Tax Deadline Delayed

As part of the government’s efforts to help avoid a recession, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced that the tax deadline would be pushed off by a full 90 days.

woman going through receipts and bills

Here’s what this announcement means for taxpayers:

Under normal circumstances, taxes are due by April 15. If tax filers cannot complete their taxes in time, they can request a 6-month extension without getting a failure-to-file penalty. Tax extensions are granted easily, but they don’t buy the filer more time to pay any taxes due to the IRS. The extension is only for submitting their returns. Any tax money that is paid after the 15th is generally subject to penalties and interest.

This year, things have changed. Taxes must still be filed by April 15 unless an extension is requested, as usual; however, the IRS will not be requiring taxpayers to pay their 2019 taxes until July 15. There will also be no penalties or interest for this delayed payment.

The administration believes this move will be a welcome relief for the millions of taxpayers whose income streams have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. They are also hopeful that this delay, which will leave an estimated $300 billion in the battered economy, will give it a better chance at recovery.

For tax filers who are anticipating a refund this year, it may not pay to request an extension and file late. An extra pile of cash, no matter how small, can really come in handy for those who are out of work. Signing up for direct deposit of refunds can help struggling taxpayers get that much-needed money as quickly as possible.

It’s also important to note that, while the federal government has granted this nationwide extension on tax bills, state taxes remain subject to the deadlines of their own governments. In light of the upheaval caused by the coronavirus outbreak, many states are offering their own extensions.

Sources:
https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/tax-deadline-filing-delayed-united-states-20200317.html#loaded
https://www.fool.com/amp/taxes/2020/03/17/good-news-us-tax-payment-deadline-extended-due-to.aspx

Stuck At Home? Spend Your Time Productively!

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on normal life around the world. Major retailers and small Woman installing laminate flooring.businesses are closing their doors; leisure travel has ground to a halt; the stock market is bearing the brunt of a string of losses; and thousands of schools and universities sit vacant mid-semester while their students are home for an indeterminate amount of time.

For many people, navigating this crisis successfully means being stuck at home for 14 days or more as they wait out a self-imposed or obligatory quarantine. Others may be home due to school closures or because their place of work has temporarily shut down. Still others may be avoiding going out in public in accordance with the president’s recommendation that people not congregate in groups of 10 or more.

While it may, at first, sound like a dream come true, sitting at home without much to do can quickly get old. If you’re one of the millions of Americans waiting out the crisis at home, be proactive about spending your time productively instead of binge-watching six seasons of your favorite sitcom while eating your way through gallons of ice cream. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Learn a new language. Why not use the extra time at home to learn a second or third language? There are many free language apps, like Duolingo, that make mastering a new language almost effortless.
  • Call an old friend. Socializing in person may be out, but the old-fashioned phone still works just fine. A leisurely chat with an old friend can be a wonderful way to pass the time.
  • Get fit. Gyms can be a fertile breeding ground for all kinds of germs and bacteria, but an at-home workout can burn all those calories without the fear of being exposed to COVID-19. There are many exercises you can do without any equipment, like lunges, squats, planks, sit-ups and more. If you’re missing the support and camaraderie you get from your exercise classes at the gym, pop a workout DVD into your entertainment center or turn on one of the many fitness classes on YouTube for a similar experience.
  • Rekindle an old hobby. It’s time to dust off that guitar or pull out the modeling wood and pick up the hobbies you never have time for during your busy working schedule. To keep yourself focused, commit to completing a specific project or reaching a goal while you wait out the outbreak at home.
  • Tend to neglected household repairs you’ve been putting off all winter. Why not use this time to get stuff done around the house?  If you’re missing some important tools and supplies, it’s best to order them online instead of running out to pick them up to minimize possible exposure to the virus.
  • Brush up on your financial knowledge. With the plethora of personal finance blogs and websites available today, beefing up your financial knowledge so you can make the best, informed decisions about managing your money is ridiculously easy. Visit blogs like Thefinancialdiet.com, MoneyNing.com, or Mr.MoneyMustache.com for interesting reads on a wide range money topics that can help you broaden your financial knowledge.
  • Declutter. Carve out some time to get started on spring-cleaning your home. Clearing out clutter takes lots of time, and you likely have more time than you know what to do with right now. You can make piles for throwaways, giveaways and keepers. Give your cleared-out closets and drawers a thorough scrubbing while you’re at it. There’s no better time to freshen up the house than springtime!
  • Review your budget. Budgets tend to need frequent adjusting. Use the spare time you have now to review your monthly spending of the past few months to see if your budget needs tweaking.
  • File your taxes. The government has postponed the deadline for paying tax bills, but tax returns still need to be filed by April 15 unless an extension is requested. Filing taxes is nobody’s idea of a good time, but taking care of this necessary chore will make the future you glad that you did when this is all over.
  • Keep stress levels down. Staying cooped up inside when a pandemic is sweeping through the world can really spike up stress levels. Keep calm by ensuring you’re getting enough sleep and minimizing stress triggers as much as possible. This can mean limiting the amount of times you check the news. and/or practicing yoga and meditation. Apps like Headspace can help you achieve complete mindfulness to further reduce stress levels.

