Fall Wardrobe and Beauty Essentials on a Budget

Fall is officially here and that means boots, leggings and oversized clothing are in. Instead of going out and spending hundreds of dollars on fall essentials, I have some simple ways you can re-vamp your wardrobe to make it a little more trendy and fall like on a budget. These tips will be focused mostly for ladies but I’ll make another post about this for guys later.

DIY scarf – Yes, you can go out a buy some scarfs, but you might be able to save more money by doing it yourself. Check out your local fabric store for some plaids, deep colored (maroon is my fall favorite), or textured fabric. Take that fabric and transform it into an infinity scarf by sewing, using no sew iron on adhesive or hot glue! If you are looking to start a new hobby, try crocheting! Check out this great tutorial:

Layers–  Purchase some warm toned undershirts or t-shirts to layer with a flannel, hoody or denim jacket. I recently have been loving the white under shirt with a flannel and black distressed jeans.

Over-sized clothing– Over-sized clothing is in, and it’s cozy! I think it’s worth it to splurge on a good quality, over-sized white tee or v-neck. Basics are a necessity and you can add jewelry, scarves,  or layers to class it up a bit. So many possibilities with just one shirt. Over-sized sweaters are always a plus too! Not only are they warm, but they extremely comfortable!

Shoes- Fall is all about the boots. My go to fall shoes are my beige booties I purchased from Target last year. They were only $30 on sale and I get complements on them everywhere I go. They are super cute, comfortable, and go with every outfit. They are currently at full price online, but keep checking back! They may go on sale or you could check Target’s Cartwheel app for shoe coupons.


Makeup/Beauty Essentials– Instead of revamping your clothing, switch up your makeup look! For the frugal route, I suggest shopping for a new lip color, blush, nail polish or eye makeup at CVS or Ulta. CVS is awesome if you don’t mind drug store cosmetics. I love shopping at CVS because they usually have great deals that include extra bucks, or money back! Whenever you shop at Ulta, ALWAYS use a coupon. Here are some of my favorites below:

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.29.21 AMNail color:  Dark Dahlia by CND


Lipstick Color: Zoe’s Red by L’Oreal Paris 


What is your Fall go to look? Let me know in a comment below!

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.


What is a Credit Union?

No, really. What’s a credit union?

They’re kind of like banks, only better. They offer many of the same products and services as banks – checking accounts, debit cards, CDs, car loans – only their not for-profit status allows them to focus on what’s really important: helping you get great interest rates on savings accounts and loans. What’s more, credit unions are community-oriented. They probably even know you by your first name.

It may seem that credit unions and banks offer the same products and services upon first glance, but they are actually quite different. Click here to visit our website to learn about the major differences between the two financial institutions and see how a credit union can benefit you!

So, here is the challenge. Community 1st Credit Union is declaring September as “Credit Union Advocacy Month.”

What does that mean?

As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions direct earnings back to their members and community. Since credit unions are owned by their members, it is important that all members know about pending legislation and actions that could affect them. Because we are stronger together, we may ask you to lend your voice on important issues that could impact your financials lives. The purpose of our credit union advocacy efforts is not to influence your vote, but rather to:

·         Explain the political and legislative issues facing credit unions

·         Educate on the unique structure of credit unions

·         Show where elected officials stand on these issues

·         Provide educational links so that you can make informed decisions

·         Offer ways for you to take action!


With more than one million credit union members in Iowa, we are all stronger together! Click here to show your support of Iowa’s Credit Unions by joining the advocacy database.


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Dorm Room Shopping on a Budget


For many, school is back in session! But for those of you incoming freshmen starting next week, it is time to finish packing up your things to start a new chapter in your life…. College! Shopping for your college dorm room can be fun if you love to shop, but it can also be a huge hassle because there is so much to get. Not only is there a large variety of items to choose from, but there are a lot of unnecessary and expensive things that you don’t need in your room. Here are some tips to help make your dorm room feel like home without breaking the bank!

Make a list
Before you head to the store, make a list of the items you really need! This will eliminate the impulse shopping. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart reel you in with all of their back to school stuff on display right when you walk in the entrance! Heck, I graduated four years ago and it still gets me sometimes! Be smart and don’t give in to the cool – but unnecessary items!

