What To Grab And What To Skip In June

June is the month of sun-kissed beaches, dripping ice cream cones, backyard BBQs … andYoung couple on escaltor in mall spectacular sales.

There’s lots to celebrate this month, but June sales aren’t just for “dads and grads.” If you know what to look for, you can find great deals on all kinds of stuff during the first month of summer. Use this handy list to see what to grab and what to skip this June.

Grab it: Swimwear & lingerie

Thanks to Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale each June, the first month of summer has always been a great time to stock up on swimwear and lingerie. The boutique has discontinued its swimwear line, but you can still pick up deeply discounted lingerie at the sale and you’ll find great deals on all your swimwear needs at other retailers.

This June, build your entire beach wardrobe without busting your budget!

Skip it: Grills

We know you think there’s no better time to splurge on that high-end grill you’ve been drooling over all spring, but if you hold out on your purchase until August or September, you might be able to buy that grill for half the price!

Big savings are sweeter than any grilled delicacy.

Grab it: Donuts

June 2nd is National Donut Day, and donut joints around the country are inviting you to join in the celebration! You’ll need to spring for a coffee or another small purchase at some chains, but others, like Krispy Kreme, will hand you a baked treat just for walking through their doors on June 2.

Get your donut fix for free!

Skip it: Designer clothing

Love brand-name clothing, purses, and shoes? You’ll be wise to wait another month before giving your wardrobe an overhaul.

Toward the end of July, you’ll be able to nab incredible deals on name brands like Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs and more at Nordstrom’s Anniversary Sale or other high-end retailers.

Wait just a bit more and you’ll be rewarded with designer deals!

Grab it: Movie tickets

School’s out and Mom’s nerves are already fraying at the edges – and movie theaters want to help! You’ll find $1 movie tickets in June to help kids beat the heat and offer families a fun, economical outing. Some theaters even offer $5 punchcard passes that are good for 10 movies.

Take advantage of these hot deals and spend a sweltering day at the air-conditioned theater!

Skip it: TVs

Summer is a notoriously bad time to pick up a new TV. You won’t find much in the way of TV deals or sales this month, and you’ll be stuck paying full price – or more – on any purchase. It’s best to wait until next season when TV prices start dropping.

Full screen at full price? No way!

Grab it: Outdoor gear

In a shift from the typical sale pattern, you can pick up outdoor gear for a great price just when you most need it! June is a great time to stock up on fishing, hiking and camping gear and supplies.

Get your gear today and start planning your ultimate summer getaway!

Skip it: School supplies

You might want to get that back-to-school chore out of the way almost as soon as school’s out, but you’re better off waiting another month or two before stocking up on pencils and paper. Back-to-school sales start rolling out in July and don’t pick up speed until mid-August.

Don’t stock up on school supplies until summer’s half over.

Grab it: Gym memberships

With the beautiful weather and longer daylight hours making outdoor exercise more pleasant, summertime can get dry for gyms. Cash in on this drop in business by snagging a great deal on a gym membership this June. Gyms will be eager to offer you a discounted rate, especially if you shop around first and quote the prices that competing fitness centers are offering. If you’re not ready to sign up for a full year, you might be able to land a free trial day or two, a heavily discounted week’s membership or a complimentary class.

You’ll also find exercise equipment and activewear on sale in June. No more excuses for not getting into shape!

Skip it: Laptops

If you’re in the market for a new laptop, it’s best to wait until the back-to-school sales start in July and August. Laptops will be marked down then, along with all the school supplies your child needs before September.

Grab it: Kitchenware

June marks the start of wedding season! You’ll find the most popular wedding gifts on sale this month, namely dishware and cookware. Take advantage of these sales to buy wedding gifts for anyone you know who’s getting married this summer, replace old dishes or stock up on pots, pans and glassware.

June is a great time to save! Now that you know what’s worth buying this month – and what’s not – you can hit the shops and take your dollar as far as it can go. Happy shopping!

Your Turn: What’s the best deal you ever nabbed in June? Brag about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/shopping/what-to-buy-skip-june/

https://www.dealnews.com/features/what-to-buy-in-june/
https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2016-06-03/the-best-things-to-buy-in-june

Jury Duty Scams

Nobody likes being called in for jury duty. But a recently revived scam has painted the group of people sitting in jury boxentire experience in a more sinister hue.

Here’s how it plays out: The scammer calls a victim, claiming to work for the local court. The scammer tells the victim they’ve missed their call to jury duty and that there is a warrant out for the victim’s arrest.

The victim, of course, denies ever having received a summons to jury duty. The scammer then asks the victim for some identifying information to verify if the notification was indeed sent out. The victim, eager to clear up the alleged misunderstanding, willingly shares their Social Security number, date of birth or even credit card information. Obviously, all the scammer wants to do with this information is steal it — and benefit from the victim’s identity.

Once this information changes hands and the caller has “verified” that the victim has received jury duty notification, the scammer may then demand a payment to the tune of $1,000 or more. The scammer stresses that the fine must be paid immediately to help the victim avoid an arrest. This is when the hapless victim starts seeing visions of SWAT teams in full protective gear bursting into their home and dragging them out the door in handcuffs. By now, they’re shaking from fear and will pay any price to buy their freedom.

Unluckily for the victim, the fun is just beginning. Once they’ve agreed to pay the fine, they will be sent on a wild goose chase around town, purchasing reloadable money cards in several different stores as per the scammer’s directive. All this time, the victim is certain the entire police force is already on their tail and they are frantically rushing to do the scammer’s bidding. When the chase is finally over and all the cards have been purchased, the victim is then instructed to send their money to the “courthouse” so they can be free from the threat of arrest.

