4 Tips to Keep Your Holiday Budget in Check

Christmas cookies with festive decoration and christmas lights on white wooden background. New Year and Christmas concept.

Temperatures are dropping, the holidays are just around the corner, and those TV commercials are advertising holiday specials. Shopping for most consumers begins early, so we are providing you with some tips and tricks on how to best budget for the season.

1. Do your homework.

Take a look at your spending from last year. Did you overspend in some categories? Decide how much you can afford to spend this year, and know your limit before you begin shopping. Start saving ahead of time by utilizing products like our Holiday Club and Goal Savings.

2. Make a list, and check it twice!

Make a list of all your holiday purchases and upcoming events. Assign each purchase a specific dollar amount and trim down your list as needed to fit your budget. Remember, paying cash makes overspending obvious!

3. Remember those unexpected costs.

They may seem small, but unplanned holiday expenses can really add up over time! Consider greeting card purchases, food purchases, last minute gifts, travel expenses, charitable giving and mailing costs. Adding a miscellaneous line item to your budget may help cover unexpected costs as well.

4. Consider inexpensive holiday activities.

Plan a holiday craft or movie night with friends and family. Add some hot chocolate to your thermos and drive around looking at holiday lights. Bake cookies for neighbors, or go caroling with friends. Homemade gifts are wonderful, too!

The goal is to spend your holiday season with your friends and family, so plan and save ahead for your holiday shopping!

By Rachel Mathias, Financial Education Coordinator

Pay yourself while you shop!

Earn cash back rewards on all online or point-of-sale purchases with our Visa® Credit Card!

Click here for details.


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Be Safe While Shopping this Holiday Season

woman shoppingWe want all of our members to be safe – whether they are doing their banking, checking social media or even just traveling to see family. But remember to stay safe and be aware when shopping. Below are tips for keeping yourself, your identity and your gifts safe whether shopping online or at the store.

Online Shopping

Keep these things in mind to protect your credit card and keep your credit union account information safe: 

  •  Purchase from secure shopping websites—look for the “lock.” Check the address bar for a padlock symbol indicating it’s a secure website. Also, addresses beginning with “https” (and not just “http”) indicate additional web security.
  • Shop online only with a secure network. Although you might hanging out at a coffee shop, avoid using the public Wi-Fi in order to keep your payment information safe.
  • Protect your personal information. Never click the box to “remember” or save your password or credit card information. It only takes a few seconds to enter this information when you revisit a site.
  • Watch out for imposters. With online shopping, you typically receive a confirmation for the order and another when shipping occurs. However, you may receive an email from an imposter about an incorrect order or a store asking for credit card information. Be sure not to click any links in those emails and delete it immediately.
  • Monitor your purchases.  Be sure to review your credit card and credit union statements throughout the year. During the holidays, it is even more important to be vigilant so you can catch any suspicious activity on your accounts.
  • Ship to a secure location. Package theft is becoming a growing trend. Avoid having your boxes stolen from your front porch by shipping to your work address or a neighbor who is home during the day.

Brick and Mortar Shopping

For those of us who prefer enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of the shopping experience, keep in mind that this is prime time for thieves to also be out.

Some tips to keep in mind before heading out to the store:

  • Prepare. The stores can be warm and you may want to leave your coat in the car; that way, you are not trying to keep track of your coat, packages, your purse and/or your wallet. This could provide an easy target for thieves.
  • Distractions. The most common distraction is to be on the phone or texting as you are walking to the next store, or to your car. It’s critical to be aware of your surroundings at these susceptible times. Wait until you are in a place where you can focus and not be a target.
  • Parking. Pay attention to detail when choosing a parking spot. Park in a well-lit area and make note of the location of your car, or tie a holiday bow to your car where you will be able to spot it easily. Prior to leaving the store or mall, gather all your packages and have your keys ready in your hand. Walk with purpose to your car and scan your surroundings for anyone (or anything) that seems suspicious. Many shops or malls have additional security on-site, even in the parking lots.
  • Package Safety. If you plan on a shopping marathon, following the first three tips will have you ready for the race. However, if you need to make multiple trips to your car to drop off purchases, you’ll need to make sure they are secure until you return. Put packages in the trunk where they are out of sight. If packages need to be in the back or front seat, try to place them on the floor of the car and cover them with a blanket so they’re not visible to anyone walking past the car.