We at Destinations Credit Union are wishing you and yours continued health and safety as we navigate this challenging time together.

Your Turn: How are you keeping busy during your time at home? Share your best ideas with us in the comments.

Fun Activities To Do With Your Kids At Home

It isn’t easy to be holed up at home with just your family for company. After two days, child posing for funny pictureyou may be thinking there isn’t enough coffee or chocolate in this world for a parent who’s stuck home with their kids for weeks at a time. As the parent, though, you have the unique opportunity to set the tone in your home and decide if these weeks will be a nightmare for everyone, or filled with precious memory-making and family-bonding activities.

Here are some fun activities to keep your kids busy while you wait out the pandemic at home:

Marshmallow Tinker-Toys: For a fun twist on the classic building toy, take pretzel sticks and mini-marshmallows and let your child build a world of sweetness. Have them create pretzel-marshmallow people, houses and towns. It’s creative, sticky fun, and best of all, when they’re done, they can eat their sweet creations!

Puppet Shows: All you need for the show of a lifetime is a cardboard box, some Popsicle sticks, old socks (which may have lost their match) and markers for decorating. If you have googly eyes in the house, glue them on for more realistic-looking sock puppets. Have your child entertain you, or be the entertainer — either way works. Let the show begin!

Scrapbook: Spend some quality time reliving precious memories by digging out the scrapbooking supplies and old photos to create a timeless masterpiece together.

Salt Painting: Move over, glitter; this new painting technique makes designs that are just as pretty and twice as fun! Lay a piece of cardstock on top of some old newspapers. Have your child draw patterns on the paper using Elmer’s glue. The glue lines should be on the thick side. Next, pour table salt over the wet glue, making sure all the glue is covered in salt. You can speed up this step by tilting your paper after pouring the salt. Shake off all excess salt. Now, using watercolors, let your kids paint the salt! This works best if the paint is a bit watery so the brush doesn’t have to touch the salt too often; it can simply drip onto the paper. When your child is done painting, they’ll be left with a spectacular, super-cool design!

Teach a Household Skill: Instead of complaining about the endless housework, enlist your child’s help! Even very small children can help sort laundry, load the washing machine and press the buttons to turn it on (with your supervision, of course). Have the older ones help you bake, letting them put their math skills to use by adding fractions in recipes. And, of course, everyone cleans up their own messes when the day is done!

Simon Says, “Draw!”:  Give this old favorite a twist by breaking out the craft supplies. Set up a table with paper, crayons, markers, stamps and any other fun coloring supplies you have in your house. Seat your kids around the table and begin an intense game of Simon Says, only instead of movements, instruct your kids to draw something on their papers. You can have them draw basic shapes in specific colors, or something more complex if they’re a little older. Anyone who messes up is out of the game!

Balloon Ping-Pong: No need for a bulky ping-pong table! Just tape large popsicle sticks to the backs of paper plates, blow up a balloon and have your preschoolers play ping-pong with their makeshift paddles over your empty kitchen table!

Let it Snow!: It’s been a snowless winter in many parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the blizzard home. Whip up a batch of homemade snow while you’re stuck inside during the COVID-19 outbreak. Let your kids have a blast creating a winter wonderland that’s almost as good as the real thing. In a large pan or bin, mix 3 cups of baking soda with ½ cup hair conditioner. Note: If you don’t have enough baking soda on hand, you can also use shaving cream for your “snow.” Keep on stirring until the mixture turns cold, soft and feels like … snow!  Dig out the toy cars, small beach shovels and collections of Little People or Playmobil people and let the fun begin!

Scavenger Hunt: If your kids are bouncing off the walls from being cooped up at home, have them let off some steam with a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Set up hints around the house and have them race from clue to clue searching for the treasure you’ve hidden for them. If your kids are too young to read, this can work with picture clues as well. The “treasure” can be a special treat you have in the house, a new game or art supply you’ve been saving or their favorite stuffed teddy.

