Easing Children’s Anxiety During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every corner of the globe and all areas of our lives. It has changed the way we do things in ways most of us never would have imagined. Schools, businesses, sports events, concerts, and movie theaters are closed or operating remotely. It’s not surprising that most of us are feeling stressed and anxious, and our kids, too, are feeling the effects–especially children with an existing anxiety disorder.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to help kids cope during this stressful time. Children take their cues from the adults who care for them. If you are displaying outward signs of stress and anxiety, it will be hard to calm your kids and soothe their fears. Experts say that dealing with your own anxiety can be the most powerful way to make sure your kids feel secure.

Here are a few steps you can take to ease the anxiety of COVID-19 for you and your family.

Establish a routine.
Kids need routine. As much as they like to push against it, they actually thrive when a regular schedule is in place. Whatever your new “normal” looks like, structure their day so it involves exercise, regular meals, and a healthy amount of sleep–especially for the teens in your household. It will help regulate your family’s moods and worries.

Stay connected.
To keep kids from feeling alone, use technology to help them stay connected with friends and family. Let them talk with their friends on the phone. Schedule virtual playdates with their school mates and friends. Let them play a game or eat together.

This holds true for the adults in the home as well. Coordinate virtual meetups and dinner parties with business groups, friends, or family regularly. Social distancing is meant to keep us healthy. Don’t let it keep you away from your social support networks.

Get the facts.
Be smart about what you are reading. It’s easy to get pulled into looking at or clicking on every update as it is reported, so consider limiting the number of articles you read or for how long you read about the coronavirus each day. If consuming content about the pandemic causes you to become anxious, take a break. Staying informed is one thing but being overexposed is another.

Stay calm by focusing on mindfulness.
Remind yourself that your family is doing its part to minimize the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing and keeping your hands and your home clean. While it’s sensible to prepare for the future, it’s even more important to make sure you’re dealing with things in the present moment.

If you find yourself getting carried away with the “what ifs,” try practicing mindfulness, which is a tool that will help your family stay grounded and calm in the present moment. Take time to focus on the present. Be intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Sounds simple, but it takes work, especially now when concerns about what the future holds feel so heavy.

Some mindfulness activities you can do with your kids include:

Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on
your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out, letting your belly deflate.
Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste, and look of your food. Don’t work or watch television while you eat. Focus on chewing your food and think about all of the effort it took to get that meal on your plate. Consider where food comes from vs. thinking food is an end product.
Squeeze Muscles: Start with your toes and pick one muscle group to squeeze. Count to five and release. Notice how your body changes. Repeat this exercise moving up your body.
Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders (and it will wander!), bring your attention back to your breath.
Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors.
Coloring: Find something to color and focus on the colors & designs.
Listening to Music: Focus on the lyrics of a song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.

Identity Theft: A Survivor’s Guide

Identity theft is a crime with many faces: from the thief who your skims your card info at the ATM, to the hacker who assumes your persona and opens accounts in your name.

Today is Data Privacy Day. And though most if not all of us will experience identity theft, we are all able to survive it.

Unfortunately, rectifying identity theft damage can be like untangling a wet knot. You can do it but it will require patience and perseverance. There is hope!

Start by committing yourself to becoming and remaining organized. Keep copies of letters and emails. It doesn’t hurt to maintain a verbal correspondence and/or other logs. File paperwork immediately and store everything in a safe, accessible place.

Step One: Creditors and Financial Institutions

If accounts are abused or opened illegally, contact your creditors ASAP. Ask for fraudulent transaction documentation as you’ll likely need to file a police report. Add “non-guessable” passwords to replacement cards and all existing accounts.

If a collection agency attempts to collect on a fraudulent account, explain (in writing) that you are a victim of identity theft and not responsible for the debt. Ask they confirm in writing that you do not owe and that the account has been closed.

For checking account fraud, contact your financial institution to place stop payments on any outstanding checks that you did not write. Report the crime to check reporting agencies. If the fraud is extreme, consider canceling your checking and savings accounts. Obtain new account numbers and passwords. Monitor all future account statements carefully.

Step Two: Legal and Government Agencies

Report the crime. File a report with your local police or sheriff’s department (or wherever the identity theft took place). Request a copy of the report. Additionally, keep the phone number of your investigator handy.

Create an Identity Theft Report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is the combination of the Identity Theft Affidavit. You’ll file this with the FTC, and the police report. For additional documentation you may pursue a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigation.

Notify your local postal inspector if someone else has used your address. The social security administration should be alerted if your social security number has been fraudulently used.

Step Three: Credit Reporting Bureaus

The most arduous task in this process may be ensuring that your credit report lists only factual information. Obtain your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (if you are married, your spouse should also check their report).

