Is Black Friday Still On This Year?

Black Friday has gotten a bad rep in recent years.

From shoplifting to stampedes, nothing rings in the holidays more fondly than a couple of soccer moms doing battle in the aisles over the last bargain Barbie on the shelf.

Violence aside, though, Black Friday is the high holiday for serial shoppers. Social distancing and mask wearing are not going to keep them away from the thrill of the deal at a brick and mortar store. But it does beg a few questions. Here’s some answers.

Is Black Friday canceled this year?

The answer is a resounding NO!

Camping out at Best Buy to snag a giant TV at rock-bottom prices might not be a thing this year, but, despite the pandemic, a total of 9% of those surveyed by Shopkick are planning to shop in store only; 71% said they will shop both online and in-store and 13% said they will only shop online.

How is shopping different this year?

Black Friday deals have been happening since the Halloween candy was cleared off the shelves. Many retailers are already offering online and in-store deals with lengthier sale periods to keep shoppers safe and happy.

Some stores, like Work the Metal in Louisville, KY, have made special accommodations to keep shoppers safe like widening the aisles, adding cash registers to avoid congestion and limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the store at any one time. They are even offering shopping appointments.

How can I get the best deals?

  • Be prepared with a game plan, and most importantly, a budget.
  • Study the circulars and online ads.
  • Collect online coupon codes.
  • Know the pre-discount prices, so you know if you are truly getting a bargain.
  • Shop online early to avoid shipping delays.
  • Use ship-to-store with curbside pickup to avoid shipping costs.
  • Downloads apps, like Dealnews, to view the most updated sales.

I own a business; how can I keep my customers and employees safe?

  • Keep high-touch areas clean and sanitize often.
  • Provide hand-sanitizing stations at store entrances.
  • Limit the number of shoppers in the store at any one time.
  • Require shoppers and employees to wear a mask (already a mandate in most states).
  • Install barriers between checkout aisles and between the customer and cashier.
  • Offer curbside pick-up.

Destinations Credit Union hopes you will enjoy a safe and thrifty holiday season!

Your turn: What’s your plan for Black Friday?


Tracking Holiday Spending Keeps Seasonal Stress Down

Nothing is more heartwarming than seeing your loved ones’ faces light up when they open that perfect gift you (err, Santa) gave them.

Tyler’s new bike, Olivia’s new tablet and that gift card to mom and dad’s favorite steak place all add up to wonderful holiday memories… until the credit card statements show up.

The holidays will look different this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why most people will try even harder to make the season brighter for others. But, you don’t have to dip into Tyler and Olivia’s college savings to create a special time for everyone!

The most important thing to remember is to plan ahead: Have a set spending amount for gifts, wrap, entertaining, donations and travel.

Make a list and check it twice

Many are struggling financially this year, so it will be no surprise to those outside your family if your gift-recipient list is shorter this year. Once you trim your list, make a holiday treat or handmade token for those who got the cut. It really IS the thought that counts.

Once you have your list complete, figure out a realistic amount to spend on each person. Jot down a couple of gift ideas in your price range for that person. Try a budgeting app like PocketGuard, Clarity Money, Goodbudget, or Mint to allocate/track your money and see how much you can really afford.

The iSpending app uses charts to show your expenses and how much you have left to spend, while CashTrails allows you to separate your normal expenditures from special purchases like holidays and travel.


Due to the pandemic, holiday shopping is already in full swing. Most people want to avoid crowds, so they are already hitting the malls. Retailers are well aware of this trend, and are offering pre-Black Friday sales and discounts.

Spreading out your holiday shopping over several weeks also makes it easier on your budget. Always shop with a list and keep track of your spending. As you buy your gifts, subtract from your total budget.

In addition to shopping the sales and collecting coupon codes for online purchases, know when to buy. December is the best time to buy cars, appliances, winter clothing and electronics. Also, know how much items cost before a markdown to know if you’re really getting a deal.

It is expected that online shopping will increase by 35% this year because shoppers don’t feel comfortable being in stores. Some states still have restrictions limiting retail establishments’ capacity and store hours.

