April 1, 2020 Issue 95
A printed version of this newsletter is available in our lobby or by request. You may also view on our website at www.northwoodscu.org.
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It is important to us here at Northwoods Credit Union to be a resource for our members when they are facing financial hardships, Coronavirus or otherwise. Our staff is trained to not only conduct your financial transactions but also to help you through troubling financial times. If you’re feeling concerned about your current or potential financial situation, please contact us. We have programs and plans in place to help our members and we are here to help.
Illustration of a man holding a shield that has Northwoods Credit Union Online and Mobile Banking on it, defending against germs
COVID-19 Updates
Northwoods Credit Union is monitoring the Coronavirus situation and has taken steps to help keep our members and staff healthy. Our lobbies are closed but drive-ups are open regular hours. We also offer a variety of online options to help you complete transactions and view account information.
You may apply for a Northwoods CU loan online 24/7 at  https://www.netit.financial-net.com/northwoodscu-loan/…/ebs…  or call us during regular hours to do a loan application over the phone. We also have online options for checking your balance, making transfers, paying bills and even depositing checks! If you’d like additional information on any of these products, please feel free to call or text us at 1-888-458-0975 or you can email us at ncu@northwoodscu.org.
Photo of people attending the 2019 Northwoods Credit Union Annual Meeting at the Cloquet Senior High Cafeteria.
83rd Annual Meeting Follow-Up
Thank you to everyone who participated in our Security Seminar and, or our Annual Meeting on Monday, March 9th. We were pleased to see more than 160 of our members at the meeting, participating in our financial cooperative. We were proud to report our strong financials for 2019. This year we also enjoyed an open forum to discuss issues important to our members where our President/CEO, Doug Wolf, was asked several questions. We have a recap below of the topics with the most discussion, as well as our response after looking further into each item.
 
A member asked about why we don’t have deposit-taking ATMs. Deposit-taking ATMs are much more expensive than the ATMs we currently deploy. With the limited amount of demand for this function with our branch ATMs, and the availability of mobile deposit through our mobile banking service, we can not justify the cost associated with deposit-taking ATMs. Our alternative is for members to use the Night Drop Box at each of our branch locations. It was noted that to use the night drop box it would be helpful if envelopes were supplied at the drop box location, we are arranging for envelopes to be available.  
 
A few members asked about the ATMs at the branches possibly not functioning properly as it appeared that when you inserted your debit card, you got an error message to remove your card and reinsert it. We did check on this and the answer ended up being quite simple. When you first insert your card, it checks to see if this is a card with a chip in it. If it is, then it gives the read error message, much like when you swipe a chip card at Walmart and the machine asks you to use the insert slot instead. The difference is that our branch ATMs use the same slot for both types of cards. So, after what appears like a reader error message, you just need to reinsert the card and you are good to go! (We are looking at if we have the capability to change the error message to a better descriptive message.)
 
The recent decision by the credit union to charge a substantial fee for dormant accounts was brought up, this fee being charged to accounts whose primary owner is a minor. It was explained that this fee was structured to try and get a response by the account holder so that we could avoid being forced to turn the account money over to the State of Minnesota under the escheatment laws. It was explained that the credit union had been unsuccessful in attempts to activate the accounts and this fee has indeed gotten the desired result of members contacting the credit union to keep the account from being turned over to the state. When a member contacts us to arrange for an activity in the account (i.e. a deposit of as little as $1.00) we waive/reverse the fee and the account avoids being turned over to the State of Minnesota. The Management Team is still reviewing the process specifically for account holders that are minors. 
 
Like many businesses, efficiently answering incoming phone calls can be a challenge. Several members expressed dislike with our automated phone system.  Doug admitted that trying to have the phone answered by a live person in a reasonable amount of time is something the Management Team has struggled with for quite some time. Doug went on to note that some automation is necessary given the number of calls that come in and the limited number of staff we have. He further noted that the goal is to have all calls answered by a live person, which may be in our small call center or by one of our Member Service Representatives in our branches. In the end Doug said that we do not have a good answer to this yet, but, we will keep trying to improve on this.  
YOUTH WEEK WILL BE RESCHEDULED.
money magice ncu youth week poster with photos of animals ncu logo  and americas credit unions    Share spend and save at your credit union
Please keep an eye on our July newsletter for updated Youth Week dates.
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13TH ANNUAL SHRED DAY*
This event has been rescheduled for the fall. Please watch for our July newsletter for the reschedule date.
A photo of Edward Grondahl
Northwoods Retirement & Investing Services
Ed Grondahl, Financial Advisor shares some tips to create a strategy for retirement.

