Gene'a Note: Success Starts With a Plan!

The old adage, “If you don’t know where you are going… any road will take you there…” is a lesson that we all need to be reminded of from time to time. I am reminded of this lesson as your credit union heads into our annual planning season. In August, we bring together leaders from all over the credit union to talk about the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. Based on the credit union’s long-term strategic plan, we prioritize the opportunities and build plans on how to effectively leverage the opportunities and mitigate the challenges. All of this work is put together into a document that is approved by your Board of Directors in December of each year.

Our recent results have been the outcome of a long-term strategic plan that was implemented by your Board of Directors over eight years ago now. At that time, I was beginning my second year as the CEO of Rogue Credit Union and it was right before the financial crisis hit our country. We knew that we needed a bold new vision to guide the credit union over the next decade. That vision focused on making sure we took care of you, our members, took care of our staff, and created the financial strength necessary to weather economic opportunity or uncertainty. The plan has served as an excellent roadmap for your credit union as we have navigated the financial crisis, adjusted to the overwhelming increase of financial regulations, and are now managing the unprecedented membership growth we are seeing from the disruption in the local financial services market. Your credit union has thrived by setting a clear plan and being true to that plan no matter what was thrown at us.

So, what does this have to do with you? I want each of you to find financial well-being… I want you to still have a paycheck left at the end of the month to save for retirement, college, or that special vacation that you have always dreamed of. When I was in my 20’s and struggling to make ends meet because of too much debt, a wise man taught me to build a personal financial plan. He told me to set goals with my wife and then build a plan to accomplish them. He encouraged me to make sure I revisited the plan each year with my wife to make sure we were on track and adjust as necessary. After just a few short years we were in a position to manage our debt and not let it manage us. We were in a position to do some of the things that we put on that goal list. And we were able to enjoy life so much more because we were not burdened with the constant fear of how we were going to pay the next bill.

So, you might say, well that is easy --you have a good job and make a good wage. I can tell you that financial struggles know no income boundary. I have seen folks that are able to manage with very small salaries and those that are in desperate financial trouble with large salaries. It is not about the amount! It is about building a plan and following through on it. There are a multitude of resources and strategies out there, and really any strategy will work if you work it. The success of any plan comes down to working the plan. If you work the plan effectively amazing things can happen!

As for what my motivation was to reduce my debt load? That wise man had me add up the interest that I was paying on my credit cards each month. Do that and see how many of the items on your goal list you can accomplish if you had the money that you were paying in interest each month! Credit should be used as a tool, not a crutch. When used effectively as part of your financial plan you win and the credit union wins!