Skip to main content
Money Mentor Banner Image

Members First Money Mentor

  • Open your Eyes to the Credit Union

    by Jill Thomas | May 14, 2018

    Open your Eyes to the Credit UnionMore and more savers and borrowers are looking into other options aside from big banks, and this is where credit unions come in. 
    Similar to banks, credit unions also allow its members to have savings and loans. They also enjoy other bank account facilities, but these are non-profit organizations. The money that credit unions earn is being used to lend to members. 
    Credit unions are operated by its members and are run for the members, which is why they are called member-centric institutions. There are no shareholders to earn from its profits, and members are the ones who are considered to be part owners. 
    Credit unions also do not offer fees for arrangement deals. The system for loans is easy and fair. They even look at how affordable these loans are for the members. This means that for members whose credit history are not very good, they can still be eligible for loans and are also qualified for an appraisal, depending on their ability to pay it back. 
    Many Americans trust credit unions better than banks because of the fact that banks are for-profit institutions. With credit unions, there are fewer fees, and members get higher interest rates, and they are provided with better customer service. Here is a breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of both credit unions and the banks: 

    ·         Accessibility

    When it comes to accessibility, big banks offer the accessibility factor because they are the ones with more branches open, even on the weekends. It is easier for customers to make a quick withdrawal or deposit. Banks also offer online mobile tools, which make banking a lot easier. On the other hand, credit unions are, most of the time, not available outside the area because they are really meant to serve communities. They really don’t have the so-called ATMs. What credit unions do in order to compensate is that they reimburse customers for ATM charges if they have to utilize other networks. Credit unions also have mobile banking options. At Members First, mobile and online banking services are FREE for all members!  Also, we return up to $15 in ATM fees!

    ·         Checking account fees

    When it comes to all major fees, big banks are popular for charging their customers for practically everything from overdraft fees to maintenance fees. Credit unions, on the other hand, are able to carry on their overhead savings to customers because they usually have just smaller operations. This means that they have fewer fees charged to their customers. Most of the largest credit unions offer free checking, in fact, 70 percent of them, whereas only 39 percent of banks practice this, according to  The Members First Free Checking account requires no minimum balance, no monthly service fees, courtesy pay, Visa debit cards, and so much more!

    ·         Interest rates

    There is really no assurance these days when it comes to interest rates because they fluctuate all the time, even the savings accounts in banks do not generate as much interest for their customers and account holders. It is always advised to compare banks’ interest rate offers to make the right choice. When it comes to credit unions, they usually are known for having higher interest in terms of savings and checking accounts. We pay you interest on any amount in our checking and savings accounts! 

    In the end, it is clear to see that credit unions offer more advantages compared to banks. Big banks may be attractive; they may have so much to offer, showing off their wide array of credit products and services, flashy advertisements and logos. For the majority of the criteria, it’s easy to say that credit unions are hard to defeat. If there is only one thing that banks can offer and credit unions cannot, it is only the lack or the unavailability of branded ATMs everywhere. But if this is something you do not really look after, then credit unions are the best option by far. The fee structure alone is more than enough to open a checking or savings account. Aside from fewer fees, you also get to enjoy personalized services and excellent customer service from the organization.

  • Budgeting Basics

    by Jill Thomas | May 07, 2018

    (Click on images for downloadable files to help you along the way!)

    What comes first?

    An account!

    If you do not have an account, do your research and find what is best for you and your needs!  Making sure that your financial institution meets your needs is crucial to sticking to your budget and making things as simple as possible. 

    What do you need?

    Online/mobile banking?
    How much to start?

    Choosing a financial institution

    Choosing a Financial Institution  

    What now?

    The first step is to write everything down!

    Writing everything down will help you get an exact idea of where your money is going each day/month/year!  Always know your minimum payments as well!

    Day to Day

    Day to Day Spending


    Make sure that saving is an option!  It is not always possible at certain points in life! 
    Set goals!  Start small!  Set smart goals to start with and when those are reached, reward yourself!  Always have a long term goal in mind!  You will still feel accomplished!



    We all deserve to have fun!  Make sure that you are rewarding yourself for your hard work!  Saving for fun is the most rewarding because you feel accomplished that YOU are the one fund thing fun!  By doing this, you will not feel guilty because you have worked for the funds you saved!

    Long Term

    Remember that long term goal we talked about?  It's time to think about it!

    Adding to that Savings Account?
    A new car?
    Down payment on an apartment?

    Whatever it is, make sure to have a time frame to reach it by!  That means it needs to be reasonable!



6 Ways To Teach Your Kids About Saving Money

6 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Saving Money

Saving money is one of the most important aspects of building wealth and having a secure financial foundation.  Yet many of us have learned the importance of saving money through trial and error, and more importantly, experience.

