4 Ways for San Diegans to Be Sustainable

Technicians installing solar panels on a roof.

Since first opening its doors to San Diegans in 1934, Wheelhouse Credit Union now takes great pride to be San Diego’s #1 Solar Financer. Join us in our commitment to sustainability – Wheelhouse makes it easy! We’ve complied the following 4 tips and tricks to help you on your journey to being a more conscientious San Diegan.

1. Shop with intention
Every time we make a purchase, we add to our environmental footprint. Your purchases have an impact, from the resources used and pollution produced to the packaging that ends up in our landfills. So make sure to shop with your planet in mind and make intentional purchases when you can. Consider shopping second-hand and elect for minimal packaging and shipping when possible.

2. Leave no trace
Leave it better than the way you found it – a simple sentiment that anyone can adopt to help us care for the great outdoors. Although all Seven Principles of Leave No Trace are just as important as the next, an easy step to take in your journey to be more sustainable is to dispose of trash properly. That means holding onto it if there isn’t a trash can nearby on your favorite trail or at your local beach. You can even go the extra mile and pick up trash that someone else left behind. Stop by any Branch Location to grab your own Wheelhouse Leave No Trace litter-collection bag and use it when you’re out and about to help us leave San Diego cleaner than we found it.

3. Take advantage of solar energy
With over 266 days of sunshine year-round, why wouldn’t San Diegans take advantage of solar energy options? We work with over 100 installers to help homeowners across Southern California significantly reduce their electric bill, increase the value of their home and help the environment through solar financing. As of April 2023, 215 million kilowatt hours of clean energy has been generated by the Solar PV Systems we’ve financed, which is equivalent to:

  • greenhouse gas emissions from 31,864 passenger vehicles driven for one year or
  • CO2 emissions from 162,051,121 pounds of coal burned or
  • carbon sequestered by 3,893,382 tree seedlings grown for 10 years.

4. Look into other energy efficient options for your home
Solar Financing isn’t the only tool in our Wheelhouse. Our Energy Efficient Loans make it easy to conserve water and energy at your home, helping you finance insulation, energy-efficient appliances, heating and cooling, water-efficient fixtures and more. Wheelhouse Energy Efficient Loans can help you get started on your next sustainability project, such as:

  • energy efficient insulation
  • air duct sealing
  • lighting fixtures
  • water faucets, fixtures and drip irrigation
  • xeriscape & Firewise landscaping, and
  • rainwater harvesting equipment.

Our priorities are simple:

  1. strengthen financial self‑sufficiency of San Diegans by assisting with their ability to harness solar energy through fair, flexible financing options,
  2. support organizations in San Diego that are reducing the impact of climate change and improving the environment we live in, and
  3. reduce our personal footprint by utilizing solar energy, recycling office e-waste, installing energy-efficient LED fixtures, and committing to less paper consumption when conducting transactions.

We are San Diego Made™ and proud to do our part to help our beautiful city and planet thrive. Sustainability is rooted in our core values, and we know that together we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint, lessen greenhouse gas emissions, and decrease our dependence on fossil fuels to support San Diego’s journey to 100% renewable energy.

All loans are subject to credit approval. Membership required.
© 2023 Wheelhouse Credit Union. Federally insured by NCUA. Equal Housing Opportunity.

Protecting Your Loved Ones from Elder Fraud

Adult daughter caring for Aging Parent

In 2022, Phyllis Wiseberg, a 90-year-old widow lost $20,000 when cybercriminals withdrew the money from her account. Her story, shared by the National Council on Aging, is devastating, but unfortunately not uncommon. Financial exploitation is a reality many seniors face, especially in the age of online scams. Here are actions you can take to help financially safeguard your loved ones.

What can I do to prevent elder fraud?
Communicate. In a post-pandemic world, it’s easy to lose touch, but maintaining communication is key. Remind your loved ones to avoid disclosing personal financial details via email, phone, or text. Sign them up for the National Do Not Call Registry and have a candid conversation about the most common scams targeting seniors.

