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/  

The Best Deals On Wheels For College Students

You’ve shopped for weeks and you’ve packed for hours. Now, you’re finally ready to load kids with caryour trunk and pull out of the family driveway toward your next stage in life.

Which set of wheels will accompany you on your rite of passage into the grown-up world?

Yes–you’ve chosen your college, your major, and perhaps your roommate. Now it’s time to choose your car.

There are loads of factors at play when making this decision, though.

First, you’ll need to determine if it makes more sense for you to lease or to purchase a car.

Leasing offers flexibility. It’s the perfect choice for those who aren’t ready to commit to a car for long-term usage. It’s also more practical if you can’t afford to be solely responsible for a car’s maintenance and repairs. Monthly lease payments – even with repair warranties and liability waivers – also tend to be cheaper than payments on a purchased vehicle.

Of course, a lease won’t net you anything of value in the long run. When your lease is up, you’ll be out the thousands of dollars you spent “renting” the car, and have nothing to show for it. Also, if you max out the annual mileage limit, you may end up paying a small fortune in fees.

Purchasing a car, on the other hand, is a commitment that pays off in the long run. If you can afford the down payment, monthly fee, and can foot the bill for any repairs (talk to your credit union about affordable coverage for mechanical breakdowns), it may be the choice for you. Remember, though, that cars depreciate as soon as you take them for their first spin. It’s also hard to predict which vehicle will serve you best a few years down the line.

If you do decide to purchase a vehicle, first determine exactly what you can afford. Don’t take on a monthly payment that’s going to squeeze your budget. Building and maintaining a good credit history is crucial – at every stage in life.

Be sure to do extensive research before signing on a car. As a cash-strapped college student, you need to make the most cost-effective decision possible – but that doesn’t mean buying the cheapest car you can find. Your vehicle should serve its purpose without draining your wallet on fuel costs and repairs.

Carefully screen every car you’re considering for fuel efficiency, safety, warranty inclusion and coverage, and cargo capacity.

To make your search a little easier, we’ve compiled a list of the top six cars for the budget-wise college student. Each one is fuel-efficient, offers excellent cargo capacity, and is well-priced. (Cargo capacity listed is with the rear seats folded.)

1.) 2016 Kia Soul

Starting price: $15,900

Cargo capacity: 24.2/61.3 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 27 mpg combined

2.) 2017 Honda Fit

Starting price: $15,990

Cargo capacity: 16.6/52.7 cubic feet

Fuel economy: Up to 36 mpg combined

3.) 2017 Chevrolet Sonic Hatchback

Starting price: $18,455

Cargo capacity: 19/47.7 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 32 mpg combined

4.) 2016 Mazda 3 Hatchback

Starting price: $18,545

Cargo capacity: 20.2/47.1 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 33 mpg combined

5.) 2016 Hyundai Elantra GT

Starting price: $18,800

Cargo capacity: 23/51 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 27 mpg combined

6.) 2017 Volkswagen Golf Hatchback

Starting price: $19,895

Cargo capacity: 22.8/52.7 cubic feet

Fuel economy: 29 mpg combined

Before heading to the dealer’s shop, it’s best to get pre-approved. This way, you’ll know exactly what you can afford, and you’ll be taken more seriously by the dealer. Be sure to drop by Destinations Credit Union for your pre-approval and auto loan! [Our credit union offers low rates on pre-owned vehicles, so call 410-663-2500 or apply online.

Your Turn: Are you a college student with a new set of wheels? We’d love to hear all about your car! Share your pick with us in the comments.

SOURCES:

https://www.google.com/amp/www.foxbusiness.com/features/2013/04/29/should-college-students-lease-or-buy-car.amp.html 
http://www.moneycrashers.com/best-affordable-cars-college-students/  
https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/the-best-cars-for-college-studentshttp://www.collegexpress.com/articles-and-advice/student-life/blog/best-value-cars-college-students-2016-2017/

6 Ways To Save On Your Summer Vacation

The ocean is calling – and so is the open road. Your dream vacation awaits! But first, youSummer Beach Scene need to work out the financial details. How are you going to pay for your getaway? How much can you realistically spend? Where is the money for your vacation going to come from?

Ideally, a plump vacation fund that’s fed throughout the year is the way to go. Unfortunately, though, we often don’t think about how to pay for vacation until it’s a few weeks away. To make things even worse, according to LearnVest, an alarming 74% of Americans go into debt to pay for a vacation.

Don’t become part of that statistic! Be proactive in planning your vacation by saving up for it in advance. Forgo some luxuries in the months or weeks leading up to your vacation and save the extra cash for your getaway. Consider running a yard sale featuring all of your forgotten treasures and use the profits to fund your trip. Skip your weekly dinner out for a while and put the money in your vacation budget.

Now it’s time to plan your vacation! When you’ve got the money saved up, create a realistic vacation budget. These six vacation saving tips will help you plan the perfect getaway while staying well within your budget.

