We’re Hiring!

We are looking for a new member to join our awesome First Credit Union team in Powell River!

  • Do you have great customer service skills?
  • Are you team-oriented?
  • Do you thrive in a fast-paced environment?

Then you should check out our latest posting for a Financial Service Representative:

https://can850.dayforcehcm.com/CandidatePortal/en-US/fcu/Posting/View/11

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First Credit Union was recently recognized as one of BC’s top 100 fastest growing companies and Employer of the Year. We’re always searching for great people to add to our team; if you’re an enthusiastic, dynamic individual looking for professional growth, think about joining the First Credit Union team. Our flexible, respectful, and engaging environment that facilitates your developing career could be the perfect place for you.

Where You Seek Financial Advice Says a Lot About You

How did you decide where to open your first bank account? Where did you learn to budget or pay bills? If you have a money question now, what do you do? Who do you turn to?

If you’re under the age of 30, your answers to the above questions are likely some combination of “my parents”, “the Internet” and “I don’t know—I just kind of figured it out”. Although you might have been lucky enough to take life skills classes in high school, most young adults don’t receive any kind of formal financial education. So, it’s likely that you’ll need to seek guidance when it comes to money management.

That guidance can come from any combination of sources: family, friends, apps, blogs, classes, forums, financial institutions, articles, books—the list goes on. No source is inherently better than the others, as long as it empowers you financially. But the reality is that when it comes to getting financial advice, most of us have a comfort zone or a pattern we fall into: we ask mom and dad because that’s how we’ve always done it, or we start with an online search because we’re not comfortable with asking someone for help. Your default information sources say a lot about you and your values, and even though each source has good things going for it, it’s important to keep an open mind. Your financial health can always benefit from including new sources of advice.

Advice Source: Parents and Family Members

What it says about you: Responsibility is important to you, and you believe that big decisions should only be shared with people you absolutely trust.

Why it’s great: Recent studies have found that 49% of Millennials turn to their parents for financial advice. It’s not hard to see why—family members have a trust factor that just can’t be rivaled by any financial institution. They’ve known you literally forever and they truly have your best interests at heart. They’re familiar and accessible and, since they’ve guided you through most aspects of life, it makes sense that they guide you through your finances too.

Where it’s lacking: No two families are alike. In some households, money is talked about casually and in others the topic is totally taboo. Some parents are fully involved in teaching their children about money; others get stressed out even thinking about it. Parents are an excellent resource if they’re money-savvy and if they’re comfortable talking to you about finances. If that’s not the case, then you might want to look for other sources of financial information before consulting with mom and dad.

Advice Source: Financial Advisor or Financial Planner

What it says about you: You value expertise in decision-making, and you’re not afraid to ask for help from a professional.

Why it’s great: Whether you consult with an advisor at your financial institution or hire an advisor independently, it’s hard to top the results you get from working with a dedicated professional. Having an expert assess your financial situation and design a plan for you is an extremely powerful tool because they can recommend products, services and strategies that you might never have come across on your own.

Where it’s lacking: Many young adults shy away from this advice source. One possible reason is because, as helpful as a financial advisor can be, reaching out to one can be intimidating if you’re used to your finances being a very private matter. Maybe you feel embarrassed about your current level of financial understanding, or maybe you’re not used to talking about money. Using some other sources on this list to gather information before meeting with a planner can help you feel in control and better prepared.

Advice Source: Personal Finance Blogs/Online Forums

What it says about you: You value privacy when it comes to your finances, and you know that research is critical before making any important decisions.

Why it’s great: It’s fast, it’s specific and it’s private—the Internet is great for financial guidance. Some helpful online resources include your credit union’s website, personal finance blogs geared toward your life stage, personal finance sections on news sites, and FAQ sections or forums on popular financial websites.

Where it’s lacking: As with all online content, you need to have a critical eye when gathering data. Who’s the author of the content? What’s their motivation? Is this review biased? Is that research trustworthy? When you use the Internet as your go-to information source, it’s up to you to sift through all the sites and articles to find the content that’s most relevant to you. Getting a second opinion (or better yet, a professional opinion) on a topic you’ve been researching is a great way to get more comprehensive advice.

Advice Source: Friends and Peers

What it says about you: Maintaining the status quo is important to you. You feel most confident with decisions that align with what others are doing.

Why it’s great: Friends and other peers can be a good place to get financial advice— they’re typically in the same age range, they may be facing some of the same financial challenges or situations as you, and they might be easier to talk to than your family. They’re believable role models and can serve as good examples of what certain products, services or financial habits look like in practice.