At this point, the victim may be heaving a sigh of relief, but it’s the crooked scammer who is gleefully rubbing their hands together and laughing maniacally. Not only did they milk this oblivious victim for a cool thousand bucks, they also have the victim’s personal details, making a full identity theft the next scandalous step in this scam.

Jury duty scams like these are popping up all over the U.S. They’ve already been reported in Michigan, Ohio, Texas, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington state.

Sadly, this scam often works. The victim tends to get flustered and anxious about their alleged pending arrest, so their fear drives them to drop their guard and mindlessly comply with whatever the caller tells them to do.

Don’t be the next victim! Read on to learn how to spot these scams for what they are.

Red flags

If you’re a vigilant citizen who is always up on the latest scams, you will probably know enough to recognize the one major flaw in this scam: It is executed over the phone. Government workers rarely reach out to people by phone; they prefer to use snail mail. When a courthouse worker does call a private juror, they most definitely won’t ask for private information over the phone! Also, there is no reason for a federal court to request your Social Security number at all. And finally, skipping out on jury duty never leads to an arrest!

While this scam is almost always played out over the phone, there have been some instances of jury duty scams being pulled via email. The script is nearly identical, save for the medium of communication between scammer and victim – the victim is pressured into sharing sensitive information and/or paying a fine, or risk being jailed for skipping out on jury duty. The same red flags apply as above: A government worker won’t contact you through email and they won’t demand that you share sensitive information via unsecured means.

Protect yourself

If one of these goofballs tries pulling the wool over your eyes with this scam, make sure you know what to do.

First, don’t engage with the scammer. Often, the scammers are skilled enough to use a fake Caller ID to fool victims. If it looks like the local courthouse is calling you, don’t pick up the phone. Remember, it’s highly unlikely that a courthouse worker is on the other end of the line.

If you already picked up and the caller starts reading you the riot act about missed jury duty, penalties and your pending arrest, hang up as quickly as you can. They may try to scare you or threaten you, but don’t be afraid. If you refuse to cooperate, they will have no power over you.

Finally, if you’ve gotten hooked and find yourself being asked to share sensitive information, remember the golden rule: NEVER share your identifying details over an unsafe medium.

Stop the scam

Jury duty may not be your idea of a fun way to pass the time, but it is an integral part of our court system and deserves our respect. The scammers in this con are impersonating members of the federal court and have therefore committed a serious crime. If you are targeted by a jury duty scam, notify the Clerk of Court’s office of the U.S. District Court in your area. It’s also a good idea to let the FTC know at ftc.gov.

Don’t let these crooks get away with their crime!

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a jury duty scam? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/amp.wmar2news.com/2537797668/the-jury-duty-scam-that-nearly-tricked-a-law-professor.html

https://www.google.com/amp/www.buckscountycouriertimes.com/news/20180329
/troubleshooter-beware-jury-duty-scam%3Ftemplate%3Dampart
http://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/jury-service/juror-scams
https://www.scambusters.org/juryduty.html
https://www.aarp.org/podcasts/the-perfect-scam/info-2018/jury-duty-scam.html

Don’t Drink Your Wallet Dry!

It’s hot out, so make sure you’re drinking up! In fact, the Food and Drug AdministrationMan pouring water from filter pitcher (FDA) recommends that adult males drink at least 11 cups of fluid a day and females drink 9.

What’s in your glass today? You might be a true coffee-crazy, cola-loving American, but water is your best beverage choice for your health and for your money.

However, did you know that bottled water may be draining your wallet dry?

It’s true. Many people pay huge amounts of money for bottled water without even realizing how inflated the price is. So, let’s take a look at the costs of bottled water when compared to ordinary tap water.

Although service charges, state taxes, and other fees may vary, 1,000 gallons of tap water will typically cost you about $11. With that amount of water, you could fill approximately 7,570 bottles of water at 16.9 fluid ounces each, with each bottle costing you less than a penny. It’s $0.0014 to be exact!

Assuming you drink three 20-oz bottles of water a day, you’ll need 1,095 bottles a year. If you’d fill those bottles with tap water, it’ll cost you just $1.53 a year. This means that, as soon as you’ve bought a day’s worth of bottled water, you’ve already spent nearly double of what an entire year’s worth of tap-water drinking would cost you!

Is that water starting to lose its taste yet?

This doesn’t mean you need to start chugging down awful-tasting tap water just to save on some costs. Luckily for you, there are many ways to get sweet-tasting water without busting your budget.

Here are some options you may consider:

DIY chilling

If you love the taste and convenience of bottled water, you can save big just by buying your bottles in packs of 24 and refrigerating them at home instead of buying them cold while on the go. Instead of $1 a bottle, you’ll pay just $0.16. If you drink three bottles a day, you’ll pay $175 a year. It’s still a lot more expensive than tap water, but it’s also a lot less than paying for cold bottled water.

If you’re out of the house for a while each day and you like your water freezing cold, you can freeze the bottles you’ll be using later in the day or invest in an insulated bag that keeps beverages cold.

Water coolers

They’re not just for catching up on the latest office gossip; water coolers can help you fill all your water needs at home. Of course, you’ll need to spring for the machine itself, but after that one-time cost ($170 on average), you’ll only be paying for refills.

Prices vary by companies, but a 5-gallon refill of spring or purified water will run you approximately $7. Stockpile your refills in the garage and order multiple bottles at once, and you can get discounts as steep as just $5 a bottle. That’s only $1 a gallon, for cold, delicious-tasting water. With each gallon filling 7.5 water bottles, you’re getting more than 37 bottles worth of bottled water for the price of 5 purchased bottles!