1.) Timing is everything

Be a savvy shopper. There is an ideal window for buying everything, and booking airline flights is no exception. Flight prices generally fluctuate until departure day, but experts say the sweet spot is 54 days before your travel date. If you don’t want to be busy checking prices all day, sign up for emails from a savings alert site. Let them know which dates and locations you’re interested in, and they’ll let you know when a flight goes on sale so you can book your discounted tickets before they’re sold out.

2.) Clear your cache

Hotel and airline sites use cookies to determine what you’re shopping for. They’ll see which days you’re searching and raise their prices accordingly. Beat the system by clearing your cache before every new search so they can’t read into your browser history. You might see as much as a 50% drop in prices when searching with an empty cache!

3.) Sweet-talk your way to savings

Just because your hotel room is pre-booked, it doesn’t mean you can’t save. Don’t be shy about asking for an upgrade at check-in. About 78% of hotel guests who request an upgrade at the front desk actually receive one. Some face-to-face schmoozing can go a long way!

Also, by 6 p.m., most hotels know which rooms will be filled for the night. If you check in later in the day, you’ll have a better chance at getting the keys to the room with the incredible view – even with your economy-class price tag.

4.) Never pay full price

You can score a deluxe vacation without the deluxe price tag – all it takes is a little research. Check sites like coupondivas.com, entertainment.com and Groupon.com for amazing deals and deep discounts for local eateries and entertainment centers. You can also find cheaper tickets to nearby amusement parks by looking for sellers on Craigslist. Also, if you’re traveling with kids, don’t forget to look up restaurants with “Kids Eat Free” promotions.

5.) Freebie fun

Challenge yourself to enjoy one day of your vacation without spending any money at all. Search local sites and blogs for write-ups about fantastic free things to do nearby. You might find a charming family farm, a gorgeous waterway, a fun splash pad for the kids or a scenic hiking trail. Or, just spend the day at the closest beach!

Don’t eat out on this day either. Many hotels include a continental breakfast – take full advantage. For lunch, you can picnic on sandwiches. Dinner can be something effortless and delicious that you brought from home or pick up at a local supermarket. Consider packing a travel grill or panini maker for easy meals. You can heat up some hot dogs or burger patties, or bring some baguettes and an assortment of sliced cheeses for fresh paninis. Round off the meal with some pre-sliced veggies.

You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have without spending a penny!

6.) Save your mega event for the last day

The taste of dessert is what lingers after the meal is through. End your vacation on a sweet note by saving your most exciting event for your last day away.

If you’re unsure of how you’re going to fund your getaway, call, click or stop by [credit union] to ask about taking out a personal loan or joining a vacation club. We want to help you make your dream vacation come true!

Your Turn: How do you save big on summer vacation? Share your best hacks and tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/www.vogue.com/article/how-to-save-money-on-summer-travel-learnvest/amp

https://www.google.com/amp/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/5-money-tips-for-savoring-your-summer-vacation/
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timesfreepress.com/news/business/aroundregion/story/2017/jun/25/how-save-time-work-and-money-your-summer-vaca/434806/
https://www.google.com/search?q=ways+to+save+on+summer+vacation&rlz=1CDGOYI_enUS737US737&oq=saving+on+summer+vaca&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j0l3.11737j0j7&hl=en-US&sourceid=chrome-mobile&ie=UTF-8
https://www.google.com/amp/www.bankrate.com/personal-finance/smart-money/8-last-minute-ways-to-save-for-vacation/%3Famp%3D1

Skip-a-Payment: Free Cash Flow With A Summertime Break From Your Loan Payment

Summer can put a big strain on your budget. There are so many extra expenses! If youflip flops small have been looking for a way to get through these months without racking up a huge credit card bill, one option to consider is skip-a-payment. Here’s what you should know about this program.

Summertime brings loads of expenses that can bust any budget. There are family vacations that put a serious strain on your wallet, costly camp fees for the kids and dozens of other expenses that may not always be part of your usual financial planning.

Many people wonder how they’ll get through these months. Fortunately, Destinations Credit Union offers an exclusive break from your loan payments during this costly time of year (you must apply before June 30 for the summer skip-a-payment). Now that sounds like a dream vacation!

Skip-a-payment is a program that allows members to skip a monthly loan during an especially tight financial season. Most credit unions offer this program during the holiday season, and again during the summer. Depending on the loan and your circumstances, members can choose to skip a payment once or twice a year. There is usually a small fee attached to the payment omission.

Specific criteria must be met to qualify for skip-a-payment. The program is generally only allowed for loans with terms that are 12 months or longer, have been open for at least 9 months and have a good payment history of 6 or more months. Some credit unions allow payment omissions on most loans with the exception of open-ended or real estate loans. Nearly every credit union requires you to be up to date on your loan payments, and for you to have sufficient funds in your checking account to cover the nominal associated fee. See the terms and conditions for skipping your payment at Destinations Credit Union.

