June is an important month for credit union organizations and the National Credit Union Foundation, as we celebrate National Employee Wellness Month. This month spotlights the workplace’s role in helping to create healthy employees, not only physically, but financially as well.
Today, CFSI is celebrating #FinHealthMatters Day to help raise awareness for the impact that financial health can have on our members. Just as people who exercise and maintain a healthy diet are more likely to live a longer life, those with access to financial tools and resources will be able to build a a more financially stable life.
The Atlantic recently published an article highlighting a scary statistic from a Federal Reserve Board survey; 47% of American’s would have trouble coming up with $400 to pay for an emergency. In fact, they’d either have to borrow money or sell something to cover the emergency. Even scarier is the results of CFSI’s Consumer Financial Health Study – 57% of American’s – approximately 138 million adults, are struggling financially. That’s over half of our entire population that are struggling.
It’s evident that the financial health of Americans – meaning credit union employees and credit union members – is fragile. What can the Foundation and credit unions do about it?
Financial well-being is the whole reason the Foundation exists. Through toolkits, programs, and grants the Foundation provides the stepping stones for the path to financial wellness.
For example, did you know the number one leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is medical debt? Medical debt can be devastating for individuals and their families, oftentimes causing serious financial and psychological consequences. To help credit union staff to better assist their members struggling with this type of debt, the Foundation has created a free Medical Debt Toolkit. This toolkit can help reduce the medical debt of your members, making a huge impact on their personal and financial health.
We know that credit unions are already great at financial education. It’s one of the 7 Credit Union Cooperative Principles to provide education and training, and it’s woven into the very DNA of what makes a credit union a credit union.
Earlier this month, CFSI announced their Financial Health Beta Project, an initiative designed to help providers measure and improve their customers’ financial health. One of those participants in the beta project is Coastal Federal Credit Union in North Carolina. Coastal will be collecting data on how their members spend, save, borrow and plan, and use that data to assess their member’s financial health.
To better serve members, credit unions need to understand them and what they are struggling with in their lives. This type of data collecting and analyzing is allowing the credit union to paint a larger picture of individual members, and then tailor products and services that make the most sense for them. We’re excited to see this project unfold, and see how it helps to improve the financial health of credit union members.
So, what does financial health look like to us at the Foundation? It looks like lowering the percentage of Americans who have trouble coming up with emergency funds; improving the amount of people who are living paycheck to paycheck; and providing the resources to meet members where they are in life to set up them up for a stronger, better, financial future.
If your credit union organization has specific programs/products/initiatives that focus on financial health, we want to hear about it! Let us know in the comments or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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