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It’s over. Your tax battle has ended. With an average tax refund for a Coloradan at about $2,500, now it’s time to have a blast! And of course, we have suggestions to help you do that.
Wait a minute. How are these financially responsible options, “Having a blast?” Well, you realize this is a credit union’s blog, right? Seeing our members improve their financial situation is very exciting for us. Sometimes the most straightforward choice is simply the best one.
1. Build Your Safety Net
We’ve talked before about how you need an emergency fund. Here is your chance to get a jump start saving for unexpected costs. Avoiding debt and preparing for future problems is like removing future anti-fun.
2. Removing Debt Shackles
If you owe on loans or credit cards, you can use for refund on decreasing your debt-to-income (DTI). Even if you are looking at not paying it off for a long time, that early boost can save you money in interest down the line. Be aware that early repayment penalties do exist on some loans. Be sure to check with your current lender for any penalties.
3. Life Goals
Tuck that money away for a future life milestone. This could be a down payment on a house, college, children’s daycare (which can rival the cost of college), or retirement. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the things that you’re “supposed” to be saving for. Don’t worry about hitting these milestones when you’re “supposed to.” But your tax return can be the first step towards progress with a goal that is important to you. Whatever your goal might be, we can help you with your savings.*
Ok, but what if you want to actually spend some of that sweet moolah. All work and no play, right? Don't worry. We've got you covered below.
4. Mad Skills
Take a class in something cool. If it’s a skill that could help your career, even better. A passion hobby could be an investment as well. Interested in making an obscure form of Japanese porcelain? That could lead to a nice side hustle. At the very least, do something that will improve your physical or mental health.
5. Find Adventure
Visit a place you’ve never been to, watch a concert, or go see a play. While happiness over new toys will fade over time, fun experiences keep you happy longer. The world is full of events and places waiting for you to find.
6. Buy Something!
This is the one you’ve been waiting for, right? Treat. Yo. Self. Keep in mind that shiny new things don’t stay shiny. If it’s something you’ll end up replacing with next year’s refund, break the cycle now. There are plenty of life improving things that you never thought about.
*Accounts are federally insured by the NCUA for up to $250,000.
Could you afford an unexpected cost of $500 right now? About half of Americans would answer, “no.” What about a more serious emergency such as a job loss? The standard emergency fund is three to six months of your living expenses. Only about 23% of adults have an emergency fund saved up.1
I know it sounds like a lot (it is), but the future is volatile. This covers those unexpected costs that crop up throughout the year. Things like flat tires, travel for funerals, house or car repairs, medical bills, and job loss. Despite the low unemployment rate right now, it takes the average job seeker 16 weeks to find their new job.2 Some people fall into long-term unemployment, or have to miss work due to a medical emergency.
If you're not ready for something like that to happen, you are not alone. One of the following reasons could be why you, along with 77% of American adults, don’t have an emergency fund. Read on to find out which applies to you.
If you are putting every penny into paying off debt, it is even more important to have an emergency fund. Otherwise, every unexpected expense takes you off track. If a severe emergency happens, you'll have no way to make your debt payments at all.
This sort of situation will take some careful budgeting. Set aside some money to save each month. Otherwise, if something happens you'll create even more debt.
Maybe, but investments are a gamble. Even Warren Buffett has lost big on investments. Denver Community Credit Union’s savings options are safe and insured.* What if losses in the market are what caused your emergency. Those who job hunted during the Great Recession will remember what that was like.
It doesn't have to all sit in a savings account. Consider splitting is up based on the type of emergency. You could use a Health Savings Account (HSA) for medical emergencies. Since bigger emergencies don't happen that often, you could grow some of your fund in a CD or Roth IRA. It is possible to still come out ahead even if you need to pay early withdrawal penalties. Some of these option could also lower your tax burden or roll into retirement. **
Wow, how cool is that? But the future version of you would like to have some fun too. Another way of interpreting, "YOLO" is that there is only one chance to do things intelligently. (Do people still say YOLO?) What happens if your “living once” lasts a long time?
Consider calling it a spontaneity fund instead. It would be nice to have something set aside for an unexpected adventure. And while you go to get that tattoo that says "no egrets" and you get a flat tire on the way, you'll be set.
Well, of course not yet. 3–6 months of expenses is a challenge for everyone. But it can be even more expensive not to have an emergency fund. Ironically, unexpected expenses are a certainty. If you don't have the money when you need it, you'll have to borrow or use a credit card which is more expensive in the long run.
People often receive money that they didn't budget for such as a raise, bonus, or tax return. If fact, there was a recent minimum wage increase. Consider automating or transferring the extra money into a savings account. Your other option is to look at which expenses you can live without.
