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(Shopping Guide) Valentine’s Day

valentine's day shopping

Valentine’s Day occurs every year on February 14th.

Valentine’s day has been around for a very long time, though how it all got started is less known. Regardless of how Valentine’s day all began, it’s a holiday full of love and appreciation for those who are most important to us.

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Valentine’s Day History

The origins of Valentine’s Day are shrouded in long forgotten legends and stories. It either began as the anniversary of Saint Valentine’s death or as a Christian adaption of an old Pagan holiday.

Saint Valentine was a priest during the era of Rome. It is said that the Roman emperor banned marriage for young men because he needed soldiers. But Saint Valentine continued to perform weddings in secret for young lovers. When his defiance was found out, he was killed.

Other legends say he was killed because he was helping Christian refugees escape Roman imprisonment. While imprisoned it’s said he fell in love and sent love letters from prison signed, “from your Valentine.” Now we use the name “Valentine” to refer to someone we care about or love dearly.

But Valentine’s Day could also have Pagan origins from the festival of Lupercalia. This Pagan festival was celebrated on February 15th. It was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and Romulus and Remus. As they did with many pagan holidays, the Catholic church made their own holiday during the Pagan festival of Lupercalia.

Whatever the true story is, the idea of valentine’s day is that it’s a day of romance, confessions, and affirmations.

valentines day gift

There are many ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day. It’s a holiday that can be whatever you want it to be!

You can celebrate Valentine’s Day by practicing some self-love, buying yourself something you want, having a relaxing day at home, or going out with friends. It can also be spent with a special someone on a nice Valentine’s Day date, or with friends and family that you care about.

However you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day, there might be Valentine’s Day gifts you’d like to buy to show your love and appreciation for those you care about. And if you really want to go all out this year, but need some financial help to do so, you can take out a Check City Personal Loan.

Below we’ll go over the most popular Valentine’s Day flowers and gift ideas for everyone!

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Her

Whether you need a special gift for your mother, your wife, or your girlfriend, these gift ideas are sure to wow the special woman in your life.

  • Jewelry
  • Clothes
  • Organizers
  • Makeup
  • Vanity mirror
  • Tech she wants
  • Beauty products
  • Spa gift basket
  • Personalized or custom made gifts

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Him

When buying a gift for a special someone in your life, the point is to show how much you cherish them. Sometimes this will mean getting them something they’ve been wanting, rather than something strictly romantic.

  • Massage gun or foam roller
  • Clothes
  • Custom made or custom engraved gifts
  • Beauty product gift baskets for men
  • Video games
  • Tech he wants

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Kids

Nieces, nephews, cousins, and your own children are also great Valentine’s Day gift recipients. They’ll love getting little gifts to remind them how special they are.

  • Games
  • Toys
  • Fun shirts
  • Books
  • Craft kits
  • Stuffed animals
  • Candy

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Coworkers

Coworkers can be some of the most appreciative Valentine’s Day recipients. Many of them probably won’t expect anything from you, so getting a valentine’s gift from a fellow coworker can be a fun surprise to brighten up their workday.

  • Engraved wallet
  • Mugs
  • Socks
  • Calendar
  • Desk toys, decor, or plants
  • Games
  • Designer office supplies

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Friends

Your friends deserve some extra appreciation on Valentine’s Day as well. They’ve been there for you through thick and thin and Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to thank them with a gift.

  • Games
  • Food
  • Puzzles
  • Gift box
  • Gift cards for restaurants
  • Custom friendship memorabilia

Gift Ideas for Galentine’s Day

As the world evolves we realize things like, having a boyfriend or a husband doesn’t determine a woman’s self-worth. That’s why Galentine’s Day was created, to remind women everywhere that self-love is just as important as romantic love.

For similar reasons, a day like Guyentine’s Day could be created! To let men everywhere know that their own self-love is just as important as the love they receive from others.

  • Funny shirts or socks
  • Book
  • Mug
  • Journal
  • Self-care gift basket
  • Trip to a salon
  • Lady’s night out
  • Guy’s night out

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Pets

As a society, our relationship with our pets is changing. We see them more as family members now and want to treat them as such. For this reason, Valentine’s Day is also a great day to buy something special for the furry friend in your life!

  • Fun clothes
  • Car seat
  • Blanket
  • New toy
  • New treat
  • Ball that rolls itself
  • Nanny cam for pets

Shop at Walmart by Clicking Here

At Walmart, you can get all kinds of Valentine’s Day goodies. They have chocolates, candies, stuffed animals, flowers, and even jewelry!

Shop at Target by Clicking Here

Target has stuff to help make your Valentine’s Day party a blast! You can find fun Valentine’s Day cards for the kids to pass out in class, exchange candies, and cute Valentine’s Day mailboxes to keep everything in!

Shop at Anthropologie by Clicking Here

Anthropologie is a popular place to get your Valentine something really nice. They have fragrant candles, beautiful dresses with Valentine’s Day colors, red jeweled earrings, and more!

