6 Ways To Earn Money Online

At Destinations Credit Union, we care about your financial well-being.  Are you looking for some extra cash to jumpstart your savings? Desperate to stop livingwoman opening box paycheck to paycheck? Want to make 2019 the year you finally get debt-free?

Look no further than your computer screen! With nothing but internet access and a modest investment of your time, you can give your budget that extra padding it needs and get a head start on saving for a larger goal.

Read on for six easy ways to earn money online.

Take surveys

Taking surveys in your spare time can be a great way to earn some extra dough fast.

Here are some great survey companies to get you started:

  • Survey Junkie – Redeem points for payouts via gift cards and/or PayPal.
  • American Consumer Opinion – Easy sign up and well-managed.
  • Vindale Research – Pays up to $75 a survey.
  • Ipsos – Simple and easy to use.

Choose one (or more) that works best for you and start earning money today!

Share your Amazon purchase history

Download the ShopTracker app from Harris Poll and help the company track the products Amazon customers purchase most. All you need to do is share the details of your recent Amazon purchase.

The company will ask for info about the purchase, such as the order date, product title, category, ISBN number, release date, condition, seller, list price per unit, quantity and several other details.

Get paid up to $36 per year for doing this small amount of work.

Become a transcriptionist

Are you a quick typist or a fast talker? Then you may want to consider working as a transcriptionist. Sign up for a program like Scribie and get paid to transcribe documents and movies at $5-$20 per audio hour.

The work is extremely flexible and can be done anytime on your schedule. Most files are only six minutes long or less, so the work is interesting and doesn’t get too tedious. You can choose to type the documents or movies, or to dictate them into a talk-to-text program. Plus, there’s an option of getting promoted and earning more once you become more adept at transcribing.

And as a bonus, you’ll learn new things every day!

Monetize your blog or website with Google AdSense

Google ads are all over the internet; now it’s time to make them work for you! If you have a website or a blog (and if you don’t, you can build one in short order) work on monetizing with Google AdSense. You’ll only earn pennies when you start out, but if you work hard at increasing the traffic to your site or blog, it can really help you pull in the big bucks.

Google AdSense is insanely easy to set up. Sign up for a free Google AdSense account and you’ll receive a unique setup code to copy to your site or blog. Once you’ve done that, Google does the rest, tracking your page views, traffic flow and earnings.

Worried about maintenance fees and upkeep work? There are none! Google does it all. That’s why incorporating Google AdSense in your site or blog is such a no-brainer. It’s just a few minutes of your time and then you’ll start earning extra money for doing absolutely nothing.

Of course, the more traffic you draw, the more you’ll make off Google AdSense. The potential to earn an extra few hundred, or even thousands of dollars, via Google will push you to work at drawing more traffic to your content. While it will take work to get there, just imagine pulling in an extra $4,000 a month!

Become an online consultant

Are you an expert in your field? Do your coworkers constantly seek you out for guidance and advice? Why not market your expertise and earn some extra money at the same time?

Online consulting is the perfect side hustle for natural teachers and counselors. You’ll be working with what you’re good at, creating your own hours and schedule and setting up your own pay scale.

You can advertise your services on a public forum like Craigslist, or set up a free profile on Clarity.fm. People will then be able to look you up on their own. Once word spreads and your name is out there, you can raise your rates and earn more in less time.

Let your talents pay off!

Sell your stuff on eBay

Yes, we know, eBay is the dinosaur of online commerce, but even dinosaurs have their days. The next time you want to throw out an unused piece of junk, a defunct device or an ancient gadget, skip the trash can and sell it on eBay instead. The auction platform guarantees you’ll get the best price for your junk and the site is fully secure. Why not make money off your garbage?

The internet has changed the world forever. Use it to earn extra cash and turn your financial world around!

Your Turn: Do you earn money online? Share your method with us in the comments!



How To Consider Car Depreciation When Getting A Car Loan

If you are thinking about investing in a new car, you may be planning to use a car loan.car depreciation auto loan

Though this is a common process, not all vehicle loans are the same. The type of vehicle, its condition, and it’s worth in the long term can play a role in the type of loan that is right for your needs.

Carefully take into consideration your options, especially when it comes to depreciation.

What Is Car Depreciation?

Every piece of property you own depreciates in value over time. As soon as you buy something, it is no longer new, and selling it would result in a lower price than what you paid for it.

