Category Archives: Tips for Teens

Tips for Teens – Thanksgiving and Mobile Wallet

The aftermath of the recent Santa Rosa fire is, needless to say, devastating. Roughly 3,000 homes were lost, causing $1.2 billion dollars in damage. Homes and money can be replaced, but the pain and suffering of the 43 families who lost their loved ones to the fires is priceless. On October 9th, the Red Cross put out an online volunteer form and they reached their immediate need of volunteers within hours of posting it. Lost and missing pets were sent to different shelters and foster homes across the Bay Area where they were cared for until their families were ready to take them home. Neighbors supplied each other with air masks once the hardware stores ran out. Despite the negative tone that seems to plague the downfall of society, genuine kindness and desire to help really shined through a difficult week.

I’d like to thank all of the First Responders, volunteers, pet shelters and foster homes, neighbors, and everyone else that truly made a difference to someone in need.

– – – – –

With the holiday season quickly approaching, there’s something that comes to mind that I can’t seem to forget no matter how hard I try. Remember the 2013 Target hack and the 40 million affected people? While I was fortunate not to be effected, I want to do everything I can to minimize the chances of being the 40 millionth and 1 person to have to call my financial institution and the credit bureaus.

The two safest options when making payments are to utilize the chip on your debit/credit card or to use Mobile Wallet. They both work the same way. In short, the chip creates a unique code that the merchant receives with just enough information for that transaction to go through but not enough for a hacker to steal your information. The process is repeated with a different code the next time you use your card for a transaction.

The only downside to using the chip, as you may have noticed, is that it can take a little longer to approve the transaction. A friend of mine worked at a restaurant before and after chip cards became common practice, and their feelings toward the chip cards were mixed. They believed it was a safer option, but it also slowed down the checking out process dramatically.

Enter Mobile Wallet. This refers to Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay (and others) but it’s all the same technology. Like a chip card, a unique code is created when you go to pay at a terminal, but instead of waiting after you insert your card, the process happens quickly on your phone, therefore, avoiding those death stares from the people behind you who wait while you hold up the line.

Sounds like something you would like to test yourself? You can try it now with your 1st Nor Cal debit or credit card! 1st Nor Cal now supports Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay. (We’ve created a page with all the info here).

Sure, there’s always the option to use cash to avoid your information being stolen. However, these two methods have proven themselves to be safer than the old magstripe. I personally look forward to finally being able to rock out to Android Pay this season and enjoy the 10 seconds of amusement that comes with each transaction.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Winter Is Coming

Graphic of squirrell drinking coffee with mittens and earmuffs with the words Winter Is Coming underneath.While I personally don’t watch Game of Thrones, I completely understand and sympathize with everyone who does that have to wait for two years for the next season. Some of my friends are starting to show signs of what I would call “binge-watching crash syndrome”, a seriously benign condition in which the viewer slips into a minor state of grief. Stage one and two, denial and anger respectively, usually manifest themselves by researching the history of the show, and in extreme cases, looking up the bonus features and cast commentary. You know the viewer has reached bargaining when they start looking up possible theories and/or reading the source material. Depression hits with a loss of viewing appetite followed by thoughts of canceling a video streaming subscription. Finally, the viewer reaches acceptance when someone recommends another show or a show they were previously watching uploads their next season.

Here are some tips on how to reduce these effects and make your day a little brighter:

  • Make Your Bed
    I know, I know. Here me out though. Making your bed in the morning only takes a few minutes – five at most if you happen to be making the bed from The Princes and the Pea. But at the end of the day, nothing really beats a made bed. It welcomes you into its arms whether your day was a good one or not.
  • Make a Bucket List
    A while back, I read a story about a summer bucket list that was found in an Urban Outfitters dressing room. After I finished reading the hilarious list, I couldn’t help but wonder why I hadn’t thought of making one sooner. This gives you a list of goals to complete or at the very líst (that was an awful joke), an idea of what do that weekend instead of going back and forth on a group chat of what you all should do.
  • Go on a Walk
    Let me guess, you don’t want to go outside? Fall is the perfect time to go on a walk because it’s cool, windy, and grey, but not too cold, so you won’t sweat as much, if at all! Get in touch with what’s bugging you with no distractions. Just you, yourself, and yoi? Go on a walk from 4:00-5:00pm for optimal results.
  • Drink and Zennnnnnnn
    Find a window with lots of sunlight during a cold day and drink something sweet. This can give a similar effect as going on a walk but without any physical effort!

