Do My Child’s Activities Really Need To Make Me Go Broke?

It’s back-to-school season and you’re just about ready to zip that backpack closed before children with uniforms posing for cameratossing that supply list into the trash. You’ve been shopping for weeks to get the right pencils and pens, binders and the dozens of other must-haves. This, of course, is in addition to the perfect school shoes and autumn wardrobe. But now you’re done, done, done! Your sanity and your budget are ready for a breather – at least until the holiday shopping season starts.

But then your darling daughter comes home breathless from school telling you she’s made it onto the school’s soccer team. She’s thrilled and can’t wait to start attending practices and games! Oh, and did she mention she’ll need some money for her uniform and equipment?

Before you can finish digesting this piece of news, your son barrels through the door and announces he’s decided to take drum lessons. It’ll only be, say, $600 for the drum set, plus the price of lessons. But that’s not a big deal for you, is it?

Extracurricular activities are an important part of a child’s development. They allow students to shine in ways that may not be possible for them in the classroom. Plus, it helps kids step out of their social circles to forge new and lasting friendships. They serve as a creative outlet and can improve your child’s physical and cognitive health. If you have a real prodigy in your family, they may even be your child’s gateway to a college scholarship, and possibly a lucrative career.

But there’s no getting around the truth: Extracurricular activities are expensive. If you’ve got several school-aged children at home and each one wants to participate in two activities, you can be looking at an investment as high as $10,000 or more because of fees, equipment, uniforms, instruments and supplies.

No worries, though; you don’t have to choose between your budget and your children’s happiness. Here are some ways you can save on your kids’ extracurricular activities this year:

  1. Limit the number of after-school activities you allow for each child

If you’ve got several over-ambitious young ones at home, consider limiting extracurricular activities to just one per child. You’ll actually be doing your children a favor by forcing them to pick one activity of focus where they’ll be channeling all their energy in one direction.

They’ll also be more dedicated to perfecting their game or hobby when they own their choice. Plus, it’ll be easier for them to keep track of just one practice and performance schedule – and a lot easier on your carpool calendar, too! Finally, you’ll help your children avoid taking on too much so they are less likely to wind up neglecting their schoolwork or not having any time to spare for family and friends.

  1. Register early

Lots of children’s sports programs offer discounts of up to 30 percent just for signing up early. Speak to your children about after-school programs and sports teams months before the official season launch so you can register early and snag those early-bird specials. You might also be able to net a discount by pre-paying for the entire season instead of paying on a monthly basis.

  1. Purchase used equipment

Save big on sports gear by purchasing gently used equipment from sites like PlayItAgainSports and SidelineSwap. Some of these sites also allow you to sell your own used equipment.

  1. Swap equipment

If you have friends with kids who are (or were) also into sports and music, see if you can swap equipment and instruments from year to year. Maybe your friend’s son was into guitar last year and baseball this year, while your daughter’s interests ran in the opposite direction. Swapping with friends allows you to save on expensive equipment while putting your own unused gear to good use.

  1. Rent musical instruments

If you’ve got budding musicians at home, consider renting the instrument they’ve taken up this year. There’s no way to tell if that burst of passion they’re currently nursing for the oboe is just a passing phase or the beginning of a hobby that will last a lifetime. Why blow hundreds of dollars on an instrument only to see it lying forgotten in the attic in a few months time? Some instruments, like the French horn, can cost as much as $1,000 but can be rented for as little as $50 a month.

If your child is convinced they’ve found their instrument of choice or you’ve already been renting one for a while, you can purchase gently used musical instruments from resale sites like Craigslist and eBay or through Reverb, a site devoted to selling used musical instruments.

  1. Volunteer your time

If you’ve got the time to coach or manage a team, or even just to walk around selling refreshments during games, you might be able to nab a discount on the program’s fees and equipment.

Don’t let a tight budget stand in the way of your child’s creative and physical development. By making smart, frugal choices, you can turn your children’s dreams into reality without draining your wallet.

Your Turn: How do you save on your children’s extracurricular activities? Share your own tips and tricks with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/g27678115/back-to-school-hacks/

https://www.moneycrashers.com/save-extracurricular-activities-kids-after-school/
https://www.parents.com/parenting/money/saving/11-ways-to-save-on-after-school-activities/

The Ultimate Smart Shoppers Cheat Sheet

You’ve already perfected your monthly shopping schedule to get the best possible pricescouple looking at new appliances throughout the year: linens in January; luggage in March; household appliances in May; patio furniture in September and wedding dresses in December.

