Independence Day Celebrations Yesterday and Today

Do you know exactly what happened on July 4, 1776? What do our Fourth of July celebrations commemorate, and why?

The Reason We Celebrate July 4

July 4, 1776, is the date written on the original Declaration of Independence, even though it wasn’t signed until Aug. 2 of the same year. July 4 was the day in which the Continental Congress officially agreed and approved the final edits to the document that Thomas Jefferson wrote. It declared the words that would establish a new nation, independent of Great Britain’s control.

Thirteen American colonies were already at war over oppressive taxation, but residents weren’t consistent in their opinions and their efforts until the words of the Declaration united them and gave them a foundation for the Revolutionary War victory in 1783. Because the Declaration was also understood to be the first formal statement by any group of people asserting a right to choose their own form of government, it was a significant document for all citizens of the world, not only for the colonists.

Although it was called Independence Day as early as 1791, the Declaration of Independence wasn’t always celebrated on July 4 with a vacation from work and fancy fireworks. In fact, the United States Congress didn’t make it a holiday for federal employees until 1870, nor did lawmakers pass additional legislation to make July 4 a paid federal holiday until 1938.

During the Revolutionary War, July 4 was commemorated with 13-gun salutes (representing the 13 colonies), official banquets for the Continental Congress and their families, and parades and shows for the troops. Ships at sea were draped with red, white and blue while in port and at sail, and General George Washington reportedly ordered a double ration of rum for his fighting men to celebrate.

One of the signers of the Declaration of Independence was John Adams, who wrote the following in a letter to his wife, Abigail: “It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

Celebrating July 4 at Home

Today, we certainly have our modern pomp and parade, shows, games, sports, guns, bells and bonfires to celebrate July 4. But we also have jet fighter salutes at airshows and choreographed fountains and fireworks exploding over lakes, rivers and harbors throughout the country. John Adams probably could never have imagined the majestic displays we take for granted now.

Whether you enjoy a road trip with your family or stay home to barbecue by the pool, you can plan a Fourth of July that’s fun for everyone. In some parts of the U.S., you can even celebrate with your own patriotic fountains and fireworks. Start by contacting your local fire department to learn the rules for purchase and use of fireworks in your area, and to ask if you’ll need a permit to use them. Then, stop by your local retailer to check out their light show fountain kits to complete your patriotic display.

Celebrating July Fourth in Washington, D.C.

If you’re planning to join the crowds gathering in our nation’s capital in Washington, D.C., here are some suggestions for a budget-friendly but unforgettable Fourth of July:

  • See the real deal, the original 240-year-old Declaration of Independence that’s located in the National Archives, north of the National Mall at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, D.C., and meet the Founding Fathers in a lively reenactment.
  • Find a good spot on Constitution Avenue before the National Independence Day Parade begins at 11:45 a.m. between 7th and 17th streets. An authentic Revolutionary War Fife & Drum Band as well as top high school bands from across the country provide the sights and sounds of freedom.
  • Stop by the National Portrait Gallery at 8th and F St. NW, Washington, D.C., to see the official, painted portraits of all 43 presidents of the United States, and to hear presidential reenactors telling stories of their time period in history.
  • Catch “We The People,” a 20-minute film at the Smithsonian American History Museum, on Constitution Avenue NW. It chronicles the history of Independence Day, starting from its birth in 1776.
  • Drive about 30 minutes south of Washington, D.C., to immerse yourself in George Washington’s Mount Vernon home along the Potomac River. Savor ice cream, fireworks and music from the Revolutionary War era all day long.

Your Turn: Where will you celebrate July 4 this year? Are you planning a gathering at home, or traveling to visit friends, family or national historic sites?

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_(United_States)
http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/july-4th
http://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-declaration-of-independence/fourth-of-july/
http://www.military.com/independence-day/history-of-independence-day.html
http://experience.usatoday.com/america/story/best-of-lists/2015/07/01/fourth-of-july-fireworks-usa-cities/29524219/
http://magazine.foxnews.com/celebrity/17-patriotic-movies-watch-over-fourth-july-weekend
https://washington.org/ways-celebrate-independence-day-washington-dc

Share Button
Posted in Community, Other | Leave a comment

Nest: save on utility bills right from your pocket

The skinny:

Nest is a smart thermostat. It allows you to control the temperature of your home right from your smartphone. Within about a week, Nest learns your habits and adjusts to your preferred temperatures.

