Don’t Get Caught In A Pyramid Scheme!

Pyramid schemes are just one of the many ways scammers capitalize on human greed.man looking at computer and looking upset These business-centered schemes have been around for years, but scammers are still growing rich off victims.

Pyramid schemes are especially dangerous because they can be difficult to spot. They make every effort to appear legitimate, and are often confused with authentic multi-level marketing (MLM) companies.

Let’s take a look at what constitutes a pyramid scheme and how to avoid falling into their trap.

What is a Pyramid Scheme?

A pyramid scheme is a system in which participating members earn money by recruiting an ever-expanding number of “investors.” The initial promoters of the business stand on top of the pyramid. They will recruit additional investors, who will each also recruit even more investors. At each level, the number of investors multiplies. Investors earn a profit for each new recruit, and pass on some of the profit to their recruiters. The further up on a pyramid an investor is, the more money they will earn.

Sometimes, pyramid schemes involve the sale of a product, but that is usually just an attempt to appear authentic. The product will typically be faulty, and will obviously not be the focus of the business. The main object of all pyramid schemes is to recruit new investors in a never-ending quest for expansion.

It may be difficult to spot the crime here-and pyramid schemes are actually legal in some states. However, there are definitely underhanded tactics you’ll want to be aware of with every pyramid scheme.

First, new investors need to pay a fee for the right to sell a product or service, and to recruit others for monetary reward. This fee can be quite steep. Essentially, the recruiter is paying the salary of their superiors.

Also, as mentioned, if a product is sold, it is likely faulty or damaged and will not sell well. Recruiters might be required to purchase the product themselves. To make it even worse, the company will refuse to take back products that are deemed unsalable.

Finally, every pyramid scheme is set to fail because they are dependent on the ability to recruit more investors. Because there is a limited number of people in any community, every pyramid scheme will eventually collapse, leaving only those at the top with a profit.

What is Multi-Level Marketing?

MLM companies are often confused with pyramid schemes, but there are some distinctions that set them apart.

First, MLM companies work by selling products directly to consumers without a retail store or website. Distributors or salespeople will market the products on their own and will also train and recruit additional distributors. Each distributor earns a commission on each sale, as well as commission on the sales of the distributors they’ve recruited.

You might have unknowingly encountered an MLM business or even purchased their products. Some MLM companies include Mary Kay Cosmetics, Amway, and Scentsy. These are all completely legitimate businesses, with no devious intent.

The primary difference between MLM companies and pyramid schemes is the reliable line of products or services that stand behind each MLM company. The bulk of the company’s profits come from sales, not from recruiting new investors.

Also, authentic MLM businesses will never leave their distributors with unsold products. They will gladly buy back unsold merchandise, though often at a discounted price.

How Can I Spot a Pyramid Scheme?

Watch out for these red flags which immediately mark a business as a pyramid scheme:

  • High-pressure tactics. Pyramid schemes work by ensnaring victims whose judgment is clouded by hopeful ambition and don’t bother to read the fine print.
  • Recruitment-based income. If your promised income is completely tied to recruiting more members for the business, you’re looking at a pyramid scheme.
  • Unsubstantiated income claims. If you’re promised a 6-digit salary within a year while working a low-skill job that requires no experience at all, opt out.
  • Outrageous products claims. Are you being asked to sell a cream that will make wrinkles disappear overnight? Or maybe a pill that makes people drop five pounds in a week? If the product is accompanied by outlandish claims that are hard to prove, you’re being targeted for a pyramid scheme.
  • You need to buy the product to sell it. A company that requires its salespeople to purchase its products is a company that is desperate for business. Run the other way and don’t look back.

If you think you’ve been targeted by a pyramid scheme, check your state laws and report the scheme to the authorities if a law has been broken. Also, warn your friends about the circulating scheme so they know to avoid falling into its trap.

Stay alert and stay safe!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a pyramid scheme? Tell us about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.fraud.org/direct_sale_pyramids

https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-fraud-schemes/pyramid-schemes
https://ag.ny.gov/consumer-frauds/pyramid-schemes

What To Buy And What To Skip On Memorial Day

Since 1971, Memorial Day has been celebrated as an extended weekend away fromtwo women shopping in the spring work–and the unofficial start of summer. It’s time to get that grill going, dust off your patio set, and break out the white jeans you’ve had stashed away all winter.

More recently, Memorial Day has also turned into a second Black Friday for retailers, each offering loads of sale events in stores and online,and each promising to save you heaps of money. Lots of these sales will run for a full two weeks, starting a week before Memorial Day, which falls on May 27 this year, and continuing until the end of the month.

As always, though, not every marked-down product is actually a bargain. In fact, you can sometimes get the same product a lot cheaper by waiting a few months-or even just a few weeks. And of course, if the for-sale item is not one you need, you’re better off leaving it in the store. But, if you know what to shop for and you’re careful to stick to what you need and can afford, you can find some great deals.

Let’s take a look at what to buy and what to skip this Memorial Day weekend.

Buy: Outdoor essentials

Get ready to welcome summer with outdoor gear like grills, lawn mowers, mulch, ladders, and more, which may be marked down as much as 50% at stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Online retailers, like Wayfair and Overstock, host similar events and may offer free two-day shipping in honor of the summer season kickoff.

