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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.

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.

Personal Loan or Personal Line of Credit?

cash fanned out across a grey background

When it comes to Personal Loans and Personal Lines of Credit, the options for how to use the funds are endless. However, while both offer flexibility in all the different ways you can use the funds, there are certain instances where choosing a Personal Loan would be a better fit than a Personal Line of Credit and vice versa. Let’s explore your options and help determine which is the best choice for you and your budget.

Consider the nature of the expense.

Personal Loans are distributed in one lump sum and are typically best for large, one-time expenses. Examples include back-to-school costs, paying off high-interest debt, and higher education costs are a few examples. In contrast, Personal Lines of Credit are revolving and operate similarly to a credit card where you only pay on the amount you use for a specified term. This credit line is consistently available – once you pay off the money you have borrowed, the funds open up again.

A Personal Line of Credit can be optimal if you aren’t sure how much money you will need to borrow or for how long. Examples of ways to use a Personal Line of Credit are: supplementing irregular income, home improvements, and backup for when unexpected expenses arise. Therefore, if you’re looking for a shorter-term solution, a Personal Loan might be the better option if you’re also considering a Personal Line of Credit.

Evaluate the terms and how it fits with your budget.

An easy way to remember the difference between a Personal Loan from a Personal Line of Credit is a loan has a fixed interest rate and a line of credit is based on the prime rate and can change over the term. Therefore, if you’re looking for a way to budget a certain amount each month, a Personal Loan ensures you pay a set amount each month for the life of the loan. With a Personal Line of Credit, while the term is longer and you only pay on what you use. For example, if you are extended a $10,000 credit line and only use $2,000 of the money, you will only have to make payments on the amount you’ve used. Alternatively, if you have a Personal Loan, you make payments on the total amount of money borrowed, whether you’ve used the funds or not.

Qualifying for a Personal Loan vs. a Personal Line of Credit

Typically, receiving approval for a Personal Line of Credit is more challenging to obtain than a Personal Loan. Why? Due to the flexible nature of a Personal Line of Credit, having a healthy credit score plays a significant factor in the decision to approve funding. Whereas, a Personal Loan with its fixed term and amount borrowed, allow for easier approvals.

Making the decision

Why is it important to know the differences beyond the interest rate when it comes down to Personal Loans and Personal Lines of Credit? While often confused, these loan types have distinct differences that, if not chosen wisely, you could end up paying more. If you’re looking to fund your next step, Scient Federal Credit Union can help you achieve your goals. Talk to us today about your options and how to choose the right solution for you.

What Are Your Financial Vices Costing You?

2 cheeseburgers, fries and onion rings on a tray

What is one thing you just cannot live without? You know, those little indulgences that help us make it through the day? For some of us, it’s a jolt of caffeine. For others, Netflix and Hulu offer a sweet escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. What we sometimes don’t think about is that these things can be a constant drain on our wallets. Here are some things that we could be spending more money on than we intend to and ways you can cut those costs.

Coffee/Energy Drinks

The mid-morning slump, the mid-afternoon slump, and the post-mid-afternoon slump. Ok, we made that last one up, but sometimes the day seems to drag on for way longer than seemingly possible. Some people reach for the nearest Starbucks to replenish their energy reserves. Some crack open an energy drink in the hopes of pushing them through the rest of the day. What neither often consider is that these sources of liquid energy can add up. The average price of a cup of regular (non-latte) coffee from Starbucks is $1.89. That may not seem like much but consider this: an American who drinks coffee at home will save approximately $427 over those who regularly visit coffeeshops. When we look at energy drinks, on average, they cost anywhere between $2-$4. It can be almost double the cost of coffee. A cheaper alternative – green tea! If saving money is high on your priority list, put your at-home barista skills to work.

Subscription Services

From exotic snacks to pet toys, a new wardrobe, and everything in between, there is a subscription service for everything these days. Many, in fact, sometimes forget how many we have subscribed to, leading to a big bill each month. Arguably the most common subscription is Netflix, which will cost you $12.99 a month (if you only want the standard package). Add in Hulu ($5.99), BarkBox ($22), and StitchFix ($20), and you now have a monthly subscription bill of slightly over $60. See how fast that adds up? Not to mention the ever-popular meal subscription services can run about $200 a month. While these modern conveniences are well…convenient, they are also pricey. Most of us don’t want to give up our Netflix, and that’s fine. Take a hard look at your subscriptions. Are you getting your money’s worth? Do you eat all the meals from the meal kit? Do you keep enough from StitchFix that the $20 a month fee is worth it? Odds are, you’ll find one or two subscriptions you can live without. Your quality of life will stay the same, and you’ll save money.

