Yes The Dow Jones Reached 22,000. What Does That Mean?

It seems like everyone is talking about the stock market hitting an all-time high of 22,000.bull bear What does that mean, in real-world terms? Is that a good thing?

The stock market can be confusing and seem overwhelming. If you’re not completely clear about the stock market, stock exchange, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, etc. – you’re not alone.Let’s start with a brief explanation of what the stock market is.

1.) What is the stock market?

The stock market is where stocks and bonds are bought and sold. When you purchase stock, you become a shareholder, which means you now own a “share” of the company (much like you are an owner of shares at your credit union). If the company’s profits go up, the value of your shares goes up. If the company’s profits go down, so does the value of your shares. When a company needs to raise money, it issues shares. The price of the share is based on how much the company is estimated to be worth, and how many shares are being issued. The company gets to keep all of the money raised in the initial sale of shares. Traders and investors continue to buy and sell the stock of the company on the stock exchange, although the company itself no longer receives any money from this type of trading.

2.) Why do stocks continue to be traded once they’re purchased?

Traders and investors continue to trade their purchased stocks because the perceived value of the company changes over time. The investors may make or lose money depending on whether or not their predictions on the value of the stock are correct or not. Trying to predict which stocks will rise or fall in value, and when, can be tricky. The ultimate goal of buying stock is to make money by purchasing stocks in companies you expect will do well and increase in value.

3.) What are the stock exchanges?

Stock exchanges are the markets where stock buyers connect with stock sellers. The two most common stock exchanges in the United States are the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the NASDAQ. The NYSE is primarily auction-based, which means the trading facilitators are physically present on the trading floor. The NASDAQ is an electronic exchange where buyers and sellers are connected over a telecommunications network. Companies listed on either of these exchanges must meet various minimum requirements and baseline rules. But these are by no means the only legitimate exchanges. Electronic communication networks (ECNs) connect buyers and sellers directly, cutting out the trade facilitator. There are also Over-the-Counter exchanges (OTCs). OTC markets generally list small companies, and these companies often (but not always) have been placed on the OTC market because they were delisted from NASDAQ.

4.) What is the Dow Jones Industrial Average?

The Dow Jones (aka, Dow) is a U.S. stock market index composed of 30 large public companies such as Disney, Wal-Mart, Coca-Cola and Pfizer. It is calculated by adding up the 30 companies’ stock prices and then dividing them by a magic number called the Dow Divisor. The divisor is adjusted to account for stock splits, dividends or spin-offs, which affect the share prices of Dow components.

On Aug. 2, 2017, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit 22,000 for the first time in history. The reason for this jump could be due, in part, to several factors:

  • Low unemployment, steady GDP growth and other economic indicators point to a still-improving economic climate, encouraging optimism. This all leads to more investment and spending.
  • The Federal Reserve has increased interest rates three times since December; another reason to be optimistic about the economy.
  • Companies have been earning higher profits and expect to earn more in the future as the economy improves and business and consumer spending increase.

5.) What does the Dow reaching 22,000 mean for me?

On the surface, not much. The number 22,000 itself is a relatively meaningless milestone. It will simply become a new trading level that in no way guarantees an improving economy or a declining unemployment rate.

What is relevant, though, is the trend this number represents. The Dow has reached 30 record highs this year, leading some investors to fear that this latest milestone could be a market top, as stock prices are likely too high for the current economic environment to support. Others believe this trend will continue.

Your Turn: Are you a stockholder? If so, what are your thoughts on the Dow reaching 22,000 points?

SOURCES:
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/08/01/wall-street-set-to-open-higher-on-earnings-momentum.html  

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/stockmarket.asp  
http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/stock-exchange.html  
https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-a-stock-exchange-358113  
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/djia.asp  
http://www.jsonline.com/story/money/2017/08/05/dow-keeps-climbing-making-some-investors-wary/538685001/  
https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/08/02/dow-has-reached-another-record-too-late-buy-stocks/532563001/  
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/01/business/dealbook/dow-22000-stock-markets-dollar-value.html 

Am I A Shopaholic? How To Determine If You Have A Serious Problem

Q: I love shopping. It makes me happy! I don’t go into debt to cover my habit, but I do go shopaholicover my budget. Quite often, actually. Am I addicted to shopping?

A: Your problem is not uncommon.

Though a true shopaholic is hard to quantify, it is estimated that up to 12% of Americans suffer from a shopping compulsion.

It’s important to note, however, that most people are not truly addicted to shopping. A bona fide addict, or one who would be thus diagnosed by a competent psychologist, would go to extreme measures to support their habit. They may even resort to thievery and the like.

However, compulsive shopping definitely exists and it can certainly impair one’s quality of life.

Are you a shopaholic? You may be if this checklist describes you:

  1. You have unopened and tagged items hanging in your closet
  2. You tend to shop beyond your means
  3. You often purchase items for which you have no use or need
  4. Disagreements and disappointments trigger shopping trips for you
  5. You feel a thrill when you make purchases, no matter the reason
  6. You often feel remorse after making a purchase
  7. You try to hide your purchases from family members
  8. On days that you don’t shop, you feel anxious and unsettled

Why do people become compulsive shoppers?

