If you’ve never taken a look at a credit union, now is the time. A credit union a cooperative banking system meaning they exist literally to give back to their members. Get this, there are over 9,000 credit unions in the U.S. One of the things that makes me so excited is that credit unions are non-profits. They pass profits back to members in terms of lower fees and better rates.

You may remember Tamar Atamian, VP of Marketing and Advertising from Wescom Credit Union, from an episode in October, and we’re back for part 2 to help you fall in love with credit unions and uncover why credit unions might just be better than banks.

credit union

What You’ll Learn

  • What is a credit union
  • What makes credit unions different from traditional banks
  • How credit unions pass profits back to members
  • How  you can join Wescom credit union
  • Why credit unions like Wescom give back to the community
  • How to find and join a credit union



Want to be the first to know when new episodes are released? Click here to subscribe in iTunes! IT’S FREE!

Go behind the scenes of the podcast and sign up for our free monthly emails.

Ask Shannah

Have an Ask Shannah question, submit it here

Get Social

Episode Transcript

Shannah Game 0:00
Hey, Friends Shannah here and today we’re talking about the magical wonderful world of credit unions with our friend Tamar who’s the VP of Marketing from Wescom credit union. I admit I didn’t know a lot about credit unions before we spoke, but I think I’ve turned into one of the biggest champions. In fact, tomorrow things credit unions are indeed better than banks. So stay tuned for all the scoops.

Unknown Speaker 0:32
millennial money with Shannah Game

Unknown Speaker 0:37
it will expand your brain.

Shannah Game 0:45
So get this credit unions are a cooperative banking system that means that they exist literally to give back to their members or customers if you will. And there are over 9000 credit unions in the US I actually had no idea

about that. But I think one of the things that makes me so excited like giddy child excitement when you open up a president on your birthday, you know that feeling is that credit unions are nonprofits. So what that means is they pass profits back to members in terms of lower fees, better rates, like all the things that you actually care about. And I can’t tell you how many times someone emails me saying that their bank, either charge them some crazy fee they weren’t supposed to pay or how they feel like they’re just a number of their bank. And they really want to find someplace where they can put their money where they feel like a human and feel like people care about them. So you may remember Tamar from an episode we did in October, and we’re back for part two, to help you really fall in love with credit unions because I actually really want to love my bank. I know that sounds crazy, so not in a weird way but in a really good way. I want to feel really comfortable with where I put my

Money and learning about credit unions have really opened my eyes. So I can’t wait for you to hear the power of credit unions and maybe even to get you thinking about your own relationship with your bank. And really what kind of relationship you do actually want to have.

So Tamar, I feel like we’re old friends now. Welcome back to the second podcast episode.

Tamar 2:25
Thank you for having me.

Shannah Game 2:27
And we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into into credit unions. You know,  we talked a little bit on the first episode that we did together. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it. But up until even just a few years ago, I myself didn’t really know the benefit of credit unions. I thought, well, you’re just a bank like any other bank, how in the world can you possibly be that special? But credit unions are very different, aren’t they? Right?

Tamar 2:54
Credit unions are very different than a bank.

We’re like a bank, but better

Shannah Game 3:01
That is the slogan, that’s the T-shirt.

Tamar 3:05
So credit unions, in general, I think so, structurally, we are not for profit and any profit we do make as an organization, we pass back to our members who are our shareholders in the form of better rates, lower fees, discounts, etc. So, you know, whereas, or profit organization pays dividends out to their shareholders, we pay our dividends to our members in the form of better rates. So, in general, credit unions are structured differently and for-profit, right so, I would imagine like as a customer, you have this different feel because like we saw on the first episode we did that somebody will come into Wescom that like a birthday or a celebration, people working here will know about it.

And so I would imagine like for a customer like you just the feeling that you get is probably this it really does feel a little bit moral I mean, just cheesy but yeah, like a family kind of hit you because it truly you belong to a credit union right and, and just you know, I talked to structurally but we’re member first just given the way we operate and, and that really translates all the way through to our team members as they interact with our members. And so we live it we breathe it in member first and our you know, our purpose is to build better lives to help be your partner in achieving your financial dreams. And so, you know, it’s at the very founding principle and structurally for us

But it’s carried through with every interaction. And so when you even when you step into the branch, we really make it an effort to get to know you, and help, you know, partner and make sure we’re providing you the service and meeting your needs.

