July – August 2018

What's in this issue

Improved Income

A great way for you to increase your income is to reassess the income that you bring in. You may be due for a raise or a promotion, or even maybe in the market for looking at a new job.


When asking for a raise it is important that you set up a meeting with your boss in private. Keep track of the things you have done and the ways you have improved the company or business. Most bosses will not give you a raise just because you asked for one, or you think that it has been a long time since you have had one. You have to prove to them that you are worth the extra income. Be realistic, don’t ask for an amount that people in a big city make if you live in a smaller town.


A promotion can come with more income and greater responsibility. Many promotions may require an application and interview process. It is important to research the position and be prepared to defend why you are the best person for the promotion. You will probably be competing with a co-worker, but it is important not to let it strain any working relationships. In the interview explain to them ways you will improve the company, save them money, or increase their profits. Highlight any accomplishments that you have had with the company.


When looking for a new job you may have to update your résumé. If you have a lot of job experience you may want to exclude any jobs that are not related to the field of work you are applying for. Another important rule is to avoid lying or over-exaggerating on your résumé. Employers will contact previous employers and it will jeopardize your chances at the job, not to mention ruin your credibility.


An effective cover letter is your chance to go into further detail about what you could not show on your résumé. You will defeat the purpose of a cover letter if you list everything that is on your résumé. Make sure each cover letter you write is specific to the job you are applying for. Employers can recognize a template cover letter where you just insert the position you are applying for and change the date and address. Your cover letter is a good chance to show how much you know about the industry and company you are applying for.


When it comes to your résumé and cover letter it is vital that it is grammatically correct and free of typos. There is no faster way to be eliminated from consideration of a job than an error. So proof-read, proofread, and then proofread some more. Has more than one person read over it for mistakes or changes?


When you are living from paycheck to paycheck and you get a raise it can still be difficult to change your ways. Many people think that they can spend more because they have more money coming in. This is a time when you should take advantage of saving and spend wisely. Stick to your previous budget and bank the extra income.      

Budget Boosters

The summer time can bring many unwanted troubles to homeowners. Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and flooding can cause lots of damage and costs you thousands of dollars. Homeowner’s insurance is an inevitable necessity and there are some ways you can minimize the costs.


Start by shopping around, you may be able to find better rates than what you are paying now. You will want to make sure that there are no fees or introductory rates that may rise after the first few months.

Contact your car insurance company. If you don’t already have your homeowner’s and auto insurance with the same company you may want to consider combining your policies. Many insurers offer discounts to customers who choose to carry more than one policy with them. By shopping around beforehand you will know if you are saving by going with only one company or by spreading your policies among different insurers.


Recently many insurance companies have been offering discounts to customers who have good standing credit. Call your agent to see if they have this discount and what you need to do to qualify.


Don’t be afraid to ask for any other discounts that you might qualify for. Things as simple as having adequate smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and security alarms can get you discounts on your monthly payments.


If you don’t already qualify for some discounts ask what all the discounts are and make some upgrades to your home. There are many simple upgrades that you can do that will make your house safer and in turn, help you cut the costs of your homeowner’s insurance. Some examples are updating your electrical wiring, or replacing your heating system.


Go over your policy and make sure that you are not paying for things that are unnecessary for your region. There is no reason to have earthquake protection if you don’t live in a place that has earthquakes. You may also pay extra for personal items, but if you don’t have expensive jewelry or artwork you may not need that as a part of your coverage. When you are reviewing your policy you may find that you would like to add more coverage. Many plans do not cover flooding so if you are unlucky enough to have damages caused by a flood it may not be covered unless you have separate protection. It may raise the cost of your premium but will come in handy in the case of an incident.


Reconsider items that may increase your premiums. Having a pool or trampoline can greatly increase your costs. Even certain animals can make it difficult for you to have the lowest possible premiums. Before any major purchase ask your agent if it could have an effect on your homeowner’s policy.


It’s important that you carry homeowner’s insurance because disaster can strike at any time. By reviewing your coverage you can determine the best policy for you and you can save yourself some money along the way.

