Happy International Credit Union Day

This Thursday is International Credit Union Day. From the name I bet you can figure out what that means. It’s of course the day all credit unions take the time to celebrate being a credit union, and all that it entails.

We’ve talked about how even though credit unions serve most of the same functions as a bank, however, being a not-for-profit credit union instead of a for profit bank allows us to do some pretty amazing things. Studies show people tend to get better rates and have lower fees at a credit union than at a bank (for both deposits and loans).

You know how we’re part of the community, and how our employees live local, buy local, and play local. We don’t talk about this all the time, but being a major local employer is a big deal for us.

Group of Fibre and Wauna Credit Union employees
The team of Fibre FCU and Wauna FCU teaming together to help people

One thing we don’t talk about is our partnership with other credit unions. Do you have an account at InRoads? What about Fibre/TLC? We’re glad to hear it. It’s our partnership with these organizations, as well as credit unions in Portland, Eugene, Medford, Bend, and even New York City, Tallahassee, and Madison, that allows us to shine. A 30,000-unit ATM network? We have that – which is a larger support network than most banks. Top of the line app and online banking? That too, because we partner with a 1,000 other credit unions to pool resources. The ability to collaborate with other credit unions? Absolutely! In fact, that’s really something special.

It’s completely normal for branch managers or mortgage underwriters to meet with their counterparts at another credit union to compare best practices. Our ITIN lending, we spent a lot of time with Point West Credit Union in Portland, to learn more. Before we made the decision on our new core banking system, we met with credit unions from Michigan, California, and Texas. Everybody is happy to do that, because we all have one goal: ensuring the credit union philosophy of people helping people is maximized to its fullest extent. It’s what allows a credit union of 100+ employees like WCU to have the power of 100,000 minds (and hearts). That’s the credit union philosophy, and it makes us better than any bank. We’re hiring right now, so if you want to join “people helping people,” go to our careers page.

Update on our COVID-19 Procedures

As with most things, the future can be quite unpredictable. Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen changes many of us have never experienced. Some of those changes were for our safety, others not so much. In the days and months to come, we expect precautions against the spread of COVID and its delta variant to surge as more and more cases of infection are recorded.

While your account security and access to affordable products and services continue to be our top priorities, so too is your physical safety. As such, the likelihood of business closures and even disruptions in our lobby service may occur. Though we are doing everything necessary to prepare for such instances and to avoid any disruption in how we serve you, it’s important that we forewarn of these possibilities.

Please visit waunafcu.org or give us a call at 800-773-3236 before you plan to conduct any transaction in person. Remember, we have a wide array of digital solutions for you to utilize instead of coming into a location.

Per Governor Kate Brown’s mandate, all members and staff are required to wear masks in our branch lobbies, which are open by appointment. Please stay healthy. We appreciate your patience as we all navigate these ever-uncertain times.

Robert Blumberg Signature

Robert Blumberg, CEO and President

Do You Have Enough Insurance Coverage to Rebuild Your Home?

The following post is courtesy of Cascade Crest Insurance, a subsiderary of Wauna Credit Union. CCI is a locally owned and operated independent full-service insurance agency serving all of Oregon and Washington. Whether you need insurance to cover you car, home, household, boat, business, or something else, Cascade Crest can help. Visit them at cascadecrestinsurance.com, or call 503-728-4391 to find out more.

Imagine how devastating it would be to lose your home in a fire. Now imagine not being able to rebuild it completely because you didn’t have the correct amount of insurance coverage. Selecting the proper amount of insurance coverage is the single most important decision you can make with your homeowner’s policy. This is called “insurance to value.”

Understanding the insurance coverage for a rebuild:

What is insurance to value?
Insurance to value is the relationship between the amount of coverage selected and the amount required to rebuild your home. Insuring your home for anything less than 100% insurance to value could mean you wouldn’t have enough coverage to replace your home in the event of a total loss.

Hammer

Why is the cost to rebuild different from the market value?
A home’s market value reflects current economic conditions. The cost to rebuild your home is based only on the cost of materials and labor in your area. It is important that you insure home based on its reconstruction cost, NOT its current market or even tax assessment value.

Why is reconstruction more expensive than new construction?
New-home builders typically build many homes at once and solicit bids from various sub-contractors to receive the best pricing. Their business model is based on economies of scale.

