What is membership really worth?

July 25, 2013 · By Kelvin Smith

I’ve been looking over an advance copy of the Summer edition of Financially Empowered – our new member magazine, which will be mailed to all of Us starting August 1 – and I have to say, there’s a lot to take in. Our editorial staff did another great job finding interesting topics that I for one am finding quite helpful.

But while I did very much enjoy the features about things like how to save money on car repairs and what’s important to consider when buying or insuring a vehicle, there were a couple of articles that stood out to me especially: a story about how members are responding to our financial workshops, and a checklist (repeated from the previous issue) of steps to take to ensure you’re getting the most out of your Arizona Federal membership.

Now, it’s certainly true that in my position on the credit union’s Board I have access to plenty of information about what the credit union has to offer, and that my colleagues and I have played a role in making many of these benefits available to all of Us. But I must admit that even I was impressed when seeing this list: 

  • Access to my three-bureau credit report and credit score anytime, with updates quarterly and when I get an alert
  • Active credit monitoring as protection against identity theft and fraud
  • Online tools to help establish a budget or savings plan and track the results (this is the starter version of Quicken software, right inside CU Online)
  • A mobile app that lets me deposit checks when and where I want
  • Access to credit and insurance consultants who will review my current situation and give me unbiased feedback on where I might be able to do better
  • Discounts on a variety of products and services at participating merchants, on top of the rewards programs attached to our credit cards
  • Investment and retirement experts who will look at what I’ve got going to make sure I’m on track

And to top it all off, if I’m participating at even a basic level (and yes, I am), I stand to receive a portion of any PLUs (Payback for Loyalty to Us) payment we might be able to make at the end of the year (spoiler alert: we’ve already accrued $2.5 million for PLUs just halfway through the year!).

Now let me move on to the other article I mentioned.  As you might have noticed, in June we started offering workshops at several of our ServUs Centers with the primary purpose of helping members determine how they are doing in terms of being in control of their finances, and then showing them how the services available to them at no extra cost as members can help them do better in that area. Attendees have the opportunity to give us anonymous feedback at the end of the sessions, and according to the article they are reporting a 41 percent increase in their perception of the value of membership! And in many cases, these are people who have been members for 10 or even 20 years!

There’s a lesson for me (and maybe for you) in all of this that I wouldn’t want any of Us to miss: there’s a lot to being one of Us that we might be missing out on – and it’s worth a lot more than $3 a month. Why, just last weekend I heard a radio ad for an identity protection service not in any way superior to ours that was emphasizing that it cost “less than a dollar a day!” Being one of Us, with all that includes, costs a dime a day!

So here’s my advice: sign up for a workshop, or at the very least review the checklist in your copy of Financially Empowered when it arrives. Find out what’s available to you and start taking advantage of it. I’m certain you’ll be better off for doing so, as you discover more and more how valuable it is to be one of Us!

As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated. And, as always … thanks for being one of Us.

Tags: Cooperatively Speaking