Shop at Nordstrom Rack by Clicking Here

Nordstrom Rack is a great place to find quality items for your sweetheart at reasonable prices. You can get matching Valentine’s Day mugs, Valentino perfume, and deluxe candy boxes to make your lover swoon.

Shop on Amazon by Clicking Here

Right now you can watch Amazon Live, sponsored by Hallmark to see first hand the kind of great items you can get for your loved one on Valentine’s Day. Some of the most popular items include a Dash mini heart-shaped waffle maker, a Hamilton Beach digital air fryer oven, and a Wilton chocolate fountain.

Shop at Hallmark by Clicking Here

Hallmark has been a staple brand for cards and gifts for a long time. At Hallmark, you can find thoughtful gifts for under $10, $20, or $30.

Valentine’s Day Flowers and Their Meanings

valentines day flowers

Here we’ll go over a complete guide to Valentine’s Day flowers, so you can figure out the perfect flower arrangement full of thoughtfulness and meaning.

Rose

Roses are by far, one of the most romantic flowers to receive on Valentine’s Day. They also come in a wide range of colors and meanings if you want to get poignant with your Valentine bouquet.

Rose Color Meaning
White Rose: innocence
Red Rose: love
Pink Rose: sweetness
Yellow Rose: friendship
Orange Rose: desire or admiration
Lavender Rose: love at first sight or enchantment
Tulip

Tulips are an elegant flower that can come in literally any color. They are the perfect flower to show sophistication along with simple beauty. Tulips generally signify perfect love, so you can easily just get a bouquet in the recipient’s favorite color.

Tulip Color Meaning
Red Tulip: true love
Purple Tulip: royalty
White Tulip: forgiveness
Yellow Tulip: cheerfulness
Lily

Lilies are a striking flower that can’t help but be noticed. As a whole, the lily flowers represents devotion and purity. They are also associated with motherhood and rebirth, so if you’re looking for a flower to give the mother of your children, this is the flower for you.

Lily Color Meaning
Calla Lily: faithfulness
Day Lily: a mother’s devotion
White Lily: virtue
Pink Stargazer Lily: prosperity
Red Lily: passion
Orange Tiger Lily: confidence
Carnation

Carnations are the perfect gift to get someone who was born in the month of January since carnations are the birth flower of that month. But they are a flower that also comes in many many colors with lots of different meanings you could use.

Carnation Color Meaning
Red Carnation: love
White Carnation: pure love
Pink Carnation: gratitude
Purple Carnation: impulsive
Orchid

Orchids are a wonderful plant to get someone who loves to decorate their home and who wants to keep their flower for a long time. When cared for orchids can continue to bloom for years to come.

Orchid Color Meaning
White Orchid: elegance
Purple Orchid: admiration
Yellow Orchid: friendship
Baby’s Breath

Though the baby’s breath flower doesn’t come in many colors, it is a common flower used to fill out beautiful flower arrangements. It is a symbol of everlasting love and the sincerity of someone’s feelings.

Daisy

The daisy is a bright and cheerful flower that stands for innocence, purity, and cheerfulness.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums are a popular flower. They make very full bouquets and can effortlessly adorn the inside and outside of your home.

Chrysanthemum Color Meaning
White Chrysanthemum: devoted love
Red Chrysanthemum: deep passion
Violet Chrysanthemum: get-well soon
Iris

The iris may be one of the most regal looking flowers. They have an elegant, royal look that can be perfect for representing your feelings this Valentine’s Day.

Iris Color Meaning
Purple Iris: wisdom
Yellow Iris: passion
Blue Iris: faith
White Iris: purity

The possibilities for how you can celebrate this day of love are vast. There are gifts and flowers for every situation. Use this guide to help you plan your Valentine’s Day to really make it special this year.


Tax Scams 2020: A Comprehensive Guide

tax scam guide

In 2018, the IRS had 649,000 confirmed cases of fraudulent tax returns from scammers trying to steal over $3 billion in tax refunds.

There are a lot of new and old ways being used to trick taxpayers and tax preparers alike. Like fake emails and phone calls, or even holding important documents they’ve stolen up for ransom. But the IRS is doing everything they can to protect taxpayer’s personal information and weed out scammers.

Protecting your information and important documents is the key to avoiding tax scams. Knowing a thing or two about what tax scammers are doing and how they’re doing it can also help you spot a scammer before you get taken advantage of.

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What are Tax Scams?

A tax scam is when someone uses tax season to steal private information. Many tax scams try and steal your personal information so they can file your taxes before you do, and claim your tax refund for themselves.

How to Tell if Something is a Scam

There’s not a worse feeling in the world than getting fooled by a scammer. Avoid letting this happen to you by first understanding what scammers want. They want to get you to pay for fraudulent services or they want your personal information. Second, learn to recognize the characteristics of a scam before it tricks you.

