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Indulge Your Wanderlust—on a Budget—with NEA Vacations

Want to travel but money’s tight? Let NEA Vacations find you the dreamy discounted vacation that will work for your budget.

As we head into colder weather, you might already be dreaming about a spring break getaway or maybe even planning a full-blown summer vacation. Before you make any plans, check out this new money-saving benefit for NEA members: NEA Vacations. It’s a one-stop-shop that will help you secure the best vacation deals available—whether you’re looking for a flight, a hotel or resort stay, a cruise or even a guided vacation

Exclusively available to NEA members, educators can nab discounted rates for cruises, hotel stays, resorts and various other attractions around the world simply by logging in to the NEA Member Benefits website at www.neamb.com and using the portal to go shopping.

What’s NEA Vacations all about?

NEA Vacations is an online shopping portal offering the guaranteed best value on a whole slew of vacations and related excursions—everything from resorts to hotel bookings to guided vacations to cruises.

If you’re a cruise fan, you’ll be pleased to know that the website sells discounted voyages from the top cruise lines out there, including popular river cruise lines AmaWaterways and Viking and mainstream oceangoing cruise companies such as Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean. Cruises aboard a number of luxury lines, like Regent, Seabourn and Silversea, are also offered. With more than 21,000 cruise departures, there is sure to be one that fits all of your needs.

A variety of guided vacations are also available from well-known travel companies like Globus, Insight Vacations, Cosmos, Monograms, Brendan Vacations, and Tauck.

If you prefer independent land vacations, the travel portal still has you covered. Just search for your destination and date of travel to browse a variety of hotels and resorts, or you can purchase a package that includes your airfare and hotel. Checking deals in Las Vegas last July, we found rates at the well-rated Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino for just $72 per night.

What are NEA Travel Dollars?

To sweeten the deal, you can earn NEA Travel Dollars to use as partial payment on purchases at the NEA Vacations portal. You can then apply those dollars to reduce the cost of future travel. You accumulate NEA Travel Dollars simply by acting on emails from NEA Member Benefits that encourage you to keep your records current or ask you to participate in other ways. For example, if you have a new email address, updating it on the NEA system will earn you $100 worth of Travel Dollars, while sharing your birthday will earn an additional $250. You can also earn Travel Dollars by opting in to receive the NEA Travel newsletter or by purchasing non-travel products and services. See more details at NEAMB.com.

Members can accrue up to $1,500 in Travel Dollars annually and portions of it can be used as partial payment for travel services. (Airfare and car rentals are excluded.) Travel Dollars expire a year from when they are received. As part of NEA Vacations, you can also earn a variety of incentives such as Onboard Credit to use on a cruise, an upgrade to a bigger hotel room or free WiFi.

What can you expect from NEA Vacations?

If you’re like most educators, you are very busy. You may not have time to search all over the web for the best deal on flights and hotels. That’s why NEA Vacations is so valuable. You can make all your vacation plans, at discounted rates, all on one website. You’ll make your plans faster and save money doing so. And, for most purchases, you’ll earn NEA Travel Dollars, which can be spent at NEA Vacations the next time you shop.

It’s important to note that travel packages are not limited to NEA members alone. You can bring your family along on your adventures and still make use of this new benefit. However, you must book their travel. So start saving those NEA Travel Dollars now to use when booking your family trip. Plan an Orlando outing so you can say hello to Mickey and Minnie or stroll the streets of Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando®!

You can also purchase associated travel insurance through NEA Vacations. Costs vary depending on the provider and ages of travelers. You will see the insurance policy specific to your booking and can decide if you would like to add it to your trip.

So hop on board–your next great adventure awaits. Visit NEA Vacations to find out more!

Kiplinger

6 Scams to Watch Out for This Holiday Season

From fake gift cards to stealthy skimmers, thievery thrives this time of year. Learn to stay safe and keep your privacy intact.

By the Editors of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—for scam artists and other would-be thieves. Every time you swipe your credit card at the register or enter your personal information on a Web site, you risk having your sensitive data fall into the wrong hands. And as you count down the remaining shopping days in the season, you may let down your guard in a mad dash to check everything off your list. “The holiday season is a busy time for consumers, when we do the majority of our shopping for the year, and hackers are priming themselves for the wave of data coming in,” says Yaron Samid, founder of personal finance app BillGuard (which was acquired by lending site Prosper in October 2015). “This is the Super Bowl of scam season.

