How much family can you afford?

April 30, 2007

My father-in-law recently went on a medical mission to the jungles of Honduras where a team of local doctors, medical staff, and ordinary people helped meet the medical needs of the people there. His job was to fit people for glasses. (Of course he’s also the Worlds Best Gran-Dad so he was a hit with the kids.) One of his teammates took this photograph. honduras1.jpg What is astounding is that this is one family! At the teams best count they had eleven children. What is more astounding is that the average income in Honduras is about $920 per year. It makes me wonder “How do they make it?”

I remember quite vividly the night at dinner when my wife told me that she was expecting our first child. It was wonderful! (She was very creative but I won’t go into detail here.) We were DINK’s(Dual Income No Kids). That means that we had disposable income every payday and were in want for nothing. A child was no problem in my mind. Fast forward 20 months……. we are now SIK(Single Income with Kid) homeowners. Most of our DINK savings has now gone into the down payment on our house to keep the payment low enough for our new budget. It is at this time that my wife again tells me that she’s expecting our second child. Only this time I’m not as thrilled. My first thought was “How are we going to afford another child?” “I’ve already got our budget down to minute details such as how much we spend on a real Christmas Tree each year!” Fast forward another 22 months….. I’m still planning to spend $45 on our Christmas Tree in December not to mention the rest of our budget is tweaked out to allow room for family educational expenses, recreational activities, Clifford the Big Red Dog Birthday Parties, diapers, baby food, and $50 per month in clothing for the whole family.

But it wasn’t until I was forced to that I created a budget and decided together with my wife to stick with it. Without it I would be very stressed out and worrying every month if I would be able to see any savings or worse yet that I’m spending more than I’m brining home. Now, I know that as long as we stick to our budget the savings will eventually come and my family will be provided for. There’s an assurance there that I am in control of my financial destiny. If anyone is interested I’d be happy to share my personal budget spreadsheet. It works for us. Without it we wouldn’t make it.

So how do Honduran families make it? I guess the they don’t have as many distractions to budget for. There’s just the distraction of feeding all the kids so they don’t starve! Then there’s the need to provide basic shelter and medical care such as my father-in-law’s team gave. I’m not sure there is any need to save for college or if they even have a credit union or bank to use in their neck of the woods if they did want to try and save some money.

BTW: I hope that we have more children in our future. I know that no matter how empty they make my wallet, my heart will always be full because of them.


New Future Neighbors at Coleman Marketplace

April 27, 2007

coleman_sign.jpgPiedmont Credit Union will get some new neighbors this time next year. There has been a buzz around town the last few weeks about the new Coleman Marketplace. From the big names on the sign it’s easy to see why. The Register & Bee reported this week that the developers expect shoppers to drive upwards of 1 hour just to shop in Danville. I can believe that. When I first came to Danville in 1993 I asked, along with the rest of Averett’s class of ’97, “What is there to do here?” The answer: Drive to Greensboro. Danville residents will be doing less driving thanks to Coleman Marketplace which is just a stone’s throw across Piney Forest Road from our credit union. Click here and take a second to let us know which store you’re most likely to be visiting next summer.

Starbucks Opens Tonight!

April 26, 2007

starbucks.jpgThe day is finally here. Some will say that today is a momentous day for Danville when Starbucks Coffee opens its doors for business. Others will say it will never be as good as the Main Street Coffee Emporium or the Brown Bean. Which is better? Does Starbucks even belong in the same league as our two local favorites? As my coffee intake averages about 1 cup per year I’m not really qualified to answer. But I loved those very creative, chocolate and whipped cream covered coffee creations from Main Street when I was in college. I would walk a mile to get one of those before class. I’m also a little biased towards the Brown Bean because they’re one of the member groups of Piedmont Credit Union and their food is really great. One thing is certain, coffee is here to stay in Danville, VA.

New Home for PCU Member Connect

April 25, 2007

This is the new official home for PCU Member Connect. Please just take a minute to update your bookmarks and feeds to point to the new site. Let me know what you think.


  • Subscribe to our RSS feed here.
  • Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Pittsylvania County Schools Budget

April 20, 2007

Yesterday we received an email from the Chamber of Commerce asking their members to support an increase in funding for Pittsylvania County Schools. Here is an excerpt from their statement:

Our region’s economic growth and prosperity will be fueled by the ability of our workforce to be productive, adaptable, and continuous learners. The foundation of a strong workforce begins with an innovative, challenging and exemplary school system that educates and nurtures students to be successful and productive citizens.