  • They will try and make you panic
  • They will try and get you to download something
  • They will try and get you to click on links
  • They will want you to pay in prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers
  • They will demand immediate action and try to rush you
  • Their site won’t be secure
  • They will contact you in a way that the IRS won’t, like through emails, phone calls, or texts
  • Their promises will sound (and be) too good to be true

Common Tax Scams

The official website of the IRS is a great place to go for information and resources about tax scams. This year the IRS published a list of tax scams they call the “Dirty Dozen.” Here’s a brief recap of the tax scams you’ll want to look out for and what you should do if one of these tax scams hit you.

1. Berkheimer Tax Innovations Scam

Berkheimer Tax Administrator Services is an example of taxpayers receiving concerning letters in the mail about their taxes. They are one tax preparation company that has received a lot of flax for less than ideal business practices. Many of their customers have complained to the Better Business Bureau about receiving strange letters saying they owed delinquent taxes and asking for payment.

Be careful where you choose to file your taxes. When researching tax service providers you can always check their status on the Better Business Bureau’s website to make sure you aren’t falling prey to a scammy or fraudulent company.

2. IRS Tax Scam

Some tax scams will try and pretend they are the IRS in order to get you to pay them or give them information. This is also called phishing.

Phishing is when a tax scammer sends out emails or even creates a fake website to trick people into thinking they are the IRS. But the IRS directly states on their official website that they “will never initiate contact with taxpayers via email about a bill or tax refund.”

So if you receive an email claiming to be from the IRS, you can immediately know it’s a scam and report it. Do not click on any links or respond to any emails claiming to be from the IRS. By interacting with a fake email from the IRS you can jeopardize your computer and your personal information.

The IRS directly states on their official website that they will never do the following:

  • The IRS will not call you demanding immediate payment through a prepaid debit card, gift card, or wire transfer. If you do owe the IRS money, they will first mail you a bill, and you will never pay the IRS through prepaid debit cards, gift cards, or wire transfers. Scammers like to use these forms of payment because they are difficult to track.
  • The IRS will never threaten to have you arrested.
  • The IRS will never demand payment without allowing you to question or appeal what you owe.
  • The IRS will never ask you to give them your credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
  • The IRS will never suddenly call you about an unexpected refund for you.
3. Tax Evasion Scam

There are several forms of Tax evasion scams you should be aware of. These types of scams will try and sell programs to help you avoid paying taxes.

Offshore Tax Avoidance

One tax scam is to try and hide income offshore in order to avoid paying taxes on them. If you’ve been involved in any offshore tax avoidance, the best thing you can do is voluntarily catch up on your taxes to make things right.

Frivolous Tax Arguments

Some tax scammers will try convincing you to take part in frivolous tax arguments to try and avoid paying taxes. These cases are repeatedly thrown out in court, no matter what the tax scammer might say.

Abusive Tax Shelters

There are people who create complex tax avoidance schemes and then sell them to unsuspecting members of the public. Be aware that there are tax scammers like these, trying to peddle too-good-to-be-true schemes, plans, programs, or shelters.

4. Tax Fraud Scam

Other scammers will try and encourage taxpayers to fake information on their tax return in order to get certain benefits.

Return Preparer Fraud

Be careful when choosing a tax preparer or tax filing service. Make sure the website is secure and that the tax filing service is trustworthy and legitimate. Many scammers will try to pose as tax preparers to get ahold of your precious personal information and documents.

Find an established tax preparer you can trust, like Check City Tax Services, where you can file your taxes in a timely manner and know your documents and personal information are secure.

Inflated Refund Claims
Be careful if you are being promised an inflated tax refund, or if your tax preparer tries to get you to sign a blank return. When promises seem too good to be true, they often are. Trust this instinct and avoid scammers who will try and reel you in by promising larger than life tax refunds.

Falsifying Income to Claim Credits
Never trust a tax preparer that tries to convince you to falsify information on your tax record. All information on your tax return should be accurate. If someone tries to convince you otherwise, like that you received more income than you actually did, they are lying to you. Scams like these will lead you to pay large bills and penalties back to the IRS.

Falsely Padding Deductions on Returns
Again, all the information on your tax returns should be accurate. Do not inflate your deductions or expenses in order to pay less in taxes or get a larger tax refund. If your tax preparer is trying to work this way, then you should move your tax filing business elsewhere.

Fake Charities
Beware of fake charities. Sometimes you can recognize a fake charity because they will try and use similar names to well-known charities in order to confuse you. Donating to a worthy cause is a great thing to do, but not if you don’t take the time to double-check that the charity is real.

Excessive Claims for Business Credits
Be careful not to claim tax credits that you don’t actually qualify for. The fuel tax credit or the research credit are examples of tax credits you more than likely don’t actually qualify for. Make sure you fully understand each tax credit before trying to claim one.

5. Tax Scam Calls

You might receive a phone call from a person claiming to be an IRS agent. These fake IRS agents may even threaten you over the phone with legal action, police arrests, deportation, or license confiscation, but these threats are empty. They are only trying to make you think you are in trouble so that you panic and give them what they want.

