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

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

A: Your problem is not uncommon.

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

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

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

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

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

Why do people become compulsive shoppers?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how to curb the urge to splurge:

A.) Talk it out

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

B.) Cash and debit only

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

C.) Avoid temptation

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

D.) Identify triggers

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

E.) List it

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

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

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

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

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

Back-To-School Savings

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

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

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

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

1.) Do a house-wide sweep

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

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

2.) Get the teacher-approved list

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

3.) Spread your purchases

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

4.) Take advantage of sales-tax holidays

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

5.) Organize a clothing swap

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

6.) Find the best prices

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

7.) Use Twitter and Facebook to save

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

Follow these stores on Twitter:

Staples: @StaplesTweets

Office Max:@OfficeMaxDeal

TJ Maxx:@tjmaxx

Marshalls:@marshalls

8.) Save through Ebates

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

9.) Time it right

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

10.) Set limits

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

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

11.) Cash and debit card only!

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

12.) Plan ahead

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

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

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

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

Top Ten Reasons for Buying American

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

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

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

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

1.) Create jobs

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

2.) Decrease pollution

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

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

3.) Guaranteed quality of goods

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

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

4.) Health

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

5.) Boost American investment opportunities

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

6.) Protect human rights

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

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

7.) Ripple effect

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

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

8.) Reduce the trade deficit

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

9.) Conservation

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

Conserve our resources and buy American!

10.) Avoid foreign political debates

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make The Nice List With Your Credit Card Use


It’s that time of year again. He’s making a list, and he’s checking it twice. Of course, we’re talking about the major credit bureaus! With holiday spending season upon us, it’s time to broach an uncomfortable subject: how to pay for all that joy and goodwill.
The holidays can be an expensive time of year, and it’s tempting to turn to plastic to finance the whole thing. Consumers are planning to spend more this year than last year, with only 24% of Americans planning to reduce their holiday spending. Regardless, the average American plans to spend $812 on the holidays this year, and that’s more than most people have just sitting around or in their savings.
In the spirit of the holidays, let’s look at some “naughty” and “nice” ways to use your credit cards. Be sure to stay on the right list, or there may be coal in your stocking – and smudges on your credit report!
Naughty: Financing gift-giving with credit
If you don’t have the money sitting around to finance your gift-giving, it can be tempting to pull out a credit card at every store and shop ’til you drop. That’s exactly what most people do when spending with credit. A recent study of consumer behavior found that people spend nearly 20% more when shopping with a credit card. The dissociation between plastic and money can erode our ordinarily thrifty impulses, causing us to overspend.
There’s also interest to contend with. That $812 could easily turn into $1,000 or more thanks to the power of compound interest. Even deferring payment for a month can cost you quite a bit! Less than a third of Americans pay off their holiday credit card bills immediately. Most will end up carrying a balance that can make it hard to start the new year right. In fact, consumer counseling agencies see a 25% increase in requests for help in January and February. Holiday spending can be the last straw for people barely getting by while making minimum payments.
Oh, and by the way, you might end up ruining the surprise on Christmas morning! If you put something special for your someone special on a joint credit card, they might see it on the credit card statement. Nothing ruins a perfect gift like a spoiled surprise.
Nice: Paying for holiday travel
If you’re traveling for the holidays, it can make sense to use credit cards. Most major credit cards offer insurance for rental cars and extra cancellation policies for flights in case things change at the last minute. Using a credit card to make reservations at hotels, rental agencies and other book-ahead services can also prevent the company from placing a hold on your account as a deposit.
Remember to make a clear budget for your travel plans and stick to it! Resist the impulse to take frivolous upgrades. Holiday travel is a chance to bond with family, and fancier hotel sheets won’t help with that! Keeping a clear budget will make sure you can pay off that credit card bill next month and avoid costly financing charges.
Naughty: Guilt spending
The holidays are full of messages that connect spending to caring. These messages would have us believe that, if you love someone, you’ll get them jewelry or another extravagant item. Advertisers encourage consumers to make emotional decisions about spending, rather than looking at what they can afford. Credit cards make this even easier by letting you postpone paying for the gift.
Instead of telling someone you care with borrowed money, show them you care with a thoughtful message and a reasonable gift that’s based on what they want. Don’t buy into the myth that dollars are a meaningful quantification of your feelings. Give sensible gifts with money you have.
Nice: Spending rewards on holiday purchases
If you use a rewards card throughout the year, now’s a good time to cash those points in. Most companies offer discounts on two commodities everyone needs this time of year: travel and gift cards. You can use your rewards money to help absorb some of the impact of gift-giving. Picking up gift cards this way can make last-minute gift-giving easier.
It might also be worth investigating the possibility of giving travel points or miles directly to others. This can make a difference for relatives who travel frequently, or make a trip home feasible for people who live far away. Look into using your rewards generously this year!
Your Turn: How do you manage your holiday spending? Are there secret tricks to keep those costs down, or are there techniques you use to keep you within budget? Let us know in the comments!


