Category: Financial Literacy

Childcare is not cheap. Right behind a mortgage, student loans are often said to be the largest source of consumer debt. However, the average annual cost of full-time childcare is higher than the average cost of in-state college tuition. Whether you aspire to have children in the future or have already started a family, factoring …

Budgeting for Childcare

Childcare is not cheap. Right behind a mortgage, student loans are often said to be the largest source of consumer debt. However, the average annual cost of full-time childcare is higher than the average cost of in-state college tuition. Whether you aspire to have children in the future or have already started a family, factoring childcare into your budget can help you avoid piling up debt. Here are some steps that can help:

Educate Yourself on Care Costs

Whether you’re looking into a day care center, a nanny, or you’re even considering being a stay-at-home parent, you should have sense of how much childcare will cost you every month. Do some research and reach out to any care options that are of interest to you. Make sure that you know exactly what the price will be, so that you can factor in the expense when you start putting together your budget. If your yearly salary is at all comparable to the cost of your child’s care, you might even consider leaving work to stay at home. If the cost of a nanny exceeds your budget, explore nanny-sharing. You can split the costs of care with another family and know that your little one will have a friend to socialize with. And possible, accept help from friends and family if they offer. Not only will you be saving money, but you’ll know your child is in good hands.

Track Your Current Spending

Start tracking where all your money is going now – before kids. You can either keep track using good old’ pen and paper or use a free app. Tracking your spending and comparing it to your income can give you an idea of how much you’ll be able to spend on childcare. If you discover that you won’t be able to spend much, it might be time to start looking into a higher-paying job or cutting some spending, which is a perfect segue to the next step.

Find Places to Cut Spending

The great part about tracking your spending is that you have a clear understanding of where your money is going. Look at all of your discretionary spending to see where you can start making cuts. It might be time to finally cut your cable, brew at home rather than stopping for coffee every day, and carpool to save on gas. You don’t want to be borrowing money from your emergency fund or contributing less to your 401(k).

Monitor Changes Over Time

Stay open to the idea that the costs associated with having children will change over time. While your salary may increase, so might the cost at the day care center. You might have another child, doubling the cost of the care. Childcare costs vary by age, with infants being the most expensive. Your child will someday grow old enough that paying for childcare is no longer necessary. Instead of childcare, you might have to fund their activities and interests. Don’t get caught sticking to the same outdated budget. Make sure that you’re sitting down and evaluating your budget every year to stay on track.

Happy parenting!

Coaching kids to stretch a buck on spending

By getting your kids more involved with understanding money, many of us could not only reduce expenses but also help our children learn a life lesson. Here are some ways you can involve your kids.

  1. Coach your kids on the concept of budgeting. You might take a couple of dollar bills out of your wallet and explain that spending too much now means there may not be enough later for something else they want (say, a winter trip or summer camp)—a concept a schoolchild of any age can grasp.
  2. Set a budget that encourages them to plan. For example, some parents pay for all academic supplies, then provide each child $100 for other back-to-school needs. The kids are free to stretch the $100 using money they’ve earned or saved. If they’re alarmed about this budget, brainstorm with them about ways they can earn more. (See #5.)
  3. Help them inventory what they already have. Can they reuse backpacks or sports equipment? If there’s peer pressure to have something “new,” how about personalizing those possessions with stickers or stencils?
  4. Ask them to make a list of what they really need. Have their needs really changed? If new clothing is essential, can they mix in clothes from their closet later on?
  5. Hold a yard sale of outgrown or unneeded stuff to raise money. While you’ll probably want to oversee the sale, encourage your kids to get involved in the pricing, set-up, and selling. They’ll value the profits more, having worked for them.
  6. Avoid paying full retail. Start with discount stores and other nearby consignment shops. Teens who like to dress distinctively may find bargains at resale shops, outlet stores, and vintage clothing emporia. If you do need to buy “new,” peruse sale flyers and search for online coupons first. Above all, stick to your shopping list.
  7. Consider sharing with the less fortunate. Many communities have an organization that provides items to truly needy kids. If you come upon a great deal, buy a little extra and donate it. You won’t save money, but you’ll gain rewards of another kind. Your children will, too.

