By Gina Elia Haefner

Our collective experience of the last three months has brought about unusual trends in human behavior. Think of the empty toilet paper and cleaning supply shelves at grocery stores across our SE Portland neighborhoods.

People are seeking a sense of control in these uncertain times by stockpiling necessities like hand sanitizer, pet food, and yes, even cold, hard cash.

As the manager of OnPoint Community Credit Union’s 205 Place Branch, I’ve observed this tendency firsthand.

OnPoint, along with other financial institutions, has experienced an increase in individuals withdrawing large sums of cash and keeping it at home for safe-keeping.

This trend reminds me of Y2K when many people feared computers would stop working on December 31, 1999, which they thought would result in restricted access to their money. As we all know, these fears turned out to be unfounded and they remain so today as we face the coronavirus pandemic.

While home may seem like the most secure place for money in a crisis, you may not be aware that homeowners’ insurance policies rarely cover cash. That means if you have a fire or your house is burglarized, you risk losing it all.

The simple truth is, your money is safest when stored at a credit union or a bank that is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

Banks and credit unions in Oregon protect over $103 billion in financial assets with federal deposit insurance, and not a single one of these dollars has ever been lost.

If you or a loved one is thinking about withdrawing a large sum of money, check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance provider to see what kind of protection, if any, they offer for large amounts of cash.

Not only is your cash likely uninsured at home, withdrawing large sums puts you at risk for accidental overdraft and you lose out earning interest dollars from a CD or high-yield savings account.

While these are challenging times, the good news is that financial institutions offer many safe and effective alternatives to help you safeguard your money.

Whether it’s reviewing your budget, prioritizing needs versus wants, or understanding the current scams that exist, I encourage you to reach out to your credit union or bank today to find out what services and resources may be available.