Serve Credit Union Blog

Online Resources For College Students

Keeping up with all your classes, reports and exams is no simple feat. And while we can’t make your classes easier, we can help lighten your workload with this awesome list of online resources for college students. Take advantage of all the internet has to offer!

The Rapid E-Learning Blog
Blogger Tom Kuhlmann shares loads of practical tips that can help every student succeed. You’ll find updated info on all sorts of educational topics, with helpful discussions following each article. Join the discussion and get lots of helpful advice along the way.

This online resource is a treasure trove of free, open classes that you can take at your own pace. It’s great learning, at no cost!

Study Guide Zone
On Study Guide Zone, you’ll find helpful tips and study guides for all standardized tests, including SATs, ACTs, GEDs and more.

Getting Smart
Join an animated, learning-focused community that will show you resources to increase your studying effectiveness and overall academic success.

Coursera is a brilliant resource that offers educational material on lots of common university topics. All the materials were prepared by real college tutors from prestigious institutions, so you don’t need to worry about credibility here! Look up your chosen topic today, and walk away that much wiser!

Looking for reputable sources on a specific topic? Don’t spend hours feeding keywords into Google and seeing what it spits out for you – instead, try RefDesk and have what you need in minutes! The site’s highly specialized search engine will provide you with all the reference materials and information databases you need on any topic. You can also fact-check the info you already have using this handy site.

Hands down, the most annoying part of writing a paper is putting together that bibliography of sources. Don’t sweat it! Next time you need a bibliography, let EasyBib do the job for you. You can choose from all sorts of writing and citation styles, including APA, Chicago and MLA. The site will ask you for the words you’re quoting, and then draw up the source for you. It’s easy as pie!

 Your Turn: What’s your favorite online resource for hacking college? Share it with us in the comments!

How Can I Make the Auto Buying Negotiation Go Smoothly?

By Mike Farley

The first part of buying a used car is not the most fun, that’s for sure. It’s all about research and preparation. If there’s anything we all hate more than driving around to used car lots, it’s homework. But this is the best way to make sure you get a car you’re going to love for a long time, which means the more time you put in now; the longer you can wait until you have to do it again.

Negotiating a car sale isn’t most people’s cup of tea. If you’re buying from a dealer, it means sitting down with someone who may have more experience than you do, particularly with car sales. It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process, though. You have all the power in the transaction: You can buy a car from the first person or the 10th, while the salesperson needs to make every sale he or she can.

Know your price – The internet is a fantastic resource. Once upon a time, the salesperson knew more than the customer about car prices, and that was particularly true of used cars. Now, you can determine the price you’re willing to pay before you ever walk in, and refuse to pay one cent more than that. If you want, you can even email back and forth between multiple salespeople, letting them bid against each other.  Sites to try:, and (Kelly Blue Book)

Get your Financing First – The best way to get the best rate is to borrow from your credit union. Our auto loans have fantastic rates, and we’re not trying to sneak in any hidden charges or fees. If you come to us first, you can make a clear plan for how much you can spend, so you’re not surprised when that first payment is due. We can also tell you how much you’ll need as a down payment, and we might even have some good tips on who you can trust in town. You can start the preapproval process here:

Take a Spin — No matter if you’re buying from a dealer, a friend, your pastor or the reanimated corpse of Henry Ford himself, you should always take a car for a test drive. Find a route that simulates your morning commute; don’t just go on the route the dealer wants to take you. Take some left turns. Accelerate to freeway speeds. Ride in the back seat for a while. Make sure you actually like the car before you spend thousands of dollars on it.

There are few feelings worse than writing a sizable check every month for something you resent.

Don’t say too much – There’s very little you can say to make a negotiation go better, but there’s a lot you can say to make it go worse. You’re not going to cause the other person to have a sudden change of heart and cut you a better deal, but you might give the clues they need to know they can hold out for more money. If in doubt, don’t say anything. It can be difficult, particularly when the silence is awkward and tense, but saying nothing is often the right thing to do.

It’s OK to Walk away – It’s an old saw in sales: “He or she who can walk away controls the deal,” and it’s been passed down from bullpen to bullpen because it’s true. If you aren’t willing to walk away and leave the salesperson without a sale, then what incentive does he or she have for lowering the price? It feels terrible to spend an entire Saturday on car lots and still wake up on Sunday without a car, but you need to get over it. When you go out to buy a car, make a resolution to wait a week before you buy. That will make it easier to walk away and give you time to make sure you’re certain of your purchase. If you wait, you might even get a phone call during the week with a better price, particularly if it’s near the end of the month or if it’s been raining. Is it worth a few days’ wait and another day’s work to save a few hundred dollars? In most cases, it is.


Celebrate Father’s Day


We all want to show our dads that we care on Father’s Day. Many people panic and run straight for the ties. But unless your father is a necktie aficionado and you can land him the rarest of rare finds in men’s fashion, you may want to consider something else that shows how well you know and appreciate your dad. Here are 20 ways you can honor your father this Father’s Day.