Shannah Game 5:13
And so I know you’ve been here for like 13 years, and you kind of have risen up the ranks. Did you know a lot about credit us before you started here?

Tamar 5:22
Actually, no, I’d have to admit that I myself did not know. And so we joke and say best-kept secret.

Um, and, you know, when I was interviewing, and I got called for my interview, I, you know, decided to do some research and I realized, wait a minute, I’ve been banking where like, how did I not know about a credit union? And really, there’s this misconception that you have to belong to some employer group. Yeah, I was going to ask you to open an account right. So you have to belong to the teachers or be a teacher in the or administrative or

faculty to open an account but with Wescom, we’re unique in the sense that we’re community-based. So we serve Southern California, which means anyone in Southern California can open an account so and so you don’t necessarily have to belong to a specific employer group to be a member of the credit. Interesting.

Shannah Game 6:20
Yeah, I was going to ask you because I always had this idea that Yeah, I had to be in this like, specific niche or, you know, somehow or you don’t qualify.

Tamar 6:28
Exactly. And then you sort of feel like you got left out of the party. Yeah. So it’s good to know.

Shannah Game 6:33
And then, you know, I’m curious, just even about, like credit unions in general, because I know a lot of our listeners kind of all around the US, you know, have access to lots of different credit unions, and maybe they, they, they don’t know, you know, other than like structural wise, like, what are some of the features that credit unions even in general just kind of offer you that are different than so it’s all the conveniences and products and services that you would

find elsewhere.

Tamar 7:04
So whether it’s just really robust online and mobile banking,

I think another misconception is sometimes Oh, my credit unions just a small credit union not going to be they don’t offer check deposit, you know, the ability to be able to deposit my checks remotely from my phone. Right? They can’t feed that technology to me, right? Yeah. Or the other thing is, well, there’s not a branch near me. So it’s not convenient. But one of the nice things about a credit union and we’re, we’re cooperative in nature. And so for example, ATM.

You know, you might not be walking into a branch that often but you’re certainly using your debit card, withdrawing cash from an ATM. Well, for example, at Wescom, you have access to 30,000 ATMs nationwide. And if you just to put that in perspective, at

Maybe another National Bank, their average would be 3000 ATMs may be like the difference right and so what it is cooperatively credit unions come together to share their ATM network so that as a consumer you just have more convenient access so it’s certain things like that like whoa, it is convenient after all.

Shannah Game 8:20
Yeah, cuz I often joke about the like a black hole in your bank account because everybody has like something they spend money on. That’s sort of like the sinkhole where, you know, the bottom just kind of goes out and they don’t know how much they’re actually spending for most people is eating out, right because we don’t like to eat Starbucks does it? Yeah, figure out like how much we’re spending our money on but also find like a trend in ATM fees. Because people are like, well, I don’t really know how to categorize that on my budget. So I just kind of leave that out. But I mean, I’ve seen people who’ve had like, hundreds of dollars a month just in those silly ATM fees.

When you start talking about 30,000 ATMs like I mean, that could be like a sizable. If we’re talking about like people having a tough time being able to save money like I often say it’s all these little, little, little expenses and something like that could be, you know, I mean, because every time I have to go to ATM and I don’t have like, for instance, this is really lame to admit, but when I get my nails done, they don’t take you can’t do a tip unless it’s cash and I’m like this terrible person that cash on me. So they have an ATM there. So I always have to use ATM and me every time I’m like, Okay, I’m good. I’m like this financial person here I am spending $3 and 75 cents right on the stupid ATM fee. And sadly, there’s probably one around the corner that’s got that credit union symbol on it.

Tamar 9:50
Yeah, but yeah, yeah. 30,000 it’s super convenient and easy to find. And so it just saves you money at the end.

Unknown Speaker 9:57
Yeah, right of the day. So

Shannah Game 9:59
And I would imagine maybe this is a credit union theme as well is that you offer a lot of like educational opportunities that are free, which are great because I think then, you know, that allows someone to maybe like a baby step into,

you know, something they want to learn about.

Tamar 10:21
Absolutely. So, really making sure we’re committed to helping you achieve your financial goals. And that’s part of what we do.

