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What's New At Mid American

Spread the word

BY JIM HOLT, PRESIDENT/CEO

Matthew Kotch has become a walking advertisement for Mid American Credit Union. Whenever he can, he tells new hires at one of our more than 300 affiliate employee groups about the benefits of opening an account and establishing a membership with us. 

“I tell everybody,” he says. He became a member nearly two years ago and has been an advocate ever since. 

He tells others how easy it is to get his paycheck directly deposited into an account and that he can easily access it through free ATMs and shared branching nationwide. He tells them how we provided him with an account, when banks turned him down because he didn’t have an established credit history.

He tells them how he likes the fact that he knows there’s a local, caring person he can contact, rather than someone answering an 800 number, when he has financial needs. 

There are many more benefits, and as banks are imposing more and more fees, credit unions are becoming a more attractive option for people who want to keep more of their money and benefit themselves. One of the key differences between banks and credit unions is ownership. Banks are owned by a group of investors, looking for a profit. As not-for-profit cooperatives, credit unions are owned by their members, looking for a way to access financial services at the lowest cost possible. 

This past year, credit union membership jumped significantly – primarily when banks announced they would start charging fees for services such as a debit card. Following Bank of America’s announcement of such a charge in late September – which it later retracted – a survey of 5,000 credit unions showed

650,000 new members signed up, according to Credit Union National Association. According to Bloomberg News, the percentage of banks offering free checking has fallen from 76 percent two years ago to 45 percent, with the average monthly fee being $14. Free debit cards and checking accounts are the norm at credit unions, not the exception.

Increasing our membership benefits all credit union members. It makes it possible for us to continue to provide lower interest rates on loans, offer free or low cost services and for you to keep more of your own money to meet financial needs and wants.

We hope more members take up Kotch’s advocacy and help others find the benefits of credit union membership and ownership. If you have a chance, spread the word. It will help keep us – and, more importantly, you – financially strong.

How to live on less money

 

 

From Emily Rienhardt, blogger for Mid American's Money Matters finance blog.

Living happily with less. Do you think you can do it?

Our society has really encouraged this “have it all, and get it fast” mentality, I think it’s easy for us to feel like we don’t know how to minimize and live with less and still feel happy. We’re told we will feel happy with MORE and RIGHT NOW that it’s easy to get carried away with keeping up. It makes us forget about the things that should take priority in our financial lives.

This idea of drastically cutting back is particularly important if you’re currently living paycheck to paycheck and you’re having trouble making ends meet. Or if you’ve lost your job. Or maybe you’re trying to cut spending to meet a certain short term goal – like paying down your debt, or a down payment on a house, or a baby on the way. OR maybe you’re working towards your dreams, like opening a small business or early retirement. Whatever your situation, making a few big cuts can help.

Massive cutbacks in several areas of your life can feel overwhelming, but it can lead to new discoveries about yourself and your life that you may not have found otherwise. Here are some areas to focus on and some ideas of how you can really cut back and live with less.

Cut the convenient, unnecessary spending. This means spending money on clothes, shoes, jewelry, makeup, home decor, convenient taxi rides, music downloads, video streaming services, vacations, electronics, getting your hair cut…the list goes on…it’s a lot!

Learn how to get comfortable without the middle-class comforts you’re used to. If you’ve been laid off, or suddenly finding it crucial that you make some changes, don’t give yourself a grace period to “ease into” a new normal. Start it right this moment. It’s easy to resist abrupt cutbacks when you’re suddenly faced with a big life adjustment. You need to make the necessary changes as soon as you can so that you won’t get yourself into a more serious situation. Even if you’re getting ready to go to an interview, try your best to resist the urge to overspend on a new look, or even a new outfit. Hit up some consignment stores, or borrow a nice outfit from a friend. Try to think about what you already have, and what you can get away with never buying.

