A Five-Step Spending Plan to Avoid Holiday Debt

The holidays can put a financial burden even on the savviest of shoppers and savers. But like most things, taking time to plan can help you avoid the stress that comes with overspending. Before you hit the mall , keep reading to learn how to make a holiday spending plan that works for you.

1.Set a budget

First, make sure you account for all of your typical expenses so that you don’t come up short on bills or things like rent. Next, think about what else you may be spending on in the coming months. Are you hosting a party at your home, or traveling to visit family or friends? If so, estimate what those things will cost you. Once you’ve subtracted any expenses from your usual budget, you can think about how much you have to spend on gifts. It’s best to start planning this as early as possible. That way you can look at how much you’ll earn between now and the holidays and calculate how much you can save to cover your holiday spending. Being realistic about your budget will help make sure you don’t overspend.

2.Make a list ( and check it twice! )

With all of the excitement of the holidays, it can be easy to get carried away. Make a list of the gifts you need and cross them off as you go. Check your list several times before you go shopping so that you don’t leave anything off. This is when a personal rule may come in handy.  You might set a personal rule for yourself, such as: If something isn’t on your list, don’t buy it. This can get difficult when you see sales and deals pop up—but spending on something you don’t really need can make it difficult to pay for the things you do.

3.Get creative

There may be ways to give a meaningful gift at a fraction of the cost as buying something from a store. This may not work for everyone on your list, but here are some low-cost suggestions :

  • Homemade mixes in a mason jar, such as hot chocolate, bean soup, or cookie mixes
  • You favorite recipes with photos in a custom picture book
  • Knit or crochet scarves, socks or gloves.

4.Decide how you are going to pay

Are you going to use cash or credit cards to pay for gifts? A helpful rule to set for yourself is to only bring the amount of money you plan to spend. That way you can help yourself stay within your budget because once you spend the money you brought, you’re done. On the other hand, using a credit card, like our VISA Platinum Rewards, can put money in your pocket by earning you points for your purchased.  If you do decide buy your holiday gifts with a credit card, make sure you have a specific plan to pay your credit card bill and have set aside enough in your budget to do so.

5.Track your holiday spending

Just like you wrote down your lists to keep track of what you need to buy, you could also keep track of what you’ve spent. Periodically check to see if you are on track and sticking to your budget. Did you spend more or less than you thought you would on certain items? If you don’t keep track of what you spent, you could end up with an unpleasant surprise if you exceed your budget.


Check out our Money Management tool for all your budgeting needs. Questions? Connect with us 503-275-0300 Option 4 or visit our branch on the corner of  1st and Taylor in Downtown Portland!

10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Fraud

Crooks use clever schemes to defraud millions of people every year. They often combine new technology with old tricks to get people to send money or give out personal information. Here are some practical tips to help you stay a step ahead.

Spot imposters. Scammers often pretend to be someone you trust, like a government officiala family membera charity, or a company you do business with. Don’t send money or give out personal information in response to an unexpected request — whether it comes as a text, a phone call, or an email. 

Do online searches. Type a company or product name into your favorite search engine with words like “review,” “complaint” or “scam.” Or search for a phrase that describes your situation, like “IRS call.” You can even search for phone numbers to see if other people have reported them as scams.

Don’t believe your caller ID. Technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real. If someone calls asking for money or personal information, hang up. If you think the caller might be telling the truth, call back to a number you know is genuine.

Don’t pay upfront for a promise. Someone might ask you to pay in advance for things like debt relief, credit and loan offers, mortgage assistance, or a job. They might even say you’ve won a prize, but first you have to pay taxes or fees. If you do, they will probably take the money and disappear.

Consider how you pay. Credit cards have significant fraud protection built in, but some payment methods don’t. Wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram is risky because it’s nearly impossible to get your money back. That’s also true for reloadable cards (like MoneyPak or Reloadit) and gift cards (like iTunes or Google Play). Government offices and honest companies won’t require you to use these payment methods.

Talk to someone.  Before you give up your money or personal information, reach out to your credit union, a friend, or a family member talk to someone you trust. Con artists want you to make decisions in a hurry. They might even threaten you. Slow down, check out the story, do an online search, consult an expert — or just tell a friend.

Hang up on robocalls. If you answer the phone and hear a recorded sales pitch, hang up and report it to the FTC. These calls are illegal, and often the products are bogus. Don’t press 1 to speak to a person or to be taken off the list. That could lead to more calls.

Be skeptical about free trial offers. Some companies use free trials to sign you up for products and bill you every month until you cancel. Before you agree to a free trial, research the company and read the cancellation policy. And always review your monthly statements for charges you don’t recognize.

Don’t deposit a check and wire money back. By law, banks must make funds from deposited checks available within days, but uncovering a fake check can take weeks. If a check you deposit turns out to be a fake, you’re responsible for repaying the bank.

Sign up for free scam alerts from the FTC at ftc.gov/scamsGet the latest tips and advice about scams sent right to your inbox.

