7 Ways to Avoid Stress this Thanksgiving

Are you getting stressed just thinking about Thanksgiving approaching? There are several reasons why it can give us the jitters – especially if you’re planning a giant feast for a house full of people. Fortunately, according to http://www.about.com, there are lots of ways to ease your turkey-day tension!

Make a plan

From getting an early head count to deciding your menu well in advance, you’ll feel better knowing that your plan is under control. Let your list include everything from the guest list and menu to when you’ll decorate, shop for supplies, cook and clean.

Do a potluck meal.

Ask each guest to bring a dish to help ease your burden. Be sure to keep track of everyone’s intended contributions to avoid serving four green bean casseroles. And get them to help clean up afterward.

Give recipes a test run.

Want to cook a new recipe? Give it a trial run before Thanksgiving so you have time to plan an alternative if it doesn’t work out.

Prioritize your cleaning.

Tidy up the clutter before anything else, and clean your kids’ rooms last, or not at all. The goal is to clear and clean the areas that will be used by your guests, not every last corner of your home. Better yet, hire a cleaning service – it may be well worth the extra cost!

Use disposable pans.

Use disposable pans when possible, especially for the turkey. Turkey drippings make for very greasy, hard-to-scrub pans. But be sure to avoid accidents by placing a large pan or cookie sheet under your fully filled disposable pan for safe carrying.

Set your table the day before.

Better yet, have your spouse or kids do it for you!

Cook as far ahead as possible.

Don’t save the entire meal for Thanksgiving Day. About a week before the event, look at all your recipes and decide which ones can be prepared in advance and reheated without sacrificing flavor or texture. Desserts work especially well – there are plenty of pies, cakes and puddings that can be made days in advance, saving you time on Thanksgiving for all of your other work.

Happy Turkey Day from the Board and staff of allU.S. Credit Union.

Happy Holidays from allU.S. Credit Union

May the Magic and wonder of the holiday season stay with you throughout the coming year.  Thank you for your continued support of allU.S. Credit Union!

Let’s Have Thanksgiving Dinner on a Budget

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  As we all know, the holidays are sometimes all about excess.  So you don’t want to let the holiday entertaining put a dent in your bank account.  Take a few minutes to consider your holiday plans and come up with a blueprint that lets you celebrate without breaking your budget.

Here are some important tips before you hit the grocery store:

Don’t Overspend on pricy food and decorations

When you are planning out the details of your holiday meal, just remember that Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends.  Instead of indulging on gourmet food and expensive decorations, a classic Thanksgiving dinner can add up to major savings.  Using a few classic recipes and a simple menu, you can decrease the expense of unpopular food choices that lend themselves to leftovers.  You really can’t go wrong with a menu of roast turkey, dressing, green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. 

Buy early:

The turkey will always be the single largest expense on your holiday shopping list.  Waiting until the last minute to purchase your turkey will increase the cost.  Try buying a frozen turkey earlier in the month when they are more affordable.  Also, take a thorough inventory of your pantry so you don’t buy unnecessary food items.  Most importantly, take advantage of the competition by researching the best deals from each store.  It’s the easiest way to get everything you need at the best price.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

How about having a potluck for Thanksgiving dinner?  If your guests know well in advance they will be contributing something towards the meal they will enjoy contributing to the holiday feast.   The host can focus on the turkey and your guests can display their cooking skills with the appetizers, sides and dessert.  When everyone helps out there is more time to celebrate all the things to be thankful for.

Don’t impress with your wine

Don’t feel the need to buy an expensive bottle of wine to impress your guests.  Just ask your local grocer or liquor store for a low-cost wine for your Thanksgiving table.   There are a lot of great wines for under $10.

Don’t forget the appetizers

Inexpensive appetizers will keep your guests from over-eating during the meal.  Not only does this make the overall meal healthier, it often makes it cheaper.

Decorate with what you already have

Buying Thanksgiving-themed decorations can be costly.  Buy a few quality, versatile decorations that you can show off every year and if possible, use what nature offers (leaves, herbs, gourds, etc.)  And remember, a little goes a long way.

