Halloween money saving ideas

The NationalSTCU_Pumkins Retail Federation estimates Americans will spend $7.4 billion on Halloween, including candy, costumes, and decorations.It’s big money for parents and kids. Americans are even expected to spend $350 million on costumes for their pets! Despite those staggering figures, you don’t have to ask for an advance on your allowance or raid your piggy bank to come up with a cool costumes and decorations.

So how can you cut costs and still get all the candy you can eat?

  • Make your own costume. Use your imagination. Parts of last year’s costume can be turned into a new reinvented one.  The princess costume can become a zombie princess.

Look around the house for old clothes that are clearly out of date and no longer being used. Be sure to ask mom before cutting, tearing, or gluing her late 90’s business blazer.

Be a shredder. Cut up old newspapers and attach them all over yourself.

Get an idea and go to the Dollar Store. It’s a cheap way to add a couple of accessories to your outfit.   It might even inspire new ideas.

The important thing is to go for it. It’s a lot more fun making your own costume than some packaged costume that other kids are going to be wearing.  *Remember it’s going to be dark. Nobody is going to notice if you goofed.

  • It’s a little known fact that the more original your costume – the more candy you’ll get. And speaking of candy, recycle those cloth department store bags. You can transform them with a little decorating time (use orange or black paper) and cover up the store logo. Don’t forget to reinforce the handles with some extra tape.
  • Buy that pumpkin a day or two before Halloween. Often stores will discount them because nobody wants a bin of rotting pumpkins.
  • Another smart to do is going shopping the day after Halloween. Most of the costumes are discounted by at least 50%. Remember kids, you’re going to grow over the next 12 months, so buy the next size up.  It’s better to error on too big than too small.

Here some more costume ideas to get your imagination running.

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Tools for back to school shopping

Heading back to school means buying binders, pens, and maybe even a pair of shoes.

If you worked as a lifeguard, nanny, or lawnmower this summer, you might have some cash of your own. When you think about buying a new backpack for school this year, ask yourself, “Is it worth four hours of mowing lawns?” You should only spend the cash if the answer is “yes.”

Thinking twice before you pay with cash helps you save money, but your mom or dad may want you to keep your money in a safe place like a checking or savings account. Checking accounts often come with a debit card for spending, which can make it easy to forget how much money is in your account. So be sure to check your statement often and keep track of your balance. If you know how much money you have, you aren’t as likely to spend more than that amount.

Down the line, many adults choose to use a credit card. Credit cards can be much riskier than debit cards if you don’t understand how interest and fees work. Talk to your parents about credit to have your questions answered.

By using cash when you can, debit cards when you have enough in your account, and credit cards when you understand how they work, you’ll end up with more when you go back to school.

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Take a ride in Coeur d’Alene, enjoy the summer splendor

Summer splendor.Welcome to summer. School’s out, the days are long, and it’s a perfect time to be outside and enjoy the perks of the season.

Starting August 8, STCU is sponsoring free summer carriage rides in Downtown Coeur d’Alene.

  • 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Fridays, beginning August 8 through August 29
  • Meet at the corner of First and Sherman
  • All rides are free, no reservations required
  • Presented by STCU and the Coeur d’Alene Downtown Association

Want to stay in Spokane? Click here for Downtown Spokane carriage ride information.

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Outfitting your first dorm room

By Marya

A quick Google search will find you all sorts of college checklists for your first dorm room. They’re designed to help incoming students sort out everything they’ll need for their new pad. But they may also be designed to encourage you to spend money on things you don’t necessarily need.

