Ardent Credit Union makes your money go farther.

If you are wondering how a credit union compares to a traditional bank, visualize a road with a garden on one side, and a sentient bonfire on the other.

The garden is the creation of all the people who contribute to it, and it gives back to them fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices. The fire, on the other hand, while providing light and heat, only works to sustain itself. If you offer it no kindling, it has no interest in you. Not to mention that in its quest for survival, the fire can lose control, damaging the people and environment around it.

As not-for-profit, financial cooperatives, credit unions exist for their members. Members are not only participants, but owners, and the credit union works to see all of its individual members prosper so it can grow as a whole – an economic democracy of sorts. Our volunteer Board of Directors is not determined by backroom deals or a single executive’s selections, but by our members’ votes.

Whereas bank dividends are funneled to stockholders and executives, we transform them into member benefits. We reward participation in and continued growth of our collective, by offering higher interest rates for savings accounts, lower interest rates on loans, and taking a member-first approach when seeking financial solutions for each member.

The nature of a bank is to work for itself, not for the benefit of its customers. Banks view their customers as commodities rather than integral components of their makeup. Unlike credit unions, more often than not, a bank has to answer to its shareholders, not its customers.

Ardent, and other credit unions don’t judge your worth based on your income. We value all our members equally through our people-helping-people approach. We’re not going to throw you overboard because you’ve hit a patch of financial turbulence; quite the opposite. Our team of financial advisors and consultants will work to help you get back on track with your financial wellness. Once you are, don’t thank us, thank all of your fellow members through whom we’ve assembled our vast resources.

At Ardent, we aren’t just a credit union, we like to think of ourselves as your credit union. And just as all of our members who call Philly home want to see us grow and prosper, we contribute to our communities’ social and cultural endeavors through charity and volunteer work that you’ll be proud to say you are a part of, just by being a member.

We have also seen, particularly over the last decade, just how much collateral damage banks can inflict on their shareholders and the economy as a whole through corporate greed. Most recently, in a controversy in which one of the country’s biggest banks was embroiled – creating unauthorized accounts to boost their sales figures and knowingly exploited their customers for illicit gain.

What do “Too Big To Fail,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and “The Big Short” have in common, apart from being great movies? Not surprisingly, none of them dealt with credit unions, only banks and their business practices that negatively impacted millions of people.

Ardent lives by a secure and ethical business model that strives to provide its members the financial education, products, and tools they need to achieve their goals, as they progress through their life and career. Members will never have to worry about Ardent cheating them out of their hard-earned money. Why would we? After all, we’re working together for your benefit.



 

A financial guide for middle-aged members.

We understand that time and its adverse effects on us can be a sensitive topic at a certain point. That said, we’ll introduce our talking point in the most objective way possible. The average life expectancy for U.S. residents is 81 for women and 76 for men. So, if you’ve reached the age of 40 or 38 respectively, then you are considered middle aged.

If you fall into the middle-age range (we’ll let you decide the cutoff line on the other end for yourself), then there is a chance you could be in one of the more financially stressful periods in your life. Granted, it’s a fruitful stress, which comes after two decades in the work force with plenty of earnings to show for it.

The middle period of everyone’s life always serves as a crossroads, particularly where money is concerned.

Decisions, decisions

Around middle age is when people begin to incur major expenses.

Those of you with children know that it won’t be long before they’ll want to earn their college degree, and that hasn’t been affordable in 40 years. There’s also the matter of aging parents (not you, but yours) who increasingly need money for medical procedures, medicines, and even assisted living.

Both of these situations can result in major depletions of savings accounts, but this is where we may be able to help. Our team of financial consultants, along with our partners at BALANCE, may help you best allocate your money and tackle any hardship that come as a result.

Plus, with Ardent’s competitive interest rates on savings accounts and our Flex CDs, we’ll get you back on the fast track toward a healthy nest egg.

Now and then

According to Forbes, nearly 60% of Americans are worried about either not having the necessary funds for retirement, or having the savings but not being able to live the lifestyle they want.  

The choice isn’t easy. If you’ve been working hard for a long time, then you deserve that two-week island vacation and that new 60-inch Smart TV. After all, nobody knows how long they have to live once they retire anyway.

With Ardent and BALANCE, our licensed team of financial advisors* will work to get you the best of both worlds. We could try to help you create, for instance, a strong IRA that best suits your financial goals, and with careful review of your financial statements, we may be able to advise you on parts of your bucket list you can check now.

