One of the complimentary benefits all our members receive is a comprehensive financial education program through our partner BALANCE. BALANCE offers free lessons and amazing personal budgeting tools to help our members improve their money management skills. It also provides housing counseling, assistance making a debt repayment plan, a credit report review, and a toll-free information line.
In April BALANCE is offering a webinar on using your home equity. This is a great opportunity for members looking to take advantage of their largest asset to improve their lives.
If you’re interested you can register for either of the two times below.
Wauna Credit Union is growing fast (if you want to join us check out our careers page). The main reason for that is the great service we provide our members. The reason for that great service is our amazing employees. In March, we have several long-time employees celebrating their anniversary.
Norm Dufton – 7 years
What is your current position? VP of Consumer Lending. That means I oversee the underwriting, indirect lending and consumer loans teams. It’s been great. I have a great team working for me.
What is your favorite WCU memory? My favorite WCU was meeting Rex Johnson who founded Lending Solution. Wauna Credit Union has partnered with LSI for years to make sure we’re meeting the needs of our members.
What is something you like to do when you’re not at work? I believe in keeping active outside of work. I’ve owned two Karate schools, and I really like fishing. My biggest catch, is a 55-inch Sturgeon I caught on the Columbia. He was delicious.
Although it comes around every spring, tax season tends to inflict the same headaches year after year. To reduce your stress — and maximize your refund — it’ll help to stay organized and be aware of recent changes to the tax code.
For additional motivation to get on track, keep in mind that the average refund has been about $3,000 in recent years. Even if you don’t expect to get that much back, there are plenty of ways to put a refund to good use. But first, you’ll have to file your returns properly, taking advantage of any deductions you might qualify for. Here’s a look at where to get started.
Compiling the necessary information
For starters, you’ll need your W-2 form listing earnings and tax withholdings, which employers typically send out in January or early February. Be sure to have your Social Security number or taxpayer identification number available, as well as those numbers for any dependents you’ll claim. You’ll also need documentation of any income they may have had.
Affordable Care Act penalty
The 2010 Affordable Care Act ushered in one of the most significant tax law changes in recent years. It stipulates that if you didn’t have health insurance for more than three months in 2015 and didn’t qualify for an exemption, you may face a penalty.
For tax year 2015, taxpayers who lack adequate insurance may be penalized at either 2% of a portion of their income or $325 per adult and $167.50 per child, to a maximum of $975 per family — whichever is higher. Those fees are set to increase in upcoming years, which means it’s a good idea to get insured as soon as possible.
Tax deductions reduce taxable income
Deductions reduce the amount of your income that you have to pay taxes on. Sit down and figure out whether the standard deduction or itemized deductions will work best for you. The former is a set amount that reduces your taxable income depending on your filing status; the latter lets you list qualified expenses separately, such as mortgage interest and local property taxes. If your itemized deductions add up to more than your standard deduction amount, go with that.
So what kinds of expenses can you deduct? Contributions to eligible organizations and interest on education loans are among the more well-known deductions you can take. Others, such as medical and home office expenses, aren’t as widely used for various reasons. Make sure to look into which of your expenses you can use to reduce your taxable income, which will probably increase your refund. Bear in mind that income limits and expense thresholds may limit these deductions or eliminate them entirely.
If you qualify to contribute to a traditional individual retirement account, or IRA, you may be able to shield up to $5,500 of income from taxes — plus $1,000 more if you’re 50 or over — by putting it in an IRA. You have until April 15 to make deductible contributions for the previous year. Withdrawals are subject to income tax, however.
Also, if you’re in a same-sex marriage, stay alert for further changes in the rules governing your tax status and other financial issues.
The bottom line
Completing your tax returns won’t be much fun, but it’s the first step in claiming a refund. Once you’ve filed your returns, you should expect to get what you’re due within three weeks — or in less than half that time if you ask for the money to be directly deposited to a savings or checking account. Just remember to compile all the essential paperwork before getting started, keeping an eye out for tax credits and changes to the tax code.
“Wauna Credit Union will be the financial institution that members choose first, use the most, and grow with throughout their lives.” Our vision means a lot to us. It’s how we plan for the future and make sure we are serving our members. It’s with that lens that our 50th birthday today means so much for us.