Pitcher filters

These handy contraptions snap right onto your pitcher of water and filter it on the spot. You can also purchase a pitcher with the filter already attached. Either way, you’ll have your bottled water needs met with just a one-time purchase that averages only $20.

The downside here is the minimal amount of water a pitcher filter can purify for you in one shot. If you drink large amounts of water or have lots of thirsty people around, this might not be the best option for you. If your water needs are modest, though, a pitcher filter can be a great way for you to get sweet-tasting water inexpensively.

Water treatment system

If you want to be able to get purified water straight from the tap, this is the way to go. Having an indoor water treatment system installed in your faucet will filter your water before you even turn on the faucet. The obvious benefits here are easy access to unlimited amounts of filtered water whenever you need it, plus purified water to cook with and to use for washing your dishes.

These filters run about $250 to $400 and usually work with one faucet only. Some companies will actually install a purified water tap alongside your existing faucet instead of filtering it. There are also companies that offer a purification system for all the water in the house, but those will costs several thousands of dollars to install.

Take the tap challenge!

There are many ways to drink up, but tap water still holds its place as the cheapest option. Are you up for a challenge? If it’s a safe option in your area, try drinking only tap water for a month. You’ll save huge on drinking water costs and it may just become a lifelong habit!

Here are some ways to make tap water more palatable:

  • Slice citrus fruits and let them float in your pitcher to give your water a tasty zing.
  • Soak some pineapple chunks in your water for several hours and remove before serving.
  • Invest in a SodaStream to add some sparkle to your glass.
  • Freeze pureed blueberries and strawberries and use them as ice cubes.
  • Add some Crystal Light or another calorie-free flavoring mix.
  • Steep fresh mint leaves in your pitcher before drinking.

Don’t let your hard-earned money get washed down the drain. Drink wisely this summer and save big!

Your Turn: How do you hydrate? Share your own cost-effective water sources with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://20somethingfinance.com/cost-savings-drinking-water/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thepennyhoarder.com/food/bottled-water-cost/amp/
https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/healthy-drinks/20-tips-make-drinking-water-taste-better
http://all-about-water-filters.com/top-easiest-diy-water-filters-you-can-make-at-home/
https://www.deerparkdelivery.com/_mobilecmsviewer.cfm?id=3
https://www.fixr.com/costs/water-purification-system

Beware Tech Support Scams!

You’re always putting yourself out on a limb when you call tech support. You dial the man touching computer screen with words "Access Granted"number the company gives you, and perhaps after a while of waiting, you’re connected to someone who may be working on the other side of the world in a completely different time zone. Then you’re asked to give this anonymous person identifying details about your phone or computer and the technical problems you’re experiencing.

Of course, you’re fairly certain the speaker works for your device’s company and you believe it’s perfectly safe to share this information. At the very least, they have contracted with this individual and are tracking their service.

All of that gets a little riskier when you’re asked to allow the tech support agent to have remote access to your device. This step is sometimes necessary to fix the glitch, but it can also be unnerving. Suddenly, it’s as if an invisible person has taken over your screen. Letters you haven’t typed are showing up on the display and the cursor is flying all over the screen, even though you haven’t touched the mouse.

You’re essentially letting someone have free access to a device that houses some of your most personal information. Yikes!

And that’s exactly what tech support scammers are looking for with their nefarious hacks. It’s truly as awful as it sounds: In these scams, fraudsters contact victims and trick them into granting the scammer access to their computers. The crooks may reach out to people through a phone call, insisting the victims have a virus or another problem they’ve somehow detected from the company’s headquarters. Alternatively, they’ll send a popup to the victim’s computer which will flash dire warnings about an impending or existing virus that can be “fixed” by clicking on a link.

There are several outcomes of such tech support scams, none of them good. Sometimes, a scammer will trick you into installing malware on your computer, claiming you have to click on a link in order to heal your computer of its ills. Other times, they might sell you expensive “software” by making the same false claims. Still other times, they’ll direct you to a bogus tech support website where you’ll be asked to input your credit card information. And they’ll oftentimes simply help themselves to the sensitive data they find on your computer and then wreak havoc on your financial life.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Scams

Tech support scams are nothing new, but a recent wave of these scams has taken on an ironic twist. The very organization that leads the battle in taking down scammers is being exploited for a particularly heinous hack.

Scammers posing as FTC employees are calling victims, asking for remote access to their computers. They assure victims they can help restore any affected devices to their previous working conditions. Many of them are claiming to represent the FTC’s Advanced Tech Support Refund program.

This program was created to help victims of previous scams collect their refund money from the FTC. The scammers will convince the victims that they are moments away from seeing their money – they just need to provide the alleged FTC employee with remote access to their computer. They may also ask for an upfront payment before the refund can be issued or for checking account information, claiming it’s necessary for the refund to clear.

Of course, none of this is true and the caller has never worked for the FTC. In fact, the FTC will never request remote access to your device or ask you to pay to receive a refund. Also, their refunds are sent in check form via snail mail, and do not require any checking account information at all.

The FTC has alerted the public that the only genuine number to call for information about the Advanced Tech Support Refund program is 877-793-0908. If someone calls you on their own, assume it’s a scam. End the call immediately and report the incident to the FTC.

Recognizing Tech Support Scams

As mentioned, the wave of tech support scams in which fraudsters impersonate the FTC are easy to spot if you know this basic information about the FTC: They will never request remote access to your computer, ask for payment in exchange for a refund, or reach out to you on the phone.