If you haven’t started saving for retirement, don’t worry, you’re not alone. One-third of middle-aged Americans haven’t either, according to Wall Street Daily. It’s never too late to start, and we may be able to help you play catch up. 

The team at Ardent and BALANCE may provide efficient ways to build retirement savings that won’t have you cutting corners the rest of your life. Don’t stress out – it’s why we’re here.

Covering all the bases

There are a whole host of financial problems one could encounter around middle age, and our team may be able to provide solutions for you.

If you’re struggling to make your monthly mortgage payments, we can help you refinance at a rate that could potentially save you tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments.

If you’re like one of the millions of Americans struggling with credit card debt or making the minimum payments, we’ve got you covered there, too.

If your children are grown, but still haven’t flown from the nest, send them to us – we’ll help them become financially independent.

At Ardent, we strive to take on any challenge that our clients present. No obstacle is too big to tackle, and with careful planning, wisdom, and a lot of grit, all of us can achieve something great.

* Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. ("CFS"), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor.  Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal.  Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Ardent Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. 

 

Set yourself for success through Ardent.

If you’re a millennial living in Philadelphia or its surrounding counties, you might have noticed something: there are a lot of you…more and more by the year, to be exact. 

According to the Pew Research Center, millennials are flocking to Philly more than any other metropolitan region in the United States, and the city’s millennial population increased by 100,000 between 2006 and 2012 - a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

Philadelphia is quickly becoming a hotspot for folks who are fresh out of school and looking to plant their roots in their quest for prosperity, culture, excitement, and happiness. And as homegrown Philadelphian ourselves, may we say, “Excellent choice! We hope you stick around.” Because we’re neighbors, we’re also interested in your financial health.

Why a credit union?

If there’s one vital thing of importance millennials understand more than anyone, it’s connectivity. We know correlating people with social media has become cliché at this point, but it’s undeniable: Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers, they are all commodities that are used to gain clout, and in turn, advance in the world beyond digital interfaces.

Here’s where Ardent comes in. If the terminology is foreign to you, a credit union is a local, not-for-profit, member-owned, financial cooperative. What sets us apart from traditional banks is that we pool all members’ funds in order to provide higher savings rates and lower loan rates, compared to typical bank offerings.

Think of us as similar to a college co-op bookstore, except we won’t charge you $400 for a chemistry textbook, and $5 for a microwave-reheated sandwich.

The long and winding road

For the first 20 or so years of your life, finances are pretty simple. You earn some money, and then you can either save it or spend it.

Once you’re launched out of the airlock and into the real world, things get a lot more complicated. So, we’re here to help. That’s why we exist.

Whether you want to accumulate savings, or you’re making a major purchase, like a home or car, Ardent provides rates that work in your best interests – for savings accounts, mortgages and car loans.

This can all be a little overwhelming, and we understand that anybody’s first financial moves beyond a simple checking account can inspire trepidation. Worry not, because we handle your money with tremendous care. At Ardent, we strive to maximize every member’s gains and returns, so we can grow ever stronger as a whole.

A helping hand

If we had to earn our diplomas, degrees, and certifications by exclusively teaching ourselves, there would be far fewer successful people in the world. The same goes for personal finances. No one should have to make difficult choices about loans and investments by themselves.

Financial planning and consultation are critical components to immediate and long-term financial health, and Ardent provides the tools to give you the best guidance in making all of the right decisions with your money.

Our toolkit includes a free credit assessment and two dozen financial calculators, which can provide a quick and easy-to-understand assessment of your loan payments and savings accumulations.

We’ve also teamed up with BALANCE, a leading not-for-profit financial consultation organization. They offer individualized and comprehensive financial guidance for all financial opportunities and challenges.

Together with BALANCE, we can help you shed lingering student loan debts and get on the fast track to keeping more money for yourself (after Uncle Sam takes his cut). Of course, financial counseling is beneficial no matter what your end goal is, be it a mortgage, insurance, an auto loan or an IRA, which is critical to open at a young age.

You’ll also find plenty of resources ready and available on BALANCE’s website, including podcasts and videos with advice on getting out of debt, avoiding identify theft, and much more.

 

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Gen X weathers the financial storm.

If you’re a member of Generation X, meaning you were born between 1962 and 1981, then you’ve ridden the wildest roller coaster the American economy has to offer. You’ve seen the technology boom and unimpeded growth in the 1990s, and the devastation precipitated by the Great Recession at the end of the 2000s.