If you are considering skip-a-payment, speak to a member representative for full details. Additionally, here are some important points to consider before you decide to skip a payment:

1.) Breathing room

The primary benefit of choosing to skip a payment is quite obviously, the extra cash flow. During an expensive time of year, you might not make it through the month without resorting to swiping your credit card – and paying high interest on every purchase you make. By opting to skip a large payment on a loan or credit card, you’ll free up cash for your daily expenses so you don’t finish the month in the red. Summertime is so much sweeter when you’re not sweating about your bills!

2.) Longer loan term

It’s important to remember that by skipping a payment, you’re lengthening the life of your loan. True, you’re skipping a payment now, but you’ll need to make that up one day. You’re essentially moving this month’s payment to the end of the loan.

3.) Accrued interest

While you won’t be racking up credit card bills with high interest rates this month – thanks to the extra cash you’ll have – you will be billed for interest on the skipped loan payment. You’ll need to pay that up at the end of the loan term. This means you’ll end up paying a bit more in interest during the life of the loan.

Did You Know?

  • Many people fall out of the habit of making their monthly payments when they choose to skip just one payment. Payment history influences credit scores most, putting you at significant risk of hurting your score if you skip a payment without your lender’s permission. Remember: this is a one-month-only deal! Be sure to make your payments next month.
  • The popularity of skip-a-payment programs plunged at the turn of the millennium. They are now offered almost exclusively by credit unions, with very few banks still offering them.
  • If you feel like you could use skip-a-payment every month, you may be in financial trouble. Speak to a Financial Counseling representative for advice on money management, debt counseling and budgeting tips. We’re always here to help!

Want to hit the road without worrying about bills? Call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to learn about our skip-a-payment program. Take a break from your loans!

Your Turn: Have you ever taken advantage of your credit union’s skip-a-payment offer? Why or why not? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://blog.credit.com/2015/12/wait-some-banks-let-you-skip-payments-during-the-holidays-131160/

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/12/03/the-perils-of-skipping-loan-payments-this-holiday-season
https://www.servicecu.org/mobile.asp?MPID=819

Risking It When Investing

Sometimes one partner is a risk taker and wants to invest in things that aren’t really iniStock_000034071002_Medium the other’s comfort zone. Some generally consider it better to invest where returns are higher, but that also means a higher risk! Is there some sort of middle ground?

It’s a good idea to think (and talk) this through. Many couples face the same question, and while the simplest solution might be to split your funds down the middle and invest as you each see fit, that’s not likely to bring peace or wealth into the relationship. In a marriage, for one thing, whether accounts are titled separately or jointly, they are considered marital assets (even 401Ks). And a healthy relationship depends on working jointly toward financial goals, not going it alone.

One of the most difficult issues for couples to resolve is how much risk they’re willing to take with their investments. According to Fidelity’s 2015 Couples Retirement Study, 47 percent of couples disagree about how much money they’ll need to maintain their lifestyle in their later years. Even more troubling, a Harris survey found that 33 percent of couples weren’t saving anything for their retirement years. And, of those who were, one in five said they were clueless about how much their partner was contributing to their accounts.

Some tips if you’re starting down the investment road together:

  • As in so many areas of a relationship, communication is key. Let your spouse or partner know you’re willing to research options together and come up with a plan. Erica Coogan, partner at Moss Adams Wealth Advisors in Seattle, recommends that each partner complete a risk assessment questionnaire and then compare answers. “It makes a subjective conversation a little more objective,” she says.
  • Remember that planning needs to cover both spouses, not just a breadwinner. Experts advise couples to be mindful of the “It’s my money because I worked for it” syndrome. Couples need to work together on a plan for investing (and spending) their money, no matter who earns it. Apart from any resentment, an uneven divide in the ownership of assets can make a mess of cash flow, estate planning and taxes.
  • Consider transparency. Wherever you stand on risk, consider selecting some investments that are, by nature, transparent. This includes individual stocks, bonds and exchange-traded funds. You can also reduce risk by diversifying your portfolio across asset classes. Ask a financial advisor at your credit union for help in untangling the strands of modern-day investing.
  • Think about your time horizon. Allowing an investment to compound leads to much better returns. So, if you’re the more risk-averse half of a couple, and you’ll need your money within 10 years, say with confidence to your partner: Slow down. Remember that it doesn’t make intuitive sense (but is nevertheless true) that your money doubles in seven years if you earn a compounded annual return of 10%. Don’t let a little fumbled math lead to a rash or risky decision.
  • Keep the goalposts in sight. Your mutual goals will determine how, and how much, the two of you should invest. For instance, when do you want to retire? Do you plan to pay for your kid’s college expenses? Purchase a home (or a second home)? Start a business?

Finances are one of the leading causes of separation. The more ownership and open communication a couple has over this potentially rocky topic, the less likely it is that they’ll panic when there’s a ripple in their plans or something happens in the markets.

Your Turn: Do you and your spouse or partner disagree about investments? Let us know how you’ve smoothed that potentially rocky road and headed for a secure sunset.

