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Fewer Americans are Opening Bank Accounts

A shocking number of people are not opening bank accounts these days. They say flat out that they do not need a fancy institution to hold onto their money for them. Instead, they’d rather invest their money other places and keep a store of cash under the mattress in the bedroom.

A lot of the trouble comes from being unable to afford the demands of today’s banks. Opening and funding a bank account is more expensive than ever before.

Some families simply can’t afford the financial burden of claiming a spot in the vaults of a major bank. They don’t make enough money to justify that kind of investment.

Minimum Balance Requirement Banks also demand a minimum balance be kept within the account at all times, meaning that you are instantly penalized if you do not meet those requirements. For some families, they are just earning enough to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, they can’t afford to not have access to some of the funds at the bottom of the barrel.

Overdraft Fees, should a family forget their balance and overdraft, they are penalized $35 on average for the overdraft protection. True they managed to walk out with whatever they were purchasing, but often times, they would rather be without that purchase instead of with it and 35 extra dollars in the hole.

Many American families are turning away from the notion of a bank account because the rates are getting unaffordable. Instead, they are finding alternative ways to cash, save and spend their hard earned dollars. Prepaid plans, cash checking and payday loans are just a few of the ways they are managing. And they are doing it without the culturally pressured bank account. Guess what? They are doing just fine.

6 Great Picnic Tips

Your Picnic Planning Go-To

As we look toward the end of winter, and the beginning of spring, the season for picnics are approaching. If you want to have a fun and successful spring/summer, planning a picnic should definitely be on your agenda.

Picnics are a great way to spend your summer and spring outdoors with friends and family.

As you plan your summer/spring picnics, here are some great picnic ideas to remember.

Think of Your Picnic as an Outdoor Party

One of the great things about a picnic is that it is a wonderful chance to throw an outdoor party. If you think of your picnic as an outdoor party, it will help you to understand that planning is necessary, but it will also make the planning process much simpler.

As you consider planning a picnic from the position of a host it will put the party into perspective and help you plan it as effectively as possible. Like every party, a good picnic needs a great group of guests, a good location, and an unbeatable menu.

Consider the Guest List

As you set out on your picnic planning adventure, it is imperative that you choose a guest list that will make your party fun and enjoyable for everyone involved.

You should choose a group that you believe will get along well together, and make sure that no one will be left out, or without a friend. You may want to stick to one particular group of friends, or try combining friend groups to make things more interesting.

Setting the Date and Time

Once you have a guest list in mind, you are ready to get into the specifics of the occasion. Setting a date and time is a great next step in the picnic planning process.

You want to choose a date that will likely be open for most guests (perhaps a weekend), and choose a time of day that will allow for good weather without too much heat but that still offers plenty of sunshine for basking.

You also want to plan ahead to give your guests a heads up, and so you can plan accordingly with the proper amount of food. This is a great thing to add to your picnic ideas.

Choose a Great Location

After choosing the date and time of your picnic, the next big decision is the location. Remember to consider your guests’ locations so you can choose a location that will be fun and convenient for everyone.

You should also be aware that some locations require reservations, so be sure to reserve your spot if that is necessary.

A good picnic spot should have access to sun and shade, have plenty of space for seating (whether you are sitting at tables or on blankets), and be surrounding by pleasant scenery. A park or canyon trail can be perfect places for picnics, though there are certainly many other options.

Come up with a Great Menu

The next step in your planning process is to get a menu together. Picnic menus should be simple and easy to eat in the outdoors, which makes the selection process a bit easier (and narrower) than other parties when planning a picnic.

Consider foods like salads and sandwiches that are easy to eat and prepare.

Also, be considerate and aware of your guest’s food allergies and diet. Make sure you get food that can be stored and carried to your picnic location.

Don’t Forget to Plan for Cleanup

Lastly, as you pack your picnic basket, don’t neglect clean up materials. Bring a garbage bag as well as dishes that will make the clean up process as simple as possible.

Why We Should All Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

Making a Difference for the Animals You Love

We all want to do our part to make a difference in the world, but deciding on the right path can be a difficult decision. One of the most rewarding decisions you can make is to volunteer at the local animal shelter.

If you are an animal lover, and you want a chance to give back to the animals you love, then spending an hour or two every week at the animal shelter will be just the right thing for you.

It will give you a great opportunity to spend time with the animals you love, with the added benefit of giving them your love.

Deciding to volunteer at the animal shelter is a big decision, and you should definitely think it through carefully before you make the choice. Here are a few of the biggest benefits of working at an animal shelter to help you make the best decision.

Becoming a Part of Something Important

Often our lives become overrun with boring and unimportant things, but when we have the chance to help others, our lives can gain important meaning.

When you volunteer at an animal shelter, you are helping out in a place that really needs your help.

If you want to help make a difference in the world and help the animals you love, working in an animal shelter is the thing you need to become part of something amazing.

