Tag Archives: Credit Union Difference

Affected by the Government Shutdown?

This blog was a combined effort with our friends at GreenPath Financial Wellness.

Over the weekend, the partial government shutdown passed it’s 22nd day, making it the longest shutdown in history. Of the about 800,000 federal employees affected, nearly 380,000 have been furloughed (given a leave of absence) and the remainder continue to work without pay.

While most people affected by the shutdown are located in the Washington D.C. area, workers going without pay can be found nationwide.

For millions of Americans, an unexpected financial setback can make it feel like your world is caving in around you. If you or a loved one has been affected by the government shutdown, it’s important to know that you are not alone and that everything is going to be okay. We offer the steps below to support you in setting a plan for your expenses:

Step 1: List Out and Prioritize Your Expenses

The first thing to do is understand your overall financial situation so you can get an idea of what you need to pay and what you have to work with. Use GreenPath’s budgeting worksheet to list out your expenses and due dates.
When prioritizing which bills you should pay first, begin with basic needs (shelter, food, heat, lights).

Once you’ve taken care of yourself, attend to your debts in order of priority. While threats of a low credit score or calls from a debt collector can be intimidating, it’s important to focus on paying down debts with collateral (something that can be taken from you) such as a house or car payment. After your financial crisis passes, you can work on catching up with unsecured debts like credit cards, internet, and cable bills.

Step 2: Open Lines of Communication

Talk to your lenders or creditors to see if there is anything you can do regarding upcoming bills. Many financial institutions and service providers are offering assistance programs and other freebies to employees experiencing financial hardship during the shutdown, ranging from no-interest loans to refunding normal fees. Many utility companies also offer utility payment plans for people with financial hardships.

Step 3: Look for Ways to Generate Cash, And Cut Spending Where Possible

One additional option for furloughed workers is to apply for unemployment. (Note, those who continue to work through the shutdown are not eligible for unemployment insurance.) It is also important to know that any unemployment compensation given during a shutdown must be repaid once the government reopens. Several federal websites, such as the Office of Personnel Management’s, have FAQs for furloughed workers that include information on how to file for benefits.

In addition to finding additional sources of money, evaluate your current spending habits to see where you may be able to make adjustments to spend less: set a strategy to save money on groceries, see if you can freeze your gym membership, reduce your cable bill, lower your energy usage, and cut any non-essential spending you can such as entertainment and eating out.

Step 4: Call USAgencies Credit Union

Here at USAgencies Credit Union, we pride ourselves on the things we won’t do, and one of those is that we won’t turn our backs to our members when they need us to most. Our hope is to provide our members some peace of mind, however we can. Give us a call at 503-275-0300 so that we can see what we can do to help during this stressful time.

More Head Room for Retirement Plan Contributions

Michael Volk, financial advisor at Lion Financial Advisors, is sharing some updates on IRA contributions.

They don’t happen every year, so we want to note 2019’s increases in the limits for contributions to Individual Retirement Accounts and other tax-advantage retirement plans. The annual limit for IRA contributions jumps from $5,500 to $6,000, its first increase since 2013. Those over 50 can add another $1,000 under “catch-up” provisions.

For participants in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans, the maximum elective salary deferral amount bumps from $18,500 to $19,000. Catch-up for those over 50 adds $6,000 to that limit. The overall cap on the combined (employee + employer) contribution to these plans rises from $55,000 to $56,000. For defined benefit plans, the maximum target benefit rises from $220,000 to $225,000.

The IRS also is adjusting the income ranges that determine how much can be contributed to a Roth IRA. For 2019 that phase-out range shifts up to $122,000-$137,000 of adjusted gross income (AGI) for singles and heads of household, or $193,000-$203,000 for joint filers.

For those who participate in an employer-sponsored plan but might also be able to deduct an IRA contribution, those phase-out ranges ratchet up to the following: $64,000-$74,000 of AGI for singles or $103,000-$123,000 joint. If only one spouse is covered by an employer plan, the other spouse’s ability to deduct an IRA contribution doesn’t phase out until AGI hits the $193,000-$203,000 range.

One last item:  The income caps to qualify for the Saver’s Credit are increasing as follows: $64,000 for married couples filing jointly, $48,000 for heads of household, and $32,000 for singles and married individuals filing separately. For those who are just getting started on the long road to retirement, the tax deduction plus the Saver’s Credit can provide a nice boost.


Michael recommends that a qualified tax advisor be consulted before making any decisions about IRA accounts and contributions.

For more information on retirement planning and counseling, connect with Michael Volk at Lion Financial Advisors for a no-obligation consultation via 503.447.6856 or email michael@lionfa.com.

Securities and advisory services offered through KMS Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments Are: NOT NCUA/FDIC INSURED, NO CREDIT UNION GUARANTEE, MAY LOSE VALUE.

Debt Consolidation Loans

What is a Debt Consolidation Loan?

In general, a debt consolidation loan can be defined as a loan that combines multiple debt obligations into one single loan. These loans tend to have lower interest rates than many existing debts. They also allow the borrowers to make only one payment per month instead of many.