If food has been a big part of your budget, cut it down. Maybe your job allowed you to go out for meals on a regular basis before you were laid off. That will need to change. And it should change if you’re trying to save up for something or cut down your debt too. There are a lot of benefits to retraining yourself to cook at home and eat a little bit less. Your older clothes from your “skinnier days” will start to fit you. You can set a daily, automatic withdrawal from your checking account right into your savings account with the the amount you would normally be spending on lunches out with coworkers, or dinners out on the town. It’s easy to feel like your social life changes drastically too when you have to cut back on some of these fun outings. That doesn’t have to happen! Get your friends on board (they could stand to save a little money too, couldn’t they?) and find ways to get together without compromising on fun and friendship. Grab a group of close buddies and coordinate a weekly night where you could all get together and cook a good meal, one where everyone is contributing something so that no one feels the brunt of all that cooking. Even people who aren’t really forced to cut back on their spending will appreciate saving a little bit here and there. You could still allow yourself 1 or 2 nights a month (if you can swing it) where you go out with some friends. Something I try to do is only eat half of my meal when out with friends. And with my leftovers at home, I add my own rice or quinoa to make the leftovers stretch even further, sometimes into two more meals if I’m really strategic.

Cut the costs of housing. An obvious solution to cut back on what you spend on rent or your mortgage is to live with other people. If you can, look for a roommate or someone to split housing with. Whether living with friends or a new acquaintance, work up a rental agreement that you are both comfortable signing. Living with other people can be tough, and getting wrapped up in the wrong living situation can make a financially stressful period of your life even more stressful. Becoming a house sitter for friends, family and acquaintances could lead to a nice trade of services. Whether short term or long term, put it out into your circle in the universe that you’re looking for this type of work and perhaps a longer opportunity could present itself. My friend once housesat for a couple who were traveling overseas for almost a year. They worked out a great deal that allowed my friend to live rent free for nearly 10 months! This is another situation where a written contract could help smooth over any potential hiccups down the road. Perhaps you have doting parents that would just love it if you moved back in with them for 6 months or a year. It’s not the life you dreamed of, but it could really open up your finances for substantial savings, even if just for a shorter period of time.

Find your biggest motivator for a financially comfortable life. Keeping your eyes on the prize is a healthy mentality for accomplishing something big. Maybe you’re already living with 4 roommates and your biggest motivator is getting your own place. Or maybe that business you’ve always dreamed of is getting closer than you imagined. You might be closer to buying that house or killing your debt than you think! Keep the momentum going, stay on track, and don’t allow yourself to get pessimistic about your current situation. This doesn’t have to last forever.

If you felt the need to make a massive cut tomorrow, where would you start?

 

For more articles on personal finance, visit Money Matters

 

 

 

Falling into some seasonal chores

 

 

By Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer

Fall officially started last month, so don’t waste any more time in completing chores both inside and outside your home to get ready for the winter. It’s worth it – from avoiding costly repairs later to helping with heating bills – to make an investment of time for these fall chores.

Outside chores

• Clean and store outside patio furniture and kids’ summer toys.

• Drain and store garden hoses to prevent damage to water pipes. Have your sprinkler systems blown free of water to prevent damage to the system, as well.

• Inspect windows, entry doors and garage doors. Check and make necessary repairs to caulking and weather stripping to ensure windows and doors close tightly to avoid drafts.

• Inspect and clean, if necessary, chimneys and flues for safety and efficiency.

• Check gutters and downspouts to make sure melting snowfall and ice can drain properly. Ice in a clogged cutter will expand, causing damage.

• Wash windows.

• Get ready for ice and snow by stocking up on ice melt for sidewalks and getting a new snow shovel, if needed. If you have a snowblower, make sure it’s in good working order.

• Do final winterizing treatments for your lawn.

Inside chores

• Give your house a good cleaning now so you’re ready for any holiday entertaining. Vacuum, clean or launder drapes and window treatments. Clean window sills and baseboards. Either schedule or do your own carpet cleaning. Give furniture a deep vacuum or have it professionally cleaned. Clean and organize kitchen cabinets so you’re ready for holiday cooking.

• Since you’ve washed the outside surface of windows, do the same with the inside surface.

• Take care of furnace and humidifier needs. Schedule a furnace inspection, stock up on furnace filters and ensure your humidifier works (which is important for preserving hardwood floors).

• Inspect and clean appliances – from vacuuming refrigerator coils to checking washer hoses to cleaning out dryer exhaust tubes.

If you find you need any major repairs or renovations, remember that Mid American offers great rates on home equity loans and lines of credit. Go to www.midamerican.coop and find out more about home equity loans and our mortgage services.

 

 

 

Speaking of taxes


 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

Whenever talk of tax reform looms, lawmakers and special interest groups aligned with for-profit banks will bring up the fact that credit unions have a tax "subsidy" that banks do not.

