Tag Archives: advice

Make Your Money Work for You!

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

From a young age, you’re told to save money for the future. But when it comes time to actually put learning into practice, many of us just don’t know where to begin. A savings account is a great start, but are you aware of how easy it can be to earn more on the money you already have? Here are five tips to get going with investing.

Do your research. You can read books and online articles, listen to podcasts, and even attend classes to learn more about investing. While it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge, nothing beats face-to-face advice, especially if you’re new to investing. Meet with your financial institution to see what they offer and to get that personal, expert guidance.

Start with low-risk options. Money market accounts and share certificates are examples of low-risk investments that are available at most financial institutions. These can be good ways to jump-start your investment goals because the chances of you losing any money are minimal.

Save for retirement now. Whether it’s a long way off or could happen in a few years, it’s never too early (or late) to think about retirement savings. One of the best ways is to invest in your employer’s retirement package. Speak to the human resources department to understand how the package works and if your employer is willing to match contributions. If they do, max it out so you don’t leave any money on the table.

Budget for investing. This is where setting a budget comes in handy because it can help determine how much you can afford to allocate toward investments. Five percent of your take-home income is a good place to begin. You might need to make some adjustments or take money from your discretionary fund to get to that five percent, but don’t take this amount from your fixed expenses like bills, emergency fund, or savings goals.

Give it time. Keep in mind that there are many paths to building wealth. It generally takes years of disciplined and strategic financial planning to get there. If you have dreams of retiring, start saving as much as you can as early as you can. Set a goal and keep that in mind throughout your saving and investing journey. You’ll be making some sacrifices now, but it will be worth it when you retire someday.

 

Don’t Lose Sight of Your Money

Millions of people have embraced the convenience of managing their finances online. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge into this digital land, you may wonder how it works, if it’s safe, and why it could be better than traditional methods. Even if you’re savvy online, these five tips could help make it a little easier to manage your money while you’re away from your local branch or your home.

Sign up for online banking. Check in on your accounts from the comfort of your couch, the convenience of your office chair, or when you’re miles away from home. Online banking gives you around-the-clock access and is a great way to monitor activity, check balances, and make transfers, as well as providing other useful features that you perhaps thought had to be done in person at a branch. Contact your financial institution for instructions on how to sign up. 

Get electronic statements. Let’s face it—account statements from your financial institution clutter up your countertop and eventually end up in the shred pile. Stop the cycle and sign up to receive them by email instead. That way, you can opt to look them over and move on, or print them out yourself. Plus, it’s faster than waiting on the mail, and you’re helping the environment by reducing waste.

Enroll in online bill pay. Never forget to pay a bill on time again with online bill pay. This can especially come in handy when you’re away from home. You can schedule automatic payments at the same time each month from any account.

Set up digital wallets. This is a feature on your phone, tablet, or smart watch that allows you to enter your credit, debit, and reward card information to make payments at eligible vendors. Payments are made by hovering your device over the payment terminal, then entering a code or using fingerprint recognition to confirm. It’s more secure than carrying your cards and can be shut down if your device is lost.

Notify your financial institution. Before you hit the road, hit up your financial institution to let them know your plans, including your destination and travel dates. Nothing could ruin a vacation faster than a lack of funds, and doing this helps keep your accounts safe and avoids interruptions in your credit or debit card services while you’re out of town or the country.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Give Yourself Permission to Succeed

permissionDo you dream of traveling the world, building a Fortune 500 company, or just being able to pursue the hobbies you love? What is keeping you back from achieving those dreams?

Often, we are taught from a young age, that we must “get permission” to achieve our goals. In her new book, Permission, Nicole R. Matthews talks about why it is important that we start giving ourselves permission to pursue our dreams.

Matthews uses examples from her own life to demonstrate the steps to building your happiness. While you might think her life is perfect (she created a huge event planning company in Los Angeles and often is invited to speak at many different functions), the book demonstrates how she has had to learn a few things the hard way.

The steps that Matthews details in her book include:

1. Identify what (or who) is holding you back from achieving what you want, then be done with the negative things (and people)!
2. Figure out what you really want out of life. Let yourself have permission to get the things you want and to be happy.
3. Remove the word “impossible” from your vocabulary.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
5. Create your own opportunities. Be the architect of your own life.

