Category Archives: Educational

Take Control of Your Money in 2018

A Credit Union Can Help You Become Financially Fit

Joining a gym, finally taking your dream vacation, or planning to spend more time with the family this year?  Why not make financial fitness one of your New Year’s Resolutions, too?  It’s do-able, and the first thing on your list should be to join a credit union.

Because credit unions are not-for-profit cooperatives, you’re a member—and an owner. Unlike for-profit financial institutions that must pay stockholders, credit unions return benefits back to you, the member. That means you pay lower fees, and get lower interest rates on your loans and credit cards.

Nearly two million Oregonians are member-owners of credit unions. Here’s how that helped their financial fitness last year: *

  • Collectively, their Beaver State credit unions delivered $180.5 million in direct benefits right back to them.
  • That’s an advantage of $107 that each member enjoyed because they banked with a credit union.
  • Every Main Street household with a credit union member, saw benefits of at least $203.
  • Consumers who got their new car loans from an Oregon credit union, are saving an average of $251 in interest during each year of a 60-month, $25,000 loan.
  • The interest rate that Oregon credit unions charge for credit cards, is as much as 5.4 percent lower than rates that profit-driven financial institutions are charging. That means Oregon’s credit union members spent $29 million less of their hard-earned money on credit card interest rates, than bank customers spent.
  • Credit unions cooperate. Most network their ATMS, meaning members have access to their money as they travel. They can use the ATM at almost any credit union, and they don’t have to pay those annoying fees!

*Source: Informa Research comparing not-for-profit and profit-driven financial institutions’ interest rates and fees in the 12 months ending June 30, 2017; National Credit Union Administration and Credit Union National Association.


Still not a member of USAgencies Credit Union? Join today!

Already a member, but know someone who could benefit from membership? Refer them to USAgencies and you’ll both be eligible for our Refer-a-Member drawing. 

Q&A with former USACU Board Member Brian McConnell

Brian McConnell took a few minutes out of his day to share about his experience as a member of the Board of Directors for USAgencies Credit Union…

 

Brian and familyWhy did you become a member of the Board of Directors at USAgencies Credit Union?

I was working as a civil engineer and recently completed my MBA in finance when I joined the Board.  I thought becoming a board member would give me an opportunity to continue learning about the financial industry as well as apply what I learned in business school, neither of which I was able to do in my day job.  I was right!  In addition, I felt that I could add a younger perspective than the other board members which would be helpful for attracting younger members to USACU.  Having board level experience on my resume so early in my career was a huge plus for me too.

 

How old were you when you joined the USACU Board?

27 years old

 

What skills (personal or professional) do you think you’ve gained from your experience on the Board?

I learned so much about the credit union movement and our place in the financial services industry.  Before my time on the board I didn’t properly appreciate how much credit unions do for their members.  Besides gaining knowledge about credit unions, I honed my skills at analyzing USACU’s financial statements, which has helped me professionally as I transitioned my career from engineering to finance.  More importantly however, I learned a lot from the other board members and USACU management.  They were all leaders in one way or another, so I tried to observe them as much as possible, especially early in my term on the Board, to learn different approaches to leadership.  When I joined the Board I didn’t have experience professionally operating at a strategic level which the Board must do.  It wasn’t for a few years after I joined the Board that I began interacting with executives more regularly in my career.  I credit my Board experience with increasing my comfort working with high level executives.

 

In your opinion, who should consider becoming a Board Member at USAgencies Credit Union?

In my opinion, nearly anyone would benefit from joining the USACU Board.  For instance, people that want to make a difference in the lives of USACU members truly can have a positive impact on our members as a board member.  People that want to learn about the financial industry will get an opportunity to do so on the Board.  People that want to try something outside of their career comfort zone or even think they may be interested in a career change into something related to the financial services industry could benefit from USACU Board experience.  If someone wants to gain more business acumen, the USACU Board is a great way to do it.  Those are just a few examples of who I think would benefit from the Board experience.

 

How long have you been a member at USAgencies, and what do you love about your credit union?

I’ve been a member at USACU for just over 10 years.  Unlike other financial institutions I have worked with, USACU is very approachable and accessible.  If you have a financial need or issue, you can pick up the phone or stop by the branch and talk with someone that can help.  I haven’t had that same experience at any other financial institution.  I am confident that they act with my best interest in mind.

 


USAgencies Credit Union currently has a couple of open Board positions. If you’re an enthusiastic USACU member, and interested in serving on the Board of your Credit Union, please contact us. We’d love to talk with you about it!

We are also looking to build a pool of future leaders through our Associate Volunteer Program.

Learn more about volunteering for USAgencies Credit Union’s Board of Directors.