Who’s it for? Anyone who wants to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Nest automatically lowers the temperature when you go to bed and shuts off when no one is home. The average user saves 10-12% on their heating bills and 15% on cooling bills.

Nest is also great for people who own vacation homes. If you see a big temperature drop coming, but you’re at your full-time residence, you can turn the heat on at your second home so your pipes don’t freeze.

What platforms? iOS and Android

Cost? The app is free. The device itself costs about $250, depending on the retailer. If you need professional installation, it costs between $99-250.

We seem to run our lives from our smartphones, and now we can run our thermostats that way, too. Nest is connected to your Wi-Fi, which allows you to control it from your smartphone.

But the best thing about the Nest thermostat is its intuitiveness. You don’t have to use the app to turn the heat on before you get home from work. You can skip having that moment of panic while on vacation when you realize you left your air conditioner running. Nest knows the rhythms of your life and adjusts accordingly. It knows what time you come home from work and knows if nobody’s home so it makes appropriate changes for you. Plus, you can make adjustments using the app if you need to do that.

Nest comes with some great additional features. You can look at your energy history to see how much you are using. Daily reports show how much energy you’re saving and give tips on how to use less to save even more on your bill. When you’re choosing temperature settings, you’ll see a leaf symbol when you’ve chosen one that saves energy.

You got a great rate on your mortgage with Utah Community Credit Union. Save even more money by installing Nest!

Your Turn: What energy-saving methods do you use in your home? Let us know!

Share Button
Posted in Budget Tips, Community, Home Equity / Mortgage, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

6 Ways to Save On Your Summer Vacation

The ocean is calling – and so is the open road. Your dream vacation awaits! But first, you need to work out the financial details. How are you going to pay for your getaway? How much can you realistically spend? Where is the money for your vacation going to come from?

Ideally, a plump vacation fund that’s fed throughout the year is the way to go. Unfortunately, though, we often don’t think about how to pay for vacation until it’s a few weeks away. To make things even worse, according to LearnVest, an alarming 74% of Americans go into debt to pay for a vacation.

Don’t become part of that statistic! 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 save the extra cash for your getaway. Consider running a yard sale featuring all of your forgotten treasures and use the profits to fund your trip. Skip your weekly dinner out for a while and put the money in your vacation budget.

Now it’s time to plan your vacation! When you’ve got the money saved up, create a realistic vacation budget. These six vacation saving tips will help you plan the perfect getaway while staying well within your budget.

1.) Timing is everything

Be a savvy shopper. 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. If you don’t want to be busy checking prices all day, sign up for emails from a savings alert site. Let them know which dates and locations you’re interested in, and they’ll let you know when a flight goes on sale so you can book your discounted tickets before they’re sold out.

2.) Clear your cache

Hotel and airline sites use cookies to determine what you’re shopping for. They’ll see which days you’re searching and raise their prices accordingly. Beat the system by clearing your cache before every new search so they can’t read into your browser history. You might see as much as a 50% drop in prices when searching with an empty cache!

3.) Sweet-talk your way to savings

Just because your hotel room is pre-booked, it doesn’t mean you can’t save. Don’t be shy about asking for an upgrade at check-in. About 78% of hotel guests who request an upgrade at the front desk actually receive one. Some face-to-face schmoozing can go a long way!

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 keys to the room with the incredible view – even with your economy-class price tag.

4.) Never pay full price

You can score a deluxe vacation without the deluxe price tag – all it takes is a little research. Check sites like coupondivas.com, entertainment.com and Groupon.com for amazing deals and deep discounts for local eateries and entertainment centers. You can also find cheaper tickets to nearby amusement parks by looking for sellers on Craigslist. Also, if you’re traveling with kids, don’t forget to look up restaurants with “Kids Eat Free” promotions.

