Use It or Lose It

Staying Within Your Credit Union Budget
Staying Within Your Credit Union Budget

When credit union CEOs and executives think of budgets, they think of a certain amount of money that should be allocated to various expenses. Determining how much to spend on various expenses is only half the battle. For a credit union, the other half is to be able to effectively judge your spending performance.  In order for a credit union to operate efficiently, a budget must be established, maintained, and adjusted throughout the year. Estimating and matching expenses to revenue (real or anticipated) is key to determining whether the credit union has the correct budget to fund operations, expand, and generate income. Without a budget or a plan, a credit union runs the risk of spending more money than it is taking in, or conversely, not spending enough money to grow the credit union and compete with other credit unions. A strategy must be used to track and measure things like:

  • Fees and other non-loan generating sources. Checking, savings, and money market accounts fall into this category.
  • Controlling expenses. Preparing for projections of sales, operating costs, overhead costs, administrative staff, capital requirements, supplies, and other types of overhead required to operate on a daily basis is vital.
  • Investments. These could be products sold to members or items the credit union has invested in such as forms. Calculating operating profits and returns on the investment is a necessary strategy.
  • Cost-benefit analysis. This is essential. A good CB analysis will provide useful information, allowing credit unions to make adjustments as need be.
  • Tax Exemption. Current non-profits show exemptions, and according to CU Times and former Capitol Hill policymakers, also consider preparing to again defend their federal tax exemption as presidential candidates and members of Congress are calling for tax reform in 2017. This may affect businesses’ tax expenditures granted in federal law.

These measurements work the same way as individuals budgeting for their own household expenses. Lists, budget software, financial statements; are all tools used by people to stay on budget. Credit unions operate much the same way. There are tools and metrics used to track each of the areas mentioned previously.

Lending Forms Budget:

This is why a good forms system is essential. With forms from Oak Tree, you can position yourself to lend more to your members. Our forms integrate with any data processor and are kept current with regard to all state and federal guidelines. Budgeting for forms makes it more efficient to present options to your members and track your progress. Doing these two things will ultimately contribute to a smoother, more efficient operation that works with your budget. That translates into more time available for staff to speak with members about all that your credit union has to offer. At the same time, the compliance aspect gives you peace of mind. We take time to make sure our forms are the best in the industry, so you can use your time to better manage your credit union, keep on task, and on budget. Get a quote for a consumer, membership, home equity, or business forms package at

Marketing Budget for your Credit Union:

Commonly, credit unions base next year’s marketing budget on what it was this year and give their budget an increase from the prior year. Others set their marketing budgets according to their strategic plan. According to The Financial Brand, credit unions spend an average of between $8.00 and $16.00 per member on marketing. If you wonder what your budget should be to reach your credit union’s growth goals, or how to establish marketing ROI, or what areas need to be increased in your marketing budget, a strategic budget might be the best fit for your credit union. To learn more about how to invest in your credit union’s future and budget a detailed plan based on corporate goals, branch/service expansion, market penetration, new products/services, community involvement, research, rate forecasts, and media channels, email us at