Smart Things to Do with Your Tax Refund

Tax season is right around the corner, and it may be helpful to have a plan for the funds you expect to receive from the IRS. You may be tempted to spend the cash right away and treat yourself, but there are so many great things you could do with the sum that you won’t regret it later. Here are some responsible ways to use your tax refund:

1. Create an emergency fund

Many Americans don’t have an adequate savings account accessible in case of a sudden financial need. A lack of savings leaves you vulnerable to a job loss, medical emergency or major repair and can force you to seek out short-term loans at high interest rates or carry credit card balances for an extended period. Using your refund to start or augment an emergency fund could leave you breathing easier should one of those events arise.

2. Send it to savings

The IRS allows you to split up your refund in up to three accounts via direct deposit. That’s a perfect opportunity to stash some funds in a savings account that’s inconvenient for you to access, assuring that the money stays out of sight and out of mind until you really need it.

3. Pay off debt

If you are carrying a balance with a high-interest rate, consider using your tax refund to pay that off. It doesn’t make much financial sense to put the IRS check for $3,000 in a fund yielding low interest. Once you’ve paid off those high-interest rate loans, you can start putting more money into a savings account every month.

4. Fund your retirement

What better way to sock money away for retirement than by using funds that aren’t a part of your paycheck anyway? You can use the funds to open a Roth or traditional IRA. You’ll probably be grateful that you had the foresight to save for retirement rather than spend it on something you’d have long since forgotten about.

7. Make home improvements

If you live in an older home, spending some of that refund around the house can lower energy bills. Replacing old windows can improve the efficiency in the winter and in the summer by reducing your electric bill. Old appliances can be replaced by models that use less energy. If your kitchen or bathroom is out of date a remodeling project can improve the functionality of your house now and also make it more attractive when you decide to sell.

Mobile Banking: Keeping it Convenient, Keeping it Safe!

You know that mobile banking with Compass is a convenient way to access your account wherever you might be.  While mobile banking with us is also safe and secure, there are some simple rules you can follow to ensure that your private information stays that way:

  • Never send your account information or password via text message or e-mail
  • Know that public internet connections are not always secure; before you log into your account, make sure you’re not connected to a public network, such as in a coffee shop
  • Avoid using your phone to visit any websites that seem illegitimate – even if there is just a hint of doubt
  • Avoid clicking on hyperlinks embedded in emails unless you know the source is legitimate
  • Create complex user passwords

Keep your phone password protected.

To learn more about mobile banking, click here.

The Latest Scam

We have provided some information and tips on how you can protect yourself from phony emails and phishing scams. In this article, we will be focusing on the latest scam published by the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), Tech Support Scams. Based on a Public Service Announcement published in July, this particular scam is on the rise. IC3’s 2022 Internet Crime Report shows this type of scandal had a 27% increase over 2021 and totaled in over $1B in losses.

How do you know if you’re being targeted:

The scammers will initiate contact with their victim through a phone call, text message, email, or popup window posing to be support from a company. They hook their victims by telling them they are eligible for a refund and that they need to gain access to their computer so they can guide them through the transfer. They will urge their victim to log into their bank account, and then take over control. During this process they will intentionally transfer more money than what was said to be refunded and play on their victims’ emotions by telling them they could lose their job if they do not receive the funds back. They will instruct their victim to send the money via cash disclosed in a magazine or to a pharmacy or retail business which will accept packages like this.

How do you protect yourself against the threat, below are some tips provided from IC3:

  • Never download software at the request of an unknown individual who contacts you
  • Never allow an unknown individual authorization to access or control your machine remotely
  • Do not click on unsolicited popups, links, text messages or even attachments.
  • Never send cash via mail or shipping companies

What do you do if you’ve fallen victim, or suspect you’ve been targeted:

If you suspect you have been a victim of this attack, you should report this activity to the FBI Internet Complaint Center at You will need to include as much information as possible, and this should include.

