As Halloween gets closer and you want to avoid the chilly darkness of October evenings, grab a blanket and stream a marathon of scary movies. Horror flicks are classic fun, whether they’re good enough to keep you up all night when you’re home alone or bad enough to laugh at while with a group of friends because we all know what’s going to happen next. The classics follow a simple formula, but it works.
The same is true when it comes to your finances. Spend less than you earn, pay off debt and invest your money with trustworthy people. Still, we have trouble getting all of the complex parts of our financial lives sorted out. Let’s try applying the scary movie formula to your finances so you’ll never have that heart-racing moment of panic when you check your balances again.
Are you jumping from the cat? Does every market hiccup cause you to change strategies? Are you yanking money out of savings to throw at the stock market (or vice versa) every year? It’s time to get past that initial scare. The market isn’t going to kill you overnight, just like it won’t make you rich overnight (Black Tuesday 1929 and Google’s record-breaking July 15th notwithstanding).
If you want to develop a plan with which you can feel safe during the scary cat moments, give us a call at 410-663-2500. If you want to do it yourself, we can get you into a safe plan for saving with a high yield account or certificate in just a few minutes, which can help balance the risk of your other investments. If you’re trying to build a safer safety net for retirement or college savings, we’ve probably got more savings options than you’ve ever heard of, many of which have major tax benefits. We can walk you through a few plans, help you pick the one that’s right for you, and in many cases, we can even set it up with automatic deposits so you don’t have to think about it again.
The victim who runs upstairs when she should run out the door. Why? Why? Why are you running upstairs, you silly soon-to-be victim? Of all the silly horror movie clichés, this is the one that drives me bonkers. We always get a few establishing shots of the house early in the movie, which shows us that this house is enormous enough for a final-reel chase scene with the killer. No one needs this much house. It’s usually a teenage girl with a single parent (who is not at home) in a house big enough to hold the entire football team of her late boyfriend.
Do you have too much house? Are you cleaning extra bedrooms you don’t use? Do you have a home gym, office, or library that you never visit? Maybe it’s time to simplify. You can sell that house and move into something a little sleeker, and use your windfall to put in all of the custom features you’ve ever wanted on that new house. Which would you rather pay for: the storage room that’s basically a walk-in junk drawer or a dressing room with a walk-in closet? Give us a call to find out how we can help you.
The killer who just won’t die. In every great horror movie, there’s a killer with an uncanny ability to survive anything the protagonists throw his or her way. In your finances, sometimes large debts can feel that way. No matter how fast you run, they just keep coming, like Michael Myers chasing Jamie Lee Curtis through two decades of Halloween movies. You throw cash at the balance every month, but nothing happens. What can you do?
If you want to kill a scary movie monster, you can’t do anything that the protagonist does in a scary movie. After all, the scary movie wants to make a sequel, but that’s the last thing you want out of your debt. Instead, let’s adapt a strategy from the Terminator: Even an unkillable robot from the future can’t stand up to a vat of molten steel. You need to submerge your debts in one large vat that can consume them all: Turn all of your high-interest, variable-rate, hidden-fee credit card debts into one simple, low-interest, fixed-rate homeequity or debt consolidation loan with all of the transparency and confidence you’ve come to expect from Destinations Credit Union. The first step is calling a Loan Officer to discuss your goals. Through our partnership with Accel, you can also get free unlimited financial counseling to develop a plan.
Hopefully, your finances aren’t a horror movie. Horror movies play on our fears for entertainment, but it’s not as fun in real life. If they are, though, it’s better to call in some help than it is to split up and try to explore the woods alone. That’s why we’re here. With a little help, your money can look more like a swords-and-sorcery epic: Everyone’s a hero and everyone gets a happy ending.
When you think of your investment portfolio, you probably think of stocks, savings and maybe a few other financial products you own or things you’re planning to use for buying a house, fund retirement, or to keep yourself protected. What you might overlook is the investment you’ve made in your career. You’ve invested time in your career, and if you’re still paying off student loans, you definitely know you’ve spent money on it as well. Just like any other investment, your career has risk and return. If you want to get the best return on your investment in your career, then here are a few tips that can help:
Get a degree. If you haven’t finished college, you might have found yourself bumping up against a glass ceiling. You can finish your degree online, often in a short amount of time and without spending a ton of money. If you’d rather go back to school in person, talk to us about student loan options.
It’s time for International Credit Union Day! Every year, this is observed on the third Thursday of October, like a Thanksgiving that comes a little early. Also like Thanksgiving, International Credit Union Day is a time to be thankful for the shared history of people coming together to make life better for their community. International Credit Union Day doesn’t require buying presents for anyone or making costumes for the kids. You also get the added benefits of avoiding family rifts and not having to clean a kitchen. As your credit union, we will still set you up with a bunch of gifts, though.