First it is important to note that credit unions generally and Mid American specifically, pay every single tax levied, with the only exception being income tax. The basis for our income tax exemption results from our democratic, not-for-profit cooperative status. The 1934 legislation that created credit unions justified the exemption because credit unions are "mutual or cooperative organizations operated entirely by and for their members." We do not impose fees and charge for services to help a small, select group of stockholders make a profit. We are here because we operate on cooperative principles to serve and benefit all members equally. We return profits to our members by way of higher dividends, lower fees, better saving rates and – as indicated in several surveys – better member service than found at banks. Without credit unions charging lower fees and offering better dividend and loan rates, banks could charge even higher fees and rates to allow their select stockholders to pocket even more profits. In fact studies have shown that in communities where there is a credit union alternative, consumers at all financial institutions benefit.

We also are here to make a difference in the community, from serving as financial literacy advocates and investing in seminars to participating in outreach efforts to help educate individuals understand money matters. A person who is more financially literate and stable will be a better contributor to society by understanding economics, learning to live within their means (to avoid bankruptcy and other financial crises), saving for retirement and more. Credit unions were created to serve consumers of modest means, allowing them to keep more of their money because they are not paying high fees or interest rates to use their money or borrow money.

If we lose our income tax-exempt status, you (our members) will bear that burden. Mid American will need to find increased revenue streams which translates to higher interest rates on loans for cars, education and houses, plus the dividends you earn on your savings would be lower. We would have to dip into limited reserves – a cushion we use to protect our members and the credit union during economic shifts – and that would impact the longstanding tradition of credit unions being safe and secure institutions for your money.

 

 

Saving to buy a home

 

By Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer

Buying a home is likely the single, largest purchase you will make in your lifetime. To make that step, be prepared to save money for a cash down payment and related home-buying expenses. Plus, make sure your credit is in good shape.

Most financial institutions require some sort of down payment, generally ranging from at least 3 percent to 20 percent of the purchase price of the home, to ensure you have an incentive and investment upfront in your home. (Only about a handful of mortgages, such as the VA and other government-related entities, will allow no down payment.) With a 20 percent down payment, you avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance.

Saving for a down payment will mean being more focused on where your money goes. Start with a budget – if you don’t have one, develop one. Whether you use an online tool or old-fashioned pencil and paper, start tracking your income, your expenses and whatever else you spend your money on. In a short amount of time, you should be able to see where you might be able to scale back or make cuts. Put those dollars saved into a separate savings account to build up your down payment.

Be ruthless about cost-saving measures, like giving up a gym membership and using walking trails or parks instead, or brown-bagging lunches and giving up expensive coffees or smoothies to make your own. Do you have credit cards or auto loans? Check the rates and see if you can negotiate lower rates for savings. Take a second, temporary job to reach your goal faster. Another step is to check into homeownership assistance programs at the federal government’s HUD.

With a budget set, check on your credit score. The score is used by lenders to determine your ability to repay the loan and set your mortgage rate. Check your credit report – which can be done for free once annually from each credit reporting agency at annualcreditreport.com – to ensure it’s accurate. (Generally, you will need to pay a fee to receive your score.) Fixing errors can move up your score.

Our website offers several tips for first-time home buyers; check the section “Buying a Home.” You can calculate what you can afford and learn how to get preapproved, plus get information on our low mortgage rates for 15-, 20- and 30-year mortgages.

 

 

Ease the burden

 

 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

We all understand the need for rules. Often, however, rules are made to solve a situation that has already occurred. Their sweep can be so broad that they penalize individuals and businesses that already had in place a set of policies designed to help and not take advantage of those they serve.

That is what has happened to credit unions, whose members – you and me – are paying out of our pockets for expensive regulatory oversights that were put in place because of banks.

The financial crisis of 2008 resulted from money center banks needing to be bailed out. Since that time, the federal government has added a huge number of regulations intended to rein in these banks. Unfortunately, these new regulations are hurting credit unions and their members even though we did not cause or contribute to the crisis in the first place. Regulations cost time and money – more complexity, more paperwork, more fees – that we would rather spend on providing services to benefit you.

Since 2010, regulatory costs for credit unions nationwide have increased by 39 percent, driving up overall costs to a staggering $7.2 billion annually. Credit unions have lost $1.1 billion nationally in revenue due to regulatory costs. In Kansas, the impact of these regulations has been more than $44 million – more than $39 million spent in compliance and $5 million in lost revenue.

