Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Today's issue of GCFlash marks 14 years of continuous publication. The staff has changed but our mission remains the same. Read about our beginnings and purpose.
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Happy Birthday GCFlash!
Where does the time go?
As parents, we ask that question at the beginning of each new school year. When our child leaves for college. On their wedding day. At the birth of their own children.
I feel that same sense of wonder every August when we celebrate another full year of publishing GCFlash. If we were a school kid, we'd be entering our sophomore year of college. As co-creator, I can't help but reflect on these past 14 years without an awareness of how far we've evolved.
What a different world we lived in August 24, 1999 when we delivered our first issue to your inboxes.
Preparations were underway to avert the catastrophe that was certain to strike every major computer system worldwide when the clock struck midnight that New Year's Eve. You wouldn't be able to access your money since ATMs would go down. Stock up on prescriptions, your pharmacy won't be able to access your records. Energy grids, transportation systems, virtually anything running by computer had to be reconfigured and tested to avoid disaster when processors fail to recognize the new date structure.
Maybe we haven't really strayed too far, after all. Just this past December survivalists were preparing for the end of the world as the Mayan calendar drew to its close. The sun rose to find Earth intact on December 21, 2012. Just as computers flawlessly recognized January 1, 2000 as merely another date to process programmed functions.
Witches and wizards were all the craze. The Blair Witch Project was filmed on a tight budget, yet became one of the most influential movies of the era. Harry Potter topped the New York Times bestseller list and continues to enchant both kids and parents alike today.
Both were a bit tame compared to the vampire craze we're witnessing now. Parents worried that books glorifying witchcraft would impact their children. Yet now that those children are grown and become parents themselves, blood sucking isn't deemed so bad. Maybe their elders were correct.
President Bill Clinton was acquitted on impeachment charges. And later cited for contempt of court for giving "intentionally false statements" in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit.
I will leave each of you to draw your own analogy to current events here. Substitute sexual harassment for your scandal of choice.
The Internet was young. Advertisers had only begun including a web address in their commercials. The full URL was displayed as the public wasn't yet accustomed to the protocol. Designers had to be creative to squeeze the entire "http://www.gcfbank.com" into the space allotted and remain legible.
The Euro currency was introduced January 1, 1999. It was to be the backbone of a unified Euro Nation. It survived a crucial test last year as economic crisis plagued one member nation after another.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the year at 11,497. It eclipsed the 10,000 mark for the first time earlier in the year.
Interest rates were wonderful if you were a saver, not so pleasant if you carried debt. The Federal Reserve year-end rate was 8.50%.
Average U.S. income per year was $48,810. A new house cost an average of $131,750, new car $21,050. We paid $1.22 for a gallon of gas and 33 cents to mail a letter.
For comparison, in February 2013 average income was $51,404. In May 2013, average sale price of a new home was $263,900. Average price for a new car reached $31,228. To avoid enraging our readers, we'll skip the price of gas comparison.
Time rolls by more quickly with each passing year. It's only when we take a moment to reflect do we really gain a sense of all that's transpired. Perhaps its for the best, as it would be too overwhelming to carry it all with you day-to-day.
Yet, despite all the change, some things will always remain the same. It's what keeps us grounded and moving forward towards the next wave of change.
Did You Miss It?
We've covered a lot of ground in GCFlash this past year. In case you haven't had a chance to read each information-packed issue, here are highlights of what you've missed.
Rather than link each topic listed here to the articles mentioned, use the Search box at the top of every page on GCFBank.com to find those that match your interest. You may find more than you can imagine!
Our primary focus in GCFlash is cyber security. We pass along new threats, scams and alerts as soon as we learn of them. Before you fall victim. We maintain a library of the most important articles in our Security Center.
In the past, these were always stories of doom and gloom. But times have changed. Cyber thieves are finally getting caught in their tracks. And it's our pleasure to pass the good news along to you, too.
New technology is unveiled. The Consumer Electronics Show gives us a glimpse of neat new items hitting the marketplace in the near future. Learn about them here.
Trying to figure out a new Facebook feature? Need to sell something on Craigslist? Want tips on shopping online? We've covered these, too.
You'll learn about new products and features here first. Any details you miss are easily found on our website for continued reference. When Popmoney went Mobile, we had the scoop.
Every year without fail, a reader will write early in the year asking us to write about tax changes. The subject most certainly provides a lot of material. First, it's year end speculation about what may happen. Areas of concern we need to prepare for, just in case they occur.
Every year brings drama. Will the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) be revised? Items like education credits, energy credits and mortgage interest seem to be regulars on the chopping block as budget debates ensue.
Tax preparers follow the discussion closely. They can't advise clients until the final bill is agreed upon. Printers can't produce forms. The self-employed can't estimate tax payments. It's always a last-minute deal for everything to fall into place. You can trust us to stay on top of events as they unfold.
Count on us to provide news you can use. We've helped in getting your financial life in order by instructing how to build a budget from scratch, improve your credit score, pay off credit card debt, and avoid medical bankruptcy.
We've offered tips on filing a consumer complaint, building a new home and planning your vacation. We've explained what to look for in choosing an online graduate school, assisted living facility or nursing home.
If it affects daily life, you'll find it covered here.
We know you could have chosen any bank to safeguard your money. But you chose GCF. And that trust means a lot. It means we have formed a relationship. One that transcends the business/customer boundary.
So we feel a responsibility to see to your overall well being as well as that of your financial security. We want you to be glad you made GCF Your Choice for a Better Community Bank.
Tip of the Week
In our commitment to your online safety, GCF offers comprehensive resources, tools and tips for your cyber security education. Our Security Center contains a glossary of common terms, tips on avoiding identity theft, resources for victims, security alerts, educational games and videos, fraud prevention articles and much more. Visit it often.
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