A young lady using a smartphone

News & Events

By Brad Herzet, President/CEO

Helping people understand financial literacy and how to look out for financial pitfalls are important aspects of our service.

In 2023, we served nearly 6,000 individuals — a significant increase from the 3,700 we reached in 2022 — through our financial education seminars that we offer to the employees of our business partners and our participation in youth literacy programs.

In 2024, we have added a financial literacy partnership with League 42, a nonprofit that provides a low-cost option for Wichita’s urban children to play baseball. In a series of workshops that League 42 has named Full Count, we’re helping kids ages 9 through 14 get on base with financial concepts such as needs versus wants, debit versus credit, and saving money.

Another area where we want to be of service is educating our members about scams. Scammers are conducting theft and financial fraud at alarming rates using phone calls, emails, texts and other digital means.

Romance scams are among the fastest-growing types of scams. Loneliness — made worse by isolation during the COVID pandemic — and the development of new technologies, such as mobile dating apps, have contributed to the continued rise of romance scams, according to federal government websites.

The number of older adults turning to the internet for dating is going up and as Americans go online to find love, scammers are finding more targets. According to one government website, scammers particularly target recently widowed or divorced adults because of their vulnerabilities and access to insurance distributions or settlements.

Scammers will work to gain your trust and then inevitably ask you for money. They might even promise they’ll use the funds to meet you or arrange a trip together. They’ll ask you to pay in ways that make it hard for you to get your money back, like wiring money, sending money through a money-transferring app or putting money on gift cards.

To avoid falling victim, limit what you share online because scammers will use that information to form connections. Do your research on individuals who contact you through a dating app or site — do a search on the person to see if the image, name or other details can be found elsewhere. Ask lots of questions and if the person seems too good to be true, they probably are.

And perhaps most importantly: Never send money or gifts to someone you haven’t met in person.

Own IT.

We live in a world in which we are constantly connected, so cybersecurity cannot be limited to the home or office. When you’re traveling, it is always important to practice safe online behavior and take proactive steps to secure your smart devices. With every social media account you sign up for, every picture you post, and status you update, you are sharing information about yourself with the world.

  • Double your login protection. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) to ensure that the only person who has access to your account is you.
  • Update your privacy settings: Set the privacy and security settings to your comfort level for information sharing. Keep tabs on your apps and disable geotagging (which allows anyone to see where you are).
  • Connect only with people you trust: While some social networks might seem safer, always keep your connections to people you know and trust.

Secure IT.

Have you noticed how often security breaches, stolen data, and even identity theft, are front-page headlines nowadays? Cybercriminals attempt to lure users to click on a link or open an attachment that may infect their computers. These emails might also request personal information such as bank account numbers, passwords, or Social Security numbers. When users respond with the information or click on a link, these attackers now possess access to their personal accounts.

  • Avoid using common words in your password: Substitute letters with numbers and punctuation marks or symbols. For example, @ can replace the letter “A”/
  • Be up to date: Keep your software updated to the latest version available. Turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it!
  • Think before you act: Be wary of communications which implore you to act fast. Many phishing emails create urgency, instilling fear that your account or information is in jeopardy.

Protect IT.

Today’s technology allows us to connect around the world through banking, shopping, streaming, and more. This added convenience undoubtedly comes with an increased risk of identity theft and scams. More and more home devices (such as thermostats, door locks, etc.) are now connected. While this may save us time and money, it poses new security risks.

  • Secure your Wi-Fi network: Your home’s wireless router is the primary entrance for cybercriminals to access all of your connected devices, and you can better secure your Wi-Fi network and devices by changing the factory-set default password and username for each one.
  • Know what to look for:
    • Identity Theft – bills for products or services you did not purchase, suspicious charges on your credit cards, or any changes to your accounts that you did not authorize.
    • Imposter Scams – an imposter may contact you saying they are from a trusted organization informing you that your SSN has been suspended, or your account has been locked, while asking for your sensitive information or payment to fix the issue.
    • Debt Collection Scams – scammers may attempt to collect on a fraudulent debt. Debt collector scammers typically request payment by wire transfers, credit cards, or gift cards.

Visit this site to learn more:
By Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer

Getting preapproved for a mortgage loan is an important first step in home ownership. That’s because being preapproved helps you know how much house you can afford and helps real estate agents and home sellers know you’re serious about buying.

What is involved in the preapproval process?

You’ll need to gather up various documents related to your financial status, including recent pay stubs and bank and other account statements (i.e. mutual funds, IRAs) from the past two to three months; tax returns, W-2s and employment history from the past two years; proof of other income, such as child or spousal support or government benefits; documents on other loans; rental or other real estate history information; and, of course, your driver’s license, Social Security card or other forms of ID.

It’s a good idea to check your credit report and score before you seek preapproval so that you can fix any errors or wrong information before a potential lender accesses your report and score. You can get a free report from annualcreditreport.com.

The higher your credit score, the better your interest rate and terms will be.

At Mid American, you can expect word back on your preapproval application within one to two business days if all your paperwork is in order.

What does a mortgage preapproval mean for buyers and sellers?

After analyzing your finances, a lender will provide you with a mortgage preapproval statement, indicating how much money it will loan to you for your mortgage.

This gives you a solid idea of how much you can afford and will help make your home search more efficient. A preapproval from Mid American can be good for 120 days.

Real estate agents and sellers generally will take a preapproved buyer more seriously than someone who isn’t. An offer from a preapproved buyer is generally less likely to fall through.

To get your preapproval started today, visit macu.mymortgage-online.com. If you have questions, please call (316) 722-3921 and ask for either me or LeeAnn Marker in mortgages, or email debbies@midamerican.coop or leeannm@ midamerican.coop.

