The Credit Union Difference

from Credit Union National Association (CUNA)

New federal laws and regulations are changing the structure and face of the financial services industry. In this time of accelerating change, it is important to truly understand how credit unions are unique and different, and why we remain a necessary and extremely popular financial alternative for more than 100 million Americans.


  • Not-for-profit. Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives. We exist to serve our members, not to make a profit. Unlike most other financial institutions, credit unions do not issue stock or pay dividends to outside stockholders. Instead, earnings are returned to our members in the form of lower loan rates, higher interest on deposits, and lower fees.
  • Taxation. Credit unions do pay taxes – payroll taxes, sales taxes, and property taxes. Congress exempts credit unions from federal income taxes. The exemption was established in 1937, affirmed by statute in 1951, and re-affirmed in 1998 in H.R. 1151, the Credit Union Membership Access Act, which states:

Credit unions, unlike many other participants in the financial services market, are exempt from Federal and most State taxes because credit unions are member-owned, democratically operated, not-for- profit organizations generally managed by volunteer boards of directors and because they have the specified mission of meeting the credit and savings needs of consumers, especially persons of modest means.”

  • Ownership. Credit unions are economic democracy. Each credit union member has equal ownership and one vote — regardless of how much money a member has on deposit. At a credit union, every customer is both a member and an owner.
  • Volunteer Boards. Each credit union is governed by a board of directors, elected by and from the credit union’s membership. Board members serve voluntarily.
  • Membership Eligibility. By current federal statute, credit unions cannot serve the general public. People qualify for a credit union membership through their employer, organizational affiliations like churches or social groups, or a community-chartered credit union.
  • Financial Education for Members. Credit unions assist members to become better- educated consumers of financial services. Additionally, CUNA is partnering with the National Endowment for Financial Education, a not-for-profit foundation, to expand financial education among high school students. A national study shows that just ten hours of personal finance education can positively affect students’ spending and savings habits for a lifetime.
  • Social Purpose: People Helping People. Credit unions exist to help people, not make a profit. Our goal is to serve all of our members well, including those of modest means – every member counts. Our members are fiercely loyal for this reason. They know their credit union will be there for them in bad times, as well as good. The same people-first philosophy causes credit unions and our employees to get involved in community charitable activities and worthwhile causes – just ask us.


Copyright © 2013 Credit Union National Association

Visit WESTconsin Credit Union to learn more about The Credit Union Difference.

International Credit Union Day 2014

International Credit Union DayAbout International Credit Union Day®

from the World Council of Credit Unions

International Credit Union (ICU) Day® has been celebrated on the third Thursday of October since 1948. The day is recognized to reflect upon the credit union movement’s history and to promote its achievements. It is a day to honor those who have dedicated their lives to the movement, recognize the hard work of those working in the credit union industry and show members our appreciation.

This year’s ICU Day will take place on Oct. 16, 2014. Its theme, “Local Service. Global Good.,” emphasizes credit unions’ positive impact in their communities and around the world.

“ICU Day was established to acknowledge credit unions’ strong base in their communities, both local and global,” said Brian Branch, World Council president and CEO. “This year’s theme champions the credit union model by shining light on the industry’s support of charity causes at the local, national and international levels.”

The ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the great work that credit unions are doing around the world and give members the opportunity to get more involved. Credit unions and associations throughout the world celebrate the day with open houses, contests, picnics and parades.

Make sure to visit your local WESTconsin Credit Union office this Thursday, October 16 and join in on the celebration!



WESTERN WI – WESTconsin Credit Union’s annual World’s Finest Chocolate Candy Bar fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) is taking place now through the end of the month. Candy bars are $1.00 each and can be purchased from any of the credit union’s thirteen office locations. All proceeds go to CMN and 100% of the money raised stays at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, MN for CMN.

Funds are used for research and providing assistance to families as needed for meals and lodging while their child is being treated. More than 900 western Wisconsin children receive treatment from Gillette’s services each year. Learn more about how Gillette Children’s is changing the way kids with disabilities see the world and how the world sees them by visiting

WESTconsin Credit Union has been serving members since 1939, and membership is open to anyone who lives or works in the Wisconsin counties of Barron, Buffalo, Burnett, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Pepin, Pierce, Polk, Rusk, St. Croix, Sawyer, Taylor, Trempealeau, and Washburn, or the Minnesota counties of Anoka, Chisago, Dakota, Goodhue, Isanti, Ramsey, Wabasha, and Washington, with a $5 minimum deposit in a Membership Savings Account. Credit unions are financial institutions owned by their accountholders, and member funds are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) up to at least $250,000.

