Budgeting and the “holiday season” don’t always seem synonymous. But the reality is, they should be. Additionally, safety and security, especially when it comes to your members’ transactions, should take up first position in the approach to holiday shopping.
As member-owned, member-first financial institutions, credit unions are more than just a place to move money around and get loans from. Our movement is inherently designed for the protection of our members. So, at this busy time of the year when the overriding message is to “spend – a lot and often,” credit unions can help ease the post-holiday “pain” by engaging with members to offer simple tips to help get through this spending spree season with as little long-term damage as possible.
Using the communications tools in your credit union’s toolbox, now is the perfect time for financial tips, tricks and options offered to your members that help them manage their money wisely. Your league/association may also be able to provide resources that can help you improve your members’ financial fitness. GoWest Credit Union Association, like yours, offers webinars, training, solutions, and more that can translate into better member service during the holidays and throughout the year.
Everyone should thoughtfully consider their overall holiday budget, and really plan out how much they need to spend. They should ask themselves if gifts are absolutely necessary, and how large a list are they making. Are there things you can do with friends and family in lieu of gift giving that would make for a memorable experience? Perhaps a potluck dinner, a desert party, or a holiday movie viewing instead of gifts among friends. Or volunteering as a family instead of extra presents. Service projects are a fantastic idea and offer everyone the opportunity to benefit.
Even with good alternative planning, there will most likely be folks on members’ lists who will be receiving gifts. Make sure part of your outreach includes the helpful things offered by your credit union to help members manage their spending, as well as the post-holiday bills that will come with the season.
- Cyber security – While not necessarily a “budgeting tip,” reminding members of the dangers of fraud is always a good idea. Members should take precautions about where they are using cards and be aware of the safety measures in place to help prevent card fraud and unnecessary headaches. Remind members to utilize your available card protection options to monitor their card activity.
- Short-term personal loans– like skip-a-payment, if your credit union offers a small dollar amount loan around the holidays, promote, promote, promote it! Giving your members an alternative to payday lenders is a huge benefit and allows them to access the money they need during the holidays without the long-term payment issues of payday lenders. Be sure and emphasize with members that they should not overreach when borrowing. Only borrow as much as they truly need and can repay.
- Skip-a-Payment programs – Credit unions that offer this member benefit should utilize all their social media channels to promote it. By giving your members the option of skipping a loan payment, you are helping them free up money for the holidays they might not have otherwise, and thus, prevent them from using credit cards or other options that will hurt their budgets.
- Alternatives to “big-dollar” gifts– use your credit union’s blog, or Facebook to promote fun alternatives, or budget-friendly gift ideas. There are plenty of ideas out there to tap into. You can work with a DIYer to post ideas for making items like bath salts, sugar scrubs, cookies or other craft ideas that will give your members options for gifts that will be well-received without breaking the bank.
- Budgeting tips– even though the holidays are already here, and people are spending, now is still a good time to help members remember basic budgeting tips. You can use your credit union’s blog or Facebook to post an article or link a series of tips to the article via Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. These reminders can help members stay focused and keep them from derailing from their budgets.
- Financial seminars– use this time to promote any upcoming financial seminars your credit union might be offering. If your members are thinking ahead, and planning to attend one of these classes, it may help them stay on task and get the next year off to a better start.
Your credit union’s social media channels are a tremendous tool to help keep members on track during the holidays. There are a lot of messages out there urging them to spend money they may not have. Make your message the one of reason that helps them stay on the path to financial security.
GoWest Credit Union Association is the trade association representing credit unions in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming. GoWest advocates on behalf of more than 300 member credit unions, and their 16.5 million consumer members. The region’s not-for-profit cooperative credit unions take a bold, innovative, and forward-thinking approach to improving the lives of their members and enriching their communities. More information about joining a credit union can be found at: yourmoneyfurther.com Follow GoWest Credit Union Association on LinkedIn at LinkedIn.com/GoWestCreditUnionAssociation, Facebook at Facebook.com/GoWestCUA, and Twitter at Twitter.com/GoWestCUA for the latest updates on the regional Movement.