May – June 2019

What's in this issue

Fun in the Sun

Summer jobs just aren’t for teenagers anymore. There are many opportunities for those who already have a full-time job or have their summers off. Here are a few ideas that can be fun and also get you some extra cash.


Many teachers have their summers off, and even though the break is well deserved they may need something to bide their time and help them with the bills. If you have the opportunity of working daytime hours there are many options available.


Teachers can always extend the school year and apply to teach summer school. There may also be summer programs through the public library or organized clubs that are looking for certified educators to help them through the summer. Some teachers may want to take a break from education and choose another summer excursion.


The outdoors is a great place to find summer employment. There are many landscaping and construction jobs that pay well, keep you in shape, and let you enjoy the sunny weather.


You can always try to get a job selling concessions at the local softball or soccer fields. These probably won’t offer you the best wages but they also won’t consume all your time this summer. Who’s to say you can’t have a couple of smaller jobs.


Other popular summer clothes will also keep you cooler for obvious reasons. Shorts, tank-tops, and flip-flops will keep you cooler by letting heat escape and cool air in. However, it is vital that you use sunscreen and stay out of direct sunlight for long periods to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Hats do a good job keeping the sun off your face but it also traps a lot of heat, so make sure you occasionally remove your hat to let the heat escape.


Keep your house shut up during the day and open it up once the sun goes down. If the air cools down in the evening use ceiling fans to help circulate the cool air throughout the house. Leaving a ceiling fan on constantly is still considerably cheaper than running the air conditioner too often.


Some of these tips may be obvious choices for the summer months but too often we ignore them and take the easy way out by blasting the air conditioner. The less you can use the AC the less you will sweat when opening up your utility bill each month.

Budget Boosters

There are reports and debates everyday that talk about the stress that our planet is going through and that everyone should take steps to help out.


The two main sources of alternative energy are wind and solar power. You can begin to find more residential communities being built with some form of solar energy infused into the construction.

Though harnessing solar energy has been around for some time, it is only starting to become a popular choice for everyday consumers. There are models that serve a specific purpose like water heaters and pool heaters. I’m sure many of you have seen landscape lighting powered by solar panels. These are good small steps to take toward using solar energy.


You can now purchase solar electric panels that generate electricity that helps power your home. Photovoltaic (PV) panels can be freestanding sheets placed where they will receive plenty of sun or they can be installed on your roof to ensure maximum exposure. The panels convert solar energy into electricity that is used throughout your home. You can install a meter that reads how much solar power the home has used in comparison to regular electricity. The amount of solar energy you are using can be subtracted from the total amount of your electric bill. You can also buy batteries that can store excess solar energy for use at a later time.


It may be difficult to find the supplies needed to set up your own solar panels. You will also need someone to assist you with installation, which may be hard to find. It is a big step that comes with a lot of upfront costs. It may take several years to recoup the amount of money spent on the setup. There are steps being taken to make it easier for consumers to obtain the resources needed for solar power installation.


Wind power has been used for some time now to generate energy on a large scale and is also becoming more available on a smaller scale. As you may already know, wind turbines collect energy and convert it to electricity.


There are more restrictions on who can benefit from wind energy. It is recommended that residential wind turbines be used for homes that have at least one acre of property. Many urban areas or small-lot homes cannot facilitate the size of the turbine. It is also a good idea that you live in an area that produces a generous amount of wind energy. At the very least you want to have a 10 mph average wind speed for your area. Obviously higher wind speeds would produce more energy and save you more money.


Again, you will have some upfront costs that will take some time to recoup from your energy savings. There are resources online where you can find suppliers and installers for your wind turbines.


It may not be possible for everyone to use this but the people who do choose to are helping all of us.

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.


We started using our own cloth grocery bags when we go to the store. We found out that our grocery store gives us a discount for using our own bags. It may not be much, but it’s nice to know that we are helping out the environment without much effort.


-Kristy G. NE

Prepare your Credit Report

Your credit report is your personal identity on paper. You can be accepted or denied for loans or a job, without ever meeting someone, just based on your credit report. So if there was a significant error on your report you would want it corrected as soon as possible, wouldn’t you?


You want to periodically check your credit report for many reasons. You will want to make sure that all your information is accurate, complete, and up-to-date. There may be good credit that is not on there or a negative mark that is a mistake but is going to adversely affect your credit rating. You may have been a victim of identity theft, and the effects will show up on your report.


Unfortunately, many people do not realize there may be something wrong with their credit report until they are abruptly denied some form of credit. The first thing you will want to do is get a copy of your credit report. You can receive one free copy from each of the three credit bureaus per year (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). There are a few steps you can take to get the mistakes removed.


If you do find a mistake on your credit report, you need to remain professional and not panic. Don’t call the creditor and start yelling and screaming, even if the person on the other end of the line is being rude. There might be a chance that you may have to make a legal case to clear your name, so all actions you take should be mature. The more polite you are, the more the other party will be willing to help you.


