Tag Archives: savings

How Should I Spend My Stimulus Check?

The stimulus checks promised in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act are starting to land in checking accounts and mailboxes around the country. The $1,200 granted to most middle class adults is a welcome relief during these financially trying times.

Many recipients may be wondering: What is the best way to use this money?

To help you determine the most financially responsible course of action to take with your stimulus check, USAgencies Credit Union has compiled a list of advice and tips on how to use this money.

Cover your basic life expenses

First and foremost, make sure you can afford to cover your basic necessities. With millions of Americans out of work and lots of them still waiting for their unemployment insurance to kick in, many people are struggling to put food on their tables. Most financial experts agree that it’s best not to make any long-term plans for stimulus money until you can comfortably cover everyday expenses.

Charlie Bolognino, CFP and owner of Side-by-Side Financial Planning in Plymouth, Minn., says this step may necessitate creating a new budget that fits the times. With unique spending priorities in place, an absent or diminished income and many expenses, like subscriptions and entertainment costs, not being relevant any longer, it can be helpful to reconfigure an existing budget to better suit present needs. As always, basic necessities, such as food and critical bills, should be prioritized.

Build up your emergency fund

If you’ve already got your basic needs covered, start looking at long-term targets for your stimulus money.

Emergency funds should ideally be robust enough to cover 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses. If you already have an emergency fund, it may have been depleted during the pandemic and need some replenishing. If you don’t yet have an emergency fund, or your fund isn’t large enough to cover several months without a steady income, you may want to use some of the stimulus money to build it up so you have a cushion to fall back on during lean times that are likely to come in the months ahead.

Pay down high-interest debts

According to the Federal Reserve Bank, Americans owed a collective $930 billion in credit card debt during the fourth quarter of 2019. Using some of your stimulus check to pay off high-interest debt would be a great way to get a guaranteed return on the money, says Chris Chen, of Insight Financial Strategists in Newton, Mass.

This advice only applies to credit cards and other private, high-interest loans. The federal government put a 6-month freeze on most student loan debts, so they should not be as high a priority right now.

Boost your savings

If your emergency fund is already full and you’ve made headway on your debt, it can be a good idea to use some of the stimulus money to add to your USAgencies Credit Union savings account. The money in your savings can be used to cover long-term financial goals, such as funding a dream vacation or covering the down payment on a new home.

Consider all your options before choosing how to spend your stimulus money. In all likelihood, this will be a one-time payment received during the pandemic.


How are you spending your stimulus check? If you need further assistance, don’t hesitate to connect with us at 503.275.0300 or info@usacu.org. We’ll be happy to help you maintain financial stability during these uncertain times.

What Should Be on My Financial To-Do List This Spring?

Q: Spring is here, and I’d love to review my finances to improve them however possible. What should be on my financial to-do list this spring?

A: It’s wonderful that you’re using the season to take a deep look at your finances. Let’s review some ways to improve your finances and general money management this time of year.

De-clutter your finances

As you sift through the “stuff” piled up around your home and throw out useless clutter until each closet would make Marie Kondo proud, it’s a good idea to do the same for your finances.

Review your monthly budget and cut out extra expenses that may be cluttering it up. Think about things like subscriptions you don’t use anymore or upgraded apps and services you don’t really need. Next, simplify your monthly bill-paying by moving all due dates to the same day and setting up an automatic payment so you’re never late.

Clean up your finances by using Money Management to budget and keep track of your spending with minimal effort. Finally, simplify your savings by setting up an automatic monthly transfer between your USAgencies Credit Union Checking Account and USAgencies Credit Union Savings Account.

Review your W-4 

Post-tax season is the perfect time to look over your W-4 to determine if you’re withholding too much money — or too little. Remember: A generous tax refund might seem like good news, but what it really means is that you’ve been giving the government an interest-free loan throughout the year. You don’t want to withhold too little money and end up with a big tax bill to pay at the end of the year, either. To find that perfect sweet spot, work out the numbers using the IRS’ withholding calculator; use tax software like TurboTax; or ask a professional accountant to help. Don’t forget to submit a new W-4 to your workplace with your new withholding amount in place.

Protect your personal information 

Now that you’ve paid your taxes, it’s a good time to get rid of any documents that can compromise your safety. In today’s digital world, there are very few hard-copy documents you’ll need to hold onto. You can safely shred account statements, credit card bills, utility bills, insurance bills and more. Make sure to keep a copy of anything that requires your signature, such as the deed of your home and your car title, and hold onto unpaid loan statements and your tax returns. Keep these papers, as well as your most important sensitive documents, like your Social Security card, birth certificate and marriage certificate, in a fireproof box or in a locked file cabinet.

It’s also a good idea to clean up your computer and phone, deleting any downloaded documents that can compromise your privacy and deactivating your accounts on websites you no longer frequent. You may want to let your devices “forget” your password and payment history on retail sites as well. The less of your life you have online, the lower the risk of your personal information being compromised if any of these sites is hacked.

