REAL Solutions® is the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation. REAL ― “Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing” — Solutions works through state credit union leagues to help credit unions make the difference for members, families and communities.
REAL Solutions builds member and consumer financial capability by offering tools such as an online resource center (realsolutions.coop), product development, Credit Union Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP – brought to CUs by the Foundation and CUNA), experiential learning programs (reality fairs, retirement fairs, & life simulations), planning/coaching, and speaking/training. Real people with real needs are finding REAL Solutions at credit unions.
REAL Solutions is:
- Relevant – low wealth households can include low- to modest-income families, young adults, retired seniors, those with physical challenges, immigrants or new Americans; in other words, they are the members and potential members credit unions are currently serving or could serve with the right products and services;
- Effective – implementing new products and services to better fit the financial needs of low wealth households can attract new members and enable existing members to participate in services where barriers may have existed in the past;
- Asset-building – new and existing members who take advantage of more products and services mean more loans and deposits for credit unions;
- Loyalty-producing – many potential and existing members have been paying for costly alternative financial services through payday lenders, check cashers, title lenders, buy-here/pay-here auto dealers; when these individuals are welcomed into credit union lobbies and offered services at a better value, they will become loyal, grateful members.
In striving to reach people with “low wealth,” REAL Solutions® targets a broader audience than efforts focused solely on “low income.” Research shows that low-wealth markets include not only low-income consumers, but also those with moderate and middle incomes who are unable to save any of their paychecks. They also include consumers of all ages and all ethnic groups.
Millions of people with low wealth need opportunities to build savings and assets. Without these opportunities, many have no alternative but to turn to predatory lenders when they need cash to pay for unexpected emergencies.
REAL Solutions® aims to help people with low wealth become credit union members, grow savings, establish credit, and build assets.
The REAL Solutions® program is making a real impact through state credit union leagues and credit unions. There are now 40 states and over 1200 credit unions participating in REAL Solutions®.
Every time another league or credit union participates in REAL Solutions®, new innovations become available. Credit unions can adopt best practices from others, and/or share their own.