Saying “I Do” to Homeownership: How to Prepare for This Big Commitment

Buying a home is a major commitment. It’s a bit like, well, getting married. You’ve got to be ready and you have to find the right “one.” And, like a marriage, homeownership is a dynamic experience that requires a tremendous amount of care and attention. If you are ready to shift from renter to buyer, you’ve got some legwork to do.

Here’s how to prepare:

Credit matters
Quite simply, the past can either haunt or help you. If your debt-to-income ratio is too high, financial institutions will likely be wary of extending you another loan. If you have had problems repaying past obligations, a lender will have trouble trusting that you will pay your mortgage on time.

You can increase your FICO score (a credit scoring model that helps lenders assess risk) by reducing debt, making timely payments, not shopping aggressively for credit, having a variety of credit instruments, and keeping at least one credit card for a long period of time. Make significant improvements in as few as six months.

Understand what you can afford
Most lenders require that total housing costs not exceed 28% of gross monthly income, and total debt payments per month (including the mortgage) not surpass 36%. In real terms, this means that if you owe no consumer debt and have a household income of $75,000, then $1,750 in housing costs is within your range.

Accumulate cash
If you don’t have at least some cash in your coffer, start a savings plan now. How much you will need depends on many factors, including the home price and how much you will put as a down payment. Closing costs, points, moving expenses, and a post-purchase reserve fund of two to three months worth of housing payments can add up to many thousands of dollars.

Once you own your home, you may eventually want a bigger or better living space. Rather than purchase a new residence, first consider remodeling. You can add rooms and customize your home to meet your needs and desires without having to move. Yet while remodeling can be wise, it can also be stressful and expensive. Be careful when hiring someone to do the work for you. A contractor you hire should:

  • Have a licence
  • Carry general liability insurance
  • Carry workers’ compensation insurance
  • Provide you with a written waiver at the end of the job
  • Guarantee work for at least one year from date of completion
  • Provide you with references
  • Be financially sound, so won’t declare bankruptcy in the middle of your project
  • Can provide proof that he or she has completed similar projects
  • Ensure that the price includes removal of all job debris and full clean up

So how are you going to pay for those fabulous improvements? There are three basic options: cash, refinancing, and using home equity.

  • Cash: If the job is small or short term, paying with cash is often the best method. A nice advantage of using savings is that you won’t have to repay a loan for the work that is done. When using cash, be sure to pay in agreed-upon increments.
  • Refinancing: Swapping a higher interest mortgage for a lower interest one can free up money for the project. You can refinance your existing mortgage and take all or part of your current equity in cash. Keep in mind though, that it will only be cost effective if you plan on remaining in the home long enough to recoup the closing costs and other fees associated with refinancing.
  • Home equity: Using home equity can be a great way to make major improvements – and get a tax benefit of interest deduction at the same time. To tap into your home’s equity, you can get a conventional second mortgage, a home equity loan, or a home equity line of credit. Second mortgages and home equity loans are best for large, long-term projects that require lump sum payments. Home equity lines are good for short-term projects or those requiring incremental payments.

Finally, remember that at home is not only where the heart is—it is also where the money is. You can get the most from your relationship with real estate by giving it the time and attention it requires, just like a marriage.

Visit our Real Estate Loans and Mortgage page to learn more about how you can get started today.

Provided by Balance.

Certificate or Money Market?

Are you looking to generate income from your savings? Why not have your hard-earned money get out there and work for you? Well, we can certainly help by getting you started in either a Money Market or Certificate account.

But how do you decide which is best for you? Certainly, each investment has advantages and disadvantages. By figuring out market conditions alongside your own financial circumstances, you can work to make the best decision to fit your needs.

What is a Certificate?

A certificate is a special type of deposit that earns dividend income. When you invest in a certificate, you are depositing your money into the credit union for a pre-determined length of time (often 1 year and up). At the end of that time, your deposit “matures” and you are returned your money with the additional dividend payment. Generally, (and this can vary) the longer you keep your funds in a certificate, the higher the yield. What’s more is that many folks don’t know these funds are federally insured by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA).

The catch: Should you need access to your funds earlier than the term agreed upon, you’ll likely pay an early withdrawal fee. You may even lose some or all of the money accrued.

What is a Money Market Account?

Money Market accounts are like savings accounts but often pay you higher rates. Like a certificate, they too are federally insured and so have very little risk. Money Markets usually require a higher minimum balance and while you can make withdrawals, the number of withdrawals you are able to make over a given time is restricted. Thus, they are less liquid than a checking account but more liquid than many other investments, for example.