SOURCES:
https://blog.wealthfront.com/couples-investing-risk-assessmentwww.gofffinancial.com/investing-for-couples
http://money.usnews.com/investing/articles/2016-09-21/5-common-investment-mistakes-that-couples-make
http://www.bankrate.com/finance/investing/5-steps-effective-investing-as-couple.aspx#slide=2

Financial Tips For Single Parents

Smart money management is always important, but it can take on more urgency for mom and childthose who are without a partner. Whether you’re divorced, widowed, or single by choice, single parenting brings unique budgeting challenges.

Marilyn Timbers, a Connecticut-based financial advisor, says of having to raise a child on one income: “Children are a joy, but they do not come cheap.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes in a report that it costs an estimated $241,080 for a middle-income couple to raise a child to age 18, and some single parents have to shoulder that responsibility alone. Even if child support is adequate – unfortunately nearly 50% of that support is never paid – you’ll do yourself a favor if you think ahead about financial matters as a single mom or dad.

Estate planning is your first priority, according to Lisa Hay of Ascend Financial. It’s essential to make arrangements for your children should you become incapacitated, and this means spending time on two documents that no one enjoys thinking about: a will, which specifies a guardian for your children and how you’ll pass assets down to them; and a “power of attorney,” which gives someone the legal right to make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so.

You may also want to set up a trust. A trust is a legal structure in which your assets can be held for the children. It is overseen by a trustee. And check with your employer to see if it offers a disability benefit. Generally, you will get a reduced income amount when you claim disability – anywhere from 50% to 70% of your salary. “Your income is your most important asset,” says Tom Morrill, owner of Morrill Insurance Group. Insuring it can be especially crucial for single parents who don’t have a second income to cover a gap.

Hay also says be sure to have life insurance. What you purchase will depend on your finances, but a term policy is most economical because it’s a straightforward death benefit. A healthy 33-year-old woman, for example, would pay roughly $240 a year for a 20-year term, $500,000 life insurance policy. This would get your child through college should something happen to you.

Health insurance is “the number one insurance need for a single parent,” according to Morrill, who considers life insurance a close second. People often complain about the cost, but if you’re uninsured, a serious medical procedure or hospital stay can be disastrous to your finances. And, of course, losing a job or becoming ill is still more catastrophic as a single parent than as part of a two-income couple. A recent Harvard study revealed that 62 percent of bankruptcies were caused by medical debt. You can comparison-shop for policies at your state’s marketplace or at HealthCare.gov.

Along with the rest of your boring-but-necessary financial thinking, don’t forget about tax breaks. If you’re a single parent, you should probably file as head of household (not as single) because you’ll often pay less and get to claim a higher standard deduction. You can also claim exemptions for yourself and each qualifying child. You also might qualify for the earned income tax credit, the child and dependent care credit (if you pay someone to care for your kids), and the child tax credit.

As far as day-to-day household operations, here are a few more things to keep in mind:

  • Credit cards – In The Financial Guide for Single Parents Workbook, Larry Burkett warns single parents that, while credit cards may seem like an easy way to fill in the gaps of a decreased income, it’s wise to avoid using them as much as possible.
  • Shopping in general – Many single parents have to make lifestyle adjustments after a divorce or the death of a spouse. You may need to consider moving or changing your spending habits. Burkett notes that lots of people like to go shopping to cheer themselves up, but the added debt you’ll incur will only make you feel worse. This even applies to groceries, which are an expensive part of the budget. Plan that trip carefully, too, so you can better avoid impulse buying.
  • Holidays – Guilt causes many single parents to overindulge their children, even if they can’t afford it. This is especially true during holidays and birthdays. Be sure to set designated amounts for gifts, and stay within the budget.
  • Ask for help – Check with your credit union for financial advice. And there are many nonprofit organizations with programs specifically designed for single parents.

Whatever your income, it’s important to give yourself a safety net, because emergencies happen. Put aside a little bit of money from each paycheck to set up an emergency fund for car repairs, broken refrigerators and other realities of life. As a general rule, experts recommend having six months’ worth of non-discretionary expenses in an account that is separate from the one you use for daily expenses. That could be a savings account or possibly a low-risk investment account.

Bucket budgeting can help, says Jan Cullinane, author of AARP’s The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement. That means creating four different accounts: one for fixed monthly expenses such as food and bills, another for long-term expenses like retirement or replacing appliances, a third for emergencies and a fourth for discretionary spending.

“Put the appropriate amount of money into the first three, and whatever is left is your discretionary or ‘fun’ spending,” says Cullinane. “If there is nothing left for that month in the ‘fun’ bucket, you simply go without – you don’t dip into the other buckets. Harsh, but necessary.”

And it’s more doable than you’d think. One study asked people if they could save 20 percent of their income. Most respondents said no. But, when asked if they could live on 80 percent of their income, most said yes. “Be aware of how you frame questions to yourself,” Cullinane says. “You might be surprised.”

Your Turn: Have you faced tough questions and financial circumstances as a single parent? What were the most useful solutions you found?

