Two people helping each other rock climb.
With Winter just around the corner we will be seeing colder days coming so now is a good time to get prepared. Do you have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle?
There are many different kits you can purchase but you might consider building your own. Some key things needed in an emergency kit in no particular order are: First Aid kit, Flash light (with new batteries) blanket or sleeping bag, gloves, coat, hat, water bottles, rope, box of crackers or granola bars, jumper cables, auto/travel tool kit, flares/reflective flags, whistle to signal for help, compass and road map (just in case the next item doesn’t work), cell phone charger (you never leave home without this one right), small bag of cat litter for tire traction, windshield scraper , small shovel, waterproof matches and candles.
“Today I have to start the rolls, cranberry sauce, and dressing, and then I’ll work on the five types of cookies I always make, and then tomorrow, the potatoes and beans. But I have no idea when I’m going to clean the house!” Sound familiar?
There’s no “easy button” for Thanksgiving. Everything must be straight out of Grandma’s recipe book, and the house needs to look like it belongs in Magnolia Journal. Or does it? Could a mom, say, cheat a little and preserve some sanity? Absolutely! And here are 5 Thanksgiving hacks to help you do it.
1. Clean only the areas you’ll open up to your guests.
Yes! You can do this! Where are the areas that you don’t want people to enter? Is it your master bedroom, laundry room, or basement? Is it that one guest bedroom where all the “stuff” goes? Close the doors and focus on the other parts of the house. Cleaning only the areas that matter will free up a lot of time and energy.
Bonus Tip: Don’t let yourself get distracted by deep cleaning. This is not the time to clean every window or reorganize the closet because that will take up too much time. Stay focused!
2. Make meaningful dishes yourself, but buy the rest.
Let go of the thought that every dish should be homemade. It’s at your house, so you get to decide what’s homemade. Think about which recipes are traditions that mean something special (it might not even be the turkey!) and buy the rest from a store or restaurant.
Bonus Tip: Two popular restaurants to “cheat” from are Bob Evans and Cracker Barrel.
3. Use elegant but disposable plates and napkins.
This is the best Thanksgiving hack, if you’re willing to put your mom’s old china back in the cupboard. Have you seen the disposable plates that look just like real ones? They’re sturdy, pretty, and not very expensive either. Your guests might not even notice. And after it’s all over, the worker bees of the family will be happy there are fewer dishes and more time to play games or veg out!
Bonus Tip: While plastic or paper plates are awesome, plastic silverware tends to break when cutting your food. So unless you need extra silverware, stick to your usual flatware. It’s easy enough to throw it in the dishwasher afterward.
4. Use what you already have.
For some reason, hosting usually gives me an urge to buy a bunch of new things. And while it’s kind of fun, it will take a lot of your time and money. Use what you have. Look around your house. Need activities? Gather a printable Thanksgiving Scavenger Hunt, playing cards, and board games and put them out on the tables. Need decorations? Use tablecloths you already have, and fill bowls with apples or pears. Keep it simple.
Bonus Tip: Put your kids to good use and have them create place cards for each guest. They don’t have to be fancy—they’ll be cute, and that’s even better.
5. Make it a potluck dinner.
If your house was volunteered as the best location for Thanksgiving this year, then you have the right to make it a potluck! As the host or hostess, you can provide a few big items like the main dish, plate settings, and drinks. Let the guests provide the rest! Even those who have a bit of a drive can bring something simple like a pie or chips.
Bonus Tip: Create a sign-up sheet to ensure you don’t end up with four sweet potato casseroles.
6. Eat at 6.
For some reason, most people have their Thanksgiving meal at noon or in the early afternoon. But why add pressure to the day by eating so early? By moving it to 6 p.m., you’ll give yourself more time to prepare. And if certain people come early, they can help you cook.
Bonus Tip: In addition to changing the time, change the date! By hosting on Saturday, you add flexibility for those who work during the week.
The whole time you’re preparing, keep the big picture in mind. The goal of the holidays shouldn’t be to impress but to enjoy each other’s company. You can’t enjoy anything if you are stretched too thin. So do whatever you have to do to make sure you have a little energy left over to be present with the people around you.
First National Bank, Cortez has upgraded our online and mobile banking platforms! This improved digital platform offers a full-service, forward-thinking digital banking experience to our customers, is much more user-friendly, and contains some enhanced security features.
To log into your online banking for the first time you will need the following information:
Visit our online banking page or call us to learn more.
*Annual Percentage Yields (APYs) are effective as of 7/18/2023. The minimum balance to open any of the CDs mentioned above and earn the advertised APY is $2,500. A penalty may be imposed for early withdrawals.
