Physical fitness is essential to a long, healthy life. To be healthy, we need a variety of good numbers. We need good LDL and HDL cholesterol numbers. Our blood pressure numbers need to fall in a specific range to be considered optimum. The triglyceride count has to be a certain number to be acceptable. Blood sugar counts need your attention, as well. Heck, the world of health has now determined that even the circumference of our waistline has an ideal number attached. Suffice to say, it’s a lot smaller than we might hope.
“Fiscal fitness” is essential, as well. The number that matters most in measuring your standard of living is your credit score. A number ranging from the 400s to the 800s has a direct effect on your financial health. The higher the number, the lower the interest rate you pay for credit. That’s a big deal when you consider that the difference in interest rates can equate to thousands of dollars in interest payments.
Just like getting physically out of shape happens over time, so does poor credit. Months of missed payments progress to a low credit score and a high rate of interest. And just like getting your body back into healthy form takes time, so does the correction of your credit score. There are no quick fixes. To begin the journey to improve your credit, pay your bills on time. While there are a number of factors affecting your score, nothing is weighted more heavily in your favor than paying your bills on time.
Physical and “fiscal” fitness both start at the same point. Set a goal as to what numbers you want…then get to work!
Check this out…Every decision made at St. Louis Community Credit Union has to pass the “Yes Test.” We’ve been operating under the “Yes Test” requirement for a number of years now, and quite frankly, it has proven to be the right formula for success. When it comes to making a decision, there is no compromise. Two questions are asked, and the answer better be “yes” to each. Failure to pass the “Yes Test” results in the idea ending up on the scrap heap.
Question #1: Is it good for the members? Member benefit and member give-back are what our credit union is all about. We must insure that all members gain benefit from what we do. The cooperative, not-for-profit spirit of credit unions acts as a beacon to our decision-making. The member must benefit or it’s not going to happen.
Question #2: Is it good for the staff? So much of St. Louis Community Credit Union’s success is because of our dedicated employees. They are the Credit Union to our members. Buildings, technology and products all come to life because of great people. Why would we ever make a decision to discount or diminish the value of these outstanding ambassadors? As cornball as it might sound, we firmly believe that the better and happier the staff, the better and happier the member.
Decisions to open new branches, create new products, change rates, improve delivery channels, enhance member service first must pass the “Yes Test.” Both members and staff surveys show that our “yes-yes” requirement is working. We’ll keep it up.
Times are tough for many folks. Kitchen table conversation focuses on the skyrocketing price of gas, groceries that move up in price almost daily, increasing daycare costs, out of control healthcare…and if you have kids who are college bound, you better swallow hard. One thing is for sure: the cost of living is probably increasing at a faster pace than the amount on the “net pay” line of your paycheck. Quite frankly, we all need a little more “bang for our buck.”
Back in the day, my father’s way of getting more “bang for the buck” focused on expense management. Growing up, he would say things to me and my siblings like: “Turn off the lights – we don’t have stock in the electric company!” Another gem was: “Please close the refrigerator door – that cold air doesn’t come cheap.” And my personal favorite: “Do you think money grows on trees?”
In addition to turning off lights and closing refrigerator doors, dad could have said a few other things to us kids. How about: “Join a credit union and earn more in interest?” Or what about: “Pay fewer fees with credit union checking?” Here’s some good advice: “Open a CD with as little as $300.”
Remember…when there’s a lot more month than money – or if you’re one of those people who feels like the harder you work, the more behind you get – you have a couple of solutions. (1) Manage your household expenses a little more closely; and (2) stretch your paycheck by using credit union services that feature better rates and lower costs.
Dad would have been proud.
A member recently contacted me regarding why our loan rates weren’t the very best in town. That’s a fair question – and a great one, too. I love it when members express their opinions. That’s what a cooperative financial structure is all about. Members have a voice in their Credit Union. And at St. Louis Community Credit Union, we love to hear their thoughts.
Quite frankly, we choose not to participate in the crazy rate wars that exist in today’s marketplace. There are times we have the best rates…other times we just miss. But most of the time we’re going to be in the top 10 to 15 percent in the region. The same holds true with our savings and investment products. You’ll always find that we offer great rates, but we will not have the very best rates every single time.
We rely on our total product offering(s) as the primary reason people are attracted to the Credit Union. Lower fees; higher savings and CD rates; more free services; less small print; minimal account restrictions; excellent service and greater convenience are just some of the benefits provided to our 30,000-plus members. We would rather have an array of really good offerings than to be the best at one rate and adversely affect so many other benefits. Overall value is what we want our members to realize.
Sure enough, when rate is the only determinant, we may lose. We aren’t happy about the loss of business, but we remain focused on serving the larger good of all members. That’s the cooperative spirit of credit unions. We love all of our members.
Word of mouth is the absolute best form of advertising. Receiving testimonials from members who have experienced St. Louis Community Credit Union’s commitment to excellence is extremely valuable. When one takes into account the high level of consideration given to choosing a financial institution, it becomes important to hear from a friend or neighbor. When members do the talking about the Credit Union’s commitment to caring service, great pricing and tremendous convenience, it is much more valuable than anything we can do through traditional marketing devices.
We love it when our members tell their story about how the Credit Union served them and their families’ needs. We’ve heard some great ones over the years and we never tire of members’ heart-warming, kind compliments. Our members’ words of support serve as the kindling that fires the passion of our many employees. As the employees of the Credit Union talk among ourselves, we’re pretty sure we’re on the right path as it relates to our philosophy of “people helping people.” But to hear it from our members really fans the flames of our desire to do even more.
We’re dedicated to our not-for-profit, cooperative structure. Thanks to all of our members for loving St. Louis Community Credit Union. We love you, too. It means a lot to us. Now if you could tell everyone you know, we’d be able to change even more lives for the better and keep this “lovefest” in full swing.