Fifty years-ago today on March 16, 1967, seven employees of the Crown Zellerbach Paper Company located at the Wauna Mill got together to form a financial corporative for mill employees. Crown Zellerbach eventually became Georgia Pacific, and the financial corporative eventually became Wauna Credit Union, a member-owned, local first financial corporative offering personal banking, business banking, credit cards, home loans, auto loans, personal loans and so much more to residents who live, work, or worship in Columbia County, Clatsop County, Western Washington County (Oregon) and Pacific County (Washington). What started out as seven members became over 23,000 members (and growing), and the first employee Eileen Cheuvront (who eventually became CEO) turned into 100 current employees, all of whom we are proud to call members, and part of the Wauna Credit Union family.
A blog about all our accomplishments isn’t really our style, and would never capture the contributions of our current and past employees, nor the ways our members and the community we serve have helped us become the organization we are.
We’re celebrating today with cupcakes in each of our branches, and would love it if you could stop by and join us. It’s no small feat, but what we’re really excited about is not the last 50 years, but the next 50 (and hopefully beyond). We’re constantly looking for ways to improve our services both in person and making sure we offer the most up-to-date online services to keep meeting member needs for years and years to come.
During the last quarter of 2016, Wauna Credit Union staff raised more than $2500 for Clatsop Community Action. Depending on the year, we have changed charities quarterly or annually. Staff nominates and vote on each organization we support. It is part of the Credit Union culture to support our communities through volunteering and donations, and it carries down from the very top to our front line staff. One of the reasons many of us have chosen to work for a financial cooperative is the philosophy of “people helping people” and our desire to make a positive difference in the communities around us and the world.
For part of 2016, Wauna Credit Union raised money for Clatsop Community
Action (CCA). Clatsop Community Action is an incredible organization in Clatsop County that helps fund the food bank, they offer energy assistance for people when money is tight, whether it be a seasonal layoff, sudden unemployment, or just not earning enough. They help low income workers get needed items, offer training programs, and even find housing for those without any. They do so much in the community, it is impossible to imagine Clatsop County without them!
It was with great pride and deep gratitude, that we presented Clatsop Community Action’s tireless director Elaine Bruce with a check for $2,543.20, and more than 50 pounds of personal care items for those who need them. It is great knowing all of these funds will be used to help people in Clatsop County.
The tourism economy, which is a major part of Clatsop County’s business, can be a volatile way to live for those who work within it, much like fishing, it is seasonal. Tourism industry work consists of many low paying jobs – food service, retail, and hotel housekeeping, these jobs typically pay minimum wage with few, if any, benefits. It can be hard to make ends meet. Luckily, CCA is here to help people when ends don’t meet, when the off season lasts just too long, or when bad luck has knocked good people off their feet. CCA is also mostly volunteer run.
The money goes towards CCA clients who have no money for critical items such as diapers, toothbrushes, bus passes, replacing lost identifications needed for job searches and other emergency services that are not served due to limits placed on grant funds do not allow. Many families have children and are living in their cars or a shelter with little or no money to live on.
Our fundraising is done through a variety of methods, some employees allow for an automatic deduction from each paycheck to go to the charity fund year-round. We also do “Jeans Days” on paydays, in which every employee wearing jeans puts $5 into the fund. Another fundraiser is “Spirit Days”, when on non-payday Fridays staff is encouraged to wear various themed attire, in December every Friday had a special theme, including wearing elf or Santa hats, wearing Silver and Gold, or jerseys of a favorite team. When members see staff dressed down in this clothing or in jeans, they can rest assured, our staff is being philanthropic!
Other ways we raise money for our charities are staff raffles, silent auctions, and with the candy we sell at the teller windows. All of the money raised from the candy sales go right to our charity fund. Occasionally, we enter members and staff into raffles for sporting event tickets or weekends at the beach if they donate a certain amount into our charity fund.
Thank you CCA for all that you do in our community, and for all the people you work so hard to help!
Every quarter Wauna Credit Union celebrates one employee who exemplifies our mission to “Provide opportunities for our members to build their financial well-being,” and our vision to be “the financial institution that members choose first, use the most, and grow with throughout their lives.” For January through March that person is Jon Rimer.
