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Hope you're enjoying our fiiiine Earth on this mighty fine Earth Day. We happen... Read More April 22 2014
Click to help our running team win the SacTown Ten-Mile T-shirt contest! Very ea... Read More April 22 2014
Youth week, day 2! We're kinda proud of the fact that we fund Banzai financial l... Read More April 22 2014
It's National Credit Union Youth Week! I'll be sharing kid stuff all week. Like... Read More April 21 2014
One of our annual favorites. Happy Easter to all! Read More April 20 2014
You're InvitedThis is how Great Basin Federal Credit Union board and staff do invites. Join us for the 2014 Annual… Read More April 19 2014
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Mark your calendars for FREE SHRED DAY at the Northwest Branch on April 25th, 11... Read More April 18 2014
Just a reminder for my peeps: We will be open during our normal hours this Easte... Read More April 16 2014
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Featured

Your Shoe’s Untied

gotcha2

Hey, your shoe’s untied! Changing the clocks… rubberband around the water sprayer in the kitchen.. classic April Fools’ jokes. Who doesn’t love a good prank? I know I do! And today, I’m going to share with you some of my favorites - some that I might just try out this year.

But first, who’s up for a little history lesson? What is the origin of these crazy pranks? April 1st is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated in various countries as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other called April fools. In Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, in case you were curious). Such fish are featured prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards.The earliest recorded association between April 1st and foolishness is an ambiguous reference in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales from 1392 (don’t worry we didn’t make this up - it’s from wikipedia, an even more reliable source!) .

Alright, just when you’re feeling like you got a little smarter, it’s about to get silly. Fast forward to today - how did it get so out of control? Well it’s just plain fun to play a prank on an unsuspecting victim and laugh! Now with the internet and sites like pinterest you can find pranks from A-Z! I love a good prank as much as the next gal. But since this is a financial blog, I feel obligated to tell you that you don’t have to take extreme measures like drywalling an entire office to confuse your co-worker. I also want to tell you that you really don’t have to be creepy… like using photoshop to put a human head in a jar in the fridge! AH!

So without further ado, here is my list of favorite pranks for this year (thank you, Pinterest):kitty

  1. Topping the charts is the good ole-kitty litter brownies, pictured above for affect.
  2. Next, we have eating vanilla pudding out of a mayonnaise jar or drinking blue gatorade out of a windex jar to really freak out your friends.
  3. Swapping out the sugar and salt shaker is a classic that I just can’t get enough of.
  4. Toothpaste in Oreos is a new one. Genius!
  5. Put a note on the toaster saying it’s voice activated… and watch.
  6. Get your kids or husband a glass of “juice” to go with their dinner, but it’s actually jello. Sike!

Really the list could go on and on! Whats your favorite April fools prank? What pranks are you going to do this year?

5 Benefits of a Staycation

Family sitting in hammock

Planning a vacation this season, or is it just too hard on the budget? We hear ya. Our friends at NerdWallet are here to convince us that Staycations can actually be better! Take a look…

5 Benefits of a Staycation

So you have some vacation days to use, or maybe you just feel like taking some time to relax without worrying about housework and life’s everyday stresses. The problem is that a vacation is just so expensive. According to a 2013 survey by American Express on summer vacation travel, the average vacation costs $1,145 per person in the United States. That, combined with the stress of actually travelling, might not seem worth it.

Fortunately, you can opt for a more affordable alternative: a staycation. Staycations are short periods of leisure time spent exploring your local area. That doesn’t necessarily mean spending quality time with your couch, though that certainly is an option. In fact, you can take advantage of many of the same entertaining or relaxing activities you would on a vacation. Here’s how:

Airfare and gas are expensive.

The average domestic flight costs about $390 per person, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (international flights typically are higher). And when you add kids to the mix, those figures just keep multiplying. A road trip to a far-off location can be significantly cheaper, but it’ll still cost you. However, your car is a convenient tool for exploring your town and surrounding areas, and the cost of gas is minimal for short trips, such as those to a nearby national park or beach.

If your city has a good public transportation system, there’s an economical way to get around to local restaurants and points of interest. Plus, public transport could end up being its own adventure, if that’s not something you use regularly. Some of your destinations may even be within walking or biking distance; the movie theater down the street might be good for a mental getaway. And the walk or bike ride itself could be the activity. Check the Reno or Sparks website for hiking and biking trails in your area.

You already pay rent/mortgage; why pay to sleep in a strange bed?

