Monthly Archives: December 2011

5 Tips to Take Control of Your Finances in 2012

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 2012 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: .  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: .

 So there you are—some great tools and tips to help get you started on your financial plan.  Good luck with your 2012 goals!

2011 Year in Review

It’s the time of year when we say goodbye to 2011 and hello to the NEW YEAR! In the spirit of the holidays and the closing of the year, we thought it would be a great time to recap BrightStar Credit Union’s most popular moments of the year.

2011 Year in Review:

  •  BrightStar Credit Union was named 2011 Credit Union of the Year by the South Florida Business Journal as part of their Excellence in Banking Awards.
  • BrightStar Credit Union celebrated its 65th anniversary in 2011. Celebration highlights included:
    • We had a 65th Birthday Party at each of our branch locations. We gave away free cupcakes, and members played our “Guess the Stars” Game for a chance to win $65.
    • We launched our 65th Anniversary web site with an interactive BrightStar history timeline, cool desktop wallpapers for your computer or mobile device and a south Florida trivia game.
    • In October we had our giant Party in the Park at Volunteer Park in Plantation with food, games, financial seminars and entertainment–fun for the whole family.
    • BrightStar’s President & CEO Ralph Crockett, was honored with the South Florida Business Journal’s Broward Ultimate CEO Award. Congratulations, Ralph!
    • BrightStar made more than $81 million in loans to members in 2011. Our doors are open, and we have money to keep lending for cars, home, and more.
      • We launched our online financial literacy site, BrightStar University! Everyone can benefit from financial knowledge. Just go to There’s cool content for all age groups. Check it out.
      • Our Apps Arrived! BrightStar’s iPhone & Android Apps are now available in your smart phone app store or marketplace. You can also utilize the mobile version of Online Banking on our mobile site
      • BrightStar’s Social Media is growing! Our Blog, turned 1 year old. Our Facebook Page has more than 1,000 fans. Now you can also follow us on Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, & LinkedIn. If you haven’t already done so, do it now! Join our online community for news, info and contests.
      • Despite many banks raising their fees eliminating free checking, BrightStar continues to offer FREE Checking & FREE Debit Cards with Visa Extras reward points—and we have no plans to change that.
      • BrightStar members earned nearly 60 million Visa Extras points for their everyday debit card purchases in 2011. Points can add up quickly and can be redeemed for valuable rewards.
      • We continued our CU@School financial literacy program, reaching out to thousands of students in Broward Schools—plus we continued our student-run credit unions in area schools. 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.
      • BrightStar was the 2nd place winner of CSCU’s Facebook contest for their Community Outreach Scholarships. We received a $1000 grant, which we donated to the Broward Schools homeless student program. In addition we donated an extra $2500 making the total $3500 to help homeless students.
      • This Year BECON-TV launched the first season of School Duel, an exciting high school academic quiz show. BrightStar was an official sponsor. As part of our partnership, we worked with BECON to build the School Duel web site. The first year was a big success with prizes, contests and more. Stay tuned for the new season in 2012!
      • We partnered with Family Central Inc. for our annual Toy Drive. We collected several huge boxes of toys that we delivered to deserving children.
      • This past summer we were pleased to offer several local high school students internships. They learned about the business operations of the Credit Union.
      • We love Broward Schools and our community, this year alone we sponsored and participated in:
  1. Broward Schools Teacher of the Year, Employee of the Year, Principal of the Year and Assistant Principal of the Year
  2. BECON’s Broward Teen News
  3. BEF/Broward Schools End of the Year Celebration
  4. Impact II Teacher Grants
  5. BRACE Scholarships
  6. Broward Schools Community Involvement Awards
  7. Partners In Education’s Clueless on Las Olas event
  8. Sistrunk Historic Festival
  9. South Florida Renaissance Festival
  10. And much more!
  • The Broward Schools education technology services department created a Green Team to implement green strategies. BrightStar has partnered with the Green Team to help honor a Broward Schools Eco-Hero of the Month each month.
  • The Young At Art Museum will be getting a spectacular new home in 2012. BrightStar entered into an agreement of support with the museum, and the new location will have a room named after the Credit Union. Stay tuned next year for the exciting details.
  • In October we celebrated International Credit Union Day, which was our opportunity to thank all members and share the benefits of belonging to a credit union. During this year’s celebrations we gave members something special each day during the week of October 17th -21st.
  • BrightStar awarded more than $10,000 in prizes to members for various contests throughout the year, such as e-Statements, Share the Love, Facebook, 65th Anniversary games and more.
  • In 2011, we surpassed 47,000 members, and we’re STILL growing strong! Help us keep spreading the good news about credit unions.

 We appreciate the opportunity to serve our members and the local community. All the staff and official at BrightStar wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!

BrightStar came in 2nd place in CSCU’s Facebook Contest. We will receive a $1000 grant, which we’ll donate to the Broward School homeless student education fund. In addition we will donate an extra $2500 making the total $3500. Thanks for voting!

Congratulations to Donna R, Cherie P & Colleen H, lucky (random) winners of our Holiday prize packs valued at more than $100! All they had to do was share a memory on our FB wall. Thanks for sharing your holiday memories & Happy Holidays to everyone.

Thank You for Your Generosity!

  BrightStar’s annual Holiday Toy Drive was a success, thanks to the overwhelming generosity of members & employees. All donations were delivered to Family Central Inc. of Broward County. Together we’ve made a difference, bringing joy to many local children who otherwise might not have received a gift during the Holiday Season.

 We’ve uploaded some photos of the collected toys on our Facebook Page.

 BrightStar Credit Union wishes you and your family a happy & healthy holiday!

Happy Holidays! It’s time for our online Holiday Giveaway. We’re awarding prize packages valued at over $100 to 3 lucky BrightStar members. Just share a brief holiday story or memory on our Facebook page. For details, click the link below. Good luck!

Smart Tip: If you use store cards to make holiday purchases, be sure to transfer your balances over to a BrightStar credit card. Don’t pay 30%, 25% or even 20% APR on a purchase. Our cards have super low interest rates & no annual fee: