Member’s Stories: Cookie Laurens

When Cookie Laurens came into the Wauna Credit Union St. Helens branch on a warm Saturday morning looking for a car she wasn’t her normal optimistic self. “I knew it was going to be tough,” she said. “I love the people at Wauna, and they always do what they can, which is why I made the credit union my first choice.” Luckily Area Manager Lisa Clark was up for the challenge.

Cookie was a bit nervous to deal with a car dealer. Lisa put her in touch with Bill Scholten from Scholten Auto Sales. Lisa knew he would work with Cookie to find a car in her price range. After helping her qualify for a vehicle loan, Lisa went the extra mile, literally, driving her 25 miles to pick up the car, then helping Cookie get insurance, and making sure she had everything she needed.

“I worked in banking for years,” said Lisa “but now I work for a credit union, and it makes all the difference in the world. At a bank, we wouldn’t have given Cookie a second look based on numbers only. And I would have had to tell her we tried everything we could, even though I knew it wasn’t true. At Wauna, I’m allowed to look at the person, and figure out a way to make it work.”

“This was the way Business was done in the past and I thought I would never see again,” said Bill. “Lisa exemplifies the type of service Wauna offers, and is why we’re always glad to work with the credit union.”

Cookie, who has been a member of Wauna Credit Union ever since she returned to the area, loves all the different ways she can use the credit union. She’s especially a fan of managing her financials using WCU’s Virtual Branch in Astoria. “I call them Telephone Central,” said Cookie. “They’re always so cheery and willing to help.”

The Virtual Branch Consultants are always happy to hear from Cookie as well. “It’s always fun to hear her cheery voice when you say hello,” said VC Nichole Klopp. “We have tons of regulars, and Cookie is one of the people who is forever in a good mood.”

Lisa agrees. “Cookie’s been coming in regularly since she moved to town. She’s quick to laugh, and has even been promising to make us cookies.”

Whether she ever lives up to her nickname or not, Wauna Credit Union is always happy to have members like Cookie.

Reducing Seasonal Energy Costs

Brrrr! For many of us, winter means high energy bills, but sitting in the dark or turning off the heat are not your only options. Here are some ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and save money during the cold months:

Sealing

Cold air can get in around the sides of windows, doors, and vents. If you hold a piece of tissue near the inside frames on a windy day and it flutters, you should seal the window. Visit your local hardware store for weather-stripping. Talk to an employee or do research online about the right product.

Insulation

Insulating your attic can increase your home’s energy efficiency significantly, and it’s usually fairly easy. Consult with a professional or do some research at the Zip-Code Insulation Program, created by the Department of Energy.

Heating and Cooling Systems

Temperature systems account for about 56% of the energy in a typical U.S. home, so updating can save a lot. You can retrofit or replace your furnace or boiler, depending how long your system has to live and how much each option costs. New heating systems can achieve an efficiency of up to 97%.

Appliances and Electronics

Appliances account for 20% of energy use in a typical U.S. home. Old ones can be energy hogs. To find energy-efficient products, look for the Energy Star label.

Water Heaters

Insulating or increasing the insulation on your water heater tank and pipes can decrease heat loss and lower your energy bills for a fraction of the price of replacing your water heater. However, if your water heater is nearing the end of its life, it is probably a good idea to replace it.

Solar Panels

Solar panels typically have high upfront costs, though they can provide clean, free energy for years to come. Use the Solar Calculator to estimate the cost of installing panels.

Financing

Many cities and states have programs to help pay for green renovations. Contact Wauna Credit Union to find a low-interest loan. You may also qualify for tax benefits; visit the IRS’s website at www.irs.gov.

Energy usage and efficiency figures come from the Department of Energy. For more facts and tips, visit www.energysavers.gov.

New Finances for 2019

A lot of us start off the new year with resolutions to improve our financial well-being. Since Wauna Credit Union’s Mission statement is to provide opportunities for our members to improve their financial well-being, we thought we were well suited to help you achieve your resolutions.

