Tag Archives: Credit Union Difference

Spring Clean Your Finances

In collaboration with our friends at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

There is something about Spring that makes us feel like we have a fresh start. From the sunnier skies to the blooming flowers – this time of year always gives us a little extra boost to tidy up around or homes and yards. It is also important to take the time to do the same with our finances! Here are a few ways to get started on Spring Cleaning your finances.

1. Request a free credit report

You can request a free credit report  every 12 months from each of the three major consumer reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Once you have your credit report, you can check for and correct any errors. This is especially important if you’re thinking of making any big purchases, like buying a new home. Our checklist will help you know what to look for in your credit report. Try setting a calendar reminder so you remember to check your credit reports on a regular basis. You can request all three reports at once or you can order one report at a time. By requesting the reports separately (for example, one every four months) you can monitor your credit report throughout the year.

Just like with the big three consumer reporting companies, you can also get free copies of your nationwide specialty consumer reports every 12 months from many of the specialty consumer reporting companies. Specialty consumer reporting companies collect and share information about employment history, medical records and payments, check writing, or insurance claims.

2. Address debt

If you’re facing a large debt or your payments are overdue, your first instinct may be to ignore the debt or hope it goes away. But, that will things worse and lead to more stress down the line. There are strategies that can help you make payments that work for your current financial situation.

First, review your bills and make sure you understand what you owe. Using automatic Bill Pay with your credit union, or utilizing a bill tracker can help you stay on top of your payment due dates.

Second, contact your lenders to see if alternative payment options are available. You may be able to change your due date so that a payment is due closer to when you receive your income.

3. Review your spending

Have you ever looked at your credit card bill and wondered where all those charges came from? Or, have you found yourself swiping your credit card for a purchase before you’ve had a chance to think about it?

Gain control over your credit card spending by taking a close look at your credit card purchases over the past couple months. If you’re looking to cut back, try breaking down necessary expenses vs. wants. Once you see how you’re spending, try creating a “rule to live by” to make sure you stay on track. These kinds of simple personal guidelines, such as using cash for smaller purchases, make it easier to stick to your goals over time.

You can also utilize money management tools to help keep all your finances in focus. By knowing all your accounts and tracking your budget all in one place, it can help reduce stress and give you peace of mind.

4. Save automatically

After checking your budget, you may see some more opportunities to boost your savings. For example:

  • If you have a credit union membership and direct deposit, you can arrange to automatically deposit some of your paycheck to a savings account every time you’re paid, instead of all of it going into a checking account.
  • You can check with your employer to see if it’s possible to split your paycheck into two accounts. You may also be able to transfer some of the money in your checking account into a savings account at another institution to keep it out of sight out of mind.

Did you know that nearly 46 percent of consumers indicated that they could not pay for an emergency expense of $400? When you save for unexpected expenses, you can handle them when they happen without having to skip other bills or borrow money. Start with $500 as your goal. This is enough to cover a lot of common emergencies, like car repairs, a plane ticket to care for a sick family member, or smaller medical costs.


Questions? Connect with our Member Relationship Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 3, send a secure message or chat with us when you log into your Online Banking! You can also stop by our branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204 – we are here to help!

Letter from the CEO: We’re here to help!

At the beginning of 2019, the government shutdown added to a lot of members’ financial worries. As a credit union with a primary membership field of federal employees, we actively assisted our members who were affected by the government shutdown with our Furlough Assistance Program. Our goal is to provide members with some peace of mind, and we are always here and ready to help.

As a member-owned financial institution, we are here to serve our members by living up to our mission to provide solutions to improve each member’s financial life. We pride ourselves on things we do and won’t do, including how we won’t turn our backs to our members when they need us the most. Your financial wellbeing is and will always be our top priority.

Looking ahead, we will continue to provide our members free financial education and counseling to guide them in their financial success. It’s important to start building good financial saving and spending habits in our youth, and that is why we are excited to bring financial reality fairs to local high schools in 2019. The program will help students gain a good understanding of the benefits and importance of budgeting, and practice making sound financial decisions as an adult.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank our members for the trust they place in us, and thank you for being a part of USAgencies’ family!