  • The name of the person or company that contacted you
  • Methods of communication used, in include websites, emails, and phone numbers
  • The address where the cash was shipped and the recipient name

The source of this information was gathered from the FBI’s IC3 website and can be reviewed in more detail at

Compass Community Credit Union is dedicated to protecting our members and the safety of your information. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 707-443-8662.

Scams are on the rise. Protect yourself, don’t become a victim (part 1).

We have recently seen an increase in scams and would like to provide you with some tips on how to identify them and what to watch for.

Prize Pitch (Lottery) Scams 

The classic prize pitch scam involves victims receiving notification by mail, phone, or e-mail indicating they have won a prize (monetary or other valued items). 

However, in order to collect the prize the victim is required to pay various fees or taxes in advance. Victims either never hear from the organization again or receive further requests for money.


  • Challenge a caller who says you’ve won a prize to tell you where and when you entered. If you didn’t enter, you can’t win.
  • Keep track of contests, draws and lotteries you enter.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Watch out for Charity Scams 

Fraud artists hope to profit from people’s generosity. Consider the following precautions to make sure your donations benefit the people and organizations you want to assist:

•            Be wary of appeals that tug at your heart, especially pleas involving current events.

•            Ask for written information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity or fund-raiser will give you information about the charity’s mission, how your donation will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible.

•            Ask the solicitor for the registered charitable tax number of the charity. Question any discrepancies. 

•            Check out the charity’s financial information. For many organizations, this information can be found online or call them.    

•            Watch out for similar-sounding names. Some phony charities use names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate organizations. If you notice a small difference from the name of the charity you intend to deal with, call the organization to check it out. 

•            Be skeptical if someone thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making. If you have any doubts about whether you’ve made a pledge or previously contributed, check your records. Be on the alert for invoices claiming you’ve made a pledge. Some unscrupulous solicitors use this approach to get your money. 

•            Refuse high-pressure appeals. Legitimate fund-raisers won’t push you to give on the spot. 

•            Be wary of charities offering to send a courier or overnight delivery service to collect your donation immediately. 

•            Be wary of guaranteed sweepstakes winnings in exchange for a contribution. According to law, you never have to donate anything to be eligible to win. 

•            Avoid cash gifts. Cash can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by check. 

Advance Fee Fraud 

Classified advertisements for loan opportunities do not guarantee the legitimacy of a company. Some companies claim they can guarantee you a loan even if you have a bad credit history or no credit rating at all. They usually request an up-front fee of several hundred dollars. If you send your money to these companies, it is unlikely you will get your promised loan and your advance payment will be at risk.

Advance fee loans operating for a criminal purpose generate millions of dollars annually in the U.S. Persons with poor credit ratings are usually the key targets and once the ‘loan processors’ receive your money, they usually disappear.

If you have doubts about the organization, contact the Better Business Bureau for further information.

Most important, do not give out your personal or account information unless you are absolutely sure you know who you are dealing with. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 707-443-8662.

April is Youth Month

April is National Youth Month, designed to encourage kids to develop healthy saving habits by making saving fun and exciting. This year’s theme is:

Save Small, Dream Big.”

As a parent, you instill good values and financial guidance in your children. Compass is committed to help teach and encourage kids to develop good financial habits. We are providing an incentive to help our younger members see the importance of putting money aside. Click here to learn more.

It’s important to stay on top of global cyber-attacks.

Fraudsters use circumstances like this to prey on innocent people. To protect yourself from scams, use caution and watch for these types of threats.

1. Financial Imposter Scam
Fraudsters create SMS/Text Messages that look like they came from your financial institution, prompting you to take action immediately. Once you respond, they follow up with a call pretending they are from the security department. They use some of your information found on social media or the internet to coax you into providing your username, password and 2FA code. This information allows them to access your online banking. Compass will never ask for your password or 2FA code and you should never give this information out.

