Monthly Archives: December 2010

New Year’s Saving Help from Cosmo

 Yesterday we provided some basic financial advice plus a planning worksheet to help you get 2011 started off right.

 Today, BrightStar’s Super Saver Hero—Cosmo–would like to do the same for kids and parents!  Cosmo created an awesome savings Goal Chart . Parents, simply print the Goal Chart, then help your kids set a personal savings goal.  Hang it on the wall or refrigerator; then use the chart to track how they’re doing over time. Cool, huh?

 Haven’t met Cosmo yet?  Learn more about Cosmo’s Kids Club here.  Stay safe, everyone, and Happy New Year!

5 Tips to take Control of Your Finances in 2011

Every year, people make New Year resolutions which typically include things like:  lose weight, quit smoking, save money, or get out of debt.  We thought we’d help you get a head start on making 2011 a great year for healthy financial habits.  Here are 5 tips to get you moving! 

  1. Set Goals.  Your financial goals are specific things you want to do with your money in a certain time period.  Your goals can be short range (such as save money to buy a new computer), mid-range (save to buy a new car), or long-range (pay off your mortgage loan).
  2. Get a handle on your expenses.  Make sure you understand the difference between essential expenses and discretionary expenses—between needs and wants.  We’ve provided a link below to worksheets which can help you track your daily, weekly and monthly expenses.
  3. Build a budget.  Once you’ve set goals and you understand your expenses and your income—you can then create a plan.  Ask yourself:  Am I spending more than I earn?  Can I save more if I reduce some of my discretionary spending?  Do I need to earn more income to reach my goals?  Are my goals realistic?  A budget is simply a priority list.  By sticking to your priorities, you can make sure your money is used to achieve the goals important to you.
  4. Pay down your debt.  If you’re saddled with a lot of debt, especially unsecured debt, then work to pay off those balances.  Everybody uses credit, but high-interest rate credit card and loan balances can work against your efforts to save money.  Consider moving your existing card balances over to a lower interest rate credit card, such as one provided by BrightStar.
  5. Pay yourself first.  It’s important to set aside money each month or each paycheck to build up your savings.  BrightStar can help you with this too.  Ask about our WISH or second savings accounts—or about our easy automatic transfers.

 Worksheets to help you.  Here’s a link a complete Money Management Planner (pdf) provided by BrightStar’s financial counseling partner, BALANCE Financial Fitness: http://www.balancepro.net/pdf/mmp.pdf .  The Planner contains easy-to-use worksheets for setting goals, determining your net worth, tracking your expenses, debt and income.  It’s a great tool.

 Need personal financial counseling? If you’d like individual financial counseling over the phone, including how to build a budget, how to understand your credit report and more, call BALANCE Financial Fitness.  The service is FREE for BrightStar members.  For details, visit our web site: http://www.bscu.org/balance/index.htm .

 So there you are—some great tools and tips to help get you started on your financial plan.  Good luck with your 2011 goals!

Happy NEW YEAR!

BrightStar Credit Union wishes all members, followers and friends a Safe and Happy NEW YEAR!

 BrightStar’s offices will be closed New Years Day Saturday January 1st, and we will be closing early New Years Eve Friday, December 31st at 1:00. Online Banking and BillPay, Call24, debit card and ATM services will all be available for your convenience. Our offices will reopen to our normal schedule again on Monday, January 3rd. To see our hours and locations, click here http://www.bscu.org/Locations/.

BrightStar’s 2010 Year in Review

 

It is the time of year when we say goodbye to 2010 and hello to the NEW YEAR!  In the spirit of the holidays and closing out the year, we thought it would be a great time to recap BrightStar Credit Union’s most popular moments of the year.