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be an IRS agent and trying to do any of the following things, you can rest assured it is a scam and feel free to hang up and block that number.

6. Identity Theft

Some criminals will try and use the tax season to steal identities. One of the primary ways that someone can steal your identity is by getting their hands on your social security number or card. Then they can pretend to be you and try to claim your tax refund.

Keep your personal information safe by never revealing your social security number to anyone, and by keeping your social security card in a safe and secure location. It is also a good idea to memorize your social security number so that you don’t need to carry your card in your wallet where it’s more likely to get stolen.

How to Report a Scam

If you come across a Tax scam or fall prey to one, then you’re going to want to know how to report it.

First, fill out a 14039 form and send it into the IRS.

If you have any other questions about how to report any kind of tax scam you can find the information you need on the IRS website, Tax Scams – How to Report Them.

You can also visit the official website of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and Social Security Administration.

How Do I Know If I’ve Been Hacked?

One way to know if you’ve been hacked by a tax scammer is when you have trouble filing your taxes. Tax scammers often try and e-file your taxes before you do in order to snag your refund for themselves. You’ll then be unable to e-file your own taxes because the tax scammer already did it.

So if the IRS denies an e-file be wary, it could be a garden-variety error that you can go back and fix, but you should be able to successfully resubmit it if there was just a minor error.

 

Tax scams may seem scary but once you learn to recognize them, you’ll easily avoid being duped. Just be sure to protect your personal information and always be cautious in all your dealings. It’s always better to be overly safe than to wind up being sorry later.


Make Your Own Adventure Club and Get Outside!

outdoor-club-adventure

As a kid you were probably forced outdoors at some point during the day to play outside and get your energy out. You probably noticed as you got older that now, if you want to get outside time you have to provide it for yourself. And if you live in an apartment or the city you may not be able to get quality outdoors time just by going into your backyard. If you live in the city you might have to plan your outdoor time even more as you coordinate trips to local outdoor hot spots. Getting yourself out in nature might be easier if you form a like-minded group to get you going. With the steps and tips below you can make your own Adventure Club and explore nature with your friends!

Why Going Outside is Good for You

Get vitamin D. You can actually get vitamin D from sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important to our health and it doesn’t always come in abundance in the foods we eat. One of the best ways to get your daily dose of Vitamin D is through being outside in the sunshine. It can help you have strong bones and protect you from certain diseases and ailments. Improves your immune system.
Opportunity to exercise. Unless you’re sitting in a chair it’s hard not to exercise at least a little whenever you go outside. And every ounce of exercise contributes to your overall health! Even a short stroll outside can do wonders for your physical health.
Elevate your mood. A lot of things about being outside can give your mood a healthy boost. The light, the sun, the fresh air, or the flowers and trees can help you feel a little better about the world if you give them the chance. But there are also studies to support this idea. The National Institute of Health (NIH) found in a study of theirs that just walking outside for a bit each day boosts creativity by 81%. Who knows what creative potential you might unleash just by getting yourself outside a little each day!
Good for children. Studies show that being outdoors helps kids focus better. Spending at least an hour outside every day can increase their focus, overall wellbeing, and help them get better grades.
It can be easy to let kids go run around outside and get all the exercise and vitamin D they need, but as we get older it can become harder to find time to get outside. One way to make getting outside easier is to give your outdoor time some kind of purpose.

  • Exercise outside.
  • Go for a daily stroll at the same time.
  • Get outdoor furniture. Once you have some place to set up camp outside, it can be easier to take things you normally do indoors, outdoors while you soak up some sunshine.
  • Make your outside time a group activity by creating your own outdoors club!

outside-nature

What Kind of Outdoor Club Do You Want to Do?

There are many things to do outside and everyone has different interests. Some people really like swimming, or hiking, or kayaking. What outdoor activities most interest you? These are the things you’ll want to incorporate in the purpose of your outdoors club. Having a clear purpose for your club will help a lot once you start bringing other people into the group and involving them in planning.
You can focus on one thing. You can make it a club all about just one thing you know you like to do:

  • Skiing
  • Hiking
  • A sport
  • Swimming
  • Camping
  • Backpacking
  • Running
  • Kayaking
  • Biking

Or you can involve many outdoor activities. Instead of making a hiking group, you can decide to make an adventure club! That way you can plan activities around all things adventuresome.

Whatever the purpose of your outdoor club, you’ll also want to keep in mind who you want to invite to the group and the level of difficulty everyone will be ok with. For instance, hikes and trails are often ranked by difficulty. They can be considered easy, moderate, or hard. So while you are deciding your club’s purpose remember to also consider the level of experience and difficulty you want to involve, and remember to disclose these things to those you invite to the group.

Who Do You Want in the Group?

Outdoor groups can be for all groups of people! You can make no restrictions about who can join the club, or you can decide to make your group exclusive in some way. For example, if you’re a dad looking to bond with your kids through fishing, you might make a fishing club specifically for dads and their kids. You can also restrict the group to certain age groups, like if you’re interested in getting to know more people your age.