Designate trusted contacts. Connect with their financial institution for information on adding a trusted contact (or a view-only user) to their account — this is someone who can be contacted if there are questionable transactions taking place or if they can’t be reached. This is a safer alternative to a joint account which allows someone to withdraw funds directly.

Monitor accounts. Vigilance is easier with tech support. Set up online tools designed to detect suspicious transactions, fraud, and identity theft. Some programs will walk you through reporting and recouping any losses that have occurred.

Appoint financial power of attorney. If your loved one becomes incapacitated, it’s crucial they be financially safeguarded. Bypass the standard power-of-attorney form and enlist the help of a lawyer to customize the form according to their needs, whether it’s filing taxes or managing property. Free and low-cost options are available through Eldercare Locator.

Vet caregivers. If you’re seeking aid for healthcare or home management, hire someone through a bonded agency that utilizes a rigorous screening process. Be vigilant during the post-hire period as well—requesting updates regularly and observing in-person when possible.

What can I do if elder fraud has occurred?
Alert financial institutions. Contact their bank, credit union, or wire transfer service to request a cancellation or reversal of any fraudulent transactions if possible. At minimum they can actively monitor their accounts. You can also alert the Social Security Administration and the major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax) to limit damage incurred from instances of identity theft.

Report abuse. If you suspect your loved one is being exploited, report it to your local Adult Protective Services agency (which may have a different name depending on where they live). APS connects to social service programs advocating on behalf of older and disabled adults who need assistance. You can also report abuse to their local District Attorney’s office and request they prosecute the responsible party. If the fraud involved an online scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (for mail scams).

Offer support. Victims of financial exploitation often experience deep shame or grief. Be patient as they process their emotions and be vocal in your support while you help navigate next steps. Proactive gestures — like running errands or planning family events — can minimize stress.
Create a game plan. Consider setting up regular family meetings to address budgeting, bill payments, or any lingering financial concerns moving forward. GreenPath Financial Wellness offers worksheets and guides that can help get you started.

This article is shared by our partners at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a trusted national non-profit.

IRA: Traditional vs. Roth

Cheerful mature husband man cutting vegetables cooking food meal in the kitchen while his wife woman embracing hugging him helping prepare salad together at home.

Wheelhouse Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)* serve as tax-advantage investments that earn significantly higher dividends than a traditional checking or savings account. The rates and returns are more stable and less risky than other forms of investments, so you can spend more time enjoying life and less time worrying about the future.

Wheelhouse offers two types of IRAs: Traditional and Roth. It might seem difficult to navigate their differences, so we’re here to help break it down.

With a Traditional IRA, you pay taxes later. Contributions to your Traditional IRA are tax-deductible, meaning you do not pay income taxes on the deposits going in. Thus, your investments grow tax-deferred. When you’re ready to withdraw during retirement, you will pay federal income taxes on your contributions and earnings.

With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes now. The contributions you make to your Roth IRA are after-tax, meaning you pay income taxes on the deposits going in. Because of this, the investments grow tax-free. When you withdraw your contributions and earnings during retirement, you will pay no federal income taxes on your withdrawals.

Which is right for you?
Choosing between a Traditional and Roth IRA is as simple as asking yourself, “Do I want a tax break now or a tax break later?”

In general, if you believe you are at a lower tax rate today than you will be when you withdraw your funds, a Roth IRA might be better suited for you (AARP). Traditional IRAs are usually the right choice for high-income earners who are currently in high tax brackets, whereas a Roth IRA might be ideal for average earners who will likely stay in the same or move up in income brackets as their lives progress.

There are additional differences to account for as well, including when funds can be withdrawn without penalties. Generally, Roth IRAs have more flexible withdrawal rules. As always, consult with your tax advisor to determine which IRA option is best for you.

To get started or to learn more, visit our website or speak with a Wheelhouse professional at 619-297-4835

*Wheelhouse IRA deposits are federally insured by the NCUA. Please consult your tax advisor regarding any IRA account. Other terms and conditions may apply. Membership is required.

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