The same applies to vehicle loans. When you buy a brand-new car, no one else has owned it. Yet, as soon as you drive it off of the lot, the value falls. The vehicle now has an owner. It is no longer possible to sell it as new. This causes near instant depreciation in the value.

Does that mean you should not purchase a new car? Some may say this is not ideal, but it is possible (and beneficial to many) to do so.

Factors To Consider With Car Depreciation

It’s important to make the right decisions based on whether or not you plan to maintain the car long term or sell it soon. This will drive your choice in whether you decide to buy a new or used vehicle.

How Much Is Your Vehicle Likely To Depreciate?

The rate of car depreciation depends on many factors.

Normal use drops the value of a car over time. Just aging makes the car worth a bit less. Accidents can speed up that depreciation as well.

More so, the rate of depreciation can also be impacted by the car itself.

For example, some makes and models are going to depreciate faster than others. A high-end, limited edition vehicle is likely to maintain its value longer than a standard passenger vehicle from a well-known manufacturer.

What To Expect In The First Years

During the first year of ownership, vehicle value falls the most.

In some situations, you can expect to see the car’s market value drop by as much as 20 percent in that first 12 to 18 months. The drop in value continues after this point, though at a slower pace overall. However, by the time you have owned the vehicle for five years, the value will have fallen, on average, about to about 60 percent of the original value.

Why Does Depreciation Matter?

It doesn’t have to matter to everyone. Some people purchase vehicles to use for years to come. In this case, it doesn’t matter to you if the value drops over those first few years. However, others may find it to be worrisome.

For example, if you buy a car and want to sell it in a year, chances are good you will get a fraction of its worth. And, that is where the problem with car loans can play a role.

Let’s say you buy a vehicle for $30,000. You love it, drive it, and enjoy it for the first few months. However, that two-seater trendy car isn’t going to work for you any longer now that you are expecting a child. You decide to sell the car.

The loan you took out was for the full value of the car. That $30,000 loan has only been paid down to about $27,000 at this point. Yet, the market value of your car has fallen by 18 percent. Now, it is only worth $24,800.

Consequently, you now owe more on the vehicle than it is worth.

Take Into Account Trade-In Value

The vehicle’s trade-in value can be a good starting point for considering depreciation.

Look up the trade-in value for the car you plan to buy or one very similar to it. Use it as a way to determine how much the car may be worth in a year or five. Having this information, you can then go through your loan options.

Choosing A Loan With Depreciation In Mind

All these factors considered, you may be wondering about your options.

Should you avoid buying the new car you love? That does not have to be the case.

There are a few things to keep in mind, though.

1. Long-Term Loans Are Risky

When you factor in car depreciation, the value of a vehicle after a long-term loan can be very little.

Try to choose a loan that is paid in full within five years. This helps ensure the vehicle is worth a significant amount at the time the loan is paid off. And, as a result, you may be able to sell it or trade it in if you plan to buy a new car.

2. Buy New Only When You Are Confident

When buying a new car, always make the best decisions for your needs based on the next year or two. Realize the value of the car will depreciate significantly within the first 18 months. If you are sure you will be able to maintain the loan during that time, invest in it.

Another option is to think about leasing the car instead of buying a new car outright. Though it is important to consider the limitations in leasing, it may work for those who want to switch between vehicles in a year or less.

3. Choose Used If The Vehicle Meets Your Needs

For those who are unsure if they can stay in the same vehicle, consider buying a used vehicle.

As a used vehicle, the value has already depreciated rapidly. While it will continue to drop in value, the pace will be slower. With a lower price, even a one-year-old vehicle is going to be a better investment.

Understanding Vehicle Value And Car Depreciation

Work closely with Destinations Credit Union on the loan as well. Be sure it fits your budget, but offers the shortest repayment time possible.  We offer great low rates and flexible terms to meet your needs.

In the long term, this helps you to save money and still maintain a significant trade-in value if you have to sell it before you pay it off.

You may also be interested in these related articles:




Is Life Really Getting More Expensive?

If you feel like the middle-class squeeze is getting tighter each year, you’re not alone. Thegrandparents with two young children numbers don’t lie: Life really is a lot more expensive than it used to be.

As we bid farewell to 2018 and sail into a new year, let’s take a look at what life costs like now compared to 20, 50 and 80 years ago.


Owning a home is integral to the Great American Dream. But with today’s cost of living, the dream of buying a house is becoming more distant for many median-income families.