Skip: Electronics

You’re going to see lots of crazy-low deals on gaming consoles, laptops, and tablets around Memorial Day weekend. But, unless you need one now, it’s better to wait it out. You’ll find even better deals on electronics during Black Friday season, when retailers are looking to clear out last year’s models to make room for the newer inventory. If you need your electronics sooner than November, you may consider waiting until July, when many retailers host “Black Friday in July” events that feature steep discounts on electronics.

Buy: Furniture

Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to spruce up both the inside and outside of your home with new furniture. You can snag a great deal on a fully-loaded patio set, pick up a comfortable sofa, and even swap your old mattresses for new ones, all at great prices. You may need to use a coupon code to qualify for the reduced price, so be sure to check out a retailer’s website before hitting the store.

Skip: TVs

Don’t make the mistake of picking up a new TV in May just because you found one at an excellent price. Most marked-down TVs you’ll find around Memorial Day are older models with outdated features. You can find much better deals on newer models in November or January.

Buy: Wedding registry gifts

Department stores, like Macy’s and JC Penney, offer discounts on household essentials, like coffee makers and blenders, in advance of the wedding season. You’ll also find markdowns on these items at specialty stores, like Bed Bath & Beyond. If you’ve got any weddings to attend this summer, pick out a registry gift now to save big.

Skip: Cars

If you’re looking for a new set of wheels, wait until after June. You’ll find the hottest deals on cars between July and October, when dealerships are trying to move old inventory and make room for the newer models.

Buy: Tires

Preparing the family car for a summer road trip? You’ll find the year’s best prices on tires around Memorial Day weekend.

Skip: Swimwear

Don’t splurge on swimwear and other summer apparel just yet. Wait until June, or even mid-summer if you can swing it, for the steepest discounts.

Buy: Spring apparel

Retailers have been displaying their warmer-weather line for months now. That makes the end of May a perfect time to stock up on spring wear.

Skip: Power tools

You’ll only have to wait a few weeks for the hottest deals on power tools. Father’s Day sales usually start at the beginning of June, and they offer deep discounts on power tools and other outdoor power equipment.

Buy: Appliances and home décor

Retailers and manufacturers alike offer markdowns on large household appliances, like refrigerators, dishwashers, and ovens, at the end of May. Hold onto your receipts, as you may need to mail them to the manufacturer for a cash-back rebate. You can also score a deal on home décor products, like light fixtures, flooring, and kitchen essentials, at Memorial Day sale events.

Skip: Jewelry

All that glam won’t glow so brightly if you have to drain your wallet to pay for it. Skip the diamonds this month and wait until late summer, when the jewelry business is at its slowest and retailers put some of their products on sale. If you can wait even longer, push off your purchase until the end of February, when jewelry prices are at their lowest.

Now that you know what to buy and what to skip this Memorial Day, you can kick off the season of poolside barbecues and aimless road trips by snagging some great deals!

Your Turn: What was your best Memorial Day find ever? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.finder.com/memorial-day-sales

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/99B0B79C-4236-11E7-AE38-779A9096A819
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/shopping/shopping-tips-news/what-to-buy-skip-may/

Mortgage Rates Are Dropping; Should I Refinance?

Q:  I’ve heard that mortgage rates have dropped dramatically since the start of 2019. three people going over paperworkShould I refinance my mortgage loan to take advantage of these lower rates?

A:  Refinancing a mortgage is essentially paying off the remaining balance on an existing home loan and then taking out a new mortgage loan, often at a lower interest rate. It may sound like a no-brainer, but there are many factors to consider before moving forward with a refinance.

Is it a good time to refinance?

Mortgage rates have been falling steadily over the last few months. During the last week of March this year, rates took their biggest one-week nosedive in more than a decade, and mortgage applications rose 39%, as thousands of homeowners sought out their lenders for a refinance.

However, the downward trend has already reversed as of the beginning of April, when rates hit 4.29 percent. That’s up from 4.17 percent just one week prior. If you’re thinking of refinancing in the near future, it’s best to do move quickly so you can lock in the lowest possible rate. You may be able to save hundreds of dollars a month if you refinance a loan that currently has a relatively high interest rate.

Is a refinance right for you?

While this is definitely an excellent time to take out a new mortgage, that doesn’t mean a refinance is the right fit for everyone.

Here are two reasons a refinance might be a good fit for you:

  1. Your credit is strong and you’d like to lower your monthly payments

The first, and most obvious, reason homeowners refinance their mortgage is to take advantage of a lower interest rate. The drive behind this reason might be a change in finances, personal life or simply the desire to save money. As mentioned, the current mortgage rates make this an excellent time to refinance into a lower interest rate.

Don’t try a refinance unless your credit is in good shape, though. Taking out another mortgage with a less-than-desirable credit score can mean getting hit with a high interest rate, even if national rates are dropping.

Aside from reducing your monthly payments, a lower interest rate can also help you build more equity in your home sooner.

  1. You’d like to shorten the life of your loan

People sometimes choose to refinance their mortgage because they want to finish paying off their loan sooner. If you have a mortgage that has a really high interest rate but you can easily meet these payments, consider refinancing into a shorter-term option. You may be able to pay off your loan in half the time without changing your monthly payment much at all.