Logistics

The last thing you’ll want to figure out before publishing your new group is all the logistics. Below are a couple questions to consider and make decisions about before going live with your new club idea.

  • How are people going to get places?
  • How are you going to get equipment?
  • How will your group stay in contact?

Maybe you’ll expect everyone to use their own cars and equipment to get places, or maybe you’ll want to talk to local rental places for any equipment your group might need. You can also keep in contact with your group in many ways. If you all know each other you can simply create a group text message. Or you can make a Facebook group, or use other messaging apps like Slack, or GroupMe. There are almost infinite options nowadays for where to keep your group’s base of operations.
flyer-outdoors-club

Now that you have your group all set up you can start reaching out for people to start joining. One great way to get members is to create a public Facebook group online. You can also try inviting some people you know and ask them to bring a member or two of their own.

You can also make flyers to hang up around town to meet new people! A flyer doesn’t have to be complicated, just make sure it has all the information they’ll need.

Fun Ideas

There are endless ways you can really have fun with getting more involved in your community and getting to know new people through starting a club like this.

  • Bring snacks.
  • Have a group potluck event.
  • Be educational. You can make a presentation about outdoor etiquette, safety, or hire a trial guide to teach your group about different plants you come across during your hike.
  • Do volunteer work every other month. You can volunteer to clean up a place you visit.
  • Make a website, a blog, or social media accounts for your group and post about the trips and activities you do!

Other Good Ideas

  • Have regular meetings.
  • Assign responsibilities to different people. You can nominate different group members to be the President, Vice President, Trip Coordinator, Treasurer, or Social Media Manager.
  • Fundraise for your trips. You can have a group yard sale or bake off to save up money for your bigger trips or activities. Sometimes your outdoor adventures are going to require fast funds while you’re in between paychecks. If your Adventure group finds itself short on cash, you can always get a payday loan or a personal loan from Check City and pay it back when you return from your trip.

Getting yourself outside is important. The great outdoors are meant to be appreciated and can shower you with mental and physical benefits. You don’t have to go through the trouble of making an outdoor club to get outside, but it can help motivate you to make going outside more of a habit, and who knows! You might just make some great new friends along the way.


READ MORE
Read all about vitamin D and it’s health benefits.
 
Check out another Check City Blog article, “Getting Outside This Spring” to learn some other great ways to get outdoors more often!
 
FEATURE IMAGE BY PETER CONLAN
OTHER IMAGES BY BLAKE LISK

5 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

While some people may have already given up hope on finding that perfect gift for Mom, it’s not too late to get her something that will really make her day. While the cheapest gift ideas for Mom are always going to be things like a hand made card with a thoughtful note, a framed picture, or even baked goods we’ve put together a list with a wide range of products that will be sure to include something any mom would love, regardless of what her interests are and more importantly, what your budget is.

Gift Idea #1: Les Mis on Blu-ray

Price: $19.99

Gift Idea #2: Our Best Bites CookBook
Price: $19.54

Gift Idea #3: Lululemon The Mat Yoga Mat
Price: $68.00

Gift Idea #4: Bogus Red bamboo Gray by Proof Sunglasses
Price: $95

Gift Idea #5: Kindle Fire
Price: $159.00

As always, at Check City we understand that these holidays seem to always sneak and that sometimes you’ll need a short term loan to get the present you really want to get mom. If you find yourself in that situation getting a cash advance or a payday loan to cover the cost of your gifts for mom until your next payday can definitely help.

Are Timeshare Investments Worthwhile?

It’s that time of year again when everyone gets sick of the cold weather that winter has to offer and they start to day dream of warmer times and locations. For those of us you that plan ahead, winter can be one of the busiest times of year for vacation planning. Most vacation rentals open up their schedule around the first of the year and in most cases its first come, first serve to try to get your favorite cabin, condo, or camping spot. In the midst of all this vacation planning madness it can be tempting to start looking into “investing” in a timeshare.

If you’re not familiar with timeshare properties, these are properties that are typically resort style condominium units that you can buy rights to use. In exchange for your investment you are given a set amount of time (typically one week) each year that you get to use the property.

It’s easy to get sucked into timeshare sales pitches, some of the top time share companies in the nation will travel from city to city offering free dinners, discounted vacations, and other gifts and prizes for just attending the seminar, once they get you there they will lay out a very convincing sales pitch by illustrating things that time shares will do for you and your family such as:

  • Create Family Memories
  • Locations from Myrtle Beach to Snowy Colorado
  • A Wise Investment for the Future

It’s important to understand though that the sales reps at these seminars work on a commission so sometimes you’ll get sales reps that will either tell you half-truths or just flat out lie to you about what you’re getting in to. Most timeshare owners that are dissatisfied with their purchase are unhappy because of lies that were told to them during the sales process.

