California Financial Ed Seminars Target Women

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Two managers from the California Credit Union League joined two business development officers from Riverside County's CU in leading a financial education workshop for women here.

The four speakers were Rita Fillingane, project manager for the California League's CU development department; RaAnn Wood, the league's professional networks manager, and Kristen Stepp and Holly Szychulda of Riverside County's CU. The workshop was held at the West Covina City Hall, where local government officials sponsored the event.

According to Fillingane, despite decades of gradual movement towards gender equality, financial education for women still is different from educating men.

"In the past, many women did not get involved in finances. That trend is changing," she said. "In some communities, women still don't have much involvement with the family finances. Some older women still haven't done it. But after certain life events, such as divorce or death of a spouse, some women are forced to get involved."

For most men, there is an expectation that they know about finances all along, Fillingane added. "However, surveys show everyone needs more financial education-men and women."

Wood spoke of the importance of a good credit score. In addition, she warned the audience how to avoid so-called "credit repair" schemes, which she said seek large fees and do nothing.

"The women were really hungry for this information," said Wood. "It was not necessarily different from if it had been a mixed audience of men and women. People just don't understand what a credit score is or how important protecting one's credit rating is. We talk about credit scores all the time, so it is easy to forget not everyone is as familiar with the subject."

Fillingane introduced the workshop participants to credit unions, and explained how they are different from other financial institutions. She spoke about the CCUL's "Match-Up" program, which helps people in 24 states and the District of Columbia find a credit union to join.

"So many consumers are under the impression credit unions are only for those in unions," said Fillingane. "They don't know credit unions are full-service financial institutions with lower fees, lower loan rates and higher yields on savings than the typical bank on the corner."

Fillingane will join two other speakers at a second workshop for women, which is scheduled for Long Beach. Linda Price, chapter manager and training consultant for the CCUL, and Barbara Bannister, senior vice president of human resources and organizational effectiveness for Xerox FCU will help give the CU movement more exposure.

"Any time we have the opportunity, we like to express the difference between banks and credit unions," said Fillingane.

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