When refinancing your mortgage is a bad idea

In the following three circumstances, refinancing your mortgage may not make sense.

  1. You’re in debt.

If you’re looking for the extra stash of cash each month to pull you out of debt, you probably shouldn’t be refinancing. Most people who refinance for this reason end up spending all the money they save, and then some. Without making any real changes to your spending habits, giving yourself extra money is only enabling more debt. While the intention is rooted in sound logic, unless you make an equally sound change in your spending habits, you’ll be right back to your present situation in very little time.

  1. A refinance will greatly lengthen the loan’s terms.

If you’ve only got 10 years left on your mortgage and you want to refinance to stretch out those payments over 30 years, you won’t come out ahead. Any money you save on lower payments will be lost in the cost of the refinance and the extra 20 years of interest you’ll be paying on your mortgage.

  1. You don’t plan on living in your home much longer.

If you plan on moving within the next few years, the money you save might not even come close to the costs of a refinance.

How much will it cost?

Homeowners are often eager to get started on a refinance until they see what it will cost them.

Remember all those fees and closing costs you paid when you first bought your house? Prepare to pay most of them again. Broker fees will vary, but a typical refinance will cost anywhere between 3-6% of the loan’s principal.

Before proceeding with your refinance, make sure you’ll actually be saving money. You can do this by procuring a good faith estimate from several lenders. This will get you your projected interest rate and the anticipated loan price. Next, divide this price by the amount you’ll save each month with your anticipated new rate. This will give you the number of months that will have to pass before you break even on the new loan. If you don’t plan on staying in your home for that long, or you can’t afford to wait until then to recoup your losses, refinancing may not make sense for you.

Rates are still low, and if your finances are in good shape, a refinance can be a great way to put an extra few hundred dollars into your pocket each month. [If you’re ready to talk to a home loan expert about refinancing, call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to ask about getting started on your refinance. We’re always happy to help you save money!

Your Turn: Have you refinanced? What drove your decision? Was it the right decision for you? Let us know in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.myfinance.com/5-reasons-to-refinance/?utm_source=Millennial+Money&utm_campaign=millennialmoneycru&utm_medium=mfCRU

https://www.consumersadvocate.org/mortgage-refinance/a/best-mortgage-refinance?matchtype=e&keyword=should%20i%20refinance&adpos=1t2&gclid=CjwKCAjww6XXBRByEiwAM-ZUILOeJrx3aTigcckJXeQcxYZ5KC-gPj1HDcbQYQlprrg3zX08LqGaohoCL14QAvD_BwE
https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/refinance/when-and-when-not-to-refinance-mortgage/
https://www.investopedia.com/mortgage/refinance/7-bad-reasons-to-refinance-mortgage/
https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/analysis/
https://www.wkbn.com/news/local-news/with-mortgage-rate-drop-many-buyers-consider-refinancing/1897961701

Home Improvement Hacks

You’ve finally finished scrubbing and purging your home from top to bottom in honor ofcouple working on home improvements spring. And now, with every surface, closet, and room sparkling clean, you’re starting to see all the areas that could use a facelift. Maybe you’re hankering after a complete kitchen makeover. You might be dreaming of a fresh coat of paint for your bedrooms. Or maybe your window treatments are in desperate need of an overhaul.

The only thing standing between you and your dream home is finding piles of cash for funding it, right?

Maybe not. Lucky for you, you don’t need to spend a fortune this spring to give your house a new look. Read on for our list of home improvement hacks and learn how to upgrade your home on a budget.

  1. Cabinet makeover

Instead of dropping a ton of money on replacing your kitchen cabinets, you can give a tired kitchen a fresh new look by replacing just the cabinet fronts. You’ll pay a fraction of the price and no one will know it’s your old, shabby cabinets hiding behind those beautiful new doors.

Want to go even lower-cost? Consider painting the front of your cabinet to upgrade the look without spending much money or time. You can also replace those dated cabinet pulls with something nicer and trendier for a more modern look.

  1. Cover your countertops with contact paper

Granite countertops can be gorgeous, but they’re also incredibly pricey. Instead of taking out a second mortgage for beautiful counters, try covering them with pretty, patterned contact paper. You’ll find loads of granite lookalikes at home improvement stores and you can learn how to apply your knockoff covers neatly from DIY tutorials on YouTube. You might even fool your friends and family into thinking it’s the real thing. But don’t worry: We won’t tell anyone it’s fake!

  1. Use PVC pipes for curtain rods

Pretty curtains and drapes add a splash of color and personality to any room. You can make your own inexpensive curtains by picking up some fabric from a sewing supply store. The only issue? You’ll need rods to hang up those curtains-and if you need specific measurements and colors, that can get pricey.

Make it happen with this hack: Use PVC pipes instead of curtain rods. You can paint your pipes to match the décor of the room and hang them with inexpensive hooks that fit well. Curtains, done!

  1. Create a mirrored backsplash

All you need for this fantastic hack is a pack of self-adhesive mirror tiles. These retail for about $15 per 20-tile pack and you can find them online or at a home improvement store. Use your snazzy tiles to create a mirrored backsplash in your kitchen. Decorate with inexpensive decals to up the glam or just leave it bare. The mirrors will give the illusion of greater space and you won’t have to deal with grout and caulking. It’s a super-cheap way to make your kitchen sparkle!

