Friday, November 9, 2018

7 Ways To Save On Thanksgiving Costs This Month

Thanksgiving means giving thanks for all the good in our lives. It also means stuffed turkey and gravy, cranberry pie and mashed potatoes. It’s a time-honored tradition of spending time enjoying a delectable holiday meal while in the company of those we love.

It can also mean spending an awful lot of money.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the average host cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 guests will spend approximately $50 on the dinner alone. Of course, if you’re expecting more than 10 guests or you tend to overspend when hosting, your costs can easily top that amount. Between the turkey, ingredients for that luscious holiday meal and décor to set the ambiance, hosting a Thanksgiving dinner is not cheap.

Looking for ways to cut back without compromising on the quality and festivity of your meal? Look no further! You know that here at your credit union we love to keep your wallet plump. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of seven easy ways for you to save on your Thanksgiving costs this year.

1.) Verify your guests’ attendance

Before you start writing up a spectacular menu or a detailed shopping list, check to make sure you have an accurate head count of the guests and family members who will be joining you for Thanksgiving dinner. You don’t want to end up with a fridge full of leftovers. Verify that all who are invited are indeed planning on showing, and only then begin planning your menu.

2.) Find out what your guests like

While you’re doing your inviting, ask for your guests’ individual tastes. You don’t want to forget that Great Aunt Martha is on a strict gluten-free food plan or that your cousin’s spouse is a vegetarian. Aside from specialized diets, ask about particular foods your guests like to eat and those they won’t touch. If something on your menu isn’t very popular with your guests, skip it – even if you think it’s an “obligatory” Thanksgiving food. This way, you won’t slave over a pumpkin soup that nobody will touch or end your holiday meal with trays full of leftovers and lots of hungry guests.

3.) Make it a potluck

Slash your spending and your stress in one step by answering an enthusiastic “yes!” to every guest who asks if they can bring something. Don’t just say “anything’s fine,” though, or you might have seven desserts. Instead, create a Google Sheet with your planned menu and let your guests input what they’d like to contribute to the meal. This way, they’ll know exactly what you need, you’ll know what they’re bringing, and best of all, you won’t be doing all the cooking yourself.

4.) Serve on smaller plates

Most people will load up their plates to capacity, regardless of the plate’s size. Curb the wasting at your table by using smaller dinnerware. Let your guests load up all the way without leaving half-full plates. They can always refill if they still want to eat more later.

5.) DIY décor

You can set a beautiful holiday tablescape without blowing your budget; all it takes is a little imagination. Shop the local dollar store for discounted décor that still packs a punch, like colored vases, fake flower arrangements, and other centerpieces. Look for easy, inexpensive DIY ideas online. Finally, get creative by using things from around the house – or yard – as your décor. For instance, you can create a whimsical candleholder by affixing cinnamon sticks around a candle or design an autumn-themed centerpiece with leaves and pinecones from your own yard.

6.) Shop the sales

Grocery stores and shopping centers tend to run specials on turkeys and other Thanksgiving staples starting as early as Halloween. Plan your menu several weeks in advance so you can take advantage of these sales. Keep it flexible until you see the circulars and then base your dishes on the ingredients and produce that’s cheapest. Also, be sure to shop around for your turkey! Supermarkets tend to have the best deals on the birds, with some even running free turkey deals when you spend a specific amount on other groceries.

7.) Cook from scratch

Most everything is less expensive – and tastes better – when it’s homemade. Think gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and apple pie. Start your cooking well enough in advance so you don’t find yourself relying on too many convenience foods and paying the price both in cash and taste. Your wallet and your guests will thank you!

When you gather ’round the table with family and friends this Thanksgiving, you can be thankful for all the good in your life without feeling guilty over how much you spent on the meal. All it takes is a little planning!

Your Turn: What are your best Thanksgiving dinner hacks? Share them with us in the comments!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

5 Ways To Improve Your Credit Score





  1. Pay your bills on time. If you find this to be a challenge, consider signing up for automatic payments.
  2. Pay more than just the minimum payment on your credit cards. Work on paying down your debt before you acquire any new debt.
  3. Pay your credit card bills before they’re due. This way, more of your money will go toward paying for the month’s purchases instead of interest.
  4. Find out if you have any outstanding medical bills. These can significantly drag down your credit score.
  5. If your debt has become unmanageable, consider debt consolidation. Talk with us at CORE Credit Union.
Your Turn: Did you recently improve your credit score? Tell us how you did it in the comments!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

How To Create And Keep Strong Passwords

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your passwords are like the keys to your life. And when it seems like there’s another big security breach every week, you want to be absolutely sure your passwords are strong and safe. After all, with just a few keystrokes, a scammer can have full access to your personal information, financial accounts, social media pages and so much more. 
 
