Members Matter: Zeke Kalua Shares His Story

Becoming a member at the Maui County Federal Credit Union back in 2013 was like finding a light in a dark tunnel. I almost suffered from a PTSD associated from financial institutions. I banked with some of the more popular ones, that never came to my aid when I needed them the most. I never lived a lavish lifestyle and was always conservative with my spending habits, but there were many times that life threw me a curve ball and I needed a financial life line.

I didn’t grow up in a wealthy family but was always impressed with my parents’ ability to provide what we needed. Financial management has never really been a strength of mine, since the only education I received in high school was how to correctly fill out a check. I remember thinking that loyalty with any financial institution would generate their loyalty in return and as such I would have the ability to lean on them in challenging times and be able to secure loan funds to settle accounts that I had. If only I knew then what I know now.

I had previously tried to get a debt consolidation loan with other financial institutions and was unable to find a lender to help me. It wasn't until joining the Maui County Federal Credit Union in 2013, that I was able to focus on restoring my credit and finding a way to keep financially stable. It took a while to do so because of the years of not understanding the importance of making sure my bills were paid on time and managing my credit.

The Credit Union worked with me to achieve my financial goals by helping me consolidate my bills so that I would no longer have to repay high interest credit card rates while putting aside some funds in my savings account, which I hadn't been able to do for nearly a decade.

The Credit Union offers a resource to its members called "Courtesy Pay". It allows you to take an advance against your next paycheck, to help the member have access to immediate cash to use for whatever purpose they need. Resources like these are key because there are times when a payment may fall in between a scheduled pay period and you need immediate assistance. The process only takes a few minutes and comes with a modest fee that far outweighs the additional damage to your credit, by maintaining late payments.

I had always dreamed of home ownership and financial sustainability, and worked the hours required to do so. On paper my ability to afford additional credit was limited and I knew that needed to change. I always felt that the logical thing to do was to pay off all of my bills and that would make me more attractive to a lender. Later I realized that this didn’t help me to establish credit. When I purchased my home in July 2015, I had been "liquid" for nearly six years and was told that I didn't have a credit score. It was depressing at first, but I knew that the only thing to do would be to focus on ways to change that.

My credit score at the time I purchased my home in 2015 was 664. I am proud to say that now in 2021, my credit score is 759.

There are times in my life where I had to consider going without certain necessities, because you have to struggle to get through adversity or surrender to it. I am fortunate to have a supportive family, be surrounded by good people and be partnered with a financial institution that is willing to help their members.

During the Covid Pandemic, I was able to defer several car payments, which gave me the opportunity to leverage the monies that I had, to pay our critical bills and buy groceries for my small family of five. A year later our vehicle is paid off and all of our bills are back on track. The key in all of this was the willingness of my family to do what it took to get through this global pandemic and the resource that made that easier, was the Maui County Federal Credit Union. Economic sustainability is achievable, if you are willing to put in the work and focus on the things that are important. I am proud to call the Maui County Federal Credit Union my bank and thank them for their support of my family's needs. Don't hesitate to become a part of the Maui County Federal Credit Union today! If I can do it, so can you…

Mahalo Maui County Federal Credit Union, for supporting my family goals and helping us to achieve our dreams!!

About the author

Member Zeke Kalua