No, it isn’t easy to be holed up at home with your kids. But, with some creativity and a positive attitude (and lots of coffee and chocolate), you can fill this challenging time with warm memories your children will treasure for the rest of their lives.

Your Turn: How are you keeping your kids busy during the pandemic? Share your best ideas with us in the comments.

Beware of Coronaviris Scams

Scammers are notorious for capitalizing on fear, and the coronavirus outbreak is no man in a medical maskexception. Showing an appalling lack of the most basic morals, scammers have set up fake websites, bogus funding collections and more in an effort to trick the fearful and unsuspecting out of their money.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published on its website a warning against email scams connected to the coronavirus. The agency claims it has received reports from around the world about phishing attempts mentioning coronavirus on an almost daily basis.

Closer to home, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning against a surge in coronavirus scams, which are being executed with surprising sophistication, so they may be difficult for even the keenest of eyes to spot.

The best weapons against these scams are awareness and education. When people know about circulating scams and how to identify them, they’re already several steps ahead of the scammers. Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus-related scams.

How the scams play out

There are several scams exploiting the fear and uncertainty surrounding the virus. Here are some of the most prevalent:

The fake funding scam

In this scam, victims receive bogus emails, text messages or social media posts asking them to donate money to a research team that is supposedly on the verge of developing a drug to treat COVID-19. Others claim they are nearing a vaccine for immunizing the population against the virus. There have also been ads circulating on the internet with similar requests. Unfortunately, nearly all of these are fakes, and any money donated to these “funds” will help line the scammers’ pockets.

The bogus health agency

There is so much conflicting information on the coronavirus that it’s really a no-brainer that scammers are exploiting the confusion. Scammers are sending out alerts appearing to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the WHO; however, they’re actually created by the scammers. These emails sport the logo of the agencies that allegedly sent them, and the URL is similar to those of the agencies as well. Some scammers will even invent their own “health agency,” such as “The Health Department,” taking care to evoke authenticity with bogus contact information and logos.

Victims who don’t know better will believe these missives are sent by legitimate agencies. While some of these emails and posts may actually provide useful information, they often also spread misinformation to promote fear-mongering, such as nonexistent local diagnoses of the virus. Even worse, they infect the victims’ computers with malware which is then used to scrape personal information off the infected devices.

The phony purchase order

Scammers are hacking the computer systems at medical treatment centers and obtaining information about outstanding orders for face masks and other supplies. The scammers then send the buyer a phony purchase order listing the requested supplies and asking for payment. The employee at the treatment center wires payment directly into the scammer’s account. Unfortunately, they’ll have to pay the bill again when contacted by the legitimate supplier.

Preventing scams

Basic preventative measures can keep scammers from making you their next target.

As always, it’s important to keep the anti-malware and antivirus software on your computer up to date, and to strengthen the security settings on all of your devices.

Practice responsible browsing when online. Never download an attachment from an unknown source or click on links embedded in an email or social media post from an unknown individual. Don’t share sensitive information online, either. If you’re unsure about a website’s authenticity, check the URL and look for the lock icon and the “s” after the “http” indicating the site is secure.

Finally, it’s a good idea to stay updated on the latest news about the coronavirus to avoid falling prey to misinformation. Check the actual CDC and WHO websites for the latest updates. You can donate funds toward research on these sites as well.

Spotting the scams

Scammers give themselves away when they ask for payment via specific means, including a wire transfer or prepaid gift card. Scams are also easily spotted by claims of urgency, such as “Act now!” Another giveaway is poor writing skills, including grammatical errors, awkward syntax and misspelled words. In the coronavirus scams, “Breaking information” alerts appearing to be from health agencies are another sign of a scam.

You can keep yourself safe from the coronavirus by practicing good hygiene habits and avoid coronavirus scams by practicing healthy internet usage. Keep yourself in the know about the latest developments.

At Destinations Credit Union, we will never e-mail or phone you asking for personal information.  If you call us, we will verify that you are who you say you are by asking questions.  If you get an e-mail and you are unsure if it is legitimate or not, don’t click!  Go directly to the website of the legit organization or call them.

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a coronavirus scam? Tell us about it in the comments.

How To Work From Home

The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world as we know it and turned it upside down. man working from home officeHospitals are scrambling to meet the needs of their patients as the federal and local governments are issuing stricter guidelines to help stop the spread of the virus.

Shopping malls that were filled with crowds just a week ago now stand vacant. Universities and schools have emptied out and students are continuing their education online to diminish the spread of the virus. Small businesses have shuttered their doors as they choose their health and the health and safety of their customers over profit.