Where it’s lacking: Even the closest of friends can have dramatically different financial backgrounds. When you go to your friends for financial advice, it’s very easy to compare yourself to them; in some cases, that can do more harm than good. Everyone has a unique set of financial priorities and circumstances. Getting general financial advice from your friends is great, but when it comes to more specific advice, look elsewhere.

Advice Source: Apps

What it says about you: You value efficiency and are always looking for ways to improve and upgrade daily tasks.

Why it’s great: Personal finance apps are wonderful resources because they’re often better at slotting into our busy schedules than some of the more traditional approaches to learning about personal finance. Why bother researching different budgeting systems when a comprehensive budgeting app is just a 99-cent-download away? Convenient and well-designed apps that fill a real need can actually lead you to pay more attention to how you manage your money.

Where it’s lacking: Personal finance apps are usually geared more towards actions than they are to education. They’re a great way to check an account balance on the fly or to set up a budget, but they don’t always provide the education that goes along with those tools. Apps are awesome tools that tend to work best when combined with a broader understanding of financial topics.

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Also consider how your credit union can help you further your financial knowledge. If you were to draw a diagram of your financial advice sources, your credit union would sit quite comfortably in the middle. It may not be related to you, but your credit union does have your best interests in mind as a member-owner. Your credit union can also provide you with current, professional advice and can give you access to all sorts of additional resources—both online and in person. It’s worth checking out, especially if your current combination of financial resources isn’t quite making the cut.

All About Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSPs)

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Are you …

  • Receiving the Disability Tax Credit?
  • Less than 50 years old?
  • A Canadian resident?

You could be eligible to receive up to $4500 annually in government grants and bonds.

Join Randall Smisko of First Wealth Management for an informative evening presentation on everything about RDSPs.

The RDSP is a Canada-wide registered savings plan for people with disabilities, and is designed to help people living with a disability and their families save for the future.

Wednesday November 23, 2016
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Powell River Recreation Complex

To register, contact the Powell River Recreation Complex at 604-485-2891

5 Reasons to Bike to Work

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With Bike to Work Week quickly approaching, here are some motivators to get you out of your vehicle and onto your bicycle! There are so many benefits to biking to work, but here are five main reasons how biking to work will improve your overall well-being.

  1. Your health

It’s not news that staying physically fit is essential for a healthy lifestyle. What better way to do this than by biking to work? It is not just your physical health that is improved by exercise, either. Exercising has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and to improve overall mental health.

  1. Save money

Not only are you saving money by not paying for an exercise class, but also you are cutting your costs of gas. With the cost of fuel perpetually rising, biking to work is clearly an economical choice.

  1. Cut down on greenhouse gases

Using less gas isn’t just beneficial for you in a financial sense—you’re doing the planet a favour. Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions by not driving your vehicle to work brings us one step closing to inhibiting the development of climate change.

  1. Enjoy the fresh air

Let the planet do you a favour, too, by getting outside and taking advantage of the fresh air. If you’re headed to the office to spend all day indoors, what better way to start and end your day than an outdoor bike ride?

  1. Boost productivity

A breath of fresh air, along with exercise, first thing in the morning has been shown to increase productivity throughout the day. Get your endorphins flowing and get to work—hop on your bicycle!

Save the planet, save your health, save money… Really, there’s not much to lose! Join us in participating in Bike to Work Week this week. Look out for the Celebration Station in the parking lot of our Powell River (Joyce Avenue) Branch, offering free coffee and bike checks every morning of the week, and come enjoy free pancakes on Friday morning at the Joyce Branch from 7:30-8:45am! Check out our Facebook event for more details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1216678151706425/

Partnership with Success by 6 cooks up Recipes for Healthy Beginnings

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First Credit Union & Insurance (Comox Valley) recently enjoyed connecting with the younger residents of the community during a Success by 6 public awareness campaign.

In partnership with Family Literacy Week (Jan. 27th – 30th), Success by 6 distributed approximately 1000 brightly coloured lunch bags – each containing books, milestone charts and Recipes for Healthy Beginnings. These kits were designed to provide resources and tools for families who may not otherwise have access to the information.

Over the course of the week, children and families packed into the three local libraries. Flush with smiling happy faces, they merrily joined in the musical performances and listened intently during group reading; all the while, toting along their new bag and treats.

It was a tremendous gift to be involved with this initiative – from the brainstorming of the concept to the delivery of the goodie bags. Hopefully many little people will use the recyclable lunch bags for several years to come and think as fondly of the event as we will!

