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February 2012Vol 3, Issue 2
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We can make a difference
Message From


I think it's fair to say the majority of us (if not all) have experienced an unexpected financial situation. Or, as I like to refer to it, life happens. Whether a car needs repair, a major kitchen appliance goes kaput, or the loss of a job, these 'unexpected' situations can almost be expected.


MCUCD's consumer topic for February focuses on helping Montana consumers to take control of their financial situation during tough times. In addition, the Montana Financial Education Coalition recently launched FRED, highlighted below, to locate appropriate financial education resources.

The past few weeks we've seen firsthand Montana consumers taking control of their financial situations. To date, the Montana VITA Partnership and the talented team of volunteers have helped 1,753 individuals file their taxes for free.

We may not be able to control what happens to us, but we do have the control to choose how we react and deal with the situation.  


Karen Smith  

Director of Outreach Services

In This Issue
Making a Difference
Introducing FRED
February Consumer Topic
Quick Links  


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Making A Difference


VITA for Veterans


VITA for Veterans
MCUCD VISTA member Dan O'Brien
works with a local Veteran at Helena VITA site

Volunteers spent Valentine's Day, February 14, 2012 helping veterans prepare tax returns. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites offered veterans priority in having their taxes prepared free by IRS certified volunteers.


"Volunteers across Montana dedicated a day to help veterans with their tax returns," said Jan Lombardi, Executive Director of the Governor's Office of Community Service. "It was a great way for us to say 'thank you' to our veterans."


Veterans had the opportunity to go to designated VITA sites to have their taxes prepared free by IRS certified volunteers at one of seven site locations in Billings, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Miles City. An additional date is scheduled on March 6 in Bozeman and Havre. To qualify the veteran must have a household income of less than $50,000 and schedule an appointment with a participating location.


Veterans can schedule an appointment at one of following VITA sites for March 6, 2012:

  • Bozeman - Bozeman Public Library, call 406-586-6641
  • Havre - Opportunity Link, call 406-265-3699

"Doing your taxes can be a challenging experience. Too often those who can least afford it pay for someone to prepare their taxes," said Dan O'Brien, AmeriCorps VISTA member with the Montana Credit Unions for Community Development. "VITA volunteers help hard working tax payers prepare their taxes for free, which save them money and gives them peace of mind."


MCUCD supported four tax sites on February 14 for the first annual VITA for Vets day. Volunteers in Helena at Helena Community CU and Trico Community FCU, in Butte at Aldersgate Church, and Hamilton at Ravalli County FCU prepared tax returns for veterans this Valentine's day. Volunteers prepared 20 tax returns helping taxpayers receive over $27,000 in federal refunds, $8,000 in Earned Income Credit (EIC) refunds, and $4,300 in state refunds! 


This veterans free file tax day was made possible through partnerships with Montana Credit Unions for Community Development, Community Action Partnership Northwest, AARP Montana, Retired Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP), Montana Legal Services Association, Montana Campus Corps, HRDC 7, Rural Dynamics, Opportunity Link, and the Governor's Office of Community Service. AmeriCorps members across Montana are providing support and promotion for this free service to veterans.  


Volunteer certification for the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program is provided annually by the IRS to assist low and moderate-income citizens with their annual tax returns. There are over 50 VITA sites in towns across Montana. To find a VITA location visit Anyone with a household income of less than $50,000 can call to schedule an appointment in his or her community.

Introducing FRED
Now you can add your resources to Montana's first online, searchable database for financial education.  Financial Resource Education Database of Montana (FRED to friends) has arrived. FRED makes it easier for the consumers in need of your particular services to find you. It also connects you to other providers, making it easier to share referrals and best practices. A simple interface enables visitors to search for classes, programs, services, and materials by life stage and financial need.

blue, stylized person with green is a partnership initiative of the Montana Financial Education Coalition (MFEC) and the Montana Society of Certified Public Accountants (MSCPA). The goal of is to provide an easy-to-use site that all Montanans may access to find resources to help improve their financial literacy and financial health.

Personal finance is often complicated, and the mistakes people make by managing their finances through trial and error can be costly for both themselves and the economy. Financial education can help. There are many financial education providers, curricula, games, and other tools, making it both a directory and library of financial education resources.


Visit today and be sure to add the financial resources your are providing your community! 
Consumer Topic of the Month

Managing Tough Financial Times
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Across the state, many of you work on a daily basis with members who are struggling with their finances. The Consumer Resource Center's February "Topic of the Month," How to Better Manage Tough Financial Times can help.
Visit our Consumer Resource page to access resources for the current "topic of the month," including a newsletter article, poster, resource guide, featured resource, and the same documents from past months. Use them to educate your members, clients and community on consumer topics that will help them through financial highs and lows!