Want to really ramp up your interest rate on savings?

We are still in a low interest environment in the US. Great for borrowers, not so nice for savers. Want to have your money to work for you, without risking market loss? Good luck! CD rates STINK, and your savings account earns an average of a half of one percent! With inflation, your money is losing value in these accounts.

But around the country, some credit unions and local banks are trying to help savers like you. There’s a weirdly named interest rate program called Kasasa, and with it your savings can get a big JUMP in interest rates.

What a Kasasa account will do for you is give you a great interest rate on your checking account and sometimes on your savings, in return for some things you have to do.

With a Kasasa account, you will have to have a certain number of debit card transactions per month. In addition, the credit union or bank with likely require you to have e-statements and online banking. Some also require you to log into online banking once per month.

Hoops? Guess so, but no hard ones to meet, unless you are debit card averse. My credit union provides their members a 3% interest on my checking and .75% savings account rate in their Kasasa program! There are upper limits to what balance to pay this interest upon; these credit unions and small banks don’t want millionaires, they want to help the smaller account holders!

Kasasa works for the these financial institutions because of the interchange fee. Everytime you use a debit or credit card, a small fee goes from the merchant to the bank or credit union. Through Kasasa, they are able to share that fee with their members or customers through these fantastic interest rates.

If a large checking account balance concerns you, consider carving out a large chunk of it as a buffer, or your emergency fund. And you don’t even see it in your operating budget. Imagine, an emergency fund, federally insured, that earns 3%. Wow!

So it might be time to quit looking at the online ads and banks offering “a rate ten times what you’re getting now”, and take a closer look at your local credit union or small bank’s website and find out if they provide Kasasa accounts for you.

Alternatively, head over to www.kasasa.com for a directory of member institutions!

Also please be aware that some credit unions have restricted membership, if you don’t belong to one of their “selected” groups, you may not be eligible for membership.

There are indications that rates are finally rising. But until they do rise for liquid, non-investment savings accounts, look to Kasasa your money!


We Want It All And We Want It Now

Today, more than ever (in America), we find ourselves in a perfect storm of product and services availability, marketing efforts and technology (drone package delivery, anyone?). Pay with a swipe, pay with a tap, send money with a pop. It is so, so easy to get “what we want” and get it now. But how is this changing us as a society?

In our great grandparents’ time, a traditional buying scenario went like this: The whole family awaits the arrival of the Sears catalog. This huge volume contains clothes for Mom, tools and tractors for Dad, and even toys for the kids. Pouring over it’s pages, the family chooses what they need and want, figure out what everything will cost, then out comes the cookie jar. This family lived in a time before TV, bombarding them with ads. No quick cash from an ATM, no “tap that app” cell phones. But every time money came into that home, some of it was put into the cookie jar. When they had enough funds in there for the highest priority items (tractor parts, some clothes), they pulled the trigger and ordered it from Sears, paying cash. There were no credit cards.

This family used the Sinking Fund technique, and never bought anything except perhaps their house and land on credit. They have had late nights worrying about their crop yields, but they never stressed about credit card payments, or why they suddenly had so much stuff that they had to rent a storage unit to hold it all.

Now, we live in a different world. Better medicine, longer lives, sure. But is our love of stuff and the ability to get it NOW a good thing? Recently, I traveled to Las Vegas for a convention. Not a gambler, but people watching? Oh, my, what a show. Weekend evenings, packs of young things, both ladies and men, could be seen pack hunting. But what made me really stop and think about our get it now mentality was a shop in the downstairs area of the MGM Grand.

For a lot of folks, Vegas weekends are legendary. Full of laughter and liquor. Laughter has no negative aftereffects but booze? Too much of this stuff, and your day starts out tomorrow later and slower. But this is Vegas, baby, you can have your cake and eat it too (as long as you pay for it, of course). In that basement was a clinic. A clinic where anyone can stumble in, get placed on a comfy couch and have a licensed medical technician pierce your skin with an IV needle and pump you full of the things you need. Need a pick-me up? Come on in! Hungover, but want to get back in the swing now? Come on in! This clinic (and another mobile ‘clinic’ we saw roaming the streets on the strip) were nothing short of awe inspiring.