Here’s how to prevent other variations of tech support scams:

  • Never click on a pop-up box that claims your computer has a virus and offers to clean it. This will only infect your computer or grant a scammer remote access to your device.
  • Always call tech support on your own; if they call you, especially if you’re not aware of any problem with your computer, hang up as quickly as you can.
  • Never agree to purchase expensive software online to fix an alleged virus.

If you think you’ve been scammed, tell everyone you know about it and be sure to alert the FTC. Let’s do our part to put those crooks out of business for good!

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a tech support scam? Share your experience with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2018/03/ftc-begin-mailing-checks-victims-tech-support-scam
https://www.idtheftcenter.org/Current-Scam-Alerts/ftc-tech-support-scam.html
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2018/04/ftc-asking-access-your-computer-its-scam

15 Incredible Grilling Hacks

Nothing says “summer coming” like the mouthwatering smell of a flaming barbecue family gathered around grillblowing through the neighborhood. Whether you churn out the best burgers on the block from a modest charcoal grill or your Weber’s been squatting on your deck all winter, we’ve got you covered!

Here’s 15 genius grilling hacks that will take your ‘cue to the next level.

Use a muffin tray for condiments

This grilling season, skip the condiment chaos by keeping all your barbecue trimmings in one neat place: a muffin tray! The 12 sections are perfectly suited for housing your ketchup, mustard, relish, BBQ sauces, pickles, tomatoes and any other toppings to douse your hot dogs. This also works great if you have several different basting sauces in use. Your guests will know exactly where to find anything they need, and best of all, you’ve only got one condiment serving dish to wash!

Clean with an onion

Isn’t it annoying when you’re ready to start grilling only to find that your grate is covered with caked-on gook? Grill cleanup is finally hassle-free with this hack!

The next time you use your grill, clean it while it’s still hot. Slice an onion in half, and use it to scrub the drippings and other gunk off your grill. It should come off easily. As a bonus, you’ll be giving your grill a tasty seasoning for your next barbecue.

Layer your grate for veggies

Grilled greens are delicious, but fishing out those slippery peppers and zucchini slices from the bottom of your grill isn’t all that fun. Have your grilled veggies and eat them too with this genius hack.

Use an old barbecue grate or purchase a spare one and place it across your existing grate before grilling vegetables. The grid should keep your veggies from slipping, while still giving you the flame-licked taste you savor.

Be sure to let this extra grate heat along with your grill grate so you get those awesome grill marks.

Vegetable parcels

If you like chunkier vegetables, try this hack. Wrap spiced sweet potato, potato or zucchini squares in foil and place it on the grill while you work on your entrees. After 10 minutes or so, you’ll have a delicious, healthful side dish! Tip: You can do this with any veggie.

Use two skewers

Kebabs are fun to eat, but turning them can be tricky. Make it easier with this hack! Double your skewers per kebab so individual pieces of meat or chicken don’t rotate on their own as you flip the entire kebab. Also, don’t forget to soak the skewers in water for 30 minutes before you start grilling!

Add a smoker to an electric grill

You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for that sensational smoky flavor. Turn your electric grill into a smoker by wrapping some wood chips in foil, poking some holes in the parcel and tossing it on top of the grill’s burner and underneath the grate. Now get on with your grilling, being sure to keep the heat on medium-low. Your small parcel of wood chips will lend your food a hint of delicious smokiness!

Check how much propane you have left before you start

You don’t want to run out of propane when you’ve still got food on the grill. Check the level in your tank with this hack: Tilt your tank a bit and pour boiling water on its side – but not on its top. Now feel your tank. The area where there is propane inside the tank will feel cool to the touch.

Smoke lemons

For an easy burst of flavor, halve some lemons and grill them on low heat for a few minutes, peel-side down. Your grate will pick up a terrific, citrusy flavor!

Spiral your hot dogs

Give your hot dogs a gourmet touch by cutting them into spirals. It’s easy to do: Skewer a hot dog and rotate it slowly as you cut it along its length. Spiraled hot dogs cook more evenly, give you lots of places for holding condiments, and most importantly, look super cool!

Out of time? Nuke it!

If you’ve got a craving for BBQ fare but you don’t have the time or patience to stand over the flames, cook your chicken in the microwave until it’s nearly ready, then throw it on the grill to give it a flaming finish!

Use a foil tent

To help your cooked meat retain its moisture and to distribute its juices evenly, let it rest under a loose foil tent for 10 minutes before serving.

 Get your grill flaming fast

To get the heat going, use a chimney starter with your charcoal grill. You’ll be rewarded with a flaming hot fire – and fast!

Try some grilled cheese – literally

A BBQ is hardly the setting for grilled cheese, but just wait until your guests taste this! Throw a wheel of cheese directly on the grill and let it partially melt. Scoop it off the flames before it completely liquefies and then serve up the most delicious, gooey spread!

One long tong

Don’t bother with an assortment of grilling tools. All you need is one extra-long pair of tongs. They’ll allow you to flip your food without poking holes in it (which also dries it out). You can also use an old pair of tongs to shift your coals around and/or lift your grates.

 Use all the heat!

Your grill will usually stay warm for a while after you’re done cooking. Don’t let that heat go to waste! Instead, pile your grate with any foods that need to stay warm, toast your buns over the fire, or even throw on some foil-wrapped s’mores for a delectable dessert!

Your Turn: Got your own grilling hack? Share it with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.marthastewart.com/1119050/grilling-hacks-you-never-thought  

https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/14-food-hacks-you-need-know-for-grilling-season-0156039/  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/lifehacker.com/top-10-ways-to-hack-your-grill-1607315381/amp  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.firstwefeast.com/eat/2013/07/bbq-hacks-and-grilling-tricks/  

Saving On Mother’s Day

Q: I love showing Mom how much she means to me, but with the money spent on a children posing to spell motherpricey bouquet, a nice gift and dinner out, I’m looking at an awful lot of spending! Is there any way to give Mom a Mother’s Day to remember without it costing a small fortune?

