How To Buy A Boat

Get ready to set sail this summer! Read on for the ultimate boat-buying guide.woman standing on deck of a sailboat

Step 1: Choose your boat type

Before you can start browsing, decide on the kind of boat you’d like to buy. Boats, like cars, should be purchased with their intended use in mind. Take some time to think about your favorite water activities and determine which are most important to you. Research different boat types and ask your boat-owning friends to share their own impressions and tips.

Once you’ve chosen a boat type, decide where you’ll keep it. If you’d like to save on dockage costs and have the space for it on your property, you might want to buy a trailer-able boat. Remember, though, that hauling your own boat means you’ll need to take it to a launch ramp each time you want to get out onto the water. A water-stored boat makes last-minute getaways possible.

Step 2: Decide if you want to buy a new or used boat

You can save a ton of money by buying a previously owned boat. Visit boating sites, like boats.com and discoverboating.com to check out used boats that are on the market. You might be pleasantly surprised! However, keep in mind that just like used cars, insurance premiums, repairs and maintenance may be higher for a used boat.

Step 3: Start boat shopping!

Get pre-qualified for your Boat Loan at Destinations Credit Union so you’ll know how much you can afford to spend.  Now you’re ready to hit the shops! Start your browsing with online listings. You’ll be able to sift through hundreds of models and compare prices, all from the comfort of your sofa. Check out  boats.com, YachtWorld.com and BoatTrader.com for a wide variety of models. On those sites, you’ll be able to search by boat type, size or even customize your search by location.

Once you’ve exhausted your online options, start making the rounds of local boat shows and dealers. Hop aboard as many boats as you can to get a real feel for the quality and potential ride. Be nosy and ask lots of questions. Snap pictures and organize them by boat so you can look it all over again when you get home.

Step 4: Narrow your choices

Now that you’ve spent some time checking out boats, you may have different priorities. Sit down and list what’s most important to you in a dream boat. Include all boat categories you will consider, and then narrow that by your must-have features, ones you’d like to have and ones you want to keep away from.

Next, review the snapshots of the boats you’ve looked at, both in real life and online, and list the ones that fit all, or most of, your preferences. Finally, it’s time to make that nail-biting decision and choose your boat!

Step 5: Inspect your boat

Once you think you have identified the boat of your dreams, conduct a walkaround and a sea trial. You might want to hire a professional surveyor to help you out here. You’ll need one for insurance purposes anyway, and they’ll know how to do the job more thoroughly.

Don’t be shy about inspecting your boat deeply – especially if a deal seems too good to be true. You don’t want any unpleasant surprises once the deal is done! Walk through the entire boat and closely inspect each structural component, feature and amenity.

When you’ve finished your walkaround, it’s time to take her offshore. Your sea trial will show you what the boat’s like out on the water. After the sea trial, ask to have the boat hauled. It’s important for you to see the entire boat before you buy it, even what’s usually out of sight and below the waterline.

Step 6: Find out what’s included

Before you sign a contract, sit down with the seller to discuss exactly what’s included in the sale. Request a list of all equipment that comes with the boat so you can ensure you’ve got it all. You can also ask the seller about an amenity package; they may be more than willing to get rid of their “boating stuff” and you can save a ton in add-ons this way.

Step 7: Seal the deal

You’re ready to make it happen! Assuming you’ll have the financial details worked out by now, all that’s left to do is sign the paperwork, and then the boat is yours. At this point, you may be feeling heady with excitement. Make sure you keep a clear mind so you don’t fall for any last-minute gimmicks.

Step 8: Purchase insurance, warranties and more

Before you set sail, make sure your boat is adequately insured against damage. You may also want to purchase a warranty against your boat’s condition. If you’re going to be hauling your boat around yourself, you’ll also need to buy a trailer before you can head out to the docks.

Finally! You’re all set to hit the water and take in many enjoyable hours away from it all. Power up that engine, feel the wind in your sails and enjoy the ride!

Your Turn: Have you recently purchased a boat? Share your best boat-buying tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.discoverboating.com/affordable-boating/myths-and-tips.aspx

http://www.boats.com/boat-buyers-guide/how-to-buy-a-boat-tips-for-a-first-time-buyer/
http://financialfitnessblog.com/how-to-save-money-for-a-boat/

What You Need To Know About Smishing Scams

How do you communicate with your nearest and dearest when you’re on the go and can’tclose-up of mobile phone on logging screen make a phone call? Do you send a VoiceNote? Use WhatsApp? Or, do you send an simple text message?

In a world where apps can almost run our lives for us, the humble SMS has outlived them all – and it’s still going strong. Unfortunately, though, texting has come under attack as one of the most vulnerable mediums for identity theft and more.

Here’s what you need to know about an SMS-based scam called “smishing.”     

How it works

Smishing scams are similar to email phishing scams in which scammers target victims by sending an email that appears to be from their bank or credit union, internet service provider or one of their favorite businesses. Smishing scams use text messages instead of emails, but their goal is the same as phishing scams: to establish contact with the victim and access their personal information.

The scam begins with a supposedly urgent text appearing to be from the victim’s financial institution of choice. Sometimes, it’s from a bank or credit union with whom they have never done business!

The text claims the victim’s checking account is locked and that the victim must take immediate action to restore it. Alternatively, the text may alert the victim about a large, unauthorized purchase that was charged to their account. The scammer warns that, if the charge is not contested immediately, the victim will be responsible for the transaction. There are more variations, but they will always convey a sense of urgency to induce panic and trigger immediate and mindless obedience.

