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Getting Ahead
2nd Quarter 2019

In this issue:

5 Successful Summer Gardening Tips

Vehicle Leases: Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended

Do I Still Need A Landline?

5 Successful Summer Gardening Tips

GardenUnlike us, our gardens can't run for the cover of air conditioning on scorching summer days. For those of you who are truly committed to your gardens, we salute you! To keep plants perky, focus on these five key factors, and then consult our basic tips to find out when your plants have met their match - or just need a little extra love.

  1. Pruning
    Perennials: Most perennials bloom for a four- to eight-week period, but deadheading (pruning dead flowers) can help promote a second set of blooms. Since a plant's goal is to produce more seeds, pruning dying flowers sends it the signal to grow more.

    Annuals: A majority of annuals bloom all season long, but for those that don't self-clean, deadheading can help grow new blooms. If your annuals start to look less than appealing, cut them back 4 to 6 inches to encourage new growth that's compact, fresh and green.

  2. Watering
    For an easy trick to see if your plants are thirsty, stick your finger in the soil to the middle joint. If it's wet or damp, forego watering. As you're tending to container plants, pick them up when they've been watered and when they're dry. You'll start to notice the difference in weight, which, over time, can help you to determine when they need to be watered.

    In the full summer sun, container plants may need to be watered twice a day. If it's hard to find the time, move them to a protected area. For trees and shrubs, use the previously mentioned soil-testing trick. With experience, you'll start to get a feel for how often plants should be watered.

    Water plants during the early morning and early afternoon, as wet foliage at night can lead to mold and mildew, so it's important to give plants time to dry. However, if given the choice of wilted plants in the evening or not watering - water. Just be careful to keep the foliage dry.

    Watering from the air can result in rapid evaporation, so water from the soil line. Weeper hoses are useful since they help water to directly seep to the roots. Lay them on the ground next to plants, and set your timer for about an hour.

  3. Fertilizing
    Container plants lose nutrients quickly due to frequent watering during the summer, so fertilize as often as every day, but at least once a week. Try using half of what the fertilizer calls for, since over fertilizing can cause plants stress.

    Tip: You should use gloves when using fertilizer or mulching. But you should also be sure you wash your hands afterward.

  4. Mulching
    It isn't too late to mulch! If you have less than 2 to 4 inches of mulch in your garden beds, consider mulching to help conserve water and reduce weeds. Weeds steal water and nutrients from your soil, so it's important to keep them at bay. When mulching, we prefer organic mulches mixed with our outdoor and kitchen composts.

  5. Pest Control
    Embrace good bugs like ladybugs, bees, praying mantises and spiders while avoiding unwanted bugs like aphids or Japanese beetles. Placing birdhouses, birdbaths and birdfeeders throughout your yard attracts birds that control populations of unwanted insects, not to mention gives you lovely birdsongs throughout the day.

    As far as pesticides go, match to your pest, and always start with the least harmful formula first. Our simple, gentle, do-it-yourself pesticide is a good start: Mix 1 tablespoon of cooking oil with a generous squirt of dish soap in a spray bottle. Add water, and test a spot on your plant before going to town. When spraying, be sure to get the back of leaves since they're popular hiding spots for pests.
When Is It Time to Throw in the Towel?
When assessing whether a plant has met its match or just needs a little extra love, keep these basics in mind:
  • Grass goes dormant without water in the heat, so it's best to leave it alone.
  • If a tree's twig snaps when you bend it, it's a sign the branch, and possibly the rest of the plant, is dead. Take a small branch off and scrape it. If it has some green, it's likely alive.
  • When annuals have browned, it's time to pull them out.
  • If conifers lose their needles, they won't come back.
Article courtesy of P&G Everyday

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Vehicle Leases: Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended

You may see a lease referred to an "open-ended" or "closed-ended," if you do it's likely to be in the fine print, legalese, or wherever the dealer/manufacturer/lessor has put some important but confusing details they hope you won't read. Even worse, maybe the advertiser won't put it in the fine print but puts "open-ended lease" or "closed-ended lease" in big print next to some out of this world offer - how do you know whether it's a good deal or not?

In short, in an open-ended lease the lessee is the one on the hook if the actual value at the end of the lease is below the residual value set at lease inception, and in a closed-ended lease it is the lessor. Usually, your contract will be a close-ended lease, but it's still important to know the difference and know that is what your getting so that when your lease is over, you're not surprised with outlandish fees to pay. Lease Wizard has focused only on the closed-ended lease to date, but you shouldn't just assume your lease agreement is closed-ended.

LeaseIn a closed-ended lease the residual value of the car stated in your lease at signing is firm, and if there is a difference between the predetermined residual value and the fair market value of the car at the end of your lease, the lessor takes the hit and you will not be responsible for paying the difference. If the residual value is lower than estimated due to going over the mileage allowance, or abusive driving practices, you will still pay fees as they are signed out in your contract, but any difference in value that may still remain is not your responsibility.

An open-ended lease is generally used for commercial business leasing, and is sometimes seen in other high-risk leases, such as for motorcycles. This type of lease means that you, the lessee, are responsible for the difference between the estimated residual value of the leased vehicle and its true market value when it's time to turn the car in. Open-ended leases will usually allow for an annual mileage allowance greater than the average 12,000 miles of a typical lease, and the residual value may be set as being lower than it would for a close-ended lease, but this may mean a much higher monthly payment. These leases almost always work in favor of the lessor, and you as the lessee will likely owe a significant amount of money when the car is returned.