Jim Lumpkin, President/CEO, USACU
Jim Lumpkin
President/CEO
USAgencies Credit Union

 

 

 

Life Happens – Protect Your Family

Life can be wonderful. But it can also get complicated when unexpected events happen. Protecting your loan balance or loan payments against death, disability or involuntary unemployment could help not only protect your finances, but also your family. This is why USAgencies Credit Union offers MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Borrower Security*.

Purchasing protection is completely voluntary and won’t affect your loan approval. It is simple to add to your loan and may help give you and your family peace of mind.

We are here to help you prepare for the unexpected. In the event a protected borrower passes away, it could cancel your loan balance. If a covered disability occurs due to illness or injury, or become involuntarily unemployed, it could cancel your loan payments, up to the contract maximums.

Our members benefit from MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Borrower Security all year long. Here is how much debt we canceled for our members in 2018.

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With MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Debt Protection Borrower Security, you take the guesswork out of life’s obstacles.

Connect with our Loan Specialists today to discuss your options at 503-275-0300 Option 2.


Have you entered our Read to Win Contest?** Check out the official rules HERE

QUESTION 2 :  What is the total amount of loan payments we cancelled in 2018 for our USAgencies Members who were Disabled?

*Your purchase of MEMBER’S CHOICE™ Debt Protection is optional and will not affect your application for credit or the terms of any credit agreement required to obtain a loan. Certain eligibility requirements, conditions, and exclusions may apply. Please contact your loan representative, or refer to the Member Agreement for a full explanation of the terms of Debt Protection. You may cancel the protection at any time. If you cancel protection within 30 days you will receive a full refund of any fee paid. DP-2409197.1-0219-0321

**NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Terms and conditions apply, read the official contest rules for complete details. open to individuals ages 18 and over. Board of Directors, Volunteers and Employees of USACU and their immediate families and individuals living in the same household are ineligible. Void where prohibited.

Tips to Improve Your Credit Before Buying a Home

Brought to you by our friends at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection

In general, the best mortgage interest rates go to borrowers with credit scores in the mid-700s or above. These borrowers also typically have the most offers available to them.

Haven’t checked your credit report recently? Now is the time to do so. You’ll have concrete information to help you make the best decisions about what to do next. And, you’ll find out if there are any errors on your credit report that may be lowering your credit scores. You’ll also see which areas you may be able to improve. Checking your own credit won’t hurt your credit scores.

It’s important to understand that you don’t have just one credit score. There are many credit scoring formulas, and the score will also depend on the data used to calculate it. Today, most mortgage lenders use FICO scores when deciding whether to offer you a loan, and in setting the rate and terms. Most mortgage lenders request and evaluate your credit scores and the scores of any co-borrowers from all three major credit reporting companies and make their decisions based on the middle score.

Check out our step-by-step guide to checking your credit reports and scores. We cover the basics on how credit reports and scores work, how to get a copy of your reports and scores, how to check for errors, and how to file a dispute if you find errors.

If you’re worried about your credit scores, rebuilding your credit (or building it for the first time) won’t happen overnight. But there are steps you can take and mortgage options you can consider if your score isn’t where you want it to be.

Questions? Connect with our Loan Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 2.


Are you up for an easy challenge to win some extra cash? Subscribe to our blog for a chance to win a $50 cash prize*.

Entering the contest is easy.  Here’s how it works:

  • Subscribe to our blog by entering your email in the box above the “Follow” button on the left menu
  • Each week in February, we will publish a blog along with the trivia question at the end of each blog
  • Email your answers to social@usacu.org by February 28, 2019

QUESTION 1:  What score does most mortgage lenders use when deciding to offer loans?

Official Contest Rules

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Terms and conditions apply, read the official contest rules for complete details. open to individuals ages 18 and over. Board of Directors, Volunteers and Employees of USACU and their immediate families and individuals living in the same household are ineligible. Void where prohibited.

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.