The catch: If you are not planning on using the funds in your Money Market account, you may be missing out on a higher yield.

What are some of the differences between the two?

  • When you invest in a certificate, everything is pretty clearly defined from the get-go. You can calculate the expected earnings. You also know your fixed rate and how long you plan to tie up your funds.
  • It may be harder to plan long-term with a Money Market account, as the rates vary over time and the funds aren’t locked up for any particular term length. This makes calculating your investment results less clear.
  • With a certificate, the longer the term, the more likely you will receive a higher yield. This can be advantageous, should rates decrease as you are tied to a better rate. Of course, you won’t have immediate access to your funds for a longer period of time.
  • Money Market accounts are easier to access than certificates. Although, keep in mind that there are limits on the number of withdrawals you can make.
  • Both Money Market accounts and certificates are federally insured by the NCUA up to $250k.
  • With Money Market accounts the dividend rate is directly proportional to your deposit amount and not to maturity (as is the case with a certificate). That being said, Money Market accounts might make more sense to a larger depositor.

So which is right for me?

Each of these products have their benefits. However, if you’ve a higher cash balance but need quick access to your funds, a Money Market account might make more sense for you. On the other hand, if you don’t mind locking up your savings for a bit, then you may want to look into a certificate.

Clearly, we all have our own, unique financial situation. If you are looking into investing, it’s never a bad idea to get in touch with a financial advisor, or learn more on our website investment page.

Wauna Specialty Accounts: Certificate, Money Market, and IRA Accounts

Fraudsters and skimmers, oh my!

Related imageSkimmers are sneaky little devices, which fraudsters affix to ATMs or other machines that accept credit or debit card transactions. The skimmer then secretly swipes your card information whenever you slip your card into the affected machine. These pesky gadgets have been around for years. But thieves are continually improving them and their usage doesn’t seem to stop!

Recently, a credit union in Washington reported an increase in card fraud because of a skimmer thought to be located at a nearby gas station. Wauna Credit Union can take steps to prevent and detect skimmers placed on our own ATMs and ITMs. But it is impossible for us to protect all of our members from skimmers elsewhere.

However, we won’t let you face the skimmers of the world unarmed. So, here are some tips and tricks on how you can take extra precaution when using your card at an ATM or other machine and avoid these irksome skimming devices:

  • When you can, use ATMs, ITMs, and gas pumps that are familiar. The more routine the visit to the machine is, the more likely someone has been checking regularly to detect potential issues.Image result for skimming device
  • Look for evidence of tampering! For example, some gas pumps will place a security seal over the portion of the gas pump that controls the card reader. A broken seal a strong indication that the card reader has been tampered with.
  • Is the gas station unfamiliar to you? try comparing the card reader at your pump with card readers at other pumps. If there is a discrepancy, pay inside, use a different pump, or find a different gas station. An extra minute or two could save you a huge headache.
  • When possible, run the transaction as a credit transaction instead of a PIN transaction.
  • If using an ATM that is located inside of a convenience or grocery store, look for evidence of tampering. Ways to detect a skimmer include lightly pulling on the card reader and pin pad to ensure neither easily detach from the machine and by paying attention to colors and graphics on the machine that appear to be different than what should be expected.
  • Pay attention to anyone who appears to be loitering or otherwise hanging around a machine with no visible purpose. If this is the case, use a different machine. Report the suspicious person to the business. Always ensure you are covering the PIN pad when typing in your PIN number.
  • Regularly monitor credit card and account statements and look for discrepancies. By keeping an eye on your statements and creating alerts in online banking for unusual activity, you proactively fighting fraud. Contact us right away if something seems out of the ordinary.

Making sure that you are aware of how to detect skimming devices can go a long way towards keeping you and your finances safe.

Three Decades of Awesome – Chief Marketing Officer, Debi Smiley

In 1988, Microsoft released Windows 2.1. George HW Bush beat out Michael Dukakis for the presidency. 1988 was the year of RainmanComing to AmericaDie HardBeetlejuice, and A Fish Called Wanda. The Redskins won Super Bowl XXII and Bobby McFerrin told us, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” This was a special year for many reasons, but more-so to us because it’s also when Debi Smiley came to work for Wauna Credit Union in Clatskanie, OR.