Consider these numbers:

Median price of a home in 1940: $2,938

Median price of a home in 1970: $23,600

Median price of a home in 2000: $119,600

Median price of a home in 2018: $368,500

The rise in home prices has been meteoric. If we’d adjust these numbers for inflation, the median home price in 1940 would only be approximately $40,000 in 2018 dollars.

In short, you need a lot more money today to buy a home than you previously did. All of this explains why the average homebuyer in 2018 is 44, as opposed to the average homebuyer in 1981, who was aged 25-34.

Consumer prices

The price of everything, from a sack of flour to a winter coat, keeps climbing every year. Since 1970, the Consumer Price Index saw a 500%-plus increase. Even after adjusting for inflation, today’s dollar buys a whole lot less than it did 50 or even 25 years ago.

For example, a gallon of gas in 1994 cost just $1.06. In late 2018, the average price for a gallon of gas was $2.88, a full 75% higher than it should be if the price only increased with inflation.

Purchasing today’s basics takes a lot more money than it did for past generations.


Education today is more expensive than ever.

In 1971, a year of tuition at Harvard University cost students just $2,600. For the 2016-2017 school year, the annual tuition at Harvard jumped to $43,280, or more than $60,000 when you include additional costs like room, board and other fees,. That’s a markup of more than 1,550 percent!

It’s a lot harder to pay off student debt today, too. In 1970, a college student could spend a year working just 14 hours a week at a minimum-wage job to pay for a year of schooling. Today, to earn enough money to pay for a year of college, students need to work 35 hours a week. Essentially, in 1970, it was feasible for a student to graduate from college without going into debt, something that’s almost impossible now.

The rising cost of higher education has led Americans to owe a collective $1.4 trillion in student loan debt.


When adjusted for inflation, wages haven’t changed all that much in the last 50 years.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average wage-earner pulls in just 10% more today than they did in 1970, while prices of homes have risen at a much quicker rate.

In the 1970s, it was possible for a family to put just 50% of their income toward major expenses like housing, education and health care costs. Today, the average family puts 75% of their income toward these expenses, leaving limited means for everything else.

Is there a solution?

The first step toward loosening the middle-class squeeze is acknowledging that it’s not your fault if you feel like you’re drowning-life is simply more expensive.

If you’re an exasperated parent wondering why the kids of today can’t seem to get it together, give those kids a break; they’re working with harsher circumstances than those you faced when you left school.

If you’re a struggling student, take heart. You don’t need to follow your parents’ footsteps and finish paying off your college tuition before you graduate, nor must you buy your first home at age 26. Those goals are a lot harder for you than they were for your parents’ generation.

Also, there are ways you can work with what you have today.

First, regardless of your life stage or circumstance, it’s crucial that you build and maintain an excellent credit score. This will enable you to purchase your first home and/or take out other large loans at the best possible terms. Always pay your bills on time, keep your credit utilization rate low and hold onto your cards for several years to build a strong credit history.  Need help with this?  Contact Destinations Credit Union – we have some great resources to help you out!

Another important way to drastically cut down on your cost of living is to consider a major move. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average household spends close to $19,000 annually on housing-and that number rises in major cities. You can save big on this expense by moving to a city with lower housing costs.

You may want to move to a nearby town and simply commute to your job. For instance, if you were to move from New York City to a nearby suburb, you can save more than $71,000 annually in housing costs, even when accounting for heightened transportation costs.

You may also want to consider moving further away and starting over. You’ll be able to work at a lower-paying job, since moving from a big city can slash your living costs by up to 45%.

You may even be able to keep your current job in a new town; lots of today’s jobs are mobile, or even allow you to work from home. This way, you’ll be earning the same pay and have a lower cost of living, making you that much richer at the end of the month. You can use your spare change to enjoy a more favorable monthly budget and to start saving for a wealthier future.

Some cities that offer a great balance between high wages, low housing costs and a decent quality of life include Grand Rapids, Michigan; Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; Tampa, Florida; Omaha, Nebraska and Salt Lake City, Utah.

There’s no way to fight the rising costs of living, but with some careful planning, you too can achieve the Great American Dream.

Your Turn: Do kids today really have it that much harder than their parents? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!


7 Naughty Scams To Watch Out For This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly! And unfortunately, ’tis also the season for scammers to go afterMan sitting among computers with santa hat on your hard-earned dollars. Keep your money safe by reading up on the most common scams taking place this time of year and practicing caution.