Penny Pinchers Club

Are you the type of person that comes up with terrific ways to Pinch Pennies? If so please email us and share your ideas.


I called my insurance company and found out that I had coverage that included my land. Since my land can handle damage from a natural disaster I saved by not including it in my coverage.


Gavin B. CA

Credit Biggybacking

There’s a new trend in credit repair that is taking advantage of the credit scoring system. It’s called “piggybacking” and it’s beginning to raise a lot of questions with the credit reporting agencies.


Basically piggybacking is using someone else’s good credit in order to help out a person who does not have a good credit score. What they do is sign you on as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card. You can’t use the card but that card’s positive payment history will now reflect on your credit report.


The credit repair companies will solicit people with good credit reports and pay them for the use of their authorized user slots. They will then charge the consumer a hefty price for the free spots on the credit. Spots can sell anywhere from $100 to $900 per spot.


This can be very tempting for those who may have a snag in their credit report and don’t have the time to repair their own credit.


Let’s say that you are looking for a new home but you cannot get a good interest rate because your credit rating is low. You can pay a few hundred dollars to this credit repair company and within a couple of months boost your credit rating and improve your chances of getting a better deal.

This practice used to be a very good way for a family member to establish good credit. Many parents may allow their children to be authorized users of a credit card so that when they were ready to take on their own credit they had some established. What this new practice does is abuse that power, which may lead to some serious changes that would also affect those who have responsibly used the authorized user benefit.


A major issue with the “piggybacking” companies is of security. Both parties are providing very sensitive information such as credit card numbers and social security numbers. There may be a chance that a company that is making you these promises is actually just trying to get your information.


Right now “piggybacking” isn’t illegal but is more of a loophole in the rules. As you can imagine the credit reporting agencies are not too happy about being taken advantage of.


Fair Isaac Corp., which is responsible for your FICO scores, has decided to fix the problem and is planning on making adjustments to its credit scoring formula. Starting in September the changes will begin to roll out and they are hoping that this will fix the loop. The change will block any information regarding an authorized user.


Unfortunately, this solution will close the opportunity for someone to add a child or a spouse to a line of credit in hopes that it will improve or establish their credit score. So if you have a child as an authorized user this new rule will block that information and if your child doesn’t have any credit in his or her own name they won’t have enough information to generate their own FICO score.


There will be no changes to those who are joint account holders on a line of credit. The difference is a joint account holder is just as responsible for the debt as the primary holder. Authorized users are not responsible for any debt that they are included in.


The piggybacking companies are fighting the changes that FICO is planning to make. Many companies are stating that there are a lot more problems with the credit scoring system than the authorized user situation and if those problems were addressed first then they would not have to take advantage of the loophole to improve credit scores.


So if you were planning on taking advantage of this loophole, don’t waste your money, as it won’t be effective after September. Besides these companies charge a lot for a quick return and there are plenty of better ways to spend your money that will help you in the long run. Educate yourself and take the time to repair your credit legitimately. It may not be easy but you will feel good when you start to see results.


RESOURCES: – Features more information about how credit scoring works. – The website where you can receive a free copy of your credit report. (Charges may apply if you want to obtain your credit score.)

ID Theft Protection Promises

Identity theft has become a rampant problem in the US and there are now many companies out there that promise that they can protect you from thieves. The problem is trying to find out if this company is legitimate or just some crooks themselves.


If you are worried about identity theft and would like some protection the first place to look is at your local financial institution. Many banks and credit unions have begun providing identity monitoring to help catch or prevent someone from using your identity to abuse credit. Many times they offer different plans, with the best coverage coming with a fee and a minimal package, which is free to its members.


There are also many companies that have been offering identity theft insurance. For a small premium, you will have protection if you are a victim of identity theft and can use the money to help pay for any legal expenses or any other losses from the situation.


There are plenty of reasons that identity theft protection and insurance make sense. If you are a victim of identity theft it can be a nightmare that takes a very long time to clear up. When you are thinking about using a protection service you need to determine if the service is enough to justify the costs. Many things that these companies do, you can do for yourself.

