Surviving the Holidays Stress Free

With crowded stores and an ever-growing list of people to shop for, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and to overspend on your holiday shopping. No worries, though; UCCU’s got you covered! Read on for pre-and post-holiday tips and have yourself a jolly December without breaking the bank.

Pre-Holidays Tips

1. Revise your gift list

Chances are, lots of the people you exchange gifts with would be relieved to be taken off your list. Talk to coworkers and acquaintances about just exchanging cards this year, or make a deal to only exchange homemade or inexpensive gifts.

This way, you can focus on buying special gifts for those closest to you instead of generic gifts for everyone you’ve ever met.

2. Organize a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa

Still got a mile-long list? Try one of these creative solutions! A Yankee Swap or a Secret Santa activity saves money and stress while adding a bit of intrigue to any party. Everyone involved only needs to bring a single gift – and it’s always fun.

Set a reasonable price cap on gifts so no one walks out with a candy cane while the person next to them hauls off a flat-screen TV.

3. Bake holiday treats

Reduce the financial weight of the season by whipping up your own holiday treats instead of buying gifts.

It’s hard to find the perfect gift, but no one turns down a tin of homemade holiday cookies!

4. Make a budget and stick to it

We all plan to stick to a budget this holiday season – make this the year it really happens.

Set an absolute limit to how much you will spend on the holidays.  This will encourage you to plan your spending rather than grabbing impulse items as you shop.

5. Make use of holiday deals….but don’t get distracted

When prices drop, we sometimes go wild, snatching up random items because we don’t want to miss out on those “crazy, low holiday prices.”

Make use of these deals by buying items on your list at a discounted price – but don’t buy things you don’t need.

6. Rethink giving

Instead of running to the mall again, think of other ways you can give that will make the world a better place and truly brighten someone’s holiday.

It’s the perfect time of year to volunteer at local soup kitchens, homeless shelters and charity organizations.

2 Post-Holiday Tips

1. Use those gift cards

Gift cards are a typical holiday gift, but they’re often forgotten and unused.

Put your gift cards in your wallet and spend them creatively.  If you’re not a fan of on-the-go coffee, use your Starbucks gift card to pick up ground coffee beans to use at home.  Rent a movie with your iTunes card.  Whatever it might be, just use those gift cards!

2. Regift

You’ll probably wind up with a bunch of gifts you don’t want.  Hold onto them; many gifts can be  re-gifted next year or used as birthday gifts throughout the year.

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Make Your Kid A Money Genius (Even If You’re Not)

“My child, the entrepreneur.”

Do you fantasize about raising your kids to be financially successful adults? At the very least, all parents want their children to become independent grown-ups who know how to spend responsibly, live within a budget and save for the future.

How do we get there, though? How can we inspire a healthy attitude toward money in our somewhat impulsive and irresponsible children?

Beth Kobliner has the answers. In her book, Make Your Kid a Money Genius, the personal finance expert takes parents on a journey of financial education, showing them how to turn inexperienced kids into miniature money geniuses.

The book takes off with a list of fourteen rules for talking to kids about money. Many of these ideas are common sense, but as parents, we slip up too often and don’t give these rules enough attention. They include suggestions like “Use anecdotes,” and “Never fib about how much money you have on you.”

When discussing money with children, it’s important to strike the balance between honesty and TMI. To that end, the book also details a list of seven things you don’t need to tell your kids – such as exactly how much money you earn and which parent brings home the bigger paycheck.

The core of the book is structured around money management concepts and is not based on age. It tackles topics like saving, debt, spending, insurance and more. Each chapter breaks down the subject into language kids can understand. It also includes a discussion on how to approach the topic among three different age groups, from preschool to adolescence.

In the chapter on debt, for example, each age group will be taught another aspect about this loaded topic.

If you’re talking to kids of pre-school age, you’ll focus on awareness – simply teaching them that the things you buy will cost money. You’re not going to talk about interest rates and credit cards at this point, but you want your little ones to understand the concept of a money supply being finite and the need to make choices, plus the trade-offs of choices.

For the elementary school-aged kids learning about debt, you can begin introducing ideas like time costing money and credit and debit card security.

The oldest group of kids can handle deeper concepts like interest rates, credit scores and amortization.

Along with age-appropriate ideas, each chapter includes tips and advice for the adults – like don’t give an 8-year-old your credit card!