But creating those perfect passwords – and remembering them – can be difficult. 
 
Below, we’ve outlined 6 steps for creating and keeping super-strong passwords that will keep scammers guessing. 
 
Step #1: Choose a password manager 
 
With so much of our lives accessible online, it’s more important than ever to keep passwords secure. The best way to do this is to use a password manager. These services will generate strong passwords for all of your financial accounts, favorite websites and social media platforms and then keep them safely encrypted. You will only need to create and memorize one master password, which you will use when logging into all of your accounts. 
 
There are lots of password managers on the market, but the ones that come most highly recommended are 1password, Lastpass and Keepass. 
 
1Password and LastPass are both cloud-based services, and can be vulnerable to remote attacks. However, both services heavily encrypt your data and don’t store your one master password in the cloud. As long as that password is strong, you’ll be safe even if these services get hacked.
 
Step #2: Create an unbreakable master password 
Once you’ve chosen your password manager, create a strong master password. This code can open up every password of yours to potential scammers, so be extra careful about choosing one that is super-secure and virtually unbreakable. 
 
Scammers are becoming increasingly more efficient at password-cracking. They use multiple dictionaries which include English words, names, foreign words, phonetic patterns and more. They look for dates, commonly used substitutions, like “$” for “s,” “@” for “a,” and they run their dictionaries with various capitalizations. 
 
Follow the rules below and you’ll have a strong password. 
  • Make it long. Many sites require a password that is a minimum of 8 characters long, but a 12-character password is even stronger.
  • Be creative. Avoid using names, places and recognizable words because these are easily cracked.
  • Mix it up. The best way to keep your password unbreakable is to mix up your capitalization and the kinds of characters you use, switching back and forth from letters to numbers to symbols.
  • Don’t use any of variation of these commonly used – and commonly hacked – passwords:
  • 123456123456789
  • Passwordadmin
  • 12345678qwerty
  • 1234567111111
  • 1231231234567890000000
  • Abc1231234
  • iloveyouaaaaaa
 
If you’re unsure about your password’s strength, you can run it through an online password checker, like the one on  OnlineDomainTools.com.
 
Bonus tip: Worried about creating and remembering a long, unbreakable password? Turn a sentence into a password by using mnemonics, misspelled words and symbols that only you will understand. Here are a few to get you started:
 
  • WOO!TAwonTWS = Woohoo! The Astros won the World Series!
  • D:’(OspldMlk.JdreenqOJ = Don’t cry over spilled milk. Just drink orange juice
  • 1tubuupshrtsin2Mpnts = I tuck button-up shirts into my pants.
Once you’ve created a super-strong master password, work on memorizing it. Don’t store the password anywhere online or on your phone; write it down on an unmarked piece of paper. Rip up the paper as soon as you’ve committed the password to memory. This should happen fairly quickly since you will be using it quite often. 
 
Step #3: Update all your passwords 
 
Next, you’re going to sync all the websites and accounts you use with your password manager. Follow the guidelines on your password manager for this step, as they differ with each service. 
When you’re through, you’ll only be able to log into these sites by using your master password. 
Some sites you use might employ outdated systems that won’t work with a password manager. For these sites, you will need to use different passwords. You can slightly amend your master password for these sites or create new ones using the guidelines above. Never double passwords; use a different one for every site you use. 
 
Step #4: Use two-factor authentication
 
Add another layer of protection by choosing two-factor authentication whenever you have that option. 
 
Step #5: Be careful with security questions
 
Ironically, security questions are extremely insecure. Anyone can Google your dog’s name or your mother’s hometown. And, if all a scammer has to do to retrieve your password with the “I forgot my password” tab is answer a security question, the strongest passwords in the world won’t do you any good.
 
Protect yourself by treating security questions like passwords. Never answer them truthfully. Instead, make up mnemonics or nonsensical answers that are hard to crack but easy for you to remember.
 