SOURCES:
http://www.familyminute.com/articles/parenting/single-parenting/financial-pitfalls-for-the-single-parent/#.WTnLa2jyvIU 

http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2013/10/17/the-best-budgeting-strategies-for-single-parents 
http://www.cheatsheet.com/personal-finance/5-personal-finance-tips-for-single-parents.html/?a=viewall 
https://www.betterment.com/resources/life/family/7-financial-planning-tips-single-parents/ 
http://abcnews.go.com/Business/top-financial-planning-tips-single-parents/story?id=20906018# 

Newlyweds: Don’t Let Financial Stress Take The Cake

There are so many things to think about when you’re just married, or about to be, and no Wedding ceremonyone would rate finances as the most exciting of them. In fact, studies show that money (not relatives) is the number one reason couples argue. Those financial arguments (again, not relatives) are one of the top predictors of divorce.

So, how can you avoid becoming a statistic? Here are some tips.

Talk To Each Other

A poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling found that 68% of engaged couples held a negative attitude about discussing money. 45% considered it “necessary but awkward,” while 7% said it was “likely to lead to a fight.” Five percent said they thought it would cause them to call off the wedding.

The result? Couples just don’t talk about finances. A Fidelity survey said more than one-third don’t even know their partner’s salary. The irony is that 72% of those same couples said they communicate “very well” about financial matters.

It’s not surprising, when you think about it. What’s romantic or sexy about debt, budgets, taxes, wills, and the like? But, while there isn’t a plan to keep every newly married couple happy, experts agree: Don’t wait to talk about money.

Taxes, for example, are boring (and scary), but they may be important right now. If you and your spouse are employed, the “marriage penalty” may force you to pay more taxes when married than while you were single. So, think about marrying in January rather than December. But if one spouse earns most of the money, you’ll enjoy a “marriage bonus” and pay less than two singles; a December wedding might be wise in that scenario.

Speaking about money now is definitely important, but so is how. A 2004 study by SmartMoney found that more than 70% of couples talk about money at least weekly. So what’s the problem? “Most of us don’t know how to talk about money,” says Mary Claire Allvine, a certified financial planner. “People tend to be emotional and reactive, not strategic.”

Whether you talk about money weekly, monthly or on some other schedule, what matters is that you agree on a system and stay open to changing it.

Get Started

Taking the first step can be difficult, so start off easy, with questions like “What’s your first money memory?” or “How did you spend your allowance?” Then move on to some of these:

  • “Are you a spender or a saver?” – If one of you is a saver and the other a spender, create a budget that considers both styles. Studies show that men and women spend differently. Women often take care of daily expenses (groceries, utilities, clothes) while men make larger purchases, such as TVs, cars or computers. The amounts might be the same, but the perceptions are very different. About 36% of partners don’t talk to each other about big purchases, and that’s a recipe for disaster.
  • “Are you in debt?” – A TD Ameritrade survey found that 38% of couples were “only somewhat” or “not at all” aware   of their partner’s debts. When you get married, your spouse’s debt doesn’t automatically becomes yours, but what he or she owes will affect both your choices. For instance, heavy credit card debt could make it more difficult to buy a home. Make reducing debt a priority.
  • “What are your financial goals?” or “Where do you want to be five or twenty years from now?” – People who identify specific goals make faster progress toward savings and investing targets. But first, you need to agree on what those targets are: buying a home, starting a family, being debt-free? List your individual goals, then share them with each other and make a joint plan.

Know what’s important to each of you. What do you value more, things you can keep or experiences to remember?       Maybe one of you wants to buy a house while the other thinks saving for retirement is essential. Get these things out in the open early.

Trust Each Other

A recent Money survey revealed that couples who trust their partner with finances feel more secure, argue less, and have more fulfilling sex lives. That level of trust, though, isn’t common among newlyweds. “We’re intimate with our partners in so many ways before marriage, and yet money remains off the table,” says Paula Levy, a marriage and family therapist.

Be honest. If you made a purchase you shouldn’t have, own up to it. Some 40% of men and women confess they’ve lied to their spouse about the price of something they bought, and lying about money can have huge repercussions.
Support each other. Retreating doesn’t help, and neither does finger-pointing. Work together to come up with a game plan.

You’re Still Individuals

Celebrate the differences. If your partner is a bargain-hunter, put him in charge of the spending while you invest the savings. And decide on a monthly amount each of you can spend, no questions asked. The average amount couples say this should be, according to Money, is $150.

There are pros and cons to opening a joint bank account. SmartMoney found that 64% of couples put all of their money in joint accounts, while 14% kept everything in separate accounts. For many newlyweds, the ideal choice may be both: yours, mine, and our accounts. Once you’ve determined shared living expenses, both of you can contribute your portion of those costs to the joint account based on your share of household income.

Ask For Help

If you and your spouse find money conversations tough, you might want to bring in a financial planner or other professional. Your credit union can help – that’s why they’re there. Take steps now to ensure that money won’t put rocks on your path to wedded bliss.

