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President's Blog


News and interesting tidbits shared by our President/CEO, Christopher Goebel


December 13, 2017
Where Does Time Go?

Overdoing the Screen TimeOn an informal basis I decided to evaluate how much screen time I spend during the work week. I thought perhaps I spend about 5 hours.

To my chagrin I realized I spent an average of nine hours of screen time each week day. Granted, it is sporadic as I get up to deal with the workings of the credit union. But all told I am online a lot more than I would have myself believe.

It was a shocking revelation for me to realize how much time I spend engaging in our 24/7 world. Electronics rule our lives. Whether you are in your car, tapping your destination into your GPS or checking your emails on your handheld while waiting for an appointment, it seems our hyper-plugged in world has enslaved us. The online community is as enticing as a siren, drawing you closer to its vitality while sucking your time.

To determine whether I was using my tools, or my tools were using me, I decided to test myself. Could I run an errand without taking my phone? To my surprise the sky did not fall, my reputation remained intact, and I managed to get this errand done in less time.

How we spend our time does indeed reveal what is truly important to me. It is liberating to knowing I’m in charge of the tools that can serve us well if we remain the master of them instead of them mastering us.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


December 8, 2017
Pets as Presents?! For your child!

Christmas is ComingYes, I know there is nothing cuter than a bow-wearing puppy under the tree, but before you buy that furry gift for your child, read on. . .

  • First do an allergy check. Before everybody gets attached to this new furball, ensure that no one is allergic.
     
  • Responsibility. Think about the chores your child already does, like remembering to make their bed etc. If he/she is good with those tasks, he/she may well help with a pet. However as a parent, be ready to be the primary caregiver.
     
  • Also, the primary money giver. I just read that the total first-year cost of owning a dog is $1,270 and for a cat it’s $1,070. As you can see, having a pet can cost you over $1,000 in the first year, and well over $500 each additional year. Depending on the food you buy and your actual medical expenses, the costs could be much higher.

Be sure you think this gift through before purchase!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


December 6, 2017
Time for a Travel Tune-UpTime for a Travel Tune-Up

Every Year, in the pre-winter when all my summer and fall adventures are wrapped up, I take time to make sure I’m in good shape for my next 12 months of travel. Here’s my to-do list for ensuring no problems in the future.

  1. Check Your Passport - Check the expiration date. Some countries require your passport to be valid at least six months beyond your trip. Have four blank pages for exit/entry stamps and visas? If not, you need a new passport.
  2. Drivers License - When is the last time you looked at your license? Checked the date when it will expire?
  3. Check to see if you have mile/points for airlines or hotels.

After I do this I make a plan for my future travel into the next year. Happy travel!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


December 1, 2017
Control Your Holiday Spending

Christmas is ComingChristmas is coming. No surprise there. It falls on the same date every year. Also, not a surprise are the holiday-related bills that arrive shortly afterwards, some with amounts that you didn’t necessarily plan for.

It’s easy to get caught up in the Christmas spirit and spend more than you planned, but it doesn’t have to happen. Here are some ways to control you expenses during the season:

Set a limit. Determine how much you have to spend during the holiday shopping period and stay within that limit. Be realistic. You may want to spend $1,000, but if you don’t have that kind of money available, you will have to scale back and set a lower amount. You might even establish a separate savings account for Christmas shopping.

Avoid going into debt. Regardless of how much or how little you plan to spend for Christmas, stay away from debt. Paying off credit cards or other debts for Christmas-related purchases can stretch well beyond the wintry holiday and into the heat of summer. You don’t really want to still be paying off Christmas debt while you prepare for a 4th of July barbecue. Avoid paying for Christmas with credit cards.

Plan ahead. Like Santa, you should make a list, check it twice, and stick to it. Impulse buys are usually not a good idea, especially when holiday shopping. Know what you are getting before you enter the store and avoid the temptation to get “one more thing.”