You Can Make Friends with Man’s Best Friend

There is something special about the relationship between animals and the people who care for them. As a volunteer at a local animal shelter, you will have the chance to build a bond with an animal that you will love.

If you aren’t sure that you are ready for a pet, but sure you want to do something for animals, this can be your opportunity to share a bond that will make your decision much simpler.

Building Friendships with Those You May Have Never Met Otherwise

Volunteering at an animal shelter will give you the unique opportunity to make friends with likeminded people.

If you are looking for a chance to expand your network and make new friends, the animal shelter is the right place to go. Working with a group of people who love animals like you is the perfect chance to find new friends who are involved in their communities and who come from many backgrounds and career paths.

Discovering Skills You Never Knew You Had

Whatever field you are working in, the opportunity to work with animals at the animal shelter may be a great chance for you to discover skills you didn’t know you had.

At the animal shelter, you will require many skills that you may not require in the other parts of your life. You may discover that you have a whole other skill set that will fulfill you and add a level of happiness to your daily life that you wouldn’t otherwise experience.

Discovering new skills and abilities is always a beneficial experience, and it can help you to be more successful in the other areas of your life.

Spending Time with the Animals You Love

There is something special about making contact with a great animal. It can brighten up your day and lift your spirits to make the rest of your time much more enjoyable. Spending time with and taking care of the animals can be very therapeutic and a great stress reliever.

If you are looking for an outlet that will allow you to feel happy and experience the world in a more interesting way, a bit of volunteering at the animal shelter may be just the thing to do the trick.

Now is the time to begin volunteering and to experience the great things that come along with it. Keep reading the Check City blog for more great posts to improve your life!

5 Great Emergency Kit Items to Keep in Your Car

Keeping Safety Equipment in Your Car

When you start a long road trip, it is important that you keep some necessary safety items in your car to avoid any harmful situations that can get both you and your car into deep trouble. Take the time you need to develop a system so you always have these safety items in your car. Here is a great checklist of some items to keep in your car for an emergency kit.

First Aid Kit

One of the most important safety items you need to keep in your car is a first aid kit. When you’re on long road trips and find yourself in the middle of nowhere and in need of some basic medical equipment, you’ll be thankful that you packed everything you need in your first aid kit.

Your first aid kit should include this basic medical equipment, but it should also be packed with food, water, a blanket, and a flashlight. If your situation proves direr, you’ll have some basic necessities to sustain yourself until you are found and rescued. A first aid kit is very important for your car emergency kit checklist.

Car Tools

Another basic necessity that you need is tools for your car if anything goes wrong with it. For example, if you have a flat tire and need to change it yourself, you should have a spare tire available. As the process of changing your tire is incredibly messy, you’ll want to keep a towel and some wet wipes in your safety kit as well.

If your car won’t start, you need jumper cables to restart the engine. Some drivers feel safer driving with a few flares and reflectors to set up in case they break down on the side of the road.

Remember that if your tires are starting to deflate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to replace them. You may need to just re-inflate them. Keep a tire pressure gauge and tire inflator in your safety kit and you’ll be able to fix deflated tires without entirely replacing them.

Something to Break the Window

While it may sound unlikely that there will come a time that you need to break your window in order to get out of your car, it is possible. If your car gets caught in a flood or if you drive into a lake, the pressure will prevent you from being able to open your door and the electric windows won’t work either. By using a hammer to break your window, you’ll be able to swim away from your car and to the rescue.

Tire Chains in the Snow

When driving in locations of ice and heavy snow, you’ll want as much traction as you can possibly get. It’s hard to drive anywhere in the snow, let alone up and down hills. Without chains on your tires, you won’t get the traction you need and you can easily find yourself in precarious situations, such as sliding into mountains or other cars. You can avoid these situations if you’re properly prepared with the right tire chains.

With extremely heavy snow, you’ll need something to shovel it away as well. Keep a shovel in your trunk to ensure that you’ll be able to get the snow away from your car and off the roads that you need to drive on.

Communication

If any of these situations happens to you while you’re driving, the first precaution you should take is calling the authorities. Whether it’s a car service, the police or your dad, you’ll need a form of communication in your car. Usually this is a cell phone.

(Travel Safety) The 11 Part Guide to Safe Travel

travel safety

Traveling can be our greatest joy and our greatest pain. But some of the hassles can actually be our own fault by making common travel mistakes.

There are a lot of things to prepare for when you’re going to go away for a while. You have lots of travel plans going on and you’re excited to see new places, have unique experiences, and get some much-deserved relaxation time.

But traveling can be dangerous too, which is why you want to educate yourself on how to travel safely and about your travel destination and route. As you learn about your vacation spot you can be sure to avoid as much trouble as possible.

