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How To Make Your Christmas Merrier And Your Holidays Happier

It's fun to be Santa's helper, making Christmas merrier for all of your friends and family. But in the excitement of shopping and entertaining, it's easy to get carried away and find yourself short on cash. And, that's no fun at all.

That's why now is a great time to get ready for Christmas 2009 by signing up for the Christmas Club at the credit union. With a Christmas Club account, you make deposits at least once a month. You can have money automatically transferred from another account or you can deposit cash. Even small amounts add up - saving just $5 a week will total up to some $250. You can withdraw the money later in the year when it's time to go shopping. The sooner you start, the more holiday funds you'll have. So sign up today.

FYI: Keep Your MySpace and Facebook Profile Information Private

Both MySpace and Facebook are two of the most popular Web sites in the United States. If you use MySpace or Facebook, you might be giving away personal information to anyone who has a connection to the Internet. You have the option to share information with your close friends through MySpace and Facebook when setting up an account. By default, much of this information is viewable by anyone. Allowing others to know about you is not necessarily bad, however, the particular information made available from these sites is often the same as "secret questions and answers" used to verify your identify for online banking, credit card account access, and many other financial-related Web sites.

Some information might be more obvious to keep hidden, like your birthday and the town you grew up in. However, other information is often not private that you might not think puts you at risk. Information such as your high school's mascot, photos of your pet's (with your pet's name), or even pictures of your car. All of these are often used as the secret answers for many online accounts.

The quick and simple solution to this, besides removing the information, is to make it private (viewable only to friends). Both MySpace and Facebook let you set privacy settings on your information. Log into your account today and make sure your information is only being viewable by friends. Then, it is up to you to pick your friends wisely!

Holiday Help Wanted

For many people, the holidays are so busy; they hardly have time to enjoy them. That's where you come in. You can earn some extra cash at the same time you're providing a needed service. Here are some ideas to get you started:

* Gift wrapper. Ask friends or neighbors if they need help. Or check at the mall or specialty stores. Some businesses offer free gift wrapping as a sales promotion and need an extra hand or two to provide it.

* Party assistant. People hosting a holiday party may need help with a variety of tasks: decorating, food preparation, greeting guests, serving food, taking photos, or post-event cleaning. For family affairs, some may be looking for help with organized activities for younger children.

* Child care. Many parents need time alone to shop. Or a parent may have taken a holiday job and now needs after-school childcare. Working parents also may require childcare during the holiday school break.

Have Fun Reading: Join A Book Club

Reading clubs are hot! From the millions who tune into Oprah's picks, to small groups of friends who gather in a coffee shop, book clubs are a popular way to share the joy of reading. You can organize a book club on your own, asking your friends who like to read to get together. But, getting a group going takes time and might be a lot of hard work. Instead, you may want to start out by joining a book club at your local library. That way you can get right down to the purpose of the club - reading and discussing a good book. To find out what's available this spring and summer, drop by the library and ask if a teen book club is on tap this year.

FYI: Polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride - What Is It?

Plastic - it's in our homes, it's everywhere. Plastic is durable, lightweight, and reusable. You can bend it, mold it, model it, twist it, and ply it in many different ways. It can be a soft and airy foam or a hard and strong compound rivaling the sturdiest metal alloys. Plastic has forever changed the way we live.

A Belgian-born chemist, Leo Baekeland, living in Yonkers, NY hit upon the first 100 percent synthetic plastic. He discovered that mixing and heating formaldehyde and phenol together produced a translucent and moldable substance. He dubbed in his notebooks the word "Bakelite." Bakelite was the first plastic invented that held its shape after being heated. After the invention in 1907, Bakelite was, and still is, used in thousands of products like cars, household products, radios, electricity products, and so on. In order to put his invention into commercial production, he founded the American General Bakelite Company in 1910. It became the Bakelite Corporation in 1922 and was taken over by the Union Carbide and Carbon Company in 1939. The turning point for the use of Bakelite was in 1927 when Baekeland's patent expired. With this expiration, many new variants of phenolic resin became available under a variety of trade names. This new competition forced down prices and also produced brightly colored variations of a material that had previously been black or dark brown in appearance.

