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President's Blog

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

September 27, 2017
From Google News: Beware unexpected Google Docs, the latest phishing scam

Be careful when opening emails claiming to include links to a Google Document shared by people you know —they might be part of a phishing scam that spread quickly across the internet Wednesday.

If users click on the fraudulent link, they are brought to a Google page where they are asked to grant “Google Docs” access to all of their Google accounts — giving hackers an open door to their email and private documents.

It is not clear who is behind the phishing effort.

The phishing attempt spread across the internet for several hours before Google appeared to at least block the page allowing users to give data permissions.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

September 22, 2017
Do Food and Money Have Anything In Common?

What is your relationship with money like?--I read this article the other day and it got me thinking what my correlation between people’s relationship along with my own; with eating and spending money? We often talk about “being in relationship” with someone or something: Our relationship with our spouse, with food, and yes even with money. And when we talk about being in relationship it really just means the way we feel, think and communicate around that topic or with that person. Like any relationship, feelings ebb and flow and change over time. Sometimes the relationship deepens, sometimes it sours and sometimes it has us feeling conflicted. But, most relationships are delicate and require ample communication, respect and trust. The similarities between how we relate to money and to food. I was and maybe you may be surprised at the commonalities and how we show up in relationship to both the same way.

Scarcity vs. Abundance--As with money, the term of scarcity with food brings about great anxiety. And in times of economic downturns or recessions, there might not only be scarcity with money and jobs but likely also with nutritious food. Unlike with money, however, scarcity with food can sometimes be a psychological or self-prescribed phenomena by way of extreme dieting. Done enough times, self-prescribed scarcity with food can become a precursor for binge eating and an overall mistrust around food and one’s ability to bring nutritional balance into their lives.

Budgeting--Many people who have ever dieted see calories as a budget that they have to spend on food and drink per day, much like a monetary budget. One thereby needs to decide where to “spend” or “save” that money or those calories and if the purchase was a sound investment (into their bodies or credit union accounts). Unlike micromanaging money, however, micromanaging calories can lead to tremendous angst and can shut off our ability to derive pleasure from food.

Excitement, Freedom and Pleasure--Have you ever had a windfall of money come your way unexpectedly by way of a bonus or scratch card? Your excitement builds and fantasies arise about how you’ll spend, save or allocate that money. Now imagine that feeling arising from an unexpected neighbor popping by with a batch of fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies. Or the pleasure derived when a delicious cold drink is served to you on a beach. With both money and food, there is the opportunity for feelings of excitement, joy and pleasure. Sadly, however, like money that feeling of bliss is often tainted by our own conflicted feelings about that food or complications that can arise from eating it. The pristine moment of pleasure is interrupted by our own narrative and stories around the choice to eat or drink it much like the way we feel with an indulgence purchase. It’s a mixture of both pleasure and guilt. This speaks much more about our societal views on indulgence, hedonism and pleasure than anything else but no less plays a role in dampening our experience.

Investments--Investments in your long term financial health or long-term investments into your physical health and longevity by way of what you eat.

Waste--We can draw correlations between terms like “you’re just throwing away money” or “That was a complete waste of money” or “Money doesn’t grow on trees!” (like food) with the type of food waste and guilt associated with that that occurs in restaurants and our households daily. The concept of waste or unnecessary use of commodities is a charged area for many of us and speaks to a larger socio-economic and environmental issue in our society.

I found this interesting, I hope you also did.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

September 20, 2017

Many of you may have already heard through various news media outlets, but Equifax (one of three major credit reporting agencies) publicly announced a very large data breach September 7, 2017. Many details are still yet to be determined, but we do know that sensitive data (Social Security and Driver's License Numbers) for approximately 143 million consumers could have been compromised. Equifax is also stating that credit card numbers for 209,000 consumers were also included in this breach.

We are advising Members with questions to consult the website established by Equifax or the Consumer Finance site.

Anyone can also check the status of your own personal information by utilizing this Equifax website. Please note to make sure to check all your credit card statements, when receiving them.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

September 15, 2017
Pets Are Pricey!

