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Financial and Lifestyle Resources for Vermont

VSECU Blog

In the VSECU Blog you'll find financial and lifestyle resources to help empower possibilities for your personal success.

Oliver Ames

Oliver is VSECU's social media strategist and spends most of his day engaging with members through our Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram profiles. He has a background in science education, non-profit fundraising, business communication, media production, and membership-based organizations. When not at work, Oliver spends much of his time with his wife and their little dog Butterscotch at their home in Montpelier.

By: Oliver Ames

July 8th, 2021

What You Need to Know about the Child Tax Credit

Saving and Budgeting

To help families get back on their feet after the ravaging effects of COVID-19, the federal government increased the child tax credit of up to $3,600 for eligible children as part of the March American Rescue Plan. Coverage of the much-needed rescue package focused on the increased stimulus payments, but the child tax credit had some significant changes as well. Namely, some families will begin to receive advanced payments starting July 15 (IRS). Here’s everything you need to know about the child tax credit in 2021!

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By: Oliver Ames

June 8th, 2021

Investment Apps and Meme Stocks: It's Wise to Be Wary

Youth and Finances | Investing in the Future

In June of 2020, the daily number of people trading with the popular Robinhood investing app reached record levels, exceeding 4.3 million daily average revenue trades (CNBC). Robinhood is a new breed of commission-free investment apps that allows anyone to trade stocks and funds through a simple mobile app that rewards investments with confetti and other fun graphics. The company recently came under increased scrutiny, for creating a user experience that encourages risky behavior, when a twenty-year-old user committed suicide because he thought he had lost $730,000 dollars (CBS News). While apps like Robinhood provide an innovative and exciting new way for anyone to become an active investor, they are also causing significant harm to unseasoned investors who are unaware of the dangers of risky investment tactics. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you dip your toe into the market and risk gambling away your money.

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By: Oliver Ames

May 21st, 2021

Need a New Dryer? Save Money with an Energy Efficient Heat Pump Dryer

Energy Savings

Since buying a 1929 Dutch Colonial a few years ago, my wife and I have been trying to reduce our energy bill and improve the interior temperature and comfort of our home. We’ve invested in weatherization, cold climate heat pumps, a heat pump hot water heater, and other energy efficiency upgrades with support from a local lender. After we completed these upgrades last year, I’ve been curiously exploring what else we could modify for further efficiency. Enter the heat pump dryer!

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By: Oliver Ames

May 13th, 2021

Planning a Trip? Here Are Five Tips for Traveling Safely after COVID

Learn Something New | Lifestyle

As of May 13, over 35% of Americans have been fully vaccinated thanks to the hard work of scientists, medical engineers, and state government officials. The result is a declining number of positive COVID-19 cases and death rate, leading many states to slowly begin reopening. Here in Vermont, we currently rank first in the nation for rate of vaccine administration! With all this good news, it might soon be safe to travel again and perhaps reschedule that trip you canceled in 2020. In fact, CNBC reports that 65% of Americans plan to travel more in 2021 than in years prior to COVID-19! Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your post-COVID adventures out in the world.

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6 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score

Cultivate and Maintain an Excellent Credit Score

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By: Oliver Ames

April 20th, 2021

How to Spot a Facebook Scam and Prevent Fraud on Social Media

Identity and Fraud Protection | Learn Something New

Since the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, financial fraud has been on the rise as scammers look to take advantage of how financially vulnerable many of us have become. The Federal Trade Commission has reported large spikes in phishing emails, phony websites, social media scams, and more over the past thirteen months. We’ve written extensively about fraud in the past, but this blog will focus on one type of scam that has become more and more common: the social media scam.

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By: Oliver Ames

March 10th, 2021

What You Need to Know About Your Third Stimulus Check

Credit and Debt | Learn Something New

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan has been passed by both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. It now heads to President Biden’s desk, where it is expected to be signed into law as early as this week. Among a variety of economic recovery initiatives, the bill includes direct payments to Americans. Here is what you need to know!

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By: Oliver Ames

February 23rd, 2021

Meal Planning to Save Money

Youth and Finances | Saving and Budgeting | Learn Something New | Lifestyle

I’m a big fan of the envelope method of budgeting, and I’ve written about it in the past. Essentially, whenever money comes into our household, it immediately gets divided up into specific “envelopes” that denote what it’s for. We call this giving every dollar a job, and it makes managing expenses and saving extremely efficient. Once you’ve become good at it, a lot of the usual stress that comes with trying to stick with a budget goes away. Part of the reason I think this philosophy works so well for my family is that it lifts the mental load of spending and worrying that you can’t afford something. Rather than guessing how much you can spend on a given category, you just check its designated “envelope.” If there is enough money in there to buy what you need, you’re good to go! It might sound like a minor difference, but in practice, it revolutionizes budgeting. This method is amazing for nearly every type of spending, save one: groceries!

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By: Oliver Ames

December 29th, 2020

What Vermonters Need to Know About the $600 Stimulus Check

Credit and Debt | Learn Something New

The latest $900 billion relief package includes a second stimulus check for Americans. Here’s what you need to know!

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