Winter is almost here and the lack of sunlight has some negative side effects. I’m no doctor, but what I’ve noticed is that by doing these things, it makes winter that much more enjoyable for me.

Happy Halloween!

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Time Is Money

Last semester in my Economics class, we talked about a fairly simple, yet fundamental concept: Opportunity Costs.

It goes something like this:

Graph showing quantity of guns producted vs quantity of butter produced.

The more a nation or industry invests in a product, such as guns, the more of that product will be produced, at the cost of the opportunity of producing another good, say butter, as we see in point A. The idea is that there needs to be equilibrium to maximize efficiency, close to or on point B. This ensures that you’ll have an equal amount of defense and goods. While this may be an economic concept, it can easily be applied to just about anything in life.

Say you have two choices: a nice two week long vay-cay to the sunny, sandy beaches of Hawaii or earning a couple thousand freshly minted green fresh off the press by working those two weeks. Your opportunity cost of going on vacation would be a paycheck. However, the opportunity cost of working is a much needed vacation. If you split your time evenly, you’re achieving the most benefit of your time. By taking a one week vacation instead of two weeks, you could make at least half the money you would have lost, spend less on the vacation, and still enjoy some time off.

It’s like the old saying goes, “Time is Money”.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Give up the Green for the Privilege to Stream

Image of Teen Boy at LaptopIt’s no secret that I’ve been against investing in streaming services for a while (like Spotify or Netflix) since they add up to be more expensive than buying the media that you stream from these services. Not to mention that once you cancel your subscription, you lose access to all the media you streamed, making your investment worthless. I was pretty strong on my position, that is, before I finally caved into my phone’s persistent plea to sign up for a trial of one of these streaming services, which I will refer to as Orange. It was without a doubt an addicting and joyful experience. But like all great things, it had to come to an end. The Orange trial ended exactly three months later, as did all my access to the songs I streamed.

I had three options after I lost access to Orange. I could have officially signed up for the service, paid for the individual songs themselves, found another way of legally streaming them (i.e. YouTube or Vevo), or found a way to download the songs without paying for them.

Some people might assume that illegally downloading music (or videos) may be no harm no foul, but it is a pretty big foul. The content creator, whether it be Taylor Swift or Medina, go unpaid for their work, discouraging the artist from creating more music. While it seems that one person might not hurt their wealth, you might not be the only one thinking that and eventually it adds up. Illegal downloads is essentially the same as shoplifting, and like shopping, your activity is being monitored. Stores will check to see why their inventory is disappearing and law enforcement also keeps an eye out for torrent sites, like Pirate Bay, and shuts them down. Furthermore, your IP address is permanently logged onto the torrent site, so if you did download something, the log will show it which could be used against you in court.

Streaming services and purchasing your own music might be expensive, and I’m not arguing that. However, the price is justified when you think about the right you are doing society by paying up to stream Shake it Off for hours on end.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Congrats Class of 2017

Image of Cheshire Cat in a Tree Smiling“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” said Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where-” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“-so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

A big congratulations to all of you who graduated this past June! I hope everyone had a safe and joyous graduation and grad nite – I know I did! Looking back, it really doesn’t feel as if 13 years of schooling have gone by, but they have. We’re the last class born in the 1900’s; the last class to watch Kim Possible, The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody, Hanna Montana, That’s So Raven, Teen Titans, Dexter, and SpongeBob; the last class to know what spending Friday afternoons at Blockbuster Video felt like, or how to print out a Google Map and directions. We’re the last class to know that blowing into a Gameboy, NES, or N64 cartridge does the trick, and what it’s like to use a Moto Razor (or any flip/slide phone for that matter). But on a more serious note, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. How exiting! Think of all the weekends you’ll spend at the beach, all the road trips you still need to take, the late nights you’ll enjoy with your friends, all the bonfires yet to be lit, and all the times you’ll have to explain to the fire fighters that “it was an accident”. Oh, the Places You’ll Go (Dr. Seuss) and the things you’ll see!