10 Terms You Need to Know if You Ever Plan to Retire

retirement on beachIn the modern economy, the responsibility for retirement largely falls to the individual. Being educated about this process can mean the difference between spending your retirement in vacation mode and working an additional decade. To secure the future you want, it’s important to plan. The earlier you start figuring it out (and saving!), the better. Here is a glossary of essential terms to know.

1. 401(k)

This term gets thrown around a lot, and sometimes it’s used interchangeably with retirement savings. But a 401(k) is a specific kind of retirement plan. It is a tax-deferred savings and investment plan established by employers. A 401(k) allows employees to control how salary and assets are allocated among different types of investments.

2. IRA

An IRA is another kind of retirement plan. It does not require an employer to set it up for you. An IRA is a personal, tax-sheltered retirement account available to employed wage earners not covered by a company retirement plan or under certain income limitations. Any contributions to an IRA may be tax-deductible and earnings are not taxed until the funds are withdrawn after you reach age 59.

3. Social Security

Social Security is a federal program of social insurance that provides benefits to retired, unemployed or disabled people. It is funded by Social Security taxes that come out of your paycheck while you are working. Based on the year you were born, retirement benefits from Social Security may begin as early as age 62. The amount you will receive in retirement is based on the average payments earned over your lifetime and may also extend to spouses.

4. Compounding Interest

Compounding interest is the interest calculated by the principal or original amount in a retirement account as well as by the accumulated interest of previous periods. It is the concept that the interest you earn today will earn interest tomorrow.


It’s important to review your current finances and your retirement goals and make sure you have a plan that gets you where you hope to go. Managing your credit well is also a very important part of maintaining good financial health throughout your lifetime. That includes keeping your debts low and at a level you can manage, making your payments on time every month, checking your annual free credit reports and regularly monitoring your credit scores. This way you can ensure you’re on your way to a happy retirement, whatever that may look like for you.

This article was written by AJ Smith and originally published at on July 22, 2014. Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.

The 10 Most Low Effort Ways to Save Money Ever

coinsAnyone bringing home a steady, reasonably sufficient paycheck can save. Not only that, but saving is one of the simplest acts of money management that you can engage in, and there are a lot of ways to make it happen.

To help you get started, try some — or all! — of the 10 of the most low-effort strategies for stocking your rainy-day fund.

1. Cook Meals at Home

Restaurant meals are notoriously more expensive than cooking at home, which is understandable since you’re paying for the food along with the kitchen labor and the service. But if you make it a point to eat more meals at home, you’ll often save half or more of what you would spend in a restaurant. When you do, make a note of the money you saved (whatever the amount) and transfer that to your savings account.

2. Spend a Night In

Sitting on the couch and watching TV isn’t often thought of as a money-saving activity. But if your habit is to go out for dinner and drinks on a Friday night, stay in and save the expense of food, alcohol, and the fuel you’d spend getting to those things. The amount you’ll save varies, but $50 for a night out isn’t unusual.

3. Set a Short-Term Savings Goal

If motivation to save money is a problem for you, set small, attainable goals that can be met in a short period of time. Just telling yourself that you’re going to save money isn’t enough. Far-reaching goals are hard to keep on track, but smaller, achievable triumphs help pave the way little by little. Meeting those goals will encourage you to continue being intentional about putting money away.

4. Contribute a Little More to Your 401(k)

Most employers will match your contribution up to a certain percentage. If you want an easy way to save for retirement without having to think about it, up the amount that gets taken out of your paycheck for your 401(k) so it’s safely put away and invested before you even see it.

5. Drink More Water

Water is by far the cheapest and most readily available drink that we have (so long as you’re not committing the ultimate money wasting crime of buying bottled water, of course), and also the healthiest. An easy way to save money is to opt for water at home and when you’re going out to eat as opposed to the far more expensive soft drinks, juices, coffee, and alcoholic beverages. I drink water all day long, and compared to my husband who buys several drinks a day while he’s working, I’d venture to guess I’m saving about $35 per week by avoiding anything but good ol’ H2O.

If you’re patient and methodical about saving money, the best ways to do so are often incredibly simple and low-stress. So don’t over-complicate the process. Start with the easier methods and work your way up as you get into the habit of budgeting and putting money aside. You’ll feel better about your finances knowing that it’s easy to meet your savings goals, set up an emergency fund and increase cash flow.

This article was written by Mikey Rox and originally posted at on August 20, 2014. Read the article in its entirety by clicking here.