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Yes, you should take a vacation in the middle of a pandemic



It’s hard to know if it’s acceptable to take a vacation amid a pandemic and downsizing. Where are you going to go? Will your job be there when you get back?

We surveyed dozens of managers and business owners, and their advice is clear: Unless you’re just returning from a furlough, take your vacation days. “It is extremely important,” says Tiffany Glenn, vice president for human resources at payroll and HR services provider ADP. “HR should be advising time away, even if you are not visiting a destination.”

Workers aren’t heeding this advice. “We’ve noticed that people haven’t been booking as many vacation days this summer as in years past,” says Tanya Prior, director of people at phone service provider TextNow.

The company closed on July 1-3 (Wednesday to Friday) to give workers a five-day holiday; other companies are asking employees to use half of their paid time-off days by September. Here are a few things to think about before it’s suddenly Labor Day, and you haven’t moved from your desk in months:

Why should I take a vacation? One word: burnout. It poses a much bigger threat to your team and career than taking time off. You’ve been in a “highly stressful and intense situation for months, trying to manage new and challenging work-life balances,” says Andrew Roderick, chief executive officer of Credit Repair Cos.

While you may have had breaks, you “haven’t had a break from everything that is happening.” So take one. It’s “definitely your right,” adds Nora Jenkins Townson, principal at Bright and Early, an HR consulting firm.

How should I ask for time off? Use the conversation as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment. “Good planning, communication, and coordination before and after vacation will reinforce your professionalism and dedication,” says Elaine Varelas, managing partner at leadership consulting firm Keystone Partners.

Address potential issues in advance, says Adam Selita, CEO of Debt Relief Co. Ask yourself how taking time off will affect your team; give at least four weeks’ notice; communicate with managers about timing; and get caught up on work before you leave so that the time off doesn’t cause you to fall behind.

Lastly, pick an emergency liaison. “Choose one co-worker whose judgment you trust, and ask them to reach out to you during your vacation only if a true emergency strikes,” says Rachel Cooke, host of the Modern Mentor podcast.

What should I do? Your goal is to free your mind from contemplating the pandemic, working from home, cabin fever, the news, and your isolation or lack thereof. In addition to rekindling an old hobby, think about:

  • Safe trips. Socially distanced camping, renting an RV or van.
  • Local sightseeing. City walks; hikes; swimming holes; vineyard hopping. “One of my direct reports said that she was not going to use her vacation, as she did not have any plans,” says Kerry Wekelo, CEO at financial-services firm Actualize Consulting. “I suggested she take a few long weekends and do local explorations. We live in Virginia, and many drives are beautiful.”

While you’re out, you’ll want to accomplish one work-related task: “Do an inventory of what your new work world feels like,” says Kyle Nakatsuji, CEO of insurance startup Clearcover.

Ask yourself: What’s easier? What’s harder? What do I need to focus on that I didn’t before? How should I manage my time differently? Vacation is pivotal to seeing work with fresh eyes—even if you’re just on your couch.

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Must-Read Personal Finance Books From The Berlin-Peck Memorial Library



Based on her successful blog of the same name, the author, a 26-year-old personal-finance expert, helps readers go from in debt and overwhelmed to informed and financially empowered by using humor and real-life examples to demystify the world of money for Millennials.

Audiobook on Hoopla Library Catalog

The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan
Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously

Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller

A powerful, environmentally-conscious guide to decluttering, saving money and growing a community inspired by the ancient practice of gift economies where neighbors pooled resources includes seven steps to learning how to buy less and give more.

Library Catalog

Credit Repair

Amy Loftsgordon and Cara O’Neill

Incorporating extensive new coverage of student loan forgiveness and changes to federal laws, a latest edition outlines comprehensive steps for taking control of personal finances, cleaning up a credit report and rebuilding credit.

Library Catalog

Die With Zero
Getting All You Can From Your Money and Your Life

Bill Perkins

A startling new philosophy and practical guide to getting the most out of your money-and out of life-for those who value memorable experiences as much as their earnings.