Phishing emails

Always popular, phishing scams get even more prevalent before the holidays. They can take the form of bogus delivery confirmation requests seeking your information or even a personalized letter to your child from “Santa.”

Be extra careful this holiday season when it comes to sharing personal information online or with an unverified requester.

Fake charities

Sadly, many scammers will capitalize on the goodwill that flourishes this time of year by asking you to make a donation to a charity that does not actually exist. Verify the authenticity of any charity you’d like to make a contribution to by checking it out on a website like  CharityNavigator.org. Also, it’s best to contact a charity on your own instead of following a website or email link.

Package theft

It’s holiday time, and those UPS and FedEx trucks are everywhere, dropping off boxes of goodies all over the neighborhood.

Usually, these drop-offs go as planned. Unfortunately, though, some 23 million customers will have their packages stolen from their doorsteps this year.

Don’t be one of them! If possible, and especially when ordering something expensive, arrange for a delivery that requires your signature upon receipt. Otherwise, track your order and know when to look out for it so you can bring it inside as quickly as possible after it’s dropped off.

When sending a gift to someone else via Amazon, consider sending it to an Amazon Locker location instead of to the recipient’s household. There’s no fee for using this service, and this way, your gift is safe.

Bogus sites

You might get lucky and find that perfect gift at a super-low price, but don’t believe any ads or websites that are practically giving away the good stuff for free. These are, quite likely, scams. Once you click an ad link and place an order, you’ll never hear from the site again. Worse yet, they may use the information you shared to empty your accounts.

Only shop on reputable sites. Remember to check the website address/URL before placing an order. It may look strikingly similar to a popular site, but if one letter is off or missing completely, the site is bogus and you need to get out. Also, always look for that important “s” after the “http” in the web address to verify a site’s security.

Fake freebies

Did you really just see a Facebook post offering you a new iPhone, completely free of charge? If you have, run the other way and don’t look back! You’re looking at a scam, designed to lure you into sharing your information with criminals or unwittingly installing malware on your device.

Fake freebies run the gamut from new phones, complementary cruises and various luxury gift items to free holiday-themed downloads, like music, wallpaper and games.

If you’re offered any outrageous free gifts by text message, email or social media posts, ignore them. Downloads, though, may be safe, but need to be carefully vetted for authenticity before you accept them.

Defunct gift cards

Many scammers sell expired or empty gift cards this time of year, hoping to make a profit on a card that isn’t worth more than the plastic used to make it.

Ask to inspect any gift card you purchase before you finalize the sale. Check to see if the activation code is exposed. If it is, the scammer has probably already used the card or has copied the information and will use it soon.

Temporary holiday jobs

Lots of businesses are hiring extra hands to get them through the busy holiday season. Don’t get stuck working for criminals!

Many scammers will pose as employees of recognized businesses and post help-wanted ads on social media platforms and popular websites. When a job seeker follows the links in these ads, they are directed to a bogus site that looks just like the site of the company the scammer claims to represent. They’ll be asked to share personal information to submit an application. The scammer will then make off with this information and the promised job will never materialize.

If you’re looking for a seasonal job, apply in-person or directly on a business’s website. Do not follow any links.

As always, be aware and be cautious when enjoying the holiday season. Don’t get grinched! Stay alert and use caution to keep your money – and your information – safe.

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by these or any other seasonal scams? Tell us all about it in the comments.



Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union.

Cars & Credit: How Your Credit Impacts Car-Buying

Purchasing a car can help boost your credit score if you consistently make on-time impact of credit on car buying speedometer type image showing scredit scorespayments. On the other hand, you need fair or better credit to qualify for a car loan.

How can you get the loan you need, then, if your credit is not ideal?

It helps to understand just how important credit is to obtain a car loan and what steps you can take to increase your ability to do so.

Factors Impacting Your Ability To Buy A Car

If you wish to buy a vehicle using a loan, you need to prove to the lender that you are a good credit risk.

In every situation, the lender needs to weigh just how much risk a borrower is based on how likely they are to repay the debt in full. Borrowers who are a very high risk may not qualify for the loan. On the other hand, borrowers that are a lower risk may qualify for a lower interest rate.

When vehicle lenders consider you for an auto loan, they are thinking about the following:

  • What do you want to buy – is it worth how much you want to pay for it?
  • Do you have previous borrowing experience that shows you are a reliable borrower?
  • Do you have the financial means to repay your debt on a monthly basis along with any other debt you have?