Home improvement prompt updates.
The recent stay-at-home orders have prompted many of us to look closer at our homes and provided extra time to consider home improvements. Stores have reported an uptick in buying material and shortage in the supply change which have both pushed prices up. If you got caught up in the effort to take advantage of time at home, please let us know what improvements you’ve made that could impact the need to adjust your insurance to value. 

Check out our home insurance plans and get a quote!

Credit Unions: The Better Choice

How We’re Better

The core difference between a credit union and a bank is we’re set up to serve the people who use us. That means we’re here for people, not investors. When you join the credit union, either by opening up a deposit account or by getting a loan, you become a member. With that membership you become an equal owner of the credit union. Compare that with a bank. Customers have no say in how a bank is run, instead it’s investors who hold all the power.

If you think that isn’t a big deal, look at the banks in our area. According to Nasdaq, Wells Fargo is almost 70% owned by investors. Not coincidentally, Wells Fargo announced it plans to shrink the number of branches it has from 5,400 to 4,000. That’s true for US Bank, which is nearly 75% investor owned, and has shrunk it’s branch footprint by 400 in the last year. Even local Umpqua Bank isn’t exempt. Umpqua is 89% investor owned, and announced last year a plan to close 13 – 22% of its branches to save money.

As you may guess, rural areas are hit especially hard. Less people means less opportunity to make a profit, and that means less service. These branch closures, which started during the financial crisis and have picked up steam since the current pandemic are creating banking deserts throughout rural America. That means not only is it harder to talk to somebody when you need to, but there’s a lot of evidence that simply growing up in a banking desert can negatively impact people their whole life.

Contrast that with WCU. In late 2019, we opened a branch in Forest Grove and already broke ground on a new state-of-the-art building to replace our current branch in Astoria.  Being in all these cities isn’t about the building. We’ve been rapidly expanding our online and digital capabilities to meet the needs of today’s consumers. In fact, we’d stack our digital options up against any bank. We know though, that sometimes you need to talk face-to-face with somebody, and that’s always part of our roadmap.

How We’re the Same

This part is a bit easier. Can you do it at a bank? Then you can at Wauna Credit Union too. In fact, studies show people tend to get better rates and have lower fees at a credit union than at a bank. That’s for both deposits and loans.

Can we really do everything that a bank can? Most people know about our deposit accounts, including money market and certificates. We’re known for our credit cards and vehicle loans, and people are learning how awesome our local mortgage team is for home loans, construction loans, home equity lines, and even investment loans. We have a full-service commercial lending and deposit program, and through our partnership with LPL Investments and our CUSO Cascade Crest Insurance, we can offer everything you need for your financial well-being.

Just as importantly, we employee local people from entry level to CEO. We understand the community, and we’re here. That means all decisions made are made by people who live and work here. We look at the individual, not just at numbers.

Removal of Most Covid-19 Restrictions

On June 30, 2021 Governors Brown (OR) and Insley (WA) lifted all restrictions regarding COVID-19 precautions that have been in effect since last year. OSHA has still not announced any changes, however, with the guidance from the states, we too are lifting the precautions.

This means:

  • Masks are no longer required in-branch. Anyone is welcome to continue to wear a mask should they feel more comfortable doing so.
  • We are not asking members to prove they’ve been vaccinated in order to enter the branch   
  • Vaccinated staff members have provided the necessary proof to WCU Human Resources 
  • Employees may unmask if they are 2 weeks past their final dose or are fully vaccinated otherwise
  • Employees who do not provide proof of vaccination two weeks past their final does MUST continue to wear a mask at work
  • Employees who are fully vaccinated, verified, and allowed to remove their mask may still choose to wear one

For those wishing to take increased precautions. We recommend all members use our U-Banking online and app banking, which is available 24/7, and our Video Teller Units to conduct your financial transactions and keep yourself safe. If you have questions regarding your accounts, please send us a secure message within U-Banking, or call the Virtual Branch at 800-773-3236 (Monday-Thursday 9 am – 5:30 pm, and Friday 9 am – 6 pm). In addition, our Video Teller Units are available Monday-Thursday 9 am – 5:30 pm, Friday 9 am – 6 pm, and Saturday 9 am – 3 pm)

Our Role in Stopping Human Trafficking

Many people don’t realize the essential role the financial services industry has in the fight against Human Trafficking. Often, the only time a trafficking victim talks to a person who can help is when they interact with frontline representatives at their credit union or bank. In addition, the type and location of financial transactions can indicate abuse, be it trafficking, elder abuse, forced labor, or something else. That is why at WCU one of our ongoing training topics is how to recognize the signs of human trafficking, and what to if an interactions raises multiple red flags.

