Category Archives: Tips for Teens

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?


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.


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.


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

Tips for Teens – Holiday Activities

Once again, another year has come and gone. Instead of feeling the blues or stressing about your upcoming finals (although you should probably study for those), why not end the year by treating yourself and your friends to one of the following activities?

Go ice skating:
This is really fun to do since about half of the people there can’t ice skate either! You’ll blend right in and not look completely goofy when you fall or bump into someone. Check your city’s website for ice rinks near you… or ask Google!

Have a cup of hot chocolate:
Meet up with friends at your local café for a hot cup of coco, coffee, tea, or apple cider. Anything to warm you up during this cold season!

GiftPlay Secret Santa with your friends:
Put all of your friend’s names in a hat and have each person draw a name and keep it a secret. Encourage your friends to think of a gift that would bring joy to their secret person. You can put a limit on the dollar amount so one person doesn’t end up with an iPad and another with a fruitcake. This way, everyone receives a nice, thoughtful gift from someone in the group, and you don’t have to break the bank to buy a gift for each person.

Go see a light show:
Most people take less than a day of their time during the holiday season to decorate their homes with lights, which generally looks pretty cool. However, three cheers go to the people who take a whole week or more of their time to set up their homes with a ton of lights, projectors, music, and inflatable decorations. I found a website that lists what houses in the following counties have created a light show for you and your friends to enjoy. Make sure to leave a tip to show your appreciation for their hard work!

Go skiing or snowboarding:
I’ve never been skiing or snowboarding, so you might want to ask someone else for advice on this one. I think black is the easiest slope… or was it green?

Whatever you decide to do, remember to have fun like you did when you read this article!

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

Tips for Teens – A Life by What We Give

volunteer-tips-for-teens-2016-11In light of Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in general, we look back and thank all the people that have made a positive impact on our lives. We immediately think of our parents, grandparents, teachers, or siblings, but might overlook First Responders, Veterans, shelter workers, nurses, doctors, and the list goes on. This may be because their actions are only seen and felt by one person, but it does not mean that they are not important. I admit that I too am guilty of not thanking my community as much as I should so thank you for all your deeds that mostly go unnoticed but mean the world to someone out there.

– – – – –

To many high school students, community service is just another roadblock towards graduation. In a world where money buys everything, they’re faced with a dilemma: Why would I give my time away for free instead of getting paid and why should I care to help out the community? To that, Winston Churchill would have argued that “we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” The lack of community service enthusiasm is not a problem with the millennial generation, or that times have changed and the priorities of society have also changed, rather, I believe we simply need to be reminded of what it means to give back to the community.

Community service is an effort to help improve the quality of life for your community members, without expecting anything in return. My grandma wanted to celebrate her birthday by asking us to volunteer with her in Pleasant Hill’s annual Community Service Day, specifically, in the Pleasant Hill Library. When I asked her why she wanted to celebrate her birthday in that way, she said, “I have reached a point in my life where I have everything. I think it’s time to give something back.” That day, all I did was nudge each book so they were lined up as close to the edge of the shelf as possible. That little action made the whole library look organized. Volunteering at the library that day gave me a sense of pride because I could see how my work improved the space for the rest of the community. Looking back to that day, I realize what a powerful thing it is when people unite for a common good, and I understand what Winston Churchill meant. We make a living by the money we make, but what we give changes other people’s lives.

I’m not alone in feeling a satisfaction in helping others. When I asked Denny Horack, president of the Rotary Club of Martinez, for his thoughts on community service, he agreed that there is a certain satisfaction in helping his community. He has willingly spent the last thirty years helping the people of Martinez and beyond. From scholarships to Meals on Wheels, Mr. Horack’s efforts continue to benefit people. When I asked if he thought helping the community for more than thirty years was enough, he stated, “No. It is never enough. The work that the service clubs do is so important that I’m going to continue on helping out until I can’t.” I am astounded by his selflessness and I’m in awe of the many people like him around the world. This interview left me wondering: if everyone took a day to plant flowers at a park, help paint a mural, or even help feed the homeless, what a wonderful world it would be.

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