“Clatskanie” comes from the Native American word, Tlatskani, which was given to a point in the Nehalem River, reached via the Columbia by way of the Clatskanie River…or so the story goes.

Many of Clatskanie’s 1,800 residents are of Nordic heritage, which includes Debi’s family, who immigrated to Clatskanie from Finland. Debi is a 4th generation Quincy-area resident (just outside of Clatskanie).

And today we celebrate 30 years with Debi in our ranks. She’s done it all, from teller to chief. So, with a few questions, let’s take a deeper into who Debi is, who her heroes are, and how we can grow to be as successful as she.

First, the pedigree information that makes you YOU:

  • Husband, Greg (together 20 years, married 18 years this July)
  • Daughter, Liz (Elizabeth, but goes by ‘Liz’)
  • Son-in-law, Chris Cowen, Oregon State Police Officer
  • Grandson – Brayden, 14 and step-granddaughter, Alexa who is 11
  • 1 cat, PV (piss & vinegar) – and we recently were adopted by another cat – ‘Kitty Girl’ is what I have been calling her
  • Oldest of 4 – two sisters and one brother)

There is no question you have learned many lessons, had thousands of great ideas, and made countless friends in your time here with Wauna Credit Union. Through everything you have experienced, what is one thing you have come to truly love about the Credit Union?

I still truly love that we continue to be people helping people. After 30 years, that mission remains the same, solid force that it was when the credit union started.  This is why I have continued to work hard to do what ‘I’ can to serve the members of the credit union and community in as many capacities as doable.

As Chief Marketing Officer, you are constantly coming up with  new and creative ways to showcase Wauna Credit Union. What is one piece of marketing advice you would give to new businesses that are just getting started in the area?

Join the Chamber, Kiwanais, Turning Point, Keep it Local, etc.  You learn a lot about the community you are serving. This allows you to market your business as well as evolve it to meeting the needs of the residents you serve.

A lot of people look up to you here at Wauna. But is there someone you look up to? Do you have a role model and if so who is it and why?

I have had a number of role models throughout my years. They have come in the form of sports coaches, teachers, supervisors, etc.  Each of them taught me life lessons, provided growth, and guided me to a better me. It is difficult to choose only one. Though the one I served under the longest was retired CEO Eileen Cheuvront. Under her leadership, I learned to “stay focused, work hard, and have fun”. That was her motto and she shared it often. Eileen led by example. She was a compassionate leader that believed in the credit union, what we stood for and the high quality of service we were to render. She was a caring and supportive leader and I feel privileged to have worked under her leadership and guidance.

  1. You are already pretty super, but if you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?

I would like to have Super Speed to get things done quicker so I can have more family time and healing Power to help those who desperately need it.

There you have it.

Wauna Credit Union has waxed and waned in many different directions since its charter way back in 1967. But while our look and our products and services may change, our values and beliefs will not. Because it is an undying commitment to our members that sets us apart from other financial institutions. This is the eternal flame that keeps us bright. And it is employees like Debi Smiley that keep that fire burning.

Thank you for 30 years, Debi and we look forward to many more to come!

Happy Credit Card Reduction Day!

If you had to guess, how much money would you say North Americans owe in credit card debt? $500 million? $500 billion? Here’s a hint: it’s over $1 trillion…and this is the first time in history it’s been that high.

To give you a bit of scale, in the final quarter of 2017 cardholders added a whopping $67.6 billion in credit card debt. According to WalletHub, that’s “the highest quarterly buildup in the last 30 years.”

Yikes!

Chances are you’re one of many who has fallen into these numbers. That’s OK! Credit card debt happens to the very best of us. But what can we do today to begin digging ourselves out?

Despite what it may seem, you don’t have to go overboard to make a difference. Starting off small by formulating a healthy financial plan can make a huge difference in the long run. Though in the meantime, here are a few tips to get you going and put your mind at ease:

1. Attack the peskiest balance first. If you have a few different cards, focus on paying down the largest balance. Not only can this boost your credit score by lowering your utilization, but you’ll also be shelling out less in interest. Not to mention, paying off the card that bugs you the most will feel like a million dollars.

2. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Asking the issuers of your cards for a lower interest rate is as easy as a phone-call. You’ll need a credit score of 730 or higher, but you could get your rate reduced. A rate reduction might very well save you hundreds of dollars over time.