If you have never saved before, it can seem daunting. Start small. Try to build a flat tire fund. Once you achieve that, build a fund for a larger repair. By then, saving will become a habit and you'll learn not to miss that money. Our E-Learning course, "Building Emergency Savings," can help you get started. If you need any help or have questions about any of our savings options, feel free to contact us.
*We are federally insured by the NCUA for up to $250,000.
** Please consult with a tax advisor.
It’s happening. We are switching our cards to the EMV chip. Read the details and come back. This will help protect you from fraud. Let me explain.
Thieves can easily make a counterfeit version of your card if they get the code within the magnetic stripe. This is often done by installing skimmers to card readers, usually at ATMs and gas station pumps. Some modern skimmers can be inserted deep into the card reader making them un-detectable from the outside.1 They can even use tiny cameras to capture your pin number. Sounds pretty James Bond. So how does the EMV chip help?
You’ve probably seen the chip in use: insert it into the reader, wait a few seconds, and it will let you know it is done by gently singing the song of its people. The magic happens while the card is still inserted. The chip will generate a different code each time it is used which makes any method of skimming that code useless.
The short answer: no.
The less short answer: if someone has your credit card information, they can still make purchases online or by phone. We have a phone app, CardNav, that can block or control those kinds of purchases on your card. But making a counterfeit copy of your credit card won’t be as easy as it once was.
We are still in a transition period—EMV cards still have the magnetic stripe and the new chip reader terminals still accept swipes. Adoption of the technology has been slow in the U.S.2 As swiping continues to get phased out, EMV will become the spicy awesome-sauce of card security.
The Equifax breach is potentially the most damaging data breach of all time. Equifax is one of the three big credit reporting agencies, the other two being Experian and TransUnion. Their job is to maintain your credit history and decide what your credit score is. About half the population of the United States had data stolen which includes social security numbers, dates of birth, and driver license numbers. If your data was stolen, your identity will be vulnerable for years if not decades.
Now, you’re surely thinking, “With all the breaches lately, I’m sure everyone has all my information anyways.” People seem more than willing to be outraged (and entertained) by all the recent missteps being revealed, but view identity protection as an unwinnable fight.
Are we getting too used to data breaches? Is the sky falling yet again? The world is increasingly digital, and large companies building their IT security out of straw seems to be the new normal. We’ve seen a lot of big names in the headlines lately: Target, Chipotle, and Sony to name a few. Not even our Game of Throne scripts are safe (no spoilers, please).
Most of the largest data breaches have happened within the last five years or so. The largest data breach was Yahoo when three billion accounts were hacked in 2013. That’s billion with a “B.” I can only imagine the army of underground elves it took to search through them. Yahoo then had a breach of 500 million accounts in 2014.1 Progress, my friend, not perfection.
Human error and poor decisions will continue to exist at companies that have your data. The resigned CEO of Equifax testified recently that a single person had failed to implement a security patch.2 Identity protection will have to become a modern skill that we all need to learn. Seek advice on what you can do to protect yourself starting with the Federal Trade Commission.
We have a product that can help too. Members of the Denver Community who are signed up with ID Safe Choice can have stolen identities recovered for them by a Professional Recovery Advocate. This service can also be extended to family members. The service costs $1.96 a month*. Other protection services are available on the market, although may cost more on a monthly basis. Choose the right service for you and don’t give up!
The phone rings. A representative from your internet service provider says that they never received payment. Service is going to be shut down, and you will no longer be able to watch cat reenactments of your favorite sitcoms. But don’t worry. The representative will accept payment over the phone. They just need your credit card number. Later, you discover that you have been charged for a solid gold, arcade dance pad.
Wait a minute! What does that have to do with what can be found in your trash? For this scam to worker the caller would have to know your name, your phone number, and who your internet service provider is. Being able to verify amount owed, account number, or your service details would only add credibility to the caller. Ever thrown away a bill or a bank statement?
A lot more can be learned from your garbage other than the fact that you prefer unfrosted pop-tarts or that you subscribe to “The Mullet Monthly.” Bank statements, bills, insurance information, pre-approved credit cards, and even junk mail will contain personal information. Name, address, phone number, email address, social security number, bank account number, and other account numbers can all be compromised.
In 2016, there were 406,578 imposter scams and 399,225 stolen identities reported to the FTC.1 Stolen identities can be used to apply for credit cards, open accounts, make purchases, pass background checks, and file for your tax return. Most fraud victims (77%) are contacted by phone.2 Steps should be taken to keep your information safe. You could try filling your trash with deadly, trained bees, but there are more practical solutions.
