Author Archive for Scient

Start It on A High Note: Your Guide to Charitable Donations

As we start a brand new year, it is the perfect time to give back to a cause that is near and dear to your heart. You’re not alone, Giving USA reported a 4.2% increase in charitable donations for the year 2020. If you haven’t found the time in the past to donate, there are some things to be aware of. Unfortunately, there are those out there who would take advantage of the kindness of others. Whether a first-time giver, or a seasoned donor, we have your guide to giving.

 

Don’t Just Give, Get Passionate

Yes, any little bit helps, but it will mean so much more when you find a cause you are passionate about. A recent study found that donating to a cause you are passionate about can lead to an increase in confidence and a boost in self-esteem. Do the mournful tones of Sarah McLachlan pull on your heart strings with each ASPCA commercial? Do you have a soft spot for children? Maybe you’re worried about the environment? If you have a passion for it, a quick internet search can help you find a local charity that will match your kindness. Charity Navigator is a huge database that can help you start your search. 

 

Do Your Research

Not all non-profits are created equal. In fact, some aren’t non-profits at all. Before making your donation, do some research. One of the easiest ways you can protect yourself is by simply looking at a non-profit’s website. At the top left corner, in the search bar of your internet browser, is there a small locked padlock icon? If so, that means the connection is secure and this site can be trusted. If the lock is unlocked? This site isn’t secure, don’t give it any of your information. Another way to protect yourself is to check the financials of the non-profit you chose. Most charities will be very transparent with their financials. If you can see that most of the money they receive goes to places other than their advertised cause, they aren’t worth the donation.

 

Avoid Donating Over the Phone

There are so many ways for you to donate these days that you don’t need to use the phone. Yes, our phones are packed with convenience, but they also open us up to being scammed by those who want our money for less-than-charitable purposes. When you donate online, you can verify the authenticity of the website you’re visiting. When you are speaking to someone over the phone, it is impossible to check their veracity. Even if you are 99.9% sure you’re speaking to the charity you have chosen, donating online allows you to track your donation and thus be more aware of where your money is going.

 

Choose the Right Method of Payment

The safest way to donate to a non-profit is by credit card or check. While some non-profits do, in fact, hold credit card gift drives, if a non-profit asks you to donate using a gift card, it could be a scam. Also be wary of any organization that asks you to wire them money. Their intentions could be fraudulent. Once you have made your donation, you can track your bank account to make sure you paid for the agreed upon amount or to make sure you were not set up for a recurring donation when you didn’t want to be. If the warm and fuzzy feelings you get when you donate to a non-profit aren’t good enough, most donations are tax deductible. Keep in mind, donations to individuals are not tax deductible. So, of a non-profit is asking you to donate to an individual, maybe reconsider.

More Than Money

Even if you are experiencing financial difficulty, you can still give back to a non-profit. Many non-profits have opportunities for you to donate your time. Whether it be by serving food at a soup kitchen or helping the elderly with their yard work. There are many ways you can help, not just monetarily.

You can make 2021 the year of giving by choosing multiple non-profits to devote your money or time to. When you help to make your community a better place, you’ll not only be enriching the lives of others, you’ll be enriching yours as well. If you are looking for more information on non-profits, the FTC has some great resources. 

Here’s What You Need To Know About Second Stimulus Checks

The second round of stimulus checks are on their way, thanks to the signing of the COVID-Related Tax Relief Act of 2020 that was signed on December 27. But, since a lot of different amounts and restrictions were thrown around during the negotiations, there still are a lot of questions about these new stimulus checks. At the top of the list: How much will I get? And when will I get it? Here’s a few answers to questions you may have:

Question: When will I get my second stimulus check?

Answer: Soon! The IRS has already started sending out $600 payments. If the amount is later raised to $2,000, anyone who has already received a $600 second stimulus check will be sent another payment as quickly as possible for the additional amount they are owed.

If the IRS already has your bank account information—either from a recent tax payment that you made or from a tax refund it sent you—then expect to get your second stimulus check faster. That’s because the IRS will be able to directly deposit the payment into your bank account. The IRS can also make a second stimulus payment to a Direct Express debit card account, a U.S. Debit Card account, or other Treasury-sponsored account. Otherwise, you’ll get a paper check in the mail.