But, did you know you should be timing your shopping throughout the week as well? That’s because each weekday brings its own deals and specials. There are some items you can get the cheapest on Wednesdays, others that are best bought on Fridays and still others that will see their biggest markdowns on Sundays.

Here’s the ultimate cheat sheet for your weekly shopping.

Sunday: Large household appliances

Does your refrigerator need replacing? Looking to swap out your oven for a newer model? Home improvement stores, like Lowe’s and Home Depot, tend to mark down their large appliances on Sundays.

Monday: Deals on wheels and electronics

If you’re in the market for a new car, hit the dealer’s lot on Monday. Car dealerships are busiest over the weekend, and the comparative quiet of a Monday will put you in a favorable position to negotiate a great price on a new car. Don’t forget to get preapproved for your loan and use Destinations Credit Union’s car buying service to get great rates and terms!

You’ll also want to check out the large chain stores for discounted electronics on the first business day of the week. Stores like Best Buy offer exclusive manufacturer rebates on Mondays, which can significantly lower the price of an expensive product.

Tuesdays: Houses, airline travel and more

Tuesdays are the recommended weekday for making an offer on a house, particularly the first Tuesday of the month. This is when most sellers will review the activity surrounding their home from the last month and be more open to accepting an offer that’s considerably lower than their original asking price.

If you’re looking to fly in the near future, book your flight on a Tuesday morning. According to data analyses performed by travel-planning company Skyscanner, airlines mark down flight prices by 15-25 percent late each Monday evening. By Tuesday morning, competing airlines will offer matching or lower prices, giving you the best selection of affordable flights.

Tuesdays are also great for purchasing computers online from major retailers, like HP or Dell. Don’t look for discounted MacBooks, though, as Apple rarely marks down its products.

For a terrific way to end your Tuesday, go see a movie. Tickets to the latest blockbusters are usually discounted during the mid-week slump.

Wednesdays: Groceries, discounted apparel and fuel

Forget the weekend grocery run; the best time to restock your pantry and fridge is on Wednesday. Most supermarkets roll out their new sale events on this day, rearrange their aisle end-caps and slap discounts onto perishable products that are left over from the beginning of the week, such as meat, poultry and cheese. If you can swing it, shop early to take full advantage of the sales. Feel free to load up on the marked-down perishables, which will still be days away from their sell-by date. Stick them in the freezer if you won’t use them before they go stale. You’ll also get the biggest bang for your buck in the produce aisle on Wednesdays, when most groceries set out a fresh display of fruits and vegetables.

If you’re a fan of discounted quality clothing, you’ll want to hit TJ Maxx and Marshalls on Wednesdays, as this is when these stores post their new markdowns. Old Navy also features new discounts on Wednesdays.

Unless gas prices are on a downward spiral, fill ‘er up on Wednesday! Weekly gas hikes will take effect over the weekend, often as early as Thursday morning.

Thursday: Clothing, shoes and handbags

Get first dibs on weekend clothing sales at the big-name stores by hitting the mall late on Thursday. Shop for matching footwear with in-store coupons, which also debut on Thursday. Then, complete your new look with a new handbag, which see steep online discounts each Thursday.

Friday: Accessories

Pick up your costume jewelry, belts and scarves on Fridays to score the best prices. According to Lifehacker, online accessories see an average discount of 42 percent on the last workday of the week.

Saturday: Books and yard sale treasures

Amazon offers discounts on books and e-books on most Saturdays, so you’ll want to check out the e-tailer giant at the beginning of the weekend for the best selection at the best prices.

Saturdays are also prime time to pick up treasures at neighborhood yard sales and thrift stores. You’ll get the best picks in the early morning hours, but you’ll score the hottest deals later on in the day when the owners are itching to get rid of all their wares and close up shop.

Your Turn: Is there a weekday shopping hack that has worked for you? Tell us your secret shopping strategy in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/money/back-to-school-shopping-hacks.amp.html

https://www.aol.com/article/lifestyle/2018/07/29/the-best-day-of-the-week-to-go-grocery-shopping/23491169/
https://www.dcrstrategies.com/shopping-guide-best-days-of-the-week-to-buy/
https://www.thekrazycouponlady.com/tips/store-hacks/retailer-clearance-markdown-cheatsheet.amp.html
https://www.rather-be-shopping.com/blog/2014/06/09/insider-tips-on-store-markdowns/

7 Steps To A Mid-Year Financial Checkup

It feels like you just packed away the holiday decorations yesterday, but believe it or not,man with laptop and phone 2019 is already half over. As we sail into the season of barbecues and beaches, take a few minutes to give yourself a mid-year financial checkup. A small investment of time can spur important changes that can affect your financial wellness for the rest of 2019 or even for years to come.

