Friday, February 10, 2006

A laughing matter?

Have you noticed that Americans' savings and spending habits have become inspiration for late-night comedians? The other night I was watching Jay Leno and he commented that saving money and quitting smoking are the two things Americans find hardest to do. He then joked that if they just gave up on the idea of quitting smoking, they wouldn’t have to save for retirement.

Then, on Saturday Night Live, there was a skit about debt. A couple sat at their kitchen table talking about how they were in terrible debt and didn’t know what to do. They’d tried a debt consolidation company, but that didn’t work. Their credit card debt continued to pile up. What were they to do? In walks the solution, a man giving away a free publication called, Don’t Buy What You Can’t Afford. This one page pamphlet will tell you everything you need to know about staying out of debt, he says. But the couple did not understand this groundbreaking concept. Could they buy something they want now, and then hope they would somehow get the money to pay for it later? No. After much confusion and more of the same types of questions, the man could still not get through to them. “Call and order this free publication today,” he tells the audience. “FREE?” the husband says, “Great! We can put it on our credit card!”

The scary thing about this skit, is that there is a lot of truth to it. I have friends who still don’t get that a credit card is a way to borrow money. They think of their credit limit as money they already have. If their credit limit is $5,000, then they think they have $5,000 in the bank to spend. That’s why understanding credit is so important. To some of us it seems like an easy concept to grasp, but to a lot of people it can be confusing. I'm not sure if making jokes about these people is going to help their situation, but maybe all this publicity will help them realize that they're not alone. And sometimes having a laugh at yourself really can be good medicine.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Extraordinary Feats In Service

This blog was created in part to give an inside look at the employees that make Verity...well Verity. Therefore I thought this seemed like a good forum to start sharing some real stories about the service provided by our staff. After all Verity's mission statement is 'Enhancing members' lives through exceptional financial service."

Every month in 2006 we will be presenting an employee with an EFy Award. EFy stands for Extraordinary Feats and is a way for us to share the great things our staff is doing. I would like to share with you the story of our January winner. Enjoy!

Yesterday I was walking down the stairs at the Headquarters Building when I noticed Allan being handed a custom made cake by one of our members. The cake was a beautifully crafted H3 with Allan’s name written on the side and Verity’s logo on the front. After doing a little research I found out that this was a member that Allan had worked with closely with over the years at our Beacon Hill Branch.

They first started dealing with each other in what can often be a negative situation. This member had applied for a loan, but because of some past circumstances didn’t have the best credit. Instead of just turning her away Allan helped council her on steps that she could take to improve her credit score. This alone is extraordinary service, but not the only reason that I am nominating him for this award, so please keep reading.

Recently this member experienced a death in her family. A family death is always a trying time but becomes even more stressful when you have to worry about how you are going to come up with the money so that you and your two kids can attend the funeral in Louisiana. She contacted Allan about getting a small loan to cover the costs. What made this feat cake worthy is Allan did the rest, making the process extremely easy. He completed the paperwork, funded the loan, and got her the money needed for a plane ticket to Louisiana.

Just simply describing the situation does not do it justice. It would be difficult for people much more talented then me to put into words the gratitude this member had for everything Allan had done. As she was leaving I witnessed the member turn and give Allan a hug and whisper some kind words. Verity’s mission statement is, “Enhancing members’ lives through exceptional financial service.” This is exactly what Allan had done.