Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Washington Post: Credit Unions Great for Promoting Thrift

A personal finance columnist for The Washington Post backed a new idea Sunday to launch a national thrift campaign and noted credit unions should be featured as an important tool to fight consumers' excessive reliance on credit.

Michelle Singletary, who writes "The Color of Money" column for the publication, noted a movement afoot by a coalition of consumer advocates, public policy groups and academics. They want to attack the country's dependence on debt by "creating a national campaign much like the one used to curb smoking."

The organizations mounting the effort include the Institute for American Values, the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, the New American Foundation, Public Agenda, the Consumer Federation of American and the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.

I agree with Michelle! Let's make it cool to save!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Poor Banks--Members Demand CU Small Biz Loans

Poor banks. They're having to fight credit unions who have the audacity to try to serve their members with small business loans. That's the tone of a tongue-in-cheek article written by the San Antonio market's top business columnist.

David Hendricks' article, "Man, credit unions have really got their nerve," appears in the San Antonio Express-News (Feb. 26). It notes that "those darn credit unions" are "at it again, trying to lure business away from banks."

He tells the story about credit unions responding to member demands for small business loans. And then the banks got selfish.
"That's when credit unions became alarming, and banks knew what to do. They hired lobbyists to make sure the credit unions didn't get too big for their britches. Congress set things straight in 1998 by limiting credit-union business loans to 12.25 percent of any credit union's assets."

Mr. Hendricks is one smart business columnist. Read the entire piece here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kansas Activist: 'Banks Try to Limit Choices'

Glenda Overstreet, an active volunteer in Topeka, Kansas, railed against bank efforts to limit financial choice in her state. She urged her fellow citizens to stand up for themselves.

Overstreet says she's not anti-bank, but notes anything that suppresses the consumer's right to choice is of deep concern.
"Don't get me wrong--I'm not against banks because I also use them. I'm against any effort that would restrict freedom of choice because I believe competition keeps companies focused on ensuring quality customer service."

She urges readers to contact state lawmakers to make their views known.
"Those whom I have visited with on this issue believe many banks, with the exception of a few, don't meet the needs of the community when it comes to providing financial alternatives for small-business loans, emergency personal loans or financial matters that help meet low-income or working poor challenges."

Read the entire post "Glenda Overstreet: Banks try to limit choices."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Miss America's Credit Union!

The tune, "There she is, Miss America..." replayed in my head for more than an hour after I read this follow-up story in the NY Daily News. (The worst part is those are the only lyrics I remember from when my parents and I watched Bert Parks croon yet another teary-eye beauty queen. I needed a strong shot of Linkin Park to rinse it away.)

Check it out: Former Miss America an East Harlem homeowner thanks to credit union.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Actors Have Their Own Credit Union

Since it's Oscars week, a story in today's New York Daily News is especially timely. Actors Federal Credit Union in New York City focuses on the needs of--you guessed it--actors.
The credit union's first mortgage borrower was "Law & Order" star Jerry Orbach, who died in 2004. When he got a loan for a West Side brownstone in 1967, he had a role in "The Fantasticks," which became the longest-running off-Broadway show ever.

One credit union loan officer named Paul Cole is a former actor. When making a home loan, Cole doesn't just consider a potential borrower's credit history. He really knows his members:
"When a would-be borrower's main source of income is a play, Cole checks ticket sales, reads reviews and tunes into industry buzz to assess its chances for a continued run."

The story explains why this credit union is so focused on these thespians:
Because it's a credit union, it's a nonprofit owned by its members. Deposits fund the mortgages. It keeps its $35 million mortgage portfolio, rather than reselling the loans to investors, the common practice which contributed to the subprime mortgage mess.

Cole also explains his prudent due-diligence in making mortgage loans:
"We are determined to make our members homeowners, but we're not a charity," he said. "We must also protect our assets."

Click here for the complete story. That's a wrap!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Credit Unions = People

A scene on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., during one cold February morning warms my heart.

People, like me, lined the sidewalks to let lawmakers know warm-blooded Americans embody credit unions. "Purpose" is the difference between credit unions and banks.

People drive credit unions. Profits drive banks.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wall Street Journal: Credit Unions Offer Lifeline On Mortgages

"When it looked like Candido Rodrigues would lose his home, he was rescued by an unexpected source: a credit union."

That's the opening sentence of the a story which appeared in the Feb. 13 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

It's a story about how credit unions are helping Americans like me get unstuck from the subprime mortgage muck. After years of record profits, banks--and their investors--now are stinging from losses and reluctant to accept additional risk. "Credit unions to the rescue," exclaims the Journal:
"Unlike big lenders, credit unions didn't suffer heavy losses in recent months because they never made risky subprime loans.

The story says many credit unions continue to refinance subprime loans and offer banking products no longer available from other lenders, including five-year adjustable-rate mortgages. And why do credit unions do this?
"Credit unions," says Allen Fishbein, director of housing and credit policy for the Consumer Federation of America, "offer more personalized service" than banks, which "can make the difference between people getting approved and refinanced out of a loan."

Candido Rodrigues is one happy guy--like me! You can read more at the Wall Street Journal website.