As part of this upheaval, millions of Americans have been sent home from work with laptops in hand and strict instructions to remotely tend to their usual workload. Unfortunately, this can prove to be a lot harder than it sounds. If you find yourself struggling to complete your workload from home during the outbreak, we can help!

Here are some tips on how to stay focused, on-task and productive as you work from home.

Create a workstation. Propping up your pillows and working in bed can sound like a good idea until you find yourself nodding off in front of your computer screen. To keep your brain focused and in “working mode,” it’s best to designate one area of your home to serve as your workstation as you wait out the outbreak. Keep the area clean and stocked with all the supplies you may need during your work hours.

Set your hours. A major boon of working from home is choosing your own hours — but this can backfire quickly. Lack of a proper schedule is the biggest enemy of the procrastinator. To keep from finding yourself with a huge amount of work to complete in an impossibly short amount of time, set up working hours and stick to them. If there are children home with you, work around their routine by scheduling your work hours during naptime or late at night when they’re asleep.

Collaborate. For most of us, home is where we unwind and kick off our shoes after a long day of work. Keeping focused and staying on task when working in your own comfortable surroundings can be super-challenging. Bring home some of the motivational work atmosphere by collaborating with your colleagues as much as possible. Utilize video conferencing to swap ideas, plan long-term projects and communicate on platforms like Slack, which is created just for this purpose.

Get rid of all distractions. It can be hard to keep your mind on work when each beep of the phone brings more horrific news and updates about the spread of the coronavirus. If you can, hide or shut off your phone during your work hours. If that’s not possible, consider turning off your notifications and social media apps. You can also use an app, like ColdTurkey, which makes it easy to minimize distractible apps and websites on your phone.

Your Turn: Are you working from home? Tell us how you’re making it work in the comments.

6 Financial Lessons You Can Learn From Basketball

When we should have been in the midst of college hoops March Madness, let’s take a moment to review someBasketball player shooting from free throw line, rear view surprising financial lessons we can learn from the iconic sport and its players.

Lesson 1: Passion breeds success

As any wannabe professional athlete can tell you, it takes more than muscle and talent to be a star. You need to be completely passionate about the sport to really succeed; otherwise, you’ll find it challenging to summon up the single-mindedness and commitment necessary for building your skills and strength.

In much the same way, you’ll see the most success while working at a job you feel passionate about. Your interest in the field will drive you to push yourself harder, set increasingly larger goals and achieve true success on a personal and financial level.

Lesson 2: Discipline is key 

From grueling training sessions to early-morning workouts, basketball requires an endless amount of self-discipline. Athletes must learn to ignore distractions and to devote themselves completely to the game to reach the top. This can mean missing out on social events, pulling all-nighters to keep their grades up and, of course, spending hours upon hours on training sessions and muscle building.

Managing your finances successfully requires a tremendous amount of discipline as well. Will you stick to your budget for groceries this month or blow it all on an expensive product that catches your eye? Will you have the self-control to decline an invitation to join your friends at a pricey restaurant when you already used up your allotted monthly budget for dining out? Will you remember to pay yourself first each month and set aside money for savings when there are so many things you’d love to buy today?

Training yourself to be disciplined with money is the key to a lifetime of financial wellness.

Lesson 3: Set small goals

Young athletes aspiring to compete on a professional level have a long road ahead of them. To bring their long-term goal within reach, they set smaller, trackable goals along the way. For example, they might work on increasing their muscle mass one season and then focus on bringing up their speed the next year.

Setting small goals is equally important when managing your finances. Sure, it’s nice to dream of acquiring your first million or buying a private island, but how realistic are these goals right now? How many years will it take to achieve them? It’s better to set smaller, manageable goals for your money, such as saving up a targeted amount of money, putting away a specific percentage of your monthly income for the future or bringing your monthly discretionary spending down by 10 percent. Just like a professional basketball player, your goals can be progressive, with another, larger goal taking the place of a smaller one you’ve already achieved.

Lesson 4: Diversify, diversify, diversify 

A basketball team cannot be made up of star centers. The team needs every player, each of whom is an expert in their own skill area. The team players then work in perfect coordination, using their talents to compensate for their teammates’ weaknesses and, ultimately, to win the game.

Similarly, the best investors will diversify their investments across different classes to maximize their chance of success. This way, the loss of any investments that don’t work out as planned will be offset by those that do.