While Make Your Kid a Money Genius will provide you with the tools to get the conversation started at every age and stage, it won’t dictate exactly how to approach these loaded topics. If you’re looking for a book that will do all the work for you, you may not find this guide to be sufficient.

However, thousands of parents have found this NY Times bestseller to be a fun, practical, and helpful tool. If you’ve ever found yourself dreading that inevitable “money talk” with your child, you owe it to yourself – and your kid! – to pick up a copy of Make Your Kid a Money Genius today.


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Investing – Step #3: Educate Yourself

Now that you’re free from debt and are steadily building up your savings, you’re probably eager to get your money into the market as quickly as possible.
However, before going anywhere, you need to understand the lay of the land. First, there’s the language. There are hundreds of investment terms tossed around on Wall Street, and you’ll want to know what they mean.
Second, investing is a whole lot more than just “buy low and sell high.” Understanding the basic concepts that govern the market is key to being a successful investor. So, before you cut your teeth on your first stocks, take the time to learn all you can about investing.
You can start with some easy books. We suggest:
  • The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
  • The Essays of Warren Buffett
  • A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton Malkiel
  • The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing
You may also want to browse through these online guides and resources:
  • the BlackRock Blog
  • the Money Tree Investing Podcast
And finally, here are 25 important investing terms along with their basic definitions to help get you started:
  1. Ask: The lowest price an owner is willing to accept for an asset.
  2. Asset: Something that has the potential to earn money for the owner.
  3. Asset allocation: An investment strategy that balances risks versus rewards by adjusting the percentage of each asset in your portfolio by asset class. This limits some of your risk by allocating your portfolio according to your particular risk tolerance, goals, and investment time frame.
  4. Balance sheet: A statement showing what a company owns, the liabilities the company has, and the company’s outstanding shareholder equity.
  5. Bear market: A market that is falling.
  6. Bid: The highest price a buyer is willing to pay for an investment.
  7. Blue chips: Companies that have an established history of good earnings, good balance sheets and regularly increasing dividends.
  8. Bond: An investment that represents what an entity owes you. Essentially, you lend money to a government or a company and you are promised that the principal will be returned along with a predetermined interest value.
  9. Book value: The number reached if you would take all the liabilities a company has and subtract them from the assets and common stock equity of the company.
  10. Broker: The entity that buys and sells investments on your behalf, usually for a fee.
  11. Bull market: A market that is likely to gain.
  12. Capital gain (or loss): The difference between what you bought an investment for and the amount for which you sell it.
  13. Portfolio diversity: A portfolio characteristic that ensures you have more than one type of asset and/or are buying investments in different sectors, industries or geographic locations.
  14. Dividend: A distribution of a portion of a company’s earnings to its shareholders. Dividends can be paid only once, or they can be paid more regularly, such as monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.
  15. Dow Jones Industrial Average: An average of a list of 30 blue chip stocks.
  16. ETF: A bundle of stocks managed by a professional investor.
  17. Exchange: A place where investments, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and other assets are bought and sold.
  18. Index: A tool used to statistically measure the progress of a group of stocks that share characteristics.
  19. Margin: Borrowed money used to make an investment.
  20. Market capitalization: The number you would get if you multiplied a company’s current share price by the number of shares outstanding.
  21. NASDAQ: A stock exchange that focuses on trading the stocks of technology companies.
  22. New York Stock Exchange: One of the most famous stock exchanges, the NYSE trades stocks in companies all over the United States and in some international companies.
  23. P/E ratio: This measure reflects how much you pay for each dollar that company earns. The higher a P/E ratio is, the higher the earning expectations.
  24. Stock: A piece of a company. Companies divide their ownership stakes into shares, and the amount of shares you purchase indicates your level of ownership in the company.
  25. Yield: The ratio between the stock price paid and the dividend paid, measured as a percentage.
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Don’t Let Christmas Season Be Open Season On Your Personal Information!

Every year has a new hit toy that must get under the tree. These toys fly off the shelves, spawning an incredibly inflated secondhand market.

Unfortunately, scammers are capitalizing on parents’ desire to make Christmas memorable for their children. Recently, scammers set up fake Facebook pages, Instagram sites and Twitter profiles offering “giveaways” to people who followed them and downloaded a “fan app.” There was nothing given away. Worse yet, the fan app was a piece of malware that stole personal information and transmitted it to scammers.