Use the seven steps detailed below to guide you through your checkup.

Step 1: Revisit Your Budget

Remember sitting down in December and crunching all those numbers? There’s no need for such a detailed job again, but take some time to review your monthly budget. Are you sticking to the planned budget for every category? Are you overspending in some categories or under-spending in others? Do you need to adjust your allotted budget in some areas or maybe trim your discretionary spending across the board?

Review your spending over the last few months and make any necessary changes so your budget can continue working for you. Be sure to account for any significant life changes that may alter your financial needs, such as a marriage, the birth of a child, a divorce or a job change.

By reviewing and adjusting your budget, you will avoid falling into the mindless spending trap and you will be taking proactive steps toward staying on top of your finances for the rest of 2019.

Step 2: Anticipate Large Expenses

Now that you’ve updated your monthly budget, take a moment to list any large expenses you anticipate having in the next six months. This can include household appliances that may need replacing, expensive car repairs that will likely become necessary or an anticipated medical expense that is not fully covered by insurance.

Once you have this information in hand, determine which spending category you will take the money from to cover these expenses. Do you have a rainy-day fund that can pay for one or several of these costs? Can you use the money in your emergency fund? Make the decision about sourcing this money now so you don’t make the wrong choices when you’re stressed and pressed for time in the future.

If you do not have enough money set aside for these expenses, build a savings plan into your monthly budget now so you have the funds available when you need them.

Step 3: Review Your Tax Withholdings

Review your tax withholdings to see if they need any adjusting. If taxes and numbers are not your thing, ask your accountant for assistance with this step. Your goal here is to pay the perfect amount so you’re not hit with a huge tax bill at the end of the year but also not lending the government your money interest-free.

Step 4: Check Your Credit Score

Your credit score is like your money grade, indicating the degree of your financial wellness and responsibility.  Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for your free credit report from any of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.

If your score has gone up in the last six months, you’re doing great! Keep up the good work.

On the flip side, if your score has dropped, review your report in detail. Are there any errors you’ll need to contest with the Federal Trade Commission? Is there a credit card bill or another line of credit you’ve been neglecting that is dragging your score down? Are you having trouble remembering to pay your monthly bills in a timely manner? Take the necessary steps to fix your score today, whether that means contesting a charge, setting up an automatic payment on some of your bills or lowering your credit utilization rate by paying with plastic less often.  HOPE Inside Destinations Credit Union can assist you in bringing up your credit score, paying down debt and saving more.  Call today.

Step 5: Review Your Investments

Now is the time to review and adjust all of your investments. This includes your contributions to your retirement funds, any stock investments, bonds, trust funds or savings certificates at Destinations Credit Union. Make sure you are maximizing your contributions when possible and that your other investments are performing according to plan, making adjustments as necessary.

Step 6: Tackle Your Debt

List every single outstanding debt you carry, including credit card debt and loans. Designate one debt to tackle first, either choosing the one that carries the highest interest rate or the one with the lowest balance. Next, work on a plan to get rid of your chosen debt, being careful not to neglect the others. See if you can trim your budget or boost your income in any way to increase your payments on this debt. Once you’ve paid it off, move to the next one on your list so you’re on your way to a debt-free life.

Step 7: Review Your Financial Resolutions and Long-term Goals

Which financial resolutions did you jot down at the end of 2018? What are your dreams for the future? Did you want to start socking away another $200 a month? Is your goal to retire comfortably at 55?

Take some time to review these goals and to determine whether you are indeed taking the steps necessary for making them happen. If you’ve been neglecting them for the first half of 2019, create a plan for working toward them for the rest of the year. Remember: With determination and proper planning, nearly any financial goal is possible!

Now that you’ve given yourself a thorough financial checkup, you can kick back and enjoy the sweetness and the sunshine of the season, guilt-free. Happy summer!

Your Turn: What’s on your list for your mid-year financial checkup? Tell us about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://money.cnn.com/2016/07/28/investing/financial-checklist/index.html

https://onebiteblog.com/its-time-for-your-mid-year-financial-checkup/

4 Vacation Scams To Watch For This Summer And How To Avoid Them

With summer in full swing, you might be planning and packing up for the vacation of afamily taking selfie by a pool lifetime. Before you load the car and head out, though, read through our list of four common vacation scams and learn how to avoid them. You don’t want to take a permanent vacation from your hard-earned money!

  1. The bogus prize vacation

In this scam, you’ll receive notification via snail mail, phone call or email, that you’re the lucky winner of an absolutely free vacation stay. You’ll eagerly start planning your trip, only to find that you’re constantly asked to pay various “prize fees,” “taxes,” or “reservation deposits” as the departure date draws near. Your “free” vacation isn’t really free at all!