Sign Up for Texting Service
*Please note that NCU offers two types of texting service:

Conversational Texting allows us to text you regarding something specific to you.
You may  OPT IN by texting any of our main phone numbers.
You may  OPT OUT by texting ‘opt-out’ to any of our phone numbers

News & Updates Texting allows us to send a text to many members notifying you of an event at the Credit Union, a branch closure, etc.
You can OPT IN to receive these by texting ENROLL NEWS to 1-888-458-0975
You can OPT OUT of these by texting QUIT to 1-888-458-0975.

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Six Tips for Financial Wellness in the Coronavirus Era
An article from our partners, Lutheran Financial Counseling
With change and uncertainty around COVID-19, you may be feeling greater anxiety, worry and stress — especially around personal finances. Some of us are facing the possibility of reduced income with hours cutback at work. Parents are scrambling to find child care or cover shifts so they can stay home because their child’s school has closed. Many households are stocking up on food staples and supplies, creating a strain on budgets. And, there is turbulence in the stock market.
 
This is a perfect time for you to take a good look at your personal finances and put plans in place for the weeks and months ahead. In times of uncertainty, there are important steps you can take to decrease financial stress.
 
1.   Review your budget.
·        If you are concerned about a decrease in income, review your budget and cut down on any expenses that you can.
·        Ask yourself: Are there items in your budget that could be cut temporarily?
·        Avoid overbuying or stockpiling too many supplies, such as toilet paper and sanitizer.
2.   Pay priority expenses.
·        Pay your housing expenses first. That includes rent/mortgage and utilities. If you’re concerned about the ability to make your mortgage payment, contact LSS Financial Counseling, which offers free housing counseling over the phone. 
3.   Take care of your mental and physical health.
·        Food is a priority expense. Also, maintain your health care and insurance premiums.
·        Focus on what you can control, including basics such as exercise, good sleep and nutrition.
4.   Have a plan for managing your debt.
·        Debts for credit cards, car loans and student loans have different priorities and options for helping you through times of uncertainty. Create a plan for addressing them.
·        Contact lenders on your car loan, credit cards or student loans, and let them know if you are having difficulty making payments. See if they have any hardship programs.
·        Contact LSS Financial Counseling, which specializes in these areas and can help you determine action for helping to manage your debt — at no cost to you and from the comfort of your own home.
5.   Stay up to date on changing situations and resources available to you.
·        Many states are looking at expanding unemployment benefits for those impacted by work stoppage, such as hourly employees at schools.
·        In Minnesota, if you are facing unemployment, you can file online at www.uimn.org or call 651.296.3644 or toll free at 877.898.9090.
·        Nationwide, check out United Way by calling 211 or visit www.211.org . This referral center will help you find support in your community for food, energy assistance, health care and many other essential needs.
 
6.   Don’t stop saving.
·        Seventy percent of Americans don’t have $1,000 saved. Make this a priority. This will decrease financial stress and uncertainty.
·        Stock market fluctuations are inevitable. Keep investing as you can.
·        If your employer has a retirement savings match, make sure you are doing at least the minimum to get the match.
 
We at LSS Financial Counseling have been guiding individuals and families for more than 30 years as they take control of their finances.
 
Northwoods Credit Union partners with LSS Financial Counseling to provide members with a trusted Financial Choice benefit. This benefit offers up to six free appointments each calendar year to you and your immediate family members.
 
For additional resources to help you face these times of financial uncertainty, or for information about scheduling an appointment, go to https://www.lssmn.org/financialcounseling/ncu or call 800.528.2926 and mention you are a Northwoods member.
DATES TO REMEMBER
Attention TEENS!!
Teen girl sitting at table staring off with illustrated graphics above her head of money, shoes, food, light bulb, book, question mark, car
Quarterly Teen Club Financial Article Contest

Members age 13-17 are invited to submit an article on a financial topic to be considered for publication in our quarterly newsletter, website and on Facebook. We will then award 1 teen, $100 for their submission.* Submit your article or ask any questions now at email.


This quarter's winning submission is by Annika Mossberg and it discusses the importance of budgets!

