It's essential to build a strong foundation for your financial education before you can build upon it, and sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. The following videos and additional resources can refresh you on what you already know, fill in those knowledge gaps, and hopefully teach you some brand new things as well!
- Credit Union Information
- Money Basics
Before fully understanding the benefits of being a credit union member, you should understand what separates us from a bank and how that benefits you. Below you’ll find short video summaries, and then articles and infographics for additional information about the differences between Credit Unions and banks, and the mission that Credit Unions share.
Banks and credit unions offer essentially the same products and services, but there are huge differences in the way they operate.
The main difference between banks and credit unions is in their structure. Banks are for profit, while credit unions are member-owned and -operated. This means that banks have numerous expenses that credit unions simply don’t have. Banks have to pay their shareholders, their private investors and even their board of directors and all this is in addition to regular operating costs. Banks are set up in a way that allows a select group of people to make money off of your banking activity.
Credit unions, on the other hand, are set up in a way that allows all of their members to benefit from their profits. Once the operating costs are covered and reserves are set aside, the profits are distributed back to members in the form of free banking products, lower interest rates on loans and higher interest rates on savings accounts. Credit unions in the United States are also exempt from federal and state income taxes, which translates to even more profit that comes back to members.
While bank and banking are universally understood and accepted terms, the term credit union is still largely misunderstood and unknown to many. Is it just another name for a bank? Is it a credit card company? Do I have to be in a union to join?
Credit unions are best identified by their adherence to co-operative principles, especially those related to membership and control. Essentially, a co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. These enterprises are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
While ‘credit union’ may be a bit harder than ‘bank’ to grasp, it’s our name and we’re sticking with it! To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
These videos, articles, and quizzes are here to help debunk some money myths, build out your knowledge gaps, and give some helpful tips and tricks for spending and saving. Plus, check out the quiz in Common Money Beliefs to see what type of spender or saver you are!
How did you decide where to open your first bank account? Where did you learn to budget or pay bills? If you have a money question now, what do you do? Who do you turn to?
If you’re under the age of 30, your answers to the above questions are likely some combination of “my parents”, “the Internet” and “I don’t know—I just kind of figured it out”. Although you might have been lucky enough to take life skills classes in high school, most young adults don’t receive any kind of formal financial education. So, it’s likely that you’ll need to seek guidance when it comes to money management.
That guidance can come from any combination of sources: family, friends, apps, blogs, classes, forums, financial institutions, articles, books—the list goes on. No source is inherently better than the others, as long as it empowers you financially. But the reality is that when it comes to getting financial advice, most of us have a comfort zone or a pattern we fall into: we ask mom and dad because that’s how we’ve always done it, or we start with an online search because we’re not comfortable with asking someone for help. Your default information sources say a lot about you and your values, and even though each source has good things going for it, it’s important to keep an open mind. Your financial health can always benefit from including new sources of advice.
Budgets are like the New Year’s resolutions of personal finance. We all know we should have one and we all know it’s a fairly simple thing to follow—at least in theory. Like resolutions, we often map out personal budgets with the best of intentions, only to abandon them a couple of weeks later.
It’s easy to blame our budget failures on the numbers we use, or the categories we create, or even the specific app or budgeting system we choose—but more often than not, the underlying cause of a hard-to-stick-to budget is our relationship with it. Just like resolutions, if we design budgets that are too restrictive or too vague, there’s no motivation to follow them.
Whether you’re planning your first budget or re-evaluating your current budget, these ground rules will set you up for success by changing the way you look at budgeting. It doesn’t matter if you manage your budget on your smartphone or if you prefer good ol’ pen and paper— these budgeting basics can be applied to every budgeting system.
Budgeting is a skill that helps you make smart decisions with your money. It ensures that you’re spending less than you earn, it prepares you for life’s curveballs, and it funds your goals and your dreams. Unfortunately, budgeting is often seen as restrictive and overwhelming. Financial priorities are deeply personal, so it can be challenging to find the right combination of strategies and tools that work for you.
If you’re new to budgeting or if you don’t feel confident with your current mix of budgeting tools, give proportional budgeting a try. A proportional budget divides your income into categories by percentage. It’s a simple concept to apply, it pairs well with the spreadsheets and/or apps you may already be using, and it can be easily tailored to suit your specific needs. Most importantly, it will make you think about your expenses in a completely new light.
Every year, it’s nice to do a bit of “financial spring cleaning” and declutter your filing cabinet, your desk drawers, and the various hiding places where miscellaneous scraps of paper tend to accumulate and multiply. Find out what you should be saving, and what’s OK to shred.
When you start looking for financial advice (or any kind of advice, for that matter), experts will share their take on what’s “good” and what’s “bad.” In personal finance, there are some classifications that we can all agree on: Debt is bad. Emergency funds are good. Overdrawing your account is bad. Earning interest on your savings is good.
Aside from the obvious examples, the guidelines are a bit murky; plus, the financial advice gurus often contradict each other. One expert will tell you that spending money is “bad” and saving money is “good.” The next will say that saving money is “bad” and investing it is “good.” Another might tell you that there are some “bad” investments and some forms of “good” debt.
If you’re waging an inner battle of good vs. bad every time you whip out your credit card or peek at your monthly bank statement, it’s probably time to give your views on budgeting a shake-up. Start by losing the desire to classify everything as “good” and “bad.” There are good and bad ways to spend money, just as there are good and bad ways to save it. Following that logic, there are good and bad ways to budget.
Depending on who you are, filling in the blank above can be an exciting, troubling or outright confusing task. If you happen to be a kindergartner, filling in the blank is awesome, because at that age, dinosaur and superhero are both perfectly viable career options. If you happen to be in high school, filling in the blank can be motivating because it takes all your talents and interests and captures them in a single goal that you can pursue through high school and past graduation day. If you happen to be an adult, filling in the blank can be a little bit terrifying because that could mean you’re now a grown-up (regardless of whether or not you feel like one) and here you are, still secretly looking for ideas.
Choosing a career path is a big deal. Even if you don’t consider yourself career-driven, your choice of vocation will inevitably influence your lifestyle. Income is only part of the equation—your career also has the ability to determine where you end up living, who you end up meeting, and the activities you end up having time for.
Living on your own for the first time can be empowering. It means having independence and all the things that come with it. Some of those things—like not having to share a bathroom—are wonderful. Others—like killing spiders yourself—are not so fun. And leading the pack in the not-so-fun category: bills.
Bills tend to sneak up on us because they don’t fit nicely into a routine. They all have different due dates, some are delivered to your mailbox and others to your inbox, some need to be paid monthly and others yearly, and some have amounts that fluctuate. It takes a lot of wrangling to get them all under control.
Bills may not stick to a routine, but you sure can. No matter how you keep track of your bills, you still need to take the time to manage them. It can be as simple as 15 minutes, once a week.
Supporting your local community is a positive thing—it builds relationships, it strengthens the local economy, and it makes your neighborhood a happier and healthier place to work and play. The most obvious way to support your surrounding community is with the choices you make with your dollars. Money you spend in your community is recirculated in the local economy instead of being extracted from it. This translates into more local jobs, more opportunities for local business owners and service providers, and more tax dollars that stay in the community. Supplementing your grocery shopping list with fresh farmers’ market finds, choosing independent cafés and restaurants over national chains, and purchasing art and gifts from local vendors are all simple ways to support your local economy.
But what if you don’t have the extra cash to contribute to your favorite neighborhood businesses? What if the bulk of your spending is already happening locally? Good news—there are a few creative ways that you can boost your local economy without spending a single cent.