Move Your Money: Beyond Banking

Welcome to the third annual Move Your Money month! If you’ve been following People First Economy for the last few years, then you may recall that every April, during Financial Literacy Month, we uplift the importance of our local, values-aligned financial institutions. It’s these community banks, credit unions, and financial advisors that help keep our money close to home and working for our communities! When we invest our dollars locally, there are a number of positive ripple effects:

• We can receive the same services at a lower cost
• Our money supports the growth of our local economy
• We can trust our local institutions to share a commitment to our community, investing our dollars with the relationship in mind (Why bank local?)

But how does this work? Our dollars are invested uniquely when they are held locally! Have you ever seen the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life? George Bailey says it best during the famous bank run scene.

Well, your money is in Joe’s House – that’s right next to yours – and then the Kennedy house and Mrs. Makelin’s house and a hundred others. You’re lending them the money to build and then they’re paying you back as best they can.
Of course, George Bailey is describing the business concept for a traditional savings and loan company, but the principle still applies! When you deposit money into your account, the dollars don’t simply stay at the bank or credit union until you withdraw. Instead, your dollars are put to work. These dollars can support the financial institution in underwriting a business loan, granting a mortgage to your neighbor (as George Bailey describes) and supporting your overall financial wellness by securing your assets and providing you with additional services.

This begs an important question: who decides where these dollars are invested? Despite having more than 80 community-based banks in Michigan, these banks only hold around 20% of total assets in the state (FDIC Market Share Reports).

Just a few big banks hold the remaining deposits and these non-local financial institutions often reinvest our dollars in projects outside of the community. BankLocal reports “big banks devote a sizeable share of their resources to speculative trading and other Wall Street bets that may generate big profits for the bank, but provide little economic or social value for the rest of us and can put the entire financial system at risk if they go bad.” Unlike big banks, local institutions build relationships here and use these relationships to impact their investing.

According to the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, community-based financial institutions make up 52% of all small business lending despite only holding 16% of total assets nationally. These small business loans act as an investment in small business development, employing our residents, increasing wealth and social capital—literally putting your dollars to work. As these entities are grounded in the community and member-run, they are more likely to have a vested interest in the vibrancy of their community.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal to increase decent work and economic growth suggests that access to financial systems is key to promoting “decent job creation, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation.” This means that where you choose to bank can determine who has access to services such as small business loans that employ our friends and family, mortgage and refinancing support, educational grants and so much more!

What can you do to make an impact? Consider moving your money today! Local banks and credit unions can be part of the toolkit for driving change because they are more likely to listen to their stakeholders and more willing to be held accountable. Meet the local financial institutions that go beyond banking to support our community.

A few local institutions making a difference:
Lake Michigan Credit Union goes beyond banking to support its customers with financial wellness services, invests 83% more into community housing opportunities than the industry average (Mighty Deposits), and shares a commitment to making higher education possible for Michiganders. Read more in their 2022 Community Impact Report.

Bloom Credit Union goes beyond banking to aid its customers in money management, invests 109% more money in the business community than the industry average (Mighty Deposits), and is driven to help you thrive financially.

West Michigan Community Bank goes beyond banking to invest 76% of your money in the community, focusing on financial wellness, small businesses and public works (Mighty Deposits).

Consumers Credit Union goes beyond banking to develop stress-free budgeting and investing support, helping you to bank how you want, when you want. Consumers Credit Union helps to keep 81% of your money in the Lower Peninsula (Mighty Deposits). Read more in their 2022 Community Impact Report.

United Bank goes beyond banking to invest 26% more money in housing than the industry average and invests 16% of your money back into the small business community (Mighty Deposits).

Learn how to Move Your Money! Visit for tools and resources.


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