Advantages

  • Pays off high-interest credit cards or other debts with low-interest loans
  • One easy monthly payment to make
  • A closed-end loan will result in a set payment schedule
  • May result in lower overall monthly payments
  • Establishes good credit history, if paid back as agreed

Things to be Prepared For

  • Some type of collateral may be required before approval
  • A co-signer on the loan may be required before approval
  • Credit score will be a significant factor

As you can see, there are some important factors to consider. If you are struggling with high credit card debt, you first must strive to change your spending habits and learn to live within your means. Setting a budget is the first step, and with Money Management you can know your accounts, track your budget, and watch your spending all  in one place.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to consider a debt consolidation loan if you will be continuing to incur monthly balances on your credit cards. In the long run, you will end up having a higher overall debt balance if your spending behavior does not change.


Is it time to tackle your post-holiday debt and give your budget a breath of fresh air? Our Debt Consolidation loan offers you that chance. Connect with our Loan Specialist today at 503-275-0300 Option 2 to apply today. 

Credit Unions for Kids

Credit Unions for Kids is a nonprofit collaboration of credit unions from across the country that are engaged in fundraising activities to benefit 170 Children Miracle Network Hospitals across the country. It has been adopted as the credit union movement charity of choice. Since 1996, CU4Kids has raised $170 million for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Just last month, credit unions in the Northwest raised a record breaking $628,226 at the annual Credit Union for Kids auction on Oct.17.

Even better, 100% of every dollar donated by the credit union community goes right back into the CMN Hospital that is being served in our community, which for USAgencies Credit Union is OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. For more than 30 years, credit unions and their members in the Northwest have raised over $18 million to support thousands of pediatric patients at Doernbecher’s.

Credit unions have a strong partnership with Doernbecher’s, and with our efforts have been able to support such projects like their outpatient clinic, pediatric intensive care unit, and the up and coming OHSU Gary & Christine Rood Family Pavilion; a welcoming home-away-from home OHSU Guest House that is dedicated to serving the 49% of Doernbecher’s patients who travel from long distances to receive care.

With Doernbecher’s being so close to our hearts, we wanted to share them with you, too. Together we can help support the mission to save and improve the lives of as many children as possible. Every dollar makes a difference!


Help us raise money by checking out our current Skip-a-Payment offer where 100% of the proceeds are donated to Credit Union for Kids, benefiting Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Can’t skip your payment but still want to donate? Connect with us and we can help make that happen.

How the Grinch Steals From the Elderly

From our friends at CUinsight.com

As many plan how to get the best holiday deals, thieves also plotting how to exploit the elderly.

According to the Better Business Bureau, seniors are the most targeted demographic for scams and fraud. They range from money transfer and cash for gift card requests, to being named a sweepstakes winner. Efforts particularly ramp up leading into the holidays.

As we head into the holidays, be on alert for a few of these BBB top senior scams. Please share this article with your parents, grandparents or a vulnerable friend or neighbor.

Free trials: Often these pop-up online with promises of a “free trial” asking consumers to provide credit card information “simply to cover shipping fees.” Unfortunately, that leads to unsuspecting victims being charged for products that are part of a program they “enrolled” in. Trying to cancel is often a nightmare.

Charity scams: With so many natural disasters in 2018, who wouldn’t want to open their wallet to help? Retirees have available savings, big hearts and it can be hard to distinguish legitimate causes. Do your research and ask as many questions as possible. Research sites like give.org to see if a charity site is real. Don’t respond to charity solicitations on the phone until you do your homework.

Fake websites: Make sure the website is secure and legit. Scammers have gotten very sophisticated in creating sites that piggyback off the reputation and name of well-known companies. If it’s the first time you are buying from a particular website, check with BBB before sharing any credit card information.

Family emergency scams:  The scammers claim to be calling on behalf of a family member who has been arrested or in an accident. They play on grandparents’ emotions to ask for money to be sent quickly. Don’t be quick to give any financial information or commitment over the phone. After hanging up, reach out to your loved ones to find out if the emergency actually happened.


We want our members to be aware of fraud schemes are out there. Stay up to date with and how to keep safe by visiting our dedicated Fraud Schemes page on our USAgencies Credit Union web page. Questions? Connect with us at 503-275-0300 Option 3 or visit us at our branch at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204.

International Credit Union Day!

October 18, 2018, will mark the 70th anniversary of International Credit Union Day. This year’s theme is “Find Your Platinum Lining.” It combines the traditional gift of platinum for 70th anniversaries with a play on the saying “every cloud has a silver lining.”

Credit unions all over the world will be celebrating the history and the success of the “People-not-Profit” philosophy. This year’s theme emphasizes the credit union movement’s loyalty to its members and its mission to provide them financial support and guidance.

The movement began in the 1840s as a democratic consumer cooperative by weavers in Rochdale, England. Frustrated by bankers who denied them loans simply because they weren’t wealthy, the weavers and workers decided to pool their incomes and loan money to each other. In time, this cooperation put each member on solid financial ground and encouraged their own businesses to flourish.

The need for equitable financial institutions grew and, in 1971, the World Council of Credit Unions, Inc. (WOCCU) was created to help establish and maintain viable credit union movements. It has become the leading voice for advocacy and governance on behalf of the international credit union community.

Today, over 235 million people are served by credit unions in 109 countries and 6 continents.


Join us at our branch at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204 on Thursday Oct.18 to celebrate International Union Day by enjoying some treats! Questions? Connect with us.

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!