How Can I Know If My Too-Good-To-Be-True Deal is Legitimate?

Brought to you by Destinations Credit Union 
 

Q: I was shopping for a new handbag online and noticed a huge difference in prices between retailers. One had a bag for $20, while the other had the same for $200! The first option seems too good to be true. Should I be wary of that amazing deal? 

A: It’s possible, though very unlikely, that someone is selling brand name goods at a fraction of the price. It’s far more likely, though, that the cheaper goods are counterfeit. They’re made to resemble the original, but use low-quality materials and little or no quality control in the manufacturing process.

Counterfeit goods used to be confined to small luxury items sold by street vendors. Sunglasses and watches were the easiest to vend to tourists and others who were prepared to deal in cash yet unprepared to carefully scrutinize the goods. The rise of the Internet as an international marketplace has resulted in the proliferation of the “fakes” industry. A recent report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that around 2.5% of all global trade is in the form of counterfeit goods.
While the most common targets are luxury goods, modern counterfeit manufacturers have moved on to products where the deception is even more difficult for lay people to detect. Car parts, computers, and pharmaceuticals are among the growing pool of off-brand goods that are being marketed at name-brand prices.
It’s not just the fashion-conscious who should be concerned. These products aren’t held to any production standards. There’s no telling what could be in a counterfeit drug, or whether a counterfeit car part will even work. These products take advantage of the trust consumers put in established brands and could result in serious injury or death.
Even if you’re buying shoes (one of the most commonly counterfeited products, according to the OECD), it may not be harmless fun. Because the manufacturers operate outside the law, they frequently circumvent all labor safety standards. The counterfeit goods may be manufactured by children, or in conditions that fail to meet even the most basic safety standards. The chemicals used to treat vinyl or leather in counterfeit manufacturing facilities are also exceedingly hazardous, and may contain toxic levels of lead even after arrival.
The profits from the counterfeiting industry may support a wide range of dangerous elements. Organized crime groups, drug cartels and terrorist organizations are among those that use counterfeit goods to finance some of their operations. Because of all these scenarios, supporting the fakes industry is not a decision to be made lightly.
Counterfeit goods are like any other online scam. You need to take steps to protect yourself against being shortchanged. If you’re worried about buying counterfeit goods online, take these steps.
1.) Watch the price 
It’s possible that a vendor is selling goods at an impossibly good deal. If you’re buying from last year’s stock of brand name goods, or if the goods are returned or were previously opened, you might get 40% off the retail price. If you’re seeing a brand name good for 10% or less of its retail price, it’s got to be too good to be true. 
2.) Check the label! 
Most counterfeit goods are made to pass an initial visual screening. Manufacturers will put as much effort as possible into making the knock-off item shiny, with the logo being highly visible. They hope to distract consumers from exercising more careful scrutiny.
One of the most common errors in counterfeit goods manufacturing is the manufacturer’s address. Counterfeiters will use the corporate headquarters address, while manufacturers will list the location the goods themselves are manufactured. Minor errors in spelling or formatting of care instructions can also serve as red flags for counterfeit goods. 
3.) Evaluate your source 
Reputable vendors want nothing to do with counterfeit goods. The brand has value to the retailer as well. If asked, vendors should be able to clarify their supply chain. They should take steps to ensure their goods are legitimate.
If you’re buying something pre-owned, it can be difficult to keep the same level of scrutiny up. Check labels and serial numbers as carefully as possible. If an item has survived one owner, odds are good it’s not counterfeit.
When shopping online, stay away from auction sites like eBay, which are rife with counterfeit goods. Look for authorized retailers or online versions of brick-and-mortar stores. These retailers are more likely to have those supply chain controls in place.
Many cities also have places that are infamous for selling counterfeit goods. Trust your instincts if you’re on vacation. If an area is surrounded by street vendors selling normally expensive branded merchandise, find another place to shop. 
4.) Pay your taxes 
One of the most common ways criminals get caught is through the IRS. If you’re concerned with the authenticity of a retailer, ask for a receipt. If you don’t get one, that’s a huge red flag. If you do, look for sales tax. Because counterfeiters are already breaking the law, they don’t bother to report their sales or pay sales tax. This exclusion also reflects part of the “incredible deal” they are able to offer on brand name goods. If a store is paying sales tax, odds are good they’re on the level. 
Okay, now it’s your turn to share: What do you do to check the quality of the goods you purchase? Are there brands you always trust, or retailers you recommend? Ever have an experience you’ve regretted but learned some tips that might be beneficial to others? We’d love to know!

