5 Online Resources for Autumn

Crisp breezes, breathtaking displays of fiery-colored foliage, pumpkin spice lattes — what’s not to love about autumn? To help make the season that much better, here are five online resources that can help you enjoy it to the max.

Fall Foliage Prediction Map (website)

If you’re planning a road trip this autumn or just wondering when the foliage around you will hit its peak, you need to check out this map. The foliage prediction map uses statistical models to predict when the foliage will be most striking in every county in the country. It’s all you need to enjoy the best of fall.

Corn Mazes America (website)

What better way to spend a cool fall afternoon than by getting lost inside an enormous corn maze? This incredible website has taken all the guesswork out of corn mazes with its massive database of corn mazes from all around the country. You can browse corn mazes by state or town, find one on a map and download directions for easy travel. Corn Maze America will help you find the maze you need for an epic autumn adventure.

KOA (iOS) (Android)

Get ready for the camping trip of a lifetime! With its wide selection of campsites, complete with search tools, directions to each location with built-in navigation and several filter options for each search, the KOA  (Kampgrounds of America) app will help you bring your fall camping trip to the next level. Many of the app’s features function offline as well, including campground information, search tools and driving directions, making the app the perfect accompaniment for a trip out into the deepest wilderness. The campgrounds await you!

BigOven (iOS) (Android)

The dwindling sunlight and falling temperatures of fall make it the perfect time of year to break out the mixing bowl and whip up some hearty homemade goodies. And if you need some tried-and-true recipes to make it happen, there’s an app for that! Download BigOven for access to more than a half-million recipes that will help you bring autumn into your kitchen. On the super-popular app, you’ll find the secret to making delectable pumpkin pie, butternut squash soup, mashed potatoes and gravy and so many other fall favorites. Don’t forget to check out the other fun features; like money-saving hacks for using up your leftovers, a grocery-shopping organizer and so much more.

LeafSnap (iOS) (Android)

Are you a genuine tree-hugger who always wants to learn more about the beautiful foliage around you? The info you need is just a download away! LeafSnap  is a free app that can identify 90% of all known species of plants and trees. Just snap a photo of a leaf and the app will identify the kind of tree it came from in seconds. Your nature walks will never be the same!

The Importance of Being Financially Fit

Are you ready to stretch those financial fitness muscles? We hope so, because it’s time to get financially fit!

Being financially fit means living a life of complete financial responsibility. The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI), also known as the Financial Health Network, defines four basic components of financial health: Spend, Save, Borrow and Plan. These components reference everyday financial activities. As such, every choice you make in terms of these four activities either builds or detracts from your financial fitness. Like physical fitness, you can beef up those fitness muscles a little bit more each day.

Being financially fit is crucial for a well-balanced, stress-free life. Here’s why (and how):

Expand your financial knowledge

A financially fit person is constantly broadening their money knowledge. They read personal finance books and blogs, attend financial education seminars and are aware of the evolving state of the economy. This enables them to make monetary decisions from a position of knowledge and power, leaving much less up to chance or luck.

Stick to a budget

A financially fit person knows that tracking monthly expenses is key to financial health. They are careful to set aside money from their monthly income for all fixed and discretionary expenses and to stay within budget for each spending category.

Minimize debt

A financially fit person is committed to paying down debts and seeks to live debt-free. Constant budgeting, ongoing financial education and planning ahead enables them to make it through the month, and through unexpected expenses, without spiraling into debt.

Maximize savings 

A financially fit person prioritizes savings. In fact, savings is a fixed item on their monthly budget instead of something that only happens if there’s money left over. This allows them to think ahead and build a comfortable nest egg or emergency fund. In turn, having a robust safety net means sleeping better at night knowing there’s money available to cover unexpected expenses or a change in life circumstances.

Maintain complete awareness of the state of your finances

A financially fit person knows exactly how much money they owe, the accumulated value of their assets and the complete sum of their fixed and fluctuating expenses. This awareness takes the stress out of money management, allowing them to make better financial choices.

Maintain a healthy credit score

A financially fit person knows that an excellent credit history and score is a crucial component to long-term financial health. They are careful to pay all bills on time, hold onto their credit cards for a while and to keep their credit utilization low. This enables them to qualify for long-term loans with favorable interest rates, which saves them money for years to come.

Help your money go further

A financially fit person does not waste large sums of money on interest charges for purchases made using borrowed funds via credit cards or loans. They live within their means and only use these resources for purchases they can actually afford, or for large, long-term assets, like a car or a house. This means they have more funds at their disposal to help build their wealth through savings and investments.

Create concrete financial goals

A financially fit person has long-term and short-term financial goals. This enables them to keep their focus on the big picture when making everyday money choices, empowering them to actually realize their financial dreams.

Achieve financial independence

A financially fit person is independent. They don’t rely on loans from friends or family members to get by, and they don’t need to pay with plastic at the end of the month because they ran out of money. Their well-padded emergency fund means they don’t depend on their monthly income to put bread on the table, either. By sticking to a budget, prioritizing savings and maintaining an awareness of their finances, they are strong, secure and completely independent.

Being financially fit means living a life without battling anxiety about getting through the month or stressing about the future. You can achieve financial fitness by committing to making choices in each of the four components of financial health (spend, save, borrow, plan) that are forward-thinking and help to build your financial wellness.