I recently went down to Disneyland and on the way there I remembered that when I was a kid, when adults asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I’d answer, “I’m going to be a Cast Member at Disneyland!” Unfortunately, life forces us to grow up and realize that working at a park can only get you so far. However, despite this, the dream was rekindled. It was on my way to Disneyland that I realized that we are the captains of our destination. We have the right to live out our dreams, however strange or illogical they may seem. We should only have to listen to ourselves, and take the advice of others as just that, advice, and not a direction in which to head towards. Life shouldn’t be about finding what job will make you the biggest bucks, life should be fun and fulfilling.

If you are still being asked where you’re going next or what career/major you are going into, it’s completely okay not to know. A lot of people go through life not really knowing what they’re going to be or how to move on, yet in the end, they still make it through fine because they put their best foot forward and gave it their all. They started nowhere and ended up in the best possible somewhere. With this in mind, go out there! Live out your crazy dreams! Put your best foot forward! Give it your all! You’ll eventually end up somewhere.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Think Before You Shop

Cat pushing shopping cart.The internet has become a modern day genie. Searching for cat videos? Boom! 146,000,000 results in 0.73 seconds! What year was the White House built? You’ll have the answer in 1.24 seconds. Shoe shopping? You only have 622,703 pairs to choose from on Amazon. While this access to basically everything is pretty cool, at the same time it can create a problem for impulse shoppers. The web makes it incredibly easy to quickly convince yourself that you need that teapot because it’s on sale and dares you compare prices from different stores. As an added bonus, it throws in free two-day shipping on orders over $25 dollars, which is what finally convinced you to buy that extra phone case. At the end of the day, you have spent $25 or more on stuff that you really didn’t need, but you were made to think you did. How do you avoid this?

Stop

Unless it’s a necessity, like food, petrol, or school related stuff, it can wait. Even if you’re convinced that you have to have it, don’t buy it just yet. Do some price comparison and see which seller gives you the best deal.

Wait

If it’s something more expensive, like in the $100+ range, wait a week or two before making your purchase. Waiting will make you certain that it’s something that you really want and not being made to think that you want it.

Decide

Say two weeks have gone by since you first saw that new $16 fidget spinner. You have waited this long and even did some price comparison to see if you’re getting the best deal. However, you’re still unsure if you should get it. My advice: Don’t. If you’re still unsure, it probably means that you’re going to keep it in your desk drawer and never use it again. Why not instead use those $16 for something else?

Summer is a great time to go out with your friends and shop, but remember to save your hard earned money whenever possible.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Happy Belated World National Password Day!

thumbprintEvery year, the first Thursday of May (this year it was on May 4th) is considered to be World National Password Day, an unofficial holiday started by Intel back in 2014. The idea is to bring awareness to the importance of not reusing the same password for everything and convince people to change their passwords more often. It’s no secret that entering passwords has become part of our daily routine, but this is not an excuse for using the same password over and over again. Is the lock on your door the same one that’s on your car? Nope! For the same reason, you shouldn’t use the same password for Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If someone guesses your password correctly, they can post and share whatever they want on all of your accounts. Sure, you can take the post down later, but can you erase the fact that people that saw the post? So, what should you do?

Here are some useful tips:

  • Use two-factor authentication/fingerprint readerTwo-factor authentication, aka two-step authentication, is the simplest way to secure your account. Every time you or someone else tries to sign into an account, say Google, you will receive a text message with a six digit code. Enter the same code into the log in screen and you’re all set to go. The account will know that it’s truly you and will let you in. No more chinny chin chins!

