Getting the Most out of Youth Accounts

Managing money is a foundational life skill. That’s why it’s best to give your kids a head start on money management and saving.

UCCU is proud to offer specialized saving accounts for kids. Our Be Money Smart program is geared for children, youth, and teens aged 0-18.

Youth savings accounts offer no annual fees, competitive interest rates and quarterly dividends.

What better way to start saving for your future than with FREE money? Open a BeMoneySmart Savings Account before your child’s first birthday, and UCCU will make the first deposit of $10!

When your child opens a savings account, UCCU will give them a SmartSaver Rewards deposit card. Every time they make a deposit, we’ll punch the card and they’ll move closer to cash rewards. The more punches saved… the better the reward.  It’s the perfect way to help your kids learn saving habits and how to set and achieve saving goals.

Teenagers need a sense of independence. To help them gain that, teen account holders are eligible for a debit card with maximum daily limits that are set by parents/guardians.

Ready to open an account for your child(ren)? Does your child already have one? Here are three ways to ensure that he or she gets the most out of their new or existing account:

1.) Set a goal

Let your child use this opportunity to save for something big. Together with your child, create a long-term goal, like saving up for a first car. Also create a short-term goal, like a new hoverboard. Set a date for when you hope to hit your goals.
Next, set up a savings calendar for illustrating how much money needs to be saved each month to reach the intended target on time. Discuss ways to add to the savings.
2.) Bank together
If this is your child’s first time owning an account, she’ll need you to show her the ropes. Take your child along when you stop by UCCU to deposit her savings and show her how it works. If your child asks you to withdraw money from her account, let her see how this translates into a dip for their savings.
When helping your teen child, you’ll need to walk him or her through that first deposit and withdrawal. After that, leave it to them. Make sure they understand that every swipe of their debit card means a dent in their account.
It’s also a good idea to warn kids of all ages about security. They should know to never share their account information with anyone and to keep their debit card in a safe place.
3.) Monitor your child’s activity
Always keep an eye on your child’s account. If your child is depositing less than planned, or your teen is maximizing his daily ATM allowance, speak to him about money management and impulse purchases.
Every financial lesson you teach your child today equips them with skills for a lifetime.
Your Turn: How do you maximize the benefits of having a youth account for your child? Share your best tips with us in the comments!
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Springtime Gardening Tips

There’s nothing quite like a garden in full bloom, but all that beauty takes work. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to turn your own yard into a botanical work of art.

Here’s how:

1.) Prepare your garden

Remove all weeds, making sure to pull out the roots. Next, revitalize the soil by adding fertilizer or compost.

2.) Determine sunlight exposure

Make sure you know exactly how much sunlight each area of your garden gets so that you can purchase the appropriate flowers for each spot. Observe your garden’s sun exposure throughout the day before choosing your seeds or plants.

3.) Pick your flowers

Before buying anything, consider these two factors:

1. Annuals vs perennials: there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Annuals only live for one season, but are typically cheaper and bloom all season long. Perennials last several years but have a shorter blooming life and are usually more expensive.

2. Variety will make your garden pop. For incredible results, diversify the colors, heights, and flower types throughout your garden. Plant climbing roses near a lower flower bed. Use a row of evergreens to create a darker backdrop for brilliantly colored flowers.

4.) Choose vegetable plants

Here are 4 easy-to-grow veggies to get you started:

1. Zucchini. The summer squash grows quickly and is simple to plant and care for.

2. Peas. Snap and snow peas take several months to grow. You can plant them early in the season, even before the soil is completely warm.

3. Tomatoes. Sweet cherry tomatoes grow quickly and will turn any salad into a gourmet dish. Choose an area that gets full sun exposure.

4. Cabbage. Cabbages hardly need any care; just be sure to use slug bait to keep those critters away.

5.) Plant!

Before you get started, check your seed packets for the best planting time in your region. Don’t plant too early or too late in the season. It’s also important to plan your garden in full detail before you start digging.

On the day of planting, your soil should be moist and prepared for seeding. When planting each seed or flower, first determine how far beneath the soil that particular plant needs to go. Then dig an appropriate hole and add fertilizer as per the package instructions. Incorporate the fertilizer into the soil. Next, place your seed or flower in the hole and fill the hole with soil. Lastly, add mulch to help ward off diseases and weeds.

6.) MaintenanceThe amount of water each flower needs for growth can differ greatly. Make sure every plant in your garden gets the right amount of water. Weed your garden regularly to keep it looking beautiful and always trim wilted, dead blossoms to allow new growth to form.

Your Turn: How does your garden grow? Share your best gardening tips, secrets, and advice with us in the comments!

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6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Fraud

  1. Keep hard copies of all credit and debit cards in a safe, secure place.
  2. Use double-authentication on all online banking transactions.
  3. Never click on any suspicious-looking links or download anything when you’re unfamiliar with the source.
  4. Don’t share sensitive information online unless you can absolutely verify the identity of the other party.
  5. Check your credit card and checking account statements carefully each month. Report any suspicious activity immediately.
  6. Set a spending cap for your credit and debit cards as well as a specific geographic area for their use.

Your Turn: How do you keep yourself and your money safe from fraud? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

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Investing – Step #8: Find a Financial Adviser

Investing advice is everywhere! It’s on TV; it’s all over the internet; it’s in newspapers and magazines and it fills the pages of dozens of books.

With this overabundance of information, you’d think nearly everyone would be financial experts. Actually, though, financial genius eludes most people and they’re wanting professional advice.