According to Money Under 30, (http://www.moneyunder30.com/the-true-cost-of-pet-ownership) The average annual cost to owning a dog is $695 and the cost for a cat is $705. That is just shy of $60 a month for each of these and you can double that if you decide your furry friend needs a pal to play with. You may have never used Equifax yourself - or even heard of it - but the credit reporting agency could still have a treasure trove of your personal information.

Now you might try and justify this by saying, “Oh there are a lot of one-time expenses that come with a pet, you must have forgotten to just mark these down once. It cant possibly be that expensive.” Actually, these annual cost are only counting regular medical treatments (not those midnight emergency visits), food (because we have all got to eat), and other small miscellaneous costs (such as litter for cats, because who doesn't poop).

The best part is when you have a pet and roommates. If your pet damages your roommates possessions, YOU will be responsible for replacing those items. Your dog or cat doesn't care about how expensive your roommates record collection was…he just wanted to be on the shelf…all 15 lbs of him…

Another fun time is the medical emergencies. #BONUSTIP Always be sure to call your local free vet hotline number before racing your pet off to the Animal ER. You might be able to save yourself from having to pay a hefty couple hundred dollar pet medical bill. Simply go to Google and type in, “free emergency vet hotline,” or visit http://www.justanswer.com/sip/veterinary where you can get real time answers to your vet questions.

In the end pets are a huge reward, but people often forget about the financial requirements associated with them. They are easy to justify, but costly to your budget.

 Just letting you know that although owning a cat or dog is fun, staying within budget is the real cat’s meow.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

September 13, 2017
How to Find Out If You’re Affected by the Equifax Hack!

You may have never used Equifax yourself - or even heard of it - but the credit reporting agency could still have a treasure trove of your personal information.

Equifax said Thursday that 143 million people could be affected by a recent data breach in which cybercriminals stole information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses.

Additionally, credit card numbers for about 209,000 people were exposed, as was “personal identifying information” on roughly 182,000 customers involved in credit report disputes.

Equifax is one of three nationwide credit-reporting companies that track and rate the financial history of U.S. consumers. It gets its data - without you even knowing - from credit card companies, banks, retailers, and lenders.

Equifax will not be contacting everyone who was affected, but will send direct mail notices to those whose credit card numbers or dispute records were accessed

The company suggests you sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. It is providing free service for one year through TrustedID Premier - whether or not you’ve been affected by the breach.

To enroll, go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the Check Potential Impact tab. You must submit your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number there.

At that point you’ll receive a message telling you whether you’ve been impacted by the hack. Then you’ll be given a date when you can return to the site and sign up for the monitoring service. The enrollment process is scheduled over several days to minimize delays, the Equifax website says.

If you sign up for Equifax’s offer of free protection, you may be limiting your rights to sue and be forced to take disputes to arbitration. But you can opt out of that provision if you notify the company in writing within 30 days.

The company also recommends that you review account statements and credit reports yourself to check for incidents of fraud. You can request a copy of your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com. You are allowed a free copy once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

If you see any unauthorized activity, immediately report it to your bank and/or credit card company. If you believe you’ve been a victim of identity theft, you should also contact law enforcement.

Another way to protect yourself is by immediately placing fraud alerts on your credit reports, according to credit expert John Ulzheimer, who previously worked at FICO and Equifax. This means that a lender must contact you to verify your identity before it issues credit in your name. You can place an alert on your report for free by contacting one of the credit agencies, which is required to notify the other two. It will last for 90 days and can be renewed.

Since cybercriminals may have accessed what Ulzheimer calls the “crown jewels of information” at Equifax, he also suggests putting a long-term freeze on your credit.

A freeze takes your credit report out of circulation. If someone else goes to take out a loan in your name, the lender will not be able to pull your report and therefore cannot extend the credit. If you want to take out a loan yourself, you’ll have to contact the reporting agency to temporarily lift the freeze. Fees to freeze your account vary by state, but commonly range from $5 to $10.

“It’s a pretty extreme measure, but when 143 million people have been exposed like this, I think you have to take it,” Ulzheimer said.

The Federal Trade Commission’s website, www.ftc.gov/idtheft, also offers information about how to protect yourself against fraud.

If you have more questions for Equifax, the company has set up a designated call center at 866-447-7559.



September 9, 2017
Your Vehicle Identification Number Has a Story to Tell...

