About Advantage One

Advantage One Credit Union has served the Downriver community since 1952. Our commitment to provide superior member service and quality products and services has remained our prime focus throughout our growth. 1952 - On January 24, 1952 the credit union's charter was approved as the McClouth Employees Federal Credit Union, serving employees of McClouth Steel Corporation. 1982 - The credit union's name was changed to Southgate Community Federal Credit Union and the field of membership was expanded to serve the families living or working in Southgate. 1991 - Our name was changed to Southgate Federal Credit Union and the city of Riverview was added to our field of membership. 1993 - The Riverview office was opened in 1993 to better serve members across our expanding field of membership. 2001 - The field of membership was expanded to include 15 Downriver communities. To better reflect the new, broader field of membership, the name was changed to Advantage One Federal Credit Union. 2003 - The Brownstown branch was opened on September 17, 2003. The branch was built to act as the new headquarters to house the growing support staff and to offer better convenience to our newly expanded field of membership. 2007 - We expanded our field of membership once again to include Taylor, Huron Township and Romulus. 2016 - We adopted a state charter and removed "Federal" from our name. We expanded our field of membership greatly to include the following Michigan counties: Clinton, Eaton, Genesee, Hillsdale, Ingham, Jackson, Lapeer, Lenawee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, Shiawassee, St. Clair, Washtenaw, & Wayne. For a complete listing of the communities we serve, please click here.

5 Best Money-Sending Apps

picture of person sending funds electronicallySend money easily with these convenient phone apps
In the modern economy, most financial transactions are entirely digital, which makes sharing money between individuals something of a dilemma. Luckily, there are a number of convenient phone apps available that facilitate this process with no physical cash required.

Facebook Messenger
One of the most prolific mediums of communication available is social media. Digital Trends and Quicken point out that Facebook Messenger allows its users to send money by simply asking users to link a debit card. To complete a transaction, the money sender just needs to tap the dollar sign and enter the amount being sent, which turns into a hyperlink that the receiver can click. Payments can take up to five days to process, but the app makes up for that time with its convenience compared to other methods like finding an ATM.

Google Wallet
Recommended by both Digital Trends and Quicken, Google Wallet acts, as the name implies, as a virtual wallet. Money can be sent and received within the United States via an email or a phone number. Once the money is in the Google Wallet account, it can then be used at retail stores that accept tap-to-pay or debit Mastercards.

PayPal
As one of the oldest names in the digital financial industry, PayPal offers the ability to transfer funds to other users. PayPal is one of the few apps to allow transfer of funds to people outside of the United States. While PayPal tends to take between five and 10 days to process, it also offers the ability to pay for purchases at a variety of establishments.

Square Cash
Gizmodo recommends Square Cash as one of the easiest-to-use money-transfer apps available. Square Cash doesn’t require the recipient have an account; instead, users just need an email address. It is free to use for most individuals, though businesses and those using a credit card must pay a fee. Standard deposits typically appear the next day; same-day deposits are available with Square Cash, but require a small fee.

Venmo
Venmo is recommended unanimously by Quicken, Digital Trends and Gizmodo, with Digital Trends even calling it the best money-sending app on the market. This app is intended for easy money transfers to and from friends and family, and although it requires that both parties have the app, debit transactions are free. Venmo is structured like a social media network for payments (including the ability to like and comment on specific payments) and is becoming well-known enough to have created the phrase, “Venmo me.”

Using these apps, sending money digitally has become easier and more accessible than ever before.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

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How to Remove Coffee Stains from Your Life

person spilled coffe on shirt and work on deskTips and tricks for removing coffee stains from problem surfaces
Inevitable—coffee stains everything. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get those stains out. Depending on what material the coffee has been spilled on, there are a variety of tools you can use to remove the stains. Here are a few commonly coffee-stained items and the best ways to get those stains out.

Carpet
You make your morning coffee and walk into the living room to watch the news; on your way there, the dog jumps out in front of you and trips you. The mug goes flying, spilling black coffee all over the brand new carpet. Quick—grab a beer out of the fridge and pour a small amount over the stain, according to Reader’s Digest. Let it sit for a minute, then use an old towel to soak it up. The coffee, and the stain, should come right with it. You can repeat this process if necessary.

