Newsletter Highlights



:: Protect Your Identity During the Holiday Shopping Season ::

While you’re enjoying shopping for that perfect gift for that special someone, it’s smart to safeguard your personal information from would-be thieves. Here are some tips to help you protect your identity this holiday season.

When shopping online, be aware of the website’s design. Though a website may add an “s” to its URL to signify a secure transaction, its security certificate and connection may not be up to date. Look for a lock symbol located within the address bar that verifies the website’s security certificate and connection.

Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. What’s convenient for consumers is also convenient for identity thieves. Protect your device from malware or spyware by using secure networks such as a personal hot spot through your wireless device or internet provider.

Limit information on social media. Telling everyone your cat’s name, your child’s first name honors your grandfather, or the make and model of your first car seems like a great way for people to get to know you better. Unfortunately, these are also typical answers to security questions that thieves can use to access your private accounts. Choose security questions with answers not easily accessible through content on your social media profile(s). In addition, it’s not a good idea to post that you’re out shopping, which tells predators where you are and that your home is currently unoccupied.

Use strong passwords and change them often. Create passwords with a mix of symbols, numbers, and upper and lowercase letters. When frequently changing your password, you might forget which one belongs to each account. A password manager service or app can securely help you remember which password(s) belongs to which account.

Prevent shoulder surfing. When the environment is crowded, it’s easy for people to listen and watch over your shoulder. Be aware of your surroundings when making payment and providing personal information.

Watch for skimming devices. These devices are either illegally placed within machines or used by unscrupulous sales people to make unauthorized purchases. If you enter your card into a device’s card reader and it wiggles or moves out of place, there’s a possibility tampering has occurred. Use secure, lighted locations with video surveillance, which deters people from installing these devices. When paying a retailer with your card, watch them swipe your card within their point-of-sale machine.

Protect against pickpocketing. It’s still a common way to have both your money and sensitive information stolen. Securing your purse or wallet helps prevent thieves from targeting you from afar. There are also measures you can take throughout the year to keep your information safe. Keep your anti-virus and anti-malware programs up to date to protect your accounts from hacking. Always check your credit card and bank statements for unauthorized charges and report fraudulent transactions immediately. For more identity theft prevention tips, visit the Privacy, Identity and Online Security section at Consumer.ftc.gov. If you’re a victim of identity theft and need help, go to IdentityTheft.gov.



:: Stay Safe and Save Money on Holiday Transportation ::

Safe transportation must be a priority during the holiday party season. You know the heightened risk of driving under the influence to your safety and the safety of others, but did you know it’s a financial risk, too? According to DrivingLaws.org, the average cost of a first offense for driving under the influence is $6,500. Avoid these risks by taking a taxi or using a rideshare program.

Programs like Uber or Lyft offer convenient smartphone apps that allow you to request a ride, get information about your driver, and pay without cash or physical credit card transactions. Whatever your preference, there are plenty of ways to save money and stay safe.

 


::Q & A ::

College Application Week

Penny Gandy, Manager of Outreach Services for the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP), answers our questions about College App Week (CAW).

What is College App Week and how did it get started?

College App Week is a national effort to increase the number of first generation and low-income students, who pursue a postsecondary education. Participating high schools, campuses and community partners hold events to assist seniors as they navigate the college admission process and ensure each participating student submits at least one admission application. CAW events across the nation are typically held during November and December, with special emphasis during one week in November. The State Regents’ GEAR UP program became a CAW participant in 2012. It was such a great success that our organization, the Oklahoma College Assistance Program (OCAP), picked it up as a statewide project for OK-CAN (Oklahoma College Access Network) in 2015. In the first year, we had 84 schools participate throughout the state. We felt it was a natural fit for our Outreach Team efforts to support college access and success.

Why is College App Week important?

CAW is important because it creates an energetic atmosphere at the high school and gets students excited about applying to college. Counselors provide resources, events and assistance to help walk students through the process, which can be somewhat intimidating. Students learn how to write application essays, research colleges and begin the search for important resources like financial aid, scholarships and helpful planning information.

What are some common College App Week events?

