May – June 2021

What's in this issue

Beat the Heat

You don’t need to lock yourself in your house with the air conditioner cranked to its highest level in order to stay cool this summer. Follow some of these tips and you can beat the heat and not have your utility bills skyrocket.


Make sure you are staying hydrated. Drink a glass of water every two hours, even if you are not thirsty. Keeping yourself hydrated will help your body’s temperature stay regulated. Other drinks that contain sugar and caffeine may dehydrate you and cause your body temperature to rise.


Water is not just good to drink it can keep you cool externally as well. Soak a towel or bandanna in cold water and wrap it around your head or pat yourself down with it. Even a kiddie pool that you can dip your feet in can help you stay cool.


Eat lighter meals and include more fruits. This is not only a good way to stay fit but large heavy meals can cause your body to work harder and increase your body temperature. Fruits are a light snack that also includes water and vitamins to keep you healthy and cool.


Wearing light colors in the summertime is not just for making a fashion statement, it can keep your body cooler in the summer sun. Natural fabrics will also breathe better than clothes made from synthetic materials.

beat the heat

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

Once again we are all feeling the strain at the pump and though it would be nice if we could all trade in our vehicles for the most fuel-efficient cars on the road that is just not an option for all. We are featuring some of our favorite everyday tips and tricks to help you stretch your gas money.


Try and not waste gas by warming your car up for too long in the mornings. Even in the cold, a car only needs about a minute of running time before it is ok to drive.

Revving your engine wastes fuel and washes oil down from the inside cylinder walls, which can lead to lower oil pressure.

Avoid fast starts and stops. Slamming on the brakes and doing burn-outs uses a lot more gas than gradually accelerating and decelerating.


Buy gasoline during the cooler parts of the day like early morning and after dark. The gasoline is more dense and you will get more than you would if you fill up during the hot part of the day where you are getting less gas density due to evaporation.


Topping off your tank is a waste as much of that gas can be spilled or wasted.


Excess weight can lead to burning more gas. Make sure your trunk or truck bed does not have any unnecessary things that could increase the weight of your vehicle.


Make sure you keep your tires inflated to the correct pressure. Check your owner’s manual to find out the maximum pressure for your tires. If buying new tires radial tires are recognized as more fuel-efficient. You don’t want to drive on winter tires any longer than you need to, as they will use up more of your gas.

Cars with sun-roofs and vinyl tops disrupt air drag on your car and can cost you mileage compared to cars with smooth tops.


Following the speed limits not only keeps you safer on the road they help you maintain your gas mileage better. The faster you drive your car the more gas you are using.

Your vehicle runs its best when it is properly and regularly maintained. This means that your car burns less gas when it is running its best.

Make sure your gas cap is securely fastened. Gas will easily evaporate through the smallest gaps.


Plan your days more effectively. Make sure you are not driving back and forth across town wasting gas.


If you are in the market for a new car pay attention to the new cars gas mileage. Miles Per Gallon (MPG) is a popular selling point recently and it shouldn’t be hard to compare vehicles.


Unfortunately the gas problem will probably only get worse before it gets better so it’s important that we can do all we can to conserve gas when possible and hopefully some of these tips can stretch your gas budget a little longer.

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 buy the lowest octane of gas that my car can handle. You can find what your car can handle in the manual. If the engine does not knock or ping you are good to go.


-Jerry S. TX

Before You I Say "I Do"

June is traditionally a popular month for many couples to join together in holy matrimony. Whether you are making the leap this month or further down the road there are some financial matters you will want to discuss with your better half to avoid any money surprises. Here are some things to discuss before the big walk down the aisle.


A good start would be with deciding what your future plans would be. Have a good idea on how you both feel about major life changes that will affect your finances. You don’t have to have all the kids names picked out yet, but it’s probably a good idea to discuss how many and if one spouse would like to stay home with the kids. You can also talk about career goals and determine how far you are both willing to move or do in regards of your jobs. Find out what your long-term earning goals are and how much time you think it will take to reach those goals.