Dishes
If your beautiful wedding china has been stained by your grandpa’s insistence on drinking his five cups of coffee black, reach for some baking soda. Reader’s Digest suggests dipping a damp cloth in some baking soda and rubbing it directly on the dishes. The baking soda and water should combine into a thick paste for you to use as a kind of soap. Then simply rinse the dishes and put them away.

Car seats
According to Compare.com, the most important step in cleaning coffee stains out of your car is to act fast. The stain will become far more difficult to clean if it sets into the material. Use a towel, blanket or any other material that will absorb and blot until you’ve managed to soak up the liquid. Next, create a mixture: one-third vinegar, two-thirds water and a small amount of dishwashing liquid. Gently rub the mixture into the stain with a towel. Rinse the stain with plain water and blot up the rest of the liquid. To dry the area, Compare.com recommends using a blow dryer on a low setting.

Clothing
Did you spill coffee down the front of your dress shirt on the way to work? The Huffington Post recommends using paper towels to soak up the stain. It’s important that you blot the shirt, not rub. Rubbing the stain will just make it worse. Once you’ve soaked up as much of the liquid as possible, use a stain removal pen on the spot. If you’re at home, let some stain remover soak on the shirt before throwing it in the washing machine for its designed cycle.

Furniture upholstery
The dreaded stain: upholstery. You can’t just throw the beautifully upholstered chair in the washing machine, so what do you do? Stain Removal 101 recommends a combination of cold water and dishwashing liquid. After blotting the stain, mix two cups of cold water and one tablespoon of dishwashing liquid and apply it to a sponge. Use the sponge to blot the stain until it disappears. If necessary, you can repeat this process several times. Once the stain has been lifted, blot with plain water to remove any soap residue; then blot with a new towel until the spot is dry.

There is no reason you should have to give up your morning coffee to avoid coffee stains. You can kick those stains to the curb without a second thought, no matter what material it made its way onto.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Tips for Saving for Your New Car

Hands holdinga jar of moneyIdeas for affording that hot ride you have always wanted
It’s a common situation: your current car is on its last leg and you have your heart set on a new model that will last longer, look better and have more features. Unfortunately, your bank account isn’t on your side and is limiting your options. Instead of disregarding your financial limitations, find ways to overcome them by saving money and shopping wisely so you can eventually afford that dream vehicle.

Determining your financial goal
Before you establish a plan of action, it is vital to fully evaluate your current financial situation and what your goal is; a clear understanding will help you effectively plan how to reach your goal.

Once you identify which vehicle you want, you can estimate how much a down payment would cost. Ronald Montoya of Edmunds suggests that 20% of the total cost of the vehicle should be your down payment (resulting in a lower monthly cost), but that if you cannot comfortably afford that amount, a 10% down payment with GAP insurance mitigates risk while keeping money in your pocket.

Jamie Page Deaton of U.S. News & World Report emphasizes the importance of considering the ongoing price of monthly vehicle costs, such as repayments, insurance and maintenance. Depending on your cost of living and pre-existing debt, these expenses should not exceed 15-36% of your monthly take-home pay. Ensure you have a secure income to afford these monthly costs after you drive the car off the dealership lot.

Saving money on daily expenses
Now that you’ve established a target amount of money to save for both the down payment and monthly fees, you can analyze your current spending habits and find ways to trim your daily expenditures and divert the difference into a savings fund.

Trent Hamm of The Simple Dollar outlines dozens of methods for cutting expenses. For instance, consider using public transportation or carpooling to work. Cancel your unnecessary memberships, subscriptions or paid services. Buy bulk, generic, non-perishable items from the grocery store and make your own meals instead of eating out. Other ideas include shopping at thrift stores, selling unused items, consolidating your loans, lowering home thermostats, unplugging electronics and pausing your travel plans.