This is the most recent in a round of scams featuring the popular toy. These tips will help keep you safe as you browse the web for holiday gifts.

1.) Never download anything you don’t need

When people are tricked into installing something on their computer, they can unknowingly send personal information to a scammer.

Before you click any downloadable link, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do I know the company that produced this software?
  2. Do I trust the person who sent the link?
  3. Do I need this software for my daily life?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” close the browser immediately. If you  doubt the safety of a piece of software, don’t download it.

These rules apply for every device you use. Often scammers will intentionally targeted mobile users. Your phone has as much personal information on it as your PC does; safeguard both!

2.) Double-check when shopping online

Many scammers have taken a more conventional route: They promise goods, take the payment, then don’t deliver the goods. While this scam is common year round, the holiday-shopping insanity makes more people more vulnerable.

More insidiously, scammers have been posting “black market” toys. Factory defects are sold at many times the retail prices, even on reputable websites like Amazon. To avoid this scam, check reviews for the account. If someone’s selling a new toy or product but they’ve never sold anything before, it’s likely they’re running a scam.

If you must shop secondhand, try to deal locally. Never send payment through unsecured means, like a cashier’s check or wire transfer. Meet your buyer in a public place, and always inspect the goods before paying.

3.) Read the reviews before the hype

Reviews are written for a reason: to help you avoid faulty products and planned obsolescence.

Stick to products and toys that not only have high reviews, but several reviews.  A product that has five stars but only one review should be a red flag.

Ask your children what they really want for Christmas; it may surprise you. Find something they’ll really treasure. They, and your pocketbook, will thank you!

Don’t forget that building great holiday memories doesn’t cost a dime. You just need to spend time together! Happy Holidays!


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12/1 Black Friday Loan Deals Winners

The following winners of the 12/1 daily random drawings have been notified via email. Please call (800) 453-8188 if you have any questions.

Auto 0.99% APR

  • Michelle W. – Salem
  • Michael T. – Lehi
  • Angela F. – Orem
  • Justin T. – Orem
  • Nathan W. – Springville

AUTO 1.99% APR

  • Mikaela B. – Star Valley Ranch
  • Chanieca M. – Springville
  • Christian H. – South Jordan
  • Elizabeth S. – Saratoga Springs
  • Stacy C. – Orem
  • Daniel D. – Orem
  • Ron D. – Provo
  • Adam P. – Heber City
  • Brett B. – Lehi
  • Joseph M. – Orem
  • Lorie B. – Alpine
  • Jordan W. – Santaquin
  • Lise H. – Lindon
  • Trinity O. – Lindon
  • Christopher K. – Elkridge
  • Tyler C. – Salt Lake City
  • Brett F. – Ogden
  • Judson G. – Provo
  • Melinda W. – Cedar Hills
  • Roberta B. – American Fork

AUTO No Payments for First Three Months

  • Jeff D. – Payson
  • Dustin R. – Sandy
  • Kyle A. – Orem
  • Marilyn J. – Delta
  • James C. – Alpine
  • Matt S. – Layton
  • Karissa P. – Eagle Mountain
  • George R. – Salt Lake City
  • Stephen G. – Provo
  • Brady G. – Bluffdale
  • Bailey N. – Roy
  • Jordan J. – South Weber
  • Jennie H. – Lehi
  • Jordan O. – Provo
  • April W. – Spanish Fork
  • Monika M. – Payson
  • Dale L. – Heber City
  • Breanna O. – North Salt Lake
  • Kaden H. – Saratoga Springs
  • Mark G. – Orem

Credit Card 3% Cash Back Balance Transfer

  • Fiston K. – Orem
  • Kenneth S. – Springville
  • Andrea R. – Orem
  • Christine W. – Payson
  • Ruben T. – Springville
  • Lyndsie M. – Lehi
  • Chad D. – Eagle Mountain
  • Davis A. – Orem
  • Kristoffer B. – Sandy
  • Elaine H. – Provo
  • Lori S. – Syracuse
  • Jeanpierre V. – Midvale
  • Kelley W. – Springville
  • Christi A. – Orem
  • Scott H. – Bluffdale
  • Rain J. – Lehi
  • Jeff B. – Eagle Mountain
  • Cheryl G. – Pleasant Grove
  • Johnny P. – Ogden
  • Randall J. – Lindon
  • RaviShanker B. – Sandy
  • Marcella C. – Orem
  • Jeff M. – Sprinville
  • Linda S. – Spanish Fork
  • Matthew K. – Eagle Mountain