Protection services cannot promise that your ID won’t be stolen, only that they can catch it sooner and prevent it from spreading.


Like many things, you will want to spend some time doing research and shopping around. Always look for the Better Business Bureau logo when on a website or looking through the Yellow Pages. This way you will at least know that they are a reputable business and not just an overnight setup looking to get your information.


If you want to take action on your own you can help minimize the chances of becoming a victim of Identity Theft. Follow some of these common steps.


Shred any documents that include sensitive information like credit card numbers, social security numbers, and bank account numbers. You will also want to shred many of the pre-approved credit cards offers you receive in the mail.


Don’t carry your or any family members’ social security card in your purse or wallet. Keep them in a safe or lockbox along with any other important sensitive information. You will also want to keep any PIN numbers in a safe place.


If you do your banking or shopping online make sure that you are using a computer that is secure and always log out from your sessions.


If you are using a computer in a public place, like a library or coffee shop, make sure there is nobody looking over your shoulder copying down any sensitive information.


Don’t give your credit card number over the phone to the company that has called you. Offer to call them back, and then use any numbers that you have for them to call them back.


Update your driver’s license if your old one still contains your social security number.


Take advantage of receiving up to 3 free credit reports. Go to and follow the directions to obtain your credit report. If you notice anything unusual contact the creditor to discuss.


Identity theft is a huge problem and it’s easy to see why protection is so appealing. Taking precautionary steps to prevent theft is the best and most affordable way to help yourself. Extra help from your banking or credit institution can also be beneficial if it is offered for a reasonable price.


Resources: – The online resource for you to obtain a free credit report from any of the 3 agencies. – You can look up a business and find out if current or previous customers are satisfied with their service.

If you do not have a copy of our FREE “Simplified Guide to Financial Life Skills” workbook, contact us and we will ship one to you at – NO COST! –

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Pioneer is not responsible for any advice given in The Pioneer Pilot. Everyone has a different set of circumstances that would determine if an idea or plan is the best one for them. Information provided should not be intended as legal advice.




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My Financial Journal

What’s new in my world? My wife and I put in a garden this year to see if either of us has a green thumb. So far so good, things seem to be starting to sprout and we are looking forward to having plenty of onions, peppers, and green beans. We put onions and peppers in about everything we cook so I think that we may save some money there. The initial costs weren’t as bad as I thought and now that we have all the hard work done it should only be easier and cheaper each year.


It’s funny because everyone asked us where we were going to put our tomatoes because apparently, you can’t have a garden with tomatoes. Since my wife and I don’t like tomatoes we didn’t put them in because we had no use for them and they take up a lot of room. I think the purpose of having a garden to save money is to plant the things that you often use.

I am lucky that I am going on vacation in a few weeks and won’t have to worry about renting a car. I will however get to drive a couple of hundred miles on my own and there will be plenty of spending on the trip.


With gas, the way it is my wife and I are going to have to get very creative in the way we pack the car. We have a nice minivan that can hold everything we need and more. Unfortunately, it costs around 75 dollars to fill the tank. We have chosen to take our much smaller but more gas-efficient Honda Civic, which costs around $38 to fill up. So we are practically cutting our gas bill in half but are sacrificing a lot of room, which for those of you that have had to travel with a 10-month-old know will be a challenge.

We have a tentative budget of what we want to spend. We are going with her parents, her sister and her husband, and her youngest sister so there will be shared expenses instead of the burden on just us. The most expensive part of the trip will be the travel so it will be nice to know that there will not be as many costs once we get there.


By the way, we are going camping (or “cabining” as my wife calls it as we will not be staying in tents, no matter how much I beg) so most of our time will be spent fishing, swimming, boating, and hiking. I’m sure there may be some time for a little local shopping and the occasional tourist trap activity but that’s what vacations are about.


