I’ve been a member of a credit union for sixteen years now, but I’ll admit that when I choose our current financial institution, I didn’t have any idea why you should choose a credit union.
When my husband and I got married nearly sixteen years ago, we proudly marched into the local branch of our credit union. He was already a member of the credit union and I had no loyalty to any bank I had previously used.
I’ll be honest that that was the extent of the research I did at the time. I was 25 years old, and I needed a joint checking account and a place to route my direct deposit. It helped that there was a branch right in our local neighborhood.
Over the past several years, our financial needs have changed. We’ve purchased two homes and several cars. We’ve created savings accounts and planned for our future. Throughout that time I’ve never once regretted our decision, and in fact, I’ve come to affirm my affection for credit unions over and over again. If credit unions come up in casual conversation, people gush about how much they love their credit union. Ask yourself the last time you felt the urge to gush about your bank.
Do I think you should join a credit union? I absolutely do. But first, let’s break down the misconceptions you might already be carrying around about credit unions.
Credit Union Myth: Credit Unions are only for a select few groups of people.
While it is true that each credit union has a charter that dictates the population it can serve, it is also true that there are credit unions for a number of different populations! For example, American First Credit Union requires simply that you live, work or worship in Orange County and surrounding cities
A simple Google search will turn up credit unions in your area and we firmly believe that everyone should be trying to join a credit union.
Credit Union Myth: A credit union can’t offer me everything that my bank can
Credit unions are full-service financial institutions, and on top of that, you’ll find better customer service, lower fees and often more competitive rates. Basically, it comes down to this: credit unions are nonprofit organizations while banks are for-profit. Banks are beholden to their shareholders, where credit unions are not. In a credit union, the members are the shareholders, and the members benefit in the form of better rates and lower fees.
Okay, but my bank is fine.
Maybe that’s true. Maybe your bank is just that – fine. Most people take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to their finances and believe me, I understand that. However, you’ll recall that as part of our Summer Savings Series, we’re encouraging you to get to know your finances. Is it possible that your current financial institution is fine, but could be better? Are you paying fees, simply to have a place to keep your money?
As a society, we have become accustomed to voting with our dollars. We choose retailers whose actions support causes that we believe in, we shop local whenever possible, we get to know the people behind our food. Wouldn’t it be great if we were doing the same thing with our money?
How far did you get on last week’s assignment? As a refresher, we encouraged you to look at your spending for the last 6-12 months and create a monthly budget based on your current spending. We’re not asking you to make any changes to your finances at this point, we’re just getting familiar with the numbers. Where do your dollars go every month?
Today, we’re encouraging you to take that same critical eye to your current financial institution. Do a quick Google search to see if there is a credit union in your area that would work for you. Are you banking with a credit union? Great! Look and see if there are additional services that you could be taking advantage of. For example, in addition to the Totally Free Checking offered by American First, they also offer checking accounts that pay interest and savings accounts that reward you with cash prizes! When you’re looking for American First, remember they’re the ones with the colorful, striped logo!
We would love to hear about the changes that you’re making throughout this Summer Savings Series. Come join our Shorties Facebook Group to share your challenges and successes.