Housing costs are nothing to sneeze at: The average monthly rent payment in the United States is $821, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. When you take a vacation, you keep paying rent, and you add the cost of a hotel—which averages $131 per night, according to hotels.com. When you take a staycation, there doesn’t have to be any added cost for lodging. After a long day of exploring, your home might be the perfect place to lay your head because, let’s be honest, there’s no bed like your own bed.

You don’t have to stay at home on a staycation, though. Without the cost of travel, you may find the cost of a cute little bed and breakfast well worth it. You might also take the opportunity to visit that friend or family member who lives just a few hours’ drive from you and has a guest room. Visiting with old friends or family is also an excellent staycation activity.

Pets and kids can’t take care of themselves.

If you have little ones of the furry and/or sticky-fingers variety, you have to consider the costs of caring for them while you’re away. If you’re taking your kids along, see associated costs in tip #1. Of course, you may choose a child-free staycation, in which case you could be paying around $10 an hour per child for babysitting while you’re away.

Pet boarding can cost anywhere from $35 to $90 per pet per night, which adds up quickly over multiple nights or with multiple pets. You can reduce costs by paying for a few dog-walker visits, shortening your staycation or choosing a free Fido-friendly staycation activity (hiking, anyone?).

Restaurant bills might make you lose your appetite.

When travelling, you’ll likely eat most meals at a restaurant. Many travellers can take advantage of a continental breakfast at their hotels. However, depending on the number of people in your party and how expensive your tastes are, lunch and dinner checks can sure add up. Choosing to eat meals at home during your staycation will keep the food bill to a minimum.

But part of the lure of a staycation might very well be the chance to get out of the kitchen. And since you’re saving so much on travel and boarding costs, go for it! A staycation is a great opportunity to visit some of the local restaurants you’ve wanted to try. After all, you can still save money on food if you eat some of your meals at home or leave the kids behind while you have a nice meal out alone or with your significant other. Also, if your staycation involves adventures in nature such as hiking or going to the beach, a picnic is not only a perfect complement, but also a money-saver.

It benefits the local economy.

When you spend your money locally, it boosts job growth and wages within your community. Sure, you won’t see immediate savings with this one, but it has long-term benefits. Said wages may eventually find their way into your wallet.

Taking time off at home can be way more relaxing than an actual vacation, and it is certainly easier on the bank account. Besides, it gives you a chance to explore the gems of your local scene. Or not. Your couch is a perfectly acceptable destination for your staycation, too.

Damaris Olaechea, NerdWallet

Feelin’ the Love

hearts

Valentine’s day has come and gone, but love is still in the air at the credit union! As if we don’t say it often enough, we really do love our jobs, our coworkers, and our members. People helping people – what’s not to love? Here are a few of the things our employees love most about credit unions:

I love how credit unions provide a fair and reasonable option for consumers. No price gouging. No greed. Just a mutually beneficial give and take where everyone wins. -Elisabeth

I love that credit unions are here to serve the people. They aren’t all about the bottom line but about what they can do for the members. -Emily

love that CUs care about the members. -Paula

I love that we always look out for our members’ best interest and how we can help them reach their lifelong goals. -Nina

I love that we don’t charge atm fees! -Sarah

I love that all big decisions are made by a board of volunteer members – not for their own gain, but for the good of all members. -April

love credit unions because we bring a personal approach to lending. Sometimes banks can set strict limitations on lending based on income, employment, or history. While credit unions are not careless with their lending, we are easier to deal with and offer more flexibility. When you know that someone local who knows you as a person, and not just a number, is the one working with you to help you achieve the things you need – it enhances the experience for everyone. -Caitlin

I love that credit unions are local. They are for the people of their community. And most of all I feel like you can walk into any credit union and be able to have a 1-1 opportunity to build a good relationship between member and employee. -Gera

Now doesn’t that just give you the warm fuzzies? Don’t forget to share the credit union love with your family and friends whenever you get a chance. Everyone loves warm fuzzies! Help us add to our list – what do YOU love about YOUR credit union?

How the Milkman Can Save You Money

milk

There’s still such a thing as the Milkman? Does the milk come in jars? Does he wear a little white hat and a bowtie? These are just some of the things I hear when I tell people about my milk deliveries. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always had a milkman.  I am not sure exactly why my parents started using one, but I am guessing it is the same reason I still do today.  You see, I learned from my mom that meal planning and shopping on a budget are essential when raising a large family.  I remember going to Lucky foods with her, long before there was Costco and Walmart.  We would shop every two weeks and we would have three full carts.  While we did not have all the brand name foods and “good” snacks like some of my friends had, we had healthy food and wonderful home cooked dinners each night.

