Working Together

October 17, 2008

Last night the Piedmont Chapter of Credit Unions got together.  This group is made up of volunteers, members, and employees from different credit unions across southern Virginia.  It was fitting to meet on International Credit Union Day.  Don Graham from the Virginia Credit Union League talked about how credit unions have grown over the years all over the world and how they come to each others aid in times of need. He shared reports of how this was lived out just last month by Texas credit unions in the wake of Hurricane Ike. (You can still support credit union people affected by Ike, click here.)

Recently we actually lived it out right here.  Last week while visiting a school I ran into a teacher who was already a member of Danville City Employees Federal Credit Union (through her husband).  Since I’ve seen the statistics which say that credit unions only have about 10%-15% of the personal finance market share in America, I really didn’t try very hard to win her business.  Rather, I complimented the other credit union and thanked her for supporting it.   With 90% of people using banks, credit unions don’t need to be fighting over each others members.  It really is for the good of all credit unions that we continue to support each other even when our memberships overlap like this.

Another example happened at last nights meeting. Kevin from Martinsville DuPont Credit Union, shared about what they learned from the recent phishing and vishing attack directed against their credit union.  The information was very valuable and will no doubt find it’s way into one of our upcoming financial education courses.

I’m so pleased to once again be active in our local credit union chapter.  I’m also glad to see the goodwill and cooperative nature of local credit unions being lived out in tangible ways.  If you’re a credit union employee reading, you should certainly consider coming to a chapter meeting.  The next meeting is November 6, 2008 at the Ballou Park Senior Center in Danville, VA.  If you’re a member, you should be proud to be part of your credit union and please let your credit union know what you think of it.  If you’re not a member, you need to find a credit union!

Donate to credit union people affected by Hurricane Ike


Is Your Money Safe?

August 18, 2008

In light of those bank failures earlier this Summer, here’s a short(1 min) video about the safety and soundness of America’s credit unions.  It’s from the president of the Credit Union National Association, Dan Mica.

Actually at this time Piedmont Credit Union is financially stronger than it has ever been!  This is thanks to the thousands of members who have trusted us and faithfully used our services over the years.

Welcome to Danville!

June 26, 2008

We’d like to welcome Roanoke Postal FCU to Danville.  Recently the Danville Postal Employees Credit Union merged with Roanoke Postal FCU.  This should grant a much broader array of services to Danville Postal employees and ensure that they have a credit union to call home for many years to come.  Today they are having their open house.

Welcome to Danville RPEFCU!

-Your neighbors over at Piedmont Credit Union.

Fly a Flag for the Children’s Miracle Network

June 24, 2008

Credit Unions across Virginia are once again helping the Children’s Miracle Network. Through the end of June, when you make a contribution of $5 to the Children’s Miracle Network you will receive a magnetic U.S. Magnetic FlagsFlag to display proudly on any piece of metal that you choose. It’s great for cars, refrigerators, the side of your computer, or file cabinets at the credit union. But we don’t want to keep them on our file cabinets! We want you to take them home for a good cause. If you think of more places to display your Patriotism, feel free to leave it in the comments.

There are also some small cloth flags that you may take home if you make a contribution to our God’s Pit Crew Dollars For Dually campaign. Our supplies of flags are limited!

A Savings Story … This is what credit unions are all about.

May 23, 2008

Yesterday while visiting one of our member companies, I met a very nice woman who had purchased a car just a few days ago. Her supervisor had wisely suggested that she check on a loan at the credit union instead of keeping the loan from the dealership. So she came to speak with me. When I calculated that her current interest rate was 21% I thought I had made a mistake, but she confirmed that I was correct. I thought perhaps she had a very rocky credit history but that was not the case. It wasn’t perfect, but it certainly wasn’t poor either. Fortunately the dealer had not processed the paperwork and she had a few hours to get a loan through our credit union.

So we made her a new loan which saved her loads of money! Below you’ll see just how much she saved…

Dealer Loan

Piedmont CU Loan

Over $4,000 Dollars!!!! She chose to use some of that savings to buy our 48 month mechanical breakdown protection and GAP protection for her loan. Her total cost of the loan even with those add-ons was still $2,000 less than the dealer loan! As you can see, here’s yet another happy credit union member. And that’s who it’s all about!

Happy Piedmont CU Member

How are Credit Unions Different?

January 25, 2008

Here is a little video about how credit unions are different. It’s the simplest explanation I’ve seen that also communicates all the details. It’s done totally by a 19 year old girl in Canada, named Larissa.

Thanks to our friends North of the border at Currency Marketing, a credit union marketing company, and Young & Free Alberta, a website they created, for giving her the resources to put this together.

Two Perspectives… maybe three.

January 24, 2008

Update 2-17-2008: A revised edition of this post appeared in the Danville Register & Bee opinion section today. Here is a link to that column.

You may have heard that in Virginia the General Assembly is considering putting a cap on the interest rates that can be charged by payday lenders in our commonwealth. There have been several articles about the subject to appear in our local paper, the Danville Register & Bee, as well as other places as well.

An Op-Ed article in The New Dominion magazine says that ads by payday lenders are misleading. It gives some very reasonable responses to the claims of payday lenders made in their advertising and lobbying.

The Register & Bee Opinion Section says that there are no alternatives to it in our area, and that if payday lenders are forced out of business, something will need to step up and fill the gap left by their absence.