It’s so important to continually stay up-to-date about the signs of trafficking is the ever-changing reality of the forms it takes. COVID-19 has changed many things, and how abusers prey on vulnerable victims is one of them. With more people struggling with job loss and economic insecurity, and spending more times isolated from their support groups.

That’s why we’re staying vigilant, and continuing to educate ourselves, and work with other financial institutions to recognize the signs. We ask that our members learn the indicators that somebody they interact with may be at risk, or under the influence of an abuser or trafficker.

And if you need help, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH),1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733). The NHTH is a national, toll-free hotline available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The NHTH is not a law enforcement or immigration authority and is operated by a nongovernmental organization funded by the Federal government.

2021 Scholarship Winners

The last year has shown us how resilient people can be, and maybe no group has been forced to change more than graduating seniors and college students. Every year we reward those hard-workers in our community, and this year, we are extra proud to award $9,750 in scholarships to nine students who have shown commitment to their studies and to the area. The winners demonstrate the great things that our young members are doing, and the great potential they have to change the future.

  • Ann Heyen (Warrenton); Ann is embarking on a future career in finance, at La Moyne College. Her ultimate goal is to open her own business and provide financial education.
  • Cade McDonald (Scappoose); Cade has already started his college career, taking dual credit classes and a class at PCC. He is planning on getting a B.S. in nursing, in an emergency or trauma setting.
  • Gabe Katon (Clatskanie); Gabe is heading to Lower Columbia College to study Psychology. He believes his time on the speech and debate team in high school helped prepare him for the future.
  • Jessica Butcher (Vernonia; Jessica is attending Portland Community College in order to get a degree in Nursing. After completing the two-year program, she plans to transfer to OHSU and earn her B.S. in Nursing.
  • Josiah Jones (Rainier); Josiah is enrolled at Northwest University, studying history and political science. He ultimately wants to return to the area to teach high school.
  • Kegan Roscoe (Astoria); Kegan is entering her sophomore year at Oregon State studying business and interior design. She ultimately wants to start her own business, and contribute back into the community.
  • Natalie Katon (Clatskanie); Natalie is off to Oregon State University, with the goal of entering the medical field. She’s excited to be working towards her degree at the same time as her dad attends a masters program. She credits her time in Leadership and track in setting her up for success.
  • Samuel Irwin (Warrenton); Sam is attending Oregon State University in the fall, and will major in biology. He wants to become a physician’s assistant, and give back to his community.
  • Shelby Blodgett (Clatskanie); Shelby will be attending Oregon Institute of Technology and studying Nuclear Medicine. She will also be continuing her athletic career, suiting up for the Owls basketball team.

The application period for Wauna Credit Union Scholarships will begin again in February 2022. The application deadline is later in the year, and winners are announced in June. All members that are high school seniors or recent high school graduates are eligible.

Free Financial Education

Financial Education is a key part of our purpose and our mission as a credit union. The pandemic has made it hard to meet face-to-face, and sadly kept us out of the schools, we’re still here to help. From online webinars on Paycheck Protection Loans, registering a business, and developing a business marketing plan, we’ve kept busy helping our commercial members.

For our consumer members, we’ve teamed with our partner BALANCE to offer completely free webinars to help with a variety of financial topics.

If you need a little more help, BALANCE offers free and confidential assistance for whatever life throws at you. that covers a variety of subjects.

See something you’re interested in? Register for any of these webinars free of charge.
MAY — FINANCIAL FIRST AID
A financial crisis can throw even the best money management plan into chaos. This session focuses on ways to gain control of a crisis. Participants will learn about financial assessments, expense prioritization, and effective negotiation with creditors.  

Session 1: Tuesday, May 11, 2021
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (PST)
Link: bit.ly/2NSviLL  

Session 2: Thursday, May 20, 2021
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PST)
Link: bit.ly/2NSviLL    
           
JUNE — 30 WAYS TO TRIM YOUR BUDGET
Stretching your budget is a necessary step to achieving your financial goals. Learn smart ways to save on the things that impact your finances most, such as food, health care, insurance, and more.    