I went to a certain big box store to see just how much I could spend if I bought everything on one of these college checklists. The grand total: nearly $1,000. One thousand bucks on decorative pillows, a water pitcher, batteries, and a shower caddy (and about one hundred other things). That thousand bucks didn’t include a laptop, printer, TV, or new clothes, which can also put a major dent in your budget. Sure, some of the items on those checklists are necessities. But be wary of buying everything just because it’s there and you’re supposed to. Here are some tips to save a few bucks when shopping for your first dorm room:

  1. Ask your parents if you can take some stuff from home. Free is better than not free.
  2. Thrift stores are your friend. Cheap is better than not cheap.
  3. Make sure you can actually have certain items in your dorm room. We couldn’t have toasters or coffee pots in dorm rooms when I went to school. Not buying those items saved me fifty bucks!
  4. Only buy what you really need. Do you need a wall clock and an alarm clock? A foam mattress topper, mattress pad, and a bedbug protection kit? Remember, just because it’s on the list doesn’t mean you need it.

Going off to college is an exciting time. But be smart when buying supplies for your dorm room and you’ll have more money for pizza and movies with your new roomie.

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What do you do, STCU?

By: Alex

Before joining STCU, Bryce played professional baseball.

Before joining STCU, Bryce played professional baseball.

Business Relationship Officer

What do you do at STCU?
I’m business members’ key contact at STCU.

What do you like best about your job?
The interactions with our business members and helping them accomplish their business and personal financial goals through the tools STCU offers.

Hot dogs or hamburgers?
It depends on the mood but typically I’ll lean toward beef patties (especially Hudson’s in downtown Coeur d’Alene…yum!)

You used to play professional baseball for the Baltimore Orioles. What was that like?
It was definitely a lot different than working in the financial industry! I pitched in their farm system for three years (2004-2006) and enjoyed every minute, except the long bus rides. I was fortunate to play with great guys from all over the country and also from Caribbean countries. It was an unbelievable experience but ended due to a torn muscle in my shoulder.

One of my favorite towns was Bluefield, West Virginia. The home run fence was on the Virginia and West Virginia state line.  You could hit a homerun into another state!

Fam2How did you transition from baseball to a career with STCU?
After my injury, I finished up my college degree at WSU (Go Cougs!). I ended up getting a job at a large national bank and working in rural Washington and Idaho. After a few years, I decided to move closer to my wife (fiancée at the time), who made it very clear that she would like to stay in Spokane! STCU was on top on my list, and I ended up getting a job here four years ago.

What actor would you choose to play you in a movie?
Owen Wilson because people say we look alike and have the same quirky personality. I’m not sure if that is a compliment or an insult!

Do you have any advice to for someone interested in doing your job?
Time management and attention to detail are major parts of my everyday activities.

BryceFamWhat is your favorite denomination of money?
I like dollar bills because it makes you feel like you have more money than you really do!

Where is your dream vacation?
Anywhere by the water with my wife, son, and dog.

Why do our members love us?
The great service, integrity, and respect they receive from all of our employees. Our members can contact STCU from any avenue and receive the same positive interaction.

Like this post? Check out these other STCU staff stories:
Megan, Teller Trainer
Adam, Enterprise Communications Administrator
Sean, Senior Loan and Member Service Officer

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Time + talent + fame = $2 million

By Dan H.

Here’s an example of how an insignificant item can become extremely valuable.

In many hotel rooms, you’ll find free stationery. If you use it to write letters saying what a great trip you’re having, the hotel gets a little free advertising.

Recently, someone paid more than $2 million for four pages of hotel stationery! Why? Because Bob Dylan used it 50 years ago to write “Like a Rolling Stone.” You can even see his pencil-drawn doodles and the lyrics he rejected while writing the song that is always listed near the top – sometimes at the very top – of “greatest songs” lists.

Photo by Jean-Luc Ourlin

Bob Dylan at Massey Hall, Toronto, April 18, 1980. Photo by Jean-Luc Ourlin.

You might know someone you think will eventually end up as famous as Bob Dylan, and it’d be fun to save samples of his or her early work. But it’s far from a guarantee that you (or your children or grandchildren) will eventually have $2 million. No, for that, you’ll want to spend wisely, study hard and get in the habit of setting aside a portion of every dollar you earn in a savings account.

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Take a ride in Spokane, enjoy the summer splendor

Summer splendor

Welcome to summer. School’s out, the days are long, and it’s a perfect time to be outside and enjoy the perks of the season.