For a variety of reasons almost all leases offered to consumers in the U.S. are closed-ended. To highlight just a few of those reasons - taxes could become more complex as any difference between the residual value and market value could be either "use" subject to use tax (or a request for a credit for too much tax paid), and another reason is that dealers and manufacturers know it isn't good for business and having a well-renown brand if the customer shows up to return their leased vehicle and they need to ask for several thousand dollars because of a weak market for their cars.

In theory, a person that leases regularly every 2-4 years, always starting a new lease as the old one expires would break-even in the long-term with a series of open-ended leases. When the residual was set too low they could profit by getting the benefit of the higher market value, but they will likely have less negotiating leverage on their new vehicle (because it's a seller's market) so they will likely pay a higher price, and conversely if the consumer got stung by paying to settle up on an expiring lease because the residual value was set too high, he or she would likely also get a great deal on the new vehicle lease because it is presumably a weaker market where the consumers have leverage. However, like a lot of things that are good (or at least fair) in theory, in practice the consumer would risk having a down market that forces them to pay substantial amount of money when they can least afford it, and even a person that does a 3-year lease repeatedly from the time they are 30 until they are 75 would still lease just 15 cars - not a big enough sample to ensure they don't suffer more than they are advantaged by the deal. Also, saying open-ended leases can be equally fair in the long-term assumes that in an open-ended lease the consumer pays a smaller acquisition fee and no disposition fee - both are used by lessors to reduce their risk of being wrong on the residual value. So if there is a lease without either of these fees, just make sure you find out if it's an open or closed-end lease.

The long-term impact of the "profits" from high market values offset by "losses" from low market values is a main reason that open-ended leasing works well enough for businesses, but is not common in the U.S. and generally not in the consumer's interest. It doesn't mean it's never a good decision to get an open-ended lease (if one is offered), but it's important to understand the difference between them, and if you are offered an open-ended lease, be sure that

  1. the deal is much better for you than a comparable closed-ended lease, and
  2. you know how you would pay any difference at the end BEFORE you sign the papers!
Article courtesy of Lease Wizard

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Do I Still Need A Landline?

Q: My landline barely gets any use. Every family member has their own cellphone and it feels like I'm throwing out money each month when I pay the bill. Should I get rid of my landline?

A: Phone lines that need to be plugged into the wall are quite outdated. And, if you're feeling like your landline has gotta go, you're not alone. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics reports that more than half of American homes were exclusively using wireless phone service during the first half of 2017. However, lots of people insist on holding onto their landlines for good reason - several of them, actually.

Before you make a decision to cut the wire, read up on the main reasons people cling to their landlines, and why some of them may not matter after all.

PhoneCommunication during emergencies
This is easily the most pressing reason keeping people tied to their landlines. If a natural disaster or a power outage hits your area, your cellphones will eventually run out of juice. Your landline, on the other hand, will keep you connected to the outside world even when the lights go out.

Why this may not matter: Here's where a huge misconception comes into play: Many newer landlines actually won't work in a power outage.

Older landlines, which are connected via copper wires to switch boxes and transmit calls between phones plugged into the wall, will almost always work in a natural disaster. They connect through wires and don't depend on electricity. So, if your landline is older, your reasoning is sound.

If your phone line is newer, though, it's not so simple. Most telecommunication companies are no longer using copper wires because copper is not great at transmitting signals for cable TV and internet. Since most telecom companies now offer bundled services, most use a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) line instead of copper wires. These lines transmit phone service over the same cables and wires used for the home's internet connection. To work, a VoIP line needs to be plugged directly into the household's internet gateway device. If your landline and internet are connected with a shared VoIP line, when the power goes out, so will your phone.

Ironically, the primary reason people hold onto their landlines may not even be relevant at all.

Let 911 find you
Here's where a landline really works for you during times of crisis: It helps emergency responders find you quickly. When you call from a landline, the operators will instantly have your location on their screens. Calls from cellphones, though, are harder to trace. And, when every minute counts, you don't want 911 wasting precious time trying to determine where you are.

Call quality
They may be a relic of a disappearing era, but landlines rarely make your voice sound tinny, they won't suddenly drop your calls in middle of an important conversation and they're hardly ever guilty of filling your phone line with annoying static.

What about your cellphone? Thanks to its bandwidth allocation and its small receiver and microphone, you never know when your cellphone is going to get moody on you and decide to drop your call or make it unclear.

Why this may not matter: If you have excellent reception at home and your phone service is impeccable, you can have clear, perfect conversations, even with a cellphone.

Money saved
In another twist of irony, clinging to your landline might actually be saving you money each month. Here's why: As mentioned, lots of telecommunication companies offer special deals on service bundles like cable, internet and a landline. If you cut the landline, but still want to keep the other two services, you might not be eligible for that great deal any longer and you can end up paying more for fewer services.

Why this may not matter: If you don't bundle your telecom services and you keep your phone line separate from your internet connection, this won't apply.

Cheaper international options
You may have a terrific cellphone plan, but it your bill can look scary if you ever make the mistake of using it for an out-of-country phone call. Landlines, on the other hand, often offer fantastic international plans that can make overseas calls affordable.

Why this might not matter: If all of your family and friends live in the U.S. and you rarely make calls overseas, this factor might not make a difference to you.

Share a family phone
It can be expensive to get each family member their own cellphone. It's also annoying to have to constantly nag them about not going over their minutes or data coverage.

Why this might not matter: If each child already has their own cellphone and you share a family plan with enough minutes and data to go around, this won't concern you.

So, can you hang up on your landline or not? The jury is still out on this one. But, if you carefully consider your own needs and particular circumstances, you can make the decision that's right for you.

Article courtesy of Destinations Credit Union

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