Getting the best deal on the car
Saving money isn’t just about having enough cash in your bank account; it’s equally imperative to ensure you’re getting a deal on the vehicle you are purchasing. There are methods for knocking some numbers off the sticker price to ensure you are paying the lowest possible amount rather than simply handing over your hard-earned money at the first price presented.

Kerry Hannon of Forbes offers nearly a dozen ways women can save on a new car; all of the methods can be used by men, too. Time your purchase so that you can take advantage of a seasonal sale, a reduced price on last year’s model or a rebate program. Do your research and have a clear idea of what the car’s value is and what competing dealerships in the neighborhood are offering for the same model. Don’t be afraid to negotiate; hold firm on the target price and don’t get drawn into add-ons or upgrades.

Another way to get a better deal on your car is by improving your credit score and thus receiving a better deal on financing. Investigate all your financing options and find the best loan offer that is best for you, whether that’s through your bank, a local credit union or the dealership.

With a solid plan and frugal spending habits, you will eventually be able to afford that new car without putting your finances at risk.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Common Auto Financing Terms

Defining the essential vehicle finance jargon you should know
Calculator with car keys on top of keypadPurchasing a vehicle from a dealership, be it a brand new or moderately used model, is rarely as simple as you would hope. What should be a basic transaction can quickly become a complicated discussion rife with uncommon phrases you wouldn’t hear elsewhere.

In preparation for the next time you intend to shake hands and sign on the dotted line to purchase a car, familiarize yourself with the following information.

Understanding pricing
Even before you step foot on a car lot and introduce yourself to a sales representative, it is crucial that you understand how each vehicle is given a price. If you’re researching vehicle prices, you will likely come across these terms.

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price of a vehicle (MSRP), also known as list price, is the manufacturer’s recommended price at which to sell a brand new vehicle. It’s not required that a dealer adhere to this amount, but according to the experts at Bankrate.com, it is required by law to be posted on the vehicle window’s Monroney sticker, along with the destination (freight/shipping) charge.

This differs from the invoice price, which is the amount the manufacturer initially charges the dealership to obtain and, in turn, sell the car to a buyer. The invoice price can be lowered by rebates, incentives, holdbacks and other ways to ensure the dealer makes a profit.

According to the DMV.org’s guide to understanding car financing, incentives and rebates can also be offered to retail customers looking to purchase the vehicle. The dealer may launch a short-term program to offer financial enticement to buyers in order to sell certain models. Manufacturers can also temporarily reduce the price of a model in a rebate program to make the cost accessible to more buyers.

Understanding financing
Once you negotiate and agree upon a fair price for the vehicle, the process moves to financing the purchase. Since most people don’t pay the entire bill up front, the transaction will be financed, distributing the cost across multiple years to be paid back with interest in monthly installments.

The Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Information guide explains that the annual percentage rate (APR) measures how much the loan will cost the buyer and expresses it as a negotiable percentage. The APR includes not only the basic interest rate but also other fees involved with making a loan. The APR can be affected by many factors, from your credit history to local competition among dealerships. If you have poor credit history, based on an inconsistency of bill payment and financial dependability, you may be deemed a non-prime lender and receive a higher rate.

Interest rates can either be fixed, remaining the same throughout the entire repayment term, or are variable and fluctuate based on the current index.

Once you pay the initial down payment on the vehicle, the remaining balance will be financed and will consist of the principal, the amount of the vehicle cost still owed, the interest charges and any other fees.

Understanding your future
Ideally, you will continue to make monthly payments until you repay your auto loan on time. If you happen to pay it off early, Bankrate.com experts warn that you might be charged a prepayment penalty by the dealer, so inquire beforehand.

If, down the road, you believe you could get a better deal on the loan than you currently have, you can refinance the loan, either with the current lender at a new rate or with a different lender. Refinancing allows your loan to be reevaluated and potentially adjusted to a better rate.

According to DMV.org, there are two things you don’t want to have happen to your new car: be upside-down or have it repossessed. If you are upside down or underwater on a loan, the vehicle has negative equity and you owe more on it than it is worth. If you fail to make your payments on the vehicle, your lender might repossess your car, taking the vehicle from you without warning or court involvement.

