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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.

Get A Head Start For 2011

Out of money this holiday season? Way too many gifts to buy? Your credit union is here to help. By starting a Christmas Club for 2011, you won't have a rough time next year finding the money for buying those gifts on your 2011 Christmas list. It's easy to start, so get a head start for 2011 by opening a Christmas Club. Give your credit union a call. We will be happy to get you started on saving for the 2011 holidays. Remember, you are never too young to start saving and learning how to manage your money.

My Very Own Set Of Wheels

Sure, you can drive around in your parents' car, but somehow it just isn't the same as having your own car. As a teen or young adult, a good set of wheels is your number-one priority. You need to cruise with your friends, and you need reliable transportation to get to and from school/college and/or work. Your credit union hears you. A vehicle loan is just the right ticket for buying your first set of wheels, and no more asking your parents to use their wheels.

Your credit union has a variety of loan programs tailored toward young adults. Even with little or no credit history, we are going to do everything we can to get you that set of wheels you need. With multiple payment options and competitive interest rates, you'll be chillin' with one of the best auto loans around and still leave you enough money for the other necessities of life. Stop by or call your credit union to get you cruising in your own set of wheels.

Staying Safe While Social Networking Online

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, states that social networking sites have added a new factor to the "friends of friends" equation. By providing information about yourself and using blogs, chat rooms, e-mail, or instant messaging, you can communicate, either within a limited community, or with the world at large. But while the sites can increase your circle of friends, they also can increase your exposure to people who have less-than-friendly intentions.

Listed below are some social networking tips:

  1. Think about what you post online: Sharing provocative pictures or intimate details online (even in private e-mails) can cause you problems later on. If any of your friends become ex-friends then they might use this info against you.
  2. Be nice online: Treat people the way you would want to be treated. If someone is mean to you, try to ignore them. Use your privacy tools to block them from viewing your complete profile and from contacting you.
  3. Checking out new people for friendships: Some people are nice, while others act nice because they are trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship.
  4. Avoid in-person meetings: If you meet with someone then they can physically harm you. To be 100% safe, don't meet them in person. If you really have to meet someone from online, then don't go alone and always meet in a public place. Also, make sure you tell your parents what you are doing.
  5. Your passwords: Don't share your passwords - not even with your friends. Not sharing your passwords is another way for you to protect your identity and reputation online.

Challenge Yourself Today

It's not about money or fame, and it's not hard to do. It's about doing one kind act a day. If you take kindness and simply put it into thought during your day, you'll be amazed at how a simple act of kindness from you can multiply and change lives, including your own. When we choose to notice people around us and we act with kindness, we cause a chain reaction. When we give and receive gifts of kindness, we realize it really is the small things that matter. Challenge yourself today and choose an act of kindness from this list or come up with your own, then put it into action, you'll be glad you did.

  • Hold the door open for the person behind you.
  • Give someone a special hug.
  • Take a minute or so to help someone who is lost.
  • Let a teacher(s) know how grateful you are for them.
  • Encourage someone who seems despondent.
  • Take time to help an elderly person.
  • When you're on a crowded train or bus, offer your seat to an elderly, pregnant, or disabled person.
  • Say "I love you" to the people in your life that you love.
  • Whenever you get a new item of clothing, give away an old item.
  • Help your younger siblings with their homework.

Remember, it's the little things that make the biggest difference. And, even when you're having a bad day doing an act of kindness will help you feel better. Take the challenge today - it's up to you!

Fun Things To Do This Summer

Here is a list of some fun things to do this summer:

1. Have an overnight movie marathon.
2. Volunteer in a community effort. This can be lots of fun and a way to help your community.
3. Organize a yard sale at your place and donate the money to charity.
4. Enjoy a board game marathon on your backyard picnic table or on your back porch.
5. Keep a journal of what you do during the summer.
6. Have a scavenger hunt with your friends.
7. Plan a pajama party at your place and spend the night chatting away with your friends.
8. Start your summer with a really cool bedroom overhaul.
9. Swap a favorite book with a friend and read it.
10. Visit the local library and sign up for the summer reading list.

FYI - 2011 - An Unusual Year

The year 2011 is a unique year because it contains four unusual dates having only one number in its date, month, and year. The first day of the year will be written as 1-1-11, while on January 11, it will be 1-11-11. On November 1, the figure will be 11-1-11 and on November 11, it will be 11-11-11. This combination of date, month and year comes once in a century. Such figures had been recorded in the year 1911 and will occur again in the year 2111. Another neat thing about 2011 is to take the last two digits of the year you were born . . . add the age you will be this year and it will equal 111. But, if you are born in this millennium, it will equal 11.

Fabulous Holiday Gifts For Less Than You Think

If, despite your best intentions, you don't have enough cash to cover gifts for your family and friends, don't despair. By creating gift baskets, you can put together gifts that look fabulous, but cost less than you think. Your recipients will appreciate your cleverness and creativity.

Step one: Pick up a variety of baskets at a thrift shop. Wipe them down with a disinfectant or spray with a bleach solution. Air dry, then fill the bottom with crumpled tissue or plain white paper, as needed to showcase the items.