Hosting a Thanksgiving event can be stressful, but with these tips you can enjoy the day with friends and family in an inexpensive, stress-free environment.  If you are looking for more advice on staying within a budget this holiday season, stop by allU.S. Credit Union and speak to a member service representative.

We’d love to hear from you!  What are your tips for saving money on Thanksgiving dinner?  Reply to this blog or post your tips on our Facebook page.

Fun With Pumpkins: 5 Homemade Fall Decorations Using Everyone’s Favorite Gourd

We thought this article would be timely since we are hosting a Fall Festival Pumpkin Decorating Contest through Thanksgiving.  This Do-it-yourself (DIY) article may give you a few additional ideas on how to decorate with pumpkins!  When you think of fall decorations that involve pumpkin, your mind probably goes straight to jack-o-lanterns, right? Even after Halloween there’s still a wealth of ways to turn those decorative gourds into DIY fall crafts that turn your home into a celebration of the season.

 Five Pumpkin-ful Homemade Fall Decorations

 1) Pumpkin Centerpiece

When you’re working out what Thanksgiving decorations to use for your dining room table: think orange. There are lots of ways you can use pumpkins in a Thanksgiving centerpiece. You can turn them into vases filled with fall-colored flowers. You can surround them with other colorful fall gourds, fall leaves, candles, and pinecones. You can decorate them with flowers, bows, and ribbon.

Or you can do some combination of all the ideas above. Whatever direction you take, with pumpkins at the center, you’ll give your 

pumpkins lit from within

Thanksgiving a distinct Fall feel.

 2) Pumpkin Lanterns

Take the idea of the jack-o-lantern and make it less spooky. A few pumpkins, a drill, and a candle and you’ve got a lovely fall lantern. You could also choose to carve some more distinct designs into them instead.

These homemade fall decorations will look great on your front porch, along your walkway, or lighting up your dining room as additional Thanksgiving decorations.

 3) Pumpkin Candle Holders

Some people look at pumpkins and immediately see opportunities for DIY fall crafts. That’s how multiple DIY blogs have come across the idea of turning pumpkins into adorable candleholders.

 These simple DIY decorations add color, light, and fall atmosphere to any room you put them in.

 4) Pumpkin Wreath

Adorn your front door with some pumpkin crafts as well. Re-purpose an old wreath with added pumpkins for a distinct fall-themed 

Wreath made with small pumpkins

decoration all your neighbors can appreciate.

5) Pumpkin Teddy Bear

Arguably the cutest and most personable DIY fall craft on the list, strategically connecting a few pumpkins of different sizes can create a teddy bear made all out of pumpkins.  That’s a fall decoration easy for anyone to love.

Pumpkins are one of the most iconic symbols of fall. They immediately bring a sense of the season to any scene they’re brought into. Getting crafty with the popular orange vegetable can quickly bring some extra cheer to your home.

Don’t forget – you can always make use of the seeds and insides for eating, so you make those pumpkin investments go even further!

Don’t forget to enter the allU.S. Fall Festival Pumpkin Decorating Contest because we want to see how creative you are!  It’s easy to enter:  Just decorate your pumpkin and upload a photo on the allU.S. Facebook page or upload on Twitter or Pinterest using the hashtag #alluspumpkincarving.  Or, just bring your photos to the branch and be entered in the contest.

Happy Decorating!

Source:  bvblogs

Spend Smart This Holiday Season

It’s easy to go overboard when shopping for holiday gifts, but the fallout from seasonal overspending can last all year. The American Savings Education Council offers some helpful advice for getting a grip on holiday spending – BEFORE it gets out of control!

