.

Working with a contractor who knows basic universal design principles can ensure that your remodeling project helps achieve your goal—a warm and inviting home whose unique and helpful features will continue to accommodate you over time.

And, Unison can help!

If you own your home and have built up equity in it, we can talk with you about affordable home loans that will get your remodeling ideas in motion. Call us today!

Don’t wait until you decide to sell your house to modernize. Remodel today and enjoy your improvements for years to come. We’d like nothing better than to help you stay right here in the community you call home!

Source: Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)
Copyright 2013 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.
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Reality Store

reality signLooking for a little dose of reality? The junior class at Kaukauna High School certainly was when they attended the 7th annual “Reality Store”.

Unison’s Financial Education Coordinator (and guest blogger today), Laura Weber, worked behind the scenes with KHS guidance counselor Michelle Feucht prepping the “store” and the students. Laura explains more about this awesome event:

Each spring Unison sponsors and assists with the Kaukauna High School Reality Store. It is a simulation game in which students are assigned a career, marital status and family size. They are given a mock checkbook with the monthly income entered for their specific career. Students then visit booths, manned by community members, where they pay their monthly bills. At each booth, students make decisions concerning a standard of living they’ll assume. For example, at the housing booth (manned by a realtor), students decide if they want to pay for a one-bedroom efficiency apartment or a five-bedroom home.

There are a total of 16 booths each student must visit ranging from Uncle Sam, to the veterinarian, to daycare. If students find they are running out of money, they have the option to visit the S.O.S. booth to pick up a part-time job, trade in an expensive car or even downsize their home.

Over forty volunteers from the community, including five staff members from Unison Credit Union, work with students to help with making smart decisions and completely thinking through purchases. Most volunteers will tell you they walk away with just as much learned from the experience as the students do.

The Reality Store is a great way to bring our teenage students together with professionals in the community. Students look forward to the opportunity to learn more about how career choice and lifestyle expectations affect the “reality” of what life will be like when they are older.

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Protecting Your Identity

ShredFestThere are moments when our day gets a little crazy and we wish we could be someone else. Thieves or imposters take that one step further and obtain key pieces of personal information to use for their own personal gain. Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States.

Unfortunately, identity theft is not just a financial crime and adults are not the only targets. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), some of the most common types of identity theft include: 

  • Financial
  • Child
  • Smart Phone Security
  • Governmental
  • Medical
  • Social Network

Identity theft can ruin a person’s financial status, credit and reputation. The process to resolve the matter can be a major headache. Fortunately, there are basic steps you can take to help prevent this from happening to you. Prevention starts with managing your personal info carefully and sensibly.

Shred your receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information. Your trash is their treasure. Look for a durable shredder capable of cross-cut shredding for documents, credit cards and CD’s. Small, basic ones start at about $25.

Keep track of your credit card billing cycles. Identity thieves can start by changing your billing address. Make sure you are receiving your bill every month.

 File away – in a safe and secure place – account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers.

Create “strong” passwords or PIN numbers. Include special characters, numbers and capital letters. SplashData, a company who makes password management applications, released its annual “Worst Passwords” list compiled from common passwords that are posted by hackers. The top 10 are:

  • password
  • 123456
  • 12345678
  • abc123
  • qwerty
  • monkey
  • letmein
  • dragon
  • 111111
  • baseball

To help you in your efforts to secure personal information, Unison will be hosting a Shred Fest on Saturday, May 11, 2013. Bring your unwanted and outdated documents to Unison’s drive-thru Shred Fest. A professional document shredding company will be on hand to securely dispose of your documents.

Save the Date!

Drive – Thru Shred Fest

May 11, 9:00 am – Noon

Unison Credit Union, Crooks Ave. location

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Home Improvement Projects: It’s Not Just About Being “Handy”

CuteHouseMaybe you need a new garage, deck, roof or front porch. Or you just want to add some curb appeal and color with landscaping, new shutters or a fresh coat of paint. When it comes to home improvements, Unison Credit Union has the best financing options in the form of home equity or fixed rate loans. But should you do projects yourself or hire a pro?

Consider these factors:

Time. Many homeowners have a limited amount of free time to spend working on their projects. The average kitchen remodel that would normally take a contractor a few days could end up taking months on your own!

Materials. Who will measure, order and inspect on arrival? Do you have a vehicle suitable to pick up forgotten materials and to dump trash?

Tools. Certain jobs need certain tools. Will you have to buy or rent them? Do you know how to use them properly to complete your project?

Skills. Home remodeling is not something that can be learned off of a DIY web page. It takes certain skills and a high level of construction knowledge. Consider having a contractor come to your home to go over your project with you before it is started. They will be able to help you determine if it is something you can handle on your own or if you should bring in a professional.

Safety. Doing projects at extreme heights, using tools you aren’t comfortable with, creating dust and introducing toxic fumes with new materials can become a concern.

Liabilities. Be careful who you hire. Make sure they are a licensed and insured contractor. If someone gets hurt on your property, you could get sued. If a worker causes a fire or major damage, it may invalidate your homeowner policy.

Savings. Do the math. Factor in the cost of your time versus the cost of hiring a contractor.