  1. Slipcover your sofa

If your sofa is hopelessly stained and you’d love to update it, but can’t spare the cash, try covering it in a slipcover. You can find a leather-look slipcover to match the shape of your sofa for $100 or less. They’re not just for protection; the right slipcover will give you an (almost) brand new couch! Make sure you read reviews before purchasing, because quality really makes a difference here.

  1. Let the light in

Light fixtures can really make or break an area in your home, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get it right. Walk through your home and take note of the light fixtures that are relics from a past life, paying close attention to highly visible areas. Then, take a trip to a home improvement store or check out sites like Wayfair and Hayneedle for trendy, striking light fixtures. For less than $100, you can give your house an entire new look!

  1. DIY paint

If the walls in your home desperately need fresh coats of paint, look no further than your local home improvement store. No, you don’t have to be a genuine DIYer to get this right; it’s fairly simple. You’ll find loads of painting tutorials on YouTube, and you’ll only have to spring for the actual paint plus a few supplies. Best of all, when you’re in charge, you can get as creative as possible. Using painter’s tape and your imagination, you can paint funky designs on your walls, like diamond contrasts, vertical and horizontal stripes, or, if you’re feeling really artsy, go for a full-blown mural!

These hacks will make your home beautiful this spring for just a bit of money. If you need more major home improvements that require serious cash, though, we can help. Call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to ask us about opening a HELOC or taking out a home equity loan. We can make that happen, too!

Your Turn: Are you making home improvements on a budget? Share your best tips and tricks with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thrillist.com/amphtml/home/home-improvement-hacks-under-50-diy-home-projects

https://diyjoy.com/diy-remodeling-hacks/
http://www.architectureartdesigns.com/15-smart-hacks-that-will-save-you-money-while-remodeling-your-home/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.remodelista.com/posts/apartment-rental-simple-easy-budget-hacks/amp/

9 Ways For Kids To Make Money

The best way to teach a child financial responsibility is by encouraging her to earn and 3 kids at lemonaide standmanage money on her own. As the weather warms and summer nears, there are many opportunities for your kids to pull in some extra money.

If money-making is not on your children’s minds, you may need to direct them toward that line of thinking. The next time they ask you to buy something that’s out of budget, tell them they can earn the money to buy it themselves. As an alternative, suggest that you’ll cover half the cost if they earn the other half. Talk to them about finding a summer job, the work they can do on weekends, or suggest a one-time gig they can initiate.

In honor of Youth Savings Month, let’s take a look at 9 easy ways your kids can earn some extra cash.

  1. A lemonade stand

It may be old-fashioned, but kids can bring in good money by selling cups of America’s favorite hot-weather drink. For optimal exposure, let your kids set up their stands near a local yard sale or another neighborhood event. Don’t forget to check local municipality laws to make sure your stand is completely legal.

  1. Help a senior

Your pre-teen can be a huge help to a local senior while earning money on the side. Let your child run some errands, take out the trash, clean the litter box or just chat with a lonely senior. If your own parents or in-laws live nearby, speak to them about having your child help them out for payment.

  1. Hold a yard sale

Spring-cleaning season is the perfect time to host a yard sale on your front lawn. Let your kids be in charge by having them choose the items to feature, set the prices and run the sale. You’ll want to be available to oversee their work and to make sure the prices are fair, but let them make most decisions on their own. Take off your helicopter-parent helmet and let your kids learn lessons that will stay with them for life.

  1. Do yard work

If your children are old enough to handle a gas-powered mower and can be relied upon to trim shrubs and weed gardens, let them hire themselves out to do yard work. Your neighbors will be glad to have the help, and your kids will be out in the sunshine while earning some money on the side.

  1. Help with pets

Are your kids animal-crazy? Let them use their penchant for pets to help people with pet-related chores. They can walk dogs around the neighborhood and offer to pet-sit for the afternoon while a neighbor is out. If your child is truly a budding entrepreneur and has the necessary skills, they can even set up a pet-grooming station out in the yard. Let them scrub the neighborhood dogs and cats, brush the hair and trim claws for some extra cash.

  1. Be junior tech-support

Generation Z kids are practically born holding smartphones in their hands. Let your kids use those skills to help some older folks who may not be as tech-savvy. They can offer to organize digital photos and create albums, assist with data entry and filling out online forms, or help a senior create a Facebook page or learn how to use a new phone or device.

  1. Help a mom

Your child may be too young to babysit on their own, but they can offer their services assisting a neighborhood mom while she’s at home. Let your child take the kids out to the yard while mom watches from the deck, play with the kids at home while mom does laundry or help them with their summer homework while mom’s busy in the kitchen.

  1. Collect recyclables

Call up a local recycling plant to find out how much they pay for every pound of recyclable materials. Then help your child gather empty bottles, cans, cardboard boxes and old newspapers to bring to the plant. You’ll be keeping the planet green and helping your child earn some pocket money at the same time.

  1. Wash cars

Let your child try out her car-washing skills on the family car. Once she’s got the technique down pat, have her offer the service to the neighborhood. Your neighbors will cross another weekend chore off their list and your child will be learning that hard work can really pay off.