  • Open an allU.S. Christmas club account. Christmas club accounts are a great way to save money for the holidays! You choose how much you want to save each pay period and the money is automatically diverted to your Christmas club account. If you save as little as $25 each pay period, you’ll have over $600 by the time December rolls around. To establish your Club account, call or visit us today!
  • Create a budget and stick to it. Make a list of all the people you intend to buy gifts for and how much you’d like to spend on each person. Tuck your list into your purse or wallet so you’ll have it with you if you come across that perfect gift.
  • Draw names. If you’re part of a large family or circle of friends, suggest drawing names. This will cut down on the number of gifts you have to purchase, and if the group agrees on a limit for each gift, you’ll know exactly how the purchase will fit into your holiday budget.
  • Shop online. Everyone knows that shopping online is convenient – but it can also save you money!  The Internet makes it easy to compare prices, and many online retailers offer free or discounted shipping during the holiday season. Shopping online also makes it easier to resist the impulse purchases that distract so many holiday shoppers at malls and traditional retail stores.
  • Get creative! It’s the thought that counts, so why break the bank with expensive gifts? Thoughtful, home-made gifts mean more, and are less expensive too. Turn to your talents and interest when searching for creative gift ideas.                                               
  • Use credit wisely. If you plan to use your credit card for holiday purchases, only charge as much as you can pay off when the bill arrives. By paying your credit card balance in full each month, you won’t have to regret holiday overspending all year long! allU.S. Credit Union offers a low-rate VISA card starting at 8.99% to meet your needs – call today to learn more or to apply!

Don’t spend the holidays stressed about overspending! Plan ahead, spend smart and you’ll be able to relax and enjoy this special time of year.

Pull Out All The Stops This Thanksgiving without Breaking Your Budget

Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends, appreciate the gifts life brings and enjoy a generous feast with all the trimmings. That type of dinner can come at a bit of a price.

According to the latest estimate of the American Farm Bureau Federation, preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for 10 costs about $49, and that doesn’t include decorations, appetizers, drinks or desserts beyond the classic pumpkin pie. Thankfully, if you’re on a budget, you’ve got options to cut costs and still enjoy that special meal.

Free turkeys: Turkey can be the most expensive single item on the table, with a 16-pound bird averaging close to $22. We found a recipe for a delicious herb-roasted turkey at a cost of $2.39 per serving.  We hope you enjoy it.

To cut the price even further, consider making gravy and stuffing from scratch. While this takes a little extra time, the ingredients cost much less than buying it from your local market, and guests will enjoy that homemade flavor. Try this delicious Sausage and Fruit stuffing for only $2.01 per serving.

Skip the appetizers:  A great Thanksgiving dinner should really be enough on its own without having to fill up on chips, cheeses and dips beforehand. If you want to have something light try these Lemon and Black Pepper Cheese Straws that only cost $1.11 per serving.

Shop smart: A few simple shopping choices can really slash your Thanksgiving dinner bill. Opt for affordable generics over the pricier name brands.

Keep it simple: Basic recipes with just a few ingredients tend to be much more affordable to prepare than those with exotic touches.  For the best value, choose in-season, local produce rather than imported fruits and vegetables. Classic autumn fare such as pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples or Brussels sprouts can perfectly compliment your bird without breaking the bank.  We love to serve a Pilgrim salad with fresh pecans, corn and cranberries.  This is a nice complement to the cooked vegetable sides on your menu. And it’s only $2.20 per serving.

Potluck options: Potluck dinners are always an adventure. You never know quite what will turn up, and that’s part of the fun. They’re also a way to share Thanksgiving expenses since everyone bears a portion of the meal’s cost. Consider preparing the turkey, gravy and stuffing and then ask each guest to bring a side dish, beverage or dessert. You’ll end up with a table that reflects everyone there, adding an extra element of warmth to the occasion.
A little extra thought and planning go a long way toward keeping Thanksgiving dinner costs down without sacrificing quality. So, it is possible to pull out all the stops this Thanksgiving without breaking your budget.