Counselors work hard to make events interesting, fun and relatable. Many will have student leadership groups make and hang CAW signs throughout the school. Some counselors wear shirts from the college they attended and place an informational sheet on their door or desk about the level of higher education their counseling career required. Some counselors have even invited high-profile members of their community to attend their event, such as the mayor, business leaders, local celebrities and others.

Are there resources available to help plan events?

Yes! And they’re free. We have an excellent set of resources broken into three categories: Event Planners (counselors), Volunteers and Students. For counselors, we provide a training guide, tip sheets, templates, checklists and suggested activities. Counselors can also request posters to advertise their events and “I Applied” stickers to give to their students when they’ve completed a college application. Counselors also have access to a media kit to help with advertising through local newspapers or radio stations, as well as social media campaigns. The volunteer resources provide information about the event, coordination information and other helpful tools. For students, there’s a student packet, tips for answering college application essay questions, a “what’s next” guide and several other helpful publications. All can be found, downloaded and printed from the CAW website.

For more information and resources for CAW visit: okcollegeappweek.org.



:: Consumable Holiday Gifts ::

Consumable gifts are increasing in popularity, because they don’t collect dust or take up valuable space. Here are some clever gifts that are guaranteed to delight.



:: Frugal Holiday Feasts ::

Both Thanksgiving and the winter holidays come with food and family festivities. Here are a few tips to survive hosting a holiday feast without breaking the bank.



:: Make A Strategic To-Do List ::

Moving toward and reaching your goals is an incredibly empowering experience. Year after year, many people set goals, but experience very little success. Below are tips that can help you achieve your goals.



:: Spanish Publications ::

Oklahoma Money Matters proudly offers two Your Money Matters guides in Spanish. The workplace education guide helps adults learn to manage their finances and build wealth. It addresses how to prioritize spending, build a budget, explore savings options, manage credit and prevent identity theft.

The guide for adults with fewer financial resources highlights practical ways for individuals and families to handle personal finances, even if they’ve reached a financial crisis point. This guide helps adults experiencing financial difficulties take the guesswork, worry and stress out of dealing with money. It offers money-saving and money-stretching tips, advice for parents and information about budgeting, borrowing and identity protection.

Full-color PDF files of these and other money management publications can be found on the Resources page at OklahomaMoneyMatters.org. Classroom sets of these publications are available, subject to inventory level. To request materials, call 405.234.4253 or email OklahomaMoneyMatters@ocap.



:: The True Cost of Meal Plans ::

Food programs—whether marketed for health or for convenience—are always in hot competition for your business. To give you an idea of actual costs, we did some digging into some of the most popular food and diet programs.

Blue Apron

What it is: A dinner subscription program that sends you ingredients and recipes to cook at home.

Program cost per meal serving: $8.74 - $9.99

Estimated grocery cost per meal serving: $0

Total cost per meal serving: $8.74 - $9.99

 

Green Chef

What it is: A dinner subscription program that sends you ingredients and recipes to cook at home. A wide variety of dietary needs are supported.

Program cost per meal serving: $10.49 - $14.99

Estimated grocery cost per meal serving: $0

Total cost per meal serving: $10.49 - $14.99

 

Plated

What it is: A dinner subscription program that sends you ingredients and recipes to cook at home.

Program cost per meal serving: $12

Estimated grocery cost per meal serving: $0

Total cost per meal serving: $12

 

Hello Fresh

What it is: A dinner subscription program that sends you ingredients and recipes to cook at home.

Program cost per meal serving: $8.75 – $11.50

Estimated grocery cost per meal serving: $0

Total cost per meal serving: $8.75 – $11.50

 

The Fresh 20

What it is: A meal planning service that provides weekly dinner plans and shopping lists with a focus on fresh ingredients and minimal waste. There are several versions to address a variety of dietary needs.

Program cost per meal serving: $0.28 - $0.70

Estimated grocery cost per meal serving: $4.60

Total cost per meal serving: $4.88 - $5.30

 

eMeals

What it is: A meal planning service that provides weekly dinner plans and shopping lists. There are many different plans to address a wide variety of dietary needs.

Program cost per dinner serving: $0.04 - $0.09

Estimated grocery cost per dinner serving: $8.30

Total cost per dinner serving: $8.34 - $8.39