Home Equity 0.99% APR Fixed for 6 Months, 4.50% Variable Thereafter

  • Marcene Z. – Mapleton
  • Marylee T. – Highland
  • Ken C. – Pleasant Grove
  • Francisco A. – Lehi
  • Dayna C. – Midway
  • Brian W. – Vineyard
  • Sean M. – Pleasant Grove
  • Rachel H. – Woodland Hills
  • Jessie L. – Lehi
  • David K. – Highland
  • Audrey M. – Provo
  • Brad W. – Provo
  • Lana P. – Salem
  • Loni H. – Layton
  • Emily M. – Sandy
  • Karen B. – Santaquin
  • Jody H. – Mapleton
  • Chris P. – Cedar Hills
  • Charles A. – Saratoga Springs
  • Leslie B. – Spanish Fork
  • Kristine M. – Orem
  • Heather C. – Saratoga Springs
  • Heidi M. – Ogden
  • Ambur B. – Spanish Fork
  • Karen C. – Lehi

Personal Loan 4.99% APR

  • Wendi W. – Lindon
  • Carlin H. – Saratoga Springs
  • Annie W. – Springville
  • Heidi P. – Lehi
  • Tairsa M. – Orem
  • Yuliya K. – Saratoga Springs
  • Catherine T. – Orem
  • Tricia M. – American Fork
  • Marvena W. – West Jordan
  • Heather W. – Eagle Mountain
  • Kaylan C. – Logan
  • Jamie R. – Bluffdale
  • Eric A. – Orem
  • Elaine K. – Lehi
  • Cristie C. – Provo
  • Joseph A. – Provo
  • Wayne N. – Pleasant Grove
  • Tyler C. – Provo
  • Melanie H. – Elkridge
  • Robert M. – Payson
  • Darin T. – Midvale
  • Scott S. Orem
  • Douglas H. – Spanish Fork
  • Rameshbabu M. – Sandy
  • Maren A. – Provo

Mortgage Free Home Inspection

  • Tracy L. – Elkridge
  • Eve Y. – South Jordan
  • Roy M. – American Fork
  • Gustavo L. – Provo
  • Douglas P. – Provo
  • Claudia S. – Provo
  • Kiz L. – Springville

Mortgage $2500 RC Willey Shopping Spree

  • Roy S. – Springville
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11/30 Black Friday Loan Deals Winners

The following winners of the 11/30 daily random drawings have been notified via email. Please call (800) 453-8188 if you have any questions.

AUTO 1.99% APR

  • Jeff S. – Buford, GA
  • Brook P. – American Fork
  • Jennifer R. – Saratoga Springs
  • Bryce S. – Heber
  • Jacob G. – Orem
  • Jessica J. – Heber City
  • Roland A. – Saratoga Springs
  • Laura J. – Orem
  • Sarah T. – Pleasant Grove
  • Brittany R. – Midvale
  • Torri B. – Orem
  • Brent S. – Morgan
  • Conner D. – Orem
  • Tyler H. – Herriman
  • Danyelle H. – Fruit Heights
  • David W. – Tooele
  • Cindy B. – Lehi
  • Jessica P. – Orem
  • Vijay M. – South Jordan
  • Blaine W. – Pleasant Grove

AUTO No Payments for First Three Months

  • Steven M. – Provo
  • Greg J. – Spanish Fork
  • Emily S. – South Jordan
  • Derek M. – Orem
  • Kelly N. – Springville
  • Tammy H. – Herriman
  • Jessica C. – Lehi
  • Rajeev K. – South Jordan
  • Ailana M. – Provo
  • Andrew M. – America Fork
  • Arturo D. – Pleasant Grove
  • Miranda I. – Lehi
  • Nakhorn C. – West Valley City
  • Julie M. – Orem
  • Roberto S. – Spanish Fork
  • Rebeca H. – Orem
  • Carli A. – Lehi
  • Masami C. – Orem
  • Hannalo R. – Orem
  • Jeremiah M. – Cedar Hills

