Co-op Credit Union has added a certified financial counselor to its staff to assist members and continue its commitment to financial literacy and education.

Jason Breining, a member account representative, recently completed the Financial Counseling Certification Program through the Credit Union National Association. He has started taking referrals to aid CCU members with budgeting, the importance of saving and a good credit score and reducing debt.

A national study shows that just 10 hours of personal finance education can positively affect spending and savings habits for a lifetime, according to CUNA.

“It’s important to me to be able to assist members in this way,” Breining said. “We’re more than a place to open accounts and take out loans – we’re also here to help members achieve financial wellness and security.”

Breining spent eight months completing the coursework to achieve the certification, which he received in November. He has worked at CCU for more than two years, starting as a member contact agent and serving as collections assistant before moving into his current role. He also serves as an advisor at Tiger Credit Union, CCU’s student-run, in-school branch at Black River Falls High School.

“This is an important service we can provide, particularly because CCU works to improve the quality of life for our members. By providing financial counseling, we can set them on a path that improves their overall financial wellness,” said Marianne Torkelson, CCU’s vice president business development and training. “Many adults simply don’t know where to start. One-on-one counseling can help guide them in uncovering a plan that works for them and sets them up for success.”

Breining’s certification came shortly after the credit union was honored with a state-level award for financial literacy efforts.

“This builds on our mission to serve as a financial resource in our communities,” Torkelson said. “It’s part of what sets credit unions apart – we exist to help people, not make a profit.”

Breining is able to assist CCU members throughout the credit union’s membership area. CCU has offices in Black River Falls, Fall Creek, Galesville, Melrose, Onalaska and Strum.

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Jackson County Chronicle editor

Jordan is the editor of the Jackson County Chronicle. He was born-and-raised in Taylor, Wis. and now he and his family live in Alma Center, Wis. Contact him at 715-284-0085.

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