Today plastic is almost everywhere, from the fillings in our teeth to the chips in our computers. Researchers are developing flexible transistors made of plastic instead of silicon so they can make marvels such as flat-panel television screens that will roll like a scroll up your living-room wall. Plastic certainly has made a home in our world's economy as the "useful innovation of the millennium," but it's still a stuff that people love and hate.

Stay Safe Online

It's hard to imagine a time before you could go online to pick up your mail, to chat, to shop, or to do research for your science project. The Internet and the World Wide Web are powerful tools. Just be sure you don't experience the dark side of that power by following these tips:

  • No legitimate financial company, including the credit union, would ever ask you to disclose personal information in an e-mail. These are called phishing attacks, and they are becoming more sophisticated. They sometimes appear to be legitimate by including your name or a company's logo. Don't be fooled.
  • Be wary of links in e-mails. It's safest to re-type a URL in your browser.
  • Keep your passwords secret and up-to-date. Use a combination of letters and numbers.
  • Never give out your password or personal information in response to an unsolicited phone call or e-mail.
  • Be cautious about opening any attachments or downloading files from e-mail. Keep anti-virus software up-to-date.
  • When you shop online, be sure you are on a secure site by looking for "https" in the URL and a "lock" icon.
  • Be careful not to disclose any personal data, including your name, when you are in a chat room.

Virtual Yard Sale: How to Sell Items Online

Holding a yard or garage sale is a traditional way of picking up some cash by selling things you no longer want. While a yard sale can be a moneymaker, it can also be a lot of work. You have to set a date and time, advertise it, price mark many items, then hang out and wait for customers. And, you have to hope the weather will be good. While dedicated yard sale goers will venture out in inclement weather, casual customers won't.

Now, thanks to websites like eBay and Amazon.com, you can sell things in any weather, and your sale is on 24/7. You will have to share your profits with the site, but you now have access to millions of potential customers. Many are looking for the very items you are selling, too, making your wares much more appealing than they might be to a passer-by. Each site has different rules, so read the sites carefully to determine which one better suits your needs.
Craigslist provides local classified ads in many communities for free. But be sure to carefully follow the guidelines on the site to avoid scams and to be safe. Craigslist provides an anonymous email for replies to your ad; don't share personal information with anyone until you are ready to make a deal and then, give out as little information as possible, for example, only your first name. Meet the buyer in a public place, with a group of friends or a parent, never alone.

First Car? Make the Credit Union Your First Stop

Looking to buy your first car? Congratulations! It's a great feeling to slip behind the wheel of your very own ride. Just don't let the excitement distract you from your goal: Getting the most car for your money. So make your first stop the credit union. We'll help you calculate your loan payment and how much car you can afford. We'll also help you sort out your options, like how a bigger down payment would reduce the cost of your loan. Then once you're pre-approved, you can begin shopping. Just don't announce to the salesperson that you have a pre-approved loan. Because dealers make money on financing, they will try to make up the loss of profit in some other area, like selling you accessories you may not need. Remember, the credit union is on your side, so call on us today.

Give Help, Get Help: Volunteer This Summer

High unemployment rates are making it especially tough for teens looking for a summer job. But that doesn't mean you have to spend the entire summer just hanging out being bored. You can gain valuable experience as well as other benefits by doing volunteer work. Volunteer work builds your network of contacts, lets you explore career options, and can help you learn a skill or hone one you already have.

Volunteer work prepares you for paying jobs because there are a lot of similarities. Some organizations require an application; others want to interview you, too. Organizations want to make sure you are a good fit for their missions. Organizing the information for an application and going through the interview process will be good practice for future paying jobs. So will following through on your commitment to the work.

Make sure the time and effort you invest is with a legitimate charity. Only volunteer with well-known charities, non-profits that are part of United Way (they've been screened as part of the funding process) or groups with references you and your parents can check on.

FYI: Try It For Yourself

Some things that are (almost) impossible to do:

  1. You can't fold a piece of letter size paper more than seven times.
  2. You can't lick your own elbow.
  3. You can't tickle yourself.
  4. You can't sneeze with your eyes open.

If you are like 99.9% of people in the world, you just can't quite manage to do these things - no matter how hard you try.

CU Teens Club is Brought to You By
Barton Plant Employees Federal Credit Union
P.O. Box 433
Boutte LA, 70039

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