I’d like to make a response to the idea that there are currently no alternatives to payday lenders in the Dan River Region. But first, here’s a question I’d like to throw out: What did people who depend on payday lenders do before there were payday lenders?

Now, there are alternatives to payday lending in our area. There are nine credit unions from Martinsville to Danville to South Boston. Of the two that I’ve worked for I can say with certainty that they have a strong desire to serve their members no matter how dire their financial situation might be. At my two credit unions personal loans are granted for as little as $500. True, that might be more than what some payday lending customers need, but what is not needed can simply be paid back on the loan the same day. I’ve never heard of a credit union charging an early-payment penalty. Perhaps a better alternative is to use that “extra” money to kick-start a savings account. Then divert a portion of the loan repayment towards adding to that savings account. This would help establish the habit of saving money which in turn will reduce the need to borrow in the future. The same small loan amounts also apply to vehicle loans. The two credit unions I’m intimately familiar with are not opposed to refinancing older vehicles if it is truly helpful to the borrower.

But, then there is the argument that not many people can join a credit union. This is just a lack of awareness. “I wonder if there’s a credit union I can join?” is not a question that the average person asks. The fact is that anyone from Martinsville to Danville to South Boston can join at least one credit union without having any family connections. When you consider the fact that a member’s immediate family can also join, it’s not far reaching to say that the average person in our community can join 2-3 credit unions. Without my employment connection I can join 5 locally. (That’s because I married a wonderful Danville gal!)

So why aren’t people asking that question, “I wonder if there’s a credit union I can join?” I believe it is because the general public thinks they are just like banks. But that’s just not the case. I once knew someone with 20+ years experience at a bank who came to work at a local credit union. This person was overwhelmed at the difference between the credit union and banking worlds. The idea that we’re here to do what’s best for the credit union member instead of what’s best for Trustees and Shareholders was a totally new concept. It’s like you really don’t understand it until you do it. The same is true for credit union members. They really don’t understand the difference until they experience it for themselves.

Finally here’s a Register & Bee Letter to the Editor which is from someone who depends on payday lending. It’s short so here it is in it’s entirety.

Support payday lending

To the editor:
In response to, “No rest for either side in payday lending debate,” (Dec. 30, page B5), I am praying the government will not close down the payday lenders in our city.
Without payday lenders, I don’t know what I would do. I have no insurance and I am a diabetic and I have to get loans from a payday lender in Danville to get help with my medications and my supplies.
If it wasn’t for them loaning me money until payday, I wouldn’t be able to feed my children or get the medical help that I need. I know there are some people out there that abuse these companies, but I am speaking for those of us who really need them because we can’t make ends meet on our small salaries and we can’t get help from the government agencies for medical supplies or food.
Please don’t close down the payday lenders.

Dry Fork

There definitely are legitimate points in this letter. Private insurance would be really expensive for a diabetic, and most small employers don’t offer health insurance. (Side note: I wonder what kind of employee benefits payday lenders offer?) There is that zone that many people fall into where they make too much for government assistance but their salary is not really enough to live comfortably. She’s probably a single parent too. Raising a family is hard, expensive work with two parents at home.

There are two things I’d like to know, three that I’m curious about. How did Melissa or people like her manage before payday lending became popular in our area? How much money in fees has Melissa has paid out to her payday lender? If she had half that money today what could it be used for? If Melissa reads this post I hope that she will contact one of the credit unions I’m about to list below. Perhaps they can help her get out of falling back on her payday lender and help her to get some savings started.

Here is a comprehensive list of credit unions in the Dan River Region along with who can join them. If you are stuck in that cycle of having to take out one payday loan after another, please look through this list and see if there is a credit union you can join. Remember to consider if anyone in your family can join one of them. If so then you could join through your family member.

  • Piedmont Credit Union – That’s us, we serve the Educational Community and lots of local companies and businesses. You can see exactly which companies we serve here. We’re always looking to expand the list so let me know if you would like me to contact your employer about offering the benefit of a local credit union.
  • Goodyear Danville Family CU – They serve anyone who works at the local Goodyear plant.
  • Danville City Employees FCU – Any City of Danville employee may join. (434)799-5027
  • Danville Regional Medical FCU – Any Danville hospital employee may join, as well as employees of other medical facilities which have started a relationship with the credit union.
  • URW Community FCU – They started off serving the United Rubber Workers Local 831 Union at our local Goodyear plant. Now membership is open to anyone who lives or works in Danville, Pittsylvania County, and Caswell County, NC.
  • Halifax County Community FCU – Anyone who lives in Halifax County may join. (434)575-7916
  • Danville Postal Employees CU – Anyone who works for the Danville Post Office can join. (434)793-4132
  • Martinsville Dupont Credit Union – Once the credit union that served the old DuPont plant in Martinsville. Now they welcome anyone who lives or works in Martinsville, Henry County, Patrick County, Franklin County, Pittsylvania County, and Danville.
  • Martinsville City Employees CU – Anyone who works for the City of Martinsville. (276)632-7775
  • Martinsville Postal Employees CU – Anyone who works for the Martinsville Post Office can join. (276)632-7775 (yeah it’s the same number as Martinsville City Employees CU, not a typo, they’re small and they share the same space and employees.)

Update 2-17-2008: A revised edition of this post appeared in the Danville Register & Bee opinion section today. Here is a link to that column.