Credit Card 3% Cash Back Balance Transfer

  • Colin H. – West Jordan
  • Jonny B. – Lindon
  • Brad S. – Spanish Fork
  • Esteban M. – Provo
  • Jeffery B. – Provo
  • Mary G. – Orem
  • Richard T. – Elk Ridge
  • John R. – Lehi
  • Eldon G. – West Valley City
  • Stephanie C. – Vineyard
  • Evelyn C. – Lehi
  • Janine G. – Provo
  • Hayley S. – Lehi
  • Teancum S. – Orem
  • Chad B. – Spanish Fork
  • Jeremy P. – Heber City
  • George B. – Orem
  • McKayla G. – Cedar Hills
  • Austin H. – Provo
  • Julie B. – Springville
  • Corey W. – American Fork
  • Yong S. – Herriman
  • Jennifer A. – Orem
  • Elaine M. – Provo
  • Harley M. – Spanish Fork

Home Equity 0.99% APR Fixed for 6 Months, 4.50% Variable Thereafter

  • A-Hsuan S. – Orem
  • Patricia K. – Lindon
  • Wayne M. – American Fork
  • Mark S. – Mapleton
  • John E. – Lindon
  • Phillip N. – Highland
  • Taylor O. – North Salt Lake
  • John V. – West Jordan
  • Bryce M. – Herriman
  • Tonya M. – Lehi
  • Jeff H. – Orem
  • Debra T. – American Fork
  • Gary L. – Orem
  • Alma H. – Mapleton
  • Troy B. – Salem
  • Rob W. – Orem
  • Tayler L. – Bluffdale
  • Maria T. – Provo
  • Rosa S. – Orem
  • Jorden Y. – Orem
  • Robert F. – Salem
  • Sherol F. – Lindon
  • Marc W. – Lehi
  • Kortney S. – Stansbury
  • Howard S. – American Fork

Personal Loan 4.99% APR

  • John S. – Payson
  • Kirkham P. – Provo
  • Ward F. – Goshen
  • Julianna A. – Orem
  • David A. – Payson
  • Rob L. – American Fork
  • Hani P. – Sandy
  • John P. – Sandy
  • Wendi C. – Clearfield
  • Raquel P. – Highland
  • Jailyn E. – Saratoga Springs
  • Ashely N. – Lehi
  • Jessica S. – Orem
  • Kenyan G. – Provo
  • Amy D. – Heber
  • Lorna L. – Provo
  • Karl P. – American Fork
  • Teresa W. – Rock Springs, WY
  • Madison B. – Lehi
  • Monica S. – Saratoga Springs
  • Carrie C. – Saratoga Springs
  • Guy L. – Provo
  • Denmark J. – Pleasant Grove
  • Maria C. – Provo
  • Sharon W. – Alpine

Mortgage Free Home Inspection

  • Bruce B. – Highland
  • Marguerite T. – Springville
  • Kristine P. – Spanish Fork
  • Margaret L. – Provo
  • Melanie M. – Salt Lake City
  • Manuel M. – Provo
  • Breanna O. – North Salt Lake
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11/29 Black Friday Loan Sale Winners

The following winners of the 11/29 daily random drawings have been notified via email. Please call (800) 453-8188 if you have any questions.

AUTO 1.99% APR

  • Travis Y. – Lehi
  • Doug G. – Eagle Mountain
  • Theron S. – Highland
  • Cadi H. – American Fork
  • Natasha L. – Pleasant Grove
  • Shane W. – Lindon
  • Emily B. – Provo
  • David O. – Orem
  • Brent C. – Mapleton
  • Michael T. – American Fork
  • Shari Y. – Spanish Fork
  • Steven F. – Provo
  • Paula A. – Orem
  • Jeff T. – Orem
  • Cameron W. – Springville
  • Mauri B. – Santaquin
  • Samantha W. – Orem
  • Aaron M. – Orem
  • Julie B. – Orem
  • Jenalyn E. – Highland

AUTO No Payments for First Three Months

  • Paul N. – Orem
  • Michael M. – Morgan
  • Camille T. – Layton
  • Curtis C. – American Fork
  • James L. – Wellsville
  • Blain B. – Heber City
  • Carl H. – Orem
  • Jacque J. – South Weber
  • Jacob P. – Provo
  • Adam C. – Provo
  • Erasmo F. – Eagle MOuntain
  • James H. – Saratoga Springs
  • Jared C. – Provo
  • Roee L. – Park City
  • Charles K. – Sandy
  • Andres S. – Orem
  • Rosy L. – Orem
  • David O. – Spanish Fork
  • Eduvijes P. – Heber City
  • Ricardo H. – Salt Lake City