It is up to you, then, to show lenders your goals are achievable. Even if you have never obtained a vehicle loan in the past, working with a credit union or other lender is possible if you can show you are a good risk.

Type of vehicle

First, consider the vehicle itself. How does the vehicle play a role in whether or not a lender will give you a loan?

Car loans are secured loans in most cases. If you stop making payments on the loan, the lender will force the sale or repossession of the car. This offers the lender a bit of a safety net. They can sell the car to recoup at least some of the cost of the loan.

For this reason, car loans tend to be a bit easier to qualify for than an unsecured loan, such as a personal loan.

The lender must learn about the actual value of the car. They use a number of tools to determine this including an appraisal of the vehicle. It does not matter what the dealership wants you to pay for the car. The vehicle must be worth that much from a third-party appraisal service.

If the vehicle is worth the amount you wish to buy it for, the lender may approve the loan for you.

Credit history

The next step is determining if you qualify for a car loan based on your previous borrowing history.

The best way for a lender to know this is to pull a copy of your credit history. This includes all of the accounts you have had in the past. It covers previous car loans, credit cards, any judgments against you, and mortgages. Most lenders use a credit score to determine your qualifications. A score is simply a mathematical representation of your borrowing history.

Poor or no credit history?

Some people have no credit history. Others have a poor record of making payments on time.

If you find that your credit score is limiting your chances of obtaining a loan, there are several things you can do…

  • Make on-time payments on all current debts. Doing this for several months increases your dependability. Avoid being late on payments.
  • If you have no credit history, consider a secured credit card or a low-fee credit card. Most credit unions and credit card companies offer these to those who have employment.
  • Consider paying down some of your debt. The lower your debt to credit limit ratio, the better.
  • Don’t apply for too many credit cards or loans in a short period of time. Aim for no more than one or two every few months to a year.
  • Get a co-signer for your loan. A person who has a good credit score can help you qualify for a loan. And, in the long term, this can boost your credit score as well.

Gradually work on improving your credit score over time. When you do so, you eliminate the lender’s concerns that your past borrowing habits will translate into a new loan.

Employment status

Finally, a lender needs to know you have the income necessary to make payments on the vehicle. Even if your credit is fantastic, if you do not have a way to prove to the lender that you have income, then the lender is unlikely to offer you a loan.

More specifically, the lender is looking at your debt to income ratio. How many expenses do you have compared to how much income you have coming in? The lower this total, the more likely you are to have the cash on hand to make payments.

If you do not have steady employment, you may wish to work on this as a first step. Be sure you can prove to your lender that your employment is reliable, too. Paycheck stubs can assist in showing steady employment.

The Role Credit Plays In Car Buying

Each one of these factors plays a role in your ability to obtain a new car loan.

Other factors can do so as well. The interest rate, whether or not you have a down payment, and even if you are buying a new or used car can impact the lender’s decision. Yet, beyond anything else, it comes down to your ability to make payments on a timely basis.

If you are unsure whether you qualify for a car loan, work with your local credit union. They know you and are more likely to lend to you than traditional banks. These loans may even be more affordable than those obtained from other sources.

Learn more about auto loans at Destinations Credit Union.

How Should I Fund My Holiday Shopping?

Q: I’ve made my gift list and I’m checking it twice. But, I’m getting a bit panicky just Two women looking in window holiday shoppingthinking about how I’m going to pay for all this stuff! What’s the best way to get me through this expensive season?

A: Relax! You can keep your budget and your sanity, too! You can do it without having to dip into your savings or rack up a high-interest credit card bill that you’ll be paying off well into 2019. Instead, learn about your choices so you can spend responsibly and keep your holiday cheer all through the season..

Let’s explore your options and take a look at why they may or may not be right for you.

1.) No-interest credit cards

It’s never a good idea to rack up debt. However, if you can get your hands on a credit card that offers an initial no-interest period, you can borrow the money to fund those purchases without it costing you a penny in interest.

Nice: This can be a perfect solution for you if you have an excellent credit score and concrete plans to pay back the bill before the zero interest period ends.

Naughty: Don’t go this route if you have a poor track record of paying down your credit card bills. You might end up carrying that balance well after the intro period ends. You’ll then be hit with super-high interest rates that will make your holiday expenses go much higher.