If you spot a scam, report it at ftc.gov/complaint. Your reports help the FTC and other law enforcement investigate scams and bring crooks to justice.

From our friends at the Federal Trade Commission


Questions about how to protect your USAgencies accounts from fraud? Connect with us at 503-275-0300 Option 4, visit Account Security page, or head into our branch on the corner of 1st and Taylor in Downtown Portland. 

Celebrate National Family Literacy Month

Whether it’s your toddler mesmerized by the pictures and activities of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” or his Grandpa getting lost in the mysteries of a John Grisham novel, a love for books is timeless and shared across all generations. Nothing beats curling up with a good book and exploring the countless possibilities of worlds both real and imagined.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”- Emilie Buchwald

For many, the love for books starts at an early age in the stories our parents read to us. Providing your children with plentiful opportunities to listen to stories will help them learn to read and comprehend stories on their own. They also begin to think more actively as they listen to stories and picture the scenes described, wondering how the story will develop. When read to frequently, children can grow to love reading and will take the initiative to read more on their own.

National Family Literacy Day® is celebrated on November 1st each year and is a kickoff to National Family Literacy Month. This November, the awareness of National Family Literacy Month brings about a great opportunity for families to get back into the tradition of reading as a family.

Here are ways you can promote family literacy at home
Set aside time each day for reading.

Dedicate 30 – 60 minutes after dinner, or before bed, to read as a family. Take turns with who gets to pick the book, and read aloud as a family.

Keep books visible around the house.

Bring in bookshelves to easily store and make accessible all around the house, but keep organized as well. Hit up second hand stores for affordable books to build your family’s collection.

Make regular visits to the library.

Library memberships are free, and they often hold events and workshops for all ages to help promote reading. Head to the library on a rainy day with the family to get out of the house, but still get some reading in.

Read the book version of your child’s favorite movie.

Classics like The Wizard of Oz, Ramona Beezus and Matilda are all kid favorites when it comes to movies, but reading the books can help open a new world of imagination and new experiences.


Financial Literacy is also important. Check out our website where we offer numerous free tools for members of all ages through our friends at Greenpath. Questions? Connect with us at 503-275-0300 Option 4 or visit our branch on the corner of 1st and Taylor in Downtown Portland.

Guide to Fall in Portland

For most people, the ideal times to visit Portland are late spring and throughout the summer.  However, for those of us that live here,  we’d argue that there’s something simply magical about fall in Portland.  It’s certainly worthy of making the time to explore your city this October and November.  As the weather cools and settles into it’s typical fall pattern, Portland’s calendar fills up with a wonderful variety of cultural, wine, and holiday events worthy of your time.  Whether your ideal fall outing means time spent outdoors amidst the beautiful hues of fall, or whether you’d rather focus on fall events and activities around the area, there’s something for everyone in Portland this fall.

Hiking

Enjoy a little solitude on the Maple-Wildwood  Loop Hike in Forest Park

Take in the stunning colors at Hoyt Arboretum, in Washington Park.

View wildlife and migrating birds along the Oaks to Wetlands Trail at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

Take in the incredible beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, on the Hamilton Mountain Trail.  It’s a bit farther outside of Portland, but worth every second.  You’ll enjoy 3 waterfalls along the way, along with a beautiful grove of bright yellow maples.

Meander the 21 mile stretch of former railroad-turned multi-use Banks-Vernonia Trail. Each path is lined with deciduous trees, all reaching their peak of fall foliage.

There’s never a bad season when it comes to visiting Oregon’s stunning Multnomah Falls.

Events

Now is the perfect time to experience Portland’s gastronomical delights.  Coming up on November 9, 2019, is the annual Northwest Food & Wine Festival at the Oregon Convention Center.

Also on November 9th, will be Portland’s annual Portland Book Festival at the Portland Art Museum.  It’s the largest book festival in the Pacific Northwest, and a great chance to hear from over 100 authors, 90+ vendors, 14 writing workshops and more.

Portland is a great home base for adventuring through Oregon’s premiere wine country.  November is a wonderful time to experience Willamette Valley, as wineries open their cellars and tasting rooms for special events throughout Thanksgiving Weekend.


Questions? We would love to hear from you. Connect with us at 503-275-0300 Option 4, or stop into our branch on the corner of 1st and Taylor in Downtown Portland!

Celebrate Fall with Pumpkin Patches

The Pacific Northwest is a wonderful place to be during the fall, especially if you enjoy traditional outings like pumpkin patches, hayrides, and apple picking. There are lots of pumpkin patches in Oregon that are worth a visit if you’re a local or just visiting for vacation. Here are some of the best pumpkin patches to enjoy with your family this season.

The Original Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island

This is the original pumpkin patch of Portland, Oregon and a great one to visit every year. Beyond the abundance of pumpkins, this farm also grows several  types of fruit and vegetables all year. Some of the most popular things to do here include picking your own pumpkins, eating and drinking at the patio café and Pumpkin Perk, browsing the Pumpkin Cottage Gift Shop, taking a hayride, and going through the maze. There is no entrance fee to come to the pumpkin patch, so it is easy on the wallet and your monthly budget. For a small cost, pumpkin picking and hayrides are offered, and you can climb the giant hay maze and hay pyramid.