SOURCES:
http://time.com/money/4776640/money-tips-married-couples/
http://www.moneycrashers.com/money-management-newly-married-couples/
http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Personal-Finance-for-Couples
https://www.moneymanagement.org/Budgeting-Tools/Credit-Articles/Love-and-Money/Ten-questions-to-consider-before-you-commit.aspx
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/05/financial-advice_n_3391292.html
https://www.thespruce.com/financial-advice-for-married-couples-2302874
http://www.wife.org/love-money-25-financial-tips-for-couples.htm 

Springtime Gardening Tips

There’s nothing quite like garden in full bloom. And nothing says spring like a row of Pink lilybreathtakingly beautiful flowers blossoming in riotous color. But all that beauty comes after some serious work. There’s planning, planting, maintenance and more. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to turn your own patch of grass into a botanical work of art.

Here’s how to make it happen:

1.) Prepare your garden

Before you put anything in the soil, you’ll need to get the ground geared up for planting. First, remove all weeds, making sure to pull out the roots. Next, revitalize the soil from its long, dry winter by adding fertilizer or compost.

2.) Determine sunlight exposure

Make sure you know exactly how much sunlight each area of your garden gets so you can purchase the appropriate flowers for each spot. Some plants can handle the midday summer sun, and some will die from that exposure. Others will do well in a shaded area, and some need just a bit of filtered sunlight to thrive. Observe your garden’s sun exposure throughout the day and do your research before purchasing any seeds or plants.

3.) Pick your flowers

It’s always exciting to pick out the flowers that will bring your garden to life. Before you drop a bit of everything into your shopping cart at the nursery though, consider these two factors:

  1. Annuals vs perennials: There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Annuals include begonias, cosmos, geraniums and marigolds. Though they only live for one season, they are typically cheaper than perennials and bloom all season long, giving you more time to enjoy their beauty. Conversely, perennials, which include tulips, lavenders, hibiscus and hydrangeas, last several years but have a shorter blooming life and are usually more expensive. Do you like to change up your garden every year? Would you rather not have to plant each year? Consider each element carefully before making your selection.
  2. Variety will make your garden pop. For incredible results, diversify the colors, heights and flower types throughout your garden. Place a monochromatic flower, such as an orchid, near bicolored tulips. Plant climbing roses, or a vine like sweet peas, near a lower flower bed. Use a row of evergreens to create a darker backdrop for brilliantly colored flowers. Invest in one spectacular flowering tree, like a flowering crabapple or cherry blossoms.

4.) Choose vegetable plants

No garden is complete without some edibles. Here are 4 easy-to-grow veggies to get you started:

  1. Zucchini. The summer squash grows quickly and is simple to plant and care for. To speed up the process, soak your zucchini seeds in moist paper towels and wait for them to sprout before planting.
  2. Peas. Snap and snow peas take several months to grow. You can plant them early in the season; even before the soil is completely warm.
  3. Tomatoes. Sweet cherry tomatoes grow quickly and will turn any salad into a gourmet dish. Choose an area for your vine that gets full sun exposure.
  4. Cabbage. Cabbages need hardly any care; just be sure to use a slug bait to keep those hungry critters away.

5.) Plant!

Here’s the fun part! Before you get started, though, check your seed packet for the best planting time in your region. Make sure you aren’t planting too early or too late in the season.

It’s also important to plan your garden in full detail before you start digging. Measure the spaces you allotted for different kinds of plants, and make sure your plans are realistic so you don’t wind up frantically trying to undo a half-hour of planting because you ran out of room in the designated area.

On the day of planting, your soil should already be moist and prepared for seeding. When planting each seed or flower, determine how far beneath the soil that particular plant needs to go. Then add fertilizer as per the package instructions, gently incorporating the fertilizer into the soil. Next, place your seed or flower in the soil and fill the hole with soil. Lastly, add mulch to help ward off weeds and diseases.

6.) Maintenance

The amount of water each flower needs for growth can differ greatly. Research every plant in your garden carefully to make sure they are all getting the right amount of water. You can also choose to have a sprinkler or a drip system installed to simplify the process. Weed your garden regularly to keep it looking stunning and always trim wilted, dead blossoms off plants to allow new growth to form. Also, check your newer blossoms regularly for leaning and drooping – they may be in the need of support in the form of bamboo stakes or forked branches.

Now that your garden is in full bloom, pull out your most comfortable lounging chairs, pour yourself a tall glass of lemonade and enjoy the beautiful fruits of your labor!

