Tag Archives: financial education

Kids and Learning the Value of Money

“Children as young as three to five years of age are developing the basic skills and attitudes that lay the foundation for later financial well-being.” – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
These skills are known as “executive function” and they lay the groundwork for future decision-making by building our capacity to plan for the future, focus attention, remember information, and manage multiple tasks. Although this sounds complicated, parents can play a pivotal role in facilitating their child’s development by talking with their children about basic money management ideas like earning, saving, planning, and spending that all rely on the elements of executive function.Parents can reinforce these ideas through play as well and “on the job training” so to speak, when they are out and about with their children in the neighborhood and/or the store.Here are some tips to get you started on the path of teaching your child smart money handling.

EARN

Share with your child that the way you get money is by working to earn it.

Describe your job to your child or, as you are out in the neighborhood or community, point out people who are working different jobs and describe what they do.

  • Point out people working like the bus driver, police officer, cashier, and your child’s teacher or caregiver.
  • Share that these individuals earn money for the work they do which helps them to pay for items like homes, food, clothes, etc.
  • Play pretend with your child and ask him or her to imagine working one of these jobs. What would the job be? What would the day-to-day work be? What would the money earned go toward?

SAVE

Once we get money it is important to think about putting some aside for the things we want in the future.

  • Start a piggy bank or saving jar with your child, have them help you decorate and label it, and put is someplace out in plain sight.
  • Practice sorting change with your child so that they start learning the names and values of coins and cash. Have them sort into categories of things you need to buy every day and things you want to save for in the future i.e. food, housing (now), vacation, large purchase (later).
  • When they receive money ask them to put all or part of it in the piggy bank or jar and have them tell you what they are saving for.

PLAN

It helps to pay attention, remember, and adjust.

  • Games help build skills that might not seem related to money management – but they form an important foundation.
  • Playing musical chairs or Simon Says help your child pay attention and make quick decisions.
  • Guessing games like 20 Questions or I Spy can help your child exercise his or her memory and think creatively.

SHOP

You need money to buy things and spending money always means making a choice.

  • As recommended above, help your child sort out change into their different denominations and help them to identify different coins and their value.
  • Encourage them to put some of them away in their piggy bank or savings jar and then talk about what they would like to spend the rest on.
  • When you are at the store or in the neighborhood point out to your child items that cost money, such as food, clothes, pets, cars, etc.
  • Talk about how your family decides what to buy and what to pass up and let him or her practice, too.
  • Give your child a few dollars and let him or her choose what to buy with what they have.

In collaboration with Money Smart Week


Ready to get your child a savings account? Connect with a Member Relationship Specialist today to get started at 503-275-0300 Option 3 or info@usacu.org. You and your child can also visit our branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204. We cannot wait to see you!

Tax Return Not What You Expected?

In collaboration with our friends at Greenpath

Are you hoping to get a refund from your 2018 tax return? Many people intend to use their refund as a “forced savings plan” (essentially withholding extra taxes on purpose so that they get a larger refund at the end of the year, instead of being tempted to spend it during the year).  However, 42% of taxpayers who file their tax returns early end up using their funds to cover things like rent, food and utilities – catching up on expenses, rather than putting money away for savings.

How you plan for your taxes and what you do with your refund can give you a boost in your overall financial health. On the flip side, if you don’t receive the refund you expected, or if you find yourself owing taxes, it can cause a lot of stress. Our financial counselors offer a few tips for putting your tax return to work for your financial health.

1. Get a Clear Picture of Your Financial Situation

If you didn’t have a specific plan for the funds but typically depend on them for breathing room or extra cash, take a step back and work to get a clear picture of your financial situation. A great place to start is by using Money Management to track your income and expenses, which can help highlight the areas you may need to make adjustments. Our certified financial counselor can also provide free financial counseling and can assist you with setting your budget and figuring out next steps based on your individual situation.

2. Address Past-due Bills

If your plan for your tax return was to catch up on past-due bills, consider how you still might be able to address the issue. See if you can trim expenses in another area to free up money so that you can get current on your bills, and open a dialogue with your lender/creditor. They may be willing to consider your situation and find flexible solutions for temporary relief or even permanent refinancing options to help the debt fit better into your budget. Getting ahead of a problem you are anticipating is key. You may be surprised at how willing a lender will be to work with you.