If you’re shopping online, order early and expect delays in shipping. Increased shopping during the holidays will affect already-strained delivery companies. To avoid shipping delays and higher shipping costs, shop at stores that offer “buy online, ship to store” service. This service is free at most retailers, some of which offer curbside pickup.

Get the best deals on cards, decorations and gift wrap during the days right before and after Christmas. Discounts of up to 75% off can shave a lot off your holiday budget for next year.


Still reeling from the pandemic, most folks will host smaller holiday gatherings this year, which will save tons on food, treats and adult beverages. Many people are still working from home, so work parties and gift exchanges also will be virtual or postponed, keeping cash in your wallet.

If you’re hosting guests, keep costs down by asking everyone to bring their favorite side or dessert and include festive recipe cards with the chef’s name.

For the adults, serve a warm mulled wine or holiday punch or make one festive signature cocktail.

Use DIY decor featuring natural items, like holly and pine cones. Gather the kids and go on a hike to find outdoor holiday decorations. Not only will it save you money, but it will also give you some stress-free outdoor time with your family.

Save more by partying without plastic. Disposable plates and dinnerware are not great for the environment or your budget.


If you must travel home for the holidays, don’t forget to figure in other incidentals beyond gasoline and the cost of a plane ticket.

If you’re traveling by car, gas prices have luckily seen a steady dip. Still, the GasBuddy app can help you find the best prices for gasoline wherever you are, and you can even pay from the app. Don’t forget to figure in tolls and any emergency costs that may come up.

If you’re flying, consider baggage fees, parking and shuttle costs and the expense of ground transportation once you arrive.

And don’t forget Fluffy! You’ll need to pay someone to take care of your furry friends. The Rover app can help you find pet care options near your home.

Charitable giving

The holidays are a time for goodwill toward all. But if your budget cannot accommodate a monetary donation, volunteer your time. If you are able to make a financial donation, be sure to check that the charity you are supporting is legitimate by consulting Charity Navigator.

Keep your holidays dollars in check, and you may have some holiday spirit left over even after the last elf is packed away and the January bills start rolling in.

We at Destinations Credit Union wish you all a happy, healthy and stress-free holiday.

Your turn: What are your best tips for sticking to your holiday spending plan?


5 Quick Tips To Save Money

Review your miscellaneous spending this month and find ways to cut back. Try to give up a subscription you don’t really need, brown-bag it to work another few times a week and skip the gym membership by getting your workout at home. Small purchases add up quickly!

Fast food is super convenient — and expensive. It’s not that great for your health, either. Try to slow down on your fast-food purchases this month by thinking ahead. Keep some snacks in the car to help tide you over when you’re pulling a late night and have some drinks on hand as well. Save time, calories and money by putting the brakes on your fast-food purchases.

It’s time to get your house ready for winter! As you weather-strip your home and check for air leaks, look for exposed pipes as well. If you find any, wrap and insulate them carefully so they don’t freeze up when the temperatures fall. A few minutes of your time now can save you the hassle and cost of fixing burst pipes in the dead of winter.

Give your car the care it deserves by getting it a routine service check this month. You’ll possibly catch any developing issues before they become major, and add years of life to your vehicle. You may even get better fuel mileage by making sure everything is in proper working order.

Putting aside money each month to use for some vague purpose sometime in the future can be super challenging. Make it easier by creating a spectacular goal for your savings. Is there a dream vacation you’d love to take? Maybe you’re hankering after an RV or a new entertainment system. Write down your secret dream and figure out exactly how much money you need to make it happen. Then, set up an automatic monthly transfer from your Destinations Credit Union checking account to your savings account to make it even easier. Start your savings momentum today!

Why You Probably Don’t Need an iPhone 12

Apple’s recent announcement  about its newest lines of smartphones had all the makings of a typical Apple unveiling: the hype, the buildup, the mystique — and the prohibitive price tag.