The victim is then instructed to call a specified number and, upon doing so, will be asked to share personal financial information. Once they’ve got their hands on this info, the scammer is free to steal the victim’s identity, empty their accounts or go on a shopping spree on the victim’s dime.

Who are the victims?

Smishing scams primarily target people who use mobile banking apps and sites. Victims who use their phones to manage their accounts don’t question when their financial institution appears to contact them by text message and, unfortunately, these smishing scams are often successful.

It isn’t just online banking users who need to be wary of smishing. Fraudsters have widened their net and have recently started sending messages to any cellphone number they can get their hands on.

If you own a checking account and a cellphone, you are vulnerable to a potential smishing scam.

Recognizing smishing scams

If you know what to look for, you’ll be able to spot a smishing scam at first glance.

The credit union’s credit and debit card fraud detection partner may text you if the network detects suspicious activity on your account.  Destinations Credit Union’s card fraud detection department’s phone number is 1-800-889-5280.  Do not respond to the text, simply call the Fraud detection department and give them the reference number.

Destinations Credit Union will not use a text message to alert you of a lockdown on your account; we prefer to use more personable contact methods to help ensure your privacy and personal security.

Also, the phone number the smishing text instructs you to call is not ours. We service our members from our own premises, and our number is 410-663-2500. If you’re told to contact us at a different line (other than the card fraud number above), it’s not us you’re calling!

You can also spot the smishing scam just by looking at the phone number. The text will often appear to come from a number that is obviously fake. Alternatively, it can appear to have come from one of your contacts who is kindly letting you know about the trouble with your account. In such cases, ask your friend (directly, not in response to the message) if they actually sent it. If they have no idea what you’re talking about, someone is using their number to lure you into a scam.

If you’ve been targeted

If you receive a suspicious-looking text that might be a smishing scam, do not engage the texter! Jot down the scammer’s number and delete the message. Let us know about the smishing attempt and tell all your friends. You can also alert the FTC at ftc.gov so they can help catch those criminals.

If you’ve fallen for such a scam and your accounts have been compromised, alert your credit card companies and be sure to let us know as well. We’ll help you mitigate the damage and regain control of your finances.

Protecting yourself

You can’t insulate your phone against these scams, but there are some proactive steps you can take to protect yourself, your device and your money.  

  1. Always use two-factor authentication. Most credit unions require a two-factor sign-in, but if you have the choice of opting out of this extra step, don’t take it! It’s not worth the added risk.
  2. Strengthen your passwords. Never double your password use across different accounts, websites and apps. Make sure your passwords are strong and unique. Consider using a password manager like Dashlane or 1Password.
  3. Don’t respond. Ignore text messages from unknown numbers, even if they’re not alerting you about a problem with your accounts. A text from an unknown source may be the scammer’s first attempt at establishing contact and determining if you’re a willing target for a future scam.

Make sure you are always on the alert for smishing scams. Don’t let those crooks get their hands on your money!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a smishing scam? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/saltzman/2017/07/03/delete-suspicious-text-messages-on-your-smartphone/439647001/

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2017/07/07/smishing-scam
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/2015/01/23/5-scams-that-target-your-bank-account
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/12/this-growing-fraud-will-drain-your-bank-account.html

5 Ways To Budget For Your Wedding

Q: I’m ready to tie the knot, but I don’t know if I can afford to have a wedding! BetweenBride With Mother and Sister the flowers, gown and venue, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars. How can I cut costs without compromising on my special day?

A: If you’re finding the costs of your wedding to be prohibitive, you’re not alone. According to wedding magazine The Knot, the average American wedding costs upward of $35,000.

That’s a lot of money to spend on one day, especially for twenty- and thirty-somethings who might still be carrying college debt and are probably at the starting end of their earning potential.

It should come as no surprise, then, that more than half of newly married couples are still paying off debt from their special day years after the honeymoon is over.

This doesn’t mean you need to give up your dreams of a spectacular gown and a three-tiered wedding cake.

By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what’s truly important, you can say “I Do” without stressing over wedding costs.

Here’s how:

1.) Start saving now

Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now!

Ramit Sethi, popular finance blogger and author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, says this is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to planning for their weddings. The average age of marriage is 27 for men and 26 for women. If you start saving for your wedding when you’re 20, explains Sethi, you’ll only need to put away $333 a month. But if you start at age 26, you’ll need to put away $2,333 a month!

Start saving now and take your vows, debt-free.

2.) Time it right

Don’t assume you need to get married on a balmy Saturday in July. Think off-season and mid-week, and you’ll save a bundle!

First, consider a winter wedding. You might not have the luxury of sunny skies and blossoming flowers, but you’ll have the warmth and coziness of being inside on a freezing winter’s day. You can treat your guests to steaming hot cocoa and then set off for the ski slopes and a dreamy wintry honeymoon.

Best of all, you’ll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married.

Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices can drop dramatically with just a one-day switch.

You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th or Thanksgiving. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.

3.) Skip the cake

A slice of a dessert for $2.50 that doesn’t even taste that good? Meh. Who needs it?

Here are some other ideas:

  • Fake your cake. If you can’t stomach the idea of a cake-less wedding, ask your baker to fake it for you by creating a false, cardboard bottom for your cake and only baking a genuine top layer or two. You’ll get the same look without the huge cost and you won’t be left with half a cake to trash when the wedding’s over.
  • Set up a bar. No, we’re not talking liquor. Make your wedding a conversation piece by setting up a dessert bar instead of a cake. You can serve hot waffles with ice cream, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce and a huge selection of other fun toppings. Or, you can choose to serve warm brownies or chocolate chip cookies as your base instead. Make it super fun with a hot chocolate fountain. Everything’s better with chocolate. You’ll be pampering your guests at a fraction of the cost!
  • Serve a sheet cake instead. Still want a cake you can eat in its entirety? Order a simple sheet cake from the best bakery in town. Your guests will be happy to savor a slice — even without all that fondant and frosting.