Step #6: Don’t let your browser or phone “remember” your passwords 
 
Don’t be lazy; keep your passwords in your head and not on your devices. Otherwise, you’ll be in deep trouble if your computer or phone is swiped. 
 
Keep your passwords strong and safe. You don’t want to be an easy target for scammers! 
 
Your Turn: What’s your best tip for creating a super-strong password? Share it with us in the comments.

Friday, August 3, 2018

What Can I Do About Robocalls?

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Are you sick of grabbing your ringing phone five times a day only to find yet another robocaller on the other end?
 
If robocalls are getting to you, you’re not alone. Those super-annoying automatic calls have recently exploded, and it’s enough to make anyone go bonkers. More than 30 billion robocalls were made in the United States in 2017, and the Federal Trade Commission answered a whopping 375,000 complaints about robocalls each month.
 
Unfortunately, those numbers are only rising.
 
If you feel like your phone is ringing off the hook from robocalls and you’re just about ready to throw it against the wall, read on. We’ll give you the inside scoop on these dreaded calls and show you what you can do to put a stop to them once and for all.
 
How do they have my number?
 
Many people ask how so many businesses and scammers have their number. It’s because robocallers are becoming increasingly more sophisticated and the internet is making their job easier. Scammers and telemarketers can scrape almost anyone’s phone number off the web.
 
They might find it on your Facebook page, another social media platform you frequent, or even drag it off your business’s website.Robocallers also buy phone numbers from popular companies or websites that require visitors to log in by submitting some basic personal information that includes their landline and cellphone numbers.
 
Or, robocallers may simply be dialing thousands and thousands of numbers at random, with no rhyme or reason at all.
 
Who’s on the other end of the line?
 
Robocalls come in many forms. Sometimes they’ll be trying to sell you a product or urge you into signing up for a service. Other times, they’ll try to scam you by appearing to represent a government agency, like the IRS.
 
You might think no one’s buying the marketed product, or that whoever actually believes the robotic voice telling them they’re about to be arrested is super naïve. Remember, though, that even if just a few people agree to buy the product or are taken in by the scam, the minimal cost of running the calls is more than worth it for the person behind the calls.
 
Here’s how the robocalls take a stab at appearing authentic:
 
  • Spoofing. Using software, the robocaller can tweak the way their number shows up on caller ID. They can make it look like the IRS is on the phone, that your electric service company is calling you or like a representative from Apple is seeking you. Recently, scammers have been using neighbor-spoofing, in which their caller ID looks like a local number. This throws victims off and can help robocallers gain their misplaced trust.
 
  • Disguised identity. Robocallers may also choose to appear mysterious and show up on your caller ID as “private number,” “unavailable” or “unknown.”
Steps you can take
 
Thankfully, you don’t have to be bombarded by those irksome calls for the rest of your life. Here are several steps you can take to keep most robocalls from reaching your landline or cellphone:
 
  1. Don’t answer calls from unfamiliar numbers – If you don’t recognize the number on your caller ID, let it go to voicemail. If the ID shows a local number or the name of a recognized company you have no reason to believe is calling you, ignore it as well.
 
2. Block unwanted numbers – It’s time to get offensive and start intercepting those numbers before they reach your phone. First, if there’s any specific number that calls you persistently, use your phone to block it and you won’t have to hear from them again. Next, check with your phone service provider about possible technologies you can download to block anonymous calls or those from specific area codes. Some systems allow you to create your own blacklist of numbers that will be blocked or sent directly to voicemail. You can also create a “white list” of numbers you allow to go through and stop every other number from reaching you. You may also want to enlist the help of a robocall-blocking app that can offer you a stronger defense against unwanted calls. Here are some apps that provide this service along with their prices:
      • Nomorobo: 14-day free trial. $1.99/month or $19.99/year
      • RoboKiller: Free 7-day trial.  $2.99/month or $24.99/year
      • Hiya: Free. Hiya partners with Samsung, AT&T and T-Mobile and also has standalone apps.
      • TrueCaller: Free
  1. Require caller input – To keep all automatic calls from reaching your phone, you can set up a call-blocking technology, such as the Sentry Active Call Blocker, that greets all callers with a message requiring them to enter a number before the call can proceed. That’s something robots can’t yet do.
 