Library Catalog

Dollars and Sense
How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter

Dan Ariely and Jeff Kreisler

Shares anecdotal insight into the illogical influences behind poor financial decisions and how to outmaneuver them, covering topics ranging from credit-card debt and household budgeting to holiday spending and real estate sales.

Audiobook on Hoopla Library Catalog

The Dumb Things Smart People Do With Their Money
Thirteen Ways to Right Your Financial Wrongs

Jill Schlesinger

The CBS News business analyst explores the common mistakes that intelligent people make with money, drawing on heartfelt stories to identify psychological blind spots that contribute to personal finance difficulties.

Library Catalog

Everyday Millionaires
How Ordinary People Built Extraordinary Wealth—and How You Can Too

Chris Hogan

Draws on a survey of ten thousand U.S. millionaires to refute myths about wealth that prevent ordinary people from achieving financial independence, and discusses the readily available tools to help in reaching millionaire status.

Audiobook on Hoopla Library Catalog

The Financial Diet
A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money

Chelsea Fagan

Offers guidance on personal finance for readers who might be reluctant to bother with the subject, with easy-to-follow advice for budgeting, investing, handling credit, and living a satisfying lifestyle that is still budget conscious.

Library Catalog

Financial Freedom
A Proven Path to All the Money You Will Ever Need

Grant Sabatier

The CNBC-declared “Millennial Millionaire” describes how he transitioned from being broke to wealthy in less than five years, revealing how today’s financial rules are obsolete while outlining counterintuitive, step-by-step tips for making real-world fast money.

Library Catalog

Get Money
Live the Life You Want, Not Just the Life You Can Afford

Kristin Wong

Offers a step-by-step guide to personal finance, encouraging readers to treat it as a challenge-driven game in order to turn what might otherwise be a tedious chore into a fun process.

Library Catalog

Know Yourself, Know Your Money
Discover Why You Handle Money the Way You Do, and What to Do About It!

Rachel Cruze

Counsels readers on how to understand one’s individual strengths and vulnerabilities to establish a healthy relationship with money and set more productive financial goals.

Library Catalog

Mindful Money
Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend

Jonathan K. DeYoe

Offers instructions on creating a financial plan that is guided by belief, and shows readers how to save, invest, pay off debt, and fund retirement.

eBook on Hoopla Library Catalog

Napkin Finance
Build Your Wealth in 30 Seconds or Less

Tina Hay

Fun and accessible, a handy crash course in personal finance, written by the founder of Napkin Finance, provides a visual learning strategy to help readers master even the most complex financial topics.

eBook on Hoopla Library Catalog

The Next Millionaire Next Door
Enduring Strategies for Building Wealth

Thomas J. Stanley

Twenty years after Thomas J. Stanley’s groundbreaking work on self-made affluence, he and his daughter examine the changes in specific decisions, behaviors and characteristics, along with consumption, budgeting, careers and investing that have changed wealth-building in more recent years.

Audiobook on Hoopla Library Catalog

Personal Finance for Dummies

Eric Tyson

From budgeting, saving, and reducing debt, to making timely investment choices and planning for the future, Personal Finance For Dummies provides fiscally conscious readers with the tools they need to take charge of their financial life.

Audiobook on Hoopla Library Catalog

Retire Securely
Insights on Money Management from an Award-Winning Financial Columnist

Julie Jason

A curated collection of the best retirement advice from financial advisor Julie Jason’s acclaimed nationally syndicated column. Organized in 10 sections, each following a theme, Retire Securely provides essential, accessible, and easy-to-understand information about a process that concerns everyone.

Audiobook on Hoopla Library Catalog

Smart Couples Finish Rich
9 Steps to Creating a Rich Future for You and Your Partner

David Bach

Offers a nine-step program to help couples build and maintain their financial wealth through proven strategies for organization, communication, and smarter spending in the current economy.

Library Catalog

This Is the Year I Put My Financial Life in Order

John Schwartz

A correspondent for the “New York Times” offers this part-memoir and part-research-based guide to describe his personal journey from near financial ruin to full financial literacy, including non-preachy advice on investments, retirement, insurance and wills.

