piggyWe have the best intentions when it comes to a healthy lifestyle and weight management. We set goals, we track food, we craft an exercise regime. But after a few days, it is easy to fall back in our old ways. Credit union executives, also, have the best intentions when it comes to financial wellness education: Create well-written content, with useful tips and tricks, write an email campaign full of interesting statistics, or plan events and webinars to pass along all the important information when it comes to personal financial management. Unfortunately, even the best planned initiatives are often overlooked or poorly attended. How can you keep your members on the right path for financial wellness?


Look at the Bigger Picture
Many members want to make improvements in overall lifestyle - including mind, body and money. Using tactics that are effective in those other types of wellness is a great place to start. Things like education, assessments and rewards help with fitness and weight loss, and can be similarly motivating for financial health. Talking to members can help identify what motivates them, what areas they want to work on, such as spending or building a budget, and then set goals from there.

Set Attainable Goals Together                                                                                                                                    While identifying what motivates a member is important, setting achievable goals is more so. Expecting a member to pay down a huge credit card balance in a short period of time would be a daunting task. Credit unions can work together with their members to set achievable goals, smaller goals that build, and then follow-up with them regularly to ensure members stay on the path to success. Designing a program that combines several aspects of health and overall lifestyle can help them feel motivated to improve overall fitness and may get more interest and participation. Having the core technology that allows for flexibility in offering creative lending and savings options to better fit member needs is a good start.

Start with Education, Then Show the Products
Many times, education is the secondary thought. Members are told about the latest and greatest financial products available, without laying the foundation and explaining why they should care. Instead, shift the focus to their financial wellness and incorporate the products they can use to get there. One credit union is actually certifying every employee as a financial counselor to help its members achieve overall financial wellness. Your members will see you as a helpful resource first, not someone just trying to sell them something.

Look at your Target Market- and Start Even Younger 
Millennials and Gen Z are all you hear about when it comes to target markets. How to talk to them, how to reach them. And yes, those categories are important. But don’t overlook starting early. Most credit union youth programs focus on high school students, and according to John Lanza, the founder of MoneyMammals.com, that’s too late. Teaching kids to be money smart from an early age is very important. Schools teach math, but often don’t teach the life skills of managing money in the real world. Not only is providing this education the right thing to do, but it can help credit unions start building relationships early that can last a lifetime.

So as you look at your financial education programming, and the tools available to you from within your core, make sure you are thinking well beyond the basics. Consider all the ways that you can help your members not only understand their finances, but achieve overall wellness in other aspects of their life. This helps not only your current members stay healthy, but can help you grow and attract new members as well.

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Topics: Member Services, Credit Union Best Practices

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