Tuesday, December 23, 2014

DIY Holiday Gift Ideas

Like many of us, you’re probably feeling the holiday spirit this season. While it is supposed to fill you with cheer, it can sometimes leave your wallet empty. Keep the spirit of giving going this holiday season with these inspired DIY gifts. Easy to create and fun to give, the magic of Christmas generosity lives on with a budget that even Scrooge would be comfortable with.

Paperwhites in Mason Jars
Happy little growers just add water.

You’ll need:

-Paper white bulbs

-Mason jars

-Colorful stones or glass

Your paperwhite bulb will not need chilling in order to bloom, and will grow easily without soil. You can find the bulbs at most gardening stores or nurseries. Fill mason jar ¾ full with stones, and set paperwhite bulb on top of stones. Secure lid over the bulb, allowing bulb to stick out of lid. Add a decorative flare with pine trimmings, twine or ribbon, and attach a homemade instructions card.

Stylized Porcelain Mugs
For the coffee enthusiast, a pretty way to brighten any morning.

You’ll need:

-Porcelain mug

-Sharpie paint oil based markers or Decoart glass paint markers


Wash mug and stencil on design with pencil, or using painters tape. Draw design with paint markers (we like metallic gold for polka dots or chevron designs) and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes to set paint. Allow to cool in oven. Voila! Mugs are dishwasher safe, but for best long term results, hand wash only.

Coffee Bean Soap 
A little bit of homemade luxury.

You’ll need:

-1 lb package melt and pour soap base

-Ground coffee beans

-Milk and honey fragrance oil (find at any craft store)

-Soap mold

Measure out how much soap base you will need, per soap mold instructions and cut soap base into cubes for melting purposes. Place soap in microwave safe bowl for melting and heat at 15 second intervals, stirring between each, until soap base is melted. Once melted (be sure not to overheat), quickly add in coffee grounds and stir, adding in fragrance oil and stirring (fragrance will come with amount directions). Pour soap into molds, nixing bubbles on the top of molds with a spritz of rubbing alcohol if needed. Soap will take 1-3 hours to harden. Pop out of molds and soap is ready for gifting!

His Favorite Beer Glasses 
Turn used bottles into treasured glasses.

You’ll need:

-Favorite beer bottles


-Small dish and rag

-Scrap string


Fill sink with cold tap water and handfuls of ice. In a small dish, pour enough acetone to soak your string. Cut a piece of string long enough to wrap bottle 5-6 times around, and tightly wrap string around bottle where you want to separate the glass you’ll have from the top of the bottle. Tie a knot in the yarn and trim extra from ends; slip off of bottle and submerge in acetone. Slip soaked yarn back onto bottle where the cut will be made. Hold bottle horizontal over sink and light the string with lighter, rotating the bottle until flame burns out after about 30 seconds. Once flame burns out, submerge bottle and string in ice bath and the top should separate where the yarn was (if top does not come off, repeat process until bottle separates). Use sandpaper to smooth the edges, and you’ve got a guy-approved gift!

The holidays should be a season for spreading cheer and spending time with family and friends. Don’t let the financial strains of the season stop you from getting into the Holiday gift-giving spirit. From all of us at Financial One, we hope you have a safe Holiday season and a very happy New Year!

Holiday Scams and How to Prevent Them

Common Holiday Scams and How You Can Prevent Them’
For every family looking to enjoy a safe and exciting holiday season, there awaits a thief or criminal looking to take advantage of holiday goers. To prevent a Scrooge from harming your family and identity, take the following common holiday scams into consideration.

Gift Cards
Gift cards often are an excellent way to ensure that your loved one will receive something they love and will use. They are also one of the most common scams during the holiday season. Scammers take advantage of holiday shoppers by either scanning the magnetic strip on the card or by counterfeiting cards. To avoid this problem, consider purchasing cards from the customer service desk, and always ask for the card to be scanned if it is pre-loaded.