Picture of the New iphone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue

iPhone 12 features an edge-to-edge screen, a sleek new look and innovative features that will bring the smartphone’s functionality to another level. The most prominent upgrade for the new line of iPhones — and the one Apple is pumping most — is that the iPhone 12 supports 5G networks. Many consumers are jumping at the chance of upgrading their browser speed and assume that 5G will be the default network of the future. While this may be true several years down the line, it’s still a bit too early to embrace an all-5G world.

If you’re only buying an iPhone 12 for the 5G compatibility, here’s why you may want to hold off on that purchase:

5G is currently not available in most areas

The long-term plan is for 5G towers to be built all across the country. This means that faster downloads, less delays and lightning-speed browsing is in our future. And we’re talking dizzyingly fast — Verizon claims its ultra-wideband network clocks peak downloads of 4 gigabits per second! That’s between 10 and 100 times faster than a typical 4G connection. In practical terms, as CNN reports, this can potentially translate into the ability to download a two-hour movie in fewer than 10 seconds, as opposed to seven minutes with 4G. Or, as Apple put it, it’s “Hi, Speed.”

Right now, though, for private consumers looking for high-speed networks on their smartphones, the optics are sketchy. According to OpenSignal, in June, T-Mobile users who’ve already had the option to use the high-speed bandwidth were only able to connect to a 5G network 22.5% of the time, which was more than twice what AT&T users reported (10.3%). Verizon users shared even more dismal statistics, with users connecting to 5G networks just 0.4% of the time. In other words, four of every five calls made using the best provider of 5G cannot even use 5G!

If you pay for an iPhone 12 because you’re looking for an upgrade in speed, you may just be wasting your money.

Plans will still have data caps

Many consumers mistakenly believe a higher-speed connection means more data. Unfortunately, this isn’t true. Even plans that offer unlimited data aren’t really unlimited. Instead, there are no overage charges and data will slow down considerably once it hits a cap. A faster connection, in this case, means you’ll likely blow through your data quicker.

General uses for 5G are unrelated to smartphones

Most of the highlights of 5G have nothing to do with your personal phone.

5G is reportedly less expensive for carriers to operate and maintain. Unfortunately, this bonus has no effect on private consumers at all. Don’t expect your bill to be lowered because your carrier is saving money on costs.

5G is also being touted for these current and future uses: driverless automobiles, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality), cloud computing, advanced IoT (Internet of Things), and health care. Most of these functions have very little to do with the average smartphone user.

5G is not a perfect technology

Controversies surrounding 5G abound, from the practical, to the conservational and beyond.

Primarily, 5G towers, while smaller than their 4G counterparts, need to be installed relatively close to each other without any large obstacles in the way. 5G also needs many more towers than 4G. All of these towers in close range can potentially interfere with weather satellites, which in turn, can adversely affect weather forecasting, aviation and naval defense operations. Also, as the Wall Street Journal reports, many people across the country aren’t happy about these armies of towers springing up around them.

In an attempt to show it’s on the right side of environmental issues, Apple has announced that iPhone 12s will not come with a pair of headphones or a charging brick. According to the tech giant, there are already 700 million corded white EarPods in the world and 2 billion Apple power adapters. The obvious downside here is that many customers will now need to purchase a pair of headphones and a charging brick after paying for their new phones — to the tune of $38.

If you plan on purchasing an iPhone 12

If you’re in the market for a new iPhone despite the drawbacks of 5G technology, here are some of the better features you can expect from an iPhone 12:

  • Night camera improvements. The pricier iPhone 12 pro models have been fitted with a telephoto lens on the back and a lidar sensor, both of which improve depth measurement and focus, especially when in the dark.
  • Increased durability. The iPhone 12 has been fitted with a Ceramic Shield, a new layer of protection which Apple claims is four times as crack-resistant as its older versions.
  • Immersive display. iPhone 12 models feature all-screen Super Retina XDR displays with superior color accuracy. Apple claims its newer model phones offer an immersive viewing experience with nearly twice the peak brightness of iPhone 11s.