Once you have some idea of each other’s goals and aspirations it’s time to come clean about any bad spots in your financial history. It’s never a good idea to start a marriage by hiding large amounts of debts hoping they will take care of themselves. You owe it to your spouse to disclose these problems so you can figure out a plan to eliminate the debt together.


You can each receive a copy of your free credit report from one of the three credit bureau agencies. Review them together and look for any mistakes and talk about any red flags that will need to be taken care of. Make sure that you are both optimistic and willing to improve any negative money habits that each of you may have.

Some bad habits are not as serious as others. It may be frustrating if your partner never remembers to write down everything in the check register but it can be tolerated and isn’t a extreme danger to your finances. But for example, if your fiancé’s bad habit is going on gambling binges and trying to cover it up then you need to explore some serious assistance in correcting the problem behavior.


Depending on your preferences and personalities you will want to decide how to manage your respective accounts. Some couples combine their incomes and buy goods and pay bills from the shared account. Other couples decide to keep their accounts separate and contribute money to pay the bills together or have specific bills that each pays.


Another topic you may want to discuss is how what is the maximum purchase amount each of you can make before consulting each other. You don’t want to have a meeting for every $5 you spend on a coffee and donut, but you may want to confer before buying a new flat-screen television.


You may decide that one of you is better with balancing the checkbook better than the other. It’s ok to have one person handling the finances and paying the bills. Make sure whoever is paying the bills and monitoring the balances includes the other with updates. Scheduling a time to meet each week or every other week to discuss your finances is a good way for both to be involved in your financial decisions.


Make a quick budget. If you plan on combing accounts and incomes you will want to see what your combined incomes will be. Depending on if you have been living together or not you may not know what your expenses will be living together so you do not need a detailed budget quite yet. Knowing what you will both be bringing in and what you can expect to pay out will help you obtain your financial goals that you have previously talked about.


Look into your insurance options. You may each have separate plans with your respective employers that has taken care of your individual needs. Look into what it would cost to add your spouse to your plan. It may be cheaper to combine onto one plan. You also need to consider the benefits of each plan and what the deductibles are. You may decide that you are willing to pay for the more expensive plan because it offers better benefits.


If either of you have investment or retirement accounts you may need to contact a representative and find out what you need to do now that you are planning on getting married. You may need to update beneficiary options to include your soon-to-be spouse.


Marriage is a big step and it’s not a coincidence that financial issues can often cause problems for even the strongest unions. Being prepared beforehand will help you both determine how each stands and will allow you to work together as a team when it comes to your finances.

Before you Retire

What You Should Do


You’ve been punching the clock for 35 years plus and you are finally ready to retire. Before you hang them up for the last time make sure that you are prepared and ready to enjoy your new lifestyle.


First, decide on the type of lifestyle that you want to adapt as a retired person. Do you plan to travel the country or the world, or maybe you just plan on spending your days at the local fishing hole. Whatever it is you need to make sure that your retirement income can supplement your new life.


You need to know where you stand so it is important to prepare a balance sheet that shows exactly what your assets are and tells you what debts you may still have. This will help you determine your net worth and assist you in planning the year leading up to your final days at work.

You will want to pay attention to any debt that you may have. Eliminating or reducing your debts before heading into retirement will be a huge burden lifted off your shoulders.


Focus on your debts that carry the highest interest rates. Credit cards and car loans will generally contain the highest rates and should be your primary focus to eliminate. Most often mortgage rates have the lowest interest rate so you are ok to continue paying the regular payments on your home.


Speaking of mortgages, consider what your needs will be once you retire. You may decide that you do not need the larger house that you have now. If you have children and they have all moved away you may be able to save money or add to your assets by selling your home.


You may also want to consider some health needs that you may encounter further down the road. You may want to look into a one-level house so you can avoid going up and down the stairs in the future. Things like lever handles and shower seats may be some things to consider now instead of down the road when they can become inconvenient expenses.