Another way to stay on top of your bills, is by setting them up for automatic payment with free Bill Pay. You can pay virtually anyone, anytime in the United States, saving you time and money from having to remember several logins for different payees.

3.  Pay Off Debts to Save Money and Find Breathing Room

If you did get a refund, it can be an extra boost on your journey to financial health.

Often, addressing highest-interest debt is the first step. By paying off debts faster, you save money on interest, and as you pay it off, you free up more money to devote to savings. If you’re all caught up on debt, a great next step is to build an emergency fund that will protect you if you have an unexpected loss of income or unplanned expense.

What to Do If You Can’t Afford to Pay Your Tax Bill

If you did not anticipate having to pay taxes at the end of the year but now have a bill, you still have options. The IRS has pre-set guidelines on options that are available to filers that may not be able to foot the entire bill at once. Flexible options like deferred payments or long-term payment plans allow a restructuring of an existing repayment plan, depending on the circumstances.

While there are typically some additional fees associated with these options, this may be a  more affordable way to address the tax debt, as opposed to borrowing from high-interest sources like credit cards, cash advances, or payday loans.

Get Ahead of Next Year: Adjust Your Withholding if Needed

If you owed taxes in 2018, you may need to increase your withholdings (the amount that your employer deducts from each paycheck for taxes). Paying a little more in each check so that you don’t have to pay a large tax bill at the end of the year, can be a much more appealing alternative. Consult with your company’s Human Resources department, or the equivalent, for more information on this. Consulting with a tax professional can also be a helpful experience in determining what the best course of action would be.


Questions? We are here to help. Connect with us at 503-275-0300 or by visiting our branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204.

What to Keep and What to Toss

It is Financial Literacy Month, and we are dedicated to bringing you tips and educational information on how to stay financially healthy.

Today we are talking about clutter.

How does clutter begin? A junk drawer with old batteries, gum and receipts? A desk full of abandoned paperwork? Pretty soon your dining room is looking like a thrift store with clutter all over the place, and you’re not even counting the garage or the attic!

The problem with clutter in your life is that it reduces your effectiveness. It gets in your way, impedes free movement, blocks progress and essentially keeps you from living your life at 100%.

Financial clutter is especially troublesome. Financial clutter can block your progress toward a clear financial path, and the cost can be tremendous if it keeps you from paying bills on time or leaves you vulnerable to identity theft. When you’re ready to clear the financial clutter, refer to these guidelines to help you decide what to keep and what to toss:

  • Keep sales receipts until the product warranty expires or until the return/exchange period expires. (If you need sales receipts for tax purposes, keep them for three years).
  • Keep ATM printouts for one month, or until you balance your checkbook. Then they may be thrown away.
  • Keep paycheck stubs until you have compared them to your W2s and annual social security statement (usually one year).
  • Keep paid utility bills for one year unless you’re using them for tax purposes (deductions for a home office, etc.). In that case you need to keep them for three years.
  • Keep cancelled checks for one year unless you’re using them for tax purposes. In that case you’ll need to keep them for three years.
  • Keep credit card receipts for one year unless you’re using them for tax purposes. In that case you’ll need to keep them for three years.
  • Keep bank statements for one year unless you’re using them for tax purposes. In that case you’ll need to keep them for three years. Keep quarterly investment statements until you receive your annual statement (usually one year).
  • Keep income tax returns for at least three years (six if you have multiple sources of income).
  • Keep paid medical bills and cancelled insurance policies for three years.
  • Keep records of selling a house for three years as documentation for Capital Gains Tax.
  • Keep records of selling stock for three years as documentation for Capital Gains Tax. Keep annual investment statements for three years after you sell your investment.
  • Keep records of satisfied loans for seven years.
  • Keep contracts as long as they remain active.
  • Keep insurance documents as long as they remain active.
  • Keep stock certificates and records as long as they remain active.
  • Keep property records as long as they remain active.
  • Keep records of pension and retirement plans as long as they remain active.
  • Keep marriage licenses forever.
  • Keep birth certificates forever.
  • Keep wills forever.
  • Keep adoption papers forever.
  • Keep death certificates forever.
  • Keep records of paid mortgages forever.

In collaboration with Money Management International


Questions? Connect with us by calling 503-275-0300 Option 3, or stop in our branch located at 95 SW Taylor St., Portland, OR 97204.

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

 

 

 

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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