Here are 4 things that I DO recommend buying:
1. Mini Fridge
2. Storage Bins
3. Shower Caddy and Shower Flip Flops
4. Laundry Hamper
5. Mattress Pad

Shop at home
Before you go shopping, go through your school supplies from last year and figure out what will still work for you this year. There is no point to purchase new school supplies when you have left overs from the years before! You most likely have a backpack and a calculator left over from high school that you can reuse. Not only is it good for your wallet to reuse your old things, but it is also good for the planet.

Partner with your roommate
Chances are you and your soon-to-be roommate have similar shopping lists. Avoid doubling up and wasting money by touching base before hand to figure out what you each can bring. After all, in a crowded room who really needs two printers? If you are assigned a random roommate, dorm furnishings are a good way to break the ice via email or Facebook!

Ask friends and family
Who said hand-me-downs are a bad thing? Check with your friends or family to see if they have any dorm furnishings they are looking to get rid of! This will save you money and you may be doing them a favor by cleaning their basement and getting rid of their unwanted stuff! First-time students can turn to family and friends for more than a used microwave or rug, though. Those who have been to college recently may just have some tips for your first year on campus!

Make Craigslist your new best friend
Craigslist in a college town is an awesome way to get nice and affordable furniture and electronics! Many students move away after graduation and sell all of their college stuff on Craigslist! Take advantage of this! Spend some time to look for those items you need such as a mini fridge, mattress or futon! This time of year you will be sure to find good deals on these items! Just remember to be smart and safe and always take someone with you when shopping from a random person on Craigslist. If shopping online isn’t your cup of tea, check your local consignment stores! They always have used college necessities and more often than not, they are as good as new!

With these smart tips to save on college dorm needs, you can save yourself some much-needed cash. Your wallet will thank you for thinking ahead when school is back in session. Now that you are all ready for college make sure to have fun and enjoy the next four years! Cherish these moments because they will be over before you know it!

Good Luck!

Jessica M.

30 Day Money Saving Challenge

PicMonkey Collage

Want to save more money this summer? The 30 Day $100 Challenge is the perfect way for you to save an extra $100 in 30 days. Easy enough right? I’m excited to start the challenge, and I’ll be in it with you. Saving money doesn’t have to mean restricting our lifestyles, it just means being more conscious of where your money is coming from and where it is going.


How does the challenge work? 

  • Commit to the 30 Day $100 Challenge. If you want to change your financial lifestyle, increase your savings and cut back on spending. It’s time to get in control of your finances! The challenge will go from August 1 – August 30. Try this challenge with a friend or family member! It will be easier to have someone holding you accountable for your spending.
  • Check my blog and Instagram over the next  30 days. You will get frequent financial tips and I’ll challenge you with new money saving or moneymaking tasks throughout the month. These challenges will be a way for us to save money, cut spending, and will inspire us all to be financially savvy.
  • Comment on my blog and Instagram. Stay accountable by sharing pictures of your savings struggles, successes, and splurges using the hashtag #30daysofsavings and tag @Community1stcu so we can all connect. Don’t forget to leave your support on other community members’ photos too.


How much do I save each week?

  • Week 1: Save $25
  • Week 2: Save $25
  • Week 3: Save $25
  • Week 4: Save $25
  • End: $100

If you think this challenge is too easy for you, try saving more money! You’ll be surprised on what items you can cut back on.

Just a few days before we begin! Are you ready to take the challenge?


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Money Monday: A Millennial’s Guide to Investing

InvestYour 20’s are the best time to begin investing your money

It’s true that millennials have a tendency to want to put their money toward anything instead of socking it away — from clothing to concerts to a night out. In fact, only 28 percent of millennials believe that long-term investing is an important path to success, compared to 52 percent of non-millennials, according to a UBS report. But the truth is, your twenties might be the best time to begin investing money.

“The sooner you start saving and investing, the easier it is on your budget,” says Carrie Schwab-Pomerantz, president of the Charles Schwab Foundation. “The sooner you start, the less you have to save because you have time on your side.” That’s because money invested throughout your 20s will continue to gain interest. Think of it this way: Investing a mere dollar at age 25 could be more than five times as valuable as doing so at age 45.

