Keeping your name out of the paper

October 24, 2007

This week the City of Danville published the names, addresses, and amounts owed of everyone in town with delinquent real estate taxes. Instead of joining in with the many voices who say that these people deserve public shame and embarrassment, I’d like to approach it differently. We should all exercise at least a modicum of compassion before passing judgment on people who we don’t know anything else about except that their taxes are past due. I seriously doubt that the majority of real persons on that list intentionally decided to not pay their taxes, though a few may have. Most people have good intentions when it comes to paying their bills, and in general just living their lives. For these people perhaps one thing lead to another and the tax bill simply got put off repeatedly until it was just too overwhelming to deal with. This is the case with so many otherwise good people who don’t have a good spending plan or budget to make sure all their bills get paid on time.

Here’s a simple tip to keep your name from appearing in the paper. Start a special savings account for the sole purpose of paying taxes. You know how many times you get paid between now and when the tax bill comes in. Figure out how much you need to save every payday in order to have the money available when you need it. Direct Deposits and Payroll Deposits can be setup to automatically send a portion of your paycheck to this special savings account so that when the bill comes at the end of the year, the money will be there to pay it. The same account could be used to save up to pay for homeowners insurance, school tuition, or anything that you only pay once or twice per year.

Another option is to take out a loan to pay taxes. That’s probably a good option if your name is already on the list! Either way you go, loan or savings, take the time to sit down and map out proactively how you plan to spend your money in the coming months. Then stick to your plan!


Hats Off to Elementary Teachers

October 23, 2007

Last week as I sat quietly during faculty meetings at Kentuck Elementary School and Brosville Elementary School, I watched teachers express their ideas, concerns, and solutions to the issues facing their schools and their students. During this time I realized that I can recall by name and face every one of my elementary school teachers along with memories from their classes. Elementary school teachers make such a profound influence on children. Seeing today’s teachers tackle the difficult issues at these faculty meetings only makes me have even more respect and admiration for them.

So here’s my own personal elementary school hall of fame.

  • In kindergarten there was Mrs. Adams and another teacher who left due to pregnancy. This was my first experience seeing a pregnant woman. I also remember my older brother and I making an erector set model of a spaceship for show and tell.
  • In first grade there was Mrs. Martin. It was here that I learned to read and write. These are quite possibly the two most important skills a human being can learn.
  • In second grade I had Mrs. Lifsey. She had a very nice smile. I remember getting in trouble because of telling a lie to her once. I used that story recently to explain to my daughter the importance of telling the truth and the consequences of telling a lie.
  • In third grade there was Mrs. Bush. Michelle Eberhard and I were the only two students in the class to make perfect scores on our multiplication tables. She was also very compassionate when I developed a sinus condition and had to change seats.
  • In fourth grade Mrs. King always had us start the day with singing. She had a wonderful operatic voice and taught us every patriotic song under the sun. My favorite at the time was You’re a Grand Old Flag. (And she never assigned homework!)
  • Finally fifth grade was marked by the Challenger explosion. Mrs. Tyree(who did assign lots of homework) let us skip class that day to watch the news coverage.

So my hat is off to the elementary school teachers of yesterday and today! The impact you have is truly special. Thank you for making a difference by helping students develop into the model citizens of tomorrow.

2nd Annual Southside Show-Biz Tradeshow

October 19, 2007

Danville’s 2nd Annual Southside Show-Biz Tradeshow was packed with fun and excitement yesterday. Our booth was themed after the movie Casino Royale, the most recent James Bond film. Our guests could view a short slideshow of “007 Reasons to Join PCU”. They also played our roulette wheel to win chocolate casino chips and their choice of PCU prizes. (99% of our guests won! If one person wins everyone wins because that’s just how credit unions work. They benefit everyone who participates.) Those who landed on “00” even got to go on a Top Secret Mission to decipher the hidden clues on our website. Of course we remind you never to play such games with real money. Save your real money at the credit union! Thank you to all our members who stopped by to say hello and win a prize. I hope others who stopped by will also take a moment to see what our credit union has to offer.

Many business whose employees may join our credit union were on display too. I did not get the chance to visit many other booths but here are the ones I recall. If I missed any let me know!

The newspaper reports that several hundred people attended from the community and over 70 area business participated. (They even published a photo of me in my Casino garb!)

