- Practicing Precautions by Brad Herzet, President/CEO
- Financial Resources to Help You Get Through COVID-19 by Emily Reinhardt, blogger for Mid American's www.moneymatters.coop
- Mobile Deposit Checks in a Snap
- Going Green by Debbie Stang, Home Loan Officer
- Have Money, Will Travel
- SECURE Act Offers News Opportunities for Individual Businesses by Jessica Brokaw, Investment Advisor
Dealing with a pandemic is new territory for nearly all of us. By using some processes and infrastructure that have been available for some time, however, you can still conduct transactions and interact with representatives of Mid American Credit Union while you take precautions to lower your risk for exposure.
The measures we are taking allow us to still provide you services and support your financial needs and practice the “people helping people” concept that has made the credit union industry successful for decades.
With stay-at-home and social-distancing precautions, you can still access your accounts to check balances, conduct transfers, make a loan payment, pay bills and more with our online banking and mobile app functions. You can even deposit a check through the mobile check deposit feature on the Mid American Credit Union app.
If you are not set up for online banking access, you can do that in two ways:
- Go to midamerican.coop and click on Login in the upper right corner of the website. Then click the Sign Up link. Your email address must be on file with us to self-enroll.
- If your email is not on file, please call our Contact Center at 316-722-3921, ext. 202. The Contact Center hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m.-noon.
If you are not using the Mid American mobile app, check out the story below about using mobile check deposit.
If you need to make a payment on a Mid American loan using funds from another financial institution, you can go to our Member Help Center (midamerican.coop/member-help-center) and click on the Web Payment Center button at the top of the page.
While our lobbies remain closed, our drive-thru services are available. Cashier checks are available by drive-thru. Replacement cards can be issued by mail or issued at the drive-thrus at three Wichita branches (west, northeast and south) and the Lawrence branch. For pick-ups, call ahead to the Contact Center.
We are conducting some business by appointment only, such as visits to a safe deposit box or meetings with our mortgage officers and our investment and retirement services advisor. Notary services are not available.
We recognize this uncertain time may cause some financial concerns for several members. Please reach out to our Contact Center, if you need our help.
Keep Your Cash in Your Credit Union, Where it is Safe and Insured
Your money is safe and secure at a credit union
- Your accounts are fully insured up to $250,000 under the NCUA. This is the same level of protection at other financial institutions under the FDIC. All credit unions in the state are federally insured.
- With your accounts insured, your credit union is the safest place for your hard-earned savings.
- No American has ever lost a single penny on their insured accounts in any federally insured credit union in the country. All credit unions in our state – including ours – are federally insured.
- The nation’s financial system continues to operate smoothly and efficiently allowing you to transfer money to pay bills and other expenses through your debit card, credit card or electronic transfer, without taking on the worry and risk of holding cash.
What about withdrawing cash?
Keeping cash at home leaves it vulnerable to be stolen or lost. Lost or stolen cash cannot be replaced. If you lose your debit or credit card, we can replace those items. There is no replacement for cash that is lost or stolen.
Cash is not required. With so many secure ways to access your accounts and to pay your bills, there’s almost no reason you’ll need extra cash. You may actually need less cash during this time.
Using credit or debit cards for payments now helps keep you safe during this health situation.We are all asked to practice social distancing and good personal hygiene. Let’s face it – cash can be dirty. You can still meet most of your obligations using card payments or online options without leaving your home.
Knowing your money is safe at your credit union is one less concern for you, our members. We’re here for you - if you need assistance, please call our Contact Center at 316-722-3921, ext. 202.
The coronavirus, or COVID-19, is rapidly impacting households, communities, businesses and the entire planet. I’m sure we’ve all felt some major shifts in our daily lives. Besides the risk and fear of getting sick, our financial health can also be at risk and I know firsthand what this fear can feel like. I’m still navigating a lot of this myself, but I am going to do my best to pull together some resources and places you can turn for help. I’ll update this list as often as I find new helpful resources to add.
If you would like to talk to a financial or housing counselor about your situation, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC)(Opens in a new window) is a great place to start. They provide services online and over the phone, and offer safe relief for anyone who is struggling with financial stress or to make ends meet. Their phone number is 833-746-7577.