Your Turn: How does your garden grow? Share your best gardening tips, secrets, and advice with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/85001907/list/10-ideas-from-outstanding-spring-gardens
http://www.hgtv.com/design/outdoor-design/landscaping-and-hardscaping/14-simple-gardening-tips-and-tricks

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/7025676
http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/topics/spring-gardening
http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/3-things-need-know-about-planters/
http://www.promixgardening.com/en/tips/easy-plants-beginners-zucchini-peas-tomatoes-06/?gclid=Cj0KEQjwrsDIBRDX3JCunOrr_YYBEiQAifH1Fs-wNnZsXJkC4dq6PXUMP2zXMcR1RMM1m0p8gZgde0QaAtJp8P8HAQ
https://www.google.com/amp/m.wikihow.com/Plant-Flowers%3Famp%3D1
http://www.improvenet.com/a/choosing-the-right-flowers-for-your-garden

Everyone Understands the True Meaning of the Day: Myths and Facts

In 2000, a Gallup Poll showed that only 28% of Americans understood the true meaning200514832-001 of Memorial Day. In response, President Clinton issued an official memorandum for all federal departments, stating in part:

“… I ask that all Americans come together to recognize how fortunate we are to live in freedom and to observe a universal ‘National Moment of Remembrance’ on each Memorial Day. This memorial observance represents a simple and unifying way to commemorate our history and honor the struggle to protect our freedoms.”

Clinton signed the National Moment of Remembrance Act on Dec. 28 of that year, designating 3 p.m. local time on every Memorial Day as a National Moment of Remembrance.

It’s Always Been Called Memorial Day

Actually, it was originally Decoration Day. The purpose was to visit cemeteries and place flowers on graves of fallen loved ones who had died as soldiers. In May 1868, Gen. John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month: “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country … and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

In 1882, many people began calling it Memorial Day, although the Decoration Day name didn’t disappear until after World War II. A federal law passed in 1967 officially made the name of the holiday “Memorial Day.”

Memorial Day Commemorates the Fallen of All U.S. Wars

Now it does, but it originally honored only those that were lost in the Civil War. During World War I, as the United States found itself engaged in another major conflict, the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who had died in any war.

Although WWI was called “The War to End All Wars,” the Civil War is without question the U.S. holder of that title. Some 750,000 soldiers died, making it the deadliest war in our history and requiring the establishment of the country’s first national cemeteries. For comparison, about 644,000 Americans have died in all other conflicts combined.

Memorial Day has Nothing to do with Waterloo, Right?

Many towns claim to be the birthplace of this tradition, but it’s unclear exactly where it originated. By the late 1860s, Americans in various towns and cities had begun holding springtime tributes to their fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

In April 1866, for instance, just a year after the war ended, women from Columbus, Mississippi, laid flowers on the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers. It was recognized at the time as an act of healing regional wounds. That same month, in Carbondale, Illinois, 219 Civil War veterans marched to Woodlawn Cemetery, where Logan would later deliver his address. The ceremony gives Carbondale a claim to the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance.

Despite this and other independent observances, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation on May 26, 1966, naming Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. Waterloo – named after the more famous one in Belgium where Napoleon was defeated – was chosen because it hosted an annual community-wide event each Memorial Day after 1866. During that time, businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

Memorial Day Has Always Been the Last Monday in May

The date of Decoration Day, as Logan called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle and because flowers would be in bloom. Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 for decades, but in 1968, a century after Logan’s decree, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, establishing Memorial Day as a federal holiday on the last Monday in May. The legislation took effect in 1971 and was intended to give federal employees a three-day vacation.

Flags Fly at Half-Mast All Day on Memorial Day

Almost right. Many Americans display the United States flag from their front porches or attached to a flagpole. Others decorate their front lawns with mini flags. Most federal buildings, including post offices and courthouses, fly their flags at half-mast. If you want to follow suit, feel free, but you technically should fly flags at half-staff only from sunrise until noon, then raise them to the top until sunset.

The commemorative flag tradition at Arlington National Cemetery began in the 1950s. Soldiers now place flags on over 260,000 graves there. The national cemetery, located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., was originally the home of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. It became a cemetery after the war to bury the nation’s honored dead.

Confederate States Didn’t Observe Memorial Day Until After WWI

That’s not quite true. Because of resentment toward the north after the war, most U.S. southern states decided not to celebrate Decoration Day in 1868. All but one of them honored their dead on separate days until after World War I (whereas, by 1890 every northern state had made Decoration Day an official holiday).

There’s one exception, though: Mississippi. On April 25, 1866, the town of Columbus embraced both the Union and Confederate casualties buried in its cemetery. This tradition is still carried on today in the state: Blue uniforms or gray, all are honored for their sacrifice.

Nine southern states set aside a separate day for honoring Confederate dead, variously called Confederate Memorial Day, Confederate Decoration Day and Confederate Heroes Day: Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee.

No Country Can Eat 800 Hot Dogs a Second

Au contraire. Although Memorial Day can and should be a solemn occasion, Americans also gravitate toward parades, road trips and barbecues on that weekend. And the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council – yep, there is one – says that, on Memorial Day, we’ll consume 818 grilled dogs per second. That’s just short of 71 million a day.

Have a fun and safe Memorial Day holiday weekend. See how many of these facts or myths your friends and family at the picnic might know. But, most of all, keep in mind that, for 150 years, the real reason for the holiday has been to honor fallen American heroes.

