The Louisiana Credit Union League remembers Katrina & Rita

katrina

This month marks the 10th anniversary of when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit and devastated the city of New Orleans.

Despite the physical, financial, and emotional impact these natural disasters left on the city and its residents, credit unions remained resilient. After the natural disasters hit, the nature of the cooperative movement came into full force to rebuild the city back.

Just days after Hurricane Katrina left her mark on the city, employees of the Louisiana Credit Union League employees returned to work in order to serve their members. These employees fully implemented the credit union ‘people helping people’ philosophy by helping members and the local community get back on their feet.

Unlike banks, credit unions located in Katrina’s path received assistance from other state credit unions. CUNA and its state leagues organized fundraisers and donations in the form of extra office space, funds, and clothing.

New Orleans Firemen’s FCU, Judy DeLucca explained the generosity she and her credit union experienced ten years ago. “We had credit unions reaching out to us. At the same time we reached out to credit unions and let them set up shop on our sites that were up and running. We shared space with two credit unions five years later. Employees of credit unions in other states brought Christmas presents for our employees’ children and provided cash and clothing for our employees’ needs.”

The cooperative trust was also demonstrated by credit union members. Mignhon Tourne from ASI FCU explained, “We learned that our trust in our members was not ill-placed. In spite of being let down in every conceivable way by the government, the city and the relief effort, our members repaid us. Our total Katrina losses went from $5 million to $2 million. Members called us back, payments trickled in.”

Another lesson learned during this process was the importance of shared-branching. A crucial component that helped make the devastation somewhat better. “The league connected 21 credit unions to its shared-branching services within 48 hours. Shared branching helped about 400,000 displaced credit union members access their accounts. Credit union service centers in Baton Rouge and Shreveport distributed more than $769,000 in cash to members. The success of shared-branching led credit unions to other cooperative relationships with vendors and contractors and partnerships with other credit unions.”

For more information on how Louisiana credit unions continued through Katina and Rita, please check out the full CUNA News article, here.

The Foundation heads Back to School

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We can’t wait for The Foundation’s ‘Back to School’ Twitter chat! Tomorrow, August 27 The Foundation will discuss how credit unions are helping local schools getting ready for the new school year. The chat will begin at 3pm (CT)/4pm (ET) and will be using the hashtag #foundationchat

This chat is geared towards credit unions and their staff. The special guest for the Twitter chat will be Educators Credit Union from Mt. Pleasant, WI.

“Credit unions across the country are busy right now prepping multiple outreach activities for the upcoming school year,” said Christopher Morris, Foundation Director of Communications. “Whether it be backpack drives, managing an in-school branch, or preparing financial education activities, credit unions do a lot to benefit their area schools. The end result is improved youth financial literacy and well-being, which is why the Foundation is excited to host this forum for idea sharing around credit unions’ school activities.”

For more information, such as what type of questions will be asked during the chat – check out the full release here.

Homebuyer perks from Credit Unions

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If you’re about to make a long term investment, such as buying a home, you probably want to do a lot of research, right? Before you get started did you know that many credit unions offer special programs for homebuyers?

Some notable programs include:

Navy Federal Credit Union helps homebuyers get into a home with fewer hassels and they even get money back

Eastman Credit Union and Mountain American Credit Union have 100% financing and VERY low down payment options available.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union Foundation offers grants to military members for their closing costs in a 2:1 contribution ratio.

This is just one of the many ways how credit unions show that they are on the consumer’s side – not Wall Street.

Discover what your local credit union has available. Or thinking about joining a credit union? Begin your search here.

To read more about this, check out the full Money Mix article:
How Credit Unions Make Home Loans User-Friendly 

 

New video celebrates the 7 CU cooperative principles

Today, the National Credit Union Foundation (the Foundation) and Corporate One FCU released a new short video on the 7 cooperative principles for credit unions. The video is intended to be shared with credit union staff, members, and their local community.

“Part of the credit union difference is the fact that they are cooperatives,” said Gigi Hyland, Foundation Executive Director. “We need to celebrate that and shout it from the rooftops! Therefore, we hope credit unions share this video far and wide to help people better understand our cooperative advantage.”

“Corporate One is by definition exactly what the seven cooperatives principles are all about,” said Lee Butke, President and CEO of Corporate One Federal Credit Union in Columbus, Ohio. “We were built by our member credit unions working together for a common goal, making it easier for people to achieve financial success. We’re proud to team up with the Foundation to make this video available to help credit unions spread the word about the unique and powerful principles that are the foundation of the credit union movement.”

Check out the cute animated video below to see what makes credit unions different and better from other financial institutions!

CU coop principles

 

Know how to manage your money before college

Mother and daughter enjoying surfing on the net with tablet  while relaxing at home with coffee
Mother and daughter enjoying surfing on the net with tablet while relaxing at home with coffee

Just last year an est. 21 million American students left home for college, that number is set to rise in the upcoming weeks. Parents, before you let your teen out the door make sure you teach them the fundamentals of money, now that they are on their own.