If your income has suddenly stopped, it is completely natural to feel shocked or panicked or want to ignore the situation. The first step is to take a look at your household budget. Here is an online budget worksheet(Opens in a new window) if this helps you fill in all the blanks of your monthly budget, so you’re not forgetting anything. Write down any last paychecks that are due to you, any savings you might have, and then start listing out your monthly bills. Prioritize your bills by anything you need to keep you safe- housing, food, utilities, your car, health insurance, and anything else you know is a top priority for you and your family’s health and welfare.
I know this part is hard, but you’ll also need to contact your creditors and let them know about your financial situation. It is best to contact your creditors before you miss a payment so that they know you are working on the situation. Keep track of everyone you speak to, the date you call them, and any paperwork you receive or share with them.
The U.S. Departments of Labor(Opens in a new window) website is a good starting point for information regarding applying for unemployment. You can search by the state you live in and it will redirect you to the proper channels for information on how and where to apply. Usually, self-employed people, freelancers, and contractors cannot receive unemployment benefits, but the CARES Act passed on March 27, 2020 creates a new, temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program to help these independent workers get through the rest of 2020. Other guidelines and requirements around unemployment are continuing to change as new resources are being put into place.
If you’re a small business owner, you might have been forced to close, reduce hours, or sales might have suddenly stopped coming in. The Small Business Administration (SBA) (Opens in a new window)might be able to offer you some help. They’re providing low-interest, disaster loans to help small businesses recover from declared disasters, including this COVID-19 outbreak. Their website is experiencing a high volume of traffic during this time, so you might have better luck visiting their website early in the morning (7 am) or later in the evening (after 5 pm). When filling out an application online, save your information frequently, just in case you hit a snag along the way. You and thousands of others are doing the same thing at the same time, and it could cause some issues while you’re submitting an application.
As the coronavirus takes a toll on all of us financially, a plan has finally been put in place to offer some relief to many individuals across the US. Now that the CARES Act has been put into place, the Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service will be setting up a process for distributing the emergency relief checks. The IRS has put up an informational page for payment questions(Opens in a new window), there is no new information posted yet, but you can check back for more information as it becomes available. The payment checks will likely be based on your 2019 tax returns if you have already filed those. If not, the government will likely use your 2018 tax returns. Payment will be sent via your direct deposit from those tax filings or a check will be mailed to the mailing address used on your tax returns. It will take at least three weeks for these payments to be processed and sent out.
Most individuals who earned less than $75,000 annually will receive a one-time payment of $1,200. Married couples earning less than $150,000 annually will get a one-time payment of $2,400. Families will also get $500 for every child that qualifies. For those who don’t qualify for a government payment but did experience their income drop in 2020, will get a tax credit when filing their 2020 taxes.
Beware of scams. It is so sad that people would use a situation like this to trick people into paying them money, but it does happen. The government will not ask you to pay anything upfront to get this money, and there are no fees or charges associated with this money. The government will not call you to ask for your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number. Anyone who does this is trying to scam you. These payments will not be sent until mid-April or later, and anyone who says they can get you this money now is trying to scam you. If you are contacted by someone trying to scam you, the FTC has set up a page where you can report(Opens in a new window) these complaints.
The IRS has extended the deadline for paying for your income taxes – if you need more time to come up with this money, the new deadline is July 15, 2020. This extension does not apply for all tax-related accounts across the board. Before you miss the April 15th deadline, be sure you check in on the IRS website(Opens in a new window) for details about extensions and to see if you apply.
Call 211 or check with 211.org(Opens in a new window) to seek referrals with food assistance, paying housing bills, accessing free childcare, or obtaining help with other needs. You’ll be able to enter your zip code on their website to be connected with your local 211 office.
I hope all of you are able to remain safe and healthy during this time. My heart goes out to all of the people struggling to get by, as well as the brave individuals who must keep returning to work each day – healthcare workers especially. I’ll do my best to provide more information and resources as often as I can. Be well, my friends!
Mobile Deposit Checks in a Snap
With Mid American’s mobile check deposit feature, making a deposit no longer requires a trip to a branch.
Users of Mid American’s mobile app can make a deposit easily and securely from anywhere at any time by taking a photo of the front and back sides of an endorsed check through the app.
Visit midamerican.coop/mobile-banking(Opens in a new window) to apply for the feature if you don’t have it.
If you aren’t using the Mid American mobile app, here is how you set it up:
- Log into your account online, click Settings/Mobile on the toolbar and then click Mobile Settings where you’ll be prompted to enter information for your device and wireless provider.
- Go to your Android, iPhone or iPad app store and search for “Mid American Credit Union” and download the app.