Resale. Many buyers in today’s market are getting detailed home inspections that put home improvement projects under the microscope. Make sure yours are up to code and compliant with any local ordinances.  

Whatever route you decide to take for your home improvement projects, come to Unison for your financing! Give us a call at 920.766.6000 or stop in to speak with an FSR to get that project started!

Copyright 2010 Credit Union National Association Inc. Information subject to change without notice. For use with members of a single credit union. All other rights reserved.
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Paying for College the Smart Way

UThe majority of parents and students agree that higher education is an investment in the future. But given today’s economic realities, students are footing a larger percentage of the college bill than previously.

As more Americans pursue their dream of higher education, many students are looking for ways to fund the gap between financial aid and college expenses. That’s why Unison Credit Union has partnered with Sallie Mae® to offer you the Smart Option Student Loan®.

The loan offers three in-school repayment options and allows students to borrow up to 100 percent of school certified education costs (minimum $1,000). The options are designed to help you pay off your loan faster and save money compared to a conventional private loan. The loan also offers competitive interest rates and there are no origination or disbursement fees for students attending degree-granting institutions. Plus, applying with a creditworthy cosigner may lower the interest rate – and gives a better chance of approval.

Investing in higher education continues to be one of the best decisions you can make– and we want to help make it happen. Together, we can do this. Find resources for navigating the college application process, learn more about the Smart Option Student Loan®, and apply online at unisoncu.org.

Unison Credit Union, Sallie Mae® and you. Together we can do this!

SALLIE MAE RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. CHECK THE SALLIE MAE WEBSITE (www.salliemae.com) TO OBTAIN THE MOST UP-TO-DATE PRODUCT INFORMATION.
Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loans are made by Sallie Mae Bank® or a lender partner.
©2011 Sallie Mae, Inc. All rights reserved MKT2098

Unison Credit Union is compensated for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.

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Spring Into Our Upcoming Events!

spring pigThe temperatures may not be warming up, but we are here at Unison! The Unison family is gearing up for an action-packed spring season of sponsoring, hosting and participating in area events! Cooking, couponing and a contest – join us at the following events to help “spruce up” your spring and your finances.

Taste of the Times Cooking Extravaganza
April 6 & 7
Little Chute High School
Unison is once again a proud sponsor of the Taste of the Times Cooking Extravaganza! Visit us during the expo at our Mustang Money branch in the commons of Little Chute High School. We will be handing out our famous Unison employee favorites recipe cards! Call the Times-Villager office at 920-759-2000 for ticket information.

Money Smart Week® Wisconsin
April 22 – 27
This week was designed to help consumers better manage finances and provide awareness of financial education programs on topics such as budgeting and using credit wisely. A list of the week’s events around the Fox Valley can be found at www.moneysmartweek.org or in our March 18 blog post.

Curious About Couponing Workshop
Monday, April 22, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Unison Credit Union, Crooks Avenue location
Want to learn more about saving money with coupons? Attend this FREE workshop and become a coupon clipping pro! Get tips from “The Bargain Sleuth” on couponing at greenbayconsumer.com.

National Credit Union Youth Week
April 22 – 27
All Unison Credit Union locations
‘Stache your Cash! Members 17 years and under can stash their cash for a chance to win $100. Each deposit of $25 or more into their Unison savings account is an entry into a drawing for one of two (2) $100 Visa® Gift Cards.

Pig to Pig Walk
May 4
Piggly Wiggly, Kaukauna
Unison is a proud sponsor of the 15th Annual Pig to Pig Walk. The walk starts at 8:30 a.m. at the Kaukauna store and ends at the Little Chute Piggly Wiggly. Proceeds benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation. For more information contact Jane Schaefer at jschaefer@larryspw.com.

Drive-Thru Shred Fest
May 11, 9:00 a.m. – Noon
Unison Credit Union, Crooks Avenue location
Bring your unwanted and outdated documents to Unison’s drive-thru Shred Fest! A professional document shredding company will be on hand to securely dispose of your documents, free of charge.  

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“Going Green” to Save Your Green!

Go GreenWe can still “go green” while we are waiting (patiently) for the white stuff to melt. There are simple ideas and small changes you can make to save energy, reduce waste and save some “green” in your wallet.

The typical family will spend an over $2,500 every year just on utilities such as water, heat/air conditioning and electricity. Much of that money is spent on wasted energy. Replace traditional light bulbs with energy-saving ones that last longer and burn less energy. Turn down your thermostat in the winter and back up in the summer or invest in a programmable thermostat. Save water by making sure your dishwasher and washing machine are full with a dirty load before running them. Also, if you only sing one song in the shower versus two you could save over 14 gallons of water! 

Earth Day is Monday, April 22. Between now and Earth Day try one, two or all of the “green” tips below or visit http://www.earthday.org/ for additional resources.

  • Reduce paper and take advantage of free e-statements, e-notices and online banking. Learn more about these services on Unison’s website or ask an FSR about signing up today!
  • Choose products with less packaging. Save money, as well as room in a landfill.
  • Cut back on driving for errands and shopping. Make a list before heading out!
  • Lower the temperature on your water heater.
  • Unplug chargers and small appliances when not in use.
  • Repurpose something – an empty glass jar can hold leftovers or bulk items.

Save energy, save resources and save money!

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