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 annualcreditreport.com 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.

June 2019 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). Today we’re celebrating four employees who are celebrating celebrated anniversaries in May?

Jeannie Mustola – 3 years
What is your current position?
I’m a Member Consultant III in the Clatskanie branch. I help members with all different types of transactions, from applying for a truck loan to setting up a reoccurring transfer to their deposit accounts. I also recently became a Level III Underwriter. That means I get to look for ways to say yes to approving consumer, vehicle, and other personal loans.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Over the last 3 years I have learned so much about how to help people through service tailored to each individual. My relationships with members have grown stronger than ever as a result of being myself while focusing on what is important to them.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I just bought a new house, so my new hobby is doing DIY projects to fix it up and make it my own. You can find so many helpful tutorials on YouTube.

Hugo Potts – 2 years
What is your current position?
I’m a Lending Support Specialist. I look at all the consumer loan applications, as well as all the vehicle loans that come in from the area dealerships, and ensure they are sound financially. At Wauna, we look for ways to say yes to every single loan, but we do need to make sure we stay a financially fit organization. I also audit the consumer and mortgage file to make sure we have all the documentation we need. My job is important because I help facilitate the loan process in all aspects of the credit union, and help our members realize their financial dreams.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me so much about life in general. I feel more confident in all aspects of financial lending, and have gained so much knowledge that will serve me for years to come.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I had to pick a new hobby it would have to be hiking. There is so much beautiful scenery in Oregon and Washington, and it’s great to see as much of it as possible.

Katelynn and Hugo

Alejandra Bermudez – 2 years
What is your current position?
I am an MC at the Astoria Safeway branch. I am one of the first person you see once you enter the branch, I help members with their financial needs and concerns.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at WCU has taught me that when we say “we are family” we truly are and mean it. I have also been taught that there are always learning and promotion opportunities.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
A new hobby I would choose would be to learn to play the piano. I have wanted to learn to play the piano sense I was young and it would be a good bonding moment with my siblings if they are interested as well.

 

 

Autumn Crawford
What is your current position?
I work as an Operations Intern out of Clatskanie three days a week, and the other two days I am an IT intern in Westport.  What both of my jobs have in common is I make sure things run smoothly behind the scenes so that our members have the best experience with our company as possible.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Something that working at Wauna Credit Union has taught me is building credit doesn’t have to be difficult if you stay on top of things. Building credit is a very important thing and it doesn’t have to be scary to young people.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could choose one new hobby it would be paddle boarding, I hope I get to more this summer. I found it really fun to go out with my family on a warm day last summer to enjoy the sun and water.

 

Member Spotlight: Anthony Krueger

Anthony Krueger’s photography is treasured art here in Columbia County. Many of Anthony’s photographs are of the local landmarks we all know and love: the Columbia River, the Astoria-Megler Bridge, the truss bridge spanning the Nehalem River. His 26 years as a member of our community truly shines through in his work.

In those 26 years, Anthony has built a family, tenured his art, and grown his career at the Wauna Mill. The best part of Anthony’s career? Flexibility to spend time with his children. “My family comes first before anything,” he says.

Like so many of us, Anthony also loves the outdoors. His UTV, pictured below, was financed right here at Wauna Credit Union. You too can enjoy the outdoors with a toy of your own. Now, through the end of July, Wauna Credit Union is offering special financing for motor homes, travel trailers, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, and water craft. Get started today and receive a gift card of up to $250* with rates starting as low as 4.75% APR*.

Like so many of us, Anthony also loves the outdoors. His UTV, pictured below, was financed right here at Wauna Credit Union. You too can enjoy the outdoors with a toy of your own. Now, through the end of July, Wauna Credit Union is offering special financing for motor homes, travel trailers, boats, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, and water craft. Get started today and receive a gift card of up to $250* with rates starting as low as 4.75% APR*.

Anthony’s breathtaking art truly illustrates a deep respect for the place we call home, and Wauna Credit Union is honored to feature his talent.

*APR: Annual Percentage Rate. Promotional financing terms offered through July 31, 2019, and available for New and Used Purchase loans, and qualifying loans Refinanced from elsewhere to Wauna CU. Qualifying loan types include motor home, travel trailer, boat, motorcycle, ATV, and watercraft. Special terms are subject to change without notice. The loan range to qualify for the promotional terms is $2,000 to $49,999. Approved loans qualify for 60-Days No Payments (interest will continue to accrue during the 60-Days period) plus a VISA Gift Card based on the loan amount: $50 (loan $2,000-$4,999), $100 (loan $5,000-$14,999), $150 ($15,000-$24,999), and $250 (loan $25,000-$49,999). Rates & terms offered based on applicant’s credit worthiness and term of loan. RV-Toy Loan rates start at 4.75% APR for up to 48-months; other rates and terms are also available. Membership with Wauna CU required.