To keep your holidays happy and your identity safe, be wary of these six common scams.

1. The Scam: Phishing

You get an email luring you to a fake deal site promising unbelievable savings on your Christmas gifts—often popular electronics and gadgets. But it’s really just a ruse to get your credit card information and other personal data.

The Fix: You can easily avoid this threat by not clicking on links in emails from unknown sources. Even if the email seems to be from a legitimate retailer, you should type its Web address directly into your browser rather than clicking on an email link, to be on the safe side.

Also, shop only at sites you are familiar with or that are recommended by a reliable source. You can check with install the Better Business Bureau. (Although to verify that the merchant is legitimate. And make sure that wherever you shop online is secure: The url on any checkout page should begin with https:// and have a lock symbol next to it in the browser.

2. The Scam: Empty Gift Cards

The gift card you buy from a discount site might actually have no value. Criminals can spend the funds and replace the scratch-off material that covers the card’s PIN, so the card seems unused when sold for a percentage of its face value.

The Fix: Buying discounted gift cards online is a great way to save money. You just have to be sure you use legitimate resellers. Consider trying the Gift Card Granny  and Raise.

3. The Scam: Skimming

You innocently withdraw money from your checking account at the local drive-through ATM. Unfortunately, bad guys have attached a stealthy device to the machine’s scanner that lifts your account information when you swipe.

The Fix: Samid recommends using only indoor ATMs because they offer additional security that is likely to deter scammers. Gas stations are also prime targets for this particular threat, so he suggests paying inside instead of at the pump. It may be less convenient, but it’s not as troublesome as dealing with the repercussions of identity theft.

4. The Scam: A Fake Charity

You get an email, a phone call or even an in-person request asking you to contribute to some seemingly worthy cause. But the solicitor turns out to be a fraudster who plans to take your credit card information and profit from the kindness of strangers like you. “Scammers are leveraging the fact that people are feeling particularly generous around the holidays and are more susceptible to charity requests and helping other people out,” says Samid.

The Fix: Check on the legitimacy of any charity before you give. Sites such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance can help you verify the quality of a charity and decide whether it’s worthy of your largesse.

5. The Scam: Nonstandard Payments

You go to make a purchase on Ebay or Craigslist, but the seller asks you to pay by money order or some other random way. “Any nonstandard forms of payment like these are almost always a scam,” says Joe Siegrist, cofounder of password management site LastPass.

The Fix: Stick to the more usual ways to pay. Credit cards are a particularly safe method of payment because they come with fraud protection. You can easily dispute any unfamiliar charges.

6. The Scam: Fake Tech Support

You get an unsolicited call from someone saying he’s providing assistance from the maker of your computer. Then he walks you through how to yield control over your machine. Once he has taken over, he’s free to swipe any sensitive data you have stored there.

The Fix: Just say no. “Microsoft and Apple will never call you and ask you to take these types of steps, and they’ll never email you with these requests either,” says Siegrist. “Be wary of anyone who contacts you with these requests.”

Also make sure you use a unique password for each and every account you have. Apps such as Dashlane, Keeper and Siegrist’s LastPass can help you create and keep track of all of them.

Other ways you can protect yourself: Take advantage of your free annual credit report to make sure no fraudulent activity has been going on in your name. And keep a close eye on all your account statements. If any charge, big or small, seems odd or unfamiliar, be vigilant and check whether you need to dispute it. “There is no substitute for your checking your own card statements during the holiday season,” says Samid. “You are the frontline of defense.”

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NEA CLICK AND SAVE CAN SAVE YOU MONEY ON YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING

Check out the most popular discount program for NEA members and their families. This exclusive shopping service offers savings on brand name merchandise from hundreds of top retailers, online stores, and local merchants. Save on clothing, electronics, restaurants, jewelry, movie tickets and more! Plus WOW points can be earned with every Click and Save (C&S) purchase that will allow you to save even more on future purchases (or even get something FREE!) For details about how to use this great benefit follow these examples.