So how can you start investing? It might be easier than you think. Take these first steps and you’ll be on your way to meet your retirement goals:


1. Evaluate your current financial situation. It’s important to not jump right into investing if you can’t afford to do so — that won’t help anybody.

“If you don’t have at least three to six months’ [income] in a cash reserve account, I don’t think you should start investing,” says Dominique Broadway, a financial planner, personal finance coach and founder of Finances Demystified and the Social Money Tour. “You don’t want to lose your cash cushion or emergency fund.” So if that’s the case, save up a reserve and then take on investing.


2. Put away 10 percent of each paycheck. Or as much as you can. The key here isn’t so much about what amount to put away but rather understanding to do it now, because time is on your side. Even if you’re just setting aside 5 percent of each paycheck, the amount, over time, will blossom into a good-sized amount in retirement.

“Building habits, especially in your 20’s, is so important for long-term success,” says John Deyeso, a certified financial planner.

3. Start a 401(k) or IRA. Many jobs offer a 401(k), and if yours does, you’ll definitely want to take advantage. A 401(k) allows employees to contribute a percentage of their paychecks tax free. Try to invest as much as you can into a 401(k), and take advantage of whatever your company will match. If you don’t have access to a 401(k), you can open an IRA. It’s important to open one of these accounts in your 20’s. In your 30’s, you can contribute twice as much and still not have as much as if you’d started in your 20’s.

“Every $1,000 saved in your mid-20’s grows to over $10,000 at retirement, assuming 6 percent growth every year. But waiting until your mid-30’s means that same $1,000 will only grow to $6,000,” explains Shane Leonard, a chartered financial analyst and the CEO at Stockflare.


4. Don’t be afraid of risks. When you’re young, you can risk jumping at every opportunity and not having them work out, because it gives you more leeway for a reward later in life.

“You may need to take risks when you’re younger,” says Erin Baehr, author of “Growing Up and Saving Up.” “You may take one job over another and find it doesn’t work out. But when you’re younger, you have the ability to do that. And then that can parlay into a bigger return down the road.”



Investing early should pay major dividends in the future. Any questions? Leave a comment below or stop by your local Community 1st Credit Union location to speak with one of our representatives today.


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

7 Ways to Reduce Fuel Costs this Summer

Summer weather calls for a lot of outdoor activities, vacations and road trips with your friends. However, constantly filling up your tank can be quite the pain. Not only is it time consuming but it can put a dent in your wallet. Even though gas prices may be down from last year, there’s still room to cut back this summer so you can be your best financial self.

Follow these best practices to avoid blowing your whole paycheck on fuel expenses.

1. Carpool: Heading to the lake, or even just to a theme park? Carpool with your friends. Everyone can pitch in for gas, and you’re being kinder to the environment.

2. Slow down: I’ve written before about the costs of speeding, but aside from that, speeding also guzzles your gas. Here’s an easy solution: Stop aggressive driving habits! In addition to saving money on fuel, you’ll likely save money on repairs. Bonus: Relaxed driving will also make you feel relaxed and less aggressive. Who can argue with that?

3. Don’t blast the AC: There will be days, inevitably, where you simply aren’t going to cruise around town in 90 degree weather with your windows rolled down. But, if it’s a nice day, go ahead and roll them down and take advantage of that fresh air. If you’re on the highway, though, roll ‘em on up.

4. Avoid “jackrabbit” starts and hard breaking:  These can increase fuel use by up to 40 percent and significantly increase wear on the car’s engine and brakes. Gradual accelerating and stopping are easy ways to save money in fuel costs when driving in town.

5. Clean out your car: Many of us are guilty of living out of our cars. You move home from school for the summer, and all of a sudden it seems like it’s impossible to keep your car clean. For every 100 extra pounds carried around, your vehicle loses 1%-2% in fuel efficiency. Words of advice: Don’t drive around with too much junk in the trunk!

6. Maintain your vehicle: Rotate your tires, get regular oil changes, change your air filter, and check your tire pressure. If you don’t remember the last time you did any of those tasks, do them now. Not only will it improve your fuel economy, but it will also lengthen the life of your vehicle. Prolonging these tasks won’t save you any money, and skipping them will only cost you thousands.