Take a look at your life insurance policy. If you have a term life insurance plan it may soon be expiring and you may not need as much or any coverage. If you have properly planned then you may have enough money to cover expenses needed if you passed away. Your spouse and your children may no longer be dependent on your lost income making excessive life insurance coverage a waste.


If you have a permanent life insurance policy it may be a good time to review it and insure that it is in accordance to your wishes. Many permanent policies are necessary for estate planning and family trusts. You will want to also review and update your will. Make sure there are plans for your estate if you are a home and/or landowner. You can also include your medical preferences if you were to become incapacitated and unable to make your own choices.


If you have been putting money away for your children’s college education and they are still in school you may want to consider eliminating contributions and applying that money towards your retirement fund. There are many more affordable ways for kids to get money for college than there are ways to get money for retirement. With the opportunity for them to receive student loans, scholarships, federal grants, or work while in school makes it a smarter financial move for your own benefits.


Review any personal investments or investments through your company with a certified professional. They can take the time to go through your portfolio and make sure that it is structured in a way that will accommodate your retirement plans. They still maybe able to make some changes to increase your returns as the retirement date gets closer.


Plan ahead and make a retirement budget to help you adjust your spending categories accordingly. You will no longer have to budget for work related items like clothes, commuting, and lunches just to name a few. You may be surprised how much money you were spending in those areas. You can then take the money from that category and apply it to spending categories that may need more attention.


Start planning now and when the time comes you will be able to enjoy your retirement without worrying about money.

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My Financial Journal

The weather is telling me to get ready for summer. The days are getting longer and warmer and the urge to spend more time outside is inevitable.


I was lucky enough to already enjoy a short vacation weekend recently. My wife, our daughter, my dad, and I took a weekend trip to Denver, Colorado to attend a couple of Major League Baseball games and enjoy the city.


We made our hotel reservations two-month prior to the trip and tried to find a hotel that was both close and affordable. We were lucky enough to get 2 rooms for 2 nights. I say lucky as the hotel was near capacity and we got some of the last rooms available.


After booking our rooms we noticed that my wife could receive a discount because she is a member of the National Education Association (NEA). We contacted the hotel to tell them and they informed us that we would not be receiving the discount because they do not honor discounts when they are booked full.

I’m not sure they would have given us the discount when we first booked our rooms and they still had rooms available, but when you are booking a hotel and may be able to get a discount through any affiliation you are a part off ask right away to make sure they can weasel their way out of giving you a discount.


Another tip that I would like to pass along is to make sure when you are booking your hotel reservations that you are only using a credit card to hold the room and that they do not charge it until you have actually stayed there. I tried to book through a third-party travel website and was unaware that you had to pay upfront in order to secure your reservation.


I did not want to do that because who knows if we would have to change our plans and I didn’t want to hassle with cancellations and refunds.


Secondly, we were planning on paying with cash once we got there. So I decided to not go through the travel website and make my reservations directly with the hotel, and they actually offered a better rate than the “so-called” money-saving website.


We had also already purchased our tickets prior to the actual games so the only other expenses that we had to plan for were gas, food, and entertainment. We assumed that the prices at the ballpark were going to be high so we overestimated how much we would need. So, though we paid quite a bit for drinks and snacks at the game we were not surprised by the price.


We took advantage of the hotel’s complimentary breakfast and packed some snacks for the road trip portion, which helped us save a little here and there. We also saved money by making our own t-shirts for the games. We bought a package of plain white shirts and iron-on paper and printed the logos of the teams and ironed them on. We made 3 shirts for the cost of one shirt that you could buy in the store.


Gas was the other big worry as I’m sure it is for anyone planning a trip. Actually gas was quite a smaller burden than we thought. The trip was 400 miles each way and we could have made it down there and back on two full tanks of gas. I tried to maintain a constant speed and make sure that I wasn’t speeding. I couldn’t really control what time of day I pumped gas but I did avoid higher prices by strategically picking the places where I got gas. I never had to put gas in the car while in Denver, which saved us over a dime a gallon compared to the smaller towns where we filled up.