Are you looking for more financial tips? What if you could get paid to learn about finance? Well, now you can. USAgencies Credit Union has partnered with Zogo, an app where users earn money while they learn about money. Download the free app using code “USACU”, and earn while you learn about finance!

Connect with us today at 503-275-0300 or email info@usacu.org to learn more.

Can Halloween be Celebrated Safely This Year?

Q: With COVID-19 still disrupting all kinds of plans, I’m wondering about Halloween celebrations this year. Is there any way to safely celebrate Halloween in 2020?

A: How to safely celebrate this year is a question that’s frightening Halloween lovers all over the globe. Fortunately, the answer is not all that scary. With some flexibility and wise precautions, Halloween can still be a frightfully fun day for the entire family.

Here’s all you need to know about celebrating Halloween safely in the era of COVID-19.

Should I take my family trick-or-treating this year?

According to many medical health professionals, the answer depends largely on where you live.

“In an area where there’s still ongoing community spread and circumstances haven’t gotten to the point where things are opening up again, I don’t think trick-or-treating is a great idea,” says Dr. Sandra Kesh, an infectious disease specialist and the deputy medical director at New York’s Westmed Medical Group. “In areas where the community prevalence is lower, I think it’s OK to plan to trick-or-treat, but it’s going to be a different experience than it was last year.”

What safety precautions do I need to take when trick-or-treating?

If you plan on taking your kids trick-or-treating this year, or making the rounds yourself, here’s how you can keep safe from infection:

  • Stick with family: The risk of transmission grows exponentially when people spend extended time with members of another household. It’s best to keep your trick-or-treat group to family only this year.
  • Keep it small: If your child insists on trick-or-treating with neighbors or friends, keep the group as small as possible. Kesh recommends limiting groups to three or four members and, preferably, sticking with families that are also careful about social distancing.
  • Mask up: Halloween costumes make following this coronavirus precaution super-easy.
  • Keep face-to-face exposure to a minimum: If possible, trick-or-treat from a distance. Knock on doors and then retreat down the steps. The homeowner can toss you your treats instead of handing them over. The less close interaction you have with others, the lower your risk of infection.
  • Sanitize often: Keep some hand sanitizer with you at all times and soap up after touching germy surfaces, like doorknobs or communal treat baskets. It’s equally important for everyone to wash up once you get home, especially before digging into any treats.

How can I safely invite trick-or-treaters to my home?

The thought of hordes of kids traipsing through your doors and reaching grubby hands into a communal basket of candy might scare you, but that doesn’t mean you have to lock your doors on Halloween night and be the neighborhood party-pooper.

“The best thing you can do to reduce your risk is to limit your interaction with others as much as possible,” says Molly Hyde, an infection control practitioner. “If you are going to hand out candy in person, make sure you are wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth when giving out candy.”

If you’d like to be extra cautious, you can avoid face-to-face interaction with trick-or-treaters by setting up a bowl of candy outside and letting your visitors help themselves. Keep a bottle of sanitizer nearby, or a box of disposable gloves, with a helpful sign to remind kids to keep their germs to themselves. You can also choose to ditch the bowl and space individual treats out on your front porch with a sign instructing kids to take one.

At the end of the night, it’s best to disinfect doorknobs, doorbells, buzzers, outdoor railings and any other surfaces that might have been touched by dozens of trick-or-treaters.

Can I throw a Halloween party this year?

Crowded indoor parties are out, but with a bit of creativity, you can still celebrate Halloween with friends. Here’s how:

Choose an outdoor venue, such as a local park, and invite your friends to your Quarant-een bash.

Have everyone bring along their Halloween costumes, comfortable lawn chairs, hot autumn beverages and individual party bags, or packaged treats, in their trunks.

At the party, have everyone park so the trunk of every car is in full view. Set up the chairs at safe distances and let everyone show off their costumes.

Pop open the trunks for “trunk-or-treating,” corona-style!

Don’t let COVID-19 scare all the fun out of Halloween this year. With the proper precautions, you can spook the entire neighborhood this Halloween and still keep it safe.

Letter from the CEO: Together, we brave the storm

2020 created the “new normal” way we do things in our daily lives, including limited in-person interaction, social distancing, and getting used to virtual meetings. We understand visiting our branch is not always easy, especially during an unprecedented time like this, which is why we always look for ways to stay connected to our members. We recently implemented a text messaging system so our members can text us during business hours to take care of their banking needs, this is one extra layer of convenience we provide our members.

On top of the communication enhancement, me and the entire USAgencies team are doing everything we can to reduce the risk and stress for our members during these challenging times, including the assistance programs we created to provide support to our members. We are offering skip-a-pay and loan consolidation at no additional fees, as well as short term loans with a low interest rate. If you or anyone you know needs help with finances and going through the options available, please do not hesitate to connect with us, we are more than ready to help.

As you may be aware, we expanded our field of membership earlier this summer to individuals who live or work in any of these 4 Oregon counties: Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, and Marion. We are very excited for the opportunity to serve more people in our community; this opportunity would not have been possible without our members.

I would like to take this time to thank you for the trust you put in the credit union. No matter the situation, our members’ financial wellness is always our priority. I am confident that together, we will brave the storm.

Justin Olson, President/CEO, USACU
Justin Olson
President/CEO
USAgencies Credit Union

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