Question: How much money will I get?

Answer: Right now, you’ll get $600. People who made more than $75,000 will get less. Children under 17 will get $600. So, the most a family of four could get is $2,400. The amount will be based on the income you claimed on your 2019 tax return.

Question: Will I have to pay taxes on it?

Answer: No.

If you’re wondering when you can expect your stimulus funds, please CLICK HERE. This will take you directly to the IRS website where you can check your payment status. To check your credit union account, CLICK HERE for online banking or view your account info in our mobile app.

Five Ways to Financially Thrive in 2021

The time for “New Year, new me” resolutions is finally here, and we’ve got five actually attainable resolutions that you’ll want to keep up with all year long. Read on to find out five ways to make 2021 a financially great year.

Learn a new (financial) language

Does listening to financial talk sometimes feel like hearing a foreign language? Instead of simply nodding along, make a resolution to improve your financial literacy in 2021. Finally learn what all those pesky IRS forms are and the ins-and-outs of money management. There are plenty of resources online that can help you decode the definitions behind personal finance terms. You can even make a Quizlet to help you commit the terminology to memory! If you’re worried about finding the time to teach yourself this new language, try incorporating some financial podcasts into your weekly routine. By listening to financial podcasts, you can improve your finance skills while still going about your daily tasks. It’s a great way to get stuff done and get a better idea of what is going on in your wallet.

Clear out the clutter

Recurring payments can be a great time saver, but they can also get out of hand very easily. Sit down and comb through your recurring payments so you can know exactly where your money is going and when it’s being taken. Take an especially close look at your monthly subscriptions. How many television streaming services are you subscribed to? Music streaming services? There are countless entertainment streaming platforms out there, but you don’t need to subscribe to all of them. Make a list of your entertainment subscriptions and figure out which ones you actually use and which ones are just cluttering up your monthly or annual payments. This applies to paid store memberships, too — if you don’t shop at that store much anymore, don’t forget to cancel the membership card before you get charged for the new year renewal!

Get creative

Don’t let yourself feel trapped by the status-quo of savings; there are many ways to get creative with your finances. Need some extra money for tighter areas in your budget but don’t know how where to get it? Look into refinancing your existing auto loan from another company with us! With our low rates, your monthly payment will be more manageable, which means you’ll have more money in your pocket, ready to put to good use. Making the switch from a high-interest rate credit card to our low-rate card could also decrease the amount of money you’re spending per term, freeing up funds to put elsewhere. There are so many avenues you can take to save money. Get in touch with one of our financial experts, and we’ll help you get creative in finding them!

Take up a new (money-saving) hobby

Trying a new hobby can help improve one’s mood and daily motivation, but don’t forget that it could also help your wallet! Want to try improving your culinary skills? Great! Ditch the costly take-out meals and door deliveries, and resolve to cook meals at home. Halting the high delivery costs, tax, and tips (or gas money for drive-thru and pick-up options) will drastically cut down your monthly expenses, giving you more money to spare. You could also pick up a new hobby that could increase your income instead of simply help you save. The internet has given us a wealth of resources when it comes to finding freelance work. Skilled at editing? Explore the world of freelance editing for supplemental income. Got an artistic side? Look into starting up an online shop to sell your handmade goods on sites like Etsy or Facebook Marketplace. The options are exciting and endless!

Plan it out!

Most people shudder at the word “budget.” It’s never fun to sit down and decide what you can’t spend money on. Instead, why not give yourself the freedom to choose what you can spend money on? This tactic for approaching money management is called a “spending plan,” and it’s a lot less intimidating than a budget. A spending plan gives you a lot more flexibility in your finances while still keeping you focused on covering your monthly essentials.

