In the VSECU Blog you'll find financial and lifestyle resources to help empower possibilities for your personal success.
In a variety of ways, large and small, co-ops of all kinds work hard every day, around the world, making the lives of their members a little easier and more sustainable. With October being National Co-op Month, it’s a great time to recognize and celebrate all the ways in which co-ops are cooperating here in Vermont!
What do you think of when you think of “the economy?” We hear that word all the time—on the news, on the lips of politicians and policy makers, and in casual conversations, too. But what is it, exactly? Do you feel like it’s something you have a meaningful role in? Or do you feel like changes in the economy are made out there, outside of your control, by other people like stock traders, senators working on trade deals, the Treasury Secretary, and places like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? Well, we’re going to break it down a bit and focus on a powerful distinction within the economy—the difference between the financial economy and the real economy.
Credit unions and banks offer a similar experience but operate from a very different structure and philosophy. One is not necessarily better than the other, but one may be better for you, depending on your values and your needs. Which one makes the most sense for you? To determine that, here is a list of questions you can ask, and some answers to help you consider the options.
Navigating our financial system can be difficult, but it has been that much harder for the Black community after the abolishment of slavery. Jim Crow laws made it nearly impossible to get a loan or even open a bank account. African Americans would need a white man to vouch for them to even be considered for a loan. When we step back and examine our financial system, do we truly understand how far we have come in making it more accessible? Do we know how it difficult was for those individuals who helped pave the way?
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“Where money goes, so goes the future.” More and more, people are realizing that what they choose to do with their hard-earned money, and how it is managed by their bank, credit union, or investment broker, makes a difference in their communities and the world around them. There is a choice to be part of an economy that supports you, and help create a more resilient and prosperous community around you. So today, in the midst of a global pandemic, we are celebrating Banking on Values Day by talking to four of our many VSECU members who choose this way of banking and exchange every day. Their businesses are built to create benefit for their community, preserve and care for the environment where they live and work, and provide profit to support their livelihood.
“This is the moment credit unions were invented for. Or at least should have been...” This message from author, speaker, and former VSECU consultant Douglas Rushkoff hit my inbox in July earlier this year. VSECU had benefited from Douglas’s insights before and MIT named him one of the world’s top ten influential thinkers, among other accolades, so his words had weight. He was simultaneously praising of the foundations of mutual aid and shared values that credit unions are built upon and issuing a challenge for credit unions to rise to the many difficulties we are facing in 2020. So, on International Credit Union Day, a day when we celebrate the contributions of credit unions, we ask, “What is it about credit unions that makes them meaningful in this moment?” and “What are credit unions doing to meet the challenges of today?
If you don’t have a credit union or bank account, you aren’t alone. According to the most recent FDIC survey, “an estimated 6.5% of U.S. households (8.4 million households) were ‘unbanked’ in 2017” and “an additional 18.7% of U.S. households (24.2 million) were ‘underbanked.’ In 2015, an estimated 1.5% of Vermonters (out of a population of 626,299, that’s 9,394 people) were unbanked. 11.6% were underbanked. This is a fairly low rate in comparison to other states, but it’s still a lot of people who live without any or adequate banking services.
Loans and Grants for Now and Later Whether it’s starting curbside pickup at restaurants, pivoting manufacturing facilities to produce masks and other necessities for frontline workers, creating online ordering systems, or developing remote work infrastructures on the fly, one silver lining the pandemic has shown us is the innovative power of small business owners and entrepreneurs. But the reality is that the small business sector is still in need of help—specifically financial help. If you are a business owner, here are the two major categories of finance that you can turn to, both during the COVID-19 crisis and after.