The League Site

Read about Wisconsin credit unions' REAL Solutions®!

We're sharing the success stories as we receive them! Tell us yours!

 

As part of REAL Solutions®, credit unions are offering programs and services because members have a need and meeting that need is the right thing to do, whether or not the credit union makes a profit. The effort seeks to reduce dependency on predatory financial providers, encourage saving and wealth-building, build creditworthiness, increase financial self-sufficiency and improve the economic well-being of Wisconsin communities.

 

Examples of REAL Solutions® include:

 

 

  • Offering services to New Americans, for example by opening "safe accounts," facilitating documentation to help recent immigrants obtain identification, employment and an entry into our nation's tax system, and facilitating lower-cost wire services and translating information about loans.

 

  • Partnering with the county to offer low interest loans to help single parents obtain transportation or day care so they can find or maintain employment.

 

  • Referring members to a "Get Checking" course that teaches them to manage a checking account so they can gain or regain checking account privileges.

 

  • Working individually with members who have suffered financial setbacks such as a job loss or illness so they can maintain their creditworthiness.

 

  • Assisting low-income tax filers with free tax preparation services, securing a fast, free refund via direct-deposit (the no-cost alternative to predatory refund anticipation loans) and directing filers to tax credits and other wealth-building opportunities for which they qualify.

  • Offering a pre-paid debit card to help people who are ineligible for checking accounts and charging for that service just a couple dollars a month – less than half what other providers charge.

  • Not assessing fees or penalties where other providers do and looking for ways to protect members from extra charges. Some examples include not increasing interest rates on credit cards because of a late payment, offering longer grace periods, processing checks to minimize (not maximize) overdraft fees, etc.

  • Matching funds in IDA accounts that encourage low-income people to begin saving.

  • Offering Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) -- portable savings accounts that can be used to pay for qualified medical expenses tax-free for individuals and families who carry high-deductible health insurance policies.

  • Offering schools free financial education and encouraging youth saving as part of an in-school branch, classroom presentations, the free brass|STUDENT PROGRAM (featuring brass|MAGAZINE), the free High School Financial Planning Program curriculum and by sponsoring local teachers' attendance each summer at the National Institute for Financial & Economic Literacy, held in Madison.

  • Improving members' financial literacy by offering free financial workshops and seminars, a suite of financial tools online and offering free financial learning opportunities as part of Money Smart Week Wisconsin in October.

  • Returning earnings to members in the form of loan interest rebates, distributed to anyone who had a loan with us during the year in the form of a check or a credit to their account.

  • Referring members to not-for-profit credit counselors for help with debt problems in order to avoid unnecessary bankruptcies.

  • Providing one-on-one budget coaching and offering other free "personal" services like explaining credit reports so members can improve their creditworthiness and qualify for better loan rates.

  • Lowering costs for first time homebuyers by waiving closing costs and offering HLPR loans that cap interest rates and have other costs absorbed by the CU so that borrowers can enter the mortgage market gaining more and risking less.

 

View the REAL Solutions® brochure

 

These are just a few examples of ways credit unions are creating stronger families and communities by providing financial solutions - REAL Solutions® - that meet a need. By participating in REAL Solutions®, you'll learn countless more ways to meaningfully affect people's lives. You decide how your credit union can best reach out. Your options are limitless when it comes to offering your members REAL Solutions® - so don't be afraid to think about ideas outside of this list. In fact, if you have a unique offering and would like it recognized in our newsletter, tell your story to Melissa Polley by calling (800) 242-0833, Ext. 6045.