Heather Haworth

Haworth

After spending the last decade recovering from the Great Recession, Redmond was on the brink of record-breaking expansion. Job gains in Central Oregon were outpacing the rest of the nation and tourism was rising.

At the beginning of 2020, many in Redmond were optimistic about our economy’s growth, but then the pandemic hit. COVID-19 raised unemployment rates and tourism came to a screeching halt. Then, we were hit with a devastating wildfire season that damaged our neighbor’s homes and businesses.

As the Branch Manager at OnPoint Community Credit Union’s Redmond Branch, I’ve seen our community ride this economic rollercoaster firsthand. We’re committed to helping our members make smart decisions about their finances through good times and bad. While it’s hard to predict our region’s economic future, there’s always a chance for another crisis around the corner, whether it’s a global health crisis or a personal challenge. You can build your financial resilience to weather the ups and downs by taking a few key actions:

Prepare for a crisis at all times

Crises are unpredictable. Industries that suffered during the Great Recession, like the housing market, are soaring amid the COVID-19 pandemic. You never know if your job or industry will benefit or suffer during an economic crisis. To ensure you’re ready no matter what’s ahead, you should future-proof your finances with two types of savings funds.

The first, an emergency fund, builds toward a minimum of three months’ worth of living expenses to help you through an income disruption. The second is a rainy-day fund to cover one-time expenses due to an unexpected problem, like wildfire damage or car troubles. Contribute to these funds regularly and when a crisis arises, you’ll feel less stress and get back on your feet more quickly.

Protect your credit

There may come a time when you can’t fulfill your monthly payment obligations. However, missing payments risks damaging your credit or a bill going to collections. You can protect your credit by reaching out to creditors as soon as you know you might miss a payment. Let them know how much you can afford to pay and when you can restart regular payments.

Potential solutions to discuss with your lender

• Adjustment in due date.

• Setting up a payment plan.

• Waiving late fees and other penalty charges.

• Restoring previous interest rate levels.

• Proactively addressing your finances increases your chances that lenders will negotiate a payment plan, allowing you time to bounce back and protect your credit.

Remember, whether you’re in a crisis or enjoying financial security, you should regularly check your credit report to ensure all accounts are current and only authorized by you. If you find any inaccurate information, it’s up to you to fix the error on your credit report.

Reach out to your community for support

The past year has presented our community with many complex challenges. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our community has come together to help each other by holding food and clothing drives and shopping at local businesses.

When the record wildfires hit last summer, our community rose to the challenge again, with families taking in those who lost their homes or had to be evacuated. There is always a place to turn to for help.

If you ever find yourself in need, never hesitate to reach out to your neighbors, community organizations, or your financial institution for support.

Despite Redmond’s population growth over the last decade, we remain a small-town community with people who care for one another through whatever challenge comes our way.

Heather Haworth is the Redmond branch manager for OnPoint Community Credit Union.

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