5.) Freebie fun

Challenge yourself to enjoy one day of your vacation without spending any money at all. Search local sites and blogs for write-ups about fantastic free things to do nearby. You might find a charming family farm, a gorgeous waterway, a fun splash pad for the kids or a scenic hiking trail. Or, just spend the day at the closest beach!

Don’t eat out on this day either. Many hotels include a continental breakfast – take full advantage. For lunch, you can picnic on sandwiches. Dinner can be something effortless and delicious that you brought from home or pick up at a local supermarket. Consider packing a travel grill or panini maker for easy meals. You can heat up some hot dogs or burger patties, or bring some baguettes and an assortment of sliced cheeses for fresh paninis. Round off the meal with some pre-sliced veggies.

You’ll be surprised at how much fun you can have without spending a penny!

6.) Save your mega event for the last day

The taste of dessert is what lingers after the meal is through. End your vacation on a sweet note by saving your most exciting event for your last day away.

So, start budgeting now by deciding where you’d like to travel to, a rough estimate of what it will cost, and how much you can set aside each month to get to that number. Who knows, maybe selling some extra possessions in that yard sale or online will give you an extra boost towards your vacation fund!

Bonus Tip:

Check out the deals that our partner GetAwayToday is offering on their website. Just follow this link and you’ll see all the prices at a special UCCU Member discount.

Your Turn: How do you save big on summer vacation? Share your best hacks and tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:

Share Button
Posted in Budget Tips, Community, Other | Leave a comment

Summer Semester Fun

Here’s a real brainteaser for you: Flip-flops, sunscreen, smoothies, and textbooks – which of these is not like the others?

If you’re one of the thousands of college students staying on for the summer semester, this assortment may accurately describe your summer plans.

It’s great that you’re choosing the summer months to catch up with or get ahead of your schoolwork. But is there a way to keep on top of your studies while still making time for some much-needed fun in the sun?

You bet there is! Here’s how:

1.) Study outdoors

Yes, you’ll need to spend lots of time buried in your textbooks this summer. No, that doesn’t mean you need to be cooped up indoors while the rest of the world is enjoying the sunshine. Grab your books and some friends to initiate a study session at an outdoor bench, a grassy park, a scenic waterfront, or even a remote lake. Bring sunglasses, cold drinks, a good set of notes and your best highlighter. Then, get your work done while still enjoying summer!

2.) Hike and learn

Hiking is a fantastic way to stay in shape and have some outdoor fun. But, did you know it can also be a great time to study? It’s true – all you need is a pair of earbuds! Plug into a recorded lecture you’d love to review or even an online video that offers more information on a subject you’re studying and hit the trails. You’ll absorb information while giving yourself a physical challenge and getting lots of fresh air.

3.) Make the most of weekends

Even the busiest student has some free time. Instead of crashing, plan those spare hours well. Use them for a full-day’s trip to a nearby amusement park, beach or another local getaway. One day of pure fun will give you the boost you need for another week of hard work! Maybe even two!

4.) Take a road trip

With stacks of papers to write and exams to cram for, you might think that endless road trips are an impossible summer dream. Think again!

While you can’t take off for a cross-country drive when you need to be in class early the next morning, you can still pack into the car with a bunch of friends and hit the road without neglecting your schoolwork. Just turn the trip into a study session! You can have one friend serve as “lecturer” by reading their notes aloud. You and your friends can audibly hear and absorb as you wind around impossible bends and past mountains or meadows. Alternatively, play a recorded lecture for everyone to enjoy and let the words sink in as you cruise.

5.) Take time to chill

To avoid total burnout, squeeze some downtime into your daily schedule. Grab an early morning bike ride, take a quick jog after your classes, or indulge in a stop at the local ice cream shop before tackling your homework. You’ll be glad you did. Even if it’s just a 10-minute break at the neighborhood park, those few minutes of airing out will give you the fuel you need to hit the books and keep going.