This sponsorship opportunity was made possible in part thanks to the work Central 1 does with the little critter sales and partnership with United Way.

 

Changemakers among us

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Lorraine Allman and Tara Chernoff from First Credit Union present a $7,500 donation to Martyn Woolley and Jessica Colasanto from the Community Resource Centre

You don’t have to go too far to find changemakers in our community. These are people who are passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of others, people who act to make the world a better place to be, people like the staff at the Community Resource Centre.

The Community Resource Centre (CRC) has been operating in Powell River since 2007. While the CRC’s services are available to everyone, their main purpose is to assist the most vulnerable members of our community by providing a safe place for them to socialize, integrate, learn, and have access to basic services. Many of their clients are  experiencing low income, social or cultural isolation, homelessness, or are at risk of becoming homeless.

The CRC provides a range of services including the Harmony Cafe, cooking classes, public access computers, public telephone, volunteer tax-help, legal and community services information, and even laundry facilities. Behind the building is a thriving garden and a composting demonstration centre. The produce grown in the garden supplies the Harmony Cafe.

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First staff volunteering at the CRC Community Garden during Community Impact Day 2015

It takes a lot of volunteers and community support to run the Community Resource Centre effectively; our staff experienced this first-hand when they volunteered their time to do fall maintenance in the CRC garden during Community Impact Day 2015. Last week were were thrilled to be able to support the essential work of the CRC once again, this time with a financial donation of $7,500. We’d like to shout out a big thank you to our creditor insurance provider, CUMIS, for contributing $2,500 towards this donation, as part of a nation-wide initiative to support local non-profit organizations.

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One of the highlights of my job is presenting donations on behalf of our organization and our members. At the end of the cheque presentation, Martyn and Jessica presented us with a gift – a beautiful thank you card signed by the CRC staff and clients. In it they wrote:

 “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much!”

We wholeheartedly agree. Thank you CRC for making a positive difference in the lives of our most vulnerable community members. Thank you for being changemakers!


Banks vs credit unions: what you need to know

What was the very first financial choice you ever made? It likely took place before your first job, even as far back as when your annual income consisted of money from the tooth fairy and lucky pennies. The very first financial decision you ever made is also one of the most important choices—where to keep your money.

When you first made that decision, piggy banks, sock drawers and buried-in-the-sandbox- like pirate treasure all seemed like perfectly acceptable options. As it turns out, they aren’t nearly as super-secret as you might have hoped. Opening a bank account is the best solution, but in order to do that, you first need to choose a financial institution—so, your choice is between a bank and a credit union.

Banks and credit unions offer essentially the same products and services, but there are huge differences in the way they operate. Despite this, many people put more thought into building their Netflix queue than they do choosing their financial institution. We are here to help fill in the gaps and show you how the differences can affect your dollars. Whether you’re just starting out or rethinking your current financial setup, here is what you need to know.

The main difference between banks and credit unions is in their structure. Banks are purely for profit, while credit unions are member-owned. This means that banks have numerous expenses that credit unions simply don’t have. Banks have to pay their shareholders and their private investors in addition to regular operating costs. Banks are set up in a way that allows a select group of people to make money off of your banking activity.

Credit unions, on the other hand, are set up in a way that allows all of their members to benefit from their profits. Once the operating costs are covered and reserves are set aside, the profits are distributed back to members in the form of dividends, patronage and community investment. Credit unions are accountable to their members, and therefore accountable to the communities that they live in. First Credit Union gives thousands of dollars back every year in the form of donations, sponsorship, scholarships, and youth leadership programs.

Credit unions sound pretty great, right? You might be wondering why some people choose banks over credit unions, even though credit unions consistently outperform banks when it comes to deposit and loan rates and customer service.

The simple answer is that banks are bigger, and some people believe bigger is better. A more effective approach would be to figure out your banking priorities. Here are some factors to consider:

1) Am I eligible for an account? Banks are open to anyone. Some credit unions have membership requirements, but don’t let that intimidate you! Requirements can be as simple as living in a certain community or working in a certain field. First Credit Union has very open membership requirements.

2) How much does it cost to get set up? Are there any fees associated with opening an account? Is there a minimum balance required? Joining a credit union involves purchasing a share, but this is different from a fee—it means you’re a member-owner of the credit union.

