by Gene Ardito

As a new Mainer, opening an account at a credit union or bank is often the first step to establishing independence in this country. Initially, it’s a place for your paycheck to go, and keep your money safe. But as you learn more about how the financial system in the United States works, it becomes a place to make payments, wire money, and get a loan. This system might be very different from what you are used to, so there is much to learn.

I’m CEO at a Maine credit union. Our vision is to provide the best financial service for our members. We believe that when people have access to money and are financially stable, they have the tools and ability to do great things. This may mean being able to care for your family, start a business, or buy a home. It’s our way of helping build a more equitable playing field in America. We hope to give everyone an equal voice, no matter their background. We are particularly sensitive to the needs of the immigrant community, and we recognize the economic and social matters that often make integrating into American culture difficult. We want to help all people improve their lives by serving their financial needs.

One way we help New Mainers improve their lives is through online banking. With so much to learn in a new country, anything too technical on the computer might be a turn-off to some people. However, these tools are designed to simplify banking. Did you know you can deposit a check using your phone? No more need to travel to the actual bank. You can transfer money from your account to another person’s account, pay a friend, or set up recurring payments so you never forget a bill that’s due each month. This is just a tiny sliver of what you can do with online banking. With this seed of an idea, I hope to encourage you to take the step of reaching out to your financial institution and educate yourself about online banking. Eager people and resources are available to help you learn. If you make the change to online banking, you may find you have more time and energy for important things like spending time with family or learning a new skill. Using online banking can help you establish yourself in your new home. As you master it and become part of this economy, you can put your money to work for you, and that can help you realize your dreams.