- Launch the app and log in with the same user ID and password you use for online banking.
Some real estate agents understand that today’s homeowners aren’t just looking for a certain number of bedrooms, bathrooms and square footage when home-shopping, and some listings may tout a property’s green features, especially if they are unusual like solar panels or tankless water heaters.
Here are some common features to check that can either save or cost homebuyers some green:
- Windows: Ask if and when windows were replaced, and what kind of replacements were installed. Some homeowners save money
by installing lower-quality, less-expensive replacements. Look for double-pane windows and ones that have low emissivity (which means they’ll reflect sunlight better). Also, test every window and patio door to assess their condition
- Appliances: If any appliances stay with the home, inquire about their age and look for Energy Star-rated appliances. Some appliances may have an energy-saver setting, but to earn the Energy Star logo, the appliance models must meet a higher standard.
- Utility systems: Just like appliances, heating and cooling systems also can be Energy Star-rated. According to some experts, an Energy Star-rated system can save you as much as 20% on your energy bills.
- Insulation: A home inspection will generally include checking insulation, but you can also ask for the inspector to do a home energy audit.
- Lighting: LED, or light-emitting diode, lights are not only better for the environment, but they also use energy much more efficiently, since 95% of the energy they use is converted to light. Incandescent lights convert only 10% of the energy used to light. If your home comes with screw-in incandescent lights, they generally can be replaced with screw-in LED lights.
Have Money, Will Travel
When you’re on vacation, don’t get stranded with no cash and no way to access any money. Remember these five tips to help you avoid that situation.
- Notify your card issuers. Put a travel notification on your accounts to avoid having charges declined for suspicious activity.
- Pack the right cards. Most places accept either VISA or MasterCard, so take at least one card from those issuers, if you can. Backup cards from different issuers also can be useful if, for example, one network system goes down temporarily. Check expiration dates, too.
- Look for networks. For example, Mid American is part of the CO-OP ATM and Shared Branches network. That means you can use your Mid American card surcharge-free at any of the nearly 30,000 CO-OP ATMs in the U.S. You can also withdraw cash at more than 5,600 branches nationwide.
- Know your limits. Check daily cash withdrawal or credit card limits for your cards before you travel.
- Keep a copy of your card information and issuer phone numbers in case a card is lost or stolen. Pack that information separately from your wallet or purse.
SECURE Act Offers New Opportunities for Individuals, BusinessesBy Jessica Brokaw
The new SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act) has a few provisions that may affect you. Unless otherwise noted, the new rules apply to tax or plan years starting January 1, 2020.
If you're still saving for retirement: To address increasing life expectancies, the new law allows individuals 70½ and older to continue contributing to a traditional IRA if they have earned income. Previously contributions were prohibited after 70½.
If you're not ready to take required minimum distributions: Individuals can now wait until age 72 to take required minimum distributions from traditional, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs and retirement plans instead of taking them at 70½.
If you're adding to your family: Workers can now take penalty-free early withdrawals of up to $5,000 from qualified retirement plans and IRAs to pay for birth- or adoption-relation expenses. (Regular income taxes still apply.)
If you're paying education expenses: Individuals with 529 college savings plans may now be able to use account funds to help pay off qualified student loans or for qualified, registered apprenticeship programs. Distributions made after December 31, 2018, may qualify.*
If you're working part time: Part-time workers logging at least 500 hours in three consecutive years must be allowed to participate in a company's elective deferral retirement plan. The previous requirement was 1,000 hours and one year of service. The new rule applies to plan years starting January 1, 2021.
If you're an employer offering a retirement plan: Employers offering plans with an automatic enrollment feature may automatically increase employee contributions until they reach 15% of pay (previous cap was 10%). Employees can opt out of the increase.
Small businesses that start a new retirement plan may now take a credit equal to the greater of (1) $500 or (2) the lesser of either $250 times the number of non-highly compensated eligible employees or $5,000. The previous maximum credit allowed was 50% of startup costs up to $1,000. A new tax credit of up to $500 is available to employers launching new SIMPLE IRA or 401(k) plans with automatic enrollment. These credits are available for three years, and employers that qualify may claim both credits.
Jessica Brokaw is available for free consultations in-person at the west Wichita branch or by telephone during her office hours of 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and by appointment. She can be reached at 316-722-3921, ext. 182 or Jessica.Brokaw@cusonet.com.
1. Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2019
*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“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. Mid American Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make nondeposit investment products and services available to credit union members.