Live, learn, and grow with your credit union

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As the Young & Free Maine Spokester for Maine’s credit unions, it’s my duty to spread the word on the amazing benefits of joining your local credit union! I am the voice of 18-to-25-year-olds as we head in to the world of school, jobs, and adulthood. I help you sort out what’s important now and how we can tackle it together in a way that is relevant to our generation.

When I signed up to be a credit union member, I had no idea about the differences between checking and savings accounts, banks and credit unions, or loans and fees. What mattered to me when I signed up (well, when my mom signed me up) at the age of 10, was that I could save up my money in an actual account. The excitement of putting in a few dollars every couple of weeks, and receiving a statement, encouraged me to develop good savings habits.

The things that didn’t matter to me at age 10, matter to me now as a 24-year-old young adult. First, I learned the difference between a bank and a credit union. And, for 18-to-25-year-olds, credit unions just make sense. Credit unions understand that we’re young, we don’t have a lot of money, and we’re bound to make a few mistakes along the way.

Credit unions began as entities that helped people who needed a boost when banks turned them away. Credit unions, back then, were people who wanted to help people. And that is at their core today. When I needed help, my credit union was there to guide me in making good financial choices. They supported me in my first checking account, my first loan, my first credit card.

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Because credit unions are owned by their members, they can offer lower rates on loans, surcharge free ATMS, lower fees, plus a cool Spokester who is there to relate to money issues facing today’s young adults. When I learned that at certain banks, fees are charged for having a checking account opened and not using the required number of transactions per month, I was in shock!

Credit unions are super convenient. When I moved to college, I thought that I would have to switch credit unions. But that wasn’t the case, because of Shared Branching. No matter where you go, you can most likely find a credit union that offers this service. When I was away from my hometown credit union, I could still make deposits, withdrawals, or transfers at another credit union. Even if I was traveling, I never felt like I would be stuck.

Things became even better when I got online and mobile banking. These features allowed me to do my banking on the go. I could see exactly where my money was going, and I could easily manage my finances.

YoungFreeMaine.com is another way credit unions are there for us young adults. It is a great resource for all of our financial concerns. You will find interactive videos and blogs that relate to exactly what we, the 18-to-25-year-olds go through every day. The Young & Free Maine program offers a link between us and credit unions, and makes finances relevant to our lives.

Knowing what I know now, I am glad that I have an established relationship with a credit union. I would not want to switch to an institution that charges more fees and higher loan rates. It makes sense to start off with a credit union. With the core value of people helping people, I trust that my credit union will be there for me through my first big financial decisions. I hope that I can share my experiences, and let the18-to-25 crowd know that choosing a credit union is a step toward making smart financial choices, for now and for the future.

Be sure to follow me all year as the Young & Free Maine Spokester for Maine’s Credit Unions, the voice for the 18-to-25 crowd. And don’t forget to visit YoungFreeMaine.com for awesome tips and tricks!

Young & Free Maine includes a financial headstart with the Free4ME Account, designed with 18-to-25 year olds in mind. Maine is the only New England state to offer this program, which has proven successful in connecting with Gen Y in regions throughout North America. For more information, visit www.YoungFreeMaine.com.

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