NerdWallet Gen Y Credit Union Commencement Speech

Blog-ContestTigers Credit Union is honored that Nerdwallet has asked us to express a few words as you embark on this new chapter in your life. As you have probably heard, there is a weathered road currently presented to graduates these days. But this is not a speech about the economy and poor job markets. As a financial institution run by our members, it is our duty and privilege to provide you the building blocks to financial success. Part of that shared knowledge means preparing you for the obstacles you will potentially face and give you the tools to surpass them.

One of the most valuable things we can share is the importance of credit and how that pesky score can affect your life. Credit scores are basically your financial report card. Only now your financial habits are graded from 300-850. Debt is easy to acquire these days, but a good credit score is critical if you ever plan to buy a car or get a mortgage at all, let alone at the best possible rates. The following three stories are how credit has affected someone’s life in one way or another.

The first story is about not being afraid of credit:
Sarah’s parents had problems with credit cards, and raised her to believe that all debt was bad. Consequently, when she went to rent an apartment after college, her name couldn’t be on the lease because she had no credit history. Small steps, such as signing up for a credit card and paying more than the minimum, on-time, has allowed Sarah to start building credit, and she was even eventually able to purchase a car. Debt is bad when you let it accumulate, but using a credit card and paying off the balance every month is a smart way to build good credit, so when it comes time to rent or own, you won’t be at the mercy of your roommates.

Our second story is about trimming the fat:
When Patrick lost his job and took another at half the salary, he started living off credit cards. Between paying for all the household utilities, food, phones and car payments, he racked up $32,000 across 6 cards in just 2 years! When creditors started calling the house, he decided it was time to get his life in order.

Patrick came into the credit union for advice and was able to create a budget that included setting up automatic payments and getting rid of nonessential items like cable. He was able to refinance his auto loan with cash out to pay off a high interest credit card balance while simultaneously getting a signature loan for another high interest credit card. Together, he was saving about $600 a month and in six months, he was able to pay off another credit card’s balance with a lower interest loan.

Knowing when to ask for help is what Patrick attributes to paying off his debt. With the money he is retaining from not paying down credit cards, he is able to focus on building his savings for retirement.

Our final story is about overcoming a low score:
Tracy and Dan were in their late 20s with great paying jobs and perfect credit. Due to cutbacks, Dan lost his job and was out of work for a year. With their income drastically dropping they fell behind on all of their bills and were not always able to pay everything on time. They fell behind on their mortgage payment, car payment, and credit cards causing their score to go from a 730 to a 580. After almost 13 months of not working, Dan was able to find a job making $95,000 a year. However, when they needed to replace their second car, they had a hard time getting approved for a loan. Even with their combined income, they were still considered a “credit risk” due to that low score.

Finally, they were able to work out a $20,000 loan for a new vehicle, but at an interest rate of 14.79%. Now that Dan is working again and can make his monthly payments, his score will increase and they will save more money for the next time they apply for a loan. When they get back up to a score like 730, they could potentially qualify for rates as low as 3.29%. But Tracy says that’s not the only lesson they learned. Together, they started a savings fund that now houses 10% of their paychecks for emergencies, stating: “We’ll never let our scores suffer again!”

Just because classes are over does not mean that the learning ends. It might sound corny, but you have the world at your fingertips, and it’s not just because you’re graduating and everything is shiny and new. It is because you are a part of a generation that has the world of information literally at your fingertips. Resources like the Tigers blog and NerdWallet work to “empower consumers to make better decisions about their personal finances” and resources like that are endless. So use them.

In closing, people make mistakes. Ask for help. Keep learning.
Congratulations to the graduating class.

Tigers Credit Union


This speech was written as part of our submission to NerdWallet’s Gen Y Credit Union Contest.

Spring Breaking Out of Town?

If you’re heading out of town for spring break – whether you’re hitting the beach or going back home – remember you can still easily access your money and your Tigers accounts through some of the convenient services we offer.

TouchBankingOnline/Mobile Banking with Bill Pay
With Virtual Branch, you can access and manage your accounts 24/7 from your laptop or tablet. You can quickly and easily pay bills electronically too. Got a smart phone? We have an app for that—it’s called TouchBanking. Visit our website for details.

Shared BranchingShared Branches
You can still conduct business with Tigers no matter where you are. Just visit one of the thousands of shared branches nationwide for simple transactions with us – such as deposits, withdrawals, transfers and loan payments. iPhone users can download the free Shared Branch Locator app on iTunes.

