Credit Unions: Improving Financial Situations Nationwide

group of people around a computer smiling
group of people around a computer smiling

Credit Unions: Improving Financial Situations Nationwide

Did you know, a recent survey reported that 44% of the 2,500 responders said that being a member of a credit union has had a “very positive” impact on their financial situation? Compare this to the only 29% who said being a part of a big bank has had the same positive impact. These results were reflected across various demographics as 43% of women surveyed and 44% of people of color felt their financial situation was improved by a Credit Union.


Digging a little deeper, most respondents who did all their banking with a big bank stated that they wouldn’t have $500 saved that could be used in case of an emergency.


While these numbers alone are staggering, the study took a closer view at how those surveyed viewed Credit Unions.


For instance, the survey reported that most respondents were more likely to “associate their credit union with serving a socioeconomically diverse membership, granting easier access to low-cost loans, and having a more meaningful connection with their community.” We couldn’t agree more with this statement. In fact, we pride ourselves on connecting with our community.


Speaking about their findings those who conducted the survey said, “We have data that shows credit unions return billions of dollars to their members and their communities, but it is especially meaningful to hear how members actually feel about the impact credit unions have on them personally.” For members in Illinois or Missouri, financing a $25,000 new automobile for 60 months at a credit union would save the member over $250 in interest expense per year compared to financing at a bank in the same states.


The study also found that Credit Union members are more financially savvy than those who completely rely on big banks (go ahead and pat yourself on the back). That is also because credit union members are twice as likely to take advantage of financial counseling or education offered by their credit unions.


After reading this study, how do you feel? Do you feel pride in your credit union membership? You should. We thank you for your membership as we wouldn’t be what we are without you. If there is anything you need from us, don’t hesitate to Contact Us. If you aren’t a member of a credit union, now is the perfect opportunity! You can improve your financial situation and gain access to so many fantastic benefits. So, what are you waiting for? Join today!




What’s the Deal with Debt Consolidation?

scott-graham-5fNmWej4tAA-unsplash (2)

What’s the Deal with Debt Consolidation?

Have you heard the term “debt consolidation” tossed around? It sounds both intimidating and interesting. A way to simplify your debt and monthly payments? Perfect! But debt consolidation isn’t for everyone, especially if you don’t want to rush into something that isn’t right for your finances.

Luckily for you, we’ve outlined the basics of what a debt consolidation loan is, its pros and cons, and how to tell if it’s a good match for you. So, what’s the deal with debt consolidation? Read on to find out! 


What is a debt consolidation loan?


A debt consolidation loan can come in many forms, but the purpose of it remains the same: to streamline your finances by combining your various debts into a single loan. The consolidation process allows you to pay off multiple debts with one new loan or a balance transfer credit card. By consolidating, you won’t have to juggle multiple various payments and you can sometimes qualify for a lower interest rate on the new loan. 


How you choose to consolidate is up to you and your lender. You might be able to find a specialized debt consolidation loan, but most people use credit card balance transfers or personal loans for debt consolidation. At United Community, we suggest a personal loan, or for larger consolidations, a home equity line of credit (HELOC).  


Pros & Cons 


There are many pros and cons to think about when you consider a debt consolidation loan. Here are just a couple to consider:



Pay Off Debt Faster

  • Debt consolidation could help you pay down your debt earlier. If your new loan has a lower interest rate and helps you save money each month, you could pay down your loan faster by making extra payments with the money you saved.  

Reduce Monthly Payment

  • If your new loan accrues less interest than your various individual loans would, then you’ll save money in interest, giving you a lower monthly payment overall. This way, you can enjoy having more money in your account at the end of each month. 


Could Increase Interest Rate

  • If your credit score isn’t high enough to qualify for a lower interest rate, then a debt consolidation loan might cause you to pay more in interest over time. Make sure to consult with our team about what your rate could look like.  