There are 17 numbers and letters (17 positions) in a VIN and you can divide them into three groups: World Manufacturer Identifier, Vehicle Descriptor Section, and Vehicle Identifier Section.

The very first letter or number of the VIN tells you in what region of the world your vehicle was made such as:
   - A,B,C,D,E,F,G, and H are made in Africa
   - J,K,L,M,N,P, and R are made in Asia
   - S,T,U,V,W,X,Y, and Z are made in Europe
   - 1,2,3,4,5 are made in North America
   - 6 and 7 are made in Oceania
   - 8 and 9 are made in South America

The second letter or number, in combination with the first letter or number in the VIN, tells you what country the car or truck was made. You may be surprised to know that not all Japanese cars are made in japan and not all GM cars are made in America and so on. Anyway, cars and trucks are made in over 80 countries and there are over 600 VIN country codes. You can see all the codes and find where your car or truck was made by going to http://researchmaniacs.com/VIN/Where-is-my-car-or-truck-made.html[external link disclosure]

The third number or letter is used by the vehicle manufacturer to identify what kind of vehicle it is.

The fourth through eight numbers tell the vehicle model, engine type, body style and things like that.

The ninth VIN check digit is where you can use math to figure out if it is a correct VIN.

Letters and numbers 10 through 17 is the Vehicle Descriptor Section. This gives you information such as when it was produced, what options it comes with and so on.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO
VIN Tips

September 6, 2017
Warning of Potential Hurricane Harvey Phishing Scams

US-CERT warned users to remain vigilant for malicious cyberactivity centered around Hurricane Harvey including exercising caution with any storm-related emails, attachments, or hyperlinks, even those appearing to originate from trusted sources.

Fraudulent emails often contain links or attachments that direct users to phishing or malware-infected websites. “Emails requesting donations from duplicitous charitable organizations commonly appear after major natural disasters,” said the alert from the Department of Homeland Security through the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

September 1, 2017
Take Advantage of this Tip from SLCU

For years, we’d been setting our side-view mirrors so that they gave us a view of the back corner of our cars. But the back corner never moves, so there’s really no reason to keep an eye on it.

By moving the side mirrors farther out, you can line up all three of your mirrors so they have minimal overlap—and you can see everything behind you and beside you.

Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Start by setting your rear-view mirror as you normally would.
Then, lean your head all the way to the left so it touches the driver’s window. From that position, set your left side-view mirror so you can see the back corner of your car. Now lean the same distance the other way, and set your right side-view mirror the same way.

Now, here’s what happens. When a car comes up behind you, you should first see it in your rear-view mirror. But as it passes you (let’s say on your left), you’ll see it move to the left side of your rear-view mirror. And as the left headlight disappears from your rear-view mirror, it should instantly show up in your left side-view mirror. There should be no delay. It should slip from one to the other, so you can always see it.

Step 2: Left-side mirror alignment.
You might need to make some slight adjustments to your side-view mirror to make everything line up perfectly. And pulling up next to a line of parked cars (to simulate another lane of traffic next to you) is a good way to do that.

Step 3: Right-side mirror alignment.
Then do the same thing on the right.

Step 4: End result? No huge blind spots.
Driving with mirrors this way takes some getting used to. You have to learn to rely on your rear-view mirror first. And you’ll have to get used to what your side-view mirrors are now looking at. But, the good news is that your blind spot should now be gone!

Also remember in a car the mirrors are there for your protection; not for putting make-up on, shaving, combing your hair, brushing your teeth, and many other things you have seen other people doing with there mirrors!

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

August 30, 2017
Donate to CUAID.COOP

The devastation we are seeing is approaching what we saw with Hurricane Katrina. Many people are displaced and expecting to go back to homes ruined by rain and floods. Vehicles submerged. Property destroyed.

The National Credit Union Foundation has activated CUAid, a 100% disaster relief fund aimed at helping credit union employees and members affected by Hurricane Harvey. If you would like to contribute, there is a link below you can use to donate.

SLCU will be contributing $1,000 to CUAid on behalf of SLCU members.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

The National Credit Union Foundation has activated the online disaster relief system CUAid.coop to raise money for credit union people in Texas affected by Tropical Storm Harvey. Credit union supporters in every state can make donations at cuaid.coop. [external link disclosure]

"With the devastating flooding caused by Harvey, our credit union brothers and sisters need our help," said Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland. "Everyone who supports CUAid is helping affected credit union people directly with critical needs, longer-term recovery needs, operational needs, and assisting credit union members."