You and your loved ones can enjoy the Christmas season without being saddled with debt from extravagant and unbudgeted gift giving. Take control of your holiday spending before you spend the money, and you will have a much merrier Christmas!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


November 29, 2017
Thinking about SolutionsThinking about Solutions

I needed help the other day with my iPhone, tired everything, even went online at Apple to see if I could figure it out..., result I couldn’t, and I needed help. So, I drove to the Apple Store. I got there as the store was about 10 minutes away from opening, staff members were outside in their red shirts taking names and problems or in the other line if you needed to buy new products. Of course, the line with questions was much longer.

As I was standing there I thought, "What am I doing here?" Yes, I need “genius” support, but technology should be at our fingertips. I could have called an expert via the phone, chat, email, or even Twitter. Just like the credit union, this problem could have been handled in the comfort of my own home, or where ever I was at the time. My problem was I wasn’t think but reacting to a problem. Next time I have an issue I need to be smarter in handling what can be done in this technological time.

Thinking about solutions should have been my first thought!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


Are you a Black Friday Shopper? Or a Cyber Monday Shopper?November 24, 2017
Have you ever thought about the bottom line. . .in gift giving?

Have you already started purchasing gifts for this year? Consider adding some experiences as well, or slowly transitioning to more experience-based gifts over time, or seasonally. The family time and memories are worth so much more than gifts and, statistically, giving experiences may help reduce your stress levels and contribute to family bonding.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


November 22, 2017
Are you a Black Friday Shopper? Or a Cyber Monday Shopper?Are you a Black Friday Shopper? Or a Cyber Monday Shopper?

Regardless of which, here are 4 tips to help you keep your shopping “in the black” . . . and help you avoid to putting your finances “in the red.”

  1. Research
  2. Make a list and stick to it
  3. Strategize your “plan of attack”
  4. Beware of the HYPE!

Staying focused on your plan to find the best deals, won’t turn this day into a “red” Friday you’ll have to deal with most of next year.

Here’s to Shopping for The Best deal. Enjoy!
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


November 17, 2017
DO give back.Time to Give Back

People who spend money and time on charity are healthier and happier. They sleep more and exercise more and that puts them in a better frame of mind.

Giving back—doing something for someone else, whether you write a check, volunteer, or give away your unwanted things—gives the human psyche a boost that’s hard to replicate in any other way. And I truly believe that practicing gratitude is also the antidote to materialism.

Think about it: materialism is focusing on what you want, obsessing on what you desire. Gratitude is being thankful for what you already have.

Happy Thanksgiving,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


 

November 15, 2017
Every birthday, check your weight and your credit score.

I have a friend, and this is what she does when it comes to her weight and her credit score: one should go down, the other should go up. Guess which? (Granted, both should stay level if they’re already good.)

It’s important to understand how vital your credit score has become. It is now considered an important barometer of how responsible a human being you are. It will be used to decide; Do you get the car loan or the apartment or the job? Do you pay a decent rate on your credit card, or do you pay up? For those reasons, it’s imperative to protect your score by doing all the things that positively affect it: always pay your bills on time; don’t use more than 10 to 30 percent of your available credit; don’t apply for new cards willy nilly; and don’t cancel cards you’re not using. The longer your open accounts are in good standing, the better your score.

Also remember: looking at your report and finding items that look unfamiliar could mean identity theft. Check one report from each of the three credit bureaus for free each year at annualcreditreport.com.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


November 10, 2017
Keep your hands off your retirement funds. Period.

keep your hands off your retirement fund

If you pull money out of your 401(k), IRA, or other retirement accounts before you hit age 59 , you’ll have to pay income taxes as well as a 10 percent penalty. That can cost 30-plus cents on the dollar. Any money you remove also loses its ability to grow tax-deferred until you retire. If you switch jobs, leave the money in the current plan, transfer it to your new employer’s plan, or roll it into an IRA to maintain its tax-advantage status.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


November 8, 2017
Banking online makes you smarter and safer.mobile banking user

Sure, it saves you time (roughly 2 hours a month) and money (about $90 dollars a year in stamps) but that’s not why you should do it. You, our member/owners, are actually looking at your accounts four times more. Just looking at your money is a great way to notice if something doesn’t look right, or you suddenly realized you had more money than you thought.