4.) Save on your gown

Every little girl dreams of her special day – and the special dress she’ll be wearing when it finally comes. But wedding gowns can cost thousands of dollars, and after being worn once, are often left to turn yellow in a forgotten corner of an attic.

Instead of throwing out thousands or even hundreds of dollars on your gown, look for a pre-owned gown on eBay, OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. You can find a beautiful, gently used gown for under $100.

You can also look for a gown that wasn’t specifically designed as a wedding dress. Check out prom shops and sites, or embellish a bridesmaid dress to make it look like bride material.

5.) Vary your venue

Wedding venues tend to be couples’ biggest money-waster for their special day.

Save a ton by choosing a venue that has no outside contracts. You can shop around for the cheapest caterer, or break convention and skip the sit down meal, opting for something simpler and cheaper, like a BBQ buffet, burger bar or hors d’oeuvres and mini deli sandwiches.

If you really dare to be different, you can have your wedding in one of these unique, budget-friendly venues that can also serve as wedding halls for starry-eyed couples just like you:

  • Art gallery. It’s already decorated beautifully. Make your wedding stand out with this artsy choice of venue!
  • College campus. If you’re still a student and your college has a large dining hall and picturesque grounds, this can be an ideal wedding venue. Plus, you’ll probably be able to snag a steep student discount!
  • Vacation home. By renting a vacation home for two weeks, you’ll have lodgings for your out-of-town guests, a romantic wedding venue and a honeymoon destination when the wedding’s over.

Still not sure how to pay for your wedding? We can help! Call, click or stop by [credit union] today to ask about our personal loans, wedding clubs and other great services that can take the stress out of your wedding preparations.

Your Turn: Already married? Share your best wedding hacks with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.buzzfeed.com/amphtml/rachelwmiller/insanely-smart-ways-to-save-money-on-your-wedding

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.brides.com/gallery/wedding-budget-saving-tips/amp
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nerdwallet.com/blog/finance/ways-to-save-money-wedding/amp/

Debit Card Safety

“And how are you paying for your purchases today?”Close up of ATM key pad

It’s a question we have to answer almost every day. Will you be using cash, a credit card or a debit card?

It may be instinct for you to pull out any piece of plastic without thinking, but your random card of choice might not be the safest way to pay. Sometimes, you’ll want to use a credit card. And sometimes, its a better idea to pay with a debit card. Still other times, you’re best off using cash.

Let’s explore when and how to use your debit card.

Credit and debit: How are they different?

They’re both plastic, with a series of numbers, a security code and your name embedded on them. So, how are debit and credit cards different?

A better question might be: How are they the same? Appearances aside, your credit and debit cards have very little in common.

Credit cards allow you to choose your purchases now, and pay for them weeks, months or even years later. If you let your balance grow, you’ll be paying for a lot more than it really costs in the way of interest. But, if you make timely payments, you’ll have yourself a small loan that usually costs you1 little to nothing. Credit cards also offer rewards, purchase protection and the ability to back out of a purchase you’ve decided against. You can also contest fraudulent charges on your account, freeze your credit on a compromised card or even close the card completely.

Debit card transactions, on the other hand, take the money right out of your checking account as soon as you swipe. Some point of sale terminals put a freeze on the amount, removing it from your account a few days later. But, either way, you won’t be able to access that money and you won’t have to worry about paying for it later. There’s no interest here, but there also may be no purchase protection, depending upon your financial institution. Finally, in case of fraud you may need to resort to closing your checking account. However, usually a simple issuing of a new debit card is all that’s needed.

Which one’s better? It depends on the purpose. Debit cards are great for helping you stick to your budget and won’t send you into a cycle of debt. However, because they may offer very little recourse in cases of fraud, credit cards are usually the better choice in the most vulnerable situations.

5 purchases you should carefully consider before using your debit card

According to data from FICO, during the first 6 months of 2017, the number of compromised ATMs and point-of-sale devices was 21% higher than it was in the first 6 months of 2016. Don’t let your card be next!

Here’s where you may not want to use your debit card:

1.) At the pump

Card skimmers at gas stations are on the rise. By choosing to use your credit card instead of your debit card at the pump, you’ll have an added layer of protection against fraud. You can also choose to use cash. It’s the safest way to pay (so long as you watch out for pickpockets!).

2.) At an isolated ATM

The ATM at Destinations Credit Union? Definitely safe to use.  We check regularly for signs of tampering.

The one at the crowded pharmacy? Probably OK.

The machine in a secluded corner of an empty convenience store? Very possibly tampered with.

Isolated ATMs in locations with very little security and sparse foot traffic are prime targets for hackers. It’s best to give these machines a wide berth and pick up your cash at Destinations Credit Union.

3.) In an unfamiliar location

When on vacation, it’s important to think before you swipe. You don’t know the area and you can’t be certain which clerks are to be trusted. You’re better off paying with a credit card or with cash so your purchases are protected against fraud.

Also, a large charge in an area you never frequent might cause your purchases to be flagged as fraudulent. Let your credit union know about your trip and be careful how you swipe!

4.) For large purchases

If you’re springing for a new entertainment center or another big-ticket item, you’re best off using your credit card. It’ll offer you dispute rights in case the product doesn’t turn out how you expected, and you might be granted an extended warranty just for using a credit card.

