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Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Please understand that clicking hyperlinks or URLs in this blog may mean you’ll  leave Salal Credit Union’s site. Please be advised that Salal Credit Union provides this link as a courtesy to you; however, we are unable to endorse or guarantee the content accuracy of these third party websites.

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A timely reminder about financial scams.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Since early April, many people in the Seattle area have reported receiving phone calls and text messages, appearing to be from BECU, asking for debit or credit card information. This is a known scam where criminals use a computer program to randomly dial or text phone numbers until they get a response. Victims are then asked to call a number or click a link that prompts them to enter their card information.

Because anyone with a phone number, not just BECU members, may be affected by this scam, we want to take this opportunity to remind you that a financial institution will never ask for your personal information via text, email, or phone call unless YOU initiate the contact.

This article, 10 Tips To Avoid Common Financial Scams, is a good resource to help you stay vigilant when it comes to keeping your money safe. If you ever believe you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact your bank or credit union immediately so they can deactivate your card, re-issue you a new card, and monitor your account for fraud.

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The Cost of Clutter and How to Control it.

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Not only is clutter a visual eyesore, it’s overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. Having to keep track of too many things drains your time and energy. Having to pay for organizational furniture and tools, an off-site storage unit, or a larger home or office is expensive. Experts have even noted an association between the amount of clutter people have and excess weight, indicating that clutter is bad for your physical health.

The bad news is that we all have clutter. The good news is that controlling it doesn’t have to be a painful process, especially if you follow these helpful tips:

Do a little at a time. You are less likely to get discouraged and give up if you set a series of small goals spread out over time instead of trying to clean up the whole house at once.

Take a picture of sentimental items. Taking a picture can make it easier to part with special items since you know you will have a reminder even if they are no longer collecting dust in your closet.

Donate or sell. While some of your items may be worn out and only welcomed by the trash bin, there may be things you can sell to a consignment or thrift store or donate to charity. Instead of thinking of cleaning as a chore, reframe it as a way to put money in your pocket or help others.

Use the “one in, one out” rule. After you get rid of what you don’t need, don’t let your space revert back to a messy state. A good way to prevent this is to make sure that every time a new item comes into your space, a similar item leaves as soon as possible. For example: a new shirt goes into your drawer, an old shirt is taken out and donated.

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Annual Meeting & Board and Committee Candidates

Friday, February 20th, 2015

Salal’s Annual Meeting is on March 25, 2015, at 7:00 p.m. It will be held at our administrative offices at 1515 Dexter Avenue North in Seattle. If you plan on attending, please RSVP by March 18 to CindyB@Salalcu.org with the number of people in your party.

This year we have five positions open: two on the Supervisory Committee and three on the Board of Directors.


Chris Grant, Supervisory Committee candidate, is the chief information security officer for Group Health Cooperative, responsible for information security risk, operations, and engineering management. In this role, Chris provides executive leadership and guidance to enterprise risk functions, as well as business line leadership. An information technology professional for 20 years, Chris has led teams of technical, security and risk professionals in several industries, including financial services, telecommunications, and healthcare. Chris has lived in Puget Sound since 2008. He is originally from Fargo, North Dakota, where he studied at Concordia College and the University of Mary, receiving a bachelor’s degree in management.

Ben Steiner, Supervisory Committee candidate, is the internal audit manager for Community Health Plan of Washington. He oversees the internal audit department and manages operational, financial, compliance, and quality assurance reviews across the organization. As a risk consulting and audit professional for over 12 years, Ben has experience leading various types of audit projects, compliance programs, and investigations for health care and financial services entities. He graduated from Washington State University with a Bachelor of Arts in finance and economics, and he has a MBA from the University of Oregon. Ben has been the Salal Supervisory Committee chair since 2014.

Sharon Dooley, Board of Directors candidate, was a registered nurse who worked at Group Health Cooperative for 37 years before her retirement in 2003. She is a University of Washington graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and she served 4 years in the Army Nurse Corps prior to her employment at Group Health. Sharon has served on the Salal Supervisory Committee for over 40 years, both as the chair and a member. She has been a Salal board member for the past 6 years and would like to continue to serve another term.

