Wis. league report captures REAL value for consumers

January 20, 2015

PEWAUKEE, Wis. (1/21/15)--For those keeping score at home, Wisconsin-based credit unions have been piling up the numbers.

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Credit unions in the Badger State have saved members more than $1 billion since the outset of the recession, facilitated more than 40,000 hours of community service and raised more than $1 million for charitable causes in 2014 alone, according to the Wisconsin Credit Union League's 2014 Scorecard, released this week.

"This scorecard provides a glimpse into the types of affordable services and unique outreach Wisconsin credit unions provide to their 2.5 million members, nearby schools, small businesses and other local organizations," wrote Brett Thompson, league president/CEO.

"These offerings, referred to as REAL Solutions, put people before profit. And although there's no state or federal mandate requiring credit unions to offer REAL Solutions, they do so because of their unique member-owner cooperative model that, simply put, allows them to go places where other financial institutions can't or won't."

Overall, credit union members saved roughly $105 million annually in the third quarter of 2014 for choosing a credit union over a bank.

Broken down, members paid nearly $71 million less in interest on loans, nearly $15 million less in fees and received nearly $19 million more in interest on savings.

"A young person in Wisconsin can save as much as $117,000 over a lifetime of using not-for-profit credit unions for borrowing and saving," the report said.

The Scorecard also found that 77% of Wisconsin credit unions that offer mortgage loans helped members avoid foreclosure through refinancings or other methods.  

Financial counseling offered by Wisconsin's credit unions--leading to loan refinancings, adjustments to loan terms to help address gaps in employment and general financial education--helped members save $30 million in 2014 as well, the report found.

Credit unions in Wisconsin also led the state as youth financial educators, operating more than 100 in-school student-run branches and providing more than 16,000 personal finance magazines to students to teach them about personal money management.

More than 50,000 Wisconsin students participate in credit union-sponsored education events such as reality fairs or virtual tools to learn the importance of sound financial decision making, the report said.