Community News

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Manitoba credit union movement celebrates 75 years

In addition to be the International Year of Co-operatives, 2012 is also a special year because it marks the 75th anniversary of the credit union movement in Manitoba.

The first financial co-operative in Manitoba was organized in 1937 by Father Arthur Benoit in the French farming community of St. Malo. Its citizens, like most farmers on the continent, were suffering during the Great Depression; Father Benoit brought them together to help each other financially. The first loan to a member—for $56.50, repaid in $2 monthly installments—financed the purchase of a cream separator.

Several months later, Norwood Credit Union was founded in Winnipeg.

Following their example, people throughout Manitoba, drawn together through common ethnic, religious, professional or geographical affiliations, began founding credit unions in ever-increasing numbers. By 1939 there were 19 credit unions in Manitoba, with combined assets of $49,990 and 2,406 members. North Winnipeg Credit Union was founded in 1943 by 15 members with total assets of $133.25.

Today the credit union movement in Manitoba is stronger than ever. Thanks to members like you, there are now 41 credit unions in the province, serving more than 580,000 members from 189 locations. The combined assets of the Manitoba credit union system now stand at nearly $19.2 billion.

International Year of Co-operatives

The United Nations has declared 2012 the International Year of Co-operatives, a chance to celebrate the contributions co-operatives — including credit unions — make to the communities they serve. But what exactly is an “international year”?

Since 1959, the UN has designated international years in order to draw attention to major issues and to encourage international action to address concerns which have global importance and ramifications. The first international year was proclaimed by the General Assembly in 1959. It was the World Refugee Year.

According to the United Nations itself, UN observances “contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. They provide a useful means for the promotion of international and national action and stimulate interest in United Nations activities and programmes.”

Be aware of these top scams

Each year, the Better Business Bureau investigates thousands of scams perpe against consumers. Many of these scams are variations on age old tricks aimed at parting people with their money. Nevertheless, new fraud schemes also float to the surface each year and it’s important to stay on top of them so that you don’t become a victim.

Here then are a few of the top scams from 2011, as compiled by the Manitoba chapter of the Better Business Bureau (for a complete list, visit

Social Media/Online Dating Scams
If you have a lot of personal information publicly available on social media or dating websites, scam artists may use that information to make it seem like they know you. One of their favourite tricks is to send links to viral videos that appear to come from your friends. When you click on the link, you are prompted to “upgrade your Flash player,” but instead you end up downloading a virus that logs into your social media account and searches your personal data.

Identity Theft Scams
One very popular identity theft scam involves hotel stays and works like this: The victim receives a call in their hotel room in the middle of the night. It’s from someone purporting to be the front desk, claiming their computer has crashed and they need to get the victim’s credit card number again. The fraudsters hope the victim will be too tired or confused to catch that this might be a scam and will simply give their credit card number freely over the phone.

The BBB Scam
According to the Better Business Bureau, the most popular scam in 2011 was a scam involving the BBB itself. Millions of people have received what looks like an official notice from the BBB. The subject line is usually something like “Complaint Against Your Business.” The instructions tell the recipient to click a link or open an attachment for details. Once the victim follows those instructions, a malicious virus is installed on their computer.

Putting a budget in place

The first step to almost any successful venture is a good plan. The same holds true with your finances — it’s important to know where you want to go and what you’ll need to help you get there.

That’s precisely why budgeting is such a good idea. Drawing up a household budget doesn’t have to be complicated. Start by recording any and all sources of income you receive each month, which will give you an idea of how much money you have to go around. Then list all your monthly expenses, big and small. This list should include mortgage or rent payments, car payments, loan or credit card payments, bills and a monthly amount for things like food, clothing, gasoline, entertainment and other expenses. It’s also a good idea to set aside some money each month for those inevitable extra expenses, like unforeseen car repairs, dental bills or home repairs.

By sticking to your budget you can take control of your finances and give yourself some peace of mind

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