    Some apps, like our @ccessMobile App for iPhone and iPad, have Touch ID, the option to ask for your fingerprint to sign into the app. It still requires you to log in as you normally would to set up the fingerprint login, but after that, you can use your fingerprint to sign in as much as your heart desires. For those concerned about privacy, your fingerprint is not uploaded to anything, period. It’s kept locally on your phone where it’s safe from cyber hackers.

  • Use a Password ManagerThey’re out there to help you stay safe. Use them! Most of them are free, but some require a paid membership. Do some research before choosing your password manager though because it is time consuming having to re-enter all of your login information again if you switch. Most password managers offer to create random passwords, which are recommended since the password they generate is better than any password you would have been able to think of. Best of all, they’ll remember what the password was and will even offer to type it in for you if you have the app installed.

Perhaps a day will come when we’ll be able to get into our accounts using a blood sample. But until then, the wisest thing to do is ask yourself if you really need an account for that site. The more accounts that are out there, the harder it is to protect yourself. Best of luck this month!

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Every Day is Earth Day

Earth DayLike most people, I like this planet. It gives me fresh air to breathe, water to drink, and many other resources to live on, all of which we often take for granted. Although Elon Musk is still trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to colonize other planets, we only have one that we can call home for now. I want this planet to live a long and fulfilling life, but several human influences have changed its future potential dramatically. Below, you’ll find some tips to minimize your impact on the planet and make it greener every day!

Think reusable and compostable: Stainless Steel Safety Razor vs Bamboo Safety Razor

An easy way to keep the planet green is to stop using single-use plastic items and use reusable items instead (I’ll use razors as an example). You might begin shopping for a reusable razor and you’re faced with a lot of different options all of which seem eco-friendly since the blade is the only thing you replace. However, how eco-friendly is the razor itself? If it’s made out of plastic or rubber, than it’s not too eco-friendly. If it’s made from aluminum or stainless steel, then you’re on the right track. However, if it’s made from something biodegradable, say bamboo, then BINGO! You’re being a friend to the planet! When the time comes to replace the razor, just toss it into the compost and use it in the garden. No more landfills!

Repurpose, not recycle: Snapple into Water Bottle

Most people know that buying plastic, single-use water bottles is a huge waste of money. The water goes through the same purification process as tap water but it is sold to you at a much higher price markup. Not to mention “only about 25% of the plastic produced in the U.S. is recycled 1“; the rest ends up in landfills and in the oceans. So, what’s the solution to portable water? NOT plastic reusable water bottles! In some ways, reusable plastic water bottles could be worse for the planet. They typically use more plastic to reinforce the bottle, making it basically impossible for it to break down in a landfill or the ocean. Some may also contain BPA which is harmful for your health. The real solution is an aluminum or glass bottle. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even reuse a glass Snapple bottle from your lunch as a water bottle. This way, you enjoy your drink and you have a bottle without using more resources.

Less is more: Packaging

Last month, I talked about nut trays that I used to purchase from Costco. Guess what they were packaged in? Plastic. The second reason why I switched to buying nuts in bulk was to avoid the plastic. If you can find more ways to cut down on your plastic usage, I encourage you to go that route!

Think Recycled!

Recycled paper, recycled pencils made from newspaper, recycled shopping bags made from denim jeans. These are just some examples of recycled items you can use instead of using more resources by purchasing new items. I encourage you to search online for recycled products (like the recycled pencils made from newspaper) since most of these items aren’t available in big box stores.

These are just a few ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle; I didn’t even start talk about buying less stuff. There are definitely more ways you can help the environment but these are just some of the things I do. Head on over to Google and search for other ways to help out for more creative suggestions.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – The Benefit of Buying in Bulk

Photo of basket of groceriesLately I’ve been buying peanut trays at Costco. Basically, it’s a bunch of different nuts and dried fruit in a tray and there are three trays per package, which costs about $6.00. It wasn’t until I ran out that I realized I was getting ripped off. Instead of buying these trays, I could have bought $6.00 worth of nuts in bulk which would have given me more for the same amount of money. Even better, I could have chosen which nuts I wanted and how much I wanted of each. So it got me thinking, how could I quickly compare bulk items to standard sized items when I’m shopping?