Part One:

What to Do with Your Money

Be smart about the cash you carry. Don’t be flashy with your money. Don’t attract unwanted attention to yourself by flashing your cash around too much. It’s also a good idea not to carry too much cash on you at one time in case you do lose your wallet or get pickpocketed.

You should also learn about your card options in order to get the best travel credit card for emergency scenarios and traveling. Different cards will have different insurances for if your wallet gets stolen or easier freeze features so you can stop your card from getting used as soon as you realize it’s gone.

It’s always a good idea to get a wallet set-up specifically for traveling. You can get something light and portable that can easily hide in a hidden pocket on your coat, or you can get a special wallet that hides in your shoe or a belt.

Money isn’t the only valuable thing you need to take care of though. Keep your identification documents in a separate place so that they are not taken if you are pickpocketed.

Part Two:

Prepaid Phone Card

You want to have a way to make a phone call in case of an emergency.

This will come in handy if you get lost, don’t have service, lose your phone, get your phone stolen, or your phone dies or breaks.

One way to be prepared in case of a phone emergency is to carry around a prepaid phone card at all times. With a prepaid phone card, you can make emergency calls even if your cell phone is stolen.

You can easily get a prepaid phone card at a Check City Location before you head out on vacation.

Part Three:

Keep Someone Posted

Whether you’re traveling in a group or all by yourself, you should always keep someone back home posted on your status. Plan scheduled check-in times to keep in contact with someone so your whereabouts and wellbeing are kept track of in case anything should happen to you.

Make sure this designated person has keys to your house in case an emergency happens in your home while you’re away and someone needs to get in. Give them the address of your hotel so they can get ahold of you in case of emergencies as well.

Part Four:

Stranger Danger

Be careful about the friends you make while you’re traveling. Vacation can be a great time to meet new and interesting people and even make new friends. But you should still be responsible when interacting with people you don’t know.

Use common sense and make sure you remain in control of every situation you find yourself in. For instance, don’t get into the car of a stranger because that takes away all your control in that scenario. Instead, meet at a designated, public location where you can socialize in safety.

Part Five:

Beware of WiFi Scams

When you’re traveling in unfamiliar places there is also going to be unfamiliar wifi. Think twice before you accept those free, guest wifi connections. They can be a trap for scammers to get into your device and get access to your personal information.

Instead, you can bring your own portable router or you can use unlimited data on your plan instead of connecting to unsecured wifi.

Part Six:

Keep Track of Your Stuff

Losing your stuff while traveling can be a real tragedy. There are some precautions you can take to help keep track of all your valuables.

Use products from tile so you can essentially put a GPS on anything important.

You can also set up a GPS tracking system for your phone. There are GPS apps you can use to help you find your phone in case you lose it.

Travel insurance is another safety net you can set up before traveling. It will help cover the costs if you lose things or get things stolen while you’re traveling.

Part Seven:

Protect Your Home

When you’re traveling, you leave your home alone for a period of time. This can be a danger since it makes your home more vulnerable to burglars while you’re absent.

Make your home less vulnerable while you’re away by not posting too much about how you’re leaving on social media. Instead, you can wait until you get home to post all about your trip.

You could also have someone house-sit your home. You can hire someone you know to just live at your house while you’re gone, bring in the mail, and deter anyone looking for an easy mark.

But if you can’t get someone to stay at your house while you’re away, then you can set up your own home security system. This can alert your phone when someone breaks into your house. You can even install cameras in your home so you can check in on your place from your phone as well.

Part Eight:

Learn the Language

If you’re going to a foreign country you might not know the language. This can jeopardize your safety as well as cause a lot of extra hassle and stress for you. But you can learn the language!

Duolingo is a great place to go when you need to learn some language basics.

You can also buy a pocket dictionary to carry around with you. Many dictionaries will even have sections with key phrases you might need to use the most.

Part Nine:

Learn Some Geography

Do some research about where you’re going. If you learn some of the geography beforehand, then you might be less likely to get lost once you’re there.

There might also be places or parts of town you should avoid. You can look up the crime rates for the area you’re visiting to learn what places are safe and which ones are less safe.

Part Ten:

Be Prepared for Emergencies

A lot can happen when you’re out of your element.

There are a few things you can do to prepare for potential emergencies. You can memorize important phone numbers. You can also write down important phone numbers on a notecard to keep with you at all times.

Keep a hard-copy map on your person in case your phone dies.

Bring a portable charger pack with you so you can charge your phone on the go.

Have enough money on you at all times for a bus fare to get back to your hotel. Try hiding your bus fare on your person somewhere so it’s less likely to get taken if you get mugged, that way you’ll still be able to easily get home.

Part Eleven:

Know the Scams

Tourists can be especially vulnerable to scams. You don’t know the area, you aren’t familiar with the local businesses, and scammers can take advantage of that.

Different locations will also have their own common scams. Take a moment to look up the kinds of ploys and scams you should be aware of.


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