7. Don’t  Idle: Besides causing pollution, idling wastes gas. Reduce the amount of time the car is stationary and the engine is idle when driving in town. Getting stuck in traffic, waiting in line at the drive-through or running the engine to power the air conditioner are examples of fuel use that can be reduced and/or eliminated.


These small strategies can add up and help save you cash all year long. What’s your favorite way to cut costs during the sweltering summer months? Leave a comment below!


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Watch-it-Wednesday: Make the Switch to eStatements


eStatements. You’ve heard about them. You might have even thought a time or two, “I should sign up,” as the piles of mail and paper fill your desk. eStatements are becoming more and more popular and for good reason. If you are unsure of making the switch to digital, this blog post is for you.

What is an eStatement?
An eStatement is simply an electronic version of your regular account statements. Instead of sending you a paper statement in the mail, your credit union, bank or service provider will send you an email notification alerting you to your statement being available to view online. The statement can be found through your online portal from the provider and provide you the exact same statement, just electronic!

Why make the switch?

  1. It’s convenient! You can view or print your e-statements any time you choose.
  2. It’s simple! You will receive an email when your e-statement is ready to view online.
  3. It’s fast! Your e-statement is available before paper statements get through snail mail.
  4. It’s secure! Your e-statement will not be lost or stolen in the mail.
  5. It’s environmentally friendly! Reduces paper waste.

We know we can all do more. Embrace the change and take your first and simple step towards reducing your paper consumption.

Are you a member at Community 1st Credit Union? Watch our step-by-step guide to help you get enrolled at !


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Celebrating 4th of July on a Budget

July Fourth Grill Out

The 4th of July is a great holiday to spend with your friends and family while staying home, going camping or boating on the lake. If you are looking to be frugal this year, check out these money saving tips so your wallet doesn’t fizzle out like a sparkler!

1. Enjoy the Fireworks
What is the 4th of July without fireworks? Put on your red, white and blue attire, grab a blanket and head to your city’s 4th of July celebration to enjoy a night of fireworks in the sky.

2. Host a Potluck
If you like entertaining guests, hosting a 4th of July party is a great idea (especially if you live somewhere with a great view of the local fireworks display). But providing food and drinks for several people can be expensive. Keep costs down by making this year’s party a potluck. Just make sure to assign people different categories of food to bring – you don’t want your potluck to become “that party where 20 people brought potato salad.”

3. DIY Decorations
There are so many cute decorations that are easy and inexpensive to make yourself – plus, this can be a fun activity to do with your friends. If you’re looking for some inspiration, search for “Fourth of July decorations” on Pinterest. If you are in need of some last minute items, head to your local dollar store! They will most likely sell cups, plates, silverware, decorations and more so you can outfit your party in style while on a budget.

4. Camping
The 4th of July is also a wonderful time to consider camping. Many parks offer advance reservations for camping spots. Popular parks can fill up though, so make sure to check online before you load up the car and drive.

5. Wardrobe
Instead of heading to the store to splurge on last-minute 4th of July apparel, go through your closet to see what you already own. Have a pair of old jean shorts? A red, white or blue tank or t-shirt? If you are feeling crafty, check out these super cute DIY 4th of July clothing ideas. Not only will you have a ton of fun making them, but you wallet will thank you as well!


What are you doing to stay frugal this 4th of July? Tell us below in a comment!


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

Last Minute Father’s Day Gift Ideas on a Budget

76762632Are you prepared to celebrate Father’s Day with your dad this weekend? Some dads are super easy to shop for: new tie, baseball tickets, fishing equipment…done. And then there are those dads who require many days devoted to thinking of some clever Father’s Day gift idea. Either way, Father’s Day is just a few days away! Check out some fun and meaningful gift ideas for Father’s Day that won’t break your bank account!

1. Golf Accessories
Is your dad someone who loves to spend his free time on the course? If so, you can’t go wrong with a new set of golf balls, tees or even a new hat. What better way to make him feel hip and fresh while he is playing with his closest friends or coworkers. Compare your options when shopping though! You don’t need the expensive items the pros use! You can still purchase quality golf accessories for half the price of the top name brand items.