If the fraudulent information hasn’t yet appeared on your credit reports, be proactive. Report the crime now. Contact one of the bureau’s fraud departments to request an extended fraud alert be added to your file for seven years rather than the normal 90-180 days. Confirm that the bureau you’ve filed the fraud alert with will contact the other two bureaus and to place the fraud alerts.

Write a victim’s report. This is a brief statement describing the details of the crime. Send your report to the bureaus. The first credit reports with fraud alerts are free and are sent automatically. Next, check your credit report every three months to ensure accuracy.

Healing the wounds of identity theft will take time and work. The sooner and more aggressively you deal with the problem, the faster you will see results. Remember, Wauna Credit Union is also a fantastic resource and we are here for you!

The Power of Giving

The Power of GivingWhat better way to recognize the holiday season than to give back?

We’ve decided that a history and love of our communities coupled with our passion for helping others deserves something a bit more. For the third year in a row all credit union employees are participating in our Power of Giving program.

This December, each and every staff member of Wauna Credit Union has been allotted $50 to give back as they see fit. At over 100 strong, we are a force – a force for good.

Perhaps you’ll find one of us buying groceries for a person at the supermarket or maybe you’ll see us donating to a local charity. But no matter where or how we give, it won’t always be about random acts of kindness. Because while we are giving back to these communities, we also belong to these communities.

One Wauna CU employee,  Kailynn, used her power of giving last year to help a family at a local grocery store:

I purchased a $50.00 Safeway gift card and was carrying it in my wallet for a few days until I got the chance to give it away. While picking up some groceries after work I saw a man and his two small children doing the same. We crossed paths a few times in the store and each time all three of them were smiling, chatting, and just seemed to be enjoying their time even though they were only at the grocery store. I approached him and let him know I work for Wauna and we would like to help him with his grocery bill. He was confused at first thinking there was a catch, but after I explained to him what we were doing and why we are giving back to the members of our community he opened up to me. He let me know that he only gets to see his children every other weekend and with the limited time he has with them he always tries to make it memorable and fun for them, on his tight budget. He was so thankful and let me know that he would be taking his little ones on a movie date with the money that he would have spent on groceries.

Giving back generates purpose, and meaning, and positive reinforcement. Our communities have given us so much over the years, and we make a living off of what we get. But as Winston Churchill said, “We make a life by what we give.”

This month, keep an eye out for The Power of Giving, as Wauna CU’s force of do-gooders covers our communities, making people’s days brighter, and returning some of the love that all of you have brought to us.

How to keep your holiday budget merry and bright

Peruse the aisles of most stores, online or otherwise, and you’ll see it: holiday deals.

Yes, whether or not you’re ready, the holiday season has officially begun. And while this time of year can be a great opportunity to connect with family, it can also be traumatic for your finances…if you’re not careful.

So, how do you buy for everyone on your list without slaying your budget? Try these tips:

Make a game plan with your partner

Communicating about finances is key, and it’s especially important around the holidays. For couples who share accounts, make a gift list and set spending limits. This way you can avoid those tense conversations about dipping too deep.

Also, review your checking and credit card accounts so that you don’t get too wrapped up in the holiday spending spirit. Set realistic goals. Can’t pay off purchases immediately or in a short amount of time? Re-assess your plan.

Comparison shop online

One of the perks of online shopping is the ability to research. Before you click “buy now,” compare by checking the price across different retailers. It might be listed full-price on one site, but on-sale on another.

Also look for free shipping. If you spend enough time researching different retailers, you may find a discount on delivery.

Rewards points to the rescue

If your credit card has a rewards or points program, check the rules. You may be able to apply your earned points towards purchases at major retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, Macy’s and more. True, you’ll give up the points, but avoiding holiday debt might be worth it. Take a peek at our Rewards card and the amazing promotion going on through the holiday season.

Experiences may mean more

Whether or not you’re on a tight budget, sometimes the best gifts are low-cost, personal gestures. After all, it’s hard to find presents for people that they’ll actually love. So, rather than spending a ton of cash, give a framed photo or cook a delicious meal for a family member or friend. A one-of-a-kind experience is more memorable than a gift you can easily buy from a store.

Financial Literacy and Education for Children

It’s back to school time…so how do you teach your kids dollars and sense?

Are your children prepared to manage money and save for the future? Do you take the time to teach them about the value of a dollar and the difference between needs and wants?

According to the Council for Economic Education, despite the recognition that financial literacy is critical to succeed in modern society, study after study show that many Americans continue to lack basic understanding of financial concepts, often resulting in dire consequences. Yet there is hope for improvement if we work to make financial education a priority in our schools.