2. Phishing Emails
Be wary of emails requesting personal information. Scammers send bogus emails that look like they come from a company you recognize. They include the company’s branding and logo so you think it’s legit. These scams are designed to trick you into providing your username and password. Do not click on any links in the email. Contact the company directly through their website by typing the web address yourself. You can also call the phone number that you have on file or the number listed on their website. 

3. Spoofed (Fake) Websites
Crooks like to create fake websites that look genuine. They can be very impressive to deceive you in thinking it’s real. Then, they try and trick you into providing your debit/credit card number or your username and password. The best thing to do is go directly to the website by typing the web address yourself rather than from the link. Look at the website address and make sure it matches the site you’re trying to access. Tip: Scammers usually misspell or add an extra letter to the website address. An example is Amazon becoming “Amazone” or “Amazne.”

4. Reusing Usernames and Passwords
Protect yourself by using different usernames and passwords for every account. Passphrases consisting of simpler words or constructs are better than short passwords with special characters. A password is a short character set of mixed digits. A passphrase is a long string of text that makes up a phrase or sentence. Example: mydogRocky#1

For additional information and to learn more about other security tips, visit If you think you have been a victim of fraud, please contact us at 707-443-8662.

Better Way to Manage your Money

One thing you don’t want to waste – your time. With mobile banking, you can access your accounts anytime, anywhere. It’s safe, secure and super easy to use.

Deposit checks without visiting a branch. All you need to do is sign, snap a picture of both sides of the check, and submit the check through the Compass mobile app. It’s that easy!

Tagging transactions allows you to locate your purchases quickly and organize.

  • Attach images of your receipts
  • Add notes to provide more context
  • Easily find transactions with dynamic search filters
  • Export data for a range of dates in a variety of formats

With the Low Balance Alert, you can receive notifications when your balance goes above or below a pre-selected threshold or for large transactions.

Mobile banking helps you spend time doing what matters most to you. Ready to get started? Just download the Compass Community Credit Union app and follow the prompts. For more information, visit

Six Tips to Get the Best Deal on a New Car

Are you in the market for a new or used car? When it comes to car shopping, timing is everything! Did you know you have a better chance of leaving the dealership with a great deal in the winter? Or that getting pre-approved can save steps at the dealership and keep you focused on your budget? Here are the six best tips to get you into a new ride this season:

1.            Get pre-approved! Before you buy, apply online with Compass at or call 707-443-8662. Get pre-approved so you have the best chances of negotiation. Once you’re pre-approved, you can shop for the car as if you had a check in your pocket. This helps you stay focused on the actual selling price of the car, rather than keeping track of the interest rate, down payment, loan term and trade-in.

2.            Winter months offer the greatest potential for deals. After the holiday shopping rush has settled down, consumers are less likely to make larger purchases such as a car. Foot traffic through car dealerships usually remains slow from the New Year into February.

3.            Shop during the week. By avoiding the weekend crowd, you’ll be more apt to get the salesperson’s undivided attention. They may even feel more willing to negotiate because of how few people shop for cars mid-week.

4.            Make your offer late in the day. If you know what you want, and have done your research, it might save you time and money to visit the dealership closer to closing time. The salesperson might not want to spend hours negotiating a deal, pressing them to make a good deal.

5.            Don’t think about the monthly payments. Of course, you have to consider the monthly payments and whether or not you can afford them! However, worry about the actual price of the car. A low monthly payment won’t do you any good stretched out over a long period of time and will eventually add up to more than the sticker price!

6.            Avoid tax refund season. Consumers commonly use their tax refund checks to purchase big ticket items—like a new car! The bad news about this time of year is that dealers don’t feel the need to offer quite as many discounts to entice shoppers to buy.

Not sure what to buy? Research and shop inventory – click here.

In short, a credit union is a cooperative financial institution where people work together to make everyone’s lives better. Everyone who has an account here is a member. And every member is an owner.

Rather than making profits to send to far-off shareholders, Compass CCU reinvests in our credit union. Which means we reinvest in YOU. That’s why we say that, at Compass Community Credit Union, we guide you to better banking.