Jon has been at WCU for almost a year, serving as the Maintenance Supervisor after a long career at the Kern County California Roads Engineering Department. Along with his team, Jon makes sure that all eight of Wauna CU’s branches are running smoothly. In addition to managing the day-to-day oversight of all of our branches, training center and company cars, Jon also serves as a foreman when things need to be built. He calls the remodel of the flagship Clatskanie branch as his favorite project at the credit union; although at times the demanding work made it the most challenging thing he’s tackled at the credit union as well. Jon points out the people as the best thing about working for Wauna Credit Union, and looks forward to helping people every day.
When not at work Jon enjoys spending time with his family either watching Los Angeles Dodgers games, perhaps that’s why his favorite color is blue, reading Hemming’s Motor News, or watching movies like The Way.
Whatever he’s doing, Jon has more than earned his favorite food, a rib-eye steak. Thanks again for all your hard work Jon from all your teammates at WCU.
Working at Wauna Credit Union is a great experience. Everybody who works here really believes in the benefits of credit unions, that means we have a family environment where everybody cares about each other and cares about doing the best job we can. WCU has seven branches now serving Clatsop County, Columbia County, Western Washington County in Oregon, and Pacific County in Washington. That growth is a direct testament to the members first attitude from our employees – who are members themselves – it makes us incredibly proud.
One of the things that WCU believes in is rewarding good work. There are always opportunities to learn new skills, and grow your career. With the credit union’s growth and true commitment to our employees’ careers we now have several job openings that we are actively looking to fill.
All of our jobs are listed on the Wauna Credit Union Careers Page https://waunafcu.org/about/careers.shtml. We are looking for people who thrive on helping others, who care about our members, our community, our environment and each other. People who work at Wauna Credit Union:
Embrace the philosophy of People Helping People
Serve their community
Like working in a FUN environment
Take Member satisfaction seriously
Believe that integrity matters
Want to belong to a thriving organization with a lot of gumption
If you, or somebody you know, fits the bill and is looking for a career doing any of the following apply today.
Lending Support Specialist – Clatskanie
Lending Support Specialist – Astoria
Member Consultant – Peak Hour – Astoria
Member Consultant, Peak Hour (20 per week) – Warrenton
One of the things that makes Wauna Credit Union special is our Mission to provide opportunities for our members to build their financial well-being. If you live, work, attend school or worship in Clatsop County, Columbia County, Western Washington County, or Pacific County Washington, we want to help you realize your financial goals. Sometimes, that is very hands by providing personal loans, mortgages or credit cards to help you grow. We pride ourselves on is our commitment to helping provide financial education to all our members. Sometimes this takes the form of our credit enhancement program, where we sit down with a member whose credit isn’t quite where they want it to be, and go over their credit report and help them make a plan to improve it. But financial education isn’t only us telling members what they need to do, one of the features we offer is BALANCE, which offers a ton of ways for members to take control of their finances.
What is BALANCE
BALANCE offers amazing personal budgeting tools to help our members improve their money management skills. Some of the things it offers are housing counseling, assistance making a debt repayment plan, a credit report review, and a toll-free information line, all free to Wauna Credit Union members. BALANCE also offers educational modules on a variety of subjects related to money, saving and spending goals. Read the modules or listen to many of them on podcasts and improve your relationship with money forever.
MoneyDesktop and MoneyMobile
MoneyDesktop is available directly from Online Banking. It gives members an easy and secure way to track finances and budget. You can add any account you want, whether it’s with us, or somebody else to get a full view of how you spend your money. Members can also download the free MoneyMobile app and take all of that information with you wherever you go.MoneyDesktop & MoneyMobile allow members to visualizes their spending as well. They both are great ways to offer help you take control of your finances.
We really hope that members can take advantage of these great free programs Wauna CU offers.
Wauna Credit Union is growing fast (if you want to join us check out our careers page). The main reason for that is the great service we provide our members. The reason for that great service is our amazing employees. We caught up with a few who are having their anniversary this month.
Paige Tischer What is your current position? I am a Real Estate Loan Officer in the Astoria Branch. My job is to help our members with their real estate needs such as, buying their first home, refinancing, home equity line of credit to fund updates to their home!
What is your favorite WCU memory? I’ve been at Wauna for 5 years now, so I have so many great memories. One of my favorites was recently when a member told me “you have no idea how happy you just made son helping him purchase his first home.”
What is something you like to do when you’re not at work? I love cooking! I make a delish chicken pasta with home-made pesto sauce.