SOURCES:

http://www.funtrivia.com/playquiz/quiz3097282375608.html
http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Saving-Money/2015/0518/Seven-fun-Memorial-Day-facts-for-the-holiday-weekend
http://www.inquisitr.com/2094497/memorial-day-2015-10-facts-to-remember-about-the-holiday/
http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/memorial-day-history
http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/05/25/mf.holiday.memorial.day/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/memorial-day-facts–and-a-quiz/2011/05/29/AG7PxlEH_blog.html?utm_term=.59c30633ae4f 

Beware Of WannaCry Ransomware

On Friday, May 12, an unprecedented Trojan virus spread like wildfire through the 8480c-hackerinternet, creating enormous damage and loss.

The WannaCry ransomware attacked 57,000 computers in more than 150 countries in less than a day.

As its name implies, ransomware works by holding a victim’s data under “ransom.” The virus encrypts the files on an infected computer and holds those files hostage unless the victim pays a ransom, in which case the files are promised to be returned, unharmed.

The WannaCry virus demands a payment of $300 in exchange for decrypting infected files. If the victim doesn’t cough up the money within three days, though, the ransom doubles to $600. If a full week goes by without payment, WannaCry deletes all of the files and they are gone forever.

On Saturday, 22-year-old security researcher Marcus Hutchins became an instant hero when he registered a domain name within the virus’ code in an attempt to track its spread, unintentionally slowing its progress.

Unfortunately, though, Hutchins’s actions did not completely halt the virus. By Monday morning, more than 200,000 systems across the globe were reportedly infected. European countries were hit the hardest. Many large companies were forced to close their doors for several days, as were banks, hospitals and government agencies.

As of now, no one is sure who’s behind the virus. However, most experts believe a group known as “The Equation Group” is utilizing a code written by the National Security Agency to exploit flaws in Microsoft Windows and create the virus.

There is no fix for WannaCry, though cyber-security experts are hard at work trying to decrypt infected files. If your computer is infected, it’s best not to pay the ransom. Instead, restore backup files to your computer or seek help from a professional who specializes in restoring lost data. Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee the return of your files, and it encourages attackers to infect your computer again.

As always, the best way to protect yourself is to be proactive. Here are 5 steps you can take to keep your computer safe from WannaCry and other ransomware:

1.) Create a backup of your files

If you haven’t already done so, invest in an external hard drive and get into the habit of making regular backups of your data. This will protect your files in case anything happens to your computer, saving you lots of time, money and stress.

You can also subscribe to a cloud backup service and regularly upload your most important data. There are multiple free cloud services you can use, such as Google Drive, Apple iCloud or Dropbox. All of them will store your valuable data (to a size limit) without charging you a penny.

2.) Patch your Windows with Microsoft’s fix

Upon discovering that WannaCry spread through a weakness in Microsoft Windows, the software giant released a fix for the vulnerability. Protect your computer from this virus and other ransomware by using the fix to strengthen your computer’s code.

3.) Update your operating system

While the discovered weakness in Windows now has an appropriate band-aid, no one knows if there are any other flaws that can be exploited for another virus. It’s important to update your OS to the most recent version, preferably to Windows 10, as soon as possible. The more updated your software, the less likely it is that it contains vulnerabilities that can be abused.

4.) Use a firewall

A strong firewall will prevent ransomware from accessing your computer and will guard your online activity. No program or malware will be able to enter your system without your full consent.

Since malware is always evolving, it’s important to update your firewall on a regular basis to ensure protection from the most recent viruses and malware. You can purchase your own firewall or utilize available security measures offered by Windows, being sure to check regularly for updated versions.

5.) Avoid suspicious websites and emails

It’s too easy for hackers to infect your computer. All they need is for you to click on a flashing banner ad on your favorite shopping site and – oops! Malware is installed and it now has access to your entire computer and all your files.

Alternatively, following a link on a random email can infect your computer and destroy all your data. When browsing and checking your emails, always be on guard. Never visit suspicious-looking sites or click on any ads that look shady. Don’t download anything you can’t explain, and never click on links found in emails from people or companies you’re not familiar with. A little bit of caution goes a long way toward protecting your computer.

No one knows when WannaCry will stop circulating the web, but it always pays to be careful. Once you’re infected, restoring your data can be stressful, time-consuming, and costly. Taking steps to protect yourself, though, is painless and simple. By implementing the ideas detailed above, you’ll help keep your computer safe from this and any other ransomwares looking to make a buck off your carelessness. Better to be smart and safe than sloppy and sorry!

Your Turn:What security measures do you take to protect your computer from viruses? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

http://bgr.com/2017/05/15/wanna-cry-ransomware-virus-windows-wannacry-explainer/ 
http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/13/technology/ransomware-attack-protect-yourself/ 
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.purevpn.com/blog/how-to-protect-from-ransomware/amp/ 
https://www.google.com/amp/www.bbc.co.uk/news/amp/39920141 
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.usatoday.com/story/101690214/