Author Archives: femmefrugality

3 Tips for Moving on a Tight Budget

Saving this for our next move! Great tips on how to move on a tight budget.

Moving house is stressful for a wide number of reasons.

One, you may have to start packing while you’re still working a full-time job and taking care of a family.

Two, you may have a lot of things to pack, but no clear idea of how to go about it.

Three, you may have fond memories of your current home and circle of friends and feel a little depressed about leaving it all behind.

And four, you may have to do things in a hurry, perhaps because of a job relocation.

There are lots of things to consider when moving house. Fortunately, there are also plenty of simple, effective strategies to help you get things sorted out quickly so that your move will go smoothly. Here are 3 big ideas to make your move easier:

1. Figure out how you’ll move.

It’s important to figure out the logistics of your move before you take any action. A clear idea of how you’re going to move will make it easier for everything else to fall into place.

Deciding on how to move usually boils down to figuring out whether you should do-it-yourself or hire a reputable professional business like the North American moving company. If you’re thinking of spending as little as possible to move, you might assume that it would be more labor intensive but less expensive to do it yourself. While you might be right about how much work is involved in doing everything yourself, you could be wrong about it being cost-effective.

The only reason making your own move appears cheaper is because you don’t see all of your costs totaled up ahead of time. Instead, you’re dealing with multiple costs that occur over a stretch of time. For instance, there are the costs of hiring a moving van, buying your family and friends’ thank-you lunches and dinners for volunteering to help you move, the cost of moving equipment and materials, checking in at weigh stations, increased tolls and so on.

Since these costs accumulate in a random, often unpredictable way, they could add up to more than you had reckoned. By comparison, professional movers usually have a streamlined process that often results in large cost savings for the consumer.

Besides the financial costs, you also have to consider the cost of time and labor. If you’re planning on a DIY move you have to ask some hard questions.

  • How much time do your family and friends have available to help you with your move?
  • Will you be coming home exhausted from work in the evening and then start packing until midnight for weeks on end?
  • Will your family and friends have enough time to come over and help you out with everything that needs to get done?
  • Will things get packed properly and loaded safely or will hasty packing result in plenty of breakages of some of your best stuff?
  • Will you be able to find enough strong people to move the large, heavy appliances and furniture into the truck?

Many of these problems could be alleviated if a professional moving company sends over some able bodied people to help you pack your stuff.

2. Minimize how much stuff you have to move.

If you’ve lived in your home for a long time, you’ve probably accumulated a lot more stuff than you realized. When you look around your apartment or house, you might be surprised to come across things you no longer like or need. You’ll discover clothes that just don’t fit anymore and electronic gadgets that are now obsolete.

You should consider decluttering as much as you can. It’s a total waste of time and money to pack and transport all this excess to your new home.

Here is a simple strategy for decluttering:

  1. Empty out a room so that you have plenty of free space.
  2. Go around the house and collect everything that you don’t want to take with you and dump it into the empty room.
  3. Use four large boxes to sort through what you now have in the spare room. You will need a box for trash; a box for recycling; a box for donations to family and friends; and a box for putting everything you can’t make a decision on in the moment.

3. Avoid spending more than necessary.

Don’t buy boxes, but simply collect boxes from local stores who throw or recycle their boxes after they have received a shipment of new products. Also, cut off all your utility bills before your date of departure because many utility companies won’t pro-rate your invoices. Otherwise, you might be paying for an extra month of services.

These 3 big tips will help mitigate some of the stress of moving. Moving houses is often considered a major life stressor, exhausting both physically and emotionally. In fact, it’s considered as difficult as relationship breakups, divorces, and starting a new job. And, of course, it becomes even more stressful if you have a limited budget and a tight deadline to meet.

 

 

This post is contributed and brought to you by Abby Locker.

How to Hire a Nanny: Book Review

How to Hire a Nanny: Your Complete Guide to Finding, Hiring, And Retaining Household Help

 

I just happen to be incredibly lucky. I have kids, but I live close to family. Our income, while not huge, allows my husband to stay home with our children during the week.

What does all this mean?

We don’t have to pay for childcare. The living-near-family advantage was something we consciously chose to pursue, but we’re aware that not everyone has that luxury.

We have some extra stuff going on at home that requires full-time attention. When our kids were younger, and I was in school, our family helped us meet those unique needs very frequently by watching our kids while he was at work and I was in class–or studying.

Without these advantages, we’d likely have to hire in-home care until everyone was in at least elementary school.