Take Out

Do you look at a recipe and instantly get woozy? We get it; cooking isn’t for everyone, and take out can taste so good. Before you pull up DoorDash or GrubHub, consider that the average household spends 3,000 dollars a year dining out. That’s no small amount. On a closer look, a prepared meal at a restaurant costs, on average, $13. Compare that to the average cost of groceries per person for an at-home meal…$4. Yes, that is a $9 savings just from eating at home. The good news is, you don’t have to stop eating out altogether. If you cook at home twice a week, you’ll save a little over $900! More good news is that anyone can cook. All it takes is a little preparation. Plan your meals, choose easy recipes, and don’t expect every meal you prepare to be a Michelin-star experience. Casseroles are an easy meal that is also cheap and tasty, even if they won’t be winning any fancy food contests. If you are completely opposed to cooking, be responsible with your take out. Choose locally-owned businesses and restaurants so that your money is stimulating the local economy. When you use a big delivery service, you aren’t just paying for the food. Your total also includes a service fee, tax, a delivery fee, and a tip. Many times your order total will be doubled. A recent study showed that your meal will cost you 32.8% more when you order food from DoorDash vs ordering directly from a restaurant.

Online Shopping

“Add To Cart.” The temptation is always just a click away. Surfing the net can bring some expensive side effects as we see a constant flood of targeted ads. It is like they know exactly what you’re looking for! Uncanny, isn’t it? When someone meets our wants and needs (and at such deal), we have a hard time passing it up. AND free shipping? It can lead to financial death by a thousand cuts. Sure, you are getting good deals on your online purchases, but this can also make us feel like we can buy just one more thing. Soon, our whole budget has been blown on online shopping. There are many ways you can curb this habit. For starters, make sure to delete your payment information from auto-populating in services like PayPal. Secondly, set strict limits on yourself. In your budget, set aside some funds for “Online Shopping.” If you know this is the only money you have to splurge, you might think twice before clicking “complete purchase.” 

If you do any of the things above, the first thing to remember is not to get discouraged. A cup of coffee or a new shirt never hurt anyone. With most things in life, our financial vices are all about moderation. We wouldn’t expect you never to visit a Starbucks or eat out again. Set realistic goals for yourself and hold yourself accountable; you’ll be amazed at the savings. To easily keep a pulse on your finances and manage your money, you can use one of our convenient options: Online Banking, Mobile Banking, Audio Banking, surcharge-free ATMs, and Shared Branching.

At Scient Federal Credit Union, we are here to help you reach your goals and gain financial stability. Give us a call or visit our website to find out how. 

Check Yourself Before You Rec (Loan) Yourself

It is fair to say that summer 2020 is shaping up to be…unconventional. We all want to have as much fun as possible, but we also want to stay as safe as possible. It may seem as though your summer fun is quickly becoming summer none, but a solution is in reach.

Enter: a recreational vehicle. Whether it be a boat, an RV, or even an ATV, summer excitement is just on the horizon.

With these extremely cool, yet different options, it may be hard to decide which one is right for you and your family. Do you want to take to the road, the water, or forested trails? You’ve come to the right place. We can help you prepare for this thrilling (but important) decision.

RVs

For many people, the thought of an RV vacation conjures images of your in-laws, asking if they can link up to your power supply. However, maybe your in-laws are on to something when it comes to money-saving, yet wholly enjoyable vacations.

Picture this: you and your family are on the open road. Your destination is ahead of you. Your children laugh as they play a card game at the table behind you. Best of all, you don’t have to stop for bathroom breaks.

A recent study found that RV vacations cost much less than other travel, even when factoring in fuel prices and RV ownership cost. According to the study, there are cost savings of 21-64 percent for a four-person travel party, while a two-person travel party saves 8-53 percent. That’s some serious cash. You can spend that money on food, experiences, and the all-important souvenirs. Why yes, you do need that airbrushed t-shirt.

Before purchasing an RV, be sure to do your research. Not all RVs are created equally. There are multiple packages and floor plans that may not be right for every family. Be sure to shop around to find the RV that fits your needs the best.

Keep in mind that, like most motor vehicles, an RV will require maintenance and upkeep. This is an expense that must be factored into RV ownership.

Boats

Did you know, Vitamin D deficiency affects 50% of the population worldwide? You know what is an excellent source of Vitamin D? Sunlight.

There are many ways to get under the sun, but one of the most fun is boating. Yes, this proves that being on a boat is beneficial to your health. Not only that, but taking to the water can be as relaxing or as exhilarating as you want. Gently float along soaking up that Vitamin D, or test your balance on a wakeboard. The possibilities are virtually endless.

