Questions to Consider When Buying a Vehicle

Our VP of Consumer Lending Norm Dufton has spent over 25 years helping people buy cars. He was nice enough to write out some of his thoughts on car buying.

So often done at the spur of a moment, buying a car can be an emotional action. This normally ends in a buyer overpaying for a car that may not be what they want. It’s important to ask yourself some important questions.

Did it live in Canada or the Northern US?

We appreciate our mild winters here, but Being in the far north, they have road salts and the unusual factor of “hours” on the engine. This isn’t always obvious in the miles driven, but cars run to keep warm.

Did you run a Carfax or Autocheck

This can have valuable info about previous accidents, where the car came from. It also often has maintenance records. This will catch most repairs, but it’s important to remember that these aren’t a guarantee that there have no accidents. Work by small shops that do the repair for cash, or even from a car rental may not be reported.

How many owners has it had?

While it’s certainly not true for every vehicle, the more owners a car or truck has had, the more likely it is to have issue. A multiple owner vehicle hurts resale value when you’re ready to sell. That doesn’t mean a multiple owner car or truck isn’t a good deal, just make sure you are aware of its history, and factor that history into the price you pay.

Has it been reconditioned?

Reconditioning is the process done by many high-quality lots where they have the car evaluated, back maintenance and repairs made. Most of the cars on Wauna Car have been reconditioned. They may touch up scratches. Is the car for sale private party? From a new car franchise? From a car lot that just has inexpensive cars? With private party cars and some small lots with inexpensive cars may or may not do reconditioning. How can I know if these things have been done? You may not. Some lots just clean a car, band aid any needed repairs and sell the car.

Am I paying market value?

This too is a tough thing to know. There are places like Kelley Blue Book and the NADA guide. These are good estimates of value and are often used by lenders to figure how much they will lend. These guides are very good for vehicles that have a lot of comparable sales and have normal miles. They do their best, but if a car doesn’t have many comparable sales, they can be off, high or low. A good example is a car with high miles. There is a mileage adjustment, but it does take condition or how marketable a car will be if resold. Our lending team can help with the value of a vehicle if needed.

Will maintenance be expensive?

When buying a car, where its bought, the condition, the miles, the level of maintenance. If its dependable, what will it cost to insure? Is maintenance expensive? I did some research and was surprised to find the Chrysler Sebring, Chevy Cobalt, Subaru Forrester, Ram 1500, Dodge Grand Caravan, Mazda 6 were all in the top 20 for most expensive cars to maintain. While the least expensive were the Prius, Kia Soul and other small cars. The credit union does offer service contracts that can help offset the cost of unexpected vehicle issues, but remember that his always optional, whether you get your car through us or somebody else. And if somebody does make it mandatory, take that as a cue to run away.

This is why one should take their time, consider, narrow things down and check on the models you like, then start the search.

How can I confirm the vehicle I am looking to purchase is in good, working order?

Find a good deal on a well-planned choice to take the emotion out of buying a car. Use a used car checklist, and have the vehicle looked at by a disinterested 3rd party. You can find a lot online, but this one from Nationwide is a good one. Your personal mechanic if you have one will be best. Don’t use a shop recommended by the seller. They may be associated.

What should I consider when purchasing my first car?

For your first car, you should consider reliability and a car you can have a strong expectation of low cost of ownership. This way you don’t have many unexpected costs for repairs. Low miles and newer instead of trying to find what you really want. Give yourself some experience with car payments and other costs of ownership.

Welcome to Wauna Credit Union Car Corner

Whether you’re buying your very first car, or your fifteenth, there’s always questions to be asked. After 25 years of helping the residents of Clatsop, Columbia, Western Washington and Pacific counties, the fine folks at Wauna Credit Union have seen a car purchase or two.

We of course would love it if you wanted to finance a car through us, either through our online car portal Wauna Car, or by talking to one of our helpful in-branch or Virtual Branch Member consultants. The thing that’s most important to us though is that you have all the information you need when you’re looking to buy.

Below are some blog entries from the team to help you on your car or truck buying adventure.

Bootiful Pet Costume Contest

We all know that each of us has the coolest, cutest, and most photogenic pet. Well now, through the end of October In partnership with Cascade Crest Insurance we’re announcing our Bootiful Pet Costume Contest.

Simply post a picture of your dog, cat, horse, or even iguana in their favorite costume to this Facebook post to enter. The post with the most reactions wins $50, and 2nd and 3rd place will also win prizes. (For the full rules click here.)