With our specific income situation, there’s no monetary advantage to my husband going back to work Monday through Friday.

But for many, childcare is one of the only options to make providing for the household possible. A lot of those households choose to hire a nanny. Your kid gets 1:1 attention, and they get it in your home. There are a lot of positives to this type of childcare setup.

Many times when people hire a nanny, they don’t know what they’re doing. When someone works in your home, you become an employer, and you have to keep things above board.

How to Hire a Nanny

To learn more about this process, I recently read the third edition of How to Hire a Nanny: Your Complete Guide to Finding, Hiring, And Retaining Household Help.

It was intense. There is so much more to this process than I would have ever imagined. Because you become an employer, you have to make sure you’re well-versed in equal employment laws, workers’ rights and taxation at the federal, state and local level.

You also want to make sure you’re actually a good employer–one who people want to work for. You are, after all, leaving your child alone with them for hours everyday. They’re the last employee you want feeling complacent or apathetic. You want your nanny to feel appreciated and excited to do their job well.

I learned a bunch of interesting tidbits across every area the author, Guy Maddalone, covers. Here’s a few.

The Legalities of Hiring a Nanny

“Hiring a nanny” means different things to different people. I hadn’t really thought about hiring a nanny versus an Au Pair versus a mother’s helper, but you really should. Each job description holds different job responsibilities, and in some cases, that will even change the surrounding employment laws.

I also learned that you and the nanny can’t just decide amongst yourselves if she/he will work as an independent contractor or a W-2 employee. There are rules, and most nannies will fall under the W-2 classification for IRS purposes.

You have to be careful about what questions you ask during the hiring process. While some are obvious (e.g. don’t ask an applicant which religion they practice,) others are not so obvious.

For example, it’s illegal to ask someone the name and address of their nearest relative in case of emergency. This can open up the door to discrimination as the employee may now be in a situation where they’re revealing something about their national origin or sexual orientation.

Instead, after they’re employed, you can ask them the name and address of the person to be notified in case of emergency.

There were dozens of other illegal questions that surprised me, too. They made sense after I read them, but if I was hiring someone to work in my home, I might have innocently and accidentally crossed a legal line without knowing it.

You can hire immigrants.

I did know that you can legally hire immigrants, but Maddalone reviews a litany of different visa programs and what the hiring and labor laws are within the context of each program.

Immigrant hires don’t have to hold a green card, necessarily, but you do have to pay a legit paycheck, meeting minimum wage requirements and any other labor and tax laws applicable to your area.

Because immigrants are commonly willing to work under the table, especially when they’re waiting in a long queue to get their documentation sorted by the Federal government, this population has been heavily taken advantage of in the past.

Aside from wage theft and other illegal pay practices, I was saddened to read about the rate of emotional, verbal and physical abuse in these work situations. Over ninety percent of victims don’t report the abuse because they don’t want to lose their income. Forty-two percent were also/independently afraid that if they did, their employer would get violent with them.

NOTE: If you find yourself in this situation as a nanny, you do have rights–citizen or not. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for confidential help. Keep in mind that your online activity may be monitored by your abuser.

You need an employee handbook.

I wouldn’t have thought of this either, but you need a work agreement delineating all the “What ifs?” in your working relationship. You should also address specifics in an employee handbook.

This isn’t only for legal purposes. It helps maintain a happy relationship between the nanny and the family. If, in the heat of the moment, you have different expectations about pay or responsibilities, your conversation could get heated, damaging a relationship with someone who is really great with your kid.

If those expectations are laid out beforehand, everyone knows what to expect, and a confrontation born out of frustration is less likely to happen.

One example given was family travel. If you’re expecting the trip in and of itself to be payment, but your nanny is expecting to get paid for watching your children even though she/he is in a different setting, you’re going to butt heads.

You need to figure things like that out from the get-go so they don’t get out of hand when emotions are high.

Maddalone includes a sample work agreement and other employment documents in the back of the book.

Taxes

There were two major things I learned about taxes that blew my mind. The first is that even if you’re a W-2 employee, your employer doesn’t necessarily have to withhold taxes from your paycheck. You could end up owing quarterlies.

I’ve literally never heard of that before, but it’s something to watch out for. And if you’re employing someone, you definitely need to tell your nanny if you’re not withholding as the employer.

The second interesting tax code tidbit I picked up was that sole proprietors are one of only two groups who can deduct nanny costs from their gross income. That’s a big write-off—don’t miss it if you qualify!