Your Turn: Have you ever taken summer classes? How did you stay on top of your work and still make time for summer fun? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

SOURCES:
Share Button
Posted in Community, Other | Leave a comment

Full Focus Planner: The Ultimate in Planning and Organization

In a world that is constantly becoming more digitized, the Full Focus Planner stands out like a snowman on a beach. After all, it’s not an app or a website – it’s an analog tool. No touchscreens, automatic uploads or complicated algorithms here!

What made self-proclaimed techie, Michael Hyatt, design and create a physical planner? And why does he think his product will change people’s lives?

“I love paper,” Hyatt asserts. “It’s the best reading app around.”

Hyatt explains that, despite their incredible efficiency, technology can also be incredibly distracting. Multiple screens, apps and pop-ups can divide your focus and inhibit your productivity.

In contrast, research shows that, when people write something down instead of inputting it into a computer, they retain more of the information. Writing by hand engages several parts of the brain and creates stronger memory cues. Writing out your yearly, monthly and weekly goals will make them stick in your mind.

The Planner offers a lot more than just a paper trail for your activities. It’s designed to help you achieve the goals you have for yourself and your business.

In a brilliant innovation that combines Hyatt’s goal-setting strategy with proven productivity methodology, The Full Focus Planner will connect your long-term goals with your daily tasks. And, best of all, it goes with you everywhere – the office, the airport, the coffee shop — so you can review your goals wherever you are.

Here’s what you can expect from the Full Focus Planner:

1.) Goal achievement strategy

The Full Focus Planner’s scientific method for planning and achieving goals will be your guide toward personal and professional achievement.

2.) Task tracking

Utilizing a personalized chart, you can track the tasks you complete on a daily basis, marking down your estimated time and actual completion time to facilitate better planning and goal-reaching.

3.) Finance tracking

Keeping your finances in order by frequently reviewing your accounts and spending habits will help you stick to your budget and reach your financial goals sooner.

4.) Habit tracker

Easily track your older and newer habits. This will help you evaluate which actions are holding you back from achieving and which ones are helping you move forward.

5.) Life visualize

Create a picture of your future and your career dreams to help you focus on your long-term goals.

6.) Monthly goal setting

Visualize your monthly goal. Create appropriate to-do lists and a plan for upcoming tasks that will enable you to reach your goal.

7.) Weekly planner

Planning and reviewing a weekly schedule will help keep your days focused and productive.

8.) 30-day challenge

Sometimes it’s good to take on more than you think you can handle. Challenge yourself each month with a goal that takes a bit more effort and watch your dreams turn into reality.

9.) Self-reflection

It’s important to be tuned into your inner self as you work toward your goals. Are you happy with the direction your life is taking? How can you improve your character? Self-reflection will help you listen to your inner voice.

10.) Failure mode analysis

Everyone messes up at times. Learn from your mistakes by using the planner’s systematic method for identifying where you went wrong.

11.) Stay motivated

An empty cup can’t pour. Keep your cup full with inspirational quotes and by tracking your progress and taking pride in all you’ve accomplished.

Your Turn: What keeps you from actually reaching your dreams? Share your biggest productivity pitfalls in the comments so we can all learn what does and doesn’t work!

SOURCES:
Share Button
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Glassdoor Names Jeff Sermon a Highest-Rated CEO

Our employees are to thank today as Jeff Sermon is named one of the Highest Rated CEOs on Glassdoor, according to the company’s most recent report. Glassdoor®, one of the world’s largest and fastest growing job sites, released its annual report highlighting the Highest Rated CEOs in several countries throughout North America and Europe.

Jeff Sermon appears on the U.S. Small & Medium Companies list with an impressive Glassdoor rating of 97%, due in part to recent efforts around the UCCU 60 Years celebration and the successful implementation of a new and upgraded banking system.

CEO approval ratings are gathered through Glassdoor’s online company review survey, which gathers current and former employee sentiment about job and company satisfaction, the work environment and the culture. Employees are asked to rate a number of workplace factors like compensation and benefits as well as work-life balance, and asked whether they approve, disapprove or are neutral about the job their CEO is doing. In addition, employees are asked to describe some of the upsides and downsides of working for the company and provide any advice for senior management.