Lesson 5: Research, review, revise

Athletes prepare for games beyond training sessions and practice runs. Before a scheduled game with an opponent, coaches will show their players videos of previous games they’ve played against that particular team. This way, the players can get an understanding of what they’re up against, learn the other team’s strengths and weaknesses and develop the best strategy to help defeat them.

In smart  money management, there’s no end to the ways you can build your knowledge. You can check out online financial resources, read the latest in personal finance literature and listen to podcasts on money topics that interest you. You can also stop by Destinations Credit Union to speak to a Member Service Representative about the financial resources we offer members. Use the knowledge you acquire to make smart decisions about general money management, your investment strategy and your long-term financial goals.

Lesson 6: There’s no such thing as the easy way out

Players learn quickly that there are no shortcuts to building their skills, stamina and strength. Those who try to take the easy way out by turning to steroids or other illicit sources to help them reach their goals end up ruining their own careers.

Short of winning the lottery, there are no shortcuts to financial wealth, either. Don’t fall prey to get-rich schemes or miracle investments promising astronomical rewards. Instead, follow the timeless rules of money management to maintain true financial wellness throughout your life: Always pay yourself first, invest early to take advantage of compound interest, spend less than you earn and increase your earning potential by investing in your own skills and knowledge.

Your Turn: Can you think of any more financial lessons we can learn from basketball? Share them with us in the comments!

Sources:
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/financial-lessons-you-can-learn-from-a-football-player-2017-11-01
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/wealth/invest/financial-planning-lessons-from-football/articleshow/64802776.cms
https://www.shebudgets.com/personal-finance/money-lessons-football/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ianaltman/2014/09/09/four-valuable-business-lessons-to-learn-from-football/#4bce3cab3242

Coronavirus vs. The Flu And Scam Alerts

The coronavirus has slowed its spread in China, but is now picking up speed in Europe Pregnant woman having blood test in doctor's officeand the U.S. As of March 3, 2020, the virus has spread to more than 89,700 people in at least 67 countries around the world, 3,000 of whom have died.

Those numbers may sound alarming, but when held up against influenza, or the flu, they don’t seem so frightening. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the U.S. alone, the flu has caused an estimated 32 million illnesses and 18,000 deaths this season.

Does that mean the flu is actually worse than the coronavirus?

While it may seem that way at first glance, it’s not so simple. Scientists have been studying seasonal flu, its symptoms and possible cures for decades. In contrast, there is very little known about the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Scientists and medical professionals are doing all they can to learn about this virus, but they are still months away from developing effective medication and vaccines.

Unfortunately, the first coronavirus death in the U.S. was recorded on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Many Americans are beginning to wonder if there is any truth to the claim that the coronavirus is milder than the flu.

Let’s take a closer look at the known differences between influenza and COVID-19.

Fatality rate

It’s difficult to give an accurate fatality rate to a virus that is still spreading, but the coronavirus seems to be more deadly than the flu. On average, seasonal flu kills approximately 0.10 percent of infected individuals. Researchers initially found the death rate for the COVID-19 virus to be 2.30 percent in mainland China, but a later study of hospitalized patients, published Feb. 28 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that the overall death rate was lower, at roughly 1.40 percent.

Researchers have also found that the death rate for the coronavirus seems to vary by location, the infected individual’s age and the general state of their health. Many also claim the death rate is actually lower than it is believed to be, thanks to many unreported or symptom-free cases of the virus. There have also been no known coronavirus deaths of children under the age of 9.

Symptoms

According to the CDC, common flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, muscle aches, headaches, runny or stuffy nose, fatigue and, occasionally, vomiting and diarrhea as well. Flu is characterized by the sudden onset of symptoms. Recovery generally happens within two weeks of contracting the virus. Sometimes, the flu causes medical complications and necessitates hospitalization.

Symptoms of the coronavirus are still being studied. According to the CDC, reported symptoms have ranged from mild to severe, and typically include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Fatigue and muscle aches have been present in 11 to 44 percent of patients as well. Other, less-common symptoms include headache, sore throat, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Rate of contagion

To date, the coronavirus seems to be more contagious than most strains of the flu, and about as contagious as strains that appear in pandemic flu seasons.

Each person with the coronavirus appears to infect 2.2 other people, on average. Many experts claim this data is skewed since the epidemic was mismanaged at its outset and the rate of infection consequently soared.

By comparison, each person with the seasonal flu infects approximately 1.3 other people.

As with most viral diseases, infected individuals can be contagious before the onset of any symptoms. Both viruses also spread easily through the air and contaminated surfaces, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces.