Other Random Tidbits I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know

  • It’s smart to have your nanny familiar with all security systems, including codes. They’ll be there most of the day, and if you’re paying to keep your place secure, their familiarity with the system will be your first line of defense.
  • If your nanny is full-time and they’re using your car to drive your kid around, they should be listed as a driver on your auto insurance policy.
  • Drug users tend to gravitate towards jobs that have traditionally had a hard time enforcing drug-free workplace policies—like domestic work. So watch that closely.

Who is this book best for?

There’s at least a thousand more things I can’t relay to you in a book review–you need to pick up a copy yourself if you’re thinking about hiring someone to help with childcare. This tome is a knowledge mine, and could keep you from inadvertently breaking the law or making a bad hire.

If you’re not hiring a nanny, but know someone who is in one of these life situations, Maddalone’s book would make a great gift:

  • Expectant parent(s). Everyone thinks they know how they’re going to handle work/their career before baby comes, but so much can change after the birth. It’s good to be prepared.
  • Parent reentering the workforce after taking a couple years to spend with their child(ren).
  • Parents who are relocating to an area where they might not have as much support from family and friends.
  • Parents trying to decide between daycare or a nanny.
  • Anyone who is thinking about starting a family, placing serious consideration on economics.

Share Your Nanny Experience

I’ve never had to enlist paid childcare, but I know a lot of you have. I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments. Have you come up across any legalities/best practices you hadn’t considered before going through the process? How did you go about the hiring process?

 

 

I have been compensated for my time reading this book and writing this review. Regardless, opinions are 100% honest and 100% my own.

Ella Builds a Wall: Anti-Bullying Book for Kids

Wow, this is a surprisingly deep kids' book that teaches children how to deal with bullies in genius but simple ways.

Today I want to stop and take a second to address something that’s not directly finance related: bullying.

When I was growing up, bullying made you tough, supposedly, though it hardly ever happened to the “tough” kids. With boys it sometimes but not always got physical, while girls for the most part stuck to tearing each other’s souls apart with words.

As time went on, anti-bullying campaigns became a thing. People started advocating for children who went through emotional abuse in schools, in particular. While society definitely didn’t reach perfection, things appeared to be moving in the right direction.

Without delving into the specifics of why, things have shifted culturally and quickly. Bullying is largely touted as a sign of strength. Violence and hate crimes have been on the rise in the US as of late.

This is the world I’m raising my kids in, and it makes me ill. While I hope we can make a speedy U-turn back to progress, and I know I can raise my own children to be kind, charitable and empathetic, I can’t protect them from the entire world. Bullying is something I have to prepare them for.

Ella Builds a Wall

One way I’m choosing to instill good values and resilience in my kids is by making sure there are good morals and role models in the literature they consume.

When teacher and fellow personal finance blogger Ruth McKeague released her book Ella Builds a Wall, I knew it would be one of those books. The important kind. The kind you read again and again, and discuss later in context of real life situations.

Her work did not disappoint. In it, a girl named Ella is getting bullied at school. Frustrated, she joins a karate class, where she thinks she’s going to learn how to kick some butt.

Instead, her instructor teaches her how to control her emotions. She teaches her how to build emotional walls around herself to protect her feelings, and how to use blocks to defend herself if, and only if, someone attacks her physically.

She also learns to not build walls of outward hatred or self-loathing around herself, separating herself from the rest of the playground kids.

Ella’s walls are metaphorical, but insanely important to understand. When she finds herself jealous of a peer, she recognizes and subdues the emotion, leading to a beautiful friendship.

When her bully gets violent with her again, she defends herself until a teacher arrives to witness what is actually happening.

And when the bully, in his punishment, starts building walls of anger around himself, wallowing in his misery, she extends kindness to try to pull them down.

What We Learned

My kids enjoyed learning the karate blocks in the book, but I was impressed with how much they understood the emotional lessons, too. When I asked them about the walls Ella tore down, they told me about the jealousy and anger. They told me about the bully, and the kindness Ella extended to him.

Overall, regardless of which era you’re living in, the takeaways were valuable lessons that many adults still haven’t mastered:

  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Mindfulness
  • Self-Worth
  • Kindness
  • Empathy
  • You are allowed to defend yourself in physically threatening situations.
  • You are not only allowed, but should, stand up for others when you see them becoming victims of bullying.

If you want a quick tie-in to money, when you have these skills, you’re more likely to have a larger network of friendly faces in your career. You’re also more likely to negotiate for higher pay when you believe in yourself and feel like self-advocacy is a strength rather than something to be ashamed of.

