Guidelines For Safer Social Media Sharing

Social media sharing

It’s no secret that the Internet is a way to get a lot of information out to a wide audience. It’s also a great way to share with friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances, and total strangers should you choose, the goings on in your life.

However, the more you share, the higher risk of compromising your privacy and becoming a victim of identity theft. Keep a few tips in mind to lower your risk when engaging in social media sharing:

1. Don’t accept invitations from strangers. It’s always better to find out who the person is that wants to know you before clicking the accept button. If he or she is a friend of a friend, verify their relationship first with your friend. Many people accept all invitations to connect and not everyone is on the up and up.

2. Don’t click on links, even if they appear to be from friends. Social media is the candy store to the preverbal kid. Often those links are placed on a friend’s page or site without the knowledge of your friend and often they end up being scams or malware.

3. Check your privacy settings to make sure you are sharing only what you want others to know. Check them again every time you get a notice that there was an update.

4. Don’t share personal information that you don’t want everyone else to know. Never ever share sensitive information such as your social security number, home address, driver’s license number, etc.

5. Close accounts you are no longer actively using. If you can’t close it completely, delete as many personal details as possible and deactivate it.

6. Change passwords often. Most security professionals recommend doing this at least quarterly. Use strong words and phrases that no one is likely to guess or that do not exist in the dictionary. The longer, the better.

7. Turn off the GPS functionality on your smartphone camera. It will pinpoint precisely where you are and were, which can be fun, but it’s a security risk. Keep your whereabouts private and turn that off.

8. While you are disabling, do just that for the automatic login features of your social media sites, especially on mobile devices. If your device gets stolen or someone gets access to it, your social media sites might be compromised.

9. Reconsider posting your Twitter comment or Instagram pictures to Facebook, or vice versa, through Twitter or Instagram. Sharing that way gets your information out there faster and attaches it to more sites. Most of those sites allow you to choose to shut off the automatic sharing features.

10. And the most important guideline for social media is to consider everything you post to any social media site to be permanent. Just because you disable an account, doesn’t mean your presence there is gone. If others share something you said or did, or you are tagged in a friend’s photo, you cannot delete it.

As always, read the terms of use and privacy policies of any site you join. If you don’t agree with how your information will be used, don’t sign up or delete your account.

© Copyright 2015 Stickley on Security

Buying vs. Leasing A Car

Auto Sales Provide Jump In Monthly Retail NumbersBuying vs. Leasing—Most shoppers aren’t able to pay cash for a new car, so you’ll need to decide how you’re going to finance it. While many people take out a car loan, leasing a new car is simply another form of new-car financing. Let’s look to see if leasing or buying makes the most sense for you.

Benefits of Leasing a Car

Leasing a car is similar to financing the purchase of the car in many ways, but there are some key differences. You might be able to get more car for less money by leasing. That’s because a car loan is based on the full price of a new car, while a lease is based on only a percentage of the car’s price. For example, on a $30,000 car, you’d finance the entire $30,000 purchase price with a car loan. With a car lease, you only pay the difference between the car’s price and what it’s expected to be worth at the end of the lease, which is a car’s residual value. So if the car’s residual value is 55 percent after three years, for example, that means the $30,000 car would be worth $16,500 at the end of the lease. You’d make lease payments on the remaining $13,500 and not the full $30,000.

If you only have a small down payment saved up, leasing may also be better for you. Many car leases require anywhere from $0 to several thousand dollars up front, though the down payment is negotiable. Many advertised lease offers will promote low payments, but require a sizeable down payment. If you want to put as little down as possible, remember that your monthly lease payments will be higher.

Many leases last about three years, which is typically the length of many new-car bumper-to-bumper warranties. That means the car is usually covered under warranty for repairs for the duration of the lease. You still need to maintain the car, though, which includes oil changes, tire rotations and recommended maintenance from the manufacturer. Failure to properly maintain the car during the lease can result in fees when you turn the car in at the end of the lease.

If you enjoy having the newest high-tech features, leasing could be the better choice for you. Since you’d be leasing every few years, each new car you lease will have the latest and greatest technology and safety features. With a leased car, you don’t have to worry about selling the car or getting a good price for your trade-in. When the lease is up, you can simply turn in the car and walk away.

Drawbacks of Leasing a Car

Lease contracts limit the number of miles you can drive. These mileage restrictions typically are 9,000, 12,000 and 15,000 miles a year. You need to estimate how many miles you drive per year so you can determine how many miles to purchase. If you go over that amount, you’ll pay a fee per mile at the end of the lease when you turn the car in. These overage charges can be very expensive.

