Why Choose a Credit Union?

Smaller banks give more personal service

Why Choose a Credit Union?

A few weeks ago I blogged about free chequing accounts with the big banks. Now I want to talk about credit unions, and how they differ from the big banks, and how they might be right for you.

FirstOntario Credit Union recently launched a public awareness campaign focusing on the benefits of community-based credit unions vs. the big banks. As many as 10 million Canadians—roughly one third of the population—are members of a credit union or caisse populaire (70 per cent in Quebec, 60 per cent in Saskatchewan and more than 30 per cent in PEI).

A national survey conducted by FirstOntario in November revealed that 40 per cent of Canadians are unhappy with the high service fees their bank charges them. Of those surveyed, 42 per cent indicated they are either 'unsatisfied completely' or only 'somewhat satisfied' with their current bank. Nearly 10 per cent said they are reluctant to switch because it is the only bank they have ever had, or they feel that switching would be too much trouble. I was one of those people for a very long time. It just seems like so much work to switch bank accounts, that even if you’re paying an exorbitant amount of money for simple chequing services, it’s hard to work up the energy to make the switch.

Many people who do make the switch are signing up with their local credit union. “A lot of people don’t realise that credit unions provide essentially the same services as banks,” says Dave Schurman, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer with FirstOntario. “Daily banking, mortgages, loans and investments—we offer it all, but with lower fees and a more personal approach.” Their lending rates are certainly competitive—FirstOntario recently announced a four-year fixed-rate mortgage at 2.98% and a seven-year fixed rate mortgage at 3.98%.

Earlier this month, FirstOntario Credit Union launched a public awareness campaign to educate consumers about the benefits of a community-based credit union over Canada's big banks. The campaign's website, www.MyOwnBank.ca, offers candid testimonials from consumers, links to products and services, as well as a step-by-step guide to empower consumers to make a change.

Shudder at the thought of switching banks? The site also offers a step-by-step guide to help consumers to leave their bank for good.

Did you enjoy this blog post? You might like Time to Talk Allowances.


Go Ahead, Disagree With Me

Why I enjoy a good debate

Go Ahead, Disagree With Me

On my personal Facebook page I have nearly 600 friends, many of whom I actually interact with pretty regularly, even if only online. Occasionally I’ll notice someone has unfriended me (I don’t have that masochistic app that sends you messages when you’re unfriended, but sometimes I do notice).

I can usually pinpoint the defection to a specific debate I started on FB. Whether I took on the Operation Christmas Child’s shoeboxes, home birth or working moms, my Facebook wall is often littered with 50+ comment discussions.

Case in point. I recently posted a link to Candace Alper’s exceptionally well-written blog about sending cupcakes to school for a kids birthday. I remarked that I enjoyed the post, but disagreed with the author. With more than 40 comments so far, there are people on both sides of the issue.

In those comments, many more important points were brought up that weren’t addressed in the blog article (What Candace, you didn’t want to write a 4,000 word blog post?). How parents deal with disappointed kids, where are all these allergies coming from these days anyway, moral issues with sending home dollar store junk, and even the Pinterest-inspired pressure for moms to perform Cake Boss-worthy feats of culinary excellence.

As a result of this debate, I saw the issue in a different light. I’ve decided that I still believe in sending treats, but I will look into how to make them more inclusive. I still think any children whose parents will not let them partake for whatever reason will be left out—but see, I’m ok with kids getting left out. I’m ok with my kids being left out of things too. “One kid left out is too many” isn’t a sentiment I agree with. Which is another blog topic entirely.

In her post, Mothers shouldn’t have opinions, Annie from PhD in Parenting writes, “To those commenters who do not think I should share my opinion with the world, I will say the same thing I say to those who don’t think women should breastfeed in public: It is your problem, not my problem. If you don’t like what you see, look away. Because I’m going to keep on exercising my rights. That said, feel free to disagree with me. I’m happy to debate and discuss as long as it is done civilly.”

Ay, there’s the rub.

Debate and discuss as long as it is done civilly. Unfortunately, many people seem incapable of this. It’s not that we’ve lost the skill of reasoned debate—most people have never had it. Socrates and many other great minds were persecuted and killed by those intolerant of debate.

In my humble opinion (and feel free to debate it), mothers are the worst perpetrators. Many can’t participate in a reasoned debate without taking someone else’s comments as a personal attack on them. And frankly, sometimes in a debate another person has debated poorly and said or written something that really is intended as a personal attack. Either way, the problem lies in our society’s bizarre fixation with caring what every Tom, Dick and Harry thinks about us. We’re obsessed with having everyone in our sphere of influence approve of our every choice. When we encounter people who think we’re wrong, misguided or complete idiots, we’re devastated. It’s absurd.

I found a quote from a Montessori school website that stated that “Students who have studied debate show stronger analytical, interpersonal communication, and critical thinking skills. They have higher GPAs, face disappointment and defeat with greater resilience, are more effective and confident public speakers, are better able to evaluate information, and are less likely to engage in physical fights.”

Another study proved that debate is the best way to understand concepts, reevaluation of one’s position and the most attitude change.

With this in mind, I’ll continue to foster a spirit of debate online and in my life, despite it clearly upsetting some friends and acquaintances. It has made me more open-minded and has developed in me a higher tolerance for the viewpoints of others, and it continues to do so.

So go ahead, disagree with me. It's good for us both.


Top Money Books

My best bets in financial guides

Top Money Books

If you’re determined to get control of your money now that we’ve begun a year fresh, here are a few books to help.

Money Smart Mom: Financially Fit Parenting by me! What, you didn’t think I’d recommend my own book? This is a great back to basics guide to the financial issues families deal with.

The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton is an updated version of this classic financial book, and a fantastic starting point.

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko reveals the seven surprising secrets of millionaires.

Debt-Free Forever by Gail Vaz-Oxlade is a great book by the host of Slice’s ‘Til Debt do Us Part.

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez addresses how you cantransform your relationship with money and as such transform your life.

Smart Couples Finish Rich, Canadian Edition by David Bach is a great book to share with your spouse.

Smart Cookies Guide to Making More Dough is the story of a group of BC women who started a money club and changed their spendthrift ways, with lots of smart advice. Read an excerpt.

You’re Broke Because You Want to Be by Larry Winget is a Jillian Michaels type motivational book, with no-holds barred advice.

397 Ways to Save Money by Kerry Taylor is a good book to refer to on a regular basis to remind yourself of ways you can cut your spending.

Did you enjoy this blog post? You might like Am I More Thrifty Than You? or All About Money Clubs.