Cannabis industry employees can cultivate financial stability by banking and saving with Salal Credit Union—we know the ins and outs of this highly regulated sector.
Amy Ridley, Community Business Partner Program Manager
Working in the cannabis industry can be incredibly rewarding, but it comes with its own unique set of challenges, especially in terms of financial security and banking. As someone with experience on the employee side of the cannabis industry, I know how crucial it is for professionals in this field to create a robust financial safety net. Working in the industry might be legal where you live, but due to federal illegality, employees remain discriminated against when it comes to banking.
The stories can be disturbing. A budtender who banked with a major institution for decades, only to have it abruptly close her account when they discovered she was now working in the cannabis industry. An employee at a cultivation facility who had her car loan terminated after the lender determined her source of income. Or a worker at a cannabis production facility who kept all of his money—cash—stored in a safe in his house because he was unaware of any safe banking options.
Here at Salal, we recognize these challenges for people who work in the cannabis industry. And the first financial-health tip for cannabis professionals isn’t about budgeting; it’s to identify and choose a cannabis-friendly bank or credit union.
Find a Cannabis-Friendly Banking Partner
Most traditional financial institutions are reluctant to work with individuals in the cannabis industry due to the legal complexities surrounding the plant. If you’re unsure whether your current bank is cannabis-friendly, it’s crucial to find out. Dealing with a bank that’s unaware of your involvement in the cannabis industry can lead to sudden issues with your debit cards and even your ability to access your funds. To safeguard your financial security, it’s best to bank with an institution that is open about its work in the cannabis industry. Take the time to educate yourself about the bank’s policies and be aware of any potential risks associated with your current financial setup.
If you bank with an institution that might not be cannabis-friendly, consider your direct deposit. It’s a lifeline that must be protected. If you’re hesitant to switch banks immediately, try to gradually transition your finances to a cannabis-friendly institution while ensuring that your direct deposit remains secure. Losing access to your direct deposit can be financially devastating, especially when car loans or other obligations depend on it.
Focus on Building Credit
Building a strong credit history is often overlooked, and that’s a big mistake. Your credit report is at the core of your financial flexibility; it can help you secure an auto loan, qualify for a home loan, obtain insurance, and even affect your cell phone rates. If you’re working with cash and haven’t been able to establish traditional banking relationships, consider alternative methods to build credit. Checking and savings accounts that accrue even minimal amounts of interest can help begin to establish credit.
Monitor Your Credit Report
Be aware of your credit score and what your credit report says. At Salal, we use soft credit checks when you open an account, which allows us to identify any issues or collections that could negatively impact your credit score. We can then provide guidance on how to address these issues and improve your creditworthiness.
Take Advantage of Financial Literacy Programs
At Salal, we offer financial literacy courses free of charge (virtual or in-person), including the opportunity to take a deep dive into your credit history and credit report. As noted above, we’re here with non-judgmental support for budgeting, problem-solving, and anything else that can help your financial wellness. We also support our community members by offering onsite visits to assist with opening accounts or organizing loan applications. Take advantage of these types of programs that provide the knowledge and tools you need to manage your finances effectively.
Pay Yourself First
When dealing with a cash-heavy industry like cannabis, it’s easy to forget about personal savings. Try to make it a habit to pay yourself first by asking your financial institution to directly deposit some of your income into savings when your paycheck comes in. This ensures that you’re consistently setting aside money for your future financial security. And when you put your hard-earned cash in a high-interest savings account, you’re essentially inflation-proofing your dollars because you’re earning interest. So, not only does your money not lose value, that interest you’re earning starts to grow your savings, unlike that cash stuffed under your mattress. The only thing those bills are earning is maybe a little lint and dust.
At Salal, we are invested in helping and changing people’s lives for the better. We understand that cannabis employees are passionate about their work, and deserve to be supported with the opportunity to do what they love and take their hard-earned money further, whether it’s to buy a house, buy a car, or simply have a checking account to make financial transactions more convenient. Cannabis employees shouldn’t fear losing out on the banking options that are available to them with cannabis-friendly institutions; they are safe, secure, and an essential part of financial growth and stability.
Salal members receive the tools they need for financial success, regardless of their profession. Reach out today to see how we can help you make the most of your money and secure your financial future. We also provide Salal members with free and confidential financial education resources.