Helen Harte, Board of Directors candidate, is a consultant in health care management. She was formerly the director of quality at Community Health Plan of Washington and the director of risk management and patient safety at the Puget Sound VA System. She is a registered nurse with a master’s degree in public health from UCLA and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington. Helen is the organization science program affiliate for the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge. Her interests include whole systems assessment and performance improvement. Helen is impressed with the services the credit union provides its members.

Jamie Lee, Board of Directors candidate, is a state and local tax manager with the public accounting firm, Grant Thornton LLP. Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Jamie worked as an indirect tax manager at Expedia.com and at Group Health Cooperative as a statutory & tax reporting manager. She’s also worked as a senior field revenue auditor at the Washington State Department of Revenue. Jamie earned a bachelor’s degree with a concentration in accounting from the University of Washington and became a CPA in 1995. Jamie is a former chair of the credit union’s Asset/Liability Management (ALCO) Committee and has served as a member of the Supervisory Committee.

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Smart Financial Resolutions for 2015

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

As you put together your list of resolutions for the New Year, don’t forget your finances. Sure, a trimmer waistline is a great goal, but having your financial ducks in a row is equally, if not more, important. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Start an emergency savings fund. Bankrate estimates that less than a quarter of all Americans have six months of living expenses saved, the suggested amount needed to cover unforeseen events and emergencies. To get into the habit of saving, try paying yourself first by having a percentage of your paycheck deposited directly into a designated savings account.

Create a budget. Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated, but it will require some work, especially in the beginning. The good news is that there is a wide variety of budgeting systems out there – from computer software and web-based programs to totally offline solutions – all at different price points. Once you find a system that best suits your needs, you’ll be able to make better spending decisions and will be on your way to better financial control.

Check your credit report. Having good credit is important to your financial life, but most people don’t think about it until they’re ready to apply for a loan. You’ll be in a much better position if you check your credit report regularly (you can request a free copy once per year at annualcreditreport.com). Checking your report will help you identify and correct any inaccuracies that may be hurting your credit and will indicate if you’ve been the victim of identity theft. Most importantly, you’ll have an idea of where you stand with lenders.

Switch to a credit card with a lower rate and no annual fee. Credit card companies know how to entice consumers with benefits that sound prestigious and exciting, but often those perks come at a price. Most people end up paying hefty annual fees or higher rates for benefits they never maximize. If you’re in a similar situation, switch to a more affordable credit card. There are plenty of rewards cards out there that don’t charge an annual fee.

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Energy Saving Tips for the Holidays

Monday, December 15th, 2014

Energy use tends to increase drastically over the holidays. Twinkle lights are left on all day, the oven stays busy baking delicious treats, and the heat gets turned up to make chilly evenings more cozy.

To avoid a big energy bill in January, here are some tips for being frugally festive.

Switch to LED lights.
Make the transition to LED lights, which use about 80-90% less energy than conventional holiday lights. Because they’re shatterproof, shock resistant and cool to the touch, they’re also safer for your family and help prevent the risk of fire.

Plan your travel.  
With holiday errands and activities, company parties, and visits to friends and family, you’ll probably use your car twice as much as you normally do over the next month or so. If possible, do all your major shopping on the same day to avoid multiple trips, and make online purchases when you can. Take one car instead of two by sharing a ride with friends. Carpooling saves money and energy and is also known to reduce stress.

Turn down the thermostat.
Heating is the highest energy expense in most homes, so not having the heater at full blast could save you hundreds of dollars. Certainly, you do not want the house to feel like a freezer, but why not try lowering the temperature a few degrees and putting on a sweater? When guests are over, it’s a good time to turn the thermostat down because crowded rooms tend to be warmer than empty ones.

Change up your cooking routine.
Use the smallest appliance available for the job. If you can cook something in the microwave instead of the oven, you’ll use 50% less energy. When you absolutely have to use the oven, try and cook multiple dishes at once, and keep the door closed as much as possible. The oven loses 25 to 50 degrees each time the door is opened.

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Join us in helping the community of Oso.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

On Saturday, March 22, a massive mudslide forever changed the community of Oso, Washington. The loss of lives and family homes is overwhelming, and the 530 mudslide is the most horrific natural disaster seen in the Northwest in decades. Many of the victims and their surviving families are credit union members.