4. Don’t share your number – Never share your phone number on your social media profiles or pages. If a business asks for your number, do not give it out unless you absolutely must.
 
5. Sign up for the Do Not Call Registry – Visit www.donotcall.gov to add your landline and cellphone numbers to the list of registered callers who don’t want to be bothered by telemarketers. Scammers won’t pay much attention to this list, but law-abiding companies that ignore the listed numbers risk being fined and will usually abide by the registry’s rules. This service is free and your number will never be taken off the list.
 
6. File a complaint – If you’ve signed up for the Do Not Call Registry and, after a month, you are still receiving robocalls from specific companies, file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov. When the agency receives enough complaints about a number, it will take action. If you’re constantly receiving unwanted calls from a known business after signing up for the Do Not Call Registry, you can file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau.
 
You don’t have to let those robocalls overtake your life. Take action today and reclaim your peace!
 
Your Turn: What’s your best defense against robocalls? Share your favorite tip with us in the comments.

Friday, July 6, 2018

7 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Making A Large Purchase



You’re convinced: You really want that Michael Kor handbag. Or maybe you just know that gigantic entertainment center will transform your weekends. So you swipe your card and the dream item becomes yours. You’re thrilled! 
 
That is, until a few weeks later when the credit card bill comes, and buyer’s remorse hits. You can’t help wondering: Was it really worth the price? 
 
Don’t get sucked in again! Before you say “yes” to a large purchase, ask yourself these 7 questions: 
 
1. Do I have cash to pay for this item? 
 
This question will help you determine if you can really afford the purchase. You need to have liquid funds that can cover the cost of your item. Putting it on credit means you’ll be hiking up the price once interest is tacked on, and you’ll be reminded of a possibly regrettable purchase for a long time to come. 
 
2. Is this the best price? 
 
When making a large purchase, it’s important to comparison-shop by checking several online listings and some brick-and-mortar shops as well. Visit coupon sites like CouponCabin.com for automatic savings. Also find out the best season for buying this particular item and wait for a sale if it makes sense to do so. Finally, consider purchasing a previously owned item for less.  
 
3. How many hours of work will you need to do in order to pay for this purchase? 
 
Calculate the total number of hours you’ll need to work to pay for this “must-have” item. Is it really worth the price? 
 
4. How else can I spend this money? 
 
Think about the money you’re about to spend on this single item. What else can that money buy? A few weeks’ worth of groceries? A year’s worth of monthly dinners out? Take some time to think of other ways you can spend this money before making a final decision. 
 
5. Have you splurged recently? 
 
If you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional pricey indulgence. But, when luxury purchases become a habit, it can spell disaster for your finances. If you picked up a designer handbag just last week, you may be best off waiting a bit before buying the one that’s caught your eye today. 
 
6. How often will I use this item? 
 
Yes, it seems essential today, but looking ahead, how often do you think you’ll really use this item? If you can see yourself only using this purchase a few times a year, you may want to re-think your decision. 
 
7. How much will this money be worth if I put it into savings? 
 
You have the funds for this purchase, but how much would that money earn if you saved it? Check out this investment calculator to get that magic number. The results might leave you pleasantly surprised. 
 
Here at CORE Credit Union we have several savings accounts that can help your money grow. Give us a call or stop by, and we’ll help you choose one that’s perfect for you! 
 
Your Turn: What’s your number one question before making a large purchase? Share it with us in the comments!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Don’t Drink Your Wallet Dry!



It’s hot out, so make sure you’re drinking up!  
You probably already know water is the best beverage choice for your health and for your money. But did you know bottled water may be costing you a fortune? 
 
It’s true: Many people pay exorbitant amounts of money for bottled water without even realizing how inflated the price is. 
 
So, let’s take a look a the costs of bottled water when compared to ordinary tap water. 
 
For 1,000 gallons of tap water, it will cost you approximately $11. With that amount of water, you could fill 7,570 bottles of water at 16.9 fluid ounces each, with each bottle costing you just $0.0014! 
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, you’ll only pay $1.53 a year! 
 
There are many ways to get sweet-tasting water without busting your budget. Here are some options to consider: 
 
DIY chilling 
 
Love the taste and convenience of bottled water? Save big by buying your bottles in packs of 24 and refrigerating them at home instead of buying them cold on the go.  Instead of $1 a bottle, you’ll pay just $0.16. 
 
