This story on checking account balances is sponsored by America First Credit Union – The member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative financial institution is the largest credit union in the state of Utah.

Financially speaking, you are a very different person than you were ten years ago.  The recession, the housing bubble, and other events have made the average American more cautious and savvy when it comes to many financial decisions.

Here’s one example.  Today, the average American checking account holds $3,600.  That’s a huge amount when you consider that in 2006, that number was a paltry $1,000.

Rex Rollo, CFO of America First Credit Union, joined KSL News Radio’s Tim Hughes to talk about how this happened and what it means.

So what does that say about you?  Here are a few things we can deduce.

You probably refinanced your home or car

Home mortgages and car loans are among our biggest expenses.  Refinancing those loans brings down the monthly payment, leaving us a household budget surplus.  That grows the checking account.

Your checking account is prepared for emergencies

Having cash in the bank helps you be prepared for the unexpected.  Putting emergency expenses on a high interest credit card can really set you back financially.  If your air conditioner fails in July, you’ll be desperate to fix it and that’s a dangerous situation.

You’re afraid to invest

If you distrust the stock market, you’re not alone.  After the staggering losses in the Great Recession, it’s no surprise that many prefer to keep their money close rather than sending it off to Wall Street.

But keep in mind your checking account will never earn you meaningful interest.  While it’s great to have savings, you have to accept some risk if you want your money to grow.

Your next loan will be easier to get

All this money sitting in your checking account is great for your credit union and will be helpful to you when it’s time for a new car loan.

As the CFO of America First Credit Union, Rex Rollo sees the benefit first hand, “The additional deposits provide the opportunity for us to make additional loans to our members and today those loans are at some very affordable rates.”