So whether it’s buying your first home, your first car, learning how to save for retirement, Social Security, or maybe you have a parent who is about to, you know, enter some like you’ve got to make some living trust decisions, etc. So, throughout all our branches, we do offer free workshops that help address some of these questions. And we bring in the experts and it’s a noncommitment type of thing. It’s come in and just

Start with getting to know the lay of the land and educate yourself and ask the experts who can guide you in the right direction. So we do have those options. And if you can’t make it in a branch, we also offer a free financial website where you can go and just view modules and gain information, watch a quick video

and kind of get ahead your head around some of these financial questions you might have. Right? Yeah, very, very, like friendly for people who don’t want to show their face, right? Yeah.

Shannah Game 11:42
Hey, we’ve got another Ask Shannah. And this one comes from jasmine and Jasmine says I’ve been listening from almost the beginning of the podcast. Thanks so much for the show. Really. You’ve been that little voice in my head through some really tough times in my life. I lost my job last year and had to focus on my

Unknown Speaker 12:00
my thoughts around money for the first time, I listened to your episodes and feel like you were a friend there with me. When I did get a new job I nervously negotiated for a higher salary again, with you in my head. And guess what? I got it. And I gave you a super-secret high five. I give you a lot of super-secret high fives. Actually, you helped me figure out how to afford a wedding with my fiance next year, and what cost to really focus on we’re getting ready to move in together next year and I’m back asking for some advice. I know you’ve done a ton of podcasts on relationships and money, and I’ve been bookmarking them all. But I’m curious. So then I’m going to have some downtime around the holidays. I wanted to ask my fiance some money questions but in a fun way without feeling all stressed out and stuff. Any good conversation starters you could send my way would be awesome. Thanks again so much. I really appreciate the podcast and I’m sure others do as well. Jasmine, you are a rock star. This is such a great question. Thank you so much for really sharing all of that with us. I love that I can be a little voice for you. And the secret high fives are really pretty cool. I think what are we if we can to create a community for each other all of us involved in this show listening to the show. That’s why I love these ask Shawna questions not that I have all the answers, but that we really are creating this community and somebody else out there probably has the same question or is wondering the same thing. So just a gentle reminder to anyone who has a question. Don’t feel shy or embarrassed. There are no bad questions, you can send it in and let us know that you want to keep your name anonymous. That’s perfectly fine. But I think this is how we create community and we can all see that. A lot of these money issues are things we might struggle with our questions we might have. A lot of other people have the exact same question. So we’re not alone in this thing. Okay, Jasmine, so you’re getting married next year, which is awesome. 2020 I think has this to it. So what a great year to have for your wedding and anniversaries. Okay, you asked about conversation starters, those are actually some of my favorites. I’m going to give you some ideas, but I want you to have fun with these talking about money with your partner. It just shouldn’t be hard. And I think a lot of times it does feel hard. I even some of the conversations that I have with Jess they kind of start out little like,

Shannah Game 14:25
and I don’t know what I’m wanting to say or how I want to say it. But I think once you get those words out, then it starts to become easier to do these things. So the hardest part just like anything is starting. It’s that first word. It’s asking that question. It’s suggesting some sort of change whatever it is, that’s always the hardest part. So set the scene however you want to do it could be casual, could be romantic with a beverage at the park with some snacks, bake some cookies. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. So here are some questions. I love these questions I have asked these to not just Jeff, but too many people that I have dated in my past. So these are some fun ones. Okay, the first one is don’t think someone drops a million dollars in your bank account. What’s the first thing you’re going to do? That’s always a fun question. Number two, what would you do if you didn’t have to work for money? That is also a very fascinating and revealing question. Think about that own one for yourself. Number three, what was your very first memory around money? Number four, what is the craziest thing you’ve ever done for money? Number five, if you could describe your money as a superhero, what would it be and why? Number six, you can invest in the hottest stock you have a 60% chance of hitting it big and 40% chance of losing your money.

You choose. Number seven? What is the best purchase you’ve ever made? What is the worst purchase you’ve ever made? Number eight. What is the first lesson you remember around money? And number nine? What role do you want money to play in your life? These are just some examples. Make them your own. Also, I provide transcripts for every episode. You can get a transcript that has all of these questions, so you don’t have to remember them or hit pause constantly. So I’ll make it super easy for you. And if you have an Ask Shannah, jump on over to our website mmoneypodcast.com and enter your question right on the homepage, or just click over on the show notes to follow the link. But have fun with these questions. Jasmine, let them be again like just conversation starters. Let them take you wherever they want to go. And the most important thing is not to attach any judgment

Unknown Speaker 17:00
your partner says, let them feel like they can answer these questions however they want. I think that’s really important when we’re talking about relationships and money. So continue being you and I’m so happy that I get to be the little voice for you. Here’s to hoping that someday we actually do get to high five in person.