 

  • HomeClick.com:  Save on selected kitchen and bath products, including small electrics, tableware, and cookware, plus outdoor items such as grills, fountains, fireplaces and mailboxes. Earn 1X the WOWPoints on all orders.
  • BedBath&Beyond:  Spruce up your home for the holidays with daily deals and 2X the WOWPoints. Get free shipping on orders of $29 or more.
  • OmahaSteaks.com:  Not just steaks! Find great prices on seafood, deli-style meats, desserts, and appetizers. Earn 5X the WOWPoints on your order.
  • ThePopcornFactory.com:  Celebrate any occasion with a festive gift of gourmet popcorn or other special treats.
  • MovieTickets.com: Save on tickets to the latest blockbuster movies and Broadway shows such as The Lion King, Wicked, The Book of Mormon, and Hello Dolly!
  • eBags.com: eBags is the world’s largest online retailer of bags and accessories for all lifestyles. Get free shipping on orders of $49 or more.
  • C&S Apparel Store: Check out fall new arrivals and holiday picks from such retailers as Macy’s, Columbia, Nordstrom Rack, and UnderArmour. Earn up to 6X the WOWPoints on your purchase!

 

Be sure to check C&S often for unadvertised, limited time offers, including discount dining certificates from Restaurant.com. Join the 429,100 NEA members already registered for NEA Click & Save. Go to www.neamb.com/clickandsave or http://www.neamb.com/shopping-discounts/nea-click-and-save-retail-discounts.htm and start saving today!

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5 Simple Ways to Save Money This Winter

Spending a little time now can save you money at home and on the road over the cold winter months.

Winter is right around the corner. Now’s the time to start winterizing your home to help curb high utility bills and your car to help prevent unexpected car repairs. Here are 5 quick tips to get you started

1. Have a pro inspect your HVAC system. Heating your home is a large chunk of your energy bill, so it’s important to have your home heating system checked regularly to make sure it’s running at peak efficiency. If it’s struggling due to old, dirty filters or failing components, your energy costs can go up.

EnergyStar.gov recommends having your system tuned up once per year. Contact a qualified HVAC contractor to inspect your system. For more home tips, read “15 Simple Ways to Winterize Your Home.”

2. Install a programmable thermostat. One of the easiest ways to manage your energy use is to install a programmable thermostat. (Although there are special considerations if you have a heat pump.) These thermostats can automatically adjust the temperature in your home at certain times of the day.

Dialing back your thermostat about 7-10 degrees for 8 hours a day can cut your home heating costs by about 10%, depending on the severity of your climate. Also, you can lower your home’s temperature even further while the house is empty during the day, and then turn it up about the time you come home. You’ll find plenty of programmable thermostats at different prices and with different features.

3. Use curtains strategically. It sounds almost too simple, but use the sun to your advantage! Open the curtains of south-facing windows to let the sun heat your home. Close them at night to keep out the cold. For a boost, try lined, insulated curtains; they can help prevent heat loss, block drafts and keep out some of the cold.

4. Switch to LED lights, inside and out. Love to light up your house for the holidays? Do you put up decorations for Halloween and keep your house brightly lit with cheery colors through St. Patrick’s Day? Save on electricity costs by switching to LED lights. Most decorations now have LED counterparts.

While LEDs can be a more expensive initial investment, they can last much longer than traditional bulbs, so your long-term replacement cost can be less—and less frustrating thanks to fewer burned out bulbs! LEDs also produce less heat and use less electricity, so over the long haul you’ll see savings.

5. Be proactive about winter car maintenance. Change your battery if it’s old, check and replace worn belts and top off important fluids. Taking care of the small things now can help you avoid a costly break-down and expensive towing charges later.

And as the temperature drops, so can your tires’ air pressure. Inflating them to the correct pressure can save you money on gas. For more information about winterizing your car read “Get Ready for Winter With Our Car-care Checklist.”

Bonus tip: Use your NEA member benefits! Save on a programmable thermostat, insulated curtains or even LED holiday lights when you shop at stores such as The Home Depot, Kohl’s, Best Buy and more through NEA Click & Save.

From the IEA Executive Director

"I feel that being an IEA member is a professional right and responsibility. Partnering with MBC just makes your membership an even more valuable resource."

Sue (Scott) Wigdorski
Idaho Education Association
Executive Director

From the IEA President

“The IEA is the voice for public education in Idaho, the leader in professional development opportunities, and the greatest source for support for the education profession. Having access to discounts from an array of vendors through Member Benefits is an added bonus for members!”

Kari Overall
President
Idaho Education Association

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