3) Will I have good access to ATMs? You might feel as though you see bank ATMs everywhere, but credit union ATMs are just as accessible. Credit union members have access to a network of thousands of ding free ATMs from sea to sea. In fact, the largest credit union ATM network in Canada is larger than the networks of both Scotiabank and the Bank of Montreal. You can find the closest ding free ATMs with the ding free ATM Locator App.

4) What can I do online? More and more financial institutions are offering online banking services. Find out what you can do from your computer and smartphone. Can you check your balance? Schedule payments? Transfer money between accounts? Taking advantage of online products can be super-convenient, and can avoid a trip to the ATM or the nearest branch.

5) And speaking of the nearest branch, where is it? Find out what the hours of operation are and how they work with your schedule. Find out if you can bank through other branches, too. This could come in handy if there’s a location close to work or school.

6) What can my financial institution do for me? Ask about products that are tailored to your situation. How do the interest rates compare to other financial institutions? Are there free products you’re eligible for? Don’t settle for a financial institution just because you need an account—you should also want to have an account there.

At the end of the day, choosing a financial institution is a personal decision with a huge influence on how you manage your money and your time. If you make the effort to ask questions and compare services, you’ll find the best home for your finances.

Thank you 7000 times over!

secret_santa_swirlDuring these busy and globally turbulent times, we wish to pause to give thanks to the many generous community members, volunteers and sponsors who have contributed to the First Credit Union & Insurance Secret Santa program over the past fourteen years.

The Secret Santa program was designed to support children and families in the community that would otherwise go without gifts during the holiday season. Since its inception in 2001, a startling 7,000 presents have been distributed. This year, it is expected that through the public’s generosity, over 500 children in the Comox Valley alone will be reached.

Many of the First staff and community partners have been with the program since the beginning, collectively donating approximately 1000 volunteer hours annually. Those involved speak about the opportunity to bring happiness and comfort to those struggling and less fortunate or those experiencing an unexpected crisis or challenge. “Some of the most heart warming and memorable Christmas wishes are those that were the most modest: not flashy toys or sophisticated electronics, instead, things like warm winter boots or new bedding”, says Pamela Jolin, longtime staff member and program coordinator.

For the 2015 season, trees will be located in all First Insurance offices, Westview Agencies office, Ascent Physiotherapy, Courtenay Family Chiropractic & Orthotics, Cumberland Dental, Dairy Queen, Driftwood Dental, Fitness Excellence, FYidoctors, Glacier Greens and First Credit Union in Cumberland and Powell River.

Community members who wish to purchase a gift for one of these special children can currently pick a tag off any tree, go shopping and then return the unwrapped gift to the same location or any of the First Credit Union & Insurance offices or Westview Agencies office by Monday, December 14th. For those unable to shop, cash donations are also gratefully accepted and volunteers will purchase a gift on behalf of the donor.

Registrations for the First Credit Union & Insurance Secret Santa program are being accepted now until Monday, December 1st, 2015. Forms are published in the Comox Valley Record or can be obtained at one of the First Credit Union or First Insurance branches in the Comox Valley.

For more information, residents can call First at 250-703-0858.

 

A Winning Team: Hockey Players Inspire Students to Read

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Kings player, Jeff Smith, reading to Westview Elementary students.

Our local Powell River Junior A Kings Hockey Club is a winning team, and I’m not talking about the number of games they’ve won, or their game point average. I’m talking about the work they do in our community – teaching kids to skate, taking them trick-or-treating, volunteering on the ORCA bus, participating in the Christmas parade, building Christmas hampers, serving food at the Assumption Soup Kitchen, manning Salvation Army Christmas Kettles – and my favorite of all – participating in the Westview Agencies READ program.

Every Monday, from October to February, Powell River Kings players put down their sticks and pick up their books to read with children and promote the importance of reading. Over 1,500 students in eight local elementary schools participate in the annual READ program.

Students and teachers alike look forward to these weekly visits; the Kings have hero status with the kids and reading with them is considered a treat.  As Mary Payne, a grade 1 teacher recently said “I like the Kings because my kids eyes light up when they get to go and read with the Kings every Monday.” 

Nancy Howlin, Branch Manager of Westview Agencies, has been involved with the initiative since it started in 2006. “It’s been such a rewarding experience to be part of this program and to see kids embrace reading with the Kings players,” she explains, “I also love that the program gives the Kings players an opportunity to mentor children.”

Partnerships like these are what makes the work we do at Westview Agencies, First Insurance and First Credit Union so worthwhile. Thank you Kings for being such great partners and ambassadors in our community. You are truly a winning team!