So now in Vegas, your body no longer has to pay the full price for a night of partying. Your wallet will be lighter (hey, it’s Vegas, right), but if you tie one on Friday night, by early Saturday afternoon, you can feel as right as rain, ready to repeat the process. Just wear long sleeve shirts to work after you come back so your coworkers and bosses won’t wonder about the needle marks on your arm.Las Vegs Hangover Clinic sign

Get it all, get it now. Today’s American life is built with treats as sweet as sugar, isn’t it? Only $14.95 a month? Sure! But would you reconsider if the same product ran you $180 every year? That’s what $14.95 a month does to your net worth, but do you see it for what it is as it drips money out of your account? Easy payments! Just like candy, it gets you the sweet treat you want NOW, but oh the cavities later.

Cavities like lower retirement account balances. Too much stuff, cluttering up your house and life. Or maybe it’s hard to manage debt. Our “get it all and get it now” outlook is going to cost us BIG TIME in the long run.

Try to take a Sears catalog outlook on your spending. Plan ahead, save for yourself first (403b, 401k, IRA) and only buy things that you really need or want (and be super careful with those wants, right), and save up your money until you can pull the trigger on the items. Change your outlook from the Get It Now, and you and your family can have a bright financial future.

Sorry to post this so close to Christmas, but this one has been boiling away for awhile. Merry Christmas!

Container gardening for tight spaces

There is a coffee roastery in my city,   Zeke’s Coffee.  Recently, they began offering free coffee grounds and chaff (the coffee bean’s husk) for use in gardening!  On top of that they will provide you with a burlap coffee bag for just one dollar!

What can you do with these?  Why, build yourself a small container garden!  I am linking below to step by step instructions, but basically you place a layer of soil in the bottom of the bag.  Then, put a bottomless coffee can in the middle of the bag, filling it with gravel.  Fill around the can with potting soil until you get even with the can top.  Pull the can up and let it rest on the top of the gravel already in.  Fill the can again, and repeat until the bag is full. (About three cubic yards of soil, if their bags are the right size.

The central column of gravel acts as a both a drain and a distribution channel for water.  Put your big plant(s) in the top, and cut upside down T’s for side plants (scoop out a shelf for planting these side plants.

Appropendia Page on Gardening in a Bag

   Water regularly, and you have have fresh herbs and veggies in a very small space!

Burlap sacks only last about a hear, but at $1.00 a pop, that should not be any great problem.  Also, this method is not recommended for starting seeds.

Happy summer and we will talk again soon!

ID Theft Recovery Step by Step Guide

A Step-by-Step Guide to Filing Identity Theft Complaints

1. Send a Report to the FTC

You can submit your identity theft complaint online through the FTC’s Complaint Assistant. Include as much information as you can about your case and which accounts have been affected or opened without your authorization.

2. Save the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit

It’s also important to keep records of all the complaints you filed or evidence showing your were an . After completing the FTC report and submitting it to the agency online, click on the link the identity theft victim that will take you to a page to receive and save the FTC Identity Theft Affidavit.

Following this so far?

3. File a Report with Law Enforcement Authorities

In addition to filing a report with the FTC, you should also notify local law enforcement authorities about your brush with identity theft. Before going to the police department, have your FTC Identity Theft Affidavit ready, as well as other documents showing the identity theft, such as a bank statement listing an unauthorized purchase or a debt collection letter requesting payment for an account you were not aware of. You should also display a government-issued ID card that verifies your identity and proof of address that shows you live at your current residence.

4. Monitor your accounts and credit continually

After you file the FTC and police reports, continue to keep a record of the theft and monitor your credit and bank statements regularly, Equifax recommends.

5. Request a credit freeze, dispute errors on credit reports

To further safeguard your information, you can request a credit freeze from one of the three main credit reporting bureaus and dispute errors that appeared on your credit report as a result of identity theft.

Whew, that’s a lot to do, some of it is pretty complicated.

Add these steps to your routine is sure to raise your stress levels, and if you don’t do them right, you can create an even bigger mess. Leave this hot mess to licensed fraud investigators, who do all the heavy lifting for you, letting you get back to living your life. Protect your entire family with one account today: Comprehensive Family ID Theft Protection Plans from LegalShield and Kroll Advisory Solutions

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