MCUCD text
March 2011Vol 2, Issue 3
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TOGETHER
We can make a difference
Message From
Executive Director
 

The three-legged stool. That's how Jessica Helm, VITA Site Coordinator at Rimrock Credit Union, described our VITA Program recently. Rimrock Credit Union in Billings is just one of 22 VITA sites across Montana sponsored by credit unions. Why a three-legged stool? One leg represents the volunteers, who are trained and certified to prepare tax returns for free. The second leg is the credit union, scheduling appointments, providing the space, equipment, and supplies for the free service. The third leg is MCUCD, training and certifying volunteers, monitoring quality control, and ensuring IRS and Montana Department of Revenue standards and requirements are met. 

 

In reflection, Jessica's analogy actually works for all of MCUCD's programs. When all legs of the stool are in place, we can provide the best support for Montana's families when they need it the most. It is our honor and privilege to work with so many partners, donors, volunteers, and friends in the important work of improving the lives of Montanans.


 Jeanne

In This Issue
Making a Difference
VITA Stats
Silent Auction
March Consumer Topic
Quick Links  
   

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Making A Difference
 

Establishing sound financial habits is an important step in preparing for financial success in the future.  Unfortunately, it's a basic life skill that many consumers are lacking -- from the basics of managing money to establishing a relationship with a financial institution to building healthy credit to investing and planning for you and your loved ones' future.

Janna in a cute pose

Janna McCormick, 

MDU Employees FCU

In early January, Janna McCormick, Manager at MDU Employees FCU and long-time financial educator, was asked to conduct a financial education course at the WATCh East program. Located in Glendive, WATCh East, is a felony DUI treatment center that puts adult offenders through a six-month program in lieu of traditional sentencing.

During the three week course Janna provided 15 hours of financial literacy training to inmates going through the WATCh East program. Janna spent an hour a day with a class nearing the end of their program, helping them learn ways to take control of their money. Janna worked with MCUCD to develop course topics that included attitudes and beliefs about money, setting goals, building a workable money management plan, managing checking and savings accounts, understanding credit reports, recognizing the true cost of credit, and much more!

At the end, Janna asked the more than 40 participants to write down the two to three topics discussed in class that they found most helpful to them. Here are a few of the comments:
 

"I learned that if I and my wife sit down and discuss our finances and plan the month out better, we'll be more productive."
 
"To me money always seemed to be like trying to hold water in my hands...it always just slipped through my fingers so I never really took on any long-term goals with managing my money.

"....I've always lived paycheck to paycheck, making money as I go. I can always make more is what I thought, but now, being incarcerated for six months, I will leave here without much at all. All because I never managed my money, it managed me."

MDU Employees FCU along with the rest of Montana's credit unions embrace the value of providing their members and community with appropriate financial education tools and resources.  If you are interested in providing (or receiving) financial education in your community contact Karen Smith at MCUCD.    

Half-Way Through Tax Season!

 

Tax PrepThe deadline for tax returns is April 18, 2011, and VITA volunteers are a little over halfway through with the tax season. In the last six weeks, VITA volunteers at credit unions and community organizations all over the state have helped over 1,315 Montanans file their federal tax return and claim over $1.4 million in federal tax refunds. Of that $1.4 million, $394,454 was recovered from the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The EITC is a refundable tax credit that puts money back in the pockets of hard-working taxpayers.  

 

Kudos to our hardworking VITA volunteers! Their hard work has paid off for many Montana taxpayers. To find a free tax site near you, visit www.montanafreefile.org.

Going, Going, Gone to the Highest Bidder

 

The MCUCD team is looking for donations for this year's Silent Auction, which will be held during the Annual Convention in Missoula on April 21.

Every dollar contributed at the Silent Auction goes to support MCUCD's core program areas: Consumer Education, Free Tax Services, Matched Savings Accounts, and Combating Predatory Lending. The Silent Auction is one of MCUCD's few annual fundraising events that contributes directly to funding our core programs and strengthen our mission to improve the social and economic well-being of Montana families. 

 

Consider donating an item(s) to this worthwhile event. Please contact MCUCD AmeriCorp VISTA Member Aaron Hirsch  at (406) 442-9081 ext. 145 to arrange your donation to the Silent Auction. 

Consumer Topic of the Month
 
CRC GraphicNational Consumer Protection Week
March 6-12, 2011

In early March, a partnership of government agencies and nonprofit organizations provided consumers with the information they needed to make smart decisions. The marketplace can be treacherous with numerous schemes and questionable transactions waiting for unsuspecting consumers. Scam artists will employ any tactic and all means necessary to exploit consumer resources and wrongfully take earned income. Fortunately, there are consumer protection groups working as well as resources available for maintaining safety and the financial wellbeing of consumers.

 

Visit the Consumer Topic of the Month for more information and resources to protect consumers.