Why a pet costume contest you ask? That’s a great question. It’s not just because Wauna Credit Union Members now get a 5% discount on Pet Insurance. Thanks to Cascade Crest Insurance. We wanted to raise awareness of a very important item. Did you know that Halloween is actually one of the most dangerous times of the year for pets? With all the noise and comings and goings, it’s actually the second most common holiday for pets to get lost. 

Halloween Facts about Pets

September 2019 Anniversaries

Audrey McTague – 6 years

What is your current position?
I am a Training Specialist II (just promoted). My main job is to teach our member consultants how Wauna Credit Union does loans, specifically but not limited to, The Fundamentals of Lending, Understanding the Credit Report, the Art of an Interview, as well as how to use our back-end systems. I have also learned to do onboarding new employees and new account opening as well.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
I have learned the power of really reading the credit report and deciphering what’s really going on with the members finances. Bad things happen to good people and it’s up to us to find a solution rather than automatically declining a loan.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I would love to start hiking at all national parks in Washington & Oregon.

Laura Lovegren – 4 years

What is your current position?
I am the Operations Support Manager. My day includes making sure all the behind the scene wheels are turning. We do everything we can to make sure electronic services happen smoothly, and we are a first line against protecting our members from fraud.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
My very favorite thing about working for Wauna is that it is a learning organization. I have worked several different positions within the credit union and am currently in my “dream job”. I was encouraged by mentor to find my Blue Flame and the place where I burn the brightest. Operations is an are I am passionate about and feel I can thrive.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could choose a new hobby it would probably be to spend more time at concerts. I could easily hit the road and follow some of my favorite artists around the country.

Hannah Coffey – 3 years

What is your current position? 
I’m currently a Member Consultant Level II in the Astoria Branch. Every year my job changes, and everyday I learn new ways to assist our members with their daily needs, whether it’s basic transactions, new accounts, loans, or whatever else they need to build their financial well-being.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
When I first started at Wauna, I mainly did teller transactions. Now I’m closing out my third year here and have learned so much – too much to list in a couple of sentences. Throughout my time here I’ve definitely grown as an individual as well as a team player, and have found new ways to improve relationships with everyone I talk to, in addition to tasks within the credit union.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could choose a new hobby outside of traveling (which I always want to do more of), it would definitely be skydiving. I’ve gone once before, but can only imagine how cool it would be to do it on a regular basis and eventually be able to go by myself.

Hannah is always up to take a hike

Lidia Sanchez – 3 years

What is your current position?
I’m a real estate loan processor out of the Astoria branch. My job is to assist the real estate loan officers on the Coast while also assisting members with their mortgage lending needs, like home equity loans or purchasing/refinancing. I also go out in the community and build relationships with our business partners.

Lidia loves spending time with her son and showing him what makes the coast so special

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
My journey with the credit union started in 2014 and I’ve been in many different roles since I’ve been here but I am definitely loving my current position and all of the things I’ve learned while working in the mortgage department. While helping members build their financial well-being, I’ve learned how to better myself financially and that helps me while assisting members because I can speak from experience. I also know what to expect when the time comes for me to buy a house.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
Photography would be my hobby. I love being creative and finding beauty in unexpected places and to be able to take pictures of what I find interesting or beautiful and share them with people would be so rewarding.

Michael Murdoch – 2 years

What is your current position? 
I’m the credit union’s Communication Specialist. What I love most about this position is that more often than not my voice gets to be the voice of the organization. It’s truly charming to open a paper or online article and observe your words out there for all to see – it’s quite the opposite to find a typo, however.

Michael and elephant
Michael visits his old pet Stampy

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
People are people and they are dynamic and thoughtful and wonderful and sometimes not so wonderful. To be constantly educating and reeducating yourself so that you might better serve another (sometimes someone you may never meet) is a forever-learning experience.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
Train-surfing. I know, I know, it sounds nutty; but I love to travel and have surfed one train south of Paris and another in Guangzhou, China. I’d love to train-surf the Siberian Railway, but I would also become an ice-block during this venture, so maybe my hobby then could be cooling really large drinks.


  • Danea Passmore – 14 Years
  • Ian Wiggins – 5 Years
  • Brittany Warren – 4 Years
  • Ericka Barnett – 2 Years
  • Brady Leach – 1 Year
  • Ro Allison – 1 Year

Expanded Saturday Hours

In order to better optimize member service, we have decided to end Saturday hours at our St. Helens and Warrenton branches and instead extend Saturday drive-up video teller hours from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, effective October 5th.