Together we can make a difference. Salal Credit Union has donated $1,000 to the Northwest Credit Union Foundation who will work directly with the Snohomish County United Way to ensure we are helping families affected by the mudslide. Please consider making an online contribution.

Imagine what 4.5 million credit union members in the Northwest alone can do to help these victims and their families. Further imagine what 97 million individuals who belong to our Nation’s credit unions can do to help. Donations will be accepted through Wednesday, April 9.

Thank you for your support.

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Exercise Your Voice

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

One of the biggest differentiators between credit unions and banks is that credit unions are owned and run by their members. Instead of stockholders, we have a Board of Directors and governing committees made up of volunteers who are members of our cooperative. The time has come to decide who will make up those leadership teams.

This year, we have a total of five positions open: three on the Board and two on the Supervisory Committee. Please read the following nominee biographies carefully, then join us March 26 at 7 pm for our Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is held at our administrative offices at 1515 Dexter Avenue North in Seattle. If you plan on attending, please RSVP by March 17, 2014 to CindyB@Salalcu.org with the number of people in your party.

Dick T. Woo, Board of Directors candidate, currently serves on the Board of Salal’s CUSO (credit union service organization) Lending Solutions Northwest. Dick is a former chair of the credit union’s Supervisory and Asset/Liability Management (ALCO) Committees and had previously served on the Salal Board. Dick is a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA), and Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM). He has over thirty years of financial management experience in the public and private sectors, including positions with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Washington Mutual Bank, and the City of Seattle. Dick previously served as Director of Finance and Administrative Services for the Housing Authority of the City of Seattle and most recently retired as CFO for King County’s Community Services Division.

“Call me old fashioned, but I am a strong believer in the concept of credit unions and the important role that they play in our society. I have been a member of Salal for more than 30 years and I am very much committed to its not-for-profit mission of providing for the financial health and well-being of its members and their families. I look forward to working collaboratively with the Board, management, staff, and fellow members to ensure the success of this member-owned organization.”

Joe LePla, Board of Directors candidate, is a branding and strategic planning consultant who has worked closely with financial institutions and health care for over 38 years with clients that include the Mayo Clinic, Merriman, Group Health, Philips Healthcare and Health Alliance Plan. LePla, who now serves on the Salal Asset/Liability Management Committee (ALCO), works at GreenRubino as a principal strategist. Prior to joining GreenRubino, he was an owner of brand consultancy Parker LePla for 19 years. He’s coauthored three books on branding, the most recent being Create a Brand That Inspires: How to Sell, Organize and Sustain Internal Branding in 2012. He lives in West Seattle with his wife Teresa.

Laura McMillan, Board of Directors candidate, recently completed a 27 year career at Group Health Cooperative in a variety of administrative roles. She left the organization last summer after serving as the Vice President for Strategic Planning for three years and as the Chief of Staff to the CEO for eight years. She is currently taking a sabbatical and plans to return to the world of non-profit health care or social services in the coming year. She has an MBA degree from the University of Washington and lives with her husband and two daughters in Shoreline.

“It’s been my pleasure to serve on the Salal Credit Union board the last six years. I have had the opportunity to contribute in many ways to the governance of the organization and am very proud of the values and business approaches that are practiced. I am happy to report that more than ever, Salal is focused on true service to members, and success built from sound business decisions. For more than 60 years, Salal has not wavered in its commitment to its members. I look forward to continuing to help the organization honor that commitment as it grows to serve more members in the coming years.”

Annette Murphy, Supervisory Committee candidate, is a compliance professional with 15 years of experience in the health care industry and extensive expertise in program implementation, auditing, internal and government investigations, and training and development. Annette, who now serves on the Salal Board of Directors and the Asset/Liability Management Committee (ALCO), works at Group Health Cooperative in the Audit Services area. Prior to joining Group Health she worked as an Audit Manager at Harborview Medical Center (University of Washington). Annette attended Western Washington University, and lives with her husband and two college-age sons in Kenmore, Washington.

Debbie Sather, Supervisory Committee candidate, is an experienced finance leader with an extensive background in healthcare. She held a variety of leadership positions in the finance division at Group Health Cooperative where she worked for the past 17 years. Most recently, she was Executive Director of Finance Administration and Chief of Staff to the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer. Debbie earned a Master’s degree in Business Administration and a graduate certificate in Leadership Formation from Seattle University. She is also a graduate of Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Finance.