  1. Get fishing licenses for both of you and go fishing!
  2. College mascot-branded duct tape for the sports fan or handyman.  Help make that DIY look classy!
  3. Take in a minor league baseball game.
  4. Detail his car with a vinyl cleaner (Armor All) and a vacuum.
  5. Take a trip to the driving range together.
  6. Dust and sort his toolbox – don’t forget to label the wrenches and sockets!
  7. Tackle the mowing, raking or other yard work.
  8. Personalized coffee mug – write on a blank mug with Sharpies, then bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes!
  9. Build your own BBQ rub or sauce using dad’s favorite flavors.
  10. Give the grill a thorough cleaning.
  11. Clean and organize the shed or garage – it’s probably been on his to-do list all year!
  12. Grab a few of his favorite classic movies on DVD or Blu-Ray (but make sure he has a Blu-Ray player first!).
  13. Pick up a few cuts of meat and ask him to teach you how to grill them.
  14. Offer him a “tech tutorial” on how to better use a device he already owns.
  15. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity together – working with him to improve your community!
  16. Find a local historical site and arrange a walking tour.
  17. Build something with him – like a bird house or a spice rack.
  18. Pack a picnic lunch and head to a local park!
  19. Just spend time with him doing the things he likes to do.
  20. Put a new spin on the old necktie cliché – buy a old necktie at a thrift store, do a web search for “DIY Necktie Eyeglass case” and follow the instructions to make this unique gift. Buy a pair of sunglasses to put inside before you give it to him.

How to save for a boat in 8 easy steps

How To Save For A Boat In 8 Easy Steps 

By Mike Farley

Ready to make waves without sinking your budget? Here’s eight simple steps to save up for the boat of your dreams. 

1.) Do your research 

Before you get started, decide what kind of boat you’ll be looking to purchase. Spend time researching your options and calculating how much buying and owning a boat will cost. Include upfront costs, monthly payments, storage, insurance, fuel and boating lessons.

2.)  Create a savings goal 

Now, create a realistic savings goal that will make your boat purchase possible.  Establish a timeline for your goal and divide the total by the number of months that will pass until you are ready to buy that boat. This number is the amount you will need to save each month. If it is too high, you’ll need to lengthen your timeline. 

3.) Review your monthly budget 

Take a look at how much money you spend and earn each month. If you already have a budget in place, this step is already done. Otherwise, track your expenditures and income for a month or two until you have this information.   

4.) Identify your trouble areas 

Take a closer look at how you’ve been spending money on fluctuating expenses. What are the biggest pitfalls? Which spending category is draining your wallet dry? Once you’ve figured that out, you’ll be better prepared to cut back. 

5.) Trim your budget

Start with the biggest money hole and brainstorm for ways you can tighten the strings. Once you’ve got a few good ideas in place, move on to other areas. Continue until you’ve trimmed enough fat to reach your monthly savings goal.

6.) Make it automatic

You’ve got your numbers worked out – now let’s make it happen! The best way to ensure you stick to your plan is to make it automatic. You can do this by linking your checking and savings account and setting up an automatic transfer in your chosen amount to go through once a month. Give us a call at 515-243-2677; we’ll be more than happy to help you set this up.

7.) Boost your income

If you want to speed things up, look for ways to earn extra money to put toward your boat. A side hustle, like freelancing or working a weekend job, will help you hit the waves a whole lot sooner!

8.) Goal!

Once your goal is within reach, start shopping for the boat of your dreams. Don’t lock yourself in to your original number. If you find a boat that’s a lot cheaper than you anticipated, grab it! Use the extra cash to stock up on fuel and boating gear, or put it aside to jumpstart your next big savings goal.


To See Our Current Boat Rates!  Click here!



3 Important Tips to Battle ATM Skimming Fraud

Joey Czellar

Joey Czellar

ATM skimming fraud has become a big issue in Central Iowa. The transition to EMV chip cards will eventually help reduce the value of personal card data by fraudsters and illegal cloning of cards that results from skimming, however that migration will take time.

In the meantime, here are three important tips to help you battle ATM skimmers:

1 – Give it a tug: ATM skimmers are often hidden in plain sight. A commonly seen ATM skimmer is a card reader overlay, which may be attached with something as simple as scotch tape. Wiggle the card reader before you insert your debit card. If the card reader is loose or comes off completely, this is a major warning sign that something is wrong.

2 – Check your machine & surroundings: After checking the card reader, you should give the entire ATM machine a complete, thorough scan with your eyes. Look for anything that seems out of place. Fraudsters often use hidden cameras, keypad overlays and holes drilled to install an internal skimmer, which is usually covered with a sticker or panel. This would also be a good time to give a quick glance over your shoulder to make sure someone isn’t watching you or the ATM.

3 – Use your hand to cover your PIN: While the information on the mag stripe on the back of a debit card is important, so is accessing the PIN number you enter on the keypad. Hidden cameras are sometimes installed at an angle that will give a perfect view of the keypad. To battle this threat, cover your hand over the keypad when entering your PIN.

Bottom line, if you see something out of place, you should say something to an employee of the bank, credit union or business where the ATM is located. Remember, that skimmer is a piece of evidence.  Leave it alone or have an official handle it carefully.

Source: SHAZAM Network