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.
That’s why providing free, easy to use, financial education is so important to us. Our partner BALANCE is offering absolutely free webinars on a different topic each month. The March webinar topic is one we get a lot, and that’s what makes up your credit report. Learn the ingredients that go into making the cake that is your credit score, and just as importantly, what you can do to get your score higher.
MARCH — SOLVING THE MYSTERY OF CREDIT REPORTS Credit reports and credit scores hold a lot of power—they can help you buy that first home or limit your financial opportunities. This session provides an overview of credit reporting agencies, credit scoring, disputing inaccuracies, improving credit scores, and dealing with identity theft and fraud.
APRIL — ON THE ROAD TO RICHES: THE BASICS OF SAVING AND INVESTING Investing is one of the smartest things consumers can do to secure a brighter financial future. Every investor has different goals, risk tolerance, and cash flow, which will impact savings and investment choices. Participants will learn about savings strategies and tactics, investment tools, and how to develop an investment portfolio that works with their lifestyle and budget.
Financial Education is a key part of our purpose and our mission as a credit union. The pandemic has made it hard to meet face-to-face, and sadly kept us out of the schools, we’re still here to help. From online webinars on Paycheck Protection Loans, registering a business, and developing a business marketing plan, we’ve kept busy helping our commercial members.
For our consumer members, we’ve teamed with our partner BALANCE to offer completely free webinars to help with a variety of financial topics.
If you need a little more help, BALANCE offers free and confidential assistance for whatever life throws at you. that covers a variety of subjects.
See something you’re interested in? Register for any of these webinars free of charge.
MAY — FINANCIAL FIRST AID A financial crisis can throw even the best money management plan into chaos. This session focuses on ways to gain control of a crisis. Participants will learn about financial assessments, expense prioritization, and effective negotiation with creditors.
JUNE — 30 WAYS TO TRIM YOUR BUDGET Stretching your budget is a necessary step to achieving your financial goals. Learn smart ways to save on the things that impact your finances most, such as food, health care, insurance, and more.
JULY — SAFEGUARDING KIDS’ IDENTITY AND ONLINE PRIVACY Today’s youth generation is tech-savvy and connected online. However, parents still play an important role in helping them avoid online hazards such as identity theft, privacy and cyberbullying. This workshop covers important issues including online privacy tips, managing computer settings, smartphone apps, and positive online behavior.
Only about five percent of adults received any kind of financial education in school. This is a very sobering statistic and may even somewhat explain why consumers’ credit card and student loan debt is so high.
If you want to equip your kids with the tools to be financially secure adults, a good place to start is with a savings and/or checking account at a credit union. Once they see money going in and coming out, it can drive home a lesson about money management.
Wondering if they can handle the responsibility? Read on…
Most kids can typically grasp the concept of a savings account early in their development. Here’s how to know if your children are ready to use one:
They’re curious about money If your child expresses a genuine interest in coins, shopping, or anything related to money, this can be a good segue into a savings lesson: financial institutions allow you to put money aside until you really need it.
Their piggy bank is overflowing If your kids have a lot of change in their piggy bank or saved elsewhere, watch out. It may disappear before your eyes! Make this an opportunity to teach them that if they save some of their money in an account, it can earn interest over time.
They have a savings goal If your children are saving up for something big, this is the perfect time to introduce a savings account. They can make a deposit into the account so that they will not be tempted to spend all of their cash.
Checking accounts tend to be suited better to older kids who have had more exposure to money. Here are some signs that your kids could benefit from a checking account:
They’re responsible No matter how responsible you are, it can be tempting to withdraw more cash than you should. You might wait to open an account with your children until they demonstrate responsibility in other areas such as getting a drivers license or maintaining a part-time job.
Their school doesn’t teach personal finance Most schools fail to teach basic concepts of personal finance, which means that it is up to you as a parent. A checking account can be a great way to reinforce lessons about not spending more than you have, using a debit card, and more.
All their cash is stuffed into their wallet The wallet-as-checking-account is dangerous for several reasons. Not only can cash easily get lost, it’s hard to track your purchases. By contrast, an account statement lets you view all of your spending and withdrawal activity, which can be a handy budgeting tool.
If you’re eager to introduce your children to the world of personal finance, a credit union account is a good place to start. Just watch for the signs, and start when your kids are ready. You can learn more and even earn prizes during this month’s Credit Union Youth Month celebration at Wauna Credit Union.
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.
In our newest episode Laura from our Operations team talks about some new approaches scammers are taking during the pandemic. After you listen to Laura’s podcast, take a trip down memory lane with all of the WaunaTalk episodes, which cover everything from buying a house to improving your credit.
*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.