Water coolers 
 
Water coolers cost an average of $170 and can help you fill all your water needs at home. After springing for the machine, you’ll only be paying for refills. 
 
A 5-gallon refill of spring water will run you approximately $7. Order multiple bottles at once, and you can get discounts as steep as $5 a bottle. With each gallon filling 7.5 water bottles, you’re getting more than 37 bottles worth of bottled water for the price of one purchased bottle! 
 
Pitcher filters 
 
These 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 averaging $20. 
 
The downside here is the minimal amount of water a pitcher filter can purify in one shot. 
 
Water treatment system 
 
Having an indoor water treatment system installed in your faucet will give you access to unlimited amounts of filtered water. These filters average $250 to $400, but usually work with only one faucet. Some companies will install a purified water tap alongside your existing faucet instead of filtering it. 
 
Take the tap challenge! 
 
Tap water is definitely the cheapest way to drink up. If it’s a safe option in your area, try drinking only tap water for a month. It may just become a lifelong habit! 
 
Here are some ways to make tap water more palatable: 
  • Slice some citrus fruits and let them float in your pitcher.
  • Invest in a SodaStream to add some sparkle to your glass.
  • Freeze pureed blueberries and strawberries and use them as ice cubes.
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!
 

Friday, June 1, 2018

5 Ways To Budget For Your Wedding





Q: I’m ready to tie the knot, but I don’t know if I can afford to have a wedding! Between the flowers, gown and venue, it’s thousands and thousands of dollars. How can I cut costs without compromising on my special day?
 
A: If you’re finding the costs of your wedding to be prohibitive, you’re not alone. According to wedding magazine The Knot, the average American wedding costs upward of $35,000.
 
That’s a lot of money to spend on one day, especially for twenty- and thirty-somethings who might still be carrying college debt and are probably at the starting end of their earning potential. It should come as no surprise, then, that more than half of newly married couples are still paying off debt from their special day years after the honeymoon is over. 
 
This doesn’t mean you need to give up your dreams of a spectacular gown and a three-tiered wedding cake. 
 
By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what’s truly important, you can say “I Do” without stressing over wedding costs. 
 
Here’s how: 
 
1.) Start saving now 
 
Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now!
Ramit Sethi, popular finance blogger and author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, says this is the biggest mistake people make when it comes to planning for their weddings. The average age of marriage is 27 for men and 26 for women. If you start saving for your wedding when you’re 20, explains Sethi, you’ll only need to put away $333 a month. But if you start at age 26, you’ll need to put away $2,333 a month!
 
Start saving now and take your vows, debt-free.
 
2.) Time it right
 
Don’t assume you need to get married on a balmy Saturday in July. Think off-season and mid-week, and you’ll save a bundle!
 
First, consider a winter wedding. You might not have the luxury of sunny skies and blossoming flowers, but you’ll have the warmth and coziness of being inside on a freezing winter’s day. You can treat your guests to steaming hot cocoa and then set off for the ski slopes and a dreamy wintry honeymoon.
 
Best of all, you’ll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married.
 
Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices can drop dramatically with just a one-day switch.
You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th or Thanksgiving. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.
 
3.) Skip the cake
A slice of a dessert for $2.50 that doesn’t even taste that good? Meh. Who needs it?
Here are some other ideas:
 
  • Fake your cake. If you can’t stomach the idea of a cake-less wedding, ask your baker to fake it for you by creating a false, cardboard bottom for your cake and only baking a genuine top layer or two. You’ll get the same look without the huge cost and you won’t be left with half a cake to trash when the wedding’s over.
  • Set up a bar. No, we’re not talking liquor. Make your wedding a conversation piece by setting up a dessert bar instead of a cake. You can serve hot waffles with ice cream, chocolate syrup, caramel sauce and a huge selection of other fun toppings. Or, you can choose to serve warm brownies or chocolate chip cookies as your base instead. Make it super fun with a hot chocolate fountain. Everything’s better with chocolate. You’ll be pampering your guests at a fraction of the cost!
  • Serve a sheet cake instead. Still want a cake you can eat in its entirety? Order a simple sheet cake from the best bakery in town. Your guests will be happy to savor a slice —  even without all that fondant and frosting.
4.) Save on your gown
 
Every little girl dreams of her special day – and the special dress she’ll be wearing when it finally comes. But wedding gowns can cost thousands of dollars, and after being worn once, are often left to turn yellow in a forgotten corner of an attic.
 