The process of determining your “non-negotiable” expenses is mainly the same as a budget: you have rent, electric, water, internet, groceries, emergency funds, future funds, etc. The difference begins when you determine your flexible categories. For example, entertainment, personal shopping, dining out, date nights, and more. A spending plan gives you the freedom to set ballpark amounts for these categories without restricting you too harshly. As long as you have your monthly non-negotiables covered, how you distribute money from month to month in your other categories doesn’t matter as much. A budget is far more restrictive, which can put you in a panicked mindset of “money is always tight, I have no wiggle room;” whereas, a spending plan gives you the control to say “I have the room to spend a little extra here this month.” So start 2021 establishing a spending plan and giving yourself the freedom to choose where your money should go and how you want to spend it!

Lessons from the Lockdown: A Back-to-Basics Holiday

If there is one thing the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders demonstrated, it was the need to find joy in simple pleasures. In fact, 43% of respondents to one survey said they had “changed their ways for the better” as a result of the lockdown.1 By applying some of the lessons learned from pandemic purgatory to the holiday season, families may be able to create new and meaningful traditions while saving money.

Travel. 

While confined to their homes for several months, people discovered the benefits of virtual get-togethers via video calls. The same survey cited above found that many people who used videoconferencing technology reported that they connected more with loved ones during the lockdown than before restrictions were put into place.2 This holiday season, if you can’t be with your loved ones, consider scheduling a virtual gathering to open gifts or share a meal together. An added benefit of less time and money spent on travel could be lower stress overall.

Experience vs. “stuff.” 

Of course, sharing experiences in person can be more rewarding than a video chat. Stay-at-home orders prompted many people to reflect on how much they took for granted, especially the opportunity simply to spend time with loved ones they don’t see on a regular basis. As many grandparents would likely contend, time spent with family can be a much more valuable gift than the latest gadget or fashion trend. Moreover, while in lockdown, many families discovered they could actually live without many of the material goods they purchase on a regular basis. Rather than spending a lot on “stuff” this season, consider intentionally downsizing the piles of gifts exchanged and focusing more on the shared celebrations and traditions.

Food. 

During the lockdown, many people rediscovered the simple joy of preparing and eating home-cooked meals and baked goods. And because ingredients were often limited due to supply-chain disruptions, creativity became a valuable kitchen skill. This holiday season, instead of spending a small fortune dining out, why not put some of that pandemic culinary prowess to work? Simple meals that the whole family helps prepare can be cost-effective as well as memory-making. Wrapped up with a beautiful bow, your creations can also make thoughtful, inexpensive, edible gifts. (You might also consider supporting local businesses by having food gifts delivered or purchasing gift cards.)

1 OnePoll, studyfinds.org, May 23, 2020.
2 OnePoll, studyfinds.org, May 23, 2020.
3 U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, June 30, 2020.

How to Help Maintain a High Credit Score During The Holidays

During the holiday shopping season, your credit score is probably the last thing on your mind. But as you start your seasonal spending, remember to use credit wisely so you can start the new year with a healthy credit score. The following tips can help you maintain or potentially improve your credit score throughout the holidays and beyond.

Know how your credit score is calculated. 

The most common credit score is expressed as a three-digit number ranging from 300 to 850. (Some lenders may calculate it differently, but this should be a good guideline.) The score is derived from a formula using five weighted factors: payment history (35%), amounts owed (30%), length of credit history (15%), new credit (10%), and types of credit in use (10%).1 Keeping these components in mind can help you stay on track with your credit.

Make payments on time. 

Set up alerts for every credit card you have so you don’t miss notifications of charges, statements, or due dates. To help avoid missed payments, set up automatic payments. If you do miss a payment, contact the lender and bring the account up-to-date as soon as possible.

Keep credit-card balances low. 

If you carry a balance, consider paying down the cards with the highest balance-to-credit limit ratio first while keeping up minimum (or higher) payments on others. Don’t “max out” your available credit.

Be careful about opening and closing accounts. 

Some retailers may offer discounts on purchases if you sign up for a store credit card, but store cards often have high interest rates and low credit limits. Unless you plan on shopping regularly at that store and the card offers useful bonuses or discounts, avoid applying for new credit cards solely to save money on purchases. Likewise, try not to close multiple accounts within a short period of time — this could actually hurt your credit score.

Research before using credit boosting services. 

You might be tempted to sign up for a free service that promises to instantly boost your credit score, but they’re usually only worth considering if you have a thin credit file and/or a low credit score. These services can’t fix any late payments you’ve made or reduce the impact of an excessive level of debt.