Library Catalog

The Total Money Makeover
A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness

Dave Ramsey

A strategy for changing attitudes about personal finances covers such topics as getting out of debt, the dangers of cash advances, and keeping spending within income limits.

Audiobook on Hoopla eBook on OverDrive Library Catalog

The Truth About Your Future
The Money Guide You Need Now, Later, and Much Later

Ric Edelman

Outlines forward-thinking recommendations on how to tap rapidly evolving technological and scientific innovations to make powerful new choices about saving, investing, and planning for the future.

Library Catalog

The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+
Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime

Suze Orman

Gives you the no-nonsense advice and practical tools you need to plan wisely for your retirement in today’s ever-changing landscape. You’ll find new rules for downsizing, spending wisely, delaying Social Security benefits, and more-starting where you are right now.

Library Catalog

Wealth Can’t Wait
Avoid the 7 Wealth Traps, Implement the 7 Business Pillars, and Complete a Life Audit Today!

David Osborn and Paul Morris

Presents a guide to creating horizontal income streams to enjoy more financial freedom, providing a five-point strategy to building wealth that details how to cultivate the mindset, habits, and momentum to secure the greatest results.

Library Catalog

Women with Money
The Judgement-Free Guide to Creating the Joyful, Less Stressed, Purposeful (and, Yes, Rich) Life You Deserve

Jean Chatzky

Draws on the insights of leading economists, financial planners, and other experts to outline recommendations to help women understand themselves in relation to money, get paid what they deserve, and invest for the future.

Library Catalog

Your Money Or Your Life
9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence

Vicki Robin

Offers a nine-step program for living a more meaningful life by taking control of one’s finances, showing readers how to get out of debt, save money, reorder priorities, live well for less, and convert problems into opportunities.

Audiobook on OverDrive Library Catalog

This press release was produced by the Berlin-Peck Memorial Library. The views expressed here are the author’s own.

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Different types of credit cards explained – and how to know which is best for you



If used efficiently, credit cards can be a good addition when managing your finances (Photo: Shutterstock)
If used efficiently, credit cards can be a good addition when managing your finances (Photo: Shutterstock)

Credit cards are one of the most popular ways to borrow money and can be a convenient card to have in your wallet during financially difficult times. Although it is normally recommended that credit cards be used cautiously as it can often be easy to fall into credit card debt that takes years to clear, if used efficiently they can be a good addition when managing your finances.

When looking for a credit card, you will see that there are many different types of products on offer, with each type of card suited to different needs. Below we’ve outlined some of the most popular reasons for taking out a credit card and the best type of cards for each option.

The best credit card if you want to clear debts

If you already have credit card debt that you are aiming to clear, a 0% balance transfer credit card could be a good option. A 0% balance transfer credit card offers an interest-free period that can last for over two years on some cards, which often makes it easier and cheaper to repay the credit card debt.

Although these cards can be a good way of clearing debt, if you are considering this option, it is important to be aware that some cards charge a balance transfer fee to transfer debts to the 0% balance transfer card. As well as this, keep in mind that interest is added once the interest-free period has ended, so it is usually a good idea to repay as much of the debt as possible before interest is added.

The best credit card if you want to make an expensive purchase

Borrowers with little or no existing credit card debt and who are looking to make an expensive purchase, for example booking a holiday, may want to consider a 0% purchase credit card. These credit cards will not charge interest on purchases made within a pre-agreed period, which can last for up to 20 months.

If you are considering a 0% purchase card, it is important to remember that interest is added once the interest-free period ends, so having a repayment plan in mind when spending on the card will help to clear the debt before the interest-free period has ended.

The best credit card for regular use

If you use your credit cards regularly and are able to repay the full balance each month, you may want to consider a rewards credit card. These cards will allow you to earn rewards or cashback when you spend on the card. Many popular high street supermarkets and stores, such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco, John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, offer reward credit cards that allow you to earn extra points when you shop within their stores.

The best credit card for building credit scores

Having a poor credit score could make it harder to get accepted for a credit card as you will be considered a riskier borrower than someone with a higher score, but there are options available. Credit repair cards are often a popular choice for those with poor credit scores as these cards are specifically designed to help borrowers improve their credit score.