You might get suspicious and pull out. Or, you might be too deeply ensnared in the trap and only realize that, when you arrive at your destination, you’ve been conned. The vacation destination will either not exist at all, or be so substandard that you’ll need a vacation from your vacation when you get back home.

  1. The dream-priced rental

You’re scrolling through Airbnb, searching for that perfect vacation rental house when you suddenly strike gold. There it is! The rental you’ve been looking for – and at a dream price!

You’ll contact the renter and begin making make arrangements for your trip. The renter will offer you an even steeper discount if you pay them through a third-party processing site instead of through the Airbnb website. Their likely preference is wire transfer. You’ll then be asked to pay a deposit or even the full price of the rental before you arrive. While it’s completely expected to pay up front through Airbnb or another rental service, you will not have the same protection if you’re not using the site.

The problem starts when you arrive at your vacation spot – or try to do so, that is. The address you’ve been given does not actually exist and the gorgeous pictures you’ve been looking through belong to another renter. Sadly, you’re now out your money and have nowhere to stay during your vacation.

  1. Phony “experiences”

Aside from vacation rentals, sites like Airbnb also allow you to book “experiences,” or days out on the town with locals.

Unfortunately, this platform has become a breeding ground for scammers who offer phony tours to eager vacationers. You might find yourself booking a tour or an experience, and even paying for it, only to find out you’ve been scammed.

  1. Travel-club membership with a catch

In these scams, unscrupulous travel companies work hard to persuade you to join their travel club with the promise of significant benefits and kickbacks, including dream vacation stays, discounted cruises or resort tickets and completely free getaways. Unfortunately, once you’ve joined the club, you’ll be charged high dues for perks that are so hard to access, they’re practically worthless. The discounted tickets will only be eligible for certain vacation dates that probably will not align with your own plans, and the “free” trip you were promised also comes with severe restrictions.

How to spot a vacation scam

Now that you know the many ways you can be conned while planning for or being on vacation, let’s take a moment to review the red flags that will clue you in to these scams.

  1. Upfront fees. Whether it’s a vacation rental, a tourist experience or a sweepstakes prize, you should not have to pay more than a small deposit before your arrival. If you’re asked to pay steep upfront fees or even the full amount before your vacation, run the other way and don’t look back.
  2. Specific payment methods. Similarly, if you’re asked to pay via wire transfer only, you can be sure you’re looking at a scam. According to the FTC, a demand for payment by wire transfer is the surest sign of a scam.
  3. Skimpy details and absent reviews. When booking any kind of vacation, do your research. If your contact refuses to provide you with anything more than the most basic of details and you can’t find much info online, you’re likely looking at a bogus vacation.
  4. Prices that are too good to be true. Trust your instincts. If a vacation rental, experience or package is priced ridiculously low, do some digging. Google the travel company or the renter’s name with the words “scam” or “bogus” to see what results come up.
  5. Pressure tactics. If you’re urged to sign on a vacation package quickly or risk losing out on the deal, opt-out. Scams succeed with speed.

Scammers never go on vacation. Keep your guard up when planning your getaway and stay safe!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a vacation scam? Share your experience with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2019/05/make-it-scam-free-vacation

https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/vacation.html?CMP=KNC-DSO-Adobe-Bing-FRD-VacationRentalScams-General&s_kwcid=AL!4520!10!73873646340258!73873595875939&ef_id=XQkCmwAAAKChlBOg:20190618160907:s
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0073-timeshares-and-vacation-plans

6 Ways You Can Use A Personal Loan this Summer

Summer is a time for fun and excitement, but it can also be super expensive. people at a picnicSummertime can be a season of major life changes like household moves and weddings; purchasing that boat you’ve been eyeing and let’s not forget those dream vacations!

Before you start swiping the plastic for everything under the sun, Destinations Credit Union recommends considering a personal loan to stay within your budget.

At, Destinations Credit Union, the application process is smooth and quick, and, as a member, you don’t need flawless credit to qualify for a great rate. We also offer fantastic terms, with low interest rates. When you use a personal loan instead of racking up credit card debt, you are making a responsible choice that can positively impact your finances for years to come.

To help you accomplish this, we have outlined seven ways to responsibly use a personal loan this summer.

1. Getting married

According to Brides.com, the average wedding in 2018 cost more than $44,000. That’s a whole lot of money you may not have sitting around.