3. Transfer that balance! A lot of folks don’t even know their credit card’s interest rate. According to creditcards.com, the national average annual percentage rate is 15.05%. Right now, we are offering 1.99% APR* for 6 months on balance transfers of $1,000 or more for our Rewards Visa and 2.99% APR^ for 6 months on our Platinum. Talk with a friendly Wauna staff member today and we’ll help you make the transfer.

4. If you can, pay more. Your credit card issuer is charging you interest on a daily basis, so the more often you make payments, the better off you will be. We suggest going one step further and making two, three, or ever four payments each month. Upping your payments can significantly reduce interest and the time you spend in debt.

Although it might not seem like it, the credit card companies you hold debt with want you to repay that debt just as much as you want to pay it off. No doubt about it, credit card reduction is a process. By setting goals and staying strong, you’ll come out on the other side better off than before. And don’t forget, you can always contact Wauna Credit Union for advice or guidance.

Let’s do this!

*APR: Annual Percentage Rate. The special 1.99% Introductory Rate applies to qualifying balance transfers transacted through March 31, 2018. The Introductory APR will begin on the transaction date(s) during the promotion period, and remain in effect through the 6th billing cycle. At this time the cardholder’s regular Credit Card Account Agreement terms will apply. Some restrictions apply. Cardholders may not transfer balances from other accounts issued by Wauna Credit Union.

May not transfer any amount of debt to their account that would cause their balance to exceed the account credit limit. During the promotional period, Rewards cardholders will earn 1 (one) Rewards Point for each qualifying $1 transferred to their Wauna CU VISA Rewards Credit Card account. Qualifying transfers greater than $999.99 will earn 2 (two) Rewards Points for each qualifying $1 transferred to their Wauna CU VISA Rewards Credit Card account. A Balance Transfer Fee of 3% of the total balance to be transferred, or a minimum fee of $20, whichever is   greater, will be assessed at the time the balance transfer is approved. This promotional offer ends March 31, 2018. Promotional details available at waunafcu.org. Membership with Wauna Credit Union is required. 

^APR: Annual Percentage Rate. The special 2.99% Introductory Rate applies to qualifying balance transfers transacted through March 31, 2018. The Introductory APR will begin on the transaction date(s) during the promotion period, and remain in effect through the 6th billing cycle. At this time the cardholder’s regular Credit Card Account Agreement terms will apply. Some restrictions apply. Cardholders may not transfer balances from other accounts issued by Wauna Credit Union.

May not transfer any amount of debt to their account that would cause their balance to exceed the account credit limit. A Balance Transfer Fee of 3% of the total balance to be transferred, or a minimum fee of $20, whichever is greater, will be assessed at the time the balance transfer is approved. This promotional offer ends March 31, 2018. Promotional details available at waunafcu.org. Membership with Wauna Credit Union is required.

WCU Joins Forest Grove High School Career Expo

WCU’s booth at the Forest Grove Career Expo

On Tuesday, March 6th, Hundreds of sophomores, juniors, and seniors filed into Forest Grove High School’s gymnasium, perusing the nearly 50 organizations there during Willamette Education Service District’s “Career Expo at Forest Grove HS”.

“I just got accepted to BYU,” said one senior girl, who was planning on becoming an engineer.

“I’m not sure where I want to go to school, but I know I want a job in finance,” said another.

Fittingly enough, among those present in Forest Grove was Wauna Credit Union (WCU). Credit unions are not only excellent examples of cooperative, people-based institutions, they’re also great places to start a career.

WCU’s Member Relationship Officer, Stephanie Pesio, alongside Communications Specialist, Michael Murdoch were on hand to talk about the benefits of joining and working for a credit union.

“We have so many opportunities for young people at Wauna,” said Pesio. “WCU has an internship program for current high school kids, too. We have full-time employees who have risen in the ranks here long after starting as interns,” she added.

All told, about 100 students stopped by WCU’s booth. There was, of course, a bowl of candy present and a chance to win $50 for filling out a short survey. With questions like “What is the difference between a bank and a credit union?” and “Can you name three credit unions?”, the survey helps WCU gauge young peoples’ understanding of the industry.

“I think a credit union is local and does loans, right?” said one Forest Grove High School junior.

“There’s still a lot of confusion over what exactly a credit union is,” said Murdoch. “But we did a lot of teaching.”

Though their credit union education might need some work, WCU is looking forward to a larger presence in Forest Grove. Later in 2018, construction begins on WCU’s newest branch. WCU’s presence will account for only one of two credit unions in the area.