Session 1: Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (PST)
Link: bit.ly/3b8D2m4    

Session 2: Thursday, June 17, 2021
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PST)
Link: bit.ly/3b8D2m4                  

JULY — SAFEGUARDING KIDS’ IDENTITY AND ONLINE PRIVACY
Today’s youth generation is tech-savvy and connected online. However, parents still play an important role in helping them avoid online hazards such as identity theft, privacy and cyberbullying. This workshop covers important issues including online privacy tips, managing computer settings, smartphone apps, and positive online behavior.  

Session 1: Tuesday, July 13, 2021
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. (PST)
Link: bit.ly/3wmZKja    

Session 2: Thursday, July 22, 2021
Time: 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. (PST)
Link: bit.ly/3wmZKja                  

Covid Relief Bill Details

Today, Congress passed H.R. 1319, the American Rescue Plan of 2021, which was then signed into law by President Biden. The $1.9 trillion stimulus bill includes direct payments of up to $1,400 for individuals, billions to help schools and colleges re-open, and funding for vaccine distribution.

The below guidance based on the most current review of the bill, but please consult your accountant before making any financial decisions.

Who is eligible for the third round of payments?

U.S. citizens and resident aliens who are not eligible to be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s income tax return are eligible for the third payment. Eligible individuals will automatically receive an EIP of up to $1,400 for individuals, or $2,800 for married couples, and up to $1,400 for each qualifying child. Generally, recipients with adjusted gross income for 2019 (2020 if they have filed their 2020 tax returns already) up to $75,000 for individuals, and up to $150,000 for married couples filing joint returns and surviving spouses, they will receive the full amount of the third payment. For filers with income above those amounts, the payment amount is reduced.

What will people need to do in order to receive the rebate?

Payments are automatic for eligible taxpayers who filed a 2019 (or 2020) tax return; those who receive Social Security retirement, survivor, or disability benefits (SSDI), Railroad Retirement benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI); and Veterans Affairs beneficiaries who didn’t file a tax return. Payments are also automatic for anyone who successfully registered for the first payment online at IRS.gov using the agency’s Non-Filers tool, or anyone who submitted a simplified tax return that has been processed by the IRS.

Will the IRS notify recipients after the rebates are sent?

In previous rounds, people received an IRS notice, or letter, after they received a payment with the amount of their payment. Recipients should keep this for their tax records.

Are there payments for parents?

The bill provides additional help to parents of dependent children in the form of tax credits. Income has a significant impact on the credits. NBC News has a good overview.

When will they be sent?

According to the White House press secretary, the IRS and Treasury are working hard to get the payments out as soon as possible. The direct deposits could potentially begin being sent to accounts as soon as this weekend. The direct deposits will then be followed by checks, and finally prepaid cards.

Are the third round of payments taxable?

The EIPs will not be counted as taxable income for recipients. The rebates are a credit against tax liability, and are refundable for taxpayers with no liability to offset.

Are the payments subject to garnishments?

H.R. 1319 did not provide the same clear exemption from garnishments that the previous two rounds did. There may be state laws that prohibit garnishment of these funds.

Are the third round of EIPs subject to reclamation?

The payments have the status of a tax rebate and should not be subject to reclamation.

To view the American Rescue Plan of 2021 online at congress.gov.

2021 Annual Meeting

Important Note about our 2021 Annual Meeting

Following the CDC’s guidance on COVID-19, our annual meeting will be fully virtual this year. Please visit this page on March 16 for information on how to attend the meeting.

What is an Annual Meeting?

Each year, Wauna Credit Union, and all Credit Unions for that matter, hold an Annual Meeting to share with our member-owners the financial status and growth of our Credit Union during the prior year.  The results of our Board Of Director elections are also announced at the event.

An Annual Report is produced each year for the Annual meeting, it offers reports from key figures at Wauna Credit Union, as well as our financials presented in a statement and graphs.

2021 Annual Meeting

When: Our 54th Annual Meeting (you’re invited!) will be held on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 6pm.
Where: Virtual
Questions: Contact the Board Governance Committee at gcomm@waunafcu.org