Shop Local!


Your credit union is built on the idea of people helping people.  You already know we can do a better job looking after your money than a mega-chain bank that answers to shareholders, because we know you and our community.  So why give that up when you find a bargain online?  Shopping locally is better for the community, better for the environment and the best way to find something unique that can make all of your friends say “wow.”  

Shopping locally benefits your community. 

When you shop locally, the money you spend stays in the community.  Buying a new pair of shoes from a local shop takes dollars out of your pocket and puts them into the pockets of a local resident, of course.  What you might not consider is that those dollars get spent by the business owners as well, and they’re also likely to spend their money locally.

American Express estimates that about 68 cents out of every dollar spent in local shops stays at home, and if that dollar is spent locally three times, it means that – for every dollar you spend at local shops – $1.45 goes back into the community.  It’s what economists refer to as the multiplier effect, and it’s very powerful.

Fun fact:  The multiplier effect is why the government is still willing to make pennies, even though minting them costs more than one cent.  The multiplier effect is powerful enough to justify all that loose change in the jar next to your bed, and it’s powerful enough to make shopping locally a force for change.

Of course, that money doesn’t just go to shopkeepers and restaurant owners. The local government takes out its share in local taxes.  Even if you hate the idea of taxes, and we all may grumble in April, local taxes go to schools, firefighters, and other services in the area.  Buying dinner at a local bistro can be the reason the town has enough money to fix the potholes on your street. Not a bad dessert.

 Shopping locally is better for the environment. 

You already know about the danger of greenhouse gases and the effects of global warming.  If you don’t remember anything else, you probably remember Al Gore’s visual of a polar bear floating away. What’s easy to forget is that everything you buy had to come from somewhere.  If you’re drinking imported spring water from Fiji, that water flew halfway around the world.  If your new pants were made in China, they racked up frequent flyer miles, too.

It’s really hard to avoid foreign manufacturing, but many local businesses have locally made goods for sale, which eliminates at least one flight your product might take, saving on fuel and greenhouse gases.  Even if the product you’re buying was manufactured overseas, buying it locally can shave a flight or two off the product’s carbon footprint.

Shopping locally is the best way to find hidden gems. 

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding something your friends have never seen before. Whether it’s jewelry from a local metalsmith, a purse from a local boutique or pottery from a local artisan, local shops have the best potential for one-of-a-kind, where-did-you-get-that, I-love-it-so much uniqueness out of any shopping you can do.  Anyone can get on Amazon or check out a department store.  It takes a real connoisseur with a real eye for style to shop locally and find the best products.  Show off your personal style with buys from local artisans. The Parkville Towne Fair or the many ethnic festivals are great places to look for local crafts.

One final benefit of shopping locally is that many of your finds come with a story.  Those earrings might be from a local artist who got the inspiration from the nursery rhyme her mother told her, or those plates might borrow their pattern from the artist’s love of pop art.  Whatever the story, local artists will tell you how they came up with their unique designs.  Part of the fun of local shopping is the connections you can build with local artists, and hearing their stories is part of it.

San Francisco started recognizing the historic contributions of local businesses by listing important shops on its historic registry.  Looking around Parkville and Baltimore, which businesses would you nominate for historic status?