Take the extra time to ensure your personal and financial safety during your holiday shopping. We want all of our members to have an enjoyable and safe season!

Use Mobile Card Control if you suspect suspicious activity on your Members 1st Visa® Debit or Credit Cards! 

Simply turn your card on or off at the touch of a button.

Learn more here!

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Purposefully Give Thanks

Did you know Thanksgiving wasn’t celebrated regularly until President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday of November a national  holiday? A little-known fact is that Sarah Josepha Hale campaigned to recognize the day for 17 years prior to it being made a federal holiday. Here are some ideas to help us remember that the holiday is about more than a table of delicious food, football and parades;  it’s a day to purposefully give thanks and appreciate everything we have.

How to be purposefully grateful every daywoman by fireplace wrapped in blanket

  1. Appreciate the little things. Some days it’s easier to find things to be thankful for than others. Regardless of how your day is unfolding, take time to appreciate the little things and you may find your day turns out better than you expected.
  2. Look on the bright side. Look for ways to be grateful when faced with challenges. Gratitude changes your mindset and helps you become more optimistic. Optimists see challenges as opportunities for growth and improvement.
  3. Count your blessings. It takes up to eight weeks of practicing gratitude for the brain to start showing changes reflecting greater happiness.* Write down three to five things you’re grateful for daily. If you’re not sure what to write, answer these questions:
    1. What are you grateful for right now?
    2. Who are three people you’re grateful to have in your life?
    3. What is something you tend to take for granted that you’re grateful for?
  4. Volunteer. When you help others, it tends to create feeling of well-being and happiness. Volunteer in your local community or help others you know who may be facing difficult times. Look for opportunities to give.
  5. Show appreciation. In addition to saying “thank you” and letting people know how much you appreciate them, write a note to someone who has had an impact on your life and let them know how much they mean to you.

“Gratitude can turn common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” – William Arthur Ward

*Source: Forbes. 2018 Buffini & Company

At Members 1st, we are extremely grateful for all of our members who have helped the credit union grow to be the preferred financial institution that we are today.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Board of Directors, Senior Management and Associates at Members 1st!


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Members 1st Creates Entirely New Leadership Structure, Has Big Plans for 2019


The Members 1st FCU Leadership Team consists of (l-r) Michael Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Relationship Officer; Jason Reimer, Chief Administrative Officer/General Counsel; Kathy Jumper, Chief Operations Officer; George Nahodil, President & CEO; Karen Christian, Chief Lending Officer; Bob West, Chief Information Officer; Steve Murray, Chief Financial Officer; and Frank Serina, Chief Risk Officer.

Members 1st Federal Credit Union has announced a strategic executive leadership reorganization that features a C-Suite naming convention and an infrastructure change that brings out its collaborative best.

President and CEO George Nahodil said that this internal restructuring better serves the needs of the organization, its associates and its members. “We are grateful to our Board of Directors for leading us through this past year of transition. We are like a family at Members 1st. We appreciate our Board’s guidance during our reorganization and restructuring of the Credit Union and for supporting our new plans and direction. We could not have done it without the support of Board Chairman Jon Kirssin, First Vice Chairman John Devlin, Second Vice Chairman Karen Mashinski, Secretary/Treasurer Dan DeLutis, and our entire team of volunteer Directors,” said Nahodil.

By realigning business units under the appropriate, respective member of the C-Suite, the Credit Union now has the expertise and skill sets poised not only for strategic direction but also enhanced collaboration across all work functions.

“In a time where five generations make such multifaceted decisions with their preferred ways of doing business, it is critical that we understand those preferences and are nimble enough to adapt and evolve in meeting them,” added Mike Wilson, Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Relationship Officer.