Unknown Speaker 17:25
Okay, curious because we’re in this, this evolution of banks were particularly a lot of younger people are saying, like, I don’t want to do their traditional bank or I feel like they’re making too much money off of me or whatever it may be. And they’re really looking for different alternatives. And of course, there’s like a rise in the like, financial technology sector of these different like online banks. And I would imagine like credit unions are really sort of in that upswell as well, like, what do you think even the next few years like it’s going to look like for credit unions, are they going to, like evolve, you know, maybe more so so that they can catch that That

Tamar 18:00
That segment, I’d say, you know, speaking from my credit union, you know, really making sure that kind of downplaying some of those taboos that people might have and, and having a better understanding of, you know that innovation is part of your credit union. And

you can offer or find ways to achieve your financial goals, whether it’s through mobile, so making sure that credit unions are, you know, staying up to be with that and sharing that information with their members.

And also, we’re finding a trend that, you know, it’s not just about opening an account to park your money or, you know, get alone but it’s truly finding an organization that like cares about things you care about aligning with your values, and whether it’s a foundation that they might have that gives back to the communities they serve to, you know, maybe they’re helping directly make your life better with your

finances, but also the community you live in because they’re giving and participating in community events and just helping overall. So I think those are kind of the two trends that we’re seeing, especially with our younger consumers and millennials. And I think it’s important for you to ask those questions that your organization to and see if it aligns with your values. And is it? Do they really care about me? Well, yeah, here’s our track record here. All the things they’re doing. Yeah, that’s really smart. Because we don’t ask questions where we, where we put our money, we’re just kind of like, well, we’ll just put it wherever and, and having that that dialogue, I think, I mean, you have the right to have that conversation and you have your voices. So absolutely. ask the questions and make sure it’s, you find the right choice and the smarter, smarter choice for you or the better way to do your banking. So yeah, and you talk about like that community aspect, which I think for a lot of people who are

aren’t enough credit you’re kind of like yeah, yeah, yeah, you know everyone likes to throw away throw around that word, you know, community.

Shannah Game 20:07
But you guys are actually really involved in the community are you can you point to like any examples of different things you’re doing?

Unknown Speaker 20:15
so I’ll give you an example.

Tamar 20:18
Last year alone, we appeared at over 200 community events throughout our specific Southern California communities. And all sorts whether it’s a festival where we pop up and share Wescom kindness and Wescom kindness is, you know, our acts of random kindness in our communities. So we’ve got our community involvement when it comes to the 24 branch locations. Another community that we partner with

faculty and staff and so you know we really partnering and making sure we’re there early on for the students providing financial education giving them the tools they need. And so and then we’ve got our charitable foundation I can’t leave them out so we have our we care Charitable Foundation and our team members give towards the fund and get to come together and decide which non-for-profit organizations we want our dollars to go to and support and was that’s something we’re very proud of as an organization 79% of our employees are donating. That is actually why I am in jeans today so when we collectively hit a certain 75 and above in contributions to we care we get jeans day as an organization to celebrate so also a nice thing for us here so right. Oh, yeah.

Shannah Game 21:55
So then obviously from the employees become part of the giving. Right?

Tamar 22:02
Yeah. And that just helps with like that whole connection piece, I would imagine. Yeah.

Shannah Game 22:07
I’m curious. If someone does belong to a credit union, I would imagine that there are

maybe common threads. Maybe you see this here of

like, people not realizing that you offer certain things, whether its products or services. Are there any, like commonalities that you could point to that maybe somebody that belongs

to your credit union might not realize that a credit union has or does or

Tamar 22:34
let’s see, oftentimes, if you’re not a credit union member, you’re first

Shannah Game 22:39
kind of misconception would be belonging to a certain employer group.

Tamar 22:44
And knowing that there are community-based credit unions like Wescom, that, you know, is so long as you live in the community, yeah, welcome to open an account.

