Category Archives: Broward County Public Schools

Real New Year’s Resolutions for Your Wallet

New Year new youLaura Edgar is a senior writer for, an unbiased consumer finance website committed to promoting financial literacy.

This year, make it a priority to get your finances in order. Resolutions like “save money” or “spend less” are well intentioned, but they don’t constitute a plan of action. You’re more likely to stick to your resolutions if they’re simple, clear and action oriented. Here are a few suggestions from the financial literacy experts at NerdWallet to keep you on track.

I will not pay checking fees

Most bank customers pay an average of $117 in fees per year for things like overdrafts and out-of-network ATM use. As a member of a credit union, you’re already on track to save money. BrightStar’s free checking account gives you access to thousands of free ATMs nationwide, plus other great perks like a rewards debit card and free financial counseling. You can help keep your account free by monitoring your balance online, building up a reserve in your savings account avoiding overdrafts. If you don’t already have a checking account with BrightStar, now’s a great time to get one. You’ll get  $100 just for signing up.

I will pay off my student loans

If student loan debt is “good debt”, Americans have too much of a good thing.

According to the New York Federal Reserve, the average student loan debt is now greater than the average credit card debt. In fact, student debt now exceeds $956 billion in total, and the average borrower graduating in 2011 owed $26,600. Yikes! Educate yourself about your repayment options and find a sustainable solution that works for you. If you’re still in school, don’t borrow more than you need.

I will get out of debt

The average American household credit card debt is $7,150. You can pull yourself out by creating a debt repayment plan. We recommend prioritizing your debts by interest rate. If you pay the one with the highest interest rate first, you’ll end up spending less money to pay down your debts over time. We also recommend enlisting professional help. Take advantage of BrightStar’s free financial counseling services for members, offered in partnership with Balance.

I will start saving for retirement

Did you have a 401(k) at your previous job? Now is a great time to roll it over into an IRA. Don’t have a 401(k)? Consider getting an IRA anyway. Most retired people can’t count on employer benefits or social security (or even both!) for all their financial needs, so it’s important to build a nest egg for yourself. IRAs have the added benefit of letting you save for retirement tax-free. What’s not to like?

I will talk about money and estate planning with my partner and my family

Most people have a hard time talking about money. For couples, it’s often harder. Nevertheless, it’s better to have that awkward conversation sooner rather than later. How else can you make sure your family and your assets are protected in your absence? Write your will, look into life insurance, and check in with older family members like your parents to see what their plans are.

BrightStar CU has two reasons why people in South Florida may want to join. First, we offer a $100 to new members who open our free checking account. Second, BrightStar has some competitive CD & IRA CD rates. Read more

Tips for Teaching Kids about Money

Laura Edgar is a senior writer for, an unbiased personal finance website committed to promoting financial literacy.

Money management is one of the most important life skills you can pass on to your children. Once they’re old enough to manage their own money, they’re more likely to use it wisely if they already have good spending habits to fall back on. Study after study confirms it! That said, it’s not always easy to know how to approach the subject. Here are some great strategies to make your next money conversation easier.

Keep the conversation fun

Kids love money. Don’t worry about the conversation being “too boring”. Money is only boring when you frame the conversation that way. Don’t say, “Let’s talk about grown-up things because it’s good for you.” That’ll bore anyone!

Start simple

Before you talk about mortgages or credit cards, your kids need to understand basic money management concepts like saving, budgeting, and working with cash. With cash, kids can literally see money coming and going, which will help them internalize concepts like spending and saving.

Open a bank account

If your child is older, a savings account is a great way to introduce them to banking and encourage them to save for something big. BrightStar’s Cosmos Kids Club is a great savings program for kids 13 and under. If your child is a teenager, a checking account will help them practice managing money and paying for their own expenses.

Urge caution with credit cards and borrowing

When used correctly, credit cards and loans can help people afford good things like a car, a house, or a university education. However, people need to be really careful because too much debt is definitely bad. Credit cards and loans aren’t “free money”.Paying your bill in full each month is the best way to avoid trouble.

Keep learning together

It’s always a good idea to brush up on personal finance basics before you talk to your kid. BrightStar University has an excellent collection of games, articles and videos to improve your financial literacy at any age. Check it out and start your money conversation today.

Back to School Giveaway!