“We look forward to the future and are excited to be involved in the schools, the city, and in the community,” said Murdoch.

What’s a Certificate

Save with a certificateSaving for your future is one of the most important decisions you can make – the sooner you start, the more you’ll have. It’s an easy way to create peace of mind for many reasons, and while there are many reasons to save, there are also many ways to save.

For some, the saving has reached a point where funds are simply waiting for bigger and better opportunities. This is where a certificate might just come in handy.

But what is a certificate? How does it work? And how do I know if it’s right for me?

In many ways, a certificate is a lot like your traditional savings account. But, in a lot of ways it isn’t. Similar to the bank issued Certificates of Deposits (CDs), with a certificate , you are agreeing NOT to touch your deposit/s for a set amount of time. The longer the term length of the certificate you choose, the longer you are committing to keeping those funds with your financial institution.

Of course, investing all of your money into a certificate isn’t going to be the fastest way to grow your portfolio. However a good rate can make all the difference in your financial plan. The one big advantage over a savings account is that with a certificate the rates are almost always higher.

Additionally, certificate specials will have fixed rates, meaning the rate won’t change during the term of the certificate. But remember, with a savings account you can move your cash in and out as often as you’d like. Early withdrawal penalties can differ, but with a certificate account, if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up losing some or all of the interest you’ve accrued.

By making smart decisions with investments certificates can be a viable option for solid returns on your deposit/s. And at Wauna Credit Union, your funds are insured up to $250,000 through the National Credit Union Administration.

Contact your local Wauna Credit Union branch to see if a certificate is right for you. Our mission is to provide you with opportunities to build your financial well-being. It’s important that we offer options and alternatives that make sense for you.

Take a look at our current our Certificate Special here.

The Erlene Darby Learning Center is a Special Place

Erlene

It was an adventurous spirit, as her children like to recall, that inspired Erlene Darby to do many of the things she did throughout her 79 years of life. In 1970, it was that spirit that led Erlene and her kids on an impromptu, 3-month road-trip across the United States.

Erlene clearly loved traveling and experiencing life. But she was also was well-known for her sympathetic ear and kind heart, and she was always ready to support family, friends, and her credit union.

“I had thought of a number of words to describe her and came up with committed, caring, leadership, supportive. She mentored me both professionally and personally. And she did it from the heart. That meant a lot to me.” — Debi Smiley, Chief Marketing Officer at Wauna Credit Union.

Erlene Darby volunteered at Wauna Credit Union for over 30 years. She served in almost every capacity. From Board Chair to Board Treasurer, she did it all. Erlene watched the credit union grow and change — her adventurous spirit, a beacon, guided the credit union through ups and downs.

So, in recognition of this steadfast commitment to Wauna Credit Union, to her adventurous spirit, and to the inspiration and wonder she shared throughout her three decades with us, we are proud to announce the dedication of our Westport Learning Center to Erlene Darby.

“I think dedicating this building – the learning center for all of the future and current employees and volunteers that we’re going to have here at Wauna – to come through and to see her name and her image says a lot about what she stood for,” said George Dunkel, WCU’s Board Chair.

Erlene’s Family at the Dedication Ceremony

As a special way of celebrating Erlene, we hosted a small ceremony dedicating the “Erlene Darby Learning Center.” There, joined by Erlene’s family and friends, we shared laughs and tears.

While the mood was light, the memories and feelings were strong. The affair became a proud moment forever marked in time for not only Wauna Credit Union, but for Erlene’s family.

“What a wonderful honor it was to be included in the dedication ceremony,” said Erlene’s daughter, Melinda Puzey. “My family and I were both impressed and humbled by the dedication, and for Wauna’s regard and appreciation for my mother’s service and commitment. It made me very proud to be her daughter, and I know it would have meant so much to her.”

Erlene’s Plaque

Her plaque, proudly displayed on the front of her learning center, reads:

Dedicated to the loving memory of Erlene Darby with appreciation of her dedication and passion for lifelong learning. She inspired us with 35 years of steadfast volunteer service.

 

The Power of Giving

The Power of GivingA lot has happened over 50 years of Wauna Credit Union being Wauna Credit Union. We’ve seen 11 presidents; digital music; the Automated Teller Machine; the cellphone. We’ve watched the communities in and around our birthplace expand and change. We have seen members move away and come back, grow up and pass on.