By Jessica Brokaw

Father Time doesn’t always have a good reputation, particularly when it comes to birthdays. But when it comes to saving for retirement, time can be a strong ally.

With time, your retirement plan contributions may earn returns from those investments, then those returns may earn returns themselves — and so on. That’s called compounding.

Compounding in action

For example, say you invest $1,000 and earn a return of 7% — or $70 — in one year. You now have $1,070 in your account. In year two, that $1,070 earns another 7%, and this time the amount earned is $74.90, bringing your account’s total value to $1,144.90. Over time, if your account continues to earn positive returns, the process can gather steam and add up.

Now consider how compounding might work in your retirement plan. Say $120 is automatically deducted from your paycheck and contributed to your plan account on a biweekly basis. Assuming you earn a 7% rate of return each year, after 10 years, you would have invested $31,200 and your account would be worth $45,100. That’s not too bad. If you kept investing the same amount, after 20 years, you’d have invested $62,400 and your account would be worth $135,835. And after just 10 more years — for a total investment time of 30 years and a total invested amount of $93,600 — you’d have $318,381. That’s the power of time and compounding.

Other considerations

Keep in mind that these examples are for illustrative purposes only and do not represent the performance of any actual investment. Returns change from year to year and are not guaranteed. You may also lose money in your retirement plan investments. But that’s why it’s important to stay focused on long-term results when saving for retirement.

Also, these examples do not take into account your plan fees and taxes. When you withdraw money from your traditional (i.e., non-Roth) retirement plan account, you pay taxes on withdrawals at then-current rates.

Early withdrawals before age 59½ (age 55 or 50 for certain distributions from employer plans) may be subject to a 10% penalty tax unless an exception applies. Nonqualified withdrawals from a Roth account may also be subject to regular income and penalty taxes (on the earnings only — you receive your Roth contributions tax free).

At Mid American, Jessica Brokaw, CFS Financial Advisor, is available to assist you in creating an investment plan designed to help you retire with confidence. She can be reached at (316) 722-3921, ext. 182 or Jessica.Brokaw@cusonet.com.

*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, LP (“CFS”) a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment representatives are registered through CFS. The Credit Union has contracted with CFS for investment services. Atria Wealth Solutions, Inc. (“Atria”) is a modern wealth management solutions holding company. Atria is not a registered broker-dealer and/or Registered Investment Advisor and does not provide investment advice. Investment advice is only provided through Atria’s subsidiaries. CUSO Financial Services, LP is a subsidiary of Atria. Prepared by Broadridge Advisor Solutions Copyright 2024

By Emily Reinhardt, MoneyMatters.coop

Chances are, all of us have dreamed of what our lives might feel like if we had more money. We could finally take that dream vacation. We would have our emergency funds, retirement accounts, and personal savings built up. We might even drive a nicer car.

But in order to achieve financial dreams like these, we have to start looking at the money we have right now. We have to spend it wisely, save it strategically, and most importantly, hold ourselves accountable with our actions.

Making the promise to ourselves to pay off debts, to stabilize our savings, and to keep working towards our financial goals – and actually doing it. This is what accountability looks like. This will require a lot of self control and following through with committed action. Without actively holding yourself accountable, you’ll run into a lot of issues, but here are some ideas for how you can better rely on yourself and keep moving forward with your financial goals.

Take a good hard look at your spending habits. I used to justify unnecessary spending to myself all the time. Even when justifying my spending, the fact remains that I’ve spent money. More often than not, when I didn’t need to. If I’ve used a credit card for this, all it’s done is increased my debt. When you are keeping yourself in debt like this, there is no chance of getting out if you don’t change your actions. Often times people think an increase in income will help fix the problem, but perhaps more money creates the mindset that you can spend more too. Thus, keeping you in the cycle of spending in frivolous ways.
Align your values to the way you spend your money. You’ll have to be very intentional with your practices. Nail down what you believe in, what you are living for, and what your goals are – and I mean really nail it down. This will give you a clear understanding of what your values are and the direction you need to move in. If a solid financial foundation is important to you, you’ll have to align your actions with your goals and focus deeply on seeing them come to life. Set your intentions and follow through with them.

Your investments need a chance to grow. If your lack of financially accountability leads you to using your investments like you use your bank accounts, always dipping in when you need to, you’ll never gain the return on those investments that you need. Allow the promises you make to yourself to actually mean something, otherwise you’ll never do what you said you’d do as your future self. If you find yourself constantly dipping into the funds you’ve tried to set aside for savings or investing, try something new. Create a new account that’s just set up specifically for your impulsive spending, or for your “just for fun” stuff. A lot of people have separate accounts for different things, and knowing you have a cushion for yourself might ease the pain of some of your spending habits and will allow you to feel like you still have some room for freedom when you’re working hard on your growth and financial stability.

An accountability partner is incredibly helpful. When I am having trouble holding myself and my finances accountable, I can see how easy it is to lie to myself about my spending. I will either ignore the problem all together, or will tell myself that it isn’t a big deal. But my goals are a big deal! I found that having friends, or close family as my accountability team makes things a lot easier. I might lie to myself about my finances, but I have a much harder time lying to someone I care about. Just like having a workout buddy, it helps to have someone with the same goals and hopes for their financial future that you have. Find that person and keep them close!

Break down your financial goals into small, attainable chunks. It’s harder to make progress on a goal like “save for retirement” than it is on a goal like, “save $500 for retirement by the end of the year." Make some short term goals that feed into your long term goals, and then you’ll have the chance to accomplish them. A big financial vision is important, but the small attainable goals are going to be the steps you need to take now, and they allow you to cut out the excuse making.