There are four options for iPhone 12s, each with its own price point:

  • iPhone 12, $800 – 6.1-inch screen with two cameras on the back.
  • iPhone 12 mini, $700 – 5.4-inch screen with two cameras on the back.
  • iPhone 12 Pro, $1,000 – 6.1-inch screen with extra camera features.
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max, $1,100 – 6.7-inch screen with extra camera features.

Apple’s latest products may be riding on the wave of the future, but be sure to do your research carefully before blowing big bucks on a feature you may not be able to use for another few years.

Your Turn: What do you think about the iPhone 12? Tell us about it in the comments.

How to Celebrate Thanksgiving During COVID-19

It’s turkey season! But this year, due to the COVID-19 environment we’re experiencing, the holiday festivities will look a bit different than before. With some precautionary measures and careful planning, though, you can celebrate Thanksgiving in the era of the coronavirus without compromising on your health or safety. Here’s how:

Planning a Thanksgiving dinner 

Colorful picture of a cornucopia, Indian Corn, Apples and a vase of Flowers.

If you plan on hosting an in-person Thanksgiving dinner this year, it’s best to take steps to ensure your day is as safe as possible.

First, consider hosting your dinner outside. If the weather is still relatively mild in your part of the country and you have the space for it, moving a Thanksgiving dinner outdoors greatly reduces the risk of spreading coronavirus, according to the CDC. If an outdoor dinner isn’t possible, make sure your home is well-ventilated during your Thanksgiving dinner by opening some windows and doors.

Second, try to limit the number of attendees. The CDC currently does not impose a limit on the number of attendees at any indoor gathering, but cautions that larger gatherings, by default, pose a greater risk of spread. Keep in mind that you may have state or local laws that do limit the number of attendees, so be sure to review these regulations before creating an invite list. You can look up state and local laws here.

It’s also important to consider your guests’ hometowns when drawing up an invite list. The CDC recommends keeping this year’s Thanksgiving dinners to local guests only. The risk of infection increases when there are guests in attendance who are coming from areas currently experiencing an outbreak.

Finally, while traditional Thanksgiving dinners can last for hours, the CDC cautions that longer gatherings pose a greater risk than shorter dinners. You can cut down on the hours your guests linger around the table by adding a finish time to your invitations.

Attending and hosting a dinner

Whether attending a Thanksgiving dinner or welcoming dinner guests into your own home, follow the CDC’s general guidelines for reducing the risk of contagion.

Set up a sanitizing station for guests to use upon arrival or offer to bring one to your host’s home. Include an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for guests’ personal items that may land on the dinner table, such as phones and purses.

If possible, space the seating so there are several feet between each chair.

It can also be a good idea to serve individualized portions instead of passing around a large platter for the entire table to share.

Finally, don’t forget to follow basic hygiene practices at Thanksgiving dinner, such as covering your coughs and sneezes with your elbow and scrubbing your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing food.

Going virtual

According to the CDC, anyone who’s been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has not met the criteria for when it is safe to be near others, currently has symptoms of COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days or is considered high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should not attend any in-person holiday celebrations.

Here’s how to keep the holiday festive with a virtual celebration:

  • Plan a shared dinner experience in advance. The next-best thing to sitting around a Thanksgiving dinner table together with your loved ones is sharing the same dinner experience on Thanksgiving Day. Sync your dinner plans with the plans of the people with whom you’d be sharing the dinner in non-COVID times. This can include a shared menu or even lighting the same scented candles.
  • Prep together. Video chat with your virtual guest list as you all prep your Thanksgiving dinners in your own homes.
  • Send care packages. If you usually host a dinner, you can drop off a basket of Thanksgiving treats at each of your virtual guests’ doorsteps.
  • Video chat your “shared” Thanksgiving dinners. Eat your Thanksgiving dinners at the same time as your virtual guests. To make it special, you can create a program for the evening with highlights, like opening and closing remarks, a shared song and a short slideshow of family pictures.

Dstinations Credit Union wishes you and your family a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Your Turn: How will you be celebrating Thanksgiving this year? Tell us about it in the comments.