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Tag: bicycle

“I Want To Do It Myself!”

Update 8/23/16: NCUF recently held a #foundationchat on Twitter about member financial education. Though this was written prior to that discussion, many of the points are shared.

Very short background: My family has a vacation property we rent to guests during their travels. The audio/video components (TV, stereo, DVD, etc.) have detailed instructions for use. Of course, there’s always someone who thinks they know better, and rewires the system to their whims. Shockingly, it then doesn’t work right. Puzzled and embarrassed, they leave it and future guests complain the directions are wrong. Cue regular phone conversations troubleshooting and working around these modifications until I can get back to fix the “updates”.

Stereo systems aren’t the only thing people know better. Financial services, too. Members need your help, but, like most people, want to feel they are doing things themselves. How can you empower them while educating and guiding towards your services?

Think back to learning to ride a bicycle. Did your parents send you off the nearest black diamond cliff with nary a wave? If so, we need to talk, because you have stories to tell.

Typically, there’s a training period…with training wheels to protect against falls. That’s your financial education program. It’s a foolproof service for those who need careful guidance. But some people know how to ride a bicycle; they’re just not too confident. If you were wobbly, and I suggested putting the training wheels back on, how would you respond? Exactly.

Create a tiered education/action program for them as well. It’s no longer about rolling up and down the driveway; these members are riding down the easy trails (ie. taking first steps to managing their funds)! The steps taken now are their own, with suggestions by your team. If your member tips their bike, the credit union is equipped to catch and help get them pedaling again. Each consultation enables the member to go further on their own, with confidence and competency.

Every day I read about how credit unions are the leaders in financial education, that they can serve the role sorely needed in our society. The NCUF promotes it on their home page through grants, youth programs, and more. CU Social Good asks credit unions nationwide to share their stories. It’s all about the strategy! Just as you wouldn’t learn to ride a bike by reading a manual, so to it is with finances; action is what excites.

How are you empowering your members to use the financial stereo system efficiently?

Image credit: http://characters.wikia.com/wiki/File:Lion-king-simba.png

Bike Loans. No, not those bikes.

Thanks, cities of the Pacific Northwest. You keep making us look bad! First, you’re all about giving back, then you come around and show us all up with your fantastic bicycling culture. Last time I was on a bicycle was in my own community. I rode to our local Farmer’s Market (yeah, we’re cool too) to pick up some fresh produce. On the ride home, the tire went flat. No, both of them went flat. Suffice it to say, the bike doesn’t get used all that often. And it isn’t because of a lack of desire. Without hauling your bike on the back of the car, it’s difficult to ride anywhere in our area safely. Our bike lanes consist of a white line divided shoulder that looks about 12 inches wide. Naturally, this area intersects with vehicle turning lanes. Since I have a dark sense of humor, whenever I’m in a car which overlaps this “lane”, I comment how another cyclist was just hit by a car. It’s not funny by any means; it’s a sad commentary on our relationship with human-powered two-wheeled transportation. Down here in South Florida, it’s not uncommon to find people who feel bicycles should not even be on roads, and that they deserve to be run off them by aggressive drivers.

Because that makes sense. In a world with traffic jams, increasing fuel costs, carbon emissions, and obesity, we should obviously focus on demonizing the portion of the population which said: “No more”, and paved their own path on pedal power alone.

Commentary complete. Here’s how it connects with credit unions (because I can definitely geek out about the technology available for bicycle riding, but in the spirit of brevity, I won’t…today):

Those in the cycling community will read this and say, “well, yeah”, but for those of us not in the know, apparently a really nice bicycle is expensive. As in, not $75, expensive. Enthusiasts spend thousands of dollars on their bicycle.

A few credit unions in the Northwest, amongst some of the popular bicycle communities of Portland, Eugene, and Seattle, have taken steps to capitalize on this market. How, you ask? With bicycle loans! Just like a car, people want the best they can comfortably afford, and paying a small amount monthly enables many to get the premium ride they always wanted. The average loan amount is $1,500, which is small by most institution’s standards, but some borrowers are also becoming full-fledged members, creating relationships for years to come. Helping put more people on the bikes they love only grows the already large cycling community, enhancing the potential for their lending program’s expansion.

These credit unions are finding opportunities for growth while focusing on serving their members. The environmentalist in me loves it. The credit union agent is excited about a prospect of new lending products. The health nut sees healthier people from this endeavor. And of course, the geek in me wants to learn all about the tech specs on these custom-designed machines of human propulsion!

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