The answer is actually really simple. Divide the price by the weight of the product to get the price per ounce and use that to compare similar items. For example, sometimes you can purchase two standard boxes of cereal (ex. 14 oz each) instead of the family size (ex. 20 oz), and it actually costs less per ounce for more product. The same can be true in reverse. If the family sized box of cereal is on sale, it may be cheaper per ounce than buying the standard size.

Quick Tip: Grocery stores usually list the price per ounce right on the price tag. You can really maximize your shopping budget when you pay attention to these numbers.

The only downside to buying in bulk is that you have to spend more upfront for your “little curly wooden shavings you find in pencil sharpeners” (guess who said that). But I argue that it’s a good trade off since you don’t have to shop as often, and you’re going to eventually consume all of the cereal. Plus, you’ll have extra money for, oh… maybe a chocolate bar.

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union

Tips for Teens – Five Simple New Year’s Resolutions That Anyone Can Do

2017As we welcome the New Year and look around and question how we can better our lives, we often over-shoot our resolutions and forget to do them by February. The key to keeping your New Year’s resolutions is to make them both achievable and realistic. So, here are five realistic New Year’s resolutions that you will keep on doing way into 2017!

  1. Clean up litter: When you’re walking around and notice a wrapper on the ground, if it’s safe enough, pick it up and dispose of it in the nearest waste reciprocal. The environment thanks you for your help!
  2. Sign up for eStatements: While we’re on the subject of being eco-friendly, sign up for eStatements when possible and reduce your paper and carbon footprint. Paper statements require paper to be sourced, shipped to a store, shipped to the printing location, and then shipped to your mailbox all in mail trucks and airplanes, most likely running on gasoline. eStatements just require an email, which greatly reduces the amount of CO2 that is released. To learn how to sign up for 1st Nor Cal eStatements, click here.
  3. Help “pick up” motorized shopping carts: This one is probably my favorite. The easiest and safest way to get into my local Walmart is by taking the sidewalk that is behind the ADA parking area that is specifically designed for all shoppers to use and be out of the way from other cars. However, since it is behind the ADA parking area, people who use motorized shopping carts often leave them on the sidewalk. I understand that the people who use these carts often are unable to return them to the store for medical reasons, but it did get me thinking; what if the battery runs out and someone has to use one of these carts and the store has none left to loan out? I’m not trying to do someone else’s job, I just want other people to be able to go into Walmart at any time and shop as a regular customer without having to worry how much battery life remains on the cart. Quick note though: My Walmart does not allow anyone under 13 to drive the carts without an adult present, so if you are under 13, have an adult present. Also, remember to use common sense when driving the carts and be cautious of cars and shoppers. It’s not a toy! Don’t do donuts on the sidewalk or you might get into trouble.
  4. Put your shopping cart in a shopping cart return area: This one is simple to do. When you are done shopping, don’t put your cart off to the side or in a nearby bush, be courteous and return your cart to the return area. You’ll make someone’s job easier, make the parking lot safer to drive in, and allow for more shopping carts to be in the store, so no one will be without a cart when they need one. This has happened to me before and it was both inconvenient because I had to exit the store and play Hide and Seek: Shopping Cart Edition and shocking because I had never noticed that a store’s shopping cart supply is not endless.
  5. Donate to a non-profit or charity: Go online and find a charity or non-profit with a cause that you believe in and set up a monthly donation contribution. It can be as much or as little you want and you can even donate to multiple organizations. You might want to consider donating specifically to local organizations to better your own community. Every dollar you donate is a step closer to success for your cause.

Most importantly, keep on reading the blog!

Luis Dominguez
Student Social Media Intern
1st Nor Cal Credit Union