At-risk populations

Both COVID-19 and influenza are most dangerous to people who are older than 65, or have chronic illnesses or a compromised immune system.

The flu appears to be more dangerous to children, especially very young ones, while the coronavirus only triggers very mild symptoms in children or none at all. The flu is also a known danger to pregnant women. The coronavirus may pose a similar threat to expectant women, though it is still too early to know this with any certainty.

The coronavirus seems to be more deadly for older men. Death rates among men over 40 who have contracted the virus have exceeded those among women in the same age group. The higher rate of smokers among men, and by extension compromised lung function, may be the reason for this discrepancy.

Severity of the virus

As of Feb. 22, there were a minimum of 310,000 hospitalizations and 18,000 flu deaths among the 32 million cases of flu in the United States, according to the CDC.

By contrast, as of March 3, approximately 100 people in the United States have been infected with the novel coronavirus, and there have been six deaths, all in Washington State.

Most cases of coronavirus infection are not severe, but some people do become quite sick. Data from the largest study of patients in China to date found that of coronavirus patients receiving medical attention, 80 percent had mild infections, approximately 15 percent had severe illnesses and 5 percent were in critical condition.

Available treatment

Antibiotics are ineffective against the coronavirus and the flu. However, there are four antiviral prescription drugs available to help mitigate the severity of flu symptoms and shorten its duration. Unfortunately, there are no approved antiviral medications available for the coronavirus just yet, though several are in the testing stages. Doctors recommend that infected individuals follow the general remedies for viral illnesses, including rest, increased fluid intake and painkillers.

Prevention

Flu vaccines are widely available, and are 40-60 percent effective in protecting against the virus.

In contrast, there is no vaccine available for the coronavirus. An experimental vaccine is currently being developed, but it will likely be a year or two before it is ready for widespread use.

In the wake of the arrival of COVID-19 on American shores, experts are urging all people who are not vaccinated against the flu to get their shot now. The flu vaccine will not protect against the coronavirus, but it will free up more hospital personnel, beds and equipment for treatment in case of a coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

As always, proper hygiene is vital to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. The following guidelines can help keep you healthy:

  • Wash your hands with antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds after being out in public and before touching food.
  • Keep unwashed hands away from your eyes and face.
  • If you’re feeling unwell, stay home.
  • Cough and sneeze into your elbows and not into your hands.

In addition, scammers are trying to take advantage of public fears.  See what the FTC has to say in this article.  As always, protect your personal information – don’t click on unrecognized links or fall prey to information phishing by phone call or in person.  Beware of promised miracle cures or false prevention products.

Your Turn: How are you keeping yourself safe from the coronavirus? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Sources:
https://www.nj.gov/health/cd/topics/ncov.shtml
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/29/health/coronavirus-flu.html
https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/coronavirus/
https://www.livescience.com/new-coronavirus-compare-with-flu.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/10/can-face-mask-stop-coronavirus-covid-19-facts-checked

How To Create A Killer Resume

young man at job interview

Starting that first post-college job can be super-exciting, but there will be lots of hurdles to clear until you land that dream position. First, you’ll need to create a resume that tells potential employers about your educational background, your skills and your hopes for the future.

Unfortunately, there will likely be dozens or even hundreds of hopeful employees applying for the same positions as you are. Follow this

handy list of tips to make your resume stand out from the pack.

Include all the basics

Don’t send out your resume without including the following information:

  • Your complete educational background
  • Details about any volunteer work or college projects you’ve participated in
  • Clubs and organizations you joined in college
  • Your career history
  • Make sure to keep it concise and under 2 pages.

Triple-check your spelling and grammar 

Nothing says “I’ll be a shoddy worker” like a resume that is riddled with careless mistakes.

Don’t rely on autocorrect; review your resume at least three times to make sure there are no spelling, grammar or syntax errors. Check the format as well—it should be consistent and the text should be aligned throughout the document.

For best results, have a friend check over your resume before you send it anywhere. They may catch small details you’ve missed.

Highlight your accomplishments

It’s not enough to list the projects you’ve been involved in. Highlight the results you’ve achieved, too. This isn’t the time to be modest. Let your potential future employer know about your best moments and your most admirable achievements. It’s especially important to include details that are relevant to your chosen field.

Include some stories

Show your potential new boss how you can successfully solve problems and collaborate with team members by providing specific examples of scenarios in which you’ve done exactly that. Talk about team projects you’ve completed while in college, campus initiatives you may have spearheaded or assisted with and include anecdotes about problems you may have solved in previous workplaces.