As the one-year anniversary of Nahodil taking the reins has come and gone, Members 1st has already shown it has not been idle. In the last year alone, the Credit Union has made the following strides:

  • Business members can now experience a private concierge approach through a new service in Relationship Management. This allows for busy members to have dedicated, on-demand contacts for improved service. Chris Birch, Vice President of Relationship Management, leads the effort.
  • Joe Beck, a well-respected member of the financial industry, has joined Members 1st to establish the infrastructure for a significant expansion of commercial lending and business banking efforts.
  • What started 68 years ago with nine members, one office, and a desk in a hallway at the current Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg in Hampden Township, has now grown to more than 400,000 members being served at nearly 60 locations across a 7-county region. Members 1st opened its new Red Lion facility in July and is currently anticipating the opening of its Halifax location on December 3. Five additional branches are planned for 2019.
  • Members 1st associates have contributed more than 4,300 volunteer hours assisting over 200 local non-profit organizations with their fundraising goals and special events in 2018 alone. Additionally, the Credit Union staff has presented 161 financial education sessions this year for children and adults by way of its financial education program.
  • Through its expanded mortgage program, the Credit Union added its new Home Equity Freedom product that offers members greater flexibility with swift turnaround times.
  • The addition of Investment Services and Wealth Management, as well as comprehensive Insurance Services, provides a well-rounded mix of products to meet member financial planning needs from a 360-degree view.
  • Members 1st has crossed the $4 billion mark in assets.

These accomplishments are just a small part of the makings of becoming a one-stop-shop to meeting and exceeding member needs. “When we are helping a member, we want to be in a position where we are taking a consultative approach so we can offer the best solutions. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to meeting everyone’s financial needs. By looking at each member’s unique needs from every angle, we are able to consult with them and ensure they have the right product for their particular needs,” added Nahodil. “We have done a great job, over the years, in serving members and the community. What we are doing now is laying the groundwork for better meeting the expectations of consumers in a rapidly-changing marketplace that wants convenience and a great experience.”

Big Plans

The year 2019 looks just as impressive as Members 1st hints at big plans to come. “We are looking at technological advances, innovative use of social media, building more branches including a branch-of-the-future prototype, market expansion, and a makeover to our digital marketing experience. We have big plans for 2019 and beyond,” said Wilson. “It will be an exciting time for our members, our associates and the community.”

Under Members 1st’s new structure, led by President and CEO George Nahodil, the following individuals serve as the Credit Union’s Leadership team:

  • Karen Christian, Chief Lending Officer, is responsible for all consumer and business lending activity as well as the Credit Union’s Settlement Services CUSO;
  • Kathy Jumper, Chief Operations Officer, oversees Retail Services, Member Services and Facilities Operations;
  • Steve Murray, Chief Financial Officer, leads the Credit Union’s Financial Accounting, Budget and Operations, Treasury Manager, Planning/Analysis, Investment Services and Insurance Services CUSO;
  • Jason Reimer, Chief Administrative Officer/General Counsel, is responsible for Support Services, Collections/Loan Servicing and Associate Experience/Human Resources including Learning and Development;
  • Frank Serina, Chief Risk Officer, leads Loss Prevention, Business Continuity, Physical Security, Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML), Risk Management, and Compliance;
  • Bob West is the Chief Information Officer responsible for Information Technology, Telecom, Information Security and Strategic Planning/Project Management; and
  • Michael Wilson, who serves as Chief Marketing Officer/Chief Relationship Officer, oversees Marketing, Public Relations, and Relationship Management.

“The Board congratulates the leadership and associates at Members 1st on their unwavering effort of adapting to change. We appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the leadership structure. We are proud of our well-recognized brand, the impact we have on the local community and our industry. We are confident that the Credit Union is positioned to do great things and to impact lives in ways we have yet to imagine. We are strong and growing. We are grateful to serve as a volunteer board and work together with the leadership team as we blaze new trails in technology, digital marketing, and an enhanced approach to unparalleled member service,” said Jon Kirssin, Members 1st Board Chairman.




Security Features to keep your Credit and Debit Cards Safe

The convenience of credit

EMV Chip

  • The Chip in your card prevents counterfeiters from skimming your magnetic strip and copying that information.
  • EMV chips generate a new code for each transaction, making it extremely difficult for criminals to duplicate.
  • Counterfeit card use at chip-enabled merchants is down 66% compared to two years ago.

Mobile Card Control

  • Turn your card on and off. If you lose your card, can you temporarily turn it off until you find it. Or have the safety of knowing that it is turned off if there is actual fraudulent activity.
  • Set up alerts for certain transactions and usage.