We’re giving away 6 gift baskets filled with school supplies from ACE Educational Supplies – A teacher store for school supplies. Just “like” BrightStar’s & ACE’s page on Facebook. If you’re already a fan, you are entered. Drawing will take place on 8/24/12. All winners will be notified via FB & must pick up prize at a BrightStar branch. If you know a teacher or student, spread the word!! Good Luck

National Academy Foundation’s Annual Conference

BrightStar CU is a partner with Broward County Public Schools and their Academy programs.  Our partnership includes supporting several student-run credit unions as well as helping teach kids personal financial skills.  Sam Chesser, BrightStar’s VP of Marketing, recently accompanied several Broward County Academy teachers at the National Academy Foundation’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.  You can see Sam’s head peeking out from behind NAF executive Director, JD Hoye, in the accompanying photo.  The Broward group had a great experience at the conference which focused on ways to help prepare students for college and career success. NAF has a proven educational model which includes industry-focused curricula, work-based learning experiences, and business partner expertise for: Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, IT & Engineering. Way to go, Broward County!

BrightStar Summer Interns!

We have several shining stars (high school interns) with us this summer at the Credit Union, and we’re excited to tell you about them.  Each intern is studying finance at their school, and their internship at BrightStar is helping them complete their course work.  We’re proud to have them as part of our team!


Colton B. 

  • School: Western High School
  • Random Fact: I love Cars, Fishing, and Graphics Design
  • What I’m excited to learn about during my summer here: I am excited to learn how about Credit Union works as well as learn about the different services offered. I am also hoping to learn about the financial business world.

Jared T.

  • School:J.P.Taravella
  • Random Fact: I love DECA (DECA is an international association of high school and college students studying marketing, management and other business related skills.).
  • What I’m excited to learn about during my summer here: How the credit union works behind the counter

Joel S.

  • School:Western High School
  • Random Fact: Out of all three of my brothers I am the shortest one.
  • What I’m excited to learn about during my summer here: I’m excited to learn how the EFT department really works. I would cherish learning more about how the credit cards, the debit cards, and the checks work. Also I would enjoy experiencing the transactions that occur on a daily basis. Plus it would be wonderful to gain knowledge about credit history and how to acquire a better credit score.

Andrew T.

  • School: Western High School
  • Random Fact:Only 2% of the ocean has ever been explored
  • What I’m excited to learn about during my summer here: I would really like to learn about how financial institutions work so that I can gain a better understanding of how businesses work as well.


New Feature Alert! We have just launched MoneyDesktopTM, a FREE personal financial management service that consolidates all of your financial accounts into one place. With MoneyDesktopTM, members will be able to take complete control of their finances.

 Key Features:

  • Account Aggregation: All your financial accounts in one place.
  • Budgeting: Create relative budgets based off your actual spending, income, debts, and expenses.
  • Categorize Spending: Categorize and track spending from your various financial accounts.
  • Financial GPSGuideMe: A GPS for your finances that keeps you on the path to financial freedom and well-being.
  • Manage Debt: A customized plan just for you based off your debts, income, and budget.

 Visit for more details

BrightStar Credit Union was the presenting sponsor of the Broward County Public Schools Caliber Awards last week. The District recognized their outstanding employees on March 1 during a ceremony held at the Signature Grand in Davie.

For many years BrightStar has sponsored the District’s Teacher of the Year, Principal/Assistant Principal of the Year and School-Related Employee of the Year events. These annual event honor the “Best of the Best” of Broward County Public Schools.  We congratulate all the Teachers, Principals, Assistant Principals and Employees of the Year from every school and all the semifinalists for their dedication and service to the students of Broward County.

This Year’s Top Winners are:

  • Beth W. Milewski, School-Related Employee of the Year, Coral Glades High
  • Laurel Ann Bifora, Assistant Principal of the Year, Fort Lauderdale High
  • Christine Semisch, Principal of the Year, Deerfield Beach Middle
  • Jacqueline Carrero, Teacher of the Year, McNicol Middle

All winners were awarded $1,000 from BrightStar Credit Union, and all semifinalists received a gift pack with a $40 gift card.

We are very proud and grateful for our relationship with Broward’s amazing teachers, principals, staff and students over the years. We look forward to continuing our support. To read more about the winners & the finalists, visit the Broward Schools web site (click here).