Monitor your credit report regularly. 

You can order a free credit report annually* from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com. If you find incorrect information on your credit report, contact the reporting agency in writing, provide copies of any corroborating documents, and ask for an investigation.

*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are offering free weekly online reports through April 2021.

Prepping For Christmas Chaos

The season of holiday shopping is here, and so is the inevitable financial stress— but don’t panic! We’re here to help you conquer the chaos and take control of your finances, so you can give great gifts and feel great about what you spent.

Budget the Day Away

The first step for tackling the holiday shopping season is setting a budget. Your budget sets the tone of your whole shopping game plan— what presents you can buy, which deals to look for, which payment type to use, and more.

Sure, you’ve probably heard the spiel about the importance of budgeting before. It can sound a bit intimidating or overwhelming at times— but it doesn’t have to be! Check out some of our budgeting services or ask for budgeting help from one of our representatives to make this daunting task easier. The internet is also laden with websites and programs that can do the budgeting for you. Find what works best for you— set up a spread sheet, scrawl it out in a notebook, or iron it out online. Find your budgeting flow.

Sit down with a nice hot cup of cocoa, wrap up in a cozy blanket, and budget away. Make a night of it and feel confident in your ability to get your finances together. You’ll thank yourself in the end.

Pick Your Weapons of Choice

There are many ways to fund your holiday shopping spree. Figure out how much money you have available to spend immediately and what items you will need to buy through credit cards or fund with holiday loans.

Our advice? Put down the high-interest rate credit cards and check out ours. Our credit cards feature interest rates significantly lower than the national average; plus, our special holiday loans help you to fund your shopping and pay it off responsibly. We understand that our members have a lot of Christmas cheer to spread, and we want to help you do it.

Start Your List, Check It Twice

Santa isn’t the only one who should have a list. Get a pen and some paper and write down everyone you want to give gifts to this season. Determine how much you can spend for each person first, then brainstorm gifts for each of your names. This is the fun part! Put on Santa’s hat and think of creative ways to spread cheer to your favorite people.

If you find yourself spreading your budget too thin, go back through and adjust the names on your list and the spending amount. Remember, not every gift needs to cost money— don’t underestimate the joy that a homemade gift or a good deed can bring to Christmas Day. 

Choose Wisely

You have your gift list, now you need to perfect it. Browse the internet to get an idea of the deals that will be happening near you, either in store or online.

Compare deals you see for the same item across stores and websites— one company may be selling the item for significantly less than another. You deserve the best deal. Put in the work to find out which stores are promoting the best sales, and make sure the item is still in budget after you factor in taxes or shipping costs. 

Finalize Your Plan of Attack

While many companies offer deals throughout the months of November and December, some are specific to days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday. These two days easily become chaotic if you don’t have a good game plan.

Research which deals are offered online and which require you to show up in-person. Because of health and safety concerns, many stores will be shifting to an online Black Friday experience, but you should still double check. Also check store hours for any place you might need to visit in-person. Regular store hours will likely be adjusted for Black Friday and COVID-19 precautions, so keep a close eye on company websites for updates.

Another shopping holiday to look out for is the lesser known but crucially important “Small Business Saturday.” It falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and it is more important than ever this year. With the pandemic still in effect, small businesses are struggling to support themselves. On Small Business Saturday, local businesses will break out great deals and some even organize seasonal events for their customers. This day is a great way to give back to your community, so look into your local businesses and see how you can support them

Shop Responsibly

Now that you have a budget, a list, and a plan of attack, you are all set to shop responsibly this holiday season. The holidays are a time for joy; don’t let your finances stress you out. Instead of panic-spending and budget-breaking, take some time to prepare and research your options, like low-interest credit cards or holiday loans. You’ll be happy you did, especially when both the people on your gift list and your wallet are thanking you.

A Delicious Homecooked Meal: It’s Easier Than You Think

As the old slogan says, “Set it and forget it!” The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting longer. Whether you’re running around with your kids, running around with your pets, or running because that is your chosen form of exercise, it feels like there are truly never enough hours in the day. Sure, your favorite local restaurant delivers, but there’s no beating a comforting homecooked meal. The average commercially prepared meal costs $13, while on the other hand, the average homecooked meal costs $4.