Document all your phone calls with the creditor and reporting agency. Write down the date and time, with who you spoke to, and important details of your conversation. This will make it easier to defend yourself and you will not have to try and remember everything and everyone you spoke with.

You will want to send the creditor and consumer reporting company, in writing, what information you think is inaccurate. Include copies (NOT originals) of documents that support your position. In addition to providing your complete name and address, your letter should clearly identify each item in your report that you dispute, state the facts, explain why you dispute the information, and request that it be removed or corrected. You may want to enclose a copy of your report with the items in question circled. Send your letter by certified mail, “return receipt requested,” so you can document that the consumer reporting company received the letter. Keep copies of your dispute letter and enclosures. When writing the letters, don’t write “To Whom it May Concern.” Write to a person you have been dealing with and their supervisor. If that does not work, keep working up the ladder of command until you get a response and a result you are satisfied with. Just remember to be professional.


If you get the creditor to agree to fix the problem, make sure you get a confirmation letter. Ask for a copy of the universal data form (UDF). It’s the document that your creditor gives to the credit bureaus to update your report. It tells the credit bureau what is being changed, whether it is a balance update, a payment history change, an update of current status, or deletion due to an error. If they will not send you the UDF then ask for a letter confirming that the credit bureaus were notified of all changes.


In some instances, there may be credit that you want to be reported that is not on your report. You may have some creditors that do not regularly report to the credit bureaus. In this case, you will want to contact the consumer reporting company and ask them to add this information. Although they are not required to do so, many companies will add verifiable accounts for a fee.


Now that you have the option to obtain free reports, it is important to do so. It will be the best way for you to monitor your credit, to catch errors, and repair them before you are caught off guard.



Federal Trade Commission

P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
(800) 685 – 1111

P.O. Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-0949
(888) 397 – 3742

Trans Union Corp.
760 W. Sproul Rd.
Springfield, PA 19064-0390
(800) 888 – 4213

The Service of Credit Unions

Many of us have probably experienced the benefits of our local credit union. There may be some people out there that may not know the differences between a credit union and a bank.


Credit unions first appeared in North America around 1900 in Canada. A few years later the first credit union opened in the US, and today there are around 80 million credit union members across the country.


A credit union shares many of the same financial functions as a bank but is a not-for-profit establishment whose members share a common affiliation. The affiliation can be a labor union, an association, or as simple as a similar living location.


Some familiar examples are credit unions set up for teachers, or construction workers. So not everyone can join a certain credit union, but chances are that you will be able to find one that you qualify for.


A credit union is owned by its members. Essentially, credit unions use money from their members to loan to other members and vice versa. They still function with knowledgeable staff that provides many of the same services as banks do.


Credit unions tend to focus more on services than on profitability. Not that banking institutions don’t provide great service to the community, it’s that they may not offer as good rates because they are expected to be a profitable businesses.

Credit unions have a board of directors that is elected by the union’s membership and work as volunteers. This allows all members to have a say in who is selected to run the credit union.


Since there is no need to turn a profit credit unions can offer their members services with lower fees than you would find at a bank. Credit unions offer many of the same services as many banks, however, credit unions may be limited to all the services you might find at the bank.


Credit unions can often offer better interest rates on most types of loans. If you are looking for a home or auto loan you may want to look at a credit union where you can qualify as a member. Some credit unions do not offer as good of interest rates on your savings as what a bank can offer.


Because credit unions are non-profit they don’t have to pay as much in taxes and extend those savings to their members. If there is excess in funds they are returned to the members in the form of dividends.


There should be no worry about your money in a credit union. Your money is insured just as it would be in a bank. The National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which is managed by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) insures each credit union account up to $100,000. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) insures bank accounts for the same amount.


Credit unions do offer very good benefits but should not be regarded as better than banking institutions. Banks provide a lot of great services that are not available at credit unions. A credit union is just another option for you to explore to see if it is the right choice for you.



National Credit Union Administration – Regulates all Federal credit unions and insures most US credit unions. – Gives information about credit unions across the country

National Credit Union Foundation – The charitable arm of the credit union industry.

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My Financial Journal

While I was writing about alternative energy I was thinking that it seems that if you want to do things for the planet or yourself it can cost you a considerable amount of money.


Think about it, how many sanitation companies charge you extra to pick up your sorted recyclables. How many of you wanted to eat healthier only to find that organic foods add a large amount to your grocery bill.


The same goes with hybrid cars or alternative fuels, it is hard to justify the extra costs when the benefits take a while to show up.


It’s easy to make excuses for not doing something but like most things there are solutions. With a little extra effort, I can take my recyclables to designated bins where they will be picked up later at no cost to me. If we want to buy more organic foods we need to cut some other things from our grocery list to make up for the extra price.

Even though I don’t think I am financially ready to invest in solar or wind power there are plenty of things we can do that will help cut our energy costs and conserve energy at the same time. Easy things like replacing old light bulbs with longer-lasting fluorescent light bulbs that use less energy.


