Today is a big day. First of all, it's International Credit Union Day. So seriously, raise your hands in the air and give a care about your finances, and go out and join a credit union if you're not already a member.
Why, you ask? Well, golly gee whiz, I'll tell you! Here are six reasons why you should be a member of a credit union, accompanied by some absolutely STELLAR videos that the Young & Free Spokesters made at our summit in September! (These tips are adapted from 7principles.coop!)
1) Membership is Open to All
Gone are the days where you had to be in a "special club" to join. Credit unions want to help the underbanked and credit-challenged members of the community to get their financial feet on the ground, which is why credit union membership is open to all who live or work in the specific credit union's region. No discrimination here - age, sex, social status, race, politics, religion, whether you like U of M or Michigan State - it doesn't matter to credit unions!
2) Members Call the Shots
Credit unions are member-owned. That's right. If you're a CU member, you call the shots. The Board of Directors are elected democratically from the membership!
In the words of Seth, Young & Free Maine: "I don't have a gun, but I call the shots."
3) Rates & Fee Should Benefit Members
Every decision in a credit union is made for the benefit of the members. Any extra profit a CU makes is returned to the members in the form of extra services, lower fees, or higher dividends on deposits. I'd like to know if any banks do that!
4) Just as Accessible as Banks
It's kind of a myth that credit unions aren't as accessible as banks. Sure, you may not be able to find a branch of Michigan First on every street corner, but you can always use online banking, mobile banking apps for smartphones, text banking, or one of 28,000 ATMS in the Credit Union Co-Op Network, a network of ATMs that allows surcharge-free banking for credit union members. That's seriously awesome. Who goes into a branch anymore anyway? (Okay, I know some people still like to go into a branch - to each his/her own!)
In the words of Kaylie Gaga, Young & Free Ontario: "ATM Networks, it's time that you knew -- do all your transactions at no charge to you!"
5) Financial Education
Credit unions want to help you learn. They're not there to reap in the monetary benefits of your money mismanagement -- CUs believe that not only is financial education crucial, but it should be free and accessible to all members! Don't stop learning!
In the words of Matt, Michelle, and Lee (Y&F Indiana, New Mexico, and Alabama respectively): "Credit Unions, livin' just to educate you."
6) Giving Back to the Community
Credit unions believe that helping people is AWESOME! CUs like to feel connected to their members and all their needs, listening to their concerns and sponsoring local events to keep active in everything that's important to the membership. People helping people! Always cool!
We here at Young & Free really care about the Credit Union Difference, and we want you to care too! So feel free to share the videos and this blog post and help spread the word!
Stay awesome and LIVE YOUNG & FREE!