Credit Card 3% Cash Back Balance Transfer

  • Addie W. – Overland Park
  • Sara S. – Midway
  • Scott L. – Vernal
  • Ethan W. – Orem
  • Devin M. – Orem
  • Jana J. – Pleasant Grove
  • Paula F. – Finchville
  • Connie C. – Payson
  • Larry B. – Orem
  • Andrew H. – Cedar Hills
  • Matthew R. – Bluffdale
  • Sam G. – Spanish Fork
  • Douglas L. – Provo
  • James S. – Orem
  • Andrew H. – Elkridge
  • Jaden W. – Herriman
  • Rogelio G. – Provo
  • Catherine H. – Derry
  • Aubrey J. – Nephi
  • Gera T. – Orem
  • Anthony Todd F. – Springville
  • Ross M. – Cedar Hills
  • Brandon C. – South Jordan
  • Franklin A. – Provo
  • Emma S. – Lehi

Home Equity 0.99% APR Fixed for 6 Months, 4.50% Variable Thereafter

  • Barbara S. – Woodland Hills
  • Ken G. – Orem
  • Melissa H. – Salem
  • Kyle M. – Provo
  • John M. – Springville
  • Louise H. – Orem
  • Daryl G. – Highland
  • Whitney V. – Provo
  • Perry C. – American Fork
  • Emily J. – Draper
  • Corin O. – Lehi
  • Ben K. – North Ogden
  • Lynette M. – Lehi
  • Scott M. – Orem
  • Naomi B. – Santaquin
  • Kammi P. – Eagle Mountain
  • Spencer P. – West Jordan
  • Lee F. – Lindon
  • Erin D. – Lehi
  • Joe T. – Provo
  • Sharon D. – Kamas
  • Kristina C. – Spanish Fork
  • Seth H. – Ogden
  • Rose B. – Provo
  • Monelynn H. – Salem

Personal Loan 4.99% APR

  • Nathan H. – Orem
  • Cory T. – Lehi
  • Connie R. – Saratoga Springs
  • Katrina S. – Payson
  • Demarie D. – Elkridge
  • Cindy G. – Provo
  • Jessica B. – Hollada
  • Sean S. – Lehi
  • Alison S. – Provo
  • Kathy C. – Payson
  • Carlos N. – Spanish Fork
  • Brent P. – Pleasant Grove
  • Sandra C. – Salt Lake City
  • Jose S. – Springville
  • Cherie J. – Provo
  • Thomasina T. – Orem
  • Jason C. – American Fork
  • Daron H. – Genola
  • Dan C. – Orem
  • Rolf P. – Spanish Fork
  • Kathy V. – Taylorsville
  • Jessie S. – Orem
  • Percy B. – Orem
  • Abby G. – Eagle Mountain
  • Steven W. – South Salt Lake

Mortgage Free Home Inspection

  • Claudia S. – Provo
  • Jayden W. – Eagle Mountain
  • Lucinda E. – Payson
  • Matthew B. – Saratoga Springs
  • Allison B. – Taylorsville
  • Saurabh P. – South Jordan
  • Greg H. – Pleasant Grove
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Eight Questions (And Answers) About Currency Transaction Reports

1. What is a CTR?

CTR stands for Currency Transaction Report.  This is a report filed to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) by financial institutions regarding any withdrawals, deposits, payments, transfers or exchanges of currency in the value of $10,000 or more.  CTR’s apply to transactions of cash, foreign bank notes, Federal Reserve notes and U.S. silver certificates.

2. What’s the Purpose of a CTR?

The purpose of a CTR is to enlist financial institutions in the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes.  While transactions of $10,000 or more aren’t inherently suspicious, keeping tabs on large paper transactions helps the government scrutinize potential cases of money laundering and other criminal activity.  Employees of financial institutions have the ability to mark a CTR with an SAR (Suspicious Activity Report) if there are other signs that the transaction may be tied to criminal activity.

3. Who Has to File CTRs?

All financial institutions are required to file CTRs. Broadly, this means banks and credit unions.  But it’s important to know that websites like PayPal and Venmo are also beholden to regulations concerning CTRs and SARs.

