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CUs Help with New Year's Financial Resolutions
MADISON, Wis. (12/31/13)--A record number of consumers--54% of Americans surveyed by Fidelity Instruments--are considering making a financial New Year's resolution for 2014. Some consumers are tying their resolutions to what they have learned from credit unions.
 
For example, Cal Mathis of Brooklyn, N.Y., plans to boost his savings, eliminate card debt and open an Individual Retirement Account to save for retirement--three takeaways from a financial literacy seminar he attended that was offered by McGraw-Hill FCU's Manhattan branch, he told the New York Daily News (Dec. 30). After attending the credit union's seminar, the father of three decided to set the goals and commit himself to those goals.
 
Fidelity's survey, for the third consecutive year, found that the top three New Year's financial resolutions include saving more (54%), paying off debt (24%) and spending less (19%).  Debt resolution increased threefold since 2010, when only 8% survey respondents planned to pay off debt (Forbes Dec. 30).
 
While many members and nonmembers learn from money management seminars and reality fairs provided by credit unions, other credit unions are providing New Year's advice in the media.
 
The Denver Post (Dec. 30) advised its readers that if their New Year's resolutions included getting a better grasp on personal finances, then start by comparing their bank's checking account with other checking accounts. It noted consumers should learn more than just their balance. They should learn how long it takes for a financial institution to process the check just deposited, know what the minimum requirement is for the account, and read the fine print to determine whether the FI raises interest rates on its card if the consumer is late paying other credit card bills.
 
John Rivera, vice president of branch sales and service at Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Bellco CU, told the Post's readers to check whether their institution is local. That matters if a consumer wants a mortgage because a local institution understands the local market better, he said. Also, consumers should look at whether they would be dealing with a call center overseas or a local service representative, he added.
 
Michael Sabatino, managing director of financial planning and education at McGraw-Hill FCU, advised consumers making financial resolutions to look at their after-tax income and expenses and set priorities. Be prepared to downsize if necessary. "Everyone talks about it, but few do it," he told the New York Daily News.
 
Use the link for several personal finance resources that can help credit unions educate members about money management.
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