Tag Archives: people helping people

Cooperative Spirit of Credit Unions

It is ( hopefully ) no secret that credit unions all operate under the same founding principle, “People Helping People”. By sticking to our roots, and sticking together, we strive to help all members and our communities with power in numbers. By keeping a noncompetitive nature and a cooperative spirit, credit unions are able to leverage their unified philosophy. This allows us to come together for all occasions – including serious and educational, and often celebratory and fun.

In honor today being the International Day of Friendship, we wanted to highlight some of the ways credit unions in your community have demonstrated our cooperative spirit, and come together as friends for greater good.

CO-OP Network

The CO-OP Network is resource for credit union members to complete their regular transactions at a branch, or via an ATM at participating credit unions when they are unable to get to their local branch. The CO-OP network covers all 50 states and 10 additional countries with ATM’s. With over 30,000 fee-free ATMs and 1,800 participating branches nationwide, this is an ATM network that is larger than almost any bank.

Shared Branching is the second largest branch network in the country, with more than 5,600 credit union branches and self-serve Shared Branch machines, also in all 50 states. This allows us to serve our members in diverse geographical locations – even when they move or travel! Credit unions have come together to be there for their members, no matter where they are.

Education

On a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis credit unions are consistently working together to learn and grow from and with one another. There are workshops, conferences, and training’s galore that encourage credit union professionals on all levels to come together to advance their knowledge and skills so that we can better serve our members, and better work together. We focus on everything from compliance, giving back to our community, advocacy and more.

Many of these opportunities come from local chapters and young professional groups in the area. For example, Young Credit Union Professionals of Oregon and Southwest Washington recently held an Advocacy BBQ where state legislators came out to chat and educate attendees about policy-making. What’s a better way to learn, than to hear it straight from the professionals themselves!

Education doesn’t stop at the credit union level, either.

We often band together to bring education to our communities, specifically our youth. This past spring, USAgencies hosted a Bite of Reality workshop for local high school students at Cleveland High School. This workshop allows students to practice budgeting as an adult with realistic circumstances, develop good judgement regarding spending, and more. This event wouldn’t have been possible without the 15 volunteers representing SIX different local credit unions!

Advocacy

Speaking of advocacy, another example right here in Oregon is each year we come together to advocate to lawmakers and politicians on the “credit union difference”. One of the ways this is demonstrated is in February of each year, Oregon credit unions visit the Oregon capitol for a designated Credit Union Day at the Capitol. Passionate credit union advocates spend the day dispersing across the capitol building in Salem to share the credit union difference of their impacts and services with their legislators. In 2019, the main message of the day was how the cooperative structure of credit unions delivered $1.9 Billion in economic value to Oregon in 2018, which helped drive immeasurable impact in our communities.

Giving Back

Credit Unions love giving back to their community. We often volunteer at local food banks, participate in clean up projects in our neighborhoods, partner with nonprofits and more. But perhaps the most notable way we give back together is via CU4Kids. .

CU4Kids is a nonprofit collaboration among credit unions, chapters and business partners from across the country, engaged in fundraising to support 170 Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.  For more than 30 years, credit unions have come together to raise over $18 MILLION dollars to support OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital via the CU4Kids program. Just recently on June 22nd, over 100 local credit union professionals came together in Portland and raised $11,000 for Doernbecher at a fundraiser that was called Hops for Hope that was co-hosted by YCUP and the Cascadia Chapter of Credit Unions!

By coming together, we can move mountains and make a significant impact in the lives of our members, and our communities. With that, the credit union difference is alive and thriving.


Want to learn more about the credit union difference? Connect with us – we would love to hear from you!

 

 

Member Moment : Ria’s USAgencies Credit Union Story

Before we were USAgencies Credit Union, we were Portland Federal Employees Credit Union. Established in 1936, 45 founding members came together with the credit union philosophy of “People Helping People” to form a financial cooperative that could help federal employees with better banking solutions. We are proud to say, that 83 years later we are still living up to our original mission – to provide solutions to improve each member’s financial life.

This was made very clear to us when Ria, a member since 1997,  reached out to us and let us know just how impactful we have been to her and those she cares for over the years, especially during the most recent government shutdown. “I know what it meant to my civil servant co-workers that USAgencies did not throw folks into the cold winter”, she said. “You extended due dates, and made an anxious ridden, scary time bearable. In short, you gave your members peace of mind, which speaks volumes about the integrity of USAgencies, its staff, Board of Directors and Executive Officers”.

Being able to serve Ria over the years, and give her continual exceptional service is something we pride ourselves on. We have always said we will stand by our members, no matter what, and being told we have been true to our word is extremely meaningful. Ria concluded with, “I stayed with you folks because the vibe is, and always has been one of sincere financial caring for your members. That tradition has not waned; it has only grown over the years”.

We strive to be better and do better each and everyday, and are committed to continue to serve Ria, and the rest of our members with integrity and of course, a smile.


Want to share your USAgencies story? Connect with us today at social@usacu.org or via telephone at 503-275-0313. We can’t wait to hear from you!

Member Moment : Ariel’s USAgencies Credit Union Story

At USAgencies, we understand more than ever that life, it happens. It is impossible to predict and prepare for every hurdle or event that life can throw our way. Which is why we make it a mission to stand by our members during the good, the bad, and the sad. The foundation of credit unions is built upon the philosophy of “People Helping People”, and we do everything we can to live that each and every day.

We were recently reminded by how this philosophy truly impacts our members when we spoke to one of our members about a difficult transition she recently went through. Ariel, who lost her husband earlier this year, reached out to let us know how USAgencies was there for her every step of the way. “When my husband passed, a lot of changes happened. Due to that, a payment we received was removed from our account. So not only was I a recent widow, I was beyond broke”, she said. “USAgencies understood this was beyond my control. They worked with me, they were patient, and did not pressure me”.

She went on to add, “I realized this credit union is built on heart, and take care of their own. I truly appreciate that I can rely on them, and trust that they have my best interest at heart”.  Being there for Ariel is something we would never think twice about. As she said, it is instilled in our core values to serve our members with not just integrity, but trustworthiness as well.

Ariel parted with, “I am so grateful for their support during the hardest time of my life”. Our Mission Statement here at USAgencies Credit Union is, ” We provide solutions to improve each member’s financial life”, and that is something we are proud to stand by day by day, with every member.


Want to share your USAgencies story? Connect with us today at social@usacu.org or via telephone at 503-275-0313. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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!