Click here to make a donation. [external link disclosure]

As donations are posted through cuaid.coop, the National Credit Union Foundation will coordinate with the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation in the disaster area to distribute money efficiently to affected credit union employees and members. 100% of the donations through CUAid goes to credit union disaster relief. In the event that all donations are not used for Tropical Storm Harvey relief, the National Credit Union Foundation will transfer any and all unused funds to its "General Disaster Relief fund" for future disaster relief efforts.

August 25, 2017

Budgeting is one of those life things that isn’t always fun, but is necessary. Budgeting is sort of like going to the dentist, incredibly important, but not something we ever look forward to.

When I got my first job out of college, I built my first real budget, I knew how much money I was making annually, but I had never broken down my expanses by category to figure out what I could afford on a recurring basis, or how much money I could save and invest.

In short, I was spending money on the things I needed and wanted without determining if I could truly afford them.

Here is how I stared out; with a little time commitment and some careful organization you’ll be well on your way to a solid budget that can easily adapt to those unexpected moments. Here are simple steps to creating a budget:

  • Figure out your income.
  • So you know your income, now you need to figure out your expenses. Expenses are all the things that you need to use your money for rent, groceries, car payment, credit card payments etc. You also need an account for “fun money” meaning the money you spend on your latte, or going out to eat, etc.
  • After having both income and expenses figured out, subtract the total amount you are spending from the total amount of monthly income. The money you have left over is your “extra money”. This is the money you can put in savings for those #LifeHappens moments. Or you can adjust your monthly spending categories to spend a little extra on wanted categories.
  • Keep your receipts and reevaluate your budget monthly. This ensures that you’re staying on track and helps helps you you adjust before you over-spend.
  • Lastly, get an app or make an excel sheet that will let you easily track your budget. There are tons of free apps that can meet all of your needs easily and let you customize them to your liking.The top budgeting apps in 2016 were Wally, Level Money, GoodBudget, Unsplurge, Mint!

Budgeting is easy, efficient, and can make a positive impact on your spending habits. Knowing what you’re making in comparison to what you’re spending can make a world of difference. You will be able to save, and act in your best financial interest.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

August 23, 2017
Small Savings Add Up to Big Money

How much does a cup of coffee cost you? Would you believe $9,159.33? Or more?

If you buy a cup of Caramel Macchiato Grande every day for $4.45 (a awfully good price for a cup of coffee, nowadays), that adds up to $1624.25 a year. If you saved that $1624.25 for just one year, and put it into a savings account or investment that earns 5% a year, it would grow to $9,159.33 by the end of 5 years, and by the end of 30 years, to $113,308.96 (that’s an investment of $48,727.50, interest made on it would be $64,581.46).

That’s the power of “compounding.” With compound interest, you earn interest on the money you save and on the interest that money earns. Over time, even a small amount saved can add up to big money.

If you are willing to watch what you spend and look for little ways to save on a regular schedule, you can make money grow. You just did it with one cup of coffee, but how many cups of coffee do you buy a day?

A young professional asked me a question the other day in regard to their 401K and the match there company gave. They told me that they didn’t make enough money to match; that which the company was giving them. I told them the example above and also explained that the company is giving them free no strings attached money. Something to think about!

If a cup of coffee can make such a huge difference, start looking at how you could make your money grow if you decided to spend less on other things and save those extra dollars.

If you buy on impulse, make a rule that you’ll always wait 24 hours to buy anything. You may lose your desire to buy it after a day. And try emptying your pockets and wallet of spare change or $1 dollar bills (I dislike $1 bills because they take up to much of my wallet!) (So If say I have six one dollar bills I will get a $5 bill and put that one dollar bill in a jar).You’ll be surprised how quickly those one dollar bills and change add up!

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

August 18, 2017
Lost Your Wallet or Purse?