Encourage your kids to earn their own money and you’ll be teaching them financial responsibility in the best way possible. And, don’t forget to teach them to save part of what they earn in their Destinations Credit Union account!

Your Turn: How do your kids earn money? Tell us about it in the comments.

 

 

SOURCES:

 

https://www.moneytalksnews.com/10-ways-for-preteens-make-money-this-summer/

https://www.thebalancecareers.com/how-can-kids-make-money-2085398

https://selfsufficientkids.com/how-to-earn-money-as-a-kid-elementary-age/

Spring Cleaning Hacks

The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming-and your cluttered man cleaning up child's roomclosets are calling. Time to roll up your sleeves and whip your home into shape. And yes, this means you! It’s been a long winter and you’ve let the clutter grow, all over your garage, across your basement and up into your attic crawl space. And your bedroom closets? We’re not even going there.

As always, Destinations Credit Union is here to help! Use this handy list of creative cleaning hacks to banish those dust bunnies without spending a fortune on organizers and cleaning solutions. Plus, you’ll be doing your part to help keep the planet green by skipping over those toxic cleansers this year.

Let’s get cleaning!

Schedule smart

Before you get started, create a master list of every part of your home that you plan on attacking. It’s best to make this an old-fashioned physical list so you can post it somewhere you’ll see often-like the door of your fridge.

Once you have every area listed, divide the chores according to the amount of time you estimate it will take to clean them. Make smaller sub-lists of 3-hour jobs, 1-hour jobs and 15-minute jobs. This way, when you have large chunks of time, you can find a larger job to do at a glance. And when you have smaller pockets of time, like those 10 minutes in the kitchen when you’re waiting for the water to boil, you can quickly tackle a smaller job, like straightening out the catch-all drawer in your kitchen.

Once you’ve got it all written out, it’s time to roll up those sleeves and get to work!

DIY cleansers

Why blow your budget on pricey, toxic cleansers when you can make your own for so much less at home? Try these DIY solutions and hacks for all those hard-to-clean places around your home:

  • Use a lemon for cleaning stainless steel sinks and faucets.

Slice a lemon in half, and rub the fruit against hard water stains and rust spots in your kitchen and bathroom. You can also sprinkle on some baking soda for the really stubborn marks. The stains should now lift easily. Plus, instead of chemical fumes that make you gag, you’ll leave behind that springy, lemony scent.

  • Steam-clean your microwave.

Is your microwave plastered with hardened food stains? It’s time to make your appliance shine! Grab a microwave-safe bowl, fill it with 1-2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, plus a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Nuke it for five minutes and then wipe those stains right off!

  • Wash your windows with 1 teaspoon of mild dishwashing soap added to several gallons of water.

Pour your homemade solution into an empty spray bottle and use old newspapers to wipe away the grime. Leave this job for a rainy day-literally. Sunshine can make your windows dry too quickly and leave unsightly streaks behind.

  • Use coffee filters for your monitors and screens.

Get rid of those fingerprints and itty-bitty dust mites on your computer monitors and TV screens. Let the gentle fibers in coffee filters leave your screens squeaky-clean!

  • Clean your shower heads with white vinegar.

Fill a sandwich bag with white vinegar, and then use a rubber band to secure it around your showerhead. Let it soak overnight. The water stains and calcium buildup should wash right off in the morning.

Tips and tricks

Cleaning is easy with these helpful hacks!

  • Use a lint roller to dust.

Instead of sticking brushes and feather dusters into every little corner and cranny in your home, use a lint roller. Run the roller over your light fixtures, mantels and shelves. It’ll pick up all those tiny dust mites and leave you with clean surfaces in just minutes! For corners that are super-dirty, use a strip of duct tape for stronger pickup power.

  • Use your dishwasher for more than just dishes.

Stop scrubbing those teeny-tiny pieces of Lego and load up your dishwasher instead. You can also throw in your hair brushes, pet dishes, refrigerator shelves, soap dishes, tweezers and drawer knobs. When the cycle is through, it’s best to clean your dishwasher by placing a cup of white vinegar on the top shelf and running it through its hottest cycle.

  • Use a window squeegee to scrape pet hair off your carpet.

The rubber edge of the squeegee is perfect for gripping and removing pet hair from your rugs and carpet.

  • Use a hair dryer to get rid of water rings.

Is someone forgetting to use coasters? Let your coffee table look beautiful again by blasting a hair dryer over the water rings until they start to fade and disappear. You can also rub olive oil over the area to return the wood to its original shine.

Let’s get organized!

Banish the clutter for good with these tips.

  • Create a space for clutter.

When you’re deep in the throes of spring cleaning, you’re convinced your home will never see clutter again. But all it takes is one art project, a stack of unread mail and one lone toy truck to give your home that cluttered look again. Be proactive and create a place for every bit of clutter that passes through your door. You can pick up perfectly functional organizers and storage bins at the dollar store. Consider investing in a storage ottoman for favorite toys and hanging a shoe organizer in your foyer closet for unsorted mail, keys and gloves.

  • Use Velcro to keep drawer organizers in place.

Those adorable organizers are no use if they’re slipping and sliding all over your drawers. Fasten strips of Velcro to the bottom of your organizers to keep them in place.

Happy cleaning from all of us here at Destinations Credit Union!