A: If you find yourself overspending on Mother’s Day, you’re not alone. The average American will spend close to $200 this month, all aimed at making Mom feel special. It’s wonderful to show your love and appreciation, but you don’t need to blow your budget to make that happen.

Read on for some low-cost ways to show Mom how much you care.

Give Mom a staycation

Give your mother a day off – at home! Make arrangements for her to be completely free of all housework on her special day. There’s no laundry, cooking or cleaning for her today! Offer to assume the responsibilities of all her daily chores, being sure to tidy up as per Mom’s standards and to prepare all her meals. You can create a homemade gift card entitling the bearer to one full day of all household chores, and present it to Mom in the morning.

Give your mother a small vacation – she deserves it!

Go out – for free

Search your neighborhood forums for local attractions that don’t have an admission fee. You might get lucky with an interesting museum or a beautiful overlook point that’s just a small drive away. Otherwise, you can prepare a picnic lunch, bring along some balls and Frisbees, and spend the day at a scenic park together with the whole family. Pack a portable grill and some hot dogs to make it a full-day event!

Make some memories

Celebrate Mother’s Day with the most enjoyable trip of all: down memory lane. Spend some time gathering and editing the best home video footage you can find. Include major family milestones and memorable events and/or vacations. Put it all together and present your gift to Mom on her special day. Then, sit back with the rest of the family and reminisce together about the good old times.

On a similar note, you can give Mom the gift of priceless memories by creating a family scrapbook. Use patterned cardstock, your best family photos, ticket stubs and other fun mementos to help Mom remember old times. If Mom’s a grandmother several times over, you can even have each family member – or each grandchild – design their own page for Grandma.

Look for bargains online

If you can’t get around spending money on Mom’s gift, search for seasonal discounts online before spending a penny. You’ll find excellent Mother’s Day deals on Amazon, Coach, Kohl’s and other major retailers, sometimes as steep as 84% off retail price.

Best Buy puts a twist in the discount game by rewarding you for money you spend on Mom. Choose something from the site’s “Top Tech for Mom” section and you’ll get a savings coupon that’s valid until late June – just in time to help you save on a gift for Father’s Day.

Have a family movie night

Spend a relaxing day at home binge-watching Mom’s favorite movies together. Prepare lots of fresh popcorn and all of Mom’s best snacks, pour her a glass of her favorite drink, and get comfy on the couch. Remember: Mom is in charge of the remote! It’s her day, after all.

Look for restaurant deals

It’s always cheapest to eat your own home-cooked food, but if you know your mom is looking forward to a dinner out, look for local restaurant deals before deciding on a place to eat. Lots of eateries offer special Mother’s Day deals or even free menu items just for moms.

To keep costs down while still enjoying takeout food, order your dinner in. You’ll save on beverages and service fees without the hassle of preparing your meal. Be sure to set the table with Mom’s best china – and to do the dishes when you’ve finished eating.

Go easy on the flowers

Flowers are always appreciated, but they can cost a bundle! Save on Mom’s bouquet by shopping around for the best Mother’s Day deals. Save even more by purchasing your flowers in the supermarket and arranging them in a vase or pitcher you already have in the house.

Game night

For a fun family activity that puts the focus on Mom, turn your favorite games into Mother’s Day material. Love trivia? Put together a list of random questions about Mom’s life, hobbies and daily schedule and play a super fun game of Trivial Pursuit. Pass around the most hilarious pictures you can find of Mom and let everyone take a stab at guessing when and where they happened. Get creative and host the family game night that Mom will always remember.

Showing Mom how much she means to you doesn’t have to strain your budget at all. With a bit of research and proper planning, you can give Mom some priceless memories she’ll cherish forever.

Your Turn: How do you celebrate Mother’s Day without draining your wallet? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://www.frugalfanatic.com/save-money-on-mothers-day/  

https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2016/05/08/mothers-day-deals 
https://www.grandparents.com/money-and-work/saving-and-investing/monday-money-savers-mothers-day 

Beware Social Media Scams!

The social media explosion has forever changed the way we interact with one another. InThree young adults using their phones fact, everyone knows that a vacation, a dinner out or child’s milestone never really happened unless you post it on Facebook or Instagram.

But what most people don’t realize is that the advent of social media has generated its own brand of scams. And they’re as nefarious as they are widespread. Over the last few years, the numbers of social media scams have multiplied exponentially, with fake Facebook and Twitter accounts jumping by a full 100% in just a year.

There are several types of social media scams, but most involve some kind of phishing scheme component.

Here’s how it happens: Scammers troll your accounts and try to “friend” you. They might have received your contact details from a friend of a friend or through some other roundabout method. Or, they may create a bogus profile or clone the profile of someone you know in real life. Then they’ll get you to share personal information with them without you even realizing it. Often, they’ll ask you seemingly random questions, like the name of your first pet, or your grandmother’s maiden name, and you’ll blithely provide them with the answers.

What you may not realize, though, is that you’ve just given away the security questions for your checking account password and login information. By the time you do realize this, it’ll be too late.

Other times, social media scams involve fake offers and promotions. You might click on a job offer, an incredible prize you’ve supposedly won or a get-rich-quick scheme. All you need to do to get your hands on the goods being offered is….share your personal information.

Unfortunately, that’s all the scammers need to rob you of your identity – and your money.