Doesn’t Solve Underlying Problem

  • A debt consolidation loan can certainly help you organize your finances and make them more manageable, but it won’t solve the financial habits that caused the issue in the first place. If you choose to consolidate debt from things like maxed-out credit cards, make a plan to build better financial habits so you don’t find yourself in deeper debt down the line. If you need help making a plan, reach out to our team!

Is it a good solution for you? 

Debt consolidation isn’t the right solution for everyone, but it can be a very powerful financial tool when used correctly. If you have various forms of debt that are high interest and frustrating to manage, a debt consolidation loan is worth looking into. If you have a credit score high enough to qualify for a lower interest rate on the new loan, a debt consolidation loan is well worth your time. Just make sure you have a plan to improve your financial habits at the same time! 

Want an opinion on if a debt consolidation loan is right for you? Reach out to our team, and we’ll help you find the right solution for your unique financial situation, judgment-free. 





Tips for Teaching Kids About Money

girl in pink shirt getting ten dollars from her mom
girl in pink shirt getting ten dollars from her mom

Tips for Teaching Kids About Money

There are plenty of skills in life that are learned the hard way. Money management doesn’t have to be! Unfortunately, we can all reflect upon a time when a credit card balance seemed out of control, a large purchase we made felt coerced, or when we asked ourselves that age-old question, “where is all my money going”?


Imagine going into financial decisions with knowledge far beyond your years. It may not be feasible for those of us further along in our financial journeys, but we can certainly try to make the next generation’s experiences better. The best way to prepare for success is to understand money and feel confident in money-related decisions.


It may not seem like the most fun topic to discuss, but it can be a casual conversation and is truly a life-changing investment. Instead of a passive attitude towards kids and their finances, we can take charge of the conversation without making it boring or scary.


Here are a few ways to get started!


Piggy banks are typical and arguably the most adorable way to introduce saving to many children. It is a great strategy to give children a tangible item to use for saving money. The feel of money, differences in denominations, colors, and sizes can all be learned at this stage.


Shopping with kids can facilitate teaching moments! Even if many of your purchases are made with cards (debit or credit), you can opt to get a paper receipt to show kids that there is something behind swiping, tapping, or digitally connecting that magic money card and receiving products.


Short-term goals setting is a great idea to encourage children to save money for the things or experiences that they want. Going beyond the piggy bank with a savings account at United Community will show children transactions that affect the balance in their account.


But where do kids get money to save?


Many can recall the exciting times of opening birthday or holiday cards with cash gifts or checks from a generous relative but there are so many opportunities to make another teachable moment.


  • An allowance, in exchange for weekly responsibilities, can teach children that work correlates with money. This can also facilitate the illusion of salary where a simple budget can come into play.
  • Odd jobs for family members, neighbors, and other community members are a good way to make money. Depending on your child’s age, they can do jobs like babysitting, pet walking, lawn care, snow removal, or countless other odds and ends.


Psychologically, earned money feels different than gifted money. Children have the opportunity to learn an array of life skills through proper money management. Saving leads to purchases made where the child can feel proud of their accomplishment. This can also lead your child to treat purchases with care as they now know the value of a dollar. The confidence gained by learning about finances can keep kids from feeling pressure or anxiety in financial situations later in life.


So, start the conversation and start getting kids comfortable talking about money. Check out United Community for opportunities with youth accounts.




Move It AND Lose It

couple celebrating in a new house
couple celebrating in a new house

Move It AND Lose It

Think of all the things that go into making your house great: the plush master bedroom, the double vanities in the bathroom, the excessive counter space in the kitchen. Do you know what isn’t on that list? The interest. Sometimes you have just too much interest, and not in an interesting way. That’s why we’re inviting you to move it AND lose it. Pack up your interest and kick it to the curb. With a mortgage from UCCU, you can find the home of your dreams or refinance the home of your dreams so you can learn to love it all over again. Don’t let your interest be the one thing you hate about your house, move it AND lose it with UCCU.

Mortgage credit and collateral are subject to approval and additional terms and conditions apply. Programs, rates and terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. See credit union for full details. Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Lender.