Keep Your Savings Safe

For most of us our new year’s resolution boils down to having more money, while we can’t help you earn more money at work, we can help you earn more money on your savings. That’s why we’re excited to offer two new savings opportunities that pay a higher dividend than you’ll get elsewhere. The 9-month certificate has a 2.019% APY and the 13-month certificate has a 2.229% APY.

A lot of people are unsure about certificates, because they really haven’t been something that’s been top of mind, but certificates are really a great way to generate a little extra while keeping your money insured by the NCUA.

For example, if you deposited $50,000 into the 9-month certificate in January you’d have an extra 762 and change at the end of September without lifting a finger. If you chose the 13-month certificate you’d have an extra 1,220.92 at the end of its term.

Maybe just as important, is the money you put into a WCU certificate stays in the community. A lot of our members who are nearing, or in retirement, have certificates since they know the benefits. A lot of those certificates are held by the big national banks, which means your money is used to pay dividends to stock holders, or make loans to big national corporations who have nothing to do with the northwest.

Spend Less and Save More

Balance Transfer 2.99% 2X rewards

The other way we can help you is by helping you give less of your money away every month. That’s why we are so happy to bring back two programs, our balance transfer special kicks off on the second of January, and our cash back/no payment special starts mid-month.

The Balance transfer gives you a break on your credit cards. We’re giving people a great introductory rate on balance transfers to a WCU credit card. You get a rate of 2.99% if you transfer a credit card or loan balance to one of our Rewards Visa. To sweeten the pot, we’re also offering 2 rewards points for every $1 you transfer.*

The Rebate promotion frees up your monthly payment for a couple of months, and puts a little bit of cash back in your pocket. Simply refinance an existing loan from another institution with Wauna and you’ll get no payments for 60 days and 1% cashback, up to $500 as a thanks.^

Disclosures

Balance Transfer
*APR-Annual Percentage Rate. The special 2.99% Introductory Rate applies to qualifying balance transfers processed through April 30, 2019. The Introductory Rate will begin on the transaction date(s) during the promotion period, and remain in effect through the 6th billing cycle, at which time the account holder’s original Credit Card Account Agreement terms will apply. VISA Rewards accounts also earn two (2) Rewards Points for each $1 of the approved total balance transferred. Balance transfers from other accounts issued by Wauna Credit Union, or any amount of debt which would cause the account holder’s credit card balance to exceed their credit limit, are prohibited. 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 request is approved. This special promotional offer ends at close of business April 30, 2019. Complete promotion details available at waunafcu.org. Membership with Wauna Credit Union is required.

2019 Loan Rebate
^Special Promotional Terms: Upon loan approval, current and new Wauna CU members who refinance a loan currently financed elsewhere to Wauna Credit Union qualify to receive: 1. an immediate Cash Rebate equal to 1% of the approved loan value 2. 60-Days No Payments (interest will continue to accrue during the 60-day period); and, 3. Wauna CU will pay the vehicle title transfer fee up to $100 (member is responsible to pay any additional amount). Qualifying Loans: Auto, Truck, SUV, Van, Motor home, trailer, boat, watercraft, motorcycles, side-by-sides, quads, and unsecured loans such as home furnishings, tuition, personal loans, etc.). Minimum loan amount to qualify for special terms: $2,000; Maximum rebate allowed is $500 per qualifying loan. These special, promotional financing terms end at close of business April 30, 2019. Rates & financing are offered based on applicant’s credit worthiness and term of the loan. Note: the promotional cash rebate paid to a member may be forfeit if the loan balance is paid in full within 180-days of the loan funding date. Membership with Wauna CU required to be eligible for this special offer.

Rising Rates and You

What Does the Current Rate Environment Mean?

You may have seen news about the Federal Reserve (usually referred to as the Fed) raising rates. What they’re increasing is the Federal Fund Interest Rate. In fact, they’ve done it four times this year, and nine times since December of 2015. Increasing the rate from 0.25% to 2.50% over that timeframe. Prior to that, the Federal Fund Interest Rate, which is the rate banks charge other banks for overnight lending, hadn’t changed since 2009.

Man pointing at graph of rates increasing
The Federal Fund and Prime rates have been going up for the last year

The Fed used to change the rate all the time, depending on a ton of different factors. Even with recent blips in the stock market, the Fed sees the economy doing well. Increasing the Federal Fund rate is its way to keep inflation in check.