Step two: Think about the interests of people on your list and then, choose your themes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • A pocket calendar with important personal dates filled in (birthdays, anniversaries and so on) along with a selection of handmade greeting cards, a pen and if your budget allows, some stamps.
  • A gourmet basket with sampling of coffee, tea, homemade cookies and candy.
  • Pet-lover's basket with small items for that loyal pooch or favored feline; include coupons good for your walking the dog or cleaning the litter box.
  • A spa basket with travel-sized lotions, cleansers, shampoo, etc. Check online for some easy bath salt recipes.

Step three: Finish off by tying a ribbon around the basket or enclose it in a clear plastic bag (often available at a dollar store).

Summer Break Is Here

It's that time of the year - Summer Break! Time for hanging with friends and enjoying time off from school. It's also a great time to earn extra money.

* Volunteer. Not only can it be fun and enjoyable, it'll look awesome on a resume or college application. A great place to volunteer is a local animal shelter or retirement center, but depending upon where one lives, there may be other possibilities.

* Sign up for a summer job. It's not only good for your resume but will also give you an experience of working. Not to mention you make some extra money!

* Check message boards for community activities - invite your friends to join in the activities. Have fun and save money.

* Join a book club at your local library. Also, check out other activities the library may have.

* Get your friends together and have a "Tween Yard Sale." Everyone has belongings that they no longer need or want.

* Negotiate fees with your parents for extra chores around the house. Try to pick things they might hire a professional to do, like detail the car, and charge them half price. Ask your parents if you can clean the house each week instead of them. Let your parents know you are trying to save extra money. They are sometimes more willing to help out if they know what your plan is, so share all the details with them.

* Start a college savings account with the extra money you earn this summer. A good beginning is to save 10 percent of your paycheck or any extra money you earn/receive this summer.

* Develop good saving habits this summer. Make saving a regular part of your life. Whenever you get some money, take your savings out immediately, before spending it. If you save before you spend, you're free to spend the rest.

Your Vote Counts-Election Day Is November 6

If you have reached the age of majority - the age where the law says you are no longer a minor and can take on adult responsibilities - you may be eligible to vote in the November election. It's an exciting rite of passage and one that you should plan to exercise. A good place to start is the Web site www.vote411.org. It provides information about voter registration and also includes an online voter guide. Another good source of information is the League of Women Voters (www.lwv.org). These sites can help guide your decision on whom to vote for - not just for the U.S. Presidency, but other elected offices as well.

The right to vote is the key to democracy. It's an important privilege - one that people in budding democracies around the world are fighting in the streets for.

Strange And Crazy Laws

You may not be aware but there are several strange and crazy laws in America that will either have you shaking your head or rolling on the floor with laughter! Many of these laws are probably no longer in effect. Some are out of date or have been repealed, but many are still on the books but not enforced.

Listed below are a few of these strange and crazy laws:

  1. In Dyersburg, Tennessee, it is against the law for a girl to telephone a boy to ask for a date.
  2. In Quitman, Georgia, chickens may not cross the road.
  3. In Memphis, Tennessee, it is illegal for a woman to drive a car unless there is a man either running or walking in front of it waving a red flag to warn approaching motorists and pedestrians.
  4. In Utah, birds have the right of way on highways.
  5. In Seattle, Washington, it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon that is over six feet in length.
  6. In Lander, Wyoming, it is illegal for adults to take a bath more than once a month once the cold weather arrives. Children cannot take a bath at all during the winter.
  7. It is illegal for children under the age of 12 to talk on the telephone unless accompanied by a parent in Blue Earth, Minnesota.
  8. In North Dakota, it is illegal to lie down and fall asleep with your shoes on.
  9. Flirting in Little Rock, Arkansas, can land someone in jail for 30 days.
  10. It's illegal to ride an ugly horse in Wilbur, Washington.

Reach Out And Volunteer This Summer

Are you looking for a valuable way to spend some of your time this summer? Then volunteering may be your answer. As a volunteer, you will not only help others but you'll also:
* Learn about yourself as a person
* Discover things that you like, and maybe some that you don't
* Learn job skills and gain experience
* Enhance your resume and build references
* Meet interesting and influential people
* Explore career paths

What Can You Do? There are tons of opportunities out there, depending on your interests and personality type. Here are some ideas:
* Work with the homeless at a local soup kitchen or building houses (i.e. Habitat for Humanity)
* If you love animals, give your time at the local animal shelter
* Visit the sick or elderly
* If you're the artsy type, volunteer at a museum, gallery, or theater
* Help out a politician during election season

Did you know you can actually earn money for college by volunteering through the government's Learn and Serve program? For more information, visit www.learnandserve.com. You can search for the perfect opportunity by visiting www.volunteermatch.org. As a volunteer, the opportunities for new experiences are endless and the feeling you'll get from helping others is priceless.

Helping The Less Fortunate

Have you ever considered sharing your time and/or money to help others less fortunate than you? People who give of their time and money feel a tremendous amount of satisfaction in return and have a better appreciation of what they are fortunate enough to have.

You will feel great knowing you are making a difference in someone's life. Here are some possibilities for sharing your time and money with others:

  1. Donate part of your allowance or gift money to a charity you like.
  2. Suggest to your friends and family to donate to a charity instead of giving you holiday or birthday gifts.
  3. Join or start an organization at your school or in your community to help others.
  4. Help an ill or elderly neighbor by volunteering to shovel snow from their driveway and sidewalk, mow their lawn, rake leaves, etc.
  5. Participate in a walk or run that raises money for a charity.

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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