Category Archives: Educational

Car Buying Tips

Buying a new car doesn’t need to be like a game show. No choosing the right door and winning your prize – a deal on a good car! We are here to help make the car buying experience easy by outlining a few simple steps you should consider when buying a car.

Set your budget –  Decide how much you want to spend, what your monthly payment should be, and how you will finance your purchase. Don’t forget to get insurance quotes as well and include that in your numbers.

Get Pre-Approved by your Credit Union– Getting pre-approved by your credit union before sealing the deal. It takes the hassle out of guessing what you can and cannot afford, and takes out a lot of the guesswork and uncertainty. Plus, your Loan Officer will look over the purchase order prior to funding to ensure you are getting the best deal, and aren’t paying for unnecessary fees.

Choose the right car – Narrow the fields and choose the model that best serves your needs. Think about all the ways you plan to use the car, will it accommodate your family, and keep them safe.

Check reliability and ownership costs – Choose a reliable car that you can afford to own. Look into average repair costs and make sure it will fit into your budget.

Test-drive the car – Test-drive your top choices to see which car is right for you. Find a route that has a bit of everything such as hills, rough pavement, and curves to make sure it performs to your expectations.

Find the right price – Use price guides,  to see what other people are paying for the car you like. Make sure you accurately input all the options you want because in some cases all the little factors can affect the cars price.

Negotiate – When negotiating in person it can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Just go slowly, and make sure you are understand the numbers. Ask for a breakdown of the car, and any additional fees before you agree to a deal. And don’t be afraid to walk away if you can’t come to an agreement, or don’t like the way you are being treated.

Maximize trade-in value – Find out the value of your car, and get the most out of it when trading it in. Compare the numbers you find and the numbers the dealers are giving you, and try and find a fair price.


In the market for a new car? Don’t miss out on our Enterprise Fall Car Sale going on now! Connect with one of our Loan Specialists today to get pre-approved by calling 503.275-0300 Option 2, applying online, or stopping in today!

 

Reasons to Make Home Improvements

Have you been asking yourself, “To renovate, or not to renovate?”, lately? We don’t mean quick weekend projects like painting a few walls or staining the deck. We are talking about renovating entire bathrooms and kitchens, or getting a new roof. Committing to those types of renovations are major decisions, and involve a lot of time, money, mess and often times stress, which is why it can be a tough decision making the commitment.

Which is why we have put together a few reasons to potentially help you decide if the time is now.

Reasons to make home improvements

Functionality : Something may not be broken, but, you know it could function a lot better. A more open layout might help with space for your growing family.  A deck would really add better backyard space. Even a third bathroom will make life that much easier for the household.

Efficiency: These improvements on our homes sometimes can’t be seen, but are necessary. Things like new windows, to a new furnace, or some plumbing upgrades. In the long run these improvements will end up saving you money, help conserve energy and help with the value of your home.

Safety: If there are any safety issues in or outside your home, it needs to be addressed. Whether its the roof,  mold or electrical, these are the types of projects that cannot be put off. They need to be repaired not only for the integrity  of your home, but also for the safety of your family.

So whether you are about to get that new roof, or replace your windows, with a some planning, home renovations do not have to be a major inconvenience and stressor. Do your homework, and plan financially, and before you know it you will see the projects unfold before your eyes and it will be exciting, and worth it all.


Looking for your next inspiration? Don’t miss the Portland Fall Home Show at the Portland Expo Center Oct. 4 -7. Connect with our Loan Specialists to talk about your financing options for your next project with our 24-hour Lending Center by calling 503-275-0300 Option 2.

5 Work From Home Scams

From our friends at CUinsight.com

As the gig economy grows, the promises of making it big by working from home also multiply.

Many people are already on high alert when searching jobs on Craigslist, but online job scammers have gotten more sophisticated, and some may still slip past your radar.

According to FlexJobs’ annual Super Survey, 82% of job seekers are worried they will fall for a job scam. Thirteen percent have been a victim and 22% say they know someone who has been a victim of a job scam.

Besides heeding the old adage that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, FlexJobs suggests job seekers consider the following questions when reviewing potential opportunities:

  • Does the job listing include the hiring company’s name and/or does the recruiter or job posting match the company’s information?
  • Are there any upfront costs required to get the job? (including supplies, a minimum investment or training fees)
  • Are there any typos on the site or in any correspondence?
  • Are you being asked to provide personal information like a social security number, credit card number, bank information or driver’s license?
  • Did they offer a job on the spot without conducting an interview?

If the answer is yes to any of the above, experts say that’s a red flag, and the “dream opportunity” might become a nightmare. Scammers can be very creative in convincing you a position or company is legitimate, so do your research. Check with sites like the BetterBusinessBureau.com, FTC.com, FlexJobs.com or scam.com to learn of the latest employment scams.