And, don’t forget to keep your banking local.  Destinations Credit Union (along with many other credit unions and local banks) is right here in Parkville offering world-class financial services and access wherever you travel.  We’re owned by our members and the money is invested back into our residents and our communities.

Check out the Parkville/Carney Business Association to see many local businesses who support our community.

Sources: 

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2011/10/28/how-consumers-and-communities-can-benefit-from-buying-local

Tax-Free Weekend … Every Weekend


Tax-free weekend will end this Saturday (8/15/15) for Marylanders.  It’s a heady rush, getting our Black Friday fix in the sunshine of August  The kids are ready to head back to school with new clothes (that they don’t yet hate) and school supplies (they haven’t yet lost).  But what about the people who missed out?  What about the kids who just need one more thing? What about mom and dad who deserve a tax-free spree, too?  Is there a way to shop tax-free every weekend without ending up with the IRS coming after them?
The answer is yes, you can shop with a 10, 15, or 20 percent discount every day and do it without breaking the law. Some of our favorite tips for keeping costs down are below. They also come with a plan for turning your shopping savings into long-term savings, because it’s not enough to keep money in your pocket, you’ll want to put it to good use, too.
When you’re done reading, hit up our Twitter feed or Facebook page to share your favorite tips and post pictures of your best hauls.
Bring your smartphone.  Don’t buy anything in a brick and mortar store without pricing it online first. If you’re the kind of shopper who frequently buys on impulse, just bring your smartphone and do a few searches of the most likely places you’d find the item you’re looking at, like eBay, Zappos or the website for the store where you’re shopping.  The Amazon app even lets you scan a barcode with your phone’s camera and does the searching for you.  You can save a lot with this simple 30-second step.
Shop for used gift cards.  We all know the feeling of getting a gift card we’ll never use.  Well, a variety of websites offer a place for people to sell their unwanted gift cards, often for well below the face value of the card.  Everybody wins: The seller gets some value out of a gift card that would otherwise be sitting in a junk drawer and the buyer gets a nice discount.
So, before you check out online or in-store, search Gift Card Granny and Gift Card Zen.  They have some gift cards that will transfer to you in five minutes or less, allowing you to save 10-15% right away.  All gift cards are backed by the site, so you don’t have to worry about scams.  For many of the big chain stores like Target and The Gap, those online codes work in store as well, so you can save money while you wait to check out.
Clear your cookies.  Retailers are smart, so they know that getting you to make a quick purchase on your first visit means they’ll probably get you to shop at their store for life.  They’ll offer you a coupon for 10 or 20 percent off of your first purchase if you sign up for promotional emails on your first visit. Those offers often expire within 24 or 48 hours.  As smart as retailers are, their websites are not quite as intelligent.  It’s easy to make websites think it’s your first visit so you can get that coupon every time you visit.  All you need to do is visit the site from a different browser than you usually use.  If you don’t have more than one web browser, you can download Chrome, Mozilla or Opera for free, and use that for this trick next time, too.  Sometimes you just have to use your phone. If none of that works, try clearing your cookies and browser history. Then, all you need is an email address you haven’t used at that site, and most of us have a few of those just waiting to be used.
Turn your everyday savings into long-term savings.  It’s great to save a few dollars every now and then, but it doesn’t always feel like you’re really getting anywhere.  But you were going to spend that money anyway, so if you put it in savings, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.  You can pull up our website at www.destinationscu.org or use mobile banking and transfer that money to savings before you even leave the store.  If you put an extra $25 away every month, that’s $300 per year … without really trying!
If that seems like a lot of work, you can also work the gift card trick into your monthly budget.  If you normally spend $25 per month on coffee, buy a $25 Starbucks gift card online from Gift Card Zen for $20 at the the beginning of the month, then put $5 into your savings.  Now you’ve got the savings and an easy way to stay on budget.  The gift card can go into their app so the whole family has it on their phones – it’s like Starbucks is paying you $5 to make your life easier.
You can do this for all the places you shop.  For instance, do you budget $100 for clothes, $300 for gas, $50 for eating out, $25 for coffee and $25 for movies each month?  If you get gift cards for those stores at 10 percent off, you’ll save $50 each month, totaling $600 per year.  If nothing else, you can put that in one of our Holiday Club accounts and have it at the ready to take care of your holiday shopping!  
Sources:

http://www.giftcardgranny.com/