Financial health is almost as important as physical health, particularly because financial stress can have serious ramifications on a person's physical health. Good financial health helps communities thrive and enjoy the highest quality of life. Research shows that over 50 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and the average American high school graduate lacks the basic skills to manage personal finances. As San Diego's largest locally owned financial institution, San Diego County Credit Union® (SDCCU®) prioritizes financial literacy and improving the financial health of the communities they serve.
In May 2015, SDCCU partnered with the San Diego County Office of Education and the County of San Diego in support of the Live Well San Diego vision by offering the SDCCU BIZ Kid$ Program to teach students about money and business.
“There is a definite need for greater financial literacy resources in our community and in our schools, explains SDCCU President and CEO Teresa Halleck. “SDCCU’s Biz Kid$ program will help bridge the education gap so that children and young adults can gain the skills they need for successful financial futures.”
This comprehensive program meets local, state and national standards for financial literacy. It is designed to teach students the basics of money and business, and to help them make better financial decisions early in life. These tools will influence the purchase of their first car, the financing of their education or first mortgage loan and enhance their lives for years to come. Teachers are encouraged to learn more about the SDCCU BIZ Kid$ Program and to incorporate these educational resources into their lesson plans to help make a positive difference in the lives of students.
SDCCU’s financial health outreach also consists of offering the community free financial webinars and free financial counseling for customers. SDCCU has partnered with BALANCESM Financial Fitness to provide comprehensive personal financial assistance. The BALANCE Financial Fitness Program can help individuals resolve financial situations, assist with making and meeting financial goals and provide financial education.
“What makes this program most successful is that BALANCE is a non-profit that exists solely to help improve the financial health of individuals,” said Halleck. “What this means is that they are a resource for helping people fix their financial problems and are solely focused on that goal.”
The BALANCE Financial Counselors can help individuals: gain control of finances, understand a credit report, create a budget and manage debt. The goal of this partnership is to help individuals balance their financial life. All information is kept strictly confidential between the individual and BALANCE. No financial products are sold through this program so users can be sure the financial advice received is in their best interest. Assistance is available in both English and Spanish.
SDCCU also offers free financial seminars through partnerships with industry experts, including George Chamberlin and Jim Stickley, as well as free financial webinars, financial counseling and identity theft protection education. Their seminars are focused on education and tips and are offered several times per year. Chamberlin presents on various topics, including investment planning strategies, personal finances and more. Security Expert Jim Stickley, and others, such as Liz Fraumann, Executive Director of the Securing Our eCity Foundation, provide attendees with tips on protecting themselves online, in the home and in the workplace, offering everyday steps to improve cyber security and reduce risks. In addition, SDCCU’s own expert employees partner with community organizations and local businesses to facilitate financial literacy workshops and seminars on a consistent basis throughout the County.
“Customers come to us with a variety of financial concerns,” explained Halleck. “We meet individuals at our seminars and in the community who are in all income brackets, and their financial success has no correlation to the amount of money they make. Being financially sound, and saving, is not dependent on income. It boils down to education and knowing how to make sound financial decisions.”
Enhancing the financial health of individuals is a primary focus of SDCCU’s community outreach. Their “Not a Big Bank Blog” provides a platform for SDCCU to deliver additional information or expand on hot topics surrounding financial literacy and other issues impacting the community. Some of their most popular blog posts include: Credit Union vs. Bank, Help Making Financial Decisions, and 4 Things to Consider When Buying a Car.
“Engaging in efforts that support a healthy, safe and thriving economy to ensure San Diegans enjoy the highest quality of life is an important focus for us,” said Halleck. “A significant component in achieving this goal is maintaining good financial health among community members.”
SDCCU is also encouraging San Diegans to live safely. To help protect the community from crime and abuse, SDCCU is committed to helping individuals properly dispose of sensitive data by holding annual free shred day events. SDCCU began hosting its free shred day events in 2007 and has since collected, shredded and recycled more than 1.8 million pounds of documents at no charge to the community. As a result of the SDCCU Super Shred Event, SDCCU became a Guinness World Record® holder for the most paper collected in a 24-hour period. The event helped thousands of San Diegans and resulted in the collection of a total of 584,350 pounds of paper and provided global recognition of our great community.
“SDCCU is honored to be recognized as a Live Well San Diego partner in collaboration with a growing network of Live Well San Diego supporters,” said Halleck. “We are grateful for the acknowledgment that we are going above and beyond and taking our positive efforts to the next level for the greatest collective impact through a shared purpose. We will continue to be a leader of change in the community by engaging in these activities and seeking new opportunities to improve the health, safety and well-being of all San Diegans.”
For more information about SDCCU’s programs, visit: https://www.sdccu.com/knowledge.