We were also within walking distance of the stadium so we only had to drive into the city one time and that was to the zoo, where we had a very fun afternoon chasing our daughter around as she ran from the monkeys to the giraffes.


I was pleasantly surprised by the cost of the zoo as it made it affordable for the entire family and didn’t nickel and dime you with things like parking fees or charging for demonstrations.


I may be complaining a little about this trip but it really was a fantastic weekend and we all had a great time, well except for the discovery that our little girl gets carsick. I think my dad actually had a smirk on his face watching first-time parents flustering as my wife and I looked at each other expecting the other to know what to do. Dad was there to help clean up like a pro that has seen his share of roadside pit stops. We all had a blast and I may have just turned a couple of girls into baseball fans.


Well until next month, good luck and have fun.

Entering the Job Market With Confidence

It may be tough for the economy right now but believe it or not there are jobs out there for those entering the workforce, you just need to know how to find them and how to make yourself stand out from the crowd.

For those who have just graduated and are now stuck trying to figure out what to do next it can be a very difficult and confusing task. Unfortunately degrees don’t automatically come with the promise of a job right away. You need to get things organized and prepare yourself to work hard to find a good job.

Start with your résumé. Chances are you won’t have a lot of work-related experiences so you will need to use what you have and find ways to apply it to the specific job. Include any internships or school organizations that apply to the job. Do not exaggerate a position or give yourself a more glamorous title. Most employers will contact previous employers and lying on your résumé is the fastest way to NOT get the job.

Keep your résumé easy to read and no more than two pages long. Make sure it is in a format that looks good when printed out, but can also be pasted into an email. Go through your résumé with a fine-toothed comb and ask friends and family to read to catch any and all mistakes before you send it out.

Whenever you are sending out a résumé make sure you include a cover letter. A cover letter allows you to explain the reasons why you are interested in the job and what you can offer the company that’s not included in your résumé. Make sure your cover letter is not a generic document where all you are doing is inserting the company’s name followed by the same content. Personalize each cover letter so it is specifically geared towards the company and position that you are applying for.


Now you need to start looking for the jobs. You can always start off by searching the local and national classified ads and sending out résumés and cover letters to potential employers. You can even spend hours going through possible openings over the Internet. These are both good ways to apply for a lot of jobs.


It’s not a secret though that many people get jobs because of who they know. Networking is a great way of getting your name out there to potential employees. Your family members and friends may know people in the business world that they can introduce you to and even if they are not hiring at the moment they may remember you when the time comes to hire.


When it is time for the first interview you will want to make sure that you are dressed in your best and are well-groomed. Even if you are not sure what the dress code is there is no way you can overdress for an interview. Prepare yourself beforehand for potential questions that may be asked of you. You can’t prepare yourself for every question so just try and stay confident and answer as best as you can.


If you are lucky enough to be offered a position with a company make sure you take a little time to find out as much information about the position as possible. You can find out some of this information in the initial interview.


It may be tempting to jump on the first offer you are given and the money would be nice, but you will also be spending a sizable amount of time there so it’s important that you are comfortable in the work environment and they provide you with what you are looking for as well.


Have someone with the company thoroughly explain their benefits package to you. This way you know what is and what is not included. A good benefits package is important and a valuable commodity when choosing a job. A great-paying job may have poor benefits while a lower-paying job may have a great benefits package. You will have to balance your priorities when deciding.


Even though it may be your first offer you may be able to negotiate with the employer. Be reasonable when negotiating and realize that your lack of experience doesn’t give you much to work with. You may be able to improve some of your benefits by negotiating for more vacation time, commuting expenses, or work hours for example. You will never know if you don’t ask.


Entering the job force can be equal parts scary, frustrating, and exciting. Staying confident and acting professional can only help you with your chances of landing a job that will not only provide you with financial security but will fill you with a sense of pride.