With little financial education in schools today, the role of financial educator generally falls to the parent. So, be prepared! Be sure to look into the financial education services offered at Wauna Credit Union.

A recent article in Parents Magazine states that “5- and 6-year-olds are starting to develop the cognitive skills necessary to understand basic monetary concepts, such as identifying coins, figuring out how to count change, and matching small amounts of money to items they want to buy.” How do we start teaching our young ones about money?

Meet one father of four and a financial planner with CUNA Mutual Group, Phillip Hansen, who says the earlier you start educating your children, the better. He has some great advice for teaching young kids the value of physical money, setting goals, earning enough to reach goals, as well as the concept of opportunity costs. An ‘opportunity cost,’ for example, is if you spend time and money going to a movie, you cannot spend that time at home reading a book, and you can’t spend the money on something else.

“One of the first things I’ve taught my 5-year-old twins is that money is an actual, physical thing that they can earn and save and choose how they want to spend,” says Hansen. “It’s confusing for kids to see us plop down a plastic credit or debit card, as it creates a false sense that money isn’t real and if I want something, I just pull out the piece of plastic. So, we teach our kids that they can do chores around the house to earn money and then save it for items they are passionate about.”

Hansen recommends:

  • Talking to kids about the physical concept of money and handing money directly to the cashier when buying something
  • Allowing them the opportunity to do small, age-appropriate chores around the house to earn money
  • Giving them a glass jar to save money and watch the savings grow
  • Helping them set goals for their money, like saving for a special new toy
A little WCU member saving $$

Understanding the concept of opportunity costs, where they understand you may have to choose between things like a new toy or going to the movies

“Learning opportunity costs is one of the most important life concepts; opportunity costs are in everything in life—if I buy these really cool shoes, then I cannot have that new video game; or if I choose this college degree over that degree, will it bring me as much enjoyment?” says Hansen. “Teaching the value of money, goal setting, and helping kids understand what’s important to them is really Financial Literacy and Education for Children How to teach your kids dollars and sense to life in general. It’s the first step to helping them succeed and make informed decisions.” So, what else can parents do to teach kids about the value of money and making choices?

We’ve made a list:

  • Discuss what money is and how it works
  • Engage in family discussions about how you want to spend the money, where to vacation, and what to give up to get there
  • Look for teachable moments
  • Give an allowance or let them earn money
  • Start a savings account at a credit union
  • Set a savings goal
  • Teach them to budget—how do I make it until my next allowance?
  • Visit a credit union with your child
  • Let them struggle a bit
  • Be a good example

“My kids are still very young but I’ve already started helping my 5-year-olds understand the value of an hour of work—they cannot really understand the concept of a dollar, but if we talk about how many hours of chores it would take to buy a certain toy, they get it,” says Hansen. “I help my clients understand this notion as well—and whether they can really afford to buy that new house or if they should hunker down for a few more years and save up for the dream home with a little more planning.”

Hansen also says he helps a lot of parents understand that they don’t need to pay for everything for their kids—it’s so important to teach them responsibility and discipline around money and having a little ‘skin in the game.’ What is the difference between your wants and your needs? He says without a good, solid grasp of the value of money and its power, kids have a sense of entitlement that could become the root cause of struggle and brutal reality checks when they hit the real world.

“It simply is never too early to prepare your children to understand money, how it works, and all of the opportunity costs associated with making decisions and life choices,” says Hansen. “Those lessons provide the foundation for a happy and fulfilled life.”

The Capitol One hack: What you need to know

Unfortunately, we live in a world where data security simply isn’t as secure as it should be. And this week, we’ve learned of yet another major breach. A hack at Capital One has exposed the information of millions of consumers in the U.S. and Canada. The hack represents another in a long list of data leaks over only a few years. Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself.

What we know

  • A 33-year-old Seattle resident, named Paige Thompson, gained access to over 100 million Capital One accounts and credit card applications
    • Thompson worked for Amazon Web Services, the cloud hosting company that Capital One was using
  • 140,000 Social Security numbers, 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers, in addition to an undisclosed number of people’s names, addresses, credit scores, credit limits, balances, and other information, have been compromised
    • Thompson was able to gain access by exploiting a misconfigured web application firewall
    • She was arrested on 07/29/19
  • Capital One said the hack occurred March 22 and 23, 2019 and includes credit card applications as far back as 2005
  • The company says it has repaired the exposure and that it is “unlikely the information was used for fraud or disseminated by this individual”