Just making sure that lights and appliances are off when we’re not using them and not running water unnecessarily will save us money and save energy.


My wife is struggling to find summer employment but also has an already busy schedule. She is taking classes herself to fulfill her Master’s Degree that takes up her days and her nights will be spent with me and our 10-month old daughter. She has an opportunity in August to make great money for one week of work during the local Sturgis Bike Rally. She is also looking to find some fill-in work for one of her previous employers. I happen to have many friends who are teachers and all of them find summer jobs to supplement their income.


If you have been following my monthly journal you will know that I am far from the perfect financially minded citizen. I have tried to own up to my errors without excuses and have begun to repair my credit. I mention this because I wish I had been more responsible in my younger days.


I have had a job since I was 14 and try not to think of all the money I could have saved up by now while still having enough money to enjoy my teen years.


I encourage all parents to talk to their kids about money. Many high schools have classes that teach kids the basics of finance. It is a well-earned credit and a class where your child will feel like they are learning something useful.


I didn’t have a savings account until I got married. I didn’t have to ask my parents for money very often, but I also spent a lot of money on stuff I didn’t need. Then I had monthly responsibilities that had to be paid off and used what was left over to live off of and when that ran out I used credit. I could have saved myself I lot of headaches if I would have just started saving when I was younger.

Things are looking better now and I have learned a lot from this job and I hope that you can learn a little something as well. Until next month, good luck and have fun.

Teaching Kids About Money

If you have children you will eventually have to talk to them about the concept of money. There are many different articles on how and when to approach them. Like much of parenting there are many different ways to do this and you need to find a way that is best for you.


It’s a good idea to introduce your kids to money at a young age. Start off by explaining to them the concept of a job and that you have to work in order to receive money to pay for all types of things like food, clothes, and other items. It will help them to understand that money is not something that you can just go and get out of a machine (ATM) and is always available.


Kids can pick up on this concept very fast and will show that they have some understanding of it. By playing “house” with other children they will often show their knowledge by exchanging toy groceries for fake money. Things that kids do every day teach them about the basics of consumerism and will help with defining financial responsibilities.


The next stage will begin to involve dealing with real money and teaching a child about earning and saving. Kids can develop a habit of the “I Want’s”, and who can blame them, an hour of Saturday morning cartoons are filled with commercials aimed at your kid’s desires.

Instead of them begging and crying for a toy that they think they need, you can establish the importance of saving for that item on their own.


There are many debates and strategies for effectively giving your child an allowance. There is no rulebook on allowances and the details can be worked out between the parents and the child. You want to decide on how much and how often your child will receive an allowance.


Many experts agree that chores and allowance should be kept separated. Meaning that daily and weekly chores should be done without the promise of payment, so that the child learns that doing their chores is a responsibility that contributes to their role in the family. Chores and special jobs that are not tied into regular chores can have extra incentives though. Cleaning out the garage, painting the deck, or washing the car are a few examples where you could offer extra money for a job well done.


Once you have established the details of an allowance you will want to discuss with your child how they plan on using the money. It is a good idea that they put at the very least 10% into savings. Many credit unions have programs that allow you to open up a savings account for young children.


You may have to determine beforehand what they will be responsible for now that they have their own money. For example, if you all go to the grocery store will you still buy them a candy bar or will they have to decide if they really want that candy bar if they have to buy it themselves.


Let them make some mistakes with their money. With the example above lets say that you tell your child that if he wanted the candy bar he was going to have to use his own money. So he is pretty sure he wants it so he spends a dollar on the candy bar and it’s gone in a minute. Yum. However, the next day your child comes home from school and asks for a dollar to spend at the school store on a cool football notebook. You tell him that he will have to use his allowance and he says that he spent it on the candy bar yesterday. Explain that he is now going to have to save up to buy the notebook and that he might want to think harder on his purchases. Next time he may not think that the candy bar is that important to him.


Once your children reach their teens they should have a good understanding and concept in regards to money. Soon they will be able to get their own jobs and will see more money than they are used to and even though they may have experience with finances can easily slip up in the face of an actual paycheck. It may be a cliché, but it is hard to talk to teenagers (Well maybe not hard to talk to them, but hard to get them to listen). If you haven’t already done so you may want to have them open a checking account which will provide them with checks or a check/ATM card. Remind them how important that it is to still save some of their paycheck and even though it is more money than their allowance they will have more expenses that they will be responsible for.


There are many ways you can teach financial responsibility in a child without worrying about them becoming obsessed with money. Allow them to spend some, save some, and waste some while they learn along the way and help themselves become financially responsible adults.

Gas Prices Affect Everyone

When looking for a summer job you should consider the distance from your house.


Gas prices affect everyone and you should try and find a job where you won’t need to spend a lot of your paycheck on gas getting to and from work.


If you have to travel some distance for your job you may want to ask for a gas allowance.


You may even find a job close enough to home that allows you to either walk or ride a bike.


For other gas, tips search our archives at: