Congratulations Youth Month winners

Ben and his dad, pictured in front of Liberty Lake Branch.

Ben and his dad, pictured in front of Liberty Lake Branch.

All of April, we encouraged both new and existing youth STCU members to tell us about their savings goals. After the month was complete, eight lucky winners were awarded Silverwood tickets or fun gift card-filled prize baskets.

Ben, a high school freshman, was one of our lucky Silverwood ticket winners. This summer, he and three others will head to Silverwood, where they can enjoy Ben’s favorite ride, Aftershock.

Ben is saving to buy his first car, a Jeep, once he receives his driver’s license. His advice for saving: “Just forget about it,” put money in to savings and then forget it exists.

Congratulations to Ben and all of our other Youth Month winners.

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Tips for saving money

Checking online reviews is one way to research a purchase.

Checking online reviews is one way to research a purchase.

By: Keith

There are many ways you can work to save and make the most of your hard earned money.

One of my favorite tips for saving money is to be a smart shopper.

When I plan to make a purchase over $30, I typically spend time researching my purchase to make sure I am buying the best product to fit my needs and to make sure I’m getting a good deal.

For more about this tip and others, read this article from TheMint.

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What do you do, STCU?


The first fish Melanie ever caught, and it happened at Keweenaw Bay in Michigan.

Software Development Manager

What do you do at STCU?
I manage the software development department, which creates the apps and programs that the whole credit union uses to do their jobs. We make the tools that help others do their jobs well.

What do you like best about your job?
I am the “go between” for people who need software changes and updates, and the people who make those changes happen. I like that I get to help coordinate the building of solutions.

How long have you worked for the credit union?
I started in July of this year, so five months.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself doing a much better job at this job.


Melanie’s dog Atlas

Any advice for someone looking to do your job?
Having a deep interest in computer software will help a lot, because software is its “own world”.  You don’t have to have written software yourself to do this job well, but it sure can help to have that experience!

Dogs or cats?
Both! I have both. I have a boxer mutt named Atlas who is currently destroying the house, and two cats named Pipsqueak and Tillamook. None of them get along.

What is your favorite denomination of money?
I like 20 dollar bills. They feel a little big, but not so big that it hurts when you spend them.

What’s your dream vacation destination?
Some place cold with lots of snow. Let’s go with Alaska.

Like this post? Check out these other STCU stories:
Bryce, Business Relationship Officer
Megan, Teller Trainer
Adam, Enterprise Communications Administrator
Sean, Senior Loan and Member Service Officer

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Sleep in on Thanksgiving weekend

iPhone 6 Plus

New smartphones, like this iPhone 6 Plus, represent just one type of electronic that may be discounted.

By: Keith

The busiest shopping day of the year is the day after Thanksgiving. It’s also known as Black Friday because that’s when many retailers go into the black, a term that means they start showing a profit. Over the past several years, some stores are even choosing to open their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, itself.

According to the National Retail Federation, 140 million shoppers are expected to visit brick and mortar stores and online websites over Thanksgiving weekend.

Traditional thinking would have you believe that you must get up extremely early to have a chance of bringing home a bargain. If you are anything like me, the idea of setting your alarm for 3 a.m. is unacceptable.

Here are a few tips so that you can sleep in and still capture great savings:

  • Research and plan. Make sure you’re getting a great value by researching prices and reading consumer reviews. I like this site for all things electronic. Once you have your list, make a plan that will allow you to hit the snooze alarm a few times if you’d like.
  • Know store hours. Some stores are open on Thanksgiving itself or will open at midnight, which may be a better option for night owls. Among them: Macy’s, Kmart, Big Lots, Target, Kohl’s, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Toys “R” Us.
  • Cyber Black Friday. Many stores offer sales exclusively online. They may even begin earlier than Friday. Make sure your internet connection is safe and secure and you are ordering from a reputable site.
  • Small Business Saturday. Don’t kid yourself; just because a store isn’t publically traded on the New York Stock Exchange doesn’t mean it won’t offer deals. There is a much better chance at finding a hidden value at a small business much later in the day on Friday. You don’t always have to follow the masses to find your bargain.
  • Cyber Monday. Deals may stretch through the weekend. Don’t make this your first choice, as the retailer may have sold out of value-priced items by then.

Let the countdown begin! If properly prepared you should be able to wake up when I do at, say, 10 a.m.

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Save time and money with mobile banking

It’s no secret that most teens own a smart phone, but not all of them take advantage of one very valuable application—mobile banking. Your credit union or other financial institution most likely has their own app, and it’s worth checking out. Give these features a try to save both time and money.

1. Check your account balance

Before you buy a new sweatshirt, make sure you have enough money for it in your account. This simple step can save you as much as $38 in overdraft fees. That’s one more sweatshirt you could be buying!

2. Review recent transactions

At the end of every day, look through all your transactions. Make sure you remember paying for each one of the items listed. If you see a charge you don’t recognize, let your financial institution know about it.

3. Transfer funds

Sometimes mom loans you money, and you want to pay her back. Transferring funds to her account from yours is easy to do with the mobile app, and will save you the time of going into a branch to do it.

4. Locate ATMS

Some stores don’t accept credit cards, and if you don’t have cash on hand, you’ll need to go to the closest ATM. Some ATMs charge a service fee to use them, but a mobile app can help you locate a nearby surcharge-fee ATM.

5. Deposit checks

When you babysit the kids next door, their mom or dad usually pays you with a handwritten check. Going into a branch to deposit checks can be a hassle, but mobile apps let you snap a photo with your cell phone camera and deposit the money straight into your account! Depositing checks with a mobile app right when you get them will lessen your chances of losing the check, too.

6. Set up saving goals

Mobile apps let you set up automatic transfers to a savings account. This feature lets you save without actually remembering to do it. You can also use the app to check your savings progress each month and watch the total grow!

