It's late Summer in the Valley, and the last couple of weeks have been some of the wettest we've seen for quite some time. Television news stations have been reporting and showing video of area residents being rescued from their vehicles during flash floods. Some are victims of their own poor judgment, while others were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. But either way, they're all in need of help – and I'm thankful that our first responders are there to provide it.
In this issue of Financially Empowered we're focusing on a storm of a different sort: the storm of personal financial woes that is catching far too many Americans in its dangerous onslaught. Millions are paying huge portions of their incomes in fees and inflated interest to non-traditional providers such as check cashers and title loan companies; millions more are finding themselves unable to obtain loans, reasonably-priced insurance or even employment because of low credit scores.
As with the stranded motorists on the news stories, there's no single explanation for how these individuals ended up where they are. Some made poor choices, perhaps even though they knew better; others may not have been aware that there was a different way to go, or that there might be unpleasant consequences of the actions they were taking. But they have something else in common with those motorists: they need help. And that's where we come in; we have help to offer.
We begin providing that help in this issue by simply exposing the problem, with articles discussing its effects and one of the underlying causes: a general lack of financial knowledge. But we're also taking another, more proactive approach, by offering free credit consultations to all new (and existing) members – and we're inviting all of Us to refer our friends and loved ones to join and take advantage of this important benefit of being one of Us.
I hope you'll take the time to read these articles, and that they inspire you to learn all you can about personal finances in general, and your own situation in particular. And I also hope you'll get involved by referring someone to us who together we can help in a meaningful way.
Thanks for reading – and thanks for your continued membership and participation. If you have a comment, question or suggestion, please reach out to us as described below, as we very much value your input. It's an important part of being one of Us!
Ronald L. Westad
President and Chief Executive Officer