For everybody on the Gen X spectrum, the Great Recession came about at the worst times for financial stability. Folks were either just beginning their professional endeavors, spawning their entrepreneurial enterprises, or at the peaks of their careers where they thought it was safe to translate years of hard work into a mortgage on that dream home.

While the economy has stabilized since those dark days of yore and many people were able to get their heads above water again, few can say they emerged from the recession unscathed, and we all learned that when it comes to our financial security, it’s best to assume nothing and optimize every circumstance.

Looking ahead to the finish line

According to the Insured Retirement Institute’s “The Retirement Readiness of Generation X,” a quarter of Gen Xers don’t know at what age they’re planning to retire, and the number of people who say they plan to work past 65 and even past 70 is rising.

Of course, nobody wants to work any longer than they have to (unless you do, in which case, more power to you). But for those who wish to clean out their desks at 65 and never look back, Ardent has an array of tools to help you accumulate and keep track of your savings, so you can pull the cord on your career when you want to.

According to the IRI, nearly half of Gen Xers surveyed have less than $50,000 saved for retirement, and with many older Gen Xers having to dip into their retirement savings as result of the Recession, fewer people are saying they have the necessary funds for the golden years compared to just a few years ago.

That’s a lot of negativity to swallow, but we’re not here to put a wet blanket on your financial future; quite the opposite. In cooperation with our friends at BALANCE, we offer comprehensive financial planning and consultation for every stage of your life and facet of your portfolio.

For those who think financial consultation doesn’t help, you might be surprised to hear that people who turned to professional financial advisors ended up having double the amount of savings for retirement than those who went without, according to the IRI.

Allow Ardent to provide the help that could help erase the damage inflicted by the Great Recession, and get on the course for a retirement you can enjoy with less worry.

Tackling major hurdles

If you’re one of the younger members of Gen X, and retirement looms only on the most distant horizon, then you’ll be happy to hear that we offer a plethora of services that may help strengthen your financial health in the present, and in turn could help secure your future. You may start with retirement planning through CUSO Financial Services with our licensed financial advisors* by your side. They’ll take time to review your current investment portfolio and understand what investment goals you want to reach.

If you’re awaiting the opportunity to finally become a property owner, then we can help you secure great rates on mortgages, as well as any car loans you need.

If you’re already paying a mortgage but struggling with them, we can help relieve your burden with refinancing options that can help you to rest easy at night, and put more focus into other financial endeavors to get ahead in years to come.

Together with BALANCE, we can help you traverse some of the most difficult financial obstacles, including overall debt relief and how to pay off lingering student loans quicker. If you need help with research, we also offer several, easy-to-use financial calculators that will let you know instantly where you stand on anything from college savings for you or your family, to finding out whether a Traditional or Roth IRA may be more beneficial.

Tuning in

What sets Gen X apart from every prior generation is that they have completely jumped onboard the information age ocean liner. Yeah, maybe 10 years ago there were people without a cell phone or internet access (or they had dial up, same thing really), but no more. Smartphones and tablets are as ubiquitous as pumpkin spice flavoring in October.

We offer all of the essential online services one could need to manage money on the go or comfortably within one's home, no matter the time or day, to improve Gen X members’ financial standing.  

* Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. ("CFS"), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor.  Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal.  Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Ardent Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. 


 

Philly’s magic is on display this fall.

Philadelphia’s events over the next few months are as vivacious and colorful as the city itself. We all love to celebrate fall in Philly, with plenty of culture, cuisine, and character to energize us. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the offerings of the outdoors and kick back with some creature comforts.

If you’re in the area between now and winter, here’s a sampling of the many attractions the city has to offer.

Art celebrations

People like to think of New York as the major artistic city on the eastern seaboard, but Philly has an equally thriving arts community, with a multitude of opportunities for art makers and enthusiasts to enjoy the human imagination operating in high gear.

October is Mural Arts Month in Philadelphia, where street corners and parks are taken over by a myriad unique and captivating visual arts, almost all of which can be experienced at no cost. For cinema buffs, a can’t-miss destination is the Philadelphia Film Festival, held this year from October 20 through 30, celebrating its 25th year in 2016. One truly exceptional offering in Philly is the First Person Arts Festival, held at the beginning of November, celebrating an art form we all routinely practice, storytelling.

Foliage and food

You might think that you have to drive all the way to Massachusetts or New Hampshire to see glorious fall foliage, but you can immerse yourself in colors that appear to be from a dreamscape at Longwood Gardens, which offers 300 acres of gorgeous flora at their prettiest.