Thank you for using online banking with us.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


November 3, 2017
Phone scammers have a new trick!online shopping

My cell phone rings and the caller ID says the caller has the same area code and prefix as mine, so I answer. . . and get a telemarketer from many miles away. I just found out that this is called neighbor spoofing, and it’s one of the hottest fraud trends.

Spoofing with the intent to cause harm is illegal, and in June, the government cracked down on one company for spoofing 96 million cell phones to sell time-shares. That hasn’t slowed the practice however.

Now regulators are considering letting phone companies block spoofers.

I decided to act, too: Register your phone at the National DO NOT CALL Registry at https://donotcall.gov/. And let your answering machine handle callers you don’t recognize.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


November 1, 2017
Two tips to be safe while online shoppingonline shopping

Love online shopping? You’re not alone.

A friend taught me two major points in purchasing online, I would like to pass on to you.

  1. Always use a secure Internet connection when making a purchase. Reputable websites that use technologies such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that encrypt data during transmission, In other words look for the little padlock in the address bar or a URL that starts with “https” instead of “http,” as the “s” stands for “secure.”
  2. A strong password but take it one step forward and opt for a passphrase instead of a password, which is typically a long sequence of strung-together words, but perhaps with a number and symbol in there, too. For example, the sentence “My car Eddie has a birthday July 24!” could be used to create a passphrase like “Mc3habJ24!”. It’s good also to reset your shopping password every so often.

As my friend was saying, don’t be nave!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 27, 2017
Tax Deductions 2017: 2 Tax Write-Offs You Might Not Know About

You might not want to hear this, but it's already time to start thinking about tax preparation. Although April feels far away, the earlier you begin planning your tax filing, the more likely it is you'll take advantage of all the tax breaks 2017 has to offer.

The IRS has already updated this year's tax brackets, but that's not the only change that affects you. Take advantage of dozens of lucrative deductions that can save you money, a couple of them are:

Put Money on a Tax-Deferred 401k
When you contribute to your employer-based retirement plan, not only are you saving for life after your earning year, you’re lowering your taxable income now. Every dollar you contribute is a dollar less that you’ll have to pay tax on in April.

Donate Money to Charity
Donations to charity are tax-deductible. You write off IRS-qualified charitable contributions and donations to lower your taxable income, which lowers your tax bracket. You can’t, however, deduct donations you make sure the recipient of your gift qualifies for a deduction.

Remember, start now because time goes so fast.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 25, 2017
New Medicare Cards Coming

If you are like me, I sure you read. . .did you read about the New Medicare Cards that are going into the mail on April 1, 2018?

Congress has come up with a way to make it harder for Medicare scammers to steal your ID and rip you off. The solution: a new Medicare card that does not include your Social Security number, gender or signature. Each new card will feature a computer-generated Medicare beneficiary identifier (MBI) assigned just to you. The MBI, made up of 11 numbers and letters, will be used for billing, to verify eligibility for services and to check the status of a claim new cards next year.

These changes will make it considerably harder for criminals to steal your identity. According to the Justice Department, the number of identity-theft cases for people 65 or older hit 2.6 million in 2014.

But true to their nature, scammers are already using the moment to target the 58 million people who will be getting new cards next year.

Mailing the new cards to so many people is a big job. So it will take time. Don’t worry if you get your card before or after your spouse, or if friends or colleague get theirs first. Medicare members have until December 31, 2019, to begin using the new ID.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 20, 2017
The Virtues of a 401(k)

I had a conversation the other day with a younger man and he said he couldn’t match his employer match of 4%, so I asked him “If someone offered you free money, would you refuse it? Probably not, but that’s just what you’re doing if you don’t contribute to your 401(k)”. He was still confused so here is the facts I told him. The more you contribute, the more free money you get. Here’s why. Contributing part of your salary to a 401(k) gives you three compelling benefits:

  1. You get an immediate tax break, because contributions come out of your pay check before taxes are withheld.
  2. The possibility of a matching contribution from your employer—most commonly 50 cents on the dollar for the first 6% you save.
  3. You get tax deferred growth—meaning you don’t pay taxes each year on capital gains, dividends, and other distributions.