If you’re tying the knot this summer, consider taking out a personal loan to help cover your wedding costs. Use your loan to fund the larger expenses, such as your rings, wedding dress and venue, or to cover the smaller costs like the flowers, travel arrangements and photographer.

2. Moving to new home

Since the kids are out of school, summer is the most popular time of year for household moves. Whether you’re moving a few blocks or a few states away, moving costs can be prohibitive. You’ll need to consider the expense of moving supplies; paying the mover; plus the cost of new furniture and other household items to help turn your new residence into a home. Taking out a personal loan to help you cover these expenses can make a household move a lot less stressful.

3. Consolidating debt

Summer is all about freedom and what better way to feel free than getting rid of that nagging credit card and student loan debt?

Paying off multiple loans and credit card bills each month can make you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle thanks to skyrocketing interest rates. Wouldn’t life be simpler if you only had one debt with a nominal interest rate? A personal loan can make that happen.

A personal loan can be used to pay off all your credit card and other outstanding debt, and with a single loan to pay off with a manageable interest rate, you’ll be able to make steady progress toward living a debt-free life.

4. Taking a dream vacation

Perhaps the road trip you take every summer is getting stale and you’re ready for something bigger, like a luxury cruise or trip abroad. You might be celebrating a milestone anniversary or college graduation, or maybe you want to cross something off your bucket list; however, your budget is not equipped for the tens of thousands of dollars you need for your dream getaway.

A personal loan can help you fund the trip of your dreams with a payment plan you can afford so you won’t need a vacation from debt when you return.

5. Renovating your home

When the weather warms up, homeowners want to upgrade their homes. Whether it’s installing a swimming pool, giving your kitchen a complete makeover or turning your garage into a guest suite this summer, a personal loan can make it possible. Personal loans may be a better option for homeowners who don’t have a great deal of equity in their homes and consequently would not be a good candidate for a fixed Home Equity Loan, or a HELOC.

6. Funding medical expenses

If there are medical procedures you’ve been putting off because they’re not covered by your health insurance plan, a personal loan can help you look and feel great this summer. A personal loan can help borrowers fund elective cosmetic surgery, dental work, fertility treatments and consulting with alternative practitioners about chronic health conditions.

Apply Online, stop by Destinations Credit Union or give us a call at 410-663-2500 to ask how you can get started. We’re always here to help make your summer dreams come true.

Your Turn: What are your summer plans and how are you going to pay for them? Share it with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/what-can-a-personal-loan-be-used-for/

https://www.thebalance.com/reasons-to-get-a-personal-loan-4684106
https://www.bankrate.com/loans/personal-loans/top-reasons-to-apply-for-personal-loan/amp/

Don’t Call Back One-ring Calls

It’s Murphy’s Law: The landline will always, always ring when you’re clear across thewoman with a baby holding a phone house. You leap over furniture and make a grab for it, only to find the caller has already hung up-after just one ring. You thumb through the Caller ID, poised to give your mysterious caller a ring back when you note the strange area code. You hesitate. Should you, or shouldn’t you, make this call?

Let’s play out the end of this story in two different ways:

In Scenario 1, you flippantly hit the Call Back button and wait until someone on the other end of the line answers the phone. However, instead of a live person picking up, you get a recorded message that says something like, “Hello? Can you hear me? Hello?”

Or, you might hear a recording like this: “You’ve received a song from someone who loves you. After listening to this song you will find out who sent this song as a gift.”

Both recordings are designed to keep you on the phone for as long as possible. Unfortunately, you’ve just called a foreign country and you’ll be hit with a sky-high phone bill for your overseas call. Worse, the bad guy who conned you into making this call will walk away with most of that money.

In Scenario 2, you stand with the receiver in hand, deliberating. After a moment, you shrug and return the phone to its base. You walk away, mildly curious about who has just called you, and blissfully unaware that you’ve only narrowly missed being targeted by an ugly scam.

The FTC is warning of a recent surge in one-ring scams. As detailed above, scammers lure victims into placing overseas calls by targeting them with one-ring phone calls. When the victim returns the call, the scammer will employ any of a number of means to keep them on the phone for a while, thereby extending the length of the call. Sadly, the victim will be hit with sky-high international rates and other connection fees, much of which will end up in the scammer’s hands.

Here’s how to spot these scams and protect yourself if you’re targeted.

Red flags

The primary clue that you’re being targeted by a one-ring scam is, quite obviously, a phone call that only rings once. If you get a call like this, by all means do not call back.

You can also be on the lookout for foreign area codes, particularly those of countries in the Caribbean, including the following: 284, 473, 664, 649, 767, 809, 829, 849 and 876.