Choose references carefully

Don’t just jot down any professors whose class you excelled in as references. Instead, choose professors with whom you’ve developed a real relationship. You can also include the names and numbers of employers with whom you’ve done part-time work throughout your years in college.

Creating a brilliant resume is going to take some work, but you don’t have to do it all from scratch. Download a basic resume template from Resume Gig, My Perfect Resume, or Resume Now.

Don’t rush your resume. Take the time to build one that truly stands out from the rest and it may just be your first step toward landing that dream job.

Your Turn: Have you created a killer resume? Share your best tips in the comments.

Sources:
https://www.thebalancecareers.com/resume-tips-for-college-students-2063286
https://www.thejobnetwork.com/how-to-write-a-college-student-resume-with-examples/
https://www.collegedata.com/en/prepare-and-apply/apply-yourself/create-outstanding-applications/how-to-write-your-college-resume/

Should I Finance A Large Purchase?

“Buy today with no money down and zero interest!”

woman counting pennies

You’ve seen the ads when shopping for new furniture, household appliances or an entertainment system. The text differs slightly each time, but each ad offers the same thing: the option of spreading the cost of your purchase over several months or several years, with a zero-percent interest plan. To fund your purchase, you may need to enroll in a payment plan with the company, sign up for its credit card or open an unaffiliated credit card offering an introductory no-interest period. It sounds like a fantastic deal—but is it really?

Here are the potential pitfalls of going this route and the surprising benefits of financing a large purchase under specific circumstances—even if you have the cash to pay for it today.

What happens when you finance a purchase?

Setting up a payment plan for a purchase or charging it to a no-interest credit card essentially means pushing off the payment of the purchase and spreading it over several months or even years. The retailer is eager to offer you this plan because it makes you more likely to overspend and buy something you can’t afford. Consumers love these deals because it enables them to divide a large purchase into bite-size pieces.

When is financing a bad idea?

In general, it’s not advisable to buy something you can’t really afford. But what if the total price of the sofa is prohibitively expensive and you can easily pay the monthly installments?

Here’s where it gets tricky. First, it’s important to note that nearly every no-interest offer is only temporary. Once the promotional period runs out on these deals, you’ll almost always be hit with a double-digit interest rate. Second, most of these plans come with a deferred-interest clause stipulating that any missed payment will be charged with retroactive interest after the no-interest period is over. Both of these caveats mean that missed or late payments will cost a lot more than you may believe.

With this in mind, it’s best not to finance a large purchase if any of these apply:

  • Finances are extremely tight. If you regularly have trouble making it through the month, you’ll likely find it difficult to meet the monthly payments on this purchase.
  • You are not a careful spender. If you technically have the money for the monthly payments, but you know you tend to blow your budget, you’ll be better off skipping a financed purchase.
  • You don’t have an emergency fund. If you can fit the monthly payments into your budget, but you don’t have any cash set aside for emergencies, you might not want to finance a purchase. If you do go forward with it, any unexpected expense that arises could throw your budget off and cause you to miss one or several payments.

When financing can work in your favor

In certain circumstances, the smarter choice may be financing a large purchase you can actually pay for today. In these cases, you are confident you have enough money in your monthly budget to meet the monthly payments and you have the discipline not to spend that money elsewhere.

Here are two reasons you may want to finance a purchase you can pay for now:

  1. To boost your credit rating. If you’re working on improving your credit score, adding a payment plan, also known as “installment credit,” to your credit file can help boost your score. This will only work with a payment plan since retail credit cards opened to fund a specific purchase generally only cover that purchase, which increases your credit utilization rate and hurts your score. In addition, a credit card won’t help diversify your credit file. It’s also not a good idea to go this route if you’re planning on taking out a large loan in the near future. Opening a new line of credit now may hurt your score in the short term, which will lower your chances of getting the best possible terms on the bigger loan.
  2. To invest your cash in a high-yield account. If you have the cash saved up for a large purchase and are offered a no-interest payment plan that you know you can afford, you may want to invest that money (where it will be earning more) instead of using it to pay for your purchase. Remember: This can only work if you are absolutely sure you will be able to meet the monthly payments on time.

Whether you choose to finance a large purchase ultimately depends on your financial reality, personal discipline and personal preferences. Be sure to consider every angle of this decision before making a decision.

Your Turn: Have you ever financed a large purchase? Why, or why not? Tell us about it in the comments.