But mostly, you’ll just be a better person.

Bring Home a Copy of Ella Builds a Wall

If you want to take on this complex subject with your kids, this book makes it simple. I’d highly recommend picking up a copy.

Ruth is Canadian, so the prices are CAD rather than USD, but after you pay for shipping it comes out to around $15-ish USD, anyways.

 

How have you dealt with bullying?

Whether you’ve experienced it yourself or have seen your child experience it, whether it’s happened in the schoolyard or in the workplace, I’d love to hear your experiences with bullying and how you’ve handled it. Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Why The Founding Fathers Were Broke

Why the founding fathers were broke, and why in the grand scheme of time and humanity, it doesn't matter.

It’s so interesting to me how many versions there are of the founding fathers.  From politics to religion, many different people associate many different ideals with each one, sometimes correctly, sometime erroneously, and sometimes both.  These were men founding a democratic republic in a world where Western society was still largely ruled by monarchies.   They had a lot of ideas.  They said a lot of things.  Over the courses of their lives, they sometimes contradicted themselves.

Their situations changed from birth until death, too.  They were born British citizens, and died founders of a new country that not too many people wanted to do business with.  Many of them were, in fact, broke after the birth of America.

George Washington

Washington had some rich parents.  His dad made his living farming, and he inherited his estate (Mount Vernon.)   Washington himself made some money as a soldier, rising to the rank of Major during the French and Indian War, but gave up the whole military thing for a while to go back to his farm and marry into some more money.

He then led American rebels against British forces to win the American Revolution.  He lost more battles than he won, but he also won the war.  Post-war, America’s trade was limited as most of its ships had been destroyed and Britain cut off any economic ties not only with England itself, but also the British part of the Caribbean.  We had taken on massive amounts of debt to fund the war.  Inflation was out of control.  To top it off, we had defeated Britain, but didn’t really have a replacement government ready to go.  At least not one everyone agreed on.  So fixing the economy took some time.

What that meant was that while Washington owned a lot of land, the people he leased it out to weren’t necessarily paying him what they owed.  It was a huge class issue, and the government at the time slightly took the side of the tenants, lightening burdens for debtors (who, at that time, could face prison.)

It’s pretty common knowledge that Washington was reluctant to take positions of power.  He wouldn’t have take command of American rebel forces if it hadn’t been for idealism and honor.  But he mostly took the presidency because he was broke.  When he was president, he was very generous with funding programs and guests, putting everything on his tab while waving away a salary.  When he checked out, Congress paid him back everything he had billed, but the money had lost most of its value to inflation.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson was also born to a wealthy, land-owning family.  (It should be noted that both families utilized slave labor.)  He also married a wealthy widow.  I don’t mean to assert that either marriage was loveless, but it’s worth noting that neither of these men married someone of a different economic status than themselves. (At least not the first time around.  Jefferson did end up having a family with Sally Hemings after his first wife passed away.)

Essentially the same thing happened to Jefferson as it did to Washington.  During the war, he had racked up some personal and business debts.  After the war, when he tried to pay with American money; the Brits that he owed to flat out turned it down, saying it wasn’t real currency.  He was in trouble.  And then his father-in-law died, passing his debts on to Jefferson.

Jefferson still lived a life of high society, though.  He outspent what he earned.  He served as an Ambassador to France, and the President, keeping up appearances all the while. He kept on racking up debt.  He lived long enough to see another period of economic turmoil in 1819, which didn’t help.  And he cosigned on a pretty big loan with a friend.  The friend died a year later.

He made some bad decisions, and could not catch a break.

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was not a president, or a great military leader, but was a shining example of the pen fortifying the sword.  His pamphlet, Common Sense, rallied the American people to the cause of independence.

He was born solidly middle class, and married a house servant purely for love (which was abnormal at the time.)  She passed away in childbirth, and then he married a teacher.  He tried his hand at many trades, but was pretty much broke all the time.  At the worst of it, he and the teacher split.

He came to America, and found his calling as a writer for a magazine.  As things heated up between the American colonists and the British, he firmly chose a side and wrote his epic pamphlet.  It tipped the colonists’ feeling of trepidation in confronting the crown towards outrage and a willingness to fight back.  It was the unifying force behind colonial political opinion.

During the war, he served as a military secretary.  While he was serving under Washington, he wrote a series of pamphlets called American Crisis that kept the troops’ morale up.

After the war, he was broke again.  He went to Congress to try to get payment for all he had done to help win the war.  They gave him land (we can all guess how that turned out, based on the previous two landowners,) and $3k reimbursement for money he had spent on war-related efforts.