  • Drive-up video tellers are available 9: 00 am – 3: 00 pm at this very branch!
  • Members may also use U-Banking internet banking or mobile app, or call the 24/7 shared branching call center at 888-837-6500.
  • Our 24/7 lending line is available at 800-773-3236.
  • Our Safeway branch located at 3250 Leif Erickson Drive in Astoria remains open 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Talk to our local WCU Video Tellers

July Anniversaries

Wauna Credit Union has been serving members of the towns and cities surrounding the Columbia River for 52 years. We’re continuing to grow (if you want to join us check out our careers page). July is usually the hottest month of the year, and those celebrating anniversaries in July definitely bring the heat. 

John Moore – 9 years
What is your current position?

I am the Chief Experience Officer and part of WCU’s leadership team. My job is to work with all member facing employees from our MCs in the branches to our different lending departments. My focus is making sure our members feel valued and appreciated for choosing to do their banking with us. I also get to work with our Virtual Branch and how we utilize technology to deliver service to our members who need help or services and can’t make it into a traditional branch.

John With his dog
John teaches his puppy to audit files

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working here at WCU and how our values and mission statement all revolve around people helping people has really taught me the value of the relationships we build with our members. It is so exciting to be with them when they purchase a house, have a baby, or buy their first car. It is also so very rewarding to be there for our members through life’s challenges and to support and council them in a time of need. I love working with our employees and helping them in their careers and seeing the pride they take in their job helping our members throughout our footprint.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I would love to have the time and resources to build custom furniture. I enjoy working with my hands and building things. I have so many smaller projects like making duck calls, fishing poles, and carvings but would love to have the equipment and time to build custom pieces for people.

Carli Lyon – 14 years
What is your current position?

I am AVP of Virtual Services. I oversee the Virtual Branch which assists members financial needs virtually, whether it is over the phone, online, chat, email, or our virtual teller machines. The Virtual Branch is crucial if members chooses to do their financial business in nontraditional ways such as going into a branch. With the assistance of online services such as U Banking, the Virtual Branch offer members the ability to get assistance with their financial with ease and convenience without having to step foot into a branch. We are the voice you hear when you call Wauna Credit Union. We are the faces you see when you use our drive through ITM machines. We are those on the other side of the chat or email window. Apply for a loan online, that is us too! And, we are always looking to expand our services and make it even easier. Be on the lookout for the possibilities we have coming to you such as ability to open new accounts online, Video Chat, and more!

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Wauna Credit Union has taught me that hard work, dedication, and loyalty contributes to your success. I started when I was just 20 years old as an Part-time MSR. At that age, I was just starting out on my own and wasn’t sure where my future would lead but I was set out to be successful in whatever it was I choose to do even if I didn’t hold a college degree. That is exactly what I did and continue to do. Hard work, dedication, strong work ethic, loyalty, motivation, and initiative has made my career here possible.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could choose one new hobby to start and money was not an issue, I would start a Pitbull Rescue Center. Not only do I have a passion for helping people, I have a desire to assist animals that are in need!

Heidi White – 7 years
What is your current position?
I’m a Member Consultant in the Clatskanie branch. One of the most important things about my job is member relationships, whether it’s establishing a rapport with a new member, or continuing to build upon a well-established relationship with somebody I’ve known for a long time. My job is constantly evolving to fit the needs of our members. I started out doing basic transactions and now I do everything from running coin to coaching a member on how to best improve their credit score so they can buy a home.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at WCU has taught me to always take the initiative to learn new things. Earlier in the year I noticed that the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) offered a program to teach frontline staff how to best serve our members. I took the training, passed my tests, and became the first CUNA recognized Member Services Level II employee at the credit union.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could choose a new hobby, I would choose to travel all over the world. I just got back from Hawaii with my family and had such a fun time. Who knows, I might even become a travel writer and get paid for it.

Kristen DeForrest – 3 years
What is your current position?

I recently transferred to the Clatskanie Branch to work as our Compliance Specialist. I am currently learning as much as I can about my position! I spend my time filing daily reports, monitoring dormant accounts and assist in making sure we follow up to date policies and procedures.

You’ll always find Kristen at her desk with an iced coffee in hand

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Moving to a new branch has challenged me to build new relationships and proven that Wauna is one big family. Our core value of Team and Family spirit is alive all across our footprint.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I love my little family and the outdoors so I would absolutely love to travel more. I want to experience the world with my family.