What you can do

  • If you hold or have ever held an account with Capitol One, watch for alerts
    • The company is reaching out to consumers they know have been impacted
    • Do not reply to any emails or phone-calls relating to this breach as they may be phishing scams
    • Contact Capitol One directly
  • Sign up for a credit monitoring service
  • Set up fraud alerts on all of your credit and debit cards and accounts
  • Check all of your financial statements regularly
  • View our Identity Theft Toolkit: http://bit.ly/2wO6Dy0
  • Capital One has set up a dedicated web page at https://www.capitalone.com/facts2019/ for information regarding the recent breach

How it happened

  • Thompson claimed to use a special command to extract files in a Capital One directory stored on Amazon’s servers
  • The FBI believes Thompson tweeted that she wanted to distribute Social Security numbers along with full names and dates of birth
  • Someone who saw the information online notified Capital One of the leaked data
    • Capital One notified the FBI, who then searched Thompson’s residence on 07/29/19

The safety and security of our member accounts and personal information is the highest priority at Wauna Credit Union. Keeping member accounts safe and secure is also a shared responsibility. It’s important for members to review their periodic account statements when received and report any suspicious activity immediately to the Credit Union. Working together, we can increase the opportunities to protect the financial interests of our members and the Credit Union.

If you have additional questions or concerns about the security of your information, you are always welcome to contact us at your convenience.

Tips for Scoring Cheap Summer Getaways

Everybody likes a summer vacation, but travel can be expensive. If you’re looking to squeeze one more getaway into your budget before summer ends, our financial aces here at Wauna Credit Union have some tips for traveling on the cheap and getting the best deals.

Go in the Off-Season

During the hottest summer months, business at popular vacation spots like Arizona and New Mexico tends to slow down dramatically. If you can take the heat, you can score some great deals at premium resorts, golf courses, and other attractions during the off-season. Just remember that the off-season is also when many of these places perform annual maintenance and major construction projects. If, for example, a pool is important to you, make sure the resort you’re visiting won’t be renovating it while you’re there.

Buy a Package

When considering a last-minute getaway, travel packages that combine flights, hotel, and sometimes meals, can be the best deals out there. The key is to be flexible on where and when to go.

Get the App for That

These days, there’s a travel app or website for pretty much everything – including the lowest-priced flights, hotels, and travel packages. A few to consider include Kayak, Hipmunk, Momondo, Airfare Watchdog, and Skyscanner. Each has a slightly different focus, so try out several to see which ones work best for your needs. Keep in mind that some of these sites do not carry regional airlines, which often have good deals. And, when you do find a great flight deal, take a look at the airline’s website, since some deals are only available when you book direct.

Get Social

Just as some deals are only available when you book direct, some travel operators offer special deals for those who follow them on social media. The best deals go fast, so follow your favorites on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their promotional email lists. If you live in a smaller town, you could save by driving to a major city where flights are generally cheaper. By the same token, if you live in or are flying to a metropolis like Los Angeles, be sure to look to smaller airports like Burbank, Ontario and Long Beach. They may be slightly less convenient, but many low fare carriers favor these regional airports because their fees are often lower.

Capitalize on the Strong Dollar

If you’ve avoided historically- expensive destinations like Japan, now’s your opportunity to visit and cross them off your bucket list. The strong dollar means exchange rates are favorable, and your money will go farther. If you want to stay closer to home, travel gurus also recommend Canada, since it’s 40% cheaper than it was a year ago.

Wauna Credit Union Raises Big Bucks for Food for Kids Program

Communities are brought together by many hands, many hardships, and lots of love. For the Food for Kids Program at the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry in Astoria, Oregon, it’s no different.

“Last year we put together 2,246 food bags, which puts us just under 13,000 lbs of food provided to our community,” says Pantry volunteer, Janet Wilker.

In just six years, the little pantry located at the Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea Church, has given away over 10,000 food bags. The bags, filled with groceries and provisions, are then given to area individuals and families alike, but more specifically, the children.

“Every now and then we run into a parent who thanks us for being there for their family,” said Lorrie Radu, also a Pantry volunteer. “We like to think of it as delivering a little bag of hope every Friday.”

From left: Kristen DeForrest of WCU, and Lorrie Radu and Janet Wilker of the St. Vincent de Paul Food Panty.

Employees of area financial cooperative, Wauna Credit Union (WCU), choose one charity or non-profit organization within to raise funds toward. This round, they selected the Food for Kids Program. The Credit Union managed to raise over $6,500 for the Pantry. WCU Compliance Specialist, Kristen DeForrest helped coordinate the fundraising efforts.