Time For A Payment Trim!

person trimming their hedges
person trimming their hedges

Time For A Payment Trim!

Spring and early summer are times of growth and new beginnings. But it also means it’s time to do some serious work.


Like a lawn unattended, your car payment can get out of control. You trim the bushes, the hedges, your grass, so why not your car payment?


That’s right! Trim your old car payment from some other lender by moving your loan to UCCU. You’ll save up to 2.00% APR* and leave with a smaller, well-manicured payment.

*Annual Percentage Rate. Approved rate will be up to 2.00% APR less than member’s current external auto loan rate. New rate cannot be lower than UCCU’s 2.74% APR minimum floor rate. Members must meet loan qualifying criteria. All auto loans are subject to credit approval. Loans financed through dealer or manufacturer at 0.00% are ineligible. UCCU reserves the right to extend, alter, or cancel this promotion at any time. Proof of current, external rate required. See credit union for more details. Federally insured by NCUA.

Mobile Check Deposit

person taking a picture of their check with their phone
person taking a picture of their check with their phone

Mobile Check Deposit

We’ve all been there. You have meetings, appointments, and family needs but there’s also that check you’ve been holding on to that you NEED to deposit. In short, it feels like your to-do list is consuming you…literally. You should be able to find the time but unfortunately, you’re booked solid.

With all of these errands sticking around, how could you possibly make time to get to the branch to make the deposit? 

Now, you don’t have to! Sign, snap, and problem solved.

With our Mobile Check Deposit, you can deposit your checks directly from your phone. Simply log into mobile banking and follow the prompts. You’ll be done in a matter of seconds.

  • Take your check and:
    Sign the back and write ‘For Remote Deposit UCCU’.
  • Snap a photo. Using your camera, snap a photo of the front and back
  • Problem solved. Select the account you want the check deposited into.

It’s really that easy and quick. Try it today!


Click here for step-by-step instructions on Mobile Check Deposit.

Federally insured by NCUA.

Important Announcements Regarding Your Credit Card



Important Announcements Regarding Your Credit Card

Our credit card program is getting an update on March 21 & 22 that includes some new security features & other online banking enhancements. Starting on Wednesday, March 16, credit cards will not show up in online banking until March 22.

You can still use your credit card to make purchases, but during this time, you will be unable to transfer funds or make payments to your credit card through online banking.  Any existing payments set up on your credit card will need to be set up again once the new system is live. If you have any questions, please contact us at (217) 224-1093.

Living Paycheck-to-Paycheck: A Credit Union Solution

Recent studies find that seven out of ten Americans are now living paycheck-to-paycheck. If you’ve never had to adopt this lifestyle, consider yourself lucky. At United Community Credit Union we understand the immense burden that a paycheck-to-paycheck budget can place on you and those you love. The last thing you need is someone wagging their finger at you chastising you for not managing your money better. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ways you can save money on a month-to-month basis, as well as some solutions unique to credit unions.

Track Your Spending – Seems obvious, right? You may think so, but a common financial pitfall is that many people don’t really know where their money is going. They swipe and they spend, not keeping track of how those dollars are adding up. Once you start taking stock of where your money is going each month, you will quickly see the things you can cut out to save some money. Do you really NEED a pint of gourmet ice cream each week?

Have A No-Spend Day – It is time to embrace the joy of NOT spending money. For many, getting something new or treating themselves to a Starbucks adds a little sparkle to their day. However, not every day needs that sparkle. Once a month, designate a “No-Spend Day.” This means you aren’t going to spend money on anything. No Starbucks, no afternoon snack. While a No-Spend Day will take some planning, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the extra money you have leftover. Just don’t spend that money the next day.

Try Incognito Mode – This could be one of the simplest ways to remove temptation. Use an incognito browser to thwart tracking data from serving you targeted ads. After all, how many times have you seen an ad for something and thought, “Why don’t I already own that?”

