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3 posts categorized "Saving"

April 22, 2010

Making a Statement - How much "green" are you saving?

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by Ron Daly 

Happy Earth Day, everybody! Here's hoping you carpooled to work, you're recycling all your soda cans, and you've changed all your light bulbs to those cool curvy ones. Most of all, we hope your credit union is offering electronic statements and documents to save money and save trees. 

You're curious. How many trees am I actually saving? The answer might surprise you. It takes a lot of paper to create those mailed statements that go out at the beginning of the month, and given your number of members receiving two, three, and four sheets of paper per month, the number of trees you can save with eStatements ever year can be quite surprising - not to mention the costs you're saving by encouraging members to go green by going paperless. 

DigitalMailer Green Check-Up - Click here to get your diagnosis!

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We've created a very simple calculator to help determine how "eGreen" your credit union is. Click here to visit digitalmailer.com/greencheckup and run your numbers through our calculator to see how you're doing and how much "green" you're saving. You can share your score via Twitter or Facebook, or email us for more info. 

What are you doing to make your credit union greener - today, or any day? Let us know in the comments. 

April 06, 2010

Information: The Number One Enemy of Bad Lending

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by Ron Daly 

I recently learned about "Borrow and Save", a program started in Baltimore by the Neighborhood Housing Services, banks and the FDIC. The program allows underserved consumers to borrow as much as $1000 at an 8% interest rate, but requires that they go through a "financial fitness" class to get the money. 

This story from WAMU in Washington talks about one consumer who has already been helped by this program. 

"I grabbed the number as soon as I seen it. I said ‘I can’t believe this is happening.' This is what I want, way better than the alternative was," says Witherspoon.

The alternative was a cash advance loan with a double-digit interest rate. Witherspoon says he did that before and it took about three years to get clear of all the repayments...

Witherspoon used his loan to pay some bills and move to a safer neighborhood with his wife and grand-kids. But he says the financial counseling was more valuable than the cash. One lesson: pay yourself first.

"So now I snatch $40 out of my pay no matter what going to a savings account just to make sure I got a little extra that I don’t need or don’t touch. That’s a plus for me," he says.

Music to a former CFO's ears. 

Here's the cold, hard truth - folks in underserved/underbanked areas that take on payday loans aren't "borrowers" so much as "victims". The rates are ridiculous (650% APR, in some cases), the terms are ridiculous (loans rolled over after the initial period, which many lawmakers are seeking to end), and borrowers who are barely getting by are finding themselves further away from financial stability as a result. A little information goes a long way in getting folks who previously thought financial management was unattainable on the right path to recovery and eventual prosperity.

I know there are community CUs and specialty CUs that cater to folks like Mr. Witherspoon (mentioned in the story above), and if they have programs like this I'd love to hear more about it. I think CUs that offer programs/packages such as this are doing good work, work that should be mentioned and applauded. If your credit union offers similar programs and is fighting hard against the pull of cash advance and payday lending, let us know. We will devote a story to your credit union's anti-payday program and give you the credit you deserve.

Your thoughts and opinions are welcome, as always, in the comments section. 

August 18, 2009

Free Money – Well, Sort Of

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by Ron Daly

Just returned from a family vacation at the beach and wanted to share a "Free Money" story. Like most families on vacation, I quickly ran out of the cash in my pocket and needed to hit an ATM. While sitting in beach traffic one afternoon I tossed my iPhone to my wife and asked her to see if there were any credit unions in the area. Figured if I was going to pay an ATM fee to get some cash I might as well keep it in the CU Industry (yes, I bleed credit unions!) 

Better yet, I asked her to go to our Credit Union’s Free ATM locator (NWFCU.org) on their site in Northern Virginia and see if there were any surcharge- free ATMs we could use. She plugged in the zip code of the traffic light we were sitting at and bingo. We found that within three blocks of our hotel was my new friend Carolina Trust FCU

Their free ATM saved us about $10 in ATM fees over the course of the week. In a few short minutes we found free money offered by a credit union. Americans spend approximately $10 Billion a year in ATM transaction fees. WHAT CAN YOU GET TO BUILD THIS OUT? 

Think of all the money we could save our members if we educate them on finding and using surcharge-free ATMs. Think how aggravated the banks would be if no one used their machines and paid them the $2-$3 per transaction they earn. 

I don’t know which one is better!