In yet another scam that has us at Destinations Credit Union really riled up, fraudsters will exploit your trust in your credit union to get your attention. They’ll reach out to you while impersonating Destinations Credit Union and claim to have incredible rates on personal loans, cash loans or a similar product.

You might think the poster is really us, and willingly click on the embedded link and then follow their application instructions. Sadly, once the ball starts rolling on these scams, it’s nearly impossible to stop. The scammers might then empty your accounts, trick you into making upfront payments to qualify for the loan, or take out another loan in your name, leaving you to foot the bill.

You don’t have to be a victim to these scams. Read on to learn how to spot, prevent and react to social media scams.

How to spot a scam

Watch for these red flags:

  • The poster is offering a deal, prize, job or scheme that sounds too good to be true.
  • You’re asked to make an upfront payment for a job, prize or loan application.
  • A reputable company uses a generic account, such as Yahoo or Gmail, to contact you.
  • You’re told that you qualify for a loan amount that is more than you need.
  • You’re urged to act immediately or risk losing out on the job, prize or loan.
  • The scammer looks like they represent Destinations Credit Union, but when you call us up to talk about the offer, no one knows what you’re talking about.
  • You are asked to share sensitive information before you’ve actually applied for anything.
  • A new social media “friend” keeps asking you random questions.

Preventing social media scams

Fortunately, preventing social media scams isn’t all that difficult. All it takes is a bit of common sense and some practical steps.

  • Think before you click. Ignore anything that sounds sketchy or overly intrusive.
  • If a lender has contacted you, check their legitimacy with the BBB at (859) 259-1008, 1-800-866-6668, or www.bbb.org.
  • If you need to take out a personal loan from Destinations Credit Union, contact us directly at 410-663-2500 or through our website at www.destinationscu.org. This way, you’ll know it’s really us.
  • Never share personal information online with someone you don’t know.
  • Look for a publicly listed street address and phone number that corresponds with the name of any alleged “company” that has contacted you.
  • Never agree to pay for a product or service upfront without being certain of its legitimacy.
  • Check your social media privacy settings on a regular basis. They’re often changed without you knowing it.
  • Never post anything that can be used to steal your identity.

If you are a victim

If you’ve been hooked on the social-media phishing bait, it’s important to do some damage control ASAP.

  • Shut your computer. Before anything else, you’ll want to block the scammer from accessing your computer again. Log off your device and immediately change your passwords, using a different computer or mobile device.
  • Put a fraud alert on your credit. Contact the three major credit bureaus; Equifax, Transunion and Experian, to let them know your identity has been compromised. This will prevent or delay any loans or lines of credit the scammer tries to take out in your name.
  • Let us know. Here at Destinations Credit Union, we want to do our part in stopping scammers in their tracks. By alerting us about a scam, we can watch your accounts for suspicious activity and refuse to honor sketchy charges. Also, if your case involved a fraudulent loan offer using our name, we’ll do all we can to take down the scammers.
  • Alert the Federal Trade Commision (FTC). If you’ve been targeted by a scam, make sure to tell the FTC about it so they can do whatever they can to catch those crooks.
  • Tell your friends. It’s equally important to let all of your friends know about the scam. Consider forwarding them the scammer’s bait in a private message so they know to ignore it if it shows up in their own social media feeds.

Don’t let scammers win! Always use caution when online.

Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a social media scam? Tell us all about it in the comments!

SOURCES:
http://m.nbc12.com/story/22461601/12-on-your-side-man-loses-money-in-online-loan-scam  

https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/scams/banking-and-credit-card-scams/loan-scams  
https://www.bbb.org/lexington/news-events/news-releases/2015/08/bbb-warns-online-loan-seekers-about-fake-site-using-commonwealth-credit-union-lawrenceburg-address/  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.csoonline.com/article/3202104/phishing/new-social-media-scams-can-you-tell-friend-from-foe.amp.html  
https://inspiredelearning.com/blog/social-phishing/  

How To Fund An Emergency

Q: Help! I’ve been hit with a financial emergency and I don’t know how to pay for it! Woman standing in flooded houseWhat are my options?

A: Ideally, you’ll want to have an emergency fund in place for this very reason. If you don’t, or the money you have set aside isn’t enough, you have several options to consider.

We’ve listed some ideas below. Be sure to review the pros and cons of each before determining which option(s) will work best for you.

1.) Credit cards

For many people, when faced with staggering and unexpected bills, the default option is to pull out their plastic. Unfortunately, following this trend can put you on the fast track toward a lifetime of debt and playing catch-up because of this one-time emergency.

Credit cards offer incredible convenience. With your card in hand, you don’t have to wait for approval, take on another source of debt, or even think about how you’ll pay for it all until later.

When you borrow with a credit card, though, you’ll get more than you bargained for. With interest rates that can soar (in some cases, to an astronomical 30%), you’ll end up paying a lot more money than what you initially borrowed.

To make it worse, credit cards are designed to keep you in debt. They make it easy to push off paying what you owe by only requiring a minimum monthly payment. With accrued interest, paying only the minimum each month means you’ll hardly be making headway on that debt at all and will end up carrying it for a lot longer than planned.  (Please note: Destinations Credit Union has a fixed-rate credit card so you will know in advance if rates ever change.)

2.) 401(k) loans

You may not have an adequate emergency fund on hand, but what you may have is funds sitting in your retirement fund. But, should you crack open a 401(k) to pay for a financial emergency?

Borrowing money from a retirement fund should only be used as a last resort. It’s really advisable only for those whose credit has been shot and won’t qualify for another loan. 401(k) loans have a low interest rate, but will affect your future financial stability in ways other loans will not. For this reason, experts only recommend borrowing from a 401(k) if you are completely secure in your job and the money will be used for a sound investment. Using this money to fund a medical emergency or household repair is not such an investment.

