Retire Strong

A few weeks ago I came across an article on the Time website titled 1 in 3 Americans have saved $0 for Retirement. I thought to myself; “This has to be a typo”. I clicked on the article and continued to read and was shocked at the statistics given. How could this be true? How could we let this happen to ourselves and to our families? It stated that 1 in 3 Americans have reported that they do not have a retirement plan in place and that 23% of Americans claim to have less than $10,000 saved for their retirement. The more research I do on the state of retirees in America, the more passionate I become and the more I want to make a difference, not just for my members, but for my community, the Credit Union industry, and my close friends and family. We need to change our way of thinking. Instead of saying “we should change”, we need to be saying “we MUST change”.  We must do something to increase our members’ awareness of their financial situation and planning for retirement. I believe that a Retirement Fair is the first step to achieving this goal.

Retire on Track is a retirement fair that was created by the National Credit Union Foundation to help credit unions assist their members in planning for a successful retirement. I am working to create the first retirement fair in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Our goal is to give future retirees the tools and education necessary to create the financial freedom during retirement that they deserve. By hosting retirement fairs, we will get our credit union and communities more involved in their retirement planning process, and assist them in preparing for a successful, enjoyable retirement. During the fair, participants will visit seven different life-style booths to learn about the costs and financial effects of their decisions. Upon completion, attendees will be encouraged to create or make adjustments to their current financial plans in order to prepare for the type of retirement they desire. Carlie Anderson, financial advisor for SCCU Financial Services located at Soo Co-op Credit Union, will be on site to answer questions from attendees. She will also be setting follow-up appointments for those participants who would like to meet with her one on one for a no obligation consultation and review their retirement plan. We will also provide a questionnaire to all participants asking the following questions:

  • Do you currently have a retirement plan in place?
    • If so, how satisfied are you with your current plan?
  • Do you have a financial advisor?
  • If you could change a spending habit to help you achieve your goal, what would it be?
  • How are you going to achieve your goal?
  • Would you like to schedule a follow-up appointment with our financial advisor?

Our first fair will be held in Sault Ste. Marie, MI and will be open to all Soo Co-op Credit Union employees. Our goal is to have all employee participants give us feedback on what they enjoyed about the fair, what could be done differently to improve it, and how they plan to incorporate what they learn into their financial planning. This constructive criticism will ensure that our first Retire on Track fair for the public, which will be held in November, will be beneficial and tailored to our community’s demographics. 

My hope is that the participants leave the fair with a new perspective and attitude towards the importance of planning for retirement, regardless of their age. By doing this, we will also bring more acknowledgment to our credit union and the credit union industry. I have recognized the need in our area for guidance on retirement. It is my desire to get my credit union members, employees, and community engaged in thinking about their financial plan and making positive steps to improve their retirement goals and create true financial freedom. Helping our members is the first priority of the Retire on Track Retirement Fair, but I also have business growth goals in mind. I would like to see a direct correlation to an increase in our membership and credit union assets. We also hope to gain clients for our financial advisor by having at least 50% of fair participants schedule follow-up appointments and become active clients, which will help generate non-interest income. We strive to be the financial institution our community trusts with all of their financial needs, from savings and loans, to investments and retirement!

Lindsey Benson