Check out the complete list of Highest Rated CEOs in 2017 on the U.S. SMB list here: https://www.glassdoor.com/Award/Highest-Rated-CEOs-at-SMBs-LST_KQ0,26.htm

 

Share Button
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4 Tips for Using Your Summer Auto Loan Sale

Congratulations! You’ve locked in the Summer Loan Sale rate, but now you’re wondering what you can do with it. Here are four tips for using your low rate before August 31, 2017.

Buy a New Car

With Auto Loan rates on the rise, use this low rate and our 10 Essential Car-Buying Tips to find the best deal for you and your family. New cars are a great purchase because you can have peace of mind, knowing any potential repairs will most likely be covered by the warranty.

Remember, there are typically three separate transactions or negotiations involved in buying a car.

  1. The price for the new car
  2. The price for your trade-in
  3. The financing

With this locked in rate, we’ve taken care of one-third of the purchase process! So now you can relax and focus on the other negotiations.

Refinance a Higher-Rate Auto Loan

Rates go up and down with time, and depending on the institution you financed your last car through, you might have a higher rate than you would prefer. With your low rate locked in, you may be able to refinance any auto loans you might have with other institutions any time before August 31, 2017. Any one of our auto loan experts available in every branch can help you gather all the correct information and get you the lowest rate possible!

Buy a Used Car

Buying a used car is often a smart financial choice for many reasons (just like your low auto loan rate with UCCU). A used car often reduces your insurance costs and registrations fees. Since your low rate is good for cars that are 2010 or newer, take the time you need to shop around and find the best deal! That’s the beauty of locking in your rate; you can make deliberate, smart financial decisions instead of rushing.

Share with Your Family

Family is there to support and help each other, so what better way to help someone than giving them the gift of a low auto loan rate? Your immediate family members can use the low rate you locked in and you can be the hero at the next family dinner party!

If you haven’t already, be sure to go to uccu.com/summer to lock in your Summer Auto Loan Sale base rate as low as 2.99%!*

*Any person who completes the lock-in request form at uccu.com/summer prior to 11:59 pm on July 31st, 2017 receives an auto loan interest rate lock as low as 2.99% APR (base rate). 60-month term or less, on 2010 models or newer. The 2.99% base rate redemption period will expire at 5:30 pm Thursday, August 31st, 2017. Immediate family members of those who successfully lock-in the 2.99% base rate can also use the rate. Can be used to refinance auto loans from other institutions or to purchase a new or used auto. Annual percentage rate (APR). Subject to membership eligibility. Some restrictions may apply. Limited time offer. Available on approved credit only. Federally insured by NCUA.

Share Button
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How is a Credit Score Measured?

A credit score provides access to financing for major life purchases such as a car, a home, and even tuition. Credit scores also unlock household utility services, including mobile phone and internet services.

But how is credit scored? Since higher scores can result in lower fees, it’s vital to understand what makes up a credit score. Here are the five components that make up a credit score, in order importance:

Payment History – 35%: Paying back debts on time has a positive impact while late payments, judgments, and charge-offs have a negative impact. Key factors include how late a payment was, how much was owed, how recently the late payment occurred, and how many late payments a person has.

Amounts Owed – 30%: This factor marks the ratio between used versus available credit. Credit card users should make an effort to keep balances as close to zero as possible. Paying off balances each month rather than only making minimum payments also has a positive impact.

Credit History – 15%: This marks when a credit line was established. A long credit history is stronger than new or little to no credit history. If you have older credit cards with no balance (and no annual fee), keep them open. This will preserve the longevity of your credit history.

Mix of Credit – 10%: This includes credit cards, retail accounts, auto loans, and mortgage loans you have. Credit mix isn’t typically a key factor in determining a credit score unless there is not a lot of information on your credit report to use as a basis for your score.

New Credit Inquiries – 10%: This quantifies the number of inquiries or requests for new credit within a 12-month period. While some individual inquiries can impact your credit score, multiple inquiries from mortgage lenders within a short period of time are usually treated as a single inquiry with little impact on a credit score.