2.) Personal loans

Anytime you need a pile of dough, you can stop by Destinations Credit Union to apply for a Holiday Loan. Our representatives are always happy to help, and you can walk out with the money you need to fund your holiday shopping shortly after starting your application.

Nice: Like all of our lending products, our personal loans have low interest rates, which makes the payback plan affordable for almost any budget.

Naughty: If you’re already carrying a load of debt and unpaid loans, don’t take out another one just to get you through the holidays. Consider lower cost gift ideas and focus on paying off debt.

3.) Skip-a-Payment

Here at Destinations Credit Union, we understand that the holidays can be super expensive for our members. That’s why we offer you our own gift this time of year: the option to skip a monthly loan or credit card payment to give you that extra cash flow. It’s more breathing room in your budget, just when you need it most! We skip the November loan payment to give you more shopping time, so it’s already passed for this year.

Nice: When you choose Skip-a-Payment, you’ll be able to pay for those presents without adding to your credit card balance or taking on new debt. No high-interest bills to haunt you through the first part of 2019!

Naughty: When you choose to skip a monthly loan payment, you are essentially moving that payment to the end of the loan’s life. Every Skip-a-Payment will make the loan’s term one month longer. Consider this: If you skip just one payment a year on an auto loan, the loan will be around five months longer than you’d originally anticipated (for a five year loan).

4.) Holiday Club Account

Don’t wait until Black Friday to start thinking about your holiday shopping. Pay a little bit toward this expensive season all year long by opening a Holiday Club Account. This way, when November rolls around, you’ll actually look forward to buying all those gifts instead of dreading it. Put the cheer back in your holiday season by opening a Holiday Club Account today!

Nice: Holiday Club Accounts offer you a way to pay for your holiday shopping ahead of the season, instead of playing catch-up on your bills in the coming months. It’s the perfect way to take the stress out of the holidays!

Naughty: If you want to open a Holiday Club Account to help you make it through this season, you’re a little late. But, it’s never too early to start thinking about next year!

5.) Deferred-interest financing

If you’re buying several large purchases at big-box stores, consider signing up for the retailers’ deferred-interest financing. Many chain stores offer customers this interest-free financing option so they can walk out with their purchase today, and pay for it tomorrow.

Nice: Deferred-interest financing works just like an interest-free line of credit, only it’s exclusive to the store selling the item. If you don’t like the idea of opening another credit card but you need that interest-free option, this can be the perfect solution for you.

Naughty: If you neglect to pay off your bill before the interest-free period expires, you’ll be slapped with sky-high interest fees. Worse yet, you’ll have to pay interest retroactively for the entire interest-free period.

If you’re still struggling to get through the holiday season, we can help! Stop by Destinations Credit Union today. We’ll show you how to stay in the black when your holiday expenses have you seeing red.

Your Turn: How do you pay for your holiday expenses? Share your method of choice and tell us why it works for you in the comments below.



5 Holiday Mistakes That Could Cost You

This article is courtesy of Darlene Aderoju who works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support Americans to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at AmericaSaves.org.

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time to enjoy vacations, catch

woman in santa hat with scary face and an armful of gifts


up with family and old friends, and eat great food. While the holidays are about quality time and making memories, it’s easy to get caught up with spending money. Here are five holiday mistakes to avoid this year so you can enjoy the season with your finances intact:

You’re shopping without a budget or list.

It’s incredibly kind to get each of your relatives, colleagues, and in-laws thoughtful presents and cards to show them your appreciation, but your wallet might be crying for help after your first few purchases. One of the biggest financial mistakes you can make during the holidays is shopping without a spending plan.

When you’re shopping for loved ones, you’re imagining how happy they’ll be when they receive your gift. But remember, financial responsibilities don’t go on vacation during the holidays. Create a budget for your holiday spending. Once you know how much you can afford to spend, create a list that fits your budget.

This way, you’ll be able to purchase the items you plan for and know for sure that you didn’t bust your budget. Here’s a free holiday budget printable to get you started.

You’re volunteering your home, food, and car to everyone.

If you’re the person that always offers food, transportation, and lodging to everyone, you might want to try a new approach this year. It’s thoughtful to go the extra mile during the holidays, but don’t stretch yourself or your pockets too thin.

Consider splitting the responsibilities with your friends and family. You might not think you’re overspending by being so accommodating, but the more people there are in your home, the more likely you are to receive a high utility bill at the end of the month. You’ll also be surprised at how many trips you might have to make to the grocery store to restock on food, drinks, and toiletries.