Like all addictions, shopping works to fill a void. Compulsive shoppers may be feeling lonesome, depressed or anxious. Shopaholics experience a rush of dopamine from shopping, which makes them feel better and has them craving that rush again.

While it’s normal to feel a thrill when you find that perfect pair of jeans or buy yourself a new phone, it isn’t normal to feel this thrill when doing your grocery shopping or buying school supplies for your kids. It also isn’t normal to feel out of sorts on days that you don’t shop.

Ironically, the act of shopping ultimately makes people feel worse. The guilt that accompanies overspending, coupled with the shame of not being able to control the habit, leaves the shopper feeling more down and anxious than they were to begin with.

To take it one step further, people tend to make big purchases following a big disappointment. Say you were turned down for a job and then go out and buy an expensive pair of shoes. Your bruised ego might be temporarily soothed. But, in the long run, the purchase will make you feel a lot worse.

“Buying and displaying products to compensate for our `psychological blows’ might sometimes backfire by reminding us of our setbacks and failures,” explains Monika Lisjak, Ph.D., and assistant professor of marketing at Erasmus University.

In other words, your brain will now associate that purchase with your rejection, and you’ll feel that hurt every time you wear those shoes.

Unfortunately, in an era of frenzied consumerism and excessive advertising of every kind, compulsive shopping can be difficult to control. If you think you might be a shopaholic, don’t despair. With a bit of planning, discipline and help from family and friends, you can kick the habit for good.

Here’s how to curb the urge to splurge:

A.) Talk it out

When you feel a shopping binge coming on because of a rejection, a dashed hope or another kind of emotional overload, call a friend. Talk through your feelings instead of smothering them in unnecessary and expensive purchases. You’ll feel a whole lot better afterward, and of course, it’ll be easier on your wallet!

B.) Cash and debit only

When you’re shopping, use cash or a debit card connected to your checking account balance. This will force you to stick to your budget and keep you from overspending. If you don’t like the idea of carrying a stack of greenbacks, you can also use a prepaid gift card. There’s no way you can overspend when the limit has already been set for you.

C.) Avoid temptation

If you know you tend to buy more than you need in certain stores, keep away from them until you have your habit under control.

D.) Identify triggers

The next time you feel the urge to shop, take note of what’s got you feeling that way. Whether it’s an argument with a loved one or a talking down from your boss, you’ll be better equipped to deal with these triggers when you learn to recognize them. If you don’t want to talk out these feelings, get creative and come up with a way to deal with them that doesn’t involve spending. You can hit the gym, listen to music, or watch reruns of your favorite TV show to help you feel better.

E.) List it

Shopping lists aren’t just for groceries. When you need to shop for anything, first create a detailed list of everything you need. This will help you buy only what you need and minimize your spending.

If you feel like you’ve got a serious problem and you’re in over your head, we can help. Call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to ask about debt management and other financial services. We’ll help you get your finances under control!

Your Turn: Based on what you’ve read in this article, do you think a little retail therapy is ever warranted? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.livescience.com/2338-truth-shopaholics.htmlhttp://www.psychguides.com/guides/shopping-addiction-symptoms-causes-and-effects/  

https://lifereimagined.aarp.org/stories/39576-Why-Retail-Therapy-Makes-Us-Feel-Bad-Not-Good  
https://www.moneytalksnews.com/7-signs-youre-shopaholic/  
http://business.time.com/2013/04/16/is-retail-therapy-for-real-5-ways-shopping-is-actually-good-for-you/

Do Your Kids Have Virtual Shopping Smarts?

Did you know that 73% of millennials questioned in a Bazaar Voice survey do all theirshopping kids shopping on their smartphones? It’s not surprising. The world of commerce is constantly becoming more digitized as retailers focus on improving their online presence to cater to cyberspace shoppers.

Online shopping has its downsides, though, mainly in the form of surprises when the item arrives, costly shipping expenses and impulse buys that are made too easily.

Fortunately, it has its upsides, too. Comparing prices between stores is a lot simpler when all it takes is clicking through a few sites instead of traipsing all over town. Couponing is now also just a matter of seconds, with no need for tedious clipping and saving.

Teach your kids to make the best of online shopping with this fun, educational activity. All you need is a computer!

Sit down with your child to brief them on the ups and downs of online shopping. Talk about comparing prices, checking for discount codes and being wary of overspending or buying items of inferior quality. Teach them about reading reviews and looking for reputable companies. Mention comparison-shopping engines like Google, and others they may have never used, like Nextag, Price Grabber, Shopping.com and Shopzilla.

When they have the information down pat, tell them they will now be tasked with buying an item online! The item should be something popular and one they’re interested in.

