DULUTH, Ga. (7/20/11)--A new report by Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA) shows how credit unions in the state are using community outreach and financial education initiatives to help Georgians achieve their financial goals. As the economy rebounds, many Georgians are setting their sights on improving their financial situation and adopting a “new normal” lifestyle of saving and frugality, said GCUA. “Credit unions help working people afford life,” said Mike Mercer, GCUA president/CEO. “Average people share common goals--owning a home and a reliable car, being able to send their kids to college, saving for a rainy day, building their retirement nest egg. These are goals we all can relate to. Credit unions help people get there.” The 2011 REAL Deal Outreach Report highlights the impact Georgia credit unions made in 2010 to provide products and services to improve the lives of consumers with middle-class aspirations. Some of the report’s findings:
* 84% of credit unions surveyed offer used-vehicle loans for low-credit-score borrowers; * 79% of credit unions provide a small-value loan of less than $500; * 70% of credit unions have free checking--no monthly or per-check fees and no minimum balance requirements; * 69% of credit unions offer a program to help modest-income members save; * 31% of credit unions provide a mortgage product for moderate-wealth or first-time homebuyers; * Credit union members saved an average of $180 per year on interest expense when financing a $25,000 new auto for 60 months at a credit union, compared with another banking institution in Georgia; and * Small businesses in Georgia were awarded $196 million in business loans from credit unions.
Through outreach to communities and schools, Georgia credit unions offer financial education programs to people of all ages. Credit unions held more than 2,000 educational events in 2010 for youth and adults, according to the report. Also, more than 60% of credit unions offer basic financial education programs and tools to members, and 69% have programs to help modest-income members save. As a natural extension of credit unions’ “people helping people” philosophy, many families have benefitted from partnerships between credit unions and charitable organizations. More than $3.8 million was donated to charitable/community organizations by credit unions in 2010, and more than 51,000 volunteer hours--worth in excess of $1 million--were contributed by credit union staff.