Category Archives: Tips for Teens

Tips for Teens – Spring Email Cleaning

Bunny on laptopBack in November, I received a newsletter in my email inbox. I probably signed up to receive these emails back when I thought 0.05% off $500 dollars was a good deal, so I read and deleted it, thinking that would be it for a while. Later that same week, another newsletter from the same store came in for a different set of deals. This time, I deleted it again but was both a little annoyed and a little surprised that they had sent two emails in the same week after a six month hiatus. That next weekend, I received a third email for a different set of deals! At this point, I was fairly annoyed for two reasons: one, I remember signing up the year before for that measly discount but only for the once a month frequency and two, it made me realize just how many unopened emails I had in my inbox. On top of the junk mail, there was last week’s actual news still to be read, some satire news still needing to be laughed at, a couple of order confirmations and tracking numbers for items that I already received, and many more.

Email, as outdated as the concept may seem, is still the backbone of modern communication. Chances are, email is not your go-to method for daily communication, making it even easier for companies to use it as a data dump. But at the same time, things like password reset links, eStatements, or acceptance letters most likely won’t be sent by text message. The fact of the matter is that email is still one of the more secure methods of communication. It’s our digital key to reset just about everything else.

With that said, email shouldn’t be a place where advertisers have a direct link to your pocket. It should be a place where only the services you’ve signed up for get to you and the advertisements are filtered in an unobtrusive manner. I made some changes to my email settings and since then, the number of companies sending me ads and distracting me from my important emails has dropped to basically nothing, while the ones I care about are filtered into a particular folder for whenever I have time to take a peak.

In the end, nothing is more important than privacy, which was a lesson hard-learned. To this day, the Prince of Nigeria is still asking me for help with transferring funds. As annoying as these emails are, there is nothing I can do to stop receiving them. For these reasons, take a moment and reflect on whether adding your email address to that mailing list is really necessary, because you don’t know where it could end up.

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

Tips for Teens – College Textbooks: The Cheapskate Way

Stick man reading books with graduation hat onCollege. It’s like handing over an ounce of gold at the bookstore for a years’ worth of supplies. Seriously though, according to the College Board, the “yearly books-and-supplies in-state estimate for the average full-time undergraduate student at a four-year public college is about $1,298″* and gold is currently trading at about $1,300 per oz. Thankfully, there are some ways to minimize the impact to the point where FASFA might actually be enough!

Don’t forget to check the public library!
Let’s face it, it’s probably been a long time since you last set foot in a public library. They’re still there and they often have the books you need to check out for free! For example, suppose the books your professor asks for are George Orwell’s 1984, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. One option would be to cough up $25 dollars for three books that realistically will never be read again and just take up room on your bookshelf. Option two is to check to see if these books are old enough to be in the public domain. Books in the public domain are free and are usually uploaded in a PDF format by a reputable source, like a .edu, .org, or 3rd party eBook distributor like the Google Play Bookstore or the Amazon Kindle store. Unlike PDFs that you find on Google after searching for The Great Gatsby Free PDF, these PDFs and legal to use, redistribute, and print since their copyright expired. The former PDFs are infringing on the books’ copyright and you might run into legal trouble if caught using one. However, the third and fail safe route is to use the public library. Just go back in, renew or apply for a library card, then go to the website to place holds on the books that are needed that semester. Just remember to return them after you’re done using them to avoid late fees.

What about textbooks?
Glad you asked about that. Certain textbooks can also be checked out through the public library. I personally haven’t had any luck with my public library system carrying any of the textbooks that I need, but it is one of the 71 library systems that participate in Link+, a library cooperative available from participating libraries in California and Nevada. There, almost any textbook that is needed for the semester is available since some of the participating libraries are colleges and universities. There’s no cost to use or enroll in Link+ and as long as your library card is in good standing, you’re in! Check with your local public library to see if it’s one of the library systems that participate in Link+ (Contra Costa, Solano, or Alameda County Libraries all participate in Link+) or check for yourself here:

Alternatively, check your school’s library and ask to checkout a textbook on reserve. Usually these books are only available to you for 3 hours and can only be used inside of the library. The advantage of this is that it forces you to do your homework during that time rather than procrastinating.

Okay, and the supplies?
Scantrons and Bluebooks are the unfortunate monopoly that hovers over school supplies. Thankfully, Scantrons can sometimes be obtained for free by attending orientation events at the start of the semester and during finals week. As for pens, pencils, highlighters, and notecards, use your supplies from last year. If you’re all out of those too, remember to pick some up next semester from an orientation event. You can also save on transportation by checking your public transit system to see if they offer any discounts for students such as free bus fare for UC Berkeley students and BOGO tickets offered by the County Connection.

Whatever you do, remember that the financial office at your college or university might also offer bonus financial aid based on your FASFA, which as a reminder, has a deadline to file by March 2nd!

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

Tips for Teens – It’s Beginning to Look Like a Bunch of Holiwaste!

Cartoon dinosaur holding a gift.The holidays have come and gone. The songs have been sung, decorations put away, food long ago eaten. Now comes the age old question, where did I put the gift receipts? It’s understandable if you need a different size or if Pantone 448C really isn’t your color, and you’re not alone. According to CNN Money, 7% of Millennials do return their holiday gifts and another 15% to 30% of all online gifts will be returned, accounting for $32 billion dollars in refunds. My point being, you probably opened that box that had the *fill in the blank* inside and decided on returning it. The store will most likely take it back, but will think twice about putting it back on the shelf. That’s because it’s often less expensive for the retailer to dispose of a good than it is to sell it again. For example, let’s say you were planning on returning that $80 Pantone 448C sweater your sweet, dear, twice-removed relative gifted you. The retailer will give you back your $80 but since it doesn’t look exactly fresh off the press, they’ll either put it back on the shelf for 75% off, bringing the price down to $20 dollars, which would be a hypothetical loss of $10 dollars, or they could use the space they would have used for the sweater to sell something more eye appealing.

So in the end, where does the sweater end up? Sadly, it might end up in a landfill. Think this is bad? Online returns are slightly worse because of the carbon dioxide shipping the item both ways releases, contributing to climate change and air pollution. What can you do?
Well, many stores will gladly give you a refund for an online order at a brick-and-mortar location. Do you have an item from Amazon that needs returning? Stop by your local Kohl’s and they’ll gladly help you out through a partnership they signed last summer. This won’t solve the issue of the possibility of your returns ending in a landfill, but you’ll reduce your carbon footprint.

However, if your mind is set on preventing your gift from ending up in a landfill, why not donate it? A local thrift store will be more than happy to accept it. You could also re-gift the item to someone who might appreciate it more than you.

No matter what you decide to do with your gifts, don’t forget to thank the people who gifted them to you for thinking of you over the holidays!

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

Tips for Teens – Happy New Year

I’ve always thought of the New Year as a gift. It’s a chance to start over, to improve, and to begin again. As great as a New Year’s Resolution sounds, it’s all too easy to overshoot your goals and give up quickly. This year, try to aim for realistic goals. Small changes can add up to make a big difference. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, start with simply meeting your daily water intake.

Here are a few more suggestions for simple New Year’s Resolutions that can make a difference:

  • Switch your disposable water bottle for a reusable one
  • Bring reusable shopping bags with you to the store instead of buying bags
  • Turn off your car while waiting in the drive-thru to reduce idling
  • Turn lights off when you leave a room
  • Clean up the trash left behind on a park bench or park table, even if it’s not yours

Notice something? These are all free ways of improving yourself or the space around you.

Whatever you decide on, may this year be ever in your favor.

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

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?


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