Give your child a debit or credit card, a fixed budget for the item and the following instructions:

The goal is to purchase the lowest-priced, yet best-made product. This will earn a minimum of 100 points. They will earn points for each part of the process, using the following guidelines:

  1. The purchase must be of decent quality. They can earn 25 points for this category.
  2. Shipping costs should not constitute more than 10% of the object’s price. The lower the shipping costs, the more they earn for this category, with free shipping earning the full 15 points.
  3. They must search for discount codes and coupons before making the purchase. This can be done by checking coupon sites like Retailmenot and Couponcabin, or by signing up for a store’s emails and earning a promotional discount. 5 points will be rewarded for every discount search/website visited in search of a coupon code. Actually finding and using a discount can earn them 15 points.
  4. If your child is ordering from eBay or another site with multiple sellers, they should be careful to only make purchases from sellers with excellent ratings. Buying from a badly rated seller can cost them 5 points and using a high-rated seller can earn them 5 points.
  5. Price is of utmost importance. If their object is of decent quality and very well-priced, they can earn up to 40 points. 5 points will be given for every search for a cheaper product.
  6. Points will be taken off for any random ad-clicks, failure to do substantial price-checks and comparisons, and for ignoring discount offers.
  7. Sit back and watch, being careful not to offer any advice as your child makes a purchase.
  8. Tally up the score and explain the points you gave, congratulating your child on their online shopping skills.

Your child is now cyberspace-savvy!

Your Turn: How do you teach your kids to avoid the pitfalls and make the most out of online shopping? Share your wisdom with us in the comments!

Back-To-School Savings

Back-to-school shopping can kill your budget each year. Is there any way to start the year mom and childoff right…without spending a small fortune?

Rows of freshly sharpened pencils, an unopened box of crayons and a pair of shiny, new shoes will provide a thrill for any child.

As the parent, though, you’re the one footing the bill. If the thought of all that back-to-school spending makes your head pound, you’re not alone. The National Retail Federation reports that parents of children entering kindergarten through 12th grade plan to spend nearly $700 per child on school supplies, new clothing and shoes this season. That’s enough to fill any budgeting parent with dread.

No worries – as always, Destinations Credit Union has your back! Let us help you navigate the second-largest shopping season of the year with your budget and sanity intact. Read on for 12 ways to save on back-to-school shopping.

1.) Do a house-wide sweep

Before you spend a penny on new supplies or clothing, scour your closets and drawers to see what you have lying around the house. Round up all the supplies you find and take inventory. Write it all down and keep the list handy – in your phone, purse or car – so you don’t forget what you already have and end buying unnecessary items.

While digging through your kids’ closets, sort and purge. Donate outgrown clothing (take note and get a receipt for tax deduction purposes) and throw out everything that isn’t wearable. This way, their closets won’t be cluttered with junk and you’ll know exactly what you have and what each child still needs.

2.) Get the teacher-approved list

Most schools and teachers will send you a school supply list that details exactly what your child will need. Those lists are also often available at major retailers. Pay close attention to specifics on the list instead of buying supplies at random. This will prevent you from buying items your child can’t use and being forced to later repurchase according to teacher criteria.

3.) Spread your purchases

Spreading your back-to-school purchases throughout the summer will allow you to take advantage of weekly sales. One week there might be a great deal on pencils, the next week, folders will be dirt cheap. Over the course of the summer, you’ll get all your supplies at terrific prices. Also, by picking up a few items a week, you won’t feel the financial squeeze as much as you would if you’d buy everything at once.

4.) Take advantage of sales-tax holidays

Many states have a sales-tax holiday during the first week of August; others have tax-free days in July. Look up the timing of your state’s gift to budgeting parents and do your shopping then. You’ll save big! Maryland Tax Free Week 2017 is Sunday, August 13 to Saturday, August 19, 2017.

5.) Organize a clothing swap

The clothing your best friend is trashing may be the perfect fit for your daughter. Organize a clothing swap party with other parents in your area. Choose a date and venue, and instruct all attendants to show up with three or more items of gently used children’s clothing. At the party, parents can exchange their kids’ outgrown clothing and go home with incredible finds – all free of charge!

6.) Find the best prices

This doesn’t have to mean touring your town in search of the best deal on crayons. Instead, hunt for specials in the Sunday paper and weekly circulars and look up coupons and deals online, at sites like RetailMeNot and CouponCabin. To make it even easier, check out PriceGrabber.com or use the ShopSavvy app for help in snagging the lowest possible price on an item.

7.) Use Twitter and Facebook to save

Many companies will send coupon links to their followers and let them know about upcoming sales. Monitor your favorite stores’ Twitter feeds and Facebook updates to find super deals.

Follow these stores on Twitter:

Staples: @StaplesTweets

Office Max:@OfficeMaxDeal

TJ Maxx:@tjmaxx

Marshalls:@marshalls

8.) Save through Ebates

When you buy through Ebates, you earn cash back on every purchase. You’ll also find exclusive deals and offers on the site. You can shop major brands and stores like Macy’s, Walmart, and Kohl’s on Ebates. Some users receive upward of $300 from the site throughout the year. That’s like getting paid to shop!

9.) Time it right

Your child needs to be ready for the first day of school – they don’t need a year’s supply of paper or a full autumn wardrobe before Labor Day. Purchase what your kids need now, and save the rest for later. You’ll find deep discounts on school supplies and fall clothing just a few weeks into the school year.

10.) Set limits

Every year there’s a must-have school supply or clothing trend. You want your child to fit in, but you don’t have a money tree growing out back!