Delivery Targets
The holidays are an exceptionally busy time for delivery services. Many thieves take advantage of this and develop multiple scams involving delivery companies. One such scam involves leaving a notice at your door that states you missed a package and that you must call and arrange for delivery of the package. Once you call, the scammer asks for your personal and private information such as your PIN or your social security number. Call the postal office or delivery carrier to ensure if your expected package has arrived. Your local postal office, UPS, or FedEx does not require such personal information to deliver your package. Be wary of this very common scam.

Phishing Scams
Checking your email during the holiday season most likely means you are bombarded with emails on discounted merchandises, final holiday sales, coupons, and much more. While many of these emails may save you a ton in your holiday budget, be wary of emails and links that hold malicious malware and viruses. Identity theft would be a rather unwanted holiday present. Unfortunately, there is no surefire way to guarantee that an email is 100% safe, so if you are tempted by a link or offer, travel to the website itself to see whether the email was indeed legitimate.

Facebook and Grandparent Scams
Facebook hacks and grandparent scams are done year-round, but are even more prevalent during the holiday season. The scams often start with a social media account posting or a phone call claiming to be a loved one who claims to be in trouble and in need of some money. Often hackers will obtain personal information in the hopes of making the scam seem more authentic. To prevent this if you have a loved one traveling, consider setting up a secret code word or registering with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program at https://step.state.gov/step/ to help with communication in emergencies.

Old Scams are Still Common for a Reason
Warning: Not all holiday scams happen electronically. Thieves can still act as door to door salesmen casing homes or criminals who tail delivery services and are prepared to snatch your package up when you are not home. During the holidays, people are generally in high and giving spirits. Unfortunately, scammers are more than prepared to take advantage of this. Fake charities often spring up looking for people to trick into donating. To ensure whether or not a charity is legitimate, check out www.charitynavigator.org.

Holiday scams occur nearly every year and it may be likely that you or your loved one may be a victim of a scam. To help ensure you are not, use common sense and read the fine print before giving your personal information away. Research and double check before each and every purchase. Or consider setting up a cash only policy in your household instead of a debit or credit card during the holiday seasons. Consider all these tips to have a safe and exciting holiday season.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making and Saving Money While Going to School

The best part about starting college? Newfound independence. One of the worst parts about

college? Feeling as if you never have any money.

With all the freedom of college comes the new responsibility of adulthood which is why it’s important to start practicing healthy financial habits of making and spending money. There are plenty of ways to do this without sacrificing study time or missing out a great college experience.

Online Habits Can Make You Money

Believe it or not, the time you spend procrastinating on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram can earn you money and give you valuable writing experience. In fact, you could potentially earn $100 a month acting as a social media expert by hiring yourself out writing Facebook posts, Tweets, and blog posts for companies in need of social content. Or, with time and dedication, you can earn money by producing your own blog, although it may take a few years to develop your own personal brand.

Get Creative With Your Own Talents

Love knitting? Photography? Are you talented at transforming old thrift store finds into something new and wonderful? You’d be surprised at how selling your creation on sites like Etsy, Ebay, and Craigslist or at local craft shows can make you some quick cash!


Are you a music student? Majoring in Chemistry? Or Latin perhaps? Offer lessons to other students or to the local community. This way, you get to make some dough while teaching others to do something you love and are already skilled in.


Being a student often means having limited space in a small dorm. It also means moving around a great deal. Why hold on to a bunch of things you don’t really need when you can sell them for much-needed cash? Secondhand shops typically accept gently used clothes for money or for store credit. Online sites like Amazon and Chegg often give you better deals on old textbooks than campus bookstores. Many colleges even have community Facebook groups where you can swap anything from last semester’s textbooks to old futons with other students on campus.

Part-time Jobs and Side Gigs

No job is too small. The same jobs you held in high school can still earn you money now; don’t overlook them. A part-time retail or restaurant job can bring in some cash and help you build character and discipline. Also, make sure to check out your campus’ work study options and research group opportunities for money.

Save Money, Stay Healthy

Craving a little physical activity? Take advantage of your campus athletic facility. Many Health/Fitness majors teach classes at part of an academic requirement, so consider learning from with your peers. If organized team sports are more your thing, join an intramural. Reluctant to leave your dorm? You can even stream many workouts on YouTube for free.