Paine was fiery, which was what the colonists needed at the time.  But as a result, he wasn’t very tactful, and made a lot enemies.  He lived in France during their own Revolution, and was imprisoned by the Jacobins.  They meant to execute him, but by some lucky miracle the guy who was supposed to get him out of his cell forgot.  Before anyone could notice the error, Robespierre had been beheaded.

He wrote more pamphlets,  hung out with Napoleon, came back to America, and convinced Jefferson to make the Louisiana Purchase.  But he never really had any serious money.  He died penniless.  I’m not sure if he didn’t manage his money well, or he got into a career that didn’t pay well.  It was probably a combination of both.

They weren’t all broke.  And why does it matter?

Then there were men like Benjamin Franklin.  A rags to riches story.  A man who was not only constantly curious, but also invested in and expanded businesses he knew inside and out.  Maybe not the best family man.  Sound familiar?

The point is this: as we make our journeys through life, money can make us comfortable.  It can make some things easier.  It can be a powerful tool.  But it does not dictate the legacy we leave behind.  Today, does it matter that Washington struggled financially?  Not a bit.  In fact, if he hadn’t, he probably wouldn’t have been our first president.  Jefferson’s struggles with debt don’t weaken the power of The Declaration of Independence.  And the fact that Paine was essentially penniless for most of his life didn’t stop him from uniting a people to revolution.

We are important.  No matter who we are.  No matter how much money we have or don’t have.  We can make positive changes in the world around us, because the most important currency doesn’t lie with dollars and cents; it lies with inspiration and ideas.

Credit Unions, Tech & Security: 360 Interview

While I was in NYC last month, I got a chance to sit down and talk with Chris Chippindale, COO of Public Service Credit Union in Denver, Colorado. We talked about the intersection between credit unions and technology, and how that affects members’ security.

This interview happens to be 360. Feel free to grab a headset and look around–you’ll see my friend Kristie in there with us, too. Or, if you’re watching on a PC, click and drag your mouse to move your viewpoint around.

If you’re using CC and YouTube’s attempt is making you crazy, or if there are parts you just can’t hear (my audio work will be better next time,) I’ve created a transcript for you below:

What are Credit Unions?

Femme: All right, hi, everyone! This is Femme Frugality and I am here with Chris. Chris do you want to tell us where you’re from?

Chris: Sure. My name’s Chris Chippindale. I’m the COO of Public Service Credit Union in Denver, Colorado.

Femme: Awesome, awesome. We are going to talk with Chris today about credit unions. I was wondering if you could tell me a little about what a credit union is and how it differs from a bank.

Chris: Sure. Credit unions are similar to banks in the sense that we offer more or less all the same financial products, but our mission is what really differentiates us from banks. We’re not-for-profit so we put the interests of our members [first]. That’s versus banks who have customers and they’re focused on profits.

What that means to you on a personal basis is that you should expect to see better rates. Lower on lending, and higher on savings.

How Do Credit Unions Use Technology?

Femme: Awesome. That’s amazing. So we are here at CO-OP THINK, and I know CO-OP is pretty much the technology behind credit unions that takes their ATMS and their credit unions across the country, and makes it so you’re able to access it just like your credit union at home. I know that technology is super important to credit unions. I was wondering if you could talk to me a little bit about the history of that relationship—credit unions and technology? I know that you guys were pioneers with a lot of these technologies, so I’d love to hear about it.

Chris: Yeah, we were [pioneers,] and I think one of the big reasons technology is so important to credit unions is, first and foremost, we don’t have the resources to go out there and build branches the way a large bank does. So we use technology to level the playing field and be able to compete because we know members of credit unions still need access to financial services. We can’t go out and build hundreds of branches across the community or across the state or across the country, so we use technology to be able to reach out.

A couple things CO-OP does for us? My credit union, as a member of the CO-OP network—our members can go to ATMs at any other credit union that also participates in the network, and use those ATMs surcharge-free. Instead of paying $3.50, $7, $10 to get your money out of an ATM, you can go to a CO-OP ATM, and they won’t charge for that.

Femme: I know they were saying earlier that that network is larger than a lot of those big, major banks.

Chris: Yeah, it would be larger than any one bank’s network.

Femme: That’s amazing.

Chris: One of the other things CO-OP does with us is something called shared branching, where, again, if you participate as a credit union in the shared branching network, your members can go into branches of other credit unions and transact business there. That’s another nice way to supplement our limited resources.