Sometimes, scammers will spoof a local number, including those of recognized businesses, to get you to place a return call to foreign shores. They may even get your own name and number to appear on your Caller ID screen. Ignore these calls, as well. If you unknowingly return a scammer’s phone call, look for a plus sign to appear ahead of the area code. This is your clue that you’re placing an international call.

If you see a plus sign, hang up immediately.

If you’re targeted

If your phone rings once and then stops, follow these steps to protect yourself from this scam and help the authorities close in on the bad guys.

  • Don’t call back.
  • Ask your phone provider to block outgoing calls to international numbers. This way, you won’t be conned into thinking an overseas number is a domestic call. You’ll also be protected from accidental phone calls in which a simple mistake can end up costing you a pretty penny.
  • File a complaint with the FTC at www.donotcall.gov and to the FCC at www.fcc.gov/complaints.
  • Check your phone bill for suspicious charges. If you see a charge that has likely been incurred through one of these scams, speak to your phone carrier about resolving it.

Scammers are always looking for new ways to con people out of their money. Do your part in bringing an end to these nefarious schemes by arming yourself with the latest information about prevalent scams and reporting all scam attempts to the proper authorities. Together, we can put the bad guys out of business!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a one-ring call scam? Tell us about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2019/05/get-one-ring-call-dont-call-back

https://about.att.com/pages/cyberaware/ar/wangiri?source=ESCyCy4cy0000000P&wtExtndSource=ad_camp3_one_ring
https://www.telecalmprotects.com/2019/05/07/one-ring-caribbean-scam/

12 Things To Do Before Your Summer Getaway

Your bags are packed, your itinerary is set and you’re counting down the minutes until vacation gearyou take off for your dream summer getaway. Before you head out to the airport, though, read through this checklist of important things people tend to forget before leaving for vacation.

1.) Let us know

Give us a call at 410-663-2500 before you set off on your vacay. Let us know your vacation destination so we know to honor any card transactions you make while in another state or abroad. If you’re traveling overseas, ask us about any foreign transaction fees and the best practices of using cash or debit/credit cards. We’ll help you make the best decisions for managing your money while you’re away. Plus, we’d love to hear all about your awesome travel plans!

2.) Check your auto insurance plan for coverage

If you plan on renting a car when you land, check with your auto insurance provider first to find out if rental cars are covered in your plan. If they’re not, you may want to purchase travel insurance, just in case.

3.) Pay all your bills

Before heading out on your trip, make sure all of your monthly bills are paid up. You don’t want to be busy paying bills when you’re sunning yourself on the beach or take a chance of getting hit with late fees.  Remember, with online bill payment, you can schedule your payments ahead of time.

4.) Set up an automatic email response

Your boss might know that you’ll be away this week, but potential and existing clients will not. Set up an automatic response that lets people know you’re out of the office to avoid appearing unprofessional or negligent.

5.) Put your mail on hold

An overflowing mailbox is an open invitation to thieves. If you’ll be gone for more than a few days, ask the USPS to put a hold on your mail. They’ll happily keep your mail at the post office until your return, at no cost to you. Alternatively, ask a neighbor to collect your mail and hold it until you return.

6.) Unplug your electronics

Don’t pay vampire charges for electronics you’re not using while you’re away. Pull the plug on all small appliances and electronics before you leave.

7.) Clean your home

Before your departure, give your house a thorough cleaning so you’ll be greeted by a spotless, clean-smelling house upon your return. Plus, you’ll avoid an invasion by ants and other critters. Here’s a quick list to get you started:

  • Scrub countertops and tables.
  • Wipe down the refrigerator and toss all perishables.
  • Sweep and mop, or vacuum all floors.
  • Take out the garbage.
  • Scrub your bathrooms.
  • Seal any open food packages in airtight containers.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda down your drains and toilets to rid any lingering odors.
  • Change your bed sheets.

Yes, you’re busy with your packing and travel arrangements now, but your post-vacation self will thank you for any scrubbing you do now.

8.) Let your mobile service provider know about your travel plans

If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll want to check with your cellphone company about possible overseas service plans that allow you to use your smartphone for calls, texts and internet access when on vacation.

9.) Shut off your main water supply

Avoid coming home to a flood by turning off your water supply before leaving on your vacay. A small, unnoticed leak can easily turn into a huge problem when left unattended for days or weeks on end.

10.) Adjust your thermostats

If you have the AC blasting throughout the summer, you’ll want to adjust your thermostat before leaving. Turning it off completely is not a good idea, because you’ll want some air to circulate for keeping the humidity under control and to avoid mold. Instead, turn it a few degrees higher than you usually keep it. You can also program your AC to go on and off while you’re away. Also, set your hot water heater to its vacation setting so it’s heating the same water less often.