At a time of growing threats to privacy and security in an increasingly plugged-in world, a new federal regulation threatens to make the problem worse for the residents and small businesses of Montezuma and Dolores Counties and other communities nationwide. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently finalized a rule, commonly known as the “1071 rule” that will require financial institutions — including First National Bank, Cortez and all other banks in our community — to burden small-business customers with invasive questions and then publicly report the data they collect to the federal agency.
Policymakers in Washington should step in to block this misguided rule given its harmful impact on privacy and its potential to restrict access to credit to the small businesses that drive the nation’s economy, particularly the women- and minority-owned businesses this rule is designed to help.
Protect your privacy. Write to your member of Congress and just say no to the 1071 Rule and to the collection and reporting of your personal information.
The power struggle between you and your stuff
The problem isn’t merely the amount of stuff in our homes, or our lack of organizational skills, but in the meaning and power, we let our “stuff” have. Often without realizing it, we give possessions a disproportionate amount of our time and energy—leaving us with schedules that don’t match our values. For instance, in the pursuit of a bigger house, nicer car, and all the latest gadgets, we may end up working longer hours or becoming selfish instead of spending time on things we would say really matter, such as our family or health.
In other words, as the saying goes, sometimes “we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”
It’s an exhausting pursuit to get—and then organize and maintain—a lot of possessions, and that may very well be why minimalism is a growing movement. According to Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of theminimalists.com, “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.”
How clutter affects emotions
Human beings crave order and peace. Think about opening a closet. Would you feel better if stuff comes flying out because it’s packed in so tightly, or if everything is neat and ordered in its place? Which gives you more peace?
Having too much stuff—or stuff that is disorganized—can affect you mentally and physically. In a study in Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, a group of anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found a link between an overabundance of household objects and the homeowners’ health. These crowded houses—termed “stressful home environments”—proved that clutter not only looks bad, but it also makes us feel bad as well.
Just as external chaos can lead to internal chaos, so can external peace lead to internal peace. According to Karen Reyes, a professional organizer from Kearneysville, West Virginia, “We feel better when our ‘castle’ is orderly, creating less stress. Anything that we are able to do to alleviate clutter brings a little more peace to our lives. Emotional baggage sometimes comes along with unorganized lives. It’s quite liberating to lose both.”
Once the process of reducing the excess gets started, you might be surprised at how it overflows into other areas of life. For example, a study by the Association for Psychological Science found that simply working at an orderly desk could promote generosity and healthy eating.
Decluttering looks different for everyone. Some are content with just purging duplicates and inessentials, while others cut to the bare minimum. Whatever your goals, keep these simplifying principles in mind:
You didn’t accumulate all that stuff overnight, so you won’t be able to get rid of it overnight either. It’s a process, a way of housekeeping, not just a weekend event. So be patient with yourself as you learn new habits of shopping, donating, and organizing.
You are making room for what you need and love by getting rid of what you don’t. “Having less stuff to think, worry, or even obsess about frees people up to focus on more important things in life, such as family, friends, religion, and hobbies,” says professional organizer Karen Reyes.
Before buying something new, or while deciding what to keep of your current possessions, ask yourself:
Do I need it?
Do I love it?
Do I have a place for it?
If not, bid it “a fond but firm farewell,” and don’t look back, says Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
It’s the long-standing debate: quality versus quantity. When it comes to simplifying, the answer is to go with quality. Rather than buying multiples of lesser quality, invest in one or two high-quality items that are reasonable for your budget and time of life. More isn’t better; better is better.
Do you want to travel more? Have more family time? Spend less time on housework? What possessions will help you toward that end? Keep those goals in mind as you organize and clean. When deciding what to keep and what to get rid of, make four piles: keep, donate, sell, and trash. Follow through with each pile quickly. Otherwise, you may end up pulling things out of the give-away pile and bringing them back into your closet or kitchen.
6 Scams That Target Your Bank Account
Here’s how to recognize banking scams and how to protect your money.
Credit cards come with fraud protection, but bank transactions don’t necessarily have the same protection.
Scamming is rampant. More than 40,000 people filed scam reports with the Better Business Bureau in 2022, and the median reported dollar loss was $171 million according to that year’s BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report. A lot of those scams are targeting your bank accounts.
And though federal law limits liability for credit card fraud, it’s not the same for bank scams, such as being given a fake check you deposit and then send part of the amount to a fraudster.
Luckily, you can protect yourself and your bank account by learning how to identify six common bank scams.
Check Overpayment Scams
Check overpayment fraud is a popular scam that targets sellers from online auctions and classified advertisement websites. During a transaction, the scammer will pay the seller with a bogus check for more than the amount of the item. The scammer will then ask the seller to wire the difference back after making the deposit. The seller will be out not only a returned item fee from the bank, but also whatever cash the supposed buyer received.
