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.
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.