Now, it’s true that not everyone enjoys cooking or considers themselves that good at it. However, you can make delicious, cheap, and easy meals with an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker! We’re all about making your life easier, and so we here at Scient wanted to share some of our favorite recipes. With each recipe we’ll give you a way to dress it up, as well as a way to cut some costs.

For this set of recipes, we’ll be using an Instant Pot. It can do it all, from sautéing, pressure cooking, and everything in between. If you don’t have one, they are regularly on sale and come in various sizes. If this is your first time using an Instant Pot, be sure to read the instructions carefully.

White Chicken Chili:

Creamy, hearty, and comforting, this recipe is a new take on a classic chili. If you aren’t a bean fan, feel free to cut back on the specified amount or omit them completely. Serve this chili with tortilla chips for a completely Southwestern meal.

Ingredients For White Chicken Chili:

  • 2 Large Chicken Breasts
  • 15 oz can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 15 oz can white kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 15 oz can of corn (not drained)
  • 10 oz can Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilis (keep juice)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 ½ tsp chili powder (you can use less if you want to cut down on spice)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • Ranch dressing packet
  • 8 oz package of cream cheese cut into six pieces

Instructions

  1. Place all of your ingredients into your Instant Pot bowl in the following order: 2 chicken breasts (uncooked), your drained black and white beans, chopped onion, undrained corn, undrained Rotel, and ½ cup chicken broth.
  2. Add 1 ½ tsp Chili Powder and 1 tsp cumin, as well as ranch packet. Stir everything to combine. Be sure to lift the chicken breasts slightly so that some of the juices will get underneath the chicken.
  3. Place your cut cream cheese dotted across the top of your chili. Place the lid onto the Instant Pot and seal.
  4. Cook the chili for 20 minutes on manual high pressure. Once the cooking is done, allow the Instant Pot to de-pressurize naturally for 10 more minutes. Then, completely release the pressure.
  5. Remove the chicken breasts from the mixture and shred them. PRO TIP: You can easily shred cooked chicken by placing it in a bowl and using a hand mixer. Before putting the chicken back into the chili, stir the chili. Once everything is combined, return the chicken to the chili. You’re now ready to serve.

Tip: If you want even more spice, add a diced jalapeno to your chili mixture. For more spice, use more seeds.

Money Saving Tip: If you don’t use much Cumin, buy a packet of taco seasoning. You’ll be ready for tacos and won’t have to spend money on a spice you rarely use. 

Slow Cooker Chicken and Stuffing

Even if it isn’t Thanksgiving, there is something soothing about a good stuffing. (You may prefer the term dressing, but that’s an argument for another day). The good thing is, it pairs just as well with chicken as it does with turkey. And with a recipe this easy, you can have it any time of the year! This recipe takes minimal effort and will make your home smell AMAZING. Note: for this recipe, you can use an Instant Pot or a traditional Crock Pot.

Ingredients:

  • 14 oz bag dried seasoned stuffing mix
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 10 oz cans of cream of chicken and herb soup
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Spray your Instant Pot or slow cooker with non-stick spray.
  2. Add the chicken broth and stuffing mix to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
  3. Sprinkle the sage over the top.
  4. Lay your chicken on top of your stuffing mix and season with salt, pepper, and garlic.
  5. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours and 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken and shred, cube, or serve the breasts whole.
  7. You’re ready to eat!

Tip: Sage is what will give this meal a holiday flavor, but if you aren’t a fan, you can substitute for rosemary.

Money Saving Tip: Both recipes so far use chicken broth, buy a large carton of chicken broth. It will go a long way and will keep for quite some time.

Instant Pot Spaghetti

This is the ultimate in ease. You cook everything in your Instant Pot. From the noodles to the sauce. Not only that, but this is a supremely versatile dish. You can add as many veggies as you want or take out any of the veggies listed in the ingredients. Of course, you’re going to want to serve this spaghetti with garlic bread (with cheese for a real crowd pleaser).

