When people hear the word sustainability, they often think it has something to do with our planet but if we take a deeper cut or a closer look, the true definition of sustainability extends to all areas of our life. This includes making sustainable choices when it comes to our finances. Sustainable financial choices not only lead to a healthier, more secure financial future, but can also help create more opportunities for fun, supporting and having a significantly more positive impact on your local community (a.k.a. localism) as well as having more discretionary funds to spend on things we care about most.
What is Localism?
Let’s start off with the big one: Localism. Localism is grounded in the belief that relationships matter most. The way we interact with where we live, who we do business with, how we connect with people in our community – all of it matters. Localism is creating quality jobs in our community and shifting capital from “Wall Street to Main Street”.
Localism starts with you. It begins with how you see the world and extends to relationships in your business and in your community, and the actions you take to strengthen the fabric of the place you live. As Localists, we recognize the powerful ripple effect of our everyday decisions!
Localists eat in locally-owned restaurants, they shop in locally-owned bookstores, gift shops, retail stores and even coffee shops where the staff might even know their morning drink order as soon as they walk in the door.
And of course, Localists become members of a local credit union because they care that their community remains sustainable and financially sound. Let’s dig deeper into this one. Why would being a Localist lead one to the door of a local credit union?
Why Local Credit Unions?
Here are some “sustainable” reasons why a credit union, like Vantage West, tops a big, impersonal bank – every day in every way:
- Credit union membership is open to anyone in their field of membership who wants to join, and the benefits begin immediately! There’s no “sending it off to corporate in another state” for approval. When you become a member, you become an owner, and that means something.
- Research indicates that members are more satisfied with their credit union than customers are with their banks. For more than 20 years, customer satisfaction with credit unions has consistently rated higher than for big banks. Added bonus? Research also indicates that credit unions are the most trusted segment of the financial services industry.
- Credit unions’ interest rates on credit cards and loans are often lower compared to big bank rates. And free or no-fee checking is alive and well at many credit unions. In the case of Vantage West, there are special products offered like Checking with Rewards, which provides rewards points on qualifying purchases and an easy-to waive monthly fee and Essential Checking, a no-frills, no monthly fee option that works well for minimalists. They also offer a Connect Rewards Visa® Signature credit card that pays up to 5% cash back on qualifying purchases. Rewards points redeemable for 5% cash-back, no fee checking and loans with reasonable rates all contribute to your sustainable future!
- Credit unions offer a more personalized way of handling finances. They care about us, they value their member-owners, and they care about earning our business. As the national economy becomes more complex, credit unions are listening to their members and adapting their loan offerings, which means you’ll have a more personalized experience when securing personal and small business loans at your local credit union.
- Credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives owned by members, not stockholders. That means their whole reason for being is to assist the financial wellness of their members. They want to be profitable for all the right reasons which benefits the members and the communities in which they operate.
- Another excellent and exciting reason to choose a credit union? Credit union resources are returned to member-owners in the form of lower fees and forward-thinking products and services. Big bank’s profits are funneled into expensive national advertising budgets and board and shareholder compensation packages.
- Credit unions are operated BY the people in your community; serving the local community and being involved in community causes is a point of pride for credit unions. Since 1986, the industry’s Credit Unions for Kids program has generated $75 million for children’s hospitals, and the monies raised by individual credit unions go to hospitals in their area. This is one joint effort among hundreds of other contributions made to a variety of local nonprofits and worthy causes. Talk about sustainable and exciting!
- If you think you’ll need to sacrifice convenience or service by banking with a credit union, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by credit unions’ constant innovations and dedication to continuous enhancements to the member experience. Don’t believe me? Try Vantage West’s ClickSWITCH to see how easy it is to move your banking relationships, including automatic transfers and direct deposits to a local credit union.
Given our ever-changing and constantly evolving world, it makes good sense for all of us to continue working on financial literacy and education. We all need to review our finances, assess our spending and saving habits and make sure we are building a sustainable future for ourselves. Being financially literate will help to insure a more joyful, exciting and worry-free future. Being a member of a locally-owned, well-respected credit union is a great step to take on this journey! To learn more about Vantage West, visit VantageWest.org.