5.) Restaurants

Can you really trust the servers at your favorite restaurant with your personal financial information? When you hand them your debit card at the end of the meal, that’s exactly what you’re doing. The server has more than enough time to clone your card and then use it for any purchases they’d like to make. Unless your restaurant has a tableside payment system, you’re better off using a credit card or cash to pay for your meal.

Look out for skimmers

Always use caution when using your debit or credit card. Check the payment processor for anything that looks out of place, such as a newer keypad on an older machine, or a hard-to-use slot for your card. Don’t forget to cover the keypad with your hand when inputting your PIN.

Stay ahead of hackers by using your debit card with caution!

Your Turn: Was your debit card ever compromised? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://budgeting.thenest.com/problems-using-debit-cards-gas-pumps-23710.html
https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/10-places-not-to-use-debit-card-1271.php
https://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/gas-pump-atm-skimmers.php
http://news4sanantonio.com/news/local/skimming-devices-found-on-pumps-at-northwest-side-gas-station

4 Ways To Bring Your Dream Kitchen To Life

The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we spend many hours whipping up workman placing counter in kitchendelectable dishes to please every palate and food plan. It’s where we catch a quick morning chat over coffee and linger over dinners together in the early evening.

The kitchen is where it’s at.

It’s also the area of the home that sees the heaviest usage. All that food prep – and all that eating! – has your countertops, table, floors and appliances pulling full-time duty for hours each week. It is these reasons, beauty and practicality, that make kitchen renovations incredibly popular among homeowners. Give your kitchen a makeover, and you’ll almost feel like you’ve got a brand-new home.

Wondering how to make that happen? We’ve got you covered! Whether you’ve still got an avocado-green fridge, circa 1978, or your kitchen looks like it sprang out of a magazine and just needs a quick touch-up, we’ll show you how to give it a facelift on a budget.

Here’s 4 ways to bring your dream kitchen to life.

1.) Know your budget

Before picking out your new countertops and appliances, sit down and crunch some numbers. You’ll have to scrimp and save a while, dip into existing savings or take out a loan to cover the costs of your renovations. A complete kitchen remodel can run you as much as $40,000, but there’s lots you can do on a smaller budget. When you’ve figured out how much you can spend, here’s what you’re looking at:

  • With $5,000, you can give your kitchen a superficial touch-up that can pack a big punch. You’ll be able to spring for a fresh coat of paint, replace the faucets, pick up a new light fixture, reupholster or change the fabric on your chairs and windows and spruce up the area with some modern accessories.
  • With $15,000, you can do all that plus a whole lot more. You’ll be able to buy a new appliance or two, replace your countertops and even install new and budget-friendly cabinets.

If you’re planning on spending more, you might be able to re-do your entire kitchen.

When determining how much to spend, though, remember that kitchen upgrades can pay for themselves. Experts say that recently remodeled kitchens usually return between 80 and 105 percent of their cost when a home is sold.

And until you decide to sell, you’ll be the one enjoying your updated kitchen!

2.) Choose your cabinets

Cabinets can monopolize the visual wall space in a kitchen, making them a first choice for an upgrade. Here’s what you need to know about your cabinet options:

  • Cabinets with wood or plywood panels and solid wood frames are sturdy, budget-friendly, and fashionable.
  • Porcelain-tile cabinets are a fantastic new option that look almost exactly like wood for half the price.
  • Laminate is your cheapest option for cabinets. It’s durable, easy to clean and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
  • Refinish the outside of your cabinets instead of replacing them for a new look that doesn’t bust your budget.
  • Install wall-mounted shelves to add storage space to your kitchen without splurging on new cabinets.

3.) Make a splash

Don’t forget your sink when upgrading your kitchen. Replacing the faucets, bowl or hardware can modernize your kitchen without costing much.

When changing your faucets, make sure you know the ins and outs of your options. Want to go with the flow? Brushed nickel is the most popular choice for faucets, largely due to its durability. If you hate scrubbing those fingerprints and water spots, you’ll be happy to hear that nickel conveniently hides dirt and grime.

Short on cash? The least expensive faucet finish is chrome. For a long-lasting material that won’t cost a pretty penny, go with brass instead.

If you’re looking to change your sink’s bowl as well, there are three main styles to consider:

  • Farmhouse bowls are super-large and deep and are the perfect choice for people with numerous dishes to wash on a daily basis. On the flip side, their large size means they might require a customized base cabinet for installation.
  • Top-mount bowls have a “drop-in” rim that keeps the sink in place on the countertop. This makes installation simple, but creates a prime place for dirt and grime to accumulate.
  • Undermount sinks are trendy and look sleek, but can take double the time and work to be installed.

4.) Choose your countertops

This is where you chop, dice, measure and mix your ingredients. Your counters need to be durable and easy to clean – and help finish off your kitchen’s upgrade. The trending countertop choices are granite, quartz and stone. These materials are beautiful, easy to maintain and can last for years and years.

If these options are not in your budget, consider engineered stone instead. It will give you a similar look for a cheaper price. For something more budget-friendly, you might want to go with ceramic tile. It’s durable, comes in almost any imaginable color and is a fraction of the price of stone.

Another great option that is just as cheap is laminate. It’s easy to install and also comes in a large variety of patterns and colors. Lastly, consider going with solid wood. You can have it sanded and treated to give it an extra long life, and it will give your kitchen a warm, hearty finish.

Longing for an upgrade and short on savings or cashflow? You can still have your dream kitchen. Call, click, or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to learn about our Personal Loans, and Home Equity Lines of Credit.

We’ll help turn your dream into reality!