You can suggest hosting a potluck style gathering this year. With a potluck, each guest is responsible for bringing at least one dish, beverage, or party supply. At a minimum, you’ll save money on food and drinks. If you need napkins or disposable utensils and plates, you can make one guest responsible for those items as well.

If you have a ton of relatives who need to be picked up from the airport or train station, see if you can rope in other family members to help with pick-ups and drop-offs. This will help you save on gas, time, and energy.

Splitting responsibilities will help you enjoy the holidays without being completely stressed out.

You’re shopping too late.

So you’ve created your list and a tight budget, that’s great! Don’t wait until the last minute to actually make your purchases. By then, sales may be over and supplies will be limited.

Start your shopping early so you can snag deals while they’re still available. When you have ample time to cross items off your list, you’ll have time to compare prices and bargain hunt. Some stores offer price matching, so keep that in mind as you start shopping and placing your online orders.

Time is of the essence. Shopping early will give you time to figure out what you actually need and get those items at the best price. When you wait until the last minute, you’re much more likely to bust your budget because you’ll just be rushing to cross people off your list instead of specific items that fall within your budget. Here are some tips to help you save while you shop.

You’re relying on your credit cards.

Do your best NOT to rely on your credit cards during the holidays. If you can’t afford to buy it now, don’t create a bill for yourself later. Once the holidays are over, you’ll be faced with a potential mountain of debt that you’ve built.

The holidays are a great time to enjoy the company of your loved ones, but you shouldn’t feel like the only way to show your love is through expensive presents and festive decor. Enjoy the holidays in a way that doesn’t destroy your finances. This year, make it a goal to spend quality time.

If an unplanned expense does occur during the holidays and you have to use your credit, here are some tips for using your credit card.

You’re trying to keep up with the Joneses.

Don’t make the holidays a competition about who can wear the most expensive clothes, buy the flashiest gifts, or serve the swankiest dinner. Make the holidays about creating lasting memories and enjoying time with your loved ones, or simply yourself.

Don’t Be A Victim Of A Social Security Scam

Any of the hundreds of scams around today can make you feel like we live in a worldmature woman holding a piece of paper gone mad. How cruel can someone be to con a poor victim out of thousands of dollars?

But one of the most heartless scams making the rounds is the one targeting the elderly who depend on Social Security benefits for basic living needs. When these victims are tricked out of their benefits or their accounts are emptied, they may be left with no resources at all.

Worse yet, scammers are fully aware that the elderly make for easy victims. Many older Americans are from a bygone era in which anyone on the phone could be trusted. They haven’t grown up in a society that knows to constantly look over their shoulders and to cover their keypads when punching in a PIN. The elderly can be naïve and trusting, and it is this endearing naivety that can make them fall prey to scams.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning of a recent surge in Social Security scams which, unfortunately, are often successful.

Here’s how these scams work:

The victim receives a phone call from an alleged Social Security employee telling them their benefits have been suspended and must be reactivated. The caller claims the suspension is due to suspicious account activity or that it happened because of a computer glitch. To lift the suspension, the scammer says, the victim must share their personal information, including full legal name, phone number, Social Security number and financial account information.

Alternatively, the victim will receive an automated voice message instructing them to call a specific number to correct a problem with their Social Security benefits. Upon calling the given phone number, the victim is asked to provide their personal information.

In yet another version of this Social Security scam, the victim receives an email that looks like it came from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The email will include a link asking the victim to update their personal information, giving a similar backstory as above.

If you receive Social Security benefits, or you know someone else who does, protect yourself and your loved ones by reviewing and educating others about these tips:

The Social Security Administration will never call about suspended benefits

There’s no reason to believe a caller who claims your benefits have been suspended. First, Social Security benefits don’t get suspended because of computer glitches. Second, the SSA will not call you to request your personal information out the blue. Government agencies rarely make phone calls to private citizens. When they do, the citizen will always know to expect that call.

Never share personal information via unsecured means

Don’t trust just anyone. It’s best not to share personal information over the phone or the internet. If you must, verify that you are interacting with the party you believe you’ve reached. The best way to do so is by contacting the SSA yourself at 1-800-772-1213. Remember, con artists are experts at looking and sounding like genuine government officials. Don’t fall for their tricks.

Report all scam attempts

Help combat these scams by reporting any attempts made to con you out of your personal information.