Unfortunately, only a handful of states require financial education prior to high school graduation. Unless the student is going to major in a field that will focus on finances, chances are they won’t have much interaction with proper money management.

“College is the beginning of a transition from a sheltered existence to the real world,” said Mark Kantrowitz, senior vice president and publisher of Edvisors.com, a website about planning and paying for college. Talking with teens about money before they leave for university can have a substantial effect on their financial well-being for decades.

Here are the 6 main areas you’ll want to discuss with your children before they leave the house:

1. How to manage your money.

2. How to properly handle credit.

3. The real impact of your student loans.

4. The real net price of their chosen university.

5. How to find scholarships, to assist with tuition.

6. Get a part time job, to help reduce debt.

For more information on the Forbes article, simply click below:
6 money lessons to teach your kids before they leave for college 

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org  

Aspire Federal Credit Union Explains Your Paycheck

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If you have ever looked at your paycheck and did not know the meaning of each part of it, it’s time to learn.   Besides just knowing where your money is going and why, you could possibly be missing errors that have been occurring that you can now rectify.  Thanks to Aspire FCU for sharing these important concepts:

Basic Terms

The first few terms to understand are: YTD, Pay, and Deductions:

  • YTD = Year-To- Date – You will often see this in categories such as pay, deductions, and taxes.
  • Pay = your gross pay – What you earned before taxes are taken out
  • Deductions = Any benefits you share the costs of with your company such as healthcare.

Taxes and Social Security

The two biggest sections of your paycheck will usually be Federal Income Tax and Social Security.

Federal Income Tax is the amount of income tax your employer withholds from your paychecks which is determined by your gross pay, tax filing status, and allowances.  The more allowances you take, the less money that gets withheld for federal taxes and more money gets added to your paycheck.

You employer also withholds an amount of tax to pay into US Social Security.  Every worker contributes 6.2% of their gross income directly into the Social Security Fund.

There is also a section of your paycheck for Medicare.  Every worker contributes 1.45% of their gross income to Medicare which provides hospital, medical, and surgical benefits for Americans over 65 years old.  This section accounts for a large portion of the difference between your gross income and net income.

Benefits

The benefits section of your paycheck is usually where your used and remaining hours for paid vacation and sick time are denoted.  This section does not include your health insurance or 401(k) benefits.  These benefits would be listed under deductions.

Direct Deposit

If you have direct deposit in place, the last few numbers of you account will be on your pay stub  in which you will receive your money.  if you are handed a check, after deductions and taxes are taken out, the money you will be receiving is what “Net This Check” will refer to.

Be sure to now check your paycheck for errors and contact your human resource manager if there are any inconsistencies.

Credit Unions fulfill appetite for mortgage loans

transunion

A TransUnion study, comprised of about 90 credit union executives, concludes that credit unions are the favored financial institution, among American consumers, to provide mortgage loans to their members.

Of the 90 credit union executives, 6/10 reported that the need to provide mortgage loans to their members have grown significantly in the past 2 years.

While the need to provide mortgage loans has generally declined, this does not hold true for credit unions. “In the last year alone, it appears significantly more credit union executives are seeing growth in this area. Credit unions are becoming bigger players in the mortgage loan market, something that may serve them well in the future as the housing market continues to recover.” explained, Nidhi Verma, director of research and consulting at TransUnion.

In addition, “TransUnion also found that credit unions experienced 25% growth in non-prime mortgage originations in Q1 2015 while the rest of the industry grew at 4%. ”

For more information on mortgage originations at credit unions, please click here for the full article:
TransUnion: Credit Unions go big in mortgage originations

5 Easy ways to protect yourself from online hackers

cyber war

It seems like every week there is a new merchant data breach or even worst more and more Americans become victims of identity theft.  Even the federal government isn’t protected from hackers!

Jack Vonder Heide, president of Technology Briefing Centers, America’s leading authorities on technology-related risks, noted that the highly skilled cyber criminals are based in China and Russia.

Nerdwallet suggests 5 easy ways you can take measures in your own hanves to protect your identity and finances:

1. Mix up your passwords! The more unique and elaborate, the better!

2. Use an online password manager

3. Make life difficult for crooks – cross shred your papers, thoroughly check credit card statements, etc.

4. Check your credit reports annually

5. Keep your guard up when it comes to questionable e-mails

For more information, check out the full article here:
5 ways to protect financial info from hackers 

Your local credit union personal finance professionals bring you this website and other tools to help you make the most of your money. To find a local credit union you are eligible to join click here or go to asmarterchoice.org  

 

Hope Credit Union lives true to it’s name

hope CU

Hope Credit Union in Jackson, MS, holds true to it’s name especially within the community.

After Hurricane Sandy struck the region, Hope CU, was (luckily) not flooded by water but by members within the community, looking for monetary assistance. Hope CU was able to do a great job of handing out recovery loans to people who needed small amounts of money pretty quickly. It was the loans that required large amount of money, that proved to be difficult.