Your Turn: Did you recently remodel your kitchen? Tell us what money saving options worked for you in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.marthastewart.com/1083498/7-steps-your-dream-kitchen

https://www.hgtv.com/design/rooms/kitchens/how-to-get-a-to-die-for-kitchen-without-killing-your-budget
https://clark.com/homes-real-estate/budget-diy-kitchen-remodel-for-less-than-15000

What To Grab And What To Skip In June

June is the month of sun-kissed beaches, dripping ice cream cones, backyard BBQs … andYoung couple on escaltor in mall spectacular sales.

There’s lots to celebrate this month, but June sales aren’t just for “dads and grads.” If you know what to look for, you can find great deals on all kinds of stuff during the first month of summer. Use this handy list to see what to grab and what to skip this June.

Grab it: Swimwear & lingerie

Thanks to Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale each June, the first month of summer has always been a great time to stock up on swimwear and lingerie. The boutique has discontinued its swimwear line, but you can still pick up deeply discounted lingerie at the sale and you’ll find great deals on all your swimwear needs at other retailers.

This June, build your entire beach wardrobe without busting your budget!

Skip it: Grills

We know you think there’s no better time to splurge on that high-end grill you’ve been drooling over all spring, but if you hold out on your purchase until August or September, you might be able to buy that grill for half the price!

Big savings are sweeter than any grilled delicacy.

Grab it: Donuts

June 2nd is National Donut Day, and donut joints around the country are inviting you to join in the celebration! You’ll need to spring for a coffee or another small purchase at some chains, but others, like Krispy Kreme, will hand you a baked treat just for walking through their doors on June 2.

Get your donut fix for free!

Skip it: Designer clothing

Love brand-name clothing, purses, and shoes? You’ll be wise to wait another month before giving your wardrobe an overhaul.

Toward the end of July, you’ll be able to nab incredible deals on name brands like Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs and more at Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale or other high-end retailers.

Wait just a bit more and you’ll be rewarded with designer deals!

Grab it: Movie tickets

School’s out and Mom’s nerves are already fraying at the edges – and movie theaters want to help! You’ll find $1 movie tickets in June to help kids beat the heat and offer families a fun, economical outing. Some theaters even offer $5 punchcard passes that are good for 10 movies.

Take advantage of these hot deals and spend a sweltering day at the air-conditioned theater!

Skip it: TVs

Summer is a notoriously bad time to pick up a new TV. You won’t find much in the way of TV deals or sales this month, and you’ll be stuck paying full price – or more – on any purchase. It’s best to wait until next season when TV prices start dropping.

Full screen at full price? No way!

Grab it: Outdoor gear

In a shift from the typical sale pattern, you can pick up outdoor gear for a great price just when you most need it! June is a great time to stock up on fishing, hiking and camping gear and supplies.

Get your gear today and start planning your ultimate summer getaway!

Skip it: School supplies

You might want to get that back-to-school chore out of the way almost as soon as school’s out, but you’re better off waiting another month or two before stocking up on pencils and paper. Back-to-school sales start rolling out in July and don’t pick up speed until mid-August.

Don’t stock up on school supplies until summer’s half over.

Grab it: Gym memberships

With the beautiful weather and longer daylight hours making outdoor exercise more pleasant, summertime can get dry for gyms. Cash in on this drop in business by snagging a great deal on a gym membership this June. Gyms will be eager to offer you a discounted rate, especially if you shop around first and quote the prices that competing fitness centers are offering. If you’re not ready to sign up for a full year, you might be able to land a free trial day or two, a heavily discounted week’s membership or a complimentary class.

You’ll also find exercise equipment and activewear on sale in June. No more excuses for not getting into shape!

Skip it: Laptops

If you’re in the market for a new laptop, it’s best to wait until the back-to-school sales start in July and August. Laptops will be marked down then, along with all the school supplies your child needs before September.

Grab it: Kitchenware

June marks the start of wedding season! You’ll find the most popular wedding gifts on sale this month, namely dishware and cookware. Take advantage of these sales to buy wedding gifts for anyone you know who’s getting married this summer, replace old dishes or stock up on pots, pans and glassware.

June is a great time to save! Now that you know what’s worth buying this month – and what’s not – you can hit the shops and take your dollar as far as it can go. Happy shopping!

Your Turn: What’s the best deal you ever nabbed in June? Brag about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/shopping/what-to-buy-skip-june/

https://www.dealnews.com/features/what-to-buy-in-june/
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2016-06-03/the-best-things-to-buy-in-june

Jury Duty Scams

Nobody likes being called in for jury duty. But a recently revived scam has painted the group of people sitting in jury boxentire experience in a more sinister hue.

Here’s how it plays out: The scammer calls a victim, claiming to work for the local court. The scammer tells the victim they’ve missed their call to jury duty and that there is a warrant out for the victim’s arrest.

The victim, of course, denies ever having received a summons to jury duty. The scammer then asks the victim for some identifying information to verify if the notification was indeed sent out. The victim, eager to clear up the alleged misunderstanding, willingly shares their Social Security number, date of birth or even credit card information. Obviously, all the scammer wants to do with this information is steal it — and benefit from the victim’s identity.

Once this information changes hands and the caller has “verified” that the victim has received jury duty notification, the scammer may then demand a payment to the tune of $1,000 or more. The scammer stresses that the fine must be paid immediately to help the victim avoid an arrest. This is when the hapless victim starts seeing visions of SWAT teams in full protective gear bursting into their home and dragging them out the door in handcuffs. By now, they’re shaking from fear and will pay any price to buy their freedom.