May 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). May I introduce you to the employees who celebrated anniversaries in May?

Debi Smiley – 31 years
As Chief Marketing Officer, I oversee and direct the marketing efforts and facility design of WCU. My responsibilities include planning, developing, implementing and monitoring the overall business marketing strategy. Some of the duties include market research, pricing, product marketing, marketing communications, advertising and public relations. I also participate as a member of the Leadership Team.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
I have enjoyed the opportunity to innovate and provide services and products to the members of the communities we serve and be the financial partner choice that can help them achieve their dreams. The lesson that I take away from my 31 years of service is that making a difference in people lives is very important toDebi on ATV me. WCU has provided me with the channel to help people and make a positive difference. This has come in many forms such as counseling, volunteerism, providing tools to friends and co-employees that helps them achieve their goals. All of these are so rewarding and fulfilling.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
My new hobby would be sports related in some fashion. One thought would to be to coach a team or lead an exercise class. It would involve fun, motivation, physical challenge and lead to improved health.

Laura Wells – 7 years
My position is Accountant. A lot of what I do is make sure yesterday’s activity from our members and employees balances and makes sense today. There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes to make sure the credit union is financially sound, and all the transactions happened as they should. I balance our ATMs and ITMs, debit and credit card activity, as well as all of the checks that get deposited in the branches. Our members may not really think about us in Accounting-land, but I love being able to help them behind the scenes.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me about teamwork and communication. We all have a common goal and everybody is important to successfully keeping the credit union running and our members happy, but we have to work together to achieve those goals! Laura in front of waterfallIf you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
I think it would be fun to pick up travel writing. If I had all the time and money in the world, my new hobby would be to just travel around the world meeting people, eating food, and writing about my experiences. I’m headed to London in June, which will be country #23 for me.

Jennifer Clark – 3 years
What is your current position?
I’m a real estate loan officer based out of the St. Helens branch. My job is to assist members with financing their “forever home” or tapping into the equity in their current home to meet their financial goals.Jen at her desk

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
That taking initiative is essential. There is always room for improvement; work that could be completed more efficiently.  I look at the processes that I use throughout my day and enjoy coming up with ways to improve them. The fact that my Wauna family has given me great support, well, it’s meant a lot.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I had to choose just one new hobby it would have to be geocaching. It’s a grown-up scavenger hunt!

Devyn Osborne – 2 years
I started as an MC in our Astoria branch. I really enjoyed all of the knowledge I obtained. It was great to get experience all the way from handling large amounts of cash to processing loans and more. I also had the opportunity to work in the Safeway Branch as well as the Warrenton Branch a handful of times, which was great training for my current role as a Virtual Consultant. I have always really enjoyed working with members and it’s a great feeling that I can be the smile on the other side of the phone. It was definitely a process learning how to give the members the same experience without being directly in front of them.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
I have obviously learned a lot about finances and lending as well as how the Devyninternal side of Wauna works. Since I’ve been at the Virtual Branch, I’ve learned a lot more about what happens behind the scenes to make sure everything runs smoothly. I have also had much more opportunity to help our members get loans, for cars, recreation vehicles, or even to help go on the trip they’ve always dreamed. The other thing working at the credit union has taught me is to never let one person’s bad day cause you to have a bad day. Sometimes I can cheer somebody up by keeping a positive attitude, but even if I can’t, I want to be sure that the next person I talk to is getting me at my absolute best.

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.

Others

  • Loren Ames – 10 Years

What does a fraudulent email look like?

There’s spam, phishing, skimming, advanced fee, 419 Fraud, redemption fraud, and so much more. It can seem overwhelming to stay on top of. Wauna Credit Union does a lot behind the scenes to help make our financial platforms as secure as possible with technology like VISA 3-D Secure, and two-factor authentication, as well as continual staff education and awareness. We’ve provided tips on how to help keep your information, and your money, safe, but we’re always looking for new opportunities to help.

Recently we were alerted to a series of threatening emails one of our members received claiming to be from WCU. Luckily the member contacted a branch before providing information. We want to provide you a glimpse at what one of these scams actually looks like.