For those who associate the month of October with the finest beer and brauts, Philadelphia has several Oktoberfests for you. The weeklong Oktoberfest at Dilworth Park is the best time to taste the abundant craft beers from the city’s many microbreweries.

Sports and holiday celebrations

Ready for the action of pro sports? By November, the Philadelphia Eagles hope to be flying high and fighting for division supremacy. The NBA and NHL seasons will both just be getting underway, too, and the whole city will be thunderously behind the 76ers and the Flyers, both of whom will be making plenty of hometown appearances throughout their respective seasons through spring.  

Philadelphia loves decking itself out in the spirit of the holidays, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more festive city come the end of the year. The season begins with the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving Day Parade, which some say is a city tradition second to none. It continues throughout December, as holiday lights find their way onto almost every building in the city. An outdoor ice rink opens in the luminous waterfront of Penn’s Landing, Christmas Village transports Arch Street back to medieval Europe, and the year is capped off with fireworks over the Delaware River.

Looking for even more fun stuff to do around the holidays? Check out everything that’s going on, and handpick the celebrations that suit your fancies. We guarantee that the atmosphere will wrap the city in a blanket of jubilance, and after experiencing it once, you may never want to spend the season anywhere else.

 

A Note from Rob

We all live busy lives, managing work, family, and finances. That’s why we continue to provide online and mobile tools that help you get more done in the limited time you have.

But let’s be honest – even though we all love the convenience of online banking, there is no substitute for a casual conversation to discuss financial matters with someone. Online channels can’t hear your questions about how to save more money or empathize with you about the stress of paying an unexpected bill.  

Consider your personal interactions with Ardent. You should think of us as your personal resource for all financial matters and know that we are just a call or an email away. We’re here to be your very own personal banker.

This personal connection is becoming a lost art when doing business with people, but it’s one whose importance we continue to emphasize. We want to be your sounding board, helping you remedy challenges and celebrate successes. We believe in the personal touch that allows us to completely understand your goals so we can find the right products and services that fit perfectly.

Your Ardent team may encourage you to, “tell us more,” so we can understand how best to help your specific need. We want you to know you’re not alone in your financial journey. If you’re experiencing financial challenges or just want to talk through some product and service options, your Ardent team will guide you.

Please, tell us more!

Rob Werner, President/CEO
Ardent Credit Union

 



 

Holidays are coming – spend wisely.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The holiday festivities bring out the best in all of us, and we return the warmth and virtue inspired by the season to those closest to us, as well as strangers.

For the Season of Giving to live up to its name, we all open our wallets and endure a dip in checking accounts and cash reserves.

Generosity and responsibility

It can be very easy to get caught up in the spirit of the season and unwittingly spend more than you have budgeted on gifts, especially if you have a long list of people to give to.

Spending during the holidays is all about finding the right balance between gift giving and responsible spending. Our partners at BALANCE are here to try and help you do just that. As some of the best financial counselors in the business, they can help you set aside just right amount of money for the holidays, taking into account not just gifts, but other expenses like food and travel.

The gift of easy giving

Gift cards have done to the holiday season what the iPod did for listening to music – how did we possibly live before they were around?

Yes, gift cards can be a bit of a cop-out to some people (don’t give them to your spouse), but they have become the most practical present available to us. They don’t break or expire, they’re easy to wrap, and no one says they’re two sizes too small.

Best of all for you, gift cards are an incredibly easy way to keep track of how much you’re spending on presents. They come in easy-to-remember increments with no hidden fees or shipping costs.

Sometimes it can be tricky to determine exactly which gift card to select. Are your cousins Olive Garden or Applebee’s people? Wal-Mart or Target? Amazon or Best Buy? Or, well, you get the idea.

One easy and never fail solution are Ardent Visa® Gift Cards, which come preloaded with a determined amount of cash that can be spent anywhere that takes cards: stores, restaurants, gas stations, stadiums, and airports. The list goes on. No one can be displeased when they receive money, especially in a form as convenient as that, and you can pick one up at any Ardent branch when you need to give a gift – any season of the year.

 



 

Your vote and your voice matter.

Hey, do you have plans on Tuesday, November 8? We encourage you to vote on Election Day, and make your voice heard in local, state, congressional, gubernatorial, and of course, presidential elections.

The 21st century is proving to be one of the most contentious periods in our political history. The breakneck progress of informational technology has allowed us greater access to the workings of our system. Generational gaps are shaping up to be the most drastic and significant in the history of sociology. There is very little going on around the world that isn’t worth paying attention to.

Be informed and be decisive, for the only wasted vote is a vote not cast.