I had an issue with a bill collector the other day that left me less than happy. I received a call from the accounting department at the hospital. I called them back and the lady on the other end wanted to discuss our bill. They said that they are no longer accepting smaller payments from customers and we need to take care of our remaining balance within 90 days. She then said that if I could come up with the total balance due that they could give me a 20% discount. I said that it would be difficult for us to come up with it since it was around $700 (this is from when our daughter was born in August). I asked what would happen if I couldn’t pay off my balance after 90 days. She informed me that there was going to be a 12% per month interest fee. I said that we would have to continue to make our monthly payments and that was that, or so I thought.


A month later we got some extra money from a health spending account set up through my wife’s job. We planned to pay off our hospital bill. My wife calls to set up an arrangement and was met with a rude woman who said that they were going to send our account to collections because we didn’t pay our bill. My wife was confused and tried to tell her that we had talked to someone a couple of weeks ago about the whole thing. Well, the person on the other end was still quite rude and no solution was reached.


I later contacted the hospital to find out what went wrong.

Apparently, I was not given all the information from my previous conversation. What the hospital was doing was sending all accounts that were not paid within 90 days to another company that specializes in helping people set up affordable payments for their doctor bills. The company charges 12% interest a year (not a month like I was originally told) for their services. Well in short I spoke with a representative that helped explain and apologized to the other person who just berated my wife.


So the point of my rant is that communication is key. If the hospital communicated better with each other they would then be able to pass along better information to their customers and avoid confusion. If my wife and the first representative had communicated better with each other then they would have been able to accept a resolution to the problem instead of just making matters worse.


Well, It looks like I am out of space for this month so I hope you are all having a good summer good luck and have fun.

Renting a Car for Summer Vacation

The summer time is here and many families will be taking some time off to enjoy a little vacation time. Many people will fly to their location and choose to rent a vehicle during their time. Here are some things that you can watch for to insure that you are getting the best deal.


Search online for good deals. There are many popular and reputable travel sites around that can offer you good deals on car rentals. Search as many as you can find before committing to a rental.


Along with the discount travel websites make sure you check out each of the car rental companies website as they may have specials or discounts that are only offered through their company.


If you use rental cars often make sure you go back and check each travel source again. They may not have had the best offer before but that could change if it at a different location or different time of year.

Like frequent flyer discounts, car rental companies offer specials for those who become a frequent user members. So if you find a company that you like and has good prices you should consider signing up to become a member of their club. You may get offers that are exclusive and if you are a frequent traveler you could save in the long run.

If you are planning a vacation for down the road call them ahead of time and make reservations. You may have to pay a little extra to reserve a car but this way you can ensure that you will get the vehicle that you want and that it will be available.

You may also want to look into other transportation alternatives. Many shuttles will take you to your hotel and many times the hotel with have shuttles or buses that will transport you to many of the popular local attractions. Many times the charges are small if there are any at all.

When you rent a car make sure that you have a thorough inspection with a worker to ensure that you are not responsible for any scratches or dings that were there before you rented the car.

Make sure that you go over and understand the contract completely. You will want to know everything that you are responsible for. Does your contract have a maximum amount of miles that are included in the deal or do you have unlimited miles? Are you required to return the vehicle with as much gas in it as when you rented it? Is your car a non-smoking vehicle?

Economy vehicles will be the cheapest to rent and in most cases the cheapest to fill with gas. It is a good idea to avoid bigger SUVs so you can avoid having to pay for the extra gas costs. If you are not used to driving an SUV it can be difficult to adapt to the larger size and may cause you to be more susceptible to a wreck. If you have a large family you will need a vehicle to accommodate you all comfortably.

Make sure to pick up after yourselves when you rent a car. Now you don’t have to take it to get it detailed, just make sure that you clean up any spills and make sure that you have removed all your belongings. Rental companies usually vacuum and clean the car once it’s returned but they may charge you for any extra messes that they have to clean up.

Summer vacations are a great time for you to relax and unwind and if you can save some money along the way it will make it a lot more enjoyable.



Budget Travel Websites


Car Rental Websites