The federal limit on annual contributions for 2017 is $18,000. If you’re 50 or older, you may contribute an additional $5500 + $1,000 catch up.

Keep in mind, however, while federal law sets the guidelines for what’s permissible in 401(k) plans, your employer may set tighter restrictions. Plus, it will take time for the administrators of your plan to implement the changes.

So always find out all the facts on what your employer benefits do for you and if you don’t know, ASK!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 18, 2017
Minnesota Fall Colors ... Are We Ready for Fall, Yet Alone Winter?

Purple, orange, red and yellow are the colors of fall in Minnesota. Throughout the state, colorful prairie grasses and wild flowers like Goldenrod and Black Eyed Susan’s vie for attention, but so do our homes. We still hopefully have a few weeks left of warm weather, but those chilly months are right around the corner. I mean, it’s already mid-October! While the temperatures are still in the upper 70s, you can start prepping your house for the cooler season. Here are some tips:

  • Ah, the fireplace. Now is the ideal time to schedule a chimney cleaning to avoid chimney fires.
  • Speaking of fireplaces, now is a great time to start your firewood pile. When the winter months roll around you’ll be glad you did.
  • Whether you have a furnace or boiler, it’s good to make sure everything will run smoothly this fall when the temperatures drop. Get it inspected and make sure to change that filter!
  • Do you have your ice scraper, ice salts, snow shovel, and snow blower ready to go?
  • How about that emergency kit for inside every car? You never know! I have candles, matches, a candy bar, flashlight etc.
  • The one thing I should have a note on regards the outdoor faucets, close the shut-off valve for the faucet! One year I forgot. . .Let’s not go there!

Remember the small things that get forgotten, I keep a list every year and am always adding to it.

Some things to think about!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 13, 2017
Where Can I Keep My Money; Where Is It Perfectly Safe?

I recently listened to a conversation with “Suze” Orman (an American author, financial advisor, motivational speaker, and television host) regarding “Where can I keep my money, where it is perfectly safe?” She said that NCUA (National Credit Union Association) insures the deposits that you put into a credit union up to $250,000.00 per account. The same amount that FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation) insures at banks, and did you know a new law makes this coverage limit permanent.

So, know, no matter what happens your money it is safe both in a credit union and a bank. However, she went on to say; that she is upset because banks continue to reap profits while charging consumers high fees and interest rates. Orman advised consumers to find a good credit union and credit union credit card.

“Federally chartered credit unions can’t charge you more than 18% [in interest],” Orman said. “Credit unions care about their members; banks care about their shareholders. Credit unions are going to take better care of you.”

It is reaffirming that people like the “Orman’s” of the world are finally getting credit unions, something most of us have known all our lives If you would like to learn more about Credit Unions -- get consumer tips and consumer protection information all in one place.

www.mycreditunion.gov/pages/mcu-map.aspx
MyCreditUnion.gov is brought to you by the Office of Consumer Protection, the National Credit Union Administration’s office dedicated to protecting the rights of consumers, and promoting financial literacy.

Knowledge is power, and we want to empower you at Soo Line Credit Union!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 11, 2017
A Check Register? What’s that?

Check Register, Transaction Register, or Ledger, do any of these ring a bell to you? If not, you’re probably not alone. These are all the same thing and serve the same purpose. In fact, there are probably a million other names that people call them. I know the first time that I went into my Credit Union I had no idea what it was called. I simply told the teller that I “need one of those things you write spending in.” Luckily for me, she knew exactly what I was talking about.

Soooooo what is this thing I’m talking about? Originally, check book registers were one of the only tools you would use to keep track of the checks you wrote so that you knew exactly how much money you had left in your account. Let's face it, checks don't always clear right away, and sometimes people are not so timely in cashing them. Registers/Ledgers keep you on track and your finances in check.