 

Choosing the Right Health Insurance Plan

From our friends at GreenPath

Choosing the right health insurance plan is critical if you want to save money on your health care expenses. This is the first step for creating a healthcare budget that anticipates any cost you may have to cover down the road. Here are a few tips you can follow to help you choose the right health insurance plan for you and your family:

  1. Research the costs of the medical services you think you will use in the following year. Knowing the costs for the medical services you need will help you choose a plan that will cover most of those costs. It will also help you determine how much you need to save to cover the costs that will not be covered by your health insurance provider. Those funds can be deposited into a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account.
  2. Use your provider’s website to research individual and family plans. You can also visit healthcare.gov to research health insurance plans. Healthcare.gov provides a marketplace for you to compare different health insurance plans based on your specific needs.
  3. Ask these three questions to understand and compare health care plans:
  • What is the deductible for this plan? Your deductible is the amount of money you are required to spend before your health insurance will cover your health care expenses. Keep in mind that higher deductible plans typically have lower monthly premiums.
  • What are the co-payments or co-insurance amounts associated with this plan? Co-payments or co-insurance are what you pay for medical services after reaching your deductible.
  • What is the out-of-pocket maximum for this plan? The out-of-pocket maximum is the amount of money you have to spend on medical services before your health insurance provider pays for your covered services.

 

What to Do After Choosing the Right Health Insurance Plan

After choosing the most suitable health insurance plan for you and your family, it would be wise to look into opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). These types of accounts enable you to set aside pre-tax funds to save money for expected and unexpected health care expenses.  This means you can save these funds without paying tax on the money (which could result in a larger tax return for you).

You can use the amount of your deductible, co-payments or co-insurance, and/or out-of-pocket maximum to determine how much you should deposit into a health savings account or flexible spending account. Following these tips will help you feel confident in choosing the plan that’s most suitable for you and your family.


Health insurance can be an important way to keep your family—and your finances—healthy. USAgencies Credit Union offers our members access to affordable health insurance coverage via the TruStage Health Insurance Program and GoHealth. Learn more.

Holiday Shopping Checklist

From our friends at GreenPath.

The holidays are officially here!  And it won’t be long before families are exchanging presents.  Holidays and gifts can take a big bite out of your budget so a little planning can help keep everything under control.

It is important not to get caught up in the last-minute emotion of the season and spend more than you planned. Holiday overspending ruins many festive occasions and can result in long repayment schedules.

The following are suggestions to help relieve holiday budget stress:

  • Shop early for gifts. This allows you to take advantage of sales, specials and bargains. Don’t over buy or forget you have already shopped for someone.
  • Make your own gifts. Use skills you have to sew, bake, paint or make crafts.
  • Don’t be a “One gift for you…one gift for me” shopper! And don’t be tempted to give your gifts early lest you buy more!
  • Use layaway plans if possible. Most allow you to pay at a rate you can afford either weekly or monthly.
  • If you have a large family, consider drawing names to exchange gifts.
  • Shop your local craft fairs and shows for specialty items – you’ll find some great ideas. Sometimes you can bargain with the vendor.
  • Family members would appreciate an IOU to mow the loan or wash the car in the spring.
  • If you plan to fill stockings or bags for the children, try putting a few pieces of fruit (apples & oranges) in the bottom first. Also, coloring books and scratch pads make great inexpensive fillers.
  • Know your merchants’ return policies before buying.
  • Rack up Rewards points by purchasing all of your holiday gifts using your USAgencies’ Visa Platinum Rewards card. Earn 1 reward point for every $1 spent, plus, 5% of net income from the Visa Platinum is donated to local community giving initiatives! Points can be redeemed for merchandise, travel, and even a lower auto loan rate or higher CD rate. Talk about smart spending!

Don’t forget to plan ahead for expenses such as holiday decorations, baking supplies (especially if baking for gifts), increased utility bills, food and wrapping paper. These expenses are rarely considered and can really add up fast.

 


Need help staying on track with your holiday budget?  As a member of USAgencies Credit Union, you can take advantage of GreenPath Financial Wellness, a free financial education and counseling program.  GreenPath counselors are available Monday through Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (EST), Friday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. To use this new service, simply call 1-877-337-3399 or visit them on the web at greenpath.usacu.org.

 

 

Introducing… GreenPath

USAgencies is pleased to announce our newest member benefit – GreenPath Financial Wellness.

As a valued member of USAgencies, we are committed to serving you.  And as a benefit to you, we are providing you with free access to money management and financial education services.

USAgencies has teamed up with GreenPath to bring you GreenPath Financial Wellness, a financial education and counseling program.  Through comprehensive education and exceptional service, GreenPath has been assisting individuals for more than 50 years.