How to avoid this scam: Independently verify a buyer’s name, address and phone number. A check that comes from an unknown party should be a red flag. If you are selling an item to someone in Ohio, but the check lists the name of a dental office in the District of Columbia, the payment may not be legitimate. Regardless of how insistent a buyer may be, never cash a check and immediately wire money from it. Talk to your bank if you have any concerns about a payment you receive.
Credit Card and Bank Account Scams
You may get emails or calls from someone who claims to be from your credit card issuer or bank. The messages may ask you to call back to discuss a problem or to click on a link to update your account information. In some cases, scammers may even claim they are investigating possible fraud on your account and ask for details such as your account number or Social Security number to investigate further. These are all attempts to get you to hand over sensitive information.
How to avoid this scam: Do not click on any email links or attachments. Scam phone messages may include a callback number, but you should ignore that. Call the phone number on the bank website or the number on the back of your debit or credit card. Otherwise, you could find yourself on the phone with the scammer rather than a bank representative.
Not everyone asking for a charitable donation may be on the up and up. For example, you could receive a call asking for donations to the local police department or to military families. The crooks elicit information about your bank account or debit card to make the donation over the phone, giving them full access to your checking account.
How to avoid this scam: To make sure your good intentions don’t go to waste, the safest way to give to a charity is by choosing an organization you know and trust. Also, be careful about sharing your personal information with people who reach out by telephone or email.
Online Lending Scams
Victims of these scams are often those who have trouble obtaining a bank loan. They may receive an email from a supposed lender or find a website offering easy access to money. After the scammer obtains bank account details, the victim may send a loan payment or direct deposit. The victim may also be asked to make an immediate good-faith payment, but as with the check overpayment scam, the “loan” is fraudulent.
How to avoid this scam: Always check reviews and the Better Business Bureau rating of any company offering a loan. If you can’t find reviews or ratings, the business may not be real.
Younger adults are more likely to be the victims of employment scams than other age groups, the Better Business Bureau reports. In most of these scenarios, the crooks offer a job but request personal information or money for “training” or “equipment.”
How to avoid this scam: Never send money to a potential employer. You should not have to pay for equipment, background screening or, generally, the promise of work. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
In these scams, you are typically told you’ve won a foreign lottery. Crooks will send you a large check to deposit into your personal checking account. You will then be asked to immediately wire a portion of the funds to pay for government taxes and administrative fees.
How to avoid this scam: If you didn’t enter the contest, then you didn’t win it. Note that if you participate in a foreign lottery via mail or phone, you are violating federal law. Also, U.S. lottery winners typically pay taxes on a lump-sum payment in the year the money was received or each year on installment payments.
Protecting Yourself From Bank Scams
Keep common scams in mind, and remember how to avoid them before you put your funds at risk. Scammers will continue to come up with creative ways to get into people’s bank accounts.
Criminals often look for people who are searching for jobs, dating, selling products and even do-gooders looking to help the needy.
Do Banks Refund Scammed Money?
Most of the time, you may be responsible for the fraudulent items that were negotiated in your bank account. Contact your bank immediately if you suspect unauthorized transactions or money missing from your account, advises the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You’ll need to notify your bank within 60 days after your bank sends your statement showing the unauthorized transactions. If you wait longer, you could owe the full amount of any transactions that occurred after the 60-day period and before notifying your bank, according to the CFPB.
With fraudulent checks, deposits could later be reversed, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. You’ll need to pursue the person who gave you the check if you want to be reimbursed.
If you think you have been the target of a scam, you should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission on its website or at 877-382-4357.
Top 10 Benefits of Reading for All Ages
Calling book lovers and avid readers of all ages! Have you ever wondered what the benefits of reading are aside from leisure and education? From learning new words to maintaining your mental health, books can do it all! In case you needed a reminder of how important regular reading is for our wellbeing and literacy, here are the top 10 benefits of reading for all ages:
While reading, we have to remember different characters and settings that belong to a given story. Even if you enjoy reading a book in one sitting, you have to remember the details throughout the time you take to read the book. Therefore, reading is a workout for your brain that improves memory function.
Did you know that most of the popular TV shows and movies are based on books? So why not indulge in the original form of entertainment by immersing yourself in reading. Most importantly, it’s free with your public library card!
We can all agree that reading cannot happen without focus and in order to fully understand the story, we have to concentrate on each page that we read. In a world where gadgets are only getting faster and shortening our attention span, we need to constantly practice concentration and focus. Reading is one of the few activities that requires your undivided attention, therefore, improving your ability to concentrate.
