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Blog Archive December 2020


Ways to be Charitable While Still Maintaining a Budget

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The year 2020 has been grueling on several levels and for most Americans. As the holiday season approaches, many feel unable to contribute financially as they have in the past. Christmas especially can add a few levels of stress to an already tight budget. This, however, is the year that charity is needed most. The considerations made toward giving can be altered to assist those in need without touching one’s pocketbook. Acts of kindness can do wonders in helping those less fortunate. Here are a few ways you can make a large impact without altering your difficult financial position this holiday season.     

  • Declutter your home and in the process, consider donating any items that would be of use to others. Coats, furniture, books, and toys are great items for a family in need of Christmas gifts.

  • Involve your friends and family in a favorite volunteer event. Perhaps they can help serve meals at a soup kitchen or drop off supplies to families or seniors: the more, the merrier, and the greater the impact.

  • Organize an office event to collect supplies to be donated to a local charity. Find out if your employer will match your efforts with a monetary contribution.

  • Donate blood anytime you can. Every time blood is donated, three lives are saved. This precious gift is one of the greatest you can give.

  • Help someone learn something new. Perhaps you can tutor someone or teach them how to cook a new recipe. Share a skill or career advice.

  • When Christmas shopping, make it a point to shop at stores that donate back to underfunded communities.

  • Be kind. Your positivity and consideration will inspire others to do the same.

  • If you like to cook or bake, dedicate a day to make your favorite meal or treats and donate them to a local shelter.

  • Offer to watch someone’s children so they can have a break or complete a task.

  • Plan an afternoon at a senior center to play games or read and spend time with the residents. Many of them do not receive many visitors and would love a few hours of company.

  • Sign up for a sporting event that will raise money for a charity of your choice. Not only will you receive the benefit of being motivated to participate in a healthy activity, but you will inspire others to do so as well while spreading awareness about your chosen charity.

  • Use social media to communicate as much information to as many people as possible about charities vital to you. The more people know about them, the better their chances of receiving support.

  • Offer to take care of yard work or home repairs for an elderly neighbor. Many times senior homes fall in disarray because they cannot keep up or afford to complete tasks. If that is not the case, perhaps you can plant a tree or flowers for someone to brighten their view.

  • Choose a local park or facility and pick-up litter or beautify it in some way. Engaging a group of people to help you may lead to future activities of a similar nature, which will improve your community.
  • Send a care package to a soldier or hospitalized individual. It can mean the world to someone isolated from their loved ones to know that they are thought of and wished well.


Ideas to Enjoy the Holidays on a Budget

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Now that Christmas is approaching, many of the usual plans and thoughts from previous years are being considered and not assumed as they always have been. Travel plans are not definite, party planning is not still possible, and gift shopping is not the usual fun it was.


Many seem to be in limbo because no one seems to know how to proceed through this unprecedented holiday season. Between the Coronavirus and people's altered state of finances, this holiday season is a bit lacking in the cheer department. Without the traditional family and friends to spend the holidays with, many are not motivated to shop or plan, while too many others are in a worse financial situation than they were a year ago. Regardless of the reason, the holiday season is before us, and celebrating it to the best of our ability will only do us good. Let us look for ways to enjoy it in this new normal we find ourselves.


First and foremost, the emphasis this year must be an appreciation for what one has rather than what one wants. Everyone must discuss their expectations and agree that this year's goal is to reduce expenses and focus on the season's sentiment. With that apparent, many gifts can be eliminated, reducing financial strain and stress. Perhaps a Secret Santa exchange can be instituted so everyone receives a gift but less need to be purchased. Another idea could be for everyone to observe the characteristics they admire most about their family members in a fun way. It is a heartfelt gift of appreciation to hear your loved ones express such thoughts and costs nothing to do so.


Since the holiday season always has added expenses, consider other options for potential income. Several larger companies have had huge demand since the Pandemic began and are consistently looking for extra help. UberEats and Instacart are just a couple that does not require much experience. Retail stores also need additional employees during the holiday season. It is always a good idea to ask friends and family and post your wish to work on social media as well.


Try to take advantage of sales and discounts on certain websites and stores. Savings can be significant and drop your total if used accordingly. Coupon codes and promo codes also work well to increase savings. Take the extra time to do your research at checkout to ensure you are getting the best deal, and it will be worth the effort.


Think ahead as much as possible. Doing things last minute usually leads to over-spending because things are limited, sold out, or you won't have time to research for a better deal. Consider home-made presents. Pictures, handmade trinkets and delicious treats have priceless sentimental value.


If you have a gathering, consider dividing the menu among the guests so that the entire workload and expense are not solely on the host. A meal and beverages for several people can add up to quite a sum. Contributions by everyone will increase the enjoyment of the event for everyone.


Restructuring the holidays' priorities can reduce the considerable expense of the season and the workload and stress. By focusing on the sentiments and values the holidays represent, every day of festivities can be enjoyed by all no matter who is present, how much is spent and how different it is than the usual traditions.


The Prime Interest Rate Explained

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Everyone has surely heard of the term “Prime Rate”. Considering this very important rate affects most Americans, it is important to be aware and educated regarding the Prime Interest Rate. Also called the “Prime Lending Rate” or even just “Prime,” the Prime Rate can affect your financial decisions in several ways. The Prime Rate is the interest rate that banks use as a metric to determine interest rates for loans to the most creditworthy clients . Clients with the least risk and best credit history will be able to take advantage of the Prime Rate, resulting in money saved. The current prime rate is 3.25%.

The entire process of determining the Prime Rate begins with the Federal Reserve System, which is the principal bank of the United States of America. It institutes policies to regulate interest rates, inflation and employment. Aside from overseeing our country’s most prominent banks, it also supports the United States government in terms of financial services. The Fed’s board was created in such a way as to be separate and unbiased of political favor.

The Federal Reserve sets the Fed Funds Rate. Banks use the Fed Funds Rate as a basis when loaning funds to each other. In order to turn a profit, banks typically use a margin of about a three percent increase to the Fed Fund Rate to determine the Prime Rate. The Prime Rate adjusts due to factors such as the health of the economy, the current pandemic and unemployment. The Prime Rate may remain constant for years or may change several times during the course of a year.

When deciding interest rates for the various types of loans offered, such as interest-only mortgages, adjustable-rate loans, auto loans or credit cards, banks base their decisions on the Prime Rate. The calculation is based on Prime plus a margin, expressed as a percentage. The percentage is a calculation that is determined by the risk that may be incurred by the possible loss of the loan if it is not repaid. The greater the percentage the higher the bank has determined the risk to be. For example, credit cards typically have the highest rates because they are the most risk. Since credit cards have adjustable rates if Prime increases or decreases, so do credit card rates, affecting your payments. 

While the Prime Rate may be the basis for the interest rate charged on a financial product you are seeking, you can still have some influence in the final outcome by having a great credit score. This is a huge factor in determining the risk factor attributed to you. The amount the percentage will be increased above Prime in your regards is heavily based upon your credit score. The better the score, the lower the risk and the interest rate will be, resulting in much money saved over time.
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