Unfortunately, the level of destruction and the amount of members displaced by the hurricane, left the credit union up in arms. In addition, important documents needed for larger loans had been washed away or torn up.

This situation prompted Hope Credit Union to expand its staff size (rose up to 150 employees). This expansion came in handy later when banks decided to left the MI area, leaving many residents without access to basic banking necessities. “We decided we would use the infrastructure and capacity we had put in place to address the spread of bank desserts across the South” explained Bill Bynum, CEO of Hope Credit Union.

“Bynum likes to cite a Bloomberg report from 2013, that found that, since the recession, 1,800 U.S. bank branches have closed. Ninety-three percent of them were in low-income communities.

In that same time, Hope Credit Union has tripled in size, expanding from seven branches to 24. ”

For more information on Hope Credit Union, you may check out their website here. Or in the Marketplace article, here.

 

Student debt putting millennials’ life on hold

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While achieving a college education is part of the American Dream, the cost of earning a college degree is causing many young adults to delay other major life events, according to a new Bankrate Money Pulse survey.

Forty-five percent of Americans with student loans, and 56% of those between 18 and 29, have put off a major life event because of the burden of that debt, Bankrate reported. More than half of student borrowers who were surveyed, and two-thirds of millennials in that group, said they didn’t receive enough information or advice about the financial risks.

In the July issue of Credit Union Magazine, Mike Schenk, CUNA vice president of economics and statistics, noted that credit unions have a long history of focusing on consumer education and financial consulting.

“We provide provide personalized advice and guidance that make helps people reach their goals and make better personal financial decisions,” Schenk wrote. “And that’s what young people need.”

Challenges for college graduates–debt, a tough job market, slow wage growth–are well documented, Schenk said, but the difficulties for those without college degrees are greater still.

“Today median weekly earnings for college-educated workers are roughly double the norm amough those with lower levels of education,” Schenk wrote. “The college wage premium remains near all-time highs.”

Thomas Scanlon, a financial adviser with Raymond James Financial in Manchester, Conn., offered Bankrate a basic approach for younger adults trying to manage student debt.

“Live at home for as long as you and your parents can stand it,” Scanlon said. “I get it; nobody wants to go back and live in their parents’ basement. The reality is, with student debt, a car loan, cellphone bill, car insurance and some spending money, most of the paycheck is gone. Live at home and save the rent,” he said.

For credit unions, millennials represent an important, financial active segment of their membership, Schenk noted. CUNA’s market research department estimated credit unions served 20.99 million millennials at year-end 2014, up from 19 million at year-end 2013.

“While young people face great challenges in today’s economy, credit unions are helping many rise to those challenges,” Schenk wrote.

Here are some other tips for millennials with large amounts of student debt:

Make sure to finish

While 49% of college graduates carried student debt, the burden isn’t confined to those who have diplomas. More than a third of those who finished “some college” education carried student debt, according to the survey. 63% of them reported not getting enough information. A quarter delayed buying a home, and nearly a quarter delayed buying a car or saving for retirement.

“Complete the degree, because if you have taken out a student loan and you do not complete the degree, it may be even harder to get the position to generate the income to pay it off,” says Angela Giboney, CFP professional at AFG Financial in Mill Creek, Washington.

Dealing with debt now

For those with student debt — such as those ages 30-49, the group most likely to have debt, according to the survey — experts offer a few tips on dealing with what can seem like an insurmountable sum.

If you have a high credit score, consider consolidating multiple loans into 1 with a private lender to get an even lower rate than you are paying now, says Rose Swanger, a financial planner at Advise Finance in Knoxville, Tennessee. She recommends those with a federal loan use the income-based repayment method, while those with public sector jobs, such as a teacher or firefighter, should take advantage of loan forgiveness after 10 years of employment.

Advice for those taking out loans

Before signing on the dotted line to finance your education, consider these tips from experts to make college costs more affordable:

  • Explore scholarships available for academics, activities, sports and need to reduce the amount to borrow.
  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid even if you don’t think your income will qualify. Many loans require a completed FAFSA to apply.
  • Compare private lenders, which can offer competitive interest rates.
  • Boost your credit score to get the best possible terms on student loans.
  • Make sure your likely career after school will enable you to pay off the entire balance within 5 years. However, a high-paying job doesn’t mean no student debt. Bankrate’s survey found that those making $75,000 or more a year — the highest income category — were most likely to carry college loans, with 44% having student debt.

Find a ‘cheaper’ education

Another way to cut down on education costs is to consider alternatives to pricey private schools. Katz suggests holding off on “name-brand” schools during the undergraduate years and spending that money on well-known graduate programs.

Or, consider community college, trade school, a certificate program or the military, Scanlon says. “Not every student is college material,” he says.

Persaud of Transition Planning & Guidance says that the best college for you or your child is the one that is affordable and doesn’t leave a pile of debt after graduation. “No school offers a money-back guarantee if you can’t find a job after college,” she says.