Instead of throwing out thousands or even hundreds of dollars on your gown, look for a pre-owned gown on eBay, OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com.  You can find a beautiful, gently used gown for under $100.
 
You can also look for a gown that wasn’t specifically designed as a wedding dress. Check out prom shops and sites, or embellish a bridesmaid dress to make it look like bride material. 
 
5.) Vary your venue 
 
Wedding venues tend to be couples’ biggest money-waster for their special day. 
Save a ton by choosing a venue that has no outside contracts. You can shop around for the cheapest caterer, or break convention and skip the sit down meal, opting for something simpler and cheaper, like a BBQ buffet, burger bar or hors d’oeuvres and mini deli sandwiches. 
 
If you really dare to be different, you can have your wedding in one of these unique, budget-friendly venues that can also serve as wedding halls for starry-eyed couples just like you: 
 
  • Art gallery. It’s already decorated beautifully. Make your wedding stand out with this artsy choice of venue!
  • College campus. If you’re still a student and your college has a large dining hall and picturesque grounds, this can be an ideal wedding venue. Plus, you’ll probably be able to snag a steep student discount!
  • Vacation home. By renting a vacation home for two weeks, you’ll have lodgings for your out-of-town guests, a romantic wedding venue and a honeymoon destination when the wedding’s over.
Still not sure how to pay for your wedding? We can help! Call, click or stop by CORE today to ask about our personal loans, wedding clubs and other great services that can take the stress out of your wedding preparations. 
 
Your Turn: Already married? Share your best wedding hacks with us in the comments! 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Beware Social Media Scams!



Over the last few years, social media scams have exploded, with fake Twitter and Facebook profiles increasing by 100% in just one year. That also means there are several types of social media scams, most which involve a phishing scheme component.
 
Here’s how it happens: Scammers try to “friend” you by creating a bogus profile or cloning the profile of someone you know. Then, they’ll get you to share personal information by asking you random questions. Meanwhile, you’re unknowingly giving away the security questions for your personal passwords. By the time you realize what’s happened, it’s too late.
 
Other social media scams involve fake offers and promotions. To get your hands on the goods, though, you’ll first need to share your personal information.
 
In another scam, fraudsters reach out to you while impersonating CORE. They’ll claim to have incredible rates on loans. And, if you apply for this “loan,” the scammers might empty your accounts or trick you into making upfront payments to qualify.
 
Here’s how to spot, prevent and react to social media scams:
 
How to spot a scam
Watch for these red flags:
  • The posted offer sounds too good to be true.
  • You’re asked to make an upfront payment for a loan application.
  • You’re urged to act immediately or risk missing the offer.
  • The scammer claims to represent CORE but when you call us to discuss the offer, no one knows what you’re talking about.
  • You’re asked to share sensitive information in the initial stages of the application.
  • A social media “friend” keeps asking you random questions.
Preventing social media scams
 
Preventing social media scams isn’t difficult. All it takes is some common sense and practical steps.
  • Think before you click. Ignore anything suspicious or intrusive.
  • If a lender has contacted you, check their legitimacy with the BBB at bbb.org.
  • If you need to take out a personal loan, contact us directly at 912-764-9846.
  • Never share personal information online with someone you don’t know.
  • Look for a publicly listed phone number that corresponds with the name of any “company” that has contacted you.
  • Never agree to pay for a product upfront without being certain of its legitimacy.
  • Check your social media privacy settings on a regular basis.
  • Never post anything that can be used to steal your identity.
If you are a victim
 
If you’ve been victimized, here’s how to minimize the damage:
  • Shut your computer and use another device to change your passwords.
  • Put a fraud alert on your credit.
  • Let CORE know. We’ll watch your accounts and refuse to honor sketchy charges. Also, if the scammer used our name, we’ll do all we can to take them down.
  • Alert the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • Tell your friends to be aware of any random requests that may come from you.
Your Turn: Have you ever been targeted by a social media scam? Tell us all about it in the comments! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

7 Ways To Spring Clean For Extra Cash

 
When that first delightful spring breeze starts blowing, you know it’s time to get your house 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!