These are but a few ways you can make minor changes that will have a big impact in the long run. However, you’re a member of a credit union, you have access to some unique opportunities that can help improve your financial situation.

Refinance Your Home – A home payment can be a huge hurdle between you and financial stability. That’s why it might be beneficial to refinance your home with us. When you refinance your home, you can potentially get a lower monthly payment and a lower rate. This will allow you to pay your home off quicker and free up funds that can be allocated to other things.

Specialized Loans – Sometimes, you just need that little extra to get you over the next big hump. As a credit union, we have the opportunity to offer more specialized loans at lower rates than big banks. We offer personal loans. These loans can help you build or re-build your credit, setting you up for a better financial future.

Dedicated Resources – As a credit union, we’re a small group of dedicated individuals. That’s why we offer money management resources to our members. Whether you need help developing a budget or determining if a refinance is right for you, we can help. Contact us today to make an appointment. 217-224-1093



Improve Your Budget and Make Your Financial Goals in 2022

planner and phone that says make it happen
planner and phone that says make it happen

Improve Your Budget and Make Your Financial Goals in 2022

What types of thoughts or feelings come to mind when you read the word “budget?” For some, budgeting comes naturally, a skill that has been with them since a young age. For the rest of us, we may think, “I should be budgeting,” or “that’s scary and I don’t want to think about it, so I won’t.” Wherever you fall in that spectrum, the hard truth is that budgeting is a necessary tool to keep finances in check. Learning the difference between needs and wants can be a humbling experience. Watching debt disappear is a thrilling experience.

Enough about financial feelings… for now. Let’s dive into some tried and true skills that can help you set up the rest of your financial life. It’s not nearly as scary as the outcome of never looking at your account and using your debit and credit cards like gift cards, swipe until it’s gone. 

Grab a piece of paper and a pen or download a fancy app that can help budget and let’s go to work.

Figure out what you’re working with:

How much income do you have in your household? This is any money that comes into your account. Revenue from rental properties, alimony, child support, paychecks, you name it. Also, this is after taxes and all those line items that you see deducting money from your paycheck. Go ahead and jot that total down. Not so scary, right?

Now make a line for every bill that you get. We’re talking car payments, rent/mortgage, heat, hot water, electricity, gym membership, taxes, HOA fees, credit cards, water bills, groceries, gas, all those things. Make a line for each one, or if you’re on a time crunch, surprise we have a basic worksheet here for you.

Now choose how you will divvy up your income to pay those bills:

There are many schools of thought on this topic, so take a minute to think about what would make you most comfortable and consistent. 

  • Some choose an envelope system where you take the cash and physically put money in various envelopes labeled with expenses and pay the bills as they come due. Anything left over is theirs for miscellaneous needs or wants. 
  • Others choose what is called a zero-based budget. Each dollar you receive has a place to go whether it is to pay a bill or save for the holiday season or even for fun money.

Emergencies happen:

In the event of a financial emergency, (think needing to replace a blown-out tire, not wanting the newest smartphone) there should be some money set aside. Many experts agree that $1,000.00 is enough to set aside for emergencies. 

If you experience an emergency before you have saved enough to cover it, look to UCCU for a low-rate personal loan to help you through.

How can I save?

Automatic transfers from checking to savings are an easy way to grow emergency savings or save for future expenses. Moving money from your checking account and into your savings account is the best way to save because having money in your checking account is a great way to spend it.

What if I have debt?

Most people do, so let’s face this head-on. Two methods come to mind when dealing with debt and they have to do with a bit of psychology. 

The Debt Snowball will guide you to pay the minimum payment on each of your debts apart from the debt with the smallest balance, focus on paying this off first.

Each time you pay off a debt you apply the money you were paying and add it to the monthly payment of the next debt.

The Debt Avalanche is focused on interest rates. Take the debts and organize them by interest rate. Pay off the highest interest rate first and then move to the next. 