Some of the most common lies include:

  • Timeshares can save you money
  • Timeshares are a financial investment
  • Timeshares can easily be rented or sold at anytime
  • Exchanging a timeshare is possible at any time, any place
  • The timeshare offer is only good for today

As you consider investing your money in something like a time share it’s important to pull the emotional side of things out of the equation. It’s easy to let yourself think that if you don’t move forward with an investment like this you’re a bad spouse or parent because you don’t care about investing in memories with your family but it’s important to understand that you can still have amazing family vacations and oftentimes for less than the cost of a time share.

You see, what most people don’t understand about time shares is the fact that when you purchase a time share, once the initial investment is paid off, you still have the maintenance fees for as long as you “own” the property. These fees can oftentimes cost anywhere from $1200 – $2000 per year which is more than a nice annual family vacation would cost.

Something that most people don’t understand about timeshare properties is that they aren’t necessarily designed to just replace hotel expenses as they are pitched, the system itself is designed for people who might like to own a second home but maybe not be able to afford a full vacation home or similar resort facilities. So if you’re not at the point in your life where you have the additional income to pay a second mortgage, then timeshares are definitely not for you.

Some of the reasons we recommend NOT “investing” in a timeshare are:

First, it’s not an investment. The term investment would imply that you’re going to be able to sell it, ideally for a profit, at a later date and you can’t give the things away once you own them. All you are doing essentially is pre paying your hotel bill for the next 20 years in advance and those of us that know anything about money know that you’d be much better off putting that money in an investment and the investment would produce enough for you to be able to pay your hotel bill.

People like the idea of a condo and having a place that they can go. They’d probably even like to use a condo as a family thing being a place that they can go to, a traditional location that they can go to every summer. But it’s important to understand that people have done that for years without time shares. You can still go to the lake, but rent the lake house or beach condo for a couple weeks instead of tying yourself down to a lifetime maintenance fee.
The problem is that you are locked in, and while some of the time share people give you the ability to trade back and forth but even then they’re telling you where you can stay even after you’ve “pre paid” your hotel you are just stuck in these things. In a recent survey of people who had gone through the process of purchasing a timeshare they had about a 98% dissatisfaction rate.

Second, they are almost impossible to get rid of. If you are able to sell your property you will never get the initial $5,000 – $50,000 that you originally invested. Usually at best you’ll be able to find someone willing to take over your annual fees. We did a search in the completed listings section of eBay recently and out of the hundreds of people who

What if you’ve Already Invested in a Timeshare?

If you’ve already invested in a timeshare property then there are several options for you. The first option is to simply enjoy it. By simply remembering why you purchased it in the first place and make sure you get your use out of it each year. However, if you’re like the vast majority of timeshare owners that are trying to get rid of their properties then below is some information for you.

Beware of Companies That Approach You about Selling Your Timeshare

Unfortunately, timeshare owners have become a large target for scam artists. They realize that in this down economy people are desperate to get rid of their timeshare properties and would be open to having help in selling these properties. What typically happens is a person will call you knowing that you are a time share owner, they will then say that they can help you sell it or that they might even have a buyer already lined up but that you need to pay them for their services in advance.

Once you’ve paid them for their services they will most likely say that the sale fell through but that they will continue to search out buyers. Usually months or even years will go by without these companies ever delivering an interested buyer or refunding your money.

Another Option Is Donating

While some timeshares can maintain or increase in value over time, the vast majority of them decrease in value down beyond what you might be paying in annual fees. Now these timeshares can be almost impossible to get out of in fact a lot of the time you will see them selling for $100.00 or less on eBay because people just want to get out of the expensive annual fees. One way that people have found to get out of these timeshares is to donate them to charities.

Now it’s important to understand that this isn’t a guaranteed way out of your time share but it’s a way that you can get rid of your time share and have a nice tax deduction. In fact you will be able to get the full appraised market value of your time share as a write off even though the timeshare itself will probably sell for much, much less when the charity that you donate it to turns around to sell it.

Now there are some guidelines, you can’t donate properties that current have a mortgage on them or if you’re behind on your maintenance fees. When it comes to these types of donations a representative from the National Associates for Cancer Research called these types of donations a “win win” because the donor is reliever of the responsibilities of paying costly ongoing maintenance fees for a time share that they no long want and the charities are able to fund their programs. Now it’s important to point out that this isn’t a fast process. It can take up to three months to get the paperwork put together and process your time share so if you’re thinking of a tax deduction you’ll want to act sooner rather than later.

10 Great Tips on How to Keep Your House Cool

Tips to Keep Your House Cool this Summer

I’m always excited when summer is just around the corner. The temperature starts to heat up, allowing for more outdoor activities with family and friends. But with rising temperatures comes rising air conditioning and electric bills. Luckily, here are some simple tips on how to keep your house cool.

