Tag Archives: financial education

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

 

 

 

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.

Letter from the CEO: We’re all ears!

All good things must come to an end…and be replaced with something way better!

You may have noticed a few changes around here lately. Not only did we redesign our website with a fresh new look, but we also upgraded our Online and Mobile Banking solutions. We are very excited to bring you these enhancements to give you easier access to your accounts, and smarter technologies that will give you an even better banking experience!

Some of these new features include the ability to customize your accounts in Online Banking by hiding and sorting your accounts any way you like – creating an online banking experience of your own. We also introduced our new Money Management tool that will help you track your budget and spending, as well as giving you valuable insights about your finances – ensuring you are in control of your financial life.

This time last year, we received valuable input from our members who expressed interest in having access to Financial Advisory Services here at USAgencies Credit Union. Which is why we are excited to announce we have partnered with Michael Volk of KMS Financial Services, Inc. to offer investment services and financial planning to our members. Michael shares our member centric values and has been working with credit unions since 2003. This fall Michael will have a presence in our branch and will be available to members.

Your input has provided us valuable information and direction on how we can serve you better. Meanwhile, USAgencies Credit Union will continue to strive towards our mission – To provide solutions to improve each member’s financial life, in the years ahead.

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

 

 

 

Home Ownership : 5 Questions to Guide Your Decision

This article was developed as part of USAgencies Credit Union’s partnership with EverFi, Inc.

As winter melts into spring, you’ll likely start to see “For-Sale” signs popping up in your neighborhood.

Buying a home can be an exciting milestone in your life, and it’s important to educate yourself on the financial implications of home ownership before you make an offer. Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or a current owner looking to sell or refinance, there are a few key questions that should help guide your decision:

5 Questions About Home ownership

1.What are the pros and cons of owning vs. renting?

Owning a home is a long-term commitment. Recent studies show that the average buyer expects to live in their new home for 13 years before selling. While home ownership allows you to build equity and take advantage of tax benefits, owning also comes with risks.

2.Am I ready for the responsibilities of home ownership?

While property is generally considered an appreciating asset, home values are tied to economic conditions. Having your financial house in order is an important first step to buying a house! Are you confident in your ability to pay your bills on time? Are you able to budget for unanticipated costs?

3.How much home can I afford?

Determining how much home you can afford goes beyond the list price of a property. Other factors that will affect your monthly payment include interest rates, taxes, insurance, income, debt, and future monthly expenses – to name just a few. While there are numerous “affordability” calculators out there, it’s important to first understand the whole picture.

4.How will lenders evaluate my mortgage readiness & make loan decisions?

Are you familiar with the “Four C’s of Loan Credit?” – Capacity to pay back the loan, Capital, Collateral and Credit. Lenders evaluate these different factors to determine your eligibility and the terms of a mortgage loan.

5.How will my credit score impact my ability to buy?

Your credit score and the information in your credit report are key factors in whether or not you’ll be approved for a mortgage and at what interest rate. When was the last time you checked your credit?

No matter what stage of home ownership you are exploring, expanding your knowledge about the key financial questions to ask when buying a home will help you make a long-term decision that benefits you!


Have questions about Buying or Refinancing, or ready to get your application started? Connect with us at 503.275.0300 Option 2 or visit our website. 

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USAgencies Credit Union
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Teach Your Child to Save During Youth Savings Month

April is National Credit Union Youth Month, and it’s a great time for credit unions, like USAgencies, to focus on children in communities, and talk about some of the ways you can help set your child up for a financially successful future.

Here are some age appropriate suggestions for teaching children money management:

Ages 3 to 6 Years

Before children can handle money, they must first understand simple numbers. and know a penny from a nickel and a dime. Introduce coins by letting them handle money when buying small items.

At 5 or 6, give your child a dime and explain it will buy a piece of candy, or a toy, but not both. Money management involves choices and even at this age, when children spend, they need freedom of choice.

Ages 7 to 12 Years

When children begin to earn an allowance, help them use it wisely by putting part of it in a different envelopes or other containers for different purposes. Make sure sure to include one for savings.

Encourage your child to save by showing them some things that cost more than their allowance, and that they will have to save until they have enough.

Ages 13 to 18 Years

Teens experience managing money and making more decisions. Additional money beyond the normal allowance should not be given out generously. If you give them more, they may not learn the importance of planning, wise spending, and setting limits.

Share with your teenager the responsibility for spending part of the family’s budget. Have them prepare meals or do the weekly shopping; take them with you so they can learn how. Family budgeting will teach your teenager about living costs and values.


Ready to start a savings account for your child, or have some questions? We would love to help. USAgencies Credit Union offers many beneficial youth savings options. Give us a call at 503.275.0300 Option 2, or email at info@usacu.org.

 

Letter from the CEO: Retirement Savings

Did you know that nearly half of all American families have no retirement savings? That is not a recipe for retirement happiness.  Saving for retirement is the most important thing you can do to ensure a financial future full of exciting possibilities.  But, it takes effort and a long-term commitment to saving regularly to get you where you want to be.  It’s estimated that you will need a retirement income of 70% or more of your earning income to maintain your current lifestyle throughout your retirement years.  Are you on track?

There are several savings tools available to help you reach your retirement goals. It’s important that you educate yourself on the benefits of each investment tool, to ensure you retire with adequate financial resources.

If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, take full advantage of your employer’s match. Maximizing the match ensures that you get the full benefit of the “free money” your employer contributes towards your plan.

An Individual Retirement Account, or IRA, is another great way to help you reach your retirement goals. You may also consider making a tax-deferred contribution to a traditional IRA, which can be applied to your 2017 tax return (if made before April 17, 2018).

Increase retirement savings amount each year until you are saving 10-15% of your income. Let us know what questions you have about IRA’s, or other savings tools, – we’re here to help you reach your retirement goals.

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

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.