Here are FlexJobs’ 5 most common work-from-home scams.

Career advancement grant: This scam claims to come from the government, promising you a grant to pursue education or certification. Scammers ask for your account information with the promise that they will deposit the bogus grant money directly into your account.

Data entry scams: There are legitimate data entry jobs that allow you to work from home, but the scammers ask for money up front and/or promise wages that are much higher than normal.

Pyramid schemes: If the only way to make money is by others losing money or paying you as they recruit others, it’s probably a scam … and, pyramid schemes are also illegal, so you could be charged with a crime.

Online reshipping: Don’t ever repack items and forward them to customers outside the United States. What you’re doing is transporting stolen goods, and not only will you never get paid, you could be charged with a crime.

Rebate processor: This scam promises you a salary based on the number of clicks your ad receives. It charges a training fee up front for which you will never be reimbursed, and you’ll never receive that salary, either


USAgencies Credit Union is committed to keeping you and your family safe, financially and beyond. Questions about your products and services? Connect with us today!

Have questions about this article or want to check out the original post? Find it HERE.

Veterans Who Received Disability Severance Owed Refunds

USAgencies Credit Union is the only Oregon credit union open to all Oregon Veterans, and we want to ensure all eligible veterans receive this important information regarding available tax refunds brought to you by our friends at the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

 

The Internal Revenue Service is advising certain Veterans who received disability severance payments after Jan. 17, 1991, and included that payment as income, that they should file Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to claim a credit or refund of the over payment attributable to the disability severance payment.

This is a result of the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act passed in 2016.

Most Veterans who received a one-time lump-sum disability severance payment when they separated from their military service will receive a letter from the Department of Defense with information explaining how to claim tax refunds they are entitled to; the letters include an explanation of a simplified method for making the claim. The IRS has worked closely with the DoD to produce these letters, explaining how Veterans should claim the related tax refunds.

Statute of Limitations

The amount of time for claiming these tax refunds is limited. However, the law grants Veterans an alternative timeframe – one year from the date of the letter from DoD. Veterans making these claims have the normal limitations period for claiming a refund or one year from the date of their letter from the DoD, whichever expires later. As taxpayers can usually only claim tax refunds within 3 years from the due date of the return, this alternative time frame is especially important since some of the claims may be for refunds of taxes paid as far back as 1991.

Amount to Claim

Veterans can submit a claim based on the actual amount of their disability severance payment by completing Form 1040X, carefully following the instructions. However, there is a simplified method. Veterans can choose instead to claim a standard refund amount based on the calendar year (an individual’s tax year) in which they received the severance payment. Write “Disability Severance Payment” on line 15 of Form 1040X and enter on lines 15 and 22 the standard refund amount listed below that applies:

  • $1,750 for tax years 1991 – 2005
  • $2,400 for tax years 2006 – 2010
  • $3,200 for tax years 2011 – 2016

Claiming the standard refund amount is the easiest way for Veterans to claim a refund, because they do not need to access the original tax return from the year of their lump-sum disability severance payment.

Special Instructions
All Veterans claiming refunds for over payments attributable to their lump-sum disability severance payments should write either “Veteran Disability Severance” or “St. Clair Claim” across the top of the front page of the Form 1040X that they file. Because all amended returns are filed on paper, Veterans should mail their completed Form 1040X, with a copy of the DoD letter, to:

Internal Revenue Service

333 W. Pershing Street, Stop 6503, P5

Kansas City, MO  64108

Veterans eligible for a refund who did not receive a letter from DoD may still file Form 1040X to claim a refund but must include both of the following to verify the disability severance payment:

  • A copy of documentation showing the exact amount of and reason for the disability severance payment, such as a letter from the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) explaining the severance payment at the time of the payment or a Form DD-214, and
  • A copy of either the VA determination letter confirming the Veteran’s disability or a determination that the Veteran’s injury or sickness was either incurred as a direct result of armed conflict, while in extra-hazardous service, or in simulated war exercises, or was caused by an instrumentality of war.

Veterans who did not receive the DoD letter and who do not have the required documentation showing the exact amount of and reason for their disability severance payment will need to obtain the necessary proof by contacting the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS).


For additional information, or to read the original article head over to the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs page HERE. Questions about USAgencies Credit Union? Contact us at 503.275.0300 Option 3 or stop in today!

Save the Date : New Website, Online and Mobile Banking coming 08.21

In our efforts to bring you the best possible online and mobile banking experience, we are upgrading our Website, Online and Mobile Banking solutions. The new system will be available August 21, 2018 for an even better banking experience!