1. Close doors and windows

During the day, keep your doors and windows closed as much as possible. Every time a door or window opens, you allow unwanted heat and humidity into your house. This causes your air conditioner to work harder and keep the temperature of your house down. At night, turn on fans to help ventilate the house. Make sure they are rotating in the correct direction so the cool air can be pushed up, and warm air pushed down.

2. Use appliances at night

Try and run heat-generating activities in the late afternoon when the sun is down, and the temperatures have cooled. This includes running the dishwasher, or the washer and dryer.

3. Use ceiling fans

Use ceiling fans to help ventilate your house. Using a ceiling fan is a great way to keep your house cool.

4. Use window fans

Window fans can work great if installed and used properly. During cooler days or at night, window fans can provide ventilation. Place window fans on the downwind side of your home, facing out. Keep windows open in each room to help with the airflow.

5. Replace old air conditioners

Is your central air conditioner old? Replace the outdoor compressor with a more efficient, modern unit.

6. Plant Trees

Consider planting trees in places that could provide shade to your home. This is especially helpful when trees can shade doors and windows. This great way to keep your house cool.

7. Close vents

Vents in unused rooms are often left open, and therefore the air conditioner still ventilates air into that room. If you close the vents, you can redirect that air to be in rooms that are actually used.

8. Open windows

If the area where you live isn’t too hot and humid, open the windows to let the air in the house ventilate. Sometimes it can seem cooler outside than inside, so take a break every now and then and go outside. Coming back in you’ll feel a burst of cool air that will refresh you. It is also very beneficial to keep your windows open when the sun is going down and the day is starting to cool off.

9. Wear the appropriate clothing

If you want to keep cool in your home you can’t wear fur coats. Wear thin, workout clothes, and avoid the color black. Darker colors absorb light and heat, and will therefore keep you warmer than you want to be in the summer.

10. Use ice

In the summer, ice is your new best friend. Eat popsicles, drink smoothies, and just simply put an ice pack on your forehead. All of these things will help keep your body temperature down, and you won’t have to touch your thermostat.

After reading these tips, we hope that you can keep your house cool in the summer and save money. Thanks for reading.

The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Checklist

Spring cleaning is an important annual task and it’s important not to forget any necessary cleaning tasks.

Many people like to start cleaning out their homes in spring in order to welcome in the sunshine and the warm weather. Spring cleaning can mean whatever you want it to mean. Spring cleaning for you might just be some decluttering or it might mean a complete, deep clean of every corner of the house. 

Spring Cleaning Checklist

spring cleaning

Download the Free Spring Cleaning Checklist HERE.

There are many cleaning tasks to hit when you’re trying to super clean your house. It can all feel really overwhelming. Instead of trying to clean an entire house in one day, create a cleaning schedule so you can spread things out in the span of a couple of days. For instance, Monday and Tuesday could be all about cleaning the kitchen, Wednesday and Thursday are when you clean the living room, Thursday and Friday will be when you tackle the bathrooms, and on Saturday everybody handles their own bedroom.

There are also a lot of cleaning items people forget to do when cleaning their house. Don’t forget to clean: the walls, ceilings, fans, baseboards, doorframes, doors, doorknobs, the outsides of windows, window tracks, powerwash the porch and house exterior, stairs and stair railings, furniture, and behind and under furniture and appliances. You may have to move some stuff around but it’ll be worth it for how much cleaner and dust-free your house will feel.

Kitchen
  1. empty cabinets
  2. wipe the inside and outside of the cabinets
  3. reorganize cabinets
  4. wash, dry, and put away all dirty dishes
  5. put a cup of baking soda or white vinegar in the dishwasher and run the hottest cycle to clean the inside of the dishwasher
  6. clean the sink
  7. use draino on the sink
  8. clean the inside of the oven
  9. clean the stovetop
  10. empty and clean the inside and outside of the fridge
  11. pull the fridge out and clean under and behind the fridge
  12. wipe all counters and surfaces
  13. wipe down the table and dining chairs
  14. wipe down walls, baseboards, and any windows and window sills
  15. sweep and mop the floor
Living Room
  1. put away clutter, make sure everything has its own place
  2. vacuum under and behind the couches
  3. vacuum under couch cushions
  4. shampoo the couch, you can rent or buy a shampoo vacuum
  5. dust and wipe down surfaces
  6. steam the curtains
  7. wash the windows
  8. vacuum, sweep, or mop the floor
Bathrooms
  1. clean out drawers and cabinets
  2. reorganize items, use boxes to help you organize and give everything a specific place
  3. wipe mirrors
  4. clean sink and vanity
  5. use draino on the sink and bathtub drains
  6. clean and sanitize the inside and outside of the toilet
  7. scrub the bathtub, don’t forget the faucet and showerhead
  8. clean floors
Bedrooms
  1. wash bed sheets
  2. reorganize clothes
  3. reorganize all your other items, give everything a place
  4. clean under the bed
  5. declutter and organize your desk
  6. clean floors

Keep Your Home Clean After Spring Cleaning is Over

clean house

Get Ready for the Day, Everyday

No matter how extensive your spring cleaning is, make sure to keep your home consistently clean after exerting all of that effort. There are many small and simple ways to keep your home clean. First, start each day getting ready for the day. There are a lot of people that struggle getting up and getting ready first thing in the morning. But, feeling put together and ready to go will really make a difference in how productive you are and make things like tidying easier.