To mark this milestone in our history, we’ve celebrated all year. There have been giveaways and cupcakes and cookies. But we’ve recognized that it’s not just about celebrating. One half of a century is more than long enough for us to have recognized how vital our communities really are.

What better way to recognize 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 that reason, Wauna CU has created a very special campaign, which we’ve aptly named, “The Power of Giving X 50.”

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, Michael, has chosen to give to a local woman named Lanie. Lanie discovered in July that she has stage 4 bone cancer:

I choose this person as my good deed because it hit close to home. I choose this person because I am a two-time cancer survivor. My first diagnosis was the more serious of the two, but there was no guarantee that I was going to make it. This girl is facing some of the same challenges that most people will never understand. I know what it is like to have to go to chemo and radiation. Not only is it physically draining, but also mentally draining, which is an aspect people often fail to realize. Sometimes when going through difficult situations people need something to distract them, even if it is only temporary. If we can help take her mind off of this situation for even a moment, then to me it would have been well worth it.  

Another, Kailynn, used her power of giving 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.

And of course what would giving back be if we didn’t help our furry friends. Wauna CU staff member, Amy, chose the Clastop County Animal Assistance Program:

I chose CAA because a year ago today we brought our new family member home, her name is Lucy. Lucy was a hard-luck case, we are home number 5, and when she started to act erratically and aggressive a few days after coming to live with us we were very concerned. Most shelters, would have put Lucy down, instead, the CCA paid for Lucy to spend a week with a dog trainer at Hammond Kennel who also gave us books to read on dog behavior problems and how to correct them and we came in for personal lessons. Today, Lucy is a wonderful “furson”, we are so thankful they didn’t let us give up on Lucy, and helped us help her become the wonderful girl she is today. I can honestly say, I love Lucy!

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.

Watch out for those Grinches this Holiday Season

https://waunafcu.org/blog/equifax-breach-part-2/
Watch out for Grinches

The National Retail Association reports that 164 million Americans will go shopping this Thanksgiving week, including on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and on Small Business Saturday and Sunday. All in all, the average consumer is expected to spend $967 this year.

So, whether you brave the mall, keep it local, or get caught up in the online shopping frenzy this holiday season, it’s important that you keep yourself safe from the bad guys out there.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help!

Spend Wisely

How much are you shelling out to spread that holiday cheer? Wauna Credit Union wants you to find that perfect gift, without spending yourself silly. Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and stick to it.
  • Set a budget limit. As they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”
  • Use the best credit card. As a not-for-profit cooperative, we can offer lower interest rates on credit cards than many profit-driven financial services providers.

Protect your credit cards

As a smart consumer, you can shop with confidence this holiday season. But be weary of fraudsters and scams that are all too prevalent.

  • Keep a list of all your account numbers in a safe place, just in case you need to report it if one is lost or stolen.
  • At the cash register, protect your PIN by blocking the keypad from view of others. We suggest resting your fingers on other keys as you enter your PIN.
  • Do not use public wireless networks for online purchases.
  • Use our online account monitoring service and immediately report any suspicious activity to us.
  • Shop on sites with https:// in the URL, and be sure that an icon with a lock appears to the left. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates communication with that site is encrypted.
  • Type the merchant’s address directly into your browser; avoid links.
  • Use complicated passwords with at least eight characters. Include numbers, special characters, and upper and lower-case numbers.
  • In addition, keep the antivirus and security software updated on your computers and mobile devices.
  • We also recommend that you don’t store your payment information on shopping sites or shopping apps.
  • Finally, take a look at our guide concerning the Equifax breach as well. You can view it here.

Shop Safely

Don’t let the Grinch steal the whole season either. When you go shopping, park in well-lit areas. Walk to and from the stores with your head up and be watchful. Thugs look for people who are not paying attention. Keep your keys in your hand so you can hit the panic alarm if you need to. Unfortunately, ‘tis the season for pickpockets, too. Probably a good idea to keep wallets in zipped purses and front pockets.

Compare Online Deals

What a wonderful time-saver online shopping is!  We know a lot of sites will claim to have great deals, particularly on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they may not have the lowest price. If you find something you like, do a little comparison shopping by using sites such as Google Shopping or Pricewatch.com.

Give Yourself a Gift

Invest in “you” this holiday season because hey, you deserve it. Open a new savings account, take financial education classes, or look for low interest loans to help you achieve your financial dreams this coming year. Come see us or visit us online for all of those dreamy possibilities.