The First Financial Credit Union Blog

'Tis the season for saving!

Posted by Stephanie Bertelsen, VP Member Relations on Aug 9, 2019 2:31:03 PM

With this gorgeous summer weather, it’s hard to imagine that the holiday season is right around the corner. While we may not be ready to think of winter, one thing you may want to start thinking about (if you haven’t already), is how to plan for holiday gift-giving.

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Family & Youth

Buying a Home When You're Self Employed

Posted by Jen Laud on Oct 19, 2017 11:11:28 AM

Entrepreneurship and side jobs are especially popular right now. There are 15 million self-employed workers in the US and Chicago alone is home to tens of thousands of small businesses.

While self-employment can give you more freedom and great satisfaction, it can also add some real challenges when trying to buy a home. Luckily, some lenders - including FFCU - have more flexibility and can help you jump the hurdles.

Let's walk through some of the common challenges that self-employed workers, freelancers and contractors face when trying to buy a home; a member's recent home buying story; and some tips you can use to get ready for your home purchase.

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Topics: Home Financing

How Changing Interest Rates Affect You

Posted by Jen Laud on May 4, 2017 11:00:00 AM

It's not uncommon for members to have questions about interest rates and how they are impacted by changes in the national or global economy. When there's a news story about economists speculating that rates will go up again, it can be hard to understand exactly what that means on a personal level.


Interest rates had been near zero for almost ten years - since the financial crisis of 2008. Now that there's been steady and consistent signs that the economy has turned around, the board of the Federal Reserve has been raising rates again. But what does that mean for you?

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Borrowing Advice & How to Build Credit

Choosing the Right Realtor and Mortgage Partner

Posted by Jen Laud on Apr 28, 2017 10:57:22 AM

Home is where the heart is, but the process of buying a home can be far from a lovely experience. Choosing the right partners really sets the tone for your home buying and selling journey. We've broken down some key things to look for, ask about or consider when you're trying to choose a real estate agent and a mortgage lender. 


The very first thing to do, even before jumping into property searching, is to check your credit score. Once you know your score, you'll know if you need to do a little work or if you can continue what you're doing to maintain it. When you're financing a major expense like a home, even a small change in your interest rate can have major consequences over time. And with just a little tweaking, you can adjust your score for the better. Want more tips on building credit? Take a look at our previous post on boosting your credit score. 


Choosing a Real Estate Agent.

Phone a Friend

When you're looking for an agent, testimonials are a goldmine of information. If you have friends or family in the area that have recently purchased or sold a home, ask them who they worked with and if they had a good experience. Online reviews are another great source to check out. Look on reputable sites like Google reviews, Yelp or even the business page on Facebook to see what clients have to say. The agent may also have some testimonials on their site or can give you a list, but keep in mind that they have more control over those resources. 

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Topics: Home Financing

Wills and Trusts for Parents

Posted by Jen Laud on Apr 24, 2017 11:29:27 AM

Especially for parents, there are many benefits to having a will and trust established. With just a little planning, you'll gain peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will always be cared for and your wishes are known. Plus, it no longer takes a lot of time or money to create a will or a trust.

When is it a good time to do a little research and decide if these are right for you? We recommend creating your documents and accounts when you're a new parent, growing your family, or have money you'd like to be designated for your children or other beneficiaries. 

Here we'll share what is a will and trust; why you should consider having them; and the best way to get started.

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Youth Services, Family & Youth

Save Your Tax Return Check

Posted by Edward Sablan on Apr 17, 2017 5:30:00 PM

Your tax return is coming (or is here), do you know what to do with it?

As tax season comes to an end, people across the country are frantically working to meet the April 18th deadline.  While it's mostly viewed as an unavoidable part of life, it does provide a glimmer of joy in the form of a tax return check.  However the question arises, what do you do with your tax return?  One idea would be to place the funds into some type of savings. 

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting

Level Up: Talking to Your Kids about Money, Part 2.

Posted by Edward Sablan on Apr 13, 2017 12:15:00 PM

Help Your Kids Develop their Money Skills with some Advanced Training.

Being able to manage personal finances is one of the best things we can teach our kids. Last week, we discussed some basics. This week, let's take our training up a notch with some additional lessons you can teach your kids who are older or who have already mastered the basics.


Using the Save, Spend, Give method, we'll offer some additional discussions, broken down into intermediate (Green Belt) and advanced (Black Belt) levels to help continue the training.

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Meet the Team - Irene Aguilar

Posted by Edward Sablan on Apr 11, 2017 1:15:00 PM

The Chicago Cubs built a World Series champion team by finding the right talent for every position. At First Financial Credit Union, we like to take the Theo Epstein approach of building a successful organization by finding people dedicated to delivering quality service for all of our members. While it's not pitching in Game 7 of the World Series, we pride ourselves on coming through in the clutch for all our members.

Each month we want to highlight the great people that work at FFCU. This month we highlight our 2016 Employee of the Year, Irene Aguilar. Irene is one of our Member Service Representative and has been with FFCU for over a year.  Her continuous hard work over the past year has been a great benefit to our members.  We took a moment to ask her some fun questions to get to know her better.

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How to Teach Money Lessons to Your Kids

Posted by Jen Laud on Apr 6, 2017 9:00:00 AM

5 tips for starting or continuing the discussion about money with your kids.

Being able to manage personal finances is one of the best things we can teach our kids. Money and credit impact so many things we do, making it an important topic to discuss with children early and often. If developed correctly, a young-saver's money skills can turn into a strong foundation to stand on later.


But many parents are unsure how to discuss money with their kids. We've put together some helpful tips to use when you're developing your teaching style.


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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Youth Services

5 Tips to Travel Safe & Travel Smart

Posted by Edward Sablan on Mar 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Time for that trip?  Plan ahead for safer travels.

Sunglasses? Check. Flip flops? Check. You can almost feel that sun or hear those waves as you're getting ready for your upcoming vacation. Before you take off, make sure you've given your financial safety and spending plan as much consideration as your destination. Whether it's the sandy beaches of the Bahamas or the Gold Coast of Australia, traveling can pose some challenges and you don't want to have your good time dampened by unnecessary money hassles.

1. Tell Your Credit Union and Credit Card companies that you are Traveling

Prior to heading to the airport, it's wise to give the credit union and other credit card companies a call to let them know where you're heading and how long you will be there. The safety measures that identify and stop potentially fraudulent activity on your account may accidentally cancel a real transaction if the location isn't recognized. Your accounts can be updated so you can confidentially use your card in a new location.

2. Use Credit Cards and Bring a Backup Card

It is a good point to leave most of your cards at home with the exception of a couple: one main and one backup. Carry one card with you to use on your travel expenses and keep one safely stored as a backup just in case. This strategy will also help you track your purchases while making sure no fraudulent charges are made. Cards for department stores, shops, and other non-essentials should be left behind at home as they just become a liability on a trip.

When you're deciding which cards to take, keep in mind that some may charge foreign transaction fees that can add up. Also, come banks or credit unions won't charge fees on their cards, but you may still get a fee from Visa or Mastercard for the currency conversion. For example, FFCU does not charge for foreign transactions, but you may see a surcharge up to 1% of your transaction from Visa.

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Topics: Saving & Budgeting, Identity Protection

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