Hopefully by understanding how the auto financing process works and what these common phrases mean, you can avoid any penalties or pitfalls and purchase your next car without issue.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Cool Ways to Save Extra Money

A little creativity and thought can save you a lot of money
Couple Saving MoneyThere are many ways to save a little extra money each month, some of which have added benefits beyond financial ones. Have a little fun and get some great additional perks with these five out-of-the-ordinary ways to save extra money.

Forgo cable
With the popularity of Hulu, Netflix and other streaming services, cable isn’t considered a necessity anymore. These streaming services even produce their own shows that you can’t watch anywhere else. Plus, their fees are just a fraction of the average monthly cable bill—services like Apple TV only cost a flat fee up front for the device.

Another way to get media on the cheap is to dust off that old library card. Many local libraries are part of a network from which you can rent a vast selection of DVDs, TV series boxed sets, CDs and books. Even better, it’s absolutely free—as long as you return everything on time.

Socialize cheaply
Instead of going to the movies on date night or heading out for drinks with your pals, look for free activities happening in your area.

“Many cities offer a host of free activities, especially in the summer months. Use social media tools and the web to find listings for community activities and make your date night a little cheaper,” wrote money blogger Nicole Graham on LifeHack.org. “This will also push you to do something new or different, which will broaden your horizons and help you meet new people.”

You can also host your own social events. Save on menu items, tax, tips and parking by hosting a potluck supper. Or organize a clothing swap—it can be a fun, intimate event; and you can all get some free new outfits out of the deal.

Eat at home
Maybe your apartment is too small to host a potluck, but you can still plan your meals ahead and cook at home for yourself in order to pocket some cash.

“Taking a few hours every weekend to grocery shop and meal plan for the week will definitely save you money, as dining out is the No. 1 expense for most households,” said Brittney Castro of CNBC. “By eating at home, you save money that would otherwise be spent on tax and tip—and you usually save calories, too.”

If you do eat out—maybe it’s a special occasion or a reward—at least try to order take-out rather than dining in or getting food delivered. You won’t have to pay the double-fee of tipping the driver AND paying the delivery charge.

Get crafty
Take to Pinterest, beauty blogs and more to find cheap, easy-to-make and oftentimes eco-friendly cleaning or beauty supplies. These online resources can also give you cool ideas for repurposing items around the house or crafting in general, so finding a new hobby out of the deal is yet another advantage.

Charge yourself for bad habits
Quitting vices, such as smoking, can save you a ton of money. But the actual process of kicking the habit can save you some money as well. On LifeHack.org, Graham recommends labeling a jar with your designated bad habit and placing a certain denomination of money in the jar every time you find yourself partaking in said bad habit.

As if watching exclusive media content, hanging with friends, helping the planet or bettering yourself could get any better—with these tips, you can save money while you’re at it!

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Saving on College Moving Expenses

Tips to save money on your move to college
Young man carrying tote with personal items, his mom and dad are in the background packing their SUVThe transition from high school student to college student is momentous emotionally, mentally and often geographically. Heading off to college typically includes relocating, and whether that relocation is across the city, state or country, it requires planning, energy and money to move your belongings from your old life to your new life.

To start your college experience on a frugal foot, consider the following tips to help you save as much as you can on your college move.

Take stock of your belongings
A move is the perfect time to take stock of your possessions and really weed out what should be kept, thrown out or donated. By going through what you already have, you’ll have a clearer picture of what you need to buy.

MoneyCrashers.com writer Lainie Petersen suggests hosting a garage sale, which is a great way to drum up funds, purge your inventory and avoid packing items you don’t really want or need.

Pack with a minimalist mindset
Moving is an emotional experience, which is why it makes sense that your instinct is to take as much as you can that reminds you of home, but for the sake of efficiency, effort and reducing expenses, fight that instinct.