Throw away a debt

Did you resolve to work aggressively toward paying down your debts this year? Dust off that New Year’s resolution and take a hard look at your progress this spring. Is the debt going anywhere, or are you still trapped in the cycle of making just minimum payments that mostly go toward interest?

Get serious about getting out of debt by making a list of all debt in order from smallest to largest. Work out a plan for maximizing your payments on this debt, acquiring the necessary funds by pruning an expense category on your monthly budget or taking on some freelance work for extra cash. Once you’ve paid off the smallest debt, work on the next-smallest debt until you’re completely debt-free. As you progress through your list, be sure not to neglect the minimum payments on any of your debts.

Start saving for summer

If you haven’t already done so, now’s the time to start putting money away for your summer getaway. Every little bit adds up, and the earlier you start saving, the more money you’ll have to spend on your bucket list.

It’s springtime! As you celebrate the season of renewal, spruce up your finances to help stay on track for the rest of the year.


Questions? Connect with our Member Services Specialists today at 503-275-0300 Option 4, we are here to help!

All You Need To Know About Certificates of Deposit

As an institution devoted to your financial wellness, USAgencies Credit Union offers several secure options for your savings. One of our most popular savings products is our certificates of deposit, commonly referred as CDs. You’ll be giving your money a great chance at growth without subjecting it to the risks of investing in the stock market.

Let’s take a closer look at how certificates work and why they might be the perfect choice for you.

What is a certificate?

A certificate is an insured savings account with a fixed dividend rate and a fixed maturity date. Rates tend to be higher than those of savings accounts. Also, unlike a savings account, your money will be less accessible when in a certificate. That means you will not be able to withdraw your funds before the maturity date without paying a penalty.

Terms and conditions of certificates

There are some nominal requirements that must be met before you can open a certificate.

First, you’ll need a minimum deposit amount. This amount will vary widely from one financial institution to the next. In general, the more money you park in a certificate, the higher rate of interest it will earn. At USAgencies Credit Union, you can open a certificate with as little as $500.

Second, you’ll need to commit to a term length. Here at USAgencies Credit Union, we offer our members certificates that can be open for just 6 months or as long as 3 years. Our interest rates start at 0.95% APY* for short-term certificates and go up to 1.56% APY* for our long-term certificates. To learn more about our terms and rates, connect with a Member Relationship Specialist today.

Is a certificate for everyone?

It’s important to note that your money will be tied up in the certificate, and you will not be able to access it without paying a penalty. A certificate works best for people who have a robust emergency fund and do not anticipate needing to access the funds in their certificate until its maturity date.

Why keep your money in a certificate?

Here are some of the most popular reasons people choose to open a certificate:

  1. No risk. While nearly every investment carries some sort of risk, your money is always safe in a certificate. Each USAgencies Credit Union certificate is federally insured by the by NCUA up to $250,000.
  2. Higher dividend rates. Certificates offer higher yields than most savings accounts.
  3. Locked-in rates. There’s no stressing over fluctuating national rates with a certificate. The APY is set when you open the account and is locked in until its maturity date.

If a certificate sounds like the perfect choice for you, connect with a Member Relationship Specialist today to find the one that fits your needs best by calling 503-275-0300 or email info@usacu.org. We’re committed to giving your money its best chance at growth.

*APY = Annual Percentage Yield. Rates are subject to change without notice.

Start Your New Year with a Fresh Savings

Start your new year off with a fresh look at your savings plans. Do you have specific savings goal or purpose? Not a big saver and want to start a new habit? At USAgencies, we have different savings options to fit your new year resolution needs.

 

SAVE 4 IT

Perfect for saving for a down payment or a home improvement project. It is structured to help you keep your savings tucked away until you’ve reached your goal.

SUPER SAVER

Did you know nearly four out of 10 adults in America don’t have enough savings to cover an expense of $400?*  You can automatically build your savings with our Super Saver and be prepared for whatever storm life brings your way.

LIFESTYLE CLUB ACCOUNTS -Spring & Fall

We’ve seen a pattern in our members’ financial lives – two times a year expenses increase – the Spring and the Fall ( think vacations, tax bills, holiday expenses, etc. ) Get a head start with our Lifestyle Club Accounts, where you can stick a little extra now for anticipated expenses later.

SAVE TO WIN

Have you been eyeing a new car or vacation but not sure if you have enough saved for it? With the Save to Win**, a prized linked savings program, you will be rewarded for saving money. With prizes ranging from $25 to $5,000, you will not only save money, but you will also gain interest and have a chance at those great cash prizes.


Ready to open your new savings account? Get started online, or connect with us at 503-275-0300 Option 4. You can also visit our branch located on the corner of 1st and Taylor in Downtown Portland! You deserve a better banking experience. Get it here. 

*Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018

**Must be a member of USACU, an Oregon resident, and at least 18 years of age, to open a Save to Win account. Official account and prize entry rules and a complete list of prizes are available at savetowin.org. © CU Solutions Group, 2018. All rights reserved. Void where prohibited by law

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