That’s why it’s important to set limits. Share your budget with your child. If your budget allows, let them choose one or two pricier items – but that’s it! Don’t give in to every whim; you’ll be enforcing bad habits and breaking the budget at the same time. If your child insists on more, you can always check out sites like eBay and Craigslist for discounted high-end items.

11.) Cash and debit card only!

Paying with cash or using a debit card that draws from your checking account will help you stick to your budget. Resist the urge to charge supplies if you can. You don’t want to end up paying interest on pencils for months after they’ve already broken.

12.) Plan ahead

Finally, start thinking about the next school year now! When school supplies and backpacks are ridiculously discounted a few weeks into the school year, stock up for next year. Stash away your extra supplies to pull out at the end of next summer. You’ll be grateful you did!

Your Turn: Do you have a great back-to-school shopping hack? We’d love to hear it! Share your best saving tips with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
http://www.moneycrashers.com/back-to-school-supplies-list-tips/ 

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/realsimple/work-life/family/kids-parenting/back-to-school-shopping%3Fsource%3Ddam 
http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/money/back-to-school-shopping-savings/ 
https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/07/22/14-back-to-school-shopping-hacks 

Top Ten Reasons for Buying American

Finding a product that doesn’t bear a foreign label is a nearly impossible task. After all, 200514832-001when manufacturers can find labor and materials overseas for a fraction of the price, why would they bother building factories on American shores?

The short answer is that every choice we make affects our surroundings and our country, for better or for worse. When companies chose to produce their goods on American shores, that choice creates a positive ripple effect across the country that can be felt for years.

As the consumer, you can help influence manufacturer’s preferences by selecting products that were made in the good ‘ole USA.

In honor of Made in America Week, Destinations Credit Union is proud to bring you the top ten reasons to buy American-made products.

1.) Create jobs

When you buy American, you create American jobs. According to a 2015 report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the USA lost 5.7 million jobs to overseas workers between 1998 and 2013. Help reverse the trend by choosing American goods!

2.) Decrease pollution

We can regulate our own carbon emissions and protect the environment in the USA, but we can’t tell other nations what to do.  Many of the countries that produce goods for American companies have little regard for the environment and for green usage of resources. Soil, air, and water are regularly abused and priceless resources are needlessly wasted.

When you buy American, you are helping to preserve our beautiful world for future generations.

3.) Guaranteed quality of goods

Sure, the clothing, toys, and trinkets that bear the “Made in China” label come with a cheaper price tag, but you’ll usually get cheaper quality as well. In contrast, products proudly tagged as “Made in the USA,” can be counted on for unsurpassed quality, expert craftsmanship, and attention to detail.

In fact, when you consider the cost-per-use of each item, foreign-made goods that don’t last as long as their American counterparts end up being more expensive.

4.) Health

It’s not just the health of foreign workers that’s at risk when you buy products manufactured overseas – it’s also your own that’s in jeopardy. Products made abroad are not subject to strict rules and regulations like American-made goods are. There were several instances during which toys made in China and sold in the USA were declared unsafe and had to be recalled. Many posed a choking hazard; others contained dangerous chemicals like lead paint and kerosene.

5.) Boost American investment opportunities

A boost in American manufacturing means a boost in American investment opportunities. Naturally, increased investments mean a surge for the entire economy.

6.) Protect human rights

Many countries that produce goods for American companies have few or no regulations protecting the rights and safety of employees. An astonishing 2015 report from the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights revealed that the Chinese workers producing toys for American brands, like Mattel, Hasbro, and Disney, were forced to work 12- to 13-hour days and sleep on wooden bunk-beds in dingy, unheated dormitories. Another report discovered child labor at a factory created to produce clothing for Walmart and JCPenney.

By supporting American-made goods, you are silently protesting these atrocities.

7.) Ripple effect

When you choose “Made in USA,” your money does more than create manufacturing jobs. The wages those American workers earned because of your choice goes back into our own economy. American taxes are paid. More American products are purchased and services paid for. The economy grows, thanks to your choices.

Incredibly, the EPI estimates that every USA manufacturing job creates an additional 1.4 jobs in other parts of the economy.

8.) Reduce the trade deficit

Tough economic times have placed the USA in an unfavorable position with foreign markets. Help reduce and eventually eliminate our country’s trade deficit by investing in American products. Let’s get back to being the proud country we once were: independent and standing on our own two feet!

9.) Conservation

Every foreign-made product you purchase needs to be shipped to the USA. That’s often from practically across the world. All that travel comes with a hefty price in carbon footprints. Precious resources, like petroleum, are wasted in transport and unnecessary, harmful emissions are released into the atmosphere.

Conserve our resources and buy American!

10.) Avoid foreign political debates

Importing goods to the USA can mean facing loads of red tape and barriers, especially with nations that currently have tense relationships with America. By buying American goods, you’ll avoid those obstacles completely.

So, you’re convinced: you’re buying American. But what now? How can you follow through on your resolution when nearly every product you pick up is created on foreign shores?