With leasing, you can sometimes make minor alterations to the vehicle that can be reversed before you turn the car back in, but you generally can’t make any major alterations. Make sure you read the lease contract carefully before signing.

Another drawback is that when you lease, you’re really just renting the car for a few years and paying interest to finance that car over a specified period of time. Since you’re basically renting the car when you lease, you’re not building any equity. That means that when the lease ends, you either have to get a new car, with new payments, or take out a loan to buy the car you were leasing.

Another potential downside to leasing is that usually only shoppers with good credit scores will qualify for a car lease. If your credit score is less than perfect, you may want to consider waiting to lease until you can increase your credit score.

Benefits of Buying a Car

If you like to keep your vehicle as long as possible, buying is probably better for you. When you buy, you own the car when the loan is paid off. Until the car loan is paid off, the lender owns the vehicle. As you continue to make loan payments, you’re gaining equity in the vehicle. Once you’re done paying off the loan, the car is yours – you own it and don’t have to include a monthly car payment in your budget. That’s a significant benefit because it means that over several years of not having a payment, you could save money compared to someone who has to keep leasing a new car every three years.

One of the biggest benefits that buying has over leasing is that there are no mileage restrictions. If you do a lot of driving, buying is probably better for you.

Drawbacks of Buying a Car

When you buy a new car, you roll the dice a bit with its resale value. It’s hard to determine what the vehicle will be worth when you’re ready to trade it in or sell it. With leasing, that future value is predicted up front and put in writing on the contract. If the car is worth less than that amount at the end, it’s not your problem. However, if you have a loan on a car and the car is worth less than what the loan is for, you have negative equity (that’s also called being upside down on the loan). This is only a drawback if you plan on selling it or trading it in because you’ll have to come up with the difference between what the car sells for and the amount of money still left on the loan.

Another potential drawback of buying is a sizeable down payment. Many lenders require about 10 to 20 percent down when taking out a car loan. On a $30,000 vehicle, that’s $3,000 to $6,000. It can be tough for people to save up that much money.

One other downside of buying is that to get the monthly payments to fit your budget, you may have to stretch out the length of the loan. Auto loans can last five, six or even seven years. That longer loan term gives more time for interest to add up, so you end up paying more for the car than if you had a shorter loan term. A larger down payment will also help lower your monthly payments when you finance, but again, coming up with that much cash can be difficult.

When it comes to buying and leasing, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Consider your budget, driving needs, lifestyle and credit history before you decide whether to buy or lease. There are auto lenders who can provide you with financing that works best for you, no matter whether you decide to buy or lease your next vehicle.

©Copyright March 11, 2015, US News & World Report

Teens and Money: Preparing for Future Expenses


You may feel emotionally ready to move out on your own, but are you financially prepared? Living independently means much more than not having to be home by curfew; it comes with a great deal of financial responsibilities. Before you take the leap, know how much the big move will cost you, now and in the future.

Moving out

There are many costs to prepare for just to walk in the door of your first home. You may need to save for at least a few of these big ticket items:

  • Moving expenses. If your friends won’t do it for the price of a couple of pizzas, you may be looking at hiring some help and renting a moving van.
  • Rent for the first and last month. Paying two months rent protects the landlord financially (in case you move out on a moments notice) but it can be quite a lot of money for a first-time renter to come up with.
  • Security deposit. Most landlords require a security deposit, which is held as protection against damages to the premises or unpaid rent.
  • Cleaning deposit. Yet another cash sum a landlord is likely to want is a cleaning deposit. This is held in the event the residence needs some extra scrubbing after you move out. If you have a pet, expect the cleaning deposit to be even higher.
  • Utilities and telephone deposit. Before you ever turn on the heat or make a phone call, you may have to put down some money to activate these necessities.
  • Furniture and appliances. Most rentals don’t come furnished. Depending on the room, you may have to buy a few key items to be somewhat comfortable:
    • Bedroom – bed, mattress, linens, pillows, dresser, rugs, lamps
    • Living room – sofa, chairs, coffee table, television, DVD player, stereo, lamps, rugs, pictures
    • Kitchen – table, utensils, dishes, cookware, microwave, cleaning supplies
    • Bathroom – hair dryer, shower curtain, bath mat

Of course if you will have roommates, you’ll be sharing at least some of these costs. But even with a quick estimation you can see that you may need to save quite a lot to leave home.