Ingredients

  • 1-pound lean ground beef
  • ½ teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
  • 1-pound Spaghetti noodles
  • 24 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce
  • 5 Mushrooms, diced
  • 36 ounces of water
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes

Instructions:

  1. Turn on the Instant Pot to the sauté setting and add the ground beef. Sprinkle in the garlic powder, onion powder, Italian Seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook the meat until completely browned, breaking up any large chunks. Once the meat is cooked, you may want to drain any excess grease.
  2. Break your spaghetti in half and place it on top of your meat. Pour over the spaghetti sauce, crushed tomatoes, water, red pepper flakes, and mushrooms. Make sure the pasta is completely submerged in the water.
  3. Seal the Instant Pot and cook for 8 minutes on manual high pressure. When the time is up, manually release the pressure. Once the pressure is released, open the Instant Pot and stir.
  4. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you aren’t the biggest beef fan, you can easily substitute Italian sausage for beef.

Money Saving Tip: Pasta is essentially universal, save yourself a couple of bucks and buy generic.

There you have it. Three meal ideas that won’t break the bank and don’t require a Michelin-Star chef to prepare. When it comes to cooking at home, just get started. Not every meal will be perfect, but the money you save will be worth it (pun intended).

Why you should avoid store credit cards this holiday season

A recent report from LendingTree® said that 44% of consumers planned on opening a store credit card this season. However, that same report said that 56% of those who have had store credit cards in the past have regretted getting them.

Sure, those sign-up bonuses can be great but if you carry a balance on one of these cards, the interest you pay with those high APRs can easily exceed what you saved with that initial discount stores offer.

While the salesperson does a great job of talking about the perks and discounts you can get when you sign up, they almost never do an equally great job of talking about the interest rates and high payments you’ll have when you use it. In fact, the average APR for a new store credit card is 24.24%.

Here are a few tips from LendingTree® for getting the most out of a store credit card:

  • Beware of deferred interest: While special financing deals really can save you big bucks, it’s crucial that you play by the rules, because what you don’t know can cost you.
  • Know APRs and fees before you apply: This is good advice with any credit card, but it’s particularly important with store cards because the interest rates are so high, and the pressure is often on to make a quick decision.
  • Anticipate deadlines, exceptions, spending minimums:  Virtually every card has quirks and nuances. The more you know about them before you apply, the better.
  • Look for the other logo: Some store credit cards can only be used with one retailer or one group of retailers. Others can be used most anywhere. That’s an important distinction.
  • Resist the pressure: If you’re offered a card and you aren’t sure what to do, say no and then read up on the card later. If the offer still sounds good to you, apply next time you shop there.

Or, you could bypass all of the potential downfalls of the store credit cards and seek alternatives from Scient Federal Credit Union.

We offer personal loans at interest rates as low as 6.99% APR.* While you won’t get 20% off your first purchase at your favorite store, you won’t be one counted in the 59% of people with buyer’s remorse after opening that store credit card. You’ll also enjoy a much lower interest rate, which equals much lower monthly payments.

3 Ways to Supercharge Your Car Buying Savings

Are you missing out on one of the best deals in car buying? With many people opting to stay at home to social distance and stay safe, many rental company vehicles have been stationary. Why is this important?

Many companies are looking to make fast cash deals with increasing unused inventory, like Hertz, who recently filed for bankruptcy. If you decide to buy a rental vehicle, there are a few things you should do to ensure you’re buying a good vehicle.

RESEARCH

Did you know that you could save up to 15 percent more when you purchase a rental vehicle?* While you will save a significant amount by buying a rental car, you should still look at price ranges to ensure you’re still getting a great deal.

We also recommend researching and checking out the car as you would if you were buying it new. Be sure to consider which vehicle you believe to be the best fit for your lifestyle and determine your budget from there. Remember, you will need to take extra precautions when purchasing a car used from such a company — even if you’re considering a certified vehicle.

We also recommend checking for any vehicle recalls. If there is, take the extra step to cross-reference the recall with a vehicle history report — rental car companies have been required to fix these issues for at least the past four years.

