Need a New Year’s resolution? Try financial fitness

By Eric Tegethoff
Washington News Service

OLYMPIA — While many people will make working out and physical fitness their New Year’s resolutions, folks should also consider becoming more financially fit.

Getting your money in line may not be as glamorous as getting a gym membership, but it could help you survive times of financial stress.

Matt Devlin is chief marketing officer at TwinStar Credit Union, which has more than 100,000 members in Oregon and Washington state. He says saving money is one of the most useful things people can do in the New Year.

“We’ve got a lot of research that points to people needing to develop a savings habit, where they start to save — even if it’s just $25 or $50 a month — if they can save that regularly, then they start to see the value, or they can withstand an unexpected expense,” says Devlin. “And it starts to feel really good.”

Devlin says one of the easiest ways to start a savings habit is to set up a direct deposit from every paycheck, directly into a savings account. He adds that credit unions like his offer free and personalized advice for how to save as well.

The cooperative model of credit unions allows members to save in other ways, too. Because they don’t pay stockholders like for-profit financial institutions, they’re often able to provide lower fees and loan interest rates.

According to Informa Research, each Washington credit union member saves $210 on a new car loan. Collectively, they saved more than $100 million on credit card interest rates last year, compared to bank customers.

Devlin says using credit union services could also fulfill New Year’s pledges to do more business locally.

“From the very, very beginnings of credit unions, we’ve been local,” he says. “It was either located at the employer or, you know, at the back of the aluminum plant, or wherever. As a result, we’ve always had a close connection with credit union members.”

More than 3.5 million Washingtonians are members of a credit union.

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