With all that being said, the Fed Fund Rate does impact the financial landscape in a multitude of ways. Most notably it effects the interest rate for loans, either directly or indirectly, and the interest rate on share accounts.

Loans

The Federal Funds Interest Rate does not itself effect the rate people pay on consumer rates, but it does have a direct impact on how the prime rate is calculated. Prime, is the rate that most often determines the benchmark for home equity lines of credit and adjustable rate credit cards.

Not all loans use the prime rate though. Adjustable rate mortgages use the COFI or Libor indexes. Many of WCU’s loans aren’t based on any of these indexes. Instead they are based on our calculations to get the best possible rate for our members. Those loans include our vehicle, personal, and mortgage loans. Even though these rates aren’t directly related to any indexes, they do tend to go up and down with other rates. That’s why it’s a good idea to refinance your mortgage if you took advantage of a low rate on an adjustable rate mortgage, usually 5/1 or 3/1 Arms.

Saving

Rising Federal Fund and prime rates aren’t necessarily bad for people. The higher loan rates often go hand-in-hand with higher rates on savings and investment products. At the credit union, we offer dividend on share accounts. As the cost to financial institutions to borrow money increases, it makes more sense for us to use our own deposits to back our lending activity, instead of borrowing from other institutions. The dividends for certificates and money market accounts, are both increasing, and we’re going to be offering special certificate rates for IRAs in January.

 

December Anniversaries

Our halls are decked, our tinsel is strung and everybody’s ready for the holidays. There’s one thing we have to do before that, celebrate our December anniversary participants.

If you want to be one of the people celebrating anniversaries next year, check out our careers page.  

Waunaversary Celebrants

Amy Grub – 6 years

What is your current position?
I am the MSM at the Scappoose Branch. My goal is to make sure our members are getting all their financial needs met in a timely and friendly manner. I love getting to know my members and learn about their goals and dreams and celebrating with them when they reach their goals!

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me what true teamwork looks like. I have never seen a group of people come together to support and encourage each other like the people at Wauna do. The leadership truly cares about the well being of their employees.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could choose one hobby it would be traveling! My goal is to take my son to all 50 states by the time he graduates high school! I love exploring and seeing new places!

Amy and son
Amy only has a picture of herself if somebody else is in it. Her favorite partner is her son

 

Ashley Erickson – 3 years

What is your current position?
I am an Accountant for Wauna CU. I make sure all of the bills are paid, help with monthly financial statements, and balance member’s financial transactions daily. I’m behind the scenes making sure everything is running smoothly and in balance.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me to believe in yourself and go after your dreams! We work for a wonderful organization that is constantly growing and educating their employees. If you want to work towards something new, they are going to support you and help you achieve that goal. Completing our career development program (CADET) this year has helped me grow and achieve some big aspirations.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I would love to own a vineyard and start making wine!

Ashley Hawaii
Ashley recently took some much deserved PTO to visit Hawaii with her boyfriend David

Rachael Eaton – 2 years

What is your current position?
I am an MC I in the Warrenton Branch. My job is to help my members with their financial well-being. Either through everyday transactions, answering questions, doing account research or loans to help them get what they need. This is important because I am one of the many faces that represent Wauna. My members trust and depend on me to help and guide them, because they know I’ve been listening to what they want to accomplish.

Rachael at the coast
Rachael is Oregon Coast through and though

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
What have I been taught? Multi-tasking struggle is real! I have to make lists ALL the time so I don’t miss anything. Most importantly I don’t want to miss reaching out to a member with follow up info as soon as I can.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I would love to snorkel! I love the water, and if I could id spend all my free time in it. My spirit animal is a shark.

Josh Rein– 2 years

What is your current position?
I’m the Digital Media Specialist at the credit union. If you’re looking at something on a screen either in the branch or on your computer or mobile device, there’s a good chance I had something to do with it.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at the credit union has taught me to jump in full bore. I have to do a lot of back-end coding as part of my job here, which is something I only had limited experience with before. It’s been fun to learn.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I’d like to take up photography. I take pictures sometime as part of my job, and would love to explore more, especially where nature and development intersect.

