Columbia Credit Union, Vancouver, Wash., is helping members “make life better” through financial education. From basic budgeting to retirement savings, the credit union offers a complete schedule of free financial seminars to help members reach nearly any financial goal.
“Like the rest of the nation, our community has struggled with declining property values and high unemployment,” says Laurie Kusch, Columbia’s vice president of social responsibility. “Financial education is a way to help people improve their financial standing and lead successful lives. We’re proud to offer this resource to the community.”
All seminars are free and available to the public. In addition to budgeting and saving, workshops cover a wide variety of topics such as home buying, Social Security, purchasing commercial properties, and retirement and estate planning.
Columbia also offers Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) that teaches families how to get out of debt and build wealth.
|Columbia CU helped members Mark and Midori Hanus eliminate $31,443 in debt.|
“Financial Peace University helps people create a plan for improving their finances regardless of their debt level or financial standing,” says Kusch. “The lessons work for every situation.”
Columbia Credit Union members, Mark and Midori Hanus used the lessons in FPU to eliminate $31,443 in debt. “The class was very motivating,” Mark says. “Sharing our struggles and hearing others share their stories really boosted our morale. It made us want to succeed.”
After completing the lessons, they were able to apply 46% of their income toward debt—paying off everything in just nine months.
Columbia remains the only financial institution in the community to offer FPU, making it available locally and internally to employees and their families.
The credit union also presented the course to the members of a large Vancouver community church and may offer it as an employee benefit to area businesses in the future.
“Members are amazed that their credit union would help them with their finances instead of trying to sell them a loan or other financial product,” says Kusch. “As a financial cooperative, we’re here to serve members’ financial needs. If people want to improve their financial literacy, we’re happy to help them reach their goals.”
Mark and Midori attest that learning to manage their finances has been a life-changing experience for the better. “FPU has given us a financial plan and taught us the importance of doing a budget to regain control over our finances and win with money,” says Midori. “We have financial peace—the seven-step FPU program is fantastic!”