Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Save Money this Holiday Season with these Helpful Tips!

We compiled a list of helpful tips to keep in mind that could help save you money this holiday season.  
1.      Don’t spend more than 1.5% of your annual house hold income, not on gifts, food, or anything else. I promise you, it won’t be worth it after it is all said and done.
2.      Only use your credit card to buy gifts if you can pay it off with what you have in the bank. Otherwise, just use cash! When January finally does roll around, you will be happy with yourself that you did.
4.      Relax and think it through! The holiday spirit is supposed to be about spending time and making genuine connections with friends and family. 
5.      Clean Out the Closets
      You will be amazed to find several things that you can use, such as wrapping paper, ribbon, gift bags, and tape.

6.       Gifting on a Budget-
 Make a list of all the people that you plan to buy a gift for this year. Put one or two gift ideas next to their names and the maximum amount of money that you are willing to spend on them.

7.      Start Early this Year-
It is good to be conscious all year long in terms of gift giving for the holiday season. You may come across the most perfect gift for someone in July. This is one less person that you will need to buy for this season.

8.      DIY Gifts-
To save money and the madness of public shopping, make your own gifts this year, or at least make a few.  You can host a holiday craft party or attend one. Bake sweet holiday treats this year, make jewelry, candles, foot & hand scrubs, the possibilities are endless in terms of DIY gifts.

9.      Hit up Garage Sales
You will be amazed at the items you can find at garage sales….holiday-themed dishware and other seasonal decorative items.

10.  Do Your Research!!
You can find many resources online to help you find reviews on products. Maybe your significant other wants a new grill or a new laptop. You can look at the reviews to determine which product is the best bang for your buck.
Pricegrabber.com- online shopping comparison site

11.  Cyber Monday-
 This is the biggest online day to shop: it is the Monday after Black Friday. Many online retail stores offer big savings on this day.

12.  Coupons
 www.Couponsherpa.com  is an online resource that searches for coupons that can be scanned from your phone.  www.Gasbuddy.com  helps you to find the best gas prices within miles of your location. www.Dinnerspinner.com  comes up with recipes from the ingredients you have in your kitchen.

13.  Pick Up A Seasonal Job
You can find a seasonal job in retail stores. The discounts you get will be well worth it. Allow yourself to spend your entire pay from this seasonal job on the holidays.

14.  Clean Out the Closets
Before the holiday season is upon us, clean out your closets. You will be amazed to find several things that you can use such as, wrapping paper, ribbon, gift bags, and tape.

15.  Holiday Skype–a-thon
If you can’t manage a plane ticket to see family out of town, or afford to take the time from work, schedule a holiday skype visit with loved ones that are far away.

16.  Save $$ on Energy
Dim the lights, light candles, and build a fire (outside, not in). J

17.  Participate in Free Holiday Activities
There is much free fun to be had this season.  Bundle up the entire family and head out to a tree lighting or parade. You can also attend a play at school or church.  Maybe you decide that you want to stay indoors, snuggle up, and watch a holiday film such as It’s a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, Elf, or A Christmas Story. You can check out movies for free at your Public Library with a library card.

Everyone here at FSI hopes that you have a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and a happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Truth or Consequences:
The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (DSNAP) provides a means for eligible households to purchase nutritious foods for their family during the aftermath of a disaster.

            The Department of Agriculture Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) approved a request that was made by the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) to issue Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits to households that resided within any of the 24 counties that were affected by Hurricane Joaquin. Joaquin struck South Carolina the first week of October.  Many South Carolina residents suffered disaster- related damages and losses due to the severe storms and flooding that were brought on by Joaquin.  On Oct. 20, 2015, the (FNS) approved the following counties for food assistance for disaster relief, Bamberg, Calhoun, Clarendon, Colleton, Lee, Newberry, Williamsburg, Lexington, Richland, Sumter, Dorchester, Horry, Florence, Berkley, Charleston, Darlington, Georgetown, Greenwood, Kershaw, Orangeburg.  The application period differed by county and has now ended for all counties.

Residents that meet DSNAP income guidelines are eligible to receive benefits if they endured one or more of the following conditions, damage to or destruction of the home, loss or inaccessibility of income including a reduction or termination of income or a significant delay in receiving income due to disaster related problems, disaster-related expenses (home or business repairs, temporary shelter, evacuation, etc.) that are not expected to be reimbursed during the disaster benefit period.

 North Charleston Coliseum – Charleston County residents
 wait to apply for DSNAP benefits
Charleston County’s application period was the week of Nov. 16 – 20 and was held at the North Charleston Coliseum.  As soon as visitors walked in the doors, they were directed to keep moving forward with the line and you were given a number.  The line fed into a huge room with a gray concrete floor and blue metal chairs where applicants waited for their number to be called. In the middle of the room there were several rows of tables set up where local DSS workers sat on one side of the tables, waiting to help the next people in line once their number was called. One worker said in two days they had seen over 5,000 DSNAP applicants that resided in Charleston County.  She said she felt that “it was a very positive thing” to be able to offer the people some kind of relief and support.  The workers simply asked applicants a few questions and then determined if they were eligible and the amount that they were entitled to receive the relief benefits. Applicants that qualified were given a standard EBT card and told that the money would be loaded on the card within a week or so. 

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

FEMA and the State of S.C. have decided to extend the date until Jan. 3, 2016 for which survivors of the October 2015 floods can apply for Disaster Assistance.  The extension applies to S.C. residents who live in the following counties: Bamberg, Berkeley, Calhoun, Charleston, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dorchester, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Greenville, Greenwood, Horry, Kershaw, Lee, Lexington, Marion, Newberry, Orangeburg, Richland, Spartanburg, Sumter, and Williamsburg.

A quote given by FEMA states that $51 million dollars has been given to S.C. to help out with losses. In addition to this, 1,400 houses suffered significant damage of $10,000 or more, and 30,000 houses had damage that was less than $10,000. 

FEMA’s Individuals & Households Assistance Program can potentially help people with rental assistance, temporary housing, emergency home repairs, personal property losses, medical and dental, funeral expenses, and other expenses that are a result of a disaster that insurance does not cover.

To register for this assistance, go online at DisasterAssistance.gov. You may also register by phone 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 toll free from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Survivors who use 711 or Video Relay Service or require accommodations while visiting a disaster recovery center may call 800-621-3362.

By: Lindsey Jenkins