Also, payments for the loan will be taken out of your future paychecks, so be sure you can afford less regular income before borrowing from a 401(k).

3.) Friends and family

For many, friends and family are the obvious answer when you need someone to bail you out during a rough time.

But is this solution really so obvious?

For some, it may very well be the case. Borrowing from friends and family means borrowing without interest and being granted generous loan terms. However, it can also get sticky, fast.

Only borrow from people you know and love with these guidelines in place:

  • Have a clear repayment plan in place and be sure you can stick to the set timeline. Don’t accept any offers of “pay me back in 10 years,” or that debt will be haunting you for a very long time.
  • Write down the loan terms and create a shared contract detailing all of the terms and the repayment plan.
  • Consider having a third party witness the loan and sign the contract.
  • Keep your financial and personal relationship separate. As long as you’re making your payments on time, there’s no reason to discuss the loan every time you speak.

Borrowing from those you hold most dear means putting a cherished relationship in jeopardy. Do not go this route unless you are confident your relationship can stand up to the test and you are absolutely sure you can repay on time.

4.) Personal loans

Personal loans exist for reasons like these. Since they have no explicit purpose, you won’t need to give any lengthy explanations for why you need the money and you should have the funds in hand rather quickly.

Unfortunately, though, personal loans are unsecured and most of them come with high interest rates and fees. You’ll also need to have decent credit to qualify. As a member of [credit union], though, you have access to personal loans with affordable rates. They may just be your way out of a financial bind!

If you think a personal loan might be right for you, call, click or stop by Destinations Credit Union today to learn all about our rates and payment options. We’re always here to help you out!

Setting up an emergency fund

It might be too late right now, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the future. Start setting up your emergency fund today so you’re never stuck in a tight spot again.

Here’s how to make it happen in five simple steps:

  • Create a goal for your fund. Ideally, an emergency fund should have enough cash to cover your living expenses for 3-6 months.
  • Review your monthly budget to find places to cut back. Alternately, look for ways to boost your income.
  • Determine how long it will take you to reach your goal by allocating the saved or earned money to your emergency fund.
  • Open a savings account specifically for this purpose.
  • Set up automatic monthly transfers from your checking account to your emergency fund.

Now you can sit back and watch your emergency fund build itself into something substantial that will help you sleep better at night. From here on, unexpected expenses or setbacks won’t throw you for a loop. You’ll be prepared for anything!

Your Turn: Do you have a secure plan in place for emergencies?

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/peterlazaroff/2017/09/23-how-to-set-up-your-emergency-fund/amp/  

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.bankrate.com/retirement/4-reasons-to-take-out-a-401k-loan/amp/  
http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-borrow-money-from-friends-family-2013-1  
https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/loans/personal-loan-why-should-i-get/  
https://www.thebalance.com/why-using-your-credit-card-for-emergencies-is-risky-960992 

All You Need To Know About The New Payroll Tax Rates

Phew! Your income taxes are filed and you can finally rest easy with that huge choreTax Form With note about 2018 tax laws now over and done. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have to think about taxes again until it’s time to file for 2018. The US tax code has a bigger impact on your life than you think.

Don’t believe us? You don’t have to – just take a look at your most recent paycheck. Have you been wondering what happened to it? Why do the amounts withheld look so different? And why did your salary get a little boost? Were you given a raise you don’t know about?

If you’ve got questions about payroll taxes, we’ve got answers!

First, let’s take a quick look at the background and purpose of payroll taxes. As you probably know, a big chunk of money is hacked off your gross income each payday. This money goes toward payroll taxes, which, in turn, supports Social Security, Medicare and various other social insurance benefits.

You also pay a federal income tax each month, which helps fund public education, transportation, the Department of Corrections, the state police, and parks. And, unless you live in Texas, Florida, Washington, Nevada, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, South Dakota, or Alaska, you’ll need to pay a state income tax as well.

The exact amounts being withheld from your paycheck changes a bit every year and varies according to your income level and the W-4 you filled out when you first started working at your job.

Several months ago, the IRS released the income-tax withholding tables for 2018. While these tables are updated annually, this year, the changes need to incorporate the recent tax code reform and are more significant than usual.

If you are an employer

Business owners were instructed to implement the new withholding rates as quickly as possible, but no later than Feb. 15, 2018. The IRS has ensured that this step will be as easy as possible for employers by designing the new tables to work with the W-4 forms that have already been filled out by their employees. (The IRS is currently revising the old W-4 to reflect the recent changes, such as variations in available itemized deductions, increases in the child tax credit and the repeal of dependent exemptions.)

If you have not done so already, make sure your company’s payroll reflects the new rates. You can use the payroll tax calculator on IRS.gov to ensure you are fully compliant with the law. It doesn’t pay to be negligent about this: Failure to pay the correct amounts of income tax in a timely manner can result in hefty tax penalties.

Paycheck changes

If you are an employee, you may have noticed a slight increase in your paycheck over the last few months.

You can thank the good ol’ government for your surprise pay raise! The revised tax code made several changes that affect the average taxpayer, mostly for the good. If you’re wondering what your payroll tax rates look like now, you can check out the full table of changes here.

Most notably, the new law increases the standard deduction, repeals personal exemptions and shuffles the general tax rates and brackets around a bit. For the average employee, these changes mean a boost in their income.

What you need to do now

It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure the amount withheld from your paycheck reflects the new rates, but it’s up to you to review and update your W-4 as necessary.