Have you ever read a book where you came across an unfamiliar word? Books have the power to improve your vocabulary by introducing you to new words. The more you read, the more your vocabulary grows, along with your ability to effectively communicate. Additionally, reading improves writing skills by helping the reader understand and learn different writing styles.
By creating a bedtime routine that includes reading, you can signal to your body that it is time to sleep. Now, more than ever, we rely on increased screen time to get through the day. Therefore, by setting your phone aside and picking up a book, you are telling your brain that it is time to quiet down. Moreover, since reading helps you de-stress, doing so right before bed helps calm your mind and anxiety and improve the quality of sleep.
Books are always filled with fun and interesting facts. Whether you read fiction or non-fictions, books have the ability to provide us with information we would’ve otherwise not known. Reading a variety of topics can make you a more knowledgeable person, in turn improving your conversation skills.
By reading books about protagonists who have overcome challenges, we are oftentimes encouraged to do the same. The right book can motivate you to never give up and stay positive, regardless of whether it’s a romance novel or a self-help book.
Reading has the power to transport you to another world and away from the monotonous daily routine. By doing so, reading can decrease stress, lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure.
Reading is a key component of early literacy development and you can set an example of just how crucial this is by modeling the behavior yourself. Children are excellent at mimicking the adults around them which means that if you regularly set aside some “me time” for reading, your children will learn to do the same.
Books allow us to experience realities outside of our lives. They teach us to relate to others by often putting us in the shoes of the narrator. This simple technique is called empathy. Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Reading builds on empathy by constantly presenting us with thoughts and scenarios outside of our perspective.
This season, make a plan to turn over a new leaf when it comes to your money.
Fall is a time of transition — back to school, turning back the clocks and even getting back into real clothes as we head back to work. But what if you took on a different type of regimen this fall — one of financial fitness.
With post-pandemic spending on the rise and holiday shopping already in full swing, there’s no better time to check in on your finances. Here are three things you can do right now to improve your finances and start fall feeling a little more in control of your money.
What’s the first step toward getting your finances under control?
First and foremost, you want to be aware of your money. We know it’s the last thing you want to do. But we also know you care about your money and you cannot make changes until you know where the money is going.
Follow your money for a few weeks. Track your spending by looking back at credit card or bank statements, or jot down notes in your phone when you’re making purchases.
A lot of times, we make very aspirational budgets and we forget how much money we spend on small purchases or impulse buys. Those are often the easiest things to cut out, and if you don’t know they are happening you can’t cut them.
Is it better to invest or pay off debt?
The common question: “If I were to come into some money would it be more beneficial to pay off my mortgage outright? Or would it be better to take that money and put it into investments and continue to pay my mortgage casually, you know, for the next 30 years.”
Debt is an issue for many Americans, whether it’s your student loans, a credit card or even a mortgage.
First you need to actually look at all of your debts and find out what interest you are paying on each of them. Once you know what you owe, then you can prioritize.
There are two methods to paying down your debt — the avalanche and the snowball. With the avalanche, you pay down your debt that has the highest interest rate first, regardless of the balance. That will save you the most money in the long run.
For those who feel super overwhelmed, the snowball method, where you knock out your smallest debts first, may be a better option. That way, you can take bite-sized pieces of your goal until it’s done.
In some financial situations a person might get a better return investing the lump sum and paying off the mortgage slowly, depending on the interest he’s paying on the loan.
A caution that we should consider is to not be “really good” about spending during this tracking time since you want to get a true picture of where your money is really going. You want to be totally honest with yourself here.
What should an emergency fund look like?
The common question: “How many months of expenses should be saved up in a savings account?”
Once you know where your money is going, you can start saving for your goals. Too often we fall into the trap of waiting to save the money that’s left over, but here’s the thing — money is almost never left over, if it’s in your account, you’ll want to spend it.
When it comes to the question about savings, it’s a good rule of thumb to have three to six months of living expenses set aside for emergencies.
Wondering how to do that?
Start by taking the amount of money you’re looking to save and divide it by the number of paychecks you have until you want to reach your goal. If a person wanted to save $3000, that would be $250 per month for a year.
Another key thing to do is to automate your savings. We do it for things like our retirement accounts or health savings accounts, but you can use this trick for anything you’re saving for.
Many banks will let you have multiple savings accounts for free, so look into high yield savings accounts which can generate a little more interest than your standard checking or savings accounts.
Set up your automatic transfers, when payday hits, you can move your money into those different accounts for different goals. Pretend like the money was never in your checking account in the first place. PAY YOURSELF FIRST
Appling these tips to your finances this fall, and you will be off to a great financial start for 2024!