11.) Invest in a timer

Keep the prowlers out by setting your lights to go on and off in different rooms and at different times of the day throughout your vacation. It’s a small investment when weighed against the money and aggravation it can save you.

12.) Confirm your reservations

It’s a good idea to confirm your flight, hotel room, car rental and attractions before setting out on your trip. You may have booked some of these reservations months ago, and you don’t want any unpleasant surprises ruining your vacation.

Your Turn: Did we miss anything? Share your own pre-vacation to-do list with us in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.blog.esurance.com/10-essential-things-to-do-before-leaving-for-vacation/amp/

https://www.timeinc.net/travelandleisure/travel-tips/things-to-do-before-you-go-on-vacation
https://www.mintnotion.com/travel/20-things-we-forget-to-do-before-going-on-vacation/

5 Ways To Save On Vacation Transportation Costs

Q: I’m working out a vacation budget and I’m stuck on transportation costs. Every option bus on a highway through mountainsis so expensive! How can I save on transportation costs when on vacation?

A: Kudos to you for thinking and planning ahead! Steep cab fees and car rentals are some of the best ways to kill a solid vacation budget, but we’ve got the goods on how to bring transportation costs down. Read on for five ways to get around for less while on your dream vacation.

1.) Share a ride

Ridesharing companies, like Uber and Lyft, are changing the way people get from point A to point B all around the world. If you haven’t already done so, download each service’s app and input your credit card information so you can order and pay for a ride in just seconds when you’re on vacation. As a bonus, each app allows you to see the estimated ride cost before you order a car, making it easier to budget for your transportation costs before you set out. To compare prices from both services at a glance, check out apps like RideGuru and RideshareApps for a quick review of your options.

Save even more on your rideshare trip by opting for a carpool service like UberPOOL. You’ll get to rub shoulders with other tourists or even some locals, and you can save up to 40% on your ride fare.

If Uber and Lyft are not available at your vacation destination, try other rideshare services like DoorDash, Drizly, Postmates, Shipt, Sidecar and Washio.

2.) Hop on a bus or board a train

While most Americans shun public transportation, buses and trains can be an affordable, convenient and enjoyable way to get around many other countries. Western Europe in particular is famous for its super-efficient public transportation system.

If you’re traveling with young children, they’ll likely find traveling by train to be an exciting adventure-and you’ll find it to be a particularly cost-effective way to get around. City passes to many European cities include free transportation by train for young children. Plus, train-pass holders are eligible for free museum entries in some cities and for a free ride on the local bus service as well.

Do your research well before using public transportation. It may be worth your while to purchase a daily or weekly pass, which allows unlimited rides on the city’s bus or train system. If you’ll be visiting several different countries in Europe, consider purchasing a Eurail pass to help you get from country to country in an easy, inexpensive way.

3.) Rent or borrow a bike

It’s not just Amsterdam and Kyoto; pedaling your way through town is becoming increasingly popular in major cities throughout the world. For a nominal fee, you can explore the city up close, help keep the air clean, and get a wonderful workout at the same time.

You can choose to rent your bike from a rental shop or borrow one from a city-sponsored bike share, such as Vélib in Paris, CitiBike in New York or Cycle Kyoto in Kyoto. A rental shop may charge more, but you’ll also have more options, such as renting a cargo bike, which is equipped with seats for two small children, or using a tandem bicycle, which allows two tourists to share a single bike.

4.) Take a walk

Instead of calling a cab or an Uber when you need to get somewhere while on vacation, consider taking a walk. In many crowded cities with impossible traffic problems and expensive parking fees, (we’re looking at you, New York!) this can actually be a faster way to get around.

5.) Rent a car

Sometimes, the best way to get around when on vacation is by rental car. This is especially true if you’re traveling to a city that is not known for its efficient public transportation system and/or if you’ll be staying in your vacation spot for a while. Frequent cab rides, and even rideshares, can add up quickly. A rental car can also be smart choice if you’ll be visiting a rural area with attraction spots that are spread out over drives that can be many miles long.

Before you sign up for a rental, keep these tips in mind:

  • Book early. For the best deals, keep a watch on car rentals in the area you’ll be visiting in the weeks (or even months) leading up to your vacation. Car rentals sometimes offer random deals on rentals, but only for tourists who book during a specific window. You can use a travel-planning app, like Hopper or Hipmunk, to find out about special deals.
  • Don’t rent a car at the airport. On-the-spot car rentals at the airport tend to inflate their prices according to demand.
  • Go small. A compact car will be cheaper, easier to maneuver through narrow roads and simpler to park in crowded spaces.
  • Don’t ask for recommendations. The super-helpful hotel concierge who gives you the name of a rental place may be getting a kickback from the company for every referral, which ups your price considerably.