Unluckily for the victim, the fun is just beginning. Once they’ve agreed to pay the fine, they will be sent on a wild goose chase around town, purchasing reloadable money cards in several different stores as per the scammer’s directive. All this time, the victim is certain the entire police force is already on their tail and they are frantically rushing to do the scammer’s bidding. When the chase is finally over and all the cards have been purchased, the victim is then instructed to send their money to the “courthouse” so they can be free from the threat of arrest.

At this point, the victim may be heaving a sigh of relief, but it’s the crooked scammer who is gleefully rubbing their hands together and laughing maniacally. Not only did they milk this oblivious victim for a cool thousand bucks, they also have the victim’s personal details, making a full identity theft the next scandalous step in this scam.

Jury duty scams like these are popping up all over the U.S. They’ve already been reported in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.

Sadly, this scam often works. The victim tends to get flustered and anxious about their alleged pending arrest, so their fear drives them to drop their guard and mindlessly comply with whatever the caller tells them to do.

Don’t be the next victim! Read on to learn how to spot these scams for what they are.

Red flags

If you’re a vigilant citizen who is always up on the latest scams, you will probably know enough to recognize the one major flaw in this scam: It is executed over the phone. Government workers rarely reach out to people by phone; they prefer to use snail mail. When a courthouse worker does call a private juror, they most definitely won’t ask for private information over the phone! Also, there is no reason for a federal court to request your Social Security number at all. And finally, skipping out on jury duty never leads to an arrest!

While this scam is almost always played out over the phone, there have been some instances of jury duty scams being pulled via email. The script is nearly identical, save for the medium of communication between scammer and victim – the victim is pressured into sharing sensitive information and/or paying a fine, or risk being jailed for skipping out on jury duty. The same red flags apply as above: A government worker won’t contact you through email and they won’t demand that you share sensitive information via unsecured means.

Protect yourself

If one of these goofballs tries pulling the wool over your eyes with this scam, make sure you know what to do.

First, don’t engage with the scammer. Often, the scammers are skilled enough to use a fake Caller ID to fool victims. If it looks like the local courthouse is calling you, don’t pick up the phone. Remember, it’s highly unlikely that a courthouse worker is on the other end of the line.

If you already picked up and the caller starts reading you the riot act about missed jury duty, penalties and your pending arrest, hang up as quickly as you can. They may try to scare you or threaten you, but don’t be afraid. If you refuse to cooperate, they will have no power over you.

Finally, if you’ve gotten hooked and find yourself being asked to share sensitive information, remember the golden rule: NEVER share your identifying details over an unsafe medium.

Stop the scam

Jury duty may not be your idea of a fun way to pass the time, but it is an integral part of our court system and deserves our respect. The scammers in this con are impersonating members of the federal court and have therefore committed a serious crime. If you are targeted by a jury duty scam, notify the Clerk of Court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area. It’s also a good idea to let the FTC know at ftc.gov.

Don’t let these crooks get away with their crime!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a jury duty scam? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.wmar2news.com/2537797668/the-jury-duty-scam-that-nearly-tricked-a-law-professor.html

https://www.google.com/amp/www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/20180329
/troubleshooter-beware-jury-duty-scam%3Ftemplate%3Dampart
http://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/jury-service/juror-scams
https://www.scambusters.org/juryduty.html
https://www.aarp.org/podcasts/the-perfect-scam/info-2018/jury-duty-scam.html

Don’t Drink Your Wallet Dry!

It’s hot out, so make sure you’re drinking up! In fact, the Food and Drug AdministrationMan pouring water from filter pitcher (FDA) recommends that adult males drink at least 11 cups of fluid a day and females drink 9.

What’s in your glass today? You might be a true coffee-crazy, cola-loving American, but water is your best beverage choice for your health and for your money.

However, did you know that bottled water may be draining your wallet dry?

It’s true. Many people pay huge amounts of money for bottled water without even realizing how inflated the price is. So, let’s take a look at the costs of bottled water when compared to ordinary tap water.

Although service charges, state taxes, and other fees may vary, 1,000 gallons of tap water will typically cost you about $11. With that amount of water, you could fill approximately 7,570 bottles of water at 16.9 fluid ounces each, with each bottle costing you less than a penny. It’s $0.0014 to be exact!

Assuming you drink three 20-oz bottles of water a day, you’ll need 1,095 bottles a year. If you’d fill those bottles with tap water, it’ll cost you just $1.53 a year. This means that, as soon as you’ve bought a day’s worth of bottled water, you’ve already spent nearly double of what an entire year’s worth of tap-water drinking would cost you!

Is that water starting to lose its taste yet?

This doesn’t mean you need to start chugging down awful-tasting tap water just to save on some costs. Luckily for you, there are many ways to get sweet-tasting water without busting your budget.

Here are some options you may consider:

DIY chilling

If you love the taste and convenience of bottled water, you can save big just by buying your bottles in packs of 24 and refrigerating them at home instead of buying them cold while on the go. Instead of $1 a bottle, you’ll pay just $0.16. If you drink three bottles a day, you’ll pay $175 a year. It’s still a lot more expensive than tap water, but it’s also a lot less than paying for cold bottled water.

If you’re out of the house for a while each day and you like your water freezing cold, you can freeze the bottles you’ll be using later in the day or invest in an insulated bag that keeps beverages cold.

Water coolers

They’re not just for catching up on the latest office gossip; water coolers can help you fill all your water needs at home. Of course, you’ll need to spring for the machine itself, but after that one-time cost ($170 on average), you’ll only be paying for refills.

Prices vary by companies, but a 5-gallon refill of spring or purified water will run you approximately $7. Stockpile your refills in the garage and order multiple bottles at once, and you can get discounts as steep as just $5 a bottle. That’s only $1 a gallon, for cold, delicious-tasting water. With each gallon filling 7.5 water bottles, you’re getting more than 37 bottles worth of bottled water for the price of 5 purchased bottles!