As Credit Union Youth Month comes to a close, we thought it prudent to take a deeper dive into not only building the financial futures of your little ones, but also the importance of their mental health, especially during these trying times.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every corner of the globe and every corner of our lives. It’s changed the way we do things, in ways many of us would have never imagined and it’s not surprising that most of us are feeling stressed and anxious. But remember, too, that our kids are feeling the effects.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to help our youth cope during this stressful time. Children take their cues from the adults who care for them, so if you are displaying outward signs of stress and anxiety, it will be hard to calm your kids and soothe their fears. Dealing with your own anxiety can be powerful in ensuring your kids feel safe and secure.
Here are a few steps you can take to ease the anxiety of COVID-19 for you and your family.
Establish a routine. Kids need routine. As much as they like to push against it, they actually thrive when a regular schedule is in place. Whatever your new “normal” looks like, structure their day so it involves exercise, regular meals, and a healthy amount of sleep –especially for the teens in your household – as it will help regulate your family’s moods and worries.
Stay connected. To keep children from feeling alone, use technology to help them stay connected with friends and family. Let them talk with their friends on the phone. Schedule virtual playdates with their school mates and friends. Encourage them play games or eat together.
This holds true for the adults as well. Coordinate virtual meetups and dinner parties with business groups, friends, or family regularly. Social distancing is meant to keep us healthy, but don’t let it keep you away from social support networks.
Get the facts. Be smart about what you are reading. It’s easy to get pulled into looking at or clicking on every update as it is reported. Consider limiting the number of articles you read or for how long you read about the coronavirus each day. If consuming content about the pandemic causes you to become anxious, take a break. Staying informed is one thing but being overexposed is another.
Stay calm by focusing on mindfulness. Remind yourself that your family is doing its part to minimize the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask in public and at small gatherings, and keeping your hands and your home clean. While it’s sensible to prepare for the future, it’s even more important to make sure you’re dealing with things in the present moment.
If you find yourself getting carried away with the “what ifs,” try practicing mindfulness, which is a tool that will help your family stay grounded and calm in the present moment. Focus on the present. Be intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Sounds simple, but it takes work, especially when concerns about what the future holds feel so heavy.
Some mindfulness activities you can do with your kids include:
Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out, letting your belly deflate.
Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste, and look of your food. Don’t work or watch television while you eat. Focus on chewing your food and think about all of the effort it took to get that meal on your plate. Consider where food comes from vs. thinking food is an end product.
Squeeze Muscles: Start with your toes and pick one muscle group to squeeze. Count to five and release. Notice how your body changes. Repeat this exercise moving up your body.
Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders (and it will wander!), bring your attention back to your breath.
Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors.
Coloring: Find something to color and focus on the colors and designs.
Listening to Music: Focus on the lyrics of a song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.
As we continue to navigate these uncertain waters, remember that your financial well-being is one of our highest priorities. If you find yourself worrying over money, reach out to us right away for a complimentary account review. Stress can be contagious, and if we can help even a little by adding confidence in your financial situation, you’ll have added room to be there for your youth.
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.
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.
Identity theft – the idea instantly sparks anxiety. How much money will they get? How long will it take me to discover something is wrong? Will I be able to pay my bills? How long until I get my money back? While there’s never a guarantee, there are several steps you can take to prevent a bad actor from gaining access to your money.
Types of Identity Theft:
The first step in better protecting yourself is knowing the type of identity theft you are trying to prevent. Some fraudsters gain access to existing accounts to steal the money or credit you already have. This type of fraud is easier to notice, but causes more upheaval in your life. Others simply mine enough identifying information about you to open up accounts in your name and without your knowledge. The good news here is you aren’t likely to have your daily finances affected, but the fraud can go undetected for much longer. Often, this type of activity is not discovered until you are applying for a loan or mortgage.
Safeguarding Your Existing Information:
This is the most common way people see their finances compromised. There many steps you can take, but the important thing is to limit the number of ways your information is not within your control.
Shred documents with personal information before discarding. Better yet, sign up for paperless billing.
Don’t give out personal information or account numbers unless you know who you’re dealing with.
This is especially true online. Make sure you trust the site before you enter your information. We recently posted a blog about holiday shopping that discussed more ways to stay safe online.
Speaking of being online, make sure your passwords are secure. Here’s a guide on how to create a secure password.
Be mindful when using your cards that nobody is looking over your shoulder, and be on the lookout for skimmers. Read our post on how to recognize skimmers.
Safeguarding Your Identity
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It can seem overwhelming. Stealing information is a fraudster’s full-time job, but as the joke about outrunning a bear goes, the trick is to be more secure than others, so you’re not the easiest target.
Pay attention to when and where you give out personal information. Getting enough information to steal an identity is like putting together a puzzle – information is gathered piece-by-piece.