4. What is FinCEN?

The motto at The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is “follow the money,” and that’s exactly what this organization does.  The bureau of FinCEN is part of the U.S. Treasury Department.  It is responsible for collecting data on financial transactions and is interested in tracking large or otherwise suspicious transactions because they may be connected to money laundering, fraud, terrorist financing and other crimes.

5. Do Financial Institutions File a CTR for Multiple Transactions Adding Up to $10,000 or More?  What About Transactions of $9,999?

The point of a CTR is to notify FinCEN of suspicious transactions.  While $10,000 is the standard amount, employees of financial institutions are obligated to issue an SAR for transactions that seem to be intentionally dodging a CTR.  For instance, if an individual made a $5,000 deposit to his own personal account as well as a $5,000 deposit to his brother’s account, this activity would warrant a CTR.

In other words, it is the responsibility of the financial institution to look at transactions as part of a larger picture and to make adequate filings of CTR and SAR accordingly.

“Structuring” refers to when individuals regularly make transactions of just under $10,000 to avoid a CTR.  This is an offense for which both the individual making the transaction and the financial institution’s employee could be punished (if the employee failed to file an SAR).

6. Do Financial Institutions Have to Tell Customers About CTRs?

No.  If a member/customer asks, they will be told, but banks don’t need to be forthcoming about this information.  Also, if a customer asks to do a transaction of $10,000 or more and then asks about CTRs, he or she cannot lower the amount for avoiding the CTR.  The teller at the bank or credit union will need to deny any requests to lower the transaction amount as well as file both a CTR and an SAR in response to this request.

7. Don’t CTRs Violate Customers’ Financial Privacy?

Before the CTR was developed, it was the responsibility of individual tellers to call the police over suspicious transactions.  This wasn’t the most efficient or secure way, but it was seen as necessary to protect customers’ financial privacy and protect financial institutions from liability.

However, in October of 1986, the Money Laundering Control Act was passed, making allowances for reporting transactions in the amount of $10,000 or more.  The act stipulated that financial institutions will not be held liable for releasing suspicious transactions to FinCEN.

Today, rather than it being on the shoulders of each individual teller, CTRs are automatically filed for transactions of this size.  It is, however, still the responsibility of bank and credit union employees to look out for other signs of suspicious activity, beyond just the amount.  This is why CTRs, while auto-filed in most cases, also have an SAR check-box on them for bank and credit union employees to use.

8. How Do Financial Institutions File CTRs?

There are many software systems in use by financial institutions to meet the regulatory demands of CTR and SAR filing.  Some institutions use custom software, while others use systems such as  NICE Actimize,  Oracle, DBI Financial Systems and American Bank Systems.


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The Bucket Plan

Do you dream of having a secure retirement where your biggest worry is choosing between a Caribbean cruise and sailing off to Alaska?Turn your dreams into reality with The Bucket Plan. Written by Jason Smith, a financial planner, coach and entrepreneur, this book is a must-read for anyone determined to create a realistic financial plan for retirement.

The Bucket Plan outlines a distinct financial planning process based on a three-bucket philosophy of strategically positioning assets to anticipate and minimize the risks that can occur in retirement.

In this book, you will find:

  • The three biggest threats for your financial future and a clear explanation of how The Bucket Plan can help protect you from them
  • An easy-to-use formula for calculating whether you will have an income deficit and the amount of money you’ll need to prevent it
  • How to avoid taking on too much investment risk

Throughout the book, you’ll read about Jerry and Irene, a couple planning for their retirement using Smith’s three-bucket approach. The storyline is expertly woven into the book’s more technical content, simplifying the abundance of financial wisdom. It makes The Bucket Plan an engaging and educational read. You’ll flip through the pages of the book, eager to reach the end and see how Jerry and Irene’s plan worked out for them.

Smith’s strategy of “bucketing” your retirement money can put you on the path toward long-term financial security. Don’t spend your golden years worrying about your money running out. Instead, use the Bucket Plan to create your successful financial future.

The Bucket Plan won’t reveal any magic formulas or get-rich-quick schemes, but it will provide you with a detailed, comprehensive system for preparing for your sunset years in peace, serenity, and financial security.

Your Turn: Do you have a favorite retirement-planning book? Tell us all about it in the comments!


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11/28 Black Friday Loan Deals Winners

The following winners of the 11/28 daily random drawings have been notified via email. Please call (800) 453-8188 if you have any questions.

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