My credit union in Denver, we have 20 branches in Colorado, which is the most of any credit union in our state. That certainly pales in comparison to some of the banks with their branches out there, but by partnering with other credit unions, my members can go to other branches within the state or across the country and get service there.

Why Do I Have to Use Chip Cards?

Femme: One big tech issue that I think impacts everybody, but not necessarily everybody understands, is on our credit cards, and in some cases debit cards, I believe—that little RFID chip? What is that? And how does it work? Can you explain that in layman’s terms for us?

Chris: Sure. It’s a protocol that allows the card and the terminal to communicate. So instead of swiping the MAG stripe, you’re inserting the card—most cards have the chip these days. It’s just another way to allow the transaction to go through.

Femme: And are there any security concerns with that technology?

Chris: There are. I’m not an expert on that, but there certainly can be a case of intercepting transmissions from time to time. It’s a more secure technology than just the mag stripe. It’s something that we’re always wary of, but we do believe getting away from the mag stripe is making cards more secure.

The chip in particular—that’s probably more common these days. The chip itself puts in a cryptogram every time you insert it into the machine. So if you were to get someone’s card number in the past, that’s basically all you needed to commit fraud. Now with the chip, you need the card number plus this secret code, if you will, that changes every transaction. It made chip-on-chip transactions more secure. It hasn’t helped online, but it helps in retail environments, etc.

I didn't know credit unions were so tech-forward! Interesting tips on how to protect your identity, too.

What Are Today’s Biggest Financial Security Risks for Consumers?

Femme: Gotcha. As we’re looking forward, what are some of the security issues of tomorrow, and how are credit unions working to address those?

Chris: Sure. As we’ve seen an improvement with the chip-on-chip technology, the two big things my credit union and many other financial institutions are seeing this year are account takeover fraud and online fraud.

One of the things you can’t do with your chip card is stick it into your phone or stick it into your computer for a chip-on-chip transaction, so most of the cards out there today still have the mag stripe information. Bad guys are getting that and committing fraud. They’re doing it online and they’re doing it at places where the merchant doesn’t have a chip card reader.

What Will Payments Look Like in the Future?

Femme: This is totally theoretical, but is that something you think we could start seeing in the future? [Sticking your card into your phone or computer.] Like now I can plug my memory card directly into my computer. Ten years ago I couldn’t have done that. I would have needed an external drive, and before that, I might have even just had to go to Target or Walmart where they had those capabilities.

Chris: I don’t think so. I’m not going to predict the future, but what we’re seeing happening is this idea of tokenization. So more along the lines of Apple Pay or Samsung Pay where the whole card number changes every time. So you’re not sitting there with a static, 16-digit account number on the card all the time. Every transaction would be unique. So I think that’s where we’re headed. Every transaction will be unique, and account information is “one-time,” if you will.

Social Media and Securing Your Financial Identity

Femme: Very cool. We just came out of a panel, and one thing that came up that I thought was kind of interesting was social media and what kind of a precarious situation we all put ourselves in without even really thinking about it. I work in an industry where people go as far as listing out their financial data online as a way of tracking and accountability. It really helps a lot of people, and it builds community.

But when they [in the panel] were talking about different social media profiles making it easier for people to hack your accounts—is there anything specific people can do to protect themselves? And/or, I know they said that CO-OP specifically was looking at this issue?

Chris: I would say my guidance is—you know, I’m a little bit older, and don’t fully understand some of the draw about social media and putting so much information out there, but it happens. It seems to be “the way of the world.” I would just caution people about how much information you put out there. It’s certainly great to let people know what’s going on and where you are and things like that, but that’s potential information that can be used against you.

When our members call into a communication center and you can’t see them eye-to-eye or get their ID, we ask [for] information that we would hope only they would know. The more information we put out there, the more likely it is that the bad guy can start piecing some of these pieces of information together to start figuring you out, and start getting past some of the techniques that we use on our end.

So we [financial institutions] always have to be vigilant and continue to understand what kind of information is out there, and have that balance of—you don’t want it to be super difficult when you call into the communication center and want information about your account. Because 99% of the time, it is you. We don’t want to make it a real difficult phone call for you, but at the same time, we want to be diligent in making sure it is you, and if you start giving out that personal information…

So we always caution people about how much of that they’re sharing.

 

Thanks so much to Chris for answering these questions! Do you guys like the 360 interviews? Or would you prefer if I kept the 360 for travel videos? It would be amazing if you could use this poll to help me make the best content for you in the future:

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