Travel Alerts

  • Notify your financial institution about international travel or travel outside of your normal go-to places, so that your account isn’t suspended for possible fraud. At Members 1st, you can set up your alerts by logging into Members 1st Online and choosing which card you will be using.

Credit Score Updates

  • Be notified when your score changes.
  • Some institutions, such as Members 1st, provide your credit score through online banking. Simply log in to Members 1st Online and view your FICO score in the main menu.

Safe Usage

  • Do not let others use your card. Most merchants do not require signatures anymore, so you should treat your card like cash.
  • Do not give your credit card PIN to anyone. Both credit cards and debit cards also  have Personal Identification Numbers associated with them. If you give this out, that person can easily take a cash advance on your credit card or withdraw funds from your checking account.

Learn more about Members 1st’s debit card and credit cards.

Questions? Go to members1st.org or call us at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6035.

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Time to Prepare your Home for Fall!

Use this checklist to prepare your home for fall and the Man cleaning the gutterupcoming winter season.

  • Clear out the Gutters
    • Remove leaves and other debris from your drainpipe and gutters to prevent clogging. Before it gets very cold, drain your outdoor faucets to prevent freezing
  • Clean the Fireplace and Chimney
    • Clear out ash and charred wood yourself, and call a professional for the chimney cleaning. Have the chimney cleaner check the damper to ensure it can be tightly closed to prevent drafts.
  • Check the Heating System
    • Do a survey of your home’s heating vents to make sure they’re not blocked or covered by furniture, carpeting or curtains. Dust all vents and clean all filters. Plus, make an appointment for an annual heating system check-up
  • Store Air Conditioners
    • If you have removable window air conditioners, be sure to unplug them before taking them down. Once they are out of your windows, dust and clean them before covering or storing.
  • Check for Drafts
    • Stay warm, save energy, and reduce your heating bills by examining windows and doors for cracks. If you do find drafts, be sure to seal them properly.
  • Put up Storm Windows
    • If you have removable screens, now’s the time to clean, store, and replace them with storm windows.
  • Ready the Water Heater
    • Prepare for cooler weather by draining the water heater and clearing out any debris that has settled in the tank.

 Information courtesy of ReadersDigest.com.

Need funds for these projects or other home repairs?

Ask us about our new Home Equity Freedom Line of Credit!

Apply now or call TeleBranch at (800) 237-7288.

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5 Tips Every College Freshmen Should Know


In high school, teachers regularly remind you of assignments and you are in a set routine. There is no need to be overly organized. In college, that is not the case. At the start of the semester, a professor hands you a syllabus and that becomes your potential schedule. Professors are not obligated to remind you of assignments. On top of upcoming assignments and tests, you are in a new environment with an endless list of activities and clubs to try out. Take our word for it, a day planner will keep you organized and you will be less likely to fall behind on your school and social life.


Either a few weeks before or the first week of the semester, you will receive a book list – don’t freak out; the prices listed are easily avoidable. Textbooks sold and rented at your college book-store may be overpriced. Amazon and Chegg are two sites that could chop your costs in half, by letting you rent their books for a reasonable price. Though, if not specified, wait until the first day of class to see if you really need the book or if the professor put it on hold at the library.


id you know your school may have a writing center? Or counseling center? For many college students, it is difficult to adjust to the new environment. You pay for these services in your tuition. If you are feeling overwhelmed or need help with papers, don’t be afraid to utilize the resources available to you.
With your student email, programs such as Microsoft and Adobe have student discounts or are completely free. You may be able to use your student ID at local restaurants and businesses. Not all places have a sign, so be sure to ask the next time you buy a coffee or purchase a movie ticket.


You are now a freshman; you have four years till you graduate. Don’t let that fool you – time flies. Now you are graduating. Internships and potential jobs require references, so who are you going to ask? College is not only about learning; it is also about networking. Visit your professors during their office hours and really get to know them because they can help you in the long run.


College can be stressful. Taking time to relax or going to your favorite café is crucial to your success at college. There is nothing wrong with taking 10 minutes out of your day to scroll through your social media or have a little fun. Doing something you enjoy will make a difference in your mood and how well you do on school work.

Members 1st offers Undergraduate Loans and Graduate Loans.

Plus, we can help with refinancing current student loans.

Visit members 1st.org or contact out 24-hour call center at (800) 369-4980 with questions or to apply!

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