To find those elusive American products, you may need to be persistent and spend some time checking labels. To make that task easier, check out the hundreds of sites dedicated to supporting American goods, like Made in USA, Americans Working, and the  USA Love List.

Remember, for every American product you buy, you are creating endless positive ripples for our wonderful country!

Your Turn: Show your loyalty to our country by telling us about your favorite Made-in-the-USA product in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/search?q=made+in+america+week&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS753US753&oq=made+&aqs=chrome.2.69i57j0l3.2638j0j4&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8  

https://www.google.com/search?q=why+buy+american+made&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS753US753&oq=why+buy+am&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l3.7394j0j9&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8  
http://www.moneycrashers.com/products-made-usa-american-made/  
https://americansworking.com/why-buy-american-made-products/  

The Best Deals On Wheels For College Students

You’ve shopped for weeks and you’ve packed for hours. Now, you’re finally ready to load kids with caryour trunk and pull out of the family driveway toward your next stage in life.

Which set of wheels will accompany you on your rite of passage into the grown-up world?

Yes–you’ve chosen your college, your major, and perhaps your roommate. Now it’s time to choose your car.

There are loads of factors at play when making this decision, though.

First, you’ll need to determine if it makes more sense for you to lease or to purchase a car.

Leasing offers flexibility. It’s the perfect choice for those who aren’t ready to commit to a car for long-term usage. It’s also more practical if you can’t afford to be solely responsible for a car’s maintenance and repairs. Monthly lease payments – even with repair warranties and liability waivers – also tend to be cheaper than payments on a purchased vehicle.

Of course, a lease won’t net you anything of value in the long run. When your lease is up, you’ll be out the thousands of dollars you spent “renting” the car, and have nothing to show for it. Also, if you max out the annual mileage limit, you may end up paying a small fortune in fees.

Purchasing a car, on the other hand, is a commitment that pays off in the long run. If you can afford the down payment, monthly fee, and can foot the bill for any repairs (talk to your credit union about affordable coverage for mechanical breakdowns), it may be the choice for you. Remember, though, that cars depreciate as soon as you take them for their first spin. It’s also hard to predict which vehicle will serve you best a few years down the line.

If you do decide to purchase a vehicle, first determine exactly what you can afford. Don’t take on a monthly payment that’s going to squeeze your budget. Building and maintaining a good credit history is crucial – at every stage in life.

Be sure to do extensive research before signing on a car. As a cash-strapped college student, you need to make the most cost-effective decision possible – but that doesn’t mean buying the cheapest car you can find. Your vehicle should serve its purpose without draining your wallet on fuel costs and repairs.

Carefully screen every car you’re considering for fuel efficiency, safety, warranty inclusion and coverage, and cargo capacity.

To make your search a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the top six cars for the budget-wise college student. Each one is fuel-efficient, offers excellent cargo capacity, and is well-priced. (Cargo capacity listed is with the rear seats folded.)

1.) 2016 Kia Soul

Starting price: $15,900

Cargo capacity: 24.2/61.3 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 27 mpg combined

2.) 2017 Honda Fit

Starting price: $15,990

Cargo capacity: 16.6/52.7 cubic feet

Fuel economy: Up to 36 mpg combined

3.) 2017 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback

Starting price: $18,455

Cargo capacity: 19/47.7 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 32 mpg combined

4.) 2016 Mazda 3 Hatchback

Starting price: $18,545

Cargo capacity: 20.2/47.1 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 33 mpg combined

5.) 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Starting price: $18,800

Cargo capacity: 23/51 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 27 mpg combined

6.) 2017 Volkswagen Golf Hatchback

Starting price: $19,895

Cargo capacity: 22.8/52.7 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 29 mpg combined

Before heading to the dealer’s shop, it’s best to get pre-approved. This way, you’ll know exactly what you can afford, and you’ll be taken more seriously by the dealer. Be sure to drop by Destinations Credit Union for your pre-approval and auto loan! [Our credit union offers low rates on pre-owned vehicles, so call 410-663-2500 or apply online.

Your Turn: Are you a college student with a new set of wheels? We’d love to hear all about your car! Share your pick with us in the comments.

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxbusiness.com/features/2013/04/29/should-college-students-lease-or-buy-car.amp.html 
http://www.moneycrashers.com/best-affordable-cars-college-students/  
https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/the-best-cars-for-college-studentshttp://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/student-life/blog/best-value-cars-college-students-2016-2017/

6 Ways To Save On Your Summer Vacation

The ocean is calling – and so is the open road. Your dream vacation awaits! But first, youSummer Beach Scene need to work out the financial details. How are you going to pay for your getaway? How much can you realistically spend? Where is the money for your vacation going to come from?

Ideally, a plump vacation fund that’s fed throughout the year is the way to go. Unfortunately, though, we often don’t think about how to pay for vacation until it’s a few weeks away. To make things even worse, according to LearnVest, an alarming 74% of Americans go into debt to pay for a vacation.

Don’t become part of that statistic! Be proactive in planning your vacation by saving up for it in advance. Forgo some luxuries in the months or weeks leading up to your vacation and save the extra cash for your getaway. Consider running a yard sale featuring all of your forgotten treasures and use the profits to fund your trip. Skip your weekly dinner out for a while and put the money in your vacation budget.