They have free financial seminars and education, as I talked about that’s unique, but even knowing that they do home loans, or maybe they do some pretty cool home loans. So we’ve got some Adjustable Rate options that are pretty unique to us like a 15-year adjustable offer, you know, what is.

So you have an adjustable-rate of 15 years that helps you maybe enjoy a lower rate, right, and then it locks in. And so learning about some, maybe options that are pretty different and unique, and not necessarily offered, you know, across the board at other institutions. Those are kind of neat things to at least our credit union and other options. So for example, we have Insurance Services, we have Investment Services, so it’s truly a full-service experience. It’s not just where I open an account, maybe get an auto loan,

Shannah Game 23:56
right? Yeah. So you should if you belong to a credit union You belong to God, like, you should ask questions,

I mean, that should be part of the process. Even if you’re thinking you’re just going to open a bank account, or maybe you just have a bank account. No questions. Yeah, ask questions. And you know, if you’re in the branch, the staff there and committed to you. So, you know, ask them, Hey, what else do you offer, of course,

Tamar 24:24
and they’ll kind of talk to you specific to your needs. download their mobile app, most patients have the mobile app. So you’ll know there’s one right around the corner. I think you might take for granted that it may be perhaps a credit union could be smaller in scale, and you’re thinking they don’t offer it, but they probably do.

Shannah Game 24:50
Yeah. Are there any since you’re in marketing, are there any like cool tech things that you’re kind of developing for the app?

Tamar 25:00
So we are working on developing our own will not our own but partner. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, just making payments a little easier for you to tap, you know, so pay your friends when you go out where you just transfer the money into, like real-time. Right. So we’re, you know, working hard to get that release for our members. Just cool things on our mobile app, like endlessly security features to I can’t even write a lot of security features, but just facial recognition to log in. You know, are

they cool? Yeah.

Those are like, you know, I would say really cool and just conveniences that just make my life easier. I know I use those things all the time. And then the ATM or I can’t even say how like useful That is right, overall.

Shannah Game 25:45
So I want to ask you kind of like the last question if there is one thing that people should remember about the power of credit unions. What do you think that is?

Tamar 25:57
I’d say as a credit union The cooperative nature of a credit union and the founding principles of just giving back and helping members achieve a better life. I think those are the two things the cooperative nature that makes your life easier. Things like the ATM network being more accessible to you. And then the structural nature of the credit union where they pass back their savings for you in the form of better rates and fees so that, you know, you truly are making a smarter banking decision.

Shannah Game 26:33
Yeah, I love that cooperative. I love that partner. Like that’s a real, that connection, I think is certainly something like, at least in my life at this point, really, value and I would imagine that a lot of other people love that to just feel like they belong somewhere rather than just being this number. Do you know? Yeah, yeah. Well, Tamar, this has been great. Again, I’d love for you to tell listeners where they could go to find out more about Wescom.

Tamar 26:59
Sure. So you can find more information at Wescomtogether.com and Wescom is without at. And then you can also follow us on our social media pages on Instagram or at underscore Wescom. And Facebook at Wescom credit union.

Shannah Game 27:18
The biggest takeaway from this episode, I think is that I can, you should be happy with your bank. It’s so fascinating that we don’t even spend time thinking about the place that we put our money, we just look around, choose some bank, some name that we’re familiar with, and that’s the place we put our money and we’re, of course trusting that they’re doing the best things with our money, that they’re good ethical people and all sorts of things. And I’m not saying that banks are not that way. But I’m definitely excited that people are looking for other alternatives, whether it’s online banks or credit unions, someplace where you just feel like you’re taking care of and you also feel like a person like there are people there to help You with your financial goals. So I think in the words of Marie Kondo, your bank should actually spark joy, you should actually feel really good about them. So if you want to learn more about Wescom credit union, head to Wescom.org, for all the information, you can find all of their locations as well. And hey, thanks so much for checking out this episode. We’re really trying here to just change our language around money to help others unlock the lives they want to live and live it out with purpose. Now that you’re part of this movement, it’s up to all of us to invite others into this journey. So please share this episode with someone you think is really ready to make life changes that they’re never going to look back on. Let’s talk about money, all of us in a good way in a fun way. And don’t forget to subscribe so you’ll never miss an episode. I’ll see you back here in a few days for a brand new one.