COOP ATMsFree CO-OP Network ATMs
Enjoy convenient FREE access to over 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs throughout the U.S. and Canada. Find a FREE CO-OP Network ATM near you right now. Or, just text your zip code or address to 692667 (MYCOOP) from any mobile phone. iPhone users can download the free CO-OP ATM Network Locator app on iTunes.

Remember, even when you’re not on campus, Tigers is always there for you. So rest easy, enjoy your time off and have safe travels!

Valentine Credit Love: “What’s Your Score?”

ImageCredit scores are used by lenders to help size up the risk of providing loans to people who want to purchase a house or car. These days, even employers use credit scores to evaluate job candidates.

Now, singles are increasingly using credit scores to size up their dates. More and more people are directly asking dates about their credit score, using it as a way to evaluate the chance of having a successful future together with shared finances.

You can spot the trend online with credit score dating sites like Membership to these kinds of sites is increasing because people are becoming more concerned about financial responsibility in relationships. In fact, couples who fight about money are 30% more likely to get divorced.

A really good score is anything over 760 on the fico scale – it’s the one that lenders use. So, if you are curious about your credit score and how it might impact your love life, you can get a free copy of your credit report through

In the meantime, you can do a few things to improve your credit score and your chances that cupid will strike. Pay your bills on time. Don’t apply for new credit cards. And, don’t close cards that you already have. Do these things and with any luck, your love life might just improve!

Source: “Credit score dating: Finding financial compatibility.”
The TODAY Show – aired January 29, 2013

Weekend Fun in Columbia

It’s Friday! Here’s a few fun things to do in Columbia this weekend.

Winter Columbia Farmer’s Market
Keep your resolutions alive by eating fresh and shopping local.
Saturday, January 26, 2013 • 9 a.m.-noon
Parkade Plaza 

63rd Cosmo Pancake and Sausage Day
Eat breakfast while helping to raise money for diabetes. Special appearance by Truman Junior (TJ), the Missouri Tigers Mascot. 8-10 a.m.
Saturday, January 26, 2013 • 6 a.m.-1 p.m.
Cosmo Community Center, 1715 Burlington St.
Tickets are $5, Kids under 6 eat free 

GO TIGERS! Mizzou Men’s Basketball 
Cheer on Missouri as they defend their undefeated stretch at home against Vanderbilt.
Saturday, January 26, 2013 • 4 p.m.
Mizzou Arena
Ticket prices vary

Have a great weekend! 

Smart Ways to Overcome Holiday Debt

ImageFor many, getting in debt over the holidays is unavoidable. If you are one of the many American consumers who put one (or five) too many holiday purchases on a credit card, you don’t have to let your spending hangover ruin the New Year. Now is the perfect time to put together a plan to pay off that debt as quickly as possible. Here are some tips to effectively deal with that holiday debt.

Size the breadbox. First, you must get a handle on just how big a hole you’ve dug. Create a comprehensive list of all the debt you accumulated just over the holiday season. Review all your credit card statements and calculate how much you spent on decorations, gifts, events, dining, entertaining, and other holiday-related expenses. Knowing this total figure can help you set reasonable goals for paying it off.

Develop a payoff plan. Take a good look at your budget and ask yourself how much you can realistically set aside each month specifically for credit card payments. Remember, in order to make a dent in your debt, you must pay more than the minimum payment each month. If you can’t see yourself paying more than the minimum, start cutting back elsewhere to free up some money – cut back on cable channels, scale back your cell phone package, or perhaps eat out less. Remember, a few temporary cutbacks now will help you pay down your debt faster.

Consolidate your credit card debt. Take advantage of 0% Annual Percentage Rate (APR) transfer credit cards to reduce total interest payments on the debt you’ve accumulated. If you can’t pay off the full amount of your holiday debt within the next couple of months, spread it out over six or twelve months at a 0% APR. Just be sure you understand what the interest rate will become after the promotional period is over so you don’t end up paying back all you’ve saved with a ridiculously high interest rate.

Stop using your credit cards. Everyone in your household has to stop using credit cards for day-to-day purchases. Period. So, make sure family members who share credit card accounts understand this.

Find income elsewhere. If you are truly motivated to eliminate that holiday debt as quickly as possible, you could look for another income stream. Think about taking on a part-time job. Perhaps you can create a side business out of a hobby. Or, you may even consider selling some personal items on auction websites to generate some quick cash to pay off that debt well before the next holiday season.

Use bonus money to pay off debt. If you have recently received a holiday bonus — or you are filing your taxes early and are getting a refund — use that extra money to reduce your holiday debt as soon as possible.

Whatever you do, don’t simply carry this burden on into the next holiday season and repeat the whole cycle. Take care of the holiday debt you’ve accumulated now and make the 2013 a year with fewer financial anxieties.