Every penny we spend trying to fix a problem we don’t have is money we cannot return to you. Less money spent on excessive, expensive regulations would mean higher interest rates on deposits, more services and products and lower loan rates – all of which would more directly benefit you.

 We need your help to turn this situation around, and as a member-owner, you can make your concern heard. Mid American Credit Union is joining with our national organization, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), to educate and help activate America’s 105 million credit union members about this situation.

To assist you, CUNA has helped establish a website, www.easetheburden.com, with more information and a way to act on this issue. Through the site, all it takes is one email – using a prewritten message or one with your own words – to contact all of your Congressional representatives to ask them to “Ease the Burden.” No personal information about you will be gathered or retained if you visit this site.

Please consider taking action today.

 

 

 

 

We have a lot to offer

 

 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

On April 2, Mid American’s merger with Wesley Medical Credit Union in Wichita is scheduled to be finalized. This will mark our third merger in little more than a year and bring our total number of branches to 11, with six of them being in Wichita.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome the newest members of our financial family and also to inform them and remind our current members about several benefits of Mid American membership.

• A life’s worth of products. From youth accounts that can be started at the birth of a child to health savings account to retirement accounts, Mid American can help you with financial products and services for various life events.

With our spectrum of savings accounts, you can save for a vacation, holidays, college and more. If you are an entrepreneur, take advantage of our business services accounts. If you need a home or mode of transportation, we can help finance those dreams. If you need credit, we offer great rates for home equity loans and credit cards. For teens who want to start on the road to financial independence and for seniors who want to start on the road to independence from a career, we can provide you with accounts and resources to plan for that.

• A national network of branches and ATMs. Mid American was one of the first Wichita credit unions of an early initiative to join credit unions across the U.S. in a shared branching network. Through our involvement with CO-OP, you can visit more than 5,000 Shared Branch facilities to make in-person transactions, just as if you are visiting one of our branches. You also can use any of the nearly 30,000 surcharge-free CO-OP ATMs in the U.S. Just look for the CO-OP signage.

• A sophisticated online presence. Many of our members prefer the 24/7 nature of online and mobile banking. That is why we invested in a state-of-the-art online banking system in 2014 and continue to add features to that and our mobile banking system.

• A little extra help. If you need to learn more about certain financial situations or how to budget, we are here to help. We offer occasional seminars at our branches, such as home-buying or retirement investing (see Page 2), and onsite seminars for employees of our preferred partners employer program. If you need help finding ways to save money or even balance a checkbook, our member services representatives are happy to assist you or help you secure the service of the free Kansas Consumer Credit Counseling Service.

Remember that credit unions are about people helping people. That is why our staff and volunteers are always ready to help you with your financial needs.

 

 

 

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Become an advocate

 

 

By Jim Holt, President and CEO

As a member/owner of a credit union, you make a difference. You are one of 103 million members who have made the decision to trust a not-for-profit cooperative to be your financial home.

We value that trust and work diligently to provide you with the services and products you need. However, every year, credit unions, their supporting organizations and members find themselves trying to ensure that we can continue to operate in your best interest.

At Mid American Credit Union, we regularly communicate with and educate legislators, policymakers and other leaders about the important role we play and how we differ from banks. (As you may recall, my last Member Insight column focused on the differences between banks and credit unions.) In the past, for example, we have educated legislators and policymakers on such topics as the fact that a federal income tax would just be another cost for our members to bear.

On our own, however, this advocacy often goes unheeded. We are going to need your help to make a difference.

Forty-two percent of voters are credit union members, according to Credit Union National Association. Legislators and policymakers need and want to hear from people such as our members who are impacted by policies that affect their financial well-being and the credit unions to which they belong. Many credit union members, both nationally and locally, comprise the middle class who are frequently referred to by political candidates during campaign speeches. It is important to become an informed voter and citizen.

In the upcoming months, you can expect to hear from us about different issues that could impact credit unions. We ask that you consider becoming informed and taking action, because, as a member-owner, you have a vested interest in these policies. And there is power in numbers...

 

 

Mid American Credit Union8404 West Kellogg DriveWichita, KS 67209316.722.3921Fax 316.722.0920Privacy Policy