Your Turn: What’s your favorite spring cleaning hack? Share it with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/capitalone/2018/02/21/spring-cleaning-tips-for-saving-time-and-money/amp/

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2017-03-23/5-ways-to-make-and-save-money-with-spring-cleaning
http://mentalfloss.com/article/62170/15-brilliant-life-hacks-speed-your-spring-cleaning
https://www.google.com/search?q=spring+cleaning+hacks&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS753US753&oq=spring+cleaning+hacks&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l3.8546j0j7&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8

8 Ways To Spot A Job Scam

If you’re in the market for a new job, or you’re looking for extra part-time work, be woman holding phone looking at clipboardcareful. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a surge in employment scams of every kind. Victims might have their accounts emptied, their identities stolen, or they may even find themselves facing jail time for money laundering charges.

Protect yourself from employment scams by holding up any job you’re considering against this list of red flags:

1.) The job pays very well for easy work

If a job description offers a high hourly rate for non-skilled work with no experience necessary, you can assume it’s a scam. Legitimate companies will not overpay for work that anyone can do. Carefully read the wording of the job pitch. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

2.) The job description is poorly written

Scrutinize every word of the job description. If it’s riddled with typos and spelling mistakes, you’re looking at a scam.

3.) They need to hire you NOW!

If a “business” claims the position needs to be immediately filled and they’re ready for you to start working today, assume it’s a scam. Most legitimate businesses will need time to process your application, properly interview you and determine if you are indeed a good fit.

4.) The business has no traceable street address or real online presence

If you’ve spotted a position on an online job board, your first step should be researching the company. Google the company name to see what the internet has to say about them. If you suspect a scam, search the name with words like “scam” and “fraud” in the search string. Look for a brick-and-mortar address, a phone number and a real online presence. If all you find are help-wanted ads and a P.O. Box, move on to better job leads.

5.) You need to share sensitive information just to apply

Does the “job application” you’re looking at seek sensitive details, like your Social Security number and/or a checking account number? Such information should not be necessary just to submit an application. You might even be innocently asked to share details you think are minor, like your date of birth, name of your hometown, first pet’s name or your mother’s maiden name. Of course, these are all keys to open up access to your passwords and/or PINs.

There’s no surer sign you’re dealing with crooks than being asked to share information that practically guarantees you’ll be scammed.

6.) You need to pay a steep fee to apply

Some legitimate companies charge a nominal application fee for hopeful employees. However, if the fee is absurdly high, or the company asks you to cash a check for them and then refund it, you’re being scammed.

7.) There’s no business email

Some job scammers will impersonate well-known companies to look authentic. For example, you might think you’re applying to an off-site job at Microsoft. You’ll be told to email your resume to JohnSmithMicrosoftHR@gmail.com. Your red flag here is the email address: The domain is generic. If the “recruiter” genuinely represented Microsoft, the email address would be something like JohnSmith@HR.Microsoft.com.

8.) The “recruiter” found your resume on a job board you never use

If the “recruiter” claims they’ve picked up your resume on a job board you don’t remember visiting, it’s not your memory failing you. Job-scammers often scrape victims’ personal details off the internet and then pretend to have received a resume. They’ll know you’re looking for a job, and they’ll know enough about you to convince you they’ve got your resume, but it’s all a scam. If someone contacts you about a position you’ve never applied for, or claims to have found your resume on a job board you’ve never visited, run the other way!

As always, practice caution when online. Keep your browser updated and strengthen the privacy settings on your social media accounts. When engaged in a public forum, don’t share information that can make you vulnerable, like your exact birthdate or employment history. Never wire money to people you don’t know well or agree to cash a stranger’s check in exchange for a commission. Above all, keep your guard up when online and use common sense: When in doubt, opt out!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a job scam? Tell us about it in the comments, below!

SOURCES:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts

https://www.job-hunt.org/onlinejobsearchguide/job-search-scams.shtml
https://www.whatismybrowser.com/guides/how-to-be-safe-online/why-should-i-update-my-web-browser

7 Signs You’re Living Beyond Your Means And How To Fix Them

In the age of plastic spending and mobile payments, it’s easier than ever to buy stuff you couple looking at billscan’t pay for right away while supporting a lifestyle you can’t really afford.

Let’s take a look at seven red flags that might mean you’re living beyond your means and the steps you can take to get back on track.

1. You’re carrying a credit card balance from month to month

Credit cards are a great way to earn rewards, pay for emergency purchases when things are extra-tight and build a strong credit history. Unfortunately, though, they also make it far too easy to fall into the spending trap. It’s a lot harder to feel like you’re spending money when all that stands between you and a purchase is a plastic card.

If you have an outstanding balance on one or more credit cards and you’re only paying the minimum payment each month, you can end up carrying this balance for years while paying hundreds of dollars (or more!) in interest. You might also be tempted to make more purchases on this card since you already have an open balance.

The fix:  Try to double down on your monthly payments and/or make one extra payment each month instead of paying just the minimum amount. Stop using your card until the debt is paid off.

2. You stress about paying your bills

No one likes paying bills, but if you’re losing sleep over your bills, you need to take a step back to review your monthly budget and spending habits. Bills should be fixed into your budget and you should be able to pay them easily without any stress or nail-biting involved.