Now it’s time to plan your vacation! When you’ve got the money saved up, create a realistic vacation budget. These six vacation saving tips will help you plan the perfect getaway while staying well within your budget.

1.) Timing is everything

Be a savvy shopper. There is an ideal window for buying everything, and booking airline flights is no exception. Flight prices generally fluctuate until departure day, but experts say the sweet spot is 54 days before your travel date. If you don’t want to be busy checking prices all day, sign up for emails from a savings alert site. Let them know which dates and locations you’re interested in, and they’ll let you know when a flight goes on sale so you can book your discounted tickets before they’re sold out.

2.) Clear your cache

Hotel and airline sites use cookies to determine what you’re shopping for. They’ll see which days you’re searching and raise their prices accordingly. Beat the system by clearing your cache before every new search so they can’t read into your browser history. You might see as much as a 50% drop in prices when searching with an empty cache!

3.) Sweet-talk your way to savings

Just because your hotel room is pre-booked, it doesn’t mean you can’t save. Don’t be shy about asking for an upgrade at check-in. About 78% of hotel guests who request an upgrade at the front desk actually receive one. Some face-to-face schmoozing can go a long way!

Also, by 6 p.m., most hotels know which rooms will be filled for the night. If you check in later in the day, you’ll have a better chance at getting the keys to the room with the incredible view – even with your economy-class price tag.

4.) Never pay full price

You can score a deluxe vacation without the deluxe price tag – all it takes is a little research. Check sites like coupondivas.com, entertainment.com and Groupon.com for amazing deals and deep discounts for local eateries and entertainment centers. You can also find cheaper tickets to nearby amusement parks by looking for sellers on Craigslist. Also, if you’re traveling with kids, don’t forget to look up restaurants with “Kids Eat Free” promotions.

5.) Freebie fun

Challenge yourself to enjoy one day of your vacation without spending any money at all. Search local sites and blogs for write-ups about fantastic free things to do nearby. You might find a charming family farm, a gorgeous waterway, a fun splash pad for the kids or a scenic hiking trail. Or, just spend the day at the closest beach!

Don’t eat out on this day either. Many hotels include a continental breakfast – take full advantage. For lunch, you can picnic on sandwiches. Dinner can be something effortless and delicious that you brought from home or pick up at a local supermarket. Consider packing a travel grill or panini maker for easy meals. You can heat up some hot dogs or burger patties, or bring some baguettes and an assortment of sliced cheeses for fresh paninis. Round off the meal with some pre-sliced veggies.

You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have without spending a penny!

6.) Save your mega event for the last day

The taste of dessert is what lingers after the meal is through. End your vacation on a sweet note by saving your most exciting event for your last day away.

If you’re unsure of how you’re going to fund your getaway, call, click or stop by [credit union] to ask about taking out a personal loan or joining a vacation club. We want to help you make your dream vacation come true!

Your Turn: How do you save big on summer vacation? Share your best hacks and tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/www.vogue.com/article/how-to-save-money-on-summer-travel-learnvest/amp

https://www.google.com/amp/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/5-money-tips-for-savoring-your-summer-vacation/
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2017/jun/25/how-save-time-work-and-money-your-summer-vaca/434806/
https://www.google.com/search?q=ways+to+save+on+summer+vacation&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS737US737&oq=saving+on+summer+vaca&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l3.11737j0j7&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8
https://www.google.com/amp/www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/8-last-minute-ways-to-save-for-vacation/%3Famp%3D1

Skip-a-Payment: Free Cash Flow With A Summertime Break From Your Loan Payment

Summer can put a big strain on your budget. There are so many extra expenses! If youflip flops small have been looking for a way to get through these months without racking up a huge credit card bill, one option to consider is skip-a-payment. Here’s what you should know about this program.

Summertime brings loads of expenses that can bust any budget. There are family vacations that put a serious strain on your wallet, costly camp fees for the kids and dozens of other expenses that may not always be part of your usual financial planning.

Many people wonder how they’ll get through these months. Fortunately, Destinations Credit Union offers an exclusive break from your loan payments during this costly time of year (you must apply before June 30 for the summer skip-a-payment). Now that sounds like a dream vacation!

Skip-a-payment is a program that allows members to skip a monthly loan during an especially tight financial season. Most credit unions offer this program during the holiday season, and again during the summer. Depending on the loan and your circumstances, members can choose to skip a payment once or twice a year. There is usually a small fee attached to the payment omission.

Specific criteria must be met to qualify for skip-a-payment. The program is generally only allowed for loans with terms that are 12 months or longer, have been open for at least 9 months and have a good payment history of 6 or more months. Some credit unions allow payment omissions on most loans with the exception of open-ended or real estate loans. Nearly every credit union requires you to be up to date on your loan payments, and for you to have sufficient funds in your checking account to cover the nominal associated fee. See the terms and conditions for skipping your payment at Destinations Credit Union.

