Tag Archives: people helping people

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.

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!

Tax-Related Identity Theft

Brought to you by our friends at the FTC

An identity thief may use your Social Security number (SSN) to get a tax refund or a job. This is tax-related identity theft. You may not know it has happened until:

  • the IRS sends you a letter by mail saying they have gotten a suspicious tax return that uses your SSN, or
  • you try to efile your return but it’s rejected as a duplicate because a return already has been filed using your SSN

If the IRS sends you a letter, follow the instructions in the letter. Then visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the identity theft to both the IRS and the FTC and get a recovery plan.

Uncovering Tax-Related Identity Theft

If someone uses your SSN to file for a tax refund before you do, here’s what happens: When you file your return, IRS records will show that someone else has already filed and gotten a refund. If you file by mail, the IRS will send you a notice or letter in the mail saying that more than one return was filed for you. If you try to efile, the IRS will reject your tax return as a duplicate filing.

If someone uses your SSN to get a job, the employer may report that person’s income to the IRS using your SSN. When you file your tax return, you wouldn’t have included those earnings. IRS records will show you failed to report all your income. The agency will send you a notice saying you had wages that you didn’t report. But the IRS doesn’t know those wages were reported by an employer you don’t know, for work performed by someone else.

IRS notices about tax-related identity theft are sent by mail. The IRS doesn’t initiate contact with a taxpayer by sending an email, text, or social media message that asks for personal or financial information. The IRS also does not call taxpayers with threats of lawsuits or arrests. And, the IRS will never ask you to wire money, pay with a gift card or prepaid debit card, or share your credit card information over the phone.

If you get an email, text, or other electronic message that claims to be from the IRS, do not reply or click on any links. Instead, forward it to phishing@irs.gov. And report IRS imposters to the US Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at tigta.gov.

Dealing With Tax-Related Identity Theft

If the IRS sends you a notice or letter saying that someone used your SSN to get a tax refund, or saying there’s another problem, respond quickly and follow the instructions in the letter.

  • Call the IRS using the telephone number given in the letter. You’ll need the letter and a copy of your prior year’s tax return when you call to help verify your identity. Visit the IRS’s guide, IRS Identity Theft Victim Assistance: How It Works, for more information.

If you think someone used your SSN to file for a tax refund, but you haven’t gotten a letter from the IRS, use IdentityTheft.gov to report it to the IRS and FTC and get a recovery plan.

  • Visit IdentityTheft.gov to complete an IRS Identity Theft Affidavit (IRS Form 14039) and submit it to the IRS online so that the IRS can begin resolving your case. You’ll also be reporting the identity theft to the FTC.
  • File your tax return, and pay any taxes you owe. If you can’t efile your tax return, you may need to mail a paper return.

Other Steps to Repair Identity Theft

Next, it’s important to limit the potential damage from identity theft.


Questions? Visit IdentityTheft.gov for help with these important steps. 

Have access to your accounts with USAgencies Credit Union 24/7 with our Online and Mobile Banking. Not enrolled yet? Connect with us today to get started by calling 503-275-0300 Option 3.

4 Tips for Preventing Identity Theft During the Holiday

With the help from our friends at cuinsight.com

Some people love taking what doesn’t belong to them. During the holidays this year, be extra careful to make sure that you’re keeping your finances safe from questionable individuals. Here are four tips for protecting your identity during the holiday season.

1. Keep an eye on your credit report. If checking your credit report isn’t something you do regularly, you should change that. If a thief opens an account in your name, this will be an easy red flag to detect. Although it may be a hassle, there are a few sites that provide free credit reports. Do some research and find the one that best suits your needs.

2. Don’t toss it, shred it. When you take your garbage out each week, make sure you are not throwing away that a fraudster could find valuable. Anything that contains account numbers, banking information, or social security numbers would be highly desirable to a thief. Make sure you anything you are not sure of gets put in a shredder before the trash can. Don’t have a shredder? We provide a secure and free shred bin in the lobby of USAgencies Credit Union for all our members! Bring your shred down during business hours, and we are happy to help you safely dispose of documents.

3.Be cautious online. Cybercriminals can get your information a few ways, one of which is phishing. Phishing is when cybercriminals defraud you of sensitive information by posing as a legitimate company that you trust. Don’t click a link in an email that is asking you for personal information. Anything that looks fishy should be verified with the company first. Also, make sure you are not doing sensitive activities like logging into your credit union account from a coffee shop’s unsecured Wi-Fi. Stay up to date with current Fraud Schemes by visiting our dedicated page on our website, designed to keep our members aware.

4.Update your passwords. Password is not a password. Winter123 isn’t either. It is time to make better passwords. Think of a phrase or question like, “How long would it take me to walk 500 miles?” Then use the initials, symbols, and numbers to create your password. That would look like this :”Hlwittw500m?” No one can guess that one. According to howsecureismypassword.net, it would take a computer 63 Thousand years to crack that password.


Questions? Connect with us at 503.275.0300 option 3 or visit us at www.usacu.org

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.