2. Grilling Utensils
If your dad is a backyard chef and master of the barbecue, celebrate his love of grilling with some great utensils or those must have barbecue essentials. Here is a list of some things you can buy: tongs, spatula, skewers, wire brush for cleaning, mitts, new seasonings to spice things up, basting brush, meat thermometer or even a grill light.

3. Get Crafty!
What is better than a do- it-yourself project? Create a card for your dad on his special day. Write a heart-warming message letting him know how much he means to you. If you want to add a little touch to your card, insert a gift card to his favorite restaurant or retail store. What a great way to show you care while staying on a budget!

4. Movies
If you have ever been to Wal-Mart then you know they always have those $5 dollar movie bins. You may have to do some digging but they usually have some great classics! Spoil your dad with a variety of DVDs that he loved growing up! Bringing back memories will be sure to brighten his day!

5. Clothing and Accessories 
Is it just me, or has your dad also owned the same pair of outdated jeans for 20 some-odd years? Or rocked the same pair of goofy sunglasses since the ’70s? While I love my dad more than anything, sometimes I think he needs a little help in the wardrobe department. With Father’s day being a few days away, now is the perfect time to spice up your dad’s closet. Stores like TJ Maxx or Marshall’s sell name-brand clothes, shoes, accessories and more at low, low prices. There’s nothing better than new cologne, a fresh button down shirt or a pair of new kicks to give your dad the boost he needs to step it up a notch. Whatever you might find, your dad will be thankful you are in his life to keep him hip and young, all for an affordable price! And Dad, if you’re reading this, your jean shorts have got to go!

6. Everyday Tools
As I have mentioned before, my dad likes to think of himself as Tim the Toolman Taylor. He is always trying to fix those items that break over and over again instead of just buying quality new ones! Father’s Day is a chance to give your dad the tools he’ll need to tackle his summer projects. Check his tool shed or garage to see what he’s missing. If you are unsure of what to get, purchase a set of tools or a tool box to help him get organized! You can usually find these items for $40 or less!

Whatever you decide to give your dad on Father’s Day, be sure time together is on your list. The time you spend together will be worth more to him than any monetary gift!

Do you have any Father’s Day gift ideas you would like to share? If so, please leave a comment below!

Until Next Time,

Jessica M.

How-to-Tuesday: Expecting the Unexpected

Unexpected medical bills, unemployment, home repairs or even car repairs – it can all happen at a blink of an eye. The question is – Are you prepared to handle these unexpected expenses if they happen to you? If not, then it’s time for you to start an emergency fund.

An emergency fund is designed to cover a financial shortfall when an unexpected expense pops up. Your emergency fund can serve as a place to get the money you need when you find yourself short. Because it must be reliable, it needs to hold guaranteed investments. In other words, savings accounts are good for emergency funds, while stocks are bad.

How do I begin?

  1. Decide how much you’d like to save
    $1,000, three to six month’s living expenses, a year’s wages – there are a lot of opinions out there about how much money you should put into an emergency fund, but the only opinion that matters is yours. Ask yourself how much you would need to have put away to feel secure, and make that the amount that you save in your emergency fund.
  2. Chart your monthly income and expenses
    Figure out how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out on average per month.  Add up all bills, loan payments, gas, groceries, etc. and subtract that from your monthly income. This will be helpful when trying to figure out how much you can put away each month without breaking the bank.
  3. Open an account
    The best place for your emergency fund is in a liquid account (accounts where your cash is easily accessible). This might be a savings account at your credit union that provides some return on your deposit in a form which you can withdraw money at any time without paying any fees. You can also put your money into a CD or a Money Market account. Just double-check to see if there are fees to take withdraw early.
  4. Figure out how much you are able to save
    If you’re like most people, building your emergency fund is going to take a lot of time. Don’t worry though, it’s okay! The important thing is that you get started today. Look through your finances, and determine how much you can afford to put towards your emergency fund each month. Even $10 a month will help, so don’t worry if that’s all you can afford to do.
  5. Set up automatic deposits
    Make saving easy by scheduling automatic deposits to your emergency fund. Then, sit back and watch as your balance grows month-after-month.
  6. Stick to your plan
    This can sometimes be the hardest part of saving for an emergency fund or any financial goal in general. Just remember, if your goals are realistic and attainable, sticking to the plan will be much easier.


Until Next Time,

Jessica M.


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