       George Washington, the great army general and first president of the United States, once said: “We must consult our means rather than our wishes.” It is undeniable that means, more widely known as money, are incredibly important to society and the world as a whole. Every personal endeavor, private purchase, and government policy has to address the issue of money. That issue can be large or small depending on the financial position of the one participating in the economic transaction. The key to managing money successfully on any scale is creating and following a personalized budget. A budget is a plan that separates a person’s money and tells it where to go and what to do. While the specifics of each budget can be incredibly subjective, the general ratio of an efficient budget is quite universal.
           I budget my money into three main categories: give. save, and spend. As an Evangelical Christian, I believe that the Bible calls me to tithe (give away) 10% of my income. The next general budget category is spending. Generally speaking, this subsection of my personal budget usually goes toward eating out, entertainment, cosmetics, and clothing. In an average month, I generally allot 20-30% of my income for these “fun” purchases. The rest of my monthly income, 70-60%, goes into my savings or checking account. With this plan, I am able to give some money away, have some money to enjoy, and save up for college and my future.
           My budget is very simple and many others, whether individuals or corporations, may very well require a more complicated and detailed budget. One of the greatest tools for teenagers for making and keeping track of one’s budget is a free app I employ called EveryDollar. In the app, one can estimate a monthly income and then create a dollar specific budget that fits into a large number of categories. Throughout the month, one can enter both incomes (like paychecks) as well as expenses (like everyday purchases). This tool is simple, easy to use, and very effective in keeping a budget on track.
           Without a budget, money management is nearly impossible. It is incredibly easy to overspend and undersave. However, with a budget in place, it is much easier to recognize personal financial boundaries and keep those boundaries in place through developing saving and spending habits. Developing these habits is key to financial security and learning how to handle money efficiently. With a clear budget in place, it is far easier to “consult our means rather than our wishes.”

Annika Mossberg

FYI
DORMANT ACCOUNT FEE CHANGE

Why we reclassify accounts to be dormant.

The main purpose of reclassifying the accounts is to reduce the risk of fraud in your account. By reclassifying the accounts, credit unions warn their staff about the potential risk involved and carry out due diligence before allowing any fresh transaction through them.
 
Update to Dormant Account Policy Effective January 1, 2020
 
The Board of Directors of Northwoods Credit Union is constantly looking for ways to improve our credit union and make it a better financial institution for the member. In looking out for our members, we have updated our dormant account policy effective January 1, 2020. We will be instituting a one-time $60.00 fee after 12 months of inactivity on a member’s base share and all their sub-accounts under that number. This fee will be assessed on the last day of the month that this 12-month threshold is reached.

BELOW IS A COMPREHENSIVE LOOK AT OUR DORMANT ACCOUNT POLICY:

DORMANT ACCOUNT:
An account will be deemed dormant if there is not member-initiated transaction activity under that account number in any rolling 12-month period. Member activity on the base share or any sub-account under that account number will prevent the account from being deemed dormant. Example: if the share draft/checking account is utilized but no transactions take place on the base share account, the account number is considered active.

FEE:
The dormant account fee is a one-time $60.00 fee. The fee may be adjusted by the board at any time. If the fee takes the account below the required minimum share balance, the fee will be the actual account balance and the account will be closed . If the account is still dormant, the funds in the account will be es-cheated to the member’s last known state of residency as required by that state.

WHY ARE WE CHARGING THIS FEE?
If an account sits dormant and it’s not being used, it is more susceptible to fraudulent activity. Sometimes dormancy means no one is taking care of that account or may have forgot about it. If no one watches over it, there could be fraudulent activity on it. We would like to help you our member prevent fraudulent activity on their accounts so we’d like the account to be used more often so someone is watching over it.

Thank you for making NCU your credit union. We are happy to serve you and will continue to grow and change with your needs.
NORTHWOODS AROUND TOWN
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Member Services Representative Spotlight - Krystal

Krystal started with Northwoods Credit Union five years ago as a Member Service Representative (MSR) and is now an MSR Supervisor at our Stanley Avenue office. Krystal comes from a family of paper mill workers and has been a member of the credit union her whole life. She feels like Northwoods is in her blood and she is grateful to be part of the team. Her favorite part of the job is training and teaching coworkers. Krystal says, “The biggest difference here is the people. I have worked in the financial industry prior to coming to Northwoods. It is a totally different feel here at the credit union versus working for a bank. We talk to people on a human level.” Krystal is currently part of the leadership program through the Cloquet Area Chamber of Commerce and is scheduled to graduate this spring. Janell, Krystal’s Supervisor, says “Krystal is an asset to our team. She enjoys helping her coworkers and her members and takes initiative to learn everything she can about our products and services to help others.”
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