As a member of USAgencies, you can receive assistance from GreenPath with:

  • Personal and family budgeting
  • Understanding your personal credit report and how to improve your score
  • Personal money management
  • Debt repayment (fees may apply)
  • Avoiding bankruptcy, foreclosure, and repossession

GreenPath can give personalized answers to your individual needs.  For issues ranging from developing a proactive savings plan to preventing home foreclosure, advice is only a phone call or click away.

To learn more about this new service, simply call 1-877-337-3399 or visit USACU.org/education.

Become a SMART Reader

As you know, USAgencies has partnered with Enterprise Car Sales to help bring awareness to the SMART (Start Making a Reader Today) program with our Smart Savings Car Sale & funds drive. For all those who’ve purchased a vehicle, or donated funds, THANK YOU so much. For those of you who haven’t yet, there’s still time! Our Smart Savings Car Sale & funds drive runs through October 31st.

But perhaps you’re not in the market for a new vehicle, or funds are tight… We wanted to shed light on another way to help SMART (Start Making a Reader Today)– by volunteering! If you can’t give monetarily, you may want to consider giving some of your time by becoming a much-needed volunteer reader.

What: Volunteer one hour a week to read with children in our community!

  • Inspire a love of reading and books.
  • Read one-on-one with PreK – third-graders.
  • SMART students receive books for their home collection.
  • Training and support provided!

Where: An elementary school or Head Start program near you in the Portland Metro Area

When: Programs run during school hours—October 2017 – May 2018.

  • Time commitment varies—minimum one hour a week.

Interested in becoming a volunteer reader with SMART (Start Making a Reader Today)? Apply online at www.getsmartoregon.org/volunteer or call 971-634-1628.

5 Reasons to Start the Car Search at Your Credit Union

Before you set foot on the dealer lot, you’ll want to be informed about your options. Here are 5 reasons why starting the search at your CU is the better deal… 

Lower rates.
Maybe you’ve come across a dealership offering 0% financing on certain cars. Seems like that might be the best deal, right? If you check out the fine print, it’s usually not. Dealers often use this low rate to tempt buyers onto the lot, and into their financing office. Once you begin the purchase process, and start to fill out their paperwork, you may not qualify for that special 0% rate. Dealers count on those buyers that don’t qualify for the 0% to balance out any loss they might take, and their non-qualifying rates are usually substantially more than the 0% offer.

Better prices.
GAP (Guaranteed Asset Protection) insurance protects you against having to pay out your loan balance if your car is stolen or totaled. It’s a smart thing to add to your new car purchase, however you’ll want to be careful who you purchase it from. Some dealers require you to buy GAP insurance if you finance through them, and they can be much more expensive than what you’ll find at your Credit Union. The dealer is counting on you not to ask questions or to shop for a better deal. Compare USAgencies GAP product to the dealer’s, and you’ll find it’s a great deal. And we welcome your questions! Our mission is to Improve Each Member’s Financial Life. The more informed you are, the smarter a shopper you are, and the better a deal you’ll get.

Personalized service.
Members tend to have a much more personable experience at a credit union when compared to the financing department at the dealer. At your Credit Union, there are no high-pressure sales tactics- you can openly discuss any concerns you might have about your loan, talk about repayment options and review your personal financial goals with a professional that’s dedicated to your best interests. When you know your Credit Union offers quality loan products, fair pricing, and transparent lending policies, this can help alleviate some of the pressures of securing vehicle financing.

Educational resources.
Credit Unions have a ton of educational resources available to their members (usually for free) to help you make the best possible financial choices. From learning more about financing options, to calculating your monthly payment, to understanding additional insurance options—your Credit Union wants to do everything it can to help you make the best decision for your needs and goals. USAgencies Credit Union also has a whole host of financial education tools available to members online. From webinars, to articles, to interactive modules, USACU is here to help ensure you’re making an informed purchase. Feel free to browse our online resources anywhere, anytime.

Owned by YOU.
Unlike dealerships, or banks, which often create high-pressure sales goals and give bonuses for the loans they get approved, credit unions work for our members. We’re owned by our members, so we always have your best interests at heart. We aren’t trying to sell you products or services you don’t need, just to make a profit. We’re not-for-profit, so all profits made end up being returned to you in the form of lower rates, lower and fewer fees, and better savings rates. If you don’t like the pressure of working with lenders dealer financing company or bank, consider heading to your Credit Union first. We’ll steer you in the right direction.

 


Need one more great reason? Now through Oct. 31, you can save 1.00% on your auto loan rate during our Smart Savings Car Sale!

Questions about how to begin your search? Connect with us.