Have your ever lost your wallet or had your purse stolen? Frustrating! What should you do if you have a lost or stolen wallet or purse? Here are some things that you should do immediately:

  1. Call your credit card companies and your credit union or bank.
    You need to make these phone calls as soon as you are sure that your wallet or purse has been lost or stolen. This will reduce your liability if someone has already tried to use the card(s). It would be a good idea to check with your credit union or bank to see their rules about liability regarding debit cards. Be sure to cancel your ATM/Debit cards, Credit Cards AND any store credit cards that were in your wallet. One more thing. Be sure to let them know if you have also lost any blank checks just in case someone tries to use one. Or five.
  2. Write down a list of everything that was in your wallet or purse.
    While it is fresh on your mind, jot down everything that was in your wallet or purse. Not just credit cards and such but also important identification cards, voter registration cards, cash and the like. NEVER carry your social security card in your wallet or purse. The possibility of having a lost or stolen wallet or purse is a great reason to make sure that you do not keep any of your passwords, account numbers, combinations, etc. in your items.
  3. File a Police Report.
    Call the local police and let them know that you need to file a stolen wallet or report. They will walk you through exactly what you need to do. This is a critical step. In case of identity theft you must have filed a police report in order to limit your liability if someone decides to have a shopping spree as you.
  4. Call the three credit reporting agencies.
    Each of the agencies can ‘tag’ your credit report with a fraud alert. This will help prevent additional acts of identity theft and let them know what has happened. Here is their contact info:
    Experian – 1.888.397.3742
    Equifax – 1.888.766.0008
    Trans Union – 1.800.680.7289
    [external link disclosure]
  5. Call your state’s DMV to report your license lost or stolen.
    Once you report the ID lost or stolen you can make an appointment in order to get a replacement. Many states have these services online and you might be able to have a replacement mailed to you. Check with your local office in order to find out exactly what you will have to do.
  6. Call a locksmith if your keys are with your wallet or purse.
    So. If they have your ID they have your address. And if they have your keys? Well. You need to get all of your locks changed. It’s not fun but it needs to be done.

Don’t leave your purse in the cart or put of sight, when you are shopping or loading your car in the parking lot of any store… Ahem.

Christopher Goebel, CCUE, CUDE
SLCU President/CEO

August 16, 2017
How To Save on College Textbooks

One of my biggest complaints about college (and I do have a whole list) is the cost of textbooks. There are many ways to save on textbooks but one of the best ways is Chegg.com. It’s a one-stop-shop for finding the lowest prices on just about any textbook you could possibly need.

You don’t have to spend hours hunting books down. Just create a free account, search for your book and then decide if you are going to rent or buy.

It’s really just that simple!

There are a few advantages to Chegg that others don’t offer. In no particular order:

21 Day Risk Free Return
Several college students have had great experiences with Chegg’s return policy, even when they accidentally ordered the wrong book!

This comes in pretty handy when you show up to class and find out that you ‘don’t really need’ a textbook the professor put on the syllabus. Just be sure to keep the original box and the shipping paper. Log in to your Chegg account, print out the pre-paid shipping label and return the book for a full refund (minus the cost of shipping).

Digital books can be returned within 14 days for a full refund.

4 Week Trial of Chegg Study
Yes, Chegg has a study program that is really affordable at just $14.95 a month. The membership includes Textbook Solutions (Odd and Even), Expert Q & A, and 30 minutes of FREE tutoring.

Free Shipping
Chegg offers free shipping on all orders over $50.

7-day Instant Access
Maybe you are like a lot of students and don’t always get your textbooks ordered before class actually starts. With Chegg you get instant access to your book for the first 7 days. You won’t fall behind that first week while you wait for the physical text book to arrive. Also, it means that you probably don’t need to spend the extra money on overnight shipping since normal shipping time seems to be about 3 days.

Textbook Buy-Back Program
Want to get rid of your old books? Just enter the textbook ISBN, ship to Chegg for free by printing out your shipping label and dropping the package off at a local UPS Store. Get your money within 10-15 business days.

Free Starbucks!?
You heard it here! Sometimes Chegg sends you free stuff in the box with your books!

If you are looking for a simple way to know you are getting some of the lowest prices out there on textbooks Chegg is a sure thing. You might be able to save an extra few dollars here or there other places, but who has the time to spend hours researching each and every book you need? Check this company out!

Check this company out at https://www.chegg.com/.   [external link disclosure]

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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