Pitcher filters

These handy contraptions snap right onto your pitcher of water and filter it on the spot. You can also purchase a pitcher with the filter already attached. Either way, you’ll have your bottled water needs met with just a one-time purchase that averages only $20.

The downside here is the minimal amount of water a pitcher filter can purify for you in one shot. If you drink large amounts of water or have lots of thirsty people around, this might not be the best option for you. If your water needs are modest, though, a pitcher filter can be a great way for you to get sweet-tasting water inexpensively.

Water treatment system

If you want to be able to get purified water straight from the tap, this is the way to go. Having an indoor water treatment system installed in your faucet will filter your water before you even turn on the faucet. The obvious benefits here are easy access to unlimited amounts of filtered water whenever you need it, plus purified water to cook with and to use for washing your dishes.

These filters run about $250 to $400 and usually work with one faucet only. Some companies will actually install a purified water tap alongside your existing faucet instead of filtering it. There are also companies that offer a purification system for all the water in the house, but those will costs several thousands of dollars to install.

Take the tap challenge!

There are many ways to drink up, but tap water still holds its place as the cheapest option. Are you up for a challenge? If it’s a safe option in your area, try drinking only tap water for a month. You’ll save huge on drinking water costs and it may just become a lifelong habit!

Here are some ways to make tap water more palatable:

  • Slice citrus fruits and let them float in your pitcher to give your water a tasty zing.
  • Soak some pineapple chunks in your water for several hours and remove before serving.
  • Invest in a SodaStream to add some sparkle to your glass.
  • Freeze pureed blueberries and strawberries and use them as ice cubes.
  • Add some Crystal Light or another calorie-free flavoring mix.
  • Steep fresh mint leaves in your pitcher before drinking.

Don’t let your hard-earned money get washed down the drain. Drink wisely this summer and save big!

Your Turn: How do you hydrate? Share your own cost-effective water sources with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://20somethingfinance.com/cost-savings-drinking-water/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thepennyhoarder.com/food/bottled-water-cost/amp/
https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/20-tips-make-drinking-water-taste-better
http://all-about-water-filters.com/top-easiest-diy-water-filters-you-can-make-at-home/
https://www.deerparkdelivery.com/_mobilecmsviewer.cfm?id=3
https://www.fixr.com/costs/water-purification-system

Beware Tech Support Scams!

You’re always putting yourself out on a limb when you call tech support. You dial the man touching computer screen with words "Access Granted"number the company gives you, and perhaps after a while of waiting, you’re connected to someone who may be working on the other side of the world in a completely different time zone. Then you’re asked to give this anonymous person identifying details about your phone or computer and the technical problems you’re experiencing.

Of course, you’re fairly certain the speaker works for your device’s company and you believe it’s perfectly safe to share this information. At the very least, they have contracted with this individual and are tracking their service.

All of that gets a little riskier when you’re asked to allow the tech support agent to have remote access to your device. This step is sometimes necessary to fix the glitch, but it can also be unnerving. Suddenly, it’s as if an invisible person has taken over your screen. Letters you haven’t typed are showing up on the display and the cursor is flying all over the screen, even though you haven’t touched the mouse.

You’re essentially letting someone have free access to a device that houses some of your most personal information. Yikes!

And that’s exactly what tech support scammers are looking for with their nefarious hacks. It’s truly as awful as it sounds: In these scams, fraudsters contact victims and trick them into granting the scammer access to their computers. The crooks may reach out to people through a phone call, insisting the victims have a virus or another problem they’ve somehow detected from the company’s headquarters. Alternatively, they’ll send a popup to the victim’s computer which will flash dire warnings about an impending or existing virus that can be “fixed” by clicking on a link.

There are several outcomes of such tech support scams, none of them good. Sometimes, a scammer will trick you into installing malware on your computer, claiming you have to click on a link in order to heal your computer of its ills. Other times, they might sell you expensive “software” by making the same false claims. Still other times, they’ll direct you to a bogus tech support website where you’ll be asked to input your credit card information. And they’ll oftentimes simply help themselves to the sensitive data they find on your computer and then wreak havoc on your financial life.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Scams

Tech support scams are nothing new, but a recent wave of these scams has taken on an ironic twist. The very organization that leads the battle in taking down scammers is being exploited for a particularly heinous hack.

Scammers posing as FTC employees are calling victims, asking for remote access to their computers. They assure victims they can help restore any affected devices to their previous working conditions. Many of them are claiming to represent the FTC’s Advanced Tech Support Refund program.

This program was created to help victims of previous scams collect their refund money from the FTC. The scammers will convince the victims that they are moments away from seeing their money – they just need to provide the alleged FTC employee with remote access to their computer. They may also ask for an upfront payment before the refund can be issued or for checking account information, claiming it’s necessary for the refund to clear.

Of course, none of this is true and the caller has never worked for the FTC. In fact, the FTC will never request remote access to your device or ask you to pay to receive a refund. Also, their refunds are sent in check form via snail mail, and do not require any checking account information at all.

The FTC has alerted the public that the only genuine number to call for information about the Advanced Tech Support Refund program is 877-793-0908. If someone calls you on their own, assume it’s a scam. End the call immediately and report the incident to the FTC.

Recognizing Tech Support Scams

As mentioned, the wave of tech support scams in which fraudsters impersonate the FTC are easy to spot if you know this basic information about the FTC: They will never request remote access to your computer, ask for payment in exchange for a refund, or reach out to you on the phone.