“One of the basic rules of moving is that the more stuff you have, the more it costs to move. Save money by packing smart. Consider your living situation and plan your belongings accordingly. If you’re living in a furnished apartment or dorm room, you probably don’t need to bring your old desk or beanbag chair,” advise the experts at DealSpotr.com.

Research what you truly need to bring by seeking advice from older students and the housing department at your college and coordinating packing responsibilities with your roommate.

Source free packing materials
Round up as many free cardboard boxes and packing materials as possible—and the sooner the better, according to Petersen. She recommends reaching out to neighbors and friends for any packing supplies they can spare while the experts at DealSpotr.com suggest asking a manager at big box stores like Wal-Mart for boxes, which are set to hit the trash or recycle bin that you can claim.

Call in the professionals
Even after you have purged and stuck to a strict packing list of essentials, you might realize you have more items than can easily and safely fit into your vehicle. If making multiple trips is not possible, you will need to seek professional help and rent a truck. Renting a truck or trailer may seem like an extraordinary expense, but you can save some money by sharing the cost of the truck or trailer rental with your roommate or friend, according to the DealSpotr.com experts. If you plan to rent a truck, they recommend shopping around early to find the best deals.

Purchase big items upon arrival
Upon arrival, you might realize the bookshelf you hauled doesn’t work in your new space. To avoid mishaps with bulky stuff, the DealSpotr.com experts recommend purchasing bigger items, like furniture or appliances, once you get to your new address.

With these tips, you’ll be able to save money and reduce anxiety on your college move.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Should You Save Your Credit Card Information Online?

How to protect your information when shopping on the internet
Woman using a tablet to make an online purchase using a credit card
It seems all too common these days to hear about major breaches at retailers that leave consumers’ credit card numbers and personal information vulnerable to identity thieves. In perilous times, it feels tenuous enough using a credit card to complete purchases in-store, let alone online. If you shop online frequently, the question of whether it is safe to store credit card information online for the purposes of faster and easier check outs is a valid one that can be approached a number of ways.

Assume the worst
In an April 2014 article on NerdWallet entitled “Should I Save My Credit Card Payment Information on Retail Websites?”, website contributor Lindsay Konsko states the obvious in a blunt fashion: “[Y]ou must understand that anything you put on the internet should be considered completely unsafe and available to the public. No matter how much a website boasts about its security, it may still be vulnerable.”

You can save your credit card information with retailers if you shop there frequently enough that it might warrant it, but you should only do so fully understanding the level of risk involved. Some retail outlets like Amazon.com provide two-step authentication to protect your information and help you spot when someone might be attempting to access your account, but even then, it is not entirely protected from the possibility of data breaches.

Consider the alternatives
CNET Senior Editor Lexy Savvides recommends protecting yourself from the possibility of having your credit card information stolen from an online retailer by considering instead the option of shopping online with a prepaid card. According to Savvides, prepaid credit cards are advantageous in that they can help curb impulse shopping and can easily be reloaded (for a small fee), but arguably the biggest advantage that they provide online shoppers is that “even if the card’s details are compromised somewhere along the chain, there is a limit to the amount of money that can be taken.”

Be proactive
The reality, as unfortunate as it may be, is that there can be no guarantee of the complete safety of your credit card information. Having said that, it is within your power to determine how much risk you face. Savvides notes that you should only enter credit card information when checking out online if the website has an https connection and “a padlock or another digital security certificate to ensure that you are only entering your details on a site that encrypts the transaction end-to-end.”

Savvides also recommends being attentive when it comes to monitoring transactions. Konsko notes that most credit card companies offer fraud protection and low or zero liability for fraudulent charges, but it is not always guaranteed that a credit card company will notify you when a charge goes through even if it is unusual. As such, frequent or even daily monitoring of your balances and transactions can be key to shutting down identity thieves before they have an opportunity to do any major damage.

Savvides notes that credit card companies like MasterCard and Visa offer secondary levels of security to protect your credit card information by requiring a private code or password before completing a purchase. Before deciding whether you feel comfortable storing your credit card information with a retailer online, make sure that your credit provider will protect you in the event of having that information compromised. When it comes to credit, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.