Shred everything. This can take some time and money investment but is very effective. You will have to purchase a shredder or pay for shredder services. If you’re anything like me, most things that should be shredded go in the “not now” pile and build up into a huge chore later on.
Go paperless. This is something that can be easily done as you are sitting there reading this online. Seriously, put down that strawberry daiquiri and get started. Switching to eStatements will protect your bank statements and give you the ability to check your account for fraudulent charges whenever you want. Many companies will also have an option for electronic bills.
Denver Community Credit Union is proud to be part of the 3rd largest branch network in the nation. CO-OP just released that the Shared Branch network has more branch locations than Bank of America, US Bank, and PNC. As of May, 2015, the CO-OP Shared Branch network boasts 5,341 branches. The CO-OP Shared Branch network is a great example of the credit union difference - "people helping people." Credit unions work together to bring members more convenient options to compete with big banks. It doesn't stop there, either. CO-OP also provides the CO-OP ATM network which features over 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. Read more about the progress and benefits of the CO-OP Shared Branch network.
Denver Community Credit Union is proud to announce that it has been ranked among the nation's 200 healthiest credit unions by DepositAccounts.com.
The Birmingham, Alabama-based site, which tracks banks and credit union account interest rates nationwide, ranked Denver Community Credit union 50th in its second annual listing of the healthiest banks and credit unions. The rankings are based on an institution's level of problem loans, improvement in those levels, deposit growth and capital reserves.
Denver Community began in 1934 when ten employees of the City of Denver established ownership and began providing financial services. Since then, the credit union has grown to $269 million in assets and its net worth ratio increased 14% in 2014. DepositAccounts.com gave Denver Community A+ rankings for a strong balance sheet, deposit growth and an excellent capitalization level.
"This type of ranking by an independent third-party helps when potential members are evaluating their options," said Carla Hedrick, President of Denver Community Credit Union. "It also gives our current members confidence in us. Every day, we strive to provide the best possible service offerings for our members, and this ranking helps validate our efforts to be a healthy financial institution are working."
To see the entire list, please click here.
Phroogal, a financial education service that empowers millennials to make better informed financial decisions, is hitting the road in an epic 10,000 mile road trip across the US to get people talking about financial wellness. Denver is stop #19 on June 19th!
Join Denver Community as Jason Vitug, Phroogal Founder and CEO, makes his stop at Denver's Galvanize to host a discussion with anyone interested in personal finance. Other community partners including mpowered, Consumers United Association an the Financial Empowerment Centers program will also be present at the Phroogal stop. Phroogal and participating partners will be at Denver's Galvanize to talk about community resources and answer questions. The event will end with a happy hour and the opportunity to network with local personal finance experts.
4:30 pm: Panel of Local Financial Education Providers
5:00 pm: Talk by Jason Vitug of Phroogal
5:30 pm: Q&A with Jason and Panelists
5:45 pm to 7:00 pm: Happy Hour Networking (Snacks will be available)
Friday, June 19th from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
1062 Delaware Street
Denver, CO 80204
Free parking will be available until 7:30 pm at our Downtown Branch located at 1075 Acoma Street.
Register for your free tickets today by clicking here.
On April 23rd, members, partners, and employees gathered at the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum to celebrate Denver Community Credit Union's 80th Annual Meeting. It was a night full of fun, food, and community. We thank everyone who joined us, as well as our sponsors: 1st Mortgages, Auto Aves, Cuna Mutual, Credit Union Direct Connect (CUDC), mpowered, LPL Financial, and Credit Union Service Network (CUSN). Denver Community Credit Union used our 80th Annual Meeting as an opportunity to raise money to support the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation. Members paid a $5 entry fee. Proceeds from ticket sales went to the Children's Hospital Colorado Foundation. Donations were also accepted at the event. Denver Community matched all donations which brought total donations to $6,400.
Our 80th Annual Meeting featured an update for members on the financial performance of the credit union, as well as a presentation by the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation champion family. Concern for community is one of the core cooperative principles of credit unions. By supporting the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation, credit union members are making a difference in the community. To learn more about the Children’s Hospital Colorado Foundation please visit http://www.childrenscoloradofoundation.org/
2014 Miracle Marathon
Denver Community Credit Union staff participated in the 2014 Miracle Marathon as a team. The Miracle Marathon is a fundraising campaign benefiting Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. For 27.2 days, participants move one mile of forward movement, or exercise for 20 minutes. While a normal marathon is 26.2 miles, the Miracle Marathon is extra special with an extra mile for the kids. During the Marathon, staff raised $3,479 for Children's Hospital Colorado, and moved 906 miles! What an achievement! Check out our staff's participation in the Miracle Marathon on our Pinterest page.
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