The fix: Take a long look at your monthly budget to find ways at cutting back. Cancel a subscription you never use, trim impulse purchases, start brown-bagging it at work more often or tighten the belt in any other way possible.

3. You can’t save 5% of your monthly income

Financial experts recommend putting 20% of your monthly income into savings, or even more if you can swing it. At the very least, you’ll want to sock away 5% of your monthly take-home pay to fund your retirement and any other expensive purchases or events you might need to pay for in the future. If you can’t possibly do that now, and you’re left with little or no money at the end of the month, you’re living beyond your means. Savings aren’t an extra; they are a necessity that should be a fixed part of every budget.

The fix: Again, you’ll need to trim your expenses and restructure your budget to include a minimum of 5% for savings.

4. You don’t have emergency and rainy-day funds

Unexpected expenses, like a household repair or extra tutoring for your child, can disrupt your monthly budget and really set you back-unless you have some way to pay for them. Ideally, you’ll want to have an emergency fund to cover major unexpected expenses, like a job loss or a medical emergency, and a rainy-day fund for small expenses you can anticipate, like replacing an aging appliance and sending your child to summer camp.

The fix: Start building your funds now by putting away as much as you possibly can each month.

5. Your mortgage payment eats up more than 30% of your monthly income

Most financial experts agree that your monthly mortgage payments should not exceed 30% of your take-home pay (that’s after taxes). Take a few minutes to do the math. If your mortgage is more than 30% of your income, you’re in over your hea

The fix: You have two choices here:

  1. Find ways to boost your income. You can seek a raise or promotion at your current job, freelance for hire or find another side hustle to bring home extra cash.
  2. Scale back your mortgage payments by considering a refinance. [Speak to a home loan counselor at (credit union) to see if this is the right choice for you.] If your mortgage is really crippling your budget, you might want to consider downsizing to a smaller and cheaper place.

6. You lease a car you can’t afford to buy or finance

Leasing lets you live the life of a high-roller without the huge bills. The problem is that many people can’t really afford their leases either. You might be covering your monthly payments, but if you can’t do that while also putting money into savings and meeting your other expenses, your car is too expensive.

Can you afford to pay for or finance your car? If the answer is no, you’re in financial trouble.

The fix: Downgrade your vehicle to one you can actually afford.

7. Your financial decisions are influenced by your friends’ spending habits

Thanks to social media and the hyper-sharing culture it introduced, the pressure to keep up with the Joneses is stronger than ever. If you find yourself making financial decisions-from what kind of footwear to buy to where you vacation-based on your friends’ choices, you’re likely spending more money than you can afford.

The fix: Stop looking over your shoulder and keep your eyes on your own life and your own wallet. If your friends have expensive tastes, try to be the budget-conscious influence in the group. You may just start a new, financially responsible trend!

If you’re in over your head, Destinations Credit Union can help! Stop by today. Our HOPE Inside Financial Wellbeing Counselor will be happy to help.

Your Turn: What’s your personal red flag that your spending has gotten out of control? Share it with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.hermoney.com/invest/financial-planning/warning-signs-of-living-beyond-your-means/amp/

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/in-over-your-head.asp
https://rockstarfinance.com/7-signs-that-you-might-be-living-well-beyond-your-means/

Are P2P Payment Systems Safe?

P2P payment services, like Venmo, Zelle and Square’s Cash App, are aiming to make cash4 sets of hands holding phones obsolete – and some would contend they’re succeeding! Just a few quick swipes, and you can transfer funds to a friend, pay for an item you bought online or collect money that’s owed to you.

Convenient as they are, P2P payment systems have unfortunately become a breeding ground for scams and hacks. From compromised accounts to fraudulent transactions, using a P2P service opens you to some risk of losing your money to a scammer.

Read on to learn how to better protect yourself from a P2P payment scam.

How do P2P payment scams happen?

There are lots of ways using a P2P payment system can put you at risk, but the following two vulnerabilities are most common:

1.) The bogus buyer

In most cash-transfer apps, when you receive a payment, the money goes into your P2P system balance and stays there until you transfer it to an external account or use it to pay for another transaction. This transfer usually takes one to three business days to clear. Crooked scammers are taking advantage of that “float” in the transfer process to con you out of your money.

Here’s how it works:

A scammer will contact you about an item you’ve put up for sale or tickets to an event. Together, you’ll arrange for an exchange of funds and goods. You may even take precautions against a possible scam by insisting on an in-person meeting for the exchange or refusing to send out the item until you see the money in your P2P account. Things proceed according to plan. You’re notified that the money has been sent to your account and you hand over your item. Sadly, you won’t realize you’ve been ripped off until a few days later when the money transfer does not clear and the contact has disappeared with your goods. Unfortunately, there’s no way you can get your money back, because most P2P providers will not offer compensation for a fraudulent sale. Similarly, your linked financial institution bears no responsibility for the scam and can’t help you recoup the loss.

2.) Publicized payments

PayPal’s Venmo is the only P2P app with a built-in social networking component. This feature has led to a host of privacy issues that have been brought to the attention of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In short, every Venmo transaction you make is up for public scrutiny. No one can access the payment amounts, but anyone who is interested can track the restaurants where you like to eat, the clothing stores you most frequent and check out when you last filled your gas tank. Creepiness factor aside, all that information going public makes Venmo users super-vulnerable to scammers and identity thieves.