This book takes a holistic approach to getting what you want and finding happiness that can be applied in all aspects of life, not just the work place. If you want to “be the architect of your life,” pick up a copy of Permission, out now.

 

Written by Krista Knauer

Embracing Your Curls

bellawebCurly hair is beautiful but can be hard to appreciate when it is a mystery to take care of. As a child, my mother and I unsuccessfully struggled to tame my ringlets, which left me wearing my hair in a defeated ponytail or bun.

At 12, I was given the greatest gift known to all curly girls: A flat iron. I cringe remembering the hissing steam of my scalding wet-to-dry straightener as it went over my wet hair. I cringe even more when I think about how I never owned heat protectant.

By the time I was 15 my hair was destroyed. It’s been four years, but I’ve finally regained my curls. Here are some helpful things I’ve learned along the way:

  • Refrain from using heat products as much as possible. Using them from time to time is okay, but heat damage is detrimental to curls.
  • Cut out products containing harsh chemicals. Many gels and shampoos contain sulfates, silicones or parabens that strip hair of natural oils needed for curls. CurlMart is a great website for finding and purchasing products that are healthier. It also has reviews!
  • Reduce frizz as much as possible. There will always be some degree of frizz, but doing things like sleeping on a satin pillowcase and using t-shirts or microfiber towels to gently scrunch water out of hair is easier on hair.
  • Don’t over wash. Curly hair is drier than most types of hair and doesn’t need to be washed everyday. Every other day is a better alternative. To reactivate the products already in your hair, just add water. Keeping a spray bottle filled with a mixture of water and conditioner is a good idea.
  • NEVER brush dry hair. Brushing hair breaks up curls. It’s best to do all detangling in the shower or when the hair is still wet. Wide tooth combs are the most gentle. I personally use the Tangle Teezer.
  • Do research. All hair is different, so what works for one person’s hair is not guaranteed to work on someone else. NaturallyCurly.com is a great website for researching hair types. They have a Texture Typing method that “will let you create a hair profile to identify the unique properties and needs of your hair.” It’s easy to use and very helpful.
  • Have patience. If hair has been through years of abuse, it’s not going to bounce back to normal in a few days, or sometimes even a few months. It’s a process that takes time and effort, but looking back I found that learning to appreciate and bring out natural beauty is worth it.

 

Written By Danielle Raymond

The Risks We Take

I’ve always admired risk takers. You know, thrill seekers in helmets jumping off bridges or flying through the air with GoPro cameras strapped to their heads. I envy their rosy cheeks and deep smiles and brightly colored outfits.

Everything about them screams “I’m alive!” while everything in me just screams at the thought of zip lining across a 400 foot mountain gorge.  My lack of risk taking has long been a dark spot on my soul. I even have a difficult time hitting on a guy in a bar.

Until I realized risks don’t always mean jumping off a cliff.

I have a good friend, named Kurt. I adore him. And as it happens, he adores me. One night over dinner he asked if I would join him in completing his global To-Do list. As soon as the question left his mouth, my brain became a vortex of possible complications… what about my dog? My apartment? My parents need me and there’s all those planes disappearing in that pesky ocean.

My late thirty-something self couldn’t do it. My girlfriends thought I was insane. Who would turn down a proposition like that?

Me. I would. The girl who doesn’t take risks. I wasn’t saying no to traveling all over the world, I was saying no settling for someone I adored instead of loved. Even if that person did come with two plane tickets to Bali.  I believed something bigger was waiting for me.

Not long after Kurt, I decided to do something really stupid: become an artist. Just me and my craft facing the world and my checking account! I would pursue my artistic dreams. When I told friends, they were in awe. I could see the gleam of envy in their eyes. Or maybe it was shock at my lack of desire to work in an office for the rest of my life with health insurance and a regular paycheck.

heatherAfter I downed a bottle of my favorite wine, I convinced myself I was indeed doing the right thing. But this kind of risk is terrifying. Everything in my life is a variable upon things I can’t control… like the weather or if my dog decides he wants to pee on my running shoes.

However, I’m breathless when I look back on my decisions. The risk taker would understand. The thrill seeker jumping off the side of a mountain to fly around like a bat on a summers’ day would get it. I’m one of them now.