The scam works by creating a false job offering for which applicants share their resume in the hopes of scoring an interview. Unfortunately, there is no job. They’re just phishing for data. The more recent version creates an application on Google Drive, which is shared with the victim, who enters their information manually and often gets malware or spyware in return. The newer version still steals information in the most low-tech way possible: by getting the victim to fall for a lie. But it also includes the high-tech angle of the malware or other malicious scripts, which can scrape the victim’s computer for data in the future.
Google is working to improve its SSL security (a high-tech security protocol whose weakness is the source of this scam), and has been doing so for most of the year. The ugly secret regarding the tech giant in 2015 is that, at the same time they’ve been setting records on Wall Street – including the largest single-day jump in a company’s value in the history of the universe – they’ve had real problems with their technology. In addition to the weakness of their SSL protocol, they’ve sworn to fix the bugginess and slow speeds of their Chrome browser, which was once the definition of sleek speed. They also were publically called out over the summer for the cataclysmic failure of GMail’s spam filter, which was letting significantly more spam through while also marking legitimate messages for deletion. Those failures, coupled with the unpopular new user interface on several of their iOS products and some bugginess complaints regarding Inbox should leave most readers concerned.
If you can’t trust Google, who can you trust?
More important than this specific scam or Google’s rough 2015 is the larger question the Google Drive scams have raised. We regularly share more information online than would normally be prudent, and we often take for granted that a large company must has security that’s top-notch. We might think back to a customer service issue and assume that a positive experience with one branch of the company reflects positively on the whole operation. But what do we really know? Here’s a quick rundown of things that might scare you:
Think about all of the information on your resume. Does it have your contact info? Your home address? How much information could be gleaned from it, particularly if a scammer were to place that information next to any other information you may not know they have? How many times have you shared your resume online? It may be time to make your resume more secure.
Do you sell on eBay? Buyers can request the listed email and delivery address for sellers once they make a bid. If you list a high-value item and your home address is listed, what’s to stop someone from breaking into your home and stealing it? You’re not using your work email, are you? What’s to stop a buyer from using that address to tell your boss about what you’re selling or raise a complaint about how you handled a transaction?
Are you on a dating website? Hopefully, the Ashley Madison hack was enough to convince you to protect your data and be careful what you share with strangers. Unfortunately, most of the conversation around the hack focused on the tawdry details about the site, suggesting a more traditionally moral site could never be hacked.
Remember, Christian Rudder, the founder of OKCupid, wrote an entire book about how valuable the data you provide them is. His thesis was that he had better data about your behavior than all of the scholars writing about human relationships, because you were honest. In interviews, the founder of Ashley Madison said the same thing: No one will be honest about sex or infidelity, so only they understood us with our guards down. How much is our romantic data worth to scammers?
It’s important to think about what you put online and how you can reveal less of yourself. It’s also important to make sure you protect yourself if your identity or data gets breached. If you think you might have been the victim of a scam or online data theft, let us know immediately so we can help you get things back to normal. The sooner we know, the sooner we can protect you. You can call us at 410-663-2500.
Over the last 30 or so years, only a handful of people have entered pop culture simply because of their wealth. We know Warren Buffett, although he’s more famous for investing than he is for being rich. Bill Gates is famous for being rich in many ways: He’s referenced online in various scenarios revolving around the mathematics of his wealth — people calculate how much money he’d have to find on the street to make it worth his time to pick it up. But Bill Gates is rich because he co-founded Microsoft and his philanthropic efforts ensure he will be remembered forever in a way that someone famous solely for being rich would not. Therefore, there are only a couple of pop culture figures who truly are famous because of their riches: Paris Hilton and Donald Trump.
This article is about the financial lessons of famous individuals, so we’re going to ignore Paris Hilton, if only because the first rule would be “be born rich” and rule two would involve sacrificing every part of your humanity for fame. Trump, however, is currently running for president of the United States, and the reason he has become part of the national conversation about the most important office in our country is the notoriety he has earned in the last 30 years for being rich. So, what lessons can we learn from Trump’s personal biography that can help the rest of us reach our goals?
In preparation for International Credit Union Day, October 15th, we thought we would share a few facts about credit unions. Being a member of a credit union is a coup for your finances for many reasons. Here are just a few facts that make credit unions a great option.
Fact #10: Once you are a member of a credit union, you stay a member for as long as you maintain your deposit account (share), regardless of whether or not you continue to meet the original eligibility requirements.
Football has begun, the leaves are changing and the kids are back in school. Clearly, it’s time to start thinking about Christmas. Some of you are reading this on your phone while waiting in line at Starbucks, preparing to buy your first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, but it’s time to start thinking of peppermint mochas instead. Even if you’re the “Bah, Humbug” type of person who regularly posts Facebook rants about the neighbors putting up their lights before Thanksgiving, making financial plans for the holiday is still a really good idea. It might be too early to hang a stocking, but it’s never too early to sock money away.