Christina Sickler What is your current position? I am a member consultant 2 in the Scappoose Branch. My job is to assist members in opening and closing accounts, taking consumer loan applications, counseling members on how to build and maintain or build a good credit score. I also get to help out on the teller line still when we’re extra busy to make sure no member has to wait.
What is your favorite WCU memory? One year for Halloween the whole Scappoose branch decided to all dress up as Wizard of Oz characters. Amy Grubb, Amanda Leader, and myself dressed up as the Lollipop guild and Shayla Frahm was Glinda the good witch! The expressions on members’ faces when they came in was great!
What is something you like to do when you’re not at work? My family is super important to me. I love to spend as much time as possible with them. My grandma and I like to have regular shopping and lunch dates.
Kira Zavortink What is your current position? I am a MC I in the Warrenton branch, I get to assist members with their finances on a daily basis, as well as resolve any issues they might have. As a Member Consultant I also am continuing to expand my knowledge, to better assist our members and identify opportunities for their financial growth.
What is your favorite WCU memory? Recently I was able to take a $10,000.00 personal loan application and complete the entire process (with a little help), including getting the loan approved and funded for our member.
What is something you like to do when you’re not at work? I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two dogs, Max, a 7-year-old German Shepherd/Husky mix and Cricket, a 6-month-old Corgi puppy.
Wauna Credit Union owns several small businesses that offer additional useful services to our members. These kinds of businesses are called CUSOs, or Credit Union Service Organizations. You can learn more about CUSOs here.
One of our CUSOs is Auto Answers, which assists people in finding quality used cars. The service goes so far as to finds the car, take care of all the paperwork and deliver it to the member’s door! It’s most vital service is the expertise of Auto Answers chief car buyer, our VP of Consumer Lending and a full-fledged Black Belt, Norm Dufton.
The Wonderful World of Wauna caught up with Norm to learn more about Auto Answers, and find out how it serves Wauna CU members and the public.
Would you explain what Auto Answers is? Auto Answers is a Credit Union Service Organization. It’s a dealership, and its wholly owned by Wauna Credit Union. We are just a bit different than a traditional used car dealership. We normally carry 1 to 3 cars, normally newer lower mile cars. We also broker, or negotiate on your behalf for a $495 fee (no fee on Auto Answers owned cars). I have a network of dealers I work with to get a good price on some new and used cars.
What makes you such an expert on pre-owned cars? How do you find quality used cars? What do you look for? I have been an auto dealer and credit union advocate for more than 10 years. I frequently go to auctions both in person and online. This keeps me current on market conditions.
When a dealer goes to auction there are 3 categories of cars – Green light: Cars that can be bought subject to a wholesale frame and major mechanical inspection. Red light: Bought as is. And once in a while, Yellow light: With a frame-only inspection.
I buy green light cars with very few exceptions. Then, I know if they have had a major accident, and that the motor and transmission are solid. The car may still have maintenance due or dings or paint touch up, but nothing major.
I also buy 1-year-old rental cars. These usually have less than 40k miles, and often have some warranty left. Almost every care I buy is pre-inspected. There are too many cars sold with issues.
Nowadays, many shoppers go to Craigslist and look for the cheapest cars. These are often red light cars that don’t get all the love they need prior to selling, and end up being a bad buy.
What can a person expect if they buy an Auto Answers car? If someone buys one of our cars, it is safe, dependable and a good value. I don’t mind paying a premium for a good car, and I won’t sell a car I wouldn’t put family in.
Mostly I buy cars $10k and above. The reason is so it will last a long time and have the proper maintenance done. In over 10 years, I have only had 1 car come back with issues and it was a cheap under $5k car with high miles.
How does financing work with auto answers cars? We love to finance cars and sell extra service contracts. You can pay cash, or we even had a car sold that was financed at another financial institution.
What advice can you give someone looking for a quality used car at a reasonable price, no matter where they shop? Shopping for a used car is tough. Don’t look for the best deal, look for the best car. Run a CarFax, it will spot many accidents, but not all. Deal with new car stores, as they normally buy cream of the crop used cars.
If you buy private party have the car inspected by a shop. If you buy at an independent, pay for a new car store to inspect it. I have almost all cars inspected and I do this often. Buy in Oregon, our Attorney General is pro-consumer.