Affordable Entertainment

With access to thousands of shows, movie, and documentaries for free or for less than $10 a month though Netflix, Hulu, and soon HBOgo, paying for monthly cable and satellite fees make less and less sense. You can even split the cost of a subscription with your roommates to cut down even more on fees.

Track What You Spend

Free phone apps like Mint and Level Money help you keep tabs on what you spend at the grocery store, the mall, and restaurants. They make it nearly impossible for you to question where your money goes every month.

Learn How to Budget

It is never too soon to build a savings account or learn how to budget your income. Any money you receive from your parents, financial aid, and your job can be used for your savings. Figure out how much you should put towards your cell phone bill, towards going out, or towards your student loans every month. Setting these priorities now will help you build a stable financial future.

So there you have it - some solid, collegiate building blocks to set you on the right path. Have a particular strategy that helps you save your pennies? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Holiday Spending Trends: How to Prepare

The Holiday season is great for a lot of reasons: family, friends, religious gatherings, parties, good food, etc. However, the most constant and encompassing thing during the Holiday season shopping. Yes, Holiday shopping- the monster that is here to stay. Whether or not you believe in giving gifts during the Holiday season, the fact is you cannot avoid the shopping madness. From crazy store hours to new products to super-saving deals, everywhere you look, you are reminded that the Holiday shopping season is happening. To help you prepare for the Holiday shopping season, here are three areas you can look to address:

1. Purchase Gifts Online
Not a fan of long lines or “fighting” through crowded aisles at your local mall? Then grab a chair, maybe a blanket, and fire up your computer. Online shopping is your answer to avoiding the crazy shoppers. When you consider the great online deals out there (Cyber Monday) and the time you will save by not going out, you will see the benefits of purchasing gifts online. At the very least, you can do your gift “scouting” online so you are best prepared to go out and find exactly what you want much more quickly.

2. Have A Game Plan
Yes it may sound a little excessive, but make a list of who you are going to purchase gifts for and then figure out what to get them. By making this list you can research which stores offer the best prices and which gifts in general are overpriced. Once you have a game plan in place you can go out and execute the plan, while still allowing for an audible or two. Knowing what you need to get, and more importantly what NOT to get, will be critical.

3. Set A Budget
Over-spending is not uncommon- In fact, it is quite easy. The Holiday season naturally calls us to be extra nice and go above and beyond for others. As a result, we tend to purchase extravagant gifts for our loved ones. While the thought is great, the result can sometimes be tough to deal with. You should never put yourself in a situation in which you are struggling to make ends meet because of your purchasing choices. Our suggestion; set a budget of how much you are willing to spend on gifts for each person on your list and then stick to it. It won’t be easy, but by identifying how much you can spend, you are putting yourself in a good position to cope with making difficult choices.

Again, the Holiday shopping season is going to be crazy, and there isn’t much you can do to change it. Hopefully, these three tips will help you stay calm and enjoy the Holiday season the way it was meant to be!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

KASASA This Holiday Season!

Thank you for being a member of Financial One Credit Union. With our recent rebrand we wanted to let our members know what’s new and what’s different! We decided to partner with BancVue, also known as KASASA. KASASA is an effort to fight against “big banks” and show people that banking should be free and you should be rewarded for having your money at our financial institution.

What is new with Financial One? We will now be offering high yield checking accounts that pay up to 2% APR, or a 4% cashback on purchases up to $20. You also have the option of an iTunes reward account that will allow you to earn up to $5 per month in iTunes or Amazon credits with a $20 sign up bonus, just for using your checking account.

Each account does have qualifiers: you must have e-statements and you must login to online banking at least once in a qualifying period (usually the 1st of the month thru the 29th or 30th depending on the month). You must also use your debit card at least 12 times within that same qualifying period.

What is different with Financial One? We have always offered free checking accounts to our members, but now you will also have the option to earn rewards! Members decide which reward program to be in based on the accounts mentioned above. In addition to the newly added reward accounts, we also have a new website which allows our members to access our products and services with greater ease than in the past. Also, with the new website, members and non-members can now open accounts online rather than having to come into the branch.

We hope you will enjoy the changes to Financial One Credit Union. If you have any questions about KASASA please do not hesitate to contact us.