Nowadays, paper checks are not as common as they used to be. In fact, some people are not sure how to write out a check - But that doesn’t mean keeping up with your finances should go out of style too. Now, with debit cards and EFT’s (electronic funds transfers) taking the place of paper checks it can be easy to forget how much we have in our account.

Here’s the explanation of a check register—

Date – the date that you made the transaction. Transactions can be deposits, withdrawals, transfers, or anything that happens in your account.

Description – This is so you remember what you purchased, bought, deposited, etc. If you are going to keep track of your spending, it helps to be exact.

Debit/Withdraw – These are transactions that are coming out of your account. In the example we took out $50.00 at Macy’s.

Credit/Deposit – These are transactions that are being deposited into your account. In the example we see a deposit from our payroll.

Balance – This is where you write down what your balances are after the deposit or withdrawal, based on your current balance. In our example we had our paycheck deposited, making our beginning balance $500.00. Then, we went to Macy’s and made a purchase so we subtracted $50.00 from our beginning $500.00 balance, leaving us with $450.00 left in our account.

See, easy! Keeping track of your spending, the old fashion way is a great way to get back on track, or to give yourself a clear picture of where your money is going. It can be easy to swipe your card and not think about how much you have in your account. So check your balance before you spend to ensure you’re not overspending your hard-earned dollars.

Don't have a checking account yet? Let’s Talk!

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 6, 2017
Millennials & Money a continual series!

I read an article in the New York Post the other morning, stating that many millennials believe that money will buy them happiness. Or so say many millennials: one in every 10 people ages 20-36, when asked what they most closely associate with happiness, answers “money” –choosing that over love, doing good and other answers as their No.1 driver of happiness.

To be fair, the article went on to pay, millennials aren’t all wrong in their thinking that money can buy happiness. Money buys relief from worry about making ends meet and payment deadlines. However:

Series continues next week. . .

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


October 4, 2017
The Most Unimaginable Event:
“People Helping People” Stories of Heroism Emerge From Las Vegas Massacre

Heroes sprang into action during the chaos and carnage at the Las Vegas music concert, saving strangers and loved ones from bullets flying from a gunman’s rifle.

“What these people did for each other says far more about who we are as Americans than the cowardly acts of a killer ever could,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, fighting back tears during the daily news briefing.

Sanders said those courageous feats, and others, are an “external reminder that the American Spirit cannot and will not be broken.”

Soo Line Credit Union’s sincerest condolences for an incredibly great loss.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO


September 29, 2017
Millennials and Money

Millennials – they’re the generation that’s now more likely to hold a bachelor’s degree and living at home with parents for longer stretches. It seems they’re topping the charts year after year in areas that will help them be more financially prepared later down the road, and yet – they’re struggling with money now more than ever.

In fact, only one-third of millennials are even thinking about financial goals – and even fewer are staying on top of things by checking their credit scores and reviewing an annual budget.

This fall, Soo Line Credit Union has teamed up with Forrester Research to better understand the financial hab-its, behaviors and outlooks of the millennial generation in 2017 – and figure out how financial institutions can help. What we found? Even though millennials think they’re financially on track, their bank accounts tell a dif-ferent story. Not to mention, many millennials are navigating these murky waters alone, relying heavily on their own research and personal contacts for financial advice.

Millennials and Money – 2017 Report

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be spotlighting results of our 2017 Millennials and Their Money survey, right here on the Soo Line Blog. Be sure to check back in weekly for financial tips and advice to help you (or a mil-lennial you know). And remember – no matter where you do your banking, your financial institution is there to discuss your unique needs and guide you to the products and services that will help you manage your money with confidence.

Sincerely,
Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO



About Christopher Goebel, President/CEO of Soo Line Credit Union

Chris Goebel grew up in Richfield, MN and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in business management. He's spent most of his adult life working for credit unions.

In 2013 Chris graduated from CUNA Management School and received his designation as a Certified Credit Union Executive.

Chris welcomes member feedback. Call 612-373-9412 or send an email to .

 


   

   
 


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