In school, we aren’t really taught about the importance of saving and many of us find that as adults, we have to fend for ourselves.

But there are ways to empower the next generation, and that starts by teaching children the importance of saving from a young age.  If you are a parent, here are 6 ways to teach your children about saving money.


A piggy bank can be a great way to teach your kids the importance of saving, while giving them an easy way to do it.  Tell your kids that the goal is to fill up the piggy bank with dollars and coins, until there is no room.  Illustrate that the piggy bank is for saving money for the future and that the more they save, the more their money will grow.


Once the piggy bank is full, take your child to the bank to open up a savings account for them.  Have them count how much money is going to be deposited, so they can have a physical understanding of how much money they have.  Show them the final number and reinforce the idea of interest.

It can provide a great source of motivation for your kids if they understand that their money will grow over time as long as they don’t touch it.


When your kids really want the latest and greatest toy or a new action figure, let them know they will have to save up for it.  Give them a jar for each of their desired purchases and offer them a small allowance each week in a denomination that encourages savings.

For example, if you give your child five dollars a week, give it to them in one dollar bills.  They can save all their cash for one purchase, or they can contribute to different “jars” for various savings goals.

To encourage saving up for their short-term goals, put a picture of their desired toy or item on the jar, so they have a visual reminder of what they are working towards.


As a kid, the concepts of money and time can be hard to grasp. Research has shown that the impact of a one hour financial lesson wears off after about five months. In order to make the message stick, money education should be timely and ongoing.  If you know your child receives a $50 check for their birthday each year, the moment to talk about budgeting is right before receiving that check.

One way to keep money lessons ongoing is to create a timeline so that your child can visualize when they will reach their goal.

Let’s say you give them five dollars a week and they want to save up fifty dollars.  If they saved one hundred percent of their allowance, they’d reach their goal in ten weeks, or roughly three months.

Start by getting a long piece of paper and a marker.  Have $0 on one side and $50 (or whatever goal amount) on the other side.  Create checkpoints on the paper for when they reach 25%, 50% and 75% of their goal.

Every time an amount is saved, draw a line illustrating how much was saved.  Let your kids know that they will get small rewards at each checkpoint. Small rewards can encourage kids to keep going.  Visuals are also helpful in illustrating their savings goals and how their money is growing.


Children learn by example, so the best way to teach your child about saving money is to save money yourself.  Have your own jar of money that you put funds in regularly.  When you’re out shopping, show your children how to discern between various prices and explain why buying one item makes better sense than another.

Reiterate the message that every time you get paid, you save a portion of your check to help prepare for the future.


One of the most important things you can do is to start a conversation about money and the importance of saving. Money doesn’t have to be scary or a taboo.  Use financial discussions as teachable moments. An innocent question such as “Are we rich?” can be answered in a way that emphasizes family values, such as hard work and responsible spending.

Let your children know they can have an allowance, but it’s up to them to save up for things they really want.  In addition, illustrate how much their money can grow over time if they save.

Also discuss the difference between needs and wants and tell your children you are always open to talking about money and new ways to save.  Ask them about what they want to save up for.  Ask them what they want their future to look like.

Asking good questions can get them to think long-term and have a positive relationship with money.  Letting them know you’re always open to have a conversation about money can encourage them to ask questions of their own to keep learning.  The graphic below from the JumpStart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy can provide you with learning benchmarks based on your child’s age.

Teaching kids how to save money may seem like a tough task.  It has even been said that parents are more likely to talk to their children about sex than about money.  But using these tips, you can make your child’s understanding of money fun and accessible.  It’s an investment in knowledge which truly pays the best interest.

Planting Seeds for a
Healthy Financial Future

10 Money Mentor Financial Tips


1.       When paying off debt: start with the small debts first then move to the bigger ones.

2.       Maximize your employer benefits.

3.       Review your credit report regularly, and keep an eye on your credit score.

4.       Make savings a part of your monthly budget.

5.       Don’t keep applying for new credit. A good rule of thumb is not to have more than 2 inquiries per year.

6.       Create a budget and stick to it. For help creating a budget see our Money Manager Tool inside of our online banking.

7.       When shopping for credit cards: make sure you research the annual fee, transaction fees, and interest rate. Our Visa platinum credit card has no annual fee, no special transaction fees, and offers rates as low as 8.99%. Apply Today!

8.       Did you know that even if you pay your loan on time at a payday lender it still affects your credit negatively?

9.       Never charge more than 40% of the limit on your credit card.

10.       Save your self time and money by getting preapproved for a vehicle loan.