Starting July 4, STCU is sponsoring free summer carriage rides in downtown Spokane.

  • 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Fridays, beginning July 4 through August 29
  • Meet at the corner of Wall and Main
  • All rides are free, no reservations required
  • Presented in collaboration with
    Downtown Spokane Partnership
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Free fireworks shows 2014

By: Alex

STCU FireworksThe Fourth of July celebrates American independence, pride, and freedom. As an American, you’re free to do many things, including spending your money. In fact, Americans spend nearly $2 billion on July 4 cookouts and $600 million on fireworks each year! Now that’s a lot of hot dogs and sparklers! To help keep costs down, consider watching a free fireworks show. They’re better quality and safer than backyard fireworks anyway.

Here’s a short list of some community fireworks displays. They generally start around dusk or 10 p.m.


  • Riverfront Park.
  • Pavillion Park in Liberty Lake.
  • Perrins Field in Deer Park.
  • Lakeside Middle School in Nine Mile Falls.


  • Coeur d’Alene City Park.
  • Sandpoint City Beach.
  • Boundary County Fairgrounds.
  • Kellogg.
  • Priest Lake.
  • Harrison.
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What do you do, STCU?

By: Marya

STCU Megan Training

Megan is Teller Trainer at STCU.

Teller Trainer, STCU

What do you do at STCU?
All new tellers come through my two week class. They’ll learn about credit union rules and regulations, cash handling skills, transaction processing, and much more.

I teach other classes and help with monthly webinars for staff. We present information on new processes, refreshers on long standing procedures, or tips to protect against fraud.


What do you like best about your job?
I enjoy welcoming new employees to the STCU family. Usually they come through training before they meet everybody at their branch. Part of my role is to make them feel welcome and introduce them to our culture.

I love teaching people new things.  I love to learn and it’s awesome to be part of passing information on. And that spark that lights up a person’s face the moment something finally clicks is pretty amazing.

Dogs or cats?
Both. Although I don’t currently have pets, someday I will have both.

Why do our members love us?
Because they are awesome! They have a lot of options out there for financial institutions and we don’t take it for granted that they chose us. They are more than just members to us; they are our neighbors, our friends, our family – they are STCU.

Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip?
I prefer Vegenaise. It’s the egg-free alternative to those options.

Any advice for someone interested in doing your job?
Have patience, be kind, and recognize that we’ve all been new at something at some point in our lives and it can feel overwhelming.

You have to be ready to adapt and change to accommodate different learning styles and levels of experience. Processes and procedures are ever-evolving so you have to be ready to change curriculum to match. Even though they have all been called Teller Skills Training, I’ve never taught the same class twice.

What is your favorite denomination of money?
Although it’s no longer in circulation, the $1,000 bill is pretty cool. It featured a portrait of Grover Cleveland who was the 22nd and 24th president of the USA. He was the only
president to serve two non-consecutive terms in office.

STCU Megan's desk

Reserved for Megan’s 10 year anniversary plaque.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Receiving a plaque for ten years of service with STCU. I’m clearing a spot on my desk right now.

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Graduation thank you notes

By: Alex

Grad_thanksWell, seniors, the wait is over! Congratulations on your graduation! We hope you’re enjoying the celebration of your accomplishments: senior all-nighters, grad parties, and graduation gifts.

Speaking of graduation gifts, we have a little reminder for you: With everyone celebrating you, it’s also important to thank others. A simple hand-written card doesn’t take much time but means a lot to those receiving it. After all, they took the time and effort to find you the perfect gift, so it’s nice to know it was appreciated. Miss Manners even has a how-to for you:

Start with a statement of emotion — that you were delighted that they came to your party. Then comes the thanks, with a specific mention of the present (except that money is referred to as “your generous gift”), and then a friendly line about the donors (such as that you remember something they told you, or that you hope to see them soon).”

You’ll get the hang of writing these notes quickly. Knowing that you took the time and effort to show your gratitude will make the start of summer even better.

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