Happy Thanksgiving from allU.S. Credit Union!

allU.S. Wishes You a Safe and Happy Holiday

For most people, the holiday season is a time of joy, gathering together with family and friends, relaxing watching your favorite sports on TV, and just appreciating the simple things that come with the Christmas season. Your friends at allU.S. Credit Union in Salinas also know that the holidays can be expensive, especially if you are not careful with your financial information. We want to make sure you know how to stay safe, so here are a few tips for protecting yourself during the holidays:

If you’re out and about in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping, be sure to keep track of who has access to your personal information and how that information is being used. Do not bring unnecessary credit cards, personal cards, or documents with you when you go shopping. Do not carry written PIN or pass codes with you, and always keep an eye on your surroundings if you stop to withdraw money from an ATM.   When making purchases, consider using your credit card over debit or cash.  Credit cards have simpler processes for disputing fraudulent charges and limit your liability. 

If you shop for holiday gifts online, be mindful to buy only from reputable websites with secure, encrypted connections. Before you check out online, check that the site is verified by TRUSTe or a similar trusted data management service.  You can look for the TRUSTe privacy seal at the bottom of a secure webpage.  Do not opt to have websites store your credit card information; while it may be more convenient, it can put your information at risk. You might even want to limit your online shopping to only one credit card, so that if your information is compromised, you will be able to limit the damage.   Most importantly, avoid shopping or browsing your online banking and credit card accounts on a public Wi-Fi connection.  It’s impossible to tell who has access to any data you transfer over an unsecure connection, so better to be safe than sorry.

In addition to being careful to protect your financial information, there are lots of things you can do to make the season more affordable and more manageable. Planning ahead is the best way to be a smart shopper and save money at the holidays. Make your holiday gift list early and make a budget so you know how much you will be spending. Start setting aside some funds now, so you will not have to rely on high-interest credit cards that you will end up paying back all next year. Starting early also allows you to shop around and compare prices, so you will know you are getting the best deals.   

The holiday season can be a great time of fun and excitement, but is almost always means an extra demand on your finances that can make an otherwise joyful season very stressful.  allU.S. can help you make it through the holidays if you need a little assistance.  Apply today for a holiday loan that’s right for your budget and get a head start on the holiday shopping season!

Of course, while you are working to make the most of your money for this year’s holiday, you can plan even better for next year by setting up a Christmas Club account with allU.S. Credit Union.  It is one of the best ways to save money for next Christmas!

Stay safe and shop smart this holiday season! Best wishes for a happy holiday to all of our allU.S. Credit Union members!

Happy Holidays

allU.S. Asks Members to Join them in the Fight Against Hunger and Support the Food Bank For Monterey County

allU.S. Credit Union in Salinas is challenging the Salinas Valley and Monterey Peninsula residents to join the fight against hunger in Monterey County.  The season of giving is approaching and allU.S. Credit Union is making it easy to help those in need.  For most of us, the holidays are a time of joy and celebration but 1 in 5 in Monterey County are struggling with hunger so the holidays are a time of pain and sadness.

This holiday season allU.S. Credit Union will have Food Bank bins at the branch at 20 W. Market Street in Salinas and every member who brings in a donation will receive a Growing Joy seed paper ornament.  The decorations on the ornament are embedded with wildflower seeds that can be planted and remembered long after the holidays.

Additionally, allU.S. Credit Union will donate $1.00 for every pound of food a member brings in up to $1,000.  We hope this campaign raises awareness within the community to help those families who need the help this holiday season.  During November and December donate non-perishable food (packaged and canned), pasta, rice, potato, tuna, chicken, ham, pasta sauces, coffee, tea and juice, soups, stews and much, much more.

The Food Bank for Monterey County, a certified Feeding America food bank, is the largest supplier of emergency food in Monterey County and a key proponent of anti-hunger education and advocacy in Monterey County. The Food Bank is a member of the network of Feeding America Food Banks, known formerly as America’s Second Harvest.  Despite the perception of the Central Coast as a region of wealth and beauty, hunger is epidemic in Monterey County.

•One fifth of the population of Monterey County receives food assistance

•An estimated the Food Bank for Monterey County now serves 90,000 different people annually

•Every week the Food Bank serves approximately 10,800 people.

•The Food Bank distributes over 6 million pounds of food annually to needy families

It is imperative that we all join in this initiative for an admirable and worthy cause.  Ask your family, friends, credit union and non-members to participate by giving generously.