STCU members can download the mobile app at the Apple and Google Play app stores.
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A season for a wind(fall)

By: Keith

Some teens see only leaves, while others see an opportunity to earn extra money.
Some teens see only leaves, while others see an opportunity to earn extra money.

Fall has arrived and with it comes bright colors, brisk air, warmer clothes, and of course, football. It also brings great opportunities to boost your savings account.

Earning extra money may not immediately come to mind when you first think of the season, but fall provides some great opportunities to earn a few extra dollars.

Around the house: Ask your parents, friends, or relatives if you can help with any chores around their homes.

  • Rake leaves
  • Clean the gutters
  • Mow the lawn
  • Clean out the garage
  • Wash windows
  • Deep cleaning

Recycling: Every season is a good season to hunt for items that can be recycled for money.

  • Soda cans
  • Some types of metal, like copper or aluminum
  • Click here for more information on recycling.

Be an entrepreneur: Be sure to ask your parents’ for permission and for any help you may need.

  • Have a bake sale or hot chocolate stand
  • Mind pets
  • Make and sell crafts, like homemade ornaments. Click here for one of our favorite ornaments ideas.


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Halloween money saving ideas

The NationalSTCU_Pumkins Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend $7.4 billion on Halloween, including candy, costumes, and decorations.It’s big money for parents and kids. Americans are even expected to spend $350 million on costumes for their pets! Despite those staggering figures, you don’t have to ask for an advance on your allowance or raid your piggy bank to come up with a cool costumes and decorations.

So how can you cut costs and still get all the candy you can eat?

  • Make your own costume. Use your imagination. Parts of last year’s costume can be turned into a new reinvented one.  The princess costume can become a zombie princess.

Look around the house for old clothes that are clearly out of date and no longer being used. Be sure to ask mom before cutting, tearing, or gluing her late 90’s business blazer.

Be a shredder. Cut up old newspapers and attach them all over yourself.

Get an idea and go to the Dollar Store. It’s a cheap way to add a couple of accessories to your outfit.   It might even inspire new ideas.

The important thing is to go for it. It’s a lot more fun making your own costume than some packaged costume that other kids are going to be wearing.  *Remember it’s going to be dark. Nobody is going to notice if you goofed.

  • It’s a little known fact that the more original your costume – the more candy you’ll get. And speaking of candy, recycle those cloth department store bags. You can transform them with a little decorating time (use orange or black paper) and cover up the store logo. Don’t forget to reinforce the handles with some extra tape.
  • Buy that pumpkin a day or two before Halloween. Often stores will discount them because nobody wants a bin of rotting pumpkins.
  • Another smart to do is going shopping the day after Halloween. Most of the costumes are discounted by at least 50%. Remember kids, you’re going to grow over the next 12 months, so buy the next size up.  It’s better to error on too big than too small.

Here some more costume ideas to get your imagination running.

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Tools for back to school shopping

Heading back to school means buying binders, pens, and maybe even a pair of shoes.

If you worked as a lifeguard, nanny, or lawnmower this summer, you might have some cash of your own. When you think about buying a new backpack for school this year, ask yourself, “Is it worth four hours of mowing lawns?” You should only spend the cash if the answer is “yes.”

Thinking twice before you pay with cash helps you save money, but your mom or dad may want you to keep your money in a safe place like a checking or savings account. Checking accounts often come with a debit card for spending, which can make it easy to forget how much money is in your account. So be sure to check your statement often and keep track of your balance. If you know how much money you have, you aren’t as likely to spend more than that amount.

Down the line, many adults choose to use a credit card. Credit cards can be much riskier than debit cards if you don’t understand how interest and fees work. Talk to your parents about credit to have your questions answered.

By using cash when you can, debit cards when you have enough in your account, and credit cards when you understand how they work, you’ll end up with more when you go back to school.

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Take a ride in Coeur d’Alene, enjoy the summer splendor

Summer splendor.Welcome to summer. School’s out, the days are long, and it’s a perfect time to be outside and enjoy the perks of the season.

Starting August 8, STCU is sponsoring free summer carriage rides in Downtown Coeur d’Alene.

  • 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Fridays, beginning August 8 through August 29
  • Meet at the corner of First and Sherman
  • All rides are free, no reservations required
  • Presented by STCU and the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association

Want to stay in Spokane? Click here for Downtown Spokane carriage ride information.

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Outfitting your first dorm room

By Marya

A quick Google search will find you all sorts of college checklists for your first dorm room. They’re designed to help incoming students sort out everything they’ll need for their new pad. But they may also be designed to encourage you to spend money on things you don’t necessarily need.

I went to a certain big box store to see just how much I could spend if I bought everything on one of these college checklists. The grand total: nearly $1,000. One thousand bucks on decorative pillows, a water pitcher, batteries, and a shower caddy (and about one hundred other things). That thousand bucks didn’t include a laptop, printer, TV, or new clothes, which can also put a major dent in your budget. Sure, some of the items on those checklists are necessities. But be wary of buying everything just because it’s there and you’re supposed to. Here are some tips to save a few bucks when shopping for your first dorm room:

  1. Ask your parents if you can take some stuff from home. Free is better than not free.
  2. Thrift stores are your friend. Cheap is better than not cheap.
  3. Make sure you can actually have certain items in your dorm room. We couldn’t have toasters or coffee pots in dorm rooms when I went to school. Not buying those items saved me fifty bucks!
  4. Only buy what you really need. Do you need a wall clock and an alarm clock? A foam mattress topper, mattress pad, and a bedbug protection kit? Remember, just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean you need it.

Going off to college is an exciting time. But be smart when buying supplies for your dorm room and you’ll have more money for pizza and movies with your new roomie.

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