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AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Like the Americans, New Zealanders are not great savers according to the media. Not so fast, says Doug McLaren, CEO of the Association of New Zealand Credit Unions. He is frustrated with those newspaper and television stories decrying the spendthrift ways of citizens, because credit union members do not fall into the categories of either poor savers or nonsavers. The average savings balance for the 170,000 credit union members of this split island country is NZ$2,500 (US$1,589), McLaren reported. This is up over 40% in the last three years. Although he was quick to admit that the amount isn’t astronomical for many, he also pointed out that most credit union members were of moderate means, meaning a larger percentage of their incomes were going into savings, a thrift trend. NZACU, which has often been critical of educators not training youngsters on how to handle their budgets, is encouraging budgeting courses in schools. The credit union concept has been operating in New Zealand since the early 19th century, but it was only in 1961, when Father Marion Ganey encouraged the organization of the predecessor to NZACU, that it really took off. Currently 53 credit unions operate in New Zealand.

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