Now that your budget is back in place, you can set off on your vacation with peace of mind. Happy travels!

Your Turn: How do you get around when you’re on vacation? Tell us about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://travelmamas.com/tips-saving-money-vacation-transportation/

https://ordinarytraveler.com/save-money-travel-transportation
https://www.mintnotion.com/travel/10-travel-expenses-youre-forgetting-vacation-budget/

The Credit Union Difference Part II – What’s In A Membership?

As a member of Destinations Credit Union, you are uniquely positioned to manage yourteller counting money to customer finances and watch your money grow on the best possible terms. Like the member of an elite club, you are entitled to exclusive privileges and individualized service, courtesy of your credit union.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the benefits you can enjoy as a member of Destinations Credit Union.

1.) Highly personalized service

Credit unions are well known for the highly personalized and attentive service they provide to members. A 2017 American Customer Satisfaction Index Finance and Insurance Report found that members rate credit unions with better service than banks, scoring an average of 82 out of 100. It’s part of what makes credit unions unique.

When you step through the door of Destinations Credit Union, you know you’ll always be welcomed by familiar faces, warm smiles and friendly greetings. There are no aloof tellers who don’t know you or your financial situation  – just our helpful service representatives who treat you like family. No matter your age or stage, our Member Service Representatives are happy to guide you through any monetary challenge and assist you in reaching your financial goals.

At Destinations Credit Union, our outstanding member service means we’re personally invested in your financial well-being and only want to see your success. To that end, we’ll grant you a loan quicker than most big banks, graciously looking past some tarnished credit history and skipping the overly thorough background check. We also host financial education seminars for our members and the larger community throughout the year, enabling you to broaden your money knowledge and to learn how to make smarter financial choices.

2.) Increased value for your money

As a not-for-profit cooperative, your credit union has modest overhead and marketing expenses. Destinations Credit Union is proud to pass these savings on to you in the form of low or no account fees, better loan terms and higher dividend payments on your savings.

According to a report by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) that studied credit unions in Maryland from March of 2017 through March of 2018, Destinations Credit Union provided average financial benefits that were equivalent to $95 per member and $203 per household. Another 2018 study performed by Bankrate found that 84 percent of the nation’s 50 largest credit unions offered their members checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fee. Here at Destinations Credit Union we’re proud to offer our members the same; our Checking Accounts are completely cost-free, and we pay interest on some accounts.

At Destinations Credit Union, we don’t have to answer to outside investors. This enables us to be more attuned to your needs without worrying about increasing our own worth. Our not-for-profit status frees us to offer you optimal terms on Share Certificates, Savings Accounts and more. It’s more money in your pocket just for being a member of Destinations Credit Union.

3.) A voice in how the credit union operates

As mentioned, your credit union does not need to answer to stockholders. Instead, Destinations Credit Union is member-owned, operating with only your best interests in mind.

As a full-fledged member of Destinations Credit Union, you have a voice in how your credit union runs. You are invited to cast your ballot in our [annual] elections in which we vote on a volunteer board of directors. The board is then charged with oversight of the credit union and forming all official decisions regarding the way the credit union operates. Our board is comprised of members of the credit union, just like you. This means the decisions they make will always be advantageous to our membership and to the general community instead of trying to pander to outside stockholders. We’re all about doing what’s best for our members.

4.) A chance to give back to the community

Here at Destinations Credit Union, we’re strong believers in giving back to the community. We support many community initiatives and organizations, and we are committed to making decisions that benefit the entire community. We are especially invested Operation HOPE, a cause that is dear to our hearts. Anyone in the community can get no-cost access to a financial well-being counselor.

When you choose Destinations Credit Union, you’re choosing to give back to the community, too.

As a member of Destinations Credit Union, you are entitled to enjoy all of these benefits and so much more. Whatever your particular needs are, we’re here to help you manage your finances every step of the way. Call, click, or stop by [credit union,] today to learn how to make your membership work for you in the best way possible.

Experience the credit union difference.

Your Turn: What does your credit union membership mean to you? Tell us all about it in the comments.

SOURCES:
https://www.creditkarma.com/advice/i/difference-between-credit-union-and-bank/%3Famp

https://www.thestreet.com/amp/personal-finance/credit-unions-vs-banks-14626262
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/banking/credit-unions-vs-banks/