Have more questions? Contact one of our UCCU Mortgage Loan Officers and they can help you get answers!

Source: myFICO.com

Share Button
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We Love Our Members

Thank you for being a member of Utah Community Credit Union. Our mission is simple: to inspire smart financial decisions, to work together to support each other, and to help you make your money go further.

UCCU began over 60 years ago as BYU Federal Credit Union. What better way to thank our members than with free ice cream from the BYU Creamery?

Stop by any UCCU branch during the month of June to get a voucher for a half gallon of BYU Creamery Ice Cream.*

*Limited time offer. One voucher per member age 18 and older.

Share Button
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Newlyweds: Don’t let Financial Stress Take the Cake

Of all the things to discuss before marriage, finances are the least exciting. Statistically, money is the top reason couples argue and financial arguments are among the top predictors of divorce.

So, how can you avoid becoming a statistic? Here are some ideas from the experts:

Talk To Each Other

  • A 2013 poll by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling  found 68% of engaged couples have negative attitudes about discussing money. To 45%, it’s “necessary but awkward,” and 7% say it’s “likely to lead to a fight.” Five percent predict it would call off the wedding.
  • The result? Couples don’t talk finances. A Fidelity survey found that over one-third don’t know their partner’s salary, of which 72% think they communicate “very well” about finances.

It’s not surprising: What’s romantic about debt, budgets or taxes? Nobody can ensure newlywed happiness, but experts agree: Don’t wait.

Discuss taxes now. If you’re both employed, the “marriage penalty” may cost you more; consider marrying in January. But if one spouse earns the majority, you’ll enjoy a “marriage bonus” and a December wedding might be wise.

Talking about money now is important, but so is how. SmartMoney found that over 70% of couples talk about money weekly. The problem? “Most of us don’t know how to talk about money,” says Mary Claire Allvine, certified financial planner. “People tend to be emotional and reactive, not strategic.”

Whether you talk money weekly or monthly, agree on a system and stay open to change.

Get Started

Start easy: “What’s your first money memory?” “How did you spend your allowance?” Then, go further:

  •  “Are you a spender or saver?” – If one saves and one spends, create a budget considering both styles. Studies show that men and women spend differently. Women tackle daily expenses (groceries, utilities, clothes); men make larger purchases (TVs, cars, computers). Amounts might be equal, but perceptions differ. About 36% of partners don’t discuss big purchases; that’s a recipe for disaster.
  • “Are you in debt?” – Your spouse’s debt doesn’t become yours, but it affects your choices. Heavy credit card debt complicates home buying. Make reducing debt a priority.  A TD Ameritrade survey found 38% of partners unaware of the other’s debts.
  • “What are your financial goals?” “Where do you want to be in five or 20 years?” – Goal-oriented people progress toward savings and investing targets faster. Decide on the targets: buying a home, starting a family, being debt-free. List your goals, then share and plan together.

Know what’s important to each other: things or experiences? A house or saving for retirement? Clarify these values early on in the marriage.

Trust Each Other

A Money survey revealed that those who trust their partner with finances feel more secure and argue less. That trust isn’t common among newlyweds.

Be honest. If you made a foolish purchase, own up to it. Some 40% of partners have lied about the price of a purchase. Lying about money has huge repercussions.

Support one another; finger-pointing or retreating won’t help. Instead, work together on a plan.

You’re Still Individuals

Celebrate differences. Your bargain-hunter should do the spending while you invest the savings. Choose a monthly amount each can spend, no questions asked. Money claims the average is $150.

A joint bank account has pros and cons. SmartMoney found 64% of couples put all their money in joint accounts; 14% kept everything separate. Many newlyweds choose both: yours, mine, and ours. Calculate shared living expenses and then contribute your portion of those costs.

Ask For Help

If money conversations are tough, hire a professional. Your credit union can help. Act now to ensure money won’t prevent your wedded bliss.

SOURCES:

Share Button
Posted in Community, Other, Savings & Investments | Leave a comment