Am I losing my mind?

October 16, 2007

On the way back to the credit union this afternoon I saw the Goodyear blimp flying over Danville.   However, when I arrived at the credit union and exclaimed “Hey, did you guys see the blimp?”, it was gone!  Just like that the credit union staff thinks I have lost my mind!  I went outside to take a picture and it was nowhere to be seen, but I swear I could still hear the faint hum of its prop engines in the distance.

I know I’m not the only one who saw it because there were people on the side of the road looking up at it too.  So if anyone else saw it please let me know.  Then I’ll know whether or not I need to schedule a visit to the doctor!

Pittsylvania County Schools Building Plan

October 16, 2007

If you have a child or plan to have a child that will attend a Pittsylvania County high school sometime in the next 20 years you should definitely take a look at this short video from Pittsylvania County Schools. Click here to view the video.

This worthy project appears to be dependent on the voters of Pittsylvania County. I prefer the term “voting responsibilities” rather than “voting rights”. So whatever your position on the matter, please exercise your responsibility to vote on election day which is Tuesday, November 6, 2007. To register to vote in Virginia you can visit the VA State Board of Elections website. You can even check your voter registration status there.

Guide to Billpay Features, Part 2, Email Payments

October 16, 2007

Even though I work at the credit union I rarely visit a teller to get cash or make deposits. Now, I love our tellers, they’re wonderful people! I just don’t think about my own finances at work. So I can’t count the times I’ve carried my wife’s paycheck around in my front pocket for several days before finally just leaving it in the night drop box! (Direct deposit is not an option for her.)

Last weekend I owed a friend $40 for a used computer monitor. As usual I had no cash except my weekly pittance from refereeing volleyball. So I got his email address and told him I wanted to try out this new service of my credit union’s billpay, Email Payments. It really was quite easy to setup both on my end and his. From the “Add Payee” screen IAdd Person simply chose to “Add a Person” on the left sidebar, then entered his name, email, phone number. After doing that it prompted me for a challenge phrase to make sure it was me. Then I entered a Keyword that I shared with my friend so that he could setup his half of the transaction.

Finally there was one more security step to complete and that was to activate the new payee. When I clicked “Activate Payee Now” it asked if I wanted to get the activation code in my email, text message, or telephone call. I chose email. Billpay then showed a place to enter the activation code and instructed me to check my email. About 30 seconds later I was typing the code in from my email and everything was done. Later that night I received an email from billpay stating that my friend had completed the steps to receive my payment. Now I can send him money anytime I want! He runs Essentials Plus-The Flea Market Shoppe in Roxboro, NC so I might actually keep him listed as a payee. This is a great feature for sending money to friends and family. Especially for those of us who don’t keep alot of cash on hand.

A Brief Guide to Billpay Features, Part 1

October 11, 2007

This week our Online Bill-pay received a few updates including some new features and just a few things might look a bit different than before. There really aren’t any sweeping changes to the way transactions are processed. It is as reliable as ever and best of all it is still free! Probably the most obvious change is the former “Make a Single Payment” screen. Here is an example of what it used to look like:

Old Style of Single Payment

Once you selected the dot beside “Bill” it showed all your payees below. Then you had to choose a single payee and scroll down to the “Next” button at the bottom.

The new screen layout is not much different. When you click on the Payments menu and then choose “Single Payment” as shown here…

Single Payment

…it immediately shows you all of your payees listed on the left sidebar. You can simply scroll down the list and select which bills you want to pay during this Billpay session. As you click each bill it will appear in the center of the screen as shown here:

New Style Single Payment

When you have selected all your bills to pay and typed in the amount and date to send payment, simply click on “Next” at the bottom. Then you will see the familiar screen which asks you to verify the details of these payments. The only difference is that now Billpay lets you pay more than one bill at a time.

If you would like some help with any of the new features you may call Billpay support at 1-888-221-0163, use the live chat feature in Billpay, or contact me at the credit union. Just for fun I locked myself out of billpay and called the toll-free support. I was on-hold for about 60 seconds and when the agent answered she was quick, friendly, and efficient at getting me logged back on. She did ask me a few challenge phrases though, so be sure that you know them. They can be reset if you need them to.

Over the next few days I’ll follow up this post with one or two more which highlight the other new features such as email payments, transfer accounts and challenge phrases.