 

Written by Heather A. Haines

@bruceontheloose: Parenting

Way back in the old days (when you got up to change the channel on the television and asked for directions at the local gas station), I found out my wife at the time was expecting a child.  One of the first presents I ever remember her getting was the book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.”  I’m pretty sure that book still exists and women still get it early in their pregnancy. 

While I never read it myself, I did skim it, then watched and learned.  As I observed, I saw there were all kinds of tips, ideas, concepts and everything you need to know about pregnancy and upcoming childbirth.  A section followed that shared information about what your child will do at three months, six months, a year old, etc.

What they never told you – probably because they knew you wouldn’t be ready for it – was that all kids are different.  The authors also never seemed to fess up and be honest about the stages of a growing child as they enter the teen years and their twenties.  It’s a conspiracy.

The tricks that worked so well on child number one or even on number two don’t seem to play out with the third one.  No matter how many books you read, you are never fully prepared for those specific personality traits that make a child so different from their siblings.  Ultimately, we love our children the best we can, do the best we can for them, throw our hands up, and then hope for the best.  Anyone who says they do much more is probably not being completely honest with you.

bruceyoungertwo
Bruce, Maddy, and Tee

Recently, when thinking about how much I love my children, I reflected on the humorous and completely different exchanges that I frequently seem to have with them.  Then, like any humorous situation that happens to me, I told my friends.  When I realized they all laughed out loud (today, “LOL”), it hit me this might just be a thought to share with each of you. 

I tell my children I love them on a regular basis.  I want them to hear it, know it, and experience it.

bruceoldestson
Bruce and Dan

What the books didn’t print and share with me was the lifecycle of responses from them.  To my 25 year old son, Dan, I say, “I love you” and he replies, “I love you too, Dad.”  When I tell my 17 year old daughter, Maddy, “I love you,” she answers, “Thanks, Dad.”  The best is when I tell my 12 year old son, Tee, that I love him.  I get a half smile and a grunt as a response.  Not a mean one, but a baseline acknowledgement one.

I smile—no matter what response I get, because I know it is all part of a cycle they are going through as their personalities grow and develop. 

Although I’m looking forward to their next stages, I’m enjoying being with them right where they are.

 

For this and other great stories, pick up the March issue of Bella Magazine!

Cooking for Beginners

Written by Kacee Eddinger

Success in the kitchen is not always guaranteed.  If this is your first time cooking, or if you avoid it as much as possible because of past failures, here are some tips to improve your experience:

Eliminate Distractions
An ever important thing to remember while cooking is that it requires your attention. I’m not saying you can’t jam out to Pandora while you cook, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the food so that it doesn’t over cook or make a mess. If you have kids, spouses or friends who want to talk while you’re cooking, just ask them to help you keep an eye on the food.  If a recipe does tell you to let something simmer, or that you can leave a meal alone for a while, remember to check back periodically.

foods

Timers
When I was first cooking for myself, I realized the absolute necessity of timing my food. The more you cook, the less you need a timer, but if you live in a distracting environment and need to step away from the food (it needs to cook unattended for a few minutes, something else needs your immediate attention but will only take a minute, etc) just set a timer so that you remember to come back and check on the food.

Read a recipe twice (and then follow along as you go)
This is a trick my mom taught me when I was first learning how to cook, and it’s something I tell all of my friends. When first learning a new recipe, reading it multiple times gives you the general order of how to add ingredients, and what to do next. I find it also relaxes me, because since I have a better idea of what to do, less will go wrong. Make sure to have a copy of the recipe readily available to check occasionally.

Cooking is an art, baking is a science
As you begin to grow more confident with your abilities around the stove and oven, you might want to try new things with old recipes. Just remember: cooking is an art, baking is a science. You can vary recipes, but things that you bake, especially with sweets, are often best left less varied. When you put something into the oven to bake, you often don’t know how it’s going to turn out until it has finished, because you can’t see what it’s doing. Whereas, when you cook something on your stovetop, it becomes much easier to notice when the food is cooked. You can even do a taste check to see if a recipe needs something else.cooking

Have Fun and Practice
It may be a touch cliché, but here’s the fact of the matter: you probably aren’t going to burn down your kitchen. Even if you’re a nervous cook, you will probably come out of a cooking experience with something edible and notes for next time. Don’t stress over cooking. Grab a friend, your spouse, or even your kids and have a fun experience together. Also, the more you cook, the better you’ll get. You’ll learn from the recipe books, but also from experience. So keep trying, and you’ll do great.

