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Georgia CUs help consumers afford life in todays economy
DULUTH, Ga. (9/6/12)--One of the main goals for credit unions is to provide practical help to members for the challenge of affording life, according to a credit union in Georgia, responding to data from the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates' (GCUA) 2012 Mid-Year Consumer Poll.

The poll found that 32% of those surveyed believe Georgia's economy is worse than it was a year ago. Of the respondents, 66.5% said they are living paycheck to paycheck--up from 59.8% who said so in 2011. What's more, 12.2% said they could survive just three to six months on their current savings if they lost their job. That's down from 14% last year, said GCUA.

Searching for better value on everything from groceries to financial services has led Georgians to credit unions. Credit unions in the state grew 3.3% in 2011 and 2.1% in first quarter of 2012, GCUA said, citing its most recent Member Benefits Index study.

Most people have been affected in some way by the challenge of affording life, according to Carol Wolfe, vice president of member services at DOCO CU, Albany.  She told GCUA that as things have become more expensive, people have had to cut luxuries.  "Before we got what we wanted. Now we get what we need," she said.

She noted that one of the main goals is to provide practical help to members. As part of the REAL Deal initiative, DOCO, like many Georgia credit unions, has designed products and programs for this purpose.

"We see the need for dependable transportation as one of the biggest priorities for our members," Wolfe told GCUA.  "In response to this need, we developed a fresh start auto loan for people with credit issues."

DOCO also offers fresh start checking accounts and small loans with very low application fees for emergencies. "Lots of people don't qualify for a bank loan," Wolfe said. "We look at each situation on an individual basis. We don't believe you should have to prove you don't need the money before you can be approved for a loan."


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