You may find yourself asking, “who owns a boat?” To that we say, 2019 saw a six percent increase in the number of people who purchased personal watercraft, bringing the total to approximately 73,000 new boats on the water.

The next logical question, “what type of boat is right for me?” This is a good question as there are so many options you can choose. Do you want a sailboat or one with a motor? If you opt for a motor, what horsepower should you choose? What size boat is perfect for your needs? Am I going to take my boat to the lake? A river? The ocean? All of the above? It would be best if you considered all of these factors before purchasing a boat.

Those people with “Salt Life” and “Lake Life” stickers? That could be you.

Four-Wheelers 

Gritty. Dirty. Fun. Four-Wheelers can be a major source of excitement, but they can also be dangerous in reckless hands. Before purchasing an ATV, be sure to research all of the safety required. There are other things to consider, like your four-wheeler brand, size, and tire size. Fun fact: at low speeds, a four-wheeler’s wheels move in opposite directions to make parking and maneuvering easier.

What will you do with your Recreational Loan?

There are so many things to consider when purchasing a recreational vehicle, and we are here to help with one of the most important, finances. We offer recreational loans that make financing your summer fun (and beyond) more accessible than ever, no matter which you choose. We’re your credit union. Contact us today to see how we can help 877 860 6928 x1904.

15 Work Out Anywhere Bodyweight Exercises

Scient FCU is committed to helping you stay financially and physically healthy during these difficult times. We have a few tips for you on ways you can still workout at home during the quarantine.* 

With gyms and fitness centers closed and social distancing in effect, you may be looking for effective exercises that you can do at home. Bodyweight exercises, exercises that don’t require weights or machines, can be done anywhere and are some of the best exercises to keep you fit and healthy.

These also are fun for kids if you want to get your family involved. Do one to three sets, completing 10-15 reps per exercise.

Glute bridges

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and keep your feet on the floor.
  • Place your hands on the ground with your palms facing downward.
  • Lift your hips up and off the floor, squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement.
  • Hold for 2-3 seconds and repeat.

Planks (regular plank, side plank)

  • Press your hands flat on the floor, shoulders aligned directly above them, and keep your back and bottom in a flat position, as you press your belly button toward your back. Hold for 15 to 60 seconds, or as long as you can.
  • For a side plank, lie on one side with your feet stacked. Press your bottom hand flat into the floor (or rest on your elbow), keeping it aligned with your shoulder, and press your body up, keeping it as straight as possible from your ankles through your shoulders.

Plank heeltaps

  • Start in a plank position – pressing your hands flat on the floor, shoulders aligned directly above them, and keeping your back and bottom in a flat position.
  • Keeping your legs straight, raise your bottom until you’re in a pike position.
  • Lift one hand, reach underneath and try to tap your opposite ankle.
  • Come back to starting plank position and repeat with opposite hand and ankle.

Push-ups

  • Start on your hands and knees or in a plank position, keeping your shoulders aligned directly above your hands.
  • Push against the ground as you push your body up, keeping your back and bottom in a flat position.
  • Lower and repeat.

High knees

  • Run in place, keeping your knees high in front of you (not kicking your butt).

Crunches

  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent and your back pressed against the floor.
  • Place your hands behind your head to support your neck or place them on your thighs.
  • Keeping your chin in a neutral position, lift your shoulders up and off the floor, and crunch your body up, pressing your belly button toward the floor.

Lying Leg Lifts

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight and flat against the ground.
  • Place your hands on the ground with your palms facing downward or with your hands placed underneath lower back/bottom for support.
  • Hinging at the hip, lift your feet up as high as you can, while keeping your back on the floor and legs straight.
  • Lower back down to starting position, but don’t let feet touch floor.

Calf Raises

  • Stand and place your hands against a wall or stand with your hands on your hips.
  • With your feet hip-width apart, raise up onto your toes. Hold for a few seconds or come right back down to the starting position and repeat.

Bodyweight squats

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • With your hands either on your hips or held comfortably in front of you, extend your hips back as you bend your knees (like you’re sitting in a chair).
  • Make sure that your knees stay behind your toes, as you keep your chest lifted and your shoulders back.
  • If you want to challenge yourself, you can add a jump as you return from the squat to standing.

Seated squats

  • These are performed like bodyweight squats except you can place a chair behind you or use the sofa for support.

Lunges (forward, backward, and side)

  • Start with your hands on your hips and your feet together.
  • Step forward with one foot, making sure your knee stays behind your toes, as your other knee bends toward, but doesn’t touch, the floor; both knees should be at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep your back straight so you aren’t hunched or bending over.
  • These can also be done by stepping your foot back or stepping your foot to the side.