CONDUCT A PRIVATE INSPECTION

Many rental car companies have a lengthy trial period. Use this time to your benefit and conduct an independent vehicle inspection before you buy it. Even certified vehicles should be inspected to ensure that your vehicle is safe and that you make a solid purchase. Along with reviewing recalls and the vehicle history report, this could go a long way in putting your mind at ease when buying a used vehicle from a rental company.

SECURE YOUR FINANCING

The purchase price of the vehicle is only one step in the process. While rental car companies can save you up to 15 percent more when buying one of their vehicles, getting the right financing can significantly boost your savings. When you secure pre-approval with Scient Federal Credit Union, you can ensure you not only get a great overall price, but you’ll also snag an affordable rate and monthly payment. See your options for financing your next vehicle and check out our affordable rates on auto loans and apply for an auto loan today for your best deal!

 

*Source: CNN Business

Taking Care of Yourself: A Safe Investment

72% of Americans admit to being stressed about money. Of that 72%, 22% said they would classify their stress as “extreme.” Financial stress has been linked to migraines, insomnia, and even cardiovascular disease. Not only can financial stress take a toll on your health, it can also cause you to incur some hefty medical bills. That’s why we want to present you with some ways to unwind, destress, and just take care of yourself. If you aren’t taking care of yourself, how are you going to take care of anything or anyone else?

Don’t Let Stress Go Unchecked

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it is one that you can manage if you know the right tips and tricks. For many, their version of stress relief is a pint of ice cream in front of their favorite TV show or movie. While this can be a good temporary fix, your stress is still bubbling under the surface, lurking, and waiting to bring you down. Luckily, you’re already on the right track by sitting in front of the TV. Take this a step further, try and clear your mind of thoughts and breathe deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth. Do this five times and you will feel yourself start to relax. You may think this inconsequential, but consider this, a recent study showed that 1/3 of doctor visits are for stress-related issues. The same study showed that almost 70% of people who report excessive stress suffered from sleep deprivation. The aforementioned breathing exercise is a good starting point for stress relief, but what else can we do?

Move Your Body

Getting active has so many benefits, it just so happens that one of them is stress relief. The good thing is, you don’t have to be doing a hardcore workout for it to be considered physical activity. You CAN do a hardcore workout if that’s your thing, but you could also do yoga, run laps around your house, or even sweat to the oldies. When you move your body, you release endorphins (those are the things that make you feel good). You also focus your mind on your body and less on the things that are stressing you. So even if your physical activity consists of rolling around on the floor with your pet, do it! If you are looking for cost-effective options, check out YouTube™. Many fitness instructors post free videos with step-by-step instructions for beginners to pros. The best part? They’re free!

Let Your Creativity Flow

 We all have creative outlets that let us express our true selves. However, when we get too stressed, our hobbies can fall by the wayside. Little did we know, this is counterproductive. A medical study in 2017 found that 75% of participants in the study produced significantly fewer stress hormones when they were practicing a creative activity they were passionate about. Pick up that camera, write in that journal, and paint that blank canvas. You’ll be making beautiful art AND reducing your stress. An easy, cheap creative activity is coloring. There are all kinds of coloring books (Lisa Frank, anyone?) for adults and crayons or colored pencils can be purchased on the cheap.

Talk It Out

In this digital age, we are more connected than ever, use that to your advantage! Your friends are your chosen support network. Studies show that listening and being listened to are great ways to manage stress. Schedule weekly video calls with your friends and loved ones just to check in. You’ll all feel so much better and you won’t have to spend a dime.

Laughter IS the Best Medicine

Sometimes, you just have to laugh. Find something that tickles your funny bone and run with it (literally if that’s your physical activity). Laughing increases your intake of oxygen which activates your organs. It can also stimulate your circulation which eases muscle tension and will help you relax. Laughter also has been shown to have overall mood-boosting effects. So, tell a joke, watch a funny movie, or just have a conversation with your funniest friend.

The thing about stress, is that it is universal. We all experience stress from time-to-time. That is why we must approach each other with empathy. We don’t know what a person is dealing with day-to-day. When it comes to our members, we care about more than just your financial well-being. We care about you as an individual. If your finances are causing you stress and you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out. We’re here to help.