The Authentic Difference Is Our People-First Principles

On October 20, 2016, credit unions around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).

Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives, offering the same services as other financial institutions, but with a people-first philosophy.

“The Authentic Difference,” this year’s ICU Day theme, zeroes in on what makes credit unions different from banks, fintech startups and other financial institutions—our principles.

Credit unions have operated according to the same core principles since the 1850s, when a group of weary German workers, tired of being exploited by loan sharks, formed the world’s first credit union by banding together to provide affordable credit to each other.

These principles are based on the 7 cooperative principles, shared by all cooperatives. They are:

1. Democratic Control
One member = One vote. Whether you have $5 or $5 million, your voice is equal.

2. Open and Voluntary Membership
Members are connected by a bond of association, fostering a sense of community.

3. Non-Discrimination
Credit unions are open to all without regard for race, orientation, nationality, sex, religion, gender, or politics.

4. Service to Members
Credit unions are ranked No. 1 in service in numerous surveys, because they exist to serve members, not profit.

5. Distribution to Members
Credit unions return all profits to their members through dividends, lower fees, better savings rates, and improved services.

6. Building Financial Stability
Credit unions are historically stable organizations. They’re owned by the people they serve, so they don’t take unnecessary risks.

7. Cooperation Among Cooperatives
Credit unions and cooperatives share the same principles. Together, they amplify each other’s good works.

8. Social Responsibility
Credit unions strive for social justice by committing to strengthening their communities and helping people of modest means.

9. Ongoing Education
Credit unions prioritize financial education for their members, employees, and communities as part of their pursuit of social justice.

This is why we celebrate ICU Day at Hopewell Federal Credit Union. Because putting people before profit, prioritizing social responsibility, and offering financial education improves lives. These values are why cooperative banking is a key component of helping people in developing countries gain access to microloans, or a middle-class couple in Licking County receive an affordable mortgage for their first home.

So when we wish you a Happy ICU Day at Hopewell Federal Credit Union, know that we’re thanking you for belonging to a movement that’s helping your neighbors—and people around the world—grow and thrive and follow their dreams.

If you have any questions about the credit union philosophy or how Hopewell Federal can help you, stop by or contact us at 740.522.8311 or at info@hopewellfcu.org.

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Home Equity Loans Give You Room For Improvement

It’s a tough choice for a homeowner: Move into a new house, or improve the one you have. It seems so easy to call a realtor and arrange a showing. But your current home has something no new home can offer—equity.

Home equity is on the rise, providing homeowners a ready financing source to turn home sweet home into home sweet dream home. On average, homeowners spend 18 months planning home improvements. It’s time well spent, but some renovations pay off better than others. According to the “2015 Remodeling Impact Report” replacing your front door can transform the look and feel of your house and return 75% at resale. Similarly, you can expect a 67% return on a kitchen update. A home office remodel returns the low end under 50%

As you plan, look beyond your house to your neighborhood. Will renovations put you in a different league—and price range—than your neighbors? Also, keep in mind how long you’ll be in your house. If you’re going to fix it up and sell in six months, you’ll get all the pain of remodeling and not much gain. But if you plan to live in the house more than three years, it makes economic sense to remodel.

Call Hopewell Federal to help you calculate your equity and discuss your home equity loan options today.

Utilizing Digital File Keeping

Most everyone has too many digital files to count these days. Music, pictures, financial files, product warranties, even retail receipts that are e-mailed rather than printed at the cash register leave us with digitized pieces of our everyday life.

Sixty-eight percent of Ohioans organize their important documents digitally, according to a 2016 Mid-Year Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League. When it comes to their personal bookkeeping, 27 percent said they receive all their monthly account statements digitally via e-mail, 52 percent said they receive at least some of their monthly statements digitally, and 21 percent said they still prefer to receive hard copies of all statements.

Even while people utilize digitization for their personal accounting and filing systems, almost 57 percent of the survey’s respondents said they’re not entirely sure their personal information is safe. Less than 32 percent said they have complete faith that their files are safely stored.

A 2015 international survey conducted by Accenture Consulting noted that while consumers find smart devices, and the files stored on them, to be increasingly relevant to their lives, they are not convinced there is a satisfactory level of security and privacy.