As you can see, the scammer did everything they could to get the member to make a quick decision. The top thing you can do when faced with any request for information, is to contact the credit union, either by calling our Virtual Branch at 1-800-773-3236, contacting us via our online chat or by visiting the nearest branch. If there’s an issue with your account, the person you contact will know about it, and be able to help.

scam email to member
A series of emails a member recently received

What to Look For

  • Non-standard from addresses; Anything that comes from the credit union will come from waunafcu.org. You can see this email actually comes from a Gmail account. Sometimes scammers will get tricky and try to spoof company’s names, for example waumafcu.org or waunafuc.org. Other times the company name is correct, but the actual domain, that’s the part after the @ symbol, is misleading, for example waunafcu.creditunion.org.
  • Threats; The scammer in this example relied heavily on the fear of going to jail. Wauna Credit Union will never threaten you. Our job is to help you, especially if you’ve fallen behind in your payments. In general, most reputable companies will always be respectful of you as a person, and threats of jail time are completely unfounded.
  • Overly long and changing subject lines; Scammers don’t want you thinking about what they say, and that includes doing everything to get you to avoid opening the email.
  • Grammar and punctuation errors; This series of emails is full of them. From not capitalizing the ‘c’ in Wauna Credit Union, to improper verb and noun agreement and simple misspellings, you can tell that our member was one of 100 the scammer was trying to fool.
  • Rushing you into action; Some of these emails came a minute or two after the previous one. The scammer claimed an initial payment must be made within days. All these actions were done to keep the member from evaluating what was actually happening.

Hopefully, seeing one of these scams in action will help you better recognize one if it comes your way.

April Anniversaries

No foolin’ Wauna Credit Union has some great employees celebrating anniversaries in April.

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

Waunaversary Celebrants

Hannah Woodbury – 1 year

What is your current position?
I am an MC at the Saint Helens branch. I am on the front line and able to assist members with any basic transactions, helping them get loans, or even answering some financial questions and helping learn all the features in our new online and app banking platform U-Banking. Now that I’ve been at the credit union for a year, I’m also getting the opportunity to work with my colleagues to update the way we do some things to help our members.

Hannah and her dog
Hannah named her dog Rebeus after her love of Sailor Moon

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Learning to teach other people how to build their financial well-being, teaches you a lot about your own finances too! I spend a lot of time using the tools the credit union provides everybody – if you haven’t checked out Money Management within U-Banking give it a shot, and understanding the little things that cause your credit to go up and down has made me a resource for many of my friends and family that may have questions on finances.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I could pick any hobby it would be archery, cause girls that shoot arrows are cool… I would also choose to travel all over the world with my friends and family, and maybe a few solo trips as an adventure.

Hannah also sat down to record an episode of WaunaTalk. Give it a listen.

Others

  • McKenzie Wilson
  • Heather Dixson

  • Marci Szlavich
  • Ashleigh Sibley
  • Charles Dennis

How Do I Get a Mortgage

Do you want to buy a home, or maybe fix up the one you have, but have questions about getting a mortgage? Luckily, two of the best loan officer in Clatsop County are hear to answer your question.

Paige Tischer and Heather Dixson sat down with WaunaTalk recently. Both Paige and Heather have worked with our members for years. They talk through the steps it takes to get a mortgage, and the types of loans the credit union offers. Also, Paige and Heather chat about how a credit union is different than a bank or broker.

If you’re looking to purchase or refinance learn more on our Mortgage page. Wauna Credit Union offers primary, investment, vacation, and bare land loans. We also let you use the equity in your home to get a HELOC.

Whatever mortgage you need Wauna Credit Union has the solution for you. Our friendly RELOs, Mark, Jen, Paige, and Heather are here to answer any question you have.

Tell them Veyda sent you.

Veyda the Mortgage Dog
Veyda the Mortgage Dog takes a break after helping our members get their home loan

 

If you want to listen to past episodes of WaunaTalk check out this page. Employees discuss credit, working at the credit union, an even what makes a credit union special. If you have suggestions for future editions let us know.

A New and Improved WaunaTalk

Do you love Wauna Credit Union’s award-winning* financial education podcast WaunaTalk. Are you tired of going to YouTube to listen to it? Have no fear, WaunaTalk is now available in audio only format. In addition, you can download WaunaTalk from your favorite podcast directory, including Apple Podcasts, Sticher, Spotify, TuneIn, and Google Podcasts.

Please take a trip down memory lane with all of the WaunaTalk episodes. There are even new chats with Real Estate Loan Officers Heather Dixson and Paige Tisher. Paige and Heather answer common questions about getting a mortgage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*2018 recepient of the I think it’s very good what you’re doing award. Given by the author’s mom, and not representative of actual podcast awards.