If you are considering skip-a-payment, speak to a member representative for full details. Additionally, here are some important points to consider before you decide to skip a payment:

1.) Breathing room

The primary benefit of choosing to skip a payment is quite obviously, the extra cash flow. During an expensive time of year, you might not make it through the month without resorting to swiping your credit card – and paying high interest on every purchase you make. By opting to skip a large payment on a loan or credit card, you’ll free up cash for your daily expenses so you don’t finish the month in the red. Summertime is so much sweeter when you’re not sweating about your bills!

2.) Longer loan term

It’s important to remember that by skipping a payment, you’re lengthening the life of your loan. True, you’re skipping a payment now, but you’ll need to make that up one day. You’re essentially moving this month’s payment to the end of the loan.

3.) Accrued interest

While you won’t be racking up credit card bills with high interest rates this month – thanks to the extra cash you’ll have – you will be billed for interest on the skipped loan payment. You’ll need to pay that up at the end of the loan term. This means you’ll end up paying a bit more in interest during the life of the loan.

Did You Know?

  • Many people fall out of the habit of making their monthly payments when they choose to skip just one payment. Payment history influences credit scores most, putting you at significant risk of hurting your score if you skip a payment without your lender’s permission. Remember: this is a one-month-only deal! Be sure to make your payments next month.
  • The popularity of skip-a-payment programs plunged at the turn of the millennium. They are now offered almost exclusively by credit unions, with very few banks still offering them.
  • If you feel like you could use skip-a-payment every month, you may be in financial trouble. Speak to a Financial Counseling representative for advice on money management, debt counseling and budgeting tips. We’re always here to help!

Want to hit the road without worrying about bills? Call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to learn about our skip-a-payment program. Take a break from your loans!

Your Turn: Have you ever taken advantage of your credit union’s skip-a-payment offer? Why or why not? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://blog.credit.com/2015/12/wait-some-banks-let-you-skip-payments-during-the-holidays-131160/

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/12/03/the-perils-of-skipping-loan-payments-this-holiday-season
https://www.servicecu.org/mobile.asp?MPID=819

Risking It When Investing

Sometimes one partner is a risk taker and wants to invest in things that aren’t really iniStock_000034071002_Medium the other’s comfort zone. Some generally consider it better to invest where returns are higher, but that also means a higher risk! Is there some sort of middle ground?

It’s a good idea to think (and talk) this through. Many couples face the same question, and while the simplest solution might be to split your funds down the middle and invest as you each see fit, that’s not likely to bring peace or wealth into the relationship. In a marriage, for one thing, whether accounts are titled separately or jointly, they are considered marital assets (even 401Ks). And a healthy relationship depends on working jointly toward financial goals, not going it alone.

One of the most difficult issues for couples to resolve is how much risk they’re willing to take with their investments. According to Fidelity’s 2015 Couples Retirement Study, 47 percent of couples disagree about how much money they’ll need to maintain their lifestyle in their later years. Even more troubling, a Harris survey found that 33 percent of couples weren’t saving anything for their retirement years. And, of those who were, one in five said they were clueless about how much their partner was contributing to their accounts.

Some tips if you’re starting down the investment road together:

  • As in so many areas of a relationship, communication is key. Let your spouse or partner know you’re willing to research options together and come up with a plan. Erica Coogan, partner at Moss Adams Wealth Advisors in Seattle, recommends that each partner complete a risk assessment questionnaire and then compare answers. “It makes a subjective conversation a little more objective,” she says.
  • Remember that planning needs to cover both spouses, not just a breadwinner. Experts advise couples to be mindful of the “It’s my money because I worked for it” syndrome. Couples need to work together on a plan for investing (and spending) their money, no matter who earns it. Apart from any resentment, an uneven divide in the ownership of assets can make a mess of cash flow, estate planning and taxes.
  • Consider transparency. Wherever you stand on risk, consider selecting some investments that are, by nature, transparent. This includes individual stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds. You can also reduce risk by diversifying your portfolio across asset classes. Ask a financial advisor at your credit union for help in untangling the strands of modern-day investing.
  • Think about your time horizon. Allowing an investment to compound leads to much better returns. So, if you’re the more risk-averse half of a couple, and you’ll need your money within 10 years, say with confidence to your partner: Slow down. Remember that it doesn’t make intuitive sense (but is nevertheless true) that your money doubles in seven years if you earn a compounded annual return of 10%. Don’t let a little fumbled math lead to a rash or risky decision.
  • Keep the goalposts in sight. Your mutual goals will determine how, and how much, the two of you should invest. For instance, when do you want to retire? Do you plan to pay for your kid’s college expenses? Purchase a home (or a second home)? Start a business?

Finances are one of the leading causes of separation. The more ownership and open communication a couple has over this potentially rocky topic, the less likely it is that they’ll panic when there’s a ripple in their plans or something happens in the markets.

Your Turn: Do you and your spouse or partner disagree about investments? Let us know how you’ve smoothed that potentially rocky road and headed for a secure sunset.

SOURCES:
https://blog.wealthfront.com/couples-investing-risk-assessmentwww.gofffinancial.com/investing-for-couples
http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-09-21/5-common-investment-mistakes-that-couples-make
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/investing/5-steps-effective-investing-as-couple.aspx#slide=2

Financial Tips For Single Parents

Smart money management is always important, but it can take on more urgency for mom and childthose who are without a partner. Whether you’re divorced, widowed, or single by choice, single parenting brings unique budgeting challenges.