Sources:
https://www.clearpoint.org/blog/heres-why-you-probably-shouldnt-finance-furniture/
https://www.moneyunder30.com/when-to-finance-even-if-you-could-pay-cash
https://www.moneymanifesto.com/should-you-take-0-financing-on-furniture-6035/

All You Need To Know About Going Cashless

As our world grows increasingly digitized, more and more consumers are banishing the Woman using her phone to make payment in a cafecash and coins from their wallets and choosing other ways to pay for their purchases. There’s no lack of alternative payment methods today, from credit and debit cards; to electronic payment apps like Zelle, PayPal and Venmo; to mobile payment wallets like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay; to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. You may be thinking about following the masses and getting rid of your cash. Or maybe you’re wondering if every transaction in the country will soon be digitized.

We have answered all of your questions about going cashless on a societal and personal level.

What if the entire country went cashless?

Futuristic as it sounds, many people believe our country will soon be completely cashless. They point to the growing number of consumers who rarely touch cash, and claim it won’t be long before the government discontinues the printing of paper money. If that happens, cash would have no value and every vendor, from plumber to dry cleaner to pizza deliverer, would need to have a way to process electronic payments.

In truth, there’s no indication of the government considering this move anytime soon, but, if it ever comes to pass, society would be deeply affected on many levels.

Here are just a few ways society stands to gain by eliminating cash:

No anonymous transactions for funding black markets. Most illegal transactions, like the purchase of recreational drugs and unlicensed weapons, happen with cash. Digital transactions always leave a trail, and getting rid of all paper money can significantly curtail the viability of these black markets.

Fewer white-collar crimes. Similarly, money laundering and other white-collar crimes will be more difficult to pull off without the availability of cash.

No cash management. Printing money, storing it and transferring large amounts of cash all costs money. These expenses will be eliminated along with cash.

Easier international payments. If every developed country accepted cashless payments, there’d be no need to exchange your money for local currency when you visit a foreign country.

On the flip side, there are serious concerns associated with the possibility of a completely cashless society. Here are just a few of them:

Increased risk of fraud. With everyone paying for every purchase through digital means, hackers have a much wider pool of victims to choose from. Plus, if your accounts are hacked in a cashless world, you’d have no way to pay for anything.

Lack of privacy. When every transaction happens online, your personal choices are no longer personal.

Inequality. A cashless society is unfair to the poor and unbanked. Without mobile devices for digital payments, or even a credit card, they’d have no way to make purchases. Destinations Credit Union can assist these people in improving their situation. Click here for more information.

Extra fees. While eliminating cash management might save some money for businesses and financial institutions, there’s no guarantee that payment processors and peer-to-peer payment apps won’t cash in on their sudden rise to significance and start charging higher fees for every transaction.

On a personal level

Regardless of whether the country goes cashless anytime soon, you can decide to lighten up your wallet and pay for every one of your purchases with a mobile wallet or debit or credit card. You may choose to do so for the incredible convenience of cashless payments, or maybe you like the way you can effortlessly track your expenses with cashless payments.

However, before you get all hung up on the idea of going completely cashless, consider these important personal benefits of holding onto some of your cash:

  • Multiple studies show that most people spend less when paying with cash. One such study, performed by MIT and published by Carnegie Mellon Magazine, proved that card-swiping diners spent 42 percent more in a fast-food place compared to cash spenders.
  • Cash is free. Card transactions and digital payments often come with fees to help the retailer offset their cost of the transaction. Cash, however, is always free to use. Some retailers, like gas stations, even offer a discount for consumers paying with cash.
  • Some vendors only accept cash payments. You may not be able to shop everywhere or use the services of every vendor if you go completely cashless.
  • Cash always works. Cards and digital payment processing rely on electrical power and/or internet service. Cash always works, and it can really come in handy in case of a power outage. If you went completely cashless, something as simple as a dead phone battery could render you penniless.
  • There’s no risk of fraud. The worst thing that can happen to you when you’re carrying cash is getting pickpocketed and never seeing that money again. Contrast this to the very real risk of identity theft that every card transaction inherently carries. (Of course, care should be taken to conceal your cash and keep it in a safe place away from nimble fingers.)

Right now, the future of cash is anyone’s guess, but as our society grows more digitized, cash is becoming increasingly obsolete. Whatever personal choice you make about carrying cash, consider the various safety factors involved before making your decision.

Your Turn: How do you feel about a cashless society? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

Sources:
https://www.moneyunder30.com/how-to-go-cashless
https://www.thebalance.com/pros-and-cons-of-moving-to-a-cashless-society-4160702
https://www.usatoday.com/amp/2124163001