Should We Switch to a Credit Union?

 Are you frustrated with your bank? Are you getting hit with needless fees? Or feeling like you have to fight to get some good customer service?

Today, we're going to look at credit unions and we're going to see why they may be the right option for you.  

Why Where You Bank Matters

One of the most important decisions you can make with your money is choosing where you bank because it's the foundation of your family's finances. 

Ideally, you want a banking system that allows you to take care of your essential bills, save up for important goals, and set aside something for fun, like vacations.

As you heard in the teaser, though – that can be difficult when your bank is working against your best interest. 

The good news is that those banks that are on the news aren’t your only option. 

You can get better services and competitive rates by moving your money. One overlooked option that can give you both is switching to a credit union.

Joe Mecca from Coastal Federal Credit Union and I are discussing and answering some big questions families typically have about credit unions. 

Now, if you’ve been a part of this community, you already know Coastal Credit Union is a sponsor. However, you may not know that we have been members of Coastal years before they came on board here. 

I’ll include a link so you can hear the details, but a very long story short, we had been burned and were frustrated by our old bank, which happened to be one of the big banks. I’m almost embarrassed at how long we waited, but finally, we had enough, so we looked for other options. 

Eventually, I discovered Coastal and yeah, it’s been like night and day. We've been happy with their service. I’d like you to have the same win.

Whether you're in this area and you use Coastal, some other credit union, or a different banking option, the key thing is I want you to review your finances and make sure you're happy with whoever you decide to bank with.

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • How credit unions work
  • Benefits of being a credit union member
  • How Coastal works for the community

We have a lot to cover, so 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!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

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!

Rollover Your 401(k) Easily with Capitalize

We’re grateful for wonderful partners like Capitalize. Not only do they support the podcast, but they help make managing your money so much easier. 

Did you know that it’s estimated that there are currently over 24 million “forgotten” 401(k) accounts? In fact, the average American changes jobs every 4 years

And because of the Great Resignation, you or someone you know might be changing jobs even more 

It’s an extreme case of out of sight and out of mind. Is your old 401(k) in there somewhere, left behind at a job you're no longer with?

One huge benefit of an IRA is choosing how your money is invested, not your old employer. 

If you want to consolidate your old 401(k) and have more options with how you invest, it may be time to roll them over into an IRA.  

With Capitalize, they handle the process from start to finish – for FREE and yes that includes calling the 401(k) provider on your behalf. 

Find out how and get started today

Should We Move Our Money to a Credit Union?

Elle Martinez: If there's one of those key decisions that we make, it's where we bank and how we bank, right? Because that's the foundation of our finances especially checking in savings.

As you go further along with your financial journey, you're talking about investments, maybe getting some advice, buying a home, maybe starting a business.

If you don't have that foundation, it can be so frustrating. People are quite frankly, feeling like they're getting nickled and dime with where they're currently banking with, but they're not sure where they should move their money.

I would love for you to maybe give someone who's not familiar with what credit unions have to offer, or it's been a while since they looked at credit unions, why they should seriously consider moving their money there.

Joe Mecca: Sure. I'm, again, I'm always gonna be a cheerleader for credit unions. Mm-hmm. If I didn't work for one, I'd still probably have all my money here just because of the nature of who a credit union is and how they work for, for consumers.

For those that don't know, credit union operates much like a bank, but structured very differently. Your big banks are Wall Street institutions that are designed to make money for shareholders.

A credit union is a cooper so we are owned by our members. The people who come in are essentially our customers are also our owners. We are obligated by the nature of who we are, by our purpose, to do what's best for our membership.

That usually comes through in a number of different ways. We see better rates on deposits and usually better rates on loans and then lower fees or fewer fees. So those are kind of three big differentiators that a member of a credit union would see versus doing business with the bank because we're, again, we're obligated to do what's best for our membership.

If we make a little bit extra money, we can return that to our members, whereas a, corporate bank would be obligated to give that money to their shareholders.