The habits and tricks my mom taught me and still the ones I use today, and I am happy to share with you!  In my house, we get paid twice a month.  I realize that every time I go to the store to pick up just one or two items, I seem to leave with five or six.  And that does not include if I go to Walmart where I seem to remember that I need nonfood items also…like a new shower curtain?

To make shopping twice a month work, it is important to plan.  For starters, I make a 14-day menu.  I list each day of the week and next to it I add if there are any special events that evening.  This way I know if I need a quick meal or if it can be something more adventurous.  Pinterest is my best friend because I search for ideas and “pin” them so that when it comes to planning the menu I have plenty of ideas.

Monday (baseball practice):  Tacos, refried beans, fresh pineapple

Next, I make my shopping list.  To help organize my trip to the store, I make columns for each section of the store:  Meat, Dry, Produce, Bread, Dairy, Frozen and Personal.  Then, as I go back down my menu, I list all of the items I need for that meal under their respective category.

Dry Meat Produce
taco seasoning hamburger lettuce
 tortillas tomato
 refriend beans onion
 olives pineapple

So where does the milkman come in?  What you may have thought about already is that when you only go shopping twice a month, it may seem challenging to keep your vegetables and dairy products fresh.  That is true, but it can be done!  We have weekly delivery of milk, eggs and cheese.  You can get anything that the local dairy sells delivered.  And to answer your questions: the milk comes in regular jugs and sometimes the milkman does wear a baseball hat, no bowtie. You can customize your order just like if you were at the store.  The price is sometimes a bit more than what you will find in the store, but from what I save by sticking to my list and by not buying the “extras” on unnecessary trips, it is well worth it.  For veggies, I just plan my meals to have the veggies that last longer like green beans and broccoli in the second week and veggies that ripen faster like zucchini and lettuce in the first week.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes for you!

5 Thrifty Date Ideas

piggy

Our friends at NerdWallet are back with some tips for woo-ing your date without breaking your budget. Little known fact: Cupid was a budgeting guru – he would have wanted it this way.

 

With Valentine’s Day already on the horizon, you may have conflicting desires: impress a date or stay on your New Year’s resolution to budget better. The idea of a fancy date being the only way to have a good time is silly, but sometimes we all fall into that trap. You especially want to avoid this mentality if credit card debt is a concern. Just remember that there is a way to have a quality date while on a budget—in fact, here are five that we came up with.

The Dress Rehearsal
If seeing the ever popular “Book of Mormon” Broadway musical—and paying $100 to $250 per ticket—is a bit out of your budget, try a local theater production in town. Or even better, contact a small theater company and see if you can attend a dress rehearsal to an upcoming show. They may be open to the public, and it might even be free.

The Other Shopping “Mall”
A trip to the shopping mall spiraling with designer brand shoes and clothes can run up a steep tab, especially if you and your date stop to eat at the food courts full of pricey restaurants. To avoid spending top dollar, you can go to a local flea market in town—making the date more of an adventure than a typical trip to the mall would be. Plus, it becomes more of a cultural outing, surrounded by tents with art for sale and stalls full of unique clothes and food.

Eating In
It may depend a little on your cooking ability, but having your date come over to your place for dinner can be just as romantic as a fine dining experience. The dinner would be much cheaper too, especially if you find the right store discounts. A simple but classy dinner of steak, potatoes, asparagus, and wine could be half the price of a restaurant bill. You can also adjust the mood and lighting of your place, making the date more comfortable and casual. Oh, and don’t forget about Netflix, if you want to make it a full “dinner and a movie” experience.

Hiking Adventure
The date doesn’t have to involve being indoors at all. Plan an afternoon hiking trip using a local guidebook and decide on a trail ahead of time. Not every trail is equal, so consider elevation and length. Depending on your and your date’s experience with hiking in the area, the popular trails might be best since they tend to be easier to navigate. Bring bag lunches and stop for a romantic mini-picnic at your destination.

Amateur Night
The trip to the symphony and its exorbitant ticket prices can wait. Check out upcoming events at your local bars and you’ll generally find a poetry night, open mic night, or other similar events. If possible, get there before happy hour ends and it’ll make the experience an even sweeter deal. It doesn’t have to be Wordsworth or the Beatles for the night to be entertaining.

 

For the most part, the date comes down to quality over quantity. Stressing out over how you’ll have to budget better in the weeks following an extravagant date isn’t an ideal situation. So try for a simpler and more light-hearted experience at home, on hiking trails, at the local bar, or elsewhere. It can be a win-win scenario: Your wallet can take a break and the date might turn out more romantic than you expected.

Spencer Tierney, NerdWallet

 

Have you heard of any local happenings that might make a fun, cheap Valentine’s date? Do share!