Leslie Ramey– 1 year

What is your current position?
I’m a Member Consultant in our Clatskanie branch. I’m the person our members deal with the most, and I help with all sorts of things, including loans, giving them information about the different ways we have to save money, and staying on top of their finances and cred.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Being at Wauna Credit Union has showed me how financial institutions should guide their members and teach them about finances. I can see the difference between banks and credit unions and I feel Wauna stands out in our mission. It’s not just a statement, I feel we implement it on a daily basis.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
It would be rock climbing!!! Like legit rock climbing where I’m hundreds of feet in the air. I have a bit of a wild streak.

We’re Everywhere You Are

At Wauna Credit Union we set ourselves apart by listening to our members, and by always taking the time to ensure we are helping them meet all their financial needs. Our members love that, but often think they have to leave that behind when they go on vacation or move. That’s not the case though. With technology and our partnership with other credit unions, everywhere you go, there’s a Wauna Credit Union just down the street.


While people may think of different credit unions as competitors, that’s really not the case. We work hand-in-hand with credit unions all over the country to ensure we deliver top-end service and technology no matter where our members are. That means that no matter if you are in New York City or Ames, Iowa, WCU members can go into a branch and be treated as a member, or use a CO-OP ATM (the second largest ATM network in the country) free of charge.

You’ll hear us at WCU talk about the Credit Union Advantage quite often. It’s what sets us, and all credit unions, apart from for-profit banks. We’re not based in New York or London trying to drive increased profits from shareholders, instead we’re local people focused on helping out specific regions (in our case), or dedicated to a particular group of people, for example a credit union that serves people that work for a single company, or professional field. More importantly, our profits are returned to our members.

The sad thing is because of the advertising budgets those big banks have, many people really don’t understand how credit unions are different. If you’re reading this and are a member of a credit union, thank you. If you’re not, please look into it. We hope you chose Wauna Credit Union, but as long as you chose a credit union that works for you, we’re happy.

November Anniversaries

The Christmas decorations are already up, but we’re not done being thankful. We have some great people who celebrated anniversaries in November we want to celebrate.

If you want to be one of the people celebrating next year, check out our careers page.  

Waunaversary Celebrants

Brianna Malcolm – 12 years
What is your current position?
I am a Virtual Teller Consultant. Whenever you call, I’m one of the happy voices I answer phones when you call any of the branches, or our customer service number. I also am one of the representatives you may see on one of our new Virtual Teller Units. They’re in Warrenton, Astoria, Clatskanie, and Long Beach right now, and coming soon everywhere else.

Brianna and daughter
Brianna loves that she can bring her family to WCU events

 

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
How to listen to what our members really telling us, not just the specific words they use. We were all trained in The Member Advantage (TMA). which teaches us to use AIDiNC to really listen.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
Going camping/riding with family at least once a month. This would involve traveling as far as I wanted or whenever I wanted exploring new places.

Jeremy Grover – 4 years

Jeremy was kind enough to sit down with us earlier in the month with his manager Chris to chat about their job at the credit union. Listen to their WaunaTalk episode at https://waunafcu.org/blog/waunatalk-with-chris-and-jeremy/

Jeremy and Robert
Jeremy joined CEO Robert Blumberg at the opening of our Long Beach Office

Mark Crandall – 3 years
What is your current position?
I work for our Mortgage Team. First and foremost I help people throughout Columbia and Washington County find the mortgage that’s right for them. I also work with vendors to help ensure we have the offer mortgage products and rates we can.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
It’s taught to me to look at the larger picture and listen to our members to understand their needs. I’ve worked at larger institutions and it’s all about

Mark and horse
Mark and his horse Joey

getting the details and sending it off. Now I’m listening more to their motivation, and matching it up to the products, and by having that complete product mix really opens the possibilities.

 

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
We recently bought a property in North Plains with a small barn for our horses on it. I’d really like to expand the barn, and open to other people to go riding, especially to to people who haven’t had the opportunity to experience riding.

Others

  • Teresa Wemmer
  • Alex Peck