“Our employees care about giving back to our communities and that’s why we chose the Food for Kids program,” said DeForrest. “I know this food makes a tremendous impact on the students’ ability to learn and grow, and we hope others will join us in supporting this very worthy cause,” she said

St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry is located at 1465 Grand Ave., Astoria, OR 97103 and is open Tuesdays from 1 to 3 pm and Friday through Saturday from 10 am to noon. They may be reached by phone at (503) 325-2007.

Teach your kids dollars and cents this National Credit Union Youth Month

If you’ve been meaning to talk to your kids about money, April is the perfect time to start. In addition to National Credit Union Youth Month, April also marks National Teach a Child to Save Day. So, in the spirit of occasion, here are three real-world experiences that parents can use to introduce kids to personal finance.

Have your children make purchases
Purchasing something is perhaps the most direct way to understand how money works. Therefore, it’s a great opportunity for your children. Try including them the next time you make a purchase.

Whether it’s at the supermarket or movie theater, give your kids cash to hand to the cashier, and then have them collect and count the change.

Lesson: Money is used in exchange for goods and services.

Open a savings account with them
There’s no better way to explain saving money to a child than to open an account in their name for this specific purpose.

Show them an actual Wauna Credit Union branch, point out our new Virtual Teller Machines and ATMs, and have them meet our staff. Reinforce the roles that financial institutions play in managing money. After the account is open, create a plan together for making regular deposits.

Additionally, throughout April, Wauna Credit Union will deposit the first $5 for all new Youth Jump Start Club Accounts. Members can also enter to win cash prizes by making deposits! Learn more here.

Lesson: While piggy banks are cute, savings accounts are the best option for stashing your cash.

Inspire them to start a business
There’s a reason why lemonade stands have stood the test of time. These micro businesses represent many children’s first exposure to earning money. If lemonade’s not their thing, encourage them to offer pet sitting or yard work to your neighbors.

Lesson: Money is earned through work.

Our young members have limitless potential, and financial education from Wauna Credit Union can be instrumental in helping them achieve it. Swing by one of our branches and celebrate National Credit Union Youth Month.

By staying true to credit union philosophy in an engaging new way, we can set our young members on the path to financial education, understanding and security. We look forward to seeing you — and your future — soon!

Financial Benefits of Membership at a Credit Union

Guess what?

Credit unions provide all of the financial services you need: savings accounts, loans, financial education, credit cards, online and mobile banking, and more. The “more” part is the best part, because it represents your benefits as a member.

Okay, so what’s the difference between a credit union and a bank?

The key difference between local credit unions and other financial services is that we are owned by members like you. Unlike for-profit financial institutions, which take their marching-orders from stockholders, we exist only to serve you and your financial needs. You’re the boss! With no Wall Street fat-cats to pay, we are uniquely positioned to return direct financial benefits to members. This includes better interest rates and lower fees.

But what does that mean to you?

In 2018 alone, Oregon credit unions provided a whopping $152 million in direct financial benefits to over 2 million members. That’s the equivalent of about $75 per member, and $160 per household. Financing a $25,000 new automobile for 60 months at an Oregon credit union saves you an average of $177 in annual interest compared to what you would pay at the nearby bank.

How do credit union members benefit?

Do you want more examples of the benefits of belonging to a credit union? How does earning a better return on your savings sound? 2018 also saw the collective member benefit from higher interest rates on savings at more than $3.6 million. We supported local spending to the tune of $333 million. Not to mention a $1.8 billion boost to the Oregon economy.

And the list goes on…

  • In the Northwest, 6.5 million consumers have discovered the Credit Union Difference.
  • Nearly everyone who lives, works, worships, or attends school in Idaho, Oregon, or Washington is eligible to join a credit union. Learn more by visiting www.asmarterchoice.org.
  • Credit unions provide jobs to 19,600 of your Northwest neighbors—2,520 in Idaho, 5,850 in Oregon, and 12,200 in Washington.
  • Oregon alone supported more than $802 million in total income to working Oregonians.
  • Credit unions earn a corporate tax exemption because they are not-for-profit cooperatives that return earnings to their members.
  • Giving back to the community is part of the Credit Union DNA.
  • You’re treated like you truly belong—because you’re more than a number—you’re a member.
  • Credit unions live by Northwest values: local, cooperative, community based.

To learn even more about how credit unions support the Pacific Northwest, visit OregonLovesCreditUnions.com. Find out why 50 percent of Oregonians have chosen credit unions as their financial services partners.

Wauna Credit Union is also a very safe place for you to save money. The National Credit Union Association insures all deposits up to at least $250,000 per individual.

So, spread the good word! Tell your friends to join a credit union today!

All analysis provided by economists at ECONorthwest, a highly regarded economic consulting firm.