If you receive a phone call or an email from an alleged SSA employee requesting information, don’t respond. Instead, call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778), or call your local Social Security office and ask if there is actually a problem with your benefits. If, as is likely, there is no problem and you’re being scammed, the SSA will be better equipped to stop the scammers from conning more victims.

You can also call the Office of Inspector General (OIG) at 1-866-501-2101 or complete a Public Fraud Reporting form at the OIG website at socialsecurity.gov.

Finally, report the scam attempt to the FTC at ftc.gov.

Tell your friends and family

Fight back by doing your own part to stop those scammers. Tell anyone you know who receives Social Security benefits about these scams and warn them not to share their information on the phone and online.

Let’s keep our money safe and send those scammers packing!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a Social Security scam? Share your story with us in the comments.



10 Reasons To Be Thankful For Your Credit Union

We often take life’s many gifts for granted by failing to appreciate them deeply enough.man shaking woman's hand over a desk Thanksgiving offers the perfect opportunity to reflect upon everything that is wonderful in our lives and to show our gratitude for each and every gift we’ve been given.

This Thanksgiving, give thanks for your credit union! Let’s review 10 reasons to be grateful you belong to Destinations Credit Union.

Personalized member service

At Destinations Credit Union, you’re always greeted with happy faces and representatives who are ready and willing to help you. There’s no cold, sterile atmosphere here! Instead, at Destinations Credit Union, every member is part of the family. We’re truly invested in your financial wellness and we’re here to help you achieve and maintain it, every step of the way.

You have access to better savings rates

We’re not paying dividends to stockholders, and that means we have more savings to pass back to you. At Destinations Credit Union, we’re proud to offer you share certificate, high yield and savings rates that are well above the national average.

We make it easier to qualify for credit

The absence of a national bank corporate office enables us to be more flexible about extending credit. We set our own underwriting standards! That makes it easier for you to borrow, even if your existing credit isn’t perfect.

We offer lower interest rates

Need a stash of cash? Stop by Destinations Credit Union and take your pick of loans: personal loans, home loans, auto loans and more, all with reasonable interest rates that are often lower than the regional or national average. We’ll help you get the funds you need with a payback plan you can actually afford!

Your money is safe here

Federally insured credit unions and banks both offer insurance on accounts of up $250,000. But credit unions are also subject to strict regulations on their investments and loans. This means you can keep your money here without worrying about its security.

Free Checking Accounts

Our checking accounts exist to provide you with a safe, convenient place to store your money-not to milk you for it. Checking accounts at Destinations Credit Union are free to set up and maintain.  You’ll have your choice of our free no-frills checking or our high-rate rewards checking account.

Conversely, according to a MoneyRates survey, the average monthly maintenance fee for a checking account at a bank is $12. That’s nearly $150 coming out of consumers’ pockets each year!

At Destinations Credit Union you’ll have a safe place to keep your money without it costing you a bundle.*

You own a piece of your credit union

Credit unions are member-owned and member-operated. You get to weigh in on our major decisions instead of being forced to follow along with whatever the higher-ups decide. Your money=your choices.

We support small businesses

Credit unions are invested in the success of local small businesses. Here at Destinations Credit Union,  we outsource to local businesses, shop at local businesses and obtain professional services from local businesses.  We offer credit union membership to many small and large local business employees and are a proud member of the Parkville Carney Business Association.

Fewer fees

Banks are notorious for slapping consumers with fees at any given opportunity. Here at Destinations Credit Union, we want to help you keep as much of your money as possible. Any fees we do have are nominal and generally lower than what banks demand.

We also want you to have access to your money without worrying about expensive ATM fees. To that end, we provide our members with a large network of ATMs with no cost for withdrawing money.

 You have access to a variety of financial services

At Destinations Credit Union, we’re a lot more than just a gigantic piggy bank. We provide members with an array of financial services to meet every money-related need at every life stage. These include: Credit Cards with no annual fees and low interest rates, Direct Deposit, Wire Deposits, Financial Education and Counseling Services,  Holiday/Vacation Clubs, Holiday/Vacation Loans, Vehicle Loans, Notary Services, Online Banking and more!

As a member of a credit union, your money is always in good hands. Aren’t you thankful you belong to Destinations Credit Union?

*Please note, checking accounts have fees for things like check printing, overdrafts or returned checks.

Your Turn: Why are you thankful for Destinations Credit Union? Share your favorite reasons with us in the comments!  Or, rate us on Google!