With paychecks usually coming once a month and only 10 times a year, teachers are known for having the discipline to hunker down on their savings and keep spending on a tight leash.

Because of those habits, having a field of membership composed of mostly educators has in turn helped the $8 billion SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union manage its expenses and keep a firm rein on its budget.

One-third of the Santa Ana, Calif.-based credit union's more than 400,000 members are teachers or work in the education community, said Jose Lara, senior vice president of planning and development. Their ability to stretch a dollar is clearly evident. The average share balance per member is $17,000 and loan balance is $12,000 at SchoolsFirst.

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