Wall sits

  • Stand and press your back against the wall with your hands facing the wall.
  • Walk your feet out a few inches from the wall.
  • Keep your body flat against the wall as you slide your bottom down the wall until your knees are in a 90-degree position. Draw in your belly button and hold that position for 30 to 60 of seconds, or whatever amount of time you can hold it.
  • Slide back up the wall and repeat.

Dead bugs

  • Lying on your back, lift your knees and feet off the floor until they’re at a 90-degree angle.
  • While pressing your lower back against the floor, extend one leg out straight before returning to start position.
  • For more of a challenge, you can extend one leg out and extend your opposite arm over your head.
  • Repeat with the opposite leg (and arm).

Mountain climbers

  • Starting in a plank position, bring one knee into your chest and then return to plank position.
  • Repeat on other side.
  • For a greater challenge, increase your speed.

Supermans

  • Lie on your stomach.
  • With your hands extended out in front of you, simultaneously lift your arms and legs and hold that position for a few seconds.
  • Return to starting position.

While we’re all making temporary sacrifices to protect each other and our community, we don’t have to sacrifice our fitness. There’s no better time to get active and break a sweat.

 

Originally posted on Virtua.org By Paige Kondrak, Fitness Specialist—Virtua William G. Rohrer Center for HealthFitness

 

*Please consult your doctor before starting an exercise program. Scient FCU is federally insured by NCUA. 

What You Should Know About the Stimulus Checks

Over the weekend, President Donald Trump signed a $2 trillion economic relief plan set to provide aid to millions of Americans impacted by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. The package includes stimulus payments for individuals, additional unemployment coverage, student loan relief, and more.

But, what does that mean for you?

Stimulus Payments

Most adults will receive a check or direct deposit. The amount will vary based on adjusted gross income, filing status, and the number of dependents you claim. The amounts will break down as follows:

  • Single adults who made $75,000 or less annually will receive $1,200. If you have qualifying children 16 or under, you will receive an additional $500 per child.
  • Married couples with no children who made $150,000 or less will receive $2,400.
  • Taxpayers who file as the head of household will get the full payment if they earned $112,500 or less.
  • For single adults who make more than $75,000, the payment gradually decreases until it stops all together at $99,000.
  • For married people with no children who make more than $150,000, the stimulus payment gradually decreases until it stops all together at $198,000.

If someone claims you as a dependent – even as an adult – you will not be eligible for a relief payment. To see your adjusted gross income, look at Line 8B on your 2019 or 2018 1040 federal tax return.

Most people will receive their payments within three weeks. However, according to the bill, you’ll receive a paper notice in the mail a few weeks after your payment has been distributed. That notice will also contain information about where the payment ended up and in what form it was made.

Additional Unemployment Coverage

Under the stimulus package, additional unemployment benefits will be extended to people who wouldn’t typically be eligible for unemployment.

Typically, self-employed and part-time workers, gig workers, freelancers and independent contractors aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits, but under the stimulus package, those groups will be protected. Benefits will be calculated based on previous income using a formula from the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

Under the plan, eligible workers will get an extra $600 per week in addition to the state unemployment they are currently receiving. The state unemployment and extra coverage is designed to replace the paycheck that has been lost due to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Student Loan Relief

The federal government has already waived two months of interest and payments for student borrowers. There will be an automatic payment suspension until Aug. 30 for any student loans held by the federal government. Older Federal Family Educational Loans, Perkins loans or loans from state or private agencies are not eligible. However, if you have a private student loan, it’s worth asking to see what options are available to you.

Retirement Accounts

The stimulus package has also suspended certain retirement account rules for the calendar year 2020. No one will have to take a required minimum distribution from individual retirement accounts or workplace retirement savings plans.

If you have an IRA or workplace retirement plan, you can withdraw up to $100,000 without the usual 10 percent penalty as long as the withdrawal is because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The withdrawal qualifies if you, a spouse or dependent tested positive for the virus or you experienced other negative economic effects related to the pandemic. You’ll also be able to spread out any income taxes you owe as a result over a three-year time period from the date of the distribution.

You can also borrow from your 401(k) and can take out twice the usual amount. For 180 days after the bill passes, if you provide certification that you’ve been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you can withdraw up to $100,000. If you already have a loan and it’s supposed to be repaid before Dec. 31, you get an extra year.

We’re facing unprecedented times; the pandemic has touched everyone’s lives in some way. Please know, Scient Federal Credit Union is here for you during this time. If you’re experiencing financial hardship due to the Coronavirus pandemic, reach out and talk to us at 860-445-1060. Let us help you find the option that works best for you. We can get through this together; one step at a time.