Create a fraud alert with the credit bureaus. This doesn’t keep new accounts from being opened. It requires lenders to verify your information before issuing new credit. The FTC has a good primer on how to set up a fraud alert here.
Consider signing up for a credit and information monitoring service. This isn’t a fail-safe, but if you want to be sure, it’s a good step.
If you have children, check their information as well. Every year thousands of kids have their identity stolen, and it can be years before anybody realizes it has happened.
Monitor your financial account statements and order history from online retailers. If you see something you don’t recognize, immediately look into it.
Pay attention to the news. If you hear about a breach make sure it’s not a place that might have your information.
Choose Your Partners Wisely:
This is something that often goes overlooked, but can be one of the most important ways to keep your identity safe. You should only trust your data with companies that value your information as much as you do. At WCU, for example, guarding your personal information is crucial to us. By using advanced fraud-monitoring technology, our committed staff closely monitors your accounts for suspicious or irregular activity.
If you regularly go into a branch, contact our Virtual Center, or even use our new Virtual Teller Units, we pay attention to who you are. So, it’s easier for us to notice when something seems off, or when we see activity on your accounts that is different from your normal spending behavior.
This isn’t necessarily what you want to hear, but even if you do everything right, your information might still be compromised. If that happens though, rest assured there are protections in place to ensure you aren’t left holding the bag. This infographic outlines your liability.
The thing to remember is that the faster you act, the less severe the impact is going to be.
File an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at identitytheft.gov (currently unavailable due to the government shutdown) or by phone at 1-877-438-4338.
File a police report. Most people think it won’t make a difference, but this is an essential step.
Contact your financial institutions and let them know what happened.
Criminals often change your address with the post office so they can get your new cards automatically sent to them. Keep your eyes out for a change of address card from the USPS, or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.
If you didn’t do it before, place that fraud alert.
Consider a credit freeze. This is a drastic step, as it prevents you from getting credit as well, but can stop the issue from snowballing.
This is a lot to take in, and it’s something we all wish we didn’t have to worry about. The more care taken in preventing identity theft, the less likely it is to happen. Remember, there are a number of fraud-preventative services WCU offers, and our committed staff is here for you should you have questions, need advice, or simply want to check in on your accounts.
So you’ve set a budget and on paper it looks fabulous. You’ve created different spending categories and what seem like reasonable limits. Yet, somehow it just doesn’t quite work month after month. Sound familiar? It’s frustrating, but there are fixes.
The first thing to do is double check that your budget is reasonable, given factors like income and goals. If everything looks set up for success, then ask yourself if any of the following habits are derailing your master-plan:
1. Impulse purchases
If you’re prone to buying items on a whim, this might be your culprit. Even if it’s a coffee a day or pack of gum every time you’re standing in line at the check out counter, those costs add up. It’s an even bigger problem if you can’t walk into a store without buying all the amazing things, whether you need them or not. The key thing to think on is want vs. need.
2. Blurring the line between needs and wants
All budgets are loosely based on allotting your spending between needs (mortgage, bills) and wants (entertainment, eating out). In theory, the division between the two categories is clear. However, in the moment, the line can get blurry.
For example, you might justify treating yourself to dinner at a restaurant because you had the worst day ever, even if the meal is going to exceed your “eating out” limits for the week or month. Remember, budgets don’t have to be a bummer. Allow yourself small adjustments here and there, but be sure everything adds up. If you spend more in one category, spend less in another. Easy peasy.
3. Not tracking your spending
Unless you can remember every single purchase you make throughout a budget cycle, review your spending regularly. If it’s hard to work this task into your normal routine, set a schedule for yourself, e.g. every three days, spend two minutes looking at your checking account activity. Super tip: setting reminders on your phone is an easy way to make this a recurring event. With our U-Banking platform, there are plenty of awesome savings tools you can start using today.
Whenever you see an expense you don’t remember or didn’t plan, make sure you add it to your total costs for the week, month, or whatever timeline you’ve set.
4. Failing to comparison shop
If you always take the first deal you find when shopping, you’re probably spending more than you have to. Next time, do a little comparison shopping to see if there’s a better offer. This is especially true if you’re buying online. With the intense competition between online retailers, it’s always worth your time to shop around for better prices.
5. You don’t automate your savings
Putting money into your savings account may be the most important part of your budget. However, if you transfer it manually, you may forget or avoid doing it because you’ve over-spent in other areas.
The solution? Set up recurring transfers from your checking to your savings account through U-Banking. Designate a day (preferably just after you get paid) and a predetermined amount, then let technology do the rest. That way, you’ll always hit your savings goals every month.