So you don't see any benefit from them making a little bit extra but a member of a credit union would see the benefit in that it comes back.

Yeah, and I think this is significant. I've been a coastal member at least seven years. I gotta double check. It's been a while.

We've been happy as members ourselves. We might be a little biased, but we not only use Coastal for our basic checking, savings accounts, but we got our mortgage through them and I did notice a difference.

This is our second mortgage. Our first house was with a bigger bank, which I will not name and the experience to me felt completely different in a good way with coastal local community based. It was great I was going in the branch having these conversations and it felt more like someone walking us step by step and looking beyond just the numbers, having conversations besides buying a house, what other goals you wanna have.

And I'm not saying all banks are bad. You know, we're at the incentives. And then also how are you feeling with the customer service?

I felt like Coastal was a little more holistic versus with the big bank, I felt like literally we were just our case number.

That's the conversation I believe all families should have is where we bank, how do we feel? Do we feel like we're being treated as VIPs? Whether how much is in our bank account or is this a matter of they're just gonna open an account and we never hear from them again.

So that's something I've appreciated about Coastal and like you mentioned, Coastal has a lot of different accounts. Some people may automatically know you got the checking and savings, but Coastal offers a lot more than that. Even more than some typical credit unions. Do you mind going over some of the special feature.

Oh sure. Yeah, we do really a full slate of financial products and services.

We're gonna offer pretty much everything that you're gonna be able to get at the biggest banks. A lot of people think credit unions are small and don't always have that full offering, but, you've mentioned that we've got, checking accounts, savings accounts, course, that's pretty standard.

We do money market, we do certificates, and that's on the deposit side over on the loan side. Not just personal loans and auto loans, but definitely mortgages, home equity products and credit cards as well.

So really all of somebody's day to day financial needs and helping them with all their major purchases are things that the credit union's gonna be able to, to provide.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely and I know you guys have a wealth management service. I would say you guys have a really good web presence, which for some people might not be a big deal, but I know for my husband and I, we do a lot of online banking using our apps.

If I get checks, deposit it through the phone and everything, and Coastal has a seamless, app, digital platform for that.

For those that maybe it's been a few years since they checked out credit unions and that's a hold up or something that they were worried about. I would say credit unions have gotten better and Coastal's done a really good job with that.

Even options like the card nav. I've become such a nerd with some of the tech that you guys are doing right now with the finances.

Joe Mecca: That's one of my favorites too, you know, like turning my turning my cards on and off and, and trying to do anything I can to mitigate fraud or mitigate loss and just get those alerts whenever the cards used.

Elle Martinez: I like that you have those options. I think nowadays, because again, a lot of it's digital. Unfortunately, a lot of scammers, you have people skimming the credit card numbers. Any kind of protection you can get with your accounts where you have control over it, I think is a huge plus.

Besides the financial services, something I wanted to talk to you about is going with a, community bank or a credit union. One of the pluses to me is how involved it is within the community.

Coastal just this summer I was noticing a lot of participation including recently you have invested half a million. Coastal has the foundation into affordable housing solutions in the area. I'd love to know, how is that a priority with coastal deciding which programs to get involved in? Kind of

Joe Mecca: wanna get the scoop on that. So, and we've been doing work through our foundation for a number of years, but it's definitely a growing presence for us.

Mm-hmm. Yeah, as a cooperative concern for community is actually one of our operating principles.

We always wanna make sure that we're doing what's best for not just, you know, our members and our employees, but, The community around them. You need to have, have a healthy, thriving community in order for your membership to get the maximum benefit.

We try to work with nonprofit organizations in our area that are really hitting on projects that fit well within also our expertise and things that we're able to not just provide funding for, but even some guidance and some extra help.

Just because of the nature of the business that we're in and, what we're capable of providing. One of the areas of focus for our foundation is, helping affordable housing. It's definitely a growing need in our area.