The Debt Snowball tends to hold attention as the wins can really rack up at the beginning of the process. As for the Debt Avalanche, this method typically takes longer to pay off the first debt because it isn’t necessarily the smallest. So, whether you think you may need that rush of excitement early on or you’re thinking about the savings on interest in the long term, make the choice that best suits you.

Either way, making a plan to pay off debt is a step in the right direction.

Practice each month by revising your budget to be more accurate and proactive with expenses. We’re looking at you again holiday season. It won’t be perfect as life is unpredictable so do your best!

Following any formula to reduce debt and stay within your budget will help keep your finances in check, but it always starts with examining what you have and what you owe. Get excited and take control of your future! We are happy to help!


3 Reasons Your Resolutions Are Already Failing

person with hands to head looking stressed
person with hands to head looking stressed

3 Reasons Your Resolutions Are Already Failing

(and 3 ways to get back on track)


Have you failed your resolution for 2022 yet? Don’t panic! If you’re like most people, your answer is probably “yes.” About 84% of people aren’t able to follow through on their resolutions, but that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel!


It is absolutely possible to stick to your resolutions— you just need to recognize the common pitfalls of failing resolutions and plan to overcome them. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered three reasons many resolutions fail and some ways you can get back on track.


Setting Unrealistic Goals


Let’s be honest. Were your goals of exercising seven days a week or getting eight hours of sleep every night realistic for your lifestyle? Probably not, and that’s okay to admit. We like people who dream big! But you’ll likely find more success in setting small, measured goals for yourself that you can work up to overtime.


Instead of jumping to seven days of hardcore exercise, start with just three days a week. Or start even smaller by setting aside just 15 minutes a day for some sort of movement. As you build this new habit, you can increase your intensity over time. There’s no need to overwhelm your mind and body. It’s okay to work at your goals one step at a time.


This logic can apply to many other resolutions. For example: learning a new skill, finding a new hobby, or saving for a goal. If you have a financial goal like paying off debt or saving for a large expense, our team can help you set achievable goals that work for your unique financial situation.


Avoiding the Hard Truth


Failure isn’t a pretty sight. Nobody likes to face their shortcomings, especially when it comes to achieving a goal that is close to their hearts. When people fall behind on their resolutions, they often like to ignore the issue and avoid checking their progress, whether it be on the scale, in a savings account, or in the pile of unused crafting supplies they bought a month ago.


While avoiding the hard truth might give you relief in the moment, it will only cause you to fall further and further away from your goals. Sit down and have an honest session with yourself: where have you fallen off track? Why have you fallen off track? How can you get back on track in a realistic way?


If you’ve found that you’re off-track with your financial goals and are scared to look at your account balance, don’t be afraid to come talk to us. We are dedicated to providing judgment-free financial advice. We know that everybody has a story to their situation, and we want to help as many people become financially healthy as possible! We’re always happy to be your accountability partner.


Building Big Barriers


You know the expression “making a mountain out of a molehill?” That applies to your resolutions, too. We know barriers can get in the way of your resolutions but ask yourself if you are making those barriers bigger than they need to be.


For example, we often say that there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything we want; however, that might not be as true as it seems. Sure, you might not have an hour to dedicate to money management or exercise every day, but you probably have just 15 minutes. Even that short amount of time is better than nothing. Plus, you’ll probably feel a boost of accomplishment from that time of productivity. This boost can help you grow more comfortable with the idea of setting aside that time each day.


Ask yourself if your barriers are actually as big as they seem, and if they are big, is there an alternate route you can take to accomplish your goal. Need a second set of eyes? We can help examine your financial situation and create a plan to better overcome your barriers.



When it comes down to it…


Sometimes, resolutions just don’t stick. But with the right set of expectations, plans, and accountability partners, you can absolutely accomplish your goals this year. Be honest with yourself about your fallbacks, celebrate your triumphs, and turn to others when you need help—especially UCCU. We’re ready to help you achieve all of your financial resolutions and support you along every step of your life journey.