Budgeting doesn’t have to be a chore or something you frown over. With a few thoughts and easy steps, you’ll smile when you notice the extra bucks at the end of your timeline.
Join us for another great edition of WaunaTalk. Hannah Woodbury loves working at Wauna Credit Union so much she’s thinking of changing the pronunciation of her first name so she can be Hauna from Wauna.
Hannah talks about our involvement in the community, financial education, and most importantly, staying on top of your spending.
As your credit union, we want to help you make the most of your time and money during the holidays while keeping your financial information safe and secure. Smart shopping strategies can also keep your finances from going “into the red” on Black Friday.
This, the busiest shopping day of the year, signals the start of the holiday shopping season — and it promises to be robust. With low unemployment and increased consumer confidence, the National Retail Federation reports that Americans are expected to increase spending by 4.5 percent over last year, shelling out an average of $1,007 this holiday season.
Even if you don’t plan to spend thousands of those hard-earned dollars, the following tips will help you find the best bang for your buck, encourage safe shopping habits, and keep your finances going from black to red when shopping for deals and holiday steals.
Preparation is key:
Use a budget—and stick to it. Decide ahead of time how much you want to spend on your Black Friday shopping spree and do your best to resist impulse buying — especially if you’re not sure how good a specific deal is. Black Friday sales, including door-buster specials, are designed to get you into a store so that the retailer can sell you something else.
Make a list. The holidays are an exciting time, and it can be easy to get carried away. Making a list might keep you from buying something that’s beyond your budget.
Start early. You can no longer count on checking the ads in the Sunday paper to get the best deals. To judge how good a sale may be, you’ll need to track the deals leading up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, too.
Know before you go. Study the ads — in print and online — the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Use tech to comparison shop. You don’t have to go retailer-by-retailer to compare prices. Try Google Shopping and services like NexTag. Apps such as ShopSavvy and Shopkick let you scan bar codes or QR codes to compare prices, get discounts, and score coupons.
Check the retailers’ apps. Many Black Friday sites have their own apps but so do the big guys like Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. Amazon’s app, for example, lets you use a smartphone camera to scan products and price-shop online.
Use loyalty programs. Stores with loyalty programs may offer sales and promotions to their members first, then let them earn rewards on what they buy. Black Friday shopping alerts can get you first dibs on promotions, coupons, and discounts.
Get social. The Facebook pages and Twitter feeds of your favorite retailers are a great way to find out about deals and promotions. Retailers will often reward customers who like or follow them with special alerts to Black Friday discounts and incentives.
Check the store’s policies. Almost all of the major retailers have some form of price-match policy, but some stores might suspend their price-match guarantees during the Black Friday weekend on certain items, so read the fine print.
Other money-saving options:
Try an older model. When buying electronics, consider older versions that may have been the latest and greatest just a few months ago.
Track your spending. Review your account statements, pay bills regularly, and monitor your accounts through online banking.
Use your talents. Give a homemade gift of baked goods, mason jar mixes, or art. Homemade gifts can cost a fraction of a similar item from a store.
Use Credit Card Reward Programs. Consider a WCU VISA Rewards card and earn big, big points. You’re spending money regardless, so give yourself something in return and save $$ on a lower interest rate over the big banks.
Strategies to safeguard your credit and debit card purchases:
At the store…
At the cash register, protect your PIN by blocking the keypad from the view of cashiers or other customers.
Some non-metal keypads have heat sensors that are active for several minutes. Infrared cameras on smartphones can be used to obtain your PIN. We suggest resting your fingers on other keys as you enter your PIN. May seem silly, but better safe than sorry.
When shopping online…
Do not use public wireless networks for online purchases.
Shop on trusted sites with https:// in the URL. Be sure an icon with a lock appears to the left. The “s” stands for “secure” and indicates communication with a site that is encrypted.
Type the merchant’s address directly into your browser; avoid links.
Use complicated passwords with at least eight characters. Include numbers, special characters, and upper- and lower-case numbers.
Keep the operating system, antivirus, and security software updated on your computers and mobile devices.
Set yourself up for success:
Use our online account monitoring service through U-Banking and report any suspicious activity to us right away.
Keep a list of all card account numbers in a safe place, so you can report it immediately if they are lost or stolen.
We recommend that you don’t store your payment information on shopping sites or shopping apps.
Increase your account security by linking your debit card to a secondary account rather than your main account. Or, opt to use credit cards exclusively for purchases.
The gift of a brighter financial future
Give yourself the gift of a brighter financial future this holiday season. Take education classes or look for low interest loans to help you achieve your financial dreams in the coming year. Stop by a branch or visit us online for possibilities. With the safety and security of Wauna Credit Union at your back, this is sure to be a wonderful holiday season!