Bauman’s Farm and Garden

Located in Gervais and operating since 1985, this is a great place with more than 25 activities for kids all ALL ages ( and adults too ) like their corn maze, apple cannon, an apple sling shot,  a jumping pad, cider samples, a dark maze and more. They also have fun pedal carts, barnyard bridge, rope maze and a hayride. Plan to spend your day on the farm, for some fun! Admission on weekends starts at $8 ( children under 3 are free ), or get an unlimited wristband for $20.

Fir Point Farms

Head to Aurora for this six acre pumpkin patch that also includes a kids zone with bouncy houses, cow roping, nature trails and giant slides. Don’t forget to grab their must have fresh apple cider donuts to top your day off! They are also stocked with local fresh produce, fresh assorted breads, fresh pies, jams, honey and more.  Parking and admission are free, and all day wristband for activities are available for $15.

Bella Organic Farm

Search for your favorite pumpkin across acres of pumpkins, and then take a free hay ride, ride the cow train, go through a hay maze, enter the duck races and so much more! With a goal to promote responsible, organic and sustainable farming practices, you have access to a large variety of local produce for purchase. If you are into spooky fun, they also have a haunted corn maze on Friday and Saturday nights! Admission to the farm is free, and bracelets for activities are available starting at $14.

Oregon Heritage Farms

Founded in the early 80’s by a father and son duo, Oregon Heritage is now run by four generations. Head to the farm to pick out your pumpkin, and enjoy the viewing farm animals, apple tastings, apple cider slushies and plenty more! Entrance to the farm and several individual activities are free!

We hope you enjoy your time on these local pumpkin patches for endless seasonal fun!


Questions? Connect with us at 503-275-0300 option 4, or stop by our branch on the corner of 1st and Taylor in Downtown Portland. 

 

 

International Credit Union Day

Local Service. Global Reach.  

On October 17, 2019, we will join with 56,000 credit unions around the world in celebration of International Credit Union (ICU) Day®.We will have FREE treats in the lobby, and you can enter to win a prize – a McMenamins passport and $100 McMenamins gift card. From us – to you!*

There are 200+ million credit union members around the world—more than 100 million in the U.S. alone—and we join them in celebration of the not-for-profit cooperative spirit that all credit unions share.

This cooperative spirit has led to life-changing opportunities for people all over the world who’ve wanted to start a small business, own a home or continue their education but were denied access to other financial institutions. In many parts of the world, people’s first taste of democracy is through their credit union, where “one member, one vote” is the governing structure.

At its most basic level, a credit union is people pooling their money to provide each other with affordable loans—it is literally people helping people. This is why USAgencies Credit Union celebrates ICU Day. Because credit unions empower people, wherever they are in the world or life, to take control of their financial future.

Please stop by and celebrate with us here at USACU, a movement that concerns itself with the financial success of all people.


Stop by our branch on the corner of 1st and Taylor on the 17th! We will have FREE treats in the lobby, and you can enter to win a prize – a McMenamins passport and $100 McMenamins gift card. From us – to you! You can also enter by commenting on our daily ICU Trivia Posts on our Facebook between 10/14 – 10/17! We cannot wait to see you, and to celebrate TOGETHER!

*Check out official rules here https://bit.ly/336Ytx8

Money Management – Budget For a Brighter Future

Money Management is a tool in online banking that lets you view and track all transactions from USACU and external accounts — for FREE. You will be able to receive valuable insights and reports about your finances, ensuring you’re in control of your financial life.

ACCOUNTS — Gives you an overview of all your accounts. Not only will you be able to view your USACU accounts, you can also link and view accounts from external financial institutions. Data will automatically update every time you visit the Money Management feature in online or mobile banking.

TRANSACTIONS — Money Management gives you a quick overview of recent spending on all your accounts, and the ability to search or filter for specific transaction. Transactions will be automatically categorized for you.

SPENDING — The spending wheel helps you identify the biggest expenses but also dives into the smallest details, so you can spend smarter.

BUDGETS — Track your budget with color bubbles to help you understand the relative health of your budgets instantly. You can use sub-budgets to track specific spending and see the money you have leftover to put towards goals.

TRENDS — Track spending in each category over time and get you insights of your spending habits.

DEBTS — Prioritize your debts and pay it down faster so you can save the money you would otherwise spend on interest.

Know your accounts. See all your accounts, including those outside of USAgencies’.
Money management - accounts overview

Track your budget. Color bubbles help you understand the relative health of your budgets instantly.
Money management - Budget chart

Watch your spending. Every transaction is automatically categorized so you can spend smarter.
Money Management spending chart


Climb to new heights with USAgencies’ free financial management tool, Money Management. Visualize and interact with your money in the most epic ways. Log in to online banking get started with Money Management today! 

Questions? Connect with us at 503-275-0300 Option 4. You deserve a better banking experience. Get it here.

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