March Anniversaries

Whether you march to the beat of your own drum, or march in step, everybody can appreciate the Wauna Credit Union employees who are celebrating an anniversary in March.

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

Waunaversary Celebrants

Norm Dufton– 9 years

What is your current position?
I am the VP of Consumer Loans. I oversee underwriting, indirect lending and administrate mortgage support. I get to assist in developing underwriters, help the branches with sales techniques and do some data reporting. I develop loan products and with ALCO on loan pricing.

I have had this position for the last 9 years, though have had some parts added and done some things to help WCU grow. At one time WCU had a dealer’s license and I oversaw the operation. At one point I did my current job and oversaw the call center. We got loans started and I handed it over.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
While working at WCU I have learned much about our area and our members. Being born and raised in urban environments, I have come to appreciate the small town feel here. It has been mind expanding to learn about logging and fishing and how close knit the communities are.Norm chess. Not a link

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I were to choose one hobby it would be to play poker. It is a lot like underwriting and sales as you have to measure odds and sell your opponents on why to call or fold, depending on what you have or don’t have. I’ve played in a few tournaments and done well, and had a blast.

Sarah Bilyeu – 2 years

What is your current position?
I’m a Virtual Teller, working upstairs in the Astoria branch. I assist members on the ITMs, where I get to talk to people from all over our footprint, face-to-face. I also respond to member requests through online chat, email, and phones. However you want to contact us, we’re here to help.Sarah and Family

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Something that working here has taught me is the benefits in learning how to finally stabilize myself financially. In turn I can now happily help members with all their options they have in order to help them be financially successful.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
A hobby that I would love to try is scuba diving! 😊 I love the water, and being able to see what is below the surface would be so much fun.

Nik Nurkowski – 2 years

What is your current position?
My current position is a Virtual Consultant within the Virtual Branch of Wauna Credit Union. My cohorts and I are charged with service our membership though the various technical services Wauna provides. This is important as we provide customer support with questions and complications that can arise while they peruse our online services, conduct transactions with BillPay or POPMoney, and utilize our fabulous new ITM’s. Our job requires the use of well over a dozen different programs that allow us to access the multi-faceted array of services we offer to our members and assist with their myriad needs Picture of Nik. Not a link.with precision and care.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Wauna has taught me much about finance and credit, important aspects of modern life in this world. However, I never expected it to teach me so much about interpersonal relationships. The shear variety of people I’ve worked with has forced me to learn very quick how to find common ground and blend with folks of radically different backgrounds and beliefs. I used to be a very socially awkward, introverted person, this was quelled for my last job, but my employment here (particularly my training with TMA) has taught me how to better interface with my fellow man. Especially when I share differing beliefs or opinions then the people in question, which was something I had lacking experience with remarkably enough.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
It’s not a new hobby, but if I had endless time and finances available; I would pursue hiking/exploring in more extreme or esoteric locales. I enjoy my local woodlands immensely, but a chance to explore the deep, truly arcane, forests of Washington and Oregon would be amazing. To take that exploration to similar places across the world would be even better.

Michael Swanson – 1 year

What is your current position?
I am a Lending Support Specialist. My main role in the lending department is to process and fund auto loans and HELOCs. I really enjoy working in this team because I am able to advocate for our membership and make improvements to our lending processes to make the borrowing experience easier for everyone!

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
In my first year with Wauna, I have learned so much about how car dealerships and auto financing work. This knowledge definitely makes the car buying process less intimidating!

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
My favorite hobby is playing electronic music. If time and money were not an issue, I’d buy a lot more synthesizers and play a lot more shows.

Kirsten Thompson – 1 year

What is your current position?
I am a Member Consultant in the Warrenton branch. Many people don’t know that we are so much more than tellers. We do credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, we help people understand credit and how important it is to establish.

What is something that working at WCU has taught you?
Working at Wauna has taught me how to build and work on my own credit. When I first started here, I knew my credit wasn’t the best but I didn’t know the core factors on how to “fix” or build it. I have learned so much in this short period of time with Wauna and have since then been able to really understand what builds your score and what hurts it.

If you could choose one new hobby what would it be?
If I had more time on my hands, I would definitely pick up traveling as a hobby. I love seeing new places but have never been out of the country, I mean hey even traveling around the states, or even more places in Oregon would be good with me. I definitely haven’t explored my home state enough!

Others

  • David Merrell
  • Janice Hanes
  • Nichole Klopp
  • Amanda Wehrley-Hazen
  • Christina Eaton
  • Darla Wickre