Think you can’t afford such advice? Think again. There’s investing advice available to suit every taste, and for every budget . Here’s a small sampling of investing resources for you to check out:

1.) 401(k) plan advice

One option might be a lot closer than you think: your workplace. While you may already be taking advantage of your employer-sponsored retirement plan, you might not know – or you might not be using – the free or discounted advice your company offers from the plan provider. Ask your employer before searching for an adviser of your own.

2.) Financial advisers

The default option for investing advice is also the most expensive. Financial advisors will expertly manage your portfolio, but they come with a hefty price tag. Many advisors take a percentage of the assets they manage, generally one percent, which can amount to more than you want to pay. Alternatively, they may be paid through a retainer on their services. Both payment systems can be costly and are usually only the option of choice for high-end investors. In addition, many financial advisors will only work with a minimum investment (typically $500,000) that might be way above the amount you plan on investing. Those who do work with less money often charge double the going rate in annual fees.

3.) Roboadvisers

Fortunately for those with a smaller net worth, there are excellent options. One popular choice for affordable investment advice is the roboadvisor. Essentially, a roboadvisor is an algorithm. You give it your basic background and tell it a bit about your financial goals, and it recommends an asset distribution based on those factors.

Here are some ways a roboadvisor compares with a human advisor:

  1. Cost. Most roboadvisers bill on an assets-under-management scale: The more you’ve invested with them, the more they charge you. In contrast, a human adviser will also charge for time spent in meetings, preparing reports and other tasks related to managing your account.
  2. Quality of advice. Most financial advisers, both human and automatic, subscribe to Modern Portfolio Theory, which posits that markets tend to increase in value over time. This theory is easily reducible to an algorithm, and therefore the quality of advice offered by a roboadviser tends to be nearly identical to that of a human adviser.
  3. Personalization. Roboadvisors give one-size-fits-all advice. If you have a major life event impacting your financial status, such as an unexpected raise, the roboadvisor won’t know that. You’ll need to input all your information again and start over.
  4. Accessibility. The fact that roboadvisers are only available online can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s convenient if you’ve got easy access to a Wi-Fi signal, but not so much if you live somewhere that doesn’t have a reliable signal.

4.) Hybrid service

If you like the low cost of a roboadvisor, but don’t like the idea of trusting a machine with your investments, you might want to consider a hybrid service. It gives you the best of both worlds. A hybrid service offers automated features, like the roboadvisor, with the option of speaking to a flesh-and-blood advisor when nothing but the human touch will do.

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15 Incredible Grilling Hacks

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

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

1. Use a muffin tray for condiments

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

2. Clean with an onion

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

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

3. Layer your grate for veggies

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

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

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

4. Vegetable parcels

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

5.  Use two skewers

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

6. Add a smoker to an electric grill

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

7. Check how much propane you have left before you start

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

8. Smoke lemons

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

9. Spiral your hot dogs

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

10. Out of time? Nuke it!

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

11. Use a foil tent

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

12. Get your grill flaming fast

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

13. Try some grilled cheese – literally

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

14. One long tong

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

15. Use all the heat!

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

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

 

SOURCES:

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

https://food-hacks.wonderhowto.com/how-to/14-food-hacks-you-need-know-for-grilling-season-0156039/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/lifehacker.com/top-10-ways-to-hack-your-grill-1607315381/amp

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.firstwefeast.com/eat/2013/07/bbq-hacks-and-grilling-tricks/

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6 Ways to Save on Your Summer Vacation

The open road is calling and your dream vacation awaits! But first, you need to work out the financial details. How are you going to pay for your getaway?

Ideally, a plump vacation fund is the way to go. Unfortunately, though, many of us don’t think about how we’re going to pay for vacation until it’s a few weeks away.

Be proactive in planning your vacation by saving up for it in advance. Forgo some luxuries in the months or weeks leading up to your vacation and put the extra cash aside for your getaway. When you’ve got the money saved up, create a realistic vacation budget.

These six vacation saving tips will help you plan a perfect getaway without busting your budget.

1.) Timing is everything

There is an ideal window for buying everything, and booking airline flights is no exception. Flight prices generally fluctuate until departure day, but experts say the sweet spot is 54 days before your travel date.

2.) Clear your cache

Hotel and airline sites use cookies to determine what you’re shopping for – and then raise their prices accordingly. Beat the system by clearing your cache before every new search so they can’t access your browser history.

3.) Sweet-talk your way to savings

Ask for an upgrade at check-in. About 78% of hotel guests who request an upgrade at the front desk actually receive one. Also, by 6 p.m., most hotels know which rooms will be filled for the night. If you check in later in the day, you’ll have a better chance at getting the room with the incredible view – for an economy-class price.

4.) Never pay full price

Check sites like coupondivas.com, entertainment.com and Groupon.com for deep discounts at local eateries and entertainment centers. You can also find cheaper tickets to nearby amusement parks by looking for sellers on Craigslist.

5.) Freebie fun

Challenge yourself to enjoy one day of your vacation without spending any money. Search local sites and blogs for write-ups about free things to do. You might find a charming farm, a fun splash pad for the kids or a scenic hiking trail.

Don’t eat out on this day either. Many hotels include a continental breakfast – so take full advantage. For lunch, picnic on sandwiches. Dinner can be something effortless that you brought from home, like hot dogs cooked on a travel grill or omelettes fried in a sandwich-maker.

6.) Save your mega event for the last day

End your vacation on a sweet note by saving your most exciting event for your last day away.

If you’re unsure of how you’re going to fund your getaway, call, click, or stop by [credit union] to ask about taking out a personal loan or joining a vacation club. We’re here to make your dream vacation come true!

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