To get started, try these simple recipes:

salmon

Salmon Patties
I’ve been making Salmon patties since I was kid. They’re also one of my favorite foods, and since I’ve started living on my own, I’ve made them a lot. I don’t have a particular reference for this, except for my mom. Thanks, mom.

 Ingredients:
Oil or Crisco for frying
1 can of pink Alaskan salmon
2 eggs
1-1 ½ cup bread crumbs

Optional:
Lemon powder or zest
Pepper
Chopped Onion
Garlic
Rosemary
Mustard
Cheddar cheese

Directions:
I. Heat skillet on the stove at medium heat. Add oil or Crisco to pan while it is still cool. You need at least enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but you can go up to an inch high of oil or Crisco (the oil is better for you than Crisco, but the Crisco gives the patties an nicer golden brown finish).
II. Open and drain canned salmon. You can either dump it into the bowl how it is, or clean out the bones and skin. Mom always said the bones and the skin were good for me, and you really cannot tell the difference. The bones are also soft enough to mash up, or chew through.
III. Once salmon is in the bowl, add eggs and mix together with a wooden spoon or your clean hands. If you have kids they might enjoy squishing the egg together with the salmon.

IV. Gradually add bread crumbs. Every batch of salmon patties is different, so you’ll always need a different amount. Start with about a half cup and add gradually from there, mixing well each time.
V. After about a cup of bread crumbs stop and make patty. If you’ve never made one, scoop up some salmon mix with your hands, and roll it into a ball. Then press it between your hands—the patty should be about the size of your palm. If a lot of the mix sticks to your hands, then it’s still too wet, but if there are a lot of cracks around the edge of the patty or it doesn’t hold its shape, then it’s too dry. Add a little mayo to break it up. A patty that will hold its shape, doesn’t have too many cracks or isn’t too sticky will be just right for frying.
VI. At this time, you can add any extras that you like. I typically put in a little mustard, lemon powder, pepper and garlic just to give the patty a little extra flavor. You can put a little slice of cheese in the middle of patty, and it will melt as it fries. But they’re your patties so use whatever you want! Just remember not to add salt to the patties—the packaged fish is salted to keep it fresh, and you’ll want to throw a little salt on it after it’s done frying to help drain off the oil.
VII. Test oil with a small bit of salmon to see if it fries. If the oil is hot enough, slide the patties on to the pan. You can usually cook two to three at a time without much trouble. Fry until brown on one side and then flip. If it’s not brown enough, you can always flip them over again. When both sides are brown, lay patties out on a double layer of paper towels. Salt lightly, or you can use powered parmesan cheese in place of the salt.

cookies

Cookie Dough
                I’ve made so many batches of chocolate chip cookies in my life, I’ve lost count. This dough is based on a recipe you’ll find on the back of every bag of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips, but I’ve made adjustments over the years for a perfect dough.

You Need:
1 cup / 2 sticks of butter, soft but not melted
1 cup of brown sugar
½ cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
2 eggs
2 ½ cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Add ins:
Chocolate Chips
Nuts
Dried fruit
Oatmeal
M&Ms
Other goodies

Directions:
I. In a medium to large bowl, mix together softened butter, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Make sure the butter is soft, but not runny or melty. If the butter is runny your cookies will be too.
II. Add in one egg and beat until incorporated. Add second egg and beat until incorporated.

III. In a separate bowl, add together flour, salt and baking soda. You may sift if you like, but it’s not a big deal if you don’t.

IV. Slowly add flower mixture to the butter mixture. The dough should start to thicken.

V. When flour mix is fully incorporated with the butter mix, you should have your dough! Add in chocolate chips, nuts, fruit or anything else you would like. Almost anything tastes great with this dough.

VI. From here you can bake them at 375°F for 8-12 minutes, until the cookies are brown, chill for a day to make the dough easier to work with, or freeze to bake another time. Dough will last 6-12 months in the freezer.