Marilyn Timbers, a Connecticut-based financial advisor, says of having to raise a child on one income: “Children are a joy, but they do not come cheap.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes in a report that it costs an estimated $241,080 for a middle-income couple to raise a child to age 18, and some single parents have to shoulder that responsibility alone. Even if child support is adequate – unfortunately nearly 50% of that support is never paid – you’ll do yourself a favor if you think ahead about financial matters as a single mom or dad.

Estate planning is your first priority, according to Lisa Hay of Ascend Financial. It’s essential to make arrangements for your children should you become incapacitated, and this means spending time on two documents that no one enjoys thinking about: a will, which specifies a guardian for your children and how you’ll pass assets down to them; and a “power of attorney,” which gives someone the legal right to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.

You may also want to set up a trust. A trust is a legal structure in which your assets can be held for the children. It is overseen by a trustee. And check with your employer to see if it offers a disability benefit. Generally, you will get a reduced income amount when you claim disability – anywhere from 50% to 70% of your salary. “Your income is your most important asset,” says Tom Morrill, owner of Morrill Insurance Group. Insuring it can be especially crucial for single parents who don’t have a second income to cover a gap.

Hay also says be sure to have life insurance. What you purchase will depend on your finances, but a term policy is most economical because it’s a straightforward death benefit. A healthy 33-year-old woman, for example, would pay roughly $240 a year for a 20-year term, $500,000 life insurance policy. This would get your child through college should something happen to you.

Health insurance is “the number one insurance need for a single parent,” according to Morrill, who considers life insurance a close second. People often complain about the cost, but if you’re uninsured, a serious medical procedure or hospital stay can be disastrous to your finances. And, of course, losing a job or becoming ill is still more catastrophic as a single parent than as part of a two-income couple. A recent Harvard study revealed that 62 percent of bankruptcies were caused by medical debt. You can comparison-shop for policies at your state’s marketplace or at HealthCare.gov.

Along with the rest of your boring-but-necessary financial thinking, don’t forget about tax breaks. If you’re a single parent, you should probably file as head of household (not as single) because you’ll often pay less and get to claim a higher standard deduction. You can also claim exemptions for yourself and each qualifying child. You also might qualify for the earned income tax credit, the child and dependent care credit (if you pay someone to care for your kids), and the child tax credit.

As far as day-to-day household operations, here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Credit cards – In The Financial Guide for Single Parents Workbook, Larry Burkett warns single parents that, while credit cards may seem like an easy way to fill in the gaps of a decreased income, it’s wise to avoid using them as much as possible.
  • Shopping in general – Many single parents have to make lifestyle adjustments after a divorce or the death of a spouse. You may need to consider moving or changing your spending habits. Burkett notes that lots of people like to go shopping to cheer themselves up, but the added debt you’ll incur will only make you feel worse. This even applies to groceries, which are an expensive part of the budget. Plan that trip carefully, too, so you can better avoid impulse buying.
  • Holidays – Guilt causes many single parents to overindulge their children, even if they can’t afford it. This is especially true during holidays and birthdays. Be sure to set designated amounts for gifts, and stay within the budget.
  • Ask for help – Check with your credit union for financial advice. And there are many nonprofit organizations with programs specifically designed for single parents.

Whatever your income, it’s important to give yourself a safety net, because emergencies happen. Put aside a little bit of money from each paycheck to set up an emergency fund for car repairs, broken refrigerators and other realities of life. As a general rule, experts recommend having six months’ worth of non-discretionary expenses in an account that is separate from the one you use for daily expenses. That could be a savings account or possibly a low-risk investment account.

Bucket budgeting can help, says Jan Cullinane, author of AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement. That means creating four different accounts: one for fixed monthly expenses such as food and bills, another for long-term expenses like retirement or replacing appliances, a third for emergencies and a fourth for discretionary spending.

“Put the appropriate amount of money into the first three, and whatever is left is your discretionary or ‘fun’ spending,” says Cullinane. “If there is nothing left for that month in the ‘fun’ bucket, you simply go without – you don’t dip into the other buckets. Harsh, but necessary.”

And it’s more doable than you’d think. One study asked people if they could save 20 percent of their income. Most respondents said no. But, when asked if they could live on 80 percent of their income, most said yes. “Be aware of how you frame questions to yourself,” Cullinane says. “You might be surprised.”

Your Turn: Have you faced tough questions and financial circumstances as a single parent? What were the most useful solutions you found?

SOURCES:
http://www.familyminute.com/articles/parenting/single-parenting/financial-pitfalls-for-the-single-parent/#.WTnLa2jyvIU 

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/10/17/the-best-budgeting-strategies-for-single-parents 
http://www.cheatsheet.com/personal-finance/5-personal-finance-tips-for-single-parents.html/?a=viewall 
https://www.betterment.com/resources/life/family/7-financial-planning-tips-single-parents/ 
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/top-financial-planning-tips-single-parents/story?id=20906018#