  • BrightStar launched a new suite of Business Services, including Business Checking and our Business Visa Debit Card.
  • Our Blog was Born!  BrightStar launched BreakTheBankHabit.com.  Plus you can now follow us on our Facebook page and read our Tweets on Twitter.
  • BrightStar Credit Union was named Broward County’s Outstanding Philanthropic Company for 2010 by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and was recognized by the Broward County School Board for its contributions to the School District and the community.
  • We continued our successful CU@School financial literacy program, reaching out to thousands of students in Broward Schools—plus we continued our in-school student-run credit unions.  The goal: To provide today’s youth with financial skills that will last them a lifetime.
  • BrightStar sponsored multiple Colonial Williamsburg Electronic Field Trips in 40 local schools.  Thousands of students participated and learned about important American History topics, including The Will of the People, The Bill of Rights and more.
  • Dr. Dorothy Orr, Chairperson of BrightStar’s Board of Directors, was honored with several awards, including:
  • BrightStar’s CEO, Ralph Crockett, was presented with the  2010 ‘Man of the Year’ award from the Broward County Chapter of the United Nations Association in recognition of his professional achievements and community involvement.
  • The Credit Union raised $15,000 for the earthquake victims in Haiti, thanks to the generosity of members and employees.  All funds were donated to Partners In Health exclusively for use in Haiti.  We were also a sponsor of the City of Lauderhill’s Hait fundraising concert which raised even more money for earthquake victims.
  • We partnered with Family Central Inc. for their annual Toy Drive. We collected several huge boxes of toys that we delivered to deserving children.
  • BrightStar teamed up with Broward County council of PTA’s Anne Murray Clothing Bank to raise funds for needy kids.
  • We held Free Financial Literacy Seminars at our branch offices to help teach sound money management techniques.
  • This summer the Credit Union hosted several local high school interns. Students learned some great life skills—and got a glimpse of what it takes to operate a credit union.
  • BrightStar surpassed 43,000 members in 2010—a record high number.
  • BrightStar’s Credit Cards were listed with a whopping 5-star rating on www.creditcardconnection.org in 2010. That’s because our credit cards have NO annual fee, NO balance transfer fee, super LOW interest rates, a LOW late fee, and NO penalty rates.
  • Suze Orman really talked up credit unions in 2010 on TV shows such as The VIEW, Larry King Live and Oprah.  Ms. Orman recommends Credit Union credit cards because credit unions are fair, ethical and offer real value to members.
  • There was never a “credit crunch” at BrightStar.  We made more than $100 million in loans to members in 2010. BrightStar has money to lend for cars, homes, home repairs and more.
  • BrightStar awarded more than 50 million Visa Extras points to members in 2010. Members can earn points for great rewards just for using their enrolled Visa Check Card on qualifying purchases.
  • BrightStar awarded over $7,500 to members this year in various contests, including our e-Statements contest, Share the Love member referral contest, Online BillPay sweepstakes and Facebook contests.
  • BrightStar sponsored and participated in various events and programs, including:
    • Broward Schools Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, Principal of the Year, Assistant Principal of the Year
    • Broward Schools Broward Teen News, Broward Education Foundation’s End of the Year Celebration
    • Impact II Teacher Grants, BRACE Scholarships, Broward Schools’ Community Involvement Awards
    • Partners In Education’s Clueless on Las Olas event, the Sistrunk Historic Festival and the Renaissance Festival
  • We celebrated International Credit Union Day on October 21st by providing members with free refreshments and giveaway items in our branches.
  • BrightStar employees showed our school spirit at the 2010 High School homecoming football games  at Flanagan and Taravella which we supported through our sponsorships.
  • Despite the not-so-good national news regarding some financial institutions, BrightStar remained safe and strong.  Bauer Financial rated BrightStar with an “Excellent” or 4-STAR Rating for safety and soundness.  Bauer Financial has been reporting on and analyzing the performance of U.S. banks and credit unions since 1983. Member savings are also federally insured to at least $250,000 through the NCUA and backed by the full faith and credit of the United States Government.

 Stay tuned in 2011 for more events, community involvement and exciting contests.  We appreciate the opportunity to serve our community and our members. We would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays.  Let’s make next year even better!

Holiday Hours

BrightStar Credit Union wishes all members, followers and friends safe and Happy Holidays!

BrightStar’s offices will be closed Christmas Day Saturday December 25th, and we will be closing early Christmas Eve Thursday December 24th at 1:00. Online Banking and BillPay, Call24, debit card and ATM services will all be available for your convenience. Our offices will reopen to our normal schedule again on Monday, December 27th. To see our hours and locations, click here .  Don’t forget to check out our special webpage dedicated to all of our 2010 holiday activities www.bscu.org/happyholidays.

BrightStar Delivered Toys for Needy Kids

BrightStar’s recent Toy Drive turned out great! We would like to say Thank You for the generosity of members and our employees who donated toys for needy children and their families.  We collected several huge boxes of toys that we delivered to Family Central of Broward County on Monday & Tuesday of last week.

Although the toy drive is over, you may still participate in BrightStar holiday giving by donating at any BrightStar location to the Broward County Council of PTA’s Anne Murray Clothing Bank.  You can read more about it in our previous blog post, here. The deadline to donate is Friday, December 31, 2010.

Have a Wonderful Holiday, thank you for your support!

 

Congratulations to the Winner of our $100 FB “Like Us” Contest!

We’re starting to feel a little like Santa this year giving away all these gifts! Mrs. Cynthia J. is the lucky winner of our “Like Us” contest, and all she had to do was like our page on Facebook. How easy was that? Cynthia was randomly selected out of our growing list of fans and was rewarded with a $100 BrightStar Visa Gift card to help her with some holiday shopping!

Don’t forget–you too can stay connected with BrightStar by liking our Facebook page, by following us on Twitter, or by reading our blog, BreakTheBankHabit.com. You can read more details at bscu.org/community. Stayed tuned for more exciting online contests and great prizes in 2011, along with many useful financial tips!

Congratulations to Our 2010 e-Statement Contest winners!

BrightStar is spreading a little early holiday cheer this year.  Three lucky members were randomly elected to win great prizes—and all they had to do to enter was sign for e-Statements.  e-Statements is the free, convenient way to keep track of your Credit Union accounts online.  Members can register for e-Statements within Online Banking by simply clicking on the e-Statements link.

  • Susan Y. won an Amazon Kindle e-reader.
  • Robert R. won a 40-inch Sony HDTV.
  • Gina H. won a new Apple iPad.

 Congratulations to all 3 winners and their families. Happy Holidays!