You should be careful using these cards, however, as they often charge a significantly higher rate than other types of credit cards and to avoid getting into unmanageable debt borrowers should try and repay the full balance each month.

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New Trade Association Aims To Improve Consumer Credit Experience



The American Association of Consumer Credit Professionals (AACCP) recently held a press briefing to announce its new formation as a trade association dedicated to advocating for “holistic consumer credit repair.”  Despite the word “repair” missing from the trade group’s name, the association is comprised of credit repair industry experts and advocates for the credit repair industry. 

Responding to a perceived gap between the significant credit problems facing consumers and limited efforts by regulators and lawmakers to help consumers overcome those problems, the AACCP aims to educate consumers about the responsible use of credit and their legal rights and responsibilities about how furnishers and consumer reporting agencies publish information about their creditworthiness.  The group prides itself on being the only consumer advocate in the credit reporting system.  The aim is to “support consumer access to credit through accurate, fair, and substantiated credit reports.”  A short video on the group’s website also promises to protect consumers against bullying by “shadowy debt collectors.” 

The AACCP wants stakeholders in the credit ecosystem to know that they do more than just fix tradelines on consumer reports.  The group’s inaugural announcement and website explain how modern credit repair organizations offer consumers more because they:

  •  Know the industry and the laws designed to protect consumers;
  •  Understand the circumstances of individual consumers to help them raise relevant questions with creditors and other furnishers of credit report information;
  •  Operate with integrity and maintain a strong focus on compliance with applicable statutes;
  •  Help consumers review, analyze and understand their credit reports in order to identify items that may need to be challenged and, if possible, changed;
  •  Advocate on behalf of consumers to resolve potential issues on their credit report with creditors/furnishers and the Consumer Reporting Agencies (CRAs a/k/a credit bureaus); and
  •  Educate consumers on their credit reports, how to build positive credit, and encourage them to use credit responsibly.


The group describes these services as a “holistic approach to credit repair advocacy.”  A stated focus of this advocacy is to bring racial equity and fairness to the credit system.  The group’s founders are familiar players in the credit repair space, Progrexion and Lexington Law.

The credit repair industry is regulated by state and federal law.  The Credit Repair Organizations Act (15 U.S.C.S. § 1679 et seq.) is the federal law governing all credit repair services.  Like many other consumer protection laws, the CROA prohibits false and misleading behavior, requires certain consumer disclosures, empowers consumers with certain legal rights, and establishes a private right of action for consumers against credit repair organizations that do not follow the law.  Many states have implemented similar laws proscribing certain harmful behavior and mandating consumer-friendly behavior.  Despite a 5-year statute of limitations on violations of the CROA, a quick search revealed only a small number of reported cases involving this statute.  The law has been on the books since September 1996.

The collection industry and the credit repair industry share many similarities.  They are both highly regulated by state and federal laws throughout the country.  Their reputations are shaped most often, not by the law-abiding actors who bring assistance and value to consumers, but instead by the few who disregard the rules and bring harm to consumers.  They each sit on the front lines of consumer interaction, listening to stories of hardship and helping consumers triumph over their credit challenges.  Both industries have also had their share of government and civil scrutiny, with the government going after the biggest players in the marketplace:

…and courts narrowing the application of the Fair Credit Report Act to disputes received “directly” from a consumer:

But the relationship between the credit repair industry and the collection industry has not always been simpatico.  Debt collectors are the recipients of tens of millions of dispute letters from credit repair organizations annually; often perceived as frivolous and unsubstantiated.  Collectors themselves have taken action against credit repair organizations to stop this untoward behavior:

Yet, in the end, both industries pursue their stated purposes of helping consumers overcome financial challenges.  Will this new trade association change public perception?  Will lawmakers be persuaded to pass laws favorable to the credit repair industry?  Will regulators take a kinder, more gentle approach to regulating the credit repair industry?  The impact of this new association on the public, consumers, lawmakers and regulators remains to be seen.  There may be more in common between the collection industry and the credit repair industry than either is willing to admit. 

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