Venmo allows you to tweak your privacy settings to keep your information from going public, but most people are unaware of the issue and/or neglect to take this measure. Recently, the FTC ruled that Venmo must make this detail clearer to users. Venmo has since created a popup tutorial for all new users demonstrating how to adjust your privacy settings to keep your transactions from going public. If you choose to use Venmo, check your settings to be sure your money habits aren’t being broadcast for the world to see.

Protecting yourself

You can keep your money safe and still enjoy the convenience of cash-transfer apps with these simple steps:

  • Only send money to people you know and trust.
  • Never use a P2P service for business-related transactions.
  • When using Venmo, adjust your privacy settings and opt-out of public tracking.
  • Carefully read the terms and conditions of a P2P service before using.
  • Always choose two-factor identification and use a PIN when possible. If your app and phone allows, choose fingerprint recognition and/or touch ID for added protection.
  • Accept any security updates offered by the P2P app you use.
  • Check your recipient’s information carefully before completing a money transfer.
  • Choose to be notified about every transaction.
  • Link an external account instead of keeping your funds in the P2P account.

Your Turn: Do you think P2P systems are safe? Why, or why not? Share your take with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://triblive.com/business/technology/13358843-74/peer-to-peer-apps-come-with-risks-ftc-warns

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/02/tips-using-peer-peer-payment-systems-and-apps
https://paymentweek.com/2018-3-30-problems-p2p-mobile-payments/
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/2016/10/fintech-series-crowdfunding-peer-peer-payments
https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=9efa141a-40d2-4773-b930-bb395111d226
https://www.consumerreports.org/scams-fraud/how-to-protect-yourself-from-p2p-payment-scams/

Student Loan Scams

College students, take note! If keeping up with your coursework, acing your exams andPiggy bank with the words student loan written on it scrambling to hand in every term paper before the deadline weren’t enough, you now have something else to worry about: Student loan scams are on the rise. Scammers know you hate owing tens of thousands of dollars, so they’re quick to offer you an easy — but completely bogus — way to free yourself from that debt. Or, they might falsely claim you owe the feds taxes on your debt. If you’re already stressed about your student loans, that makes you an easy target.

Don’t get scammed! All it takes is a lack of knowledge and a small blunder to be out thousands of dollars.

Here’s what you need to know about the three most popular student loan scams.

1.) Student loan forgiveness scam

In this scam, a student loan debt company will reach out to you and offer to completely forgive your student loan for a relatively small fee.

Your student loan, gone? Sounds like a dream! Unfortunately, it’s more like a nightmare. No student loan company would completely forgive your loan, even for a fee. The company is likely bogus and you’ve been targeted for a scam.

This scam attempts authenticity by sounding like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, a legitimate federal government program for public servants with federal student loans. They may even claim to be connected to the U.S. Department of Education, but that is also false. If you fall for the scam, you’ll still need to pay off your loan, plus you’ll lose the money you just shelled out.

If you’re looking for student loan debt relief for your federal student loan, consider enrolling in a no-cost student loan repayment plan through the federal government. This plan might offer student loan forgiveness after 20-25 years. Unfortunately, there is no other way for a student loan to be dismissed.

2.) Student loan consolidation scam

In a scenario similar to the above scam, a student loan company will contact you promising to consolidate your loan and lower your monthly payments, all for a modest fee.

Right off the bat, you can peg this as a scam. While many institutions can refinance student loan debt, the federal government is the only entity with the power to consolidate it. And they won’t charge a fee for this service.

If you’re looking to consolidate your student loans, check out Studentloans.gov or call 1-800-557-7394.

3.) Student loan tax scam

Those tax scammers will try everything to hook a victim! In this con, a scammer will spoof the IRS’s toll-free number and call a college student, claiming they owe thousands of dollars for a “federal student loan tax.” The scammer will demand immediate payment upon threat of arrest or a lawsuit. They’ll also claim to only accept specific forms of payment, like a wire transfer or prepaid debit card.

If you’re on the receiving end of a phone call like this and you’re starting to panic, here’s a newsflash for you: the “federal student loan tax” does not exist. It is nothing more than a not-so-clever trick dreamed up by a crooked scammer.

Also, the IRS will never reach out to you by phone without first notifying you via snail mail. Nor will they demand payment over the phone or insist on a specific payment method – especially a prepaid gift card.

If you’re targeted

If you’re targeted by a student loan scam, it’s crucial that you don’t engage with the scammer. Hang up as soon as you recognize a scam and delete any suspicious emails about your student loan that land in your inbox.

It’s equally important for you to bring the scam to the attention of the authorities to help them capture those scammers. You can file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov, alert the local law enforcement agencies, and report any tax-related scams to the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 or at IRS.gov. Finally, be sure to warn your friends about a circulating scam so they know to be super-careful.

Practicing caution and knowing what to expect will protect you from scammers who are out to make a buck off anyone they can bamboozle. You work hard in school; you deserve to keep your money and your sanity, too!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a student loan scam? Share the pointers you picked up from your experience with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://typicalstudent.org/hot/your-money/3-popular-student-loan-scams-2019

https://thecollegeinvestor.com/317/top-student-loan-scams/
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2019/01/21/student-loans-scams/amp/