Start the Day with Some Quick Tidying

After getting into a better personal morning routine, you can learn to add a quick daily cleanup to your morning routine as well. Even if you only have 5 minutes to dedicate each morning to tidy up it will make a huge difference in the long run. You can also schedule a different time of day for tidying up. For instance, you could put some time aside to clean after you get back from work each day, or maybe right before bed each night you could plan to put some things away before ending the day.

Organization is Key

Finally, invest in an organization system that you like and are excited about. Organization is the key way to give all your items their own designated spot. Then, make a conscious effort to put everything back in its place once you’re done using it.

If you don’t have the money for an organization system, but want to get started right away, stop by Check City today for a cash advance. With our simple cash advance service, you can be on your way to organization and cleanliness in no time.


Getting Outside this Spring

Now that the sun has finally started to shine down and temperatures are heating up, we all can finally look forward to enjoying spring and getting outside again.

This time  of year is perfect for either getting back into healthy habits, or trying something new. There are a lot of activities to participate in which all can make life more enjoyable and dynamic.

Both running and biking are perpetual favorites every year during this time. As the sun comes back and temperature get better, people naturally feel more energetic and more motivated about what they like to do with their time. Winter has the often hidden side effect of making people feel more down and tired than they otherwise would be.

Running and biking are both a great way to bust out of a rut and get your energy back. Being outside and being active help you to look and feel great. Plus, you can have a lot of fun as you get into a positive set of habits and are able to go for longer periods of time.

Those who want a more social experience may want to get people together to play games in a park or have picnics. For many, the activity itself is less important than enjoying the weather and the fresh air and the company of others. It all comes down to picking out a scenario that you will enjoy, and then soaking it up while you are there.

Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth, so getting out of the house and having a good time is a great way to recharge and feel some very positive feelings overall.

So, now is the time to start enjoying the warm time as we all get ready for summer fun. Get out there and shake off the winter blues!

More Tips for Spring Cleaning

Spring is just around the corner, which means that its almost time for spring cleaning! While spring cleaning may not be something that you look forward to every year, it is a great way to start fresh and to get a new start. Doing a deep clean not only makes the room look better and gets rid of all accumulations, but it also makes it so that you can start anew and set a good tone for the rest of the year.

Getting ready ahead of time for spring cleaning will help to make it so that you can get the most out of your experience. In fact, the more you prepare for spring cleaning, the more you might find that you are doing it along the way!

To begin with, start clearing out the things that you don’t need out of your home. Going room to room and junking any clutter that you might find helps to open the room up and make it look much better. Systematically doing this makes for good daily or weekly projects, without anything becoming overwhelming.

Next, make sure that you have all of the supplies which you might want ahead of time. Make a list of everything that you are going to target with your efforts and you can get a good idea of what to buy. Things will vary by person, but getting cleaning supplies, vacuum bags, trash bags, window cleaning supplies, and other things ahead of time will let you dive right into things.

Also, you can prepare the rooms which you are going to work on by moving the furniture either out of the rooms or into the middle of them. this way, you can deep clean the spots occupied by furniture, so you can really get at areas which might not normally be reached.

Being ready ahead of time lets you get to work, without you having to stress about preparation on the spot. Simply take it nice and easy over the next month, and you’ll be surprised how smoothly things go!

Planning to Throw a St. Patricks Day Party

As St. Patrick’s Day rolls around you may want to plan a party to celebrate.  There are a lot of people that have a hard time understanding how they are going to be able to plan and orchestrate a party that will be enjoyable and entertaining for everyone that is invited. While you are planning you will want to start by finding a good venue.  Your venue will depend on what you are going to want to do for your party.

 

Some people like to reserve a karaoke bar while other people would prefer to have their party in their home.  After you have found your venue you should choose a time and start sending invitations. No matter how you decide the invitations, you should be sure that everyone gets them with enough time to make your party their plans for the night.

 

When you start getting RSVP’s, you should make sure that you are going to have enough food and space for everyone.  This means, you should not invite more people than you or your venue will be able to handle. Be sure that your guests understand if they can invite other guests or if it is an invitation only party.

 

You will then want to make sure that you have enough food and plenty of drinks for everyone. This means, you will need to have the money to purchase the food and drinks for everyone. If you are short on cash, but know you are going to get paid after St. Patrick’s Day stop by Check City to get a payday loan.  A payday loan can be a great way to ensure that you have the cash to buy the food and the entertainment that you need.

 

If you do not have enough money you can also ask people to pitch in.  Make sure that you orchestrate what you are asking everyone to bring so that you have enough food for everyone. Take the time that you need to plan a party so your St. Patrick’s day party is a success!

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