  • Jan Durie – 6 Years
  • Amber Alexander – 4 Years
  • McKenzie Lewis – 2 Years
  • John Kurns – 2 Years
  • Lisa Frances – 1 Year
  • Pie Espinoza – 1 Year
  • Joe Talamantez – 1 Year
  • Katrina Pixley – 1 Year

Wauna Credit Union Assists Funding of Affordable Housing Project

The “18th Street Development”, an affordable housing project of 16, 400-square-foot units, is hosting its ribbon-cutting ceremony in St. Helens today.

The project initially struggled to get off the ground, with funding issues keeping construction at bay. Funded by a $675,000 loan from Wauna Credit Union (WCU) and grants from Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), the initiative broke ground in October of 2018.

Senator Betsy Johnson, Director of OHCS Margaret Salazar, and WCU AVP Regional Manager Pam Weller, helped facilitate the funding package. Concept, design, funding, and construction were all completed through local entities.

“We were doing an analysis of the housing crisis in Columbia County and WCU is designed to partner with and help our communities,” said WCU AVP Regional Manager Pam Weller. “We had to find a way to make this happen,” said Weller.

The project is addressing two of Oregon’s 5-year plan regarding affordable housing priorities, first by increasing Oregon’s supply of affordable rental housing and second by addressing homelessness.

“What a great opportunity for St. Helens and Columbia County,” said Senator Betsy Johnson. “The goal is a home for every Oregonian. Human housing is a right and every person here today makes this a reality,” said Johnson.

Twenty-five percent of the unit capacity is reserved for homeless people suffering from mental health issues. Occupancy for 16 individuals and/or families will be available in August.

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:
  • Capital One has set up a dedicated web page at 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.

Getting Mortgage Ready

Wauna Credit Union offers mortgages that are tailored for the people and properties that make up Columbia, Clatsop, Western Washington and Pacific Counties. Applying for a mortgage can often seem complicated, confusing and difficult, but it doesn’t have to be.

Here are five steps you can take now to get mortgage ready next year:

Step 1: Create a saving plan

The money it takes to make a down payment can seem like a huge mountain to climb. The key is making a plan to create easy to manage steps. One of the best ways to grow your savings is to put aside money consistently — even if it’s a small amount. Next is identifying your expenses. Be mindful of spending leaks like dining out, excessive entertainment costs, late fees, etc. It’s a good practice to move any surplus to a separate share account specifically for your home purchase. That way you’re not tempted to use your down payment for other items. If your job offers overtime, see if you can pick up extra hours, or look for opportunities to take on a side job.

Step 2: Review your credit report

Now’s the time to look at your credit report. You can use the free credit reports at to see the information that is on your credit report. You can also come in to talk with one of our Real Estate Loan Officers (RELOs). Ensure all the information is accurate, and dispute any errors you find directly with the credit bureaus.

Step 3: Optimize your credit

Payment history is one of the primary factors in credit scoring, so start making timely payments on all of your accounts. Look for any late payments that may be dragging your score down that were reported in error. Next, pay close attention to your balances on your revolving accounts (credit cards or lines of credit). How much you charge compared to your extended limit affects your credit score negatively (credit utilization ratio). Reduce your balances or pay them off whenever possible. To avoid lower scores, keep balances low (below 30% of your limit) throughout the application process, and don’t take on any new credit.

Step 4: Save money for upfront costs

You will need money to cover upfront costs when you start the home buying process. Once you find the right home and decide to write an offer to purchase, the seller will likely require an earnest money deposit (amount varies). Also, as you approach your closing date, you will need to provide funds for the down payment and closing costs which will depend on varying factors like your mortgage type, purchase price, loan amount, and so forth. We recommend you communicate regularly with your lender, so you know ahead of the closing date exactly how much you will need to bring to closing.

Step 5: Gather your documentation

Gather your most recent 30 days of pay stubs, bank statements, and the past two years of federal tax returns. We’ll also take a look at all borrowers’ two-year employment history. If you are self-employed, or not a W2 employee, we will want to look at your tax returns from the last two years. Last year we put together a video going a little more in depth on what we’ll need. You can watch it here.

While the mortgage application process may seem daunting, being prepared ahead of time will help you breeze through the process. The more you know, the better prepared you will be when you meet with our RELOs for the first time.