I think for a long time. Mm-hmm. This was viewed as an area that had extremely affordable housing by comparison to other markets. Yeah. Despite the rapid growth of the area, it was a lot cheaper here to get a home than say like Boston or San Francisco or something like that.

But we started to see in the last several years that home prices are really starting to tick up. It's hard and harder to find land to build on. Rents are skyrocketing. Yeah. So all the way around the affordable housing is definitely becoming concerned for this area and we wanted to make sure that we were addressing it.

A couple years ago we actually added that to one of our foundation's areas of focus and him been on the lookout for projects that really fit into that. We've worked with Habitat for Humanity for a number of years and have helped provided low cost loans for their clients. Mm-hmm.

This year we really saw some opportunities to step up in a number of ways. And in August announced that we were gonna do a half million dollars in grants. All for affordable housing and, and projects that are, loosely tied together in some ways.

We're funding a project to build affordable housing, affordable apartments in Chapel Hill. We're helping build habitat houses in Orange County and Durham County. We're working to, support a couple other organizations, a couple other projects, and then this year we're actually partnered with United Way and Band together for their concert in October to help raise money for actually all of the organizations that we've supported individually.

I think it's nine or 11 organizations total that are gonna benefit and they're all focused on affordable housing this year as well so really trying to step up and help, get some momentum behind some of the projects that are going on locally that might help combat the rising housing costs.

Elle Martinez: Absolutely. I think that's in the minds of so many families. I know for those who already have a home in the area, it's a good thing.

At the same time, those who wanna make that transition, they're having a harder time like you mentioned with Rent Rising. Some were trying to save up for a home, but now the rent just jumped up.

Again, I saw 22% in Durham, and I believe in Raleigh was around that maybe a little bit more per year. That cuts into savings for future things like buying a house and I think this is just important to mention because yes, of course we wanna whoever we bank with wanna make sure that our finances are taken care of.

We get in some competitive rates, whether that's on the saving sides on the loan side, but I think many people are also asking themselves, if I'm gonna move my money, if I'm gonna, make this effort and switch, why not do it with a banking option that's treating me well, but hopefully also the community it's in.

I think that is something that people are considering more in addition to maybe the financial benefits. To wrap up, I do wanna point out that Coastal has some pretty impressive programs and extra bits that can help families make real progress with their finances besides, the basic stuff.

We got our mortgage through Coastal, but we also used Daymark Reality to find our House. Very happy. Loved the team. Made the process so stress free.

Then my husband and I of all times, Joe, we bought a , We bought a car two months before the pandemic, but we used the auto smartt.

Oh, nice, nice. Yeah. Yeah. And got a great deal and it. We went to a dealership and they were great, but that was one of the things I didn't wanna do a dealership cuz I was afraid about the price. But Coastal had that, they honored the price and we were out there, same day, got a card that we love.

Two and a half years later and barely has any miles on it but we still got a great deal.

Joe Mecca: I can completely hear you on that one. I actually had to do a little maintenance on my car yesterday and I went to go, log it and see where I was. Yeah, I just outta curiosity, look back at, you know, what kind of mileage I'd put on in the last year and, and it's only been 4,000 miles, so that car might last me a couple more years, but yeah, you did mention auto smartt.

That's actually a pretty awesome tool that's on our website and lets people, search for both new and used cars in this market. You get some really good pricing out of and it's a lot of note hassle.

Daymark again, always great. I'm actually using them right now, so, Oh, nice. Hopefully that works out pretty well for us. Earlier you talked about our wealth management services as well, so that would kind of handle all of the more complex and little higher level financial needs. People doing retirement planning. Mm-hmm. and asset protection insurance.

Even helping set aside money for, college savings and that kind of thing. So, as far as product services, financial services, we've got it covered. Yeah, we can do pretty much anything somebody's gonna need but we're gonna do it with a different focus and the focus is gonna be you.

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