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Salal’s 2013 Giving

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

At Salal Credit Union, we believe strongly in supporting the communities in which we live and work. We have a long history with the local healthcare industry and professionals, and our giving is primarily focused on Washington State organizations providing healthcare assistance, education, and research.

Our contributions in 2013 totaled over $70,000 and included money donations, event sponsorships, and scholarships. Here are some of the organizations we supported in 2013:*


*Please understand that clicking hyperlinks or URLs in this blog may mean you’ll  leave Salal Credit Union’s site. Please be advised that Salal Credit Union provides this link as a courtesy to you; however, we are unable to endorse or guarantee the content accuracy of these third party websites.

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Smart Borrowing: What is “Home Equity”?

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Simply put, home equity is the difference between the current value of your home and the amount remaining on your mortgage. If your home has increased in value because of improvements you’ve made or the attractiveness of the area you live in, equity in your home may be more than you think.

As an example, let’s say you have $150,000 remaining on your mortgage, but an appraisal shows your house is worth $200,000. That’s $50,000 of equity you may be able to utilize.

Home Equity Loans

Home equity loans (sometimes called a “second mortgage”) are a way to tap into the financial resource you’ve built in your home. Your home equity loan is secured by your house, so your lender can offer you a lower rate than you’d pay for credit cards, for example. These loans usually have shorter terms than a first mortgage: 15 years is fairly typical, though terms vary.

So in our example, you could borrow a portion of your equity to do whatever it is you need the money for: you can improve your insulation, repair a roof, or update your kitchen. Or you can pay for college, even pay off high-interest debt like credit cards. The money is yours to do with what you need. With a home equity loan, you receive the money in a lump sum and repay it in monthly installments until it’s paid off.

Finding the right loan and lender

For many borrowers, the first consideration (and often only) is the rate – how much will I have to pay monthly to pay off the loan? How much will I have to pay in interest? These are great questions to ask a potential lender, but they’re not the only questions.

  • What is the interest rate of the loan? If you have a high credit score (720+) and sufficient equity in your home, you should be eligible for an attractive rate.
  • What is the loan term? Shorter terms may mean less interest overall but higher monthly payments, so weigh your options.
  • What will my monthly payment be? It might be time to do a budget check. How much can you comfortably, realistically manage a month?
  • How much will the fees and closing costs be?  Make sure you’re clear on all the costs before you sign so there are no unpleasant surprises.
  • Are you working with the right lender? If at any point you feel you’re being pressured into more loan than you can manage, consider looking for a different lender. A professional lender will listen to you and help you identify the rate, term, and loan amount most appropriate for your situation and needs – if you’re not getting that, keep looking!

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The power to protect yourself

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

As the Target breach* saga continues to unfold, many of us are looking for better ways to protect ourselves from fraud. Fortunately, Salal is able to respond quickly to such threats by blocking and reissuing cards and alerting our members, as we did in this case, but at Salal, we believe prevention is the best defense. Here are tools we offer our members which may help you protect yourself from identity theft.

Salal partners with BALANCE Financial Fitness so our members can utilize the resources of this program at no cost. The BALANCE Identity Theft Toolkit* can help you identify scams before you become a victim, maximize your defenses against identity theft, monitor your accounts for suspicious activity, respond to threats, and recover in the event of fraud.

There are so many ways identity thieves steal information—trying to stay on top of them all can seem overwhelming. BALANCE can teach you how to

  • Study an ATM for signs of tampering,
  • Determine better times and places to access ATMs,
  • Identify potentially damaging emails,
  • Take action if you may have given your information to a thief,
  • Study websites for their security levels,
  • Freeze your credit file to limit applications for new credit, and much more.

Knowledge truly is power, so take steps to stay in charge of your financial future. Members can access BALANCE for free through our website.

*Please understand that clicking hyperlinks or URLs in this blog may mean you’ll  leave Salal Credit Union’s site. Please be advised that Salal Credit Union provides this link as a courtesy to you; however, we are unable to endorse or guarantee the content accuracy of these third party websites.

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