Community Service

Columbia CU Makes Life Better Through Learning

CU helps families eliminate debt and build wealth through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University.

March 16, 2012
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Columbia Credit Union, Vancouver, Wash., is helping members “make life better” through financial education. From basic budgeting to retirement savings, the credit union offers a complete schedule of free financial seminars to help members reach nearly any financial goal.

“Like the rest of the nation, our community has struggled with declining property values and high unemployment,” says Laurie Kusch, Columbia’s vice president of social responsibility. “Financial education is a way to help people improve their financial standing and lead successful lives. We’re proud to offer this resource to the community.”

All seminars are free and available to the public. In addition to budgeting and saving, workshops cover a wide variety of topics such as home buying, Social Security, purchasing commercial properties, and retirement and estate planning.

Columbia also offers Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (FPU) that teaches families how to get out of debt and build wealth.

Columbia CU
Columbia CU helped members Mark and Midori Hanus eliminate $31,443 in debt.

“Financial Peace University helps people create a plan for improving their finances regardless of their debt level or financial standing,” says Kusch. “The lessons work for every situation.”

Columbia Credit Union members, Mark and Midori Hanus used the lessons in FPU to eliminate $31,443 in debt. “The class was very motivating,” Mark says. “Sharing our struggles and hearing others share their stories really boosted our morale. It made us want to succeed.”

After completing the lessons, they were able to apply 46% of their income toward debt—paying off everything in just nine months.

Columbia remains the only financial institution in the community to offer FPU, making it available locally and internally to employees and their families.

The credit union also presented the course to the members of a large Vancouver community church and may offer it as an employee benefit to area businesses in the future.

“Members are amazed that their credit union would help them with their finances instead of trying to sell them a loan or other financial product,” says Kusch. “As a financial cooperative, we’re here to serve members’ financial needs. If people want to improve their financial literacy, we’re happy to help them reach their goals.”

Mark and Midori attest that learning to manage their finances has been a life-changing experience for the better. “FPU has given us a financial plan and taught us the importance of doing a budget to regain control over our finances and win with money,” says Midori. “We have financial peace—the seven-step FPU program is fantastic!”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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