While less paperwork to pile, file, or shred is a bonus, digital consumers still want to feel like their personal information is safe. Here are a few helpful tips for staying organized and keeping digital data safe.

• Take control of your computer. Perhaps the most important step in digital organization is taking control of your computer. File important e-statements in labeled folders in your “My Documents” folder. It reduces desktop clutter, adds a level of security if your system crashes, and makes searching easier should you need to find a document.
• Set a rule for creating passwords. You don’t need to remember 75 passwords if you have one rule set for generating them. For instance, try always using your initials to start, followed by a favorite number, then the first two to three letters of the service name. Using the same password repeatedly makes it easier for identity thieves to hack into your accounts. And creating multiple passwords with no rule makes it difficult to remember them all.
• Archive files. Archive what you don’t want or need. Create a folder in your “My Documents” folder called “Archives.” You can place items there you don’t necessarily need, but aren’t comfortable deleting right away.
• Keep a paper trail. Keep a digital and a safely-stored paper version of critical documents that are either hard to replace, such as family health records and major home improvements, or for documents that are tax or business related.

To learn about credit unions in your community and how they can provide digital documents for your financial needs, visit www.aSmarterChoice.org.

Millennials Serious About Ditching Debt

Millennials are making wiping out debt a top priority, according to a USA Today/Bank of America Money Habit survey.

Among those surveyed, two-thirds of millennials said they have made getting out of debt a top priority. This ranks just above having minimal financial stress, spending less than they earn and having an emergency savings fund.

The study showed a significant difference in responses from college-educated millennials versus those without a degree. Almost 60% of respondents with degrees said they were somewhat satisfied with their current financial situation, while only 40% of non-college grads felt confident about their status.

Other findings:

• On average, 64% of those polled have savings–57% without a college degree and 85% with a degree. Even college grads strapped with student loan debt have more confidence than those who didn’t go to college or didn’t graduate;

• Across the board, 51% are concerned that they won’t have enough money to achieve financial wellness;

• Among millennials with savings, 43% have less than $5,000 put away; and

• One-third of those with savings have a 401(k): About half of millennials ages 26-34 participate in an employer-sponsored 401(k) plan, while only 14% of millennials younger than 26 participate in a plan.

Even though most young adults said that at times they worry about their financial situation, most generally are satisfied with their situation. They are wary about taking on more debt and are hesitant to purchase items they can’t afford.

No matter your debt situation, we’d love to touch base with you. Stop by or call today at 740.522.8311 or visit online at http://www.hopewellfcu.org.

Surviving the Loss of a Job

The loss of a steady paycheck or consistent income can quickly change anyone’s day-to-day reality. Although unemployment levels are improving, 5.3 percent nationally and 5 percent in Ohio, more than 2 million Americans have been jobless for more than six months, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Despite this statistic, 52 percent of Ohioans surveyed in the Mid-Year 2015 Consumer Survey, conducted by the Ohio Credit Union League, said they are only prepared to cover up to three months of essential expenses if an unexpected job loss happens to them

Fourteen percent said they could live for 3-6 months in the event of a job loss, while only 11 percent of respondents said they could cover expenses for 6-12 months. In order to prepare for an unforeseen event such as losing a job, consumers should consider putting away at least 10 percent of net income monthly into a savings account.

Here are some tips to getting back on your feet following an unexpected change in job statue.

• Visit the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website. This website is a good resource for obtaining new employment, unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance, and health benefits. http://jfs.ohio.gov/
• Consider borrowing from current investments. There may be a tax or other penalty, but when income abruptly stops, one option to consider is borrowing from your 401K, Roth IRA, or insurance policy. It can help keep your head above water until you find employment and keep you from having to take out a loan or running up the balance on high-interest credit cards.
• Consider temporary job options. If finding work is taking a while, a temporary job can help bring in some income while you’re still seeking a permanent fit.
• Check with a credit union. If you’re out of work and need advice, a credit union can help. These not-for-profit financial institutions believe in helping consumers afford life by offering benefits such as lower interest rates on loans, flexible payment options such as skip-a-pay to help in a crisis situation like a job loss, higher savings deposit yields, and fewer/lower fees compared to banks.

To learn more about credit unions in your community and how they help people afford life, visit www.asmarterchoice.org.