You filled out this form when you started your current job, but you are allowed to change it whenever you’d like. It’s always a good idea to review your W-4 every now and then, but with the new tax laws in place, it’s even more important for you to do so. You want to ensure your chosen exemptions and deductions incorporate the new changes.

It’s crucial that you have the right amount withheld from your paycheck. Withhold too little, and you’ll owe the IRS a chunk of money next tax season; withhold too much, and you’ll get a huge refund instead of letting that money grow all year.

Also, it’s especially important to review your forms if you itemize your deductions, own your home, are self-employed, have recently married or recently had a child. One small change on your W-4 can make a huge difference in your taxes.

To determine whether you’re withholding the optimal amounts, use the IRS calculator on IRS.gov. You’ll be asked to input information about your paycheck and personal life, and then you’ll be told the amount you should be withholding. Hold that number up against what you see on your paycheck. If the amounts match, you’re doing fine. If they’re off, be sure to see your HR representative about changing your W-4 to optimize your withholding amount.

The US tax code may be a pain to deal with sometimes, but for most of us, the recent tax reform is good news. Make sure you’re taking full advantage of the new payroll tax rates!

Your Turn: If your paycheck got a boost this year, what are you doing with that bit of extra cash? Do you spend it or save it? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/2018-withholding-tables-now-available  

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/n1036.pdf  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cnbc.com/amp/2018/03/01/a-tax-related-action-every-employee-should-take-in-2018.html  
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/kellyphillipserb/2018/01/11/irs-releases-new-2018-withholding-tables-to-reflect-tax-law-changes/amp/

7 Ways To Spring Clean For Extra Cash

When that first delightful spring breeze starts blowing, you know it’s time to get your Couple cleaning out old bookshouse in shape.

The warmer weather and the brilliant sunshine pouring through your windows can fill you with boundless energy. You’re going to banish those dust bunnies! Every piece of useless clutter must go! You are on a mission to turn your home into a sparkling palace that is completely free of junk.

But there’s more than just a neat house awaiting you at the end of all that hard work. Here’s how you can spring clean your way to riches – well, almost. You won’t become a millionaire from your junk, but you’ll put some spare cash in your pocket just by taking a few extra steps while clearing out the clutter. And that’s always a good thing!

1.) Trade in your electronics

Don’t throw out that digital camera or printer just yet! Gather all the old gadgets and devices you no longer use and bring them to your local electronics store. They’ll likely offer you a gift card for your treasures.

Some larger chain stores, like Best Buy, even run a retail-collection program to help you responsibly dispose of your old electronics. You’ll earn a gift card that can help you save money on your next purchase.

2.) Get cash at the consignment store

Your outdated clothing from the ’90s might just be someone else’s idea of high fashion today. We’re looking at you, neon jeans! Instead of filling your local dumpster, bring your old clothing to the neighborhood consignment shop and see what they’re willing to take. If you’re open to traveling a bit, you can search for consignment chains that might be a little further out, like Plato’s Closet for teens and 20-somethings; Clothes Mentor which resells designer clothing for all ages; and Once Upon a Child, a chain that specializes in children’s clothing and toys.

You can also look up consignment shops online, like ThredUp, Tradesy or Poshmark.

And if all else fails, there’s always eBay!

3.) Trade in your video games

If you’ve got a serious gamer at home who always needs the latest and greatest, consider trading in your old games at GameStop. You’ll get a store credit that will help support this relatively costly habit and you’ll get rid of that huge pile of video games at the same time!

4.) Sell old books

Books take up lots of room, and if no one’s reading them, why not get rid of them for good? Look up your closest Half Price Books locations and bring your collection over to them in exchange for a tidy sum.

If you’ve got a stack of textbooks lying around, earn back some of the money you shelled out for them by selling them online on BookFinder, Cash4Books or eCampus.

5.) Sell your expensive electronics

If you’ve got some older smartphones or laptops that are in decent condition, they should be able to fetch you a pretty penny. Try selling your stuff on Gazelle.com. They offer free shipping, and once your item is officially logged by the company, you’ll get paid via check, gift card, or PayPal. It’s an easier, faster option than selling on Craigslist or eBay.

6.) Get cash for unused gift cards

Do you have a pile of gift cards you will never use? It’s time to get rid of the whole lot – and make some money on the side! There are loads of sites that offer a gift-card exchange service, and though you may not make back the full amount, you’ll usually land a decent offer. Besides, if these cards were originally given to you as gifts, any money you make off them is extra.

Try your luck with your gift cards at giftcard.com, giftcardgranny.com or tradya.com to fatten up your wallet with greenbacks instead of useless cards.

7.) Donate to charity

Donating unused clothing toys, or electronics to charity might be the easiest way to get rid of clutter. You’ll be helping out a worthwhile cause and making someone else happy with your belongings. As an added bonus, donating goods to charity will earn you a tax deduction, so long as you keep your receipt. Thrift shop chains like Goodwill and the Salvation Army will happily accept clothing that’s in decent condition, all kinds of housewares, used furniture, toys, gadgets and more.

You’ll be making someone else’s day and earning a tax break at the same time.

Spring cleaning is a chore that’s gotta be tackled with lots of energy, time, and hard work. With a bit of extra planning, you can earn some cash in return for the work.

Your Turn: Have you spring-cleaned your way towards extra cash? Tell us what worked for you in the comments!

SOURCES:
https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.gobankingrates.com/making-money/spring-cleaning-tips-ways-make-money-already-have/amp/  

https://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/my-money/articles/2016-03-02/5-ways-to-make-money-off-your-spring-cleaning  
https://www.frugalforless.com/make-money-cleaning/