  • Pittsylvania County currently ranks 132 out of 133 school divisions for funding the operating cost per pupil.
  • In recent years, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors has funded at or near the bare minimum that the state has required for education.
  • Technology, vocational equipment, and extracurricular activities are just a few of the programs that are “at risk” of not being funded if school budget funding is not increased.
  • The school system needs to offer competitive salaries in order to attract and retain the best teachers and staff possible. With a national shortfall of qualified teachers, we can not continue to fall behind in our compensation of teachers.
  • Pittsylvania County must invest in the necessary maintenance of existing facilities. If we neglect our facilities, rising maintenance costs will continue to erode our ability to fund programs that directly support our students.

The success of our students is at stake. The success of our region is at stake.

County residents may attend the hearing on Monday, April 23, 2007 at 7pm at the Pittsylvania County General District Courtroom. Or they may contact the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors.

Protecting Yourself Online, Part 2

April 20, 2007

Since the credit union has implemented Multi-Factor Authentication I thought I would take the opportunity to remind us all of some basic online security practices.

As stated in our previous post “Protecting Yourself Online“, MFA will make it more difficult for online thieves to create a Piedmont CU look-alike website designed to steal user names and passwords. Here are just a few more tips for protecting yourself online:

  1. Before entering your password or personal information on any secure site look for the padlock graphic either in the address bar or in the bottom right-hand corner of the browser window. Note: PCU NetBranch addresses always start with “”.
  2. Do not click on a weblink that is inside of an email claiming to be from your credit union, bank, financial firm, or anyone that you give personal information to. Instead type the address in by hand.
  3. For sites that you visit regularly like NetBranch,, or even PCU Member Connect, make a bookmark to the site and always use the bookmark to get back to it. PCU Member Connect has a nice live feed feature that can be bookmarked by clicking the little orange icon in the address bar.
  4. Update your web browser. The most modern web browsers such as Firefox 2.0 and Internet Explorer 7 have anti-phishing capabilities built-in. Use them.
  5. Use MFA to your advantage. Unless you are using a foreign computer it should not ask you to answer any security questions. So if you are using a computer you always use to access NetBranch and it all of a sudden it prompts you to answer a security question, please take note and verify the address and the pad-lock icon that we talked about in step 1.

If you are ever in doubt about any Piedmont Credit Union site just give us a call, email, or even a comment on this site. Sometimes this site even gets checked on the weekends! So far no one has had any problems with MFA that we know about. Please contact our office directly if you have experienced any problem with it. Thank you for using NetBranch and thank you for being part of Piedmont Credit Union.

Freedom First FCU / VA Tech Memorial Fund

April 19, 2007

People helping people has been an ideal shared by credit unions across the country for as long as they have been in existence. In the aftermath of the tragedy at Virginia Tech here is a way that we can all help out the people most directly affected by it.

CONTACT: Jamie Asciolla
Vice President of Marketing
Freedom First Federal Credit Union
(540) 378-8968

Freedom First Federal Credit Union Has Established the FFFCU/Virginia Tech Memorial Fund

Salem, VirginiaFreedom First Federal Credit Union has established the FFFCU/Virginia Tech Memorial Fund to support the recovery and renewal process following the tragic events at Virginia Tech. All proceeds will be directed towards the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund.

Freedom First Federal Credit Union has been serving the students, alumni, faculty, and staff of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) since 1986 and remains the only full-service financial institution on campus, with two branch locations at Squires Student Center.

Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund

To remember and honor the victims of those tragic events, the university has established the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund to aid in the healing process and generate financial support.

The fund will be used to cover expenses including but not limited to:

Grief counseling
Communication expenses
Comfort expenses
Incidental needs

To contribute to the FFFCU/Virginia Tech Memorial Fund, please make checks/share drafts payable to “FFFCU/Virginia Tech Memorial Fund” and mail your contribution to:

Freedom First Federal Credit Union
Attn: FFFCU/Virginia Tech Memorial Fund
PO Box 1999
Salem, VA 24153

Contributions to the FFFCU/Virginia Tech Memorial Fund will be accumulated and paid to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund as one contribution. Acknowledgement of contributors will be provided at the time of fund presentation.

Chartered in 1956, Freedom First Federal Credit Union serves several counties in southwest Virginia. The $200 million asset Credit Union is headquartered in Roanoke, Virginia.

Additionally, the university has a site where people may send their condolences, thoughts, and prayers here.