Here’s how to prevent other variations of tech support scams:

  • Never click on a pop-up box that claims your computer has a virus and offers to clean it. This will only infect your computer or grant a scammer remote access to your device.
  • Always call tech support on your own; if they call you, especially if you’re not aware of any problem with your computer, hang up as quickly as you can.
  • Never agree to purchase expensive software online to fix an alleged virus.

If you think you’ve been scammed, tell everyone you know about it and be sure to alert the FTC. Let’s do our part to put those crooks out of business for good!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a tech support scam? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/03/ftc-begin-mailing-checks-victims-tech-support-scam
https://www.idtheftcenter.org/Current-Scam-Alerts/ftc-tech-support-scam.html
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/04/ftc-asking-access-your-computer-its-scam

15 Incredible Grilling Hacks

Nothing says “summer coming” like the mouthwatering smell of a flaming barbecue family gathered around grillblowing through the neighborhood. Whether you churn out the best burgers on the block from a modest charcoal grill or your Weber’s been squatting on your deck all winter, we’ve got you covered!

Here’s 15 genius grilling hacks that will take your ‘cue to the next level.

Use a muffin tray for condiments

This grilling season, skip the condiment chaos by keeping all your barbecue trimmings in one neat place: a muffin tray! The 12 sections are perfectly suited for housing your ketchup, mustard, relish, BBQ sauces, pickles, tomatoes and any other toppings to douse your hot dogs. This also works great if you have several different basting sauces in use. Your guests will know exactly where to find anything they need, and best of all, you’ve only got one condiment serving dish to wash!

Clean with an onion

Isn’t it annoying when you’re ready to start grilling only to find that your grate is covered with caked-on gook? Grill cleanup is finally hassle-free with this hack!

The next time you use your grill, clean it while it’s still hot. Slice an onion in half, and use it to scrub the drippings and other gunk off your grill. It should come off easily. As a bonus, you’ll be giving your grill a tasty seasoning for your next barbecue.

Layer your grate for veggies

Grilled greens are delicious, but fishing out those slippery peppers and zucchini slices from the bottom of your grill isn’t all that fun. Have your grilled veggies and eat them too with this genius hack.

Use an old barbecue grate or purchase a spare one and place it across your existing grate before grilling vegetables. The grid should keep your veggies from slipping, while still giving you the flame-licked taste you savor.

Be sure to let this extra grate heat along with your grill grate so you get those awesome grill marks.

Vegetable parcels

If you like chunkier vegetables, try this hack. Wrap spiced sweet potato, potato or zucchini squares in foil and place it on the grill while you work on your entrees. After 10 minutes or so, you’ll have a delicious, healthful side dish! Tip: You can do this with any veggie.

Use two skewers

Kebabs are fun to eat, but turning them can be tricky. Make it easier with this hack! Double your skewers per kebab so individual pieces of meat or chicken don’t rotate on their own as you flip the entire kebab. Also, don’t forget to soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes before you start grilling!

Add a smoker to an electric grill

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for that sensational smoky flavor. Turn your electric grill into a smoker by wrapping some wood chips in foil, poking some holes in the parcel and tossing it on top of the grill’s burner and underneath the grate. Now get on with your grilling, being sure to keep the heat on medium-low. Your small parcel of wood chips will lend your food a hint of delicious smokiness!

Check how much propane you have left before you start

You don’t want to run out of propane when you’ve still got food on the grill. Check the level in your tank with this hack: Tilt your tank a bit and pour boiling water on its side – but not on its top. Now feel your tank. The area where there is propane inside the tank will feel cool to the touch.

Smoke lemons

For an easy burst of flavor, halve some lemons and grill them on low heat for a few minutes, peel-side down. Your grate will pick up a terrific, citrusy flavor!

Spiral your hot dogs

Give your hot dogs a gourmet touch by cutting them into spirals. It’s easy to do: Skewer a hot dog and rotate it slowly as you cut it along its length. Spiraled hot dogs cook more evenly, give you lots of places for holding condiments, and most importantly, look super cool!

Out of time? Nuke it!

If you’ve got a craving for BBQ fare but you don’t have the time or patience to stand over the flames, cook your chicken in the microwave until it’s nearly ready, then throw it on the grill to give it a flaming finish!

Use a foil tent

To help your cooked meat retain its moisture and to distribute its juices evenly, let it rest under a loose foil tent for 10 minutes before serving.

 Get your grill flaming fast

To get the heat going, use a chimney starter with your charcoal grill. You’ll be rewarded with a flaming hot fire – and fast!

Try some grilled cheese – literally

A BBQ is hardly the setting for grilled cheese, but just wait until your guests taste this! Throw a wheel of cheese directly on the grill and let it partially melt. Scoop it off the flames before it completely liquefies and then serve up the most delicious, gooey spread!

One long tong

Don’t bother with an assortment of grilling tools. All you need is one extra-long pair of tongs. They’ll allow you to flip your food without poking holes in it (which also dries it out). You can also use an old pair of tongs to shift your coals around and/or lift your grates.

 Use all the heat!

Your grill will usually stay warm for a while after you’re done cooking. Don’t let that heat go to waste! Instead, pile your grate with any foods that need to stay warm, toast your buns over the fire, or even throw on some foil-wrapped s’mores for a delectable dessert!

Your Turn: Got your own grilling hack? Share it with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.marthastewart.com/1119050/grilling-hacks-you-never-thought  

https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/14-food-hacks-you-need-know-for-grilling-season-0156039/  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/lifehacker.com/top-10-ways-to-hack-your-grill-1607315381/amp  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.firstwefeast.com/eat/2013/07/bbq-hacks-and-grilling-tricks/