Credit Unions: Better Banking Option Your Family?

Not happy with your bank? It may be time to switch. Learn how credit unions work and see if they’re a better banking option for you!

Move Your Money to a Better Banking Option

Where you bank matters. For most families, their checking and savings accounts are the foundation of their financial system. When it's not working, it just makes everything harder.

We know because we’ve had some really bad experiences with a few of the big banks.

Whether it was poor customer service, needless fees, and minimum balances requirements (even though the interest rates they were offering were abysmal), we just felt like it was a headache and chore dealing with them.

Years ago we decided to move our money to where we could get great service and get perks like better rates with savings. One of the places we picked was a credit union, specifically Coastal Credit Union. We’ve been happy with switching over, but the focus today is not on us, but on you.

It doesn’t matter to me whether you choose a community bank, credit union, online, or yes, one of the big players. I just want you to be happy where you bank. Seriously.

Which is why I’m happy to have Emily Nails, VP of Cooperative Strategies and Executive Director of the Coastal Credit Union Foundation on the show today.

Not only are they a sponsor of this podcast, but they’ve also been our credit union for over ten years.

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • how credit unions work
  • the benefits that credit union members can enjoy
  • how credit unions benefits their communities

Let’s get started!

Resources to Easily Manage Your Money

Your money should be working as hard as you, but managing it should be easy. Here are some of my favorite tools and resources to stay on top of your finances!

If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families.

We’re families looking to support and help one another out. Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

thanks to our podcast sponsor Coastal Credit Union. If you want to live better, you have to bank better!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Credit Unions: Better Banking for Familes?

Elle Martinez: For those who maybe are not familiar with the differences between a bank and a credit union, could you kind of go over those ways that they're different, but also They offer a lot of the same things, and I think there's a kind of confusion about

Emily Nails: that. Yes, that's a great kickoff point. A credit union is a not for profit business model, whereas a bank is a for profit business model.

That's the big glaring difference if you're looking at just the businesses as a whole. When you get into a credit union, we're actually set up In the business model of a cooperative, which means that the members, those people that we serve actually own the organization.

A cooperative business model is for the people that we are serving, we don't have shareholders. As you said earlier, we are not nickel and diming everyone. I love that we are not because those [00:01:00] people that we serve and use our products and services are actually the owners of the organization. It's a really unique opportunity to technically have ownership in an organization.

Elle Martinez: Just to kind of hammer in on that point of the business model, and yes, I was mentioning nickel and diming, but really the business model behind banking is they have to answer to their shareholders, right?

There's always this responsibility in a sense, whether you know, that's your business model or not of making sure that it is profitable, that they're hitting their goals and there's target their targets and their expectations.

What Advantages Does a Credit Union Offer to Members Compared to a Bank?

Elle Martinez: But with a cooperative, they answer to the members. It seems kind of small, but I know I've been a Coastal member for over ten years and I've noticed a difference with a lot of type of like with the better interest rates, I've noticed on both sides with the savings. You guys have been pumping that up.

I'm excited because I mean if there's going to be a upside to this higher interest rate period. It's at least, my savings is making some money on that. But then also on the other side is the mortgage, I noticed you guys have really competitive rates.

We have our current mortgage with Coastal and that really is that reflection, like you mentioned, if the shareholder, so the money isn't going to someone who owns the stock. It's the members in the community. I think a lot of people don't really appreciate, that's something that credit unions just based on the models can do.

Emily Nails: That money doesn't go to the stakeholders that goes back to the owners in the form of those types of benefits, better rates, better savings, better products, better services.

We align ourselves with the communities that we serve, so we look at what the needs are for those communities and for those members and we provide those solutions. Cooperative business model is around solutions for those groups of people.

You typically find in cooperative business models the members or the owners or the users basically are finding a solution that works best for them. That's a really unique way of looking at the credit union.

On top of that, the cooperative business model has cooperative principles that we follow and those cooperative principles align across industries. So, whether you're looking at a food cooperative, a credit union, an electric cooperative utility telephone any of those, we all have these principles.

There are original seven cooperative principles and now in North Carolina, we've adopted an eighth cooperative principle.

These principles really outline how we can help our community and help our membership be the best opportunity and sustainable and helping our community education, all kinds of great things that really lead us and how we drive our organizations.

Elle Martinez: I do want to talk a little bit more about how you're educating members because I think that is a fantastic resource for a lot of people, but just taking a step back talking about the services that you offer. I know, different credit unions they put their energies different ways, but coastal and a lot of credit unions nowadays.

From the customer member side, you don't see much of a difference. Like the app, I use the app constantly. I work from home. I do a lot of direct deposit, digital deposits, but I still have clients that send me checks. And so it's just easy to, do the check deposit right through the app. Can you talk about that?

Cause I think a lot of people think, ‘Oh, credit unions are a little behind', and I think more and more credit unions, especially Coastal, maybe a little bit about its history, is they're pretty innovative and a lot of things that we need to do we can do already.

Coastal Credit Union's History

Emily Nails: Definitely. So, Coastal was originally the IBM Credit Union so we came from some really impressive folks that started a credit union in a broom closet in one of the IBM branches.

They started this because there was a problem to solve – they needed access to financing. They needed to find a way that they could lend money to each other so they created this credit union to solve that problem.

From there, we have actually, at Coastal, been really innovative with our technology and our offering. A lot of times, people have this misconception that credit unions are behind the times.

I'm not sure if that came originally just because it was a grassroots effort to start these organizations. But really, Coastal does take innovation and creativity and thinking outside the box really to the next level.