Here are a few of the new features and enhancements:

  • The New Online Banking system will feature innovative solutions. This includes tools that allow you to track your spending habits, set a budget, create goals and more.
  • The New Mobile Banking will feature Fingerprint ID login on mobile devices, Bill Pay and more.
  • Customization of your new Online Banking will allow you to hide, show, and sort accounts any way you want, giving you full control of how you want to view your accounts within the new Online Banking system.
  • Text Message Banking is coming and it will allow you to get quick account information via any mobile device.
  • Live Chat will now be available during business hours giving you more ways to get in touch with us! Our live chat feature is available in both Online and Mobile Banking.

What steps should you take now to get prepared for the upgrade?

  • You will need to register for the new system, so make sure you know your member number.
  • Make sure that we have your current contact information. This includes your address, phone number and email. We want to make sure you do not miss any important reminders or notifications we will be sending out in the coming weeks leading up to the launch!
  • Bill Pay access will be unavailable from 08.17 to 08.20. Your scheduled bill payments and transfers will continue as usual during this. Be sure to make any necessary changes prior to 08.17.

Want to stay updated? Bookmark our Save the Date webpage as we will update the information periodically to keep you informed. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions!

Get Your Child Ahead and Prepare for College Life

Although it’s only mid-summer, and school may be the farthest thing from a college bound student’s mind, it’s time to get a jump on making sure your young adult is set up for financial success.

Making sure your child has access to their funds is the key. For some students, this may be their first time with their own credit union account, others may be old pros. Whatever the case may be, getting them set up with membership at USAgencies will ensure they have many ways to access the funds they need. With free Checking Accounts that come with debit cards, and access to our easy-to-use mobile app, Shared Branching and the thousands of surcharge free ATMs across the country, they will be able to connect to their money whenever and wherever they want. One feature parents especially enjoy – account-to-account transfers inside Online Banking. You can even setup to have some of your Direct Deposit go into their account each pay period to ensure they have what they need on a regular basis. You can keep track of all their expenses and balance through our free Online Banking, giving you and your student peace of mind.


Ready to get your child a FREE checking account?  We are here to help! Connect with us at 503.275.0300 Option 3 to speak with Member Services Representative or come in to see us at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204.

July is CULAC Month!

In Collaboration with our friends at the Northwest Credit Union Association.

July is here, and that means credit unions across the country are putting their Credit Union Legislative Action Council ( CULAC ) fundraising efforts into overdrive for CULAC Month. July is an important awareness month and helps build fundraising momentum. CULAC is the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) political action committee.

Raising funds for CULAC is essential, as the Credit Union Movement thrives when legislators understand the credit union difference. With constant threats to credit unions’ tax-exempt status and ever increasing regulatory burdens, it’s critical that we elect U. S. Senators and Representatives who support credit unions’ not-for-profit, cooperative, members-first mission.

Here at USAgencies Credit Union, we wanted to bring you information about CULAC to you, because as a member owned cooperative, we are here solely to serve our members, and CULAC helps us continue to do that. Here are some specifics about CULAC and what it does, and why it is important.

What is CULAC?

The Credit Union Legislative Action Council (CULAC) is a vehicle through which a credit union advocate can actively participate in advancing the future of the credit union industry. In contributing to CULAC—the political action committee (PAC) of the Credit Union National Association—you are making an investment in the future of your credit union and every credit union across the country.

CULAC’s purpose is to provide the opportunity for individuals interested in the future of the credit union movement to contribute to the support of worthy candidates for federal office who believe, and have demonstrated their belief, in the principles to which the industry is dedicated.

Why do people donate?

Legislative and regulatory decisions are being made every day in Washington that affect the ability of your credit union to serve its members. By contributing to CULAC, you are joining thousands of credit union members and employees nationwide to ensure that credit unions have a voice on Capitol Hill when those decisions are made.

Where does the money go?

All contributions are  put to use by helping elect candidates who understand the credit union difference and who will fight to ensure that credit unions remain the best financial services option for consumers. CULAC is among the most bipartisan PACs in Washington and bases its candidate support decisions strictly on support of credit unions without regard to party affiliation. CUNA and the state leagues work together. As a federal PAC, CULAC can only make contributions to support election of federal candidates. That includes members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. CULAC supports Republicans and Democrats, with contributions equally split 50/50 between each party, making it one of the most bipartisan PACs in the nation.


Questions? Head over to CUNA’s CULAC webpage  for more information.

Contributions to CULAC are not tax deductible. Individuals who are associated with CUNA’s state credit union leagues or with CUNA-affiliated credit unions that have signed a permission agreement with their leagues are eligible to participate in CULAC. All contributions to CULAC are strictly voluntary and will be used for political purposes. You have the right to refuse to contribute without any reprisal.