Monthly bills

Once you are in your own place, the costs continue. It is extremely important to pay all bills on time. If you don’t, you’ll probably be charged late payment fees, and if left unpaid, they will go into a collection agency. Dealing with collectors is not only highly unpleasant, but the negative effect on your credit report is severe. And if you default on some, such as telephone and other utilities, you may not be able to turn them on again until they’re paid (and even then it can be difficult).

If you are sharing your home with roommates, establish how the bills will be paid from the beginning. You may be able to split some and each send a check for your portion of the amount due. Another option is for one of you to act as money manager and collect from the others. However you arrange it, if the accounts are in your name, know that you are responsible for sending the complete payment in on time.

  • Rent: If the rent is due by the first, don’t pay on the fifth or some other late date. Think ahead. It is highly unlikely that you will remain forever in the first place you get, so being a good tenant today will help you rent another place in the future. The last thing you want is to establish a bad relationship with your landlord – the very person you will turn to for a glowing rental history reference.
  • Utilities: Utilities include cable, Internet access, garbage, gas, electric, and water. You will soon understand why your parents were always telling you to turn the lights off when you leave the room.
  • Telephone: Whether you have a landline, cell phone, or both, know that all that chatting can cost you – big, big money. Be especially careful with cell phone minutes. Once you have exceeded your plan’s limit, the cost per minute can be outrageous. Bills of many hundreds of dollars are common.

Moving out and living independently for the first time can be a thrilling experience. You can make it even better by being financially prepared and responsible from the beginning.


©Copyright Balance

Ten Ways to Avoid Home Improvement Budget Killers

House Made of Tools

1. Don’t add “while we’re at it” jobs that weren’t a part of the original budget/plan.

2. Stay away from cheap materials or corner-cutting measures that will just mean paying more later.

3. If you are doing the work yourself, learn the entire process before you start instead of using a “learn as you go” approach.

4. Let your contractor know you aren’t interested in the top-end, luxury versions of goods and materials.

5. Check service ratings websites before hiring your contractor.

6. If you are doing some pre-home sale upgrades, give yourself plenty of time so you don’t have to pay for rush work or overtime.

7. Consider refurbishing certain items instead of tearing them out and replacing them.

8. Exercise your creative abilities and look for ways to use materials found at architectural salvage stores.

9. To avoid paying to store in a locker any work-blocking household items, have a plan ahead of time for housing in-the-way furniture during the project.

10. Ask your contractor–you don’t want to miss out on potential savings because you failed to communicate.

©Copyright Balance

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

cinco-de-mayo-girls-in-parade-PCinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.

Many people outside Mexico mistakenly believe that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican independence, which was declared more than 50 years before the Battle of Puebla. That event is commemorated on September 16, the anniversary of the revolutionary priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s famous “Grito de Dolores” (“Cry of Dolores”), a call to arms that amounted to a declaration of war against the Spanish colonial government in 1810.




Make Sure Your Perfect Vacation Rental Isn’t a Steal

Summer cannot come soon enough for some, and it’s really not that far away. So, when looking for a place to stay on your summer vacation, keep in mind that not every “steal-of-a-deal” is the kind of great deal you want to find when you arrive at your destination.


Scammers are now posting ads on vacation rental websites and completely fake sites claiming to have the perfect place at the perfect rate just for you. Unfortunately, that picturesque bungalow on the beach that you reserved may not exist.

These criminals have various ways of stealing your money. They may ask you for a deposit to hold the place using a MoneyGram, Green Dot card, Western Union or the like and if they do, it’s almost certainly a scam. While some places in Europe and elsewhere do ask for deposits via wire transfer, most are now taking credit card numbers for deposits. It’s better to use credit cards because you have more buyer protections.

1. Always research the location to make sure that it does exist and it’s what you really want in a vacation rental. Read reviews. If there is bad news about it, most likely someone will post about it there. There are many legitimate websites that specialize in travel and allow traveler reviews. These can be a wealth of information.

2. Get copies of the rental contract or other documentation about the details of the place and your stay before sending any money.

3. If you have been caught by this scam, or suspect you may have been, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). There is a complaint form and phone numbers on its website at If you did pay by credit card for a property you believe is scam or found out was, contact the card issuer to try to get it resolved. Depending on the circumstances and the timelines, you may be able to get the money back.

4. Report the fake ad to get it removed and help prevent others from getting scammed by the same one.


© Copyright 2015 Stickley on Security