ADVISE FOR TEENS: Summer Sun, Fun … And Money!

Summer is around the corner.  So how can you earn some cash?

Begin by asking yourself: What do I most enjoy doing? What am I good at? What special gifts or skills do I have? Here are a few ideas to start:

Love animals? If you have experience caring for pets of your own, you could provide a dog-walking service, or a pet-bathing service. Or you could be a pet-sitter for people on vacation.

Enjoy kids? Babysitters are always in demand. Get special babysitter training at your local Red Cross (www.redcross.org) or YMCA (www.ymca.net).

Are you a good learner? Maybe you’d be an excellent teacher, too. Start a tutoring service to help younger kids improve their reading, math, or science skills over the summer.

Do you love working outdoors? Think of jobs that will keep you outside. Mow lawns. Wash cars. Weed gardens. Or if you have a plot of ground big enough, grow vegetables, berries, or flowers to sell at an outdoor stand.

Have a knack for arts and crafts? Maybe the beautiful things you like to make are items others would like to buy, whether it’s jewelry, stuffed animals, greeting cards, t-shirts…

Like to be on the move? Become a go-fer. Run errands for people who are too busy or physically unable to get to the pharmacy, the grocery store, the library, or the video store.

That’s just a starter list. You take it from here! The key to success is to get the word out about your services or products. Develop a good-looking flyer and post it–with permission–on bulletin boards in neighborhood grocery stores and libraries. You also could pass out flyers door to door, but not in people’s mailboxes. (By law, only U.S. mail can go in mailboxes.)

As you pursue your projects, be sure to let your parents know what you’re doing and where you are at all times. That will spare them worry. And you’ll have a fun, safe, money-making summer.

Smartphone users less smart about protection

Great information from CUNA News Now!

News Now

Smartphone users less smart about protection

McLEAN, Va. (5/1/12)–One of four teenagers carries a smartphone. Many of these young users wind up broadcasting their whereabouts and other personal information to complete strangers, boosting the chances of becoming victims of identity theft (USAToday.com April 20).

A smartphone is a minicomputer holding quantities of personal information that requires protection, just like computers and laptops. Yet users–including teens–aren’t taking simple, necessary steps to protect their smartphones from thieves and hackers.

Identity fraud spiked in 2011, in part because of unsafe social media and mobile behaviors. Smartphone users are about one-third more likely than the general public to be victims of identity fraud. About 7% of smartphone owners were identity-fraud victims last year, according to “Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier” by Javelin Strategy & Research (MarketWatch.com March 26).

In April the Federal Communications Commission and the wireless industry announced creation of a stolen smartphone database, rendering stolen devices worthless and preventing thieves from reactivating the devices on other carriers (abcnews.com April 10). The wireless carriers’ databases may be completed within six months, but it could take 18 months to complete the integrated database across all carriers.

The Identity Theft Resource Center, San Diego, Calif., recommends these best practices for mobile device users:

  • Password-protect your phone. Use a strong password (numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and symbols).
  • Enroll in a backup/wiping program. This service backs up information on your smartphone to your home computer and “wipes” your phone if it’s lost or stolen.
  • Install security software. Companies offer antivirus, malware, and security software designed for smartphones. Make sure you download software updates.
  • Download apps from trusted sources. Some “bad apps” contain malware (short for malicious software).
  • Don’t access financial accounts from free, public networks. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are a prime target for hackers who then have direct access to your mobile device.

For more information, read “ID Theft Tops Consumer Complaint List–Again” in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.

IRAs and Hopewell Federal Credit Union: A winning formula

“Winning is never accidental. To win consistently, you must have a clear plan and intense motivation.” –Lou Holtz, legendary football coach

Great advice, especially when it comes to retirement. A retirement plan and determination will take you where you want to go–traveling, golfing, or relaxing by a lake.

Whatever you have in mind for your golden years, a Hopewell Federal Credit Union  individual retirement account (IRA) is a safe harbor for your retirement funds. There are more IRA types, and more maturity options than ever, so funds are available when you need them, now or later.

Financial institutions notify you when a certificate comes due, but keep track of due dates. Along with terms, such as grace period, due dates are spelled out in the contract and worth checking out. If you do nothing when an IRA certificate matures, it automatically will renew at the same terms but not necessarily the same rate.

Because you don’t have to keep your IRA in the same account forever, it pays to shop around. IRA rules permit you to transfer, tax-free, IRA assets to different financial institutions or brokers. And, if you leave an employer, you may be able to move accumulated pension benefits into an IRA. If you’re switching jobs, you also can use an IRA as a holding account for moving funds to your new employer’s plan.

And if you need some, but not all, of your IRA assets, it’s possible to move part of the withdrawal tax-free into another IRA and keep the rest of it. Of course, the amount you keep generally will be taxable and may be subject to the 10% early federal withdrawal penalty, and, in some states, an additional state penalty. Shifts are subject to certain rules to avoid penalties, so check with your tax adviser to be sure.

When you’re ready for a change, contact Hopewell Federal Credit Union about rolling over established IRA funds, adding funds to, or putting new money into an IRA. We have attractive savings rates and offer a safe place for your retirement funds.

Buy Local for Broad Impact

In communities across the U.S., the buy-local movement is gaining momentum among consumers. Advocates say buying local appeals to people who like to have control in their lives and to speak through their purchases. They’re changing their communities, a dollar at a time.

Studies show even small changes in shoppers’ habits can have a huge impact locally. For instance, a study conducted by Civic Economics in Grand Rapids, Mich., a few years ago showed shifting just 10% of shoppers’ spending from chains to locally owned businesses could create nearly $140 million in new economic activity and 1,600 new jobs for the area.

Locally owned businesses also boost local economies through what economists call the “multiplier effect.” A Civic Economics’ study of Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood, for example, found that each $100 spent at local businesses generated an additional $68 worth of local economic activity, compared with just $43 for chain stores.

A local business owner spends more money locally, such as to hire graphic designers, accountants, printers, and other service providers. Those local businesses, in turn, spend money for other local goods and services. And the owners and employees of all these businesses spend part of their salaries on local businesses, as well. The effect ripples through the community.

A chain business, on the other hand, isn’t as likely to buy from local businesses but instead spends most of its money somewhere else, such as in some distant city where it has its headquarters.

This dynamic plays out at credit unions and national banks, too, says Steve Rick, senior economist for the Credit Union National Association, Madison, Wis. “When Bank of America makes a profit off  you, that money goes to New York City,” he says. “But your credit union’s earnings get reinvested into new branches and member services. That money stays in your community. And it comes back to you in better fees and higher interest rates on deposits. You’re bettering the community and also yourself.”