With our tellers are housed in one location, and you can go into any of our locations and speak to a teller virtually gives us the opportunity to not only save our members money by, one of the biggest costs associated with any type of organization is salaries.

We have a very streamlined way of having our members see a teller, but also through our different digital offerings, where we can go out into different communities and help out with the solutions that these folks need, the products that they need. So we do look like a bank, but we're a credit union. We're a cooperative.

Financial Education for Credit Union Members

Elle Martinez: For a lot of families at the end of the day, it's like, ‘can I just take care of what I need to with my finances?' and ‘can I get the deal that I need – whether it's savings or a mortgage?' I think if credit unions are not on people's radars, they should at least, try see what's available, especially here in the triangle with Coastal.

But I do want to talk about some unique benefits. The first one is besides the website and the app, Coastal has like an education center. you guys have on YouTube, you got seminars and a lot of things on that. Can you kind of talk a little bit more about what Coastal offers and then also why it's so important to have that for the members?

Emily Nails: Definitely. One of our cooperative principles is education, training, and knowledge. And that not only applies to our internal employees and board members and volunteers, but that applies to our membership and making sure that they're educated in budgeting, saving wealth management, mortgage, you know, home ownership.

Coastal really believes in affordable housing and providing that opportunity to everybody and. With our education offerings, you mentioned some of them.

We have some online that people can do as a stealth self study opportunity, but we also have different departments inside the credit union that will come out on site and do trainings, interactions, things with different groups, depending on the audience.

Just briefly, we have a wealth management division that will come out onsite and assist with, what does retirement savings look like? What does investments look like? What do you need to set up all of these different aspects of future planning.

We have our mortgage and our real estate department here in site, so we can go out and talk about. What is a first time home buying program? What opportunities are out there to get grant money or to get home buying assistance money for those first time home buyers? We have realtors on site that help us, find where the best places to look for different ownership opportunities.

We [also] have a community impact team. I might be biased because I'm part of it, but we have a team that goes on site to schools and does a program called the reality of money where these students get an adult profile and they have to make life work. They might be just given as a student right now, but they actually have the light bulb go off about how expensive it is to live the life.

There's a statistic out there that there are people living and earning over $100,000 dollars a year and they're still living paycheck to paycheck because they don't know how to budget that money. So that's really a critical thing to understand that it doesn't matter where your salary falls.

It matters how, you know, how to spend that money or save that money and invest in yourself for the future.

Taking Care of Coastal Members

Elle Martinez: I think that's important because Especially within the last few years, I think besides of course, taking care of the essential, you know, banking options, we are more aligning towards, putting our money, spending our money, saving our money for things that are important to us and our values and community supporting the community is absolutely one of those concerns of ours.

For us as a family and that was something I noticed during the pandemic with coastal that I really appreciated, right? It wasn't just like a slogan. We take care of our people, but I saw like loan modifications.

I was getting emails as a member of just Coastal being proactive, ‘How can we help?'

Emily Nails: Did you get the email out during the pandemic, offering toilet paper?

Elle Martinez: I may have missed that one, but I wouldn't be surprised. It was really helpful because I actually had friends and family that are coastal members, and I was like, did you check your email?

It really was a relief. But besides taking care of members. Another thing I really respect about coastal is the focus on the community, like the money and again. I know with the credit unions, how it's structured. The money is not going just to shareholders.

It's coming back to the members. It's coming back to the community. Could you tell me a little bit about some of the programs the foundation's doing with the community coastal is working with and why it's such a priority?

Emily Nails: Definitely. So with our Coastal Credit Union Foundation, we have this 501(c)3 arm of the credit union, the philanthropic arm, and we have a couple different focuses that we have for granting non profits in our communities to make a bigger impact.

So those areas are affordable housing, like I said earlier, that's a huge focus for us. It's a need in our area.

Financial well being, which comes anywhere from the education side to just being able to have an account and understand that account and use it to the maximum benefit of the member. And then the last 1 is access to resources.

I like to call this our catch all bucket, but we have, like, a really soft spot for food insecurity. Around that access to resources and making sure that, you know, we are assisting nonprofits that are making this impact in our community. So we have sixteen different counties that we serve around the triangle area, and the foundation really focuses on organizations that are, you know, aiming to solve these 3 areas of funding.

We go out, we meet with these people, we grant money, But it doesn't stop there. We then bring those organizations along with us for the ride, because we also have a really big emphasis on employee volunteerism. This is critical in a cooperative. Giving back of our time, talents, and our treasures is something that we believe in and building a community requires that.

We then bring our nonprofits in and make sure that they have all the, you know, help they need in volunteer hours. So we have an internal opportunity for our staff to sign up for these different volunteer hours throughout the year. And so every employee gets 8 paid hours to go out and volunteer throughout the year at whatever organization they choose.

They don't have to choose from one of ours, but we definitely provide our employees with opportunities that are maybe outside of their, you know, normal day to day to go out and volunteer with these nonprofits. Then the next step to this is that we bring those folks together to network and connect with other foundations.

In the spring, we hosted a philanthropy summit. And it was hosted alongside some other credit union foundations, as well as some other for profit organizations who have foundations as well.

We bring in all these nonprofit leaders to not only network. Amongst themselves, but also meet the leaders of these other foundations to give them access to more grant opportunities and more opportunities to create a bigger impact.

That was done in the spring and we'll have another 1 here in the fall. And these are different ways that we really show that we care about the communities that we're serving.

We have this cooperative mission vision value that we want to make sure our members are being taken care of in the best way we can.

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