From auto lending to small business loans, Georgia’s credit unions are helping members adopt a “new normal” lifestyle of saving and frugality.

The 2011 REAL Deal Outreach Report highlights the impact credit unions in Georgia made in 2010 to provide products and services to improve the lives of consumers with middle-class aspirations, according to the Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, which published the findings.

Some of the report’s findings include 84% of credit unions offered used vehicle loans for low-credit score borrowers. Members saved an average of $180 per year on interest expense when financing a $25,000 new auto for 60 months at a credit union compared to a banking institution in Georgia.

Small businesses in the state were awarded $196 million in business loans from credit unions in 2010, according to the report. Seventy-nine percent of credit unions offered a small value loan of less than $500.

Free checking is offered by 70% of Georgia credit unions while 31% of them have a mortgage product for moderate-wealth or first-time homebuyers. Sixty-nine percent offer a program to help modest-income members save.

“Average people share common goals – owning a home and a reliable car, being able to send their kids to college, saving for a rainy day, building their retirement nest egg,” said Mike Mercer, president/CEO of GCUA. “These are goals we all can relate to. Credit unions help people get there.”